May 16, 2024: Christ States His Authority

Read Matthew 28:8 – 18.

“And Jesus answered and spake unto them, saying, ‘All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth’” (v. 18).

No one in the universe can make the above statement except God Himself, and in this case, the blessed Son of God, Jesus. But when Jesus makes the declaration, write it down, make a note of it, for it is truth.

Especially in the political world, many talking heads proclaim their power, influence, wealth, wisdom, and authority. They all must fall silent before the throne of our exalted Christ, Who only has ultimate authority. Pilate thought he had the power of life and death, but Jesus told him he would have no control if he did not receive it from above. Pilate must find out that, in Jesus's name, every knee must bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord.

For anyone else to make the claim Jesus makes would mark that person as grievously absurd; for Jesus to claim all power creates anthems of praise in the minds and hearts of believers. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. (Leonard Sankey)



“Let all who name Christ’s holy name
give God all praise and glory;
Let all who own His power
proclaim aloud the wondrous story.”
--- Johann J. Schutz/Frances E. Cox

2024-05-16T16:45:41+00:00May 16th, 2024|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

May 8, 2024:

Read Luke 9:28-36.

Prayer Brought the Glory

“And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered,

and his raiment was white and glistering” (v. 29).

   “Prayer Changes Things” is a famous saying found in various graphic formats posted on social media, hanging in churches, displayed in homes, and stocked for sale in many places of business. Even though that may be true, of greater importance is the fact that sincere, devoted prayer changes people – especially the ones doing the praying.

Have you ever met the “Man with the shining face?”  Jesus prayed while His disciples slept but were awakened by the shining light emanating from Him as He prayed. That light can also be ours if we invest time with the Master in prayer.

One of the unforgettable memories from my childhood churches is of the saints in earnest prayer. It seemed that their faces were glowing as they forgot about their surroundings and brought us all into the presence of God. Peter's sentiment was very real as we children (at least this one) wanted to stay in that atmosphere of God’s glory and never return to the struggles of life beyond the prayer room. (Harold Carpenter)

“And He walks with me, and He talks with me,

and He tells me I am His own;

And the joy we share as we tarry there,

none other has ever known.”

--- C. Austin Miles

 

Pray until your tabernacle is filled with God’s glory and spills over into your daily life.

2024-05-06T16:41:33+00:00May 8th, 2024|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

May 2, 2024: Characteristics of Fruitfulness

Read Philippians 1:8-11.
“Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God” (v. 11).

“May you always be doing those good, kind things that show you are a child of God,” one author paraphrases the first words of today’s text – filled to overflowing with the actions and attitudes that bring glory to our Heavenly Father.
How can we overflow like that? Paul gives us the key in the preceding two verses. First, our love is to abound more and more. This is God’s agape love, the chief characteristic of His presence in us. He gave it to us when He saved us (Romans 5:5) and wants it to grow and bless others. Second, we are to “approve things that are excellent” – not just good things or better things, but excellent things. The Greek here indicates approval after testing; God wants us to compare ideas, doctrines, actions, and choose those that best exemplify His Person and teaching.
Perhaps we could paraphrase the paraphrase and say: May you always be growing in divine love, always testing, approving, and practicing the most excellent graces and doctrines, so that by them you may portray to others the righteousness that God places in our hearts; and thus, you will glorify and honor Him.
Our fruitfulness should be a picture of love and of a high quality of spiritual life. It will honor God and attract others to Him. (Steven Hight)

Loving excellently – what greater thing could we do?

2024-05-02T19:13:51+00:00May 2nd, 2024|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

April 24, 2024: Hope Encouraged

Read John 14:1-6.

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again,
and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (v. 3).

The disciples of Jesus were having a bad day! Jesus was still with them; they could see and touch him. He had just washed their feet. But all that good news had been negated by the bad news of 13:32: Jesus was soon going to leave them. And worse yet, Jesus had predicted that one of them would betray Him. It all made no sense to their worldview, and their confidence about the future disappeared like the morning dew. Like the psalmist in our verse yesterday, their spirits were “cast down within them.”
Jesus immediately begins the process of building their confidence on a firmer foundation. It is as though Jesus is saying in these opening verses of John 14, “Can you only trust me when you can see me?” It is a question he is asking to each of us!
Jesus wanted His disciples, including us, to understand that His Word should be a greater source of confidence than His presence. For Jesus, absence does not make the heart to wander. He is working just as much for us in His absence as in His presence! It is far better to be present with Him “there” than for Him to be present with us here. It was not until after Pentecost that the disciples were able to grasp what Jesus was saying. May the Holy Spirit also help us place more confidence in His Word than in His presence. (Gordon Snider)
“Time is filled with swift transition.
Naught of earth unmoved can stand.
Build your hopes on things eternal.
Hold to God’s unchanging hand.”
--- Jennie Wilson

2024-04-24T16:13:13+00:00April 24th, 2024|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

March 27, 2024: Appearance tp the Disciples

Read John 20:19-23.

“Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you” (v. 19).

“Look, see who’s coming!” You and I know people whose entrance into a room changes the atmosphere. Some bring negativity with them – they look like they are about to fire the first shot into an otherwise tranquil crowd. Others bring in optimism – their first words upon entering bring hope. We hope that through the power of the resurrected Lord, we will be ambassadors of peace.
Exhausted by the emotions associated with Christ’s death and the haunting question, “What now?” the disciples huddled together in fear and uncertainty. Into that setting came the One who was the focus of their emotions. The transformative entrance of Christ can hardly be imagined.
Several things of significance happened in that room. They received proof of who Jesus was – He showed them His hands and side, v. 20. They received His purpose for them – “So send I you,” v. 21. They received power – “He breathed on them,” v. 22. They received principles for preaching reconciliation (Only God can forgive sins.), v.23. They received what was likely their greatest and immediate need – peace, vs. 19 and 21. Without peace, the things mentioned above are devalued. We must have His peace. The peace of Christ is the foundation upon which we can fabricate Christian character and ministry. (Lonnie Witt)
What a treasure I have In this wonderful peace,
Buried deep in the heart of my soul,
so secure that no power Can mine it away,
While the years of eternity roll!
--- Warren Cornell

Don’t huddle privately. Proclaim publically!

2024-03-27T16:14:17+00:00March 27th, 2024|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

March 20, 2024: The Savior Reigns

Read John 1:43-51.

“Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel” (v. 49).

What is your highest priority – the thing that matters most to you? While worship is a little challenging to define, One might say who or what you worship answers that question.
My paternal grandparents were poor people. My last memory of them was visiting them in a tiny house in Portland, Oregon. A house sided with tar paper and very sparsely furnished. What stands out even more is that, at the death of my grandmother, her five daughters-in-law created great tension over who received the remaining items. There were only a few cooking utensils, like an electric skillet, coffee pot, dishes, and cooking pots. The controversy became so heated that some of the women didn’t speak to each other for an extended time.
These women’s homes were much better than my grandmother’s and were evidently better off than my grandparents. What generated the heat and conflict? It seems their hearts were set on the material world rather than the eternal.
What you will create conflict over is a testimony of what or whom you worship. (GCS)
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
--- Helen Howarth Lemmel

Is the Lord Jesus the God reigning in your life,
or does this world control you?

2024-03-20T15:38:18+00:00March 20th, 2024|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

March 13, 2024: The Disagreeing Witnesses

Read Mark 14:53-65.
“For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together” (v.56).

“It is a little three-cornered thing inside of me,” explained the Native American. “When I do wrong, it turns round and hurts me very much. But if I keep doing wrong, it will turn so much that the corners become worn off, and it does not hurt me anymore.” This description of a conscience might be amusing, but it is significant and precise. These false witnesses must have been driven by bribes or promised prestige. Every man has his price. You don’t have to buy an honest person: he costs you nothing!
The Gospels record that Jesus was examined in four trials before He was finally put to death. First before Annas, a former high priest, then this trial before high priests and religious leaders; next, He stood before Pilate (twice), and finally before Herod Antipas. Jesus had to endure a long night of false accusations and torture under brutal religious and political figures.
Overriding their conscience and listening to the noisy crowd, these evil leaders refused to recall the miracle accounts of the lame made to walk, the dumb given speech, and the dead risen again. Jesus went about doing good! If you went about doing good, that would be a convincing and gracious testimony of God’s grace. As clearly is shown in this account, even innocent Jesus was misunderstood and falsely accused of a crime to fit in with man’s plan for His death. We can fully trust and lean upon our Savior, who willingly stood trial for our sins! (Beverly Tatam)
There are days so dark that I seek in vain
For the face of my Friend divine;
But though darkness hide, He is there to guide
By the touch of His hand on mine.
--- Jessie Pounds

“Relying on God has to start all over every day
as if nothing has yet been done.” (C. S. Lewis)

2024-03-13T15:47:22+00:00March 13th, 2024|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

March 6, 2024: Christ Draws All Men

Read John 12:31-41.

 “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (v. 32).

Jupiter, the sky god of the Romans, was believed to have a chain of gold that he would at times be let down from heaven to draw the earth and all of its inhabitants to himself.  (Homer, Iliad viii, vs. 18-27). Jehangir, who ruled as emperor of the Mughal dynasty from 1605 to 1627, installed a “chain of justice” outside the Agra Fort. It was made of pure gold and was thirty yards long. One end was suspended from the royal bastion, and the other was fastened to the ground below. Sixty bells were attached to the chain. The emperor used this means as a link to the citizens. A person who had a grievance could pull on the chain, ring the bells, and gain a personal audience with the emperor. (Hist. of Hindostan, p. 96, Calcutta, 1788)

These illustrations are feeble comparisons to what our Lord offered when He gave His life on the cross. The King of Glory, hanging between heaven and earth as a substitutionary offering for our sins, made a redemptive provision for all who would surrender their heart and life to Him by faith in repentance. His gold chain of reconciliation has been extended to all who will grasp the offer of divine grace to become a child of God. (LGW)

 “Once my soul was astray from the heavenly way
I was wretched and blind as could be
But my Savior in love gave me peace from above.
When he reached down his hand for me.”

--- G. E. Wright

2024-03-06T18:47:37+00:00March 6th, 2024|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

February 1, 2024: A Lost Son Restored

Read Luke 15:11-24.
“For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.” (v. 24).

As heartrending and scary as our experience was (see yesterday’s devotional), it doesn’t compare to the sadness and heartbreak caused by a son who wanders away from God and ruins his life through sinful actions and addictions. Many years ago, the devil deceived a young pastor who showed a lot of promise for ministry, and caused him to leave the pastorate and turn from his faith. His mother, heartbroken, prayed faithfully for him until she died. I know the son of a pastor who, turning away from a call that God had placed upon his heart, set his sights on the wealth of this world. Both of these can be restored!
Jim Cymbala, author of Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, tells about his wayward daughter, Chrissy. She had been expelled from a Bible college, was concealing an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, had completely turned her back on her family, and they did not know where she was. All they and their church could do was pray. But God knew where Chrissy was and how to get her attention. Miraculously, she went home, prayed to victory, and was restored to her family. Today, she and her husband are pastoring a church in Chicago.
Like the prodigal’s father in today’s verse, the Cymbala family rejoiced that the lost one had come home. (SEH)
Let’s keep praying for the prodigals – God can restore them

2024-02-01T18:50:30+00:00February 1st, 2024|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

January 17, 2024: A Tested Man

Read Job 2:3-10.

A Tested Man
"So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord,
and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown" (v. 7).

Sometimes, life doesn’t seem fair! Job has lost his wealth and children, and now God has allowed Satan to attack Job physically. Let’s look closely and see what nuggets of wisdom we can find in this passage today.
God knows what is going on in Job’s life, yet He allows it: painful boils, coupled with the scorn and anger of his wife's rejection, leave Job struggling for relief. Some scholars suggest one of Job’s trials was that Job’s wife was spared. Instead of comforting and ministering to him through his trials, she chose to find fault and tell him to curse God and die. Look at Job’s response to her. Job understood God is sovereign. When his wife scorned him and challenged his belief in God, Job responded courteously, realizing she was also grieving. Job extended to her both compassion and truth. Job's response to affliction demonstrated his faith and spiritual integrity. (LeeAnn Davison)
In the midst of tribulation, stand by me;
in the midst of tribulation, stand by me.
When the hosts of hell assail, and my strength begins to fail,
thou who never lost a battle, stand by me. (stand by me)
--- Charles Albert Tindley

God often chooses to allow things we cannot understand for reasons of His own.

2024-01-17T17:16:16+00:00January 17th, 2024|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

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