July 3 “Assignment”

Assignment

Things get simpler when one has an assignment from the Captain.
So it was with 70 of Jesus’ hand-picked disciples. They graduated from disciples to apostles because Jesus sent them out, two by two, with a mission. They were to be traveling men, traveling to the towns and villages targeted to receive the ministry of Jesus on His way to Jerusalem. They were sent out with the power of Jesus’ name, power over demons, which was a necessity. Hell marshaled armies of demons to oppose the 70 in their forerunner ministry of preparing people for the arrival of Jesus.

Special Instructions to the Seventy
Jesus was detailed in His instructions for how this mission was to be carried out.

  • The whole point was what He called “the harvest.” By that Jesus meant people. People needed Him—His Word, His touch, His presence. There was so much pain, so much injustice, so much confusion and so little hope. The harvest was great but the laborers were few. They should go on this mission prayerfully, in constant communication with “the Lord of the Harvest.”
  • They were going into harm’s way, as “lambs among wolves.” They should expect resistance, subterfuge, and organized opposition.
  • They should travel light, taking the minimum of provisions and entertaining no strangers.
  • To their potential hosts, they should grant the peace of God. If it was refused, they should take the peace back and move on.
  • They must look to people for support and receive it without question, settling into one home until the work was done.
  • They should heal the sick in Jesus’ name, proving their message:

‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’

  • They should hit the streets with the same message and not be concerned with those who do not hear.

Jesus Pronounces Woe
Jesus knew that even with the impressive advance ministry of these 70 effective disciples, healing the sick and delivering people from demonic influence, most people would reject the good news of the Kingdom of God coming near. With sadness, He pronounced the results of their impending rejection of Him. Three cities and their surrounding regions received the prediction of calamity for their lack of faith: Bethsaida, Chorazin, and Capernaum. Had the wicked historical cities of Tyre and Sidon received such demonstration of power, they would have repented. Specifically, the pride of Capernaum would drag that city to hell itself for their rejection of Messiah.

The Seventy Return
Returning from their mission with glowing reports of success, especially their power over demons, the seventy gathered to their Captain. He rejoiced with them and shared with them an ancient secret—Jesus had power over Satan because He had seen him fall from grace ages ago! He warned His men not to rejoice in spiritual power only, but to rejoice more that they have been made a part of the Kingdom. Remembering this would save them from the corruption of pride.

Jesus rejoiced over His successful soldiers with such sweet detail, it was almost a song of joy! To the men, this song was sweeter than their record of success. To bring joy to Jesus was the greatest joy of all.

Today, we should remember this secret: we bring joy to Jesus when we do what He asks us to do. Things get simpler when one has an assignment from the Captain.

Scriptures:
Luke: 10:1-24

After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves. Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road. But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, ‘The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.’ But I say to you that it will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom than for that city. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades. He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.” Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” Then He turned to His disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see; for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You give my life meaning. Your will gives me purpose. It is so amazing to think that You would want to use me in Your service, but this is plain in the Bible. It is also pounding in my heart. My days are not random 24 hour periods of meaninglessness; they are assignments from Your Throne of Grace! You have shown me the Path of Life where You have laid out work for me to do for You. May You always smile when You look my way because You find me busy with today’s assignment. Amen!

Song:
I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go

Words: Mary Brown; Music: Carrie E. Rounsefell

1. It may not be on the mountain’s height, Or over the stormy sea;
It may not be at the battle’s front My Lord will have need of me.
But if by a still, small voice He calls To paths I do not know,
I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in Thine,
“I’ll go where You want me to go.”

Refrain:
I’ll go where You want me to go, dear Lord,
Over mountain, or plain, or sea.
I’ll say what You want me to say, dear Lord.
I’ll be what You want me to be.

2. Perhaps today there are loving words Which Jesus would have me speak;
There may be now, in the paths of sin, Some wand’rer whom I should seek.
O Savior, if Thou wilt be my Guide, Tho’ dark and rugged the way,
My voice shall echo the message sweet,
I’ll say what you want me to say.

Refrain

3. There’s surely somewhere a lowly place In earth’s harvest fields so wide
Where I may labor thro’ life’s short day For Jesus, the Crucified;
So, trusting my all to Thy tender care,
And knowing Thou lovest me, I’ll do Thy will with a heart sincere,
I’ll be what You want me to be.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

July 2 “Sides”

Sides

Like children playing tag, we find ourselves on one side or the other.
In the innocent games of children, someone chooses who will be on whose side. In the games of life, we are free to choose the side we will join.

Jesus tried to tell them.
Things were about to change. With all His power to change people’s lives, Jesus felt unable to get through to His disciples that these good times were about to come to a violent end. So impressed were they with the demonstrated majesty of God, they went into a massive state of denial, busying themselves with other, more delicious games like this one: Who will be the greatest among them?

An Object Lesson
Jesus approached a young mother holding her child close to her heart. He asked if she would let Him hold the little one. She agreed, automatically trusting this man from God. Jesus set the toddler next to Him on a large boulder nearby. He let the image of the child next to the man sink into the minds of everyone watching. Eventually, He made the application.

“Whoever receives this little child in My name receives Me;
and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me.”

Not rulers, not scholars, not kings, not prophets, not the rich and influential, but the child, the innocent, unspoiled, happy child will be the truly great in the Kingdom to come. Glances from all those thusly disqualified for greatness darted like so many angry hornets among the ambitious ones in the crowd. Before their questions and objections could be voiced, Jesus continued.

“For he who is least among you all will be great.”

Nonsense! Stuff and nonsense! This man was unhinged! No one with any intelligence at all who heard this philosophy will volunteer to be on His side in the game.

Those Other Disciples
A strange report came to John the disciple: People outside of their group were casting out demons in Jesus’ name. The disciples tried to shut the opposing group down.

“Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side.”

To be on the same side as Jesus was not a matter of “who you knew,” as the saying goes. The proof of following Jesus was, well, following Jesus!

The Road to Jerusalem
Dr. Luke designates this moment as the turning point in the public ministry of Jesus. No longer would He go from town to town preaching and working wonders. In the author’s words:

“He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.”

Jesus sent men ahead to prepare the way. Some places refused Him, igniting fiery anger from the Twelve. Jesus corrected them, reminding them that their mission was to give life not take it. Along the way a man volunteered to join the group. Jesus answered him with the costs of such a commitment. He invited others to follow but they had family obligations that delayed them.

To follow Jesus and be on His side meant forsaking all. It is a decision that must not be revoked.

“No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back,
is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Scriptures:
Luke: 9:43-62

And they were all amazed at the majesty of God. But while everyone marveled at all the things
which Jesus did, He said to His disciples, “Let these words sink down into your ears, for the
Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men.” But they did not understand this saying, and it was hidden from them so that they did not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this saying. Then a dispute arose among them as to which of them would be greatest. And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a little child and set him by Him, and said to them, “Whoever receives this little child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me. For he who is least among you all will be great.” Now John answered and said, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side.” Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village. Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I will follow You. I want to be on Your side. I have put my hand to the plow and I see no reason to turn back. Where would I go? Yours are the Words of eternal life! Yours is the side of victory! Your team is the winning team. Life isn’t a game but it is a competition. It is a contest of good vs. evil, a contest that can only be won through Your victory. I will take up my cross—it was made especially for me!—and I will follow You! How can I do anything less? All for You, Lord Jesus!

Song:
Take Up Thy Cross and Follow Me

Words and Music: A. H. Ackley

1. I walked one day along a country road,
And there a stranger journeyed, too,
Bent low beneath the burden of His load:
It was a cross, a cross I knew.

Refrain:
“Take up thy cross and follow Me,”
I hear the blessed Savior call;
How can I make a lesser sacrifice,
When Jesus gave His all?

2. I cried, “Lord Jesus,” and He spoke my name;
I saw His hands all bruised and torn;
I stooped to kiss away the marks of shame,
The shame for me that He had borne.

Refrain

3. “Oh, let me bear Thy cross, dear Lord,” I cried,
And, lo, a cross for me appeared,
The one, forgotten, I had cast aside,
The one, so long, that I had feared.

Refrain

4. My cross I’ll carry till the crown appears—
The way I journey soon will end—
Where God Himself shall wipe away all tears,
And friend hold fellowship with friend.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

July 1 “Fathers”

Fathers

Two fathers; two sons.
One Father divine, His Son the embodiment of good, and the other father a man whose son was possessed by evil.

The Transfiguration
Peter, James, and John never knew what to expect when Jesus took them to a solitary place for prayer. The men were weary and solitude brought them sleep, not supplication. As Jesus prayed, they drifted off. The sound of different voices awakened them. They made out the images of two men of strange appearance talking with Jesus. As other-worldly as the two men appeared, they did not compare with Jesus. His clothes were shining white. His countenance glowed, too, with a glory they had never seen. Somehow they realized the identity of the two men: Moses and Elijah—the Law and the Prophets—represented by two heroes from heaven. This glorified trio was deep in a conversation—something about Messiah.

Peter had to say something. He suggested constructing a temporary memorial to each of the shinning visitors and one for Jesus, too. While these foolish words still sounded, a glory cloud came from everywhere and enveloped them all. From the cloud came a voice the men had never heard before. It was like the voice of Jesus, but deeper, richer, and somehow even more musical.

“This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!”

The Father had spoken. Jesus was greater than the Lawgiver, Moses. He was more truthful than all the prophets. He was the Son of God as well as the Son of Man. His was a voice to be heard in this singular way.

When the voice ceased, the men opened their eyes to see Jesus alone and returned to His very human appearance. They determined that this event could not be described to anyone so they agreed not to try.

A Grieving Father
The next day, when Jesus and the Inner Circle came down from the mountain, a crowd was waiting. In the crowd was a desperate father. His son was demon possessed. The evil spirit in him tried to destroy the child with bruising convulsions and seizures. While Jesus and the three were in the mountain, the man had brought his son to the remaining disciples for deliverance but they were not able to bring an end to this misery. Jesus lamented their lack of faith. They did not know how short the time was before the events discussed on the mountain would begin to unfold. Jesus instructed the father,

“Bring your son here.”

As the boy was delivered to Jesus, the demon in him threw him down in a violent seizure. Jesus was unimpressed by this desperate act of the demonic spirit, seemingly claiming the boy as his own. He was not the property of hell, but was a child of heaven, carefully made in the image of God. The boy had a place in the plan of God and his father was to be his guide, advisor, and inspiration for living. With a word, Jesus sent the demon back to hell. Gently, Jesus lifted the boy to his feet, healing every bruise and cut. He embraced the child and whispered something into his ear. The boy smiled, looking at his father. Astonished and relieved, the boy’s father took his son from Jesus’ arms and a deep silence fell on the crowd. The boy whispered something in his father’s ear and they both smiled, looking to Jesus.

Two fathers; two sons.

Scriptures:
Luke: 9:27-42

But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the kingdom of God.” Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray. As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening. And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. But Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep; and when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men who stood with Him. Then it happened, as they were parting from Him, that Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” — not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were fearful as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” When the voice had ceased, Jesus was found alone. But they kept quiet, and told no one in those days any of the things they had seen. Now it happened on the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, that a great multitude met Him. Suddenly a man from the multitude cried out, saying, “Teacher, I implore You, look on my son, for he is my only child. And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out; it convulses him so that he foams at the mouth; and it departs from him with great difficulty, bruising him. So I implored Your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” And as he was still coming, the demon threw him down and convulsed him. Then Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the child, and gave him back to his father.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You told me to pray to my Father in heaven who already knows my needs. You said that He is in the Secret Place of Prayer waiting for me to join Him there. O how wonderful to be a child of heaven! To have a place in Your plan! To be cared for by such a gracious and loving Heavenly Father. More than all this, Your told Your men that when they had seen You, they had seen the Father! You are what God is like! Loving, kind, and forgiving even in Your holiness. Thank You, Jesus, for opening up the “new and living way” to the Father! Amen and Amen.

Song:
Children of the Heavenly Father

Words: Carolina Sandell; Music: Swedish Folk Melody

1. Children of the heav’nly Father, safely in His bosom gather;
nestling bird nor star in heaven  such a refuge e’er was given.

2. God His own doth tend and nourish; in His holy courts they flourish.
From all evil things He spares them; in His mighty arms He bears them.

3. Neither life nor death shall ever from the Lord His children sever;
unto them His grace He showeth, and their sorrows all He knoweth.

4. Though He giveth or He taketh, God His children ne’er forsaketh;
His the loving purpose solely to preserve them pure and holy.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

June 30 “Confession”

Confession

It was time to share His power and authority with the 12 men He had chosen.
Jesus did exactly that—He gave all 12 of them the power to preach the gospel and heal the sick. He put them under an order of strict discipline regarding provisions for the campaign and deportment among those who supported or refused to support them. We don’t know if they traveled in teams or alone, but they did exactly as Jesus commanded and His power indeed went with them and they saw the same results as they had seen with Jesus.

Herod
A campaign like that generates news. When the stories got to King Herod, the king didn’t know what to think. Theories were presented:

  • John was back.
  • Elijah or another long-dead prophet had risen from the grave.

Jesus alone was enough of a threat to peace and order; 12 men acting in His name and in His power was a crisis.

Time for a Rest
Although the flow of power is divine, ministry takes a toll on the human frame. Jesus took His men to a deserted place near Bethsaida, to hear the details of their ministry and to get some much-needed rest. It was not to be. Somehow news of their location got out and the multitude found Jesus. He let the disciples rest while He taught the people and healed them of their various diseases and impairments.

Time for a Meal
As the day was passing, the disciples suggested Jesus should close down the meeting and send people back to town. This was not to be either. Jesus told His men,

“You give them something to eat.”

Jesus organized the people into groups of 50 and seated them on the ground. He took the meager menu items and blessed them, giving them to the disciples to distribute. As they did, they saw the blest food multiply in their hands as they gave it away! In a short while the crowd of 5000 men, not counting women and children, was filled as were 12 baskets of leftovers.

The Confession
When the people were gone, Jesus retreated from the men a little distance to be alone to pray. When they had caught their breath, the men gathered to Him quietly, not wishing to disturb Him. All of them, Jesus included, were thinking of the events of this remarkable day. Jesus asked the men what people were saying about Him—specifically, what theories existed as to His identity. When all the standard answers were offered a silence fell, each man thinking the unthinkable. Jesus asked them who they thought He might be.

A soft voice spoke from among the 12. It was unusual for Peter to speak so quietly but His words were so full of meaning, they did not need volume to have an impact. Dr. Luke gives us the most economical version of Peter’s confession.

“The Christ of God.”

Never have four words meant so much. This confession is the power behind the power and the truth behind the truth. Many will admit that if Jesus really existed, He was a great teacher or philosopher or humanitarian, but they shrink back from the truth. This confession is the dividing line between believers and unbelievers. To confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Anointed One, the Suffering Savior, and Triumphant Lord is to worship and witness all at once. In its light all goodness is possible and all evil can be overcome.

Scriptures:
Luke: 9:1-26

Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. And He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey, neither staffs nor bag nor bread nor money; and do not have two tunics apiece. “Whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And whoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by Him; and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead, and by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the old prophets had risen again. Herod said, “John I have beheaded, but who is this of whom I hear such things?” So he sought to see Him. And the apostles, when they had returned, told Him all that they had done. Then He took them and went aside privately into a deserted place belonging to the city called Bethsaida. But when the multitudes knew it, they followed Him; and He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who had need of healing. When the day began to wear away, the twelve came and said to Him, “Send the multitude away, that they may go into the surrounding towns and country, and lodge and get provisions; for we are in a deserted place here.” But He said to them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless we go and buy food for all these people.” For there were about five thousand men. Then He said to His disciples, “Make them sit down in groups of fifty.” And they did so, and made them all sit down. Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the multitude. So they all ate and were filled, and twelve baskets of the leftover fragments were taken up by them. And it happened, as He was alone praying, that His disciples joined Him, and He asked them, saying, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” So they answered and said, “John the Baptist, but some say Elijah; and others say that one of the old prophets has risen again.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.” And He strictly warned and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.” Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I confess with the ancient church: “I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.” I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.”

Song:
Crown Him with Many Crowns

Words: Matthew Bridges; Music: George J. Elvey

1. Crown him with many crowns, the Lamb upon his throne.
Hark! how the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing of him who died for thee,
and hail him as thy matchless king through all eternity.

2. Crown him the Lord of life, who triumphed o’er the grave,
and rose victorious in the strife for those he came to save;
his glories now we sing who died and rose on high,
who died eternal life to bring, and lives that death may die.

3. Crown him the Lord of love; behold his hands and side,
rich wounds, yet visible above, in beauty, glorified;
no angels in the sky can fully bear that sight,
but downward bends their burning eye at mysteries so bright.

4. Crown him the Lord of years, the potentate of time,
creator of the rolling spheres, ineffably sublime.
All hail, Redeemer, hail! for thou hast died for me;
thy praise shall never, never fail throughout eternity.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

June 29 “Power”

Power

Power flowed from Jesus, unhindered by time and distance.
The only hindrance found in the scriptural record was the lack of faith. Unlike the cowards on the other side of the Sea of Galilee, the multitude gathered in faith to welcome Jesus and the Twelve back to their side of the lake. For 12 years the daughter of Jairus had lived her life. Now she faced death. In those same 12 years, a woman of the town had suffered a terrible illness.

Jairus, a Ruler of the Synagogue
A few of the leaders of the people exercised faith in Jesus. One of them was a leader named Jairus. His name was prophetic, meaning, “He will arise.” This Jairus did, rising above the cynicism and hostility of the ruling religious class to express faith in Jesus.

Coming directly to Jesus, Jairus fell at His feet, pleading his desperate case: His only daughter of only 12 years was dying. Immediately Jesus started for the home of Jairus, of necessity passing through the crowded streets. The multitude pressed Him on every side; it was not an easy trip.

A Woman, Gravely Ill
In the rough and tumble crowd, a weakened frame, wasted by the same 12 years of an uncontrolled flow of blood, tried her best to get to Jesus. Her strength, like her money, was nearly gone. Several times as she pressed through the crowd, bent in pain and stiffness, she would almost find herself within reach of Jesus only to be thrown back by the crowd. People took little notice of her and her quest seemed doomed to fail. When she was about to give up, a wave of people pushed her toward Jesus, depositing her at His feet. Realizing this position and opportunity, she stretched out her thin, skeletal hand and touched the hem of His robe.

With this touch came strength, itself a wave, flowing through her. She knew immediately that the flow of blood stopped. More than that, a surge of life and wellness coursed through her body. The years of suffering fled before this moment of healing. She felt strong enough to straighten up, rising carefully to her full height, small by the measure of men’s eyes, but towering in its truth. She was healed.

In the same moment, Jesus stopped. He asked who had touched Him. It seemed a ridiculous question in the midst of the jostling crowd. With new-found strength, the woman pleaded guilty and fell trembling before Him.

“Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

Back to Jairus
At that moment, news came that Jairus’ daughter was dead. Jesus was not deterred. He instructed Jairus not to fear but to believe. Arriving at the house, Jesus was met by mourners who knew their business. Knowing the girl was dead, they laughed at Jesus words of hope. He sent everyone out except the inner circle of His men and the parents. With simple words, He lifted her out of death commanding that food be given to her, proving she was no ghost. The girl’s parents were rightfully amazed but Jesus told them to hold on to their story, their daughter, and their faith.

Power flowed from Jesus, unhindered by time and distance.

Scriptures:
Luke: 8:40-56

So it was, when Jesus returned, that the multitude welcomed Him, for they were all waiting for Him. And behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue. And he fell down at Jesus’ feet and begged Him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter about twelve years of age, and she was dying. But as He went, the multitudes thronged Him. Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any, came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped. And Jesus said, “Who touched Me?” When all denied it, Peter and those with him said, “Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?'” But Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.” Now when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately. And He said to her, “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” While He was still speaking, someone came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house, saying to him, “Your daughter is dead. Do not trouble the Teacher.” But when Jesus heard it, He answered him, saying, “Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well.” When He came into the house, He permitted no one to go in except Peter, James, and John, and the father and mother of the girl. Now all wept and mourned for her; but He said, “Do not weep; she is not dead, but sleeping.” And they ridiculed Him, knowing that she was dead. But He put them all outside, took her by the hand and called, saying, “Little girl, arise.” Then her spirit returned, and she arose immediately. And He commanded that she be given something to eat. And her parents were astonished, but He charged them to tell no one what had happened.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, Your power is unlimited, unhindered by time and distance. Your power is released by faith, also unlimited by time and distance. Just one touch of Your holy hand and Your power flows into my life, into my need. Like the poor sick woman, I must press through the crowds of those who would hinder me. I will reach to You with my praise and I know a wave of grace will put me into Your Holy Presence. Like Jairus, I will bring my issues to You and follow Your commands knowing that Your love will always meet my needs. Through faith, I will touch You and in love, You will touch me! Thank You, Lord! Amen.

Song:
One Touch

Words and Music: Bonnie Plunkett

There’s healing in the name of Jesus
Healing in the touch of Jesus
One touch of His hand will lift you
Body mind and soul
Believe Him that His pow’r will Free you
Praise Him for His mercies t’ward you
Thank Him for His love
He longs to make you fully whole

Refrain:
Just one touch of the Master’s hand
Just one word He has full command
Have faith in what He wants to do
Is all He asks of you
There’s healing in the name of Jesus
Healing in the touch of Jesus
One touch of His Master’s hand will
Make you fully whole

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

June 28 “Swine”

Swine

This was not the kind of welcoming committee anyone would request.
The boat landed on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. As Jesus stepped ashore, He was greeted, not with flowers and accolades from an adoring crowd, but by a naked crazy man. The poor fellow was driven mad by a host of demons who had taken residence in his soul. He was the bane of the town. He could not be contained, either in a house or in chains. When he was not driven into the surrounding wilderness, he lived among the tombs, sleeping, when He slept at all, in vacant tombs. His tortured cries stabbed the darkness every night with terror. This had gone on, in Dr. Luke’s terse description, “for a long time.”

The Welcome
Possibly sensing in some demonic way that Jesus was coming, and certainly knowing who Jesus was, the demons in the man met Him at the shore,

“What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?
I beg You, do not torment me!”

Jesus, the Man of Peace, did not bring peace to demons, or to Pharisees and their kin, for that matter. The demons knew their peace was about to be disturbed. Jesus addressed the tormentors directly.

“What is your name?”

There was no escape for Satan’s minions. They had to answer to a higher authority.

“Legion.”

This answer indicated that not one but many demons had found refuge in the life of the former friend and neighbor of the villagers. Speaking in a cacophony of hellish voices the demons begged for mercy.

A Herd of Swine,
At some distance, a large herd of hogs grazed, content and quite unaware and surely unimpressed by the doings of men. The demons asked to be transported to these convenient creatures. Jesus agreed and suddenly the peaceful pigs grew restless, then agitated, and finally, raving mad. With one mind, they ran down a steep place into the sea and were drowned. Their keepers panicked and ran into the village to report this destruction of property.

Brilliant Leaders
When the suddenly profitless owners came to investigate, they were in for another surprise—their local crazy man had been delivered! He sat peacefully at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind.

Reason, however, escaped the community leaders. Instead of welcoming their fellow citizen home and rejoicing in his deliverance, they formed a quick huddle and devised this strategy for the betterment of their town—ask Jesus to leave and never come back. As did those ignorant pigs, these leaders rushed blindly into a sea of stupidity and drowned each other.

Invited to Leave
Thusly invited to leave, Jesus started back onboard the boat to cross back to the other side, where people wanted Him. The delivered man sought to make the journey with Him but Jesus told him to stay home and tell his story to all who would listen. Someone had to demonstrate more wisdom than demons and hogs.

That night, the village was quiet. At no point did the familiar screams from the cemetery disturb the peace. However, people could not sleep in this unfamiliar silence. The arthritic were still stiff and in pain. The blind remained in their darkness as the sick, lame, impaired, and demon-infested sweated through another night. Their leaders had sent Jesus away.

Scriptures:
Luke: 8:26-39

Then they sailed to the country of the Gadarenes, which is opposite Galilee. And when He stepped out on the land, there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!” For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness. Jesus asked him, saying, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” because many demons had entered him. And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss. Now a herd of many swine was feeding there on the mountain. So they begged Him that He would permit them to enter them. And He permitted them. Then the demons went out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the lake and drowned. When those who fed them saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. Then they went out to see what had happened, and came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. They also who had seen it told them by what means he who had been demon-possessed was healed. Then the whole multitude of the surrounding region of the Gadarenes asked Him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. And He got into the boat and returned. Now the man from whom the demons had departed begged Him that he might be with Him. But Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.” And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, may I never send You away! How could I do this? I can do this when You give me a job to do and I don’t get around to it. I can do this when I know Your Word but choose to live by some other rule. I can do this when I neglect daily prayer and weekly worship. If I send You away, my needs will not be met. My pain will not ease. My confusion will multiply and my day will be lousy. Stay with me, Lord Jesus! I need You today! Amen and amen.

Song:
Reach Out and Touch the Lord

Traditional

Reach out and touch the Lord as He goes by.
You’ll find He’s not too busy to answer your cry.
He’s passing by this moment your needs to supply.
Reach out and touch the Lord as He goes by.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

June 27 “Light”

Light

Light changes things. The rising sun chases the night away. A lighted candle brings important details out of the shadows.
Jesus taught the importance of light. It must not be hidden. One day, the light of judgment will shine into every human heart. Anything hidden there will be revealed. Applying this truth to everyday life Jesus sounded a warning;

“…whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have,
even what he seems to have will be taken from him.”

A Family Visit
As the crowd sought to absorb this warning, Jesus’ family tried to gain entrance but could not. This was reported to Jesus and His response was strange indeed.

“My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.”

Dr. Luke does not tell us what happened next. Surely the crowd, thus designated as His family—if they heard His Word and obeyed it—parted to grant entrance for His family. We are not told why they came but we can be sure that Jesus was respectful but unhindered in His mission.

A Stormy Trip
Days later, with the sun shining high and bright over the blue water, Jesus and the Twelve set out to cross the Sea of Galilee. Tired from constant ministry, Jesus made Himself comfortable in the boat and fell fast asleep. The fishermen in the group were happy to apply the skills of their former lives to the needs of Jesus. They knew all about boats and the Sea of Galilee.

As the bright sky began to darken, the four former fishing partners saw the storm coming. They started pulling hard to reach the other side. Perhaps the boat was overloaded—13 men—and soon the winds and waves began to overcome the craft. As the danger mounted, the disciples rowed with all their might keeping the bow pointed into the wind. All the while Jesus rested comfortably in the bottom of the boat.

The boat began to take on water, growing heavier and settling deeper into the sea. None of the men wanted to wake Jesus; they wanted Him to wake up on His own but that just wasn’t going to happen. They had to shake Him awake.

“Master, Master, we are perishing!”

Waking Jesus
Jesus shook His head to clear away the effects of deep sleep. He stood in the boat, keeping His balance, as He looked first at the dark skies, then the raging waves, and finally at His frightened followers. He smiled at their anxious faces, intending to comfort them in the midst of the storm. This didn’t help. They needed more.

His voice rang out over the storm loud enough for creation itself to hear the voice its Creator. He spoke to the wind and the water, telling them to stop. They did. Like an obedient child, the winds settled into a calm and the waves took a seat at the feet of their master. The dark of the storm retreated before the sun’s light. High, friendly clouds appeared as the storm clouds dissipated and, like a noon-day sunrise, the sun reappeared.

The disciples were stunned by the sudden calm and a greater fear came on them, a fear of such a Man of God in their midst. Jesus, seeing their fear, asked them where the faith had gone. With no roar of sea and wind, each man whispered to himself.

“Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!”

Scriptures:
Luke: 8:16-25

“No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lampstand, that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light. Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.” Then His mother and brothers came to Him, and could not approach Him because of the crowd. And it was told Him by some, who said, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see You.” But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.” Now it happened, on a certain day, that He got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.” And they launched out. But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. But He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, “Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are the Master of every storm! I will never face wind that must not obey You. No turbulence in wind or water will ever overcome You. Give me the courage it takes to follow Your leadership whether there are storms or not on the path ahead. Though the clouds of circumstance may hide Your light, I know Your love is always shining my way. As John says, the darkness has never overcome Your amazing light! You always overcome darkness and keep me safe until the storm is past. Thank You, Lord!

Song:
Peace! Be Still
Words: Mary Ann Baker; H.R. Palmer

Master, the tempest is raging!
The billows are tossing high!
The sky is o’ershadowed with blackness,
No shelter or help is nigh:
“Carest Thou not that we perish?”
How canst Thou lie asleep,
When each moment so madly is threat’ning
A grave in the angry deep?

The winds and the waves shall obey Thy will.
Peace, be still! Peace, be still!
Peace, be still! Peace, be still!
Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea,
Or demons, or men, or whatever it be,
No water can swallow the ship where lies
the Master of ocean and earth and skies;
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will!
Peace! Peace! be still!

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

June 26 “Seed”

Seed

A company of women is always a significant thing. It is today and it was then.
As Jesus continued His ministry tour, His entourage continued to expand. In addition to the Twelve men He had chosen, a group of women now followed Him, providing for the needs of the team from their own resources. A common bond was this: Jesus had miraculously delivered each of them from life-threatening circumstances. Dr. Luke gives us the names of three of them:

  1. Mary of Magdala,
  2. Joanna, the wife of a steward of Herod, and
  3. A woman named Susanna.

The story of Mary Magdalene is the most well-known. Before Jesus, she struck terror and excited evil impulses in the people she met for she was infested with seven powerful demons. Now, she moved among the multitude with feminine grace assuring listeners that Jesus could, indeed, help them, too.

A Public Parable
Perhaps Jesus was thinking about the many people who had heard Him speak and the mixed results He had observed when He told this parable:

A sower with excellent, life-giving seed, went about his business. The good seed fell onto different kinds of soil, some of it was lost on the road, trampled down by travelers. Some seeds were lost to enterprising birds. Others fell on stony ground and sprang up quickly, but also withered quickly. Some of the seeds fell onto overgrown soil with choking weeds and thorns. Some, just some, of the seed fell on good ground and produced an amazing harvest.

A Private Interpretation
Later, when the healings were over and the multitudes were gone, Jesus explained the meaning of the parable to His followers. We can imagine that as He explained, the women joyfully refreshed Jesus with their provisions, creating an atmosphere conducive to spiritual progress.

“To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God,
but to the rest it is given in parables…”

His explanation of the parable was especially tender and real to the Twelve and to the women for they represented the good ground and they knew it.

The seed was the Word of God. The wayside ones were those who never heard the Word because Satan stole it from them. The ones on the rocky soil started out but did not last because they had no roots beneath the rocky surface. Those who received the seed and grew into fine plants but did not produce fruit were those distracted by deceitful things: “cares, riches, and pleasures.” The productive ones were those who heard the Word, took it into their hearts and let it do its divine work. These were the ones who brought in the amazing harvest.

Moments of Reflection
As they pondered the meaning of this parable, the close followers of Jesus began to realize that He was talking about them. Of all the people who heard Him and received from His powerful hand, they represented the good soil for the good seed. They were His harvest! Each of them began to realize what he/she might mean to Jesus. He loved them. Their reception of Him and His Word was precious to Him. Each man and woman decided then and there to let the seed do its work. There in the shadow of Jesus, with His voice soft on their ears, it was the only choice that made sense.

Scriptures:
Luke: 8:1-15

Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities — Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance. And when a great multitude had gathered, and they had come to Him from every city, He spoke by a parable: “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.” When He had said these things He cried, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Then His disciples asked Him, saying, “What does this parable mean?” And He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that ‘Seeing they may not see, And hearing they may not understand.’ “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank You for the Good Seed of the Word sown in my heart! It has taken root there for Your glory. May my roots go ever deeper into Your heart. I long to bear fruit for You for in that fruit will be still more seed to sow, more truth to scatter to the winds of this desperate world. Help the seed I sow find the good ground. Help those who hear my message take it deep into their lives to become a fruit-bearing harvest of freedom and joy. For Your Kingdom, Lord! Amen.

Song:
Bringing in the Sheaves

Words: Knowles Shaw; Music: George A. Minor

1. Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness,
Sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve;
Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Refrain:
Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves;
Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

2. Sowing in the sunshine, sowing in the shadows,
Fearing neither clouds nor winter’s chilling breeze;
By and by the harvest, and the labor ended,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Refrain

3. Going forth with weeping, sowing for the Master,
Tho’ the loss sustained our spirit often grieves;
When our weeping’s over, He will bid us welcome,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

June 25 “Sinner”

Sinner

Some people come to dinner when they are invited. Others come uninvited.
For some reason, a Pharisee named Simon invited Jesus to his home for dinner. There is no record that the invitation extended to the Twelve. Perhaps Simon wanted some private time with Jesus. Maybe he had witnessed the miracles and heard the teaching. There is no way of knowing how many of Simon’s family or friends were in attendance. It is safe to assume Simon employed people to serve his guests but there is no way to know how many people were there. It could have a small gathering or something more like a feast.

A Tearful Intruder
Just as the dinner was getting underway, a woman, known in the city as a sinful woman, intruded. Perhaps it was her tears, or the alabaster jar she carried, or the shock of it all, but somehow she penetrated the security of Simon’s home and stood behind Jesus weeping. If Simon made an effort to remove her, Jesus must have stopped him. Still weeping, she knelt before Jesus and began washing His feet with her tears and drying them with her long, carefully prepared hair. A stunned silence enveloped the house as she took the alabaster jar and broke it open. The fragrance of the perfume filled the air as she anointed Jesus’ feet, still weeping with gratitude and adoration.

How to Treat a Savior
Whatever Simon’s motives were for arranging this dinner, the woman, known for her sins, was now in charge. Simon began to worry that people would connect him with her and assume his guilt. Quietly, he wondered aloud about Jesus. If He really were a prophet, surely He would know who and what this woman was and would put a stop to this outrage.

Jesus looked deep into the man’s eyes. If Simon really wanted to know more about Jesus, he was about to learn.

“Simon, I have something to say to you.”

When Simon agreed, Jesus told the story of a creditor who forgave those who owed him money but could not pay. One owed a small amount and the other a much larger sum.

“Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?”

Simon had to give the obvious answer. Jesus replied.

“You have rightly judged.”

Jesus then made the application with devastating effect.

“…you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil.

Simon was speechless. Since he knew he was righteous, gratitude for sins forgiven had never entered his mind. Jesus went on.

“…her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.

Jesus, smiling, gently brushed a tear away from the woman’s blushing cheek.

“Your sins are forgiven. Go in peace.”

She returned His smile and quietly gathered her broken alabaster jar, stood tall and straight and, taking a deep breath, left the Pharisee’s house without a trace of shame.

Scriptures:
Luke: 7:18-28

Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat. And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” So he said, “Teacher, say it.” “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.” Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, may I never lose my grateful heart. You have forgiven me much so I will love You much. Help me to never forget that my thanksgiving is like anointing oil to You. My tears of gratitude are precious in Your sight. My love for You is like refreshing water to Your being. May I always remember how to minister to You with a grateful heart and words of love. Thank You, Jesus.

Song:
Oh How I Love Jesus

Words and Music: Verses, Frederick Whitfield; Refrain, Traditional

1. There is a name I love to hear,
I love to sing its worth;
it sounds like music in my ear,
the sweetest name on earth.

Refrain:
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
because he first loved me!

2. It tells me of a Savior’s love,
who died to set me free;
it tells me of his precious blood,
the sinner’s perfect plea.

Refrain

3. It tells of one whose loving heart
can feel my deepest woe;
who in each sorrow bears a part
that none can bear below.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

June 24 “Arise!”

Arise!

Sometimes on the saddest of days, we are sure of the grief the day will bring.
And sometimes we are wrong. After the healing of the Centurion’s beloved servant, Jesus traveled to a town called Nain. Just a few miles from Nazareth, this village was on the road from Galilee to Jerusalem. Nain means, “delightful.” Nain would have faded into the obscurity of most small towns except for the amazing thing that happened as Jesus entered the gates.

Total Loss
It is difficult to calculate the totality of the loss suffered by a woman of Nain. Sometime before Jesus came, she, like so many wives, lost her husband. There was little a widow could do in that culture to support herself. Until her children could support her, she would live at the mercy of other family members.

By the time of Jesus, her only son—all she had left from her husband—was a grown man. There is no record of his having his own wife and children to support so he was probably one of those brave men who took on responsibilities as they came to him.

He was her life! Perhaps his mother could see reflections of his father in his eyes or hear notes of her husband’s voice when he sang. Maybe certain mannerisms reminded the man’s mother of his father. What we know for sure is that the love between them was great and the home, although a small one, was a functional one, creating a space for them in village society. How do we know this? Dr. Luke’s description of events gives us hints.

The unthinkable happened; the young man died. We are not told how he died, some sudden or lingering sickness, or a random, senseless accident, or perhaps a crime of violence, but with his death, this man’s mother lost everything.

Tears at the Town Gate
Jesus arrived at the entrance to the town at the same moment the man’s funeral procession was leaving. A large crowd followed the open coffin, surrounding his body with public grief far beyond anything professional mourners could have produced. This parade of tears speaks of the heart of the village for this widow. Perhaps other widows had mourned in a similar procession when their husbands died. Thoughtful, observant people took civic pride in the way the young man sacrificed to provide for his mother. Their sadness extended beyond the day’s events to the uncertain future of a woman who had lost so much.

Two Processions Meet
Jesus and the Twelve stood to the side of the road to let the funeral procession pass. When the open coffin approached Jesus, He halted the mourners. He focused on the grieving widow and spoke these impossible words,

“Do not weep.”

“Do not weep?” How was that even possible? Those in the crowd who knew who Jesus was and what He had done wondered what might happen next. Those who did not know Him were offended by His presumption. They all watched in wonder as Jesus spoke to the dead man in the open coffin:

“Young man, I say to you, arise.”

The divided crowd was silent but on the verge of protest when the man sat up in the coffin began to speak to them. Jesus helped him out of the coffin and presented him to his mother. In profound silence, with scarcely single breath among them, the people watched the most unlikely reunion. As if on cue, they broke into praise of God, proclaiming Jesus to be a prophet. From these town gates, this story spread throughout Judea.

Nain means, “delightful.”

Scriptures:
Luke: 7:11-17

Now it happened, the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and a large crowd. And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother. Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen up among us”; and, “God has visited His people.” And this report about Him went throughout all Judea and all the surrounding region.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You can turn a day from tears to rejoicing with the sound of Your voice! You called my soul from the grave, from death to life, and I came out rejoicing. Death does not have the final word—you do, Lord! And Your word is life and that everlasting! You break all kinds of chains that would bind me and set me free to love You with heart, soul, mind, and strength! This I will do, rejoicing all the while for tears become laughter at Your command! Amen and Amen.

Song:
Mourning into Dancing

Words and Music: Tommy Walker

He’s turned my mourning
Into dancing again. He’s lifted my sorrows.
And I can’t stay silent.
I must sing for His joy has come.

Where there once was only hurt
You gave Your healing hand.
Where there once was only pain
You brought comfort like a friend.
I feel the sweetness of Your love
Piercing my darkness.
I see the bright and morning sun
As it ushers in Your joyful gladness.

Your anger lasts For a moment in time
But Your favor is here
And will be on me for all my lifetime.

He’s turned my mourning
Into dancing again. He’s lifted my sorrows.
And I can’t stay silent
I must sing for His joy has come.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.