July 5 “Undivided”

Undivided

Jesus’ message was this: “The Kingdom of God is at hand!”
What was the nature of this Kingdom? Was it a fractured organization, like the kingdoms of men? Or, was there an undivided unity, unbreakable, indissoluble, a living organism of power?

Jesus on Prayer
Dr. Luke describes a private session with the Twelve where Jesus repeated His instructions on prayer first given in the Sermon on the Mount. He again prescribes what we call the Lord’s Prayer. In this setting, Jesus went on to teach the necessity of unity of mind and purpose when we pray.

An undivided purpose will help us continue in prayer, even when answers are delayed. This purposeful repetition is based on the sterling character of God. Persistence in prayer will get the answer. Three steps unite the one praying in this persistence:

“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find;
knock, and it will be opened to you.”

Great promises are given to those whose unity of purpose causes them to persist in prayer.

“For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds,
and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

If even flawed earthly fathers know how to give good things to their children,

“…how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

Effective prayer comes from a unified, undivided heart full of confidence in the power and grace of God.

An old accusation returns.
The default position of the religious leaders who opposed Jesus to explain the power of Jesus over evil spirits was that He was secretly allied with them. Jesus and Satan were on the same side. Nonsense! But it was all they had.

Jesus cast a demon from a man who lost his powers of speech to the hellish invader. When suddenly the man could speak, the multitude marveled at the miracle. Then the powerless leaders accused Jesus of being in league with the devil. Jesus answered the tired charge:

“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?

There was no answer to this, of course. So Jesus elaborated, unmasking a tactic of demonic activity—once expelled, a demon will return to their former host. If that soul is clean but empty, he and some friends move back in with even greater force.

The divided kingdom of priests, Levites, Pharisees, and Sadducees was no match for the undivided Kingdom of God.

“…if I cast out demons with the finger of God,
surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.”

When the Kingdom of God comes upon us, prayers are answered in response to our undivided, persistent prayers of faith. The Lord’s brother, James, who would pastor the Jerusalem church in the years to come, echoed the emphasis of Jesus on praying with an undivided heart. The man who prays from a divided mind will not see answers to his prayers. (James 1:5-8)

Beware of the Empty Heart
When we have been cleansed by Calvary’s stream, we must welcome the Holy Spirit into our hearts to take up residence there. If we let our hearts run on empty, this is Satan’s opportunity. If we continually fill our hearts with the truth and presence of the Almighty, Satan will have no access to them.

Scriptures:
Luke: 11:1-26

Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.” And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs. “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” And He was casting out a demon, and it was mute. So it was, when the demon had gone out, that the mute spoke; and the multitudes marveled. But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.” Others, testing Him, sought from Him a sign from heaven. But He, knowing their thoughts, said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? Because you say I cast out demons by Beelzebub. And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace. But when a stronger than he comes upon him and overcomes him, he takes from him all his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils. He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters. “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, give me an undivided heart! You are the Stronger Man! You guard my heart, keeping me from evil. With an undivided heart, I will pray. “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.” Yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever! Amen.

Song:
We Are One in the Spirit

Traditional

We are one in the Spirit, We are one in the Lord.
We are one in the Spirit, We are one in the Lord.
And we pray that our unity will this day be restored.
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love.
Yes, they’ll know we are Christian by our love.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

July 4 “Ministry”

Ministry

It would seem that something so simple as ministry would be easy to understand.
Really, ministry isn’t simple at all. It has many expressions, some of them obvious and some of them hidden. Jesus came to minister, to be sure, but He also came to receive ministry.

A Question from a Lawyer
In light of the amazing, multiplied success of the 70 disciples sent out to minister at the command of Jesus and in His name, a lawyer brought a question to Jesus.

“Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus entertained his question, answering him with another question.

“What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?”

It was an exercise in the familiar. Everyone knew the answer. It was part of the morning prayer of every faithful Jew, the Shema: “Love God and love your neighbor.”

Jesus gave him an “A,” adding,

“…do this and you will live.”

The lawyer wouldn’t leave it there, and probably with a smirk, asked who his neighbor might be. Instead of answering directly, Jesus told a story, one of His best-known stories.

The Good Samaritan
Jesus invented the tale of a traveler who fell victim to robbers on a public highway. Bleeding on the side of the road, he was ignored by a priest and then by a Levite. The poor man was near to death when a Samaritan stopped to minister to him, dressing his wounds, providing new clothes, and even taking him to an inn for recovery. The Samaritan covered all the expenses and even left provision for the days to come. Then Jesus sprang the question: which one was the true neighbor? The answer was obvious. Before the lawyer could revise and extend his remarks, Jesus told him to live that kind of life.

“Go and do likewise.”

Mary and Martha
Near Jerusalem is the town of Bethany, the home of sisters, Mary and Martha, and their brother, Lazarus. This family regularly ministered to the needs of Jesus and His men. Dr. Luke tells of the beginning of this relationship. Martha welcomed Jesus into their home. She immediately set to work preparing a meal for this large group of hungry men. Hospitality was her gift but this assignment was beyond her normal responsibilities. Her sister, Mary, chose to sit at Jesus’ feet and take in His every word.

Both Mary and Martha loved Jesus but in different ways. Both of them ministered to Jesus but in different ways. There was so much to do, Martha needed her sister’s help. When it was not forthcoming, she complained to Jesus and asked Him to command Mary to get up and get to the kitchen. Jesus’ answer to Martha’s complaint has mystified readers for centuries. He gently rebuked Martha and greatly commended Mary. In this answer, Jesus elevated worship above works. Yes, there was a dinner to prepare, but it could never be as nourishing as time spent with Jesus.

Worship before Works
May we never forget that time spent in the presence of Jesus is never time wasted. Yes, we must serve the Lord by ministering to the needs of others as the Good Samaritan did in the story. We must also learn to minister to the Lord with our praise and adoration. He does not need our worship but He certainly deserves it. It is also the key to our ministry to others for with His touch, we can really touch others in His name. We must, “Go and do likewise.”

Scriptures:
Luke: 10:25-42

And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” So he answered and said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.'” And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.” But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”
And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I want to walk this earth in Your compassion. May I never pass a hurting soul by when You have called me to be his neighbor. I want to love You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love my neighbor as myself. May I learn to sit at Your feet, like Mary of Bethany so that my time in life’s kitchen, like Martha of Bethany, will count the most to ease the pain in this world. I want to minister to You and to minister to others in Your holy Name. Amen.

Song:
We Are Called

Words and Music: Steve Fry

1. We are called to be a royal priesthood That will minister to God
Declare the wisdom of His ways Exalt His character in praise
We are called to yield unto the Spirit That He may form in us
The beauty of the life of Jesus
We’re called to bear His presence And manifest His glory
Called to feel His heart And know authority

Refrain:
And give to Him undying devotion Our full adoration
That He may be pleased To set our hearts
On this one endeavor To worship forever His majesty

2. We are called to keep the Father’s word And meditate upon
The loveliness of Jesus Christ And offer praise our sacrifice
Our worship is responding To the revelations of His name
Bringing pleasure unto Him Whose heart is broken over sin
We’re called to yield our minds Our body soul and spirit
Worship Him the way He wants to hear it

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

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.