May 10 “Forgiveness”

Forgiveness

Peter thought he was doing fine when he volunteered to forgive an offending brother seven times.
He wasn’t even close! Jesus told him the limit was seventy times seven, an infinite amount! We don’t have to work hard to imagine the look on the fisherman’s face. How was that even possible? Who had that much grace? While Peter was trying to do the math, Jesus told a story to illustrate what He meant.

A King and His Servants
In the process of settling the accounts with his servants, the king called each one forward. One poor soul owed 10,000 talents and was unable to pay. This was the king’s money given to the servant to invest and bring a profit. Not only was there no profit, the king’s money had disappeared. The king demanded that the servant and his family be sold to replace his losses. At this decree the servant fell on his face at the feet of the king and begged for mercy.

‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’

His genuine sorrow broke the heart of the king. He was moved to forgive the debt and set the servant free. Wonderful. But the story takes a tragic turn.

When the Forgiven do not Forgive
The forgiven, unproductive servant was owed a small amount by another servant. The forgiven one went out and found the fellow who owed him money and demanded immediate payment. The fellow who owed the debt also pled for mercy but was given none. In fact the first servant laid hands on him and demanded payment. Servants could not keep a thing like this quiet. The injustice of all this grieved them deeply and they told the king about it. The king was also grieved.

You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?

He sent the wicked servant, at first slothful and finally cruel, to the prison to be tortured until all was repaid.

The crowd and the disciples with them waited in silence for Jesus to make application of this horrible story. Finally, it came:

“So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”

Peter forgot about the math and began to calculate how much he had been forgiven.

Heavenly Measures
We cannot measure spiritual things with physical tools. Offences to not add up in the same way we count apples. One offence can outnumber a whole bushel. Acts of forgiveness are the same. We have to calculate spiritual things with spiritual tools. Whether we have been much offended or little, our forgiveness should be greater by a large measure. When we compare the forgiveness we have received from Christ, so lavish, so abundant, so readily granted, how can we measure out our forgiveness in lesser amounts?

It isn’t easy to do. The wounded heart wants to tend its wounds. The offended mind never wants to forget the hurtful words spoken. But we are more than mind and heart; we are also spirit—that part of us that knows God. His Spirit is there and He helps us forgive and forget and go on to real joy.

Scriptures:
Matthew 18:21-35
Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I up to seventy times seven. Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
Philippians 3:12-14 NKJV
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You have forgiven me! Help me be fast to forgive others. Keep me from sinful pride in my own spirituality; that is folly. Help me measure my life by heavenly instruments—grace, mercy, compassion. Don’t let me be hindered by grievances. Help me to let go of the bad things that have happened and to hold on to the good things. I want to press on for You, Lord Jesus, until I hear You say “Well done!” Amen and Amen.

Song:
When We See Christ
Words and Music: Ester Kerr Rusthoi

1. Oft times the day seems long, Our trials hard to bear.
We´re tempted to complain, to murmur and despair.
But Christ will soon appear to catch his bride away!
All tears forever over in God’s eternal day!

Refrain:
It will be worth it all when we see Jesus!
Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ.
One glimpse of his dear face, all sorrow will erase.
So, bravely run the race till we see Christ.

2. At times the sky seems dark, with not a ray of light;
We’re tossed and driven on, no human help in sight.
But there is One in heaven, Who knows our deepest care;
Let Jesus solve your problems, just go to him in prayer.

Refrain

3. Life’s day will soon be o’re, all storms forever past;
We’ll cross the great divide to Glory, safe at last!
We’ll share the joys of heaven: a harp, a home, a crown;
The tempter will be banished, We’ll lay our burdens down.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

May 9 “Presence”

Presence

The presence of Jesus with those who follow Him is the determining factor.
In this passage. Jesus talks about the church, the “ekklesia”—“the called out ones.” To be a part of the church that Jesus is building means that we have been called out of the world and into fellowship with one another. When Jesus teaches about what to do when someone offends us, He is speaking about a brother or sister. The presence of Jesus rests on both the offender and the offended so the solution involves Him. He is the Peacemaker in the family.

When It’s Just the Two of You
It isn’t two—there are three. Jesus is there. A truth-session between the two men must be presided over by the third party—Jesus. When His Spirit prevails, brotherhood is reestablished.

Take it to the Church
If one party in the conflict is wrong and will not repent, the matter must go before the family. In matters of congregational concern, this can be done publicly. In more private conflicts, representatives of the church may stand in for the whole family. The point of the meeting is to avoid a “my word against his word” situation. The presence of Jesus is presiding over this process. A unrepentant person proven guilty proves also that he/she is not really one of the “called out ones” and must be treated as an outsider until repentance comes.

Power to the Church
One of the most intriguing statements of Jesus follows:

“…whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

At first this seems to be an inordinate amount of power to be given to people. When we think of the incredible power of prayer given to Christ-followers and the multiplied effect of the church gathered in worship and witness, we can begin to understand what Jesus means.

  • When we worship God in Spirit and Truth, we are binding the powers of hell and loosing the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • When we teach little ones the Jesus Story, we are binding their hearts to Him and loosing the Spirit of God in their lives.
  • When we pray the prayer of faith for the sick, anointing them with oil as Pastor James commands, we are binding the force of the illness and loosing the healing virtue of the Lord.
  • When we tell the Jesus Story in worship and/or witness, we are binding the hindering forces of Hell and loosing a flood of grace.

Heaven takes account of what we bind and loose on earth as the work of the ministry continues in the lives of the “called out ones.”

The Power of Agreement
Agreement binds believers together. Agreement in Jesus’ name binds heaven and earth together. Anything in the will of God is possible. Knowing the will of God, we can ask for what God wants and it will be done. This is the power of the concerted prayer of the church. The record in the Book of Acts is impressive:

  • The coming of Spirit-baptism at Pentecost and Peter preached a sermon with thousands saved,
  • A lame man healed at the hour of prayer,
  • Prison doors shaking open when the church prayed, and
  • Direction for missions given when elders prayed and fasted, just to name a few instances.

Why? What is the source of this power of heaven flowing though the earth?

It is the presence of Jesus. He is with us and all things are possible.

Scriptures:
Matthew 18:15-20
“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, save me from conflicts with my brothers and sisters. At best they serve only as distractions from the mission. When I am wrong, grant me the spirit of repentance. When the other one is wrong, grant me the grace of forgiveness and then help us both get back to work. Your presence binds us together and our agreement binds the forces of the enemy and looses the power of the Spirit. O Lord, send the power just now! Amen and amen.

Song:
Old Time Power
Words and Music: Charles D. Tillman

1. They were in an upper chamber,
They were all with one accord,
When the Holy Ghost descended
As was promised by the Lord.

Refrain:
O Lord, send the pow’r just now,
O Lord, send the pow’r just now;
O Lord, send the pow’r just now
And baptize every one.

2. Yes, the pow’r from Heav’n descended
With the sound of rushing wind;
Tongues of fire came down upon them,
As the Lord said He would send.

Refrain

3. Yes, this old-time pow’r was given
To our fathers who were true;
This is promised to believers,
And we all may have it too.

Refrain

For a detailed article on this topic go to https://stevephifer.com/the-power-of-reconciliation/ 

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

May 8 “Lost”

Lost

Losses do not have to be permanent. Jesus deals in finding what is lost and saving it.
The book of Revelation indicates that Heaven keeps books. Things do not get lost in the cracks for there are none. No life is overlooked. Wrongs are noted as are deeds of mercy and kindness. Prayers are collected for all eternity.

Jesus was concerned about the children He saw every day. He saw parents who were too busy to care for their children. He saw children working in the fields and in the shops at too early an age. Life was hard for the little ones but it served to prepare the survivors for adult life. He pronounced a most solemn warning on anyone who harmed them and He held all adults responsible for their welfare. Far from despised, children should be cared for by adults. Each one has an angel in direct contact with God Almighty.

The Mission
In this context of love for children, Jesus articulated His mission:

“For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.”

The pronoun “that” is not specific. What was lost that Jesus came to seek and to save? The answer is a many-fold one.

  • People were lost. More than once, He was moved with compassion toward the people because they were leaderless, “like sheep without a shepherd,” He described them. He was the Good Shepherd who would seek people and save them.
  • The nation was lost. These were supposed to be the People of God yet their history was full of apostasy and idolatry. They had failed time and again to live up to their covenant with God. Now they sought to serve God in a Roman context, a hopeless endeavor.
  • The world was lost. Israel was supposed to be a witness to the world of a loving Creator God who had spoken His love to the World. The world paid little attention to this pale light and continued on in darkness.
  • Innocence was lost. It happened long before any of them or even the patriarchs were born. It happened in the Garden of Eden. Sin replaced fellowship with God. Pain supplanted pleasure. Work became a burden and joy was displaced by loneliness. An angel with a flaming sword blocked any hope of a return to innocence.

Jesus came to change all of this. To seek the lost one, the lonely one, the exhausted one, and give him/her hope again. A second Adam had come to undo what the first Adam did. A new Eve would emerge from those rescued by Jesus, the Church, the Mother of all Living in Christ and the beloved Bride of Christ.

There was much yet to be done to complete the Mission. Already, Jesus was searching for the lost sheep who were ready to return to the fold. He would leave the ninety and nine in the care of the under-shepherds and scour the mountain passages and deep valleys calling to the lost ones to come to Him.

And He finds us! He found you; perhaps as a lost adult or perhaps like He found me, as one of His precious children. When He found us, a party broke out in Heaven. Angels danced and sang, making the doorposts shake. Lighting the whole party was the broad smile on the Father’s face.

Scriptures:
Matthew 18:10-14
“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
Romans 5:12-17 NKJV
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned — (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)
Revelation 22:17 NKJV
And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You came and found me! You saved me from a life of sin! Now I am a part of the Ninety and nine, the Church. Lead me Lord! Help me love the children of my church, my town, my nation, the world! Send Your workers, Lord, into dangerous places in this world where children are held in poverty, hunger, peril, and hopelessness. Speak to Your Church to support those whom You have called to go. Lord, help us join You in the search for that which is lost so we can soon join in the heavenly celebration. Amen.

Song:
A New Name in Glory
Words and Music: C. Austin Miles

1. I was once a sinner, but I came
Pardon to receive from my Lord.
This was freely given, and I found
That He always kept His word.

Refrain:
There’s a new name Written down in glory,
And it’s mine, oh yes, it’s mine!
And the white-robed Angels sing the story,
“A sinner has come home.”
For there’s a new name written down in glory,
And it’s mine, oh yes, it’s mine!
With my sins forgiven I am bound for heaven,
Nevermore to roam.

2. I was humbly kneeling at the cross,
Fearing naught but God’s angry frown,
When the heavens opened and I saw
That my name was written down.

Refrain

3 In the Book ’tis written, “Saved by grace.”
Oh the joy that came to my soul!
Now I am forgiven, and I know
By the blood I am made whole.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

May 7 “Offenses”

Offenses

Offenses: We all are subject to them. We are all capable of delivering them. It is the human condition.
Cruelty and injustice offends people who are the victims. Sin offends God. Revenge for offenses received only offends the offender more deeply. Nothing is solved. No issues are resolved. The inertia of offense continues to drive the train off the rails until a life is wasted. Who can stop this?

Only Jesus.

Children
A few days ago we sang, “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” It is more than a song. It is a fact. Adults who swim in the sea of offenses bear the responsibility of their choices, but children are at the mercy of the adults in their lives. Jesus holds those who would offend them to the highest of standards of behavior.

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

How do we offend children? By withholding the Gospel from them. Children have a marvelous capacity to believe. When they hear about Jesus, He comes to them. He is a friend and even a playmate to them. To withhold Jesus from them is an offense of the most dreadful kind.

We also offend children by abusing them, either with violence, with hateful words, or with neglect. The children may be voiceless, but Jesus feels their offense and wants to send someone to rescue them. These humble, Christ-honoring servants never seek headlines so the world takes little note of them. But Jesus knows.

Our Propensity to Offend
We can do it accidentally with an unkind word or a thoughtless opinion better left unspoken. It can happen to us in the same way. A large part of maturity is contained in how we handle offenses. Do we forgive and try to forget? Or do we hold on to them? If we do it is like giving them a mental hothouse in which to take root and grow into a foul smelling, poisonous growth that steals our energy.  It is much better to forgive and try to forget. In humility we must remember that we are likely to offend and will want to be forgiven. We must give what we want to receive.

Identify the Cause
An offense is a reaction; something causes us to offend others. Perhaps we are striking back at someone who has struck us a damaging blow. Jesus covered this in the Sermon on the Mount. We need to go deeper than the event to see the root cause. Jesus talked about the hands, the feet, and the eye as causes of offensive behavior. Looking carefully at our lives, are their habits in our hands, or felonies in our feet, or evil visions before our eyes that lead us to offensive words and deeds? Deal with those things while there is time! It is only wisdom.

Offending God
Our sins offend God and there is nothing we can do to undo what we have done. But there is something we can do starting from now—we can turn our lives over to Jesus. He bore the offense of God on the cross. By faith in Him we can be free from these sins. By His indwelling Spirit, we can be changed from an offender to one who pleases God.

Scriptures:
Matthew 18:6-9
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes! “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.
Romans 5:18-21
Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, my sins were offensive to You, but You did not treat me as I deserved. You dealt with me according to Your mercy and grace. Thank You, Jesus! Help me to walk in the Spirit today. Prevent me from offending those who love You and serve You. They are my brothers and sisters and do not deserve anything but my love and encouragement. Help me to never offend those who are seeking for You. Even when they revile Your name or seek to offend me, help me to respond with grace. Lord Jesus, be with the abused children of this world. Send them loving hands and healing arms. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Song:
Grace that Is Greater
Words: Julia H. Johnson; Music: D. B. Towner

1. Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt,
yonder on Calvary’s mount out-poured,
there where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.

Refrain:
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
grace, grace, God’s grace,
grace that is greater than all our sin.

2. Dark is the stain that we cannot hide,
what can avail to wash it away!
Look! there is flowing a crimson tide;
whiter than snow you may be today.

Refrain

3. Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
freely bestowed on all who believe;
you that are longing to see his face,
will you this moment his grace receive

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

May 6 “Children”

Children

There was a question from the Tax Collectors and another from the Disciples. Children figured in both answers.
Arriving at Capernaum, tax collectors asked the Disciples if Jesus paid the Temple Tax. This was an attempt to find some minor infraction of Jewish law with which to attack Jesus.

When Peter came into a house to bring the question to Jesus, the Lord answered the question with a question before Peter had chance to speak.

“What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?”

This question contained an inherent claim to a different relationship with the Temple. Jesus called the Temple, “My Father’s House.” He was not just another “son of man”—He was the Son of God!. As such, He owed no taxes—He was the heir!

When Peter correctly answered, “From strangers,” Jesus declared,

“Then the sons are free.”

Like the priests who served in the Temple, Jesus was free from tax obligations. Nevertheless, He instructed His men to go fishing and catch a fish. The tax money was in the fish’s mouth.

Who Is the Greatest?
Men are competitive; there is no secret in this revelation. The Disciples were no exception; they were following Jesus and competing with each other at the same time. Possibly feeling empowered by this new found tax exemption they asked Jesus for a job evaluation. Of the Twelve, three were known to be chosen for talks and field trips apart from the others. But the meaning of this was unclear. Peter was always the first to speak, but he was also prone to misspeak. They wanted to know who the “A” students in the class were so they asked Jesus:

“Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Jesus called a little child to His side. He sat on a rock and made quick friends with the little one. With unerring discernment, the child responded to the friendship of Jesus with smiles and giggles. Finally, when everyone had taken in the familiar sight of a happy child safe in the arms of a loving adult, Jesus spoke. The child was His answer. The greatest among His followers must be like a child, simple, trusting, innocent.

Childlike, not Childish
Jesus was not promoting immaturity; He was encouraging childlike faith and obedience. An orderly child does not argue with authority. He or she trusts those who know more than a child knows. They offer purity and energy to every task as if it were a game to be played and enjoyed. Far from immature, to live this way before God and men is maturity at its greatest depth. This is no accident of temperament; it is a choice to humble ourselves to a level of childlike trust in Jesus. Observers of Christians through the ages repeatedly speak of truly great servants of God as humble and singular in focus; people who love God and love people.

Recovering Innocence
Perhaps the greatest miracle of redemption through the blood of Christ is that we can recover our innocence. The blood of Jesus covers sins—our sins—and we stand before God as if we had never sinned! The indwelling Holy Spirit regenerates our lives so that we no longer resemble the person we were before. As the great hymn says, the blood of Jesus is “of sin the double cure, saves from wrath and makes me pure.” Amen and Amen.

Scriptures:
Matthew 17:14-23; 18:1-5

When they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?” He said, “Yes.” And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?” Peter said to Him, “From strangers.” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you.”
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.
Micah 7:19 NKJV
He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins Into the depths of the sea.
Psalm 103:11-12 NKJV
For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Colossians 2:13-14 NKJV
And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I choose to trust You as would a little child. Your Word is all I need. I can question, but just for the sake of understanding, not to question Your authority or wisdom. I don’t have to understand any more than child must understand things far beyond a child’s capacity to understand. Thank You, Lord, for forgiving my sins and casting them far away. You nailed the indictment against me to Your cross. Before You, my innocence is restored to that of a child. Help me stay that way! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Song:
Rock of Ages
Words: Augustus Toplady; Music: Thomas Hastings

1. Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
let me hide myself in thee;
let the water and the blood,
from thy wounded side which flowed,
be of sin the double cure;
save from wrath and make me pure.

2. Not the labors of my hands
can fulfill thy law’s demands;
could my zeal no respite know,
could my tears forever flow,
all for sin could not atone;
thou must save, and thou alone.

3. Nothing in my hand I bring,
simply to the cross I cling;
naked, come to thee for dress;
helpless, look to thee for grace;
foul, I to the fountain fly;
wash me, Savior, or I die.

4. While I draw this fleeting breath,
when mine eyes shall close in death,
when I soar to worlds unknown,
see thee on thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
let me hide myself in thee.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

May 5 “Helpless”

Helpless

To feel helpless is to be hopeless. All hope of rescue or relief, of an answer or assistance, is gone.
The helpless one has exhausted all resources and the problem remains. All one can do is seek a higher power. This was the case for a man and his son and for the Lord’s disciples.

A Disrupted Home
A father came kneeling to Jesus, desperate for help and finding none to this point.

“Lord, have mercy on my son…”

He had gone through channels, asking the disciples to cast out the demon tormenting his son and disrupting their home. The foul spirit affected the boy’s mental processes giving him violent seizures. The boy was tossed about by the demon, even into the fire and into deep waters. The man was helpless before this hellish invasion. The disciples did their best but they, too, were helpless in dealing with this particular demon. It was in a class they had never before encountered.

Jesus responded in kindness to the man and with impatience toward His disciples. When would they learn?

“O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you?
How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.”

Jesus rebuked the demon and it left the boy immediately. Later, the disciples asked why the demon obeyed Jesus but not them. Why were they helpless in the face of this one demon? Jesus informed them that sometimes fasting is required in addition to prayer. This was that kind of demon.

Trading Helplessness for Hope
When we do not have the answers, we must remember that Jesus does have them. The answers may be beyond our capacity to understand but that does not make us hopeless—we remain hopeful because Jesus is our hope. He is never helpless so we are never hopeless. It may be that we need to turn up our spiritual thermostats a bit and pray more or pray better. It would be good to add fasting to our prayers. Find scriptures to memorize and act upon. The Christ-follower is never hopeless although we may feel helpless.

Mustard Seed and Mountains
The helplessness of the disciples came from inadequate faith. Jesus called it unbelief. Therefore the hope of the disciples and for us is in believing—faith! All it takes to move the mountain in our path that intimidates us and makes us feel helpless is faith the size of a mustard seed. With this faith, we can speak to mountains and watch the earth quake as the mountain moves out of our way.

Tough Times Ahead
Jesus knew what was coming for His men. They would indeed be helpless in the Garden when Jesus was arrested and taken from them. Without hope, they would scatter like frightened birds when He was tried in the courts of men. They would cower in the shadows of the darkened mid-day sun when Jesus died on the cross. They would huddle together in hopelessness while Jesus lingered in the tomb.

Finally, the message of what was to come started getting through to the men “…and they were exceedingly sorrowful.”

Scriptures:
Matthew 17:14-23

And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he (“has seizures” NIV)… and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.” Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” Now while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up.” And they were exceedingly sorrowful.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are my help and my hope. You have promised never to leave me or forsake me. Therefore, when I cannot feel Your presence, You are still with me. When I feel forsaken, it simply isn’t true—You are still with me. When I feel helpless, I will deliberately set my hopes on You in greater measure, disciplining the mind and the body. No demonic force that will ever attack me is stronger than You. Today I am neither helpless or hopeless. I am divinely assisted and my heart rests in great hope. Thank You, Lord! Amen.

Song:
O God Our Help in Ages Past
Words: Isaac Watts; Music: William Croft

1. Our God, our Help in ages past,
our Hope for years to come,
our Shelter from the stormy blast,
and our eternal Home.

2. Under the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
sufficient is Thine arm alone,
and our defense is sure.

3. Before the hills in order stood
or earth received its frame,
from everlasting Thou art God,
to endless years the same.

4. A thousand ages in Thy sight
are like an ev’ning gone,
short as the watch that ends the night
before the rising sun.

5. Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
bears all its sons away;
they fly forgotten, as a dream
dies at the op’ning day.

6. Our God, our Help in ages past,
our Hope for years to come,
be Thou our Guide while life shall last,
and our eternal Home!

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

May 4 “Transfigured”

Transfigured

The miracle on the Mount of Transfiguration is a unique event in the Jesus Story.
It is a great mystery that tantalizes the student of the Bible with possible explanations. One thing is certain; this event proves that God is the God of the living and not the dead. Moses and Elijah join Jesus for a conversation—not their ghosts—but the men themselves! What sort of bodies did they have? Was this a foretaste of the resurrection to come? No one can say for sure. Here is the story.

Up into a High Mountain
Six days after the storm at sea, Jesus took His inner circle, Peter, James, and John up into a high mountain. We can imagine the excitement in the hearts of the three men; there was no predicting what Jesus was going to do. They could never have anticipated what He had in store for them. It began with a transformation of Jesus right in front of them. Tradition calls this a transfiguration, meaning a change in form or appearance. Jesus began to shine with a bright light and His clothes glowed a brilliant white. Suddenly two men stood with Him and conversed with Him. Somehow the disciples knew these men to be Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets.

Nobody knew what to say but that didn’t stop Peter. He made a lame suggestion about putting tents up for them. While this idea was still on Peter’s lips, a bright cloud covered them all. From the cloud came a voice:

“This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”

The three disciples fell on their faces in fear. Shivering in the mountain dust, they felt the strong hand of Jesus touching them and they heard His voice telling them not to fear. When they looked up, all was back to normal. Jesus told them to keep this event to themselves until after He rose from the dead.

As they were coming down the mountain, they were silent for most of the descent. Finally one of them ask Jesus about the belief that Elijah must come before the Messiah. Jesus assured them this had already happened; John had fulfilled that role.

The Transfigured Jesus
This historical event also serves as a metaphor for us today. We encounter Jesus in the pages of the Bible but He does not remain a two-dimensional literary figure. When we repent of our sins and confess Him as our Savior, He begins to shine in our hearts. He emerges from the paper and print of the Book to wear the shining white robes of His righteousness, setting Him apart from all others. He converses with Moses to give us an understanding of the Old Covenant. He reveals Himself in the writings of the prophets. Best of all we sense a glory cloud of heavenly presence and hear the voice of the Father. He is the God of the living and His is “God with Us!”

We echo the words of the Psalmist: “We worship at his holy hill.” We know also that as we behold His glory, we are being changed into His likeness! Transfigured!

Scriptures:
Matthew 17:1-13
Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.” And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.
Psalm 99:9 NKJV
Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at His holy hill; For the Lord our God is holy.
2 Corinthians 3:17-18 NKJV
Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You outshine all others! Let me see Your glory today. I will look for it in the sunrise and sunset and in the noonday sun. I will see Your glory in the Scriptures and in the faces of my brothers and sisters. You will temper the Law and You will interpret the Prophets. I will seek the glory of Your presence and listen for the voice of the Father when You speak to me. This mountain today will be my mountain of Transfiguration! Amen!

Song:
Fairest Lord Jesus
Traditional

1. Fairest Lord Jesus,  ruler of all nature,
O thou of God and man the Son,
Thee will I cherish,  Thee will I honor,
thou, my soul’s glory, joy, and crown.

2 Fair are the meadows,  fairer still the woodlands,
robed in the blooming garb of spring:
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer
who makes the woeful heart to sing.

3 Fair is the sunshine,  fairer still the moonlight,
and all the twinkling starry host:
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer
than all the angels heaven can boast.

4 Beautiful Savior! Lord of all the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor, praise, adoration,
now and forevermore be thine.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

May 3 “Confessions”

Confessions

Confessions are more than everyday statements. Confessions are the stuff of change.
I am sure Jesus was alone with His disciples when He asked them this question:

“Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”

His question contained a confession—He called Himself the Son of Man. This is a title almost exclusively used by Jesus in reference to Himself. Scholars debate why this was His practice with many explanations offered. Let’s take the most obvious view: Jesus was both the Son of God and the Son of Man. His mother was Mary, a normal human being who was “overshadowed” by the Holy Spirit when Jesus was conceived within her. To the followers of Jesus, His confession that he was a human being was not unusual. To Jesus it meant much more. Chances are He framed the question to lead His men from the obvious confession that He was a man to the amazing confession that He was indeed the Son of God.

Getting the Answer Right.
The men gave Him a summary of public opinion and Jesus made it personal.

“But who do you say that I am?”

I can imagine the 12 of them searching each other’s faces. Who would speak aloud what they all were thinking? Peter, of course.

“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

There it was out in the open. Peter waited to hear what Jesus would say. The answer was not long in coming. Yes! Peter, you didn’t just figure this out on your own. My father revealed it to you. This is the confession that will serve as the foundation of my church! My church will be impervious to the powers of hell itself and people will be freed from sin. With this confession the powers of hell will be bound and the streams of grace will be opened.

Then Jesus told them to keep quiet about it. Why? Because things were about to change. They would make a trip to Jerusalem and to all appearances the enemies will win. He tried to tell them about His death and the new life to follow. They didn’t get it. Peter, so recently eloquent in his confession, took Jesus aside and gently corrected Him. Suddenly the confession of Jesus changed. Peter the Rock became “Satan” because of his refusal to listen to Jesus.

To Follow Jesus
Not only would Jesus bear a cross but so would everyone who followed Him. The world would be turned upside down. To save one’s life, lose it in following Jesus. What is as valuable as a man’s soul? What would we trade for it? Judgment is coming! Eternal reward or eternal punishment, which will it be?

His heavy words hung in the air. He looked each man in the face before closing the subject. Some of their number would see the end when it came. Among them, young John, did not know that Jesus spoke of him. In decades to come, John would grow old preaching the Jesus Story only to be bound in prison on a deserted island. There he would see the coming of the Son of Man who is the Son of God in all His glory and John would share his vision with us.

Scriptures:
Matthew 16:13-28
When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ. From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I confess that You are the Son of Man and the Son of God. There has never been anyone like You. I will take up my cross today and follow You. I will deny myself today. I will lose my life in Your will today so that today I might find it again. I will align myself with Your amazing Church built strong and steady on the Rock of this Confession: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!” Hell can stand back and watch, raging all the while, but my voice will not be stilled. My confession stands! In Jesus’ Name.

Song:
The Solid Rock
Words: Edward Mote; Music: William B. Bradbury

1. My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.

2. When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
in ev’ry high and stormy gale
my anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.

3. His oath, His covenant, His blood
support me in the ‘whelming flood;
when all around my soul gives way
He then is all my hope and stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.

4. When He shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in Him be found,
dressed in His righteousness alone,
faultless to stand before the throne.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

May 2 “Leaven”

Leaven

There was a substance in the brains of the Pharisees and Sadducees that ruined their thinking.
Jesus called it “leaven,” that living substance that ferments bread and makes it rise. Aside from the literal meaning the dictionary says this:

“a pervasive influence that modifies something…”

We might call it spiritual stupidity.

After surveilling Jesus for months observing signs and wonders by His hand, these guys asked Him for a sign. They were not the first ones to make this request so Jesus gave them the same answer as the others. They were a wicked and adulterous generation, too blind to see what was in front of their eyes. How was it they could read weather signs in the sky but they could not see the multitude of signs and the amazing wonders of healing and restoration and deliverance from the hand of Jesus? The only further sign they would get from Him was the sign of Jonah. He knew they wouldn’t get that one either.

On the Other Side
Jesus and the Twelve departed from the wicked and adulterous leaders and crossed to the other side of the lake. The men suddenly remembered what they had forgotten—bread. Jesus was still ruminating about the stupidity of the Pharisees and Sadducees and was not at all thinking about dinner. He advised the men:

“Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”

The last thing Jesus wanted was an outbreak of stupid among His men. He knew that each of them had a capacity for small thinking. They easily forgot important things. He did not want their thinking to be spoiled by some leavening agent.

They thought He was talking about dinner. He rebuked them:

“O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? Do you not yet understand, or remember…”

That was it—that was the dangerous leaven corrupting their minds. They had too little faith and understanding and too much forgetfulness. These were the ones who had forgotten how to feed a multitude when Jesus was in command. He wasn’t talking about bread; he was talking about spiritual stupidity:

  • Seeing true signs and wonders and asking for a sign, or
  • Complaining that a suffering person was healed on the Sabbath, or
  • Assigning the power to deliver from Satan’s grasp to Satan himself.

He was pleading with His men not to be like that.

Faith is the True Leaven
Jesus upbraided the disciples because they did not have enough faith. He had to wonder what it was going to take for them to get it. There was a leavening agent alive in their brains to make them stronger and wiser and bolder as they followed Jesus—faith. Doubt deflates dough in the oven or on the shelf; faith makes it rise.

The doctrines of the leaders were based on self-preservation, not Kingdom expansion. Their arguments were defensive rather than offensive to the status quo. Change was a threat to them and Jesus was all about change.

We, too are quite capable of spiritual stupidity. Like the powerful leaven it is, we must add faith to our thinking so we can understand the times and rise to the occasion.

Scriptures:
Matthew 16:1-12
Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He left them and departed. Now when His disciples had come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have taken no bread.” But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up? How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? — but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, save me from spiritual stupidity! Banish from my brain any of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees—unbelief. Fill me with faith—the leaven of the Kingdom. I have confidence in You. I believe Your story with all my heart. I trust You with all my tomorrows and with this day and the night to follow. “I know whom I have believed and I am persuaded that You are able to keep that which I’ve committed unto You against that day!” Amen and Amen.

Song:
Living by Faith
Words: James Wells, R.E. Winsett; Music: J.L. Heath

1. I care not today what the morrow may bring,
If shadow or sunshine or rain,
The Lord I know ruleth o’er everything,
And all of my worries are vain.

Refrain:
Living by faith in Jesus above,
Trusting, confiding in His great love;
From all harm safe in His sheltering arm,
I’m living by faith and feel no alarm.

2. Though tempests may blow and the storm clouds arise,
Obscuring the brightness of life,
I’m never alarmed at the overcast skies—
The Master looks on at the strife.

Refrain

3. I know that He safely will carry me through,
No matter what evils betide;
Why should I then care though the tempest may blow,
If Jesus walks close to my side.

Refrain

4 Our Lord will return for His loved ones some day,
Our troubles will then all be o’er;
The Master so gently will lead us away,
Beyond that blest heavenly shore

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

May 1 “Wilderness”

Wilderness

Finding bread in the wilderness is not easy to do.
This was the second time the disciples had faced this challenge and they seemed unprepared. A crowd of 4000 men plus women and children had been with Jesus in the wilderness for three days with no provisions. Jesus, already motivated by the illnesses, the afflictions, and the spiritual vulnerabilities of the crowd, was moved with compassion for their hunger. He expressed this compassion to His men:

“I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.”

Although it seems amazing to us, the disciples seem to have forgotten about the feeding of a larger multitude just a few days before.

“Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude?”

The only bread to be found in the wilderness is the bread someone had brought with them into the wilderness. The report was seven loaves of bread and a few little fish. Jesus took these meager provisions in His hands and blessed them. At this point surely the disciples remembered that they had done this before. They remembered the miracle in their hands as each piece of fish or hunk of bread they broke and gave to someone in the crowd was replaced by more when they repeated the process.

Food in the Wilderness, Take Two
If the disciples were slow on the uptake, so are we. We are a multitude in the wilderness, hungry for life. We are following Jesus and He is proving to be all that we need. He forgives us and sends His Holy Spirit to take up residence in us. He reveals His Word to us so we can know more about what life is and how it should be lived. He connects us with others on their own wilderness trek and adopts us into His holy family. He delivers us and heals us when are overcome or ill. He makes the wilderness into a garden. Isaiah prophesied this and it happens; time and again, it happens. We find bread where no bread should be. We place the little that we have into the Lord’s powerful hands and it becomes enough—more than enough! This slightly smaller multitude had 7 large baskets full of leftovers! Jesus sent them away, healed, delivered and picking fish out of their teeth with provisions for the trip home! Jesus was Jehovah Jireh, The Lord who Provides, in the flesh.

Sometimes we forget.
One of the most important forms of praise is thanksgiving—remembering what God has done for us in the past. Remembering past wildernesses that bloomed into beautiful gardens encourages us to face the wilderness that surrounds us now. We are not empty handed. We have something to give the Lord, even if it is only a heart full of good intentions. Remember that the contents of the heart changes things and the small, mustard seed-sized faith is enough to grow a mighty tree. The secret is to put what we have in our hands into His hands. With His touch we can see another wilderness become a garden.

Scriptures:
Matthew 15:32-39
Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” Then His disciples said to Him, “Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude?” Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven, and a few little fish.” So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets full of the fragments that were left. Now those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. And He sent away the multitude, got into the boat, and came to the region of Magdala.
Genesis 22:13-14
Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord -Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”
Isaiah 51:1-3
“Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness, You who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were hewn, And to the hole of the pit from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father, And to Sarah who bore you; For I called him alone, And blessed him and increased him.” For the Lord will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, And her desert like the garden of the Lord; Joy and gladness will be found in it, Thanksgiving and the voice of melody.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are the master of the wilderness! Your delight is to lead us someplace dangerous and then provide what we need to face that challenge. You have not called us to a life lived safely behind walls of fear. When we follow You we will find ourselves in a wilderness. We are not alone; You are there. We have something of value we can give You there in the wilderness. We will watch time and time again as You take what we give You and make it enough. Lord Jesus, You are the master of the wilderness! Amen.

Song:
Come and Dine
Words and Music: C. B. Widmeyer

1. Jesus has a table spread
Where the saints of God are fed,
He invites His chosen people, “Come and dine”;
With His manna He doth feed
And supplies our every need:
Oh, ’tis sweet to sup with Jesus all the time!

Refrain:
“Come and dine,” the Master calleth, “Come and dine”;
You may feast at Jesus’ table all the time;
He Who fed the multitude, turned the water into wine,
To the hungry calleth now,

2. “Come and dine.” The disciples came to land,
Thus obeying Christ’s command,
For the Master called unto them, “Come and dine”;
There they found their heart’s desire,
Bread and fish upon the fire;
Thus He satisfies the hungry every time.

Refrain

3. Soon the Lamb will take His bride
To be ever at His side,
All the host of heaven will assembled be;
Oh, ’twill be a glorious sight,
All the saints in spotless white;
And with Jesus they will feast eternally

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.