September 4 “Wilderness”

Wilderness

There was more than one wilderness in those days.
There was the barren wasteland through which the Jordan River flowed and there was a spiritual wilderness where the hearts of the leaders of the nation made their homes.

The Wilderness of Judea
This was the abandoned, uncultivated region East of Jerusalem stretching all the way to the Dead Sea. Although the Jordan flowed through this region, it retained its desert character with no fertile lands beyond the banks of the stream. It was poor ground for grazing so the land was given over to beasts of the wild and scavengers on the wing. Here John the Baptist preached his call to preparation for Messiah. Here was his pulpit found, his platform, and the fashion of the wilderness—a belt of camel’s hair—was his only vestment.

The Wilderness of a Vacant Religion
Why did the crowds leave their comfortable country homes and city dwellings to travel to a wasteland to hear this strange man and his discomfiting message? The answer is found in the other wilderness, the spiritual wilderness of an apostate religion. A new Temple was under construction to replace the one Zerubbabel had constructed to replace the one King Solomon built centuries before. The whispered scandal was that the Holy of Holies, the heart of any Temple where Jehovah was to be worshipped, was empty. The room was there and the heavy veil intended to shield the Ark of the Covenant from an unholy humanity, but the Ark itself was missing, captured long ago by enemies. Its location is a mystery to this day.

The empty Holy of Holies is the perfect representation of the state of the relationship of God with His Chosen People in the time of Jesus. Because of conquering nations, the leadership had become more political than spiritual. The highest councils and appointed leaders were engaged in the impossible task of maintaining the traditions of Israel and submitting to the Romans. Since the Jewish religion was monotheistic, demanding that only Jehovah was to be worshiped, the people and polytheistic Romans were on a collision course.

The only Spirituality remaining was highly personal, a remnant of faithful worshipers continuing to seek the Kingdom of God, putting their hopes in the promised Messiah. These are the ones who made the trek into the Wilderness of Judea to hear the Man of God and his message for their generation. They followed John into the waters of repentance and baptism.

A Delegation in the Wilderness
The apostate leaders from Jerusalem were wary of any prophet who threatened the delegate balance of life as a Roman province. They quizzed John, there in the wilderness, and he did not pretend to be more than he was, the Forerunner, not the Messiah. In this capacity, John proclaimed his message. Get ready, Messiah is coming!

“I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know.”

A ripple of fear ran through the delegation. Heads turned as security agents hidden in the crowd began to search for the One of whom John spoke. Laughing, John continued,

It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.”

Still laughing, John welcomed the next repentant sinner into the waters of the Jordan.

Scriptures:
John 1: 19-28

Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?” He said: “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,”‘ as the prophet Isaiah said.” Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees. And they asked him, saying, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” John answered them, saying, “I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.” These things were done in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, repentance is one of the things that makes grace really, really amazing. I understand that repentance is more than mere sorrow. Repentance involves a deep sorrow rooted not in regret for getting caught, but a true hatred for the sin itself. Repentance means to completely reverse course, forsaking the sin. It is the pathway out of the wilderness. This painful task is met with Your smile, not Your frown. May I ever pursue actions and thoughts that make You smile. Amen.

Song:
Just as I Am

Words: Charlotte Elliot; Music: William B. Bradbury

1. Just as I am, without one plea,
but that thy blood was shed for me,
and that thou bidd’st me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

2. Just as I am, and waiting not
to rid my soul of one dark blot,
to thee, whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

3. Just as I am, though tossed about
with many a conflict, many a doubt,
fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

4. Just as I am, thou wilt receive,
wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
because thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

September 3 “Flesh”

Flesh

John does not tell the Christmas story.
Instead he provides a brief meditation on the meaning of the Incarnation, the fundamental mystery of the Jesus Story. The world is always ready to hear another story about a fine young man ahead of his times, misunderstood by his contemporaries, and cut down in the in his prime by the ignorant, uncaring mob. That is not the Jesus Story. This story is one of intentionality. Jesus was on a mission to save the world. So much entertainment today concerns itself with superheroes who save an imaginary, computer-generated movie world. Forget that nonsense. This story is real. This eternal Word, present and active at Creation and ruling from the Throne of Heaven, had come to do both a cosmic and personal work:

  • Jesus will personally defeat the powers of evil.
  • Jesus will provide true forgiveness for our sins and open up a “new and living way” for us to walk with God in the power of the Holy Spirit.

John’s description here. and a few verses later, brings these lofty concepts into real life.

“The Word Became Flesh”
Oh, the wonder of this, the mystery of the Incarnation! It wasn’t enough for God to raise up another prophet. This mission was more than even the highest angels could achieve. This required the Second Person of the Godhead, eternally existent with the Father and the Spirit, to travel across the impossible divide between heaven and earth, between the human and the Divine. Only Jesus could do this. We can taste John’s wonder at this in his words.

“…the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

John’s testimony towers above the other remarkable, amazing confessions found in the Jesus Story.

  • John the Baptist would proclaim that Jesus was the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
  • Peter would confess that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
  • Only John the Beloved called Him the Word, and not just the Word, remote and mysterious, to be believed but not understood, but the Word made flesh and dwelling among us

These testimonies are not academic conclusions drawn from careful observation or from the obedient study of accepted scholars. These accounts are the very breath of God, the same breath that God breathed into Adam to give mankind life. This is real, spiritual, invisible yet full of power and effect.

The Nativity
Even without the narrative of Christ’s birth, John tells us more about Christmas than any of the other evangelists. When the old, old story unfolds before us,

  • We wonder at the plan of God with Mary and Joseph,
  • We hear the angel choir singing over the shepherds, and
  • We join the Wise Men in their journey of adoration,

Yet all the while, this is the wonder that draws us in—the Incarnation—the Eternal Word made flesh and dwelling among us.

  • The Eternal One entered into Time.
  • The Omniscient One emptied Himself of all knowledge except what an infant knows.
  • The Omnipotent One, laid aside His divine power to depend on the Holy Spirit.
  • The Omnipresent One, abandoned heaven to dwell in the earth, to be only there and only then.

John the Baptist declared that grace and truth came into the world through Jesus and it is so. May we never lose the wonder of Jesus, the Living Word, who was and is and is to come.

Scriptures:
John 1: 14-18

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.'” And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
Hebrews 10:19-25
Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 8:10-12 NKJV
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
Colossians 2:13-15 NKJV
And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I am so amazed at Your journey from eternity to time, from heaven to earth, from omnipotence to infantile weakness, from omnipresence to a manger in Bethlehem, and from the source of all knowledge to the dim light of a baby’s knowledge, emotions, and feelings alone. May I never lose the wonder of the Incarnation. May I never confuse it with tinsel or twinkling lights or sugar cookies. This journey is the real “Joy to the World!” Amen and amen.

Song:
Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne

Words: E. S. Elliot; Music: Timothy R. Mattews

1. Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown,
When Thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room
For Thy holy nativity.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

2. Heaven’s arches rang when the angels sang,
Proclaiming Thy royal degree;
But of lowly birth didst Thou come to earth,
And in great humility.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

3. The foxes found rest, and the birds their nest
In the shade of the forest tree;
But Thy couch was the sod, O Thou Son of God,
In the deserts of Galilee.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

4. Thou camest, O Lord, with the living word
That should set Thy people free;
But with mocking scorn, and with crown of thorn,
They bore Thee to Calvary.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

5.  When the heavens shall ring, and the angels sing,
At Thy coming to victory,
Let Thy voice call me home, saying “Yet there is room,
There is room at My side for thee.”
My heart shall rejoice, Lord Jesus,
When Thou comest and callest for me.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

September 2 “Light”

Light

John, called the Baptist, came preaching in the wilderness. The multitudes found him there.
He spoke of a Light that was soon to come into the world. He made it clear that he was not that Light, only a witness to it. John’s message was one of preparation for the Light to come. He is called the Forerunner, the one Isaiah prophesied, a voice,

“crying in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord.”

There was much to be done to prepare the way of the Lord. The Light was coming and those who prepared would be blessed and those who failed to prepare would be blinded by the Light but go away annoyed and unchanged.

The Wilderness Highway
In the desert–the dry hearts of the people–a Highway must be built, but barriers stood in the way.

  • Valleys of apathy must be filled with passion for God.
  • Tall, ancient hills of tradition had to feel the grader’s blade.
  • Crooked places where life turned away from the ways of God had to be corrected, made straight for generations to follow.
  • Rough roads of carelessness and misplaced values must be made smooth by daily obedience to the Word of the Lord.

The Glory of the Lord was coming, coming right down this Wilderness Highway! John’s message was repentance of sin with the sign of baptism. The ancient Jordan, the historic passageway to the Promised Land, provided the cleansing stream.

The True Light
John made it clear that he was not that Light, only the witness to it. The True Light would shine brighter than any yet seen. His Light would pierce the darkness of men’s souls to reveal the secret things known only to God and to the sinner’s heart. The Light would also speak of repentance for that is the point of the revealing light. It would do no good to reveal the secret sins of the heart and not offer a remedy.

  • This True Light was a healing Light shining from the One who invented light. For those who would welcome the Light, darkness would flee from wounded hearts. Understanding would shine into the darkest corners of the seeking soul, ending fear and doubt and bringing peace.
  • The Light would be a transforming Light, addictions would give way to freedom, blindness to sight, deafness to music, and frozen limbs to dancing. Demons who thrive in the dark would flee this Light in terror for there was power even in the sound of the Savior’s Name—Jesus.

To those who believed would be given the right to become the Children of God.

“He came to His own…”
John’s perspective is one of looking back on his time with Jesus. As thrilling and hope-filled as the story is, it is always tinged with sadness, the tragedy of those who saw the Light and turned away from it.

“He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.”

John’s story is filled with people who witnessed the Light. Some received and were transformed while others turned away from Him. As we prepare to daily enter this story, let us do the work of preparation.

Scriptures:
John 1: 6-13

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Isaiah 40:3-5 NKJV
The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; Make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth; The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are the Light of the World! Break forth into my life! Shine into the darkest places in my soul and show me if sins lurk there. I want to prepare for Your coming into my life. May I never be listed with those who turn away from You. May I take full advantage of full membership in the Family of God, a Community of Light, standing against the agents of darkness and shining bright in the gloom of life today. Break forth, O Heavenly light in me! Amen and Amen.

Song:
Break Forth O Beauteous Heavenly Light

Words: Johann von Rist; Music: Johann Schop

1. Break forth, O beauteous heav’nly light, and usher in the morning;
O shepherds, shrink not with affright, but hear the angel’s warning.
This Child, now weak in infancy, our confidence and joy shall be;
the pow’r of Satan breaking, our peace eternal making.

2. Break forth, O beauteous heav’nly light, to herald our salvation;
He stoops to earth–the God of might, our hope and expectation.
He comes in human flesh to dwell, our God with us, Immanuel;
the night of darkness ending,our fallen race befriending.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

September 1 “Word”

Word

Words are practically living things.
Parents wait for the first words spoken by a baby, usually some variation of ‘Momma” or “Dadda.” If there is an older sibling, “No, No, No!” will soon be added to the child’s vocabulary. Young lovers are quick to say the magic words, “I love you” while, a few relationships later when it is time to choose a mate for life, the same words are much more carefully said.

Words are connectors. They connect ideas with actions.

  • They summarize complex systems into simple rules.
  • They crystallize belief systems into propositions and conclusions.
  • They connect people with people, certain people. Well-chosen words draw those we love closer or send those we do not love away.
  • Words connect the generations as values and beliefs are expressed in words to those who follow us.
  • In our minds, thoughts may race like stock cars on an oval track until we “find the words” to stop the race and share what is on our heart.

Good Words and Bad
Some people scoff at the idea that words can be good or bad, but like people, words can be holy or they can be evil. Dictators take over countries with evil words. God communicates His love for people with holy words. Souls are damaged or healed with the power of words. Why? How? Because words express ideas and Creation runs on ideas, not gravity or centrifugal forces, but on the words, “Let there be….”

The Word
So far we have been dealing with the plural. John begins His Jesus Story with the singular—The Word. All of these definitions and functions apply to the Gospel.

  • As newly re-born babies we learn to speak the name of the Father in prayer and tell Jesus our inmost thoughts and concerns.
  • As siblings in the Family of God, we learn how to properly speak to our brothers and sisters.
  • In worship we learn how to express our love to the Lord, so easy at first, but sometimes so difficult when troubles pile on us.
  • Words help us understand and express spiritual truths, often using metaphors and analogies to define abstractions like holiness, faith, eternity, and the Love of God.

All of these highly functional words spring from –The Word.

The Written Word
One of the greatest gifts of God to mankind is His Word. It is a supernatural book with a supernatural history. It must be approached with an expectation of supernatural enablement by the Holy Spirit. Purely academic or scientific study of the Bible is not enough; so much error has entered the world through Bible study by human means alone. This is the meaning of “the letter killeth but the Spirit giveth life.”

The Written Word is a treasure, as ancient as it is current. There are two ways we approach the Written Word:

  1. To prayerfully read it is a flow of grace into our souls each day and,
  2. To study it is a fountain of wisdom for our lives.

The Living Word
The greatest benefit of the Written Word is this: in it we encounter the Living Word, the Lord Jesus Himself. He was with God in the beginning and was God and through Him everything was made. Life was and is found in Jesus and that light is the light of men. Want more good news?

“And the Light shines on in the darkness, for the darkness has never overpowered it [put it out or absorbed it or appropriated it, and is unreceptive to it].” (Amplified Bible)

Scriptures:
John 1: 1-5 NKJV
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
Hebrews 10:5-7 NKJV
Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come — In the volume of the book it is written of Me —To do Your will, O God.'”
2 Corinthians 3:4-6 NKJV
And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, Thank for the unquenchable light of Your Word! Indeed, the darkness of this world has never understood Your Light and certainly has never put it out. Indeed, You have come to me “in the volume of the Book written” of You. You are more than words on paper, You are light, powerful, life-changing, with healing in the sound of Your Truth. Thank You for the Written Word. It is as secure as heaven and earth. Thank You for the Living Word, so alive in my heart by the Holy Spirit. I rejoice in Your Word today! Amen and Amen.

Song:
Holy Bible, Book Divine

Words: John Burton; Music: William B. Bradbury

1. Holy Bible, Book divine, Precious treasure, thou art mine:
Mine to tell me whence I came; Mine to teach me what I am.

2. Mine to chide me when I rove, Mine to show a Savior’s love;
Mine thou art to guide and guard; Mine to punish or reward.

3. Mine to comfort in distress, Suffering in this wilderness;
Mine to show by living faith, We can triumph over death.

4. Mine to tell of joys to come, And the rebel sinner’s doom:
O thou holy book divine, Precious treasure thou art mine.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

August 31 “Promises”

Promises

The Jesus Story ends with two promises that remain in force to this day.
Dr. Luke’s version of the Jesus Story does not end at the last chapter of His Gospel. As he announced at the beginning of his Gospel, another volume would follow. It is called the Book of Acts, more properly, “The Acts of The Apostles.” To conclude our devotional study of Luke’s version of the Jesus Story, we will visit the open scenes of the Book of Acts. Here we find an expanded account of the Ascension.

A Promise of Power
In this account, Luke tells us how many days Jesus appeared to the disciples—40, to be exact. This is important because the Feast of Pentecost came 50 days after Passover. On the Day of Pentecost, “the Promise of the Father” came to the church. The ministry of the Holy Spirit would take this name and be called, “Pentecostal.”

Jesus made “The Promise of the Father” even more explicit:

“which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water,
but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

He introduced this image describing the experience of receiving the promise—baptism, an immersion into the Holy Spirit. Through the ages, this imagery has remained a vivid description of being filled with the Spirit. This baptism would empower believers to fulfill the mission Jesus had given them. This was good news. There was no way these men and women could do what Jesus had commissioned them to do in their own strength. They needed the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit and they knew it.

Another Promise
The idea that Jesus would overthrow the Romans and revive the Old Covenant still lingered in the minds of some. They ask if this was the time for this. The answer Jesus gave took them deeper into the New Covenant and into their mission.

“It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.”

This was not a pressing issue. They would have to leave the timing of God’s plan in His hands.

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

This was the pressing issue. This was their mission.

As they looked at Jesus, He rose from their sight and disappeared into the Heavens. Two angels stood among them. The disciples cleared a circle for them to address them all.

“Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

The second promise—Jesus will return to this earth someday! This is the promise that puts time into its proper perspective. This was the pressing issue—receive the Promise of the Father to prepare for the Promise of His coming. As Jesus commanded, they went back to Jerusalem and waited.

This part of the Jesus Story ends with two promises that remain in force to this day.

Scriptures:
Acts 1:1-11
NKJV
The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, Your story is the hope of the world. There is no other saving truth. There is no other redemption for lost lives, wounded souls, and broken bodies. Give me a passion for the lost. Holy Spirit, empower me to tell the Jesus Story in words, deeds of mercy, and in worship, in both the blaring light of day and the deepest of dark nights. Help me to disappear into the revelation of Your glory. May my story be another chapter in Your Story, Lord Jesus. Amen and Amen.

Song:
We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations

Words and Music: H. Ernest Nichol

1. We’ve a story to tell to the nations, that shall turn their hearts to the right,
a story of truth and mercy, a story of peace and light, a story of peace and light.

Refrain:
For the darkness shall turn to dawning, and the dawning to noonday bright,
and Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth, the kingdom of love and light.
2. We’ve a song to be sung to the nations, that shall lift their hearts to the Lord,
a song that shall conquer evil and shatter the spear and sword,
and shatter the spear and sword.

Refrain

3. We’ve a message to give to the nations, that the Lord who reigneth above
has sent us His Son to save us, and show us that God is love,
and show us that God is love.

Refrain

4. We’ve a Savior to show to the nations, who the path of sorrow has trod,
that all of the world’s great peoples may come to the truth of God,
may come to the truth of God.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

August 30 “Coronation”

Coronation

It was a temporary parting, not an abandonment.
Dr. Luke brings volume one of this historical treatise to a rapid conclusion. Jesus led His disciples as far as Bethany where He blessed them. As He spoke this blessing, some sort of separation took place between Him and His followers. Perhaps it was an angelic visitation or perhaps some sort of cloud or even both. Luke does not explain his words. As a physical presence, Jesus left this world and took up residence in heaven. Other sources tell us of a great coronation as Jesus took His place on the Throne of Heaven. He returned to the location where the prophet Isaiah saw Him and received his life-changing vision he described in chapter 6 of His prophecy.

Enthroned upon Our Praise
Physically Jesus left this world, but spiritually He remained with us, just as He promised. The ways of the Divine Godhead are well beyond our understanding. We must accept seemingly contradictory descriptions as true, for as Isaiah said, God’s ways are “past finding out.” So, He is gone and yet He remains. His physical, glorified body occupies the Throne of Heaven as is clearly seen in John’s Revelation. Yet, His spiritual presence is available to those who worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. This promise has proved more reliable than the turning of the earth. As sure as sunrise and sunset, as reliable as the shifting of the seasons and the cycles of creation, so sure is His promise to be with us.

He is omnipresent of course, but in a special way Jesus manifests His holy presence in our hearts when we praise Him. The Psalmist says He inhabits and is enthroned upon the praises of His Holy Nation of which all believers are a part. (Psalm 22:3) On every continent of the globe and in every culture of mankind, True Worship establishes the Throne of God and His manifest Presence.

Mt. Zion: The Throne of God and of the Lamb
Dr. Luke concludes with this emphasis on worship:

And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy,
and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.

The writer to the Hebrews declares that, when we gather to worship, True Worshipers are spiritually transported to the Throne Room of God, the heavenly Mt. Zion. This is the same presence of Jesus that the Disciples knew, that Peter preached, that Paul saw on the road to Damascus, and the same promised presence we will enjoy until the Return of our Blessed Lord.

The Promise of the Father
A few days after this departure, the Holy Spirit came into the church. This Promise of the Father is the reality of the spiritual presence of Jesus in this world. He sits as the Refiner’s fire to cleanse our hearts. He empowers our human efforts with a Holy Anointing. He leads us directly through both the Written and the Living Word. Did Jesus leave? Yes. Will He return? Yes. And, He is also with us every moment of every day.

Scriptures:
Luke:24:1-12
NKJV
And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.
Matthew 28:18-20
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
Hebrews 12:22-24
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.
Revelation 7:9-12
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying:” Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, Thanksgiving and honor and power and might, Be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I will enter Your Gates with Thanksgiving and Your Courts with Praise. I will humble my heart before You with sacrifices of worship. I will center my life and conduct, my plans and my dreams, on Your Perfect Will. I know that You are always faithful to be enthroned upon my praise. You will walk with me through every valley and trek with me up and down every mountain. Your presence is my promise and my portion. Like the disciples, I will be continually in the temple praising and blessing You. Amen.

Song:
All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name

Words: Edward Perronet; Music: “Coronation” Oliver Holden

1. All hail the power of Jesus’ name! Let angels prostrate fall.
Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown him Lord of all.
Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown him Lord of all!

2. O seed of Israel’s chosen race now ransomed from the fall,
hail him who saves you by his grace, and crown him Lord of all.
Hail him who saves you by his grace, and crown him Lord of all!

3. Let every tongue and every tribe on this terrestrial ball,
to him all majesty ascribe, and crown him Lord of all.
To him all majesty ascribe, and crown him Lord of all!

4. Oh, that with all the sacred throng we at his feet may fall!
We’ll join the everlasting song and crown him Lord of all.
We’ll join the everlasting song and crown him Lord of all.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

August 29 “Understanding”

Understanding

Hearing is one thing. Understanding is a deeper thing.
As the wonderful reunion continued and the Peace of Christ ruled in that house, Jesus kept teaching. Now there was a different dimension to the teaching of Jesus. There was also a deeper reach within their minds of the things Jesus was saying. They were carried by some inner force beyond simply hearing to understanding. So many times before Jesus’ death and resurrection, they listened carefully to the Words of Jesus but they seemed to slip away from their minds. They had no theological fingers to grasp and hold what Jesus was telling them. On this night, all of those hindrances were gone, swept away by the Blood of a New Covenant. What was different?—The abiding presence of the Holy Spirit in their hearts. The Paraclete, the Divine Helper, whispered in their hearts as Jesus spoke, just as He does today when we read the Word of God.

Understanding Prophecy
Jesus opened the Scriptures to them, showing them how all the horrible events they had witnessed were foretold. Like a gigantic puzzle, the various pieces supplied by the prophets assembled themselves into the overarching plan of God. There was great peace in this revelation. Events were not random. The Plan of God was not some emergency scheme for a deity caught unawares by unforeseen events. Everything was foreseen! All was in the plan of God, revealed in the Word. The ancient book was suddenly new! Beyond the thrill of these revelations was the realization that Jesus had chosen them; each of them—men and women alike in an unprecedented equality of purpose—had a part in the unfolding of God’s plan. I can imagine eyes shifting from individual to individual wondering how it could be so and yet knowing that it was so. I can also see eyes shifting inward to examine each heart—how could it be so? And yet it was so; they were beginning to understand.

To All Nations
Jesus shared with them the true dimensions of their mission. So much of their energy had been spent in and around Jerusalem and throughout Israel. The Plan of God was bigger than Israel, much, much bigger. It was true that they must begin in Jerusalem but this was to be only the beginning. The pagan nations surrounding them, though all held together as an empire through Roman might, also had a part in the Kingdom of God. Somehow their enemies must become objects of their love, a love like that of Jesus, for all people. Gentiles must no longer be seen as enemies but as rightful members of the Kingdom of God.

Repentance and Remission of Sins
What Jesus had just done was the key. By a “new and living way” He opened up the way of salvation for all people, Jew and Gentile alike. The Kingdom of God would now be more than a single nation, but a new nation for all who believe. Now there was a solution for sin, a New Covenant in the Blood of Jesus. All can be forgiven. All can receive the Abiding Presence of the Spirit to empower victorious, Christ-like living.

The Promise of the Father
How could this new Kingdom be theirs? Only one way: by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus called this, “The Promise of the Father” and it was to be their first order of business. He told them to wait in Jerusalem until the Promise came to them.

Hearing is one thing. Understanding is a deeper thing. They heard Him and they understood.

Scriptures:
Luke:24:1-12
NKJV
Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”
Hebrews 10:19-25 NKJV
Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
Ephesians 2:11-18 NKJV
Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh — who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands — that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to as death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank You for leading us the way You do—with understanding, not as brute beasts. Thank for the Paraclete, the Divine Helper, Who comes alongside us to give us understanding. Help me to find the dynamic center between following You by obedience and faith when I do not understand why and following You when You give me a heart to understand why. The important thing is to follow you, whether by faith or by understanding, to live out Your commands every day. Holy Spirit, enlighten my path today! Amen and Amen.

Song:
Holy Spirit, Truth Divine

Words: Samuel Longfellow; Music: Orlando Gibbons

1. Holy Spirit, truth divine, dawn upon this soul of mine;
Voice of God and inward light, wake my spirit, clear my sight.

2. Holy Spirit, love divine, glow within this heart of mine.
Kindle every high desire, purify me with your fire.

3. Holy Spirit, power divine, fill and nerve this will of mine.
Boldly may I always live, bravely serve, and gladly give.

4. Holy Spirit, law divine, reign within this soul of mine.
Be my law, and I shall be firmly bound, forever free.

5. Holy Spirit, peace divine, still this restless heart of mine.
Speak to calm this tossing sea, grant me your tranquility.

6. Holy Spirit, joy divine, gladden now this heart of mine.
In the desert ways I sing – spring, O Living Water, spring!

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

August 28 “Peace”

Peace

There are reunions and then, there are reunions.
Close families have reunions every year. Graduating classes hold reunions every 5 or 10 years. At each reunion, an informal role is called, noting the ones who could not attend or those who are no longer able to attend. The survivors, diminishing in number with every gathering, celebrate in the absence of those who are missing. The reunion of Jesus with His core group of followers was not at all like these gatherings.

Not a Memorial
The news was exiting! Women claimed to have seen Him and spoken to Him, as did Cleopas and his friend. If He were to appear again, surely it would be to a gathering of those who had followed Him in life. Of course, the record of these followers at the point of His arrest, trial, and execution was a troubling one. Peter, the de facto leader, wanted to see Jesus alive again but feared facing Him.

Still, this meeting was not a wake, not a memorial service. There was an expectation of something unforgettable. Each heart pulsed with the same heat reported by Cleopas, an inner fire Jesus put there. Would He not return to fan its flames?

When You Get What You Wished for…
Suddenly, without the aid of a door, Jesus “stood in the midst of them.” We can only imagine the impact of this:

  • Memories morphed into present realities,
  • Faith flowered into sight,
  • Desperate dreams developed corporeal dimensions, and
  • Silence at such a sight summoned shouts of praise.

Mixed with their delight was a natural fear, understandable in those who were more familiar with death and burial than with resurrection and visitation. Jesus spoke,

“Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?”

At the sound of His voice, they fell silent. Each one wanted to touch Him but none dared to reach for Him. He invited them.

“Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see,
for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”

They did not need to touch Him for they clearly saw the scars in His hands and feet. Some still did not believe this was really happening. To their surprise, Jesus asked for something to eat. They served Him broiled fish and a piece of honeycomb and He ate it.

Peace to You
Of all the things Jesus might have said to announce His resurrected presence, He chose to say,

“Peace to you.”

This, of course, is the result of a battle won, of a victory secured, and of a future guaranteed. Because He lives, we who trust Him and believe can have true peace. The rest of the evening was characterized by this peace. Old issues were settled for many, although the deep wounds in Peter’s heart would linger until another meal, the one by the sea we learn about from John. None of the disciples had any idea what lay ahead for them but this they knew for sure: They had His peace.

There are reunions and then, there are reunions.

Scriptures:
Luke:24:1-12
NKJV
Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. And He took it and ate in their presence.
John 14:25-28
“These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I.
John 16:31-33
Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are the Lord of Life! The grave could not imprison You. You broke the chains of death. You took my sins into Joseph’s tomb and left them there. Forever You will bear the scars of our redemption in Your glorified body. How can such a thing be? And yet I believe the Gospel record. You entered that tomb as the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world and You exited that tomb as King of kings and Lord of Lords, the Author and Finisher of our Faith! I have Your peace in my heart! The Lord is Risen—He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

Song:
He Lives!

Words and Music: A.H. Ackley

1. I serve a risen Savior He’s in the world today.
I know that He is living, Whatever men may say.
I see His hand of mercy; I hear His voice of cheer;
And just the time I need Him He’s always near.

Refrain:
He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?  He lives within my heart.

2. In all the world around me I see His loving care
And though my heart grows weary, I never will despair;
I know that He is leading, Through all the stormy blast;
The day of His appearing Will come at last.

Refrain

3. Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian, Lift up your voice and sing
Eternal hallelujahs To Jesus Christ the King!
The Hope of all who seek Him, The Help of all who find,
None other is so loving, So good and kind.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

August 27 “Emmaus”

Emmaus

So far, all they had to go on was hearsay.
Each of the followers of Jesus dealt with the hope that He was back in his/her own way. Equipped with an intuition the men did not possess, the women were the first to believe. They believed Mary Magdalene. The men, burdened by rationality, needed proof. Before Jesus appeared to the assembled disciples, two discouraged disciples gave up and started for home.

The Road to Emmaus
Although the direction is uncertain, Dr. Luke establishes the distance to Emmaus from Jerusalem at about 7 miles. The literal meaning of the name is, “warm baths,” indicating the availability of healing hot springs. Two disciples, one named Cleopas and the other unnamed, made the discouraging journey back to their pre-Jesus lives. The Lord had other plans. As the two men walked along, they processed the recent events. They had chosen to follow Jesus and tried to believe everything He said. They were moved to action by His miracles and His call to discipleship. Now, in light of His death, they were confused.

Unannounced, Jesus joined the two men but their eyes were “restrained” from knowing who He really was. Jesus asked them what they were discussing that made them so sad. Cleopas answered:

“Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?”

Jesus asked them,

“What things?”

Cleopas was amazed that someone could be so uniformed.

“The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth…”

He proceeded to tell Jesus the Jesus Story. The story seemed to rush from his lips like a river through a rocky gorge. He concluded with the inconclusive evidence of the empty tomb witnessed by both the women and the disciples. He paused, waiting for some sort of response from this unknown, frightfully uninformed companion. The response he got was not what he expected. Jesus stopped walking and drew the complete attention of the two men.

“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?”

Now the men were astonished and went from tellers to listeners as Jesus opened the scriptures to them concerning the Christ. As Jesus spoke, the hearts of the men warmed just as they did when they listened to Jesus.

In the Breaking of the Bread
They neared their residence in Emmaus and prevailed upon the stranger to dine with them. Jesus, still unknown to them, agreed. When at the table he took a loaf of bread and blessed it, the two men realized at last who they were entertaining. Before they could respond to Him, He vanished from sight.

The Way of the Fiery Heart
Like the warm springs for which the town was named, their hearts were warmed within them. The meal was forgotten. Their despair was gone. Their confusion fled before this revelation of the resurrected Jesus. The men reversed course and hurried back to Jerusalem to tell everyone that Jesus was alive. As they went they commented on the warmth in their hearts; it was now a raging fire. This fire began as they listened to Jesus and became a combustion engine demanding action. Back in Jerusalem they found the disciples and assured then that Jesus was alive. So it is with those who have met, listened to, and followed the Resurrected Jesus. It is the Way of the Fiery Heart. Through this way, His gospel has gone into all the world.

Scriptures:
Luke:24:1-12
NKJV
Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him. And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?” Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?” And He said to them, “What things?” So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.” Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them. Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, set my heart on fire! May Your truth, Your story, burn in my soul with an unquenchable flame. May those who see me, feel its glow. May those who hear me, sense the flame of truth and feel compelled to listen. In my worship, set my heart on fire. In the quiet of each night, light my heart with this flame. With each sunrise, may the of Flame of Christ shine brighter than the sun and light my way. No clouds can conceal Your light. No winds of confusion can shake Your flame. Let the details of my life that do not please You be the fuel for this fire. Lord Jesus, show me the Way of the Fiery Heart. Amen.

Song:
Send the Fire

Words: William Booth; Music Frederick Booth-Tucker
1. Thou Christ of burning, cleansing flame,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
Thy blood bought gift today we claim,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
Look down and see this waiting host,
Give us the promised Holy Ghost;
We want another Pentecost,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!

2. God of Elijah, hear our cry:
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
To make us fit to live or die,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
To burn up every trace of sin,
To bring the light and glory in,
The revolution now begin,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!

3. ’Tis fire we want, for fire we plead,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
The fire will meet our every need,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
For strength to ever do the right,
For grace to conquer in the fight,
For power to walk the world in white,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!

4. To make our weak hearts strong and brave,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
To live a dying world to save,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
O see us on Thy altar lay
Our lives, our all, this very day;
To crown the offering now we pray,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

August 26 “Risen!”

Risen!

Dr. Luke is sparse on the details of the resurrection.
He takes up the story of the morning of the first day of the week with a group of women bringing spices to the tomb to continue to prepare the body of Jesus. They were surprised to find the stone rolled away. The resurrection of Jesus had already taken place. There were no human witnesses to the actual event. It is easy to imagine an amazing angelic celebration when Jesus came out of that tomb. Our purpose here is to flesh out the story that Luke tells and hold only to the facts he relates.

Somehow, the stone was rolled away. Did angels do the work? Did it move untouched? Was there an earthquake to move it? Did light pour out of the darkness within the tomb? Did Jesus walk out or materialize outside? No one knows. What we do know is that Jesus rose from the dead. Professional killers took His life. Joseph and Nicodemus, carefully observed by women who followed Jesus, prepared His dead body. There is no doubt that He died; He did not swoon and appear to be dead. He had defeated death during His ministry here on earth and now the Spirit of God raised Him from the dead, wresting Jesus from death’s grip.

The First Day of the Week
Somehow at some point before dawn, death was defeated. Jesus drew breath into His body again, not the crucified body, drained of blood, bruised and lacerated. This was a new body with a different kind of life. We know from other sources that the scars that bought our redemption remained but the wounds contained life, not death. This glorified body was superior to the human frame Jesus had occupied in the incarnation. This one was fit for earth or heaven and could pass through walls and doors and transport from place to place.

The Eighth Day of the New Creation
Christian tradition calls the Resurrection of Jesus, the Eighth Day of Creation, meaning that God restored the eternal life lost by Adam and Eve in the Garden. For this reason, Jesus is called the Second Adam.

“For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.”

Jesus’ victory over death means that everything in creation is under His authority. It is a victory now and at the coming of the Lord.

“For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For “He has put all things under His feet.”

Greatly Perplexed
The women did not know what the meaning of these events might be: the stone rolled away and the empty tomb. Suddenly two angels stood by them in shining garments. The women fell to the earth in fear. The angels spoke

“Why do you seek the living among the dead?”

The women didn’t move. The question did not reveal the whereabouts of Jesus. The angels went on.

“He is not here, but is risen!”

The angels reminded the women of the detailed teaching Jesus had done predicting His resurrection. Slowly, they remembered. They gathered their belongings and hurried to tell the disciples. The men did not believe them. Peter ran to the tomb, stooped down and looked inside. The grave clothes were there but Jesus wasn’t.

Scriptures:
Luke:24:1-12
NKJV
Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.'” And they remembered His words. Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them. But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened.
1 Corinthians 15:20-28 NKJV
But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are Lord of all! Your victory is complete in every way. Death could not hold You. The Holy Spirit raised You from the dead and has the power to raise me from the dead also! The same Spirit that raised You from the dead shall quicken my mortal body. From dust I came and to dust I may return, but You will give me a new body, like Yours, and I shall live again and forever! If I am alive when You return, I will be changed in a moment in the twinkling of an eye. This mortal shall put on immortality! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Song:
Christ the Lord Is Risen Today

Words: Charles Wesley; Music: Paul Sjolund

1. Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Earth and heaven in chorus say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!

2. Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids him rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!

3. Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once he died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where’s thy victory, boasting grave? Alleluia!

4. Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

5. Hail the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail the Resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

6. King of glory, soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, thy power to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing, and thus to love, Alleluia!

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.