May 19 “Invited”

Invited

An invitation to a wedding is an honor extended to the invitee and a grace flowing from the one doing the inviting.
This was real life in that day of arranged marriages. Jesus chose an event this common and this important to teach about the Kingdom of God. Here is the elaborate parable: The one whose son is getting married is not some ordinary guy—he is a king. Everyone knows his name and lives in his shadow. It would follow that an invitation to the wedding of a prince would be treasured by all who were chosen.

Rejection in the Kingdom
Such was not the case. The guest list was a large one as servants hand delivered invitations throughout the kingdom. For a reason we are not given, those invited to the wedding refused the invitation. The king sent more servants to the chosen ones with details of the royal preparations. It was time to come to the feast. They made fun of the king and went about the more important details of their self-centered lives. They even killed the king’s messengers. It is not good to reject and then insult a king and then kill his men. He sent an army to destroy both them and their city.

Highway and Hedges
Rejected by the elites in his kingdom, the king turned to strangers who happened to be on their way somewhere else, inviting them to the wedding feast. The banquet hall was filled and the king made some new friends. There was great rejoicing among the common folk who had never attended a royal banquet before. They had never eaten so well and had never been entertained as wonderfully well. The frowning faces of the king’s “friends” were soon forgotten as the king enjoyed the feasting of a whole new set of friends. With the city of those who rejected him destroyed, he was going to need new leaders! He started scanning the crowd for untapped talent.

The Wedding Garment
There was one person who came unprepared, willfully insulting the king by accepting the invitation and then choosing to dress improperly. At issue was something called a wedding garment. The details of this are lost to ancient history. The king spoke kindly to the man, calling him “friend.” He asked why he had refused the king’s required garment but the man had no answer. This pushed the king too far and he dealt harshly with the unprepared man.

Our Invitation to the Feast
The application of this parable is easy to see. We have been invited to feast with heaven! Just as the Israelites ate manna in the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land, we may feast daily on manna from heaven—the Word of God and the presence of King Jesus! All are invited to this feast but many refuse the invitation. Their refusal of the divine invitation eliminates them from the fellowship of the saints. They want to enjoy the benefits of the banquet without putting on the wedding garment. What is the wedding garment for us? It is the salvation of our souls by the Lord Jesus Himself, Master of the Feast. We need the robes of righteousness only He can provide. If we depend on our goodness, we will be cast out of the feast. With the Robes of Righteousness from Jesus, we can pull up a chair!

Scriptures:
Matthew 22:1-14

And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.”‘ But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I have received Your invitation to the Feast. I joyfully take my place at Your table today. Fill my hungry soul with delightful things from Your Word and with the sweetness of the fellowship of the saints. As the scriptures invite me, “O taste and see that the Lord is Good!” this is my plan for today. As You lead me through the highways and hedges of this life, help me extend Your invitation to those who do not know they are invited to this feast. I will tell them of the beautiful wedding garment of salvation, the only covering for their sins. Help me make new friends today—all for the feast You have prepared for us! Amen.

Song:
Come to the Feast
Words: Charles H. Gabriel; Music: W.A. Ogden

1. “All things are ready,” come to the feast!
Come, for the table now is spread;
Ye famishing, ye weary, come,
And thou shalt be richly fed.

Refrain:
Hear the invitation,
Come, “whosoever will”;
Praise God for full salvation
For “whosoever will.”

2. “All things are ready,” come to the feast!
Come, for the door is open wide;
A place of honor is reserved
For you at the Master’s side.

Refrain

3 “All things are ready,” come to the feast!
Come, while He waits to welcome thee;
Delay not while this day is thine,
Tomorrow may never be.

Refrain

4 “All things are ready,” come to the feast!
Leave ev’ry care and worldly strife;
Come, feast upon the love of God,
And drink everlasting life.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

May 18 “Authority”

Authority

It was the central question: Who gave Jesus the authority to do the things He did and say the things He said?
There had never been anyone like Jesus. John the Baptist was a prophet; on this the people agreed. Jesus was more than a prophet—He was…Well who was He? Sickness ended with His touch. Deaf ears started hearing and blind eyes started seeing at His proclamation. Crippled legs and shrunken arms grew to normal strength when loved ones brought them close to Him. Demons fled at His command. He took the Word of God and made it live in ways that people who had read it all their lives and memorized sizable portions of it had never considered. He pronounced the judgment of God on wickedness wherever He found it. He feared no man or council or army. He even strode into the Temple courts and claimed it to be His Father’s house as He scattered the religious rats who built their nests there.

Finally, the leaders had seen enough; the question must be asked and answered:

“By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?”

Without blinking an eye, Jesus answered their question with one of His own (He often did this.) He asked them about the baptism of John: was it from God? If they would declare themselves, so would He. They realized at once that He had bested them again.

  • If they said it was from God, they would have to explain their rejection of him.
  • If they said what they really believed, they would lose the confidence of the people for they held John to be a prophet.

The brightest among them answered the Lord: “We cannot say.” Laughing, Jesus told them in that case He would not reveal His source of authority either.

The Authority of Jesus
Jesus told two stories about owners of vineyards. One had two sons whom he instructed to work in his vineyard. One said he would and then he didn’t. The other said he wouldn’t and then he did. Which one did his father’s will? The Scribes and Pharisees had started this conversation so they had to answer: the first of course. Jesus agreed and declared that evil people who eventually did God’s will would enter heaven before leaders who claimed to follow God but didn’t.

Another vineyard owner constructed a first class vineyard, complete in every detail and then went on a long journey, leasing the vineyard to local workers. When the time for the harvest came, he sent representatives to collect the profits. Instead, his representatives were abused and even killed. He sent more and it happened again. Finally he sent his son and they did the same to him. Jesus asked,

“Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?”

His opponents fell into the trap, predicting judgement on the thieving, murdering vinedressers. Jesus sprung the trap identifying them as the wicked men and Himself as the Cornerstone—the one who has the authority of Heaven at His back.

They knew these clever stories were aimed at them. There was nothing the leaders could do. They could not debate with Jesus. They could not explain away the miracles. They wanted to arrest Him but they feared the crowd.

The Cornerstone
A mighty structure rests upon a mighty stone. In the same way the Kingdom of God rests on the person of Jesus, the Cornerstone. His authority extends to the ends of the earth. If we cast our lives onto Him, He will gently break away the parts of us that offend the Father. For those who reject Him, the judgements of God will bring personal and permanent destruction. How much better to throw our souls upon His mercy!

Scriptures:
Matthew 21:23-46
Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?” But Jesus answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things: The baptism of John — where was it from? From heaven or from men?” And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men,’ we fear the multitude, for all count John as a prophet.” So they answered Jesus and said, “We do not know.” And He said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things. “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said to Him, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him. “Hear another parable: There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. Now when vintage-time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit. And the vinedressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did likewise to them. Then last of all he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’ So they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?” They said to Him, “He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.” Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes’? “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.” Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking of them. But when they sought to lay hands on Him, they feared the multitudes, because they took Him for a prophet.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus You are the Cornerstone! All of my faith rests on You. You are more than a literary character or a figure from history. You are not billeted in the clouds amusing Yourself with celestial pursuits. You are here with me, involved in my life, leading me from earth to glory. You have the authority over heaven and earth. As the poet said, “thousands of angels at Your bidding speed and they also serve who only stand and wait.” Whether speeding at Your command or waiting for the next assignment, I rest in Your authority today. Amen.

Song:
Cornerstone
Words and Music: Dottie Rambo

Jesus is the Cornerstone, came for sinners to atone.
Though rejected by His own He became the Cornerstone.
Jesus is the Cornerstone.

When I am by sin oppressed on this Stone I am at rest.
Where the seeds of truth are sown, He remains the Cornerstone.
Jesus is the Cornerstone.

Rock of Ages, cleft for me. Let me hide myself in Thee.
Rock of Ages so secure for all time He shall endure,
Till His children reach their home, He remains the Cornerstone.
Till the breaking of the dawn, Till all footsteps cease to roam,
Ever let this truth be known. Jesus is the Cornerstone.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

May 17 “Believing”

Believing

After the big parade, people were wondering what to expect from Jesus.
He quietly dismounted the young donkey and handed the guide rope to the Disciples, patting her strong neck to let her know she had done well, never balking at all the noise or stumbling on the streets. Before he headed for the Temple, He borrowed a whip from a camel driver. The man surrendered the whip without a question but wondered why Jesus would need one.

In the Outer Court
Jesus entered the Temple and slowly walked through the courtyard. This place was intended to be a place of preparation for sacrifices in the Temple, a place of repentance where sins were regretted and forgiveness sought. Not today. It was a marketplace. Animals for sacrifice were on sale everywhere: expensive lambs for rich people and expendable doves for the poor. Instead of the solemn sounds of prayer, the courtyard rang with shouts, bickering, and the ever-present clank of metal coins.

As the offense of such profanity boiled over in His Spirit, Jesus cracked the whip. Those close enough to hear it over the din of commerce gave Him a furtive glance and quickly went back to their selling. He cracked the whip again, louder, and this time across the back of a dove handler. His cage full of condemned birds fell from his hands and broke open granting the birds a welcomed reprieve. Jesus then had everyone’s attention. A few more cracks of the whip and merchants scattered for safety as birds, lambs, and tiny goats took advantage of broken cages and dropped ropes. The noise of the animals, the screams of the merchants, and the protests of the priests watching profits escape ruled several minutes of chaos. Finally, with a cordon of fearful souls surrounding Him, Jesus spoke His rage:

“It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’
but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.'”

In less than a minute, the crowd again took up the songs of the parade and the religious leaders renewed their protests. Sick people rushed toward Jesus and a great healing service was the result. There was little the leaders could do. In the presence of such power, their picayune protests were dismissed by Jesus:

“Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
You have perfected praise’?”

Over the objections of the mistaken leaders, the healing and rejoicing continued as merchants scrambled to recapture doves, round up sheep, and collect their scattered coins.

To Bethany and Back
The parade over and the healing service ended, Jesus returned to Bethany to rest, most likely to the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus,. The next day He returned to the city and to the Temple. On the way, He was hungry and stopped by a fig tree but found no fruit. He pronounced judgment on the tree and it withered from the roots up. When His men marveled at this, Jesus interpreted the whole sequence of events for them.

It was all about believing.
The merchants and the priests believed that the forgiveness of sins was a business; they were wrong. The crowd believed Jesus was Messiah; they were correct. The sick people believed Jesus was their healer; they were right. Such was the power of belief when the things believed were actually true. Jesus told them, and us:

“…whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

Let us, therefore, believe!

Scriptures:
Matthew 21:12-22
Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.'” Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant and said to Him, “Do You hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes. Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise’?” Then He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and He lodged there. Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither away so soon?” So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I believe! In believe in You and in Your Word. Your promises are true and they are for me. I believe in Your will and plan for my life. You are my Savior, my Healer, My hope and My rejoicing. Show me the things that You have planned for me so I can fill my prayers with them. I believe in the future that only You can see and I know that when I get there You will already be there ahead of be. Hosanna! To the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Amen.

Song:
Because We Believe
Words and Music: Jamie Harvill and Nancy Gordon

1. We believe in God the Father.
We believe in Christ the Son.
We believe in the Holy Spirit.
We are the Church And we stand as one.

2. We believe in the Holy Bible.
We believe in the virgin birt.h
We believe in the resurrection,
That Christ one day Will return to earth

Refrain:
Holy, holy. Holy is our God
Worthy, worthy. Worthy is our King
All glory and honor Are His to receive
To Jesus we sing. Because we believe

3. We believe in the blood of Jesus.
We believe in eternal life.
We believe in His love that frees us
To become the bride of Christ.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

May 16 “Hosanna!”

Hosanna!

Two of the disciples brought the donkey and her colt to Jesus just as He had instructed them.
Also as predicted, the owner of the two animals asked the two disciples what they were doing with his livestock. They answered as Jesus told them to answer,

“The Lord has need of them.”

The owner of the donkeys did not question the disciples. He simply sent his animals into the care of the followers of Jesus. It is unlikely, or at least unknown, whether the man was aware of the ancient prophecy:

Behold , your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey,
a colt, the foal of a donkey.'”

The moment for the fulfillment of this prophecy had come. The Disciples saddled the colt of the donkey as best they could using their own cloaks and robes. Something about the sight of Jesus mounting to ride the donkey signaled to the crowd that a procession was about to begin. A sort of fever ran through the assembling celebrants. Perhaps this miracle worker was about to claim the title many were already using for Him—Messiah!—Anointed One! Someone removed his cloak and spread it on the street in front of the donkey and the idea caught on. Soon the street was paved with cloths of varying colors, some bright and some dull. Another man with a long knife cut a branch from one of the trees lining the route and began to wave it in the air. This gesture too, was copied so that soon palm branches beat the morning air in celebration.

A woman produced a timbrel from the large bag she carried and suddenly the procession had rhythm. From nowhere other portable instruments came into use as the crowd began to sing. At first the song was wordless, just a melody of joy and hope spilling from the hearts of people with a long tradition who were suffering from painful oppression. The children could not resist a game so delightful that even adults could play. The words, memorized since childhood, were added to the songs:

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest!”

This was not chaotic. There was an order to this impromptu parade:

  • First came a large group of celebrants chanting psalms and dancing.
  • They introduced Jesus on the donkey attended by the Twelve.
  • Last came more dancers and singers, celebrating with all their might this moment of hope in their otherwise hopeless lives.

Jesus moved along at the center of the procession.

Into Jerusalem
Long before they entered the gates of the city the crowd had grown too large to be ignored. The music had grown in intensity and even in excellence since they had rehearsed their songs on the march. The people who had come to the city on ordinary business got more than they shopped for that day. Someone, probably a leader or a soldier who was responsible for keeping order, asked,

“Who is this?”

The crowd answered as one, never breaking the rhythm of their song and dance:

“This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.”

With Jesus at the center their worship, the message of hope was clear to all—when will we learn this?

Scriptures:
Matthew 21:1-11
Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: “Tell the daughter of Zion,’ Behold , your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.'” So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord !’ Hosanna in the highest!” And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?” So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I too, will sing the ancient songs of praise. I will sing “Hosanna!” which means “Save us, O Lord!” I will sing “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” I will declare You to be Messiah, the Anointed One, the Son of David and the Son of God. I will sing from my heart. My heart will dance to the rhythms of Your processions through this day. I will lift my voice in testimony to those who observe my march—Jesus is King! He is Lord! He is Your only Salvation! Help them hear me, O Lord, help them all to hear me. Amen.

Song:
Hosanna, Loud Hosanna
Words: Jennette Threlfall; Music: Traditonal

1. Hosanna, loud hosanna the little children sang;
through pillared court and temple the lovely anthem rang.
To Jesus, who had blessed them, close folded to his breast,
the children sang their praises, the simplest and the best.

2 From Olivet they followed mid an exultant crowd,
the victory palm branch waving, and chanting clear and loud.
The Lord of earth and heaven rode on in lowly state,
nor scorned that little children should on his bidding wait.

3 “Hosanna in the highest!” That ancient song we sing,
for Christ is our Redeemer, the Lord of heaven, our King.
O may we ever praise him with heart and life and voice,
and in his blissful presence eternally rejoice.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

May 15 “Blindness”

Blindness

A shameful scene by the side of the road demonstrated spiritual blindness.
Needing a break before they began the trek to Jerusalem, Jesus led the men to a resting place on the side of the road near Jericho. While they were resting, He tried once more to warn them of what awaited them in the capitol city: betrayal, arrest, trial, condemnation, execution and resurrection. Once more, they were blind to the impending events.

A Mother’s Ambition
We are not told how the mother of James and John and the wife of Zebedee joined the group but she is suddenly there asking embarrassing questions. She had given her sons to follow Jesus and she wanted to know about His plans for them. It was not the first or the last time sons were embarrassed by ambitious mothers. These two strong fishermen could not stop her and besides, they were interested in what Jesus might say.

Travelers on the road stopped to stare at Jesus and the Twelve and the agitated old woman. Losing interest, they continued on their way. Nearby on the other side of the road two blind men were begging from the travelers headed to and from Jerusalem.

Taking the plunge, the mother of the two Disciples knelt at the feet of Jesus. She was not ill nor was she in trouble. Jesus asked her what she wanted. Her request was sincere but she was totally blind to the shame of it.

“Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.”

John and James wanted to hide but there was no place. The other men laughed to themselves. After a moment of silence Jesus answered the woman’s question with a question. Could her sons really follow Him? Were they strong enough to face the future with Him and share in His challenges? She rose to her feet and dragged her sons forward to stand in front of Jesus. She urged them to speak up. They swallowed hard and mumbled that they were up to whatever was coming.

Jesus shook His head and agreed with them but her request was out of bounds.

“…to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give…”

Leadership in the Kingdom
The other 10 men stopped laughing and started rebuking the two, leaving their mother lost in a fog of ambition. Jesus seized the moment to teach them about leadership in the Kingdom of God. It was the opposite of leadership in the world. It was not about power; it was about responsibility. Leaders were servants not slave drivers.

As He continued to teach, they regained the road. Before long a multitude started following. As they walked past the two blind beggars, Jesus stopped when He heard their voices:

“Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!”

He called back to them asking what they wanted. They were quick to answer:

“Lord, that our eyes may be opened.”

In their blindness they saw great possibilities in the nearness of Jesus. They could not see what the Disciples saw: the look of compassion mixed with joy that stole across the face of Jesus. It always happened just before a miracle. Suddenly the two men could see. They performed the now-I-can-see dance so many others had danced. Jesus smiled at the two men.

At least somebody could see!

Scriptures:
Matthew 20:17-34
Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.” Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him. And He said to her, “What do you wish?” She said to Him, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.” But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said to Him, “We are able.” So He said to them, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.” And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Now as they went out of Jericho, a great multitude followed Him. And behold, two blind men sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!” Then the multitude warned them that they should be quiet; but they cried out all the more, saying, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!” So Jesus stood still and called them, and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They said to Him, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.” So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, spiritual blindness is so embarrassing. The mother of James and John was blind to the blazing pride in her request. But she was only thinking the way people in the world think. Her ambition may also lurk in my heart—show it to me, O Holy Ghost! Turn the searchlight of Your love on my heart. Help me see things the way they really are! You have promised me that I could walk in the light so give me spiritual eyes to see it. Thank You, Lord. Amen.

Song:
Open My Eyes that I Might See
Words and Music: Clara H. Scott

1. Open my eyes, that I may see
glimpses of truth you have for me;
place in my hands the wonderful key
that shall unlock and set me free.
Silently now, on bended knee,
ready I wait your will to see;
open my eyes, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

2. Open my ears, that I may hear
voices of truth you send so clear;
and while the message sounds in my ear,
everything false will disappear.
Silently now, on bended knee,
ready I wait your will to see;
open my ears, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

3. Open my mouth, and let me bear
gladly the warm truth everywhere;
open my heart, and let me prepare
love with your children thus to share.
Silently now, on bended knee,
ready I wait your will to see;
open my heart, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

May 14 “Laborers”

Laborers

Without laborers, a vineyard is useless.
One of the principle models Jesus used to explain the church is the vineyard. As beautiful as a vineyard may be to the eye, it is really a business. The vineyard succeeds when it produces a product—new wine. This model has many spiritual applications:

  • Jesus and the Believer as the True Vine and the branches,
  • Jesus as the Lord of the vineyard,
  • Believers as workers in the vineyard, and
  • New Wine—a fresh move of the Holy Spirit—as the product of the vineyard.

Although many lessons are drawn from this model, in this story Jesus emphasizes the laborers in the vineyard.

The Landowner
The Landowner went into the marketplace to find laborers to bring in the harvest in his vineyard. He made his first recruiting trip early in the morning and his final trip very late in the day—four trips in all. To each group he promised fair payment for their work. When he found an idle group standing in the marketplace very late in the day, he asked them why. Their answer is so important to the story.

“Because no one hired us.”

There was work to be done and people to do the work but the connection to make it happen had never been made. He hired them on the spot.

At the End of the Day
When the long work day was finally over, the Landowner instructed his steward to pay the workers from the last hired to the first. When the 11th hour group got their fair wage, the others assumed since they had worked longer, they would get more. They did not; they got the fair wage they signed on for. The longer term workers complained to the Landowner. He answered that he had done them no wrong; he paid them the agreed upon amount. This answer did not silence their grumbling but it settled the issue. The Landowner was within his rights and had cheated no one.

The Lesson
What is Jesus saying to us? We have all come to the work of His vineyard at different times in our lives. We can trust God to do for us as He has promised. He does not lie and it is not in Him to cheat. We must not compare God’s blessings upon other laborers with what He is doing for us. This illegitimate calculation will only lead to discontent and strife. At the end of the day, all will be beyond question.

Kingdom Measurements
In the Vineyard of the Lord, things are measured by heavenly standards. Here, “the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.” The important thing is the work. The Vineyard must be tended by skillful hands. The vines and their branches laden with fruit must be cared for in all weathers. When the time for the harvest comes, every laborer becomes a harvester. The crop must be brought in and processed. The Vineyard is the only source for the New Wine of the fresh move of the Spirit of God.

Scriptures:
Matthew 20:1-16
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.’ “So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.’ And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’ But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’ So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are the owner of the Vineyard. Thank You for inviting me to be a laborer in Your work. I am not distracted by worries over my compensation; that is in Your capable hands. Lord, You said that You were the Vine and I am a branch. Holy Spirit, make my connection to the Vine secure so that His life flows through me. I want to be a fruitful branch! You promised me this happy, productive life in Your Vineyard. Move among us, O Holy Spirit so those who see us may see Jesus. For the Harvest, Lord! Amen.

Song:
The Wine of the Kingdom
Words and Music: Graham Kendrick

1. One shall tell another And He shall tell his friend
Husbands wives and children Shall come following on
From house to house in families Shall more be gathered in
And lights will shine in every street So warm and welcoming

Refrain:
Come on in and taste the new wine
The wine of the kingdom
The wine of the kingdom of God
Here is healing and forgiveness
The wine of the kingdom
The wine of the kingdom of God

2. Compassion of the Father Is ready now to flow
Through acts of love and mercy We must let it show
He turns now from His anger To show a smiling face
And longs that men should stand beneath
The fountain of His grace.

Refrain

3. He longs to do much more than Our faith has yet allowed
To thrill us and surprise us With His sovereign power
Where darkness has been darkest The brightest light will shine
His invitation comes to us It’s yours and it is mine

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

May 13 “Receiving”

Receiving

They had seen others refuse the call to follow Jesus.
They had also seen rich people humbled by an encounter with Jesus, but this case was disturbing. This was a good man, a diligent keeper of the law. He was obviously blessed by God for his righteousness. Why should God’s blessings be the price of eternal life?

Jesus saw into their hearts, hearing their questions as easily as if they had spoken them.

“…,it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man
to enter the kingdom of God.”

Tired by the Road
Perhaps it was the end of a long day, or the weariness of the many long walks and tense conversations with the rulers, but something about this encounter stole the energy of the twelve men following Jesus. They were not yet converted from the world where riches were counted as riches, not impediments. The values of Jesus, the heavenly measuring instruments, were still not theirs. If not a righteous man, blessed by God with riches…

“Who then can be saved?”

The disciple who asked the question is not revealed but all of them were thinking it. Jesus looked at them and saw their despair. He reminded them that all things were possible with God.

It didn’t help.

What do we get?
Peter spoke for the group reminding Jesus that they had not turned away when He said, “Follow me.” They had answered His call. Was there no assurance for them of eternal reward?

“See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?”

Peter’s question could have come from any of their mouths. Jesus assured them of special places in His Kingdom to come. They would see a new world, a regenerated earth and sky and they would be the rulers of the nation. Jesus paused to let His promises sink into their exhausted minds. What shall they have? Much. More than they gave up to follow Him and more than the rich young ruler held on to, and more than they could ever imagine.

In the Distance
Jesus looked beyond the setting of this conversation, beyond the road and the countryside flanking the road, to the far horizon. He even looked beyond that horizon to the future. He knew that for centuries to come people would hear Him say, “Follow Me.” They would leave all to do just that. They would abandon homes and families and easy lives to follow Him to strange lands and hard times and demanding vocations all because He asked them to. That many, judged to the “first” in their small worlds, would leave those promising futures to be “last” in the eyes of people to advance His Kingdom. He saw the weak and overlooked ones become the “first” in His Kingdom.

And there in the distance, He saw you and He saw me.

Scriptures:
Matthew 19:23-30
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, what I have given up to follow You is insignificant to what I have gained. You are my exceeding great reward! My heart beats for Your Kingdom. You have always met my needs and blessed me abundantly in so many ways. Help me keep my eyes on You and not on others. I rejoice in the way You bless my brothers and sisters. Help me measure my life by those heavenly instruments, not the false scales of this old world. Thank You, Lord! Amen.

Song:
I Have Decided to Follow Jesus
Traditional

1. I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
no turning back, no turning back.

2. Though none go with me, I still will follow;
though none go with me, I still will follow;
though none go with me, I still will follow;
no turning back, no turning back.

3. The world behind me, the cross before me;
the world behind me, the cross before me;
the world behind me, the cross before me;
no turning back, no turning back.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

May 12 “Pride”

Pride

Some people came to Jesus with needs that could not be hidden: blindness, leprosy, a crutch or a withered hand. Others came with diseases hidden away.
He has come to be called the Rich Young Ruler. His clothes were new and they were well made. He carried with him an air of importance. People made way for him because it just seemed the proper thing to do. It was as if people could read his impressive resume just by the way he moved.

Why was he following Jesus?
Perhaps he had seen the miracles but he did not need one. Surely he had heard the amazing things Jesus said for he had already made up his mind about Jesus—He was a good teacher, no, a great teacher. If he had been following Jesus from place to place, he may have seem Him bless the children.

Jesus and Children
The young man noted that children reacted to Jesus in a much different way than to him. He was puzzled by this. In the past he had filled his bag with treats and the children would take them and get away as soon as possible. Why? They were different with Jesus. All He gave them was a smile and gentle touch yet they were drawn to Him, laughing and playing as if they had known Him all their short lives. Why? When His disciples tried to shoo the children away, he saw Jesus put His hands on them and bless them.

“Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

It was like a knife to his heart. What? Children? Surely eternal life would be given to the important people of this world, not to children?

Puzzled, the young man kept on following Jesus. He wasn’t a leper and he wasn’t blind or deaf. He certainly wasn’t poor so what was this need in his heart? Why was he drawn to Jesus, a poor carpenter with no standing, no influence, with nothing to offer a rich young ruler, except perhaps an end to the secret ache in his heart? Without thinking the question popped from his mouth.

“Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”

As impressed as he was with Jesus, he still could not call Him great. Jesus deflected his question with a question of His own and then a challenge to keep the commandments. The young man wanted details but he was confident he had overlooked nothing in this matter. Jesus gave him the list. There was nothing new there so the young man reported what everybody already knew.

“All these things I have kept from my youth.”

Jesus lowered His eyes at this report and studied the dust on the road. After an uncomfortable moment, the young man pressed the issue.

“What do I still lack?”

Jesus lifted His head and met the man’s eyes with a slight smile.

“If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

The gaze of Jesus into the man’s soul never wavered. Suddenly the man’s new clothes did not fit so well. He felt naked in front of the crowd. Children laughed at him and even as Jesus continued to look at him, the young man turned and walked away.

Pride is an unseen disease but it devastates the best of people.

Scriptures:
Matthew 19:13-22
Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” And He laid His hands on them and departed from there. Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to Him, “Which ones?” Jesus said, “‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
James 4:6 NKJV
But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”

Prayer:
Jesus, You are a great Teacher. Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light for my path. I have no righteousness of my own to offer You. Lord, save me from self-importance. Deliver me from pride. Clothe me with humility so that others may see You in me. Help me be like those children who were drawn to You, not in fear, but in joy. Lord Jesus, fill all the holes in my heart! Satisfy my hidden hungers. I am unworthy it is true, but as the song says, “a pauper, I walk with the King!” Thank You, Lord! Amen.

Song:
Unworthy
Words and Music: Vep Ellis

1. Unworthy am I of the grace that He gave,
Unworthy to hold to His hand;
Amazed that a King would reach down to a slave,
This love I cannot understand.

Refrain:
Unworthy, unworthy, a beggar;
In bondage and alone;
But He made me worthy and now by His grace,
His mercy has made me His own.

2. My sorrow and sickness laid stripes on His back,
My sins caused the blood that was shed;
My faults and my failures have woven a crown
Of thorns, that He wore on His head.

Refrain

3. Unworthy am I of the glory to come,
Unworthy with angels to sing;
I thrill just to know that He loved me so much,
A pauper, I walk with the King

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

May 11 “Loving”

Loving

Some things change with time. Some things do not.
Jesus and the Twelve left Galilee and traveled down to Judea. Great multitudes of folks with all kinds of sicknesses and needs followed Him and “He healed them there.” The Pharisees, ignoring the miracles and looking for a chance to catch Jesus in some sort of mistake, asked Him about divorce.

“Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?”

They were not concerned about the people; it was simply a test. Jesus answered them as if it were a serious inquiry. He referred them to things they already knew:

  • God created people as males and females.
  • Marriage between a man and woman was God’s plan.
  • This was a reason to grow up, leave home, and form your own home.
  • Legally and in the sight of God a married couple had ceased to be two people and were one in the Lord.
  • What God has joined together should not be separated by man.

But, times have changed. Haven’t they?
Moses faced the reality that marriage did not always mean love. He made a rule that a man who no longer loved his wife could simply give her a certificate and send her away. Times had changed and Moses changed with them. Implicit in their question was another question: “Do you agree?”

God has not changed.
Moses faced the hardness of men’s hearts and made his exception but this was never God’s plan. Hard-hearted men do not love. They look upon women as objects to satisfy their lusts and as servants to meet their needs. God intended for a man and woman to love each other; that means to live each for the other. The love of a man with a godly heart for a woman lifts her up; it never uses or abuses her. Hard-hearted men do that. The true-hearted man can no more intentionally hurt his wife than he could to drive a nail into his own hand. She is an extension of his very existence.

When Two Become One
When a man and a woman are joined together in holy matrimony, they become one in the eyes of God.

  • When He moves the man, the move is also good for the woman.
  • When He meets the needs of the woman, the man is also blest.
  • When God blesses their union with children, those children will need what the father supplies and what the mother has to give.

The children will learn about life from both a masculine and feminine viewpoint, preparing them for life in the real world. Little boys will love their mothers and want to be like their fathers. Little girls will love their fathers and learn how to be women like their mothers. When two become one and then they become several, the plan of God works wonderfully well.

Do not stop loving.
It may not always be easy to love one’s spouse, especially if the spouse is not a believer. As long as possible, the believing partner should keep on loving the unbelieving one. Paul does not claim that his advice is from God but it is good to consider his wisdom. Jesus also said that some individuals were called to a single life. These people are able to give all their love to the Kingdom of God and should be seen as true heroes.

Back to the Beginning
Regardless of changing times and mores, it is good to refer back to the beginning, to the original intentions of God. Let His plan guide us by loving the one He has given us.

Scriptures:
Matthew 19:1-12
Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these sayings, that He departed from Galilee and came to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them there. The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” His disciples said to Him, “If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” But He said to them, “All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.”
1 Corinthians 7:12-16 NKJV
But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?

Prayer:
Lord, Jesus, I marvel at Your plan! You created us male and female and this is the fundamental organizational fact of human life. The joy of being one in marriage is one that grows with time. It gets sweeter as the years add up. Help those who are single to find the one You have for them and those who are called to the single life to find joy in their service to You. Help each of us to keep on loving! Amen and Amen.

Song:
O Love that Will Not Let Me Go
Words: George Matheson; Music: Albert L. Peace

1. O love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
that in thine ocean depths its flow
may richer, fuller be.

2. O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
my heart restores its borrowed ray,
that in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
may brighter, fairer be.

3. O joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
and feel the promise is not vain
that morn shall tearless be.

4. O cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
and from the ground there blossoms red
life that shall endless be.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

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.