Look! The Lamb of God

Read John 1:23-51 -Lenton Reading Day two

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” John 1:29

“When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’” John 1:36

In the Old Testament, hundreds of years before Jesus was born, God established the sacrificing of animals as a picture of how sin or wrongdoing must be atoned for. Sin separated us from God and could only be paid for with blood. The sacrifice of a lamb, in particular, was a picture of the Lamb who would one day be killed as payment for all sin. Jesus could do this because only He was able to live a perfect life on earth. He then chose to die as a sacrificial lamb for the sins of the world.

Isaiah prophesied about this, “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” 53:7

“For you know it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” 1 Peter 1:18-19

God planned that Jesus would die for us before the creation of the world:

“…The Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.” Revelation 13:8

Jesus is the perfect Lamb without blemish or fault. He willingly gave Himself for us. John the Baptist knew this about Him and declared Him to be the Lamb of God, the one who would rescue us from sin.

Thank you, Jesus, for being our Perfect Lamb! Thank you for being willing to die for us.

 

 

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The Word Became Flesh – Day One – Lenten reading

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Read John 1:1-23

Jesus is the Word – the message to the world – the Gospel – the Good News
Jesus always has been and always will be.
He was with God in the beginning.
All things were made through Him.
In Him was life – the light of all mankind.
John came to testify of the light.
Jesus is the True Light that gives light to everyone.
To ALL who believe in His name, He gives the right to become children of God.
Jesus, being fully divine, became flesh and came to live on earth.
Jesus full of glory, full of grace and truth came to live with us.
Jesus came to give grace and truth. Grace upon grace.
Jesus came to reveal God.
John came to prepare the way for Jesus. To begin the plan for salvation for all.

So, the Holy Word of God became flesh and came to live with sinful humanity so that He could give us grace upon grace. He came to rescue us from our sin.

Jesus, Holy Savior, thank You for being willing to leave heaven and put on flesh in order to rescue us from our sin. Thank You for creating us and loving us with a perfect love. Please let this Lenten season be one that brings people to You. We need You, Lord! In this world of fear and doubt, help us lean on You. Help us look to You for salvation in every sense of the word. I love you, Lord!

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Are You Thirsty?

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God is the Spring of Living Water

“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Jeremiah 2:13

“LORD, you are the hope of Israel; all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the LORD, the spring of living water.” Jeremiah 17:13

Jesus is the Living Water

“Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’” John 4:10

“…but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14

The Holy Spirit is a river of Living Water in our souls

“Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. By this he meant the Spirit…” John 7:38-39
“For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to the springs of living water. ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’” Rev 7:17
Water is essential to all living things. Humans only live a few days without water. Water means life to us.

The LORD God, the Great I AM is Living Water to us. He is the Spring of Living Water. He is the Giver of life. Jesus Christ, His Son, came to give us that Living Water. The water that one only has to drink once and it gives eternal life. When we drink that water, it becomes a spring welling up in us, a River of Living Water, the Holy Spirit in us. That Water gives us eternal life and no one can take it away.

“He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty, I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.” Revelation 21:6

“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” Revelation 22:17

Jesus says, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.” John 7:37

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Searching for What I Can’t Find

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My heart cries out for what I can’t find here!

I want to keep all I love just as it is. I want to know my loved ones will stay healthy and whole. I want to cling to what I love.

How can I in a world that’s passing away? In a life that’s like a flower that blooms in the morning and by night fades away?  How can I hold on to a mist? How can I secure a life that is a breath, a second in all of eternity?

I can’t because I’m not meant to. This is not reality; this life is vanishing. All I know and love on earth will pass. It’s all temporary, except hearts and souls redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ. Believers in Jesus will be with Him forever. What we will be, we don’t know.  I do know what we will have in eternity can’t compare to the baubles we cling to here. Everything here is like rubbish compared to glory.

Oh, that we could get just a glimpse of that glory! We would no longer cling to these earthly shadows. We can barely see the shadows of reality here. We get the smallest glimpse when we love someone unselfishly, when the glory of nature takes our breath away, when we stop and contemplate the countless miracles—galaxies without and within, the preciseness of rhythm all around us in all that exists:

beating hearts, tides, waves,

seasons, circulation,

beating, beating

breathing, breathing,

in, out

in, out

precise movement

clockwork

rhythm

breathe in, breathe out

tides flowing in and out

blood moving as hearts beat

thrum, thrum, thrum

in, out

come, go

seasons flow

tide comes in

all in precise rhythm.

 

The whole universe

operating in unison

as one beating heart

one miraculous creation…

until our heart stops beating and

exits from that rhythm.

Then we step out of that cadence.

We become part of a reality we can only dream of or imagine.

We step into eternity,

into the presence of our Creator,

the One who spoke and the rhythm began.

The One who breathed into Adam and started the beating of his heart.

 

The beat of creation

The rhythm

The breath of every creature

in, out

The cycle of every plant.

The changing of the seasons.

The coming of day and night.

 

in and out

around and around

breathe

flow

circulate

live

bloom

die

repeat

harmony.

 

We move with the planets.

With the tides.

With the seasons.

Beating hearts.

Breathing in

Breathing out.

 

Jesus calls us to go beyond this present creation,

to believe He stepped into this mortal existence to

make a way for us to join Him in the reality we were created for,

to live forever in the presence of our perfect Creator.

Our true Father.

Jesus is our way there.

He is our Guide.

He is the Gate to that perfect place.

The place we’re all looking for, longing for.

The place where we will sigh the deepest sigh ever and say,

“Finally, I’m home.”

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Am I a Disciple of Christ?

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“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

Resentment built in my heart. At that time, I attended the same church as my older sister. Our congregation met Sunday evening and morning, and twice more throughout the week. In my mind, to be a true disciple meant participating in every religious event. Then my sister stopped coming Sunday nights. I went to every worship service every time the door opened. Why didn’t my sister as well? If I’d been honest, my feeling was, “If I have to be here, so should she.”

I’ve since learned that the true mark of a disciple isn’t how often we attend church or study our Bibles, Jesus said it’s how much we love each other. People don’t care how good we are at keeping rules, but they notice how we love.

That was how others would know we’re His followers and it’s one of the ways we obey Him. I aspire to live this way. But I often fall into selfishness. I can’t love as Christ desires in my own strength but as I follow Him, He teaches me how to love and His love flows through me.

Each day I choose to follow Christ or self.  Some days I follow Him closely. Many days I fall into selfishness and live for me. But His love for me never changes. He gently reminds me of who I am and draws me back to my journey as His disciple. I yield to His Spirit and let Him change my desires to match His.

To be a disciple of Christ means I believe in Him and desire to learn how to love like Him. I’m still learning.

How can you follow Christ’s example more freely?

Originally published at Crosswalk.com

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Light Overcomes Darkness

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Read John 1:1-5

“In the beginning”… before anything else came to be. Before there was a universe, a world, people… was “the Word.” The Word was with God – the Word was God. God spoke and things came to be. He created by the spoken word. He created through the Word – Through the Word, all things were made. In Him was life – Jesus said, “I am the Life.” In Him was the light of all mankind. Jesus said, “I am the Light.”

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’

Think about it. Darkness can’t exist unless the light leaves. We don’t turn on darkness. We turn off the light. There is darkness if light leaves. But darkness cannot overtake the light. We have darkness at night because the earth moves away from the light not because darkness overcomes it. Darkness is the absence of light. Light has all power over darkness.

Jesus is the Light. He is the Light of Life. His Light overcomes our sin. His Light has all power over spiritual darkness. Darkness cannot exist in His presence and He can never be overcome by it. As long as we keep our eyes on Him, His Light will show us the way. His light will illuminate all that needs to be cleansed in us.

When we see the yuck in our lives, it means we are in the light.

Why do people love darkness? Because it hides their sin. Evil seeks darkness and hides there.

Jesus, help me stay in the light. Thank You that I belong to You and You live in me. Thank You that Your light reveals all in me that needs to be cleaned up or restored. I want to walk in Your light, Lord.

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Walking in Freedom

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“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Galatians 5:1

Read Galatians 5:1-25

Christ came to set us free not to put a burden on us. We were slaves before He died for us. By striving to be justified by keeping the law, we alienate ourselves from Him. v.4 Justifying ourselves is impossible. We’re either walking in grace and free or walking burdened by the law. “Through the Spirit, we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope.” v. 5 We get righteousness by faith. In Christ, what counts is when we express our faith through love. v. 6

Being free doesn’t mean we do whatever we want. v. 13 We are not to indulge our flesh but to humbly serve others in love. “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” v. 14 Of course, we can’t even love others in our own strength. The key is walking in the Holy Spirit.

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” v. 16

We are to keep in step with Him, letting Him guide us. v. 25

I know I can’t keep the law. I fail continually. I rely on His mercy and grace. He has set me free and I believe in Him. It’s only as I yield my will to Him and let Him lead me that I can obey Him and love others. I’m continually learning to do that.

It’s a choice I have to make every day, every hour.

When I fail, all I have to do is confess and ask Him to help me. The key is to keep going and don’t quit. Don’t give up on seeking Him.

Jesus, help me walk in repentance seeking You. Help me live in the power of Your Spirit letting Him love others through me. Thank You that You give me everything I need to keep going and follow You. Help me trust You every step of the way.

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Words Have Power

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To have a chance to win a free copy of Drawing Near go to pattishene.com/theover50writer and leave a comment. Thanks to Patti Shene for hosting my devotional! (offer ends at midnight on February 22nd)

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed

Proverbs 11:25 (NIV)

 Parched souls are all around us. Like flowers, people need care and nurturing.

My flowers were dead. The leaves were wilted and the petals drooping. I decided to water them anyway, and a miracle happened. Within minutes, a different plant emerged. The flowers lifted their heads and the leaves perked up. They weren’t dead, just desperate for water.

All around us are people like those flowers. Their spirits are wilted and they’re losing hope. Their eyes are dull and their faces downcast, but if we pour water upon them by smiling, speaking a kind word, giving encouragement, or lending a hand, we’ll often see a transformation. Their spirits will lift, their faces will light up, and their souls become refreshed.

Today’s verse paints a beautiful picture. The person who liberally blesses others will personally be enriched. I envision a person watering another while rain from heaven falls on her. As she gives to others, God fills her up. 2 Corinthians 9:6 teaches this same principle:

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly,

and whoever sows generously will also reap generously (NIV)

I easily forget this basic truth: I can’t out-give God. When I share generously with others, His abundance fills my soul. The gifts of joy, peace, wisdom, contentment, and love come from Him. The more I show love to others, the more I experience His love for me.

As writers, we have the opportunity to revive others with every word and sentence we type. We water souls and by so doing, our own souls are renewed. Words are powerful whether spoken or written. May we use our gifts as word crafters to bring life to those around us.

How can you refresh someone else today?

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You Are a Masterpiece

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“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

We are His handiwork, His creation, His poem, made by His hands, crafted by Him…which He has declared good. He created us for the purpose of doing good works and He prepared us in advance for that purpose.

If we think of the greatest art ever crafted, the most beautiful architecture, the best piece of music, the handmade item that is one of a kind…none can compare or come close to God’s handiwork done in each human being. We are masterpieces. Masterpieces that live, move, breathe, and create.

We were made to do good things. To do good works. It is only as we live in our purpose that we find true joy and peace.

Jesus, help me walk in my purpose today. The purpose of doing good works in Your name.

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When I’m Searching

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Father, I need You. Not plans, studies, wisdom, direction, being right, purpose, ministry, fun, freedom, or knowledge. I need You! In You I find all I’m lacking. Help me to be quiet and know You, love You and find the place where I do not want. (Psalm 23:1) 

I know You are here with me. You are in my heart and in my soul. You are all around and I am in You. I am with Jesus resting in His arms. (John 14:20)

Father, I know there’s nothing I can do to earn more love. You already love me completely. I can’t earn Your favor as it requires perfection. Jesus did that for me. I know I have freedom in Christ. Freedom to make choices, but not freedom from consequences. (John 3:16; Galatians 5:13)

Please help me Father to make the choices that will bring fruit and will glorify Your name. Help me focus on all that is right and true. Help me deny myself as needed to love You and choose righteousness. Help me live honestly with myself and others.

I love You! I trust myself into Your hands.

 

 

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