Shepherd of the Hills - Richfield, Wisconsin
Daily Devotions - Love the Word not the World

Daily Devotions - Love the Word not the World

June 3, 2021

1 John 2:15-27 NIV
On Not Loving the World
15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

Warnings Against Denying the Son
18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. 20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. 21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. 24 As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he promised us—eternal life. 26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.

 

In what areas of your life does love for the world compete with Love for God?

 

Oh Lord, my God, how I want to be close to You. How I want to hear Your voice and to be filled with Your Spirit. How I want to do Your will and follow Your teachings. I know that nothing is better than You. Why is it then, that I struggle to find time with You? I am distracted in every way. I am attracted to ways where I can spend my time and my money that give me pleasure. I am drawn in by the troubles of this world. I have tried to make changes in my schedule to allow for time with You, but the things of this world frequently seem to get in the way and interrupt my thoughts, my attention, and my time with You. I promise that I will get back to You after I take care of something else, but time flashes by with busyness and another day goes by with limited or no time with You.  The devil distracts me with things. He clutters my mind with thoughts. His intention is to keep me from You. Forgive me, Lord. Give me the strength to turn off the news and to refrain from searching the internet. Most of what I will miss is false teachings that burden my heart and shake my faith. Instead, let me open my Bible and get my news from You. Fill me with the joy of Your salvation. Let Your Word live in me so that I can overcome the distractions of the evil one. Victory comes from staying close to You. Let Your love be my source of strength. Let me delight in Your Word and Love Your People. I pray that as more people are touched by Your love that we can forgive and respect each other and unify in Your name. The things of this world and the news of the day will quickly pass away, but Your Word, Your Love, and Your Joy will last for eternity. Thank You for Your promises, Lord. Amen

 

Daily Devotions - God is Love

Daily Devotions - God is Love

June 2, 2021

1 John 1:1-2:14 NIV
The Incarnation of the Word of Life
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.

Light and Darkness, Sin and Forgiveness
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him, there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. 2 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

Love and Hatred for Fellow Believers
3 We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. 7 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. 9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.

Reasons for Writing
12 I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. 14 I write to you, dear children because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

 

In what ways have you, like John, seen, heard, and touched Jesus?

The ways I have seen, heard, and touched Jesus is through the working of another Christian brother or sister in my life. Those who have come to know Jesus can make Himself felt through their actions.

Lord you did manifest yourself to so many after you conquered the grave, you left witnesses to attest to your greatness and power over death. Help me to share your great news, you have shed your blood not just for me but the whole world, I want to be in fellowship with you and with other believers so that we can strengthen one another and walk in your light. Help me to turn away from the darkness in this world knowing you are always by my side when I confess my weakness to you. Lord, I pray that your light may shine through me as I serve you in this world. Help me to live as you did, with love and compassion for those I meet from day to day. Help my heart be tender so that I may cause no one to stumble as they look for your truth. Keep me strong in your word and fill my mind and spirit with your word as my shield against the power of darkness in this world. Keep me mindful of the reward you have in store for me when I leave this world. Amen

 

Today's prayer submitted by Jo Schneider

Daily Devotions - Resurrection Victory

Daily Devotions - Resurrection Victory

June 1, 2021

Mark 16 NIV
Jesus Has Risen
16 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” 4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. 6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” 8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone because they were afraid.

[The earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses do not have verses 9–20.]

9 When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. 11 When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it. 12 Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. 13 These returned and reported it to the rest, but they did not believe them either. 14 Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen. 15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name, they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” 19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.

 

Would you have had trouble believing the angel’s words? 

 

Lord, Your Word declares that You are the King of kings and the Lord of lords. You will overcome evil with Your Good for eternity. You have defeated sin and death by Your resurrection. Forgive me Lord, when I am skeptical about Your mighty power. I doubt that I can use Your resurrection power to do great things in Your name. Why do I look at the evil around me and have trouble believing that You can and will overcome it? I want to believe. Help me with my unbelief. I want to hold onto the truth that You are in control. You work all things together for good for those who love You and are called to Your purpose. Let me trust in Your resurrection power and trust that evil is not winning, but being exposed for what it is. It appeared that evil had won when You died on the cross, but the final victory was Yours. What I see in the natural is very compelling but You are not confined to the natural. Help me not limit what I believe You can do by my human understanding of the things of this world. Your ways are not of this world. Your glory will shine as You rise up to save the nations with Your mercy in powerful victory. Blessed are those who do not see but yet believe. Let my faith shine in the darkness. Let me fight evil on my knees with my hands lifted high. Lead me to participate in the great things You have planned. Allow me to serve You and to share Your story of love, sacrifice, and victory to all I meet. I believe that I'm going to see a victory, because the battle belongs to You, Lord. I choose to believe. Amen

Daily Devotions - Honoring the Sacrifice

Daily Devotions - Honoring the Sacrifice

May 31, 2021

Mark 15:21-47 NIV
The Crucifixion of Jesus
21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. 22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get. 25 It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the jews. 27 They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. [28]  29 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 come down from the cross and save yourself!” 31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

The Death of Jesus
33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). 35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.” 36 Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said. 37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. 38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” 40 Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph,[d] and Salome. 41 In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.

The Burial of Jesus
42 It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. 45 When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.

 

When did the crucifixion begin to make a difference in your own life?

 

Precious Lord and Savior. I am a sinner. I have hurt others, hurt myself and hurt You with my sin. While I was still a sinner, You endured excruciating pain, suffering, and death for me on the cross. You knew the weight of every sin that I have and would commit and You carried them to the depths of Hell. I deserved judgment, rejection, and death, but You paid the entire price so that I could be set free. In my unfaithfulness, I was set free by Your faithfulness love, and grace. Today I think of the many men and women who were faithful in serving this country. They gave their lives so that I could be set free. I did nothing to deserve their service and sacrifice, but I enjoy liberty and freedom because of their sacrifice. Who am I to receive the benefits of such love and faithfulness from You and those who have died on my behalf? Lord, how it grieves my heart that people right now are walking away from the gift of salvation that cost You Your life. At the same time, people are walking away from the gift of Liberty that cost many people their lives. Lord forgive us. I pray that as a country, that You lead us back to You. I pray that the sacrifices made for us have not been in vain. I honor You Jesus above all for Your sacrifice for me. I also honor the sacrifice of those who gave their lives for this country. Thank You, Lord. Amen

Daily Devotions - Love of Money

Daily Devotions - Love of Money

May 29, 2021

Ecclesiastes 5:8-6:9 NIV
Riches Are Meaningless
8 If you see the poor oppressed in a district, and justice and rights denied, do not be surprised at such things; for one official is eyed by a higher one, and over them, both are others higher still. 9 The increase from the land is taken by all; the king himself profits from the fields. 10 Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless. 11 As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owners except to feast their eyes on them? 12 The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether they eat little or much, but as for the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep. 13 I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners, 14 or wealth lost through some misfortune so that when they have children there is nothing left for them to inherit. 15 Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb, and as everyone comes, so they depart. They take nothing from their toil that they can carry in their hands. 16 This too is a grievous evil: As everyone comes, so they depart, and what do they gain, since they toil for the wind? 17 All their days they eat in darkness, with great frustration, affliction, and anger. 18 This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink, and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. 19 Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot, and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. 20 They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart. 6 I have seen another evil under the sun, and it weighs heavily on mankind: 2 God gives some people wealth, possessions, and honor, so that they lack nothing their hearts desire, but God does not grant them the ability to enjoy them, and strangers enjoy them instead. This is meaningless, a grievous evil. 3 A man may have a hundred children and live many years; yet no matter how long he lives, if he cannot enjoy his prosperity and does not receive proper burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. 4 It comes without meaning, it departs in darkness, and in darkness, its name is shrouded. 5 Though it never saw the sun or knew anything, it has more rest than does that man— 6 even if he lives a thousand years twice over but fails to enjoy his prosperity. Do not all go to the same place? 7 Everyone’s toil is for their mouth, yet their appetite is never satisfied. 8 What advantage have the wise over fools? What do the poor gain by knowing how to conduct themselves before others? 9 Better what the eye sees than the roving of the appetite. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

 

What priority does the pursuit of wealth and work have in your life?

 

Lord, you have been so very good to me. I have been given the ability and opportunity to work and earn a wage. I have worked hard and have been blessed to achieve a comfortable life. Thank You, Lord. There is a wonderful satisfaction that comes from being productive and accomplishing good things. There is also a danger when those good things and my selfish pleasures become my main thing. Lord, forgive me when I put the pursuit of wealth over the pursuit of my relationship with You. Wealth is temporary and causes more stress to maintain it. The value of money is limited. To focus on the accumulation of things does not bring joy, only greed for more and it distracts me from true treasure that can come only from You. My security and confidence cannot come from things of this world. Eternal security and confidence come from my relationship with You. I cannot enjoy the simple pleasures in life when I invest in those things. You and Your kingdom have ultimate value. I pray that I keep You first in all aspects of life. Help me to be thankful for what I have been given as a result of hard work and enjoy whatever resources You have given me. Guide me in ways to be generous and resourceful to use it for Your glory. Set my heart on the things of heaven and the true joy and contentment that comes from loving You. Amen

 

Daily Devotions - Jesus, King over all the earth

Daily Devotions - Jesus, King over all the earth

May 28, 2021

Psalm 47 NIV
For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.
1 Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. 2 For the Lord Most High is awesome, the great King over all the earth. 3 He subdued nations under us, peoples under our feet. 4 He chose our inheritance for us, the pride of Jacob, whom he loved. 5 God has ascended amid shouts of joy, the Lord amid the sounding of trumpets. 6 Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. 7 For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise.  8 God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne. 9 The nobles of the nations assemble as the people of the God of Abraham, for the kings of the earth belong to God; he is greatly exalted.

 

In what way is God the king of all the Earth when so many ignore and disobey him?

 

Lord, God You are King over all the earth even if people don't accept Your ruling over them. Your kingdom will spread to the ends of the earth through the power of the gospel preached by the Church. By believing the gospel, by repenting and trusting in You, the gospel will conquer all nations. Lord forgive the church for not declaring Your authority to speak the gospel with boldness. Boldness comes from hope. Hope comes from faith. Thank You for Your mercy and grace. Out of Your love for us, You have been patient. You have allowed us to stumble and fall to recognize our need for You. People who reject you are going to be brought to a place where they are ready and willing to submit to you as their king. Jesus Christ, You rule and reign over all the earth. You are the King of the nations, Your authority is universal, Your global victory is certain. Help me to believe it and then act, locally. I worship and praise You, mighty king. Amen

Daily Devotions - Follow God’s Will, not Man’s

Daily Devotions - Follow God’s Will, not Man’s

May 27, 2021

Mark 15:1-20 NIV
Jesus Before Pilate
15 Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law, and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. 2 “Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate. “You have said so,” Jesus replied. 3 The chief priests accused him of many things. 4 So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.” 5 But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed. 6 Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. 7 A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. 8 The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did. 9 “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, 10 knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead. 12 “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them. 13 “Crucify him!” they shouted. 14 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” 15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

The Soldiers Mock Jesus
16 The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. 17 They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18 And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

 

What insights into the character of Pilate and Jesus does this story offer?

 

Pilate was a people pleaser. He perceived in his heart that You were innocent and that the priests wanted power and authority over the people.  Pilate did everything he could think of to release You without going against the angry crowd. He was afraid of the crowd; he was afraid of You. He had You scourged as a way to sway the crowd with sympathy to save you from the cross. He was looking for anything You would say to help him set You free without inciting a riot. Pilate was a coward, and he was afraid to make the decision on the basis of justice. You, Jesus, are a God-pleaser. You stood strong to do God's will even at the risk of Your own suffering and death. If You had replied to Pilate in any way, the governor would have used Your words to dismiss the charge and free You immediately but God's will would not have been done. Your silence effectively exposed the true enmity of these priests. It effectively stripped away all their disguise, and they had to come out and openly reveal that what was eating them was nothing more than the jealousy of their own hearts. As You remained silent before these priests, the hatred in their hearts against You was exposed. The leaders in today's society are much the same as Pilate and those priests. We have leaders with an insatiable thirst for power and authority over the people. They generate angry crowds who blindly follow their lies and dishonesty. There are other leaders who know what is right but are afraid of the crowds so they succumb to its pressures. They try to destroy any leader who does stand up to honesty and righteousness. In Your silence, You are exposing the hatred in their hearts. You are exposing evil today. Lord help me to not be a people pleaser. Let me stand strong for what is right even if it means I will suffer as a result. You allowed evil to play out in order for You to conquer sin and death for all people for all time. In a similar way, You are allowing evil to play out today in order to show Your glory throughout the world. You have a plan to overcome the evil. Keep me from trying to please the mob and acting out of fear like Pilate. Raise up leaders who are not afraid of the crowd but stand strong to do Your will. Keep me from blindly following evil as part of the crowd. Allow today's crowd to recognize evil. I pray for Your strength to stand up for righteousness. Let me be a God-pleaser. Lord I trust in Your plan and I ask for Your courage to follow Your will, not man's. Thank you, Lord!  Amen 

Daily Devotions - Forgiven Failures

Daily Devotions - Forgiven Failures

May 26, 2021

Mark 14:66-72 IV
Peter Disowns Jesus
66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. 67 When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him. “You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said. 68 But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said and went out into the entryway. 69 When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” 70 Again he denied it. After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” 71 He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.” 72 Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

 

When, if ever, have you felt that your failures had made it impossible for Christ to use you again?

 

There have been so many times when I feel like I have been a huge failure and wonder why Christ was so loving as to die for me. There are times when I failed to publicly proclaim myself as a follower of Christ when I had the chance to but was afraid of what those around me would think or say. I find myself being less than honest about an issue and not speaking the truth because I worry about not being strong enough to stand up to the criticism I would probably face even though I know that my truth is emanating from the word of God,

Lord how do I say thank you for what you have done for me. I fear criticism or having my feelings hurt, what a poor excuse. Forgive my weaknesses Lord. I really want to be strong for you, I really do want to share your good news. People desperately need to hear of your Love, your power, your compassion, and your desire for them to come to you. I continue to pray that your Holy Spirit would give me boldness to proclaim you and your word. Remind me to clothe myself in the armor of God so that I may be a worthy ambassador of your gospel. Thank you for your mercy on me, thank you for your forgiveness, thank you for your unfailing love and the wonderful promise of eternal life with you. AMEN

 

Today's prayer was submitted by Jo Schneider

Daily Devotions - Following Jesus

Daily Devotions - Following Jesus

May 25, 2021

Mark 14:53-65 NIV
Jesus Before the Sanhedrin
53 They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders, and the teachers of the law came together. 54 Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire. 55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. 56 Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree. 57 Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’” 59 Yet even then their testimony did not agree. 60 Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 61 But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” 62 “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 63 The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. 64 “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” They all condemned him as worthy of death. 65 Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.

 

What does the fact that Peter has followed Jesus (at a distance) tell you about Peter’s character?

 

Even when I have the best of intentions as surely Peter did, there are bumps in the road and mountains to overcome that often lead me to apprehension and doubt. Peter denied You out of weakness and fear. He still followed You but he kept his distance as to not be identified with You. It is so easy to go with the flow and be part of the group. There are times when I want to fit in so I am reluctant to be identified with You. I remain quiet so as to not raise attention to my faith out of fear. I am comfortable in a church where it is safe, but I am tempted to become a chameleon when faced with those who consider any reference to You as foolishness. How that must break Your heart. My faith is often tested regarding my relationship with You, some obvious and significant, others subtle and small. From a faith perspective, the subtle can cause as much harm as the obvious because of the corrosive effect. I am challenged to follow You even in adversity yet, often I fail. Forgive me, Lord. Although the world encourages me to keep my distance from You, You call me to draw closer to You. You welcome me to come and bring my fears, burdens, and cares of this world and You will give me rest. Lord, give me the boldness and not to be embarrassed by my faith in You. Release any apprehension and doubt and give me confidence in Your strength and peace. Help me to not cover the light of my faith but let my faith be a light that leads the world toward You. You have said that in the world there will be trouble, but I trust in Your Word that You have overcome the world. Amen

 

Daily Devotions  - Desertion

Daily Devotions - Desertion

May 24, 2021

Mark 14:43-52
Jesus Arrested
43 Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders. 44 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” 45 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. 46 The men seized Jesus and arrested him. 47 Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 48 “Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” 50 Then everyone deserted him and fled. 51 A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, 52 he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.

 

How do you account for the reaction of the disciples?

 

Lord, I don't like discomfort. I have been accustomed to the conveniences of my home, the ability to purchase food at will, and the liberty to move and travel as desired, and the freedom to worship You. Forgive me when I take these things for granted and don't acknowledge those gifts and blessings. There are many countries where those basic rights are not available to them. Even in this country, there are people who are determined to limit those rights and to take away freedoms that I currently enjoy. There is social persecution for those who do not succumb to the pressures of following the way of these people. There are churches that have turned their back on Your Word and accept the ways of society to avoid negative attention and persecution. Instead of standing with You and Your principles, they have deserted Your teachings out of fear to protect their comfort. Forgive us, Lord. Let Your truth be more important than our comfort. Let our motivation be to share the truth of Your Gospel message to those who have not heard. That may be uncomfortable, but if Your message is watered down and contaminated by society, it is no longer Your Word and it doesn't help anyone. Lord, I too avoid confrontation from the world in my silence. Help me not run away from my faith in order to fit in. Let me not conform to the ways of the world to avoid uncomfortable conflicts. Fill me with Your Spirit and give me the courage to stand with You as others desert You. The disciples ran in fear from the physical threat of the Romans. We run in fear from the threat of social condemnation. You didn't avoid being uncomfortable. You left the comforts of Heaven to be born in a stable. You moved toward the condemnation, beatings, and crucifixion out of Your great love for me. Because of Your pain and death, I have eternal life. Strengthen my faith so that my love to spend eternity with You is greater than my fear. You promised that You will always be with me, and will not forsake me, even when I am uncomfortable. I trust You at Your Word. Amen

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