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Category Archives: The Forty Devotionals

The Silence of Saturday

Day 40 the silence of saturday

Scripture Reading: Luke 23:50-56

Yesterday, Jesus was crucified. His disciples were scattered. His ministry seemed to be over. His influence disappeared. His friends were left questioning. His mother was left weeping.

This seemed like anything but a good day.

Imagine being one of the disciples waking up on Saturday morning. When your eyes open, you realize that the evening before, they watched your closest friend hung upon a cross until dead. For a split second, you think it was just a nightmare; only to be disappointed when you see He is nowhere to be found.

Yesterday, you could hear His voice crying out to God while He hung there on the cross, but today His voice is gone. Replaced by a haunting silence.

Yesterday, your hopes and dreams died with your best friend. You followed Jesus because you thought He brought hope. You thought He was going to bring peace. Now, all you can feel is darkness and despair. Your heart keeps crying out, “It wasn’t supposed to be this way!”

and yet, it is.

We all have dark moments in life. While they most often won’t rise to the same level of severity as the disciples, it still hurts. We wake up the next morning and the sound of the birds chirping aren’t as cheerful as they used to be. The sun shining brings pain to our eyes instead of warmth to our soul. But we, like the disciples, don’t know what tomorrow brings.

We cannot see the miracle waiting for us there. We don’t realize resurrection is just around the corner. We feel alone, forgetting that Jesus promised to never leave or forsake us. Like the disciples, we hide in fear. But Jesus didn’t come to leave us afraid. He came so that we may have life to the full.

Let today be a reminder the next time you find yourself trapped in the silence of Saturday — Jesus left the grave, broke the silence, and showed up at your doorstep to declare, “Peace to you.”

APPLY:

  • Take some time today to reflect and recognize what Jesus finished on the cross.
  • In what way(s) has God broken the silence in your own life? Thank Him for those moments.

 

*Devotional contributed by Paul Grodell

Forgiveness Come Alive

Day 39 Forgiveness Come Alive

Scripture Reading: Luke 23:18-49

A known guilty murderer (Barabbas) was released and an innocent Jesus was sent to His death. He was mocked, cursed, spit upon, and beaten. He was nailed to a cross next to two criminals while looking down from the cross upon a distressing scene. . The Roman soldiers were gambling for His clothing; the religious leaders sneered at Him; one of the criminals on the cross next to Him was questioning Him; and the crowd was blaspheming Him. Surrounded by this most unworthy group of people, Jesus did the unthinkable: He prayed for them.

“Father, forgive them” is a prayer of unmatched mercy and love.

Even in His agony, Jesus’ concern was for the forgiveness of those who counted themselves among His enemies. He asked the Father to forgive the thieves on the cross who jeered at Him. He asked the Father to forgive the Roman soldiers who had mocked Him, spit on Him, beat Him, yanked out His beard, whipped Him, put a crown of thorns on His head, and nailed Him to the cross. Jesus sought forgiveness for the angry mob that had mocked Him and called for His crucifixion.

Extending forgiveness to others – especially to those who don’t “deserve” it – is one of the most difficult and yet Christ-like things we can do. Jesus didn’t offer forgiveness to these men because they deserved it; in fact, Jesus acknowledges that they didn’t even know what they were doing (Luke 23:34).

Jesus offered forgiveness because He had compassion and mercy on them. When we are wronged, offended, and hurt by others we have an important decision to make: will we harbor resentment and withhold forgiveness or will we ask our Father God to give us the strength to forgive the wrongs that have been done to us? Anne Lamott says it this way, “Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.”

Forgiveness is not about you letting someone off the hook for hurting you. Extending forgiveness is not the same as approving of a person’s actions. To forgive is a decision we make to stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone for an offense, flaw, or mistake.

Forgiveness is a choice that requires strength from God.

Forgiveness brings freedom to YOU.

Choosing forgiveness, though hard, is what we as Christians are called to do.

APPLY:

  • Who do I need to extend forgiveness to?
  • Pray for God to give you the strength you need to forgive.
  • Who do I need to ask to forgive me?

*Devotional contributed by Phil Kerlin

Qualifying the Disqualified

Day 38 qualifying the disqualified

Scripture Reading: Luke 22:54-63

Think of the worst thing you’ve ever done. The thing you are most ashamed of. The thing you’ve only told those closest to you, or maybe no one at all. Think of the one thing you suspect disqualifies you from serving God and maybe even keeps you from His presence.

Imagine you are warming yourself by a fire. Its light flickers on the faces of those nearby. They all seem to be looking at you, suspiciously. It is 33 A.D. You are Peter. Your Master, the man you have followed for three years, has been arrested. You bravely fought His captors only to have Him undo your most bloody blow. Only you among His disciples have followed Him into the very courtyard of the accusing high priest.

But now among these faces your faith begins to fail. Like the brief time you walked on water, you’re focusing on the waves. Suddenly, someone asks if you know Him. You deny it. Then another asks. You deny it. Once more someone questions you, certain this time. Again you deny it…deny Him.

A rooster crows. Your Master turns to face you. You weep like you never have before. Bitterly. Surely this moment disqualifies you from any future service or friendship.

The Bible tells use that Peter would later raise the dead, write Scripture, proclaim the Gospel with great power, and die a martyr’s death. But before all that, around another fire, he would share a seaside breakfast with his risen Friend and be given the chance to repent. He would have the opportunity to turn from his sin and profess his love for Jesus again and again and again. The act of denying Jesus was not too big for God’s grace to forgive. Amazingly, Jesus knew Peter would deny Him and yet still He chose him. Ultimately, nothing can stop the expansion of God’s glory.

Now, think once more of your worst moment. Jesus knew you would do that too. Yet still, He loves you. He still died for you. He still has work for you to do for Him. So acknowledge the seriousness of your sin. Weep bitterly over it, repent, and ready yourself to feed His sheep like Peter.

APPLY:

  • Am I living my life like Jesus is returning at any moment?
  • What specific “calling” has God placed on my life?
  • Am I living like a true follower of Christ? How many of the gifts of the Holy Spirit are evident in my life?

*Devotional contributed by Alan Duncan

What If I’m Not Good Enough?

Day 35 What if I'm not good enough-

Scripture Reading: Luke 21:1-19

What if my talents aren’t any good?

We tend to give into lies that say, “we aren’t good enough.” No matter what we do to try to silence them, they tend to creep back up on us.

Maybe you just got over your fear of singing in front of others, so you decide, “This Sunday, I’m gonna sing my heart out at church and not care what anyone thinks.” The worship team starts playing This is Amazing Grace which is your JAM. You start off quiet and then realize, “Hey, I’m not that bad after all!”

All of the sudden, the girl worshiping next to you in church does a vocal run that puts Beyoncé to shame. And to top it all off, she’s dressed in the trendiest clothes, and you find out later – -her Instagram aesthetic is on point.

Maybe you have a good relationship with God and you have on your heart to start a small group. Four people sign up. but only two people attend regularly. You hear about another small group who has so many attendees that they are over capacity and the leaders are basically starting their own church.

As humans, our way of thinking is skewed. Jesus has such a different way of perceiving things.

We think quality, God thinks capacity. We see quantity, God sees sincerity.

The widow’s contribution compared to the rich’s contributions seemed insignificant. Yet, Jesus doesn’t think of the quantity or quality of the gift. He thinks of the capacity and sincerity of the gift. He notices those who use what they have for His glory. Jesus stopped what He was doing in this story and noticed the widow giving her small contribution.

Though the small voice at church singing worship songs may seem insignificant, God notices. He doesn’t think it’s insignificant. In fact, He loves it and He is requiring you to use your talents and gifts for His glory. Choose not to compare yourself. Choose to offer it with a God willing, pure heart. When you do, God sees it and Jesus says it is good.

APPLY:

  • Are you using your gifts and talents for God’s glory?
  • Are you giving all you can offer to the Lord?
  • Are there areas in your life you could sacrifice to glorify the Lord?

*Devotional contributed by Anita Schulz

Who Influences You?

Day 34 who influences you-

Scripture Reading: Luke 19:45-48

What does a normal day look like for you? Maybe it’s waking up early, grabbing a cup of coffee, and heading off to work for eight hours. Or maybe it’s waking up to two kids who are late for school, homework half finished, and a pile of laundry waiting to be tackled. Whatever your daily routine looks like, there are probably days when you feel like everyone is out to get you.

Jesus knew first hand what is was like to be hated, bullied, and criticized , but He didn’t let that stop Him from daily teaching God’s truth to His people.Jesus had a mission; He came to set the captives free and to lay down His life for your life. Jesus also set a path for us to follow. Every day, we come face to face with people or circumstances that try to prevent us from doing all that God has called us to. But, when we follow Jesus’ example, we can do any and everything He asks of us.

Every day, the Priests and leaders tried to find a way to kill Him, but that didn’t stop Jesus from doing what He had to do. The same can be true for us. We can choose to let the words of people push us away from all that we were made for, or we can, let our Savior propel us into everything that He has for us. Jesus calls us to daily follow Him as He pursues after us. Imagine how your life will change if your daily focus becomes listening to the voice of Jesus instead of the voice of other people.

APPLY:

  • What are you doing in your life to daily follow Jesus?
  • Who are you letting have the final say in your life? People or Jesus? Why?
  • How can you change the way you respond to what people say?

 

*Devotional contributed by Hannah Alioto

The Triumphal Entry

Day 33 the triumphal entry

Scripture Reading: Luke 19:28-44

The Mount of Olives is a hill outside of Jerusalem. It is a place of great significance. It was on the Mount of Olives that King David wept, along with his faithful followers, as he fled from Jerusalem and from his son, Absalom (2 Samuel 15:30). According to Zechariah 14:4, the Messiah was to appear on the Mount of Olives, which would be split in half, forming a great valley. It is here that the “triumphal entry” was staged. During His last week, Jesus spent His nights on the Mount of Olives (Luke 21:37). It seems also to be from the Mount of Olives that Jesus ascended (Acts 1:12).

As Jesus was approaching Jerusalem, He paused and gave specific instructions to two of His disciples to find and bring back a colt. This was a peculiar request because Jesus would not have needed a ride into Jerusalem considering how short of a distance it was. This would be the first time Jesus is said to have ridden an animal, although we must remember that the purpose for riding into Jerusalem on a colt was to fulfill a nearly 500-year-old prophecy (Zechariah 9:9) and thereby proclaim Jesus’ identity as the Messiah.

“Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9)

As we read these verses of Scripture, without doubt, the miraculous power of the Lord Jesus is shown. Some might think it a miracle that the animals were released to these two disciples, but Jesus’ exact knowledge of the whereabouts of the animals, and of the response of the owners, indicates our Lord is completely aware of and in control of His environment.

As we reflect upon Jesus’ attention to this important prophetic detail surrounding the donkey, we should have great peace and assurance that although our lives may at times feel out of control, God Himself holds all things together and is never caught off guard.

If Jesus can pause before entering the city of Jerusalem to give two men specific instructions regarding a donkey, we should be encouraged that no burden or challenge we are facing is too insignificant or goes unnoticed by our God.

APPLY:

  • What area of my life do I need to experience the peace of Christ that surpasses understanding?
  • Do I have the courage to obey, like these two disciples in this story, when God nudges my heart to do something?
  • What burden or challenge am I facing and trying to figure out on my own? It’s time to pray and release that burden or challenge to God.

 

*Devotional contributed by Phil Kerlin

Who Holds The Power?

Day 32 who holds the power

Scripture Reading: Luke 18:18-30

Money can suck. As in, it can suck the life right out of you. The Bible has a lot to say about money. 1 Timothy 6:10 teaches us that the love of money is the root of all evil. In Luke 18, we see a real example of how dangerous the love of money is. ”

Let’s be real. Money is scary. With currency comes power, and power, we’re told, breeds corruption. No. Money is a vice for some and meaningless to others. We can continue to come up with catchy idioms revolving around it, but in the end, money only possesses the power you give to it.

A rich man asked Jesus what he needs to do to inherit eternal life. He was looking for a few more items to check off his list. A few more notches he could add to his belt, so he thought. Jesus rocked his world because he saw through the facade and looked straight to his heart. The man boasted about keeping all of the commandments since he was a boy. He had it all handled. His plan was right on track. Might as well have gone on to graduate Cum Laude from Harvard Medical School, right?

While the rich man was trying to hide his weakness, Jesus spoke directly to it. What Jesus did here is profound. Don’t miss it. It’s translatable to each and every one of us. Jesus put to rest the notion that eternal life was rooted in a list of “do’s and don’ts.” Yes, it is important to do the right thing, but that’s not the only piece of the puzzle. Jesus knew that this man coveted money (i.e. success, position,prowess, skill, talent, etc.) more than he coveted eternal life.

The man walked away sullen and broken after Jesus brought to light what he already knew. His list of rules to follow was only skin-deep. God doesn’t do surface stuff. He looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

So budget your money, plan your vacation, but do it with the notion that money is only a tool. Bills in the wallet don’t make the man, but they certainly can define him.

APPLY:

  • Does money hold power over your life?
  • What can you do to adjust? How can you live a fully surrendered life like Christ with your money?
  • If not money, what are you coveting more than a walk with God?

 

*Devotional contributed by Marcus Bierbaum

Thankfulness

Day 31 thankfulness

Scripture Reading: Luke 17:1-19

This story can be overlooked because of it’s simplicity. Thrown aside because of it’s seemingly unimportance bearing to what’s going on in the chaos of life. Although what can’t be ignored is the fact that this story is not only in the Bible, but Jesus Himself has something to say about thankfulness. The call to be thankful to God is as beneficial as it is necessary.

We are the kind of people who love ourselves. We have websites for ourselves. Our profiles on social media have to have the right pictures, aesthetic, and the perfect quotes to sum up how awesome we are. Some even skip out on social media altogether waving the banner of being better than those “other people” who gave in. We all strive for greatness and success whether it is in fame or money. These things are not inherently bad, it’s when we devote our entire lives to selfish ambitions that we miss the point of life. We try really hard to get everything we want and when we don’t get it, we complain that it is our right to have it. Now more than ever we need to be reminded of how and why to be thankful.

God is the creator of the universe. This means you were created by Him. Everything you love doing: eating, seeing, and posting about… He created it. The air you breathe comes from Him. Salvation and the faith to believe in Him comes from Him. It is all a gift. In this context and realization, of course we should be thankful. Being thankful in all situations of our life shifts our attention from ourselves to God. Being thankful to God in every and all situations gives us a key to divert our attention from us, back to Him.

APPLY:

  • What do you talk about most during your prayer time?
  • Have you said “thank you” to God today?
  • What do you have to be thankful for?

*Devotional contributed by John Ventura

Loopholes

Day 30 loopholes

Scripture Reading: Luke 16:14-31

The dictionary definition of the word justification is the action of showing something to be right or reasonable. Action is the keyword. In verse 15, Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for their version of justification being the actions they do to bring themselves praise.

Often times, we get so focused on what we do: tithing, giving to the homeless, serving at church, volunteering, etc. Even though these things are great, they are garbage if the motive behind them is to make you look good. You may be able to cover it up, but Jesus reminds us, just as He reminds the Pharisees that we can fool people, but we can not fool God.

The Pharisees had made a habit of manipulating God’s law to serve their own personal gain. They kept the laws, not to honor God, but to impress others. They used them to oppress people. And when they were inconvenient, they tried to find a way to work around them.

This is why, in verse 18, Jesus brings up divorce. The Pharisees were trying to use loopholes to justify divorcing their wives. They viewed women as objects to be used instead of daughters of God to be honored. They saw marriage as a vehicle for their own selfish purposes instead of as an example of God’s union to His people.

Jesus makes it clear to the Pharisees, God’s laws were not given to be worked around. They were given to bring life and nothing we can do will nullify their importance.

Which brings us to The Rich Man and Lazarus. This story may seem out of place. Why would Jesus rebuke the Pharisees for being careless with God’s law and then tell this story? The answer is found in verse 31. The Rich Man begs Abraham to allow him to come back from the dead to warn his family to be reconciled back to God. Abraham tells him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

Moses and the Prophets represent God’s law. In effect, Jesus is trying to get the people listening to see that God’s law is given to draw people to the fullness of life here on Earth and to reveal their need for a Savior.

The truth is, life isn’t a video game. Although many of us tend to view it that way. We think, as long as there’s still time left in the match, we can keep “respawning” and get another chance to do things right. This is how the Rich Man lived. Until one day, there were no more respawns. All of the luxury he had and the wealth he accumulated was worthless.

The Rich Man had to leave all of those things behind, haunted by his decision in the afterlife. He longed for just one more chance. One more respawn to go and tell his loved ones to live better than he did. It’s a sobering parable. One we don’t often like to think of.

But we should. Because we don’t know when our time will be up. And until it is, we should use every opportunity we have to share with those around us the Good News we have heard.

APPLY:

  • Have you been trying to work around what God has called you to do? Have you justified disobeying Him because of your actions?
  • How can you live a fully surrendered life by letting go of the temporary and focusing on the eternal?

*Devotional contributed by Gerhard Budaker

The Cost of Discipleship

Day 29 The cost of discipleship

Scripture Reading: Luke 14:25-35

Are you willing to be a true disciple of Jesus and follow His example?

While salvation is a free gift, true discipleship has a cost. True disciples of Jesus must love Him more than anyone or anything else and must follow in His steps by living according to His example and teaching.

Jesus refers to His followers as “disciples.” A disciple is the student of a mentor or teacher and puts what has been learned into practice. Jesus is our Master Teacher and, as His disciples, we are called to apply His teachings to our daily lives and to extend what we have learned to others.

Jesus taught that in order to be true disciples, we must love Him supremely over all people and all things. When Jesus explained this, He did not mean that we should have hatred in our hearts toward our family or others. Instead, He was using a figure of speech to magnify His point that our love for Him must be so much greater in comparison.

He also taught that we must bear our cross and follow after Him. If we truly follow after Jesus, we are sure to experience the same kind of opposition and persecution that He encountered when He was here on earth. This is the cross that we are to bear.

Jesus was a humble servant. He always put God first and the needs of others before His own. In imitation of His example, we too must put God first and serve others before ourselves. Instead of living self-centered lives, we must live Christ-centered lives. Everything we think, do, and say must be rooted in Christ so that we will reflect His Light and Love into the hearts and lives of those around us. By living according to His example and putting what He has taught us into practice, we will lead others to the same Savior we represent!

Jesus wants us to be sure to count the cost of becoming His disciples. He wants us to know exactly what we are committing to so that we will not be tempted to turn back later. Jesus wants to use us to build His Church and to continue His work. He wants us to have the endurance needed to be disciples who make disciples by spreading His Good News to the entire world.

Let’s join together as disciples who make disciples and follow after Jesus!

APPLY:

  • Are you willing to pay the cost of discipleship?
  • Will you give Jesus first place in your heart?
  • Will you put the needs of others before your own?

*Devotional contributed by Kevin Skelly