December 3 – In Jesus’ Name

Read: Acts 3:1-10

But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. (Acts 3:6, 7 ESV)

Three little words. “In Jesus’ name.” Where I’m from they are almost the token ending to every prayer I have ever heard, and quite a few that I have prayed. But there is power in Jesus’ name. It is a special name.

Peter knew there was authority in the name of Jesus. He had experiential knowledge of the power of Jesus. Also, he had faith—and was emboldened by the Holy Spirit—to proclaim healing for the crippled man at the gate.

The name of Jesus gets thrown around a lot by people who assume that its a magic set of syllables. Too often people wrongly assume that they can declare something supernatural will happen, sprinkle the name of Jesus around—and then POOF, that thing has to happen. That’s not how it works. It has never worked like that.

Peter rightly understood that authority rested with Jesus. The power was from the Holy Spirit. And that the combined faith of the parties involved activated the work that God was looking to do in the life of the crippled man. Peter knew that in Jesus’ name he had access to God, he had access to power, but he did not have control.

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July 26 – Jesus and the Temple

Matthew 21:12-17

And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. (Matthew 21:14 ESV)

Throughout their history the Jews had worshipped through song and sacrifice. King Solomon oversaw the construction of the first temple, where as Herod the Great was the steward of the last Jewish Temple. It had been intended as a place for the people to connect with God in profound ways. It had become something else entirely.

When Jesus arrived at the Temple it was chock full of money changers, merchants, and other swindlers. He would not tolerate it. So he threw them out in a moment of truly justified righteous indignation. The Temple had become something other than a place for repentance and prayer, but Jesus restored it to its intended use.

As he sat and taught his followers amidst the purged Temple grounds people began to bring the sick and the lame and he healed them. It was a complete turnabout for the Temple. The religious focal point of Judaism, it was no longer defunct, it was no longer a money trap meant to make the powerful wealthy, it was truly a place of connecting with God.

The Temple no longer stands. It was destroyed in 70 A.D. by the Romans. However, the time had already passed for the usefulness of a material temple by then. Jesus had changed that.

Today we can connect with God anywhere we like. We are no longer limited to only visiting a holy place. In fact, Christianity has no holy places, only the holiness of God, the Son, and the Spirit. When Jesus cleansed the Temple he demonstrated that it is his work and person by which we connect with God. It is by his death. By his love. And by his strength.

July 25 – Jesus’ Reputation

John 12:12-19

The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.” (John 12:18, 19 ESV)

For about three years Jesus had travelled the countryside. He was preaching, performing miracles, and turning the people toward the truth of the Kingdom of God. The sick, demoniacs, outcasts, crippled, and even the dead—all kinds of people were dramatically impacted forever by the ministry of Jesus. As he made his way to Jerusalem, the final destination of his public ministry, his reputation preceded him.

The religious elite didn’t know what to do with him. He operated from an authority they refused to acknowledge, and failed to comprehend. He performed miracles that both baffled and humbled them. Their pride, their wallets, and their power were in trouble.

The reputation of Jesus still precedes him. To the hurting, the outcast, and the needy Jesus is still the answer. Those who hear and comprehend the full measure of his work are irrevocably changed by it. There is no going back. Jesus’ impact on lives initiates a passionate focus for the Kingdom of God that religion cannot contain, mankind cannot fathom, and the forces of hell cannot deter.

It is the reputation of God who became a man by virgin birth. A lowly carpenter who became an authoritative teacher and preacher. A perfectly holy life lived in selflessness. A man who was crucified for the sins of others. A death that was temporary. A resurrection that was real. A reign that is eternal. Jesus’ reputation is reputable, it is rare, it is reality. And it will change your life if you let it.

July 21 – How Many Do You Have?

Matthew 15: 21-39

And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” (Matthew 15:34 ESV)

My son has just started trying to count things. He does it in the cutest little tone. It is just what you would expect from a toddler. The whimsical . . . One . . . the rising action of . . . Two . . . and the excited high pitch of the climactic . . . Threeeeeee!

When Jesus was teaching near the Sea of Galilee and a large crowd had followed him for several days he wanted to feed them. Knowing that they were under provisioned for the trip back to their homes and villages Jesus brought the disciples an opportunity to assist in a miracle that would provide for the people. He asked them how much food they had. They gathered their meager supply, turned it over to Jesus, and he performed the miraculous. All of the people present were fed, and then leftover food was gathered.

I am utterly convinced that God is on the lookout for an occasion to break into our lives and the lives of the people around us in a big way. I believe that he longs to partner with us to see it happen. Not so we can get any of the glory, but so that we can understand and celebrate the results of the miraculous.

However, if we are to be a part of what God is doing it means we will need to take inventory of our lives. We will need to see what is there, what do we love too much, what are we willing to part ways with, and what are willing to offer up for His service. As we identify that which God would use for His glorious purpose we will understand that same kind of whimsical joy-filled elation as a toddler learning to count for the first time.

July 1 – Where Are The Nine?

Read: Luke 17:11-19

Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?” (Luke 17:17 ESV)

While traveling ten lepers heard Jesus was passing their way. They went to meet him so that they might be healed. Jesus healed them and told them to go to a priest to reveal their healing to him. As they went and were healed only one of the ten thought to turn back to Christ and offer him thanksgiving for the miraculous healing.

Sometimes it is all too easy to take something great God does in our lives for granted. I know I seem to do it often. It is only well after the fact that I usually realize what I have done, if I even notice at all. What is it about us that makes us do that? In those moments I would have to count myself among one of the company of nine that was cleansed by Jesus and failed to say thanks.

Any time we willingly sin in spite of the grace God has extended to us through Jesus we are becoming like one of the nine. Any time we have a prayer answered and then write it off as a coincidence. Any time we chock our good fortune up to luck, or even worse, self-reliance we are becoming like one of the nine lepers.

It is crucial to our spiritual well-being that we keep the truth of Jesus’ affect on our lives at the forefront of our thinking. Let us not neglect to offer praise and thanksgiving. Let us not take him for granted. Let us not be like the nine.

June 8 – Hands

Read: Luke 9:37-45

“Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” (Luke 9:44 ESV)

Jesus had just worked an incredible miracle. A boy terrorized and possessed by a demonic spirit had been delivered. The disciples were unable to perform the miracle despite having Christ’s authority. The father of the boy was himself struggling with unbelief about the after. But Jesus did what he could for the boy. He did everything. And immediately recorded after this awesome and compassionate act is Jesus’ prophetic warning about his impending persecution.

Jesus knew. He knew what he was born on this earth to do. How it would happen. Who the culprits were. He knew. And till he chose to come. Still he chose to minister. Still he chose to love, serve, heal, deliver, and teach. Jesus repeatedly reached out with the tender-hearted hand of compassion, eternal hands of compassion. Even as he warned his closest followers that a day was soon coming when he himself would suffer at the hands of men.

When men are on control there is death. There is selfishness. There is wanton reckless rebellion.

When Christ is control there is peace in the struggle. There is hope in affliction. There is rescue from damnation.

Jesus knew what it meant to fall into the hands of men. He understood. And yet still he chose to love us, live for us, and die for us. Truly it is a remarkable thing when we draw life and live life from the grace of Jesus, the work of Jesus, and the hands of Jesus. In the hands of men were held the hammers that pierced the hands of the Son of God, but by that affliction my eternal sorrows are undone, and by that torment are my troubles pulled down from their high places. Thank God for the hands of Jesus.

May 22 – Denounced

Read: Matthew 11:20-24

Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. (Matthew 11:20 ESV)

We choose whether or not to believe in the supernatural. It is a choice all of us must wrestle with. For some this is an easy and nearly effortless struggle as they willingly, readily, and eagerly accept the notion of things happening beyond the realm of natural explanation. Others reject offhand the notion that anything can take place that is not potentially explainable by science.

Where do you fall on that scale? Maybe you find yourself believing in the supernatural. Maybe you have seen things that are unexplainable. This important statement that Jesus made boils down to one question; what do you do with the revelation of Jesus’ supernatural power?

Some who experience the supernatural still refuse to acknowledge the source of that power. They explain it away, chock it up coincidence, and try to forget about it. Jesus would have none of that. He let it be known that his supernatural acts were attempts to draw attention to the Father. Everything the Son did was to exalt the Father.

Jesus used powerful language when describing the fate awaiting those who experienced his supernatural power and did not repent. He warned them of the trouble that awaited their stubborn refusal to return to a right standing with God. It’s a side of Jesus we rarely see in the Gospels.

What would it take for Jesus to denounce you or I? Surely we must be wary of falling into the same trap of refusing repentance. It’s not about merely being sorry for our actions. It is about our willful acknowledgement of God’s plan and power.