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One Year with Jesus
365 Devotional Thoughts on the Red Letter Words
By James A. Davey
Barbour Publishing, Inc.Copyright © 2011 James A. Davey
All rights reserved.
"Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?"
In His first recorded words, the twelve-year-old Jesus demonstrated a remarkable clarity about who He was, His mission, and His purpose. As you begin this yearlong journey, ask God to do the same for you.
But Jesus told him, "No! The Scriptures say, 'People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"
Matthew 4:4 NLT
The Bible is a book like other books, but it is not just like other books. It is much more. It will nourish and sustain your inner spiritual life and make you strong when and where it counts the most. Read the Bible today and every day.
It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
Luke 4:8 KJV
We worship that to which we attribute ultimate worth. This is a sobering word to all of us who live in a culture enamored with physical beauty, pleasure, power, and wealth. These are all temporary; don't give them an importance that is godlike.
Jesus answered, "It says: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"
God will not be trifled with. He will bear with your honest questions, your doubts, and even your blind anger. But He will not be used, and He cannot be tricked into being an agent of your selfish desires.
Jesus looked around and saw them following. "What do you want?" he asked them. They replied, "Rabbi" (which means "Teacher"), "where are you staying?" "Come and see," he said.
John 1:38–39 NLT
Following Jesus is a journey of discovery. We don't know at the outset all that we may find or when the discoveries will be made. Just keep Jesus in sight, and go today where He will lead.
The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me.
John 1:43 KJV
We sometimes think that spiritual living must be complex and difficult. There must be so many rules to be obeyed and so many rituals that require timely performance. We fear boredom and all external constraints. I have good news! The rule for spiritual living is simple and singular: Follow Jesus!
Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet." They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine.
Filling a jar with water doesn't sound very spiritual. But often it is in the most common daily tasks that we find ourselves surprised and delighted to discover that God has worked a miracle. In whatever you have to do today, expect God to show up!
Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God."
John 3:3 NLT
Transformation is the goal of this one-year journey with Jesus. It's a new beginning, a fresh start, a clean sheet of paper. Today, give Him the old, worn, muddied pages of your past. He knows what to do with your sins and failures. Be born anew today.
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
John 3:14–15 KJV
The cross was no accident. In the long reaches of time, it was a good day, hence Good Friday. The cross marked a sacrifice by a Savior. Jesus must be lifted up, that believing, you may have eternal life.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
Pick out the most important word in this best-loved verse of scripture and think about it today: God loved the world! And He loves you.
"All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants."
John 3:20–21 NLT
Here's a simple observation of human nature. We hide those thoughts and actions that reflect badly on us. But where shame and guilt are absent, we are free to live with transparency. Only as we allow God to work in us (and on us) can we come out of the shadows and live in the open.
Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.
John 4:10 KJV
You, too, are surrounded at this moment by infinite possibilities, which Jesus described as "the gift of God." Look for God in the everyday, mundane experiences of life. Be on the lookout today!
"Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
There is spiritual thirst in every person. It can be temporarily quenched by noble pursuits as well as by frantic activity and mindless entertainment. It reappears, however, at inconvenient and sometimes unsettling moments. Jesus offers more than a temporarily satisfying drink; He is a living spring!
"But the time is coming—indeed it's here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way."
John 4:23 NLT
Here's an interesting thought to ponder: The heavenly Father is seeking you today as much, or more, than you are seeking Him! Surely you will find Him as you open your whole person to Him and invite Jesus in.
God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
John 4:24 KJV
The Spirit of God draws us to truth. The more truth we live, the more we are drawn to the Spirit. Real worship is not mechanical or rote, nor is it habit or tradition. It is our inner response to the deepest callings of God on our lives.
"Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest."
We may think that other people have their lives together and only we have nagging inner hungers. The reality is that people everywhere need Christ. Someone whose path you will cross today may be ready to hear what you are experiencing about Jesus, so be prepared.
"The time promised by God has come at last!" he announced. "The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!"
Mark 1:15 NLT
To repent is to reverse course, to turn around, to turn away from what is known to be wrong and to embrace what is known to be right. Is it time for you to repent?
And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.
Luke 4:24 KJV
The hardest place to let your light shine is at home. This is where people know you best, know your background, and know your faults. But no place is more important than with those you love. If the light doesn't shine at home, there is little use taking it to a faraway place.
"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men."
True followers of Jesus attract others to Him. Problems arise when we set out to attract others while not following Jesus or while following at a distance. Concentrate on following Jesus as closely as possible, and you will be amazed at how He will make you a good fisherman.
But Jesus replied, "We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came."
Mark 1:38 NLT
Jesus was never satisfied to settle down in one place, enjoying success and perhaps building a monument to His own accomplishment. There was always the restless call of the "others." So it is with you. The life of following Jesus is not only to be enjoyed; it is to be shared.
And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him.
Luke 5:12–13 KJV
When we draw near to Jesus, we need never wonder if He cares about our troubles or if He is willing to help us. His willingness should never be the issue, though our reluctance to come to Him often is!
Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven."
The most apparent need is not always the most important or core issue. There's a good chance that the matter concerning you most today is not the one Jesus knows to be your greatest need. Trust Him to get to the heart of the matter.
"Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man 'Your sins are forgiven,' or 'Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk'? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins." Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, "Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!"
Mark 2:9–11 NLT
Forgiveness was the issue; healing was a distraction. Jesus eventually forgave and healed. Many times the deep, inner work of forgiveness must be realized before there can be any substantial change in our more visible concerns.
And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.
Matthew 9:9 KJV
Something about Jesus communicated two things to Matthew. First, Jesus had authority to issue a life-changing call, and second, following Jesus would be worth more to Matthew than any business transactions he could complete that day. Are you learning the same?
Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick."
The hardest accomplishment for a sick person, often, is to admit the need for a doctor! Maybe the illness will get better by itself. But only a confession of need brings us to the doctor. It's the same in our spiritual lives. Getting to the point of admitting a deep spiritual need is often very hard. Tell Jesus today how much you really need Him.
Then Jesus gave them this illustration: "No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and uses it to patch an old garment. For then the new garment would be ruined, and the new patch wouldn't even match the old garment."
Luke 5:36 NLT
What our souls need is not a little patch here and there or a bit of renovation or new resolution. Let's face it: We need to be made new. And that is Jesus' specialty! Don't seek incremental improvement; ask for a total and extreme makeover!
When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?
John 5:6 KJV
As long as we are content to be as we are, or to be less than God can make us, we will never change. So the question to ponder is the one Jesus asked. "Do you want to be forgiven; do you want to change; do you want to be done with past failures and sins?"
"I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does."
Apparently God has a kind of "family style." Jesus, the Son of God, lived in dependence upon His Father, doing what He would do. The clear implication is that we are to share this "style," living today and every day in conscious dependence upon Jesus.
"For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing. In fact, the Father will show him how to do even greater works than healing this man. Then you will truly be astonished. For just as the Father gives life to those he raises from the dead, so the Son gives life to anyone he wants."
John 5:20–21 NLT
We are intrigued by the mystery and power of a miracle. We should be truly amazed, however, at the transformation of lives to which Jesus gives life! The power of a changed life is greater than any miracle. "Lord, change me today."
"I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life."
John 5:24 NLT
Eternal life is not just something to look forward to—it is something we are given when we believe in Jesus. Do you believe in Him? Are you putting your whole trust in Him? According to His word, you have crossed over into real life. You can take His word for it!
"I seek not to please myself but him who sent me."
Immature people live to please themselves; just watch any baby. Maturity is the ability to defer our desires; just watch any mother! Divinity gets beyond self to help others; just watch Jesus.
"You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life."
John 5:39–40 NLT
The scriptures are an incredible treasure. Never underestimate the value of the Bible. But don't be content just to possess the Word, or even to understand it. In the Bible we meet the One who gives life. Knowing God through Jesus is the true prize.
And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
Mark 2:27–28 KJV
Recapturing a "sabbath" as a day of rest and worship will not be done by instituting a maze of rules about what can and can't be done. Make Jesus Lord of every day of the week by keeping Him central to your thoughts and activities. Discover the joys of "sabbath."
Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, "Get up and stand in front of everyone." So he got up and stood there.... [Jesus] said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He did so, and his hand was completely restored.
Luke 6:8, 10
Chances are, it wasn't easy for this man to stand and stretch out the very limb he had been seeking to hide. Neither is it easy for us to uncover our faults and limitations and reach out to Jesus. It is, however, the road to recovery and restoration.
"God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs."
Matthew 5:3 NLT
True happiness depends far more on character than cash. Poverty of spirit is not a bad self-image. It is a realistic appraisal of self that causes people to seek God. It is the condition of heart that God honors and to which He responds. Be lifted up by bending low before Him.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Matthew 5:4 KJV
The longer we live, the more evidence we collect that loss and diminishment lead to mourning. It is also true that when we mourn, we are comforted by those who care and gather around us. Who needs your comfort today?
"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth."
Meekness is power under control; it is strength directed to a good end; it is energy that is focused. It is no wonder, then, that the meek will inherit the earth. Meekness is the humility that permits the Master to give it direction.
"God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied."
Matthew 5:6 NLT
Hunger and thirst for righteousness are urgent, intense longings to be like Jesus, to be made new in His pattern. Only He can live out the ideals of the Sermon on the Mount, and only Jesus can make you what you want to become.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Matthew 5:7 KJV
Mercy stands in another person's shoes, to understand and feel what he or she does. Mercy deliberately identifies as completely as possible and then responds to benefit another at great cost to itself. It is what God extended to us in Jesus. Mercy given to others is good evidence of mercy received.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God."
God always goes for the heart. He is never content to just dust us off, clean us up, and tie us down to the externals of religious practice. He seeks to get to the center of our personality, the seat of our emotions, and the source of our will. Only then will we see God, and others see God in us.
Excerpted from One Year with Jesus by James A. Davey. Copyright © 2011 James A. Davey. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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