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Five Minutes with God

Five Minutes with God is a distinct and exciting approach to daily Bible devotionals. Instead of a lofty goal of going through the entire Bible—or even the New Testament—in one year, Five Minutes with God focuses on shorter passages so that the reader can absorb more of the text and apply it to everyday life. This daily podcast will step you through the Gospel accounts of the life of Christ. Each day’s podcast also ends with a thought for further reflection and a call to prayer. By reading, reflecting, and praying, Five Minutes with God will help you come to know Him, love Him, and follow Him like never before.
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Now displaying: Page 9
May 10, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software

King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead. That is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” But others said, “He is Elijah.” And others said, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” For it was Herod who had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he had married her. For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his nobles and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. For when Herodias’s daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.” And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom.” And she went out and said to her mother, “For what should I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.” And she came in immediately with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. And immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

As this passage recounts the events that led to the death of John the baptizer, it serves as a sobering reminder of the devastating effects that sin can have in the lives of people. John, a man who was obviously respected and even liked by Herod (v. 20), was imprisoned because he condemned the sin of adultery that Herod and Herodias were involved in. Then, because of the feelings stirred up in Herod by the lascivious acts performed by Herodias’ daughter as she danced before the king and his guests, John was beheaded. Sin, and his attempts to hide it, justify it, and avoid its consequences, had caused Herod to murder a man he knew to be a just and holy man. It continues to be true today that sin, if left unchecked, can cast us into a downward spiral of actions and attitudes, leading us deeper and deeper into depravity and further and further away from God. May God help us to avoid the pitfalls of sin and be constantly renewed in our commitment to God.

Why do you think sin has such an ability to lead us into more sin?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

May 9, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software

“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”

The thing that strikes me about this short passage is the attachment and closeness Jesus feels between Himself and His disciples. He is not a Lord who is detached from those who serve Him. He cares for us, is watching over us, and is well aware of our labors and of the response of others to our work. In our lives as Christians, we are not just servants, but ambassadors and representatives. As we work and serve in the name of Christ, we represent His hands and feet and light. Therefore, Jesus says, if anyone receives us, they receive Him. And conversely, if anyone rejects us, they reject Him. Those who do good to us have a reward from our Lord. This passage reminds us of the great responsibility that we have been given to be ambassadors for Christ in the world, but it also reminds us that, as we go into the world to serve Him, we are not alone. The Lord is always with us.

Why does Jesus demand to be the greatest priority in our lives?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

May 8, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

In human thinking, there is no relationship more precious or protected than the relationships of family. The bonds among husbands and wives, parents and children, and siblings are typically tighter and stronger than any other relationships we have. For that reason, this statement by Jesus seems difficult, harsh, and unloving. Isn’t He contradicting His usual advocacy of the family? Is He asserting that those relationships aren’t as important as we think they are? Not at all! On the contrary, He is using those very relationships because of their great importance. He is using them to make a strong and unmistakable statement about the commitment that is required in following Him. Our commitment to Christ must be our greatest priority—more important than our family or our marriage; more important, in fact, than any earthly relationship or priority of our lives. To be a faithful disciple of Christ requires our ALL! This is not to say, of course, that we should not love or be committed to our family or other earthly relationships. In fact, if Christ is first and our commitment to Him is lived out each day, we will be better spouses, parents, children, and friends. Thus is the nature of following God and submitting to His perfect will.

Why does Jesus demand to be the greatest priority in our lives?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

May 7, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software

So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

When we think of confessing Christ, we typically think of the quick and easy step that usually immediately precedes baptism. Following the example of the Eunuch in Acts 8, we, standing before our friends and family, confidently state: “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:37). But as Christians, we must understand that confession is not reserved for that singular time in our lives. We must be willing to confess Christ at any time and under any circumstances. The annals of church history are filled with stories of valiant Christians who were ordered to denounce their faith in Christ or die an unspeakable death. Under those unimaginable circumstances, they courageously confessed their belief and faith in Christ even to death. We may never face those kinds of situations, but in the course of our own lives, we must always be ready and willing to wear the name of Christ proudly. When we face ridicule or mocking, we must confess Him. When we face being ostracized, we must confess Him. When we face the loss of friends or opportunities, we must confess Him. May God give us the courage and strength, both through our words and lives, to confess Christ!

Why is it so important that we are willing to confess Christ?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

May 6, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software

What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

In yesterday’s reading, we saw the hardships that often accompany a life of devotion to Christ. In today’s text, Jesus follows those warnings with an assurance of God’s care and concern. While man might can harm or even kill the body, there is nothing that man can do to destroy the soul. Therefore, the reverence and devotion that we feel toward God should far outweigh the fear we have toward man. God cares—so much so, Jesus says, that the very hairs of our heads are numbered. He knows everything about us, both the significant and insignificant. He is aware of every joy and every sorrow, every victory and every defeat, every accomplishment and every hardship. We are valuable to God, and as we face the difficulties of life and are called to endure suffering for His name’s sake, He knows, and He cares. He is watching over us, ready to strengthen, help, and bless us according to His perfect will. What a comforting thought, and what an awesome God!

How has God demonstrated His love for you in your life?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

May 5, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.

Jesus never promised His apostles, nor does He promise us, that being a disciple of His would be a life of ease. In this prophetic warning, He tells them that they would face rejection, trials, and persecution from the Jews, the Gentiles, and even from their own families. They would be called on to endure much hardship and suffering because of His name, the name that they wore and proclaimed. In facing that persecution, He says, they would be following in His steps, enduring the same hardships that He had endured. Though we are blessed to live in a land of religious freedom, a life lived in the name of Christ is still not without its hardships. We may face the occasional mocking, malicious comment, or false accusation. We may be called upon to stand boldly for Christ in the face of opposition. But none of the hardships that this life holds can compare to the glory of the prize that awaits the faithful. As Jesus promised, “the one who endures to the end will be saved.”

What are some specific things that Christians might have to endure today?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

May 4, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software

And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.

In this text, which is often referred to as the “limited commission,” Jesus is giving His apostles instructions on where and how to go out preaching. Much of what Jesus says to them can be summed up in two principles:

  1. Put your trust in God. They were not to take provisions for their travels but were to trust in God to provide for them through the hospitality and generosity of good and godly people along the way. It was important that they learn, not to trust in worldly things, but in God Almighty to be their provider.
  2. Be uncompromising. As they went out, they were to teach the simple truth, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” In their teaching and their lives, they were not to bend to the will of the people, but to remain firm in their commitment to God and to His word. They were also not to do anything to compromise their influence or integrity, thus compromising their mission.

Though our mission might be somewhat different today, these principles continue to serve us well as we seek to spread the gospel and bring others to Christ.

How can we apply these principles to our lives today?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

May 3, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

We often see Jesus teaching and healing, but if we are not careful, we can forget why He spent so much time doing those things. He did not teach just to change people, and He did not heal just to demonstrate the great power of God. Jesus’ ministry was defined by compassion. As He looked out over the crowds that constantly gathered around Him, He saw people who were lost and in need of someone to help them. He looked on them with care and concern and desired to meet their needs, to provide for them, protect them, and lead them as a shepherd does his sheep. Ultimately, He desired to lead them to God and salvation. That compassion, so evident in Jesus’ life and ministry, is still extended to us today. As our Savior and Lord, Jesus still looks upon us with care and concern. He continues to love us and desires to provide for, protect, and lead us. Oh, that we would accept His loving care and allow Him to be a shepherd to our souls.

Why is the compassion of Christ so important in our lives?

 

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

May 2, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software

I do not receive glory from people. But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

Among the great leaders of their history, Moses occupied a special place in the minds and hearts of the Jews. As the law-giver of Israel, he was revered because of his special relationship with God and special role in receiving the law. They gave their honor and undying allegiance to him. But Jesus reminds them that Moses spoke of Him, and if they believed Moses, they should believe in Him. He rebuked them for receiving Moses, a man, but rejecting the Son of God. You know, it occurs to me that many are still guilty at times of receiving and honoring men—preachers, authors, influential speakers, celebrities—while rejecting Christ. We will listen to and follow their teachings and ideas, but turn a blind eye to the pure and simple truths of God’s word. In so doing, we in essence give honor to men but reject the Son of God, and demonstrate, like those of Jesus’ day did, that we “do not have the love of God” in us. May we honor Christ above all else and follow His teachings above those of any man.

How can we show honor for Jesus today?

 

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

May 1, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software

If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true. There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

How many witnesses does it take to confirm something as true? Typically, one eyewitness is enough, but in Jesus’ case, there were multiple witnesses. Jesus says that among His witnesses were John, the great works that He had done, God the Father, and the Scriptures (i.e. Old Testament prophecies). Surely these witnesses would be sufficient to establish His identity, but many still refused to believe. Though they were waiting and looking for the coming Messiah, they were not willing to accept Jesus as the One sent by God to redeem them. Today, we have the mystery of Christ revealed to us through God’s word. The Bible is filled with witnesses to Jesus’ identity and purpose—prophecies and fulfillments, Jesus’ own words and actions, other inspired writers. But many still refuse to believe. Even in the face of all the evidence and proof of God’s love and Jesus’ saving work, many continue to look for salvation in other things, or fail to consider the need for salvation at all. May God help us all to see our need for Jesus and be willing to accept His gift of salvation.

Why do you think so many still refuse to believe in Jesus?

 

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 30, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.

One of the things that often drew people to Jesus in large crowds was His ability to heal the sick and even raise the dead. His power over physical life was remarkable, and many came to Him seeking the restoration of health for themselves or their loved ones. But the physical lives of people were never Jesus' primary concern. Beyond the power to restore physical life and health, Jesus held the power of eternal life. For those who would hear His word and believe in Him, He had been granted by the Father the authority to give eternal life. But this text also reveals that Jesus has been given authority to execute judgment upon all who are in the grave, both the good (obedient) and the evil (disobedient). To the good, he would grant the resurrection of life, and to the evil, the resurrection of judgment. This text serves both to comfort the faithful and to warn the unfaithful. That day of resurrection and judgment is surely coming. Are we ready to stand before Christ the judge?

How and by what standard will we be judged by Christ?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 29, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

John began his gospel with the declaration that, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." In this passage, Jesus confirms and expounds upon that statement of unity and oneness between the Father and the Son. Jesus came into the world to show us God. Every word, action, and attitude demonstrated by Jesus was a perfect reflection of the heart, mind, and will of God. The Father and the Son were (and are) one in mind and in motive. Nothing that Jesus did during His life and ministry was done independently of God. What does all of this mean for us? It means that, as we read and study about the life of Jesus, we are learning about God. He has shown Himself to us through His Son. As Paul would later write: "He was manifested in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16). God has given us the wonderful blessing of seeing and knowing Him through the life of Jesus, so that we might draw nearer to Him in love and faith. What a great God we serve, and what a wonderful Savior!

What are some things we learn about God through the life of Jesus?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 28, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’ ” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him.

It has been said that, "Jesus never left anyone where they were." The meaning of this short little statement is that, such was Jesus' compassion, wisdom, power, and influence, that anyone who encountered Him was changed by Him in some way. In this text, we meet a man who had suffered from an infirmity (probably some form of paralysis or lameness) for 38 years. Jesus' healing of this man certainly changed his physical life, but that is not the change I want to focus on. One of the unique things about this healing is that it was not prompted or made possible by the faith of the healed. This man did not even know Jesus' name and was looking for some magical cure from the pool for his healing. Nothing is said about faith, but Jesus healed him. But how did this interaction with Jesus change the faithless man? Notice Jesus' statement to him: "See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you." While Jesus often healed because of an existing faith, in this case, it seems that He healed in order to produce faith. He expected a change to take place in the spiritual life of this man to whom He granted physical healing. As always, Jesus was focused on the all-important spiritual life. What a great lesson for us!

How have you been changed by Jesus?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 27, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching.

Jesus' time in Nazareth was difficult and disappointing. He came to them as the Master Teacher, but they only saw the one who had grown up in Nazareth—the son, the brother, the carpenter. They discounted His authority and wisdom and questioned His power. Such was their unbelief that, people had flocked to Jesus in other places to have their sick healed, in Nazareth, even His restorative powers were not accepted, and He had little opportunity to display His mighty works. What can we learn from this event in the life of Jesus? While there are several valuable lessons to be learned here, maybe the greatest is the one revealed in the last statement: "And He went about among the villages teaching." Jesus was refused by His own city, the people who had known Him the longest, but He kept teaching. He faced their ridicule, skepticism, and rejection, but He kept teaching. Many times in our lives, we will be rejected, turned down, maybe even scoffed at for our attempts to share Jesus with friends, family, coworkers, and others. Many will not accept us or our message, but we must remember that not even Jesus was successful all the time, so keep teaching!

How should we deal with people who reject or ridicule us for trying to share our faith?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 26, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, “See that no one knows about it.” But they went away and spread his fame through all that district. As they were going away, behold, a demon-oppressed man who was mute was brought to him. And when the demon had been cast out, the mute man spoke. And the crowds marveled, saying, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.” But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons.”

It is no wonder that people constantly came to Jesus, pleading with Him to heal them of their afflictions. The blind, the mute, the lame, the demon-possessed—they all needed healing that had never been available to them before and was not available through any other source. Jesus alone offered them hope. Why wouldn't they come to Him? Any of us would most likely have done the same, right? Well, have you considered that we all suffer from a terrible and fatal disease? It is an epidemic that afflicts all of mankind, and there is no treatment or cure other than that offered by Jesus. The disease is sin, and Jesus is our only hope. He still offers healing, the type of healing that we desperately need but cannot find anywhere else. The question is: do we desire the healing that He offers, and are we willing to come to Him to find it?

Why do you think so many do not come to Jesus for spiritual healing?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 25, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’ ” And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

Faith is one of the great cornerstones of our salvation; without it, we cannot be pleasing to God (Hebrews 11:6). While the gospels give us a clear picture of the rejection and ridicule Jesus faced at the hands of His enemies, they also show us many great examples of faith. Miraculous healings were no more common in the days of Jesus than they are in our day. The woman at the center of this story had suffered from a condition for many years and had exhausted all medical options available to her. She was, for all practical purposes, incurable. But she had faith! So much faith, in fact, that she believed just touching the hem of Jesus' garment would provide the healing she so desperately needed. She wasn't looking for some great display of Jesus' power, no impressive speech, no awe-inspiring demonstration—just the simple touch of her hand to the cloth of His garment. She believed that would be enough, and she was right! She was healed through Jesus' power, but He reveals that it was, in fact, her faith that had made her well. What a great and powerful example of faith!

How can we demonstrate our faith in Jesus today?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 24, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” And he went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him.While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

We often think of the Jewish leaders of Jesus' day as being an unbelieving lot who, as a whole, rejected Jesus and ultimately were responsible for His death. But this Jewish ruler had great faith in Jesus—so much so that he was willing to leave the side of his dying daughter to find Jesus and plead for Him to come and heal her. But even his faith had its limit. While he wholeheartedly believed in Jesus' power to heal, he could not bring himself to believe that anyone, even Jesus, could raise his child from the dead. As Jesus was delayed by the crowds, and one came from Jairus' house to report that the girl had died, all hope seemed lost. Their feelings of hopelessness were summed up in the question asked of Jairus: "Why bother the Teacher any further?" But Jesus quickly reassures them. This was not to be a day of mourning, but of celebration. Jairus' daughter would live. Even the chains of death had no power over Jesus. His command for her to "arise" was promptly obeyed, and she lived, causing her parents to be "overcome with amazement" and rightly so, for our God is an amazing God!

What lesson(s) can we learn from this great miracle of Jesus?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 23, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.) Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him. And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned. When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.

The one element of this story that stands out the most in my mind is the reaction and attitude of the demons toward Jesus. These demons, who called themselves "Legion" because they were many (we don't know how many, but Mark's account tells us that there were about 2,000 swine that the demons were allowed to enter into), recognized Jesus and acknowledged Him as "Son of the Most High God." Not only did they identify Him, but they acknowledged His power and submitted to His authority. Notice that they "begged" Him not to command them to go into the abyss (referring to the place of imprisonment for evil spirits) and asked permission to enter into the swine instead. In a world where those who flaunted the position of being God's chosen people would refuse and reject Jesus as the Son of God and Messiah, these demonic spirits acknowledged and submitted to Him. There is certainly a lesson there for us and our world today. Jesus is the Christ. He has been given the name that is above all names (Philippians 2:9) and He has all authority (Matthew 28:18). We must learn to submit to Him and allow Him to be the Lord of our lives.

Why do you think so many have such a difficult time acknowledging and submitting to Christ?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 22, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

“Peace! Be still!” These are the words that Jesus used to rebuke the storm and calm the seas, but they could just as easily have been said to the disciples. As this storm raged, the winds violently tossed the boat about in the sea. The boat was “being swamped by the waves” (Matthew’s words) so that it was filling with water. But the sea was not the only thing that was unsettled that night. The disciples were frightened, panicked, and desperate. As the waves of the sea filled the boat, waves of fear filled their hearts. How could Jesus be sleeping while we are dying? Does He not care? Jesus’ words to them are very telling: “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” The disciples still had much to learn. There were going to be many volatile and unsettling times in their lives of discipleship. They needed to learn the meaning of the words that Jesus spoke to the storm. They needed to learn to trust and to have an inner peace, knowing that they were safe in the hands of the Master. We need to learn that lesson as well. When we face the storms of life, we need to be stilled and calmed as we hear Jesus say to us, “Peace! Be still!”

Why is faith so important during difficult times in our lives?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 21, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

 

 

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

There are several clues in the telling of this event that indicate to us that Jesus’ disciples did not yet fully understand who He was or the extent of His power. In Mark’s account (which we will read tomorrow), they ask Jesus, “Do you not care that we are perishing?” Then there is their pondering: “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” Clearly, they were still struggling to understand this Man and His purpose. But despite that lack of clarity, when they were in trouble and feared for their lives, it was Jesus that they came to for help. “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” They may not have understood exactly how, but they knew that He could save them. And He still can! Many people in the world fail to come to Jesus because they do not fully understand. Maybe they don’t understand how His dying can save them, or how their baptism can wash away sins. Maybe they don’t fully comprehend the concept of eternity or heaven and hell. There may always be things that are beyond our ability to clearly understand, but that does not detract from Jesus’ power to save. We must learn to trust what we do not see and depend on what we cannot fully grasp. That is faith!

What are some things that we can do to help strengthen our faith?

 

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 20, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.

Over the past several days, we have read and thought about many parables of Jesus. During this period of Jesus' ministry, according to this text, He taught exclusively through these "earthly stories with heavenly meanings." As the Master Teacher, Jesus understood perfectly the hearts of His hearers and knew exactly what they needed to hear and how best to present it. He used these everyday scenes and images to convey spiritual lessons that were difficult to understand otherwise. He also used parables to hide these teachings from His hard-hearted enemies who were constantly looking for a reason to accuse Him of wrongdoing. Jesus' parables continue to be a valuable source of learning for us today. The vivid pictures that Jesus paints with His words still help us understand His teachings and timeless truths. What a blessing it is to be able to sit at the feet of the Master Teacher and to learn from Him.

Why do you think parables were (and still are) such an effective way of teaching?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 19, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. “Have you understood all these things?” They said to him, “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

This kingdom parable is about the coming judgment. It paints a picture of the separation of the righteous from the wicked on that day and brings to mind a picture of God that many people struggle with. It is easy for us to read and think about the love and mercy of God, but the righteousness and justness of God, those characteristics that render God incapable of ignoring sin and that demand a just consequence of sin, are harder to bear. We often see these two sides of God as being polar opposites and opposed to one another. However, we must understand that the righteousness and mercy of God are inseparably linked together. The righteousness that demanded a price to be paid for sin is the same righteousness that would not allow us to die in sin without hope. And so, in His righteousness and mercy, God sent His Son to pay the price for sin on behalf of mankind, giving everyone the opportunity to avoid condemnation and to be numbered with the saved. When that great gathering day comes, and the angels are sent to divide the good from the wicked, God’s desire is that there be no wicked found. He has made that end possible through Christ but, ultimately, the choice is ours.

What is our responsibility in being prepared for that day?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 18, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

 

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

All that they had—that is the price that they were willing to pay. Their homes, land, animals, business, possessions—everything. Why? Why were they willing to forfeit everything they owned, everything they had worked so hard to acquire, everything that brought comfort and security to their lives? The answer is that both of these men had found the one item that was worth more to them than all that they owned. It was, to them, a priceless treasure that was worth any sacrifice and any price that had to be paid. These two parables relate to us the great and matchless value of the Lord’s kingdom. Do we really consider the kingdom of heaven to be a priceless treasure? Are we willing to forfeit all that we have to be part of it? The fact of the matter is that there is nothing that can compare to what God offers us in that kingdom, and nothing that we should not be willing to give in exchange for it.

What is it that makes the kingdom of heaven so priceless?

 

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 17, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

 

He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”

This short little parable, like the last, is intended to foretell the growth and influence of the church in the world. Leaven, the object that is used here, is often used in the Bible to represent evil influences and the negative effect that those influences can have on God’s people. Here, however, Jesus uses leaven to represent the good influence of the church. Leaven is the substance used to cause bread to rise. It works on the inside, causing the dough to increase and expand, often to several times its original size. In the same way, Jesus says, as the Word of God is spread through the church, the hearts and lives of people are changed, and the church will grow and expand. The question for us is, are we continuing to be like leaven in the world? Are we striving to change those around us through the Word of God lived out in our lives and thus enlarging the kingdom of heaven? If not, why not?

What are some things that we can do to help enlarge the kingdom of heaven?

 

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Apr 16, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

Of all the herbs common to first-century Palestine, the mustard seed was the smallest. But along the banks of the Sea of Galilee, the plant that came from that tiny seed could grow to be ten to fifteen feet tall, with branches rigid enough for birds to nest in. Jesus uses this image, so well-known to His listeners, to describe the kingdom of heaven. That kingdom, He says, though it will begin very small, will grow to be very large and expansive. Just as Jesus prophesied, His church started very small with just a few individuals. But as the word of God was planted in the hearts of men, the church grew and expanded quickly so that, before the end of the first century, it had spread all over the world (Acts 17:6; Colossians 1:5-6). Through the centuries, the Lord’s church has continued to exist, often enduring persecution from without and apostasy from within, yet continually working to serve God faithfully and to plant the seed of the Word of God into the hearts of men. The church, the body and bride of Christ, purchased and paid for with His blood, was and continues to be the glorious kingdom of heaven and a wonderful blessing to all who enter it through Christ.

Why is it important to God that the church continue to grow?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

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