Wednesday, April 17
Psalm 55 I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.” (v.6)
Remember the commercial of a woman going through a horrid day? She dreams she is soaking blissfully in a hot bubble bath instead. “Take me away,” she sighs. If you recently finished filing your taxes, you can probably relate.
Often, I have whispered the same thing when everything became overwhelming or went the way I didn’t want it to. Lord, make it stop! Take me away!
However, I remind myself of one of my favorite verses in the Bible, from my favorite book in the Bible—Philippians: “I can do all things through him who gives me strength” (4:13). It is in the daily reading for today as well, and I don’t see that as a coincidence.
Bubble baths are temporary reprieves. But eventually the aromatic foam dissipates and the water cools. Basking the in peace of our Lord is better. Anytime, day or night, we can let His loving peace soak into our pores. It may not change the circumstances, but it will improve our attitude and ability to cope.
Jeremiah 17:5-10, 14-17; Philippians 4:1-13; John 12:27-36
Maundy Thursday, April 17
Jeremiah 20:7-11 You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed. (v.7a)
Not the verse you’d pick to comment upon today? I understand. It doesn’t sound like something Jesus would do, right? He would never deceive us.
And yet, Jesus often did something his disciples didn’t expect. On the night Judas betrayed him, our Lord performed an act only the lowest of servants was meant to do. He bent down and washed their feet. A few of them, and many others, expected him to rise up to be the Messiah and defeat their enemies. Instead, he defeated something even greater—pride.
An old saying proclaims that both pride and sin have “I” in the center. As followers of Jesus, we are to die to self in order to live. Become weak so we can gain strength to battle death and win. Doesn’t make sense to the world. Seems like a deception. But it is the overpowering truth.
Tonight, spend one hour with him in prayer as he asked his followers to do. Believe.
Psalm 102; 1 Corinthians 10:14-17, 11:27-32; John 17:1-26
Good Friday, April 18
John 13:36-38 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now?” (v.37a)
Poor Peter. His heart was in the right place, but his humanness kept getting in the way. Jesus knew Peter was not ready yet to be the Rock he’d proclaimed Peter would become. Peter had trials to go through first.
On this day, our Lord died on the hard wood of the cross. Tradition states Peter later did as well, but requested to be hanged upside down in humility. By following Jesus, Peter followed him into eternity. But only after he’d made a few mistakes and then received forgiveness. Then, he humbly accepted his commission in the upper room by his Risen Lord: “Feed and care for my sheep” (see John 21:5-17).
Sometimes, God lets us go through trials to reveal we are still works in progress. We must learn from our mistakes in order to become humble enough to do it His way. Then we can receive His forgiveness and, by power from the cross, do what He calls us to do.
Genesis 22:1-4; Psalm 22; 1 Peter 1:10-20
Holy Saturday, April 19
Psalm 88 Are your wonders known in the place of darkness, or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion? (v.12)
Did you notice there is no Gospel reading for today? That is because nothing is written in the Gospels about what happened on this day of limbo between the death and resurrection of Jesus. Church tradition states Jesus went into Hades to convert the souls who had gone before. This was later affirmed in the phrase “He descended into Hell,” added into the Creeds in 650 AD. Others believe he rescued the faithful in the Old Testament, who slept in stasis, and escorted them into heaven.
The Bible may not be clear about what happened today, but it is clear on one thing: Jesus died yesterday. For me that is important.
He knows what it is like to go through that process. For those of us who believe in the resurrection, it is comforting to know that, not only does Jesus wait for us on the other side of death, but he has been through it and will guide us through it as well. And for that, I will be eternally grateful. Won’t you?
Job 19:21-27a; Hebrews 4:1-16
Easter Sunday, April 21
Exodus 12:1-14 “The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.” (v.13 NIV)
For many, many years the Jewish people have celebrated the Passover, which memorializes how God delivered His people from slavery in Egypt, in 1446 BC. All the lambs of all the Passovers pointed towards Jesus, our Passover lamb who was sacrificed for us. Once Jesus gave his life on the cross, it was no longer necessary to sacrifice lambs because Jesus is the perfect, sinless lamb; the ultimate sacrifice for my sins. He has delivered me from the slavery of sin. He has made it possible for God, my Holy Father, to look at me now because I am clothed with the righteousness of Jesus, and his shed blood has cleansed me from all my unrighteousness. Wow, what a gift!
Easter is such an extraordinary day, because we Christians celebrate the gift of new life we have been given in Jesus Christ, the perfect Lamb, through the shed blood of his death and his amazing resurrection. Thank you, Jesus, for reconciling me to the Father, and for dying in my place for my sins. I love you, I worship you, I adore you.
Psalms 148, 149, 150; John 1:1-18
Monday, April 22
Acts 2:14, 22-32 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. (v.24)
Jesus has done for us what we can never do for ourselves—he has conquered death! I love the last part of the verse above, “it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” Doesn’t that speak of incredible might and power? It’s hard to wrap my head around the idea of such strength. I cannot explain it in earthly terms, precisely because it is “other-worldly,” or supernatural. Despite this, I know and believe deep down in my soul that it is true.
In raising Jesus from the dead, God freed him “from the agony of death.” How do you picture the “agony of death” in your mind? You know it must be more awful that any other thing in the world. The word “agony” conjures up the idea of deep distress, great suffering, endless and excruciating pain. Though Jesus did experience this, it ended when God raised him up.
Now consider, in light of these thoughts, why God and Jesus did all this. It is because they love us beyond our ability to understand with a love greater than earthly fathers and mothers have for their own children. We are the beloved children of God, and nothing will ever change that. We are safe and secure in the arms of our Father and our Savior Jesus, the Christ.
Thank You, Lord, for the great gift of Your love and Your salvation!
Jonah 2:1-9; Psalms 93, 98; John 14:1-14
Tuesday, April 23
Psalm 103 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (vv.11-12)
My Bible states that the theme of Psalm 103 is, “God’s great love for us. What God does for us tells us what he is really like.” There are so many things listed in this psalm that it was hard to single one out from the rest. (Take a couple of minutes right now and read Psalm 103.) He forgives our sins, heals our diseases, redeems us, gives us His love and compassion, is “slow to anger, abounding in love,” doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve, or punish us according to what we truly deserve, and His love never ends.
David is the author of this psalm, and his descriptions of what God does for us are beautiful, and they invite us to ponder and meditate each verse. I think I could dwell on verses 11-12 for a very long time. How high are the heavens above the earth? How far is the east from the west? We have no way to measure such things. Also, how greatly am I comforted by these wonderful things that God does for me? I love being loved like this and I could never thank Him enough for removing my transgressions so far from me!
So, I say with David, “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name” (v.1).
Isaiah 30:18-21; Acts 2:26-47; John 14:15-31