Wounded (Feb 13)

wounded

From Open Up Your Heart by Jeff Syverson

February 13
Wounded

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalms 25:1-7 | Exodus 35:1 – 36:38 | Matthew 27:32-66 | Proverbs 9:7-8

Today’s Scripture Focus: Matthew 27:32-66

“And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him” (Matthew 27:31 NIV).

“And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way” (Matthew 27:44 NIV).

Crucifixion is designed to bring excruciating physical pain. The physical torture of crucifixion is almost unimaginable. It was a cruel and painful way to die. It was also a method designed to bring shame and humiliation to the victim. The wounds of crucifixion were both emotional and physical.

The days preceding the cross were also filled with wounds. Jesus experienced emotional wounds of denial, betrayal, mocking and injustice. Most of these wounds were at the hands of those closest to him, magnifying the pain. Perhaps the worst of all the emotional wounds was the abandonment he experienced on the cross that brought voice to the words, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”

On the cross, Jesus became the suffering servant of Isaiah 53, he took upon himself our sin: “He was wounded for our transgressions.” He was condemned and forsaken. He was betrayed and denied. He endured shame for us. He felt the sting of abandonment from His Father. He did it all for you and me.

Those wounds that were the source of his pain are now the source of our healing: the forgiveness of sin, the freedom from bondages and shame, the healing of broken bodies and wounded hearts. When you experience the wounds brought on by denial, betrayal, mocking, injustice or abandonment, remember that Jesus understands. He has experienced those things too. Bring your wounds to Jesus and allow him to bring the healing you need.

Lord Jesus, thank you for the cross. Thank you for being wounded for my transgressions. Thank you for the forgiveness and healing that flow from your wounds. Amen.

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Shining Faces (Feb 12)

shiningfaces

From Open Up Your Heart by Jeff Syverson

February 12
Shining Faces

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalms 24:7-10 | Exodus 34:1 – 35:9 | Matthew 27:15-31 | Proverbs 9:1-6

Today’s Scripture Focus: Exodus 34:1 – 35:9

“When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant” (Exodus 34:29 NIV).

Moses had asked to see the glory of the Lord, “Now show me your glory” (33:18). The Lord gave him as much as he could handle: “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence . . . but you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live” (33:19-20). He had an awesome experience of the glory of the Lord.

But God gave Moses more than a one-time experience. He found the joy of the ongoing glory of the Lord’s presence as he spent time with Him. This glory would be reflected on his countenance—his face would be radiant. His face so reflected the glory of the Lord, that the people were afraid of Him when he would come down from his times with the Lord—even Aaron. “The Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory” (2 Cor. 3:7).

Yet as glorious as that is, the New Testament suggests that Moses glory cannot compare to the surpassing glory of Christ in us, the glory that lasts. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed in his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:17-18).

True Christianity is a relationship with Christ. As we spend time with Him, we reflect more and more of his character. Our whole being reflects his glory (2 Corinthians 3). Not only our faces, but our whole being and lifestyle reflects the glory of Christ within.

Moses experienced glory by being in the presence of the Lord. So do we. But there is no need for a veil anymore. The world needs to see Christ’s life reflected through his followers who are being transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory.

Enjoy his presence today. Come away gloriously transformed by time in the presence of the Lord.

Glorious Lord, I long to be transformed into the likeness of Christ with ever-increasing glory. By your Spirit, shine through me. May my heart be captivated by your glory, and may others see Jesus in me. Amen.

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Show Me Your Glory (Feb 11)

KingofGlory

From Open Up Your Heart by Jeff Syverson

February 11
Show Me Your Glory

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalms 24:1-6 | Exodus 32:1-33:23 | Matthew 26:69-27:14 | Proverbs 8:33-36

Today’s Scripture Focus: Psalm 24, Ex. 32-33 and Proverbs 8:33-36

“Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will receive blessing from the Lord” (Psalm 24:3-4 NIV).

Moses sought and found an intimacy with God that was quite rare and precious: “The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.” The people would see Moses go into the tent of meeting; all the people would stand and worship at the entrance to their own tents. Often after meeting with God, Moses face would shine with glory. Everyone knew he had been with the Lord.

His authority as a leader flowed from his intimacy with the Father.

How do we get to that place of intimacy? The Psalmist says, “we must come with clean hands and pure hearts” (Psalm 24:3). Often our own sin and idolatry keep us from entering into the place of intimacy with God. Instead of inviting the King of Glory to come in, we exchange his glory for a lie.

Proverbs tells us that the place of intimacy comes only to those who “watch daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.” Intimacy comes from “seeking Him” and learning to listen daily (Prov. 8:34).

For Moses too, intimacy came only from daily seeking, daily listening, and daily obedience. Moses fought for the “presence of the Lord” to go with them and had the audacity to ask for more of his presence. Though he had unusual intimacy with God, he wanted more. That holy longing for more of his presence was expressed in the cry of his heart, “God, show me your glory.”

Do you want to that kind of intimacy? You must press in to the heart of Father. You must seek Him with all your heart. You must not neglect that holy desire to know him more. Satisfaction with the status quo in your relationship with him will keep you from pressing in to deeper places of intimacy. Lord, show me your glory!

Glorious Lord, I long to know you more fully, more intimately. I want to know the joy of close fellowship as we speak face to face, even as Moses. Lord, Show me your glory! Amen.

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The Lord is My Shepherd (Feb 10)

lordismyshepherd

From Open Up Your Heart by Jeff Syverson

February 10
The Lord is My Shepherd

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalms 23:1-6 | Exodus 30:11-31:18 | Matthew 26:47-68 | Proverbs 8:27-32

Today’s Scripture Focus: Psalm 23

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul, He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23: 1-3 NIV).

The Lord is our shepherd, our good shepherd, who cares for us. His aim is for our souls to be at rest and for our paths to be right and straight.

Jesus promises to take care of all the things that cause our soul to be restless, to be anxious, or disturbed. He promises to care for every need. He will bring comfort as he walks with us through difficult times. He is there with us even in the presence of our enemies.

The Shepherd desires rest for your soul. He wants to take you to quiet places beside the still waters, places of rest in green pastures. Yet in all of busyness—our hurrying and scurrying—we often resist the paths that will bring rest to our souls.

Your soul shrivels and dries up without sufficient times of rest that restore the soul. Find a quiet place and spend time with your good Shepherd. Allow him to restore your soul and “revive your drooping head” (vs 5, The Message).

Then follow the paths of righteousness, the paths of obedience. Your shepherd knows what is best. Obedience, too, brings rest to the soul.

Those who follow the lead of the shepherd can expect goodness and mercy to follow them all the days of their life; they can rest assured that his path will lead them to dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Good Shepherd, teach me to trust you, teach me to follow. Thank you for restoring my soul and guiding me in paths of righteousness. Amen.

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Falling to Pieces (Feb 9)

fallingtopieces

From Open Up Your Heart by Jeff Syverson

February 9
Falling to Pieces

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalms 22:19-31 | Exodus 29:1-30:10 | Matthew 26:14-45 | Proverbs 8:14-26

Today’s Scripture Focus: Matthew 26:14-45

“Before the night’s over, you’re going to fall to pieces because of what happens to me.” Peter Broke in: “Even if everyone else falls to pieces on account of you, I won’t . . . even if I had to die with you, I would never deny you” (Matthew 26:31, The Message).

The cross and the events leading up to it were going to be difficult ones for the disciples. Jesus knew that and warned them.

In one case, there was outright betrayal. But they would all “fall to pieces” and be like sheep without a shepherd.

Peter would have nothing of it. “Even if everyone else falls to pieces… I won’t.”

Jesus cautioned Peter, “Don’t be so sure . . . This very night, before the rooster crows up the dawn, you will deny me three times.”

With even more bravado Peter replied, “Even if I had to die with you, I would never deny you.”

Of course, as Jesus would remind them in the garden, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Peter, despite his best intentions, found his flesh weak and gave into the temptation as Jesus had predicted. He denied he even knew Jesus.

Following Jesus isn’t always easy. And despite our best intentions–even our bravado–we will have times when we fail him. There will be times when we fall down.

But we can be thankful that Jesus is eager to give us a second chance. Just as Jesus sought out Peter after the resurrection to encourage and reaffirm his leadership, so he affirms us, even when we fail.

We walk daily only by his amazing grace. We walk humbly knowing that even Peter “fell to pieces” under trial. We walk hopeful knowing that he is there to take us by the hand when we fall and help us on our way–just as he did with Peter.

Lord, give us your grace and enable us to stand firm. Forgive us when, despite our best intentions, we fall. Thank you for being a God of second chances. Thanks for seeking us out, affirming us, and encouraging us to press on, even after we’ve fallen to pieces. Amen.

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To the Least (Feb 8)

totheleast

From Open Up Your Heart by Jeff Syverson

February 8
To The Least

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalms 22:1-18 | Exodus 28:1-43 | Matthew 25:31-26:13 | Proverbs 8:12-13

Today’s Scripture Focus: Matthew 25:31-26:13

“I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40 NIV).

Jesus’ parables have a way of cutting right to the heart of the issue. In his parable of the sheep and the goats, Jesus reminds us that love for God is evidenced by our love for one another–especially as we express that love practically in meeting needs.

True love is feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, taking in the stranger, visiting the lonely prisoner. The amazing part is that Jesus says when we do these practical acts of love and kindness to the “least of these,” it’s like we are doing it for Him. God cares about the poor, the hungry, the immigrant, the prisoner, the hurting. He cares about those who are in need. To show God’s love to them, is to express love to Christ himself.

To fail to show love through practical acts of love and kindness when we are able, is to ignore Christ– to fail to express our love to Him. Either choice has eternal consequences (46).

John makes a similar point in his first Epistle:

“This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another” “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:11, 17-18 NIV).

Jesus could not make it any more clear: love for God must be expressed by loving others–especially those in need. We cannot close our heart to those in need. We cannot forget the “least of these.”

God of Mercy, give us eyes to see this world through your merciful, compassionate eyes. May we see the poor, the needy, the immigrant, the prisoner, the hungry, the hurting, as you do. May we always open our hearts to those in need. Give us wisdom and insight in doing what we can to show your love in practical ways. Amen.

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Wise or Foolish (Feb 7)

wiseorfoolish

From Open Up Your Heart by Jeff Syverson

February 7
Wise or Foolish

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalms 21:8-13 | Exodus 26:1-27:21 | Matthew 25:1-30 | Proverbs 8:1-11

Today’s Scripture Focus: Matthew 25:1-30

“The master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21 NIV).

We have two choices: live for the moment or live for eternity. The story of the wise and foolish virgins is an encouragement to always live our lives with the eternal in mind. The wise virgins planned ahead and entered into the wedding banquet. They got in on the celebration because they lived their lives in preparation for it.

The foolish virgins didn’t live with the big picture in mind. They were more focused on the immediate moment. When the moment for the wedding banquet came, they proved unprepared and missed out on the wedding celebration. To live focused only on the present moment is to miss out on all that could be ours in eternity.

The story of the talents reminds us that we will be called to account for the way we’ve used the resources we’ve been given. A life of faithful service will be rewarded in eternity with great reward and the “smile of the Father.” The one who is faithful with what they have been given will be put in charge of much more in the life to come.

This life is not all there is. It’s just the warm up act to life that goes on forever. We do well to always live in light of the eternal realities. What we do down here will make a difference as to how we live our life that goes on forever.

All Wise God, help me to live with eternity in mind. May I prove faithful with those things you have entrusted to my care—my talents and gifts, my resources, my time—that I might be rewarded with the joy of your smile when I one day stand before you and give an account. Amen.

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