Wednesday, 3/18

Today's Reading: Psalm 22

Today's Meditation:

In many ways this is the most amazing of all the psalms. In it we have a picture of the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus painted by the psalmist David one thousand years before Jesus Christ was born. It constitutes one of the most amazing predictions of all time.

At least nine specific events or aspects of the crucifixion are described here in minute detail. All of them were fulfilled during the six hours in which Jesus hung upon the cross. Moreover, the latter part of the psalm clearly depicts the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The probability that the predictions of these nine events would be fulfilled by chance in one person, on one afternoon is inconceivably small. The chance that all this could occur by accident is beyond any realm of possibility our minds could imagine. Yet all was fulfilled as predicted in this amazing psalm.

The psalm has two major divisions. The first twenty-one verses recount for us the torments of an unknown sufferer who is entirely alone and is crying out to God in His agony. Many scholars assert that these first twenty-one verses represent the thoughts that went through the mind of the Savior as He hung upon the cross and suffered there. From verse twenty-two to the end the sufferer is no longer alone but is in the midst of a large company and is praising God and shouting in victory. It ends with His claiming the worship of the entire world.

Lord Jesus, it is unfathomable to me what You endured on the cross. Thank You for Your willingness to suffer and die. I worship you as my Savior and Lord. 

Ray Stedman

When Jesus became sin for us He endured unthinkable separation from the Father fulfilling amazing prophecy. What implication does that have for us today? 

Tuesday, 3/17

Today's Reading: Genesis 22:1-14

Today's Meditation:

Two thousand years before, Abraham was asked to kill his son Isaac on an altar at the top of Moriah, but just as his knife was raised to the sky, Jehovah intervened. “Do not lay a hand on the boy... Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son”. So Isaac’s life was spared. But the voice that called out on Moriah is now silent at Calvary.

So why was the Son forsaken by the Father? The angels, no doubt, searched for an answer, for they have a deep interest in those matters that pertain to our salvation (1 Pet 1:12). The Pharisees standing at a distance from the cross would not have been able to give an answer. The priests would not understand; nor would the Roman soldiers. Just so today, many people do not understand why God would forsake anyone, especially the Son whom He dearly loves.

That the sum of all perfection should be forsaken by the Father; that the One in whom is all the fullness of the Godhead should not see the Father’s face – for this there must be a grand reason. And we find the reason in Psalm 22. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night and am not silent. Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel” (Ps 1-3) 

Erwin W Lutzer 

Monday, 3/16

Today's Reading: Ephesians 2:13-16; Mark 15:33-39

Today's Meditation:

On the cross, a criminal at Jesus’ left taunts him: Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” The crowd milling about the site takes up the cry: Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.... Let God rescue him now if he wants him”.

But there is no rescue, no miracle. There is only silence. The Father has turned his back, or so it seems, letting history takes its course, letting everything evil in the world triumph over everything good. For Jesus to save others, quite simply, he cannot save himself.

Why does Jesus have to die? Theologians who ponder such things have debated various theories of “the Atonement” for centuries, with little agreement. Somehow it requires love, sacrificial love; to win that cannot be won by force.

One detail Mark includes may provide a clue. Jesus has just uttered the awful cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He, God’s Son, identifies so closely with the human race – taking on their sin!—that God the Father has to turn away. The gulf is that great. But, just as Jesus breathes his last, “the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.”

That massive curtain serves to seal off the Most Holy Place, where God’s presence dwells. No one except the High priest is allowed inside, and he can enter only once a year, on a designated day. AS the author of Hebrews will later note, the tearing of that curtain shows beyond doubt exactly what is accomplished by Jesus’ death on the cross. No more sacrifices will ever be required. Jesus has won for all of us – ordinary people, not just priests – immediate access to God’s presence. By taking on the burden of human sin and bearing its punishment, Jesus removes forever the barrier between God and us.
Philip Yancey 

Friday, 3/13

Today's Reading: Ephesians 6:1-4; Exodus 20:12

Today's Meditation:

God’s command to honor our parents is consistent with His divine order. He knows what is best for us. He loves us. He made us. That is why He issues this command and connects this promise into His basic plan for mankind. Just as we will live forever because we honor the Lord our God, so it is that we are given the promise of a well-lived, fruitful and happy life when we honor our parents.

The promise of a long life is the promise of God’s lifelong protection, guidance, deliverance and provision. Surely, there is hardly anything more precious than living in a loving relationship with your parents. In fact, you did not choose your parents. God did. And His design is for you to live your entire life in a continual state of honor and blessing.

Just as all believers give honor to almighty God and receive bountiful joy in return, so it is that children who give honor to their parents receive “boatloads” of joy in return. It is the law of God! Both my wife and I can bear testimony to this divine fact.

So, permit me to give you what I call the “Seven Keys to Honoring Parents.”

1) Value your parents’ world. No matter how old they are, they are living in a world that is highly relevant and valuable to them.

2) Respect your parents’ age. Don’t mock their limitations and inabilities. Love them in it.

3) Model your parents’ godly attributes. You know the many things they said and did that simply blessed your life, so go and do likewise! It honors them and the Lord. Besides, if it blessed you, just think how much it will bless their grandchildren.

4) Protect your parents’ individual dignity. The older they become, the more they will cherish your hedge of protection. Remember, they protected you when you were just starting out!

5) Fulfill your parents’ essential joy. Make it your business to find out what gives them joy. Sometimes it is as simple as a regular phone call—and please answer their calls. It makes their day.

6) Provide for your parents’ basic needs. Make certain you are not feasting at the king’s table while your precious parents are living on cans of baked beans! And, by the way, make sure they are eating right.

7) Just do it: Honor your God-given responsibility. Just do it. God said it. You will be so glad you did.

Billy Graham 

Thursday, 3/12

Today's Reading: John 2:1-11

Today's Meditation:

What are we as Jesus' disciples to learn from “Woman behold thy son”?

  • 1. Love for our Family

First, we must love our parents -- no matter what. Sometimes our parents misunderstand us or disapprove of decisions we make. Sometimes they can hurt us grievously. Jesus, too, had felt the hurt of misunderstanding from his family -- even his mother. It's apparent that during part of his ministry, at least, his family didn't understand him. At the Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11), Mary pushed Jesus to change the water into wine, even though he tells her, "My time has not yet come." His family thought, "He is out of his mind," and went to take charge of him (Mark 3:21, 31-35) -- his brothers apparently along with Mary. And “Even his own brothers did not believe in him." (John 7:5) But whether they understand or even approve of us -- whether we can even trust them at this point in our lives -- we are told: "Honor your father and your mother" (Exodus 20:12). Christ-powered love can help heal the hurts from our families. We must love our parents.

  • 2. Responsibility for our Family

Second, we are responsible for family obligations. Jesus was clear that his disciples must put commitment to him above family relationships -- sometimes even using hyperbole to drive this point home. Our obedience to Christ must become primary and obedience to parents must become secondary. Having said that, just because we are Christians doesn't mean that we are absolved of family obligations. How do we reconcile our primary commitment to Jesus with responsibility for our families? Sometimes with great difficulty. But to put Christ first doesn't mean that we are free to neglect our other priorities -- it means only that we get our priorities in proper relation to each other. God will give us wisdom to work this out.

Here at the end of his life, we see in Jesus the tender love of a son for his mother -- a mother who had sometimes misunderstood him. As he dies he settles his earthly obligations as best he can, we hear him say, "Dear woman, here is your son ... Here is your mother" (John 19:26-27).

Ralph Wilson Prayer

Father, we see Jesus' example of love and responsibility. As wonderful and loving as family relationships can be, they are often complex and sometimes hurtful. We ask you to help us sort them out. Show us how to love you at the same time we love our family members. Give us the divine wisdom that we need so that we can love as Jesus loves. In His name, we pray. Amen.
Question for Personal Meditation

Why does Jesus make St. John responsible for his mother Mary? What does this tell us about Jesus? What are the implications of Jesus' Third Word for our own personal family relationships? 

Wednesday, 3/11

Today's Reading: Mark 1:16-18; Romans 12:3-8

Today's Meditation:

The modern media’s portrayal of the “lone wolf” seems to be growing more and more popular. From movies where the hero is mowing down hundreds of bad guys by himself, to books about “maverick” politicians standing against the grain and defying the status quo, it would seem as if we love a stand- alone hero. But how realistic a notion is this one man versus the world mentality? And have we tried to adopt this model into our spiritual walk?

Even a cursory examination of Jesus’ first interactions with his disciples should be sufficient for the realization that we were never intended to go it alone. In fact, if we take it way back, what was the first thing after creation that God said was “not good”? For man to be alone (Genesis 2:18)! We were created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), and our God actually exists in community. Three persons in one being, and we affectionately define that truth as the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 John 5:7-8; John 1).

So, if we are his image bearers, is it a hard leap to think that maybe we were intended for community as well? Not at all. And surely Jesus’ calling of Simon and Andrew is a great example of that intention. He didn’t call Simon, and then later come back for Andrew, but rather called them together, in community with himself.

God has not called us to “go it alone”, and for us to aspire or attempt to do so is both foolish, and counter to the Gospel! We are one body, with many parts (1 Corinthians 12:20). Our spiritual community should invade our personal lives, our family, our relationships, and help us to be the person Jesus has called us to be.

Do you shy from community in favor of “going it alone”? Is this mentality birthed from your pride and the idea that you are sufficient? 

Tuesday, 3/10

Today's Reading: Mark 3:31-35

Today's Meditation:

“It’s unbelievable the sort of creeps Jesus is willing to forgive. Even more incredible is the sort of creeps Jesus commands us to be church with.” My wife spoke the truth. If you think the family you were born into is a pain, consider the family that we’ve been adopted into because of Jesus! I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: one of the toughest challenges of Jesus isn’t just Jesus, it’s Jesus’ closet friends. Never forget that a major justification for the crucifixion of Jesus was the creepy company he kept.

Flannery O’Connor lived for a time alone and unknown in New York. She said that going to church in such and impersonal setting had its advantages. Upon returning from Mass at the Church of the Ascension on West 107th Street, she said of her time in church: “Although you see several people you wish you knew, you see thousands you’re glad you don’t know.

William H. Willimon