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Keep the fire burning - SATURDAY APRIL 15

‘Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us…?’ Luke 24:32 NKJV

After the resurrection Jesus met two of His disciples who’d seen Him crucified and didn’t know He’d been raised from the dead. Then later as He ate supper with them at their house, an interesting thing happened: ‘Their eyes were opened…they knew Him…and they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”’ (vv. 31-32 NKJV). This story has much to teach us about keeping the fire of love and devotion to Christ burning in our hearts.

As you walk with Jesus and spend time in His presence, He talks to you and reveals Himself through the Scriptures. We all know that to keep a fire burning you must tend it, stoke it, and keep fuelling it. Why do some of us go on to higher heights and deeper depths in our walk with God, while others seem to go around in circles without getting anywhere? Because one group commits itself to pursuing God until His presence becomes a daily reality in their lives, while the other group doesn’t. It’s that simple. The question is, which group are you in? If you’re lukewarm and half-hearted in your walk with God, today He is saying to you, ‘Return to Me…and I will return to you’ (Zechariah 1:3 NKJV). Or in layman’s terms: ‘Turn around and come back. You’ll find Me where you left Me.’ So the word for you today is: keep the fire burning.

Calvary was always part of God’s plan - FRIDAY APRIL 14 – GOOD FRIDAY

‘It’s what God had in mind all along.’ Isaiah 53:10 MSG

The psalmist wrote: ‘My God, why have You forsaken Me…I am…a reproach of men, and despised…All those who see Me ridicule Me…saying, “He trusted in the Lord…let Him deliver Him”…I am poured out like water…My bones are out of joint…My tongue clings to My jaws…They pierced My hands and…feet…and for My clothing they cast lots’ (Psalm 22:1-18 NKJV). Think about it: David could be describing Jesus’ crucifixion in detail. Yet when he wrote these words crucifixion hadn’t been introduced as a form of execution. It was initiated centuries later by the Phoenicians, and long after that before it was adopted by the Roman Empire.

Dr Charles Augustus Briggs says: ‘You can take this psalm…lay it side-by-side with New Testament accounts of the crucifixion…and see how they dovetail perfectly. It’s astonishing that someone could describe something so intimately and intricately a thousand years before it happened.’ Calvary wasn’t the result of happenstance. Long before Jesus came on the scene, God had a plan to reconcile us to Himself through Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:18 NIV). Historian Paul L. Maier says: ‘In Isaiah chapter 53 we have almost a running commentary on what happened on Good Friday…It would be mathematically impossible for anyone else to fulfil all these parameters of prophecy in the Old Testament better than Jesus.’ Bottom line: ‘It’s what God had in mind all along…that he give himself as an offering for sin.’ That means long before there was an Easter, God was thinking about you!

Jesus doesn’t condemn, He cleanses - THURSDAY APRIL 13

‘Go. From now on sin no more.’ John 8:11 NASB

The Bible says: ‘The Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery…they said to [Jesus]…“in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women.”’ Jesus replied: ‘“He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her”…When they heard it, they began to go out one by one…Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more”’ (vv. 3-11 NASB). Notice two things:

1) Those least qualified to condemn you, will. Jesus knew the hearts of the Pharisees. They made a practice of lifting themselves up by putting others down. Their aim that day was to trap Him by exposing her. Steer clear of modern-day Pharisees! Find your friends among those who’ve been redeemed by grace, and know how to extend it to others.

2) The One most qualified to condemn you, won’t. Stay close to Him. When you do, you’ll discover your scars aren’t permanent and you’ll recover much more quickly. Christ will meet you in your dark places and heal the wounds of your past because His grace is greater than your shame. Where sin abounds - His grace super-abounds! There’s no limit to the depth of shame He can see us through, because there’s no limit to the grace He can supply. Today, if you’re feeling the weight of your shameful past and sinful ways, come to Jesus. He’s ready to forgive you and set you free. But His invitation to freedom reads ‘R.S.V.P.’

God is at work in your circumstances - WEDNESDAY APRIL 12

‘[His] power…is at work within us…to [carry out His purpose].’     Ephesians 3:20 AMP Classic Edition

One author writes: ‘We manage time, waste time, spend time, and save time. We wish it would come…we wish it would pass…we see time fly…we feel it drag. We watch clocks and carry calendars…yet God controls time. He created time, and His creations are fenced by His time, directed and guided by His loving hand. We’re surprised by unexpected developments, but God is never surprised by even the most disastrous turn of events. And your outlook on life changes dramatically when you know that at this very moment God is working within you “to carry out His purpose”. Think about how you’d live if you were absolutely certain God was at the end of your deadline. That even if there were mere seconds left, you believed with certainty He was working through your circumstances. Believing God is there and about to provide is the essence of faith.

“Jesus…is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8 NLT). Time can’t diminish His love or His power to work within your life. He was there in the past; He’s present in the now, and He’ll be there in the future. The truth is, He has “all the time in the world…a thousand years or a day, it’s all the same to [Him]” (Psalm 90:4 MSG). And His ultimate goal is to bring you into eternity, not just get you through to the end of the week.’ Remind yourself that in every situation ‘[His] power…is at work within us…to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly…above all that we [dare] ask or think…[beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes or dreams].’

Be willing to learn from others - TUESDAY APRIL 11

‘Happy is the man who finds wisdom.’ Proverbs 3:13 NKJV

Certain people can make us feel ‘less than’ when we’re in their company, but truly wise and mature people never try to do that. If you’ve had a bad experience with this, don’t allow it to drive you back in defeat. If you don’t stand near a ruler, you won’t be able to measure your growth or monitor how much you’ve developed. Whatever successful people know, they haven’t always known it - they had to learn and grow too. So don’t pretend you know what you don’t know. It’s best to speak genuinely and sincerely, asking questions when appropriate. Most successful people enjoy a chance to discuss and share what they know, so take advantage of this. Fear of rejection keeps us from going forward in life and in relationships.

You’d be surprised how many people limit themselves to socialising only with those who are comparable to them. They feel uncomfortable the moment they’re surrounded by people who are different from them. An important part of your development occurs when you decide to cross the tracks and relate to people who are ahead of you in some way. These relationships create a chance for you to grow. It’s not wrong to lack knowledge; it’s wrong to be unwilling to learn. Joshua learned the principles of good leadership from Moses. Ruth learned how to find the right relationship by listening to Naomi. Make this Scripture a guiding principle of your life: ‘Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding.’