Monday, April 8
Theme for the week:
Imitate Jesus

John 12:12-19

Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King

12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,

“Hosanna!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Blessed is the king of Israel!”

14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written:

15 “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion;
see, your king is coming,
seated on a donkey’s colt.”

16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.

17 Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. 18 Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”

• In Christ, I am a sheep of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Blessed is He who came in the name of the Lord! As part of His flock, I know that He laid down His life for me and enables me to hear His voice still today.

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Pondering Point

Take time to read John 12:12-19.

God doesn’t need us to grasp what he’s doing in order to accomplish his work. Faith without understanding can be inspired – quite similar to “faith like a child” Jesus describes in Luke 18:17.

On the other hand, understanding without faith could be a definition of uninspired, meaning “without the Holy Spirit”. Let’s be all for understanding when possible. That said, like the first disciples, let’s not let a lack of understanding become an obstruction to faith.

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Prayer for the Day

Father God, while I long to understand many things, let it not stand in the way of my faith in Jesus as Lord and You as my Father. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Tuesday, April 9
God’s Mission

John 10:7-18

7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

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Pondering Point

Read John 10:7-18.

Consider the contrast of missions here. As followers of Jesus, we often highlight his mission, “Go and make disciples of all nations” (see Matthew 28:19). He wants to bring abundant life to his sheep, his disciples. We less often acknowledge the mission of our enemy the Devil, labeled here as the thief. Here is Satan’s black and white mission:
To steal and kill and destroy
To steal and kill and destroy you as a follower of Jesus
To steal and kill and destroy you and any other follower of Jesus.

It is a beautiful thing to sing Jesus like a shepherd lead us – and it is appropriate too! It is also wise to pray as Jesus taught, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” or as some translations put it, “deliver us from the Evil One.” You are his target. You need your Shepherd.

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Prayer for the day

Lord Jesus, my Shepherd, lead us not into temptation. Deliver us from the Evil One. I long to live out the abundant life you desire to bring us. Help me find this in You and to be on my guard for the evil thieves whose mission is to steal from, kill and destroy me. In Your name I pray for myself and others. Amen.

Wednesday, April 10
Biblical Teachings on Prayer

1 Timothy 2:5-6a

For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people.
~ Apostle Paul

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Pondering Point

Not every prayer uttered or thought needs to end with the phrase “in Jesus’ name” (see the Lord’s Prayer).

But every effective prayer is heard in the name of Jesus, that is, because of Jesus our Mediator, our High Priest, the Way to the Father. It’s not just in Jesus’ name, but in Jesus’ power and authority that we can approach God, go out from God, and operate under God.

Jesus said as much during His impending departure, telling His disciples that they could ask the Father for anything in His name (John 14:13).

Some liken the expression to having use of a credit card (which Jesus covers) – or having access to His account. Of course that means that you– AS HIS DISCIPLE – are already living for HIM and NO LONGER living for self. Jesus had told these same disciples that anyone who follows Him must deny themselves, pick up their cross and no longer live for self. That is true for you also.

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Prayer

Father God, I come in the name of Jesus not to ask anything at this moment, but to say thank You for allowing me to have access to You as a loving Father and to celebrate that I live in the authority of Jesus, in whose name I pray.

Thursday, April 11
Prayerfully Re-Center Around God

Ephesians 3:17-19

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
~ Apostle Paul

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Pondering Point

How many times do you think the Apostle Paul offered this prayer for those he loved and served? Offer one up yourself. Pray it now. Pray it later. Pray it often. Pray it for others. Pray it for yourself. Write it down. Put it on the visor of your car. For now, the call to re-center in God focuses on you, but it can be easily reviewed and prayed for others also.

Review the week

Are you rooted and established in God’s love? Do you consider yourself empowered to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is Christ’s love? Does your walk with God go beyond mere knowledge about Him? Do you have a measure of fullness or a sense of emptiness when it comes to God’s presence in your life?

Repent (if necessary)

Is your current lifestyle limiting God’s impact and your ability to be rooted in Him? Are you providing numerous opportunities for the Spirit of God to establish His love to flow both into you and out from you? These are cues for repentance.

Return (as necessary)

If you find yourself with a sense of emptiness when it comes to God’s love, pray that you would grasp the width, the length, the height and the depth of His love for you. Ask for a full measure of God’s presence, His love, and for faith to believe that God hears and answers your prayer. The first prayer below is for yourself; the second is for others.

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Prayer

A Prayer for Yourself

Father God, I pray that I may be found rooted and established in love, that I may be empowered, together with all of Your holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. I pray to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that I may be filled – absolutely filled – to the measure of all of Your fullness God. In the name of Jesus Christ who dwells in my heart through faith. Amen.

A Prayer for Others

Father God, I pray that ___(name)___ may be found rooted and established in love, that (he/she) may become empowered, together with all of Your holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. I pray that he/she comes to know this love that surpasses knowledge—and gets filled – absolutely filled – to the measure of all of Your fullness God. In the name of Jesus Christ who dwells in the hearts of His followers through faith. Amen.

Friday, April 12
Discipleship Point and Prayer

We need to think the same way Jesus did. We need to see at the cross how dramatically and deeply humble he was, but then we need to be like him in our relationship with God and in our relationships with others.

p.39, The Prideful Soul’s Guide to Humility, Fontenot/Jones
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Humility Prayer

Lord Jesus, in two days we remember your entrance into Jerusalem riding on a donkey that Palm Sunday. It was a humble yet kingly mount. You knew who you were and where you were going – to the cross for our sins. Remind us to be humble and yet confident in our own lives knowing that You make us forgiven sinners and beloved children of God through God’s grace. In Your name we pray. Amen.

Discipleship Point about Quiet Time

How does a disciple grow in Christ on a daily basis? Just as Jesus went to a "solitary place" to meet with his Father (Mark 1:35), so a disciple should daily pull away from the busyness of life for a quiet time, a personal rendezvous with the Lord and Savior (Discipleship Essentials, Ogden, p. 32).

Speaking of quiet times and solitary places to meet with God, did you realize that the Betrayer Judas knew where to find Jesus that night because Jesus had made a habit of going to that garden regularly for prayer. When and where are your quiet times and solitary places to meet with God?

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Prayer

Father God, help me see how foolish it is to live a disciple’s life without quiet times and solitary places to meet with You. Meeting with you keeps me humble and grounded. Meeting with you keeps me full of faith and confidence to live well as a disciple of Jesus, in whose name I pray.

Saturday, April 13
Scripture's Story for the Week

John 12:20-36

Jesus Predicts His Death

20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.

23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.

30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up[g] from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.

34 The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Messiah will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?”

35 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.

The question posed in this week’s Scripture story comes from some Greeks at the Passover festival. For the story to make sense, it helps to know that Greeks (being non-Jews) were allowed only in peripheral parts of the Jewish temple grounds. In our reading, Jesus seems to be teaching in that area from which they are restricted.

Their question leads to an unexpected turn of events. As readers, we know Jesus’ death is looming. Those surrounding Him are not privy to this detail. But Jesus clearly knows this and yet does not fear of losing His life. He foreshadows that death with a kernel of wheat analogy that points to life for many coming through a death of one person – Him.

But then He immediately points to his hearers, these potential followers, and warns of danger they face in trying to save their own lives. To follow Jesus means to be where He is. And where is Jesus in this moment? A soul-troubling life-and-death hour for sure, but one prepared for Him by His Father. This is the hour God the Father prepared for Jesus for our sake. By his death we would experience life. Don’t shy away from moments simply because they are soul-troubling. God just might be right in the midst of that hour. Make sure to invite Him into the hour – just like our Lord and Savior Jesus, whom we seek to imitate.

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Prayer for the Day

Father God, when my soul is troubled, remind me to invite you into that experience and boldly cry like Jesus “Father, glorify your name!” Amen.

Sunday, April 14
Call to Gather, Pray and Worship God

God Bless You

Ephesians 3:17-19

May you be rooted and established in love; may you have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 

Rewritten from this week’s prayer, this is a great blessing that, if realized, will leave you in utter awe for the Lord Jesus Christ.

May you be rooted and established, powerful, grasping and knowing – for then you will be filled with all the fullness of God!

Prayer for the Month

Lord Jesus, we don’t know who is who when it comes to hands and feet, eyes and ears. Whatever roles we play, let us work together as your body. We collectively submit to you as our head, agreeing work as one unit, united in Spirit and mission, to the glory of God our Father. In Your name we pray. Amen.

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Ministry Prayer

Lord Jesus, individually, I pray that you give each of us a heart to know you (Jeremiah 24:7) and a desire for you above all things (Psalm 73:25). Help each of us to believe that we have a necessary place in the body, agreeing to work with each other united in Spirit and mission under your leadership. Let it be to the glory of God our Father. So I pray. Amen.

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