May 31 - Witness
Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 29:1-31:13 / John 19:28-20:9 / Psalm 68:28-35
After Jesus died, He was buried not by His disciples but by two “secret” disciples. Joseph of Arimathea was a secret disciple of Christ because he feared the Jews. He stepped out of the shadows of secrecy and asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Hours before, the Jewish leaders asked for Christ’s body in order to unjustly crucified Him, now Joseph of Arimathea asks for permission to take Christ’s body to give Him a just burial.
Nicodemus, who came to Jesus in the darkness of night, now comes to Him in the dark shadow of death. The one who spoke to him about being “born again” lay lifeless and still. Yet Christ’s prophetic words were very much alive, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
They prepared Jesus for burial as they covered Him with spices and meticulously wrapped His body with strips of cloth. They cared for Jesus when everyone else forsook Him. Before their faith was hidden, now their faith is openly displayed.
Joseph of Arimathea placed Jesus in his own personal tomb undoubtedly thinking it would be an eternal testimony of his faith. Little did he know, it would be known as a place of life, not death.
So, how is your witness? Your witness won’t impact the world until it is revealed and God cannot empower your life until you use it for Him. Never forget, God isn’t about death but life!
May 30 – Who’s In Control?
Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 26:1-28:25 / John 19:1-27 / Psalm 68:21-27
The Jews plotted long and hard to take Christ’s life. They waited for the opportune moment and put pressure on Pilate to give in to their wishes. Even though Pilate did not find fault in Jesus, he was motivated by politics and fear. Pilate has a significant conversation with Jesus that opened Pilate’s eyes and understanding.
Pilate was frustrated because of Christ’s silence. Jesus refused to answer Pilate’s questions and in frustration says, “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you.” (John 19:10) Pilate was under an enormous amount of pressure and he waffled in making a decision. He did not see any reason to crucify Jesus because there was no substantial evidence or reason to do so. Yet, if he set Jesus free, he faced a revolting Jewish nation and a knee-jerk reaction from Rome, removing him from his political office.
Little did Pilate know…he did not have the authority to make the decision about Christ. This was not a matter of Jewish or Roman jurisdiction but would be decided at the highest throne room of heaven. Jesus answered Pilate’s angry and arrogant response with truth, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.” (John 19:11)
God ordained this very moment to display a higher power than earthly men could ever understand. The Son of God was about to lay down His life, paying the price for mankind’s redemption, and pick it back up again to defeat death, hell and the grave. Something resonated in Pilate’s spirit; he believed Christ’s words and tried to set Jesus free.
What a great comfort to realize God has all things under His control, even crucifixions! God walks with us through an intimidating and condemning world. Sometimes we may question and doubt His intervening power but never forget - He has a divine plan and purpose for our lives. So who’s in control? We will just have to wait and see…if there happens to be a crucifixion, God WILL be sure to follow it up with a resurrection!
May 29 – Revenge
Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 24:1-25:44 / John 18:25-40 / Psalm 68:15-20
Sometimes there is a fine line between vengeance and justice. A notable difference is that of motivation – vengeance is fed by bitterness and justice is concerned about truth. David’s men encouraged him to take vengeance upon the unsuspecting Saul as they were hiding in the back of the cave. “This is the day the Lord spoke of when He said to you I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish. (1 Sam 24:4)
David certainly had a valid reason to defend himself against the unjust attacks of King Saul yet there was a greater law governing David. He did not consider Saul the “enemy” but considered him to be God’s “anointed”. David felt great conviction and shame after he cut the corner of Saul’s robe. He rebuked his soldiers and prevented them from carrying out their plan to kill Saul.
David showed great restraint because he knew God was his avenger. He did not need to take matters into his hands. God would defend David and rightfully bring justice. As Saul was a distance away, David called out and showed him the corner of his robe saying, “May the Lord judge between you and me. And may the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me but my hand will not touch you.” (v.12)
Like David, when we recognize God’s call upon our life, rest in His faithfulness to protect us and humble ourselves to His correction – God will defend us. Then life isn’t about them or us…but about God. We do not need to take matters into our hands but leave them in God’s hand!
May 28 – Close Calls
Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 21:1-23:29 / John 18:1-24 / Proverbs 13:10-19
How many times does God keep up us one step ahead of the enemy? David had close encounters with the vengeful Saul, but God kept David just out of the reach of the murderous king. David dodged spears thrown by Saul from across the room and he fled cities just before Saul arrived.
In 1 Samuel 23:26 it says, “Saul was going along one side of the mountain, and David and his men were on the other side hurrying to get away from Saul.” This reminds me of an old silent movie when someone is chasing another person franticly around a building. The faster they run the faster the other runs; when they stop to pant for air, the other one stops at the same time trying to catch their breath. No matter how quickly the pursuer runs, the pursued is always on the other side of the building.
Saul would have caught David but a messenger called Saul to return because the Philistines had invaded Israel. Saul left and stopped his pursuit of David…he didn’t know how close he was to capturing David. This was the hand of God at work in David’s life – God coming through at the most strategic time.
If we look closely at our lives, we can see when God kept the enemy at bay. Times when certain destruction or loss could have happened but it was averted by a last minute turn of the wheel, a change in schedule, or an unexpected financial blessing. All of those “close calls” were God’s miraculous intervention in our lives. It reminds us how vulnerable we are and our great need for His intervention. So, if you feel the enemy “breathing down your neck”, take heart, God will not let you fall…He is the God of “Close Calls”!
May 27 – Friendship…
Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 19:1-20:42 / John 17:6-26 / Psalm 68:7-14
Jonathan and David had a close and intimate relationship. God knit their hearts together and they remained loyal to one another despite the opposition they faced. Jonathan’s father, King Saul, attempted to kill David several times but here in 1 Samuel 20, Jonathan warns him of his father’s updated murderous plan. Jonathan intervened for David several times and saved his life.
Often lost in this story was Jonathan’s position. He was to succeed his father as king and the only viable threat to that possibility was David. King Saul was intimidated by David’s rising popularity and strength. Israel was rallying around David so Saul felt his only alternative was to remove his threat. Politically, Jonathan’s best interest would have been to follow his father’s plan but Jonathan was driven by a higher law, his love and commitment to David.
Jonathan’s principles were much different than the law of the world. Many have no difficulties using and abusing others for their own advancement. Loyalty, fairness, justice, and compassion are only followed when it is in a person’s best interest. Jesus reminds us that there is no greater love than for a man to lay down his life for his friend. David and Jonathan had that type of relationship.
As Jonathan approached, David bowed down to him 3 times with his face to the ground. (1 Sam.20:41) David humbled himself, honoring Jonathan and his position in the kingdom. They embraced, kissed and wept with David weeping most. They committed their lives and loyalty to one another, pledging their friendship to each other’s descendants.
Their lives would never be the same; David became a fugitive, hiding from Saul and Jonathan went back and served his father. They went their separate ways but their hearts remained united. Relationships like theirs are only birthed out of a heart of compassion, humility and loyalty. Who is your David or Jonathan? Cherish and embrace those friendships. May God give us a David/Jonathan, but greater yet; may we become a David/Jonathan for someone else…
May 26 – Take Heart…
Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 17:38-18:30 / John 16:5-17:5 / Psalm 68:1-6
My thoughts are drawn today to Christ’s words, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) In life we eventually discover that trouble is something that cannot be avoided… we don’t look for trouble, trouble finds us.
Jesus was preparing His disciples for the troubling days that would soon take place yet His message is applicable for us today. This world hasn’t changed, it is still filled with trouble. The world robs us of joy, strength and peace. Out of deep desperation, people look to find peace in a bottle, money, fame or relationships. In their searching, they look everywhere except to God.
I am so thankful we have a peace in the midst of our troubling world. It is a peace not dependent upon circumstances or our environment. Jesus is the One who not only gives peace; He has secured peace for us. He conquered the forces of trouble to bring hope, restoration and rest.
Think of it this way…as Christ overcame the power of satan, peace overcomes the power of trouble! Trouble isn’t something that is simply removed; it's power is eradicated and rendered harmless by the power of Christ. Like the 3 Hebrews who were thrown into the fiery furnace, they didn’t avoid it but were joined in the midst of it by Christ Himself. What trouble has the world thrown at you? Take Heart…
May 25 – Chosen
Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 16:1-17:37 / John 15:1-16:4 / Psalm 67:1-7
You may have experienced a time in life when you were excluded or not chosen. Maybe you were the last one picked when they choose sides for a game. Possibly you were left off a team or didn’t make the cut. People aren’t chosen because they are not fast enough, strong enough, good enough or smart enough.
Saul was a popular and an obvious choice for King because he was head and shoulders above everyone else. When God told Samuel to anoint a new King from the sons of Jesse, Samuel thought the oldest son, Eliab, was a sure choice. But God rejected Eliab and told Samuel not to look at his appearance or height. Why? Because, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam.16:7)
After Eliab, Jesse presented seven more sons to Samuel. God rejected every one of them and Samuel asked if there were any more sons. Jesse had one final son, the youngest one, David, who was tending the sheep. When Samuel saw David, he knew that he was looking at God’s chosen king.
Others would not have chosen David, but God did! David was young, soft and inexperienced yet God knew David had a God sized heart. He was a young man of faith, courage, boldness and humility.
What does God see in us? He sees what others do not see. God knows the depth of our faith, commitment and passion. He not only knows our potential, He has a divine plan for our lives. He directs our steps, placing us in life where we are most effective for His Kingdom. You are blessed…God has chosen you to be on His side!
May 24 – He Promised…
Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 14:24-15:35 / John 14:1-31 / Proverbs 12:28-13:9
We all go through times of dramatic change. The death of a loved one, marriage, a job transfer, or relocating to another place brings a great deal of adjustment and grief. We find it difficult to function and survive those difficult life transitions. The disciples were about to experience a time that would completely shake their world. Jesus forewarned them of His death and told them not to be “troubled”.
He assured them they would be together again; He was preparing an eternal place for them. They certainly did not understand His heavenly plan because their eyes were blinded to His crucifixion. Here in John 14, Jesus repeatedly comforted them with words of hope and promise.
In His absence, He promised them another Counselor that would be with them forever. The Spirit that was currently with them would soon indwell them, bringing comfort, assurance, and provision in their lives. Jesus would not leave them alone in the world without His promised presence.
The coming Spirit would also teach them all things and remind them of Christ’s words. This dimension of the Holy Spirit would bring insight, discernment, empowerment and peace not found or provided by the world. Jesus was promising supernatural peace, power and presence.
I am thankful we have the peace, power and presence of The Holy Spirit with us today! When we “reach the end of our rope”, or “don’t know which way is up”, or “feel lost”, we can look to the indwelling Spirit. Are you troubled? Look up to Him in prayer but don’t forget to look within, you will find everything that you need…He Promised!
Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 13:1-14:23 / John 13:18-38 / Psalm 66:13-20
What do you do when you are faced with situations that are improbable or impossible? King Saul and the nation of Israel faced a Philistine army that was as numerous as the sand on the seashore. Saul and his army numbered 600 - improbable odds for Israel? No… they were impossible.
Israel faced certain defeat yet Saul’s son, Jonathan, had an uncanny faith in the face of annihilation. With his armor-bearer, He scaled a cliff to reach a Philistine outpost. He reasoned, “Perhaps the Lord will work on our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.” (1 Sam 14:6)
Jonathan’s assumption was correct. The Lord would work on Israel’s behalf because The Lord was on their side. God would defend and deliver His chosen people. We can be assured of God’s faithfulness to His people. As we battle the uncertainties and powers that oppose us, God desires to intercede for us. We do not need to question His will - He wants to work on our behalf!
Impossible odds do not overwhelm or restrict God. The size of the Philistine army was no match for the ONE true God. God used the smallness of the Israelite army to mop up the panic stricken Philistine army. It was a great victory for Israel because it was the Lord’s battle. The Lord’s might and power defeated the enemy. What are the odds in your life? It doesn’t matter because... “Greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the world!”
May 22 – For Whose Praise?
Scripture: 1 Samuel 10:1-12:25 /John 12:37-13:17 / Psalm 66:1-12
What does it take to convince people that they need a Savior and Jesus is the only one who can redeem them? Will Miracles, Divine Manifestations or Supernatural Encounters work? Jesus did miraculous signs in the presence of the Jewish nation yet there were some who still did not believe.
The “religious” had difficulties believing because their eyes were blinded and hearts were hardened. This was God’s response due to their lack of faith. Because they doubted, God blinded their perspective and because they rejected The Truth, God hardened their understanding. (Jn:12:40)
Yet, in the midst of the doubt, there were “many” leaders who believed. (42) This looked like an opportunity for a divine harvest but it became a graveyard of souls. Why…because those who believed, refused to confess their faith in Christ. They feared the persecution of Jewish leadership and excommunication from the synagogue. But their greatest fault was they loved the praises of men more than the praise of God. (43)
I find there are those in our world who “believe” in Jesus but do not “confess” their sin or “live” for Christ. Their worldly image and status is more important than following their faith. They live to impress the world, not The Lord. It is easy to get caught up in the hype and glories of man. We have a deep need to belong, to be accepted and respected. When we feel we have achieved men’s praises, there is instant satisfaction and a sense of great worth!
Whereas, it is difficult at times to recognize God’s pleasure in us and we are often blinded to His rewards. But never forget, the praises of men greatly fail in comparison to God’s favor. Christ promises not only an abundant life, He promises eternal life! Look around… He is behind, beside and ahead of us. His grace sustains us, His love surrounds us and His presence overwhelms us.
Listen closely, He will speak to us and give direction, strength and hope. I live to hear Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Lord.” Meanwhile, He reveals Himself everyday to us as we live this life according to His purpose and glory. Like the song of old… “Take this whole world, but give me Jesus!”
Pastor James Clark has pastored Calvary Assembly since 1985. He is blessed with his wife Yvonne, six children, two son-in-laws, a beautiful granddaughter and hopefully many more grandchildren to follow!