Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 03-26-24

Lenten Series: In Need of The Helper

Lent is a liturgical observance and season of reflection; not a biblical mandate. It is simply a time to remind ourselves and appreciate the abundant grace of Christ’s saving work on the cross. It is a time to press in deeper in submission to Christ’s authority as we prepare our hearts to celebrate, with exceedingly great joy, the resurrection that awaits every believer and follower.

In our Lenten daily devotionals, we will focus on our spiritual needs and desires and how the Helper is our Gift for strength and success if we will bow in greater submission to the authority of our King and the terms of His Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit.
Reflection: Preaching without Barriers

Digging for Truth: The pure language of Christ’s Love is very practical and effective; there should be no opposing barriers. We note throughout Scripture, Christ’s words bring life, are powerful, and remain relevant to bring understanding by revealing God to his listeners seeking the Truth. Typically, Christ’s words were meant for his disciples, sometimes the crowds, and repeatedly for the religious leaders. Yet, although Christ is God—who is Love—people did not always translate Jesus’ words as motivated by Love.

Sometimes there was an internal barrier that hindered the understanding of the people listening; there must be a desire to “hear” the pure language of Love. For example, the Pharisees had a very difficult time dealing with Jesus, because they did not want to hear what he had to say. In their minds, Jesus did not represent their reality; their perspective became their god. When they listed to the preaching of Jesus, they were convicted by his words of authority, so they built barriers in their hearts and they could not receive wisdom from him.

On this Tuesday of Holy Week, I thought we would spend a few minutes looking at the altercations, between Jesus and the religious leaders that more than likely took place only days prior to his crucifixion. The Truth Jesus shared fueled these leaders’ hatred for him and motivated them to plot his destruction.

After his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus went to the Temple. When he got there he was disgusted to find the money-changers gouging the people with their services [selling animals for sacrifice] and using the worship of God to make a profit. Therefore, he cleared the Temple and set the record straight: “My Temple will be a house of prayer, but you have turned it into a den of thieves” (Matthew 21:12-13).

Later, Jesus was talking with his disciples and the crowds about the teachers of religious law, as well as the Pharisee leaders. He urges the people not to practice what they were teaching, because they “crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden. Everything they do is for show” (Matthew 23:2-5).

Then Jesus speaks directly to these leaders. “Sorrow awaits you…Hypocrites! You shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either” ((Matthew 23:13-14). “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:27-28).

Grace for the Heart: The Holy Spirit brings answers to the barriers believers may face as we witness and share the gospel story. Scripture teaches the Helper bears witness to the Truth, so if we keep our hearts open, call upon the name of the Lord, and desire to hear the pure language of love we will enter the Kingdom and the anointing of the Spirit. If we are going to allow our lives to reveal and preach the gospel, we must guard our hearts and pay attention to the tone of our love for God and others. Outwardly and inwardly we must practice Christ’s pure love.

Proverbs 4:23 Guard your heart above all else,
    for it determines the course of your life.

Challenge: The Spirit motivate us and moves us into divine assignments. Not only does the Helper stir our hearts and motivate us, he excites the hearts of others through the Word of God we share. “ And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths” (1 Corinthians 2:12-13).

Prayer: Lord, we ask for you to break any barriers within us that would oppose or hinder the work of the Helper. Please give us an open heart and an obedient will that longs to live in a way that preaches the gospel of your pure love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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