Christian Reflection and Prayer

Meditations and Prayers

2015/3/30

JESUS AND PILATE

@ 06:59 PM (1 day, 4 hours ago)
"Jesus' Witness to Pilate"

Lenten Devotion

"... (Jesus said) 'Everyone who is of the truth listens to
My voice'" (John 18:37b).

Read John 18:33-38a.

The true significance of Christ's comments to Pilate is
simply lost on Pilate. He has other things on his mind.
They are things he thinks are far more important like
saving his career. His attention is squarely on himself
and what impact this trial will make on his future.

But God does two things to turn Pilate's attention to
the innocent man standing before him. First, Pilate's
wife sends him a message, "Have nothing to do with
that righteous man, for I have suffered much because
of Him today in a dream" (Matthew 27:19). Second,
God sends His Son to speak to Pilate directly.

Jesus says, "Everyone who is of the truth listens to My
voice." This is a challenge to Pilate: is truth important
to him? Obviously, he is taking great risks to set an
innocent man free, but does he want to hear the truth
Jesus came to bring?

Many times in our lives Jesus' still, small voice speaks
to us through the clamor and clatter of our daily lives.
Are we willing to put it all aside to listen to the One
who offers us eternal life?

Pilate gives his famous reply, "What is truth?" Sadly,
he isn't interested in what Jesus has to say, he just
wants to end the discussion.

Jesus offers you and me words of truth and eternal life.
But how often do we dismiss Him and cut Him off like
Pilate did? How often are we distracted by earthly
things we think are more important?

THE PRAYER:

Lord, thank You for speaking words of truth to me.
Forgive me for cutting You short. Please speak, for
Your servant is now listening. Amen.

Written by Rev. Wayne Palmer

A POWER STRUGGLE

@ 05:18 AM (1 day, 18 hours ago)
Lenten Devotion

\"Pilate said to them, \'Take Him yourselves and judge Him by
your own law.\' ...\" (John 18:31a).

Read John 18:28-32.

Only John\'s Gospel shows us Jesus\' trial before Annas the former
high priest. Then John leaves out Jesus\' official trial before
Caiaphas the high priest. Instead, he jumps straight to Jesus\' trial
before Pontius Pilate.

This trial is very strange. Jesus is brought into the official residence
of the Roman military governor, but the Jewish authorities refuse to
enter. Though they have no problem railroading the innocent Son of
God to His death, they are careful not to defile themselves by
entering the home of a Gentile. So Pilate is forced to go back and
forth between Jesus and them.

The trial is a bitter power struggle between Pilate and the Jewish
authorities. Pilate quickly concludes Jesus is innocent and wants to
set Him free. But finding himself in a very precarious position with the
emperor, Pilate must handle this case very delicately; he especially
cannot afford to lose control and see a riot start.

On the other side, the Jewish authorities are desperate to have Jesus
executed, but they are not in the position where they can do it
themselves. Years before the Roman governor had removed the right
for the Jewish authorities to inflict capital punishment. So if they want
Jesus dead, they have to convince Pilate one way or another. So we
see the battle begin -- with Jesus\' life hanging in the balance.

The truth is that God is in control of what He is doing for each of us by
Christ\'s crucifixion, as we shall see in the coming days

THE PRAYER:

Lord Jesus, all around us people are plotting and scheming for control.
Many times we too want to find some way to control events happening
in our own lives. Remind us that You are firmly in control so we may
rest in Your hands and watch You work for our good. Amen.  

Written by Rev. Wayne Palmer

2015/3/29

BEFORE THE HIGH PRIEST

@ 08:34 AM (2 days, 15 hours ago)

Lenten Devotion

\"When He had said these things, one of the officers standing
 by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, \'Is that how you answer
the high priest?\'\" (John 18:22).

Read John 18:13-14, 19-24.

After His arrest, the guards bring Jesus to Annas. This former
Jewish high priest had been deposed by the Roman governor in
AD 15. His five sons had each taken a turn succeeding him
and now his son-in-law Caiaphas is high priest.

Annas questions Jesus about His disciples and His teaching, but
Jesus\' silence protects them. So Annas turns to Jesus\' teachings.
The high priest hopes he can trip up the Son of God and find a
basis for a charge against Him.

Jesus will have nothing to do with this. He has always been honest
with the Jewish authorities, never saying anything in private He
didn\'t say in public. He tells the high priest, \"Ask those who have
heard Me.\" That leads an officer of the high priest to strike Him with
his hand.

At this point you might expect Jesus to meekly take the abuse, but
He doesn\'t. He turns to the officer and confronts him, \"Why did you
strike Me?\" Again, we see Jesus completely in control. He stops the
proceedings to call the officer to explain why he struck Him.

Annas showed he was willing to ignore the truth and twist it against
Jesus. Is integrity and truth important to you like it was to Jesus?
Or are we willing to distort the truth if it goes to our advantage?

THE PRAYER:

Lord Jesus, You humbled Yourself to be struck by an officer when
You had only told the truth. Forgive us for setting aside Your truth
when we don\'t think it is convenient. Give us faith, courage and trust
to do what is right in Your eyes. Amen.

Written by Rev. Wayne Palmer

2015/3/28

PETER\'S DENIAL

@ 09:14 AM (3 days, 14 hours ago)
Lenten Devotion

"The servant girl at the door said to Peter, 'You also are not one
of this Man's disciples, are you? ..." (John 18:17a).

Read John 18:15-18, 25-27.

Peter has no reason to be in the high priest's courtyard. Jesus
already told the disciples what the outcome of His trial would be.
But Peter wants to see for himself, so he enters the courtyard
and waits with the guards in the darkness to learn the outcome
of the trial.

But Peter can't hide. He is recognized at the door by a servant
girl, near the fire started by the guards to warm themselves, and
finally by a relative of the soldier whose ear Peter had cut off.
With his life in peril and no way of escape, Peter's courage melts
away and he swears oaths and calls down curses on himself as
he tries to distance himself from Jesus of Nazareth.

How often are we guilty of Peter's sin? One moment we profess
our loyalty to Jesus, the next we deny Him by what we say and
do. We forget the price He paid to set us free.

The crow of the rooster brought Peter back to Jesus' words. With
shame and pain he recalled the prophecy Jesus had made, "The
rooster will not crow till you have denied Me three times." He went
out and wept bitterly.

We share Peter's weakness. We are so confident in our strength,
yet we stumble for the least reason into fear, unbelief and self-
preservation. But Jesus paid the full price for our sins of denial,
and for His sake we are free.

THE PRAYER:

Lord Jesus, with shame I admit the countless times I have denied
You. Forgive my sin and strengthen me in true faith, that rejoicing
in Your salvation, I may fearlessly tell others of Your great salvation.
Amen.

Written by Rev. Wayne Palmer

2015/3/27

JESUS\' ARREST

@ 07:27 AM (4 days, 16 hours ago)
Lenten Devotion

"Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to Him, came forward
and said to them, 'Whom do you seek?'" (John 18:4).

Read John 18:1-12.

Jesus has led His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane. Out of
the darkness we see lanterns and torches winding their way across
the Mount of Olives toward the Garden. Judas leads Roman soldiers
and Jewish officers. Jesus knows what is about to happen. But He
doesn't cower in the corner; He goes out to them and asks whom
they are seeking. They reply, "Jesus of Nazareth."

Jesus answers with three short words, "I am He," and the power of
His words knock Judas, the soldiers and the officers backward.
Firmly in control of the situation, Jesus orders the guards to let His
disciples go. The soldiers obey, and they flee away into the dark.

Not only did Jesus protect His disciples, He also made one last
attempt to reach Judas. In the dark hour to come, when Judas
would be overwhelmed with guilt, Jesus wanted him to remember
this moment. Jesus was not a helpless victim swept away by Judas'
kiss. Jesus was in complete control. He permitted Himself to be
arrested, tried, condemned and crucified. He could have stopped it
at any time. But because of His love for the Father and for each of
us, He will not end it but carry it through to its completion-and our
ultimate salvation.

Because He loves us so much when those powers of darkness
were trying their worst, so He also loves us when those powers of
darkness come after you in your life.

THE PRAYER:

Lord Jesus, thank You for stepping forward to suffer death for our
sins, even death by crucifixion. Give us courage and confidence in
the dark hours of our lives to remember that You are still completely
in control. Amen.

Written by Rev. Wayne Palmer

2015/3/26

THE PRAYER

@ 07:54 AM (5 days, 15 hours ago)
"The High Priestly Prayer"

Lenten Devotion

"When Jesus had spoken these words, He lifted up His eyes
to heaven, and said, 'Father, the hour has come; glorify Your
Son that the Son may glorify You'" (John 17:1).

Read John 17.

Jesus has finished His Last Supper and offers a special prayer
before leading His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane. We
call it the High Priestly Prayer because Jesus our great High
Priest offers prayers for Himself, His apostles, and all who
believe in Him.

Jesus first prays that God the Father would glorify Himself
through Jesus' coming death. The Roman cross was never
connected with glory; it was a symbol of shame and dishonor.
St. Paul would call it a "stumbling block to the Jews" and
"foolishness to the Gentiles" (1 Corinthians 1:22). The Jews
stumbled over the idea that God would let His own Son suffer
and die on a cross, rather than sit in glory on a throne. The
Gentiles thought it foolishness that you could receive salvation
through someone else's execution.

Jesus prays to His Father to keep His eleven disciples in His
Name. He is about to leave this world, so He asks the Father to
keep them in faith, that believing they may share the one true
Gospel, which brings salvation by God's grace through faith for
Jesus' sake.

The final part of Jesus' prayer touches us, and all who have
heard and believed the words of the apostles. May we glorify Him
by trusting in Jesus as our only Savior from our sin and death,
and tell others of His great and incomparable love.

THE PRAYER:

Lord God, as You glorified Your Son Jesus Christ through His
death and resurrection, keep us in Your Name through this true
faith, and bless us to share it with all those around us. In Jesus'
Name. Amen.

Written by Rev. Wayne Palmer

2015/3/25

END OF THE TUNNEL

@ 07:44 AM (6 days, 15 hours ago)
"The Light at the End of the Tunnel"

Lenten Devotion

(Jesus said) "... 'You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn
into joy'" (John 16:20b).

Read John 16:16-24.

The disciples' heads are spinning at everything Jesus has said
to them at His Last Supper. Now He tells them, "A little while,
and you will see Me no longer; and again a little while, and you
will see Me." They want to know what He means, but are afraid
to ask; maybe they're more afraid to hear the answer He would
give.

But it shouldn't be a mystery. For months Jesus has told them
what will happen in Jerusalem. He warned them He would be
handed over, beaten, scourged and crucified. He told them He
would die and on the third day rise again. Now all His predictions
are about to come true. They will be sorrowful, but their sorrow
will turn to joy.

The disciples aren't all that different from us. All of us would
prefer to see joy and happiness all through our earthly lives, and
none of us is too happy when sorrow, grief, weeping and
lamenting come around. We try so hard to deny those things
will happen to us, that we miss the tremendous comfort in Jesus'
promise of the resurrection.

Jesus has died and risen again. He promises to come again to
restore this fallen creation, and to change our mortal bodies so
they will be glorious, immortal and eternally perfect. That fact of
Jesus' resurrection coupled with His promise to give us new
eternal life at His return can give us a lasting joy that no one can
take away-no matter what sorrow and loss we suffer in this our
earthly life.

THE PRAYER:

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your victory over our sin, death and
hell. Thank You for the promise Your resurrection brings-eternal l
ife with You. Amen.

Written by Rev. Wayne Palmer

2015/3/23

TROUBLED HEARTS

@ 07:12 PM (8 days, 4 hours ago)
Lenten Devotion

(Jesus said) "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in
God, believe also in Me" (John 14:1).

Read John 13:36-14:7.

What a confusing, depressing night! Their Lord and Master
washes their feet like a slave; He tells them the unthinkable
that one of them will betray Him. Then Jesus tells Peter,
the boldest of the Twelve, that this very night, before the
rooster crows at sunrise, Peter will deny knowing Him. What
a confusing, depressing night! Looking around at His
disciples, Jesus knows just how troubled and shaken they
are.

He knows how we get shaken up too. He knows the
circumstances that crush us, problems that confound us,
and the pressures that weigh on us. Yet through it all He is
always at our side. Jesus tells us to turn our eyes away from
our problems and focus our attention on Him. Believe in God
the Father and believe also in Jesus. He assures us that we
will not always live in this world of hurt, pain and sorrow, but
He is preparing a safe, joyous and wonderful place for us to
live with Him forever.

We know where we are going because Jesus is the Way to
heaven. He came to this earth not to be our example to guide
us to heaven by our good living, but to earn heaven for us by
His perfect life, innocent death and glorious resurrection. He
is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Perhaps these devotions find you or someone you love
drawing near to death. In the midst of our sorrows, fears and
anxieties when we focus on Jesus His mighty word calms our
fears and stills our hearts.

THE PRAYER:

Lord Jesus, bring peace to my troubled heart and mind, and
give me the Spirit that I may believe in You always. Amen.

Written by Rev. Wayne Palmer

THE BETRAYER HE KNEW

@ 08:23 AM (8 days, 15 hours ago)
Lenten Devotion

(Jesus said) \"... \'Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me\'\"
(John 13:21b).  

Read John 13:21-30.

\"One of you will betray Me.\" Judas must be totally shocked by Jesus\'
words. One by one the disciples ask a question that floats around the
table. With rising suspense Judas watches the question work its way
around the table to him -- and he even joins his voice to theirs: \"Is it I,
Lord?\"

If Judas\' voice didn\'t give him away, what Jesus does next will make it
crystal clear. He dips the morsel of bread and hands it directly to Judas.

Have you ever stopped to think about how Jesus turned the tables on
Judas? At this moment the betrayer is at the mercy of the One he was
going to betray. Jesus holds Judas in the palm of His hand. With a word
Jesus can betray Judas to the other disciples, who are armed with a few
swords. Jesus is in complete control; He can betray Judas. Instead, our
Lord sends His betrayer on his way: \"What you are going to do, do
quickly.\" As Judas rushes out from the danger, the other disciples have
no idea what Jesus means.

Which one of us hasn\'t betrayed another -- gossiping secrets that
should never have been shared or exposing another\'s shame just to
flatter our own self-righteous pride? How often have we in effect handed
Jesus\' over to His enemies by our sinful actions or our silence?

Judas walked out into the darkness. But in this same darkness Jesus will
still reach out to him one last time when Judas leads the soldiers into the
Garden of Gethsemane to arrest Him. Jesus still reaches out to you and
me with hands that bear the mark of the nails.

THE PRAYER:

Lord Jesus, Your steadfast love is amazing to me. Keep reaching out to
bring me back from my sins. Amen.  

Written by Rev. Wayne Palmer

2015/3/22

WASHING

@ 08:26 AM (9 days, 15 hours ago)
"Washing an Unclean Disciple"

Lenten Devotion

"... (Jesus said) 'You are clean, but not every one of you.'
..." (John 13:10b).

Read John 13:1-20.  

Jesus has preached His last message to the crowds. Now
He spends one final night before His suffering and death with
His disciples in the upper room, preparing them for what is
about to happen.

In the middle of supper Jesus does something totally
unexpected. Taking off His outer garments He goes around the
table washing the disciples' feet one by one, the way the
lowliest slave in the household would. It is a demonstration of
His absolute humility, love and care -- a demonstration He will
repeat for the whole world the next day on the cross.

For Peter it is too much. He objects and receives a firm
correction from Jesus: "If I do not wash you, you have no share
with Me." Then Peter goes to the other extreme asking Jesus to
wash all of him. Jesus points out that the one who has had a
bath does not need to bathe again, only to wash the part of him
that is unclean.

Jesus is pointing to Judas, the one who has abandoned his Lord
and become unclean and is even now awaiting the chance to
betray Him. The other eleven are forgiven, cleansed of their sins
because they still walk in the light by faith; Judas has rejected
that light and walks in darkness. Very gently Jesus reaches out
to His lost disciple in an unforgettable demonstration of His love,
 forgiveness and acceptance. It's a demonstration He wants Judas
to remember when he is gripped by guilt and remorse for what he
is about to do.

THE PRAYER:

Lord Jesus, forgive my wandering heart. Help me to see Your great
love for me and remember what You have done to save me. Amen.  

Written by Rev. Wayne Palmer