Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Greatest Exchange in History

When He had received the drink, Jesus said,
“It is finished.” With that, He bowed His head
and gave up his spirit. 
                                   John 19:30 NIV                                                

      Most of us have made an exchange of merchandise at a local department store. When we return the item to be exchanged, we receive a receipt marked exchange or refund. Exchanges happen every day. But the greatest exchange in history happened over two thousand years ago.

     Centuries before Christ walked the earth, the prophet Isaiah wrote of the coming Messiah. He told of the pain and sufferings of Christ as he would be led like “a lamb to the slaughter”. (Isaiah 53:7) In 53:11, Isaiah revealed that “after the suffering of His (Messiah’s) soul, He will justify many”. And the apostle Paul explained it in Ephesians 4:22-24; “Their life of sin is stripped away, and they are clothed with Christ’s goodness.”

     The Bible teaches that the exchange took place on the cross of Calvary as Christ gave up His spirit. The Greek word used for gave up in John 19:30 means to forgive, pardon, remit or cancel. His was a willing exchange.

     Christ left everything in heaven—His Father, the angels bowing down, His royal diadem, His throne. He left it all, as He stepped into a body of flesh, zipped it up over His glory and became as one of us. He exchanged His glory for my sin. “It is finished”—His final proclamation from the cross.

      My acceptance of that exchange happened the moment that I received Christ as my Savior. The old life of sin and shame was forgiven, pardoned, and cancelled for a new life in Christ. He remitted, or paid the price, for what I owed.  

     So, the next time you go to a department store to exchange some merchandise, remember the exchange made on the cross of Calvary. Have you already accepted what Christ has done for you? If the answer is yes, praise God today for his unspeakable gift. If the answer is no, now would be the perfect time for you to exchange a life of sin for the righteousness of Christ and become part of the greatest exchange in history.

©Joyce Powell

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What Did Mary Know

They (disciples) brought the donkey and the colt,
placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them.
A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road,
while others cut branches from the trees and spread
them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of
him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest!”
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was
stirred and asked, “Who is this?” The crowds answered,
“This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
                                           Matthew 21:7-11 NIV 

      Thirty-three years earlier a baby boy came from heaven to walk upon earth and proclaim that His Father sent Him to bring salvation to a sin-sick world. His mother, Mary, knew God had entrusted her with heaven’s most precious gift—God’s only Son.

     As Jesus began to walk and talk and work in His earthly father’s carpenter shop, surely Mary wondered how it would all end. Perhaps her heart filled with joy as the crowd shouted hosanna. If so, her joy would soon turn to sorrow. It is likely that she had heard of Zechariah’s prophecy that Zion’s King would come “gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey”. (Zechariah 9:9) It is also likely that she knew the prophecy of Isaiah 53—He is the Lamb…bearing the sins of the world.

     During the week approaching His crucifixion, Jesus told many parables, discussed taxes and revealed God’s greatest commandments—love God and love your neighbor. He warned against being religious, and He grieved over Jerusalem. He continued to teach and advise His followers to be watchful. He spoke of His return—in all His glory with the angels of heaven by His side.

     As His week of preparation continued, He was anointed with oil from an alabaster box, betrayed by a disciple, shared His last Passover Supper with His closest confidants and arrested as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Lest we forget, He knew what He faced.

     Mary’s heart must have ached as the news of her son’s arrest spread throughout Jerusalem. I wonder how much her human mind could comprehend in the weeks that followed. Did she regret being chosen of God to bear the bearer of good news? Did her mind flash back to the times of runny noses and dirty faces and laughter around the dinner table? Did she think about the actuality that she had cradled God in her arms?

     Thirty-three years after the birth of her baby boy Mary came face to face with the reality of His coming—born to die. Today, you and I must face that same reality and determine whether we reject or accept the salvation of the Lord. The world is still asking, “Who is this Jesus?” Mary knew.  He is heaven’s most precious gift—God’s only Son.

© Joyce Powell

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Heavens Declare God's Glory

After last night's magnificent display of God's glory, no words are needed.

Be blessed today as you remember God's redemption plan for your life and mine.

Monday, April 14, 2014

What Could Happen

(7) That night God appeared to Solomon and
said to him: “Ask. What should I give you?”
(10) Now grant me wisdom and knowledge
so that I may lead these people, for who can
judge this great people of Yours?”
                       2 Chronicles 1:7, 10  HCSB 

     Over the decades movies have been produced on the premise of granting wishes, requests and desires. Make a “deal with the devil” movies have enriched the bank accounts of many Hollywood producers, directors and actors. As viewers, we enjoy sitting on the edge of our seat as we watch the twists and turns in the life of the man or woman who dares to think he/she might come out on top when bargaining with the master deceiver.

     But when God gave Solomon the opportunity to ask for anything, in wisdom he ask for wisdom and knowledge—not for himself but in order to lead his people. That request revealed the deepest desires of Solomon’s heart. Solomon’s request for wisdom and knowledge pleased God and He not only granted Solomon’s request but gave additional blessings of wealth, riches and honor.

      These verses cause me to think about how I might better affect my world if I pursue Godly wisdom and knowledge. How would that change my teaching and my relationship with others? What would happen if every pastor across our world sincerely prayed that request? What would happen in our communities if every Sunday School teacher, deacon or church leader prayed that prayer? What would happen if Christian parents prayed that prayer? The list could go on and on.

     In Proverbs 3:15, Solomon wrote: “Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare to her.” In James 1:5 we are told, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (NIV)

     Do you need wisdom and knowledge? Do not be afraid to pray and ask God. After all, what could happen?
©JP 2014


Friday, April 11, 2014

When You Don't Feel Like Praying-Pray

In the same way, the Spirit helps us
in our weakness. We do not know what
we ought to pray for, but the Spirit
himself intercedes for us with groans
that words cannot express.
                            Romans 8:26 NIV

     There are times and circumstances that come into our lives that so shatter us emotionally that we cannot seem to focus or even pray. Yet, God calls us to pray—especially then. When we are weak, we are helped by the Spirit of the Living God. When we don’t know what to pray, when all we can do is cry, when we lay on the floor sobbing, God’s Word tells us that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us “with groans that words cannot express.”

     On those days when I don’t feel like praying, I sing the words of this song written by Kyla Rowland. Over the years these words have ministered much encouragement to me. I hope you are encouraged to pray today. 


Verse 1
Weary bodies troubled minds they will defeat you every time
Circumstances all around may look dim
But even if you have to crawl, Jesus wants to hear it all
You will be alright if you can get to Him 
When you don’t feel like praying, pray
When you think you just can’t get through, pray
Precious to the Father’s ear are three words, Lord I'm here
When you don’t feel like praying, pray 
Verse 2
There’s an altar just for you and it only takes the two
Just one humble heart and one Holy Lamb
Satan says you cannot pray then God removes him from your way
Weak and broken you can cry Lord, here I am 

     If today is one of those days, if you don’t feel like praying—pray! You will be blessed.
©Joyce Powell

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Reminder to Hope

This was written months ago when we first learned my sister's cancer had returned. Today I have returned home from her funeral. I find that now more than ever my hope is in my God, and I praise Him for His goodness, mercy, grace and love. Though my heart is heavy with grief, it is filled with the deepest love and praise for my Heavenly Father who has wrapped His arms around me and is walking with me through this most difficult time.
 Praise for my God and Father be to the Lord, to God our Savior,
who daily bears our burdens.
                                     Psalm 68:19  

     I have often found our local Christian bookstore a place of refuge—quiet calm to which I can retreat. Friday was no different. After a week of spiritual assault from satan over the diagnosis of reoccurring cancer in my baby sister’s life, I declared myself ready to wage war on the enemy. So, after time spent in communion with my Heavenly Father, I journeyed to town and the bookstore.

     As I browsed the stacks, Jennifer approached and asked if I had found everything I needed. After explaining my needs, she directed me to an end stack of devotional books and together we discovered 50 Days of Hope—Daily Inspiration for Your Journey through Cancer by Lynn Eib. Perfect! I knew immediately that I had to mail the book to my sister.

     Standing at the check-out counter, Jennifer and I continued to talk. I explained to Jennifer that I know I have hope, but I just need something to remind me. Suddenly, she put her finger to her lips and whispered, “Listen!” We stood silent as we heard these words coming from the soothing voice of Shannon Wexelberg:

        Here in the desert, so thirsty and parched
        I’ll remind my soul
        Put your hope in God
        Put your hope in God your Savior
        Put your trust in the name of the Lord
        Yet, I will praise
        Yet, I will praise His name     

     My tears spilled as Jennifer spoke, “This is a God-ordained encounter!” I knew it was true. God is good. He cares when I hurt. He wraps His arms around me at just the right moment to bring hope. When I walk through the desert thirsty and parched, He walks with me. Nothing surprises God! Even the darkness is as light to Him—even the valley of the shadow of death.

     So I left the bookstore with 50 Days of Hope for my sister and the reminder that the tough days ahead of us are subservient to the Power behind us. God remains able to bring total healing. I hope for that. If, in His sovereign will, He chooses a different path—“Yet I will praise, yet I will praise His Name!”

     You too may be facing life’s greatest dilemma. Whether it is with a loved one or a battle of your own, put your hope in God! He will bear your burden, day by day, hour by hour, and moment by moment. He will send you reminders to put your hope in God.

©JP 2013-repost

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Delight Yourself in the LORD

Delight yourself in the LORD, and He
will give you the desires of your heart.
                          Psalm 37:4  ESV 

     To delight myself, to have contentment, happiness or gratification in the LORD will result in my receiving the desires of my heart! Some may see that statement as a formula for possessions, wealth, power or fame, but they would be wrong.

     Over the years I have come to understand that contentment, happiness and gratification in the LORD alone changes my heart’s desires. My want list has changed from the temporal to the eternal—from the physical to the spiritual—from earthbound to heaven sent.

     The true desires of my heart have changed from what “I” want to what my Heavenly Father wants for me. I have found that the desires of my heart have changed from wanting more “things” to wanting more of Him—to truly knowing God. I am no longer satisfied to know about the historical mysteries of God, but my desire is to know Him intimately; friend to friend, father to child, face to face.

     The more I know Him, the more I love Him. The more I love Him, the more I desire to understand what He wants to work in my life. The more I allow Him to work His will in me, the more content, happy and gratified I become and the more my heart’s desire becomes to be like Him.

     If you are searching for fulfillment, contentment and gratification in your life, let me recommend that you recommit to delight yourself in the LORD. Only there will you find the true riches of your heart’s desire.

© Joyce Powell