APR 16: ON OUR BEHALF

The Lord Jesus Christ . . . gave himself for our sins to rescue us. Galatians 1:3-4

READ HEBREWS 10:5-18

W. T. Stead, an innovative English journalist at the turn of the 20th century, was known for writing about controversial social issues. Two of the articles he published addressed the danger of ships operating with an insufficient ratio of lifeboats to passengers. Ironically, Stead was aboard the Titanic when it struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic on April 15, 1912. According to one report, after helping women and children into lifeboats, Stead sacrificed his own life by giving up his life vest and a place in the lifeboats so others could be rescued.

There is something very stirring about self-sacrifice. No greater example of that can be found than in Christ Himself. The writer of Hebrews says, “This Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God . . . . For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:12,14). In his letter to the Galatians, Paul opened with words describing this great sacrifice: “The Lord Jesus Christ . . . gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age” (Galatians 1:3-4).

Jesus’ offering of Himself on our behalf is the measure of His love for us. That willing sacrifice continues to rescue men and women and offer assurance of eternity with Him. 

REFLECT & PRAY 

God of love and grace, words can never capture the wonder of the sacrifice that Christ offered on our behalf. May our love respond to You with faith and worship—for Your Son who was slain is worthy of our praise. 

Jesus laid down His life to show His love for us.

15 APR: A DAY THE LORD MADE

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. _ Psalm 118:24

READ PSALM 118:19-29

In 1940, Dr. Virginia Connally, age 27, braved opposition and criticism to become the first female physician in Abilene, Texas. A few months before her 100th birthday in 2012, the Texas Medical Association presented her with its Distinguished Service Award, Texas’ highest physician honor. Between those two landmark events, Dr. Connally has enthusiastically embraced a passion for spreading the gospel around the world through her many medical mission trips while living a life of service to God and to others—one day at a time.

Dr. Connally’s pastor, Phil Christopher, said, “Every day for her is a gift.” He recalled a letter in which she wrote, “Every tour, trip, effort, I wonder if this will be my last and ultimate? Only God knows. And this is enough.”

The psalmist wrote, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). So often we focus on the disappointments of yesterday or the uncertainties of tomorrow and miss God’s matchless gift to us: Today!

Dr. Connally said of her journey with Christ, “As you live a life of faith, you’re not looking for the results. I was just doing the things that God planted in my life and heart.”

God made today. Let’s celebrate it and make the most of every opportunity to serve others in His name. 

REFLECT & PRAY 

Lord, thank You for today. May I embrace it as Your gift, celebrate Your faithfulness, and live this day fully for You.

Welcome each day as a gift from God.

14 APR: HEART CHECK

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34

READ LUKE 12:22-34

When commuting into Chicago on the train, Joe always followed the “unwritten codes of conduct”—such as, no conversations with people sitting next to you if you don’t know them. That was tough on a guy like Joe. He loves talking to new people! Although he kept the code of silence, he realized that one can still learn something about people based on the section of the newspaper they read. So he would watch to see what they turned to first: The business section? Sports? Politics? Current events? Their choices revealed their interests.

Our choices are always revealing. Of course, God doesn’t need to wait to see our choices in order for Him to know what’s in our hearts. But the things that occupy our time and attention are telling. As Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34). Regardless of what we want Him to think of us, the true condition of our heart becomes clear based on how we use our time, our money, and our talents. When we invest these resources in the things He cares about, then it reveals that our hearts are in tune with His.

God’s heart is with the needs of people and the advancement of His kingdom. What do your choices tell Him and others about where your heart is? 

REFLECT & PRAY 

Lord, I want my heart to be in tune with Yours. Forgive me for giving it to things of far less value, and teach me the joy of investing my time in opportunities to serve You. Thank You.

Where is your treasure?

13 APR: FLY TRAP

Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it. Genesis 4:7

READ GENESIS 4:1-8

A Venus flytrap can digest an insect in about 10 days. The process begins when an unsuspecting bug smells nectar on the leaves that form the trap. When the insect investigates, it crawls into the jaws of the plant. The leaves clamp shut within half a second and digestive juices dissolve the bug.

This meat-eating plant reminds me of the way sin can devour us if we are lured into it. Sin is hungry for us. Genesis 4:7 says, “If you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you.” God spoke these words to Cain just before he killed his brother Abel.

Sin may try to entice us by tempting us with a new experience, convincing us that living right doesn’t matter, or appealing to our physical senses. However, there is a way for us to rule over sin instead of letting it consume our lives. The Bible says, “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). When we face temptation, we don’t face it alone. We have supernatural assistance. Relying on God’s Spirit supplies the power to live for Him and others. 

REFLECT & PRAY 

Dear God, at times I let down my guard and indulge in sin. Please help me to listen to Your warnings and obey Your Word. Protect me from my own impulses and conform me to Your image. Thank You for Your work in me.

We fall into temptation when we don’t flee from it.

12 APR: WORK TO LIVE

“For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” Ecclesiastes 4:8

READ ECCLESIASTES 4:4-16

Henry worked 70 hours a week. He loved his job and brought home a sizeable paycheck to provide good things for his family. He always had plans to slow down but he never did. One evening he came home with great news—he had been promoted to the highest position in his company. But no one was home. Over the years, his children had grown up and moved out, his wife had found a career of her own, and now the house was empty. There was no one to share the good news with.

Solomon talked about the need to keep a balance in life with our work. He wrote, “Fools fold their hands and ruin themselves(Ecclesiastes. 4:5). We don’t want to go to the extreme of being lazy, but neither do we want to fall into the trap of being a workaholic. “Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind” (verse 6). In other words, it is better to have less and enjoy it more. Sacrificing relationships at the altar of success is unwise. Achievement is fleeting, while relationships are what make our life meaningful, rewarding, and enjoyable (verses 7-12).

We can learn to work to live and not live to work by choosing to apportion our time wisely. The Lord can give us this wisdom as we seek Him and trust Him to be our Provider. 

REFLECT & PRAY 

Lord, show me if my priorities are skewed and where I need to make changes. Thank You for the gift of family and friends.

To spend time wisely, invest it in eternity.

11 APR: OUR BEST FRIEND

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God John 1:12

READ HEBREWS 10:19–23

When Banks was twelve years old his family moved to a town in the desert. After gym classes in the hot air at his new school,  students rushed for the drinking fountain. Being skinny and young for his grade, he sometimes got pushed out of the way while waiting in line. One day his friend Jose, who was big and strong for his age, saw this happening. He stepped in and stuck out a strong arm to clear Banks' way. “Hey!” he exclaimed, “You let Banks get a drink first!” Banks never had trouble at the drinking fountain again.

Jesus understood what it was like to face the ultimate unkindness of others. The Bible tells us, “He was despised and rejected by mankind” (Isaiah 53:3). But Jesus was not just a victim, He also became our advocate. By giving His life, Jesus opened a “new and living way” for us to enter into a relationship with God (Hebrews 10:20). He did for us what we could never do for ourselves, offering us the free gift of salvation when we repent of our sins and trust in Him.

Jesus is the best friend we could ever have. He said, “Whoever comes to me I will never drive away” (John 6:37). Others may hold us at arm’s length or even push us away, but God has opened His arms to us through the cross. How strong is our Savior! 

REFLECT & PRAY 

Love’s redeeming work is done, fought the fight, the battle won. Death in vain forbids him rise; Christ has opened paradise. Charles Wesley 

God’s free gift to us cost Him dearly.

10 APR: HEAVEN'S DELIGHTS

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33

READ 2 CORINTHIANS 4:8-18

David like to watch birds at play, so he built a small sanctuary in his backyard to attract them. For several months he enjoyed the sight of his feathered friends feeding and flitting about—until a Cooper’s Hawk made his bird refuge his private hunting reserve.

Such is life: Just about the time we settle down to take our ease, something or someone comes along to unsettle our nests. Why, we ask, must so much of life be a vale of tears?

I’ve heard many answers to that old question, but lately I’m satisfied with just one: “All the discipline of the world is to make [us] children, that God may be revealed to [us]” (George MacDonald, Life Essential). When we become like children, we begin trusting, resting solely in the love of our Father in heaven, seeking to know Him and to be like Him.

Cares and sorrow may follow us all the days of our lives, but “we do not lose heart. . . . For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

Can we not rejoice, then, with such an end in view? 

REFLECT & PRAY 

Lord, we do rejoice even in our struggles because we are rejoicing in who You are and Your good purposes for us. You are powerful, loving, in control, and eternal. We trust You and love You.

Heaven’s delights will far outweigh earth’s difficulties.

9 APR: CONVERSION

We will be with the Lord forever. 1 Thessalonians 4:17

READ JOHN 11:17-27

People post obituary notices on billboards and concrete block walls in Nigeria regularly. Headlines such as Gone Too Soon, Celebration of Life, and What a Shock! announce the passing away of loved ones and the approaching funerals. One I read—In Transition—points to life beyond the grave.

If a person dies the close relative or friend  sorrow as Mary and Martha did for their brother Lazarus (John 11:17-27). They miss the departed so much that their hearts break and they weep, as Jesus wept at the passing of His friend (verse 35).

Yet, it was at this sorrowful moment Jesus made a delightful statement on life after death: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die” (verse 25).

On the basis of this they give departed believers only a temporary farewell. For they “will be with the Lord forever,” Paul emphasizes (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Of course, farewells are painful, but they can rest assured that they are in the Lord’s safe hands.

In Transition suggests that we are only changing from one situation to another. Though life on earth ends for us, we will continue to live forever and better in the next life where Jesus is. “Therefore encourage one another with these words” (verse 18). 

REFLECT & PRAY 

It is because of You, Jesus, that we have hope and are sure of a forever life. We’re grateful.

Because of Jesus, we can live forever.