Power & Prayer

Jesus and his students returned to the town of Capernaum (56). On the next Sabbath Jesus went to the synagogue and began to teach. People who heard him were amazed at the way he taught. He didn’t just give them information about God’s truth, like the teachers of the law.  Instead, Jesus taught God’s truth itself, with power & authority.

Just then a man, obviously tormented by an evil spirit, came into the synagogue & screamed, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Are you here to destroy us? I know who you are. You are God’s holy messenger!”

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Jesus commanded the evil spirit, “Be quiet, and come out of that man.” The evil spirit shook the poor man very hard, gave a loud scream, and then came out of him!

The people who saw this were all amazed. They started saying to one another, “Is this some kind of new teaching? This man has authority to give orders to the evil spirits, and they obey him!” And so the news about what Jesus had done began spreading quickly through the entire region of Galilee.

After Jesus and his students left the synagogue, they went to Peter’s home. Peter’s mother- in- law was sick in bed with a fever. As soon as Jesus arrived, he was told about her; he went to her, took her by the hand, and helped her up.

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The fever left her, and she was immediately able to resume her household duties!

That evening, many people were brought to Jesus — some who were sick & others who were suffering from evil spirits. Many other people just came to see what would happen. Jesus healed many of those who were sick with various diseases, and he expelled evil spirits from many people. These evil spirits knew who he was, but he would not permit them to say anything. (He did all this as the prophet Isaiah had said, “He himself took our sickness and carried away our diseases.”)

Very early the next morning, long before daylight, Jesus got up and left the house. He went out of town to a lonely place, where he prayed.

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Later, Peter and the others went out searching for Jesus. When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.” But Jesus answered, “I must preach the good news about God’s kingdom in other towns, too, because that is what God has sent me to do.”

So they traveled all over the region of Galilee; Jesus preached in the synagogues and often expelled evil spirits from people who were suffering. The news about Jesus spread through the whole country of Syria. Many more people were brought to him for healing — people who were sick with all kinds of diseases & disorders, people with evil spirits, and people suffering from epilepsy & paralysis. Jesus healed them all!

As a result, large crowds began following him; people came from Galilee, from the region of the Ten Towns, from Jerusalem, from all of Judea, and from the land on the other side of the Jordan River.

Healing God, please help me to love finding health & wholeness in You.

(56) Matthew 4:23-25 & 8:14-17, Mark 1:21-39, Luke 4:31-44

Harvest Time!

When Jesus had confronted her with her sin, the Samaritan woman asked: “Are you a prophet?”(52).  Jesus didn’t answer immediately, so she went right on, “Then why do Samaritans worship God on this mountain, while you Jews worship God in Jerusalem?”

Jesus said to her, “Believe me, the time has passed for worshiping God on this mountain or in Jerusalem. Samaritans don’t really know God; Jews know something about God, who has promised their salvation.

“But now it’s time for all people to worship God truly, by the power of God’s Spirit. God is Spirit, and only by the power of his Spirit can people truly worship him.”

Then the woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will explain all these things to us.” Jesus surprised her by answering, “I am the promised Messiah!”

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At that moment Jesus’ students returned from town. They were very surprised to find him talking with the woman, but none of them dared to interrupt.

The woman left her water jar, went back to the town, and told the people: “Come and see the man who was able to tell me everything I’ve ever done. Could he be the promised Messiah?” So, many people left the town and started toward the well to see Jesus.

In the meantime his students said to Jesus, “Teacher, have something to eat.” But Jesus answered, “I have food to eat that you don’t know about.” His students wondered if somebody had brought him some food while they had been in town.

Then Jesus explained: “My food is to obey the will of God and to finish the work he gave me to do. You know the saying: ‘Four more months and then the harvest.’ But take a good look at the fields; the crops are ripe & ready for harvesting now!

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“Those who gather in the harvest will be rewarded with new life that will continue in heaven forever, even after physical death. People who plant & people who harvest will share new life together! I want you to harvest from a field you didn’t plant; others planted, and now you can finish their work.”

Many of the Samaritans from town were excited to know Jesus because the woman from the well had said, “He told me everything I’ve ever done.” When the Samaritans came to Jesus at the well, they begged him to stay with them, and he did stay there two more days.

After hearing the teachings of Jesus, some of them told the woman, “Now we believe in Jesus, too, not because of what you said, but because we have heard him speak God’s truth directly to us.

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“Now we know that Jesus really has come to save the world!”

Calling God, please help me to love being called to serve in Your harvest.

(52) John 4:19-42

Friend Of The Bridegroom

Jesus and his students went out to rural Judea, where he baptized people (50). John the Baptizer was ministering in a nearby place with plenty of water, and people also came to him to be baptized. (This was before John had been put in prison.)

Some of John’s students told him, “Teacher, you remember the man who was with you over on the east side of the Jordan River?  Well, he has begun baptizing as part of his ministry, and now everyone is going to him!”

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John answered, “No one can truly minister in God’s name unless God allows it. Remember I told you that I am not Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him.'”

“Perhaps you can understand my relationship with Jesus this way. Weddings are all about the bridegroom. The bride belongs to her bridegroom. The best man is there to help the bridegroom, and he’s glad when he hears the bridegroom’s voice.

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“In the same way, when I hear the voice of Jesus, my happiness is complete. Jesus must become more important and I must become less important.”

John the Baptizer continued teaching his students, echoing the words of Jesus himself: “The one who comes from above (Jesus) is greater than all.  The one who is from the earth (me) belongs to the earth and speaks of earthly things. But the one who comes from heaven is above all.

“Jesus tells us what he has seen & heard in heaven, yet people are unwilling to accept his teaching.  But those who do accept his teaching understand that it is God’s truth. As Jesus speaks God’s truth, God gives to Jesus the fullness of the Spirit of God.

“God the father loves Jesus and has given him authority over everything.

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“Everyone who believes in Jesus can have new life that will continue in heaven forever, even after physical death.  People who don’t believe in Jesus disobey God.  They will be judged by God for their unbelief.”

Loving God, please help me to love being a friend of Jesus.

(50) John 3:22-36

Spring Cleaning

In the spring, Jesus went from Galilee to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival (48). There in Jerusalem, in the great temple itself, Jesus found merchants selling cattle, sheep & pigeons — which Jewish law required the worshipers to offer as sacrifices to God as part of the Passover Festival.  In order to pay for these animals, the worshipers had to use special “temple money.”  Other merchants were there in the temple, selling this “temple money” to the worshipers at unfair exchange rates.

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So Jesus made a whip from cords and drove all the animals out of the temple!  Then he ordered the men who sold the pigeons to take them out.    Finally, Jesus overturned the money exchange tables, scattering all their coins & crying out: “Stop making my father’s house a marketplace!”

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(As his students thought about this later, they remembered this verse from the inspired Jewish scriptures: “My devotion to your house, O God, burns in me like a fire.”)

The Jewish religious leaders immediately confronted Jesus with this question: “What miracle can you perform to show us that you have the right to clear out the temple like this?” Jesus said, “Tear down this temple, and I will build it again in 3 days.” “How can you possibly rebuild the temple in 3 days?” they asked him. “It took 46 years to rebuild it the last time it was destroyed!”

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But the temple Jesus spoke of was his body. And later, when he rose from death, his friends remembered that he had made this comment to the Jewish religious leaders at the time of Passover.

They realized then that Jesus had known that he would be executed, and that he would rise from death!  This gave them stronger trust in everything Jesus had taught them, and in everything the inspired scriptures had prophesied about Jesus.

Holy God, please help me to love honoring You in the temple of my heart.

(48) John 2:13-22

Wedding Miracle

Just two days later there was a wedding in the town of Cana in Galilee (47). Mary, the mother of Jesus, was there.  Jesus and his students had also been invited to the wedding.

During the wedding feast, the wine ran out.  So Mary told Jesus, “They are out of wine.”

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“Mother, is this my concern?” Jesus replied. As Mary stepped away, she said to the household servants: “Do exactly as Jesus tells you.”

There were six stone water jars in the house for Jewish ritual washing.  Each jar was large enough to hold between twenty & thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill these jars with water.”

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So they filled them, and then Jesus told them, “Now take a cup of the water to the man in charge of the feast.” So they took him the water, and he tasted it & found that it had become really good wine!

But he couldn’t understand where the wine had come from.  (However, the servants, who had filled the jars & poured out a cup as Jesus had instructed, knew that Jesus was responsible for changing the water to wine.)

The man in charge of the feast called the bridegroom and said, “People usually serve the best wine first, and after the guests have had plenty to drink, they serve the plain wine. But you are to be commended because you have kept the best wine until now!”

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When Jesus did this first miracle in Cana, his students caught their first glimpse of his power & glory.

Later, Jesus and his mother & other relatives & his students went to the lakeside city of Capernaum and stayed there a few days.

God of miracles, please help me to love the miracles You work in the hearts of Your people.

(47) John 2:1-12

. . . But Now I See!

On the road to Damascus, a light from heaven suddenly shone around Saul (252).  He fell to the ground, and heard a brilliant voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”  Saul responded, “Who are you?”  The voice said, “I am Jesus.  Why are you resisting me?”

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Saul trembled with astonishment and, in that instant, he surrendered control of his life saying, “Master, what do you want me to do?”  Then Jesus said to him, “Get up & go into Damascus, and you will be told what you must do.”

The men who were travelling with Saul stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. When Saul got up & opened his eyes, he couldn’t see at all!  So his companions led him by the hand into Damascus. Saul waited there for 3 days – without any sight & without taking any food or water.

There was in Damascus another man named Ananias who was a student of Jesus.  In a vision, God said to him, “Get up & go to the street called ‘Straight.’  Inquire at the house of Judas for Saul of Tarsus; you will find him praying. In a vision he has seen you laying your hands on him to restore his sight.”

Ananias objected, “Master, I have heard how this man has persecuted believers in Jerusalem. And now he has authority to persecute believers here in Damascus as well.”  But God answered Ananias, “I have chosen Saul to testify of me before Gentiles, Jews & kings. Now I will show him how much he must suffer in doing what I have chosen him to do.”

So Ananias found Saul & laid his hands on him & said, “Jesus –who appeared to you on the road to Damascus –has sent me, so you may have your sight restored & be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

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Immediately, as though scales were falling from his eyes, Saul was able to see!   And immediately, Saul got up & was baptized.  When he had eaten some food, he was strengthened.  Saul then spent a number of days with the students of Jesus at Damascus.

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(252) Acts 9:3-19

Walk To Emmaus

The men who had been guarding Jesus’ tomb reported the disappearance of Jesus’ body (219). They were bribed by the Jewish religious leaders to say that Jesus’ body had been stolen by some of his students.

Later that same day, two of Jesus’ students were walking to the village of Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem.

As they talked of all the things that had happened in recent days, Jesus drew near and walked along with them, but they didn’t recognize him. When Jesus greeted them & asked what they were discussing, they stopped & stood still, with sad faces. One of them, named Cleopas, asked Jesus, “Are you the only person in Jerusalem who doesn’t know about the things that have been happening there these last few days?” “What things?” Jesus asked.

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“The things that happened to Jesus of Nazareth,” they both answered.  “This man was a prophet; he was powerful in everything he said & did. Our chief priests and rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and he was crucified. And we had hoped that he would be the one who was going to set Israel free from the Roman occupation.

“Besides all that, this is now the third day since his execution. Some of the women of our group went to his tomb at dawn, but they couldn’t find his body. One came back saying she had seen Jesus, alive! Then Peter & John went to the tomb and found it empty, exactly as the woman had said!  But they didn’t see Jesus . . .”

Then Jesus said to them, “How slow you are to believe everything the prophets said! Wasn’t it necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things before entering into glory?” Jesus went on to explain to them what was written about him in all the inspired scriptures, beginning with the books of Moses and the writings of all the prophets.

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As they came near to Emmaus, Jesus seemed intent on going farther, but the two men said, “Stay with us; the day is almost over & it’s getting dark.” So Jesus went in to stay with them.

As they sat down to eat, Jesus took the bread & asked the blessing; then he broke the bread & gave it to them.

Suddenly their eyes were opened & they recognized him!  But then Jesus left them . . .

 

(219) Matthew 28:11-15, Mark 16:12, Luke 24:13-31