Devotions

Author Archives: Pastor Noble Baird

Jesus Betrayed • Devotion #5: Betrayed, Arrested, and Forsaken

I am not sure about you, but when I read the words “betrayed, arrested, and forsaken,” it is hard to believe that they can be used in the same sentence with Jesus. Yet, as we open God’s Word and grow closer to Him, we know that without those three words we could never be called righteous.

In Luke 22:47-53, Luke gives the account of what happened in the Garden of Gethsemane the night that Jesus was betrayed, “While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus said to him, ‘Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?’ And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, ‘Lord, shall we strike with the sword?’ And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, ‘No more of this!’ And he touched his ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, ‘Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.’”

Although it is truly difficult to read this passage, it never ceases to amaze me. In a true hour of darkness, Jesus knows the task at hand. This is the penultimate chapter in His mission before the cross. Yet, as He is betrayed by a friend and one whom He had literally done life with, Jesus stops an event from what could have been utter chaos. He not only willingly goes with the Pharisees and guards, but He stops and heals the man whose ear was just cut by one of His disciples.

Jesus was betrayed, arrested, and forsaken. Yes, this statement is sadly true. However, because of the truth of this statement, we are justified by the blood of Christ, freed from the chains of Hell, and loved eternally by our Heavenly Father. My hope is that I will never take Jesus’ sacrifice for granted and I hope that you too will rejoice and hold onto this truth.

Reach • Devotional #1: “The Gospel in Word”

The Thessalonians’ Faith and Example

“We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.” 1 Thessalonians 1:2-5

Words are powerful. They have the ability to change your life in a matter of seconds:

  • “Will you marry me?”
  • “We’re pregnant!”
  • “I am sorry, there was nothing more we could do.”
  • “You are no longer the right fit for this job.”

Then there are some words that can simply change your mood for the day:

  • “I love you.”
  • “How can I help?”
  • “Welcome, we’ve missed you!”
  • “May the Force be with you.” (My personal favorite.)

No matter what, with each of those words and phrases, I am sure some emotion was stirred up.

In 1 Thessalonians chapter 1, Paul has opened his letter to the church in Thessalonica with thanksgiving. He is thanking the Lord for what He is doing in the church and how the Spirit has been moving and working in their lives. He then takes the time to mention the Gospel, which is the foundation of their faith. In verse 5, Paul specifically writes, “Because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.”

I love how Paul takes the time to remind the church of the “word” of the Gospel. It was how the Gospel truly came and was verbally shared with them of all that Christ had done for their sake. It was not something that they just felt or experienced, but it was verbal words of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What is that Gospel? I love how Paul writes to the church in Corinth in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you – unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” That is the Gospel in word – That Jesus died for our sins, was buried, rose again from the grave, and ultimately conquered death, Hell, and the grave!

Words are powerful. No matter what may be said or shared with you, there is no doubt that the most powerful words we have ever heard or shared are the words of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I hope that in all we do and in the opportunities we are given, that we always keep these words fresh and ready so that we can share the love and life-changing sacrifice of Christ!

Reviled • Devotion #5: Prophets, too

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12

Rejoice and be glad when others revile, persecute, and speak evil of you. Wow! If that is not completely counter-culture, I do not know what is. Yet, is that not who Jesus was? He often lived the complete opposite of everything that this world values and stands for. We live in a broken, sinful world. Paul reminds us in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” However, as followers of Jesus Christ who have experienced the life change that comes through knowing Him, we know that we no longer have to live in our sin, nor are we held back by the chains of death.

When Jesus shares this passage here on the mount, He takes the opportunity to teach a real, and sometimes hard truth about what this new life through Him looks like – a life that has been justified through the blood of Christ and the new life we enter into. You see, if we truly enter into a relationship with Christ, our life is going to change. It will be a life change that will radically change your life for the better. However, just as true with many changes in life, there will be growing pains and learning curves. One of these learning curves is persecution. The fact is, that once we take on the identity of Jesus, this broken and sinful world will not accept us in the same way it did before. Why? It is because we are no longer conforming to the things of this world as Paul writes in Romans 12:2, but we are being transformed into the likeness of Christ.

Therefore, this is why Jesus tells us that we are to rejoice and be glad when we are reviled, persecuted, and people speak evil against us for His sake. We know that the reason this will happen is that we are truly following the heartbeat of Christ and becoming more and more like Him as we daily grow closer to Him. Jesus adds one final note saying how this persecution and hate we as followers of Christ receive is nothing new. In Matthew 5:12 Jesus says, “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” I truly believe Jesus said this as an encouragement to us. First, it is to know that we are not alone. Second, it is so that we will look to the Scriptures for encouragement and see that our brothers and sisters before us who were counter-culture and lived a life pleasing to the Lord, experienced the same persecution and hate that we experience today over two thousand years later.

Mercy • Devotion #3: Forgiveness

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” Matthew 5:7

One of my favorite parables throughout the four Gospels is the parable of the unforgiving servant. In Matthew 18:23-35, Jesus is teaching and He shares this story about a master, his servant, and then the servant’s friend. Many of you may be familiar with this parable, it begins in verse 23, “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.” As the story continues, we know that the servant was forgiven his massive debt from his master, so that he did not end up losing his house, his family, and at that point all that truly mattered in the world. Yet, after receiving forgiveness, he goes on to reach out to a fellow servant and demands that the small debt they have be settled.

The story ends as the master receives word of what the servant he just forgave has gone out and done, causing the master to seize him and throw him in jail until the original debt is paid off. In verse 23, Jesus says the word “therefore.” Whenever we see this word, it is important to look at the previous verse, because this word tells us that we are about to learn about the consequences of the previous statement. In this case, Jesus is referring to Peter’s question about forgiveness; to which Jesus says that forgiveness must never cease. Why is this the case? Why are we called to forgive and be merciful, even when we have forgiven time and time again? It is because we have been forgiven.

Jesus came and paid our debt on the cross. It is through His sacrifice that we have the privilege to walk around justified through His blood and able to live a free life in Him. Our sin gave us a debt that we could never repay on our own, a debt that would only be filled through death and eternal separation from the Master (God). Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” Just as the servant who was forgiven his debts from his master, we too have been forgiven our debt from our Heavenly Father. However, we are called to share the same forgiveness and mercy to our brothers and sisters in this world, so that, through our actions, the world might too see our mercy and forgiveness. Which will then give us an opportunity to share with them the forgiveness of the Master and a chance for them to live life debt-free from sin, just as we are.

Lesson Sixteen • Devotion #1: Swing Toward Truth

Have you ever been upset with someone for not following your advice or listening to you? I remember back when I was just a kid, my parents would always tell me, “Don’t jump off the swings.” They would tell me this whenever I was going to elementary school or going to my cousins; the two places I frequented most with swings! One day, while at my cousins, he convinced me that it would be the perfect day to see if we could swing and jump over his parents’ house. I know what you are thinking as you read this and you are probably right! However, we thought for sure that the weather was perfect and we had enough confidence that day to clear my cousin’s house, unscathed. 

As we continue in on our series going through 2 Corinthians, we come to this passage where Paul is warning both the church and even us today! He writes in 2 Corinthians 11:2-3, “For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” I love how Paul writes of his “divine jealousy”toward the church. He is showing how much he cares and loves the church and desires for them to not stray. This reminds me of God’s jealous love for us in Exodus 20:5. Paul is desiring this, not only for the warning and guidance he gave but more importantly the Gospel and ultimately Christ, as we see in verse three, “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” 

You can probably guess what ended up happening to me that day that my cousin and I tried jumping over his house – a broken arm. Today, I hope you will heed my warning as I echo the words of Paul. Do not be deceived by the cunning and alluring things of this world and of Satan. Listen to the warnings and guidance of your brothers and sisters in Christ, of your pastors, and ultimately and most importantly, God’s Word. We are called to this beautiful relationship and marriage with Christ. The world is full of temptation and deception. Today, I pray that you will remember the Gospel of Jesus. I pray that you will not be led astray by the things of this world; and if you have, that today would be the day that you remember His truth and turn back to His goodness and love. 



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