Weekly Inspiration

For Week of April 3, 2017
Theme: Brothers and Sisters

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. - EPHESIANS 5:1-2

The world does not understand the Christian concept of brotherhood and sisterhood. The world says to find friends among like-minded, like-incomed people who vote like you and have about the same mindset. These are safe people; they won't start asking for counseling or financial assistance.

These friendships work until you face a pressing problem, a tragic loss or a serious illness, and suddenly you realize that no one cares much about you.
Christian friendship is different. You find a few brothers and sisters and decide at the outset that you are going to expend yourself for them. You get into each other's lives. You encourage, counsel, challenge and rebuke each other. You make sacrifices. Have you ever said to someone, “If you and your family ever need any kind of help, just say the word”. That's a level of friendship some people will never experience or even understand. It's one of the joys of being a part of God's family.

APPLY: Have you developed some deep Christian friendships? What steps could you take to initiate or deepen your most important relationships?

For Week of April 10, 2017
Theme: Not a Thief

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. - JOHN 10:10-11

Jesus is a great teacher. Knowing that most people think in pictures, he gives a picture of himself as a good shepherd. Realizing that most people have misconceptions about why he wants to come into their lives, he begins revealing his character by telling who he is not.

"I am not like a thief," Jesus says. A burglar's basic aim is to break into your house and find something of great value that will get good money on the market. You hardly ever hear of a thief who makes off with four dishtowels, two throw rugs and a tube of toothpaste or a roll of toilet paper; thieves look for jewelry, family heirlooms, paintings and electronic equipment. That's the character of a thief — to find what is precious and steal it. Jesus is the exact opposite of a thief. He does not come to rob but to give.

JOURNAL: When you first encountered Jesus, what did you think he was like? A thief who wanted to take away all your "fun"? Someone who would focus on rules? At what point did your perceptions begin to change?

For Week of April 17, 2017
Theme: Open the Door

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. - REVELATION 3:20

Jesus is gentle, not pushy. He does not break into anyone's life; he stands at the door and knocks. If invited in, he moves around the house placing precious objects on the mantels, on the shelves and in the cupboards. He fills up the person's life with everything life is worth living for: purpose, fulfillment, meaning, love, peace, confidence, security and even freedom.

A lot of people don't understand that about Jesus. They fear he wants to break into their lives and rob them of the joy of living. They are sure he wants to limit their freedom and make them live in confinement. They suspect he wants to take away fulfillment, put an end to adventure and stop the fun. If they had the courage to open the door, to get to know him, they would realize that their fears are based on falsehood. If we let him in, Jesus fills our lives with blessings and amazing, abundant freedom.

PRAY: What, if anything, is keeping you from giving Jesus full access to your life? Pray a prayer of confession, if appropriate. If you have given Jesus full access to your life and are experiencing his blessings, pray a prayer of thanksgiving.


For Week of April 24, 2017
Theme: A Caring Owner

But now, this is what the Lord says — he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine." - ISAIAH 43:1

Monday through Friday, business parking lots are always filled. On early Saturday mornings, however, only one car is usually parked in front of each business — most likely the owner's car. Why? Because the business belongs to him. He wants to keep a close watch on the statistics, the cash flow, the deposits and the statements. He cares about it in a way his employees can never understand.
Jesus is a caring owner. We are his sheep, not someone else's, and he will walk miles to lead us to green pastures. Because he owns us and loves us, Jesus monitors every step we take. He knows every hurt we feel, every crushing disappointment we experience. We are precious to him, because he created us. He is in love with us, and he will do whatever it takes to keep us safe in his flock — he even laid down his life for our sakes. I'm grateful for a love like that, are you?

APPLY: Think about something that you own and care about. Your concern and care about that thing, no matter how important it feels to you, is only a fraction of the care and concern that God has for you.


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