Week Four: Father's Mission, Son's Resolve

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I didn’t grow up with a father, so I looked to other men in my life for approval.  I was raised by a single mother who worked two jobs, so we spent a lot of time with her parents. My grandfather was a disapproving man, and praise was very sparse in his house. Rules and verbal correction were the order of the day.

Claude Buckles was born in 1905 and, contrary to popular belief, he never served in the armed forces. He was fortunate enough to avoid all military conflicts throughout his life because he was the only automotive mechanic serving the small farming community of Mt. Pulaski, Illinois, population 1200.

Grandpa was industrious, meticulous and earnest. He lived modestly through the Great Depression and started a family with my sweet grandma Connie while his friends were leaving for war. Together they raised three children and were married 73 years. 

Claude, like many men of his generation, was a man of conviction. But his steadfastness pales in comparison to that of our Lord and Savior as He was questioned by the Sanhedrin.

Consider Christ’s resolve to fulfill his father’s mission as He was questioned by the Sanhedrin, Pilate, Herod, and then again by Pilate. Immediately following, He was flogged, whipped, mocked,  spat upon, insulted, nailed, pierced and crucified. Christ made no defense against his accusers. He didn’t try to save himself because He came to save us.

Daniel J. Prince

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Father God, great is your faithfulness. Your goodness and mercy endure forever. Who am I that You are mindful of me? I confess that I try to do everything myself, edging You out and robbing You of the glory that You deserve. Thank You for the gift of your Son and, through Him, our assurance of salvation, answered prayer, and victory over sin. Create in me a new heart that longs to know You. Remove selfish ambition and vain conceit.  Help me to never seek the attention and approval of the crowd.  Amen.


 Day One: 

DAILY — PRAYING SCRIPTURE:

In some translations of Galatians 5:22-23, scholars use the word forbearance in place of patience. Naturally, I had to look it up. Forbearance means “to refrain from something; patient endurance; self-control.” It is also a legal term meaning “the act of refraining from exercising a legal right, especially enforcing the payment of a debt.” You see, Christ could have brought charges against all of us for our sin, but instead He exercised restraint and paid our debt in full. We owe him our very lives.

Isaiah 53:7 — Lord, You were oppressed and afflicted, yet You did not open your mouth; You said nothing. You were led like a lamb to the slaughter; and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so You did not open Your mouth. Father God, thank You for not coming to your Son’s defense so that I might have eternal life. Your Word says that he who has the Son has life. We rejoice in this new life because of your unfailing love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Ask yourself —  How should I live in light of Christ’s sacrifice? Where do I need to exercise forbearance/patience in my life? Are there areas of my heart that I have not allowed God’s power and forgiveness to occupy?

 Prayer:  Father God, great is your faithfulness. Your goodness and mercy endure forever. Who am I that You are mindful of me? I confess that I try to do everything myself, edging You out and robbing You of the glory that You deserve. Thank You for the gift of your Son and, through Him, our assurance of salvation, answered prayer, and victory over sin. Create in me a new heart that longs to know You. Remove selfish ambition and vain conceit.  Help me to never seek the attention and approval of the crowd.  Amen.


Day Two:

Every night before bed I read a Bible story from the kids’ app on my phone. They love choosing the story, finding the gems, and clicking on the characters during the narrated story. If you have ever doubted a young child’s ability to grasp biblical truth, don’t. They get it! Recently, I was playing outside, jumping on the trampoline with my son, when he asked, “Dad, how come that airplane guy didn’t like Jesus?” I was completely confused and wondered what airplane guy he was talking about. He quickly clarified, “That pilot guy.”  And then I realized he meant Pilate! I tried to explain that Pilate actually thought Jesus was innocent, but he gave in to peer pressure and did what the crowd wanted instead of doing what he knew in his heart was right.

Matthew 27:19, 24 — Lord, I know that while Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him,” yet he didn’t listen. Instead, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, declaring, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. It is your responsibility!” Lord, help me to respond with loving kindness when I see injustice. Give me the strength to speak up even if it jeopardizes my position or standing. Let me not be conformed to this world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Ask yourself — Have I ever done something even when I knew in my heart it was wrong? Have I allowed culture or peer pressure to form my opinions? Have I ignored injustices because of fear of what others may think? Where can I be like Jesus in this world?

Prayer: Father God, great is your faithfulness. Your goodness and mercy endure forever. Who am I that You are mindful of me? I confess that I try to do everything myself, edging You out and robbing You of the glory that You deserve. Thank You for the gift of your Son and, through Him, our assurance of salvation, answered prayer, and victory over sin. Create in me a new heart that longs to know You. Remove selfish ambition and vain conceit.  Help me to never seek the attention and approval of the crowd.  Amen.


Day Three:

It was 2pm Friday afternoon when I got the call. It was my wife crying and screaming, “It’s Jack, come home!” And she hung up. Immediately my heart hurt, and I was sick to my stomach. I had never experienced pain, fear and urgency like I did in that moment. I left the office without saying good-bye, and I broke all the traffic laws to get home as quickly as possible. I even attempted to pass the fire truck responding to my house just to be with my son. Once home, I was relieved to find that Jack’s injury was not life threatening. Even though I knew he was going to be okay, I was still torn-up knowing Jack was in pain and I couldn’t help him. Consider how our all-knowing, all-powerful, creator God Almighty watched from heaven as His Son endured an undeserved death by crucifixion. He could have saved him, yet He loved us enough to allow it all to happen. It’s unfathomable!

Isaiah 53:5 Father God, thank You for sending your Son. I can’t imagine the pain You both endured as Jesus was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities. His undeserved punishment brought peace, and by his wounds all are healed. Thank You for loving me so much that You would send your Son. Lord, help me to rest in your peace and to acknowledge the victory over sin and death. Help me to proclaim the Good News that my wounds are healed through the blood of Christ. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Ask yourself — Have I ever been wrongfully punished? Have I taken the blame to protect someone else? What wounds do I need Jesus to heal? 

Prayer: Father God, great is your faithfulness. Your goodness and mercy endure forever. Who am I that You are mindful of me? I confess that I try to do everything myself, edging You out and robbing You of the glory that You deserve. Thank You for the gift of your Son and, through Him, our assurance of salvation, answered prayer, and victory over sin. Create in me a new heart that longs to know You. Remove selfish ambition and vain conceit.  Help me to never seek the attention and approval of the crowd.  Amen.


Day Four: 

For 2018 I resolved to be more present with my friends and family because I found myself constantly looking at my phone and ignoring the world around me. Surprisingly, there is a term for this. It’s called “phubbing:” the act of ignoring, or “snubbing,” someone in favor of your mobile phone.  I have deleted all the social media apps from my phone, and I have set a schedule for checking e-mail. Not surprisingly, I’ve already noticed positive changes. My wife, Erin, and I have enjoyed richer conversations in the evenings, and we’ve been more faithful in reading the Bible and finding a quiet time. Giving up social media, news, sports, or any other distraction that competes for our attention is small potatoes compared to what Christ sacrificed for us.

John 28:30 — Dear God, thank You for the fulfillment of Scripture through your Son. Jesus, thank You for giving up your spirit so that I would have eternal life. Help me to be thirsty and obedient to my heavenly Father’s call on my life. Help me to live and love like You. Give me the strength to finish even when the obstacles seem impossible.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Ask Yourself —What do I need to stop doing? What do I need to start doing? How can I find time to meet with God?

Prayer: Father God, great is your faithfulness. Your goodness and mercy endure forever. Who am I that You are mindful of me? I confess that I try to do everything myself, edging You out and robbing You of the glory that You deserve. Thank You for the gift of your Son and, through Him, our assurance of salvation, answered prayer, and victory over sin. Create in me a new heart that longs to know You. Remove selfish ambition and vain conceit.  Help me to never seek the attention and approval of the crowd.  Amen.


Day Five: 

The late motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, once said that you’ll become the combined average of the top five people you hang around with and the books you read. I think this is absolutely true. During my adolescence I experienced first-hand how much influence my friends had on me. Were it not for the grace of God, I wouldn’t be here today. We are indeed a by-product of our environment and, as such, our culture has a way of shaping how we behave if we allow it. Consider corporate culture for a moment. The ascent up the proverbial ladder is often marked by questionable moral decisions to attain the next rung of success. I thought of this image as I read Luke 23. In this chapter, Pilate makes a strategic business move by sending Jesus to Herod. He no doubt wanted to bolster his position in the empire, and he may have thought that a strategic alliance would bode well for him in the future.

Luke 23:8-12 Lord, I know that when Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased because for a long time he had been wanting to see Him. From what he had heard about Jesus, he hoped to see Him perform a sign or miracle of some sort. He plied Him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked Him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent Him back to Pilate. That day Herod and Pilate became friends—before this they had been enemies. Father, reveal to me when I am tempted to do the same, using someone else or making friends of my enemies for personal gain. Amen.

Ask Yourself: Are there any negative influences in my life? Do I have friendships that I need to pull away from so that I can draw closer to Christ?

Prayer: Father God, great is your faithfulness. Your goodness and mercy endure forever. Who am I that You are mindful of me? I confess that I try to do everything myself, edging You out and robbing You of the glory that You deserve. Thank You for the gift of your Son and, through Him, our assurance of salvation, answered prayer, and victory over sin. Create in me a new heart that longs to know You. Remove selfish ambition and vain conceit.  Help me to never seek the attention and approval of the crowd.  Amen.


Day Six: 

Several years ago we decided to play Christian music in our office. The impetus came after reading Colossians 3:23, which says, “Whatever you do, you should work at with all your heart as working for the Lord, not man.” I felt like praise music set my heart and mind on Christ instead of the rigors of the day.  Well, one day I had a new patient leave before I was able to meet him in consultation. When I asked our receptionist what happened, she simply stated, “he didn’t like the music we were playing.” I was shocked. I’ve found that it’s easy to profess your faith when you’re around fellow believers, but like Peter I’ve concealed my faith for fear of the crowd. Consider the centurion as he witnessed Jesus’ death on the cross. He professed that Jesus was the Son of God while he was at work. Who knows who heard him. What would his peers think? I guarantee he was never the same after that day. And we shouldn’t be either. May we boldly proclaim that Jesus is the Son of God. 

Mark 15:38 Father, thank You for tearing the curtain of the temple upon your Son’s death, giving me access to your presence. I confess that I’m a sinner and don’t exalt You always. May I boldly proclaim who your Son, Jesus, is while I am at home and at work, just as the centurion did. Thank You for the assurance of forgiveness of sin through your Son. Amen. 

Ask Yourself — Do I ever deny Christ to try and “fit in?” Who am I trying to please, God or man?

Prayer: Father God, great is your faithfulness. Your  goodness and mercy endure forever. Who am I that You are mindful of me? I confess that I try to do everything myself, edging You out and robbing You of the glory that You deserve. Thank You for the gift of your Son and, through Him, our assurance of salvation, answered prayer, and victory over sin. Create in me a new heart that longs to know You. Remove selfish ambition and vain conceit.  Help me to never seek the attention and approval of the crowd.  Amen.


Day Seven:

Prayer: Father God, great is your faithfulness. Your  goodness and mercy endure forever. Who am I that You are mindful of me? I confess that I try to do everything myself, edging You out and robbing You of the glory that You deserve. Thank You for the gift of your Son and, through Him, our assurance of salvation, answered prayer, and victory over sin. Create in me a new heart that longs to know You. Remove selfish ambition and vain conceit.  Help me to never seek the attention and approval of the crowd.  Amen.

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Look over your notes/prayers from the past week. What seems meaningful to you? Did you receive any insight, inspiration, or challenge? Does something require more prayer of discernment? We don’t decide when God will “show up;” instead, we want to be ready and aware when He does. Whatever your experience this week, stay committed. God is!

Catherine HortonComment