Devotion: Life has a louder voice

Devotion: Life has a louder voice

Scripture Reference

Matthew 28:1-10 NLT

1 Early on Sunday morning,[a] as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb.

Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.

Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.”

The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message. And as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.”

Death has a sting, a pain that can linger and never leave the soul. The death of Jesus by crucifixion was not a glamorous thing to behold. It was painful, tormenting, heartbreaking and shattering of any form of hope for those who were present. As we read the journey He took, the imagery that plays in our minds reveals how difficult this moment of destiny was for Jesus and His disciples.

When He died, I can imagine a pain of finality that may have been felt by those who loved and cared for Him. Losing someone dear, someone you love and care for is not easy. Losing them to a painful death can be heartbreaking and it can create a traumatic scar that never leaves.

It was important for Jesus to rise up again because the only voice that is capable of shutting down the loud voice of death is life. When He rose on the third day, the powerful testimony of His resurrection was a reminder for believers all over the world to believe, and hope again.

Have you dealt with situations that seem final to you? Are you plagued with thoughts of feeling that life is not worth living? Do you sense or feel that you are at the end of your road? If your answer is yes to any of those questions, you need to fight to live. If you need help, you can get it.

Living and moving conscious of daily decisions that push you to choose better, act wiser, and try for the best takes courage and sometimes can be a battle of the will. However, life has a louder voice than death. The dead cannot breathe air or experience moments.

Do not allow the finality of circumstances, trials, or tribulations make you feel as though life is not fair or worth it. You matter, and your presence in this life, living and learning and growing allows you to make a greater impact than being dead and in the grave. Fight for your dreams, push yourself to achieve the best that you can in this lifetime and believe God to make your life worth living for, because it is.


Dear Father,

Thank you for what you did for me through love, by sending Jesus Christ to die for me. I acknowledge the power of the cross and the reminder that you desire for me to live. Help me today to push myself to live life with joy as Jesus died for me to be filled with peace and joy. Teach me how to maximize my days, weeks and months with what matters, and show me how to use my time here on earth wisely. I desire to live a fulfilled life, and I trust you that you will show me how to.


In Jesus Name,


Holy Tuesday Devotional

Holy Tuesday Devotional

Matthew 21: 18-46

When we left off yesterday, Jesus had committed destruction of property by flipping over tables of transaction and exploitation and uprooting the things that shifted His Father’s house from being relational and full of salvation. That left us to consider what tables we need to flip over, beginning with some of the ones in our hearts. What a mighty God we serve!

We pick up today with Jesus who is heading to the temple, and starts off the morning cursing a fig tree, condemning it saying it would never produce again. While we can argue about how harsh this is or isn’t, what is irrefutable is that the tree wasn’t doing its job, and Jesus had enough. And it seems as though, because He is headed to the temple, He’s not going to be stopped by the trees that aren’t doing their job. He already dealt with that yesterday, and is about to encounter it again.

When Jesus arrives at the temple, He attracts a crowd because, well, He’s Jesus. The crowd He attracts meets Him on the temple floor, and Matthew’s Gospel starts off this encounter with the authorities questioning his authority. Those who are systematically in places of authority and power want to know who or what validates Jesus as an authority figure. One could argue that there is an issue here of will. Because the Pharisees might’ve had the authority, but Jesus Christ, who is amongst the people, has the power. It’s a dangerous world when systemic authority is threatened by the people who have been empowered. I am more than sure that if we look at lived experiences Jesus shows us that just because you have authority, doesn’t mean you have power. Our faith is one that often reminds us that human-given authority is no match for God-given authority. And Jesus responds with a question, that frankly the only way it can be reconciled is with a divine answer.

We then pick-up Jesus who is engaging in what I refer to as the ultimate roasting session. He keeps sharing these parables about working in the vineyard, AND the treatment of the workers. He likens himself as the son of God, to a servant, a worker in the vineyard, and a slave. He keeps reinforcing that He is with the marginalized least of these. Thanks be to God for a savior who constantly positions himself to be for, with, and by the people. It is reassurance to us that no matter who you are, as long as you’re doing your work in the vineyard, serving the kingdom, Jesus says that you’ll inherit the kingdom of God. The Pharisees don’t like this, much like many modern authority figures, and are plotting to murder him. But if the words of Jesus be true: for Himself, for the people, and for us; no plot, no plan, no attack, no assassination, can stop the work of the people. Nothing can negate that we shall inherit the kingdom of God. Get to and keep to your work. Even if you don’t have authority, you always have the power to do your work in the vineyard. 

This week isn’t over, and we have a few more lessons to learn, but today, think about what it means to do your work anyhow. After all, Friday soon come….

Surprise deliverance: When Freedom Shows Up

Surprise deliverance: When Freedom Shows Up

Scripture: Matthew 21:1-11 NLT

21 As Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. 2 “Go into the village over there,” he said. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a donkey tied there, with its colt beside it. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will immediately let you take them.”

4 This took place to fulfill the prophecy that said, 

5 “Tell the people of Jerusalem,

    ‘Look, your King is coming to you.

He is humble, riding on a donkey—

    riding on a donkey’s colt.’”

6 The two disciples did as Jesus commanded. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt to him and threw their garments over the colt, and he sat on it. 

8 Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting,

“Praise God for the Son of David!

    Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

    Praise God in highest heaven!”

10 The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. “Who is this?” they asked.

11 And the crowds replied, “It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

This story is very powerful, inspiring, and intriguing. As Jesus was preparing Himself for the very painful journey of the cross that was ahead of Him, He performs an act that reveals His thoughtfulness, intentionality, and commitment to destiny.

In Bethphage, there was a village that had a donkey and its foal that mattered to Jesus. A donkey is an animal that is symbolically and literally a beast that bears burdens. Donkeys can carry heavy loads and tread on difficult paths while being submitted to their owners.

  • Jesus picked an animal that was used to carry and bear burdens for people as a symbol that He had come to bear the burdens for humanity. As the disciples placed their cloaks on the donkey and its foal for Jesus to sit on, He was reminding us that He was mantled and graced for this heavy and great burden ahead of Him.


  • The donkey and foal were tied up and may not have known what was going to happen to them in the future, but Jesus had a plan. He was going to liberate both of them, and no one was going to get in the way of it. He specifically gave the disciples instructions, in case someone questioned them. Their response was to say “The Lord has need of them, and He will send them right away”.


  1. If Jesus can incorporate an animal in the story of redemption to symbolize how attentive He is to the details of destiny fulfillment, why are you questioning the details that God keeps unveiling in your life about how much He wants to use you?


  1. Imagine if the donkey and the foal resisted and kicked the disciples causing them to come back empty handed. Of course Jesus would have found an alternative, but the donkey and its foal would have never known the honor of deliverance from a Savior who understands and feels the weight of carrying heavy burdens.


The donkey and its foal walked on roads covered with cloaks and branches from trees as the crowd honored Jesus. They could not honor Jesus without honoring the donkey and the foal that were with Him. Do not resist the moment Jesus calls for you. His desire is to bestow love and grace on you. He is not one to hide you, but desires to walk with you through the journey, and ensure honor is bestowed upon you.

This week, think about the moments Jesus has pulled on you whether through prayer, His word, or a decision that He asked you to make. Why have you not obeyed? What expression of love from Jesus are you blocking when you resist Him? Isn’t it time to try pure freedom and experience what it feels like to have a Savior who understands and loves you? A Savior who has the power to loose you from every hold and bondage? He will not leave you there, but will walk with you until you fulfil the prophetic word He has spoken over your life.

If Jesus cared about a donkey and its foal, give yourself some credit and acknowledge He cares and has great plans for you. It is not a matter of if He is able, it is all about when you yield and obey His call. He is a loving Savior with open arms who desires to bless you and deliver you, to walk through this life with you in liberty and grace. It is time to answer Jesus. He has been calling for you for a while.


Dear Father,

Today I am grateful for your kind heart, your intentionality, and ability to plan ahead with my life in mind. A lot of times, I behave as though you do not know me, but you do. Nothing changes your mind about me. Help me to see myself from the perspective of love that you have for me. Incline my ear to be sensitive to your calling. Forgive me for when I have resisted you because of fears that who I was or what I have done is too much for you. You have come to lift up every burden in my life.

I yield to you and desire to receive the honor of walking in freedom with you. This is my portion and I choose to walk in it by faith.

In Jesus Name,


The significance of a meal

The significance of a meal

Scripture Reference

17 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to prepare the Passover meal for you?”

18 “As you go into the city,” he told them, “you will see a certain man. Tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My time has come, and I will eat the Passover meal with my disciples at your house.’” 19 So the disciples did as Jesus told them and prepared the Passover meal there.

20 When it was evening, Jesus sat down at the table[a] with the Twelve. 21 While they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.”

22 Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one, Lord?”

23 He replied, “One of you who has just eaten from this bowl with me will betray me. 24 For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!”

25 Judas, the one who would betray him, also asked, “Rabbi, am I the one?”

And Jesus told him, “You have said it.”

26 As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.”

27 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, 28 for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant[b] between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many. 29 Mark my words—I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.”

30 Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.

Out of all the scenarios that Jesus chose to culminate final moments with His disciples, the last supper was one of His top picks. He had communed with them before, and they had shared meals together, but this was different.

Jesus was aware there was a great trial that was ahead of Him, that would be triggered by one of the disciples He had poured into all along. I can imagine the crushing feelings and thoughts that were going through His mind, as He shared with the disciples the truth of what He had always known, it would be one of His own who would betray Him.

There is a posture that Jesus models to us: how to deal with betrayal in the works. A lot of times, solutions are provided after betrayal happens, wisdom is shared after the fact, but what do you do when you come into the knowledge of a betrayal in the works?


  1. Maintain your cool

Jesus was not erratic or irrational. The bible states in verse 21: “And while they were eating, He said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me”. His calmness to the situation reveals the posture that He had regarding what was going on. He was not afraid, everything was under control, He was keenly aware of that, and nothing was going to pull Him out of character.


  1. Maintain the main perspective

Jesus understood this was necessary for the fulfillment of destiny and prophecy. He was not weak. He understood the betrayal was part of the process. This reveals His maturity and focus on what was important, the cross. Fulfilling the will of His father was priority to Him, and nothing was going to stop that. Everything was working together to bring the prophecy to pass


  1. Maintain your integrity

Jesus understood, the disciples would come to the realization of the full context of what He meant during this Supper after His crucifixion. He was careful to maintain the integrity of Judas and not expose him to the disciples, because that could have meant harsh retaliation from them. He wanted the disciples to remember how to handle their enemies, and how to deal with delicate situations like this in a manner that was Christ-like.


There will be moments in your life when you will discern or become aware of betrayals that are in the works against you. It may be painful. For a moment, you may desire to come out of character to prove a point. My prayer for you is that you will remember that you have a Savior who understands the pain of betrayal because He overcame it. In that moment, may you find refuge in His love and guidance, to help you navigate through the emotional turmoil you may have, and ensure you make the right choices that will avoid regret in the years to come.


Dear Father,

Many times I have held on to the pain of betrayal thinking that no one understood the pain I was in. I am glad to know you understand and you empathize with me. You were betrayed by one of your own disciples, but you proactively forgave him and never allowed the betrayal to become a hindrance to your destiny and purpose.


Teach me and help me to overcome betrayals that have occurred in my life, and give me the courage to learn from them and become better as I grow to be more like you. Surround me with the right people who will provide me with sound wisdom and help me to make decisions that will not compromise my faith walk. I believe you will guide me through the hard and tumultuous moments of my life with grace and strength.


In Jesus Name,



Scripture in the Present Tense

Scripture in the Present Tense for Urban FaithAccording to Christian counselor and teacher Michael Emlet, reading the Bible “back to front” can help us better apply it to our lives today. In this excerpt from his new book, CrossTalk: Where Life & Scripture Meet, Emlet shows the importance of reading God’s Word in an active fashion. PLUS: Keep reading to find out how you can receive a FREE copy of CrossTalk.

The books of the Bible are meant to provoke a response in God’s people, whether it be worship, joy, conviction of sin, deeds of justice and mercy, praise, prayer, or concern for the lost. All Scripture invites a response to God.

When we read the Bible, we are not merely listening to a conversation God had with his people several thousand years ago, trying to extract some benefit for our own lives. We are a part of the same story line. Israel’s Messiah is our Messiah. The apostles’ Lord and Savior is our Lord and Savior. That’s why it’s critical to see the Bible as God’s unfolding story of salvation that centers on Jesus Christ.

If the Bible is one story with Jesus and his kingdom as the focal point, how should this impact the way we interpret and use Scripture in ministry? Here are some thoughts.

Back-to-Front, Front-to-Back

To interpret and apply the Bible wisely, we should develop the habit of reading Scripture “back to front” and “front to back.” What does it mean to read the Bible back to front? It means rereading any text (particularly Old Testament passages) in light of the end of the story — the coming of the kingdom in Jesus Christ.

I wrote portions of CrossTalk on the eve of the much-anticipated release of the final book of the Harry Potter series. I knew that when I finished that book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the ending would forever change the way I read and understood the details of the earlier books. Sure enough, details that seemed so significant were no longer so once I knew the entire story. Details that had been easy to overlook now grew in their significance in light of the story’s end. “So that’s what it meant!” “So that’s what was really going on in that scene.”

We can have this back-to-front experience watching movies as well. Have you watched A Beautiful Mind, the story of mathematician and schizophrenic John Nash? I remember thinking early on in the movie, If I were John Nash, I would be paranoid, too, given all the stress and secrecy of his government intelligence job! Of course, we later come to learn that his hiring by the government, the code-breaking work he was doing, and even some of his friends (e.g., his college roommate) were fabrications of his mind. What seemed so real, even to the viewer, were actually hallucinations. The end of the story forced me to see earlier parts in a new light.

Similarly, knowing the end of the biblical story means we can never read the earlier parts in the same way. That’s certainly true for the way Jesus and the New Testament writers read and interpreted the (Old Testament) Scriptures. Knowing how the story ends, we ask, “What difference does the death and resurrection of Jesus make for how I understand this passage?” The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the climax of redemption initiated in the Old Testament and the sure foundation for the life of the newly formed church. The New Testament writers consider what the reality of the new creation (ushered in by Christ’s death and resurrection) should look like in the life of the church, even as they anticipate the ultimate end of the story, the return of Christ. So, whether we find ourselves in the Old Testament or New Testament, we expect to discover an organic connection to the person and work of Christ, with multifaceted implications for the lives of God’s people.

It’s also true that we must read the Bible front to back. This means we take seriously where a particular text falls in the historical outworking of the story for at least three reasons. The first reason has to do with the idea of the Bible as “practical theology,” introduced in the previous chapter. The Bible is, in fact, an evolving practical theology by God’s design. God reveals himself personally to his people in specific contexts over time. God shapes his Word to the evolving needs of his people. This prompts us to ask, “What does God reveal about himself in this book or passage that helps the recipients of his message?” How wonderful to realize that God does not reveal himself “generically” but in multifaceted and specific ways! Sitting with the details and historical context of a passage primes us for application as we observe God’s Word matched to specific human need. Further, it encourages me to ask how I might step into a particular story and see how God’s particularized grace connects to my situation.

Second, in a related way, reading front to back guards us from oversimplifying the plotline of Scripture. The coming of the kingdom in Jesus as the climax of the story doesn’t mean that you “shoehorn” him artificially into every text. In our zeal to acknowledge the redemptive-historical character of Scripture, we don’t want to insist that every passage is about Jesus explicitly. Rather the themes of each book, tailored to its historical context, contribute implicitly to our understanding of the kingdom. Each passage or book adds its distinctive voice to a swelling chorus that says, “New creation has come through King Jesus!”

Third, details matter. Think about an accident scene investigation. The end of the story is clear; the debris lies on the road to prove it. But the details of the story matter. One driver fumbling for his cell phone. Another driver checking on her kids in the rearview mirror. The overlooked turn signal. Exceeding the speed limit. All these details contribute to the total understanding of the story. These details lead somewhere and are important in and of themselves.

In reality, the ending of a story only makes sense in light of what has come before. The more captivated we are by the details, the more glorious will seem the story’s climax. The more puzzled we are by the details, the more clarity (and perhaps surprise!) comes with the climax. The more we understand the significance of the details, the more significant the climax.

Crockpot Redemption

If Jesus is the fulfillment of Israel’s story in his first and second comings, we need to pay attention to the ways the redemptive story builds up to Christ and then flows out from him through the Spirit. We will appreciate what God has done that much more. We should keep in mind that ours is a “crockpot redemption.” God slowly, patiently works out his redemptive purposes over thousands of years and only “when the time had fully come” did God send his Son (Gal. 4:4). We would do well to pay attention to this gradual unfolding of his character and work so that we might savor his amazing grace and mercy even more.

To summarize, we need to begin our interpretation by thinking first of what it meant for its original audience — reading front to back. We ask the question, “What might the first readers have understood this text to mean at that point in redemptive history? ” This reminds us that there is a progressiveness to God’s revelation and we cannot ignore the specific context into which God’s Word first comes.

Next, we reread the text in light of the end of the story — reading back to front. We do have to “go back to the future”! Ultimately, what is that future? The book of Revelation — the return of the King and the consummation of his kingdom — shows where history is going.

This “bidirectional” reading does justice to the unity and diversity of Scripture. We will listen for the particular voices and themes of individual books, but we also will pay attention to the ways they fit into the Bible as a whole and, more specifically, into the progressive plan of God’s redemption.

The Centrality of God’s Mission

Ultimately, seeing the Bible as a unified story of God’s redemptive mission helps us avoid introspective, individualistic application. The endpoint of redemption isn’t a redeemed and transformed individual life (your own or another’s) — it is the restoration of all things!

Have you caught that immense vision? Does it saturate your life and ministry? We can settle for too little in our use of Scripture, even when we genuinely look to the Scriptures to guide our lives.

If we view the gospel in shortsighted and individualistic terms — “Yeah, I know Jesus died for my sins, but what has he done for me lately? ” — we are more tempted to grow cynical and self-absorbed. But if we view this life as co-laboring with our King as “ministers of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:17-20), we are strengthened to press onward and outward, expressing our love for others in sacrificial ways.

Excerpted from CrossTalk: Where Life & Scripture Meet by Michael R. Emlet, published by New Growth Press.
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