April 7

Deuteronomy 12:5, 8 (NIV) 5But you are to seek the place the LORD your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name there for his dwelling. To that place you must go; 8You are not to do as we do here today, everyone as he sees fit...

Where has the Lord placed His name today? It is on you, Christian. There is a large portion of the body of Christ that does as they see fit. Instead of joining together with those upon whom God has placed His name, they worship alone. It is much easier to worship alone, to not join with a body of believers. People create problems. The thing we must realize is, I am one! I am part of the problem. Isolating myself will not help. The problems arise when we worship together because we are not yet perfect. Those problems are there so that I may learn and grow. They give me the opportunity to be gracious and demonstrate love and mercy. The problems demonstrate my weaknesses and need for continued growth and fellowship.

It is much more comfortable to not be shown my weaknesses through conflict with my brothers and sisters. It is easier to not have to demonstrate mercy and grace. Remember, though, that Jesus said the world would know we are Christians by our love. This love shows the life of Christ when it forgives and is gracious in the face of offenses, not when everyone just gets along.

So it is your choice, Christian. You can do as the LORD has directed us in not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together or go the easy route. The easy route is doing as you see fit. The friction in the body is the grinding of the living stones so that they fit into place in the Temple of God.

Consider: Are you willing to endure friction that you might be changed?

April 7

Matthew 27:50-52 (NIV) 50And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. 51At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. 52The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.

Luke records this last cry to be, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." John says the last cry was, "It is finished!" We assume that Luke obtained his version from Mary. John was right there at the foot of the cross. Surely Jesus said both expressions. The Greek word translated in John, "It is finished", is one word in Greek. It was stamped on Roman invoices when a bill was paid. We use the phrase, "paid in full". The sin debt of mankind was paid in full. The redemption price of the slaves of sin was paid in full. That was a shout of victory. He had done what He came to do. The just had taken on the sins of the unjust and died in their place.

The overflow of the power of that moment affected the physical world. The most significant event was the tearing of the veil. Between the court where the priests ministered to God and the innermost court where God's glory resided, hung a huge curtain. It is estimated to have been 3 to 5 inches thick. Once a year a priest was selected to go in and sprinkle the blood of atonement over the mercy seat and ask for forgiveness of the sins of the nation. The tearing of that curtain meant access to God was open to all. Now, all people can come to God, not with the blood of an animal, but with the atoning blood of the Lamb of God who died for them. We have access to God!

Matthew is the only one that mentions tombs opening and holy people rising from the dead. Now that is an overflow of power! The Roman soldier that was witnessing all these miraculous events, and the unique words and ways of the One he helped crucify, could not help but exclaim, "Surely he was the Son of God!" (verse 54). Remember that there is evidence that Matthew was written within 20 years of Jesus' death, at the latest. Witnesses to these events were still living when Matthew began to be circulated. These things actually happened.

Consider what great things God has done for you!