Losses and Gains: 21 Day Devotional


We will be providing 21 days of devotionals leading up to Easter Sunday (April 21). The theme will run parallel with the series being covered on Sunday mornings, entitled Sacrificial Victorious Saviour.


We invite you to journey with us in times of reading and prayer this month.

One – The Big Loss

One – The Big Loss


Genesis 2:16–17 (NIV) — 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”


Romans 5:12 (NIV) — 12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—


We have all experienced loss to varying degrees. Anything from losing a wallet to losing a loved one has an effect on us. Loss often brings emotional pain. Loss brings change and the need for adjustment. When we look at sin coming into the world, we see there was a tremendous loss for us. We lost our place of righteousness before God, we lost our connection to Him. We lost life. The pain and change of that loss has resulted in so much evil in this world.


However, we were not the only ones to experience loss at that point. God also experienced loss. He lost fellowship with His most beloved of creations — those made to be in His image. The whole order of creation changed at that point. Disorder and disarray, conflict and death became the order of the day.


Yet God, in His great love for us, turned that loss into a gain when He sent Jesus to reclaim and restore us.


Romans 5:15 (NIV) — 15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!


As we journey through these devotionals, we will look at losses and gains — and how we are the beneficiaries of the gains. 


Think about loss. Think about how God’s love was so strong for us that He made a way to gain us back. Take time to give thanks for His amazing love for you.

Two – The "S" Word

Two – The “S” Word


Sacrifice : an act of giving up something of value for the sake of something that is of greater value or importance. (Concise Oxford English Dictionary)


Have you ever made the choice to give up something for the sake of something more important to you? New moms sacrifice sleep for their children. People sacrifice free time to work overtime for extra pay. People sacrifice time to help others because they see the value in it. Someone may sacrifice their favourite foods to get healthier. We have all made sacrifices one way or another. 


Sacrifice is a willful exercise in loss. Sacrifice has purpose attached to it. It is deciding that the loss is less valuable than the gain at the other end.


Hebrews 9:26 (NIV) — 26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.


Hebrews 12:2 (NIV) — 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.


Jesus offered up His very life as a sacrifice. He was willing to undergo torture, torment, and death because there was a greater gain at the other end. The gain? The breaking of sin’s power to destroy us, the restoration of our relationship with God, and His exaltation to the highest position of authority. Jesus became the conquerer of all evil by his sacrifice.


How many times have you felt that you made a great sacrifice? Think of the sacrifice Jesus made for you. Take some time to reflect on how Jesus’ sacrifice brought you gain. You have forgiveness of sins and eternal life, not because of your sacrifice, but because of His!


Are you willing to sacrifice so that others may gain? This is the love of God in action.

Three – Justice Just In Time

Three — Justice Just In Time


Have you ever wanted justice? Did you want it right away? It’s interesting how our desire for justice is often accompanied by impatience, as if delayed justice costs us something. Indeed sometimes it does cost us something.


Romans 3:25–26 (NIV) — 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.


If God had demanded immediate justice for sin the human race would have ended with Adam and Eve! God made a significant sacrifice by delaying His right to justice in the case of our sin. He chose not to punish the sins committed by people until Jesus came as our substitute. Then he carried out the punishment on Jesus instead of us. He chose to experience the loss of delayed justice so that we could experience the gain of justification.


Perhaps you have been wronged and need to practice this same sacrifice — withholding the demand for justice and replacing it with forgiveness — or at least not take the role of judge upon yourself but give it to God.


Take some time to give thanks to God for His great patience. Examine your own heart to see where you may need to practice patience with others as well.

Four – Home is Where the Heart Is

Four — Home is Where the Heart Is


Luke 9:57–58 (NIV) — 57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”


2 Corinthians 5:1 (NIV) — 1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.


There are likely few of us that have ever been homeless. If you have, you understand the sense of instability it can bring. Home is meant to be a place of safety. Jesus left the ‘safety and stability’ of heaven to come here and have an unstable existence.


As a child, he lived in three different locations, being a refugee in Egypt for part of that time. In his ministry life, he had no place he could call home. This was the sacrifice (loss of stability) he experienced to provide a massive gain for us.


We gain the stability of an eternal dwelling. Life here can still be unpredictable. Careers and jobs change. Locations change. Family dynamics change. Yet we have the promise of an eternal, stable, safe place to look forward to.


Keep life in perspective. If your life is in a state of flux, of change, of instability, remember that Jesus is very familiar with that experience. Any level of loss you may feel will be replaced with the eternal gain of a permanent home with God. Be hopeful. If your life is stable and safe. Appreciate it and don’t take it for granted. Be thankful.

Five – Reputation

Five — Reputation


Reputation is about what others think of you. It is your social capital. Reputation can give you leverage in situations and relationships, or it can strip you of influence. We all, to some degree, want a good reputation.


It can be easy to see Jesus’ reputation as shining and stellar when we read the Gospels. People crowded to see Him. They went out of their way to get near him. They would speak of him and of his power. Yet these are the people that mostly stopped following him as soon as he preached a challenging message (John 6). These are the people that shouted “Hosanna!” when he arrived in Jerusalem and “Crucify!” within a week.


In other spheres his reputation was not so good.


John 8:41 (NIV) — 41b “We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.” (Jesus having the reputation of being an illegitimate child by Jewish leaders.)

Mark 3:21 (NIV) — 21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” (His family thought he was crazy.)

John 7:5 (NIV) — 5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him.


Jesus’ own family had a low opinion of him. The Jewish leaders had a low opinion of him. And, finally, the crowds in general abandoned him.


Luke 3:22 (NIV) — 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”


His reputation with the Father was good.


I was once told, “It’s better to smell like a rose in heaven and stink on earth than the other way around.”


How important are people’s opinions of you in contrast to God’s? Where is your reputation most important? At work? At home? In the community? In heaven? If we experience loss of reputation for the sake of following Christ we gain reputation in God’s eyes.


Jesus sacrificed earthly reputation, not restore ours but to give us the courage to do the same, understanding that God’s opinion of us is what matters most.

Six – Sacrifice of Will

Six — Sacrifice of Will


I am not fond of getting fillings from the dentist. I don’t enjoy the needles, the open jaw, the smells, trying to drink or eat with half of my mouth numb. I’d rather do just about anything else than submit to that process. But I appreciate the fact that a filling will protect my tooth from deterioration or worse, infection.


So for a time I surrender my will to the dentist so that I may benefit overall.


When Jesus was about to go to the cross to die for our sins, he also wrestled with submitting to the process needed to gain salvation for us.


Matthew 26:39 (NIV) — 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”


John 12:27–28 (NIV) — 27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”


Jesus had to resolve to submit his own will to the Father in that moment. He wrestled significantly — well over an hour in prayer (Matt 26:39-44). It was agonizing:


Luke 22:44 (NIV) — 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.


Yet Jesus came to the place where he sacrificed his own desire and will for our sake.


You may experience times in your life when you would rather avoid something but know that God is asking you to sacrifice your own desires, your own will. Remember that Jesus did the same and can help you in that process. Remember that what God asks is for your ultimate good and that His plan, although sometimes painful, results in life.

Seven – Loss of Life, Gain of Freedom

Seven — Loss of Life, Gain of Freedom


Sacrifice: the practice or an act of killing an animal or person or surrendering a possession as an offering to a deity. (Concise Oxford English dictionary)


This is the first definition of sacrifice — one not nearly as common today as the other we have looked at. This is also the first aspect of Jesus’ sacrifice. It was not simply that he experienced losses, giving up His place in heaven and coming to earth. It was that He was our substitute in offering himself as the payment for our broken condition.


Hebrews 10:12–14 (NIV) — 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.


Jesus was the one and only sacrifice that could fully pay for our sins. Every time we sin, we no longer need a fresh sacrifice to make payment. Jesus’ death was enough to pay for every single flaw, every single mistake, every single failure in our lives!


Take a moment to think of how great a love Jesus has for you that he would do that. Express your gratitude for his inexhaustible grace.

Eight – Emotional Pain

Eight — Emotional Pain


“God if you don’t get me a friend by the end of the month I think I’ll die of sorrow.” This was a prayer I prayed when I was 17 and in need of a Christian friend. It hurt so much inside that I thought I would physically die. I didn’t get that friend by the end of the month. I did three months later. There were two lessons to be learned there. First, God could provide for me, in His time. Second, He could sustain me while I waited. I learned to trust Him in a deeper way.


We are all pain averse — we avoid it as much as possible. From a cut on the finger, to a broken bone, to a pinched nerve, pain is like an enemy. This is also true of emotional pain. The pain of rejection, loss, loneliness, betrayal, etc. all affect us profoundly.


Mark 14:34 (NIV) — 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”


Before Jesus had experienced any physical pain he experienced emotional pain. He experienced such emotional pain that it was overwhelming. He was already beginning to experience the suffering necessary to bring peace into our own lives.


That sacrifice of emotional pain resulted in our having His promise of peace and comfort in our pain.


John 14:27 (NIV) — 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.


2 Corinthians 1:3–4 (NIV) — 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.


We are still not immune to pain, but we do have the promise of God’s presence and peace in the midst of it. Receive His comfort and pass that comfort along to others when you have the opportunity. Remember that when Jesus returns He will wipe away every tear. There will be no more sorrow, not more pain. (Rev 21:4)

Nine – Walk a Mile in My Shoes

Nine — Walk a Mile in My Shoes


“I know how you feel.” You may have heard it. You may have said it. Sometimes it’s true. Sometimes it’s not.


I’ve had many a conversation with people where all I could say was, “I can only try to imagine how you feel”, because I really don’t know — not experientially.


When Jesus came to earth he did more than just show up and pay the price for our sins. He could have arrived one week, died the next, risen in three days and returned to heaven to sit on the throne. But he didn’t.


He experienced life. He experienced childhood, adolescence, adulthood.


Hebrews 2:14–15 (NIV) — 14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.


Hebrews 2:17–18 (NIV) — 17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.


Hebrews 4:15–16 (NIV) — 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.


He experienced temptation in all of its facets. Tempted to quit? He felt it. Tempted to get revenge? He experienced it. Sexual temptation. Yep. The temptation of greed and power. Yep again. Whatever temptation you may have experienced, he is familiar with it — at least its core driver.


Jesus is able to say to each one of us, “I know how you feel.” He has the right to say it because he experienced it. And just as these verses say, he is able to help us when we face temptation and pressure.


I am so thankful that our struggles are not foreign to Jesus. He doesn’t just know them in theory. He knows them experientially. Thank you Jesus for understanding! Thank you Jesus that you can help us!

Ten – Living in the Moment Part I

Ten — Living in the Moment Part I


Have you ever had a time when things were going well for you yet all you could think about was what misfortune was coming? A foreboding is the sense of coming evil. Some people have that experience every time they are experiencing something good. For some, it becomes such a conviction that it becomes self-fulfilling prophecy — they participate in causing their own problems.


This robs us of the capacity to live fully in our moment. We don’t experience the fullness of joy in the good because we are looking ahead to bad times. We don’t immerse ourselves in the good experience because we are fearful of what may follow. This is often fuelled by fear of disappointment.


Jesus knew his purpose and that he was going to suffer and give his life for us. Yet he was able to rejoice and enjoy life in the good moments.


Luke 10:21 (NIV) — 21 At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.


Jesus was able to fully immerse himself in every moment. He didn’t spend all his time ruminating about the coming bad days.


You may not have control over what happens tomorrow but you can fully enjoy the goodness of God today. Don’t rob yourself of today’s joy because of what might happen in the future. Be thankful, fully engage yourself, and life the moment to the full.

Eleven– Living in the Moment Part II

Eleven — Living in the Moment Part II


It is interesting how our good moments can be robbed by foreboding of the future. Yet when we are in a difficult place we don’t naturally lean toward an expectation of good. How do we live our moment when that moment is a bad one?


Hebrews 12:2 (NIV) — 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.


When Jesus entered into his time of suffering, he was able to endure it because he knew there was something far greater on the other side of it. In the same way, when we experience hardships of suffering, there are rewards for our perseverance. If we lose sight of the eternal view we can get stuck only looking at our present circumstances.


This makes it more difficult to stand and endure. The hardship of the present becomes too big for us and we lose sight. This is the link to hopelessness. We then believe things may never change.


Remember that our lives are made up of moments. Actually, from an eternal view, our lives ARE a moment. There is joy set before you and it’s worth persevering. Let us follow Jesus’ example so we don’t lose sight and give up.

Twelve — Bottom of the Barrel, Top of the Heap

Twelve — Bottom of the Barrel, Top of the Heap


When it came to sports, baseball, hockey, and the like, as a young boy I was always the last one picked to be on a team. Without a doubt, my skill level was the lowest among them. Actually, when it came to hockey, I was so bad that they often made me the referee rather than put me on a team. Okay, don’t shed a tear for me. I’m over it. But I was always last.


Have you ever chosen to be last? Have you ever chosen to be the bottom of the barrel? We live in a society that treasures being the king of the castle (another game I rarely succeeded at).


Jesus’ very act of coming among us was going from the top of the heap to the bottom of the barrel.


Mark 10:42–45 (NIV) — 42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”


Philippians 2:7 (NIV) — 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.


Jesus took the lowest form. Yet the final outcome was him being exalted to the highest place.


Philippians 2:9 (NIV) — 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,


In the same way, Jesus calls us to sacrifice by being willing to serve others and not insist on being first. It is important to realize that the God’s Kingdom works differently than the world does. It takes courage to choose last or lowest place. But God promises reward for it.

Revelation 3:21 (NIV) — 21
To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.

Thirteen – Load Bearing Sacrifice

Thirteen — Load Bearing Sacrifice


“Let me help!”, young little Sam said as he ‘helped’ his mom and dad carry the heavy box into the house. Mom & Dad smiled, knowing Sam was actually bearing very little of the weight.


I’m sure you’ve seen something like this happen at one point or another. We all know that if Mom & Dad allowed the full weight of the box to be on little Sam, it would be far too much and would likely result in injury.


Jesus has played the role of weight bearer for us. He carried what we could never bear. He made our load far easier to bear.


Isaiah 53:4 (NIV) — 4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.


Matthew 11:29–30 (NIV) — 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”


We can find ourselves in places where we still feel overwhelmed with the weights of life. Jesus has promised to be our weight bearer.


When two animals are yoked together, they share the load. Yet Jesus promises to carry the largest portion of that load. We can be like a child, doing our part but understanding that Jesus has done the greatest part.

Fourteen – Directed Desire

Fourteen — Directed Desire


We all have desires. Things we want. Things we want to do. Places we want to go. Most of the desires we have are from us and for us. We also have desires for others. That our children do well in life. That our community thrive and prosper. That poor and needy people get help.


However, it is another thing altogether to live an entire life only desiring what another wants. One of the sacrifices Jesus made for us was to forfeit his own desires — for his entire life. He lived all of his life for the Father’s will and plan.


Hebrews 10:7 (NIV) — 7 Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, my God.’


John 5:19 (NIV) — 19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.


John 12:49 (NIV) — 49 For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken.


I can hardly imagine someone living every moment for another’s will. Imagine Jesus setting aside every desire that differed from God’s will and instead completely pursuing God’s desires.


Here’s the thing: God calls us to live our lives to please Him as well. Yet His promise is that, as we do so, we will experience an abundance of life that cannot compare with what our own ways would bring. Let’s follow Jesus’ example of desire and pursue God’s desires for us in our own lives.

Fifteen – Motley Crew, Mighty Men

Fifteen — Motley Crew, Mighty Men


Luke 6:12–16 (NIV) — 12 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: 14 Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15 Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.


These twelve men were chosen as a result of Jesus spending an entire night in prayer. In our world of gift and skill focus, we would likely have chosen a different group — both for our benefit and theirs.


Jesus chose Simon(Peter), who put his foot in his mouth often, and who denied Jesus three times. He chose John, who wanted to call fire down from heaven on people who were preaching Jesus but weren’t part of their group. He chose Matthew, a tax collector that would be viewed as a traitor by the average Jew. He chose Thomas, who always saw the negative in a situation, “Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’” (Jn 11:16). Thomas refused to believe Jesus had risen from the dead and insisted on physical evidence. He chose fishermen instead of scholars. And finally, he chose Judas, who, as the money keeper, regularly stole money for himself, and who, given the opportunity, betrayed Jesus for money.


This was Jesus’ dream team — the motley crew. They often argued among themselves. They were in competition with each other even about their spirituality. It must have been both a challenge and a sacrifice for Jesus to have these men as his ambassadors and his team.


Yet we can take great encouragement to see that God saw beyond all of their weaknesses to what they would accomplish later — all except Judas, who took his own life after betraying Jesus. We can appreciate that God can do significant things through unlikely people. He is not looking for pure talent. He is looking for surrender.


I would gladly be part of Jesus’ motley crew even today. And we are if we follow him with all our hearts… His motley crew, His mighty men and women.

Sixteen – Magnanimous Sacrifice

Sixteen — Magnanimous Sacrifice


I once found myself in a situation where a group of people were making comments to me that were somewhat accusatory and a little derogatory. There was a tone of criticism about something I had done. Yet I knew in my own heart that my motive for doing it was noble and good. If felt I had been misunderstood and my integrity had been attacked.


As I walked through that conversation I did my best not to deflect or over-defend myself. I tried hard to be gracious and understanding, without compromising my position. I later received a phone call from a colleague who said to me, “I admired how magnanimous you were at that meeting today.” I had no idea what the word even meant — hoping it was a compliment.


Magnanimous: generous or forgiving, especially towards a rival or less powerful person (Concise Oxford English dictionary (11th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.)


Also: Showing or suggesting nobility of feeling and generosity of mind (Merriam-Webster, I. (2003). Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary)


Isaiah 53:7 (NIV) — 7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.


1 Peter 2:23 (NIV) — 23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.


Luke 23:34 (NIV) — 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.


Jesus displayed a magnanimous spirit toward those who were condemning, mocking and torturing him. He sacrificed his right to retaliate and responded with forgiveness.


The next time you encounter opposition or criticism by others, consider how Jesus responded. He calls us to have a same kind of grace toward others. There is a difference in what we say and how we say it. We can still stand for truth but we must do so in a gracious and life-giving way. Let us make magnanimity a goal in our lives.

Seventeen – Lost Relationships

Seventeen — Lost Relationships


Relationships can be wonderful. They enrich our lives. They bring connection, strength, encouragement, and many other benefits. Relationships can also be challenging. There is always a certain level of risk with trust and vulnerability. You have likely experienced disappointment at one point or another in your life.


Jesus experienced relationship in very real ways. He experienced the joy of friendship. He experienced the sadness of loss. He experienced some of the most painful aspects of relationship possible — betrayal, abandonment, being forsaken.


Psalm 41:9 (NIV) — 9 Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me.


John 13:18 (NIV) — 18 I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’


Luke 22:48 (NIV) — 48 but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”


Matthew 26:56 (NIV) — 56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.


Mark 15:34 (NIV) — 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).


Jesus experienced the deepest relational pain from those closest to him — his disciples, his friends, even his heavenly Father! Jesus is well acquainted with the loss that comes from broken relationships.


He took this on so we could be promised unbroken fellowship and relationship with God. He was forsaken so we wouldn’t be.


Hebrews 13:5b (NIV) — 5 …God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”


Matthew 28:20b (NIV) — 20 …And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.


Romans 8:38–39 (NIV) — 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


We may still experience brokenness in relationships in this life, but Jesus identifies with it and can help us. His love is stronger. His love is greater. His love is eternal.

Eighteen – Guilt Offering

Eighteen — Guilt Offering


In the Old Testament, people were commanded to sacrifice various different offerings to God. One of those sacrifices was the guilt offering. It was for sins committed in ignorance. Even unintentional sin had to be paid for.


It’s one thing to think we’ve done well and not hurt others. It’s another to say we’ve never unintentionally hurt anyone or disobeyed God. All are guilty. There is a certain sense of shame that comes with being declared guilty — and rightfully so. Guilt as an emotion should be felt where guilt as a condition exists.


This is where Jesus steps in. He took the verdict of our guilt on himself to free us from the condition and the feeling of guilt.


Isaiah 53:10 (ESV) — 10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. (emphasis mine)


1 Peter 3:18 (NIV) — 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.


2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV) — 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.


Hebrews 9:14 (NIV) — 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!


Jesus made a way for us so that God could declare us not guilty, even though we are. God can declare us righteous, though we are not. This brings us freedom from a sense of shame and guilt. We can approach God confidently because Jesus took our guilt and its punishment for us.


Oh what a precious gift we have in Jesus Christ!

Nineteen – Our Intercessor

Nineteen — Our Intercessor


Today is Good Friday, the day we pause to contemplate the sacrifice and death of Jesus. We think of his sufferings, his beatings, his torture, his mockery, his shaming, and his excruciating death. Today’s passage of Scripture is a long one but deserves careful reading.


Isaiah 52:13–53:12 (NIV)

13 See, my servant will act wisely;

he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.

14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him—

his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being

and his form marred beyond human likeness—

15 so he will sprinkle many nations,

and kings will shut their mouths because of him.

For what they were not told, they will see,

and what they have not heard, they will understand.

53 Who has believed our message

and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

He grew up before him like a tender shoot,

and like a root out of dry ground.

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,

nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by mankind,

a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.

Like one from whom people hide their faces

he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain

and bore our suffering,

yet we considered him punished by God,

stricken by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,

he was crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace was on him,

and by his wounds we are healed.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,

each of us has turned to our own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted,

yet he did not open his mouth;

he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,

and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,

so he did not open his mouth.

By oppression and judgment he was taken away.

Yet who of his generation protested?

For he was cut off from the land of the living;

for the transgression of my people he was punished.

He was assigned a grave with the wicked,

and with the rich in his death,

though he had done no violence,

nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,

and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,

he will see his offspring and prolong his days,

and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.

11 After he has suffered,

he will see the light of life and be satisfied;

by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,

and he will bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, 

and he will divide the spoils with the strong,

because he poured out his life unto death,

and was numbered with the transgressors.

For he bore the sin of many,

and made intercession for the transgressors.


This passage describes the great sacrifice Jesus made for us resulting in peace, healing and salvation.


Jesus ‘made intercession for the transgressors’. This does not mean he prayed to the Father on our behalf but rather that he intervened, filling in the gap that stood between us and God and made the way for us to be restored to relationship with God.


Think of the depth of the sacrifice and the profoundness of the blessing we have received because of Jesus’ love for us. Made this a day of gratitude and thanksgiving to him.

Twenty – Prayer... Sacrifice or Benefit?

Twenty — Prayer… Sacrifice or Benefit?


I have a thing about budgeting. It’s a contradiction of feelings. I enjoy doing it and I feel great when I’m caught up. Yet when I think about doing it the next time, I dread it. It’s strange. It’s a love/hate relationship. You likely have a task in life that is similar. It may be yard work, cleaning a vehicle, making a meal. You know the benefit of doing it but you avoid it. Once done, you feel a sense of accomplishment, or at least relief.


Prayer can be like that for me, and I suspect for many. We know it should be a consistent part of our lives but we sometimes avoid it — like it’s a sacrifice. Yet when we actually pray it becomes a benefit. So strange.


Mark 1:35 (NIV) — 35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.


Luke 5:16 (NIV) — 16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.


Luke 6:12 (NIV) — 12 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.


Hebrews 5:7 (NIV) — 7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.


Was Jesus’ prayer life a sacrifice or a benefit? Both! I have no doubt rising early in the morning or staying up all night in prayer was something that cost him. Yet he did it — because the benefit far outweighed the cost.


The sacrifice of his prayer life resulted in his complete obedience to the Father, and ultimately, our salvation.


Prayer is a small price to pay for the benefit it brings into our lives. It may feel like sacrifice but it results in benefit. We are more connected to God. We experience his peace, his direction, his power. We align ourselves with God’s ways when we pray and submit ourselves to Him.


In our twenty-first century busyness we can’t afford to make excuses for not praying. Jesus paid the price so we can commune with God in prayer. Let us be thankful for the privilege of approaching God in prayer.


Ephesians 3:12 (NIV) — 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

Twenty-one – The Great Gain

Twenty-one — The Great Gain


We opened this series of devotions looking at the great loss we, and God, experienced when sin came into the world.


We experienced spiritual death when sin entered the world. We lost our connection to God. God lost the relationship he wanted with humanity — that we would reflect his image to the world.


Colossians 1:21–22 (NIV) — 21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—


Romans 4:25 (NIV) — 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.


Alienation. We were separated from God. No relationship. No life connection.


Reconciliation. We were restored to relationship with God. Brought back to his original design. We have his righteousness, his life, and his love within us!


As we celebrate Christ’s resurrection today, let us celebrate the complete restoration of relationship with God. Jesus didn’t just give us a faith, a religion, a set of beliefs or practices. He gave us life! He reconciled us to God and restored the original design for us to be reflections of his image on earth.


Jesus is alive and so are we!