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Daily Reading: Acts 24

Scripture Focus: A ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. (Acts 24.5)

Devotional Thought: I'm a pastor in the Church of the Nazarene. I feel like I'm in good company, for the Apostle Paul was accused of being a ringleader in the sect of the Nazarenes. Even better, Jesus himself was called "the Nazarene" (Mark 14.67).

As part of the sect of the Nazarenes (not the denomination, but the followers of Jesus), what do we believe?

· We believe in the humiliation of Jesus. The Bible says that Jesus humbled himself in order to come to this earth to save the lost. He emptied himself of all his rights, privileges, wealth and honor in order to identify with his broken creation. He was born to a humble family, in a lowly setting, in a subjugated nation. He left his crown for a cross.

· We believe in the crucifixion of Jesus. Jesus was rejected by those in authority in his day. Religious and civil authorities conspired to execute him. He was illegally tried, mercilessly beaten, nailed to a cross, and hung out to die. But, his blood was not shed in vain. He was crushed for our iniquities.

· We believe in the resurrection of Jesus. As the old Easter hymn goes, "Death could not keep its prey, Jesus my Savior. He tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord. Up from the grave he arose!" God did not abandon his Son to the grave. He raised him in power and victory!

· We believe in the redemption of Jesus. All of this took place - the humiliation, the crucifixion, and the resurrection - for a reason: to redeem fallen and sinful humanity from the curse and control of sin. Jesus came and died and rose again that you and I may have life - life here and life hereafter!

Prayer: Lord, as the song goes, "I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, and wonder how he could love me, a sinner condemned, unclean. How marvelous, how wonderful is my Savior's love to me!" Amen and Amen!

Psalm of the Day: Psalm 73.12-20

12 Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches. 13 All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. 14 For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning. 15 If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed the generation of your children.

16 But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, 17 until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.

18 Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. 19 How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors! 20 Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms.

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