TRUST: When God Does Not Act On Time

February 20, 2017

Time is a relative concept. For man, time is a fixed quantity beginning with our birth and ending with our death.  A. W. Tozer wrote “God dwells in eternity but time dwells in God.” God is eternal. He is self-existing and existed before time began, in time and after time ends. This is a concept that we should remember in Moments of Faith. We should TRUST: When God Does Not Act On Time. Since God’s ways and thoughts are higher than ours, it is reasonable to conclude that God has a different time table than man, and His timing is better than ours.

TRUST: When God Does Not Act On Time. John 11 is one classic case . Ir is where Jesus did not immediately come to Lazarus’ aid when word was sent to Him that Lazarus was sick. In our thinking, if we get the call that our loved one is sick and we can do something about it, we leave immediately. Jesus did not. This is what He said. “When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”” Jesus’ time table was different because His ways and thoughts were higher. It was about God be glorified through it, so what we would naturally do isn’t the path when God’s glory is the ultimate goal. 

With that in mind, we should be able to truly TRUST: When God Does Not Act On Time. Let’s see the most poignant example in the life of Jesus.

Mark 15

27 They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. [28]  29 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 come down from the cross and save yourself!” 31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel,come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

The criminals, chief priests, and teachers of the law all mocked Jesus because His time table did not match theirs. They did not have TRUST or faith in Him. In fact, they demanded that Jesus act in their time in order for them to believe. Jesus cannot and will not be manipulated to act in and on our time frame. Why? God’s glory is His ultimate goal. God has His own time table.  TRUST: When God Does Not Act On Time. Instead of trusting, look at what the people did – they insulted Jesus. I can only imagine the scene or the commentary. OMG, SMH and LOL were observed in the passage. Mocking or insulting Jesus is the normal course of action when one does not TRUST Him – When God Does Not Act On Time.

Is there a circumstance you are facing now where it appears that God has not acted in time? Does it feel like God has abandoned or forsaken you? Are you wondering why has God stepped in and done something about your situation? I urge you to TRUST: When God Does Not Act On Time. God is at work and He seeks to gain glory for Himself. The principle from Lazarus’ death and resurrection is that God desires to be glorified through your circumstance. TRUST God in the midst of what may be a horrible experience. The criminals, chief priests and teachers of the law questioned whether Jesus could save Himself, whether He could destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days. Not only did Jesus save Himself, He did it in away that proved His deity. He died and raised Himself in three days just as He proclaimed He would. He showed that He truly was God and the King of the Jews.

When God Does Not Act On Time, what will you do?  

For followers of Christ, Colossians 3:1 tells us what we must do. ” Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”

 

 

 

 

 

The Place of Death Becomes a Place of Life

February 17, 2017

We say and hear many well wishes for life. For example, we may hear “‘Long life to you! Good health to you and your household! And good health to all that is yours!” Who can only grant and preserve life? Most of the living would agree that God can only grant and preserve life. The bible conveys that is God alone who grants and preserve life.

Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
Then he blessed Joseph and said, “May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked faithfully, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day,
… For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
“See now that I myself am he! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand.
1 Kings 17:20-22
20 Then he cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, have you brought tragedy even on this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?” 21 Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, let this boy’s life return to him!” 22 The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived.
1 Kings 20:42
He said to the king, “This is what the Lord says: ‘You have set free a man I had determined should die. Therefore it is your life for his life, your people for his people.’
As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!”
I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for my sake and for the sake of my servant David.’”
You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.

The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.”

For what hope have the godless when they are cut off, when God takes away their life?

The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

He asked you for life, and you gave it to him— length of days, for ever and ever.

The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?

How long, Lord, will you look on? Rescue me from their ravages, my precious life from these lions.

My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.

The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death.

This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot

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.
Sing to the Lord! Give praise to the Lord! He rescues the life of the needy from the hands of the wicked.
I will save you; you will not fall by the sword but will escape with your life, because you trust in me, declares the Lord.’”
This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.
Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
Mark 1:30-31
30 Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. 31 So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.
Mark 5:22-24,35-42
22 Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. 23 He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” 24 So Jesus went with him…35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?” 36 Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” 37 He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the handand said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”).42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished.
Mark 10:17
As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Mark 10:45
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.”

Proverbs 14:27
My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.

In Mark’s account, Jesus had shown that He could grant life. We see that in Mark 1, Mark 5 and Mark 10 as written above. Mark 15:21-26

21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. 22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get. 25 It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the jews.

Now, we see Jesus granting life again as The Place of Death Becomes a Place of Life. Golgotha is the name of a place outside Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified; so called, apparently because its form resembled a skull. Furthermore, others have conjectured that this is the place where many other crucifixions have taken place including the two criminals who were also crucified on the same day as Jesus. Others have proposed that this was the same place where Adam was buried, so it would be fitting that the last Adam would die there too. Why is that interesting? Romans 5:12 tells us “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” 1 Corinthians 15:22 explains the context. It says, “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” Sin entered into the world through Adam’s sin. Life entered into the world through Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. “So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.” 1 Corinthians 15:45

Through Jesus, Golgotha The Place of Death Becomes a Place of Life. After raising Lazarus, Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; ” John 11:25  “For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!” Romans 5:17

The Place of Death Becomes a Place of Life. In John 17:3, Jesus said, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” It is through Jesus that we are reconciled to God and experience life. Colossians 1:21-23 says, “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— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.” “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:” 2 Corinthians 5:18

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. The Place of Death Becomes a Place of Life. Like Jesus, God is calling you to your own Golgotha. Die to yourself and live for eternity in His presence.

Are You Compelled to Carry the Cross of Christ

February 13, 2017

As one who has worked with adolescents or preadolescents for nearly 30 years, peer pressure has been front and center in my life. In fact, from my childhood to adulthood, I saw that all people experience peer pressure. There are times in one’s life where the need to be accepted or to fit in compels him/her to do things that he/she would not ordinarily do. Then, there are times, albeit very rare, when a person is physically forced to do something that he or she would not do. It is a circumstance of being compelled to act. We will face two types of compulsion in our lives: being forced out of fear or being encouraged out of love. How will you live your life?

Are You Compelled to Carry the Cross of Christ? In the biblical account of Simon from Cyrene, Simon represents one who was forced to do something he had not planned. He was coming into town for the Passover, but to carry Jesus’ cross was never on his mind. While that is most assuredly true, God chose him to be the one to carry Jesus’ cross. He represents that person who seemingly gets involved in affairs that they never intended; yet, they live on through God involving them in the Father’s affairs.

Mark 15

21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. 22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get. crf

Are You Compelled to Carry the Cross of Christ? Truth be told, none of us, in and of ourselves, would choose anything related to serving God. Isaiah 53:6 proves it when God says, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way;” As people, we do not choose God. He chooses us. Luke 10:22 says, “22 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.””

When He chooses you, the Word tells us the answer to Are You Compelled to Carry the Cross of Christ?  14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15) This compulsion is different from being forced. It is more of an urging or impelling of our spirit by the Spirit of God. God’s love, through Christ’s sacrifice, moves the believer to action. In fact, it is the requirement as a follower of Christ to carry not Jesus’ cross but our own. In Mark 8:34 Jesus says, “34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

Because He gave us His all, He requires us to give Him our all. We must be willing to give up our lives for His just as He gave up His for our life. Are You Compelled to Carry the Cross of Christ?  Please consider these passages as you assess your response to that question.

1 Corinthians 9:25
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.

We have to be mindful of what we are sacrificing for – eternal life and a life that is honoring and pleasing to God that results in His praise, glory and honor. We are sacrificing our lives, hopes, dreams, wants and desires to receive the crowns from God. Are You Compelled to Carry the Cross of Christ?  By the power and grace of God, I can say that I am willing and have carried my cross. Join me in our journey to carry our own crosses as we die to ourselves in this life for a greater life now and after this one.

Jesus, In the House

February 9, 2017

According to Wikipedia, the Latin term praetorium — or prœtorium or pretorium — originally signified a general’s tent within a Roman castra, castellum, or encampment. It derived from the name of one of the chief Roman magistrates, the praetor.  In the Roman Empire, the Latin word castrum (plural castra) was a building, or plot of land, used as a fortified military camp. Castrum was the term used for different sizes of camps including a large legionary fortress, smaller auxiliary forts, temporary encampments and “marching” forts. The diminutive form castellum was used for fortlets, typically occupied by a detachment of a cohort or a century. The Romans originally used the term (praetorium) for a general’s tent in an army camp. The Bible in a variety of instances refers to the Praetorium as the “common hall,” the “governor’s house,” the “judgment hall,” “Pilate’s house,” and the “palace.”

This conveys that Jesus was in the inner most part of Pilate’s home. It was a protected and concealed part of the military camp i.e. where the guards convened maybe even resided. Jesus, In the House. This sets the scene for our next portion of text in

Mark 15

16 The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers.17 They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18 And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

The chief priests, elders, teachers of the law, the disciples or any general on looker did not have access to the Praetorium, but who did –Jesus, In the House.  To me, it further shows the depth of man’s sin and condemnation for its grievances against our Lord and God. Here we have the ultimate judge being judged by those whom they will eventually have to give account. They will have to answer for calling out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” for striking him on the head again and again with a staff and for spitting on him, for mocking Him by falling on their knees as if they really were paying homage to him, for mocking His royalty and kingship as they  took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him and lastly, for leading him out to be crucified.

Jesus, In the House. He went where others did not and could not go. Why? It was the place He had to go to in order for our salvation to be obtained. It was a part of the judgment handed down to him that we deserved for our sins. As for us, we have time to repent of our sins and believe the good news that God sent Jesus as Savior into the world to die for our sins, so we could be forgiven of our sins and escape the wrath of God for them. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.”John 3:36

Jesus, In the House – will you be in His house? Listen to Jesus in John 14 to make an informed response to that question. ““Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

 

Don’t Be a People Pleaser

February 6, 2017

In Psychology Today, we are told “a People Pleaser is one of the nicest and most helpful people you know. They never say “no.”  You can always count on them for a favor.  In fact, they spend a great deal of time doing things for other people. They get their work done, help others with their work, make all the plans, and are always there for family members and friends.  So far this sounds like a good thing.  Unfortunately, it can be an extremely unhealthy pattern of behavior.” Fear of rejection (pride/selfishness) is the underlying feeling that an individual succumbs to being a people pleaser. I am here to implore you Don’t Be a People Pleaser.

I am not advocating that we derail our lives from opportunities to attend to the needs of people around us. I am asking that we do not allow our desire to make others happy supersede our desire to please God. When we place yourself or people over God, you make unwise, bad and costly decisions. Don’t Be a People Pleaser. 

While one would not think of a ruler as a people pleaser, we see evidence of that in Mark 15 with Pontius Pilate.

Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.

“Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate.

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

The chief priests accused him of many things. So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”

But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.

Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.

“Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, 10 knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.

12 “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.

13 “Crucify him!” they shouted.

14 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

Don’t Be a People Pleaser. In verse 10, we see that Pilate knew that the chief priests were seeking penalty for Jesus out of self-interest. He knew they were wrong not Jesus. Furthermore, “19 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.”” (Matthew 27) Despite knowing himself and the warning from his wife that Jesus was innocent, he faced a big decision – do I follow what is right or do I seek to please the people. God gave him, as He does all of us especially believers, a way out or a way to choose to the right thing.

Like Pilate, we will all face decisions that require us to choose between doing what is right or doing what pleases people. We fear their rejection greater than being rejected by God. Matthew 10:28 tells us “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” We know what to do, but we still languish in what to choose. Don’t Be a People Pleaser.

How did Pilate choose? First, Pilate ignored the truth that he knew. Secondly, he sought direction from the wrong source – from the people instead of God. Next, he ran through the warning he got not to be involved with Jesus’ death. Lastly, Pilate chose to please the people over pleasing God. The text tells us “15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.” Don’t Be a People Pleaser.

Barabbas, a known killer and guilty man, was freed over Jesus. While it was wrong and unjust, God intended for all this to happen. ” I cannot say for certain, but I am pretty confident that Pilate did not repent of his sins. As a temporary judge, He will have to face the judge, Jesus, as an account for his sins. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,” 1 Peter 3:18 Despite that, I still maintain Don’t Be a People Pleaser, submit and surrender your life to God through Jesus’ sacrificial death to receive eternal life.

What Shall I do?

February 3, 2017

Life is filled with many instances of uncertainty where we ask What Shall I do? I remember reflecting on this as a young boy in elementary school when I read and memorized Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken. In that poem, the last stanza reads..

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

From small things like which pair of socks to wear to which job to take or is this the person I am to marry. At times, life can be daunting if we allow it. I am sure you can think back over your life where you were vexed about what path to take. What Shall I do?  We see that in the life of Pilate today in Mark 15.

12 “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.

13 “Crucify him!” they shouted.

14 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

While this was a moment of uncertainty for Pilate, it was not because he did not have the right course of action. He did not have the right conviction. Pilate, like us all of us, knew what to do in that moment of crisis. In that moment of crisis, what guides us? Is it convenience or is it conviction.

God’s Word is the key. It is where we develop our sense of conviction. We must obey God’s Word.

The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
Psalm 32:8 – I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Psalm 119:105 – Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
Psalm 119:144 – Your statutes are always righteous; give me understanding that I may live.
Charles Stanley tells us why we still ask What Shall I do? Why we hesitate to obey God’s Word, to follow our convictions.

Why we hesitate to say “no”

  1. Fear of rejection – I can’t stand not being liked, I can’t stand being rejected
  2. Fear of a loss of a relationship – 
  3. Fear of a loss of finances – if I don’t do this, I will never make enough
  4. Fear of a loss of opportunity – if I don’t take this position, I will never make it. God can put you where He wants you inspire of those who are against you.

How we can say “no”

Isaiah 41: 10-12
10 So do not fear, for I am with you;  do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
11 “All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish.
12 Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them.

It is our failure to follow our conviction that calls for the shouts to “Crucify Him”. When we place our faith in Jesus Christ, we have His presence, power, promises and assistance in our lives. We also have a definitive answer to the question What Shall I do?  – Choose and Follow Jesus

There are Man’s plans, but God’s plans Prevail.

February 2, 2017

There is so much irony in the bible that it is countless. Let’s look at planning, binding, leading and handing over. In regards to plans, Psalm 33:10 establishes that “The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.” Psalm 33:11 sheds more light on plans “But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” Psalm 94:11 says, “The Lord knows all human plans; he knows that they are futile.” Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21)  Psalm 119:96 says, “To all perfection I see a limit, but your commands are boundless.” There is no limit to what God has commanded. “For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.” (Romans 11:32). Isaiah 61:1 says, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,” Deuteronomy 32:12 tells us that “The Lord alone led him; no foreign god was with him.” Psalm 77:20 shares that “You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.” Psalm 78:52 says, “But he brought his people out like a flock; he led them like sheep through the wilderness.” Psalm 107:7 tells us that “He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle.” Jesus said in John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” He followed that later in the passage by saying “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (John 10:18)  There are Man’s plans, but God’s plans Prevail.

I hope that you see the irony. If not, reflect on what is said in verse one below.

Mark 15

Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.

“Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate.

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

The chief priests accused him of many things. So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”

But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.

Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.

“Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, 10 knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.

12 “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.

13 “Crucify him!” they shouted.

14 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

There are Man’s plans, but God’s plans Prevail. “The chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans.” They met early in the morning to develop or draw up their plan. They had to come up with a charge against Jesus that Pilate would rule on. Once they developed a crime believed to bring about Jesus’ death, they brought Jesus to Pilate who was Roman governor of Judea from a.d. 26 to 36. As magistrate, only he had the legal right to pronounce capital sentences. The irony is that they could not even carry out their own plan. They could not pronounce Jesus guilty with a sentence of death. They had to rely on someone else. They were oblivious that God planned long ago for the death of Christ to be a sin offering to bring peace and salvation to man.

There are Man’s plans, but God’s plans Prevail. They thought they were planning to do something outside the will of God. They could not. God cannot be bound. His plans cannot fail nor can He be led anywhere He does not want. Jesus said, “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” He handed Himself over in obedience to the Father to gain our freedom. That is the irony – the free, Jesus, for the bound, man.

The chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin show us that There are Man’s plans, but God’s plans Prevail. There is someone even the devil planning against you today. The schemes and evil plotted for you cannot touch you unless the Lord allows it for the purpose of conforming you to the likeness of Christ. Resist the urge to fight in your own strength. Stand in the power of the Lord through the Holy Spirit. Thank God that There are Man’s plans, but God’s plans Prevail.

Read Isaiah 53.

Another Amazed by Jesus but Does not Acquiesce

January 31, 2017

In the post TRUST: Astonished, Amazed or Offended by Jesus, I wrote that being astonished, amazed or offended are not novel reactions or emotions. They have been around for centuries, from the beginning of time. I am sure the first humans, Adam and Eve were astonished and amazed at what they saw and experienced. After the fall of man, I am sure they offended one another too. After reading Mark 5-6, we see those reactions surface again but in response to Christ.

The Greek word for marveled or amazed in those passages is thaumazō (thau-mä’-zō). It is the same word used in Mark 15:5 and 15:44. Strong’s translates it in the following : marvel (29x), wonder (14x), have in admiration (1x), admire (1x), marvelled (with G2258) (1x), vr wonder (1x). It means to wonder; by implication, to admire:—admire, have in admiration, marvel, wonder.

In Mark 15, we see Another Amazed by Jesus but Does not Acquiesce. This time, it is Pilate who was the sixth Roman procurator of Judah and Samaria who ordered Jesus to be crucified. Why? Pilate favored pleasing man over what is right or over God. He was a people-pleaser not a God-pleaser.

Mark 15

Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.

“Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate.

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

The chief priests accused him of many things. So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”

But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.

Another Amazed by Jesus but Does not Acquiesce. Pilate marveled at Jesus or was amazed at Jesus. Why did Pilate wonder or admire Jesus? I believe that Pilate wondered at Jesus because of Jesus’ response or lack there of. He was being accused of many things by the chief priests. The text tells us that Jesus still made no reply. The NKJV states it like this “But Jesus still answered nothing, so that Pilate marveled.” Likewise, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the did not understand Jesus’ manner for giving no reply.

While they wondered at Jesus, it did not lead Pilate nor the Jewish hierarchy to value, honor or surrender to Jesus. The chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law were more absorbed  in their self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. Pilate was more concerned about pleasing the people than doing what was right or surrendering to Jesus. Another Amazed by Jesus but Does not Acquiesce.

Where are you? Are you Another Amazed by Jesus but Does not Acquiesce? Luke 23:24-25 says, “24 So Pilate decided to grant their demand. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.” Let’s learn from Pilate. We should surrender and follow Jesus.

The Spirit is Willing but the Flesh is Weak

January 30, 2017

Jesus does not deal in excuses. He has not nor will He ever deal in excuses. There is no reason for Him to hear or accept excuses, because, He has made appropriations for our sins and faults. He understands our human frailty which is why He came. In John 12:27, Jesus said, “27 “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.” Like the Savior, we must own up to our frailties not seeking refuge in excuses. Jesus knows that “The Spirit is Willing, but the Flesh is Weak

Mark 14 , we see Jesus’ insight into that fact in His interaction with the disciples. First, Peter, after hearing Jesus recall a prophecy that supports Jesus’ claim of the disciples falling away, vows to not fall away. Jesus tells him that not only will he fall away, but he would disown Him three times. Then, He shows the disciples that they might have the right intention of supporting Him, but they just can’t follow through on their own. He takes Peter, James and John with Him to Gethsemane as He prepared to be betrayed. He asks them to watch and pray; yet, they could not do it as they fell asleep three times. Then we see Peter’s actual incident of disowning Jesus three times as He had prophesied.

27 “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written:

“‘I will strike the shepherd,
    and the sheep will be scattered.’

28 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

29 Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”

30 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”

37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. 67 When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.

“You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.

68 But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway.

69 When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” 70 Again he denied it.

After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.”

71 He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”

72 Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

What can we take away from this passage? A lot. I am sure that I have not captured it all as I am not the Almighty. What I do see is that when Jesus says something will be, it will be. I need to trust the Word of God. Secondly, I see that we may have great intentions, but we falter. Jesus told Peter, James and John that “The Spirit is Willing, but the Flesh is Weak“. I wonder what could be different if we did not falter in belief? I wonder what could be different if we did not fail to pray? I wonder what could be different if we walked in the power of the Holy Spirit rather than in our own strength?

As I wondered, God led me to Acts 3– where He showed me that He would do great things in and through me and that people would be offended because of what God would do through me. I must be ready to accept that I will be rejected by man. I must not be afraid, so like Jesus, God can bring glory to Himself through me. Contrast that with the motives of the chief priest in Mark 15:10 – it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. Father, I don’t want to live life out of self-interest anymore. I want to live life in and through the power of the Holy Spirit. Teach me how to surrender to the Spirit moment by moment. Help me, as you say in Philippians 2:13, by working in me to will and act in order to fulfill your good pleasure. Acts 9:31 echoes what Pastor Benson presented for us this year during our time of consecration and prayer – “Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.” 2 Corinthians 10 gives a strategy for victory. Galatians 5:16 says, “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” 1 John 1:7 tells us that we will have fellowship with one another if we walk in the light. 3 John 1:3 says that people will rejoice when we walk in the truth because their testimony will be as such. 

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Christ is the remedy1 John 4:4 tells us that “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 5:4-5 says, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” Father, help all who call you Lord and God to overcome this world by walking in the Spirit through faith in you.

Denying JESUS

January 28, 2017

In a strange but human way, we make and project distasteful and degrading attributes on the Apostle Peter. While we laud Peter for his unreticency, we disparage him for most of the things we read about him. Why? As a people, we love to blame and exalt ourselves above others. Simply, we are sinful. The pride we exhibit for such a great servant of God is indicative of us all. Peter did not act alone as we all are complicit in Denying JESUS!

Denying JESUS  was not Peter’s sole claim to fame. I believe that Peter’s denial is a window into the sole reason Jesus went to the cross – redemption, the Just for the unjust. By the grace of God, the story of Peter does not end at his three denials of Jesus. It really is the beginning of God’s picture of His love, grace and mercy. As you know, Peter was restored by Jesus and was instrumental in the spread of the Gospel as well as being responsible for several books in the Word of God.

Mark 14 is one of the four places in scripture that captures Peter’s instance of Denying JESUS.

66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. 67 When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.

“You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.

68 But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway.

69 When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” 70 Again he denied it.

After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.”

71 He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”

72 Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

I am no Spurgeon (+), so I would like to share some of his points about this matter.

  • Peter’s denial greatly increased the grief of the Lord Jesus Christ
  • Peter’s fall and restoration are thus fully recorded to set forth the greatness of our Redeemer’s saving power in the immediate prospect of His cruel death upon the Cross.
  • Peter’s denial provides instructive lesson for us concerning the frailty of the best of men; therefore, trust wholly to your Master, but never trust in yourself.

Only God could make something beautiful and good out of Denying JESUS. Again, He illuminates another truth found in His Word. Romans 8 tells us that “28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified

Every time we doubt; every time we disobey; every time we disbelieve, we are guilty of Denying JESUS. Hallelujah for Peter’s heartfelt and personally experienced words from 1 Peter 3:18 – 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,” The chief priests, elders, teachers of the law, Herod, Pilate or any of us can rob God of His glory. God has illustrated that the worst commissions of sins, Denying JESUS, could not stop His plan for redeeming man.

Peter and one of the criminals on the cross reveal that we all can be redeemed from Denying JESUS; however, “whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.(John 3:36). There is no recovering or restoration for one who dies in that state. Surrender control of your life now and stop Denying JESUS.