February 22, 2018
FAMILIARITY IS NOT FAITH
When Jesus began teaching and performing miracles in His hometown of Nazareth, “He was amazed at their unbelief.” Can you imagine that? That the Son of God was “amazed” at the lack of faith He saw in the very neighbors that should have known Him best?
Those that have grown up going to church and hearing the gospel must be careful to examine their faith. For they are at risk of being like the folks of Nazareth. Although they had known Jesus for years and claimed him as a neighbor, they still did not place their faith in Him. Familiarity is not faith.
February 21, 2018
FEAR OR FAITH?
Jesus was on His way to heal Jairus’ daughter when messengers came to inform them that she had died. In response, Jesus told Jairus to have faith rather than fear. Jesus often put fear and faith as opposite choices that people could make as an act of the will. When Jesus arrived at Jairus’ house, He raised his daughter from the dead.
Fear seems like an automatic response rather than an act of the will. But Jesus teaches that we can learn to choose faith over fear.
Is this possible? That we can learn to replace our fear with faith?
February 20, 2018
JESUS SOMETIMES LEADS US INTO A STORM
Jesus told the disciples that He wanted to take the boat to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. So, they pushed off and Jesus lay down to sleep in the back of the boat after a long day of ministry. Soon a fierce storm came up and threatened to sink the boat. Fearful, they awoke Jesus and He stilled the storm with a simple command. Then, asked them why they were afraid and why they lacked faith.
1) Jesus led them into the storm.
2) Jesus was with them, but was sleeping.
3) Jesus had the power to still the storm.
4) Jesus made a point to question why they chose fear over faith.
What can we learn from this story?
February 19, 2018
THE LISTENING PRINCIPLE
Jesus instructed His disciples to “pay close attention” to His teachings. For the “closer” they listened, the more they would receive understanding from His Word. This principle seems obvious: “listen and learn.” Yet, there is a spiritual component. For Christ is making a promise to those that pay close attention to His teachings that they will be given more and more understanding. This is why we love God’s Word. We read it everyday and everyday it brings new meaning to our lives.
March 11, 2017
At the sound of Jesus’ last cry, the thick curtain separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple, was rent from top to bottom, opening the way. This must have been quite startling to the priests who witnessed it during the exact time of afternoon prayers. For it was at the “ninth hour” that Jesus cried out, which was the final time of daily prayers. The Jews counted time from sunrise at 6AM which they called the “first hour,” so the “ninth hour” would have been 3PM. There were three daily prayer times, except on the Sabbath when there were four. The daily prayer times were: Morning prayers at 9AM, Midday prayers at Noon, and Afternoon prayers at 3PM. It was during the third prayer time that Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying “It is finished!” (John 19:30). And the temple veil was torn asunder.
From that moment, Jesus, our Great High Priest, opened up “a new and living way” by His blood, so that we are able to enter the “Holiest” place and bring our requests before the Father (Heb. 10:19-22).
March 7, 2017
After visiting the Temple in Jerusalem, the disciples commented on its magnificence and the beauty of the surrounding buildings there. Jesus surprised them by saying, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another” (Mark 13:2). They asked Jesus two questions in response. 1) When will this happen? And 2) What will be the sign of its fulfillment?
Jesus answered both their “when” and “what” questions concerning the Temple. The Temple would be destroyed during the time of that “generation,” just as Jesus had said. For it was demolished in 70 AD by the Romans. But Jesus went on to tell them even more than they had asked. He also spoke of a time of tribulation followed by his coming again. Concerning this, he gave some of the signs, but not the time. In fact, he warned that no one except the Father knows the time of his return.
Therefore, do not believe those who predict the day or hour of Christ’s return. Jesus has already told us that they do not know. Instead, follow his instructions:
1) “Take heed.” – Be prepared. Live as if he could return today. Get your affairs in order.
2) “Watch” – Stand guard. Keep your eyes open for the signs of his return.
3) “Pray” – Let prayer be the main activity of your heeding and watching.
The destruction of Jerusalem was one of the many signs fulfilled exactly according to Christ’s words. The reality that he is coming again is just as certain.
March 3, 2017
And so ended the day of Passion Week, Palm Sunday, 33 AD. After a very eventful day, Jesus and the Twelve spent the evening in Bethany, no doubt at the home of Lazarus, Martha and Mary. The Bible offers more detail about this week, than any other week since the week of creation recorded in Genesis.
Creation Week Passion Week
Day 1/Sunday Light Triumphal entry
Day 2/Monday Sky and seas Cleansing the Temple
Day 3/Tuesday Land and plants Teaching in the Temple
Day 4/Wednesday Sun, Moon and stars Anointed in Bethany
Day 5/Thursday Birds and fish Last Supper & Garden
Day 6/Friday Animals and Man Crucifixion and Death
Day 7/Saturday Rested In the tomb
Day 8/Sunday Man’s Fall Christ’s Resurrection!
The Bible zooms in on these two weeks for a day by day account. In the first week, all is created, yet man falls into sin. In the second week, all is redeemed by Christ’s death and resurrection!
February 28, 2017
Jesus often used hyperbole to make a point. After taking a child onto his lap, he warned against anyone who would cause such a little one who believed in Him to stumble. He told them it would be better that such a one have a millstone hung around their neck and be cast into the sea. Then, he warned against allowing anyone or anything to cause us to sin as well. He illustrated this with three parts of the human body, the hands, the feet and the eyes, in his warning to drive home the extreme seriousness of sin’s penalty. He taught that it was better to enter heaven missing a hand, a foot or an eye, than to go to hell with them. Perhaps the apostle John had these three warnings in view when he wrote, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16). Do not let anyone or anything, no matter how dear it may be to you, cause you to choose sin over believing in Christ.