A Time of Victory!

Luke 24:5-6a-Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! NKJV

Photo by Pisit Heng on Unsplash

They crucified our Savior on the tree and laid Him in a tomb. Everyone thought it was over with. That was the end of the story! But we know differently. While His body lay in the tomb, He was busy dealing with the devil, himself!

And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

Colossians 2:15 NKJV

That’s right! While the disciples were mourning His loss and hiding from the Jewish leaders, Jesus was spoiling principalities and powers and making an open show of them. This is the language of victory!

Paul, as a Roman citizen had probably seen his fair share of triumphs and used this language to describe what happened in the spirit world between Jesus and the spirits of darkness.

During the Roman empire, triumphs were a procession that honored the god Bacchus. When a major battle was won and the war was ended as a result of that battle, a triumph was held. The man who had won the battle would be at the front of the processional that led through the streets of the city on the way to the temple. Following in the procession were the animals to be sacrificed, the spoils of war, and the prisoners that were captured. When they arrived at the temple the sacrifices were offered and the prisoners were slain.

The Encyclopedia Brittanica, https://www.britannica.com/topic/triumph-ancient-Roman-honour

Between the time that Jesus gave up the ghost and the empty tomb, victory was being paraded before the throne of God! The enemy and his principalities and powers were conquered through the shedding of the Blood of Jesus, and while they were thinking it was all over, He was doing His victory parade.

Isaiah uses similar language about His death being a time of obtaining the spoil and having greatness and honor bestowed on Him:

Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Isaiah 53:12 NKJV

A time of victory, not defeat! And it wasn’t over! The women went to the tomb that He had been buried in and yet He was not there! Angels were sitting in the tomb waiting to share the good news:

 “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! 

Luke 24:5b-6a NKJV

He got up! Just as He said He would! He was raised from the state of death and mortality into immortality! What they thought was the end for them, had become the beginning of all things new! And yet, they still did not believe.

It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them. 

Luke 24:10-11 NKJV

Idle tales? Seriously? Jesus had told them that He would die and on the third day He would be raised from the dead, and they thought this was an idle tale that Jesus was alive!

Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

Luke 24:25-27 NKJV

Paul goes into detail about Jesus’ death and resurrection and the people who saw Him:

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.

1 Corinthians 15:3-8 NKJV

It was a glorious day when Jesus got up out of the grave. It’s imperative that we, as Christians, believe in the truth of this event for all that we hold dear to us is wrapped in His resurrection:

But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

1 Corinthians 15:13-19 NKJV

I know I’m heavy on the scriptures in this blog! It’s not enough to think of an empty tomb! We need to understand that the significance of the empty tomb is the realization that He has truly risen. He’s alive!

I leave you with this thought: do you really believe that? I was in a professional development with my colleagues. We were given an icebreaker that held a question: If you could go back and speak to someone who was dead, who would you go back and talk with? My colleague came to me for that question believing that I would say Jesus and was surprised when I gave him another name. I responded to his surprise by telling him that Jesus isn’t dead! Glory Hallelujah! And that’s the gospel truth!

A time of victory! A time of hope! If you know Him as Savior, you are already rejoicing in this truth. If He is still just a historical persona or someone you are interested in, allow Him to become so much more so that you too can experience this blessed hope. Wonderful Jesus!

Prayer for Salvation

A Time to Shed Blood!

Luke 22:63- Now the men who held Jesus mocked Him and beat Him. NKJV

I’ve been building up to this time in the life of the Savior. The crucifixion. All that we read in the gospels about Him is wonderful, until this point. The disciples enjoyed hanging out with Him, watching Him perform miracles while sharing His love with all. They enjoyed Him overthrowing the pious religious leaders and thwarting their rules and regulations. They were having a wonderful time being disciples of the One who carried Himself with so much authority and yet was such a humble man. But they really didn’t understand His true mission:

just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Matthew 20:28 NKJV

That was it! His true mission of why He had come to earth was to give His life as a ransom for mankind. And on more than one occasion, He explained what that would look like:

“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.”

Matthew 20:18-19 NKJV

I’ve shared this in detail in my blog, “A Time of Preparation”, but suffice it to say, they heard and yet they still didn’t understand. They were still unprepared for the assault that came against Jesus.

Now the men who held Jesus mocked Him and beat Him.

Luke 22:63 NKJV

When we see an image of the crucifixion, the body is generally clean with blood dripping from the hands, feet, and around the head of the person on the crucifix. But things were a whole lot messier than that! From the time they got Jesus in their hooks until He gave up the ghost, they assaulted Him drawing His blood!

Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.

Matthew 27:26 NKJV

Although Pilate “washed his hands” of the dealings of the crucifixion, he still had a vital role in it. He released Jesus to the scribes and Pharisees to be crucified after he had Jesus scourged. What does scourging mean?

The Vine’s dictionary gives us a little insight into what Pilate had done to Jesus:

Under the Roman method of “scourging,” the person was stripped and tied in a bending posture to a pillar, or stretched on a frame. The “scourge” was made of leather thongs, weighted with sharp pieces of bone or lead, which tore the flesh of both the back and the breast. 

Vine’s Dictionary, http://www.studybible.info/vines/scourge

I saw the Passion of the Christ. I literally cried through the entire movie. My heart ached at the portrayal of what Jesus suffered at the hand of the enemy through the Roman soldiers. It was brutal! There was nothing clean or sanitized about that evening’s events. Isaiah prophesied of that night when he wrote:

He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Isaiah 53:2-3 NKJV

He was scourged to the point of having nothing of His visage remaining. He was probably unrecognizable after it was all over. Blood was spurting everywhere, landing on the ground, the soldiers, the whips, the bystanders, while His flesh was ripped from His body! No form or comeliness because He was beaten and the whip ripped the flesh where it lay! Jesus! His body was torn apart and His blood ran freely, for us!

And the people rejected Him! They spit on Him, mocked Him, slapped Him around because they saw Him in a weakened condition and misunderstood what was happening.

When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” Then they spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head. 

Matthew 27:29-30 NKJV

More blood! Head wounds tend to be bloody, and they pressed that crown of thorns on His head drawing more blood. Precious Blood from His body.

And when they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to be crucified.

Matthew 27:31 NKJV

Let’s read what the Vine’s dictionary has to say about the term crucify:

Crucify denotes, primarily, “an upright pale or stake.” On such malefactors were nailed for execution. Both the noun and the verb stauroo, “to fasten to a stake or pale,” are originally to be distinguished from the ecclesiastical form of a two beamed “cross.”

Vine’s Dictionary, http://www.blueletterbible.org

They crucified Him on a stake. They nailed His hands into the wood, then both His feet together. More blood spilled from a body that was weakened with the loss of blood. We know this because He had to help in carrying His cross:

Now as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. Him they compelled to bear His cross. 

Matthew 27:32 NKJV

Blood was everywhere! His Blood! Shed for us! Isaiah the prophet penned these words:

Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.

Isaiah 53:4-5 NKJV

The time had come for Jesus to give His life as a sacrifice for our sins. His blood ran freely as an offering to the Father for those sins. He suffered at the hands of the Gentiles, was mocked, spit upon, ridiculed and beaten, for humanity.

But Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Isaiah all echo the same message: He was rejected of men. You have to admit that He probably looked defeated at this point. It was enough to drive the most dedicated follower to their knees. Enough to send a message of hopelessness. He had been crucified.

But again, we turn to the words of Isaiah:

Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.

Isaiah 53:4-5 NKJV

Things were not how they appeared. What was seen was not the truth of what was happening. Every stripe on His back, and every flow of blood was for our transgression, our iniquities, our peace, and our healing. In the natural it may have been a really gruesome sight, but from heaven’s perspective it was the ultimate statement of love.

On that night, Peter was off licking his wounds, but years later he wrote these words about that night:

who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. 

1 Peter 2:23-24 NKJV

His Blood still works! It hasn’t lost its power, and it is readily available to cleanse your sin stained soul and make you whole. If you don’t know Him yet as a Savior, it is time that you surrender to the Master. I have included a prayer for salvation and a song of worship. Receive Him today! Wonderful Jesus!

Prayer for Salvation

A Time of Denial!

Luke 22:34- Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.” NKJV

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Relationships are complicated. Just when you think you have seen it all, experienced it all, or heard it all, you can be surprised by the way people interact with one another. I’m reminded of a young man I dated in college. Things were a little more serious for him than for me, because when I decided it was time to go our separate ways he mentioned that he had always thought we would get married. That was news to me because it had never been a topic of discussion, and I saw it for the lie that it was, so I kept it moving.

Years later, after I was married, my husband and I saw him at a conference and I went over to say hello. (Keeping a relationship pure makes it easier to introduce old friends.) Anyway, when I approached him to say hello, he asked me if he knew me! Seriously? It wasn’t twenty years later, it was at most five years later; but still? When I said it was okay and started walking away, his memory returned. Just like that!

Jesus had a similar experience. Of course, my situation didn’t touch my heart, but the situation with Peter touched Jesus’ heart. Peter is reclining at the seder meal with Jesus and the other disciples when Jesus says to him:

“Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”

Luke 22:31-32 NKJV

Can you imagine this scene? Peter and Jesus had a tight-knit relationship and Peter thinks all is well. Then Jesus drops this bombshell that Satan has asked for Peter, and he will leave Jesus. All the disciples are together celebrating the Passover, Jesus has revealed Judas as His betrayer, and now He tells Peter that he will leave Him.

We’ve all recognized by this point, that Peter isn’t a shy person. He’s usually the first one with a comment, and he doesn’t disappoint now. He responds to what Jesus has said to him:

“Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.”

Luke 22:33 NKJV

And in Peter’s mind, he was ready. In a flash Peter may have been remembering some of his experiences with Jesus:

Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them.

Matthe 17:1-2 NKJV

Jesus welcomed Peter into His inner circle. Peter was on the mount of transfiguration where he witnessed Elisha and Moses talking with Jesus. That was a special time in Peter’s life.

And when the disciples were in the boat and they saw Jesus walking by, Peter asked if he could join Jesus on the water:

“Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 

Matthew 14:28-29 NKJV

And there was the time Jesus wanted to know who the disciples said that Jesus was, and Peter got the answer right, showing that he knew the truth about Jesus:

“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Matthew 16:16 NKJV

I can see how Peter would have taken offense. I can understand how he was looking at Jesus as if He had forgotten all of their shared experiences, and so he said:

“Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.”

Luke 22:33 NKJV

I can see the Savior looking at Peter with compassion in His eyes and His heart as He drops an even bigger bombshell on Peter:

“I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.”

Luke 22:34 NKJV

Peter cannot believe it! Jesus is really embarrassing him now and he is probably not happy. Why would Jesus say these things? How could Jesus even think that he would do such a thing? Never! It will never happen! And yet, it did!

Having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house. But Peter followed at a distance….And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at him and said, “This man was also with Him.” But he denied Him, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.”

Luke 22:54-57

That was the first time. What is Peter thinking? Oops! I can’t believe I just said that! But he had said it.

And after a little while another saw him and said, “You also are of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!”

Luke 22:58 NKJV

That was the second time. Peter! What’s going on with you man? What are you doing?

Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, “Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying!” Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.

Luke 22:59-60 NKJV

Luke says that at this point Jesus looks at Peter, and Peter remembers His words:

And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So Peter went out and wept bitterly.

Luke 22:61-62 NKJV

How could Peter forget what the Lord said? It wasn’t twenty years later? It wasn’t even five years later? It was only hours before that Peter vehemently declared his allegiance to Jesus. Peter had said that he would go to prison with Jesus or face death with Him and hours later, he denies that he even knew Jesus. And Jesus is sitting near when Peter denies Him! The gospels of Matthew and Mark state that Peter even cursed! Can you believe this? Yes! Because it’s easy to point the finger and criticize another. But what about us?

Have we ever denied Jesus in our lives? What about that time your friends talked you into something, knowing that you were a Christian, and reminding you of the same, but you played it off and went and did that thing anyway? Isn’t that a denial? What about that time when you casually said that you were leaving “your religion” at home while you went and did something that you knew would displease Him and that you shouldn’t be doing as a believer? Could that be denial? Better yet, how about the years you have spent away from Him while you’ve been doing your own thing, living life the way that you want to live it? Could you be denying the Savior? I hope not!

When Peter came to the realization that he had indeed denied Jesus, in His presence, just like Jesus had said, he left that place for a different place, where he cried his heart out for what he had done. It sounds like repentance!

But I want to draw your attention back to what Jesus said to Peter at the seder:

“Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”

Luke 22:31-32 NKJV

Jesus told Peter that He had prayed for him that his faith would not fail. Jesus was confident that Peter would return and encouraged him to strengthen his brothers upon his return. He offers you the same opportunity to return to Him that He extended to Peter! Just repent and receive His forgiveness and His acceptance!

Even realizing that Peter would deny Him and that it would cause Him heartache and disappointment, Jesus left Peter with words of encouragement and not condemnation. He wants you to know that His arms are stretched out still! He’s waiting for you! He’s a wonderful Savior! Wonderful Jesus!

A Time of Prayer!

Luke 22: 39-40- Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him. When He came to the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” NKJV

Photo by Luis Alberto Sánchez Terrones on Unsplash

There comes a time in all of our lives when a quick prayer just won’t do! A time when we have to fall on our faces before God and cry out with a loud voice because what we are experiencing or we are getting ready to experience is just too much. Such was the place where Jesus found Himself to be on the night that He was betrayed.

Jesus and His disciples had finished the seder meal, He has revealed the betrayer and they are on their way to Jesus’ favorite place of prayer. Judas left to go and report to the chief priests that he knew where Jesus was headed and there would be no crowd around Him. Jesus and His disciples walk over to the Garden of Gethsemane.

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”

Matthew 26:36-38 NKJV

I know of no other place in the Scriptures where Jesus was so vulnerable to His disciples. We don’t have to guess how Jesus was feeling, He told us. As a matter of fact, it appears that He doesn’t want all of His disciples to see Him in this way, because He encourages some of them to wait for Him. Peter, James, and John go deeper into the garden with Him and He tells them,

“My soul is deeply grieved, so that I am almost dying of sorrow. Stay here and stay awake and keep watch with Me.”

Matthew 26:38 AMP

Jesus went a little further and prayed for an hour. One of the things that we know He prayed about was the possibility of not having to face the upcoming events. We also know that He was hurting deeply. Surely, hearing this, His disciples would readily agree to watch with Him.

He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.

Matthew 26:39 NKJV

The entire hour wasn’t spent saying these words over and again “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me”. He didn’t have a singsongy mantra of “Not as I will, but as You will.” However, we know that He was struggling in His flesh because He had already admitted that He felt grieved and heavy with sorrow.

Jesus knew that with God all things were truly possible, while at the same time understanding that there were some things that were not possible. It was not possible for salvation to be extended to humanity without the death of the Savior. It was not possible for the blood of goats and bulls to wash away our sins. It was not possible for redemption without full payment for sins. Therefore, it was not possible for the cup to pass from Him, that is why He surrendered His sorrow and His will to that of the Father.

When He went back to His disciples, they were asleep.

Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Matthew 26:40 NKJV

I find it interesting that Matthew and Mark state that Jesus spoke to Peter. I’m sure you remember that Peter was told by Jesus that he would deny Jesus three times. I wonder if Peter spending time in prayer with Jesus would have given him the strength to say yes instead of no! Peter wasn’t the only one asleep, but he was the one who was told that before the morning arrived, he would deny Jesus!

Before we judge Peter, we should probably all stop and think about the time we faced temptation and weren’t victorious. If we are honest with ourselves, we could probably all admit that we hadn’t taken the opportunity to pray. Jesus tells us the key to avoiding temptation is watching and praying. Watching is simply being alert, and aware of what’s going on, and when we watch and pray, Jesus said that we will not enter into temptation!

Another point that Jesus makes is that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. If you have been in the kingdom for any length of time, you have probably heard this phrase used as an excuse by someone who had given in to temptation. As believers, we should not be using this as an excuse because we are to discipline our bodies and bring them into subjection (1 Corinthians 9:7) so that our spirit dominates our flesh!

Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy.

Matthew 26:42-43 NKJV

Can I be honest and tell you that I find it difficult to pray for a long period of time while sitting? Therefore, when I need to pray for extended periods of time, I pace. I walk back and forth in my bedroom, or in a sanctuary, or wherever because it keeps me engaged in praying and from getting sleepy. Especially when I attend an all-night prayer meeting after a full day of work! So, I get the challenge that the disciples had in staying awake. But, had they prayed with Jesus, He might have gotten His breakthrough faster!

In John 17, we see all the things that Jesus prayed about. He didn’t spend all of His time praying about the challenge of facing the crucifixion. He logically understood that He needed to get on that cross for us. He spiritually understood that without Him dying we would be forever lost! But the humanity in Him didn’t want to do it! Would you have wanted to? Thank God, Jesus pushed past what He felt like doing to what needed to be done!

That is the disciplining of the body that Paul addressed! Our flesh may never feel like doing the right thing. I can pretty much guarantee that it rarely will. But when we develop our spirit beings to control our flesh, and not allow our flesh to dominate our spirit, we will find it can be done! Jesus demonstrated that well!

So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting?

Matthew 26:44-45 NKJV

The third time Jesus went back to pray, He was still sorrowful. But this time something happened while He was praying! He was infused with the power to accomplish the impossible, yet again! He walked away from this time of prayer knowing that He had won in the Spirit what He would now win in the natural.

As I stated in the beginning, there are things that will come our way that a quick prayer won’t change. There are going to be times when we will have to labor in prayer until we have a certainty in our spirit that we win! I believe this is the difference between winning and losing in Christ. Prayer changes circumstances, and prayer changes us! That’s what Jesus’ time in the garden teaches me! You pray until you believe you have met with God, heard from Him, and have received what you needed from God. It’s time to pray like never before! Wonderful Jesus!

A Time Of Remembrance!

Luke 22:19 – And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. KJV

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We call it the Last Supper, but for Jesus and His disciples, it was the Passover where they ate the seder meal. Personally, I have only served it once, for a Wednesday night Bible study, but I shall never forget it. The congregation was engaged as the seder was shared, and afterward many came forward to taste the items on the plate. It was a time of remembrance, as God had intended.

And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.

Exodus 12:14 KJV

Moses had done as God commanded. He had gone into Pharaoh’s palace and told him to let God’s people go. Pharoah wasn’t interested in releasing the Hebrew slaves. So God released plagues upon the land.

  • the first plague was blood in the Nile River (Exodus 7:17-18)
  • the second plague was frogs everywhere (Exodus 8:3)
  • the third plague was gnats everywhere (Exodus 8:16)
  • the fourth plague was flies (Exodus 8:21-22 – this is when God makes a separation of His people and the Egyptians by keeping the flies away from Goshen
  • the fifth plague was upon the livestock, except in Goshen – (Exodus 9:2-3)
  • the sixth plague was boils on the flesh of the people and the animals, except in Goshen – (Exodus 9:8-9)
  • the seventh plague was the hail upon the land, except in Goshen – (Exodus 9:18-19)
  • the eighth plague was the locusts on the land, except in Goshen -(Exodus 10:4-5)
  • the ninth plague was darkness on the land for three days, except in Goshen- (Exodus 10:21-23)

All of these plagues were attacks on the Egyptian gods. Our God demonstrated to them that He is the only true God. So with the tenth plague, He silenced the god of ultimate power, the pharaoh! And He did it by striking the firstborn of man and beast:

…Thus saith the Lord, About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt: And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the first born of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts.

Exodus 11:4-5 KJV

Then God told Moses that would not be the case for His people. He was doing something different for His people, He was covering them in the blood:

And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it…

Exdodus 12:7 KJV

This is where the seder meal comes into play. God told them what they were to eat on the night of the Passover forever:

And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.

Exodus 12:9 KJV

The seder meal has very specific items included. God told them that they were to kill a lamb, and to roast it. Although there is no longer a lamb slain and eaten, the seder plate contains a bone. It also contains a roasted egg which may represent the lack of the roasted lamb for those who do not prepare lamb for the meal.

God told them that they were to have unleavened bread and bitter herbs. On the seder plate today you will find matza, a cracker like bread that is unleavened. The bread that Jesus took, and broke:

And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.

Luke 22:19 KJV

Jesus connects the matza with His body. Unleavened bread representing His body without sin, given or offered for us willingly.

God told them to have bitter herbs. On the seder plate, there are bitter herbs, or horseradish. The bitter herbs represents the bitterness of slavery. With each item they took and placed in their mouths, they remembered the events of the first Passover.

And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning.

Exodus 12:22 KJV

Parsely or celery is dipped in salty water, not blood. The green vegetable represents life, and dipping it in the salty water is symbolic of dipping of the hyssop. There is also an apple and nut mixture called the haroset, which represents the bricks the Israelites had to make, this may have been added later.

Throughout the meal they drink from cups of wine. There are four cups of wine at the seder meal. Jesus took up a cup of wine and said:

This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

Luke 22:20 KJV

For the Jewish nation, the time of Passover is a time of remembrance. They remember the time of captivity, the plagues, the death angel passing over them, their deliverance.

For the Believer in Jesus, not only do we remember that Passover, but we also remember the Passover night when Jesus was betrayed. We remember how He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. We remember the Blood that He shed for our sins, pains, and diseases. We remember how they hung Him on the cross between two thieves, and how He died! For us!

Both events are tied together. The blood that was shed on that first Passover in Egypt was symbolic of the Blood that Jesus would shed on another Passover. That first night, God spared the firstborn of every Hebrew who was covered under the blood of the lamb. But on this night, the night that Jesus died, He was the firstborn Son of God. He had a different outcome. He died on the cross so that one day the death angel would pass over us and we would have eternal life.

He was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the earth. His death was a series of horrific events, but He told us that we are to remember these events, just like the Jewish people were told to remember the first Passover in Egypt.

It’s also a great time to remember the day He saved me. The day you were saved. A time to remember that we once was lost, but now we are found. We were blind, but now we see. However, Paul said it like this:

That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

Ephesians 2:12-13 KJV

Rather you participate in the Passover with the eating of the seder meal, or you sit down to Easter dinner with your family, make sure that it is a time of remembrance. We should never forget what He did for us to give us eternal life. We should never forget the Blood that He shed for us. It’s a time worth remembering!

Our daughter played and sang this song many years ago. It has been a favorite of mine ever since! Enjoy Michael W. Smith as he sings “Above All”! Wonderful Jesus!

A Time of Betrayal!

Matthew 10:4 -… Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him. NKJV

Photo by Stacey Franco on Unsplash

Are you ready for today’s post? It’s nothing pretty! But then, betrayal isn’t a pretty picture! Is there anyone reading this blog today who knows what I am talking about? I believe there are quite a few of you!

In January of this year, a news report was aired that stated the person who betrayed Anne Frank and her family was finally discovered. Maybe you read the Diary of Anne Frank when you were in school, or you saw the movie. Maybe you are one of those people who heard the name but can’t remember what happened. In any case, Anne Frank was a Jewish teenager who went into hiding with her family in 1942 to avoid the Nazis. She kept a diary of her experiences. After two years of hiding out, her family was discovered and sent to concentration camps. Only her father survived and it was him who had the diary published. If the news is true, a leader within a Jewish organization was responsible for revealing their hiding place. In exchange for the freedom of his family, he turned over the addresses of Jews who had gone into hiding.

If you have had a friend reveal your most private concerns to others, you understand betrayal. If you have had someone you love throw your love back in your face for another, you can relate. Well, you are in good company because Jesus, our Savior was betrayed by someone He loved, poured His life into, and trusted. He knows your pain!

Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Him to them.  And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. So he sought how he might conveniently betray Him.

Mark 14:10-11 NKJV

What happened in those months leading up to the biggest betrayal in history that could possibly justify what Judas did? The Bible doesn’t tell us! Maybe with good reason!

In the Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, the author shared the theory that Judas was upset when he found out that Jesus was not there to establish an earthly kingdom. Supposedly, he was so upset that this caused him to betray Jesus. Another theory mentioned that Judas was trying to push Jesus into establishing His kingdom by having Him arrested, to move things along, and that’s why he betrayed Him. Most people believe that Judas was just a greedy, selfish individual and thus, He betrayed the Savior.

Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.

Psalm 41:9 NKJV

Judas hung out with Jesus. He kept the money that they were given. (For those who think Jesus was a poor minister, the fact that He had a treasurer is proof that He wasn’t.) Judas saw the miraculous transpire before his very eyes. He even saw Lazarus get up out of the grave after four days of being dead. Yet, he conspired to betray the Messiah. And in doing so, he opened himself to Satan!

Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve. So he promised and sought opportunity to betray Him to them in the absence of the multitude.

Luke 22: 3,6 NKJV

Jesus shared the Passover meal with His disciples. While they were still at the table, He spoke these words:

“But behold, the hand of My betrayer is with Me on the table. And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!”

Luke 22:21-22 NKJV

The gospel of John gives us a different point of view:

“I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.’ 

John 13:18 NKJV

Peter wanted to know who was the betrayer that Jesus was talking about. He probably looked around that setting and couldn’t come up with a single name, so he asked the disciple closest to Jesus to ask Jesus to identify the person.

Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it.” And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.” 

John 13:26-27 NKJV

There are some events in the Bible that absolutely captures my thinking, causing me to walk away with more questions than answers. This betrayal is one of those events. I cannot fathom what made Judas get up from that table, after Jesus identified him as the betrayer, and follow through with his plan to betray him. Maybe this is truly one of those times when sin took him farther than he imagined and kept him where he did not want to stay? Or maybe he falls in the category of those who can truly say, “The devil made me do it!” It cost him everything!

After sharing the Passover meal with the disciples, they all went to the garden of Gethsemane (featured image). That is, all except Judas. While Jesus was in that garden, He lamented. He hurt so deeply and prayed so intensely about the upcoming events that He had blood seeping through His pores. I don’t know for a fact, but I am pretty sure Judas’ was on His mind. The time for the ultimate betrayal was getting ready to happen and He felt the cut of it deeply!

Judas was not finished. Not only did He betray Jesus to the chief priests, but he also delivered Jesus into their hands!

And while He was still speaking, behold, a multitude; and he who was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them and drew near to Jesus to kiss Him. But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

Luke 22:47-48 NKJV

With a kiss? A symbol of love, reverence, fellowship, and intimacy? No! A kiss of ultimate betrayal! Judas led a detachment of troops with swords to apprehend Jesus (see John 18), and he felt a need to identify Him with a kiss. First of all, didn’t they know who Jesus was? Had they just arrived in Jerusalem and therefore they had no idea about who Jesus was? I don’t think so! I just believe that this betrayal was so thorough that even embracing Him in the end with a kiss was intentional, driving home the point of the ultimate betrayal!

As I stated in the beginning, no one wants to be betrayed. It hurts, and it hurts badly. Some of us seem to never recover from the pain of betrayal. Some, like Anne Frank, never live to realize who the betrayer really was. But most of us see them, sometimes so much, it’s difficult to forget the pain.

I don’t know how your betrayal has turned out. I won’t tell you that you are better off without that person in your life, although you probably realize it yourself. What I will tell you is that you are not alone in your pain. Your Savior knows very well what you have experienced for He went through it Himself. I encourage you to really pour this out to Him. Ask Him to help you to release it and to forgive so that you can be healed. Your time of betrayal has passed, and now it’s your time to be healed! He paid for your pain with His pain. Receive your healing today! I am praying with you! Wonderful Jesus!

A Time of Preparation!

Matthew 16:21- From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. NKJV

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Have you ever been to a gathering where you were asked, “If you found out that you were going to die next week, what would you do?” You try to think of the things that you haven’t done, things you keep putting off, places you haven’t visited yet, to figure out what that last week should look like. Well, no one asked Jesus this question, but one day He announced that He was on the brink of death and got busy!

This is totally contrary to how we think! Let’s keep it real! We really would be the ones making plans for the final week of life. Maybe we would want to gather all the family together and have one last party? Or maybe we would want to slip away with our spouse or immediate family to create those last few memories? In a movie I saw years ago, a woman found out she was dying and spent her final days finding a wife and mother to take her place. (I’m not that woman!)

When Jesus understood that He was at the end of His life, that death was imminent, Matthew said that He began to tell His disciples about what was getting ready to happen. Peter had just finished his declaration that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus had just commended Peter because of this revelation from the Father, and now begins the time of preparation.

From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. (bold and italics are my emphasis)

Matthew 16:21 NKJV

Jesus tells His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem. He tells them that when He gets to Jerusalem He is going to suffer at the hands of the elders of Jerusalem, the chief priests, and the scribes. He elaborates on what that suffering will be when He tells them that He will be killed, and on the third day He will rise. What happens next is both shocking and revealing:

Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”  But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

Matthew 16: 22-23 NKJV

What is shocking is that Peter thought he was in a place to rebuke the Lord! Peter had just finished acknowledging that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God! So how do you form your lips to rebuke the Son of God? Peter told Jesus that nothing like that was going to happen to Him! No one was going to kill Him!

What’s revealing about the situation is that when Jesus gave His rebuke it was to Satan! Was he calling Peter, Satan? I think so! The Greek word “santanas” means adversary, and the Greek word for offense is “skandalon” which means trap. When you use these words together in this sentence, Jesus could easily be saying to Peter that he was His adversary, a trap for Him. In other words, you are trying to trap me like an adversary would! And then again, Jesus could easily have been rebuking Satan himself! Who also desired to trap Him. Maybe He was knocking out two birds with one stone!

As Jesus was preparing His disciples for His coming crucifixion He dropped them a hint:

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

Matthew 16:24-25 NKJV

Jesus just finished telling His disciples that He is going to die, and then He brings up “taking up our cross”. He hasn’t yet revealed that He will die on the cross but isn’t it interesting that immediately following His declaration of suffering and dying that He mentions the cross? Maybe it’s just me!

Then Jesus goes to Galilee, and while they are there, He again tells of His future death and resurrection. Notice how in both tellings, Jesus tells of His death, and of His resurrection.

Now while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up.” And they were exceedingly sorrowful.

Matthew 17:22-23 NKJV

They missed it! They heard that He was going to be killed, but they missed that He was going to be raised from the dead. Because had they heard both parts of what He said, they would have been rejoicing, looking forward to the greatest miracle of His ministry. Instead, they were sorrowful! But fortunately, Peter had learned his lesson and made no comment.

Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.”

Matthew 20:17-19 NKJV

Jesus has made it to Jerusalem with the twelve disciples. He pulls them aside and tells them again that when He gets to Jerusalem things are going to change for Him. He will be betrayed to the chief priests and the scribes. They will condemn Him to death. They will deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock, scourge, and crucify Him. And on the third day, He will arise!

This time He gives them more details of His impending death and resurrection! He tells them of the betrayal that is getting ready to happen. The Jews will turn Him over to the Gentiles. The Gentiles will kill Him without a cause. But that’s not what He wants them to focus on. He wants them to realize that the resurrection comes after the crucifixion!

There’s room to shout right here! Baptists love to hear this truth! They get really excited when you start talking about what happened at the crucifixion wasn’t the end of the story! Then they all start shouting about early Sunday morning!! Well, I am not ready to go there quite yet, but it’s hard not to!

For the disciples, this was a time of preparation. Jesus understood the impact that His physical death would have on His disciples. They truly loved and respected Him. They followed Him because they believed in Him. They saw Him do miracles that we have only read about! They saw nature bow to His will and the physical bodies of many respond to His words. So, they needed to be prepared for the upcoming events, that they might know and understand that this was not the end for Him or for them! It was so much more!

Have the situations of life felt like they were overwhelming you? Do you feel like some things have died that you weren’t ready to let die? Have you felt as if the darkness was crowding in and you can’t see your way out? Can I suggest to you that it isn’t over? Not if your trust is in God!

Jesus prepared His disciples for what was to come, and He has been preparing you for this day, also! He said:

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33 NKJV

Wonderful Jesus!

The Lord is Good!

Psalm 136:1 – Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

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This is a great day to give thanks to the Lord for He is not only good, but He is also so good! He is good to you, whether you admit it or not! He is good to me, and I certainly do admit it! He’s good to my family! He’s good to my friends! And He is good to those who don’t like me because He is good and He can’t help Himself! It’s just His nature!

The psalmist gives us a whole list of reasons why he believes the Lord is good! When mixed in with the phrase “for His mercy endures forever” we can tell that this is some type of song or doxology where the people repeat the phrase after the leader. But I want to pull out what the psalmist is saying and then at the end I will add the phrase back in.

Why is the Lord good in the psalmist’s eyes:

  • Because it is He alone who does great wonders! I’m thinking of a whole lot of great wonders!
  • Because it was His wisdom that made the heavens! He continues for several verses speaking of the beauty and majesty of creation. Six days! And here we have it! A planet created especially for us to inhabit! He’s so good! Earth is the perfect distance from the sun to provide us with light and warmth. It is tilted at the perfect degree to keep us from floating away and to keep us anchored to the land (at least that’s my understanding of gravity). There’s a magnetic field that surrounds the Earth that protects it from cosmic rays and solar flares that they say would fry us. I mean He created it perfectly for us!
  • Because He struck down the firstborn of Egypt. We’re familiar with the Exodus! The plagues He put on the Egyptians to demonstrate that He alone was God! How in the beginning everyone experienced the plagues, but He soon stopped letting the plagues affect His people! He is so good!
  • Because He divided the Red Sea in two that Israel might pass over to the other side. Not on muddy land, but on dry land! That’s one of those wonders I was thinking about!
  • Because the Egyptians didn’t have enough sense to realize they couldn’t stand before Almighty God, so they drowned in the Red Sea. There was a documentary on the remnants of wheels and chariots in the Sea. He’s so good!
  • Because He struck down the kings that opposed His will to give the children of Israel the Promised Land. Great and powerful kings. Living inside of walled cities like Jericho! But He caused those walls to crumble on a shout! Isn’t He good?
  • Because He gave them a land they did not cultivate, houses they did not build, and wells they didn’t dig!
  • Because He remembered them in their lowly state and rescued them from their enemies! Time and time again. One judge after another. He just kept on delivering them!
  • Because He gives food to all flesh! Miraculous provisions. Manna in the wilderness, and quail for days! Water out of rocks! Jehovah Jireh!
  • Then the psalmist interjects the phrase, that He is good because His mercy endures forever! It is God’s mercy that He continually extends to His people that makes Him such a good God! In essence, such a great God!

Those are some pretty powerful reasons why the Lord is good! But you cannot read the word of God without walking away from it realizing how very good God is. I’ll jump to some New Testament goodness to prove my point:

  • Because a Savior was born to us who would save us from our sin! The angelic host was so excited that they burst out of the world of invisibility into the visible world to sing His praise!
  • Because He proved over and over again that He is good!
  • Because He healed the blind!
  • Because He healed the lame!
  • Because He opened the ears of the deaf and the tongues of the mute!
  • Because He raised the dead!
  • Because He cared about a woman caught in adultery!
  • Because He delivered the demon-possessed!
  • Because He demonstrated a love for righteousness and a hatred for hypocricy!
  • Because He ministered to the poor, the forgotten, the ignored!
  • Because He gave His life for us that we might be free!
  • Because He rose from the dead and yet lives! He is so absolutely, positively good that it makes me want to shout and run around this room!!

I think you are probably with me! I think you see that God was good, that He has always been good, and that’s why He is still good and will continue to be good! Every single time He gets involved, goodness comes on the scene because He is just that good!

I can give you a list of all the things that He has done for me. We know I only touched the surface of His goodness in the Scriptures! But it is here, that I will allow you to take up the mantel of praise. It is here that I will say, now you take over! How has He been good to you?

  • Do you have a job? Whether you like it or not, you have one! He is so good!
  • Do you have food on your table, and clothes on your back? He is good!
  • Did you make it through the pandemic? Yes, and He is good!
  • Do you have your right mind? A mind to serve the Lord? He is amazingly good!
  • Are you saved? Born of the Spirit of the living God? He’s good I tell you!
  • Are your family members saved? His goodness knows no end!

Go ahead and give Him some praise because He never gets tired of being good. He never stops being good. He never debates about being good. He is simply good.

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

Psalm 136:1 NKJV

Wonderful Jesus!

A Lesson Worth Learning!

Jeremiah 35:2- “Go to the house of the Rechabites, speak to them, and bring them into the house of the Lord, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink.” NKJV

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We all have a favorite bible story or several favorites. I’m no different in that respect although I have many, and this one is at the top! To me, it paints a beautiful picture of the obedience God wants from His people, and His displeasure when it is not given.

Jeremiah was told by God to go to the house of the Rechabites. As Jeremiah converses with the descendants of the house of the Rechabites, we are given some insight into who they are and what they believe. Before this encounter, there isn’t much knowledge in the Bible about the Rechabites. One commentator suggests that the Rechabites are descendants of the Kenites, Moses’ in-laws.

When Jeremiah arrived at the house of the Rechabites, he was to invite them to the house of God and offer them wine to drink. Jeremiah did as God asked him to do. When the wine was offered to the Rechabites, they responded in this manner:

“We will drink no wine, for Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, saying, ‘You shall drink no wine, you nor your sons, forever. You shall not build a house, sow seed, plant a vineyard, nor have any of these; but all your days you shall dwell in tents, that you may live many days in the land where you are sojourners.’

Jeremiah 35:6-7 NKJV

They refuse to drink the wine. Not only do they refuse it, but they explain to Jeremiah why they are refusing it. It is here that we learn more about them.

They are descendants of Jonadab the son of Rechab. Their father commanded them that they were to never drink wine. This command was extended to their descendants forever. Jonadab also told them that they were to be nomads, not owning a home, planting a vineyard, or laboring as farmers, forever. And apparently, they had kept his words throughout the centuries.

Thus we have obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, in all that he charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, or our daughters, nor to build ourselves houses to dwell in; nor do we have vineyard, field, or seed. But we have dwelt in tents, and have obeyed and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us. 

Jeremiah 35:8-10 NKJV

Isn’t it amazing how faithfully they fulfilled the words from their ancestor, Jonadab? Every son, daughter, and wife in this family followed this edict. To the letter. Not only did not drink wine, but they also lived as nomads, until Jerusalem came under siege. There is no mention of rebellious members who refused to follow the sayings of Jonadab. As a matter of fact, they stated that they had done all that Jonadab had commanded them. That’s some kind of obedience!

Did their reaction to the offer of wine surprise God? Of course not! God had Jeremiah invite them to the house of God because He knew how they would respond. He already knew that they were obedient to the word of their ancestor, and their faithfulness in carrying out that word had His attention! He also knew that he was getting ready to make a point, using this family that had gotten His attention with their obedience. It speaks well of them!

Obedience is not a word that society appreciates today. In the traditional wedding vows, women have asked to have the phrase “obey their husbands” removed from the vows. Parents don’t believe they should “force” their children to do anything they don’t want to do. This leads us to children who believe that they can negotiate with their parents, ignore them, or simply defy them. Therefore, you can pretty much forget them obeying in a classroom, or in society when they act like this at home!

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Go and tell the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, “Will you not receive instruction to obey My words?” says the Lord. “The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, which he commanded his sons, not to drink wine, are performed; for to this day they drink none, and obey their father’s commandment. But although I have spoken to you, rising early and speaking, you did not obey Me.

Jeremiah 35:13-14 NKJV

Listen to God’s heart! A man spoke a simple message to his sons and told them not to drink wine and they obeyed him. Yet He, the God who delivered them from the hand of Pharaoh, gave them the Promised Land, and defeated their enemies before them, asks for obedience, and they refuse to give it! Can you imagine the picture that God is painting here? What did Jonadab do that caused his descendant to have such loyalty to him and his words in their actions? Did He split the Red Sea that they might crossover on dry land? I think not! Did he give them houses they did not build and wells they did not dig? We know he didn’t! And yet they obeyed him! God was not happy!

Jesus equated obedience to Him as a visible witness of our love to Him:

 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.

John 14:15 NKJV

Although we live in the dispensation of grace and forgiveness, obedience is still held by the Father as important. Jesus recognizes how much we love Him by our keeping of His commandments, or obedience! He elaborates on this point by stating:

He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”

John 14:21 NKJV

Not only does obedience demonstrate how much we love God; but Jesus said that obedience gets the attention of the Father and the Son. Those who obey Him cause Him to manifest Himself to them. That’s powerful! I can imagine Jesus revealing Himself to those who obey Him in ways others just dream about.

Let’s see how God blessed the Rechabites:

And Jeremiah said to the house of the Rechabites, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Because you have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts and done according to all that he commanded you, therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not lack a man to stand before Me forever.” ’

Jeremiah 35:18-19 NKJV

Forever is a long time, and yet God promised that the Rechabites will always have a man to stand before Him. Even today, there is a descendant of the Rechabites who stands before Almighty God as a living testament to their obedience to their earthly father.

But to the disobedient Israelites, things did not go well!

‘Behold, I will bring on Judah and on all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the doom that I have pronounced against them; because I have spoken to them but they have not heard, and I have called to them but they have not answered.’ ”

Jeremiah 35:17 NKJV

I can see how their disobedience angered the Father. After all, it was Adam’s disobedience that caused God to drive him from Eden! Yet it was Jesus’ obedience that led us to righteousness:

For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.

Romans 5:19 NKJV

We should never take lightly times when we disobey the Father. As a matter of fact, when we realize that we have disobeyed Him, we need to repent, and then obey Him quickly. It’s not the person who says they love God who truly loves Him, but the person who simply obeys Him. That’s what Jesus said! But we can easily be noted as lovers of God when we are noted as being obedient to Him. That’s my goal, to love Him and to obey Him. Wonderful Jesus!

Trust the Cycle!

Isaiah 55:10 – “For as the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth, making it bear and sprout, and providing seed to the sower and bread to the eater”…AMP

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Some of my favorite passages in the Bible are in regards to the truth of what God has to say about His word. We all know people who we consider, to be honest, and those we consider to be dishonest. But even the most honest person we know doesn’t have the track record that God has. God says what He means and means what He says. When it looks like the Word doesn’t work, we need to check out other scenarios for what really is happening!

Isaiah 55:11 states:

“So shall My Word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:11 NKJV

God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, let us in on the secret of heaven. When He speaks, His words are not idle. When they leave His mouth, they accomplish what He sends them to accomplish. God didn’t say that it happens some of the time, He said it prospers in the thing for which He sent it.

I am sure this is a familiar verse to you, but have you read it in the Amplified Bible?

So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; It will not return to Me void (useless, without result), Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:11 AMP

The Amplified version helps us to understand what God had to say about the reliability of His word!

A natural example of this is the water cycle. I am working on the water cycle with my students and as I was sharing that the water cycle has no beginning and no end because it is cyclical, I was reminded of Isaiah 55.

“For as the rain and snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth, Making it bear and sprout, And providing seed to the sower and bread to the eater…

Isaiah 55:10 AMP

God compares the water cycle to His word. We can all remember how we learned about the water cycle in elementary school. The atmosphere always has water in it. Because 75% of the earth’s surface is covered in water, this is easy to comprehend. Twice God separated the water from the Earth’s surface: during creation and after the flood. So there is a lot of water.

The water cycle is simple: The water in the atmosphere causes clouds to form. Those clouds release precipitation on the surface of the Earth in the form of rain, sleet, hail, or snow. The land is watered producing fruit, then it evaporates into the atmosphere and returns to the heavens, repeating the cycle. This natural occurrence is a forever reminder to the people of God that His word is fluid, never changing, yet always producing fruit! Always in motion, always constant!

Fire and hail, snow and clouds; Stormy wind, fulfilling His word;

Psalm 148:8 NKJV

Isn’t that a beautiful picture to help us to conceptualize the dependability of His word? Every drop of precipitation fulfilling His word! Every single word is being fulfilled.

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

Matthew 24:35 NKJV

I thought of Joab after I thought of the water cycle. He’s not liked by a lot of people, and for good reasons. But Joab served David, in most ways, like the word serves God. Whatever David’s desire was, Joab saw it done. David counted on Joab to accomplish things that seemed impossible, yet he figured that if it could be done, Joab was the man for the job. Now remember, Joab in some ways is a natural picture of the word in operation, not a complete picture. But he got the job done!

God’s word is much more effective in getting things done than Joab was. God said that when He sends His word, His desires are accomplished! Joshua spoke of the faithfulness of God’s word to the children of Israel:

“Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth. And you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing has failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spoke concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed.

Joshua 23:14 NKJV

Joshua knew that his time was coming to an end. He had served the Lord with Moses, leading the people in war. Then he took over as the leader of the people of Israel and led them into the promised land. He didn’t have a perfect life, and things didn’t always go well with him, but he was absolutely convinced that God’s word had been faithful to the children of Israel. As a matter of fact, he said not a single word of all that God had said to them, had failed to come to pass.

On the day that Solomon finished building the temple and the ark of the covenant was brought into the temple, he began to pray. After praying, he stood before the people and said:

“Blessed be the Lord, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. There has not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised through His servant Moses.

1 Kings 8:56 NKJV

That’s not our testimony! We look over life and feel as if we can find various ways in which God has not been faithful to uphold His word to us. We, in essence, call Him a liar. But He is not a liar! He shared these words with Balaam to share with Balak when Balak wanted to curse the children of Israel:

“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent.
has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

Numbers 23:19 NKJV

Doesn’t this circle back to Isaiah 55? God said that if He said something, He will do it! When He speaks a thing, He will make it good! And we can trust Him because He is not a liar! Jesus confirmed this truth when He said:

You are of your father the devil…When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

John 8:44 NKJV

God is not a liar! The devil is a liar and the father of lies! God gave of His word in the form of the Bible so that we can learn to trust in Him and His word. He left examples in the heavens and the earth to remind us of the faithfulness of His word: the water cycle! His Word is so valuable and so much a part of Him, He sent His Word:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14 NKJV

God spoke these words to Jeremiah:

“You have seen well, for I am ready to perform My word.”

Jeremiah 1:12 NKJV

A more literal translation of this verse states that God is watching to perform His word. I’m preaching to myself today! I have been challenged this week to continue to trust His word to me because it won’t return to Him void. I share this with you in hopes that you will also challenge yourself to trust His Word like never before! Wonderful Jesus!