Our Marching Orders (Matt. 28:16-20)
Christians are in the Lord's Army, and Jesus gave our marching orders before He ascended into Heaven. You can read it in Matthew 28:16-20:
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
We may think this passage is directed to pastors, evangelists and teachers. It was spoken to Jesus' disciples, and that is who we are. The more we read the Bible and experience the love of God, the more we want others to have the same experience, but how do we go about telling others? We can be sure God is faithful to equip His followers to carry out His will (marching orders). When we avail ourselves to do God's work, He partners with us so we can do more than we ever imagined.
Think About It
Christians learn the fruit of the Spirit--love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). This is one of the ways we attract people in this dark world. They want to know the reason for our joy, and it is our purpose in life to share that reason with them. So many people around us suffer from fear, anger, envy, loss and disease. They need to know about the hope they can have from knowing our living and loving God.
Pray About It
Lord God, empower us to carry out your plan for our lives. Help us to be aware of your presence and ready to do your will. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Is God in Control? (Matthew 27)
A lot of people may ask, "Where was God when President Kennedy was assassinated? or when the World Trade Centers fell on 9-11-2001? or more recently when a baby was found in Arkansas with more than 100 rat bites?" How could a loving God allow these horrible things to happen?
Where was God when Jesus hung on a cross between heaven and hell? Although Jesus was all God, He was also all man. In His humanness, He cried from the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46) He was all alone when He hung there with our sin on Him. Our sin separates us from God, and when Jesus bore that sin, He was separated from the Father. Thanks be to God, the story doesn't end there. Even though Jesus died for the punishment (separation from God) of our sin, He didn't stay dead. He rose from the grave for our forgiveness and eternal life with Him. Jesus trusted God the Father to be in control then or He could not have endured the cross. Jesus could have saved Himself and come down from the cross. But because He trusted the Father to do what He said He would do, we can too. We can be confident knowing that God is in control.
Think About It
We many not understand why terror threatens us today, but we can know that God has never left us or forsaken us. He chooses to be with us through the good and the bad. So, we may ask, why does He allow such darkness to penetrate our lives? When He called us, He did not promise to take away trouble but to be with us always. We live in a world of sin and that sin will touch us through terror, divorce, death of loved ones or loss of health or wealth. Because we know that God has never changed His position, we can trust Him today through whatever trials we endure.
Pray About It
Holy God, thank you that you are the same yesterday, today and forever. Help us to acknowledge your presence every day and live with eternity in mind. We love you and trust you with our lives. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Your Faith is on Trial (Matt. 26:63-75)
The sign as we leave our church parking lot says, "You are now entering the mission field." We don't have to go around the world to share the good news. People down the street need to know about God's amazing love, forgiveness and mercy. People in this dark world who live in fear, anxiety or anger need to know that they are not alone, that God loves them and is always with them, that He will never leave them, that He has an abundant life for them. I want to share all these things, but I have been put on the spot about my beliefs and failed to get my message across. Have you?
The night before Jesus died the high priest said to Him, "I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God." Jesus said, "You have said it," and followed His statement with, "I tell you, in the future you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven." Jesus was accused for blasphemy for saying that and tried with three illegal Jewish trials: illegal because they were at night. They were at night because the Jews had to do their dirty work before the Sabbath and before the Romans tried Jesus three more times.
Peter who said he would always stand by Jesus actually grew afraid when put on the spot. A servant girl found him in the courtyard and said, "You were with Jesus the Galilean too." He said, "I don't know what you're talking about." Another woman saw him and said, "This man was with Jesus the Nazarene!" and again Peter said, "I don't know the man!" Still others said, "You really are one of them. Your accent gives you away." Peter denied knowing Jesus with an oath.
Think About It
Jesus was tried for His faith and remained faithful, but still died for it. Peter was tried for what he believed and failed when tested, but Jesus forgave him and gave him the keys to the Kingdom. I often relate to Peter, knowing that I blow it, but that Jesus forgives me and gives me more opportunities to serve Him just as he did with Peter.
Pray About It
Thank you, O Lord, for your mercy and grace. Thank you for your faithfulness even though I am not always faithful to you. Help me to be more like Jesus. Strengthen me to do your will. I love you. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Aware, Awake, Alert (Matthew 26:36-50)
Who did you go to when you were a child and hurting? I went to my mom. Who do you go to now? I go to my husband, but when he says or does something that hurts, I go to my Lord.
Time and again, Jesus went to a mountain to pray to the Father. It's a good example for us to follow, because people will disappoint us at one time or another. God will not disappoint us, because He is loving, merciful, forgiving and kind all the time. He understands our predicament, because He came in person to this earth and knew what it was like to be tempted, to hurt, to be hungry. He knew what it was like when people didn't understand His ministry or passion. Yet He spent three years with twelve disciples and was especially close to three--Peter, James and John.
His last night on earth He washed the feet of His friends and had dinner with them. Then they went to Gethsemane where Jesus agonized over what He knew would come. He said, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." Then He took Peter, James and John a little farther. "I am deeply grieved to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with me," He said. A few steps away, He fell facedown and prayed, "My father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." He came back three times and found His friends sleeping. "So, couldn't you stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray, so that you won't enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."
Then all hell broke loose. Judas arrived with a large crowd armed with swords and clubs. He arranged a signal for them: "The one I kiss is the man. Arrest him." I have wondered why they needed a signal. Jesus was in the temple regularly. Didn't they know who He was? It must have been no small riot. Peter reached out with his sword and cut off the ear of one of the servants.
Think About It
Jesus did not ask His friends to pray for Him. He asked them to pray for themselves so they would not fall into temptation. Jesus struggled with His coming suffering. His friends struggled to stay awake. Had they stayed aware, awake and alert; had they prayed for strength, maybe they would not have responded they way they did.
I have often worried about staying aware, awake and alert. I want to be prepared, but what if I am asleep and miss the coming of my Savior? 1 Thessalonians 5:10-11 encourages me. As believers, Jesus died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up . . . " When we believe what Jesus did on the cross was for our forgiveness and eternal life, we don't have to worry. How do you respond to this great love of Jesus?
Pray About It
O Lord, help us to live out our salvation daily. We don't want to take it for granted, but we want to fulfill the plan you have for us--to love and show mercy as Jesus did all the time we are on this earth. We need your help. In Jesus' name, Amen.