Servant Leader

“Speak, your servant is listening” 1 Samuel 3:10

As men we grow and change, learning the traditional rules taught in our society; rules of manly behavior. We must learn to be strong. Learn to face our fears. Learn to strive for success and learn to reject signs of weakness. Those signs manifest themselves in showing our emotions, seeming weak, failing to grab hold of what is ours and wrestling it away from any other contenders. Men are supposed to be formidable foes!

But as Christian men, we must re-learn our manly roles and follow the true manly example, Jesus Christ, who broke the mold of manliness by becoming a servant-leader when He said, “Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” ~Matthew 20:26-28

Another rugged example of a man was the apostle Paul who described himself in Romans 1:1 as, “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus”.

Later, in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 Paul describes a situation common to all of us, he is asking God to take away a nagging problem that frustrates him greatly. God’s answer is surprising: “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

God’s answer and Pauls subsequent explanation are total opposites of how we all handle our problems and expect God to rescue us. Often, we secretly expect our Heavenly Father to quickly and lovingly step in and demolish our problems, dust us off and smooth out the road ahead. After all, He is the God who wants to bless us and make life easier. Or so we may think. 

The apostle Peter joins Paul in clarifying our position in Christ in 1 Peter 5:5-7: “In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, dress yourselves in humility as you relate to one another, for “God apposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.”

In the Gospel of John, Jesus says: “Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. Anyone who wants to serve Me must follow Me, because My servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves Me.” John 12:25-26

Trusting God to guide our lives, save our souls and reserve a place with Him in eternity requires faith and obedience. It also requires that we give up our areas of strength so He can work through our weakness as described by Paul in 1 Corinthians: “When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling.”  1 Corinthians 2:1-3

It is difficult for us to intentionally walk in weakness, trusting God to give the strength we need. We’ve spent many years attempting to work out whatever problems come our way. But God wants us to give that up and trust in Him because His power works best through our weakness.

Shield of Faith

“In addition to this, put on the shield of faith”  Ephesians 6:16

At first, Allen held his shield of faith high, deflecting those fiery satanic darts, extinguishing them quickly. But as time wore on, his shield seemed heavier and his focus scattered so it wasn’t held as high. A little space is all Satan needs for those darts. He is an excellent marksman.

Time passed, Allen’s attention shifted and his shield dropped lower. More darts hit their mark. Allen seemed less positive about his faith and standing in Christ. He found doubt to be a normal part of his life, replacing faith, gradually dropping his shield. Until finally, Allen didn’t bother to put on his armor at all. His shield of faith was somewhere in the closet, under a pile of doubt and insecurity.

If only I’d (done or not done) that. I should’ve seen that coming; saved more money; got rid of that credit card; been more honest with them; studied harder; finished the project on time— and so the little accusing voice (fiery darts) within our mind goes, piling on guilt and condemnation. The Bible clearly says, however, that therre is no condemnation for believers. Will I listen to the condemning voice (not God) or the uplifting, encouraging one (God)?

Romans 8:1 “So now there isn’t any condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Romans 8:14-15 “ Those who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s children. For the Spirit that God has given you does not make you slaves and cause you to be afraid; instead, the Spirit makes you God’s children, and by the Spirit’s power we cry out to God, “Father! my Father!”

Galatians 4:6 “And because we are His children, God has sent the Spirit  of His Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, Abba, Father.”

Romans 8:28, 31 “ Moreover we know that to those who love God, who are called according to his plan, everything that happens fits into a pattern for good. What can we ever say to such wonderful things as these? If God is on our side, who can ever be against us?”

John 1:12 “But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God.”

God’s rescue is eternal and very personal. He prepared the way by allowing Jesus, the innocent Lamb of God, to be crucified so we may experience forgiveness of sins and joy everlasting. Well aware of our weaknesses, He implanted His Holy Spirit in our hearts, our souls— establishing an immediate, incorruptible two-way communication system between us and Himself.

And what of your shield of faith? Is it covered with dings, dents, scrapes and black spots where those fiery darts were extinguished? Or is it shiny and dent-free, tucked away in the closet?

His Blood

“The blood of Jesus cleanses us from every sin” 1 John 1:7

I had been a Christian for a short time when Victor Ernest, the pastor of my church told me the following story.

“I grew up in a spiritualist family. We believed that God was working through us and did not know it was actually the devil. We held seances in our home. One member of the family was the Medium who gave themselves to the spiritual force at each meeting. The medium, who was my sister, would slump in her chair as the spirit would talk to the people at the table. We could ask questions and the voice would answer. I was chosen to be the next medium in our family.

“Something inside me (I now know it was the Holy Spirit of God) guided me to a department store one day to buy a Bible. This was totally foreign to me but the guidance was strong. I knew nothing about bibles except I had seen very large ones on people’s coffee tables. I only had enough money to buy a small one (I thought it was just part of the bible).

“Secretly I took it home and began to read. Of course I began at the beginning, trying to understand Genesis, Leviticus, etc. I hid my Bible after each reading. One night, as I opened the bible, I was guided to read in the Book of First John and read about trying or testing the spirits: “Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God.” 1 John 4:1.

“Later I read about the blood of Jesus as follows: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God…For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jersus is the Son of God.

“And Jesus Christ was revealed as God’s Son by his baptism in water, and by shedding His blood on the cross— not by water only, but by water and blood.” 1 John 5:1, 4-6

“I wasn’t exactly sure what I had just read or how important a part it would play in my life until a few days later at our next seance.

“Strangely enough, this seance was a question and answer time. After my sister allowed the spirit to take over and she slumped in her chair, a small megaphone raised off the table and floated in the air. It stopped at each person and we were allowed to ask a question. On this night, the megaphone allowed us to ask three questions in total.

“My first question was, Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?” I had no idea I would ask this question! I did not know that the Spirit of God was directing me. The megaphone answered, “Of course my son,” and passed on.

My second question was, “Do you believe that Jesus is the Savior?” The megaphone answered, “Of course my son, why do you doubt?” I was stunned and confused by this time.

My third question was, “Do you believe that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from our sins?” The megaphone fell to the table and my sister was thrown backwards out of her chair. The seance was over and I knew my life would never be the same. Somehow I knew that my spiritual experiences to this point were not of God and I wanted to find out all about God. Shortly after that meeting, I packed my clothes and left home. I was 17. 

Ephesians 1:6-8, “So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.”

God changed the life of Victor Ernest when He revealed Himself through the Bible and that dramatic question and answer time in his home. Victor learned about the Holy Spirit and the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus, which he freely shared for the remainder of his life. God brought me to hear Victor preach the truth of God’s Word. I gave my heart to Christ as a result of his preaching. 

Jesus On The Cross

“Father, forgive them”  ~Luke 23:34

Have you ever been falsely accused?; ever been fired because of false accusations?; lost a romance based on lies told about you?; have you gone to jail because of false evidence?; or have you been sentenced to death based on lies and false accusations?

Jesus has!

Jesus, the only perfect man, is praying on the Mount of Olives, preparing for the horrific next steps essential for our (all people in the world) forgiveness. He understands more vividly than anyone could that he is about to be sentenced to death, mercilessly beaten, nailed to a criminal’s cross and killed. So our sins could be forgiven!

“Father, if You are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want Your will to be done, not mine.” Luke 22:42 Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened Him. He prayed more fervently, and He was in such agony of spirit that His sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.

Shortly after this, a crowd (chief priests, officers of the temple guard, and the elders), led by Judas the betrayer, appeared. A moment’s pause  and then Judas greeted Jesus with a traitorous kiss. “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man* with a kiss?”

In the jostle that followed, one of Jesus’ disciples whacked the ear off the high priest’s slave. Ever the peacemaker, Jesus touched the man’s ear and healed him. I’m sure that man shared this moment with anyone who would listen for the remainder of his life!

So they arrested Him and led Him to the high priest’s home. The guards in charge of Jesus began mocking and beating Him. They blindfolded Him and said, “Prophesy to us! Who hit you that time?” And they hurled all sorts of terrible insults at Him. 

Jesus was led before the high council and they said, “Tell us, are you the Messiah?” He replied, “If I tell you, you won’t believe me. . .But from now on the Son of Man will be seated in the place of power at God’s right hand.”

After much debating between Pilate and Herod, Pilate tried to have Jesus flogged and released but with a mighty roar, the crowd demanded, “Kill Him and release Barabbas to us. Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” So Pilate sentenced Jesus to die as they demanded. Try to imagine yourself in this position, knowing you are totally innocent. All the accusations are false and all hope of rescue is fading away, you are going to be killed soon!

A few simple words describe the excruciatingly painful experience that followed: “Two others, both criminals, were led out to be executed with Him. When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed Him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified— one on His right and one on His left. Amazingly, Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” ~Luke 23:34

As the three men hung grotesquely on their crosses, slowly and painfully dying, one mocked the Lord but the other, sensing something special about Him said, “We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into your Kingdom.”

And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Remember, these men are not sitting around a campfire chatting, they are experiencing agonizing death, nails driven through their hands and feet as they suffocate.

Now, imagine we are watching this in a movie and after Jesus speaks to the criminal the camera zooms in for a close up of His face. Jesus lifts His head as we look into His eyes and He painfully speaks, “I am doing this for you.”

“For God loved the world so  much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not die but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to be its Judge, but to be its Savior.”

*(in the Gospels, Son of Man is the title Jesus used most often when referring to Himself. He said it instead of “me” or “I.” Son of Man is used 30 times in the Gospel of Matthew.) 

The Lord’s Prayer

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive” Matthew 6:12

We’ve seen it in movies, read it in the Bible as well as other books. And we have recited it from memory over and over again. We’ve learned what has come to be known as The Lord’s Prayer. Reciting these few verses can bring comfort and take away fear. However, reciting the Lord’s Prayer over and over can become a meaningless repetition we send up to God hoping He hears and will rescue us from our desperate situation.

Without doubt, the most commonly spoken version of this prayer is as follows:

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.”

This model prayer was given by Jesus to his disciples as he taught them how to pray, warning them against uttering vain repetitions, “Don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do.” He then reminds them that, “Your Father in heaven knows exactly what you need even before you ask Him. Pray like this:”

If you are like many people, you may worry about how to pray, what to say because you’ve heard impressive prayers spoken by well known pastors and teachers. Regarding this concern, we simply have to read Romans 8, verses 26-28.

Notice now that Jesus includes forgiveness in His model prayer. Verse 12 says, “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Then, immediately following the prayer, He continues in verses 14 and 15, “If you forgive those who sin (modern word for trespasses) against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Is your head spinning? Are you concerned about those who’ve sinned against you that you have not forgiven? Perhaps you’re holding a tiny little grudge. After all, they were completely in the wrong (as we forgive those who sinned against us). How did the Lord answer Peter?

Matthew 18:21 ~”Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times? No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!”

Luke 17:4 ~”If another believer sins, rebuke that person; then if there is repentance, forgive. Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive.”

Jesus died for our forgiveness. It is essential we extend that forgiveness to any who sin against us. 

Blessings and Suffering

“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings” Romans 5:3

How often have you heard it or thought it? It goes something like this, “Friends, God wants to bless you today. He wants you to have that promotion, to get that new house and car. God does not hold back on giving the ones He loves the desires of their hearts.” And then what follows are a few examples that send shivers up our spines as we begin to visualize those “blessings” pouring down from the hand of God. Sort of like a divine vending machine, just waiting for us to break the code and ask for stuff so we can be happy little Christians, surrounded by material blessings that Jesus died for us to receive.

I speak from experience, my friends. I have pleaded with God for things. I’ve lined up all my behavior, prayer time, sacrificial giving (more than ten percent) and helping at church. And yet—no stuff! Then it occurred to me that I was asking God to bless my desires, to bring forth the items as requested. 

Confronting my sinfulness, the Holy Spirit methodically revealed Scriptures which explained just how our Heavenly Father wants us to live. He wants us to know what we should expect, as followers of our blessed Savior, Jesus Christ.

Romans 8:17-18  “And since we are His children, we are His heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later.”

2 Cor 4:17-18  “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”

These Scriptures, like so many others, snap us to reality; the reality of actually living the Gospel, not just talking about it. Jesus set the example by his beating, torture and death. How can we possibly skip past the shocking sacrifice He made for us to rationalize our materialistic desires? If you want blessings, and that’s just fine, here are examples:

1 Peter 1:8-9  “You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.”

Acts 20:35  “In everything I have shown you that, by working hard, we must help the weak. In this way we remember the Lord Jesus’ words: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

James 1:12  “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

And the most famous and least taught today is found in Matthew 5:3-9  “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth. God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.”

To our Lord and Savior, blessings and sufferings are intertwined as the strands of a rope because, unlike us, His view is eternal. He sees through this temporary life, into the everlasting one. He was able to look through the suffering of the cross to what lay beyond.

1 Peter 4:12-14   “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. So be happy when you are insulted for being a Christian, for then the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you.”

2 Thess 1:4-8  “We are happy to tell other churches about your patience and complete faith in God, in spite of all the crushing troubles and hardships you are going through.This is only one example of the fair, just way God does things, for he is using your sufferings to make you ready for his Kingdom, while at the same time he is preparing judgment and punishment for those who are hurting you. And so I would say to you who are suffering, God will give you rest along with us when the Lord Jesus appears suddenly from heaven in flaming fire with his mighty angels, bringing judgment on those who do not wish to know God and who refuse to accept his plan to save them through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

If we intend on living our lives for Christ, as lights in a dark world, we must shift our focus from this materialistic, self-indulging world to the life of temporary trials and sufferings that refine and strengthen us; trials that replace sinful appetites with Godly desires. Our aim should be to “count it all joy” when we’re beset with trials just as athletes in training are willing to undergo hours of pain and self-denial for the crown that awaits. That crown is temporary while ours is eternal.

Law or Grace?

“We will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus” ~Acts:15:11

            Law or grace? Now that we have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, don’t we still have to try living by the Law? Can we simply turn our backs on what God gave His people through Moses? I hear Christians refer to meeting on the Sabbath, meaning Sunday; or for some, Saturday. Which is proper and what does God expect from Christians today?

            Faith in Jesus Christ brings righteousness (apart from the law) to all who believe! ALL!

(Romans 3:19-26)   “The law commands many things. We know that those commands are for those who are under the law. This stops all excuses and brings the whole world under God’s judgment, because no one can be made right with God by following the law. The law only shows us our sin.

But God has a way to make people right with him without the law. And God has now shown us that way which the law and the prophets told us about. God makes people right with himself through their faith in Jesus Christ. This is true for all who believe in Christ, because all are the same. 

All people have sinned and are not good enough for God’s glory. People are made right with God by his grace, which is a free gift. They are made right with God by being made free from sin through Jesus Christ. God sent him to die in our place to take away our sins. We receive forgiveness through faith. And all of this is because of the blood of Jesus’ death. This showed that God always does what is right and fair. God was right in the past when he was patient and did not punish people for their sins. And God gave Jesus to show today that God does what is right. God did this so that he could judge rightly and also make right any person who has faith in Jesus.”

                      Realizing how difficult it is for Jews, who have been taught that following The Law is essential, Paul uses strong language to explain that faith in Christ is what justifies everyone…Jew and Gentile.

(Gal. 2:15-16)   “You (Paul) and I are Jews by birth, not sinners like the Gentiles. Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.”

            One of the most powerful explanations of the difference between law and grace is verse twenty-one:

(Gal. 2:21)  “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing.”

            Beginning chapter three, Paul slaps the Galatians in the face with this powerful point:

(Gal. 3:1-4)  “Foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of His death on the cross. Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?”

            Pounding the message home further, Paul’s fervent love and concern for the Galatians continues in verse 5, “I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ.”

            A scribe asked Jesus, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Mark 12:28

            (Mark 12:29-31)  Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.”

            In the Gospel of John, Jesus emphasizes the importance of love as a command:

(John 14:15; 15:9-14, 17)  “If you love me, you will obey what I command…As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love…This is my command: Love each other.”

“Love each other.” Sounds easy, especially when we are not frustrated with each other; when all is going well; when we are in agreement; when we’re not stuck in traffic in the pouring rain and the gas gauge is hovering over empty! God’s example of love is the innocent Jesus dying on the cross. Love is sacrifice

Are You Holy?

It was impossible to  miss the oversized white tent in the early Spring evening with a gigantic white banner rippling in the breeze, BE HOLY BECAUSE I AM HOLY!

Adjacent to the Mid-State fairgrounds, the grassy parking lot was covered with cars as the curious and hopeful seemed to throng to this unusual meeting. Many were drawn by the harmonious music and singing as the choir led several hundred seekers with powerful, moving hymns. Emotions ran high. The air was filled with earnest expectation. Something special was happening here they felt.

The music came to an end as the tall, redheaded pastor took the pulpit. He was carrying a leather-bound bible in one hand, holding it casually like a carpenter’s tool. He did not speak. The crowd grew silent. He came to the pulpit, set his bible down and gripped both sides. Leaning forward the silence was broken with his powerful voice, “Are you holy?” He shocked them all. Gasps were heard throughout the tent. Again he said, “Are you holy? God says we must be holy to please Him. So I ask it again, are you holy. Have you been sanctified?” And so it went for the next 45 minutes as this charismatic speaker whipped his listeners into an emotional state, feeling certain they were not up to par with God unless they came forward to become sanctified and holy.

The emotional and dramatic pastor should rather have spent his time elevating the Lord Jesus Christ, explaining to the people that faith in Christ makes us holy in God’s eyes: “God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made Him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; He made us pure and holy, and He freed us from sin. Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the LORD.”  (1 Corinthians 1:30-31)


Let’s see what God’s Word has to say about our sanctification/holiness:
1 Corinthians 1:2 ~You who have been called by God to be his own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as he did all Christians everywhere.

1 Corinthians ~6:11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

1 Thessalonians ~5:23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Along with the unimaginable grace and mercy of God’s provision for our sanctification, He expects us to do our part; to work our faith in day to day circumstances. He has already done the impossible and has assigned us the possible such as making choices and slipping on His armor. We’re at war!

2 Corinthians 7:1 ~Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.

2 Thessalonians 2:13 ~As for us, we can’t help but thank God for you, dear brothers and sisters loved by the Lord. We are always thankful that God chose you to be among the first to experience salvation—a salvation that came through the Spirit who makes you holy and through your belief in the truth.

Hebrews 10:10 ~For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.

Romans 15:16 ~I am a special messenger from Christ Jesus to you Gentiles. I bring you the Good News so that I might present you as an acceptable offering to God, made holy by the Holy Spirit.

Sanctification is not something we can beg God for at a church altar. Sanctification is a gift from God as a result of our faith in Jesus Christ. Although a gift, God requires our involvement to make choices for purity and holiness. Even so, the Holy Spirit enables us to follow through on our Christ-like decisions.

Gender Roles

This might hurt a bit, ladies, but the Bible reflects a culture in which women didn’t really have full rights as people. They were not even considered reliable witnesses in legal matters. Often when you read an account of a crowd in the Bible, you will just be given the number of  men in the crowd. (This can make the event even more amazing when you add in women and children. See Matthew 14:19-21, for example). Basically, in Bible times, men were trained for farming, hunting, and fighting in wars. Women typically tended the children and cared for the needs of the home.

There were exceptions, though. Deborah was a judge (Judges 4:4). Miriam was a worship leader (Exodus 15:20). Anna was a prophetess (Luke 2:36).

When you understand the typical role of women in the ancient world, then you understand how revolutionary Jesus’ life and ministry were. He honored women as people (John 4:7-9). He allowed them to minister alongside Him and even support Him in His ministry (Luke 8:1-3). Today, when women still struggle against gender stereotypes, Jesus’ style would be refreshing. In the time in which He lived, it was downright radical!

By Carol Smith

Quicknotes Bible Guidebook, Barbour Publishing, Inc. (c) 2007

Hosanna!


“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”  ~Mark 11:10

He was murdered! First horribly beaten. Then forced to carry his own cross to Golgatha for his crucifixion. And then, instead of shouting something mighty and springing off the cross— He died! They saw him die. Their minds swam with confusion. How could it be? He said he was the Messiah. He performed many miracles and taught with power.

He was known as a carpenter’s son but he claimed to be God— the Messiah! He caused trouble wherever he spoke and he spoke to thousands of people desperate for the truth, for hope.

“So Jesus and his disciples got up and went with [the father whose daughter had died]. Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind him. She touched the fringe of his robe, for she thought, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” Jesus turned around, and when he saw her he said, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed at that moment.”  ~Matt. 9:19-22

He infuriated the religious leaders who plotted to kill him. Yes, their solution was to kill the King of Glory! After all, he was a heretic according to them. They refused to believe his claims of being the living Messiah, torn from the pages of their sacred texts. God would not appear as an ordinary man, born to poor people in a small village. And what about the outrageous idea of the virgin birth? Heresy!

When speaking to his own disciples, he said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” ~John 14:6. More than 2,000 years later, as we read this statement from the Book of John, we easily understand what Jesus meant. And yet, his followers, his closest brethren, were still confused.

Although His arrest and death upon the cross was imminent, victory was just around the corner for his followers and for us. “For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13

Some people wonder how the Jews and Romans were able to kill Jesus if he is who he says he is. Jesus addresses that as follows:  “No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.” ~John 10:18

Jesus was and is, the sinless one who died in our place. He paid the penalty for all our sins. Faith in Christ cleanses our souls and transforms us into new creations, fully acceptable to face our Heavenly Father. But that’s not all, is it. No. There is one more step in this incredible process of redemption and victory over sin and death.

“I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.” ~1 Corinthians 15:3-4

Easter Sunday or Resurrection Sunday as some churches now name it, celebrates Jesus’ transformation from death to life. He was dead. Oh yes He was. Wrapped in grave clothes, sealed in a tomb. But death could not hold the Savior. Our Redeemer rose from the dead on the third day, according to God’s perfect plan!

“Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb.

Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.

Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.” ~Matthew 28:1-7

So you see, Easter Sunday is a celebration of the cornerstone of our faith the lynchpin of our eternal forgiveness. Right this moment, Jesus is alive, at the right hand of God, pleading for us in accordance with God’s perfect plan. “But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. . .For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy (all believers in Christ). ~Hebrews 10:12-14

Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 8:1; Hebrews 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22