18 “I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”—John 21:18,19 (NLT) Jesus is prophesying to Peter about how he would die. Peter was led to the cross by others and was crucified upside down at his request. Peter felt unworthy to be executed in the same method that Jesus was executed. At least eight of the twelve apostles died as martyrs with two, Peter and Andrew, being crucified. There are some leaders that teach that life as a Christian is free of stress and problems. This is not validated by a study of the Scriptures. In fact, just the opposite is taught. 33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”–John 16:33 (NLT)
Jesus tells us in this verse that we will have trials and sorrows. Not just the normal troubles of those in the world, but more because we love and obey Him. But He also tells us that we can have total peace in Him. His peace is not a lack of trouble or violence, it is peace that we can access in the midst of all that. Jesus has overcome the world and we are over-comers through Him. We can’t be conquerors and over-comers if there are no problems to overcome or no mountains to conquer.
38 Afterward Joseph of Arimathea, who had been a secret disciple of Jesus (because he feared the Jewish leaders), asked Pilate for permission to take down Jesus’ body. When Pilate gave permission, Joseph came and took the body away. – John 19:38 NLT
After the death of Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea asked for permission to take the body and bury it. Joseph was a man wealthy enough to have his own tomb dug for him. He was also a member of the Sanhedrin, as was Nicodemus. Nicodemus was wealthy enough to purchase the hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes, both of which were very expensive items in that day. It would have taken someone influential and well-known to approach Pilate and ask for the body of Jesus. Though they were both influential and wealthy men, they were both secret disciples of Jesus because they feared both the Romans and the other Jewish leaders. They could have been imprisoned (as Joseph was in later years), beaten or sentenced to death. The question we need to ask ourselves today is this: “What are the fears that keep us from openly serving Jesus?” What keeps us from telling family, friends and neighbors about Jesus?
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
Because of His great love for sinners, such as us, God made His salvation plan very simple and free. Just believe! Once we are saved, we start on a journey that will require everything and every part of us. It is not easy to love all of God’s children. Even so, it is not a choice we can make, it is a command given to us by our Father. Then we must learn to obey His commandments. Through this obedience and faith in the work of the Holy Spirit in us, we can become over-comers. The flesh alone can not defeat satan in the smallest battle, we have to depend on Jesus to fight our battles. Our job is to “trust and obey”. Instead of worrying and being filled with fear, we just need to lean on Jesus. The world says “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”. Jesus says something totally different.
28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”–Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)
Jesus will never leave us nor forsake us, just rest in His arms and praise Him!
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
Salvation does not come with a magic wand. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, all our problems and situations do not magically disappear in a puff of smoke. There are many references we can find in the Bible where Jesus tells us that in this world, we will be offended. Jesus tells His disciples here in John 16:33 that here on earth, “you will have many trials and sorrows.”. In verse 32, Jesus says that He will be left alone by His disciples but that He won’t really be alone because the Father is always with Him. We have that same assurance. Living a Holy lifestyle is not fantasy, it is reality and it comes with its own set of problems. But we are assured over 300 times in the Bible that we will never be alone or forsaken. God’s Holy Spirit is with us, in us, and around us. We are in Christ Jesus. It isn’t magic, smoke, or mirrors. but it is the greatest peace and joy that we can experience here on earth because we are never alone.
In today’s society, we are confronted almost daily with alternate belief systems. There are religions with all kinds of tenets and creeds. But none of them claim to serve a risen Savior. Christianity is the only one that makes that claim. Our God is a living, loving God. He sent Jesus to overcome death, hell, and the grave. For that reason, we must stand strong and immovable. For us, there can be no alternative to Jesus. He is the way, the truth, and the life. His death and resurrection guarantees us eternal life. So, our work that we must do enthusiastically for Him is to “win” others to Christ. “Win” is the correct word because we are in a spiritual war every day and we must be over–comers. We overcome satan by the blood of Jesus, our testimony and because we love Jesus more than life itself. Religious work is useless, but the work that we do for Christ is eternal.
David was chosen by God to rule over His people Israel. God had brought him from the lowly position of shepherd to the highest position in the land. He had watched over and protected David from all of the enemies of Israel and had given him victory after victory. Springtime was when all of the kings went out to war. Whatever David’s reasons were for staying home in the spring we will never know. Instead of going out to lead his army as he should have, he sent the army out to fight while he stayed home living a life of leisure and idleness. As the trite old saying goes, “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop”. David got caught in that trap and fell into sin. His sin led him to adultery and finally to murder. As we are told in the book of James, sin brings death. It brought the death of a marriage, a husband and finally, the death of David’s son. When Nathan confronted David about his sins, David became humble and repentant. God forgave him but there were still the consequences of his sin that he had to face. We must be careful to stay on course and not deviate from what God has called us to do. If we stop and stay idle before the job is finished, we put ourselves in jeopardy. When God shows us our sins, we need to have the same heart David had and react the same way. God is not looking for ways to punish us but to forgive us and restore us.
39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. — Hebrews 11:39, 40 NIV
The eleventh chapter of Hebrews is often referred to as “The Hall of Faith”. Under the leadership of the Holy Spirit the writer of Hebrews gives us a long list of people from the Bible who were faithful. They were jeered, flogged and persecuted in many ways, but they remained faithful, many of them even unto death. As we read through the chapter (which we need to do quite often) we are probably thinking that these people received some great earthly rewards for their obedience in the face of all this adversity. But, we find that verse 39 makes a surprising statement; “none of them received what had been promised”. So, had God lied to them? No, of course not. What they understood and what we need to understand is that our rewards are in heaven, not here on earth. They fully believed God and carried inside themselves an eternal hope. The same eternal hope that you and I have inside of us. Earthly blessings are nice but they are nothing compared to what is in store for those faithful ones from the past, for us and for those who will come after us. The blessings we receive here will pass away and so will our natural bodies. But the “promise” will be fulfilled with an eternal reward and an eternity in heaven. We need to stay focused on Jesus and remain faithful and obedient to God and His Word. We must remain confident of what we believe and persevere just as our Savior and our ancestors did.
35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.— Hebrews 10:35, 36