If Jesus asked us that question today, could we truthfully answer “Yes, Lord, I truly believe.”? The disciples had spent the better part of three years with Jesus. They walked with Him, talked with Him, ate with Him and yet, it is only now that they confess that they believe that Jesus came from God. We might think this to be very strange. Yet, how many times did we hear the story of Jesus from people that we believed and respected, yet we did not accept Him as our Savior? In my teenage years, I went to the altar and had a very real emotional experience while I was kneeling there. Yet, when I left that building, my thought patterns and lifestyle were unchanged. Looking back at that experience years later, I realized that I had not truly accepted Jesus as my Savior and Lord. It would be years later before I truly repented and turned to Jesus with all my heart. True repentance will make a change in our thinking and in our lifestyle. Will it keep us from ever sinning again? No, the flesh will win some battles, but our response to the conviction of the Holy Spirit will always be to turn back to Jesus and ask for His forgiveness. And He will always be there with open arms, waiting to forgive us and restore to our salvation and His peace and joy.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
In Psalms 10-13, David seems to be more focused on those who are bent on doing evil than what God has done for him. He questions God about why those people seem to be more successful than the righteous. It is a question that many, if not all, of us have asked at sometime or other. Why are bad things happening to good people while the bad people seem to be receiving blessings? God doesn’t seem to answer David directly, but rather allows David to arrive at his own conclusion. David never gives up on God, even though he questions why God allows such things and why they continue for so long. He also questions whether God can hear his prayers or not. When we are going through those rough patches, it is encouraging to know that we are not the only ones to wonder where God is and what He is up to. Because David is a man “after God’s own heart”, he arrives at the right conclusion. God is exactly where He is supposed to be doing exactly what He should be doing. He always has been, He is and He always will be there watching over us and doing what is best for us even though at times, it doesn’t “feel” like it. Those are the times we have to ignore “feelings” and stand firm on the knowledge that God is always with us and we are never alone. Those are the times that God allows so that we know whether or not our head knowledge has become heart knowledge. If what we know in our heads has taken root in our hearts, then we will pass the test when God examines us. Should we fail, God has no qualms about having us take the test again and again until we pass it.
The trip from Judea to Galilee took Jesus through Samaria. It was a rough journey and Jesus, in His human form, was subject to becoming tired and weary, just as we are. The Samaritans and the Jews were not on the best of terms and rarely, if ever, spoke to each other. Yet, Jesus began to talk to this Samaritan woman and tell her things about her past and her present situation. She realized that He was a prophet and began to question Him about the difference in the traditions of how the Samaritans and the Jews worshipped God. Jesus began to explain these things to her and tells her that was the way things were but those things were changing. The Samaritan woman says that she knows things will change when the Messiah comes. It is then that Jesus reveals to her that He is the Messiah for whom she has been waiting. Jesus uses the words “I AM”. The same words that God had used when Moses asked God, “who shall I say is sending me?” Hearing these words, she immediately becomes a missionary and runs to tell the whole town about Jesus. When Jesus touches us, we have to tell somebody. Do we still have that burning desire to tell people about Jesus, the Messiah, the great “I AM” or has the fire gone out? If we no longer have that desire to tell others about Jesus, perhaps it is time to ask God to light the fires again.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.–James 1:2-5 NIV
Why do Christians have to endure trials and persecutions? I suppose people have been asking this question since the first century. The disciples never quite understood why Jesus had to suffer and die until after the Resurrection. God does not allow us to go through suffering so that He will know where we are on our journey, He allows it so that we will know. He allows it so that our “I can” will turn into “No, I can’t but God can”. “No pain, no gain” applies to spiritual growth as well as physical. Would understanding the “why” really make the pain any less real or painful? I am sure that since Jesus was in on the plan of redemption, He understood the why, but that didn’t keep Him from asking His Father if there might not be another way. As he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane.
42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”–Matt. 26:42 NIV
It is not a sin to wonder or to question “why?”. It is only a sin when we take it to the point of being disobedient. We need to pray for wisdom, but when we pray for wisdom, we need to understand that acquiring wisdom requires experiencing a lot of things and some of them will be painful.
23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.–Luke 9:23 NIV
37 Pilate said, “So you are a king!” Jesus answered, “You are the one saying I am a king. This is why I was born and came into the world: to tell people the truth. And everyone who belongs to the truth listens to me.” 38 Pilate said, “What is truth?” After he said this, he went out to the crowd again and said to them, “I find nothing against this man. 39 But it is your custom that I free one prisoner to you at Passover time. Do you want me to free the ‘king of the Jews’?” 40 They shouted back, “No, not him! Let Barabbas go free!” (Barabbas was a robber.)—John 18:37-40 (NCV)
Jesus states that the purpose of His being be born and coming into the world was to tell people the truth. Now, Pilate asks the ages-old question–“What is truth?”
(Maybe this is where the old cliche comes from–“You wouldn’t recognize the truth if it was standing right in front of you.) Before Jesus answers this question, Pilate turns to leave and goes out to the crowd again. Does this remind you of anything that we do on a regular basis? We pray and earnestly seek God, then we get up and go about our business without giving Him time to answer our prayers. When we get to heaven, we will find out that Jesus answered all of our prayers, we just didn’t hang around to hear the answer. How rude of us! What if we were having a serious conversation with someone and just when we were getting to our point, they just got up and walked out of the room. We do it to Jesus all the time. Instead of being in such a hurry, take the advice of the Psalmist. 13 Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. 14 Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.—Psalm 27:13, 14 (NLT)
Don’t talk to God, talk with God. The first few minutes after talking with God, we need to just “be still and know that He is God”.