Jesus surrendered three times

One of the most inspiring things I find in the story of Jesus’ life is the way He surrendered all. In the last week of His life He surrendered three things.

1. Jesus Surrendered His Will in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-42)

A short time before Jesus was crucified He went to a place called Gethsemane to spend some time in prayer with the Father. He was deeply troubled, as He knew that soon He would be going to die a painful death on the cross.  He threw Himself on the ground and cried out to God, “Take this cup from Me, but still not My will but Yours.” In this one sentence He expressed His heart to God, and He surrendered His will completely.

2. Jesus Surrendered His Rights at Gabatha (Matthew 27:11-20)

When Jesus was taken before Pilate He was taken to a place called Gabatha. Pilate questioned Him about the charges brought against Him by the Jewish leaders, but Jesus chose to be silent and do the will of the Father.  In doing this Jesus surrendered His rights. Jesus stood firm when He was challenged and kept focussed on the bigger picture. This is the perfect example for us to follow and should encourage us to stand firm when we know we are in the will of God.

3. Jesus Surrendered His life at Golgotha (Matthew 27:32-38)

The heart of the gospel message is that Jesus died on the cross for the sin of mankind. He did this so we could all find salvation and live for eternity with Him. At any stage Jesus could have changed His mind and not gone through with the crucifixion, but He didn’t. He chose to surrender all. He did not even hold back His own life.

Many of us will never have to make this life and death choice. But Jesus did it knowing full well exactly what was going to happen. I can never hope to understand what He went through that day, but it makes me want to surrender my life for His service.

Where are you in your relationship with the Lord? Have you surrendered your will? Have you surrendered you rights? Have you surrendered your life to Jesus? If you would like to surrender your life you can prayer this right now.

Dear Lord Jesus,
I thank You that You surrendered Your life for me on the cross. I thank You that you paid the price for my sin when You died on the cross for me. Please forgive my sin. Right now I ask you to come in to my life today as my Lord and Saviour. I now surrender my rights, my will and my life to You, Amen.

The Bible in surround sound

I was reading Mark chapter 14 this morning as a part of my New Testament in a year challenge and something strange happened.

As I got to the part where it talks about Peter denying Christ three times and the rooster crowed (Mark 14:27-31), the rooster that lives two houses down from us crowed. It was right at the same time I read it on the page and it was very loud!

Either it was a big co-incidence or God really does have a sense of humour. Either way it really got my attention!

The second coming of Christ

One of the great truths of the Bible and of the Christian faith is that one day Jesus will return to earth for His followers. The Bible says that believers should look forward to this day with great hope.

When I think about this I remember back to a friend I had a number of years ago. They followed an Indian cult that believed its leader was a re-incarnation of Jesus Christ and he spent some of his time in heaven and some on earth. He was able to move back and forward secretly between heaven and earth as he willed so he could spend time with his followers.

This is not what the Bible teaches on the subject of Christ’s return. The Bible teaches that when Jesus returns it will be a great day, but it will also be one that is not secret or hidden and known only to a few people.

Here are a few verses that talk about the return of Jesus…

1. Mark 13:26-27 – “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.”

2. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 – “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever”.

3. Revelations 1:7 – “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him…”.

4. Matthew 25:31-32 – “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

These verses tell us that when Jesus returns it will be highly visible and not a secret thing. Revelations 1 tells us that every eye will see Him return and Matthew 25 says that all the nations of the earth will come before Him. This means everyone will know. Not one person in all creation will not know about this great event.

Another important thing to remember about the return of Christ is that no-one knows the exact date or time. Matthew 24:36 tells us that, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father”. Therefore we should be wary of anyone who declares that they know exactly when Jesus is coming back.

A simple daily devotional idea for Christians

Yesterday I read Mark 12 from the New Testament. As I read I took note of the headings in the text. They included the Tenants of the Vineyard, Paying Taxes, Life in the Future World, The Most Important Commandment, About David’s Son, Jesus Condemns the Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law of Moses, and finally The Widow’s Offering.

After reading the passages I looked back over the headings and reflected on the ones that impacted me and stuck in my mind. The three that I reflected on were the Tenants of the Vineyard, The Most Important Commandment and The Widow’s Offering. I then jotted some thoughts about them in my journal and then prayed the following prayer…

Dear God,
Please help me to be a good tenant and good steward of the things You have trusted to me. Please help me to love You with all my heart and love my neighbour too. I also pray that I will be generous with my giving like the Widow in the Temple. I pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

I believe this format is a simple devotional idea for Christians. It would be especially good if you struggle to do something daily and need something to help you get started. It includes two things that i think we need to do if we are to grow in our faith – reflective Bible reading and prayer.

If you don’t have access to a Bible you can find one here at BibleGateway.com

Living differently

One of my core convictions as a Christian is that we should live differently to how we lived before we came to Christ.

In my case I lived the first half of my life without Christ and then accepted Him in my early 20’s. I had done some things that were not right in the eyes of God. When I can came to Christ I confessed them and purposed in my heart to live differently. Now in my early 40’s I live completely differently and try to honestly follow Christ each day.

In the Bible we see in Ephesians chapter 4 :25-32 we see some rules for living the new life in Christ. The CEV puts them very simply…

25We are part of the same body. Stop lying and start telling each other the truth. 26Don’t get so angry that you sin. Don’t go to bed angry 27and don’t give the devil a chance.

28If you are a thief, quit stealing. Be honest and work hard, so you will have something to give to people in need.

29Stop all your dirty talk. Say the right thing at the right time and help others by what you say.

30Don’t make God’s Spirit sad. The Spirit makes you sure that someday you will be free from your sins.

31Stop being bitter and angry and mad at others. Don’t yell at one another or curse each other or ever be rude. 32Instead, be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ.

At the heart of these verses is the call to live differently. In short it tells us some things not to do – don’t get angry, lie, steal, talk dirty, be bitter. It also tells us some things we should do – tell the truth, work hard, be honest, say the right things, give to those in need, be kind, forgive others and show mercy.

These things are a very simple list of what we should and shouldn’t do as Jesus followers. How are you going with them today?

Landing in good soil

Last week I re-read Jesus’ parable of the farmer scattering seed from Matthew 13:3-9. If you are not familiar with the story the farmer scatters seed on four types of ground – road, rocky, thorny and good soil.

In the parable we see that the see that fell on the road was eaten by the birds, the seeds on the rocky ground couldn’t put down roots and dried out in the sun, the seed in the thorny bushes was chocked by the bushes and the seed that fell in the good soil grew to its potential.

Jesus used this story to talk about people receiving the word of God and what then what happened to it. It is explained further on in Matthew 13:18-23. In short the seeds that fell on the road, rocky ground and the thorny bushes never reached their potential. While the seed that fell in good soil went on to reap a harvest 30, 60 or 100 times more (Matthew 13:8).

As I read this parable I can’t help but think of  my life as a Christian. I want to make sure my “seed” goes as far down as possible into good soil so it reaches its potential. I want to make sure I produce a harvest 100 fold!

That is why I do the things I do. I have purposed in my heart to keep up my daily time with God in prayer, my daily Bible reading and I have returned again to full time studies this year. I want to do my best to be in the position to produce the full harvest Jesus wants me to produce!

Jesus gave His best for me and I want to do the same for Him.

Finished reading Matthew

In my quest to read one chapter of the New Testament a day this year, I am already finished the 28 chapters of Matthew. That means I am a few days ahead of target, but that is ok from my perspective as sometimes the Bible grabs you and you “need” to keep reading.

Reading in the CEV has given me a new perspective and a new appreciation of some of the stories that I have read many times before. This time as I read Matthew a few things really jumped out at me…

  • I was amazed just how many miracles Jesus performed and how many people He healed as He travelled around. It was such a central part of His ministry.
  • I was also reminded just how many times Jesus told the disciples beforehand that He would be handed over the chief priests and killed only to rise on the third day.
  • The parables of the faithful servants (Matt 24:45-51, 25:14-30) and the Tenants of the Vineyard (Matt 21:33-46) also re-emphasised the need to be serving faithfully and doing your best for Jesus.

For me reading Matthew was a real blessing. It has jolted me out of study mode and ministry mode that it is easy to get into as a Christian. Sometimes we can get so caught up in getting things out of the Bible to learn or to share with others that we forget to just read it for pure enjoyement and to hear God’s words to us.

Scripture’s superiority

As I have been reading through the Bible one chapter a day (currenty reading Matthew), I have been reminded of the superiority of the Bible when compared to all other books.

I have read some great books over the years that have impacted my life in amazing ways. But nothing has come close to the Bible and its message. It is God’s words and God’s heart towards us. It has the power to change our lives for the better now and impact our eternal destiny.

Another thing that has happened as I have been reading through Matthew is I have begun to hear Jesus’ voice in the text. Not audibly, but I can hear His tone and His words as I read them. It is like I am an onlooker and He walks and talks with the disciples and interacts with those around Him. It has been a long time for me since that has happened and I am really enjoying it a lot!

Here’s a verse to reflect on concering the usefullness of Scripture…

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that all God’s people may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

The NET Bible

Thanks to some feedback from  John Finkelde’s on my previous post I had a look at the NET version of the Bible this morning.

From a quick look it seems a pretty good translation. In my search I found that Bible.org has a free download in either html, Word or as an add in for the free eSword Bible software. Some of the free versions even have some notes attached.

I thought I would pass it on as I thought it might be a useful resource. You can download the free version from here.

God Bless,

Dave

Different version stimulates deeper study

This morning as I was reading through Matthew 13 I came across a passage I had read a few times before and glossed over. This time as I read it in the CEV it jumped out at me and I saw it differently.

This caused me to looked up my copy of e-Sword to find the Greek words used. Then out came the Matthew Henry Commentary of the Bible, then the New Bible Commentary by IVP and a couple of other versions on the Bible I own for comparrison.

After about half an hour I found I had a new and deeper understanding of the passage in question. This deeper understanding was sparked by one word which caught my attention!

This is what I was hoping would happen this year as I read the Bible in a different version to usual. I was hoping that it would stimulate my mind to cause me to look at old things differently and to bring new understanding and new truth that I could pass on to others.