Formerly wealthy widow must move in with the lower middle-class foster family living in a house she owns in order to establish residency prior to selling it. What happens next is simply amazing…
Formerly wealthy widow must move in with the lower middle-class foster family living in a house she owns in order to establish residency prior to selling it. What happens next is simply amazing…
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
It was very late when we stopped for the night at a country inn outside of Munich. We were delighted to see that our cozy room had a balcony, although an oppressive fog made it impossible to see into the darkness. But when the sun rose a few hours later, the haze began to fade. Then we could see what had been grimly shrouded the night before—a completely idyllic scene—peaceful and lush green meadow, sheep grazing with tiny tinkling bells about their necks, and big white clouds in the sky that looked exactly like more sheep—huge, fluffy sheep!
Sometimes life can get clouded over by a heavy fog of despair. Our situation may look so dark that we begin to lose hope. But just as the sun burns away a fog, our faith in God can burn away the haze of doubt. Hebrews 11 defines faith as “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (v. 1). The passage goes on to remind us of the faith of Noah, who was “warned about things not yet seen,” yet obeyed God (v. 7). And Abraham who went where God directed—even though he didn’t know where that would be (v. 8).
Though we have not seen Him and cannot always feel His presence, God is always present and will help us through our darkest nights.
Father, thank You for Your promise to walk with us through all of life. In moments of doubt, help us to have the confidence You are in control and we can trust You.
Faith is the radar that sees through the fog. Corrie ten Boom
How do these stories of faith help you in your walk with God?
At the time when Jesus was born, the Israelites were experiencing great oppression. They looked forward to the promised Messiah, who would bring freedom and victory.
But instead of overthrowing the Romans, Jesus spoke about respecting authority and showing love to enemies. Rather than win victory for the Jews alone, He brought blessing even to despised Gentiles (John 4:4-30; Luke 7:6-10). The people expected Him to overpower the domineering nation through battle, but He allowed those in authority to crucify Him.
So, thinking Jesus surely was not the promised Savior who would liberate God’s chosen people, the Jews rejected Him. They failed to understand that Christ was most concerned about the freedom of our hearts. He came to release us from the bondage of sin in our life, but He does not always free us from our current circumstance.
A letter I received illustrates this beautifully. After 15 years in prison for habitual criminal acts and drug involvement, the writer shared that everyone had given up on him. He felt hopeless until he was saved and began following Jesus. Now, the bitterness and anger are gone, and he is filled with joy and peace. He has been liberated. He still faces temptations and he still is in jail, but he has experienced true freedom.
Jesus came for you—He died to pay your sin debt. Have you accepted His free gift of salvation? His power can tackle sin in your life, and His truth can overcome harmful, faulty thinking. Walking with Him is truly walking in freedom, so lean on His strength, and choose the right path.
“And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.” (Genesis 7:12)
There are nine 40-day periods in Scripture, but on only five of these the notation “and forty nights” is added. On the other four occasions (the spies in Canaan, Goliath’s challenges, Jonah in Nineveh, and the post-resurrection ministry of Christ), we can assume that the activity ceased at night. But on these five it continued unabated.
The first of these was the great Flood. The most intense rains ever experienced on the earth poured torrentially, night and day. One can visualize the stress-filled nights for Noah’s family, with the cries of the dying outside, and no light of the sun or moon to pierce the outer darkness. But, of course, they were all safe in God’s specially designed Ark.
Many years later, Moses twice spent 40 days and 40 nights in the awesome presence of God on Mount Sinai, receiving the divinely inscribed tablets, with the Ten Commandments and all the laws of God. The mountain was intermittently quaking and breathing fire and smoke while he was there, and the nights were surely more awesome even than the days, but God was there!
Elijah spent 40 days and 40 nights traveling back from Beersheba to Sinai, even though this relatively short journey would not normally require 40 days. Evidently Elijah experienced great hardships and obstacles along the way and many sleepless nights, but God met him again at Sinai, and it was worth it all.
Finally, the Lord Jesus (God Himself!) was “led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil . . . forty days and forty nights” (Matthew 4:1-2). In weakened human flesh, without food or rest, this was a greater trial than any of the rest, but He was triumphant, and then the “angels came and ministered unto him” (Matthew 4:11). HMM
It is an awful thing when the Lord takes men at their word, and says Amen to their wicked speeches. They said that they were brought out to die in the wilderness, and the Lord tells them that die they shall. It was at this time that the Lord sware in his wrath, that they should not enter into his rest.
God will not forget the innocent: though there be but two of them there shall be a clause of exemption in the act of judgment.
With what contempt are they spoken of! Again and again their bodies are called “carcases,” as if they were no better than beasts. Sin makes men contemptible.
The ten spies had been the cause of all this evil, and they were justly cut off at once, as a pledge that the Lord would be as good as his word to the rest of that evil generation.
Like the pendulum which swings from one side to the other, they went from one form of sin to its opposite.
It is dangerous, yea, deadly, to go where God will not go with us.
Nothing is difficult when the Lords power goes forth with us, but to enter upon any service without the help of God is folly, and can only end in defeat. Those who try to fight their own way to heaven, will, like these Jews, find the enemies of their souls too many for them. Presumption is as dangerous as unbelief: they are often companions, and seem to alternate in the souls of the unregenerate like the heat of summer, and the cold of winter: may the Lord deliver us from both.
We live estranged and far from God,
And love the distance well;
With haste we run the dangerous road
That leads to death and hell.
And can such rebels be restored?
Such natures made divine?
Let sinners see thy glory, Lord,
And feel this power of thine.
We raise our Father’s name on high,
Who his own Spirit sends
To bring rebellious strangers nigh,
And turn his foes to friends.
John 20:3, 4
By the time the women reached the apostles, they must have sounded very confused! On one hand, they reported that the angels said Jesus was alive from the dead. On the other hand, they were confused and operating in fear, so they exclaimed, “… They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him” (John 20:2).
Fear always produces confusion, and these women were so confused that the apostles didn’t take what they said seriously. Luke 24:11 says, “And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.” The words “idle tales” are from the Greek word leros, which means nonsense, idle talk, babble, or delirium (see April 28). Who did these women think removed Jesus from the tomb? Which story was true? Was He resurrected and alive as the women first told the apostles, or was He stolen away?
John 20:3, 4 says, “Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. So they ran both together: and the other disciple John did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.” When the Bible says Peter and John “went forth,” the Greek tense indicates that their feet were moving before the conversation with the women concluded. When they heard that something had happened at the tomb, both men were on the move to get there as quickly as possible.
We also know from John 20:11 that Mary Magdalene soon followed Peter and John back to the tomb, for she was present at the site and remained there after Peter and John returned to the apostles.
I find it interesting that when Peter and John raced to the tomb to see whatever it was that the women were trying to communicate to them, none of the other apostles joined them. The others apparently just sat and watched Peter and John put on their clothes and start running, but they didn’t join the two men. Instead, the rest of the apostles probably stayed behind to discuss what they had heard and to debate about what it meant.
Because Peter and John ran to the garden, they experienced something the other apostles missed by staying home. It is simply a fact that if you want to experience Jesus Christ and His power, you must get up from where you are and start moving in His direction.
John outran Peter to the garden where the tomb was located. As soon as he arrived, John 20:5 tells us, “And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.” The Greek word for “stooping down” is parakupto. It means to peer into; to peep into; to bend low to take a closer look; to stoop down to see something better.
John bent down so he could take a close peek into the tomb, and he “… saw the linen clothes lying….” The word “saw” is the Greek word blepo, which means to see. It was just enough of a glance to see the linen clothes lying there. The words “linen clothes” is the same identical word used in John 19:40 (see April 26) when referring to the expensive Egyptian-made garment in which Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had buried Jesus. If Jesus had been stolen, whoever took Him would have taken this expensive garment as well, but John saw that these linen clothes had been left lying in the tomb.
Graves were a place of respect for the Jews, which may explain the reason John was hesitant to enter the tomb. It is also quite possible that he observed the broken seals and realized that it looked like an unlawful entry had occurred. Perhaps he was thinking twice before he found himself connected to an alleged potential crime scene. Regardless of why John hesitated, the Bible tells us that Peter didn’t hesitate but promptly barged right into the tomb to check it out for himself: “Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, and the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself” (John 20:6, 7).
John only glanced into the interior of the tomb, but the above verse says Peter went into the sepulcher and “… seeth the linen clothes lie.” The word “seeth” is the Greek word theaomai, from which we get our word theater. It means to fully see or fully observe, like a patron who carefully watches every act of a play at the theater.
When Peter entered that tomb, he surveyed it like a professional surveyor. He looked over every nook and cranny, paying special attention to the linen clothes and the way they were left there. He saw “… the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.” The word “napkin” is soudarion, and it refers to a napkin that could be used for wiping perspiration from one’s face. This word was also used in connection with a burial cloth that was gently placed upon the face of the dead at burial.
When Lazarus came out of the tomb, Jesus instructed that his grave clothes be removed along with the soudarion, or napkin, from his face (John 11:44). Apparently Jesus’ entire body was wrapped in a large white linen sheet (see April 26), but His face was covered with such a napkin in traditional Jewish burial style.
The most fascinating fact about this facial cloth was that it was “… wrapped in a place by itself.” The word “wrapped” is the Greek word entulisso, which means to neatly fold to nicely arrange; or to arrange in an orderly fashion. The reason this word is so interesting is that it tells us Jesus was calm and completely in control of His faculties when He was raised from the dead. He removed the expensive Egyptian-made burial cloth from His body, sat upright, and then removed the burial napkin from His face. Sitting in that upright position, He neatly folded the burial cloth and gently laid it down to one side, separate from the linen clothes He probably laid down on His other side. Now as Peter gazed at the scene inside the tomb, he could see the empty spot where Jesus had sat between these two pieces of burial clothing after He was raised from the dead.
John 20:8 says, “Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.” This verse says that when John saw the empty stone slab where Jesus’ body had previously lain and the burial clothes lying to the right and to the left, forming the empty spot where Jesus sat after He was resurrected, John then “believed.” I find it truly amazing that even though Peter had spent a longer time than John inside the tomb, he was still uncertain as to the meaning of it all. Luke 24:12 says that Peter “… departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.” John, on the other hand, left the tomb believing Jesus was alive.
Later that evening, Jesus would appear to all the apostles and breathe the Spirit of God into them, giving them the new birth (John 20:22). But at this moment, because the Holy Spirit was not yet resident in them as their Teacher, there was much they could not understand. Even though Jesus had told them He would die and be raised from the dead, they simply were not yet able to comprehend it. That’s why John 20:9 says, “For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.”
Although the apostles had heard this scripture from Jesus Himself, the reality and full impact of its truth had not registered in their hearts. After this historical and momentous day, the Bible tells us, “Then the disciples went away again unto their own home” (v. 10).
It is remarkable to me that Peter could stand in the middle of Jesus’ empty tomb and still leave uncertain about what it meant. How in the world would it be possible to be in the very room where Jesus’ dead body had lain, to see the neatly folded napkin, to recognize the spot where He sat upright between those garments, and to still not be able to figure out that Jesus was now alive?
Yet it starts making sense when I think about it. God has done so many unquestionable miracles for you and me as well. How many times have we walked away unaffected by the power and miracles we’ve seen and experienced? God has delivered us, saved us, and rescued us from harm time and time again; yet we still tend to wonder if God is really with us or not. How in the world could we ever question the faithfulness of God after all He has already done for us?
We need to make sure we don’t remain unaffected by the miracle-working power of God that has worked in our lives. Instead, we should make the decision to fully embrace every good thing God does for us—to soak it up so entirely that it changes us and our outlook on life. God is good! He has been good to every one of us. If we fail to remember this, it is only because we are not opening our eyes to see His hand of protection, provision, and safety all around us.
So make the choice today to recognize what God has done in your life. Remember to thank Him for it, and then never forget it!
Lord, it is true that You have worked so many miracles in my life. If I were to try to recount all the times You have saved me, delivered me, rescued me, gotten me out of trouble, put me on a right path, and blessed me when I didn’t deserve it, I wouldn’t have enough time to recite them all! So how could I ever question that You would be with me right now in my present challenge? Of course You are with me and will help me. Forgive me for being so hardhearted as to forget what You have already done for me. And I thank You right now that You are going to help me this time too!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
I confess that I am not forgetful of the many ways God has worked in my life. I am mindful of His mercy and grace and I praise Him for it every day. I am a living testimony of His power. He is my Redeemer, my Healer, my Deliverer, and my Provider. He is the One who rescues me from harm and who meets my every need. I am fully supplied in every area of my life because of the promises God has made to me in His Word!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
How in the world could we ever question the faithfulness of God after all He has already done for us? We need to make sure we don’t remain unaffected by the miracle-working power of God that has worked in our lives. Instead, we should make the decision to fully embrace every good thing God does for us—to soak it up so entirely that it changes us and our outlook on life forever.
Five core values that are worth living and dying for:
1. Loyalty to Christ and the Bible
A commitment to follow Christ through uncompromising obedience to His Word. Like two wheels on a bicycle, loyalty to Christ and the Scriptures work in tandem.
“Lord to whom (else) shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68b)
2. Commitment to the Great Commission
Partnering with God in winning the lost and discipling the saved:
“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.” (Matthew 28:19, 20)
3. Faith in the Promises of God
God has given us His “great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature.” (2 Peter 1:4)
The promises of God are foundational to our faith, giving us hope and the ability to believe God for the furtherance of His Kingdom. Without the promises, we end in despair.
4. Vision for Spiritual Reproduction
Investing your life in that of another. Christ invested in The Twelve. Paul invested in Timothy: “The things you have heard me say… entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2) Dr. Frank Labauch used the phrase, “Each one teach one.”
5. Practice of Spiritual Disciplines
Wonderful story of Christian values.
They don’t make movies like this anymore.
It is a shame!
It is to one’s honor to avoid strife. Proverbs 20:3
One morning in Perth, Australia, Fionn Mulholland discovered his car was missing. That’s when he realized he had mistakenly parked in a restricted zone and his car had been towed away. After considering the situation—even the $600 towing and parking fine—Mulholland was frustrated, but he decided not to be angry with the person he would work with to retrieve his car. Instead of venting his feelings, Mulholland wrote a humorous poem about the situation and read it to the worker he met at the tow yard. The worker liked the poem, and a possible ugly confrontation never took place.
The book of Proverbs teaches, “It is to one’s honor to avoid strife” (20:3). Strife is that friction that either simmers under the surface or explodes in the open between people who disagree about something.
God has given us the resources to live peacefully with other people. His Word assures us that it’s possible to feel anger without letting it boil over into rage (Eph. 4:26). His Spirit enables us to override the sparks of fury that prompt us to do and say things to strike out at people who upset us. And God has given us His example to follow when we feel provoked (1 Peter 2:23). He is compassionate, gracious, and slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness (Ps. 86:15).
Dear God, Please help me to manage my anger in a way that does not lead me into sin. Give me self-control through the power of Your Holy Spirit.
Be slow to anger.
Can you think of a situation where you could have better controlled your anger? What should you have done? Ask the Holy Spirit to help you respond to situations in a way that honors Him.
From the appearance of some people, we judge them to be happy. Smiles, makeup, and stylish clothes can create an impression of inner peace. Internally, though, many are in bondage.
In today’s passage, Jesus clarifies His purpose: He has come to set free those in captivity. Christ was referring to two types of bonds that can imprison our soul.
First, Jesus breaks the chains of sin. All people have broken God’s law, and the consequence is to live apart from Him (Rom. 3:23). But Christ’s death and resurrection free us when we accept His gift of forgiveness and place our trust in Him. Then we can have a relationship with the Lord.
Second, God liberates us from persistent sins like jealousy, bitterness, and gluttony. His Spirit resides within each believer and provides the power to overcome wrong choices that seem to own us. He enables us to do what He desires—by bringing immediate healing or by giving guidance and strength in the ongoing battle.
The Creator of mankind made us with a void in our heart for Jesus to fill. Everything we put there—whether it seems like a good thing at the time or an obvious bad choice—will ultimately leave us wanting. And we’ll remain in bondage until God frees us and then provides the only true satisfaction.
Are you one of those people who appear happy and seem to have life figured out, and yet inside feel uneasy and empty? Jesus Christ is the only One who can redeem you, forgive your sins, and fill the vacant place in your soul. Allow Him to liberate you today.
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