More Than a Hero

We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

As Star Wars fans around the world eagerly await the release of Episode 8, “The Last Jedi,” people continue to analyze the remarkable success of these films dating back to 1977. Frank Pallotta, media reporter for CNNMoney, said that Star Warsconnects with many who long for “a new hope and a force of good at a time when the world needs heroes.”

At the time of Jesus’s birth, the people of Israel were oppressed and longing for their long-promised Messiah. Many anticipated a hero to deliver them from Roman tyranny, but Jesus did not come as a political or military hero. Instead, He came as a baby to the town of Bethlehem. As a result, many missed who He was. The apostle John wrote, “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him” (John 1:11).

Lord Jesus, You are our Savior, and we praise You for coming to die that we might live.

More than a hero, Jesus came as our Savior. He was born to bring God’s light into the darkness and to give His life so that everyone who receives Him could be forgiven and freed from the power of sin. John called Him “the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (v. 14).

“To all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (v. 12). Indeed, Jesus is the one true hope the world needs.

Lord Jesus, You are our Savior, and we praise You for coming to die that we might live.

At Bethlehem, God demonstrated that to love is to give.

By David C. McCasland 


Many times when we think of heroes we think of someone who “rescues.” This is especially true of Jesus, who is the greatest hero of all time. Paul wrote in Galatians 1:4 that Jesus is the One “who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.” Second Timothy 4:18 declares, “The Lord will rescue [us] from every evil attack, and will bring [us] safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” The greatest hero of all provides the greatest rescue of all—eternal life.

Who might you want to tell about your story of Jesus’s rescue?

Bill Crowder

Receiving Answers to Our Prayers

1 John 5:13-15

In response to our prayers, the Lord uses His power to penetrate closed minds and hard hearts. In that way, He brings people to salvation and transforms unrighteous lives.

We all want our petitions fulfilled, so it is important to understand God’s conditions for answered prayer. Besides having a relationship with Him (John 3:3) and confessing all known sin, we must have faith that His Word is true and His promises reliable. The Bible, which was divinely written by God through man, is without error. In this amazing book, the Lord reveals His nature—holy, sovereign, and perfect—and presents His plan of salvation (Rom. 10:9). Because God’s promises are based on His perfect character, we can be certain He will do what He says; otherwise He would not be God. And Jesus’ promises can be trusted because He always spoke the Father’s words (John 12:49).

Another condition is that we ask according to the Lord’s purposes. We’re to pray for things that are in keeping with His divine plan and character. God wants us to discern His will, to pray for it to be carried out, and to do whatever our part might be in its fulfillment (Matt. 6:9-10). The Holy Spirit will help us know what to pray. And as we consider which petitions to make, we should ask ourselves, Is my request based on God’s Word? How will an answer to this prayer bring me or someone else closer to Him?

It takes an investment of time to meet God’s requirements for prayer. But in response, He will provide answers beyond anything we could ask or think (Eph. 3:20).

Old Testament Prophecy

“Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you.” (1 Peter 1:10)

Our verse today and the verses that follow tell us a good deal about Old Testament prophecy and, rightly understood, answer many of the questions raised by modern “scholars” who scoff at the divine authorship of Scripture.

First, we can see that much prophecy was devoted to the theme of “the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (v. 11), long before the events took (or will take) place. That these prophecies were not mere human contrivances is seen in the claim that they were due to “the Spirit of Christ which was in them.”

Furthermore, the prophets themselves didn’t fully understand what they were writing. For instance, Isaiah wrote both of the glory of the coming Messiah (chapter 11) and His sufferings and death (chapter 53) with no indication that he knew how to put the two together. Peter claims the prophets “enquired and searched diligently” (1 Peter 1:10) “what, or what manner of time” (v. 11) these things would come to pass. Indeed, even “the angels desire to look into” (v. 12) these mysterious passages and doctrines.

Finally, the prophets evidently knew that the mysterious prophecies were not for them to understand but for us to understand (v. 12). Much of what so puzzled them has been revealed to us “by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven” (v. 12).

Because of the ultimate authorship by the Holy Spirit, and the eventual explanation by the same Spirit, these prophecies have never failed. They provide irrefutable evidence for the inspiration of Scripture, clear reasons to trust in the message of Scripture, and a grounded faith in the consummation of God’s plan for the ages. JDM

A greater than Jonas is here

Jonah 3

Jonah 3:2

This was a gracious sign that the Lord had forgiven his servant’s disobedience, but it shewed also that the Lord would not alter his purpose to please the whim of man, nor change his servant’s work because he quarrelled with it. Jonah was forced to go to Nineveh after all; his rebellion had been of no avail.

Jonah 3:3

This time there was no delay and no demur. Five hundred miles was not too long a march, nor were rivers and deserts any impediment; the prophet had learned obedience by the things which he had suffered.

Jonah 3:4

How startled must the people have been as they saw the strange, stern man, and heard his monotonous warning cry. The news ran through the city; and the people crowded to hear the terrible voice which declared to them their speedy doom.

Jonah 3:9

The kings of Assyria assumed the air of gods, and were adored by their people, yet the great potentate then reigning reverenced the divine message. It might have been concluded that he would strike off the prophet’s head, but a sacred awe withheld him, and a sense of terror led him to become a suppliant. Faint was the hope of respite for the doomed capital, yet on that hope they ventured to try the effect of repentance. “Who can tell?” was all they could say, and the fierce messenger who warned them gave them no encouragement. Shall these men rise up in judgment against us? They had only the law, and yet sought mercy; shall we remain impenitent when the gospel is daily preached to us? They had neither promise nor invitation, we have both in abundance; shall we refuse to come to that banquet of grace to which they so eagerly pressed? They made even their children and their cattle feel the bitterness of sin and repentance, and shall we make mirth for ourselves upon the brink of eternal perdition? Woe unto us if it should be more tolerable for the men of Nineveh than for us at the last great day.

Jonah 3:10

If threatenings will suffice, judgment shall be averted. God tries words before he comes to blows.

Matthew 12:38-41

The Lord Jesus made mention of the repentance of the Ninevites when he addressed the unbelievers of his own day. Let us read the passage in—Matthew 12:38.


Be Not Slothful in Business

Romans 12:11

I’ll never forget the time when, as I met with a head of government in a foreign nation, he looked me straight in the eyes and said, “I just don’t understand many of the Christians I’ve met. To me, they seem to be some of the laziest people I’ve ever known in my life. I’m amazed that anyone would be satisfied to live with such low standards. Is this the way all Christians are?”

I was so embarrassed when I heard those words. I found myself wanting to apologize for the entire Christian community! But the truth is, I personally knew some of the Christians he was referring to—and I had thought the very same thing on many occasions! These people didn’t seem to have enough gumption to get up and do something with their lives. It wasn’t that they weren’t talented, gifted, and knowledgeable. They were just satisfied with the level they had attained and had no desire to show any professionalism with their lives.

Honestly, it’s a mystery to me how anyone can claim to be a Christian indwelt by the Spirit of God and yet be satisfied with such a low-level existence. Of course, I am very aware that many people weren’t raised with the same high standard of excellence that my parents taught me. Perhaps some Christians grew up in an environment where low-level thinking was viewed as normal, and that’s why they have accepted such a low standard for their own lives. However, other low-achievers can’t claim a mediocre upbringing as an excuse. They just don’t take advantage of opportunities to learn, adapt, and better themselves and therefore never experience needed change. This is usually a sign that these people have no inner desire to improve their lives.

You may send such individuals to school to educate them; you may even pay for them to fly halfway around the world to learn new and better techniques in their field of expertise. But if they don’t possess the inner drive to improve themselves and to become more professional, it doesn’t matter how much time or money you throw at them. It’s all a waste unless they possess the desire to be diligent.

Such low-level standards should never be tolerated by a believer, a pastor, an employer, or an employee. Yet too often believers make excuses for their slothful attitudes and allow them to continue. As a result, the world frequently looks at the Church as a pathetic entity made up of a bunch of nincompoops who aren’t serious about what they do or say.

I am certain that Paul’s experience with low-achievers in the Church is one of the reasons he wrote the believers in Rome and told them to be “not slothful in business….” The word “slothful” is the Greek word okneros, a word that means lazy or idle. It carries the idea of a person who has a do-nothing, lethargic, lackadaisical, apathetic, indifferent, lukewarm attitude toward life. I find it very interesting that this word translated “slothful” is the identical Greek word used in Matthew 25:26 when Jesus tells of the “wicked” servant who was thrown into outer darkness because he produced nothing significant with the resources that had been entrusted to him. In these contexts, both “slothful” and “wicked” denote an attitude of apathy that should have no place at all in the life of a Christian.

But Paul goes on to say that we are not to be slothful “in business.” The word “business” is the Greek word spoudadzo, and it means to do something with eagerness or to do something with diligence. It is the idea of acting responsibly, quickly, and with attentiveness. You could say that the word spoudadzo (“diligence”) is exactly the opposite of a person who lazily strolls along with no passion or desire. Instead of being lazy and apathetic, a diligent person is excited and energetic, putting his whole heart into the project that has been given to him. He treats his responsibility as if it is important, and as a result of his excellent attitude, he does his job well.

Paul also says that we should be “… fervent in spirit….” The word “fervent” is the Greek word zeo, which originally meant to boil. This is the picture of a person so enthusiastic about his task that he can hardly contain his excitement. The desire to do his job with excellence and enthusiasm is constantly boiling inside the person who is diligent about his assignment. In fact, the Greek tense used here would be better translated, “… Be constantly fervent in spirit….” The word “spirit” does not refer to the Holy Spirit, but to the attitude of this believer. It means, “… Be constantly fervent in your attitude….”

Then Paul takes it another step by saying that we are to be “… fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.” It is very plain what Paul is declaring here: A right attitude is one of the most effective ways for a person to serve the Lord. You see, when a believer does his job right and with an awesome attitude, it is a testimony to the name of Jesus. But when a believer does his work shabbily, he projects a sorry image of who Jesus is. This is exactly what happened in the case of that foreign head of government who asked me if all Christians were as mediocre as the ones he had encountered.

Paul uses the Greek word douleuo when he writes about “serving” the Lord. This word comes from the Greek word doulos, which means a servant who does the bidding of his master. The word doulos described a servant who was sold out, lock, stock, and barrel—totally committed to serving and pleasing his master. As a good servant, he would do his best to discover his master’s desires and then explicitly do whatever was needed to fulfill those desires.

By using this word in this context, it is almost as if Paul is saying, “If you really want to please the Lord and be a servant that brings Him satisfaction, then do these things….” What things bring pleasure to the heart of Jesus? Let me repeat the qualities we’ve already discussed: having an attitude of excellence; doing your job with seriousness and responsibility; and being consistently fervent, committed, and enthusiastic in your attitude. When a believer steadfastly demonstrates these attributes in his life, he becomes a servant who truly brings satisfaction to the heart of Jesus Christ.

Don’t misunderstand what I am saying. Your salvation is a free gift of God’s grace, and nothing you do can buy you a special standing with Him. Nevertheless, how you serve God and the testimony that your life demonstrates to the world is very important to Jesus Christ.

So I urge you to take an honest look at yourself today. Ask yourself, When people look at my life, do they come away with a positive idea of what a Christian is like, or does my example leave people unimpressed with Jesus Christ? Then ask the Lord to show you any changes you need to make so you can move on up to a higher level of excellence in God!


Lord, I am very convicted by what I have read today. I don’t want to allow any area of my life to be a bad testimony of who Jesus is. Therefore, I am asking You to open my eyes and show me those areas of my life that need to come up to a higher level. Please forgive me for being tolerant of low standards that are not compatible with the excellence of Jesus’ wonderful name.

Starting today, I want to move up higher. Holy Spirit, please help me as I start taking steps toward making serious changes in my life, my attitudes, and my actions.

I pray this in Jesus’ name!


I confess that I will no longer be satisfied with living a low-level existence. God has something great planned for me, and I have made the decision to abandon the negligent attitudes that have dominated my life. Jesus has called me to be a servant that brings Him pleasure, so that is what I am going to do. I will not allow laziness or apathy to be a part of me any longer. I intend to start projecting continual enthusiasm and excitement about what Jesus has asked me to do!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!


  1. Would you say that your life is a good testimony of who Jesus is, or does your example leave some people shaking their heads, wondering what is wrong with lazy, low-level Christians?
  2. Perhaps you have a standard of excellence in some areas of your life but not in other areas. In your opinion, what areas of your life already portray excellence, and what areas do not?
  3. Do you try to stay aware of how your attitudes, your dress, and your job performance are affecting people’s opinions of Jesus? Are you continually striving to make sure your life gives an honorable impression of Jesus Christ to others?


God Responses To Our Prayers In One Of Four Ways

1. “No – Your request is not in God’s will.”


After Nathan had gone home, the Lord struck the child that Uriahs wife had borne to David, and he became illDavid pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and went into his house and spent the nights lying on the groundHe answered, While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child liveBut now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.‘” (1 Samuel 2:15, 16, 22, 23)


2. “Slow – Your request is not in God’s will at this time.”


So the sisters sent word to Jesus, Lord, the one you love is sick.‘… Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more daysSo then he told them plainly, Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.‘… On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four daysWhen he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, Lazarus, come out! The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, Take off the grave clothes and let him go.‘” (John 11:3, 6, 14, 15, 17, 43, 44)


3. “Grow – Your motives are wrong.”


When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James 4:3)


4. “Go – Your request, timing, and spiritual condition are okay… Yes!”


Elijahprayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.” (James 5:17b-19)


And from Romans 8:26-29 we know four truths about prayer:


1. The Holy Spirit helps us to know what and how to pray (verse 26)


2. The Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf (verse 26)


3. God hears our hearts more than the words in prayer (verse 27)


4. Prayer is always answered (verses 28-29), though not always according to our agenda.


The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with Gods will. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.



%d bloggers like this: