Jesus vs. Temptation drama
It was impossible for death to keep its hold on [Jesus]. Acts 2:24
Swimming with friends in the Gulf of Mexico, Caitlyn encountered a shark, which grabbed her legs and pulled at her body. To counter the attack, Caitlyn punched the shark in the nose. The predator unclenched its jaws and swam away in defeat. Although its bite caused multiple wounds, which required over 100 stitches, the shark was unable to keep Caitlyn in its grasp.
This story reminds me of the fact that Jesus delivered a blow to death, ending its power to intimidate and defeat His followers. According to Peter, “It was impossible for death to keep its hold on [Jesus]” (Acts 2:24).
Peter said these words to a crowd in Jerusalem. Perhaps many of them had been the ones yelling out, “Crucify him!” to condemn Jesus (Matthew 27:22). As a result, Roman soldiers fastened Him to a cross where He hung until they confirmed He was dead. Jesus’s body was carried to a tomb where it stayed for three days until God resurrected Him. After His resurrection, Peter and others spoke and ate with Him, and after forty days they watched Him ascend into heaven (Acts 1:9).
Jesus’s life on Earth ended amidst physical suffering and mental anguish, yet God’s power defeated the grave. Because of this, death—or any other struggle—lacks the ability to keep us in its grip forever. One day all believers will experience everlasting life and wholeness in God’s presence. Focusing on this future can help us find freedom today.
Dear Jesus, Your victory over death gives me hope! I praise You as the resurrected One who died so that I could have eternal life.
The grip of the grave is no match for the power of God.
Life can hit us with the most unexpected and undesirable circumstances. When that happens, shock and pain might make us wonder, Does God really care about me?
First of all, we know from 1 John 4:8 that “God is love,” which means His very nature is characterized by compassion and concern. Love originated with the Lord, and He is our greatest example of how to express it. This truth, combined with the reality that God is holy, means He is perfect in His love—He’ll never make a mistake in the way He loves us.
Second, we know that our heavenly Father loves us, because He calls us His children. “To those who believed in His name, he gave the right to become children of God,” writes John in his gospel (1 John 1:12 NIV). Sadly, some people don’t have a parent who shows them love. But God is the perfect parent. It would be completely against His character to mistreat any of His children.
Finally, God gave the supreme demonstration of His love at the cross. We were all dead in our sins, but Christ went to the greatest length possible to give us life. The Son of God came to earth as an expression of His Father’s awesome, fathomless, infinite love and did for us what no one else could do.
After considering these three facts about God’s love, how could we not expect Him to take care of even the smallest details of our life? Look for ways He is expressing His love to you, and remember Jesus own words on the subject: “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
“Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.” (Judges 11:31)
The story of Jephthah has been a stumbling block to many who interpret it as teaching that Jephthah sacrificed his daughter to God as a burnt offering. As he prepared to face the Ammonite armies, he made the vow recorded in our text, if God would only give him the victory. His only child, a beloved daughter, was then first to meet him at his return, and so it was she who had to be offered.
It should be remembered, however, that Jephthah was a man of true faith (Hebrews 11:32-33), and he would never have vowed to disobey God’s prohibition against human sacrifice. The problem is that the Hebrew conjunction waw (translated “and” in our text) is very flexible in meaning depending on context. Here, “or” is better than “and.”
That is, Jephthah vowed that whatever first came out to meet him would be dedicated to the Lord: If a person came out (Jephthah was probably thinking of a servant), he or she would be dedicated to God’s service at the tabernacle, as Hannah later dedicated Samuel (1 Samuel 1:11). Or if an animal from his flock came out, it would be sacrificed.
His daughter, out of love for her father and gratitude to God for His deliverance from the Ammonites, insisted her father keep his vow. Since that meant that she, as a perpetual servant at the tabernacle, could never have a husband and children, she “bewailed her virginity” (not her impending death) and then “returned to her father” so that he could keep his vow, and throughout her life “she knew no man” (Judges 11:38-39). Instead of a strange tale of human sacrifice, this is the story of the love of a God-fearing father and daughter for each other and for their Lord. HMM
Because men travel so slowly, sin overtakes them, overthrows them, and breaks their bones; believers who are in a better case must lovingly endeavour to heal their brethren, saying to themselves, “They fell yesterday, and we shall fall to-day unless the Lord shall hold us up.”
We have each one his own load of responsibility to bear, and therefore we do well to remember our own faults and sympathise with the infirmities of others. When tempted to condemn others, let us look at home.
The preacher who zealously labours for our good in spirituals well deserves to partake of our temporals.
The rule of reaping what we sow is not changed under the gospel, but obtains an importance greater than before, for now we sow better seed, and through grace reap a richer harvest. At the same time, those who after hearing the word continue sowing to the flesh, will reap additional misery, because their sin is greatly increased by refusing the gospel light.
Our kindness is to be general and yet special, like the redemption of our Lord Jesus, “who is the Saviour of all men, specially of them that believe.”
Probably his eyes were weak, and as he resolved to write with his own hand he used what an old divine calls “good great texthand letters.” He mentions this little circumstance to show his earnestness in what he had written.
Galatians 6:12, 13
They wanted to boast of their many followers and to curry favour with the Jews by showing that their converts to Jesus were also proselytes to circumcision. Paul cared not for such boastings.
He cared nothing for the marks in his flesh which proved him to be a Jew, he valued far more those scars which he had received while engaged in the service of Jesus; these he looked upon as being the Lord’s brand upon him, like the ear mark which was received by a Hebrew servant when he resolved to abide with his master for life. It is useless to oppose a man of Paul’s order, he is too resolute to be turned aside, it is wisest for the enemy to let him alone.
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ, my God;
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. (Acts 16:31)
A notable heresy has come into being throughout our evangelical Christian circles—the widely accepted concept that we humans can choose to accept Christ only because we need Him as Savior, and that we have the right to postpone our obedience to Him as long as we want to!
The truth is that salvation apart from obedience is unknown in the sacred Scriptures. Peter makes it plain that we are “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience.”
It seems most important to me that Peter speaks of his fellow Christians as “obedient children.” He knew their spirituality—he was not just giving them an exhortation to be obedient.
The entire Bible teaches that true obedience to God and His Christ is one of the toughest requirements in the Christian life. Actually, salvation without obedience is a self-contradicting impossibility!
Humans do not want to admit it, but the Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans long ago that “by one man’s disobedience” came the downfall of the human race!
“And I will make thee unto this people a fenced brazen wall: and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith the Lord’ Jer. 15:20
Stability in the fear and faith of God will make a man like a wall of brass, which no one can batter down or break. Only the Lord can make such; but we need such men in the church, and in the world, but specially in the pulpit.
Against uncompromising men of truth this age of shams will fight tooth and nail. Nothing seems to offend Satan and his seed like decision. They attack holy firmness even as the Assyrians besieged fenced cities. The joy is that they cannot prevail against those whom God has made strong in His strength. Carried about with every wind of doctrine, others only need to be blown upon, and away they go; but those who love the doctrines of grace, because they possess the grace of the doctrines, stand like rocks in the midst of raging seas.
Whence this stability? “I am with thee, saith the Lord”: that is the true answer. Jehovah will save and deliver faithful souls from all the assaults of the adversary. Hosts are against us, but the Lord of hosts is with us. We dare not budge an inch; for the Lord Himself holds us in our place, and there we will abide for ever.