Jesus receives strength

Jesus, the messiah, God made flesh, showed a whole range of emotions. He was angry when He turned over the tables in the temple and cast out the money changers. He proclaimed that His house would be a house of prayer. He was welcoming and loving to many, especially the children that the disciples tried to keep away. He was merciful to the women found in adultery and the unpopular tax collector Zacchaeus . However it was in the garden of Gethsemane that Jesus came face to face with the terror of being a human sacrifice so that the world may be saved. He knew he was going to be killed in the most horrific way. However the scariest event to come might have been the necessary separation He would feel on the cross when the full weight of humanities’ sins would be upon Him. This is when He said,

“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). (Matthew 27:46)

Jesus Had never felt apart from the father his entire existence from the very beginning as related both in John and Genesis.

John says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)In the same chapter he also says “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. 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) This is Jesus.

We get another clue of Jesus’ eternal past with the father in Genesis 1:26 “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;” That “us” includes the father and the son.

Jesus Knew he would be forsaken, spat upon, beaten whipped, forced to ware a crown of thorns, and left to die on a cross. (Matthew 26:57-Matthew 27:50) In Gethsemane Luke reveals that even Jesus received the necessary comfort and strength from God to soldier on.

An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:43-44)

Through prayer and the Father’s support Jesus was able to complete the greatest mission ever, the way of Salvation for all Humanity. We too can soldier on under the most horrific circumstances through prayer and God’s support.

It is now up to us to believe and we will reap a great reward, not only strength and support through difficult times, but the greatest gift of all, our Salvation.

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Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

Two thousand years ago a prophet came out of Galilee and into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. A multitude praised Him shouting

“Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Matthew 21:9)

 They were looking and hoping for a Savior.  Hosanna meant save us and praise. They wanted someone who would break the Roman hold on their nation and establish a new and greater kingdom of Israel.  He was supposed to be the fulfillment of all prophesies.  His name was Jesus!

 Soon after his entrance he was rejected by the masses, arrested and accused unjustly and sentenced to be crucified. He was whipped, beaten, spat upon and nailed to a cross. Many assumed this could not be the true Messiah. The liberation from Rome did not happen.

What many failed to see was the sacrificial lamb. For Isaiah had Prophesied the coming messiah, but the picture was in stark contrast to the expected conquering hero Messiah. The messiah Isaiah wrote about in chapter 53 is a suffering one, who volunteered to give his life for all humanity.

“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:5-6)

Later Isaiah the prophet said,

“For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of my people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked—but with the rich at His death,” (Isaiah 53:8-9)

Isaiah wrote these words 800 years before Jesus ever set foot in Jerusalem. Jesus came and fulfilled every prophecy.  He was indeed stricken, beaten for our sins. He was killed along with criminals and yet was buried in a rich man’s tomb just as it is written in Isaiah. Jesus did conquer the greatest enemies, sin and death. He made a way for all to be saved. All that is required is that we believe.  (John 3:16)

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What is the measure of His love?

We do not love everybody the same. We love in different ways. We love our friends, but we love some more than others. Perhaps some friends have a better connection with us, while others have been our friends longer. We love our family members but there is the Uncle we hardly knew and then there is the cousin who has been our best friend. We do not love them the same or in the same quantity.

So how does Jesus love us? Let us put Jesus to the test.

When someone loves us we would expect them to hear us and speak to us. Jesus is the friend that is never too busy and never gets bored. He is patient and always hears us when we pray. He speaks to us in three ways, His word (the bible) , through His messenger (preacher, teacher, counselor etc.) (2 Timothy 3:16–17) and directly to us (our conscience, dreams, visions, experiences, and even audible). He always speaks to our needs and with the power to change all circumstances and see us through all difficulties.

When someone loves us we expect them to want to be with us faithfully. Jesus said in his word that he would be with us until the end. His presence though spiritual is real. Sometimes we are too busy and our lives too full to know that He is there. But He patiently waits until we are ready. He also said that he has gone to prepare a place so that we can be with Him forever. When someone wants to be with you forever that’s love(Matthew 28:20, John 14:1-3) !

When someone loves you they care about your needs and wants. They don’t necessarily give you everything you want, especially if like a loving parent they know what’s best for you. But they do listen, please you when it is good for you and care for all your needs. Jesus said ask and ye shall receive (Matthew 7:7-8). He also said that God would provide for all that we need if we could just seek Him first (Matthew 6:31-34).

Before someone can have a great and genuine love for you they must truly know you. How well does He know you when he is the one who formed you(John 1)?  How well does He know you when he has seen all that you do, say and think? How well does He know you when he has always been there from the beginning (John 1)? He knows you better than you know yourself.

If all this does not prove the love of Jesus, He did pass the greatest test of all. For the greatest love is revealed when someone gives his life.(John 15:13) . Jesus proved His love without a doubt by his horrific death. Taking a bullet would have been enough, but he went through so much more.  The bible reveals that he was beaten, whipped, forced to carry a cross, and nailed to the cross (Matthew 27). There he hung barely able to breathe.  He did it to save us. He did not have to. He volunteered. We cannot forget that He made legions of demons flee (Mark 5:9-13), conquered death (Matthew 28) and commanded the storm (Mark 4:35-41). He could have easily protected Himself but chose not to.

His death paid the price for our sins, so that we may be forgiven, if we only believe. (John 3:16-17) Sin condemned us to eternal damnation, but since we are forgiven our eternal home is in paradise with the one who loved us since the day He created us. Jesus loves us with the fullest and greatest love we will ever know.


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Hard to please everybody

Nobody wants to be unpopular. Most of us by nature like being part of the group. We therefore seek the approval of the group. It stands to reason that the ideas and opinions of the group will affect us. This is of course known as peer pressure. This is not unique to teenagers. It is part of the human experience. However living our lives constantly seeking the approval of others can be a challenge. You can make some people happy some of the time but you can’t make everybody happy all the time. Usually somebody, or perhaps a multitude of people, will not approve of our attitude or our actions no matter how well intended they are.

Jesus came into this world because of love (John 3:16) and spent his life doing acts of love. Multitudes followed Him in hopes of benefiting from his work. (Matthew 8:1) However Jesus still had plenty of critics. Some groups in particular, the Pharisees and the Scribes could never be pleased.

If Jesus freed someone from demonic possession, they would accuse Him of working with the devil. (Matthew 12:22-37) It didn’t matter that the person’s life was changed for the better, the crippling condition removed and the misery over.

On other occasions the Pharisees would accuse Jesus of breaking the Sabbath. (Mark 3:1-6) Such was the case of the man with the withered hand. The Pharisees were really angry this time and plotted how they could destroy Jesus. This man had suffered with this sickness; most likely making it impossible for him to take care of himself or be productive in any way. Jesus did not charge him. It was a pure act of kindness. But it was on the Sabbath!

Forgiveness was definitely a “no no” for the Scribes. The fact that Jesus was changing the lives of immoral people and helping them to live a life closer to God was of no importance. Jesus would forgive and would often add “now go and sin no more.” The Scribes, who thought Jesus to be only the son of the carpenter, accused Jesus of blasphemy. (Matthew 9:1-8)

Jesus did not change his behavior to silence the critics. He was on a mission and He felt there was only one person He had to please, God. (John 6:38, John 5:19, John 4:34) We too should not live our lives as if it was one big popularity contest. Although it is natural to want to please those we love, our greatest concern must be doing what is right, simply because it is “right.” God whose will is for us to live righteous lives is the only one we must always be sure to please.


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Resisting sin

Jesus taught his disciple many lessons. He knew that he was going to leave them with a great mission; to go into the entire world spreading the gospel, changing lives, seeking the lost and making more disciples. (Mark 16:15-16) One important lesson was the Our Father. This was intended to be a model for them to follow. One of the lines is “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” (Matthew 6:5-14) He knew the disciples and all of us were destined for failure and in need of constant forgiveness. Jesus knew he was about to leave them and that soon after they would be filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:4) The Holy Spirit would give them great power and yet Jesus knew that they and all of us as well would find it difficult to remain perfect at all times. (Acts 1:8)

Paul also explained this problem. He said that sin was in us. (Romans 7:13-20) No matter how strong we are, no matter how much we try, we are still in this world and must contend with our flesh. Therefore we are still capable of falling into sin. This is a constant danger. The devil like a lion is looking for who he can devour. (1 Peter 5:8) That would be us, he is looking for.

What can we do? Our desire is to live a life that is pleasing to God. Should we wait around waiting to fail? Should we live however we please and just repeat the “Our Father” every night?

Since we are sincere Christians it is imperative that we be on the offensive. We must live our life aware of the devil’s attacks. How can we do this? First and foremost we must diligently work every day to increase our understanding of what pleases God. This happens as we study scripture. When we study scripture our faith increases as well. (Romans 10:17) We therefore become stronger Christians.

Jesus also gave us another solution. He once spoke of the power to rebuke demons and he told the disciples “This one only comes out through prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17:21) If prayer and fasting can give a servant more power to contend with the devil then certainly it will help us in all matters. It too will draw us closer to Christ. How do relationships grow stronger? They grow stronger with communication. This is what prayer means to us. Prayer is our vehicle to communicate with God, strengthening our relationship with Him.

We also know that idle time is a dangerous time. It is when we allow the devil to tempt us and fill us with thoughts that are not pleasing to God. Idle time allows us ample opportunity to focus on what we don’t have. Consider David who casually walked about his temple with nothing to do only to be tempted by seeing the naked Bathsheba bathing. (2 Samuel 11:1-5) We should look to close the door on the devil by occupying ourselves in productive tasks, primarily serving God and the needy.

Remaining sinless is impossible. We have all fallen and will fail again. But sin certainly does not have to consume our lives. We can greatly reduce its hold on us and the likelihood of failing God, through much prayer, study of scripture and occupying ourselves in worthy endeavors.


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Standing firm

He stood in awe of the master as he wondered what was in store for them next.  He had witnessed the dead raised, the sick healed and the thousands fed.  He had walked on water himself.  He knew this was the son of God; He was the first to proclaim it.  He was the stone also known as Peter. He proclaimed with much pride how he would never betray the great teacher Jesus Christ. (Matthew 26:35)

But peter was not prepared for the terror that suddenly came upon him and all the disciples. Jesus had been arrested and all of a sudden there were no more miracles. No more stopping the storms or walking on water.  Jesus did not escape, he stood their powerless as he was taken into custody and beaten. (John 19:1) If this could be done to the Messiah then what would happen to the rest of them?

“You are not also one of this Man’s disciples, are you?”

Peter said, “I am not.” (John 18:17)

Therefore they said to him, “You are not also one of His disciples, are you?”

He denied it and said, “I am not!”

One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of him whose ear Peter cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” 27 Peter then denied again. (John 18:25-27)

Three times He denied Jesus. 1 Corinthians 10:12 says “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.”  We have to be grateful for those times in our life when everything seems to be going right and we feel strong.  We are filled with Joy and believe that nothing can bring us down; nothing can tear us away from God or cause us to doubt.  We can become over confident as Peter was and proclaim “I will never betray you Jesus”, or we simply think it impossible. We must do as the good athlete does, be in constant training, ready for the challenge. Our training is a spiritual one filled with prayer, fasting and the study of scripture. Then when the day comes that we are tested we can overcome and not fail our Lord and Savior.

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Faith and humility is required

Our wonderful Savior would never ignore us, would He? It appears that is exactly what Jesus did to a Canaanite woman. Was Jesus prejudice or insensitive? The woman came chasing after the disciples and Jesus. The bible specifically says “Jesus did not answer a word.” (Matthew 15:23) The disciples then complained to Jesus “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us” (Matthew 15:23)

Jesus finally responds to her and it doesn’t seem very nice “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel” (Matthew 15:24) Are we to assume that Jesus would only help fellow Jews? In actuality Jesus provided many miracles for those who were not of the nation of Israel. There was the centurion who had great faith (Matthew 8:5-13) and the one leper who came back (Luke 17:11-19). Jesus also told a parable where the central character and hero was the “Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:25-37). He also taught that God’s purpose was to bring salvation to the whole world. (John 3:16)

The woman then begs again “Lord help me!” Jesus then says what some might consider insulting “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” (Matthew 15:26) Was this Jesus or an impostor?

Then the woman said some very special words “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” (Matthew 15:27) The woman from the beginning showed desperation, due to her great need, as anyone would. However desperation does not move the hand of God. Faith and humility moves the hand of God. When we truly believe and yet understand that we are not worthy, God is willing to act. This is when we understand that it is not our will but his will that matters. Upon hearing these words Jesus immediately grants her request and confirms the importance of her faith when he says “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” (Matthew 15:28)

Although desperation may cause us to seek God, God is waiting for us to truly believe and humble ourselves. We must realize the sovereignty of God and accept that it is His will that will be done.


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