Category Archives: Evidence in Scripture

Dividing the Land

The book of Joshua devotes a lot of time and effort to documenting how the promised land was divided. It reminds us  that the Bible is an actual historical document, recording real events. It reminds us that YHWH is not some far off God that cares nothing for the details of his people because he is too busy. He gave them victory. He gave them the land. He helped them distribute it.

Joshua 18

Rest of the Land Divided

     1Then the whole congregation of the sons of Israel assembled themselves at Shiloh, and set up the tent of meeting there; and the land was subdued before them.

      2There remained among the sons of Israel seven tribes who had not divided their inheritance. 3So Joshua said to the sons of Israel, “How long will you put off entering to take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you? 4“Provide for yourselves three men from each tribe that I may send them, and that they may arise and walk through the land and write a description of it according to their inheritance; then they shall return to me. 5“They shall divide it into seven portions; Judah shall stay in its territory on the south, and the house of Joseph shall stay in their territory on the north. 6“You shall describe the land in seven divisions, and bring the description here to me. I will cast lots for you here before the LORD our God. 7“For the Levites have no portion among you, because the priesthood of the LORD is their inheritance. Gad and Reuben and the half-tribe of Manasseh also have received their inheritance eastward beyond the Jordan, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave them.”

      8Then the men arose and went, and Joshua commanded those who went to describe the land, saying, “Go and walk through the land and describe it, and return to me; then I will cast lots for you here before the LORD in Shiloh.” 9So the men went and passed through the land, and described it by cities in seven divisions in a book; and they came to Joshua to the camp at Shiloh. 10And Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the LORD, and there Joshua divided the land to the sons of Israel according to their divisions.

The Territory of Benjamin

     11Now the lot of the tribe of the sons of Benjamin came up according to their families, and the territory of their lot lay between the sons of Judah and the sons of Joseph. 12Their border on the north side was from the Jordan, then the border went up to the side of Jericho on the north, and went up through the hill country westward, and it ended at the wilderness of Beth-aven. 13From there the border continued to Luz, to the side of Luz (that is, Bethel) southward; and the border went down to Ataroth-addar, near the hill which lies on the south of lower Beth-horon. 14The border extended from there and turned round on the west side southward, from the hill which lies before Beth-horon southward; and it ended at Kiriath-baal (that is, Kiriath-jearim), a city of the sons of Judah. This was the west side. 15Then the south side was from the edge of Kiriath-jearim, and the border went westward and went to the fountain of the waters of Nephtoah. 16The border went down to the edge of the hill which is in the valley of Ben-hinnom, which is in the valley of Rephaim northward; and it went down to the valley of Hinnom, to the slope of the Jebusite southward, and went down to En-rogel. 17It extended northward and went to En-shemesh and went to Geliloth, which is opposite the ascent of Adummim, and it went down to the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben. 18It continued to the side in front of the Arabah northward and went down to the Arabah. 19The border continued to the side of Beth-hoglah northward; and the border ended at the north bay of the Salt Sea, at the south end of the Jordan. This was the south border. 20Moreover, the Jordan was its border on the east side. This was the inheritance of the sons of Benjamin, according to their families and according to its borders all around.

      21Now the cities of the tribe of the sons of Benjamin according to their families were Jericho and Beth-hoglah and Emek-keziz, 22and Beth-arabah and Zemaraim and Bethel, 23and Avvim and Parah and Ophrah, 24and Chephar-ammoni and Ophni and Geba; twelve cities with their villages. 25Gibeon and Ramah and Beeroth, 26and Mizpeh and Chephirah and Mozah, 27and Rekem and Irpeel and Taralah, 28and Zelah, Haeleph and the Jebusite (that is, Jerusalem), Gibeah, Kiriath; fourteen cities with their villages. This is the inheritance of the sons of Benjamin according to their families.

I can only imagine how this type of activity would take place today… with dirty politics and underhanded deals and smear campaigns against one another. People would be protesting in the streets that they deserve one piece of land or the other. The media would report full of bias to influence the outcome. If any spoke up for YHWH, they would be attacked for not separating their religious beliefs from government affairs. It is refreshing to see a group of people who made and accepted decisions based on acknowledgment and submission to the LORD as a whole.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Dividing Up The Promised Land – Ephraim

We are continuing in the book of Joshua in a series of chapters in which Joshua documents how the promised land was divided up between the tribes. It is clearly written as an historical account, and not a moral book or book of wisdom. We may be tempted to quickly overlook this passage and the following chapters as not relevant or “boring”. However, reflect on the fact that this was written as an historical document. It is a true record of what has transpired between YHWH and his people. This should be very encouraging as it gives credibility to the rest of the Bible as more than just a book of moral stories. The Bible is in fact true and an accurate historical document.

Joshua 16

Territory of Ephraim

     1Then the lot for the sons of Joseph went from the Jordan at Jericho to the waters of Jericho on the east into the wilderness, going up from Jericho through the hill country to Bethel. 2It went from Bethel to Luz, and continued to the border of the Archites at Ataroth. 3It went down westward to the territory of the Japhletites, as far as the territory of lower Beth-horon even to Gezer, and it ended at the sea.

      4The sons of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim, received their inheritance. 5Now this was the territory of the sons of Ephraim according to their families: the border of their inheritance eastward was Ataroth-addar, as far as upper Beth-horon. 6Then the border went westward at Michmethath on the north, and the border turned about eastward to Taanath-shiloh and continued beyond it to the east of Janoah. 7It went down from Janoah to Ataroth and to Naarah, then reached Jericho and came out at the Jordan. 8From Tappuah the border continued westward to the brook of Kanah, and it ended at the sea. This is the inheritance of the tribe of the sons of Ephraim according to their families, 9together with the cities which were set apart for the sons of Ephraim in the midst of the inheritance of the sons of Manasseh, all the cities with their villages. 10But they did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer, so the Canaanites live in the midst of Ephraim to this day, and they became forced laborers.

It seems subtle, but we also see in this record that the Israelites failed to drive out the Canaanites. Here we see they became forced laborers. It would be interesting to study what other roles those Canaanites played in history since they were not driven out as they should have been. Most obvious would seem that they remained a corrupting influence on the Israelites due to their pagan religion and lifestyle. A careful study of the Bible and history documented elsewhere likely would bear an interesting story for what role they played.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

 

The Death And Resurrection of Christ Were Real

Many have doubts about the death and resurrection of Christ. Do not be discouraged. Rather pray for the Lord to open they eyes of your heart to see His greatness. Ask Him to open your mind to understand scripture. Ask Him simply to strengthen your faith and help you in any unbelief. Then also seek and study the historical facts, which bear out the death and resurrection.

Even the disciples at first had doubts at the resurrection of Christ. Christ “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” regarding the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ for repentance and forgiveness of sins.  He offered to show His hands and feet, marked by nails from the crucifixion. He ate to show them He was not simply a spirit, but once again in the flesh as man.

Why did the disciples have such doubts? They saw Him die. It was horrible and there was no way He could have survived it. If these men were making this up and writing fiction rather than fact, they would have made themselves look smarter and more faithful rather than doubting. They wrote what happened, even if it may have been less than flattering about them. All but one of the disciples was executed for faith in Christ. The other was exiled to an island. Surely these men would have renounced Christ if they were not absolutely sure that Christ had died and risen from the grave. They would not each die to carry on a fraud that would not even benefit them.

Luke 24:36-53

Other Appearances

     36While they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be to you.” 37But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit. 38And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39“See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; 43and He took it and ate it before them.

      44Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, 47and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48“You are witnesses of these things. 49“And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

The Ascension

      50And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53and were continually in the temple praising God.

The disciples knew the resurrection was real and that if the resurrection is real, then Yeshua was indeed Christ, the Messiah. They lived and died for Him even after He had ascended to heaven. They worshipped Him with great joy.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Biblical Records Simply Document What Happened

The death of Yeshua was a public and well documented affair. It was brutal and recorded with very specific details. He could not have survived those wounds. For those claim the disciples made up stories of the resurrection of Christ… it just does not make sense. If Yeshua’s followers were just writing fiction in what became the Biblical record, why would they write passages like the road to Emmaus. It makes them seem foolish and it seems less credible on the surface than if they just wrote that they saw Yeshua and recognized Him immediately. This is not the only account. Think also of the record of the women finding the empty tomb first. In that culture and time, women were not considered as reliable witnesses. There is no reason why the disciples would choose to make up a story about the women finding the tomb… and the men not believing at first. If they were making it up, they would have had Peter and John find the tomb first. I am convinced without a doubt that these humble men simply documented what they experienced.

Luke 24:13-35

The Road to Emmaus

     13And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place. 15While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. 16But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him. 17And He said to them, “What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18One of them, named Cleopas, answered and said to Him, “Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?” 19And He said to them, “What things?” And they said to Him, “The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, 20and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him. 21“But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened. 22“But also some women among us amazed us. When they were at the tomb early in the morning, 23and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive. 24“Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just exactly as the women also had said; but Him they did not see.” 25And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26“Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” 27Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

      28And they approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though He were going farther. 29But they urged Him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over.” So He went in to stay with them. 30When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. 32They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” 33And they got up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found gathered together the eleven and those who were with them, 34saying, “The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35They began to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread.

Look for other examples as you read. There are many. The Biblical record itself declares the truth of the word by the way in which it is written. Much of the content of the stories documented would only be documented if believers were simply documenting what happened. If it were a work of fiction, the historical accounts would have been written much differently to make the believers appear more credible and more heroic on their own, rather than needing Christ so much. You would not find all the records that are there today documenting their failures and shortcomings if it were not simply the truth which is recorded.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Review Your Journey With The Lord

Numbers 33 is perhaps an easy passage of scripture to quickly pass over on the thought that it is simply a recap of what we have already read. It does provide some historical evidence to the story to help demonstrate the reality that the Bible is not a “made up book” or a book of stories like Aesop’s Fables, but an actual historical account of YHWH’s relationship with His people. If simply making up a book of stories, who would bother to include detailed historical accounts such as this one?

More than that, I am struck by the feeling that YHWH is encouraging us to periodically look back at the journey we have traveled when we follow Him. Moses was reviewing a journey that was both physical / geographical and also spiritual as the people journeyed from slavery to freedom… from bondage to Egyptians to freedom to serve our Father and Creator.

For me, I can reflect on the journey the Lord has led me on over the past 20 years in particular. There were battles (not literal warfare), there were times of victory and defeat, there was a growing relationship between myself and my Father. There were changes in how I lived my life and what my priorities were. There were changes in how I spent my time and my money. There were changes in how my family lives our daily lives and how we celebrate holy days now according to YHWH’s instruction rather than traditions of men. There are changes in how we help and support others in the body of Christ more joyfully.

While we still have further to go with the Lord, it is good to reflect on how far we have come with Him and His patience and lovingkindness to lead us along the way as we learn and change with His help.

Numbers 33:1-49

Review of the Journey from Egypt to Jordan

     1These are the journeys of the sons of Israel, by which they came out from the land of Egypt by their armies, under the leadership of Moses and Aaron. 2Moses recorded their starting places according to their journeys by the command of the LORD, and these are their journeys according to their starting places. 3They journeyed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the next day after the Passover the sons of Israel started out boldly in the sight of all the Egyptians, 4while the Egyptians were burying all their firstborn whom the LORD had struck down among them. The LORD had also executed judgments on their gods.

      5Then the sons of Israel journeyed from Rameses and camped in Succoth. 6They journeyed from Succoth and camped in Etham, which is on the edge of the wilderness. 7They journeyed from Etham and turned back to Pi-hahiroth, which faces Baal-zephon, and they camped before Migdol. 8They journeyed from before Hahiroth and passed through the midst of the sea into the wilderness; and they went three days’ journey in the wilderness of Etham and camped at Marah. 9They journeyed from Marah and came to Elim; and in Elim there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they camped there. 10They journeyed from Elim and camped by the Red Sea. 11They journeyed from the Red Sea and camped in the wilderness of Sin. 12They journeyed from the wilderness of Sin and camped at Dophkah. 13They journeyed from Dophkah and camped at Alush. 14They journeyed from Alush and camped at Rephidim; now it was there that the people had no water to drink. 15They journeyed from Rephidim and camped in the wilderness of Sinai. 16They journeyed from the wilderness of Sinai and camped at Kibroth-hattaavah.

      17They journeyed from Kibroth-hattaavah and camped at Hazeroth. 18They journeyed from Hazeroth and camped at Rithmah. 19They journeyed from Rithmah and camped at Rimmon-perez. 20They journeyed from Rimmon-perez and camped at Libnah. 21They journeyed from Libnah and camped at Rissah. 22They journeyed from Rissah and camped in Kehelathah. 23They journeyed from Kehelathah and camped at Mount Shepher. 24They journeyed from Mount Shepher and camped at Haradah. 25They journeyed from Haradah and camped at Makheloth. 26They journeyed from Makheloth and camped at Tahath. 27They journeyed from Tahath and camped at Terah. 28They journeyed from Terah and camped at Mithkah. 29They journeyed from Mithkah and camped at Hashmonah. 30They journeyed from Hashmonah and camped at Moseroth. 31They journeyed from Moseroth and camped at Bene-jaakan. 32They journeyed from Bene-jaakan and camped at Hor-haggidgad. 33They journeyed from Hor-haggidgad and camped at Jotbathah. 34They journeyed from Jotbathah and camped at Abronah. 35They journeyed from Abronah and camped at Ezion-geber. 36They journeyed from Ezion-geber and camped in the wilderness of Zin, that is, Kadesh. 37They journeyed from Kadesh and camped at Mount Hor, at the edge of the land of Edom.

      38Then Aaron the priest went up to Mount Hor at the command of the LORD, and died there in the fortieth year after the sons of Israel had come from the land of Egypt, on the first day in the fifth month. 39Aaron was one hundred twenty-three years old when he died on Mount Hor.

      40Now the Canaanite, the king of Arad who lived in the Negev in the land of Canaan, heard of the coming of the sons of Israel.

      41Then they journeyed from Mount Hor and camped at Zalmonah. 42They journeyed from Zalmonah and camped at Punon. 43They journeyed from Punon and camped at Oboth. 44They journeyed from Oboth and camped at Iye-abarim, at the border of Moab. 45They journeyed from Iyim and camped at Dibon-gad. 46They journeyed from Dibon-gad and camped at Almon-diblathaim. 47They journeyed from Almon-diblathaim and camped in the mountains of Abarim, before Nebo. 48They journeyed from the mountains of Abarim and camped in the plains of Moab by the Jordan opposite Jericho. 49They camped by the Jordan, from Beth-jeshimoth as far as Abel-shittim in the plains of Moab.

Take time to reflect on the your journey with YHWH. You may even want to write it down in a journal. Don’t rush it. Set aside time to prayerfully and reflectively go through it. Share it with someone you trust. Give thanks to Him for leading you and waiting on your progress. Ask Him what changes you need to continue to make and ask Him for His grace to help you make those changes. Continue the journey to grow closer to the Lord.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross

He is Risen!

What an amazing event! Loyal followers made their way faithfully to Jesus’ tomb to anoint His body for burial. They had witnessed Him die a few days earlier. Now, after having a full day to think about it (Sabbath), they are coming to His tomb just to honor Him. They don’t even know how they will get into the tomb because of the heavy rock in the entrance.

Imagine their surprise and then amazement and delight as they go through the experience of discovering that their beloved leader has risen from the grave. Jesus overcame death! Picture yourself in their sandals at this moment… they expected to find Jesus dead, not alive and risen. Imagine how that would feel!

Mark 16:1-13

The Resurrection

      1When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him. 2Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. 3They were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” 4Looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large. 5Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed. 6And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him. 7“But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.’” 8They went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had gripped them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

      9[Now after He had risen early on the first day of the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons. 10She went and reported to those who had been with Him, while they were mourning and weeping. 11When they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it.

Take time to dwell on the subject of scripture, putting yourself emotionally in the spot of Jesus’ followers. Think about how it must have felt. Then compare that to how you feel as His follower in your day to day life. Most of us truly take this historical act of love, the death and resurrection of Jesus, for granted. It is typical for us to not really take time to think about how significant this event should be to us personally. It should move us emotionally. We should want to tell others enthusiastically! It should transform our lives.

For any skeptics… consider a few points from today’s scripture. I am completely convinced this story is exactly true. If it were just a tale written by followers after Jesus died, then why would they portray the women as astonished and fearful? They would instead portray them as faithful followers who expected this to happen and are not surprised at all. Given the cultural context of the times, the followers would never have chosen to make up a lie that puts the women as the witnesses encountering Jesus first. Surely it would have been Peter, James, and John. Further, the disciples don’t even believe the witnesses at first.

Clearly the story is true. Jesus is risen! Let us rejoice and let us go forth to tell others about Him!

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Look For Where God Is At Work Around Us And Expect To Find Him

John the Baptist was surely a righteous servant of God. In fact, Yeshua said “I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John…”. (Luke 7:28) Yeshua was not offended when John sent disciples to ask if He were the “Expected One”. He simply answered that they should look at the evidence and report back to John.  Yeshua then makes an insightful comment in verse 23, “Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”

Truly there are many who are lost because they take offense at Yeshua, even all the while dismissing the incredible miracles and evidence that prove He is Messiah. They seem to get so focused on what they are expecting or their own world view that they have essentially decided in advance that there is no God or that Yeshua was not Messiah. They are offended that He claims to be God and miss the evidence THAT HE ACTUALLY IS GOD. They look for evidence to support what they believe and ignore the mountain of evidence that could lead them to Him.

Luke 7:18-29

     18The disciples of John reported to him about all these things. 19Summoning two of his disciples, John sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?” 20When the men came to Him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, to ask, ‘Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?’” 21At that very time He cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits; and He gave sight to many who were blind. 22And He answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM. 23“Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”

      24When the messengers of John had left, He began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 25“But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who are splendidly clothed and live in luxury are found in royal palaces! 26“But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and one who is more than a prophet.

27“This is the one about whom it is written,
‘BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER AHEAD OF YOU,
WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY BEFORE YOU.’

28“I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” 29When all the people and the tax collectors heard this, they acknowledged God’s justice, having been baptized with the baptism of John. 30But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves, not having been baptized by John.

      31“To what then shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like? 32“They are like children who sit in the market place and call to one another, and they say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’ 33“For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon!’ 34“The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35“Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”

    36Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, 38and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. 39Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.”

Let us challenge ourselves to be more like John the Baptist rather than the Pharisees. Both acknowledged that God was Lord, but one truly believed and expected Messiah to come. John looked for Messiah and validated by considering evidence. He expected God to be at work around us. The Pharisees said they expected Messiah, but could never bring themselves to consider Messiah might be there with them. They appeared not to expect God actually working among them.

Let us not dismiss the possibility that God is at work around us, but rather look for Him. Seek to genuinely and with discernment understand when, where and how our Lord is at work around us.  When He does reach out to us personally, carefully seek validation in evidence and scripture. Do not automatically dismiss it as coincidence or chance or imagination. Test everything but let the evidence lead you to accept when, where and how God is at work.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

He is Risen!

What an amazing event! Loyal followers made their way faithfully to Jesus’ tomb to anoint His body for burial. They had witnessed Him die a few days earlier. Now, after having a full day to think about it (Sabbath), they are coming to His tomb just to honor Him. They don’t even know how they will get into the tomb because of the heavy rock in the entrance.

Imagine their surprise and then amazement and delight as they go through the experience of discovering that their beloved leader has risen from the grave. Jesus overcame death!

Mark 16:1-13

The Resurrection

      1When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him. 2Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. 3They were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” 4Looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large. 5Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed. 6And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him. 7“But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.’” 8They went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had gripped them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

      9[Now after He had risen early on the first day of the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons. 10She went and reported to those who had been with Him, while they were mourning and weeping. 11When they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it.

Take time to dwell on the subject of scripture, putting yourself emotionally in the spot of Jesus’ followers. Think about how it must have felt. Then compare that to how you feel as His follower in your day to day life. Most of us truly take this historical act of love, the death and resurrection of Jesus, for granted. It is typical for us to not really take time to think about how significant this event should be to us personally. It should move us emotionally. We should want to tell others enthusiastically! It should transform our lives.

For any skeptics… consider a few points from today’s scripture. I am completely convinced this story is exactly true. If it were just a tale written by followers after Jesus died, then why would they portray the women as astonished and fearful? They would instead portray them as faithful followers who expected this to happen and are not surprised at all. Given the cultural context of the times, the followers would never have chosen to make up a lie that puts the women as the witnesses encountering Jesus first. Surely it would have been Peter, James, and John. Further, the disciples don’t even believe the witnesses at first.

Clearly the story is true. Jesus is risen! Let us rejoice and let us go forth to tell others about Him!

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Immanuel… God With Us, Indeed!

Jesus is more than just a good teacher. Many try to dismiss Him or explain Him away as just that. As He entered Jerusalem just a short while before He would be crucified, it was quite an event.

At least two aspects stand out to me in regards to demonstration that He was more than just a teacher. First, Jesus prophetically anticipates great detail around the mission He sends His disciples on to get a colt on which He is to ride. The second is more subtle. As He enters Jerusalem, many people were gathered to watch Him. He was the center of attention. Not many days later, Jesus would suffer and die publically by crucifixion. The crowds would certainly have recognized it if anyone other than Jesus, Himself, was crucified in His place. Further, on the third day after that, Jesus would rise from the dead and walk amongst the people again for 40 days. With so many witnesses, and such a public and recognizable figure, and so little time passed between His entry to Jerusalem and His death and resurrection… there is not way to deny that it was Jesus who was crucified and Jesus who rose from the dead afterwards to continue teaching and leading the people. There could have been no substitute made.

Mark 11:1-11

The Triumphal Entry

      1As they approached Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples, 2and said to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here. 3“If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ you say, ‘The Lord has need of it’; and immediately he will send it back here.” 4They went away and found a colt tied at the door, outside in the street; and they untied it. 5Some of the bystanders were saying to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6They spoke to them just as Jesus had told them, and they gave them permission. 7They brought the colt to Jesus and put their coats on it; and He sat on it. 8And many spread their coats in the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields.

9Those who went in front and those who followed were shouting:
“Hosanna!
BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD;

      10Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David;
Hosanna in the highest!”

      11Jesus entered Jerusalem and came into the temple; and after looking around at everything, He left for Bethany with the twelve, since it was already late.

Even in this one short scripture, there is strong evidence that Jesus was God among us, not just a teacher. He performed miracles and overcame death before large public audiences.  For those who claim He is something else, they neglect or dismiss the evidence routinely.

With that in mind, let us ask ourselves thoughtfully and prayerfully…
“Are we living like we believe Jesus is God? How do we spend our time, money, and talent? How do I treat others?”

If you were to keep track and make a chart of where you spend your time and money, what would it tell you objectively, based on data? If you could honestly characterize your interactions with others, how often would your attention be focused on selfish desires compared to selfless ones focused on others?

It is easy for each of us to say we follow Jesus, but could you look at the data and actually prove it beyond a reasonable doubt?

James 2:14-26

      14What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

      18But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 23and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,” and he was called the friend of God. 24You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

It is easy for each of us to say we follow Jesus, but could you look at the data and actually prove it beyond a reasonable doubt?

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Remain Faithful, Even When You Do Not Understand

Often when Jehovah is at work, we may have trouble fully understanding His glorious work and how everything fits together. Peter had just correctly identified Jesus as the Christ and then was rebuked strongly for admonishing Jesus when He spoke about His coming suffering and death.  With that as backdrop, several of the disciples then experience an amazing event we call the transfiguration. Through it all, they did not fully understand how God’s plan was fitting together, but they remained faithful and continued on with Jesus.

Mark 9:1-13

The Transfiguration

      1And Jesus was saying to them, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”

      2Six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and brought them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; 3and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them. 4Elijah appeared to them along with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. 5Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6For he did not know what to answer; for they became terrified. 7Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!” 8All at once they looked around and saw no one with them anymore, except Jesus alone.

      9As they were coming down from the mountain, He gave them orders not to relate to anyone what they had seen, until the Son of Man rose from the dead. 10They seized upon that statement, discussing with one another what rising from the dead meant. 11They asked Him, saying, “Why is it that the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” 12And He said to them, “Elijah does first come and restore all things. And yet how is it written of the Son of Man that He will suffer many things and be treated with contempt? 13“But I say to you that Elijah has indeed come, and they did to him whatever they wished, just as it is written of him.”

The disciples did not fully understand all of what they witnessed or how to put all of these experiences together to see what Jehovah was doing. They did, however, obediently follow Jesus through all of it. We could take time to digest a lot in this scripture. The experience is deep and rich. I would encourage each of you to click the link to scripture and review some of the Commentaries available on Bible Hub. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary is typically helpful if you are looking for one that is not as detailed. MacLaren’s is also helpful, providing more detail.

I am focusing today on the faithfulness of the disciples, even when they did not understand how everything that God was showing them fit together. They did not know what to make of the transfiguration, afraid, but they remained with Jesus. They did not understand even what Jesus meant when He instructed them to not tell anyone until after He had risen from the dead. They must have been expecting this to be parable instead of literal. They did not understand what scripture meant by indicating that Elijah must come first. But they trusted in Jesus. They turned to Jesus with questions and journeyed with Him as their teacher and friend. The learned along the way. When the Holy Spirit filled them after Jesus left, they were ready to go and make disciples of others.

Do not be discouraged if you don’t fully understand what God is doing in your life or the life of others around you. Trust Him. Seek Him. Ask Him to show you. Continue walking with Him and draw near to Him. We don’t need to understand the whole picture as we go. God has that under control. We need to faithfully obey and do our part well.

One more parting thought pertaining to the truth of scripture. These verses, along with many others, paint our early church fathers in a rather unflattering light. Peter not only got rebuked by Jesus in chapter 8, but in chapter 9 the three become terrified witnessing the transfiguration. Peter does not know what to do and suggests making three tabernacles… and does not even merit an answer documented in scripture here regarding his thought. As they go down the mountain, they do not understand the meaning of not telling anyone until Jesus has risen from the dead. This is solid proof, beyond a reasonable doubt, that scripture is in fact true. It has not been altered to favorably reflect church leaders and “heroes of the faith”. Quite the contrary, it continually documents their failings alongside their successes. The Bible is most certainly an accurate historical document.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.