Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Our Resurrected Bodies

I Corinthians 15:35-50

The New Testament reading from this week’s Lectionary continues with the Apostle Paul’s discussion and teachings on the resurrection. In today’s portion of Scripture, Paul answers the question that some of the Corinthians asked about what the resurrected body would be like.  Some of those in the Corinthian church were still holding to the popular Greek philosophical thinking that the soul would pass into the afterlife, but not the physical body. Contemplating the prospect of the resurrection of the physical body, they wondered what the resurrected body would be like? Let’s look at what Paul answered here in our Scripture passage.

Paul compares the body, when it dies and is then resurrected, to new life, similar to that of seeds which we sow in the ground and which grow into a full plant (vs. 36 - 38).  Seeds can do nothing until they fall off the plant, in a sense “dying”. Then they are buried in the soil, where they come to life. The plant that comes forth looks nothing like the seed that was sown.  The oak looks nothing like the acorn it came from. Neither do beautiful tulips look like the ugly bulbs they came from.

Paul explains that God created different types of bodies for different types of creatures, whether they are people, animals, birds, or fish. There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies. The stars, sun, moon, and planets all differ from each other, as well (vs 39 - 41). There are many different types of bodies that God created in this universe, and each type of body was especially created to suit their particular existence.   God designed the bird’s body to fly, the fish to swim, the polar bear’s for cold weather, and the armadillo’s for the desert. He will design our resurrected body perfect for our resurrected life.

The physical body we have now gets old and weaker.  Parts don’t work like they used to. It is a perishable body.  Our resurrected body will be transformed (vs. 42 - 44). It will be different, more capable than our present, earthly body.  It will not be weak, it will never get sick again, and will never die again.

Paul gives us examples of how the resurrected body will differ from our present body.  He tells how our physical body here on earth is corrupt, meaning that it gets sick and will eventually die (vs. 42). Our resurrected body will never get sick, it will be raised in incorruption. Our physical bodies suffer from “dishonor” because of sin (vs. 43).  Our resurrected body will not have such dishonor. The physical body grows weak with age (vs. 43). We all see how many things we used to be able to do, but now our aging, weaker bodies just can’t anymore.  There is no aging or weakness in heaven. Our natural bodies are limited here by time and space. Our resurrected body will be raised in glory.

As Paul continues on, he describes how our physical body here on earth is patterned after the first man, Adam.  The resurrected body we will have will be after the “last Adam”, which is the Lord Jesus Christ (vs 45 - 49). The resurrection body of Jesus was the prototype.  Adam was created with a natural body. We received our natural bodies through our descent from Adam. Through the “last Adam” we will receive our spiritual bodies in resurrection. Because Jesus rose from the dead He is a life-giving spirit (vs. 45). He is the source of the spiritual life that will result in our resurrection.

When Jesus rose from the dead He had a new, glorified human body that suited His new, glorified life.  This was apparent to all who first saw Him after He rose. Jesus wasn’t just a ghost. He had an actual, physical body.  However, it was a new and glorified one. When our bodies are resurrected God will give us a transformed, eternal body, that will be suited for our eternal life.

Do you wish to have an eternal resurrection body like that?  If you have accepted the Lord Jesus into your heart, confessing your sins and asking Him to be your Lord and Savior, you will one day.  What a blessed hope, a blessed day, to look forward to!

Monday, February 25, 2019

Be Thou Our Guide

Psalm 37

Many people have wondered at some point in their life, why the ungodly people in the world seem to frequently prosper, while the godly folk have to painfully struggle throughout life.  It doesn’t seem fair. We do what’s right, and life is difficult for us, while the wicked turn their back on God and things go their way. This is a question that King David, the author of our Psalm today, also asked.  Let’s look at what God taught him in our Scripture passage today.

As we look at the ungodly people around us, we may see that they are prospering.  They have all they could want, and seemingly few problems. God tells us, though, not to be envious of them (vs. 1). Don’t envy them, despite their popularity or riches. What they have won’t last for eternity, and often does not even last them through this life (vs. 2).  A believer’s treasures should be stored up in heaven (Matthew 6:19-20). God wants us to trust in Him, to do good, and cultivate faithfulness (vs. 3). He will deal with the ungodly.  Our responsibility is to watch our own actions.

In verse 4 we read how David says a believer should “delight” themselves in the Lord.  Delighting in someone is to take pleasure in their presence. We want to know them well.  When we delight in God, we will trust Him and commit our life to Him. To “commit” to the Lord is to entrust everything to His control, and to trust Him (vs. 5).  God can care for us better than we can ourselves. As we seek His desires, our own desires will fall into place. God’s desires become our desires. As we wait patiently for Him, He will work out what’s best for us (vs. 7).

One thing that happens when we look at others, and are envious at their riches and supposed ease in life, is we become angry and fret or worry (vs. 7-8). Anger and worry reveal a lack of trust and faith that God loves us, and that He is in control. When we dwell on our problems we become anxious and angry. Instead, David instructs us to concentrate on God and His goodness, and we will have peace.  If we wait patiently, He will intervene on behalf of His people. We need to keep a humble attitude, with calm faith and humility before God, hoping in His deliverance (vs. 11).

As David continues in his psalm, he tells us of some of the blessings that the godly will receive from the Lord.  God delights in the one who trusts in Him, and who seeks to do His will (vs. 23-24). He promises to watch over every step that the godly take, directing their ways.  This isn’t something that He has promised to the ungodly or the wicked, so why do we envy them? God will provide for His own people as long as they are seeking to obey and trust Him (vs. 25). Our task is to follow God each day, and to leave the future and it’s problems to Him.

The tune for the great clock in the tower at Westminster Palace, also known as Big Ben, actually has words, which are displayed in the clock room.  They read: “Lord, through this hour, be Thou our guide; So by Thy power, no foot shall slide”. This is in reference to verse 24 of our psalm.

Throughout his psalm, David urges us to have patience, as God’s timing is not our timing.  The ungodly may be prospering now, they may seem to have the upper hand now, but that is not going to be their case in the end.  We need to wait patiently for God to act in our situation. As we submit to His timing, God will honor us.  Trust God’s flawless timing. His timing is perfect.

We need to keep God’s Word in our heart.  When the devil comes to attack us, it is then too late to start opening our Bible (vs. 31).  David urges us to focus our steps on God’s path. That will lead us into the right direction. Keep on His purposeful path.  When our strength has failed, go to God, and find His (vs. 39).  He will not fail us!

Saturday, February 23, 2019

When Forgiveness Is Very Difficult

Genesis 45:3-28

“The offense is just too big for me to ever forgive!”   Many of us have said or thought such words. We’ve all had offenses committed against us, many of them small and minor, though some have been considerable.  Forgiveness doesn’t always come easy. “If you only knew what this person did to me, you’d know why I can’t forgive him!”, we think. In our Scripture passage for today we see the young man, Joseph, and how, through the power of the Holy Spirit, he was able to forgive what was truly something that most would consider “unforgivable”.

A quick look at the background of Joseph’s story reveals that out of uncontrolled jealousy his ten older brothers had sold him as a slave to traveling merchants.  Those merchants brought him into Egypt, a foreign country for him, and again sold him as a slave. Owing to lies told by his master’s wife, he ended up in prison. Because of his faithfulness to God, He turned his condition around, and Joseph quickly found himself the prime minister of all of Egypt, and in charge of food distribution during a devastating famine (see Genesis 37, 39, 41).

The famine has spread throughout the Middle East, and Joseph’s brothers have come to Egypt to purchase food.  They do not recognize Joseph, as over 20 years have passed, and they hardly expect the brother that they sold as a slave to be the prime minister of the greatest and most powerful country at the time. However, Joseph does immediately recognize them.

If you were in that position, what would you do?  Many of us have had some things done to us that we find very hard to forgive.  Joseph clearly remembered his brothers abuse, probably beating him severely before throwing him into a pit, then actually selling him to become a slave!  Then followed years as slave and then years in a prison. Chains, hunger, thirst, beatings. Now was his chance to get even. What did Joseph do?

With his brothers gathered around him, Joseph tells them that he is the brother that they sold many years ago (vs. 3-4).  Having spent many years closely walking with the Lord despite his circumstances, with his “spiritual meter” always in tune, Joseph recognized the hand of God at move in all that had happened to him.  Though the brothers had wanted to get rid of him, some even wanting to kill him, God used their evil actions to fulfill His plan. God sent Joseph ahead to preserve their lives (vs. 5-8). God is sovereign. His plans are not dictated by human actions.  Joseph recognized and submitted to the sovereignty of God. He knew that the Lord had providential rule over the events of his life, both the good and bad.

Joseph held no grudges, and had forgiven his brothers.  As second in command of all of Egypt, he could have had them all immediately executed, or at the very least expelled from the country, telling them to try and find food somewhere else.  What would we do? Joseph was a spiritually mature man, and chose to follow how he knew God would want him to act.

Joseph had been rejected by his brothers, kidnapped, enslaved, and falsely imprisoned, yet he graciously forgave them, and shared his prosperity.  Did Joseph’s brothers deserve to be forgiven?  No! He would have had every right to imprison them or worse.  How many times have we said that we can never forgive this or that person, and that they don’t deserve forgiveness because of what they did, or that they never said they were sorry.  Joseph saw the hand of God in all that had happened. God is at work in our lives, as well. Every event that we go through has passed through His providential hand. Nothing is an accident.  God can use whatever happens in our life for good if we allow Him.

Joseph was a picture of how God forgives us, and pours His goodness upon us. We don’t deserve forgiveness any more than his brothers did, yet God loves us and forgives us each and every day. Joseph showed grace and mercy, just as God does to us. Joseph lived so closely with his Savior, his life and behavior reflected His. Because we have received Divine forgiveness, even though we did not deserve it, we, in turn, need to pass that forgiveness on to others, just as Joseph did.

Friday, February 22, 2019

What Brings You To Jesus?

Luke 6:17-26

As we continue with the Gospel readings from Luke in the Lectionary of the Book of Common Prayer, we see that word of Jesus and the miracles that had been performed had spread.  Jesus had only recently started His ministry, but news spread of the people that had been healed. The paralyzed were now walking, demons had been cast out of the afflicted and people were coming to see for themselves (vs. 17-19).  For many people, they came to see Jesus to receive a miracle for themselves, or at least witness one. Perhaps they needed healing from some ailment, or they wanted to see something spectacular happen. Others thought that Jesus would bring them good fortune. Some of them thought He was something like a magician, and that all they needed to do was to just touch Him and they would receive a miracle, like some lucky charm. These people might not have cared about the teachings that Jesus gave, and possibly were not even listening.  Then there were those who did seek Jesus out for the message He taught about God, not just for what they could get for themselves.

What brings people to Jesus today?  There are some who come to Him for healing, either for themselves or a loved one.  Others for a financial breakthrough when they are in need. Whatever draws them to Jesus, my prayer is that they will also open their ears to hear His message of salvation. Whatever initially brings someone to Jesus is good, if it ends up bringing another soul to salvation.

As Luke continues his narrative, we see Jesus giving an abbreviated version of the Beatitudes that were related more in full in Matthew 5. Since there were no television, radio, or any other modern media at this time, Jesus quite possibly told some of His messages and teachings more than once to different audiences, to new crowds (vs. 20-23).  These verses describe what it means to be a Christ-follower. As Christians these should be a standard of conduct for us. As we look at these verses, it is easy to see how these values contrast with that of the world.  The world tells us to seek to become rich. TV and magazines entice us with displays of tempting foods. The world urges us to be popular.

As believers and followers of Jesus, we shouldn’t spend our time and effort seeking worldly wealth and comfort.  Jesus left His throne in heaven to come to earth to bring salvation to mankind. While on earth He had no wealth.  If we give up seeking after wealth, and instead seek after His kingdom, God promises that we will be blessed. If we have a hunger and thirst for the lost, we will be blessed.  Though no one should actively seek out persecution, however when persecution comes for Jesus’s sake we will receive God’s blessings, as well.

Those who seek fulfillment only through worldly riches, that’s the only reward that they will get (vs. 24-26).  Worldly riches do not last. How many people have lost their fortune in a stock market crash or in a costly divorce?  Natural disasters can come and wipe out everything we have in an instant. No one can take their wealth with them after death!  Jesus is warning us not to put our hearts on these things, but instead in what will last for eternity.

There were many people who were false prophets in Old Testament days (vs. 26).  They only gave messages that the people wanted hear, such as prosperity and peace.  There are plenty of false prophets today, just like them. Just because one likes to hear those messages doesn’t mean they are true.  God does not bless human flattery, nor the words of those who like to tickle our ears with “good news”. Jesus warns us not to chase after the crowd’s praise, but instead to seek out God’s truth.

In closing, we can see through this passage that no matter what reasons have brought us to Jesus, let His love for us bring us to salvation through His shed Blood.  Also, we should never seek comfort in this life at the expense of our eternal life!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Hope Of The Resurrection

I Corinthians 15:12-20

Standing at the side of the coffin at the gravesite of a loved one is very difficult, even for believers of Jesus.  However for those who have never placed their faith in the Lord God, death is a cruel enemy leaving them with no hope of ever seeing their loved one again.  In our passage today, Paul confronts some false thoughts and beliefs that some people were spreading around the church in Corinth about there being no resurrection after death.  Let’s look into Paul’s argument, and see what we can learn today from God’s Word.

The general belief of the day among those who followed the teachings of famous Greek philosophers was that the body would not be resurrected after death.  At best, only someone’s soul might be. They did not believe in immortality for the body. The philosophers, if they even believed in an afterlife, stated it was only for one’s soul. These beliefs were common in the large Greek city of Corinth, including among some inside of the church. To many who held to these popular Greek philosophies the idea of a bodily resurrection was ridiculous (Acts 17:32).  Also, the Jews who followed the school of thought of the Sadducees did not believe in any kind of resurrection. Paul sought to squash these false beliefs before they got entrenched in the church.

Christianity teaches that body and soul will be united after the resurrection. The bodily resurrection of believers was clearly taught by Jesus (John 5:28-29; 6:44; 11:25), and also by the Apostles (Acts 4:1-2).  Paul here goes into several very negative consequences for believers if there is no resurrection. Let’s take a look at them. First, if there is no resurrection for believers after they die, then Jesus Himself never rose from the dead (vs. 13).  If Jesus never rose from the dead, then the preaching that Paul and all of the Apostles have done is completely useless (vs. 14). Having faith in Jesus is totally useless, as well, if He was dead and lying in a grave. Those who preached that He rose would be liars (vs. 15).

Perhaps the worst of it would be, if there is no resurrection than no one has been redeemed from their sins (vs. 17).  All believers who have died will have perished in their sins (vs. 18). If that is true, then Christians are to be pitied.  If there is no resurrection then Jesus is still dead. It is because of the resurrection of Jesus that we know that God accepted His death as payment for our sins, and that they are forgiven.  If Jesus was not resurrected from death then Christians could not be forgiven for their sins, and would have no hope of eternal life (vs. 19). Because Jesus rose, we know that He defeated death, and we will also be raised.  Jesus had promised He would rise again. Because He did, we know that His Word is true.

The firstfruits are the first part of the harvest that the faithful brought to the Temple (vs. 20).  Jesus is the forerunner, the proof of our eventual resurrection to eternal life. He is the first one to experience resurrection, that is, the first one to never die again, as Lazarus and the others He raised during His ministry eventually had to die again.  Jesus’s resurrection shows that we can have absolute confidence that He will raise us from the dead, as well (Romans 8:23).

The actual, physical, bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead is essential to the truth of the Gospel.  Without the resurrection of Jesus, then Christianity is just like any other false religion. Without the resurrection there is no power to save.  There is no victory over sin and death. If Jesus never rose from the dead then we have no resurrection, either, no eternal life, no hope. Praise God, though, Jesus did rise again from the dead, and we will, as well!  We can safely and securely rest our anchor in the truth of the promises of the resurrection!

Monday, February 18, 2019

Choose Your Path Wisely!

Psalm 1

When hiking down a path, have you ever come across a fork in the trail?  At that point you have a choice. Do you decide to go on the path that veers to the right, or the one to the left?  It might not make much difference, or it could make all the difference in the world. Some of our decisions are not too important, like what color socks to put on in the morning.  Some, however, have eternal consequences. Today’s psalm focuses on the choice we make of which path we will take through life.

All people are separated into two groups ethically - the godly and the ungodly. These are the two characters in Psalm 1. They will each receive one of two rewards - either recognition and salvation from God, or damnation.

Our unknown author starts the psalm off right away warning us that we need to watch our associations with the ungodly (vs. 1). Association with those who practice sin will only drag us downwards. Close friends and associates have a profound influence on us, therefore we should not make the ungodly our closest friends and associates.  They can, and usually will, drag us down. At the least we tend to become indifferent to God and His Word. Our good friends should help us draw closer to God, not hinder us. A strong believer needs to have a righteous walk with God, not allowing spiritual erosion to occur, not flirting with a wicked way of life.

The way to keep on the path of the godly is to keep ourselves in God’s Word, meditating on it day and night (vs. 2).  A believer who is walking with the Lord will have joy when he is in God’s Word, the Bible. They will seek to read and study it when they can, meditating on His Words.  Meditating is reading and then thinking about what you have read. To follow God closely we have to know what He has said.

God and His Word should be our source of spiritual nourishment. Then we will be like the fruitful tree that has been planted by a good source of water (vs. 3).  Ungodly company will only pollute that source of water, stunting our growth. A tree or plant that has deep roots will not die during a dry season or drought.  As Christians we can experience dry seasons. If we are deeply rooted in Jesus, however, we can still flourish.

When we abide with Christ we will bear fruit.  Not everyone who calls themselves Christian really are.  Godly people will bear good fruit, while the ungodly will bear bad fruit (Matthew 7:17-20).  Verse 4 changes the focus of the psalm from the godly to the ungodly very abruptly. The psalmist is very emphatic in his statement, and the verse could easily be translated, “Not so the wicked!”.  They are like chaff, without value and worth only to be discarded. They will not be approved by God’s judgment (vs. 5).

There are two paths that we can choose and take through life.  One is God’s way of obedience to Him. The other is the path of rebellion and destruction.  These paths will ultimately come to an end at the close of our life. The path we choose will determine where we will spend eternity (vs. 6).  One will lead to eternal life. The other to eternal death. We need to make sure that we choose our path wisely. We need to consider our path!

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Our Roots And Our Heart

Jeremiah 17:5-10

Our Old Testament Scripture for this week comes from the prophet Jeremiah, and is one that might be familiar to many.  In this brief passage Jeremiah brings up two important spiritual truths. In the first one, he contrasts the life of the godly and blessed person with that of the ungodly, cursed person.  The second truth he gives us is that of the condition of our heart. Let’s jump right in and look at these two truths God wants to teach us through His prophet Jeremiah.

The first spiritual truth is the contrast between the ungodly and cursed person (vs. 5-6), and that of the blessed and godly person (vs. 7-8).  Have you ever traveled into a desert wasteland, or been in a land that has experienced a long drought? The plant life there is all withered and gray, looking lifeless. Contrast that with trees that grow right near a fresh, flowing river or lake. With a good water source they are lush and productive. No one would plant a fruit tree in the desert wasteland and expect a nice, fruitful crop.

Likewise there are two types of people - those who put their trust in Yahweh, and those who put their trust in people, things, and false gods.  Those who put their trust in other men will be barren and unfruitful. Those who trust in Yahweh will be like a tree which has been planted by a flowing river.

Trusting in people in times of trouble will only leave us disappointed, or even in trouble.  They will have no strength, like the withered tree in the desert. Those who trust in Jesus will thrive and flourish, like a fruitful tree, with abundant strength for their needs in a time of crisis.  We need to be sure to find strength for our life in God, not ourselves or anyone else.

The second spiritual truth that the prophet Jeremiah gave us here is the condition of our heart (vs. 9-10).  Just as a cardiologist checks our heart for disease, God looks into our heart looking for, and always finding sin-disease. We all have spiritual heart disease.

Our heart has been inclined towards sin since we were born.  It is unreliable, and will lie to us. Our emotions can, and will lead us down disastrous ways if we rely on them (Proverbs 16:25; Ecclesiastes 9:3).  There are frequent times when our heart is hurting, or it is attempting to lead us in a sinful way. Beware of following your heart. Instead, that is the time when we need to turn to God for help (I John 3:20).

If there was a way that we could shield ourselves from any outside temptations from the world or the devil, there would still be enough evil within our own heart to get us into deep trouble.  That is why Jeremiah here, and later the Apostle Paul and the Lord Jesus tell us quite plainly that our heart is wicked! (Romans 3:10-12; Mark 7:20-23).

We cannot separate our actions from the consequences that will follow.  We cannot plant seeds of one kind and expect to bear fruit of another. It is also very important to be careful where, and to what our roots are “hooked” on to. Are they hooked on worldly, carnal treasures, or are they strongly rooted in the Lord God?

God will always supply our every need as we follow Him in faith.  He does not promise a lack of trials, but He does promise eventual victory.  Which will we choose? Will we choose to continue in sin and yielding to temptation, being that shrub in the desert, and having spiritual heart disease?  Or will we choose to turn to the Lord, allow Him to heal our sin-sick heart, and be that tree planted by the river?

Friday, February 15, 2019

What A Catch!

Luke 5:1-11

Many of us have heard people say that God cannot, and should not be bothered with small or common, everyday problems.  They feel that God is too busy with the major problems of the world, and shouldn’t be bothered with our small, personal problems.  That thinking is wrong on two levels. First, God is omnipotent, and does not get overwhelmed with any number of problems in the world, whether big or small.  Secondly, God cares about each of us personally, and is concerned about everything in our lives. Our problems, large or small, are important to Him. Today’s passage from the Gospel of Luke highlights this.  Peter and his companions had been having a bad time at work, and we’ll see how Jesus steps in to the situation.

Peter, along with his brother Andrew, was a professional fisherman. They were fishing partners and good friends with the brothers James and John.  These men would fish in the Sea of Galilee (also called Lake Gennesaret in our passage), which was a large, freshwater lake in northern Israel.  They typically would fish with nets at night when the fish would come closer to the surface, and would be easier to catch with nets. During daylight hours the fish would migrate into the deeper levels of the Sea of Galilee, not easily reached with nets.  As our passage begins, the four fishermen had come in from a night of toiling on the sea, and they proceed to wash out their nets, cleaning them from any tangled weeds, and checking for any tears. They are discouraged because they did not catch anything. Fishing was not a hobby or pastime for them. This was their livelihood, and too many nights with no catch of fish meant less income to provide for their families.

Jesus is on the shore, and He asks if He might sit in one of their boats in order to teach the people who had gathered.  After He is done, Jesus speaks to Peter, telling him and his companions to take their boat out again into the deep water and cast their nets once more(vs. 4).  Peter probably thought Jesus didn’t know what He was talking about. Peter was an experienced fisherman who did that for a living, and Jesus wasn’t. However, he obeyed (vs 5), and look at the results!  They took in so many fish that the nets were starting to break from the weight of the fish, and the boats were even in some danger of sinking, so great was the catch! (vs. 6-7).

Peter realized that he was in the presence of the Messiah, the Son of God, who had shown His divine power.  Because he had initially doubted and questioned Jesus, Peter was overcome with shame over his sin (vs. 8). As we look closer at that verse, notice that it said that Peter fell at Jesus’ knees.  It didn’t say he fell at Jesus feet, which would seem to be more likely.  If someone comes up to you, and falls down before you, where do they usually prostrate themselves, but at your feet.  Here it says “at Jesus’ knees”. I am thinking it was at His knees because there was so many fish in the ship that the catch came up to over their knees!  When Jesus brings a miracle, He doesn’t scimp!

Jesus didn’t chastise Peter when his faith had faltered at their being able to catch any fish.  He told Peter to not be afraid (vs. 10). Jesus doesn’t rebuke us either. Our faith is not based on us, but on the Lord.  When these fishermen experienced this miracle catch they left everything and followed Jesus (vs. 11). They heard His call to become fishers of men, to win souls for God’s Kingdom, and they responded, leaving everything else behind.

Jesus cares about our daily routine, and understands our needs.  He cared that Peter and his fishing companions had worked all night with nothing to show. Jesus not only wants to save us, He wants to help us in all of our daily activities. We need to bring everything to Jesus in prayer, whether big or seemingly small.  In addition, we need to be listening for Jesus’ call on our life, and to respond as these men did.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Eyewitness Testimony

I Corinthians 15:1-11

Most court cases need to have good and reliable witnesses.  A defense attorney needs witnesses who can testify that his client was not at the scene of the crime, while the prosecuting attorney wants to find a witness saying that they saw the person do the crime. Witnesses are very important. In our passage today in I Corinthians Paul is defending the most important, key doctrine of Christianity, that of the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead, against some in Corinth who argue that it never truly happened.  Like a good attorney, Paul brings forth some witnesses. Let’s look into Paul’s defense of the Resurrection, as he gives as evidence for Jesus’s resurrection from the witness of the Church (vs. 1-2); the Scriptures (vs 3-4); many eyewitnesses (vs 5-7); and then finally Paul, himself (vs 8-10).

Paul’s first evidence that he gives is the witness of the Church.  From the very beginning the Church has stated that the fact of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead was an integral part of Gospel message.  That truth was preached everywhere, including to the people of Corinth (vs. 1-2). Everyone who truly accepts Jesus, believing in Him as their Savior, would need to believe that He rose from the dead.  Otherwise they have “believed” in vain, meaning they really are not believers at all. Some people have a shallow, non-saving “faith”. They claim to believe, but have no real love for God or righteousness.  True believers will hold fast to the Gospel, including the doctrine of the resurrection.

The second evidence Paul gives for the resurrection is that of the Scriptures.  At the time of his writing of this letter to the church in Corinth, the New Testament had not been completely written or compiled together yet.  The Scriptures he was referring to in verses 3 and 4 were the Old Testament. There are several passages in the Old Testament that prophecy of the passion, death, and resurrection of the Messiah.  Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 are prominent passages. Psalm 16:8-11 very specifically prophecies of the resurrection of the Messiah, when it states that God would not allow the Holy One (Jesus, the Messiah) to see corruption, meaning His body would not lie endlessly in a grave and corrupt like all dead bodies do.

The third evidence that Paul gave was that of numerous eyewitnesses (vs. 5-7). First he states that Cephas (better known as Peter or Simon Peter) had seen the risen Savior.  Not only did Peter see Jesus when He appeared to all of the apostles together, but Luke mentions that Jesus seems to have seen Peter separately, on his own (Luke 24:34), perhaps to give him special reassurance that his denial had been forgiven.  Jesus appeared to all eleven of the apostles (Matthew 28:16-17; Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36-40; John 20:19-21). He met with them several times before He ascended to heaven. Paul refers to Jesus being seen by more than 500 people at a time before His ascension.  These would have been some of the many disciples who had followed and believed in Him during His ministry. Then Paul mentions Jesus appearing to James. This is most probably His half-brother who had not believed in Him during His ministry, struggling with his faith.  Jesus knew that, and came to him personally. Later James wrote the Book of James, and was a leader of the church in Jerusalem.

Paul’s fourth evidence was his own testimony of seeing the risen Savior (vs. 8). Paul saw Jesus several years after the Ascension, when on the road to Damascus where he was going to further persecute the early church (Acts 9:1-9).  Though he was not one of the original twelve, Paul was accounted an apostle because he saw the risen Christ and was commissioned by Him. Paul considered himself the least of the apostles (I Timothy 1:12-16).

Just about any court of law would accept the testimony of over 500 people as a true witness.  Those who denied Jesus’ resurrection, stating that some had stolen His body and hid it elsewhere (Matthew 28:11-15) never produced a body.  Witnesses sometime lie, but not usually when their word could lead to death. In the days of the early church, openly proclaiming the Resurrection very frequently did lead to execution.  There will always be people who say Jesus did not rise from the dead. They often say it is the spirit of His good words and example that live on, not an actual, physical resurrection. Don’t let them discourage you from believing this Gospel truth.  Paul continues his defense further in his letter to the Corinthians, which the Lectionary will cover in the next few weeks.

Monday, February 11, 2019

When Worries Keep Us Awake

Psalm 77

“Tossing and turning.  Turning and tossing. Tossing and turning all night.” These words are more than just lyrics of an oldies song by Bobby Lewis.  They are a reality to many people when worries, concerns, and fears keep them awake half the night.  Asaph, the author of our psalm today, had difficulty sleeping at times, as we see in our passage. Let’s take a look at how he dealt with this problem, and see what we can learn for those nights when we might not be able to sleep due to worries and problems.

As we read through the psalm, Asaph does not give any indication as to what problems were keeping him awake, only that they were very distressing to him. Whatever they were, he was crying out loud to God for relief (vs. 1). In his distress, he was very demonstrative, holding his hands up to God in prayer (vs. 2).  “Please, God!  Hear me!”, he was praying.  When family and friends tried to calm him down, perhaps telling him not to worry or be upset, he would not listen (vs. 2).  This was very distressing to him (vs. 3). This was so overwhelming to Asaph that he could not sleep anymore, nor could he even talk to anyone about it anymore (vs. 4).  Many of us have, at one time or another, been in a similar situation. Our problems seem so overwhelming that we can’t just calm down and relax when a loved one tries to comfort us.  The worry and stress just floods over us so much that we can’t sleep.

During this time of distress, Asaph at first questioned whether God had stopped or had run out of mercy, favor, or graciousness (vs. 7-9). How many times have we wondered whether God has forgotten us in the middle of our problems. Maybe we felt that He had forgotten His promises, or felt that those promises might not apply to us.  In the midst of our trials, we may think that God has lost His power, or that He has changed. But has He?

At some point in the middle of his anguish, Asaph starts to remember all of the times that God has come to his aid, the aid of his family, or that of his people. He starts to recall and remember all of God’s faithfulness in the past, both to him and to others (vs. 10-15). We do not need to fear that God will not keep His promises, or that He has changed, as the Scriptures assure us that God does not, and cannot change (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8).  As Asaph realizes that God is his answer, when he remembers all of the times in the past that He has helped him, his worries and distress start to melt away. Recalling God’s blessings and deliverances of the past was the key to Asaph’s restored peace, and will be the key to ours, as well.

Asaph also mentioned another key that helped to restore his peace of mind, and that was his singing songs in the nighttime, when he couldn’t sleep (vs. 6). Sometimes it helps to quietly sing hymns and praise songs to God when we cannot sleep. When he did that, Asaph was able to regain his peace, and was then able to remember God. He was able to carefully ponder his problems, any solutions, and leave them all with God.

One of the great deliverances of the past that Asaph recalled was God’s rescue of His people from slavery in Egypt, and the parting of the Red Sea (vs. 16). This mighty act of God showed him that He has not lost His strength. That truth reminded Asaph that God has control of all of nature (vs. 16-19). When we realize that God controls things like powerful thunderstorms, lightning, tornados, and earthquakes, is there any problem that could possibly be too hard for Him to handle?

As Asaph learned in our psalm today, we need to shift our focus from off of ourselves and on to God.  When we do that, our stress and cares will lessen. When we do that, we will be able to lie down in peace, and sleep (Psalm 4:8).

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Mighty Man Of Valor

Judges 6:11-16

Many people like to see when an underdog wins.  Everyone else is rooting for the big, strong, powerful player, and then the upset happens, and the little guy wins.  The Bible has several accounts of God choosing and using a “little guy” to achieve His purposes. Our Scripture passage today tells of such a person, the young man Gideon.  Let’s look at the account of when God called Gideon, and see what we can learn from his life.

Gideon was from the tribe of Manasseh, and lived during the time of the judges, a period of years between the death of the general Joshua and the first king, King Saul (around 1300 BC - 1070 BC).  During the period of judges, the people of Israel struggled with falling into the idolatrous practices of the Canaanite people of the region. Consequently, God sent judgment upon them, allowing foreign powers to overrun them, and forcing them into servitude.  At the time of Gideon, his people have been conquered by the Midianites. The Midianites were desert marauders who were distantly related to the Israelites. They were descended from Abraham thru the wife Keturah, which he took after the death of Sarah (Genesis 25:1-2). Her son, Midian, became enemies of the Israelites.

We find Gideon hiding from the Midianites as he secretly threshes the family’s grain.  He was so afraid of being caught, that he was doing that at night in a winepress, rather than in the open air, where one normally would do that task. Gideon is a fearful, timid person. It is here that the Lord God comes to him, to call him to lead the people and defeat the Midianites.

When God called Gideon into service he called him a “mighty man of valor” (vs. 12), in other words a brave, courageous man.  Yet here he was, hiding from the Midianites in a winepress doing his tasks. God’s view of us is often different from our view of ourselves, or from what others say of us.  God called Gideon a “man of valor” because He knew what He could accomplish through Gideon if he yielded and obeyed Him. Gideon saw himself as weak because he was focused on the circumstances, not on God.  When we depend on God to empower us, we can become who He says we are, and do what He wants us to do.

When Gideon was complaining in verse 13 about the condition the nation was in, he failed to take into account that the people had brought this problem on themselves because they disobeyed God and went after pagan gods (Judges 6:1).  Sometimes when we have problems we need to look at our own life, rather than blame God or others. We need to always take personal accountability.

God told Gideon that He wanted him to deliver the Israelites from the Midianites, and that He would be with him (vs. 14).  God told Gideon, and He tells us, as well, that we don’t need to rely on our own strength. We have been given His strength.  He will give us what we need to accomplish what we need to. Don’t waste time making excuses. Instead, obey God, and have faith in Him.

Gideon was the least in his family, and his family was unimportant in the tribe. He felt very inadequate and unqualified. Yet God called him to lead an army. The army only had 300, coming against an army of 100,000 (Judges 7:7). This seemed impossible, but God was with him, so it was possible!

When God calls us to do something for Him, don’t say that we can’t or that we are unable or unqualified.  In addition, don’t let anyone else say that, either. When we depend on God and not on ourself, we can do anything He asks us to (vs. 16).  Don’t be afraid! The Lord is with you, mighty warrior!

Friday, February 8, 2019

Hometown Rejection

Luke 4:21-32

Here is an occasional scenario.  A man who has been gone from his hometown for several years decides to come back.  While he was gone, unbeknownst to the folks in his hometown, he has gone to school and become a pastor.  After this fellow returns to town, he is invited to preach a message at the local church. Instead of giving him a warm welcome, those in the congregation get their feathers all in a ruffle.  “Who does he think he is?”, they mumble to themselves. This is especially true if the young man had been a troublesome person as a youth or child, and then turned his life around. “Who is he to preach to us? His family is nothing special.” As we read in today’s Gospel passage, this is the type of unfriendly welcome that Jesus received when he came to His hometown. Let’s look at our Scripture for today, and see what happened.

Jesus had grown up as a child and young man in the village of Nazareth, which is in northern Israel.  We can be certain that He was not a problem child, nor caused any trouble as a youth. As a young adult, Jesus worked at the carpentry shop of His earthly stepfather, Joseph.  When He knew that the time of His ministry was to begin, Jesus left town, headed south, was baptized by John the Baptist, and went into the desert 40 days for a time of tempting and testing. Now, a little while later, Jesus and His disciples have returned to Nazareth, where He was invited to speak in the local synagogue. When He reads a passage from Isaiah, and indicates that He is the fulfillment of the prophecy, the people do not take kindly to His words.

They start to think amongst themselves that this man has a lot of nerve, implying that He’s the Messiah.  Why, He grew up with us, with our children. He’s Joseph’s son (vs. 22). Now He’s in town, preaching to us?!  The people had heard that Jesus had done some miracles and healings in the neighboring village of Capernaum, and wanted to see some for themselves (vs. 23). However they did not have any faith. Instead, they were challenging. They were proud and angry.

Jesus then reminds the people of Nazareth of two incidents in their nation’s past, of two miracles that the prophets Elijah and Elisha had performed (vs. 25-27).  During a dire famine in the land, the prophet Elijah was sent by God to minister to a starving widow in Zarephath, which was in Sidon, not Israel (I Kings 17:8-24).  She was a Gentile, not an Israelite. Elisha healed the Syrian general, Naaman, of leprosy (II Kings 5). He was also a Gentile. There were plenty of needy widows and lepers among the Jews in Israel.  Why not them? At the time of Elijah and Elisha there was widespread unbelief, apostasy, and pagan idol worship among the people. Also, God wanted to show that He had concern for the Gentiles, as well.

The people of Nazareth were in just as much unbelief as the people of Israel were in Elijah and Elisha’s day.  They were not opening their hearts to God to accept the One who was standing right before their eyes. The words that Jesus spoke enraged the people (vs. 28). They were furious when Jesus implied that they were as unbelieving as the people were in the time of those two prophets, which was a time well known to them as one of great wickedness.  They were outraged when they heard that divine grace might be withheld from them, due to unbelief, but extended to the Gentiles, and that God would choose to care for Gentiles over the people of Israel.

This wasn’t an anger where they just showed Jesus the door, telling Him to leave and not come back again.  This was a fury so strong they were going to literally kill Him (vs 29). The people grabbed Jesus and dragged Him across town to throw Him off of the cliff. They must have been thinking, “How dare He speak to them like that, and say such contentious things.” However, Jesus had a miraculous escape from premature death at the hands of this raging mob (vs. 30).

As Christians, our faith and life might not be readily accepted by those who know us well and grew up with us, such as our family and neighbors.  This may be particularly true if one might have had a troublesome past, and now are coming with the message of Jesus and salvation. Don’t give up hope.  Jesus, Himself, was never really accepted by the people of Nazareth. His own family, with the exception of His mother, never accepted His message until after His resurrection.  Let your life be a light and a testimony, and God will use you.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Counterfeit Spiritual Gifts

I Corinthians 14:12-20

A while back my daughter ordered something through the mail, and when it arrived we found that it had to be assembled.  Unfortunately the assembly instructions were in a foreign language that we did not know. We weren’t even sure what language it was.  Because of the language barrier the instructions were useless to us. To be of any help, I needed to understand what was being said. The Apostle Paul makes a similar comment in today’s reading from I Corinthians, continuing his teachings on spiritual gifts, which we have looked at in the last two week’s New Testament readings.  Let’s take a look at what Paul is teaching us here in this passage.

The Holy Spirit has given spiritual gifts to the Church, which is the body of all true believers.  Each believer has been given at least one gift, which is to be used to help edify, or build up the Church (vs. 12). They are not given to shine a light upon ourselves or draw attention or glory to ourselves. Rather they are given to uplift and bring glory to Jesus, and help the church.  One problem that the Apostle Paul was finding in the church in Corinth was that many there seemed to only seek and desire the more showy gifts. They seemed to forget the real purpose of these gifts.  Rather than wishing to serve the body of believers and help spread the gospel of salvation, they were misusing their gifts. They were looking down on those who had less “spectacular” gifts, or they envied those who had such gifts, and this was causing divisions in that church.

The Corinthian church was greatly lacking in wisdom.  Unfortunately they were not lacking in sin, which Paul addressed earlier in this epistle.  In verse 20 Paul basically tells the Corinthians to grow up, start acting like mature believers. The behavior they were displaying was not becoming for men and women who had been believers for several years.  He urged them to act like adults in wisdom and understanding. However in regards to sinful behavior, they could be like babes who were innocent and knew nothing about such practices.

Because the gift of tongues was so conspicuous and fascinating it appealed to the flesh, or carnal nature of the Corinthians.  The devil has always been in the counterfeit business, both in the past and also today. Paul was warning the Corinthian church that Satan was counterfeiting some of the gifts of the Holy Spirit with false gifts, particularly false tongues, where some in the church, instead of utilizing the true gift, were only speaking ecstatic gibberish.  This was a common occurance and practice in the pagan religions.

In our passage Paul appeals to them to put aside these emotions and desires of the flesh.  He reminds them again, as he did in chapter 12, that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were for edification.  Particularly regarding the gift of tongues, Paul stated that it would be better if he only spoke five words out loud in church meetings, but that they were words that people understood, rather than thousands of words that people couldn’t understand (vs. 19).  What good are those words? How are those words helping anyone? How are they building up or edifying the church? They are only taking the spotlight off of Jesus and putting it upon themselves. If the speaker cannot understand what he is saying, what virtue is there in praying to or praising God without understanding? (vs. 14-17).

When we take a look at ourselves, do we wish to turn the spotlight on ourselves?  In whatever work or ministry we have in our own local church, we should never be seeking to draw attention to ourselves, or feeling that our gift is so much better or more important than anyone else.  The Holy Spirit gives His gifts to help build up others and point to Jesus, not to us. Another lesson from Paul’s passage today is that when we pray or when we sing hymns, are we conscious of what we are really saying or singing?  Are we paying attention to the words we are singing? When we pray, is our mind somewhere else? If we are not paying attention, even though we are speaking our native language, it might as well be gibberish. Our Scripture today urges us to be conscious of what we are saying when we pray or praise God.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Forsake Me Not In Old Age

Psalm 71

Forsaken.  That is a very sad and depressing word, bringing thoughts of being abandoned, neglected, and left behind.  That is a fear of some children, and of many people as they grow older. Older people might be afraid that their friends won’t remember them, and that they will be cast aside and forgotten by their family.  Too many elderly are left alone in their homes or in nursing facilities, seemingly forgotten by everyone, so this is not a baseless fear. Our psalmist for today had this fear, particularly that God would forsake him, and there are several appeals throughout the psalm that God not forget him when he is old.

Old age sneaks up on us so quickly.  One day we are young, our bodies can do just about everything we want.  Thoughts of getting older don’t even come into our mind. Then, suddenly it seems, our hair is gray, and we our now seniors. Arthritis comes, the eyesight isn’t as good as before, the memory isn’t as sharp, either. The family is busy with their own lives, and friends have either passed away or have their own infirmities.  They feel useless and forgotten. “God, please don’t forget about me!”, is our psalmist’s prayer (vs. 9, 18). As he grew older he still wanted to be a testimony of God’s faithfulness, and a useful part of God’s work.  He did not want to be cast aside, worn out, or forgotten.

That is a fear that we do not need to have, no matter what our age may be.  God will never forget His children. He has promised that even if family may forget us, He never will (Isaiah 49:15).  God has promised to never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). As believers grow older, we should see that God has been our constant help in the past.  As our bodies grow older, and we cannot do all that we used to, with more aches and pains, we need to realize that God is still our constant help (vs. 14).  Our hope and faith in God will help us to keep going.

God gives us constant help from our childhood through our old age (vs 6).  Our lives should be a testimony of what He has done for us (vs. 7, 18). We never become too old to serve God.  Even when our bodies start breaking down, God can still use us. Moses was an elderly man when God used him to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt and to the Promised Land.  God used and spoke through many of the prophets into their old age, and He gave the Apostle John the prophetic visions that he wrote in the book of Revelation when an old man. No matter what our age, God has continually been faithful (vs. 3).

As our psalmist looks back over his life, he remembers how he has trusted in God since a child (vs. 5).  This should be an encouragement for Christian parents to be sure that they tell their children about Jesus from an early age, as soon as they are old enough to understand.  If parents don’t tell their children about Jesus early in life, others will come along with their false beliefs and convince them at an early age to follow them. There is a saying, attributed to several different people, that says, “Give me a child until he is seven, and we will have him for life.”  What a child is faithfully taught in their early, tender years, will stay with them for life. It is a Christian parent’s responsibility to instruct their children about Jesus at a very early age.

Another truth that our psalmist teaches in this psalm is that our faith is not meant to be kept quietly to ourselves.  Society has often tried to tell people to keep their faith and religious beliefs to themselves, and not to tell others about salvation through Jesus Christ.  We share with others the things that we love and what gives us joy, such as music, a good book or movie, our hobbies, etc. As believers, the Lord should be our chiefest delight, and we should spread that good news to everyone we meet.  We have the most important message the world has ever known, and we should not keep it to ourselves!

Saturday, February 2, 2019

God Has A Plan For You

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Many people struggle with feelings of low self-esteem, feeling that they just don’t matter much to anyone.  Sometimes they may even doubt whether God cares much about them. Would you feel that way if someone told you that God had thought all about you long before you were ever conceived?  Would you feel insignificant to Him if you knew that God had made plans for your life ages before you were born? Today’s passage in the Old Testament Book of Jeremiah speaks of just this.  Let’s read what God said to His prophet, and says to us today.

Jeremiah had been given a rather difficult ministry; that of preaching God’s message in the years immediately prior to Nebuchadnezzar overrunning the Kingdom of Judea. This was a time when most of the people, including the king and religious leaders, had turned their backs on God.  Knowing that this was a difficult ministry, God gave Jeremiah a message right from the start. He told Jeremiah that He had singled him out for the work He gave him to do before he was even conceived, as His prophet and spokesman to the people (vs. 5).

The same can be said of us, as well.  You might wonder how God could know us long before we were even born, before we ever existed.  When an architect plans a building, at first it is just an idea in his head. He thinks of how big it will be, number of rooms, windows, floor plans, etc.  Then he puts his plans on paper long before it is built. It’s a building in his mind, though. Finally the contractors come and the building commences, and the plans become fact.  We are God’s custom design. He has specifically made every detail of us. He knew us by name long before we were born, He knows how long we will live, and what we were created to be and do with our lives.

When Jeremiah contemplated the task God had set before him, that of confronting the nation, the king and religious leaders in particular, about their unfaithfulness to God, he felt inadequate (vs. 6).  He was a young man when first called, and felt inexperienced to be God’s spokesman. God promised, however, to be with him (vs. 7-8). He will be with us, as well, with whatever tasks and work He has given us to do for Him.  If God gives us a job to do, He will provide all we need to do it.

Some people teach that once people become a Christian, all of their problems and troubles disappear.  That is not true. Jeremiah was certainly a believer, but he faced many problems. God promised Jeremiah that He would rescue him from the troubles he would face, not that He would keep the troubles from coming (vs. 8).  Jeremiah faced many trials and problems because of his ministry - insults, imprisonment, etc. God doesn’t keep us from facing problems, but He promises to always be with us during them.

God encouraged Jeremiah to continue on with the ministry that He had given him.  The power behind Jeremiah and his service for the Lord was from God, Himself (vs. 9 - 10).  He instructed Jeremiah to bring His message to the people, many of whom would threaten his life.  The words Jeremiah spoke, harsh at times, were directly from God. It was God who had put them in his mouth.  God used Jeremiah as His mouthpiece, speaking His message through him. Jeremiah’s message had divine authority.

Just as God knew and had a plan for Jeremiah’s life long before he was born, He has known us long before we were conceived, and He has a plan for our life, as well.  That plan is a perfect one. It is not subject to the . opinions and views of man, or the circumstances of the world. As we seek to do God’s work we cannot go in our own strength.  Through our own strength we can accomplish nothing of value, but relying on God we can do all that He wants us to (vs. 10). He calls all of us to spread His Word to all people.

When we feel discouraged or inadequate, remember that God has always thought of us as valuable, and that He has a purpose in mind for us.  Whatever work we do should be done for the glory of God.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Setting The Captive Free!

Luke 4:14-21

The date of January 1, 1863 will stick out for those who love American history as an important one, as it is the date of the Emancipation Proclamation, the date that Abraham Lincoln signed into law the freeing of the slaves.  There was a similar date a couple of years earlier, February 19, 1861, where Tsar Alexander II freed the serfs in Russia. Similar dates in the 18th and 19th centuries freed the serfs all across Europe. When the people in these various countries heard the proclamation read, there was certainly rejoicing. When one is set free from enforced servitude it is a glorious day. Today in our reading from the Gospel of Luke we read of Jesus giving a similar proclamation to all those who turn to and accept Him. Let’s take a look at our passage.

Just prior to when our passage begins, Jesus had been baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River near Judea, and then spent 40 days in the wilderness, where Satan tempted Him.  Now Jesus and His disciples have returned to Galilee. To openly begin His ministry, Jesus goes to His hometown synagogue on the Sabbath day (vs. 16). In New Testament days it was often the custom for the rabbi of a synagogue to extend a courtesy to a visitor and allow him to read from the Scriptures, and perhaps give a commentary.  We see this here in Nazareth with Jesus. It was also frequently the means by which Paul spread the Gospel throughout his missionary journeys.

When Jesus was invited by his hometown rabbi to read from the Scriptures He stood and selected the passage from Isaiah 61:1-2 to read to the gathered crowd (vs. 17-19).  This was a passage that most of His listeners would know referred to the coming Messiah. When Jesus finished His reading He sat down and stated to the audience that this passage of Scripture was now fulfilled that very day (vs. 21). Since everyone there would know that this passage referred to the coming Messiah, this statement that Jesus made was Him openly identifying Himself as the Messiah. There are some people who say that Jesus, Himself, never identified Himself as the Messiah, and that only His later followers did. That is not true, as right here, at the very start of His ministry, right in His hometown of Nazareth, Jesus openly stated that this passage of prophecy concerning the Messiah was fulfilled by Him that day.

This prophecy, given by Isaiah, spoke of the Messiah’s ministry.  He was anointed by God to bring the Gospel, or good news, of God’s love and salvation to all, especially to the poor, to bring healing to those who are brokenhearted, sight to the blind, and to set free those who are held captive and oppressed (vs. 18).  As we read through the different Gospel accounts in the Bible of Jesus, we see quite clearly that these are all things that He did, and continues to do for those who turn to Him. There are those whose physical eyesight has been healed by prayers to Jesus, but more importantly are those whose spiritual blindness has been cured by turning to Him.  Those who are grieving and brokenhearted for any number of reasons have found peace and comfort from Jesus.

All of mankind has been held in captivity by Satan, ever since the fall of Adam in the Garden of Eden.  We are held tightly in his grasp. What did Jesus state here in the Scripture He selected to read? He came to set the captive free!  Just like any slave in the Deep South of the U.S. prior to 1863, or any serf held in servitude to European nobility, we have all been held captive to sin and Satan. That need not be the case anymore. Jesus came to set the captive free! A slave set free does not need to serve his master anymore. He is free to go. Why stick around and take orders anymore?  What is it that you might be a slave to - drugs, alcohol, pornography, anger, a spiteful tongue? There are any number of things Satan holds us in captivity to. With Jesus, those bonds can and will be broken if you but turn to Him. Turn to Jesus, accept Him as your Savior today, and you will be set free from the slavery to sin and Satan.