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Faith, by its nature, involves risk. That’s what makes it faith. I’m committing myself to something I can’t prove. I’m believing that something exists which hasn’t arrived. I’m seeing something with spiritual eyes that I haven’t seen yet with my physical eyes. And if that faith is going to last until the promise is fulfilled, I must make a long-ter…
 
The resurrection of Jesus Christ was not the end of His ministry; it was the end of a chapter. One stage of His assignment was now complete, and it was time for the next stage to begin. So when He appeared to His disciples on that Sunday evening, Jesus had much more in mind than simply convincing them that He was alive. He walked through those lock…
 
As Mary stood outside the tomb weeping it had already started. The miracle had begun. The first child had been born into the huge eternal family that the Father had always desired. The devil had tried to stop it, and for a time it appeared he had succeeded. He tempted the human creatures to sin and they did, and their sin would surely hold them in …
 
The disciples’ response to the empty tomb proves how little they understood about the most essential truths that Jesus had taught them. What He said was so different from what they had been taught as children, His words only confused and frightened them. He repeatedly told them He must suffer, die, be buried, and rise again on the third day, yet no…
 
Before God created the universe; before He breathed life into a human being; before the first man or woman rebelled against Him bringing death upon themselves and their descendants, there was already, hidden in God’s heart a plan to save us. He knew what we would do before we did it, and He knew what He must do in order to rescue us. But He didn’t …
 
To someone who didn’t know the Bible well, what happened to Jesus that afternoon would have seemed to be nothing more than a tragic series of events. That person would have seen only an innocent man being badly mistreated. But if someone did know the Scriptures, he or she would have been shocked as they watched key prophecies being fulfilled in fro…
 
Even though Jesus was crucified like a common criminal, if someone knew what to look for there were signs all through that terrible event that pointed to the truth about Him. John alone among the eleven disciples was present at Jesus’ side while He was dying on the cross, so he personally saw and heard the events he reports. He also had the spiritu…
 
Pilate knew Jesus was innocent. He said so many times. And yet, in the end, the Roman governor sentenced an innocent man to death. Why? What was it that changed his mind? No new evidence was produced. Nothing Jesus said created suspicion. In fact, as the trial progressed Pilate discovered the truth: Jesus was there because the religious leaders wer…
 
People ask questions for different reasons. One person might ask a question as a way of attacking an opponent in a debate. That question is meant to confuse their opponent or expose their lack of understanding. Another person might ask a question because they genuinely want to know the answer. But there is also a third reason people ask questions. …
 
When we read the account of what happened to Jesus after He was arrested, we encounter an element that is very hard to explain. It’s the furious hatred some people felt toward Jesus. They hated Him with a ferocity that is just not reasonable. After all, He was a good man, the kind mothers want to have bless their babies. He wasn’t a violent crimina…
 
There comes a time in most people’s life when they discover how weak they are. How soon that happens varies from person to person. Some learn the lesson when they are very young, others not until much later. Some discover it by a series of small events, others only after a massive failure. Some easily admit their weakness and seek help, others are …
 
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to rescue people out of the darkness of this fallen world without suffering. Forces that hold people down won’t let them go without a battle, and people are wounded, and even die in battles. Which explains why suffering is necessary. But not all forms of suffering have the power to rescue people, only a certain kind…
 
Christmas is a time of gift-giving. I suspect the Magi, the wise men who came from the east, may be the inspiration behind it. They brought gifts to Jesus fit for a king while He was still a very small child in Bethlehem. They gave Him gold, frankincense and myrrh because they believed He was Israel’s promised Messiah who would bring God’s kingdom …
 
Possessions don’t bring joy. They break, get stolen, or we grow bored with them. Pleasure doesn’t bring joy. The more we seek it, the less we find. Entertainment doesn’t bring joy. Much of it leaves us feeling violated or sad. Trying to isolate ourselves from people or problems doesn’t bring joy. The more time we spend alone the more angry we becom…
 
Do we realize what a treasure we hold in our hands when we open a Bible? The very words of God were written down and preserved for thousands of years so that, today, we can hear them afresh and believe. Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible during Israel’s Exodus from Egypt, probably between 1446 B.C. and 1406 B.C. His writings and then tho…
 
What would you pray for if you knew you were going to be executed tomorrow morning? A legion of angels? The rapture? A good lawyer? I think most of us would be fervently pleading for a miraculous change of circumstance, which is what makes Jesus’ prayer that evening so amazing. He didn’t ask to be rescued at all. He quickly acknowledged that the ti…
 
Jesus’ disciples keep surprising us. You would think that by the final evening prior to His arrest they would have developed a strong, unshakable faith. After all, they had been watching Him minister and listening to Him teach for the past two and a half years. What greater miracle did He need to perform, or how much clearer could He be in telling …
 
If you want to know how you’re doing spiritually, all you have to do is answer one simple question: “Do I have joy?” If I’m full of fear, there is no joy. If I harbor bitterness toward someone, there is no joy. If I grieve the Holy Spirit by saying or doing something harmful to another, there is no joy. If I allow an addiction to control me, or fol…
 
There are spiritual truths that you cannot understand, no matter how smart you are, until God reveals them to you. Once you finally understand, the meaning seems so obvious you find it hard to believe that you never saw it before. But the fact is, until God explained it to you, it never made sense. This is what Jesus was explaining to His disciples…
 
What Jesus was about to do would change everything. All that God had done with the human race, from the time of Adam and Eve onward, looked forward to this moment. Even before He made the world, God peered into the future and saw everything. Listen to how Peter explained this, “…knowing that you were ransomed, not with corruptible silver or gold fr…
 
If you met God, would you recognize Him? You might say, “Well, of course I would. He’s an old man with a long white beard, sitting on a throne with a brilliant light shining around Him. And there are angels who worship before Him day and night.” But that’s only the way people picture Him, it’s not the Person Himself. What if there were no beard or …
 
There’s a great difference between being informed and conformed. Being informed means to receive knowledge. Our minds learn something we didn’t know. But to be conformed involves being changed from one thing into another. It’s what happens to a lump of clay when it’s pushed into a mold. It takes on an entirely different appearance; one that was det…
 
Love is the key to longevity, and longevity is the key to much fruit. That means that in order to bear much fruit we have to stay in relationship with people for a long time, and to do that we have to love them. If love declines, we withdraw, we become judgmental, we cease to pray for that person and stop serving them. And when those activities sto…
 
To become a disciple of Jesus Christ requires enormous sacrifice. Basically, it requires a person to give Jesus the control of their life. From that point on, he or she will choose, over and over again, to live in such a way as to do whatever they can to help others meet Him. When Jesus called someone He never hid that fact from them. He never lure…
 
Salvation isn’t a transaction, it’s a relationship. We don’t do something to get something; we meet someone and then walk with that person for the rest of our lives. Then, when we arrive at our final day, He carries us through the veil of death into eternal life. It’s a relationship that connects us to the Creator, the One from whom all life flows.…
 
God is a generous God. He wants to share His authority, but only with a certain kind of person: His Son, and those who are like His Son. If He were to give His authority to anyone else they would use it for things that are not His will, which means He would be assisting them to do things that are harmful. And, of course, He can never do that becaus…
 
When people talk about serving the Lord, when they try to convince us to selflessly minister to others, they often assure us that our service will bring with it a deep sense of fulfillment. We will feel good about ourselves knowing that we did something meaningful and helpful. But in practice, such feelings may boost our self-esteem for a moment, b…
 
For the past few years these eleven men had been students. They had been listening, watching, helping and at times doing, but everything centered on Jesus. He preached, He healed, He cast out demons, He prayed, and He led them from place to place. So it was almost impossible for them to think that the kind of ministry that He had been doing could c…
 
ave you ever wondered why so many individuals who claim to be Christians behave so badly? In some cases, large numbers of so-called Christians have behaved worse than unbelievers and some even at a level of evil explainable only by demonic influence. Have you ever been reading a history book or watching a documentary only to suddenly realize that t…
 
God knew how weak we were when He called us. Yet He wanted us anyway. He knows us far better than we know ourselves. Nothing we do surprises Him. In one of the psalms David says, “He knows our frame, He knows we are but dust” (Ps 103:14). Clearly He’s not impressed with our natural capacities. How silly our well-intended promises must sound to Him …
 
They were in their final hours together. He would be arrested soon, and by nine o’clock in the morning He would be on the cross. So, Jesus devoted the time they had left to preparing His disciples for the future. Here were truths to which they would need to cling. Here were promises that would carry them through the trials they would face in the ye…
 
It’s one thing to be wounded by an enemy, but it’s another to be betrayed by a friend. We expect enemies to hate us, and usually know why they do. There’s been an offense or profound disagreement and we haven’t been able to repair it. And it seems that no matter how nice we try to be to people we all end up with a certain number of enemies. It’s ju…
 
It’s counterintuitive. It doesn’t make sense. You would think that the way to happiness would be by serving ourselves, but a self-centered life ends up being very depressing. At first it might seem to work, but as time goes on it produces anger. Life never seems to give us all we feel that we deserve and people seldom love us the way they should, s…
 
It’s not enough to start out clean, we must arrive clean. When we place our faith in Jesus Christ our sins are forgiven, but on a day-to-day basis sins keep happening, and those sins, if left unattended, have the power to erode the very faith that saved us. That’s why our life with Jesus must be a daily walk, not a transaction that took place becau…
 
On that final evening in the upper room, Jesus did something that turned our world upside down. Normally, humans think that the more important a person is the more that person should be served and honored. We think important people are too dignified to do lowly tasks. We look for ways to give them special care. We give them the best seat, the best …
 
On Sunday, five days before He was crucified, Jesus said this: “Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out” (Jn 12:31). This world is under God’s judgment because of sin, and the “ruler of this world” is the devil. So on that day Jesus was announcing that His death on the cross and His resurrection would potential…
 
Truth doesn’t change, especially spiritual truth. The spiritual world is not a myth. There are lots of myths and fairy tales, invented stories about gods, goddesses and how the world was created. But that doesn’t change spiritual truth; it only makes it harder to find. The fact that there are people who say wrong things doesn’t mean right things do…
 
Fear is very lonely. It seems to place a barrier between us and others, and between us and God. It feels like we’ve walked into a chamber and closed the door. There, alone, trapped with our terrible thoughts, our emotions churn and our body grows weary. In fact the suffering that fear brings is often worse than the problem itself. We can suffer thr…
 
The greatest decision you or I will ever make is to repent and receive by faith the righteousness of Jesus Christ. That decision changes where we will spend eternity. But there is another decision each person must make which determines the outcome of our life. It’s one of those decisions where to not make a decision is to make a decision. If we mak…
 
It’s the most natural thing in the world: People turn to God because they need something and want Him to use His power to help them. That’s actually the motivating factor behind most of the world’s religions, and has been throughout human history. People do something, or sacrifice something, or chant something until their god or impersonal spiritua…
 
If you’ll recall, Mary is the one who listened carefully. While her sister Martha was busy serving the guests, she sat at Jesus’ feet and pondered His every word. The Gospel of Luke describes that exchange. Let’s hear it again: “Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a si…
 
Human beings have always had a hard time getting along with each other. The same forces that separate us from God also separate us from people. The Bible uses a simple word to describe those forces; it calls them “Sin.” Bundled into that one word are three destructive attitudes that have been the source of our troubles from the first humans onward.…
 
There are people who absolutely refuse to believe in Jesus Christ no matter what proof is presented. You can explain God's plan of salvation in crystal-clear terms, but they say it doesn't make sense to them. They might watch a miracle performed before their eyes, yet they won't repent. There are people who fearlessly acknowledge that the Bible war…
 
You aren't your body. You express yourself through your body; you are influenced by your body; you even have to take care of your body, but your existence is rooted in another dimension altogether. That's because God made you in His image, and He doesn't have a body. He is spirit (Jn 4:24). When He created Adam and Eve, He created rational, volitio…
 
Anyone who serves God effectively has to have two important qualities: courage and caution. They have to be willing to die for Jesus but determined not to do anything careless that might end their ministry early. Without courage a person won't follow where God leads; without caution a person will create so much trouble for themselves that they have…
 
One of the most wonderful aspects of watching Jesus in action is that we're seeing how things ought to work. He never prayed a wrong request; no prayer of His ever went unanswered because of a lack of faith, and no spiritual opposition was too difficult for Him to overcome. Whenever we get into the subject of prayer the question always arises as to…
 
Let's reflect for a moment on our walk with God. When was the last time that you or I did something because we felt God told us to do it, and then He showed up and did some sort of miracle or we would have failed? If the answer is never, or it was so long ago we can't remember, what we're going to talk about today may be challenging to understand, …
 
“If I do not do the works of the Father, do not believe Me, but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father” (Jn 10:37-38). Jesus did not try to win people by impressing them with the brilliance of His logic. He didn't try to argue people to faith. …
 
Does grace mean I can keep doing bad things and still go to heaven? Does God's love mean I don't have to stop? Does repentance mean if I say “I'm sorry” God will let me continue sinning? If asked those questions most of us would quickly answer, “No! Of course not,” that is until God told us to stop doing something we really wanted to do. In that ca…
 
It's confusing to hear people talk about God controlling everything because everywhere you look He has given so much freedom. He gave humans freedom; He gave angels freedom, and now we hear the Son of God telling us that He too had been given the freedom to choose whether or not to die on the cross. He says the Father gave Him authority over His ow…
 
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