Deborah: Israel’s Only Female Judge

Deborah

Daily Reading: (Judges 4:1-4):

“Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, now that Ehud was dead. So the Lord sold them into the hands of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. Sisera, the commander of his army, was based in Harosheth Haggoyim. Because he had nine hundred chariots fitted with iron and had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years, they cried to the Lord for help. Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time.”

What is so special about Deborah is that not only is she known for her wisdom and courage, she is the only woman of the Old Testament who is known for her own faith and action, not because of her relationship to her husband or another man. Also, the only other person in the Bible who was said to be both prophet and judge was Samuel. Deborah is the only female judge mentioned in the Bible.

A lot of people believe that she was married to Lappidoth because of verse four. We don’t know this for sure, because in Hebrew, the same word is used for “woman” and “wife,”. She could be the woman of Lappidoth the place, however, no such place is known to exist either.

Another possibility is that Lappidoth is her husband, but not his real name. Lappidoth means torches. There is another person who is very close to her whose name means something very similar. “When Deborah felt that she had helped the people to return to God, she sent for Barak, the son of Abinoam.” Some say he was her husband, because “Barak,” means lightning, another name for “Lappidoth.” I think this is the most likely case.

God gives an option to Barak which is so interesting, the end will be victory no matter which option you chose because you are still going forward into what God is leading you to, but the victory option will change depending on which choice you will make here. The victory was already given, but the honor was up for grabs (Judges 4:6-9). There is a blessing I want to give you Barak and through you, it will bless the entire nation, but you have to receive it by faith. Because faith is what inherits the blessings of God. Barak has faith that victory has been given, but to go forward he says: “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go” (Judges 4:8).

God gives the Israelites the victory and they are no longer oppressed. In the very next chapter, Deborah writes a praise song to the Lord.  So, Deborah has an impressive resume of a judge, warrior, poet, and prophet as well as singer and songwriter.

We learn from this story that God has given you everything you need for success in Christ, go forward by faith. 

Judges 5:12-13: “Wake up, wake up, Deborah! Wake up, wake up, break out in song! Arise, Barak! Take captive your captives, son of Abinoam.”Here is the takeaway, start your morning off by singing God’s praises for the victory you have in your day because of Jesus Christ. Peace will fill your heart as it filled the land. You go out in your day in victory in Jesus’ name. Wake up, wake up and break out in song.

The last words of Judges chapter 5 say, “Then the land had peace forty years.”

Judges 5 is the life song Deborah and God’s people got to live. Judges chapter 5 is what a life of peace and experiencing God’s salvation looks like. In Christ, the life song that we live is one of peace and the salvation of the Lord too. Christ has given us the life song of peace with God forever. Salvation is ours whenever we need it. So, I will say it again, wake up and sing God’s praises.

Cornelius the Gentile Believer

Cornelius the Gentile Believer

Daily Reading: (Acts 10:1-2):

“At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.”

The first thing we learn is that Cornelius is a Gentile and he is perhaps the first Gentile to become a Christian. Now, some will point to the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8, but there is a distinct possibility that the Ethiopian eunuch was actually Jewish. Acts 8:28 says,” and had come to Jerusalem for to worship.”  Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible says, “This proves that he was a Jew, or at least a Jewish proselyte. It was customary for the Jews in foreign lands, as far as practicable, to attend the great feasts at Jerusalem. He had gone up to attend the Passover”.[1]

What was prophesied about the Gospel was this: “But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and you shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

It took all the way until chapter 10 of Acts for it finally to come to a Gentile who was still in a part of Samaria, Caesarea. The Gospel had a long way to still go to reach the uttermost parts of the earth, but it did in a relatively short amount of time.

What do we discover about Cornelius?

  • He and His family revered God 

He took care to instruct his family in the knowledge of God that he himself had received and to establish the worship of God in his house. He was God- fearing or had a reverence for God, meaning Cornelius was a monotheist. As a rule, Gentiles subscribed to the notion that there were many “gods” but not Cornelius.

  • He gave generously to those in need

His relationship to God led to generosity toward others in need.

  • He prayed to God regularly

Cornelius considered God to be the fountain from whom all his blessings came. This is why he was able to give generously to those in need. But as wonderful as all of this is, Cornelius at this point does not know Jesus Christ. He has not received the salvation of the Lord, and he is yet to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

“One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision” (Acts 10:3a). Why would the writer of Acts tell us the time when Cornelius had a vision? Because what this most likely means is that he was probably observing the three o’clock afternoon prayer hour of the Jews. He had learned of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob but he did not know that the Gospel, but salvation in Jesus Christ was about to come to his household.

“Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter” (Acts 10:5). Now there is a message in where we find Peter and what happened there. Peter had stayed in Joppa even after Peter raised Tabitha from the grave in Acts 9. Joppa means (“beautiful”) and after raising Tabitha from the dead, Peter spent many more days in Joppa. This is a picture of how the Lord’s Resurrection life can come into a dead situation and how we can enjoy many beautiful days because of it.

The Resurrection power was at work at the place called “beautiful” but Cornelius is not in the place called beautiful, he is found in another place.  “Caesarea” means “severance.” Cornelius was in a place where he was being cut off from the Gospel. The Gospel had not reached there but the vision comes so salvation may reach him.

Now the Gospel is not just crossing city lines and county lines; it’s now crossing an even more important ethnic lines as we have our first Italian believer. What God said came true, when He met Abram in Genesis 12 and told him He was going to bless all families on the earth and when He confirmed it again in Genesis 15 and again in Genesis 22. The prophets prophesied that there would be a day that all nations would come to know our great and glorious God. As the psalmist sung about it, as Christ showed up and made this possible, and as the Holy Spirit empowered it, we see it and we are living it today.

In considering the story of Cornelius in the Bible, it is important to note that being religious is not enough to save a person. Cornelius was as devout as they come, and he worshiped the one true God. Yet he still needed to hear the Gospel and respond to it positively. That’s why God sent Peter, so that Cornelius could hear of the death and Resurrection of Christ, which Peter clearly preached (Acts 10:39–40, 43). It was only after Cornelius and his household received the message about Jesus that they received the Holy Spirit and were born again. The story of Cornelius not only shows the necessity of the Gospel but it indicates that God will move heaven and earth to bring the Gospel to those who are ready to receive it.


[1] https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/acts-8.html

King at Eight

King at Eight Devo

Daily Reading: (2 Chronicles 34:1-2):

“Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.”

These verses are a quick life summary of Josiah. He was only eight when he became king. And it seems like his kingship must have started suddenly, because who plans to king a boy at eight? If this was your initial thought, you’d be right. Life doesn’t generally go according to plan. Josiah’s father Amon was assassinated after reigning for only two years (2 Kings 21:19-24).

For one hundred years, ever since the time of Ahaz, Judah had been a vassal of the Assyrian empire. Their homage and allegiance is with the Assyrians.  Cultic practices had been imposed on Judah that suppressed or obscured their religious identity. There is an opportunity at this moment in history, for a restored identity in the Lord as the Assyrian empire had fallen into chaos.

In the midst of an entire nation who had done evil, the Lord raised up a boy who would not follow the false gods of the pagan nation of Assyria, instead follows the ways of his ancestor David. That is a real influencer right there.  Everyone did what was right in their own eyes, but a true Godly influencer will follow after Truth (2 Chronicles 34:2).

Josiah is eight when he starts to reign, and he does right immediately, but his relationship with the Lord takes some time to develop another eight years. In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David” (2 Chronicles 34:3a).

So, what grand thing has Josiah done yet? Other than following after Truth, nothing is recorded yet. It takes him eight years as king, until he actually seeks God. Four more years of following the Lord before any recorded action, what does this mean? He is resting in relationship with God. He doesn’t make things happen for the sake of making things happen. He is growing in relationship with God and God is preparing him for what comes next. An absence of activity can simply be the preparation that is needed for a breakout at the right moment. Think of the ocean tide, when a tidal wave of God’s activity is about to burst forth, there is first a longer absence of the waves. Be excited for those periods of rest and growth because it will bring forth something incredible for God’s glory.

 “Under his direction the altars of the Baals were torn down; he cut to pieces the incense altars that were above them, and smashed the Asherah poles and the idols. These he broke to pieces and scattered over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. He burned the bones of the priests on their altars, and so he purged Judah and Jerusalem. In the towns of Manasseh, Ephraim and Simeon, as far as Naphtali, and in the ruins around them, 7he tore down the altars and the Asherah poles and crushed the idols to powder and cut to pieces all the incense altars throughout Israel. Then he went back to Jerusalem. In the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign, to purify the land and the temple, he sent Shaphan son of Azaliah and Maaseiah the ruler of the city, with Joah son of Joahaz, the recorder, to repair the temple of the Lord his God” (2 Chronicles 34:4-8).

Josiah means “Jehovah heals”. What God did through Josiah was to heal the nation, to remove the idols, and restore the covenant between God and His people. Even in the name of the king that God raised up, He was pronouncing what He would do, bringing about healing to His people.

The incredible thing is that while the Law foretold death and judgment, Josiah will introduce the people to hope, the Passover Lamb (2 Chronicles 35). This is God’s ultimate plan of salvation, Jesus as our Passover Lamb. Josiah first needs to reinstated the Old Covenant Law with the people before he will offer the Passover Lamb and that is what he does.

Now in 2 Chronicles 35 is the pinnacle to me of Josiah’s accomplishment. “Josiah celebrated the Passover to the Lord in Jerusalem, and the Passover lamb was slaughtered on the fourteenth day of the first month. Josiah provided for all the lay people who were there a total of thirty thousand lambs and goats for the Passover offerings, and also three thousand cattle—all from the king’s own possessions” (2 Chronicles 35:1,7).

Josiah instituted back the Passover Lamb (2 Chronicles 35:16-19) to remove the sins of the people which points us to Christ. But in Josiah’s death, we are pointed to Christ once again. Josiah was great, one of the greatest Old Testament kings it seems, but even he could not save his people. Jesus succeeds precisely where Josiah failed. By taking God’s wrath on Himself, Jesus delivers His own people from it. He is a king with no limit to his ability to save. Through Josiah and all that he tried to do we are shown the greatness of the Lord Jesus – our King who can and does finally and fully reconcile us to God forever.

Victory Ground

Victory Ground Devo

Daily Reading: (1 Corinthians 15:57):

“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  

The Greek word for victory is “nikos” and it means exactly what the text says it means, “victory” plain and simple, or triumph. Victory is complete in Jesus, it isn’t partial, it’s not part-time.

When you study the Greek word for “gives” (didōmi) as in “gives us the victory”, there are two definitions that are appropriate to use for 1 Corinthians 15:57. The first definition is a gift. The second definition is to supply.  And this verb gives is in the present active participle. What this means is that right now God is actively supplying you the victory in Jesus’ name, and it is a gift of His grace. Our part is to receive that victory by faith or to simply celebrate and praise Him for it, “thanks be to God!”

We often want to think that the victory depends on what we bring to the table. In our natural world that is often how things work. But here Paul is telling us as he is writing to the Corinthians that victory is already yours in Jesus. It’s not what you bring to the table that determines the victory, it is a gift of His grace. He is the one who supplies it to us.

The question to ask when you face a difficult time is: Are you fighting for victory, or are you fighting from victory?

When you see how you’re already standing on victory ground on the basis of Jesus’ finished work, you’ll stop worrying about how and when your victory will manifest. Settle it in your heart and mind that you already have the victory through Christ. As you do this, God’s rest and peace will rule in your heart, and you will receive your breakthrough!

The truth of 1 Corinthians 15:57 can be seen in other places in Scripture because Christ has overcome the world, you are an overcomer (1 John 5:4). Indeed, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Romans 8:37). One of your most powerful weapons of warfare against the enemy is to worship the Lord and give Him thanks — even before you see the victory come to pass (Philippians 4:6-7).

What is the context around this verse of victory? If you look at the header of 1 Corinthians 15 it says, “The Resurrection of Christ”. Our victory is secure because of the Resurrection. The Resurrection is complete and our victory is secured. 1 Corinthians 15:54-56 talks about our Resurrection in Christ- this is why no matter what happens to us we have been given the victory.

So what should we do with this knowledge of Resurrection victory that we have in Jesus?

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

With the knowledge of the victory that you have in Christ- let that truth bring you to the place where nothing can move you off of it. Brothers and sisters who are loved by God, He has given you the victory, and so know that your work of the Lord is not in vain.

Count Your Blessings

Count Your Blessings Devo

Daily Reading: (Genesis 15:1):

“After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:

“Do not be afraid, Abram.
    I am your shield,
    your very great reward.”

Something troubling must have happened to Abram for this message to be not afraid to come to him. As you may have noticed, he is not yet called Abraham, the name change that will instill faith to receive the promise is coming. In the chapter before in Genesis 14:14 it says, “When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan.”

Now when you get to chapter fifteen we get a fuller picture of what is happening in Abram’s life when the vision came.

“Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” What does it mean for the Lord to be your shield and your very great reward? In chapter 14 the king of our righteousness Jesus Christ appeared to Abram and told him the victory was given to him by the Lord. Now here in chapter 15, God comes to Abram in a vision. Abram is battling fear, perhaps because his relative Lot was taken captive from battle and so who knows what might happen to him? Maybe we need more men, maybe we need better walls, a stronger fortress. This is what we do in our lives at times when something bad has happened. Even after the Lord gave him the victory and Lot was rescued and his life was enriched from the spoils of war, the enemy still has planted seeds of fear, doubt, and insecurity. “Do not be afraid”. The shield you need, the protection you seek in your life, you will find in God. 

Listen to Abram’s response: “But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?’”

Abram uses the name of God Adonay which means Sovereign Lord. Why is this important? This is a statement of faith, it is saying that God is the ultimate source of all power, authority, and everything that exists. The Word of God came to Abram in a vision and instilled faith in Abram to not be afraid. Faith would bring Abram to share his need with the One who has the ultimate power to act on his behalf (Genesis 15:1-2).

Abraham and Sarah wanted a child for years, but could not conceive, and still had no children, so what does God do?

“He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be” (Genesis 12:5). “Count” is the word “caphar” in the original Hebrew, which can mean “count,” but also means “to narrate or recount” something.

When you look up at the night sky you’ll see the constellations just as Abram did. God was essentially recounting the Gospel story, written in the stars to Abram, as fathers in Israel would tell their children in those times.

The 12 constellations represent the 12 tribes of Israel and begin with Virgo (a picture of a mother and child), which fulfills the first Bible prophecy in Genesis 3:5.

The constellations end with Leo, which depicts Jesus as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5). The constellation of the Southern Cross, which mariners lost at sea would look at to find their way, also represents the cross.

Therefore when God told Abraham, “So shall your descendants be,” in Genesis 15:5, He was saying that his descendants would have a Christ-like quality. And it came to pass, as Galatians 3:29 says, “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” We who are believers today are all Abraham’s descendants.

God was also prophesying about the number of Abraham’s descendants. So God had to first fill Abram’s heart with pictures of the many children he would have and the belief that he was going to be a fatherlong before the children came. Did you know that the God who numbers the stars also heals the brokenhearted? Which is where Abram was at this moment.

“He heals the brokenhearted. And binds up their wounds.
He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name”
(Psalm 147:3–4).

We then see in Genesis 17:5 and Genesis 17:15 that God changed Abram’s name to Abraham and his wife Sarai’s name to Sarah.

Abram means “exalted father” was changed to Abraham meaning “father of many”.

Sarai meaning “captain” was changed to Sarah meaning “princess, mother of multitudes”. Within a year, their miracle child Isaac came. But did you notice how God did not change Abram’s name before first changing his heart? God had to first change Abraham’s heart before changing his speech. This demonstrates how we have to believe God’s promises before speaking them. Faith is simple. Faith is believing God’s Word in your heart and speaking it out by faith for those things that you can’t yet see and for those things that have yet to be fulfilled.

Greater Things

Greater Things Devo

Daily Reading: (John 14:12-14):

“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

There is a verse that is written that quotes something that Jesus said that if He wouldn’t have ever said it,

  • I don’t know that any of us would have ever thought about it before.
  • I really don’t think any of us would have believed it if we had thought it and Jesus hadn’t said it. 

“Whoever believes in me”, the qualifier to be able to do the works of Jesus is that you are a believer in Jesus Christ. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, the normal Christian life is a life partaking in and receiving miracles in Jesus’ name.

The promise is that you will do the works that Jesus did and in case you forgot some of the works of Jesus here a few highlights.

Jesus set the record for the world’s largest fish feast when He fed somewhere between 12-15,000 people with 2 fish and 5 loaves. I thought it was 5,000 He fed? According to John 6:10 the “men” numbered about 5,000. Including the “women and children” (Matthew 14:21), the crowd probably numbered somewhere closer to about 15,000 or more.

Jesus walked on water, no regular human could ever do that, except Peter did at Jesus’ command and with Jesus’ help. Jesus turned water into wine.  He gave sight to the blind, He healed the sick and the lame, cast out demons, and He even raised the dead to life this is just to name a few.

Whatever the specific works are that Jesus has in mind for you to be a part of, what defines them is that they are pointers to Jesus which help people believe in Him. I have seen people come to faith in Jesus because a group of believers got together and built a ramp for the homeowner to be able to enter their home. To them, it was a miracle. They didn’t have the funds for a ramp and they couldn’t see a way with their new challenge of how they could even access their home. “I had about given up hope in God, hope in humanity, and then God sent me a group of people who were filled with the love of Christ. I saw God’s love for me was real and I received my miracle as I believed in Jesus.”

Miracles are a witness along with Jesus’ words that lead people to faith. That’s what His works do, and He is saying, that’s what our works through Him will do. “Whoever believes in me will do the works I do” — the works point people to faith.

“Whoever believes in Me will do the works I have been doing” and as impressive as it is to think about that, He doesn’t stop there, “and they will do even greater things than these”.

What could be greater than that? We get a clue from the text of what Jesus is talking about and this is moving from Old Covenant before the cross to New Testament after the cross. The first clue is the phrase at the end of verse 12, “because I am going to the Father.” We will be able to do these works because Jesus is going to the Father. And the other clue is the text of what Jesus said to His disciples after He was raised from the dead, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld” (John 20:21–23).

The Spirit in you will be the Spirit of the crucified and risen Christ. The message you preach will be the message not of a promised ransom but a paid ransom, a complete payment, a finished propitiation. Your sin debt has been fully paid at the cross. Because Christ lives in you, you can do the work of Jesus. You can reveal God to the world.

And in the power of that absolutely new experience — the indwelling of the crucified and risen Christ — your works of love and your message of life in union with Christ, will point people to the glory of the risen Son of God, and you will be the instrument of their forgiveness on the basis of the finished work of Christ (John 20:23). This will be new. This will be greater than Jesus’ earthly miracles because this is what He came to accomplish by His death and resurrection. In the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ the greater works were made possible (John 14:12).

In John 6 after Jesus performed some more miracles, all but the 12 left Him from the crowd. Compare that to the Day of Pentecost when Peter preached and 3,000 were saved on that day alone and became a part of the Body of Christ. Jesus did great miracles throughout his ministry here on earth, but fewer people came to saving faith during His public ministry than they did in the first days of the early church when Jesus went to the Father. While Christ brought Lazarus back from the dead—we are to do the even greater work which is to bring people from spiritual death to life through the very message of the Gospel which we preach and proclaim. “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all (Acts 4:33).  

Can You Walk on Water?

Can You Walk On Water

Daily Reading: (Matthew 14:28-30):

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” He said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

“Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake” (Matthew 14:25).

The disciples didn’t know that walking on water was possible. They didn’t know a lot of the things were possible until they saw Jesus do them. So, Jesus walks on water and let’s see their response. “When the disciples saw Him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear” (Matthew 14:26).

Jesus is fully God and fully man. They had never seen a man be able to walk on water because there are principles and laws at play here. If you step out on the water, you will sink in. I think sometimes the disciples forgot that Jesus is fully God too. Only a spirit, something that is not weighed down by a physical body, could possibly walk on water. It must be a ghost. What would your response be if you thought you saw a ghost out on the water? It would probably be the same as the disciples, whose fear actually caused them to cry out loud. Fear and faith are opposite of each other. Their fear has caused them to not see the Lord who is in front of them. But the Word of God will instill faith to respond.

“But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water” (Matthew 14:27-28).

This story teaches us what looking to Jesus will do.“Come”, He said. It is His Word that gives us authority and power to do supernatural things. As we look to Jesus we will see miracles unfold in our lives and in other’s lives too.

It started well for Peter, he took the step of faith and walked on water, but then something happened to Peter.

“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me” (Matthew 14:30). The circumstances caused Peter to lose focus and fear came in. He calls out for Jesus to save him.

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31).

When we are looking to Jesus and miracles are unfolding, the wind and the waves will build, but I don’t want you to look at what is happening around you, but what is taking place within you. Do you sense His immense love for you? I want you to see Jesus who is reaching out to you, He’s got you. Receive His love and fear will not be able to sink you.

Something else took place in this scene with Peter and walking on the water that is key to knowing when it comes to salvation, and physical healing for people.

“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink.” We have fear interrupting faith. The text tells us the wind was active. Wind makes waves. If the water was perfectly calm with no waves would Peter have been able to walk on water? No. The wind has absolutely nothing to do with Peter’s ability to walk on water. I think we tend to take a paddleboard approach to life. The better your core strength and balance the better you will do. We might think of our life as we are on a paddleboard and as long as we can navigate away from any troubled waters we’ll do alright. But we don’t control the waves. What we do have control over is what we will focus on, the circumstances or the Lord. Will we fill our hearts and minds with His Word or will we drown in fear of the wind and the waves of life?

In the same way, when the winds of painful symptoms or bad medical reports come, remember that receiving your healing has nothing to do with how bad your symptoms are. It has everything to do with how Christ has already paid the price for your healing and health. It has everything to do with how Christ is right now, above every disease that can plague your body. Keep your eyes on Jesus and walk in His strength, healing, and life.

Don’t let the stormy winds and waves, and the challenges of life distract you. They have nothing to do with whether you walk victoriously over your circumstances or not. Just keep your eyes on Jesus—and receive your miracle!

“And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down” (Matthew 14:32). How do you suppose that one gets into a boat that is in the water with big waves still happening all around them? We know that Jesus reached out his hand immediately and caught him. But verse thirty-two tells us they climbed into the boat, which means they both were out of the boat. Jesus and Peter must have walked right into the boat. Peter actually walked on water twice.

Possible with God

Possible With God

Daily Reading: (Matthew 19:26):

“Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

With God all things are possible. When we are faced with a situation that is too difficult, too big, too overwhelming, who do we need to get involved in our situation. God!

What is happening in Matthew 19 for Jesus to make this profound statement?

There is a man whose wealth has blinded his needs. “Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life” (Matthew 19:16)?

With this one question, we are led to an entirely different supernatural grace-filled way to live.

The world essentially wants to know how can I save myself? Matthew 19:26 declares, “you can’t”! With men salvation is impossible. But the good news of Jesus Christ is salvation is possible with God. He paid the ultimate price for our sin because God is love. “For this is how much God loved the world-He gave His one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in Him will never perish but experience everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Jesus knew the ruler was self-righteous and considered himself a good man. Jesus cut straight to the heart of the man’s sin by immediately challenging his standard of goodness and we can do the same with Romans 3:12.

Jesus brings this man to the Law and the purpose is to show this man that he falls short of the glory of God. He needs a Savior. Salvation for him in and of his good behavior and his good works is impossible.

“Which ones?” he inquired (Matthew 19:18). The mind of the rich man is trying to calculate, how he can earn eternal life. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

His wealth has led him to the question, is there anything I can’t do. Wealth can easily blind a person to seeing their need for God. Now that I have obtained a lot, I have my sights set on the ultimate, taking care of myself for the life to come. What must I do now so that I might obtain eternal life to come? Specifically which commandments do I need to focus on?

What is interesting is that Jesus just starts listing some of the ten commandments. It is different than His response to the Pharisees who wanted the Ten Commandments reduced in Matthew 22:34-40. Jesus lists some of the commandments that the man thinks he has been really good at keeping.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’and ‘love your neighbor as yourself’”(Matthew 19:18-19).

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus magnifies the Law to show that if you try to save yourself, it is impossible. “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack”(Matthew 19:20)? In his heart, he knows that there is still something lacking in his life. Deep down he has a sense of what is lacking based off of his initial question, what good thing must I do to get eternal life”?

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven. Then come, follow Me” (Matthew 19:21).

Which one of the commandments is this one? Some have tried to take this verse and make it into the 11th commandment. If I live a life of poverty, one of lack, where I give all that I have, then I will earn my way into Heaven.

Do you realize what Jesus is saying?

Jesus is not saying, “We have to sell our stuff to be saved. Or that being rich is wrong because ‘it’s hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom’.” While it is true that it is harder for the rich and the self-sufficient to receive from the abundance of God’s grace, that is not the point here. The point is that the Kingdom of God is received by grace not purchased by merit. Salvation is only possible with God through Christ.

The Woman with a Dream

The Woman with a Dream

Daily Reading: (Matthew 27:19):

“While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent Man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of Him.”

There are some things that we know about this dream. First of all, the purpose of the dream was not to try and change the outcome of Jesus going to the cross and dying for our sins. It was prophesied to happen, it was necessary, and the timing was right. Jesus, the Lamb of God, died at that same time as when the lamb would be offered as an atonement for the sins of the people. If He didn’t die, we would all be separated from God forever.  In fact, Jesus said, John 10:17-18: “The reason the Father loves Me is that I lay down My life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from My Father.”

Even though we aren’t privy to all things about the dream we do know how the dream made Pontius Pilate’s wife feel and also the context of what was happening leading up to the dream. So, let’s start with the context of what is happening before the dream comes.

Meanwhile, Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “You have said so,” Jesus replied. When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor” (Matthew 27:11-14).

Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd” (Matthew 27:15).

The Romans introduced the practice when they colonized Judea, perhaps as a conciliatory gesture towards those who felt they had been mistreated by harsh Roman law.

“At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas” (Matthew 27:16).

Did you catch that? There were two Jesuses on trial, so to distinguish the two, Pilate identifies the rebel by referring to his last name. “Do you want me to release the first Jesus who is called Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” Christ is not Jesus’ last name. Christ means Messiah.

So, when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him” (Matthew 27:17-18).

At this point is when the message from Pilate’s wife will reach him. The most interesting part is that Pilate’s wife refers to Jesus not just as innocent as the text reads, but also as righteous (dikaios). The “righteous” Pharisees did not recognize Jesus as a righteous man, but this woman did. The Old Testament prophets spoke of a coming Righteous One or Righteous Branch (Isaiah 24:16, 53:11, Jeremiah 23:5, 33:15). Pilate’s wife was the first person in the New Testament to recognize Jesus as righteous. I believe the reason for the dream was a chance for salvation for both Pontius Pilate and also his wife.

“But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to put Jesus to death” (Matthew 27:20).

Some would say, well, the dream didn’t accomplish its intended goal, but dreams of our Father always do and so did this one. When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead, an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility” (Matthew 27:24)!

The chief priests said that if Pilate released Jesus, he was no friend of Caesar (John 19:12). This was Pilate’s weakness. Pilate could not afford to be on the wrong side of Caesar.

“All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children” (Matthew 27:25). And in a manner of speaking, it was. Jesus’ blood was poured out for the forgiveness of sins, for men, women, and children, for all who receive Him.

I want to look at Pilate’s wife’s response to her dream again: She said, “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent Man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of Him.”

“I suffered a great deal”- and what is interesting is this Greek word for suffered is (paschō) and it can either be in a good sense or a bad sense, to be well off because of it, and also to suffer sadly because of it.

In this case, perhaps it was both. She has the realization that Jesus is going to die a horrible death for her sins. This is causing her to tremble at the thought of what is to come for Jesus the innocent righteous man, but also how well off this will make her, for the Lamb would be slain for our sins.

The outcome of the scene with the angry mob is recorded in Matthew 27:26: “Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.”

Pilate released Barabbas. The sinner was freed and the righteous man bore his punishment (Matthew 27:26). This is who we are in this story we are Barabbas, the ones who deserved punishment. On the cross, the Lord Jesus took the punishment sinners deserved for their sin. Jesus did not deserve to die; He willingly took every sinner’s place and died for our sins. The death of Jesus was one of substitution “the righteous for the unrighteous” (1 Peter 3:18, the innocent for the guilty, the perfect for the corrupt. Although Jesus had no personal sin to pay for, He was, as Pilate’s wife said, “an innocent man”, the only Righteous One.

The Empty Tomb Wasn’t a Dream

The Empty Tomb Wasn’t A Dream

Daily Reading: (Matthew 28:1-4):

“After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.”After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”

Matthew 28:5-6,“The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where He lay.” The stone wasn’t rolled away for Jesus to come out from the tomb. It was so that the disciples could see that the tomb was empty.

Now just before this moment of time, the Roman leaders were very worried about this very event happening. They know what was prophesied about the Messiah and they think that perhaps the disciples will try and steal the body of Jesus to make others believe that He is the Son of God. The Romans have a plan to prevent this from happening.

“Sir,” they said, “we remember that while He was alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order that the tomb be secured until the third day. Otherwise, His disciples may come and steal Him away and tell the people He has risen from the dead. And this last deception would be worse than the first.” “You have a guard,” Pilate said. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how” (Matthew 27:63-65).

So, did the disciples steal the body? Skeptics can’t argue that the tomb wasn’t empty. You can’t say this was all just a dream. If it were a dream, you’d go and the tomb would still have a body. No body means something happened, and so skeptics will try and use the argument that somehow Jesus’ disciples who were afraid and scattered at the crucifixion stole the body from a sealed tomb posted with Roman guards.

Not only is the tomb empty, but the angel says, you can see Jesus, He’ll be in Galilee (Matthew 28:7). If ever there was some kind of conspiracy happening, you aren’t going to tell people that you can see Jesus alive in Galilee. And also let’s not forget that she is talking to an angel.

“So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” He said” (Matthew 28:8-9). We have eyewitnesses of the empty tomb and Jesus will converse with meeting many other people as well as eat food with them later before ascending into Heaven.

The story continues, “While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day (Matthew 28:11-15).

This historical event happened, there is no body because Christ is risen indeed. If the Pharisees had stolen the body, the fastest way to stop the preaching of the disciples would be to produce Jesus’ dead corpse. But they did not and could not produce it.

According to Roman law, the body of a condemned criminal belonged to the state. That is why Joseph of Arimathea had to ask for Jesus’ body. To steal a body was a serious offense and it is odd that neither the Romans, nor the Jews, did anything to substantiate the charges if the body had been stolen. The disciples were never prosecuted for this alleged crime. Why? The fact is that the authorities did not really believe that Jesus’ disciples had stolen His body. Otherwise, they would have immediately arrested them when these same disciples publicly proclaimed in the same city of Jerusalem that Christ had risen. They didn’t want to bring more attention to the real truth of what had really happened.

So, the question becomes do you believe that Jesus died for your sins? Do you believe He rose from the grave so that all who believe Him will be given everlasting life? I have presented just a little bit of evidence from Scripture, recorded in history, and the evidence is overwhelming, declaring that Jesus is the Son of God.