For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
Romans 10:9 (NIV)If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus, we shall always be with the Lord. I Thessalonians 4:16-17
(Jesus said) “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work.” Revelation 22:12
Prayer of repentance and commitment to Jesus as your Lord and Savior:
Dear God, thank You for your love for me and for sending Jesus. Thank you, Lord Jesus for dying on the cross for my sin. I believe that God raised you up from the dead. Please forgive my sins. I open my heart to you. I commit and trust my life to Your Lordship. Please help me, Holy Spirit, to live the life God has planned for me. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.
If you pray the prayer above, you are now a child of God and forgiven because of Jesus Christ! What to do next?
Christianity is not just a religion. It is a personal relationship with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
God speaks to us through reading the Bible every day. (www.biblegateway.com)
We speak to God through prayer in the name of Jesus.
To hear good Bible teachings, look for a good Bible believing Christian church to be part of, or maybe look for online for now.
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
At this time of year, we often think about Jesus coming to earth in the form of a helpless baby, but do we really consider the implications of Jesus humbling himself by coming to earth? Think about it. Jesus left all the glory & splendor of heaven and the worshipping heavenly hosts to come and live among us. He gave up His omnipresence to live in a human body confined by time, space, and geography. He gave up the perfections of heaven to live in a body that was subject to hunger, pain, and discomfort. I can imagine that, upon occasion, Jesus suffered the pain of hitting his thumb with a hammer or stubbing his toe on a rock. When Jesus fed the five thousand, have we ever considered that Jesus himself was hungry? When Jesus spoke with the woman at the well, have we ever thought about how thirsty Jesus must have been? And after a long day of ministering to the physical needs of hundreds of people, have we ever considered how tired Jesus must have been? Or after seeing how the religious leaders of his day despised Him and His teachings, have we ever considered the degree to which Jesus felt the pain of being misunderstood and rejected? And let us not forget the emotional pain that Jesus felt when his earthly father Joseph, his cousin John the Baptist, and his friend Lazarus died.
Dr. David Jeremiah recently did a teaching a series about the Nativity, has listed several reasons why Jesus came to live among us. We often think about the obvious reasons – to fulfill the Old Testament prophesies and to save us from our sins. But do we consider that He also came so that he could fully understand what it means to be human, to experience human emotions and to empathize with our weaknesses? The writer of Hebrews brings out this point:
“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
I don’t know about you, but these verses bring me great comfort! When I feel discouraged, I can remember that Jesus also felt that way from time-to-time. When I feel alone, I can remember that there were times when Jesus also felt the pain of isolation. When I am tempted, I can remember that Jesus also faced temptation, although of course He never yielded to those temptations. Isn’t it comforting to know that whatever we are going through, we can bring those cares to the One who understands our struggles (I Peter 5:7), knowing that He has promised never to leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). And there is nothing that can ever separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39). Now that is truly Good News!
Season’s Greetings, and Merry Christmas from the Creels! We hope that you and your family are doing well and enjoying this festive season. Even in this most unusual year, we have much for which to be grateful. At the top of our “gratitude list” is the gift of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, who gave of Himself so that we might enjoy abundant life here on earth and eternal life someday with Him in heaven. We are also grateful for your partnership as we proclaim “Christ to the World by Media” until all have heard the story of Jesus. For more thoughts on thanksgiving, please see our blog at thecreels.org.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. Psalm 100:4
Each day during our prayer time we give thanks and praise to our Lord for the simple blessings of life. We thank the Lord for such blessings as clean water, electricity, a roof over our head, warm clothes, food, etc.
Clean water. In many places around the world people must walk a mile or so to a stream or river just to get a bucket of water. When they get home, they must boil the water or filter it, and then store it in a safe place. So, we are thankful that we have clean water right in our home.
Electricity, internet, and modern technology. We thank the Lord for electricity that enables us to cook our meals conveniently. In some places, people must gather firewood or tree branches, cut them, and then make a fire to cook. A few years ago, Vicki served in a children’s home in South America. Every day the cook and a couple of volunteers would get up at 4:00 or 5:00 am to get some firewood. They would then place the firewood on three big stones to make a stove, then light the firewood to cook a meal. The previous day some young men had to gather wood and cut them into pieces for firewood. They only had 2 hours of electricity in the morning and evening using a generator. So, we thank the Lord for electricity that helps us cook and keeps our appliances, air conditioner and heater running. With electricity and the internet, we can work from home and be connected to the world.
Clean air to breathe. In one of the countries we visited in Asia a couple of years ago, they had very cold winters. During our visit, the temperature ranged from -15 to +25 F degrees! The power company for the city burned really dirty coal to supply electricity and heating to homes and buildings which produced a lot of air pollution. We learned to appreciate and thank the Lord for the clean air we breathe.
The beauty of nature. Did you ever stop to think that God could have made the world very utilitarian? Instead, he created this world with beauty – beauty that reminds us of our Creator God. Take a few moments today to enjoy a beautiful sunset, a walk in the woods, or a look up into the night sky!
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. (Psalm 118:1)
Religious and political freedom. In many parts of the world, Christians risk their lives just to attend a church fellowship. We thank the Lord for the freedom we still have in this country to practice religion and be part of a church.
We are also thankful that the Constitution provides citizens freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble, freedom to elect leaders, etc. And we are thankful for those men and women who fought for our country through the years to preserve those rights. In many parts of the world, people do not have political freedom and the opportunity to elect their leaders, something that we often take for granted.
Families and friends. We thank the Lord for the love and care of our extended families and friends. We are also thankful for the prayers and support of our ministry partners.
Spiritual heritage. We are thankful to the Lord for the faithfulness of those who have “gone before” us, for those saints of God who walked faithfully with God through the years and provided us with a godly example and a spiritual heritage. History is full of men and women who lived out their faith, sometimes risking their very lives to preserve our spiritual heritage. And of course in this Thanksgiving season, we remember the faith of our founding fathers in the United States who prayed earnestly for God’s blessing as this nation was formed.*
Spiritual blessings. We are especially thankful for the love and mercy of God, the gift of faith (Ephesians 2:8), the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ, the hope of eternal life, a home in heaven, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and other spiritual blessings. (See Ephesians 1:3-6). We are very thankful for the gift of salvation! There are still 3 billion people in the world who need to know the Gospel and the love of God.
The Written Word. We thank the Lord for the availability of the Bible in our language. In Bible history, some sacrificed their very lives to have the Bible translated into our language. Many people are still waiting to hear the Gospel in their native tongue. Currently, at least 2,000 languages around the world are still waiting for a Bible translation project to start.
Each day, if we pause and look around, we have so much for which to be thankful – not just on Thanksgiving Day! We are grateful also for the gift of life – each day is a gift from God.
“His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue. (II Peter 1:3)
History of First Thanksgiving
“In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers—an assortment of religious separatists seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith…
In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. Now remembered as American’s “first Thanksgiving”—although the Pilgrims themselves may not have used the term at the time—the festival lasted for three days…”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” – John 14:6 (NKJV)
“that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:10-11
And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment – Hebrews 9:27
We only live once, here is a short devotional story of a woman who had a life well-lived. The Bible says in Psalm 90:10,12- “The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away…So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Scripture Reading: Psalm 92:12-15
“They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing…” Psalm 92:14 NKJV
I met “Jane” a few years ago at my husband’s church, just before we were married. Jane looked small and fragile, but always had a radiant smile, a sweet disposition, and kind words. She made me feel comfortable and welcome even though I was a total stranger. On holidays and wedding anniversaries, she sent me and my husband greeting cards. When my husband was away on mission trips, Jane would often ask how I was doing. She would often encourage me with these words, “I am praying for you and your husband.” Every Sunday, before the worship service started, she prayed with our pastor and anointed her with oil.
On one occasion, Jane invited me and two other ladies to meet her at church to learn how to make hats using a loom. She was making the hats for cancer patients. She also knitted prayer shawls for others who were ill. Whenever she could, she would send me colorful yarns to make the knitted hats.
During those days, Jane and her husband were both struggling with some significant health issues. At the same time, she was also busy with her own children and grandchildren. Although I only got to know Jane in the last 3 years of her life, she was an inspiration to me and left a profound impression on my life – a wonderful example of faith, love, and prayer. I had clearly seen in her life what it meant to be a true follower of Christ. She faithfully demonstrated the love of Jesus Christ to her family, friends, and to all who met her. Her life has often reminded me of these words from Scripture, “They shall still bear fruit in old age, they shall be fresh and flourishing to declare that the Lord is upright;” (Psalm 92:14-15). I miss Jane’s smiling face, but I know she is now enjoying her heavenly reward with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, as we journey through life, help us through the power of Your Holy Spirit to reflect Your love and faithfulness to others for Your glory and praise.
Part 3 : The power of the Holy Spirit to change people
Key verse: Then Peter said to them, repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (v.38)
Acts 2:38 (NKJV)
It was the day of Pentecost (Festival of Harvest in Israel). The disciples of the Lord Jesus were gathered together in Jerusalem, as Jesus instructed them to wait there (Acts 1:4-8). About 120 followers of the Lord Jesus and eyewitnesses of His resurrection gathered together in the Upper Room. As they prayed and worship, the power of the Holy Spirit came upon them. Each of them received the gift of speaking in tongues, (Acts 2:3-4). At the same time, there were God-fearing Jews who were visiting Jerusalem from different nearby countries.
“Everyone heard them speak in his own language, they were amazed and marveled” (v.5)
The visiting Jews heard the local disciples speak their native languages. Then Peter got up and explained to the crowd what was going on. Peter explained to the people that it was a fulfillment of God’s word in the Book of Joel.
“And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.”
Joel 2:28-29, Acts 2:17-18
And Peter further explained that Jesus is their Lord and Messiah (v.22-26). Peter through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit made connections of the Jesus and King David in the Scriptures (v. 25-28). “For David did not ascend into heavens, but he says himself: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, sit at My right hand, til I make Your enemies Your footstool’. (v. 35) “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ”. V.36
The Holy Spirit’s touch and power came to the disciples of the Lord Jesus on the day of Pentecost. They spoke new languages or spoke in tongues and gave witness to Jesus’ power and resurrection. The disciples obeyed the instruction of the Lord Jesus to wait in Jerusalem for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
About fifty days prior to this event, the disciples were all bereaved and bewildered with the death of their Lord Jesus on the cross. They were frightened for their lives and were in hiding (John 20:19). Then when they saw Jesus alive and had risen from the dead, they rejoiced! Even when Jesus commanded them to go and make disciples, they were still uncertain. But when they waited for the promise of Jesus, they all received the touch and the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4).
Almost instantly they received the power-new courage, strength, and boldness. Peter also received wisdom and knowledge in the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit gave Peter real strength and boldness. Before the day of the Pentecost, the zealousness and boldness of Peter were from his natural abilities and was limited. When Jesus was arrested and was in trial, Peter even denied Jesus. But when the power of the Holy Spirit came to Peter, he became a changed man. First Jesus restored Peter and their relationship . Jesus gave Peter the opportunity to redeem his denial of Jesus three times, (see John 21). Then through the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter became bold, courageous and full of wisdom. He was able to stand up and witness for Jesus in front of many people. He became anointed and powerful preacher for Jesus. And that day, 3000 souls were added to the disciples!
Jesus changed Peter through the power of the Holy Spirit as well as the other disciples. As a followers of Jesus, the Holy Spirit can change us too. Through the power of the Holy Spirit He can empower us to be strong, courageous and bold witnesses for Jesus, of His love and saving grace.
Dear Jesus, I praise You for sending Your Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, like Peter, please fill us with your spirit of wisdom, courage, strength and boldness to be Your witnesses.
The Holy Spirit gives power to do the works of Jesus!
v.8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
//Luke 24:49 Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”
One of the last words of the Lord Jesus to His disciples before He returned to heaven was, “for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (v.5); And “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” (v.8)His disciples thought Jesus was talking about physical power, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? (v.7). The disciples knew and believed with all their hearts that Jesus was their long -awaited Messiah or Savior. However, their definition of Messiah was different from Jesus’ kingdom’s definition. Perhaps in the minds of the disciples and other people of Israel, they thought Messiah or Savior was like Moses or David. Moses was their physical ruler who freed them from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 1). Then David later on, led the people of Israel into battles and established his kingdom throughout Israel (2 Samuel). Perhaps, the disciples and other people were thinking, Jesus would do the same, deliver them from oppression and tyranny of the Roman rule. However, as the Word says in Isaiah 55,
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.”
The mind of Christ and the plan of God was far greater than the thinking of men- temporary relief. Men like the people of Israel thought of physical deliverance from hardships, taxation, violence and other physical oppressions. From the beginning, when Jesus was born on earth, God’s plan was to deliver people from the bondage of sin.
for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21 NKJV)
The plan of God was not just a temporary relief from hardships and oppression, His plan of salvation was far greater than temporary earthly relief- His plan of salvation was eternal- to deliver people from sin. God ‘s plan of salvation for the people of Israel is still the same for everyone in the world. (John 3:16)
So, when Jesus told His disciples, You will receive power (Acts 1:8), He meant the power to preach the Gospel, the power to heal sick people, to perform miracles, so people would believe in Jesus. When Jesus was with His disciples on earth, He did the Father’s will – preaching salvation, teaching the people the words of God, healing the sick, and delivering people from demonic oppression. Jesus’s focus and mission were to set people free from sin, from hell and eternal condemnation. The same power Jesus received from the Father, He passed on to His disciples through the power of the Holy Spirit so they could be witnesses in all places starting from Jerusalem, other cities, other places, other countries, and to the ends of the earth.
The same power Jesus gave His disciples is available to all His followers even to this day. The power to preach the Gospel, teach the Word of God, heal the sick, deliver people from demonic oppression, set people free from sin, hell and eternal condemnation. As followers of Jesus, the power of the Holy Spirit is made available to us all.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for sending Your Holy Spirit to us. Thank You Holy Spirit for coming. Please fill us with your power – Your spirit of strength and courage to the works of the Lord Jesus, to be witnesses Him to everyone, in every place you send us.
Key verse – 5 “for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
Other references: John 14:16, John 15:26
//Matthew 3:11& Luke 3:16- I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
The Lord Jesus spent 3 full years with His disciples. He ate with them, traveled places with them and did ministry together. The disciples studied and learned from Him directly, as they listened to His teachings and preachings. They witnessed and saw miracles He did firsthand. Jesus trained them to be teachers of the word of God, to be preachers, prophets and evangelists. However, Jesus had to go back physically to His heavenly home to be with His Father. Jesus had fulfilled His mission and primary purpose- when He gave His life as a sin offering for the world. Jesus died on the cross for the sin of the world, (John 19), then rose after 3 days. HE showed up to His disciples and other people for 40 days. They were together again for 40 days and gave them His last words and re-commissioning (Acts 1:1). Jesus encouraged the disciples one more time (not the last one).
“for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (v.5)
Jesus promised this to His disciples even before He died on the cross.
“And I will pray the Father, andHe will give you anotherHelper, that He may abide with you forever—17 the Spirit of truth,whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with youand will be in you.” John 14:16-17
Jesus had to go back to heaven, leave the earth, but He did not abandon His followers, disciples and friends.
I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. (v.18)
He already made plans for them, to send the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth.
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, He speaks the Truth, which is the Word of God, to enlighten people’s minds, to convict of sin.
“But when theHelper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. – John 15:26
The Holy Spirit is also the Helper. Like Jesus, He helps in time of need. Like Jesus, He promised to stay with them forever, As Jesus promised His disciples, I will not leave you orphans (John 14:18)
The Holy Spirit, like Jesus, is Truth and Helper. He continues to do the work of Jesus- to speak the Truth of God’s words. The Holy Spirit is the Helper, our help in time of need, whatever is the situation, whatever we need- healing, healing of bodies, healing of emotions, healing of minds, financial needs, guidance, protection, comfort, etc.
Jesus is back in heaven, but He is still with us, as His followers, through the Holy Spirit. He provides for us, every need we could possibly imagined. He gave us the Holy Spirit to guide us into Truth- to be our Teacher and Helper in time of needs. The Holy Spirit abides /or stay with us forever.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for sending Your Holy Spirit to us Your followers. Thank You Holy Spirit for helping me in time of need, and for guiding me and for teaching me the Truth of God and His words. Amen!
In situations where you cannot be physically present with the sick person, prayer can be offered on behalf of the person using a handkerchief, a piece of cloth, or a prayer square which has been anointed with oil. This tangible symbol can then be sent to the sick person much like what the Apostle Paul did when he sent some handkerchiefs or aprons to sick people. (See Acts 19:11-12)
SCRIPTURAL BASIS FOR ANOINTING
THE SICK WITH OIL AND PRAYING FOR THEM
Reading: James 5:13-16
Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
James 5:14-16 (NKJV)
Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them – Acts 19:11-12
This blog was posted a while back but with some revision.
(Parallel scriptures: Mark 6:7-13 & Mark 16:14-18)
There is no “magic” in the anointing oil. We are simply obeying the scriptures when we anoint the sick and pray for them.
“The sick are healed not by the elders’ power, nor by the anointing oil, but by the Lord’s intervention – either through indirect means (medical treatment) or His supernatural healing.” (Dr. David Jeremiah)
In situations where you cannot be physically present with the sick person, prayer can be offered on behalf of the person using a handkerchief, a piece of cloth, or a prayer square which has been anointed with oil. This tangible symbol can then be sent to the sick person much like what the Apostle Paul did when he sent some handkerchiefs or aprons to sick people. (See Acts 19:11-12).
All healing is from God – whether through medical treatment & the body’s natural healing processes OR through a miracle from God.
It follows that healing can be accomplished over a period of time OR in an instant if God so chooses.
Faith plays an important role:
“And the prayer of faith will save the sick…” (James 5:15)
Remember to have faith in God for healing, however, not faith in faith!
But we must be careful not to assume, when someone is not healed in the way that we want, that it was because of a lack of faith.
Sometimes, God allows sickness or infirmity for a reason:
To keep one humble and to show God’s power through our weakness:
“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (II Corinthians 12:7-9)
To discipline a believer:
“In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (I Corinthians 5:4-5)
“Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we judged ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.” (I Corinthians 11:27-32)
However, we must be careful not to assume that someone has sin in their lives when they are not healed in the way we wanted.
Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth, and His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in Him.” (John 9:1-3)
“There were some present at that season who told Him (Jesus) about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.’” (Luke 13:1-5)
To accomplish a greater purpose which will benefit others and glorify God
Joni Eareckson Tada – though God did not heal her, she has inspired millions of people with disabilities
To take believers home to be with Him
In some instances, God chooses to heal someone by taking them to be with Him. Remember that this world is not our home. In the words of the old Wayne Watson song, “At the ultimate healing we will be Home Free.”
Notice the role that confession has in healing:
“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)
We have all heard that confession is good for the soul, but it is good for the body, too! We protestants, since we believe in the priesthood of all believers, do not believe that we need to confess our sins to an earthly priest in order to be forgiven. This is evident from I John 1:9:
“If we confess our sins, He (Jesus) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
However, there is value in confessing our sins to our spouse, a trusted friend, or a prayer partner – someone we know that we can trust – who will not repeat the matter as gossip. Such confession is incredibly freeing, ridding our soul of unnecessary guilt and condemnation. (No guilt trips!) Confessing our sins to our spouse, a trusted friend, or a prayer partner also helps that person to hold us accountable for our actions.
Effective/Fervent prayer is a powerful force:
“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16b NKJV)
“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16b NIV)
So, let’s spend some time now praying for each other – especially for those who are in need of the Lord’s healing touch. By: David Creel
The wilderness and the [a]wasteland shall be glad for them, And the desert[b] shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; 2 It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, Even with joy and singing… They shall see the glory of the Lord, The excellency of our God….
For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, And streams in the desert. 7 The parched ground shall become a pool, And the thirsty land springs of water; In the habitation of jackals, where each lay, There shall be grass with reeds and rushes.
8 A highway shall be there, and a road, And it shall be called the Highway of Holiness…
9 No lion shall be there, Nor shall any ravenous beast go up on it; It shall not be found there. But the redeemed shall walk there- Isaiah 35
Day 4 January 12, Sunday
We drove today from Jerusalem (we checked out from Olive Tree hotel in Jerusalem) to Judean wilderness road/highway. On the road we saw a community of the Bedouins living in tents. Then we drove about an hour to the road through Qumram, Dead Sea and Masada. Saw huge rock formations, caves, and canyons along the En Gedi road which are desert and arid places. However, surprisingly, there were palm date orchards. The huge rocks and caves reminded us of the Scriptures in Psalm 18. “ The Lord is my rock and my fortress..” Some Bible stories came alive, the man who walked on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho and was helped by a Samaritan. (Luke 10:25-37). The story of David in 1 Samuel when he hid in caves in EnGedi. While driving, we had the view of the Dead Sea on the left, and and on the right were the huge rock formations, canyons and caves.
I will love You, O Lord, my strength. 2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my [a]strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the [b]horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 3 I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies. Psalm 18:1-2
The story of David when he stayed in the strongholds in the wilderness- I Samuel 23 and 24
O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. 2 So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. – Psalm 63
Driving by Masada and Qumran, we some orchards of palm dates, green houses of herbs and other vegetable gardens.We saw water irrigation system implemented in the Judean wilderness, and even swimming pool resort.
It reminded me of the word in Isaiah 35, “the desert and the parched land will be glad, the wilderness will rejoice and blossom like the crocus. It will burst into bloom,…water will gush out forth into wilderness, burning sand will become a pool and thirsty ground bubbling springs. And a highway will be there, but only the redeemed will walk. “
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (I Corinthians 15:58 NKJV)
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Hope you and your family are doing well despite the many changes that the Corona virus has brought into our world and into our routines. We are enjoying summer activities, but with appropriate precautions.
Even though COVID-19 has disrupted our travel plans, we continue to provide remote technical and administrative support to our radio stations in Asia. David’s latest project has been purchasing “home studio” equipment for a broadcaster who produces programs for an ethnic language people group in Myanmar. The equipment has now been installed and is working well. We rejoice knowing that this project will allow many in this people group to continue to hear the Gospel message.
I see these comments a lot, especially these days in social media, but I wonder when people say that, “Praying, I am praying…” to whom they are praying. I heard that one religion has more than three million gods. Another religion encourages its followers to pray to various saints for different needs. When David and I travel to Asia, we often see places on the streets where food is offered on an altar to appease their gods so their petitions could be heard.
Others say they can only pray in certain buildings or cathedrals on certain days.
A few months ago, we were grateful for an opportunity to visit one of the holy sites for many Judeo-Christian people. While visiting the Western Wall in Jerusalem, we were told by our tour guide that we could write our prayer requests on slips of paper and stick them between the crevices of the wall. I am not sure who actually prays for those many prayer requests.
Jesus addressed this issue when He was here on earth when He was talking to a woman from Samaria. The woman of Samaria told Jesus, “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”(John 4:20).
Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is comingwhen you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.22 You worshipwhat you do not know; we know what we worship, forsalvation is of the Jews.23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers willworship the Father inspiritand truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:21-24)
God in heaven is Spirit, He loves to hear our prayers and worship. The way to God is easy and simple since Jesus made a way.
Jesus said to him, “I amthe way,the truth, andthe life.No one comes to the Fatherexcept through Me. (John 14:6)
We pray to God in heaven in the name of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. What a wonderful privilege we have as children of God to be able to express our needs to Him in prayer.
“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” (I John 5:14-15)
Here is the continuation of our recent Holy Land trip. Please see the above links for Days 1 and 2. We apologize that it’s taking long to get these organized.
On Day 3 (Saturday is Sabbath Day)
Today we started the day going to the Old City (Walled city of Jerusalem). There were city gates, thick stone walled city gates.
Jerusalem (From NTS Travel Holy Land Guide) is located in the Judean Mountains about 2500 ft above sea level. It is also called the “City of David” ( 2 Samuel 5:6-7).
We also went to the Pool of Bethesda, where Jesus healed a paralytic. It was interesting to see the actual pool. Before coming, we imagined it to be like a regular oval shaped, Olympic size swimming pool. But it looked very different. It is a deep and large, look like a water cistern with tall marble columns, with steps to go down.
After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, [a]Bethesda, having five porches. 3 In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, [b]paralyzed, [c]waiting for the moving of the water. 4 For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. 5 Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”9 And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.
Then we walked to the “Via Dolorosa”, or the Road to Suffering. There are stations of the cross in the Old City. This was the supposed to be the road that the Lord Jesus went through as he suffered, bruised, beaten and carried a cross from the Judgement seat of Pontius Pilate to the place of crucifixion.
From then on Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, saying, “If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar’s friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar.”13 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus out and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold your King!”15 But they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!”Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?”The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!”16 Then he delivered Him to them to be crucified. Then they took Jesus [d]and led Him away.And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, 18 where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center. 19 Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
We walked on a narrow street of the Old City, where we saw many shops.
Some shops and stores were selling wares, souvenirs, scarves, etc, Some vehicles, cars and even small trucks drive that long and narrow alleys, unbelievable!
Then after walking along the narrow alleys, with twist and turns, the alley wound up in a corner through a narrow passage that led to a small square with an old cathedral built by Queen Helena.
The site where Catholics believe Jesus was buried.
I was surprised to see many people, tourists and pilgrims from different countries-Africa, India, Europe, South America, North America, etc. Inside the old cathedral was dark, there were some old paintings, murals, icon, images of Bible characters- Mary, etc. It was literally dark inside, crowded, long lines of people waiting to touch a huge rock on an altar. And other religious relics, believed to be connected to the death and burial of Jesus.
After this, Jesus, [e]knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!”29 Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. 30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit –
Then we went to another site called the Garden Tomb. Other Christian groups preferred this site as the burial site of Jesus. It was a nice open air garden, peaceful, calm, much nicer place.
After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. 39 And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. 40 Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. 41 Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42 So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.
Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
On Day 2, after visiting the Garden of Gethsemane, we drove a couple of miles or so to the Western Wall.
I saw a lot people- Israelis and people from other countries walking on the square outside the part of the ruins of the Old Temple. A portion of the wall, on the right side of the square is called the “Western Wall”. According to our tour guide and the tradition, the wall is part of the original temple built by King Herod 2000 years ago. It is the most holy site or sacred place for the Jews.
Why the Western Wall and Temple are significant?
The first Temple was built during the reign of King Solomon in Israel about 3,000 years ago. In 2 Chronicles 7 it says;
“Then the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. 16 For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.” The Bible Gateway
We wrote prayers on small pieces of papers, and stuck them in the crevices of the Wall. Many people who come to the site do the same thing. So I wrote on my a piece of paper my prayers – salvation of the Jews, revival in the church, and my family. This is the most awesome spiritual experience I had so far. I was also surprised to see some young Jewish women- maybe 16 or 18 years old who were praying and doing the religious rituals, holding their small book, reciting prayers, at the Western Wall. What an awesome place!
*According to the Western Wall Heritage Foundations,” the Western Wall has been the center of Jewish yearning and memory for more than 2,000 years. The only fragment of the Great Temple to survive the Roman destruction, the Divine presence has never departed from the Western Wall.” visit The Western Wall Foundation
Isaiah 56:7 “these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrificeswill be accepted on my altar; for my house will be calleda house of prayer for all nations.”
In afternoon, we visited the Holocaust Memorial museum, outside the Old city in the business district. There were many overwhelming artifacts – names, photos, etc. of many Jewish people who perished during the holocaust in Europe from the 1930’s- 40’s.
We also went to another part of the city, where a chapel is built to remember home of John the Baptist’s parents – Zacharias and Elizabeth. (Story in Luke 1: 57 – 66).
We saw frames where the prayer of Zacharias in Luke 1 was written in different languages.
Then we went to another site in connection to the birth of Jesus and John the baptist. It is a chapel to remember the story when Mary visited Elizabeth. Luke 1:39-56
From January 7-16th, 2020, the Lord has blessed us with a trip to the Holy Land. It was the most wonderful and awesome place we had been because of the presence of our Holy God. There is so much to share. We have more than a thousand photos between two cameras! Since the Bible is so much part of our spiritual lives, it was amazing and fascinating to see actual places and sites that we have been reading about for many years. We were with a tour group of 50 people from different parts of the USA. We praise and thank the Lord Jesus for blessing with this wonderful trip. And here to share some of the highlights.
We started in the city of Jerusalem.
The Upper Room in Mount Zion- located outside the southwest corner of the Old City wall. It is believed to be the room where Jesus and His disciples had the Last Supper. (Matthew 26:26-30; John 13)
South of the Old City wall, on the eastern slope of a hill that overlooks the area of Old City of Jerusalem, is the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu. The church was built in 1931, and is the traditional site of the Palace of Caiaphas, who was the high priest during the arrest of Jesus. It was the place where Peter denied Jesus three times before a rooster crowed. (Matthew 26:57-75)
Our group then drove a few miles, south of the city, to Bethlehem.
The Shepherd’s field –
“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. … (Luke 2:8-20).
Then our group went to the birthplace of Jesus in Bethlehem . A cathedral was built around the 3rd century on the site believed to be where Jesus was born.
“And she brought forth her first-born Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, (feed trough), because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:1-7
“Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year” as the song goes. However, it is also the busiest time of the year. But I would say, Christmas is still my favorite time of the year. After all it is the season and time to celebrate and remember that our Lord Jesus came to earth as a Baby. He left His heavenly kingdom to come to earth as a helpless baby so He could live with us and become like one of us. Just imagine – the love of God came down from heaven to earth to save us. Matthew 1:21 says, “she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
As already mentioned, sometimes Christmas can be the busiest time of the year. It’s only today, New Year’s Eve, that I took time to sit and write this reflection. Better late than never! 😊 Like some of you, we keep our ornaments up for a week or so after Christmas Day. In my native country of the Philippines, we continue to celebrate Christmas until Epiphany/Three Kings’ Day (usually the first Sunday in January). As we prepare to undecorate and pack up the ornaments, I would like to take time to reflect on the real meaning of this Christmas season. In a day or two, our Christmas decorations will be folded up and packed away.
Actually, this year, we decided to have a real/live tree as opposed to the small/artificial pre-lit Christmas tree that we have used for several years. Our real/live Christmas tree is a small fir tree, only about 4 feet tall. However, each of the ornaments hanging on the branches of our fir tree represents some fun memories and precious people. It is almost like going down “memory lane.”
This ornament (photo above) is more than 50 years old! David made this little ornament when he was in kindergarten. His mom kept it all those years. It is a small bell, made from an egg carton.
Others are little bamboo ornaments from David’s time in Saipan.
Then, there is a little glass ball with the inscription “Saipan” on it. This is where David spent 18 years serving as a missionary engineer for FEBC Shortwave station.
Another is a flat bell with the inscription “The Creels – 1978” from David’s parents, a gift from church members when they were serving in the United Methodist church.
Then, there is an “Alaska” souvenir from David’s sister and her husband from their trip to Alaska in 2017.
Next, there is an “I believe” star ornament from our Church Sunday school Christmas party from a couple of years ago, along with other ornaments from the previous 5 years of Christmas parties.
Others are ornaments given by friends and neighbors through the years.
One of my favorites is a “Bethlehem” olive wood nativity scene. We acquired this ornament at the annual “Homestead Hollow” event in Springville, Alabama a few months ago.
For me, this ornament represents the simplicity and true meaning of Christmas – Mary and Joseph with Baby Jesus on the night when the God came down from heaven to earth. From eternity, He stepped into humanity.
As we all fold and pack up our Christmas trees and other ornaments, may the true meaning and spirit of Christmas remain in our hearts. Let’s remember in this Christmas season, throughout the coming year of 2020, and always that Jesus is still the “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6) since “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
Jesus said, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (NKJV)
As Jesus fulfilled this word to His disciples, it is still the same today with His followers:
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” It is the plan and desire of God that all followers of Jesus be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit so we can be witnesses for Him – with our family, friends, neighbors, and people of other places, countries, and to the ends of the earth. God loves people of every nation, every country, language and ethnicity. God wants every person to know Him, His Word, His love and salvation through Jesus Christ.
In October 7-28, 2019, David and I had the privilege to travel to southeast Asia to visit and help our FEBC ministry fields. Photos from our travels to Thailand are in this post
Here are the highlights as we traveled to Phnom Penh, Cambodia:
We thank and praise the Lord for those who prayed with us during this trip. Thank you also for those who faithfully support us so we could serve the Lord and reach more souls for Jesus.
John 3:16-17 (NKJV)For God so loved the world that He gave His only begottenSon, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us
Romans 10:9 (NIV)If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Romans 10:13 For “whoever callson the name of theLordshall be saved.”
Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the [remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 16:31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.
Prayer to receive Jesus in your heart:
Dear God, thank You for your love for me and for sending Jesus. Thank you, Lord Jesus for dying on the cross for my sin. I believe that God raised you up from the dead. Please forgive my sins. I open my heart, may you come in and be the Lord of my life. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.
If you pray the prayer above, you are now a child of God and forgiven because of Jesus Christ! What to do next?
The past few weeks, David started a Bible study on the Epistle of Philippians (New Testament) in our church on Wednesday evenings.
Here is the note for the introduction for the lesson: (Please see attachments for the study guides for each chapter in PDF).
Author: The Apostle Paul
Setting: Written from a prison in Rome, around 60-62 A.D.
Occasion: Paul was in prison in Rome… about ten years after he had founded the Church in Philippi, and about 3-4 years after he had last visited there. Apparently (4: 10), he had begun to wonder if they had forgotten him. Then Epaphroditus arrived from far away Philippi with an offering of money. Paul was deeply touched. Epaphroditus had nearly lost his life in the journey. Paul sent him to Philippi with this beautiful letter to express his thanks for their gift.
Key Text: Philippians 3:10 “My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.”
Key Term: “Joy.” Forms of the word “joy” and the verb “rejoice” occur 16 times in this short letter. Philippians is the biblical book that most extensively defines and describes joy.
One-Sentence Summary: Knowing Jesus Christ is much more joyful and important than anything else because God has exalted Jesus, the crucified Servant, with the name above every name.
Named for Philip Il of Macedon (father of Alexander the Great).
In Paul’s day, it was a Roman colony located at the southeast corner of Europe in “Macedonia” in Biblical days; now in the northeastern part of modern-day Greece.
It was a strategic city on the Great Northern Highway between the East and the West, noted for its gold mines.
This was Paul’s first European Church, founded around 51 A.D. in the early part of Paul’s second missionary journey. Lydia and the Jailer were among the first converts. Luke, the beloved Physician, was its pastor the first 6 years. It may have been Luke’s home, where he practiced medicine. Luke must have had a hand in the development of the unspotted character of the Church. As far as we know, the Philippian Church was one of the purest of New Testament Churches. For more on the background of the founding of the Church at Philippi, see Acts 16:6-40.
Read Acts 16:6-40 and look at its location on the map.
Look at the ancient Philippi archaeological book.
The Jeremiah Study Bible” by Dr. David Jeremiah
“Halley’s Bible Handbook” by H.H. Halley
“Ultimate Bible Guide: A Complete Walk-Through of All 66 Books of the Bible” from Holman Reference
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” V.17 (NKJV)
// Romans 8:1, Luke 9:56, John 5:24; John 6:47
The people of Israel for many generations and for thousands of years were powerless to live godly lives in their own strength. God gave them the law through Moses so they could live a blessed life. But time and time again, the people of Israel failed to obey the commandments and the Word of God. God knew that His people were finite beings. Only an almighty and powerful God could save His people. So, Jesus was sent to the world, not to give His people the punishment they deserved, but to offer them mercy and forgiveness.
God the Father sent Jesus Christ to the world not to judge or condemn us, but to save us. God loves the world. God loves us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ – not to punish us for our sins, but to save us and to redeem us from the bondage of sin. Jesus was willing to obey His heavenly Father because He and the Father loved us, the people of the world. They knew there is no way for us to save ourselves from sin.
When Jesus came to save the people of Israel from sin and eternal condemnation, He did it not only for them, but for every one of us in this world. God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (v.17). The world includes all the people of the world – every person in every nation. That includes you and me. Jesus came not to judge us, but to save us, because God loves us.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, I praise You and thank You for Your love. I thank You that You don’t judge me for my sin, but You have saved me. And because of Your tender mercy, I receive Your eternal life.
v.33 “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Jesus was encouraging His disciples on the night of their last meal together before His death on the cross. Jesus loved them and wanted to prepare them for what was ahead when He no longer would be physically with them.
“Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his [e]own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me” v.32
Jesus knew that even though His disciples loved Him and were committed to follow Him, yet there would be times of weakness when they might turn away. However, the love of Jesus still held them. Jesus foreknew His disciples would abandon Him in a moment of weakness, but Jesus still loved them and did not condemn them. He spoke words of encouragement to them.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you [f]will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” V.33
Jesus already knew that times of hardship, persecution, and tribulations were coming. But He told them, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”. It is a comfort to know that Jesus has already won the battle. As Jesus encouraged His disciples then, He gives the same encouragement to His followers now. As we see distress, persecution, trials and difficulties in this world because of the enemy and the evil one, it is a comfort to know the words of Jesus, that He has already overcome. Jesus has already won the battle. His plan of salvation and victory for the souls of men was already accomplished and finished at the cross.
Through His death on the cross, we His followers receive the gift of eternal life. In His resurrection, we have overcome the evil one. As the Apostle Paul wrote,
“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)
The love of Christ has prevailed and won the battle against the evil one.
Jesus already knew that His followers would suffer trials, challenges, and tribulation. However, as His follower, it is a comfort and encouragement to know that Jesus has already overcome the world. His death and resurrection have already won the battle. Whatever difficulties we face now, Jesus has already overcome!
Thank You Lord Jesus for your Word. Whatever challenges I go through, and whatever distress I see in the world, You have already overcome!
Jesus was back in Cana of Galilee. It was the same place where Jesus turned water into wine during a wedding feast (John 2:1). A certain royal official in Capernaum had heard about Jesus. The son of the official was very ill. When the man heard that Jesus could heal sick people, he came to Cana to ask Jesus for his son’s healing. He wanted to invite Jesus to come to his house and heal his son. “Sir, come down before my child dies”.
Jesus replied to the official, “Go your way, your son lives!” (v. 49) So, the man believed what Jesus told him and went his way. On his way back home, his servant met him and told him that his son was already healed. (v.52). The official found out that his son was healed at the very hour Jesus told him. So, the man knew that it was the same hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives”, and he himself believed, and his whole household.
Jesus spoke and told the royal official of Capernaum, “Go your way, your son lives”. The man believed what Jesus said and declared. The man had the faith to trust Jesus and His words. The man had heard of Jesus – His teachings, miracles and kind deeds. In his hour of need, he wanted to know for himself who Jesus truly was. So, he took the initiative and steps of faith to come to Jesus. The royal official laid aside his royalty pride, as he was desperate to see his son healed and live. So, he made his way to come to Jesus, and boldly asked Jesus to come to his place to heal his son. However, Jesus did not waste time to travel to the man’s house, instead Jesus spoke and declared healing to the man’s son. Jesus could have gone with the man to his house, but it would have taken several hours to travel from Galilee to Capernaum. Jesus knew the boy was very ill, at the point of death. And the child was healed at the very hour Jesus said so. Because Jesus had the power to heal, and His words are powerful too! What He said came to pass. As the words in Psalm 33:9 say, “For He spoke, and it was done”. Jesus and His words are powerful. As the royal official believed what Jesus told him, Jesus fulfilled His words.
Jesus and His spoken words have power to accomplish what He said He will do. As I trust and believe Him and His words, He will do what He said He would do.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, thank You and praise You, for Your words are true! Please help me trust You and Your words. I believe what You said You will do. Lord You are faithful and powerful to do what You say You will do. Amen!
“I am the good shepherd; andI know My sheep, andam known by My own.As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father;and I lay down My life for the sheep.Andother sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice;and there will be one flock and one shepherd.” John 10:14-16
It’s been a week since we got back from our recent trip to Asia. Why we do what we do? Our travels are not just leisure travel. It is travel with a cause. As we serve with FEBC, our mission is to bring “Christ to the World by Media”. Our desire is for many to hear the Good News of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, and for many to know that there is a God in heaven who loves people of all races and nationalities. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd…I lay down my lie for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear my voice…” It is the desire of the Lord Jesus to bring many into His kingdom and to know the love of God. So, our ministry is to serve and provide technical support to our fields so that they can broadcast the Gospel in their heart language. It’s our prayer that many more will come to know the love of God in Jesus. We thank and praise the Lord for His grace and for those who pray and support us. Here are highlights from our recent trip to Asia.
David in Jakarta, with FEBC Indonesia (June 21- July 1st, 2019)
Key verse: v.16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
The apostle John wrote the story of Jesus meeting Nicodemus. Jesus told Nicodemus about being born-again in the Spirit. Nicodemus wanted to understand more.
Nicodemus asked Jesus, “How can these things be?” (v.9).
Jesus replied, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know how these things? Jesus further explained these concepts to Nicodemus in verses 10-14.
Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a leader of the Jews, and a teacher of the Law. He knew well the Scriptures. He was supposed to know all the words of God written by the men of God in the Old Testament. However, he still missed the point. He knew the Messiah was coming. He heard the teachings of Jesus and saw the miracles He had done. But Nicodemus still wanted to be sure who Jesus was. So, Nicodemus came to Jesus by himself to get to know Jesus for himself. Even though Jesus had experienced rejection from many of the Pharisees, He still answered Nicodemus’ questions. Jesus knew the heart of Nicodemus – that he was seeking sincerely. So, Jesus patiently revealed to Nicodemus the heart of God. Jesus explained to Nicodemus the love of God for everyone – all the people of world.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17)
Jesus clearly showed the truth and the way to Nicodemus – the truth that God loves everyone – all the people of the world, Jews, Gentiles, etc.
The way to God is to believe in His Son Jesus Christ. God sent Jesus from heaven to this world, not to judge or punish us, but to save us.
Jesus made the way for us to come to God and be part of His Kingdom plain and simple: Believe in Him; believe that God sent Him to save the world.
Reflection: God loves the world. God loves everyone in the world so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to give us all eternal life. For God so loved everyone – that that includes you and me.
Prayer: Thank You Father for your love for me. Thank You for sending Your Son Jesus to give me eternal life, that I may live with you forever, for all eternity. Please help me share your love with everyone you lead me to today.
“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly I say to you unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God’”.
John, the writer of this Gospel, wrote about Nicodemus who came to Jesus one evening. Nicodemus was a Pharisee who was seeking for the truth. He wanted to know Jesus and the truth of His teachings personally. He wanted to hear and understand for himself as he heard Jesus speak and teach the crowd. Even though Jesus was rejected by some of the Pharisees, Jesus did not turn down Nicodemus. Jesus knew the heart of Nicodemus, that he was sincerely seeking the Kingdom of God (v.2).
Thus, Jesus revealed to Nicodemus an important spiritual truth. Jesus showed Nicodemus the way to God.
Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit…You must be born again!” (v.5-7)
Nicodemus wanted to understand more, “How can these things be?
So, Jesus further explained;
“No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven… that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (v.13-15)
Jesus gave a clear explanation to Nicodemus of the truth and showed him the way to God, which was to believe in Him, the Son of God. Jesus made Himself known to those who were sincerely seeking and searching for the truth and the kingdom of God.
Jesus was telling Nicodemus about life in the flesh and life in the spirit. Life in the flesh is merely living in the physical realm – with body, mind, and soul. However, there is more to life than just the physical life, there is life in the Spirit, which is only found in the Son of God, Jesus Christ.
As Jesus explained to Nicodemus, we people are all born on earth with physical life – the body, mind, and soul (emotions). However, because of the sin nature, we are born on earth with no spiritual life. We are dead in the spirit, which means separated from God. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
But through Jesus Christ we can be born again. Being born-again is to receive a new life in Christ. As Jesus told Nicodemus, “…that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (v.15)
To be born-again is to have a new life in Christ. Believing Jesus is to receive a new life – a life in the Spirit of God, and eternal life in Christ.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord Jesus, for giving me a new life in the Spirit and for bringing me into Your Kingdom.
Title: Jesus obeys God’s words by honoring His mother!
Reading: John 2:1-12 ; Deuteronomy 5:16
Key verse: “His mother said to the servants, whatever He says to you, do it”. John 2:5 NKJV
Jesus, His mother, and His disciples were invited to a wedding in Cana of Galilee. In Jewish tradition, a wedding feast could last up to three days. In a typical wedding, the host usually served a lot of food and wine. The host may not have expected more people to come, but as more guests came in-and-out, they ran out of wine. (John 1:1-2) Mary, like any other mother, cared about such things. She saw the need for more wine to be served to the guests. She was concerned and brought her concern to Jesus.
“They ran out of wine” (v3). Mary knew Jesus could do something to help. When Jesus was growing up, perhaps Mary had seen Jesus do little miracles in their family. Mary knew her Son well, who He was, and what power He had. So, Mary, with confidence, presented the need to Jesus. However, at that time Jesus had no intention of showing off His divine power to the public.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” v4
Again, Mary believed in her Son. She told the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it”. (v5)
Jesus looked around and saw what was available. He saw the six, empty, stone waterpots. So, Jesus instructed the servants to “Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.” (v7) After the waterpots were filled with water, Jesus told the servants to draw them out and take it to the master of the wedding feast. (v8) And the master of the ceremony, not knowing where the wine came from, was very pleased that the host kept the best wine until the last day. And he said, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!” (v.10)
Thus, the wedding celebration was completed with more than enough wine. And Mary was relieved that her concern was taken care of by Jesus. Jesus may not have had the intention to do a miracle at the wedding feast, but because Mary, His earthly mother, had presented the concern to Him, Jesus honored her request.
Jesus loved His earthly mother, and He also knew the word of God which says, “Honor your father and mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be long and that it may be well with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 5:16 & Exodus 20:12).
When Jesus was here on earth, He was fully human and fully divine, too. He had the creative power that God had when He created the heavens and the earth, (Genesis 1). Like God, who created the world and everything in it from nothing, Jesus also had the power to create through the power of His spoken word. And without drawing attention to Himself, Jesus took care of His mother’s concern by turning the plain water into wine. Even when Jesus’ miraculous power was not seen by the public, He cared for those whom He loved. Jesus used His creative power to honor God’s Word and His mother.
Jesus honored the Word of God by honoring His mother. Jesus showed His love for His earthly mother as He took care of her concern.
Prayer: Thank you Lord for Your example of obeying the Word of God by honoring your mother. Help children to honor their mothers and fathers, too.
“Go, therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20 NKJV)
Jesus died on the cross even though He did not deserve it. (Matthew 27:50). However, on the third day, God raised Him up. (Matthew 28:6). Many of His disciples saw Him and spoke with Him. Just before Jesus went back to heaven, He met with His eleven disciples in Galilee, on the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. (Matthew 28:16) Jesus came and spoke with them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples”. (Matthew 28:18-19)
Jesus obeyed the will of the Lord God for the plan of salvation for all men of all the nations, for it is the will of God for all – every man and woman to be saved.
Mark 16:15 said, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature”.
It is the heart of God that none shall perish.
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
God loves everyone and cares for each and every person in the world.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
The Lord God commissioned and sent His Son Jesus to preach repentance and salvation to the people of Israel. Jesus obeyed and did the will of the Father. Therefore, God exalted Him and gave Him power and authority. (Matthew 28:18).
Jesus then empowered His disciples and followers to go and make disciples as He had done for them. In the book of Acts, the stories are written where the disciples fulfilled and obeyed the final words of Jesus to go, make disciples, baptize and teach (Acts 2:14-47). The disciples and followers of Jesus continued the work of preaching the Gospel to others, even it cost their lives (Acts 4 & 7). The disciples of Jesus fulfilled the final words of Jesus to make disciples in their lifetime. And the Gospel spread from Jerusalem, to Judea and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8).
For two thousand years, men and women, followers of Jesus continue to go, preach and make disciples in almost every country and to every people group in the world. From the country of Israel, to Europe, to America, to Africa and Asia, the Gospel and the Kingdom of God have spread. And Jesus promised to everyone who obeys, “And lo I am with you always, even to the end of the age”. (Matthew 28:20)
The final words of Jesus to His followers before He went back to heaven was:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.”
This is still the words of Jesus to everyone who follows Him and who truly desires to follow Him. It is the heart of Jesus and the Lord God for everyone to receive salvation – for the Jews, and for every people of every nation, and tribe and tongue. As a follower of Jesus, we are called to obey His Words.
Dear Lord, please help me and every one of Your followers to obey Your final words and commission to go and make disciples of all the nations in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen!
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” v.46
Readings: Matthew 27:27-47; Isaiah 53:1-12 (NKJV Bible Gateway)
Jesus was scourged and beaten severely by the Roman soldiers. They mocked Him and ridiculed Him. The soldiers demanded that He walk from the Governor’s headquarters to Golgota carrying a big piece of a wooden cross. His beaten body, bruised and scourged, could barely walk, much less carrying a heavy piece of wood. The soldiers saw a man passing by, Simon of Cyrene, and compelled him to help Jesus carry the big piece of wood. (Matthew 27:27-32). Then they crucified Him along with the other criminals. (Matthew 27:35-38)
The people of Israel, the religious leaders, and the Roman soldiers all saw Jesus hanging on the cross and mocked Him. They spoke unkind and insulting words. “He saved others; Himself He cannot save…” (Matthew 27:39-44).
Jesus did not say a word against them. He did not call out for His angels to consume them. He did not use His power to call for lightning from heaven to strike those who insulted Him. But instead He took it all upon Himself – the shame, the humiliation, the insults, the mocking, and the beatings. Jesus chose love, instead of defending Himself. The pain was too much for His earthly body. And Jesus cried out to His Father:
“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” v.46
That was the cry of pain and agony. Did God forsake His only Son? Lord Jesus, why did you say these things?
The prophet Isaiah in the Old Testament said,
Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord [n]has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:4-6)
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. (Isaiah 53:8)
Jesus carried our sins. All the sins of men were imputed to Him. He took all the punishment for our sins, so we do not have to its eternal consequences. All the sin of the world was laid upon Him. The ultimate penalty of sin is death – or separation from God. For that moment, God had to turn away from His Son because Jesus became a bearer of sin. God and sin cannot be together. God our Father in heaven is holy and pure. Jesus took all the sin and the punishment of sin, so I do not have to carry and suffer the penalty of sin, which is death, eternal death. Jesus paid it all.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 6:23
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for choosing to give Yourself for us, and for dying on the cross for my sins. Thank You that You took my sin, and the punishment of sin, so I could be reconciled with our Heavenly Father and live with You for eternity.
Therefore, when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” – Matthew 27:17
Jesus was ordered to be arrested by the chief priests. The chief priests incited some people to bring false accusations against Jesus. (Matthew 27:1-2) Then Jesus was brought to Pilate. And the governor asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied, ‘It is as you say’. Matthew 27:11
After examining Jesus and talking with Him, Pilate did not find any fault against Jesus.
“And indeed, having examined Him in your presence, I have found no fault in this Man concerning those things of which you accuse Him; no, neither did Herod, for sent you back to him; and indeed nothing deserving of death has been done by Him.” (Luke 23:13-15)
At the time of Jesus’ arrest, it was also the feast of the governor.
Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to releasing to the multitude one prisoner whom they wished. And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. Therefore, when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy, (Matthew 27:15-17).
But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. (Matthew 27:.20)
Then the governor said, “Why, what evil has He done?”
But they cried out all the more, saying, “Let Him be crucified!” (Matthew 27:23)
When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.”
And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children.”
Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.
And they all cried out at once, saying, “Away with this Man, and release to us Barabbas”— who had been thrown into prison for a certain rebellion made in the city, and for murder. (Luke 23:18-19)
Pilate felt he was powerless over the cry of the people of Israel, so he gave in to their demand. “Let Him be crucified!”. It was not Pilate’s wish or plan to execute Jesus, but Pilate did not want an uprising over the life of one person. Sad to say, it was the religious leaders of Israel who instigated the penalty for Jesus because of jealousy and envy. (Matthew 27:18)
Sad to say when Pilate asked the people whom to release, the people chose Barabbas, a rebel and a murderer.
The people of Israel chose Barabbas over Jesus. They chose a murderer over a sinless man, similar to the people of today’s generation. Sad to say even today, it seems some people choose a life of rebellion against God. Thus, they choose death instead of life. Some people end up dead-physically and spiritually. They choose rebellion, a life away from God, therefore they make a choice of death over a life with Jesus. Jesus died so that we could have eternal life. If we choose Jesus, we choose life.
Dear Lord Jesus, it is our sin that crucified You on the cross. Lord forgive us, help us choose You, help us choose life and not death.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name. John 1:12 (NKJV)
Reading: John 1:1-12
(Galatians 3.26; Ephesians 3:6, Romans 8:16)
Title: Because of Jesus, I am a child of God.
The apostle John wrote his testimony about knowing Jesus who was there from the beginning with God. (John 1:1-2). John also testified that all life on earth was made through Jesus. (John 1.3). Jesus was life and the light of men (v.5). John further testified that another man, also named John, was a witness to the deity of Jesus.
“He was not that light but was sent to bear witness of that light”, (John 1:6).
The apostle John was referring to John the Baptist.
The apostle John further explained, Jesus was sent by God into the world, but the world did not receive Him. (v.11)
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” John 1.12
What a great truth and blessing to be called ‘children of God’, because by nature, we, the people of the world are all born with sin. (Psalm 51:5).
Ephesians 2:3 says we are by nature children of wrath. And because of Jesus we are now called children of God.
The apostle Paul wrote, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus”. (Galatians 3:26)
He also wrote in Romans 8:16-17
“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God… heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ”.
Through the Lord Jesus Christ we are adopted into the family of God and become part of His Kingdom.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, because of You, I am now a child of God, and a fellow heir with You. I am forever grateful to You!
v.1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (NKJV)
//Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
John 8:58 Most assuredly I say to you, before Abraham was I AM
Exodus 3:14 And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ”
John 17: 5 -And now, O Father, glorify Me together [b]with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
Revelation 1:8- “I am the Alpha and the Omega, [d]the Beginning and the End,” says the [e]Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Revelation 19:3 – He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.
The apostle John wrote through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that Jesus was there in the beginning with God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1-2NKJV). John testified that Jesus was there all along with God even from before time began. John saw and was with Jesus for three years during his lifetime. John saw Jesus in the flesh. John ate and talked with Jesus. They walked and traveled together on foot and in the boat. They prayed together and sang praises to God together. John heard directly from Jesus when He spoke and taught the kingdom of God. They laughed and cried together. John knew Jesus grew up in Nazareth. And John knew Jesus grew up in Galilee with His earthly parents, Joseph and Mary. John knew even the brothers and sisters of Jesus. John saw Jesus got tired and hungry from a long day.
John saw Jesus wept when His friend Lazarus died. John saw Jesus became emotional and had expressed His frustration when He saw the temple of God was not revered by the people. John saw Jesus in the human flesh during his lifetime. However, after Jesus died on the cross and rose again, John was filled by the Holy Spirit, along with the other disciples. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God revealed to John that Jesus was there from the beginning with God. (John 17:5, Genesis 1.1; Revelation 1:8, Revelation 19.3).
Reflection: Jesus is the eternal God. He is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:8) Jesus is the Great I AM (John 8:58, Exodus 3.14). He is always with God the Creator.
Dear Lord Jesus, I praise and worship You, my Eternal Creator. You are from the beginning to everlasting, You are there, the Existing One. From eternity to eternity, Lord Jesus You are there, who was and who is and is to come. Blessed be Your Holy name Lord Jesus, for You are God and Lord with the Father.
v. 7 Jesus said to him, “It is written again,‘You shall nottempt the Lord your God.’ ”
Jesus was in the wilderness praying and fasting. His earthly body was tired and hungry. The devil took the opportunity to tempt Him. (Matthew 4:1-2) The devil tempted Jesus to use His power to prove Himself as the Son of God. The devil knew Jesus had the power to turn the stones into bread since He needed food for His body’s nourishment, (v.4). The devil also tempted Jesus to test God’s ability to protect Him. The devil knew Jesus could call on His angels if He was in danger or needed protection (v.5-7).
Jesus once again answered the devil with the Word of God.
Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ ” (v.7)
Jesus first of all knew who He was. He was the Son of God. The devil knew that too. But the devil wanted to try and tempt Jesus to use His power as the Son of God. When Jesus was still on the earth, though He was fully God, He was fully human too. He chose to limit Himself to live like other men. Like any other person, He needed food and water to nourish His body. Jesus needed shelter and protection from the elements. Jesus, though He was fully man, was also secure in His identity and His relationship with the Father.
Jesus knew He could use His power to turn the stones into bread. Jesus knew He had the power to ask God to send His angels if He needed help, protection or safety. However, Jesus did not take advantage of the power He had. Jesus knew who He was, the Son of God. Jesus knew His Father God loved Him very much and would always be there to help Him when He called upon Him. However, He also knew the written Word of God as He quoted Deuteronomy 6:16 in the Old Testament:
16 “You shall not [d]tempt the Lord your God as you tempted Him in Massah.
Yes, Jesus knew He was the Son of God and God loved Him. Jesus knew God would help Him anytime He asked and called upon Him. However, Jesus knew also that He did not need to put Himself in a dangerous situation like jumping off the pinnacle of the temple and expecting the angels to rescue Him as the devil had tempted Him to do. (v.5-6)
Jesus knew He was the Son of God. As a follower of Jesus, I am also a child of God. God and Jesus love me and are taking care of me. I know I can always call upon the Lord Jesus when I need help. However, I should not put myself into a dangerous situation, expecting God to help me. The Lord God gives us wisdom and the Holy Spirit gives us power not to put ourselves into situations where we can be tempted or be vulnerable to sin and temptation. The Lord God gave us His written Word to resist the devil.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, please help me to be strong in the spirit and to have Your wisdom to resist the temptations of the evil one.
v.4 – But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”
Jesus submitted Himself to be baptized by John the Baptist to fulfill all righteousness (Matthew 3:15). Then Jesus felt led to fast and pray for 40 days in the wilderness. (Matthew 4:1-2). His human flesh was tired and hungry.
“Now the tempter came to Him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread’”(v3).
Jesus replied, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’”.
Jesus was hungry. He had not eaten for 40 days. He was tired and very hungry in the middle of the wilderness. There was no food at all nearby. The devil tempted Him to make stones into bread. The devil knew Jesus had the capability and the power to do whatever He needed. Jesus knew His power, too, and what He could do. Perhaps, He could ask God to send food from heaven. The devil wanted Jesus to use His power to prove Himself. The devil said to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God…”
But Jesus knew who He was. He did not need to prove Himself. He was secure in who He was. He knew He was the Son of God. Jesus knew His power and what He could do, but He did not use that power just to prove who HE was.
Jesus was tempted by the devil at His weakest point. However, even when His body was weak, His spirit was strong.
Jesus used the power of the written Word of God to resist the devil. Thus, He declared:
“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word from the mouth of God’”.
Jesus knew the written Word of God and how to use the power of the Word of God to resist the devil and his lures.
The Word of God is as important as human food. The Word of God is food for the soul and nourishment for the spirit. Like Jesus, it is important for us to know the written Word of God to resist the devil, his lures and temptations.
Dear Lord Jesus, I thank You for Your written Word. Please help me to know Your Word and to learn Your Word. Help me be strong in Your Word to resist the devil and his schemes. In Jesus name, Amen!
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:10-11
v.15 “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”
The life of baby Jesus who was born in the manger was protected as His earthly parents, Joseph and Mary, obeyed the leading of God through the angel. (Matthew 2:13-23) From Bethlehem to Egypt and then back to Israel, Joseph and Mary brought up the baby Jesus. And Jesus grew up in Nazareth in the region of Galilee. V.23 “And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He was called a Nazarene”.
As Jesus grew up as a young man, his cousin John also grew up as a man of God.
Matthew 3:1 “In those days, John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”.
John lived a pure life, fully dedicated to the Lord as his parents were instructed by God. “Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.”
John may have looked different in physical appearance compared to the people of his generation and culture, yet many respected his message. Many people from Jerusalem, Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him. (v.5)
Jesus, too, was aware of the ministry of John and respected him for his message. “Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him.” V.13
John was surprised to see Jesus coming to him. John’s message was primarily to call sinners to repent and return to God. So, John tried to prevent Jesus and said,
“I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?”
But Jesus answered, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness”. Then he allowed Him. When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’” (v.15-17)
Jesus showed humility and respect for John by allowing John to baptize Him. Even though Jesus was fully God, and did not need to repent of sins because He was sinless, He still submitted Himself to the baptism of John to fulfill all righteousness. Jesus was still fully human when He was on earth. Thus, He wanted to set an example for those who make a commitment to turn away from sin and follow God fully.
Jesus also honored the ministry of John by allowing Himself to be baptized by John, showing submission and humility. Thus, the Heavenly Father affirmed His love and pleasure for His Son Jesus.
“This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased!”
Jesus my Lord showed humility and submission by allowing John to baptize Him. As His follower, I too would like to be humble and submit to the servants of God.
Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for your humility and respect for the ministry of John. Help me also to be humble and show respect to the ministry of Your servants.
(Newspaper article in Birmingham News, April 26, 1971, see page 2 below).
Greetings! My name is David Creel. I was born in Birmingham, Alabama. I am the son of the late Rev. George Creel and Jackie Creel who served several United Methodist churches in North Alabama.
As you can imagine, being the son of a United Methodist pastor, I grew up in church. I don’t ever remember a time when I wasn’t in church. Every time the church doors were open, I was there. I really didn’t have a choice. I might not have appreciated it at the time, but I am so grateful now for my parents’ insistence on church attendance. I am also eternally grateful for the godly example that my mom and dad provided for me and my sisters as we grew up.
As a child, I usually slept during church. Frankly…