In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. On the first day, He created light, dividing it into day and night; the second, the heavens; on the third, the dry land, seas, grass, and trees; the fourth, the sun, moon, and stars; on the fifth, sea creatures and birds; the sixth, cattle and creeping things. His masterpiece came last: man and woman, whom He created in His own image, giving them dominion over the earth and every living creature.
God always teaches by example and by precept, laying a path for us to follow. He also promises great blessings for keeping His Sabbath Day, as He outlines in Isaiah 58. “‘Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord, And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father'” (Isaiah 58:14a NKJV).
The Pharisees closely followed the Law, including the Sabbath. Since no man was allowed to work on that day of rest, they highly criticized Jesus for healing the sick. Jesus answered back, pointing our their hardness of heart. (Click HERE to read the story.)
They also condemned Jesus and His disciples for plucking heads of grain to eat on the Sabbath. Jesus reasoned with them, pointing out that King David and his hungry men had eaten the showbread in the temple, reserved only for priests.
“And He said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath’” (Mark 2:27-28 NKJV).
God spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai and gave him the Ten Commandments. The fourth one is the law of the Sabbath.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:8-11 NKJV).
Click HERE to read the details about what God directed Moses to tell His people about the Sabbath, including the consequences of not keeping it.
A Sign of Sanctification
“Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you’” (Exodus 31:13 NKJV).
Sabbath rest yields the fruit of peace. As we pause our busyness, we walk into God’s tranquility, serenity, peace, and repose. This seventh day creates something good in us by allowing the Holy Spirit to commune freely with our spirits. It transcends the natural, physical world, bringing calm and quiet to our buzzing thoughts, burdened minds, and heavy hearts.
As we set the Sabbath aside to worship the Lord, we cease, stop striving, and trust. The physical practice of a day of rest changes our hearts and frees our souls from chains of bondage.
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1 NKJV).
As Jesus stated, the Sabbath was created for man, not man for the Sabbath. It is God’s gift to us where we can devote that time to honor and worship Him. Let’s partition off this sacred day with pleasant boundaries to protect it. Let’s enjoy communing with God and appreciating Him.
How does keeping the Sabbath bring you peace?
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for creating a day of rest for us every seven days. Just as we park our cars and open fuel caps to fill up our gas tanks, so may we be quiet before you. As we open our hearts, fill us to overflowing with the Holy Spirit’s truth and sweet peace as we prepare for the week ahead. We honor and praise You, giving You all the glory. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
Welcome to our second study about finding God’s peace. This week we’ll be exploring how to experience peace in our relationships with people. We’ll begin by looking at Moses and how he dealt with his huge assignment of leading the Israelites to the Promised Land–a 40-day journey that took forty years.
“When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7 NKJV).
When God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses balked. He claimed that neither the sons of Israel nor Pharaoh would listen to him due to his poor speaking skills. How could he find peace and have success in these new relationships God had thrust upon him?
“So the Lord said to Moses: ‘See, I have made you as God to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you. And Aaron your brother shall tell Pharaoh to send the children of Israel out of his land. And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh will not heed you, so that I may lay My hand on Egypt and bring My armies and My people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them’” (Exodus 7:1-5 NKJV).
But God had a plan. He appointed Aaron, Moses’s brother, as his spokesman. He also explained His plan from beginning to end and what Moses could expect from his relationship with Pharaoh.
Each time, Moses approached Pharaoh’s throne to make his request with humility coupled with God’s reassuring strength. God had already told Moses that Pharaoh would refuse to honor his word.
So, the plagues arrived as Pharaoh refused to let God’s people go: water turned to blood, frogs, lice, flies, diseased livestock, boils, hail, locusts, darkness– and finally– the death of every firstborn, which pried open Pharaoh’s chains and freed the Israelites.
Therefore, God had a greater purpose in Moses’s relationship with Pharaoh. He also proved that He protects His children even while punishing His enemies. We witness this in two places: when Egypt was covered in darkness and when God smote the firstborn of the Egyptians. (Click HERE to read about the miracle of light and HERE to read about the miracle of Passover.)
God had forewarned Moses of His plan but also promised His peace and protection. “‘But against none of the children of Israel shall a dog move its tongue, against man or beast, that you may know that the Lord does make a difference between the Egyptians and Israel’” (Exodus 11:7 NKJV).
We, too, must go forward as God directs us. If it’s God’s will, we must patiently endure harsh treatment, resting in God’s promises and the knowledge that He is in control.
Peter sums it up for us: “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good” (I Peter 2:13-14 NKJV).
On the other hand, God is everyone’s superior. Moses found out the hard way that the Lord has boundaries we mustn’t cross. After God instructed Moses to speak to the rock so that it would yield water, Moses struck the rock twice instead of obeying the Lord. Therefore, God refused to allow him to set foot in the Promised Land. (You can read about it HERE.)
Moses struggled in his relationship with his siblings, but God defended him. His older brother, Aaron, and his sister, Miriam, spoke against him because of the Ethiopian woman Moses had married. “So they said, ‘Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?’ And the Lord heard it” (Numbers 12:2 NKJV). God proceeded to give the two a dressing down for judging their brother, whom God honored as His faithful servant and with whom He spoke face to face. God’s punishment slammed Miriam by making her become leprous. It was after Aaron repented and appealed to his brother that Moses appealed to God for her deliverance. (Click HERE to read the story.)
Let’s heed wise advice from Peter for finding peace: “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 2:8-9 NKJV).
As the Israelites roamed the desert for forty years, Moses had a plethora of duties as he cared for the people–and no peace. He dealt with everything from their daily complaints to leading them in battles against various enemies they encountered on the way to the Promised Land. We can witness, for example, how he suffered over their demands for food (Click HERE) and for water:
“Therefore the people contended with Moses, and said, ‘Give us water, that we may drink.’ So Moses said to them, ‘Why do you contend with me? Why do you tempt the Lord?’ And the people thirsted there for water, and the people complained against Moses, and said, ‘Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?’ So Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, ‘What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me!”’ (Exodus 17:2-4).
Delegating authority is a good solution to attaining peace. As Moses experienced exhaustion and frustration from dealing with the people, God used Moses’s father-in-law to help find peace through governance. Jethro recognized that Moses couldn’t bear up under such a weight of responsibility and convinced him to get help. Read about Jethro’s advice HERE.
Peter shares the recipe for finding peace in every relationship
“For ‘He who would love life And see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers’” (1 Peter 3:8-12a NKJV).
Welcome to the month of May. This month we’ll be resuming our regular Bible study on the Fruit of the Spirit as we focus on PEACE. As Christians, our peace is not of this world–ours is a free gift from God. Today let’s plant seeds of peace in our eternal souls, focusing on salvation in Christ Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1 NKJV)
Finding peace with God begins with faith. We know from Hebrews 11:6 that “Without faith, it’s impossible to please God.” In Romans 4, Paul traces the beginnings of justification by faith before the cross of Christ. How were our forefathers like Abraham and King David justified in righteousness?
Peace with God: Abraham and Sarah
Although Abraham and Sarah were well beyond child-bearing years, He believed God’s promise of a son who would anchor the foundation of the Jewish race. “And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). (Click HERE to read more.)
After King David sinned with Bathsheba, God sent Nathan the prophet to confront him. David repented before the Lord: “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions” (Psalm 51:1 NKJV).
David received God’s forgiveness through faith, treasuring salvation apart from works. He sings, “’Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin’” (Romans 4:7-8 NKJV).
The fact that Jesus died for the ungodly, even those not yet born, is amazing. Would a man die in another’s place? Perhaps one might die for a good man, but what about an enemy? “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 NKJV). At the cross, we are justified through His shed blood.
True peace with God begins with our salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV).
Let’s join King David as he rejoices in his salvation: “I will praise the Lord according to His righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High” (Psalm 7:17 NKJV).
Can you rejoice today because you’ve found peace with God?
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us peace with You through Your Son. We are eternally grateful for the blood of Christ that is our justification. May those seeking peace today find it at the foot of the cross. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
Welcome to this month’s video of The “Front Porch” Bible Study Series. In May we’ll be studying the next fruit of the Spirit–PEACE. Join me as we explore different ways to plant seeds of peace in our lives.
As we read these accounts, we can feel the same amazement of Christ’s resurrection. Isn’t it interesting that the Lord first appeared to women? Following an earthquake, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (not His mother) encountered an angel who rolled back the stone. The Roman guards froze and shook from fright at the supernatural sight.
“But the angel answered and said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you’” (Matthew 28:5-7 NKJV).
On their way, the women met Jesus who said, “‘Rejoice!’ So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me’” (Matthew 28:9b-10 NKJV).
The disciples were astounded at this news. Many found it hard to believe, although Jesus had told them many times that He would live again. Until they saw Him themselves–and Thomas placed his hand on the Lord’s side and examined His nail-scarred hands and feet–then they believed.
Resurrection means to bring back to life. During the ministry of Jesus, He raised a twelve-year-old girl from the dead (Click HERE to read Luke 8:49-56). We also know about Lazarus whom we studied about during Week 12. But, were these resurrections a harbinger of what was to happen in Jerusalem?
Parallels Between the Resurrections of Lazarus and Jesus
Let’s backtrack to when Jesus stood before Lazarus’s tomb and wept. If Jesus knew He was going to resurrect Lazarus, why did He mourn? Was He simply identifying with human pain and sorrow? Or could it have had something to do with The Passion that awaited Him a few days later? He had discussed these future events with His disciples, even though they did not yet fully comprehend.
“‘Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again’” (Matthew 20:18-19 NKJV).
How has the Lord Jesus set you free and brought you new life with His resurrection power?
This has been a glorious month of celebrating Easter with all its important aspects. From Palm Sunday through Resurrection Sunday, we have rejoiced in God’s perfect plan to make a way back to the Father. What was stolen from Man in the Garden of Eden has been redeemed and reestablished by the obedience of Christ, our perfect and final sacrifice. May we forever praise Him for the free gift of salvation and eternal life. Next week we will return to our study on the Fruit of the Spirit, focusing on peace.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for Your resurrection power that also lives in each believer. We praise You for restoring our relationship with You and sealing our salvation through Your Son’s work on the cross. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
Welcome to “Front Porch” Bible Study Series and Passion Week. We have just recently celebrated Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. So, let’s study three main aspects of what has just passed in more detail: the six trials of Christ; the seven places Christ shed His blood; and the seven last sayings of Christ on the cross. May you be blessed as we dive deeply into His Word.
“And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center ” (John 19:17-18 NKJV).
After the Last Supper, Jesus and His disciples went to the Garden of Gethsemane. He withdrew about a stone’s throw away where He prayed for strength to endure His coming crucifixion.
“‘Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.’Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:42-44 NKJV).
Then Judas entered the garden, leading a crowd of chief priests and elders. “But Jesus said to him,‘ Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?’” (Luke 2:48 NKJV). One of the disciples then took a sword and cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest. Jesus, however, stopped the violence and healed the servant’s ear. Disregarding this compassionate miracle, they arrested Jesus and took Him to the high priest’s house.
Sometime during the second trial, Peter denied Christ, just as Jesus had predicted at the Last Supper. “But Peter said, ‘Man, I do not know what you are saying!’ Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times’.So Peter went out and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:60-62 NKJV).
At 6:30 am the Jews took Jesus to His first Roman trial to appear before Pilate. “Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.’ And they said, ‘What is that to us? You see to it!’ Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:3-5 NKJV).
Pilate found no guilt in Jesus and sent Him to see Caiaphas, who sent Him back to Pilate. He wanted to punish Jesus and release Him, but the Jews refused anything less than death. Pilate even offered to release a prisoner–Barabbas, a violent murderer–or Jesus.
“The governor answered and said to them, ‘Which of the two do you want me to release to you?’ They said, ‘Barabbas!’ Pilate said to them, ‘What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?’ They all said to him, ‘Let Him be crucified!’ Then the governor said, ‘Why, what evil has He done?’ But they cried out all the more, saying, ‘Let Him be crucified!’ 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” (Matthew 27:21-26 NKJV).
Let’s first discuss the seven places Christ shed His blood (if you wish to read a medical explanation of how Jesus could be born with pure and sinless blood, click HERE).
The seven places where Jesus shed His blood fulfilled Old Testament Scripture in Leviticus 16. When the Jewish High Priest made atonement for the sins of the people once a year, he sprinkled blood seven times on the mercy seat, seven times in front of the mercy seat, and seven times on the horns of the altar. (Click HERE to read the full account in Leviticus 16:11-19 NKJV.)
The first place Jesus shed His blood happened during His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. “And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44 NKJV). Just as in the Garden of Eden where man lost his state of innocence through Adam’s sin, it was in this garden that Jesus’s blood began the redemption process for all mankind.
The second place occurred when Pilate ordered His scourging, where they flogged the back of Jesus with thirty-nine lashes–just under the legal limit of forty. “Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified” (Matthew 27:26 NKJV). This blood paid for all our sicknesses and diseases: “The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5b NKJV).
“Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands, saying, ‘Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?’ (Matthew 26:67-68 NKJV). These bruises he bore under His skin marked the third place He bled for us. This blood was shed for our inherited weaknesses or iniquities, as Isaiah states. “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5a NKJV).
The crown of long thorns the soldiers wove and pushed onto Jesus’s head was the fourth place He shed His holy blood. This blood gives us the mind of Christ, freeing our thoughts from the control of the enemy. (Click HERE to read this account in Matthew 27:27-31 NKJV.)
When the centurion drove the nails into Jesus’s hands and feet, these were the fifth and sixth places Christ bled for us. His blood-stained hands freed us to receive all that God has for us and to lift our hands in holy prayer (Click HERE to read 1 Timothy 2:8 NKJV). His blood-stained feet gave us back dominion on the earth that we lost through Adam’s sin. Through His blood, we can claim righteousness and power over Satan wherever our feet touch the ground (Click HERE to read Luke 10:19 NKJV).
After Jesus had surrendered His spirit into God’s hands, the centurion speared His side. The blood and water that came out of His side was the seventh place He shed His blood for us (Click HERE to read John 19:31-37 NKJV). The release of blood and water proved medically that Jesus’s heart had burst, making this blood the provision for the healing of our broken hearts.
Even while Christ suffered His agonizing crucifixion, He forgave His persecutors for what they had done. Contrary to some beliefs, the Jews didn’t kill Jesus. Jesus willingly lay down His life to fulfill Scripture and complete God’s perfect plan of redemption. “‘Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father’” (John 10:17-18 NKJV).
The two thieves crucified on either side of Jesus represent a choice of two reactions to our Savior. The one hurled insults at Him, commanding that He prove His deity by rescuing all three of them from their fate of death. The other one rebuked that thief, claiming that they, not Christ, were deserving of death. One repented; the other refused (Click HERE to read Luke 23:39-43 NKJV).
Jesus had no written will, but He verbally expressed His wishes to His most loved disciple, John, to care for His beloved mother, Mary. From that day forward, John took her into his house to live out the rest of her life.
For the first time, Jesus addressed His Father as God. It was an agonizing cry of separation. As Jesus became sin for us, the Father had to turn His back to His Son at that moment. As a just and holy God, He cannot look upon sin. Jesus had to die all alone as the perfect sacrifice, the perfect Lamb of God.
Christ’s statement fulfilled Scripture of two prophecies in the Old Testament (NKJV): Psalm 22:15, “My tongue clings to My jaws,” and Psalm 69:21, “For my thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink.” This was the first and only time Jesus gave voice to His physical suffering. (For a comprehensive sermon about “I thirst” from Keep Believing Ministries, click HERE.)
The sinless Lamb of God shed His holy blood and died as the price paid in full, the final sacrifice for the sins of mankind–past, present, and future. His mission on earth to redeem us from death, hell, and the grave was now complete, and Scripture fulfilled. The curtain in the temple tore in two from top to bottom, signifying that we now have access through Christ to the Holy of Holies, the throne room of God. (Click HERE to read Matthew 27:51-54 NKJV).
My personal opinion: As the propitiation for our sins, Jesus descended into Hades after His death to serve in our place. His purpose was to take the keys of death, hell, and the grave away from Satan. “‘I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death’” (Revelation 1:18 NKJV).
His mission was also to preach to the captives held in Sheol (the side holding the damned). Why? Because God is fair and just. Every person must have the opportunity to hear the gospel of the cross and choose between Jesus or Satan, heaven or hell–especially those who had lived before Christ had died for their sins.
Jesus also freed the captives in Paradise (the side holding believers saved by faith) and sent them to heaven. Even the repentant thief on the cross was there. “And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise’” (Luke 23:43 NKJV).
Jesus paid the price for our sins in full, suffering death from Friday afternoon until God resurrected Him back to life before dawn on Sunday morning. In order for man to be totally redeemed, Christ had to suffer, die on the cross, and descend into hell. Jesus willingly came to earth to pay the price in full. We had a debt we couldn’t pay; He paid a debt He didn’t owe.
“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 NKJV).
Are you hungry for more? The accounts in the Old Testament Scriptures foretell many of the details of Christ’s passion. (Click HERE to read Psalm 22:1-18 and HERE for Isaiah 53 NKJV.)
Dear Lord, thank you for loving us so much that you willingly died for our sins. We are forever grateful that You took our place, taking our just punishment upon Yourself. May we always rejoice in our free gift of salvation and share the good news of the gospel with everyone we meet. For You are worthy of all praise, honor, and glory forever. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
Welcome to Passion Week. We will begin with the Last Supper where Jesus and His disciples celebrated Passover in the upper room. He established the New Covenant of grace and gave a new meaning to the Passover Seder. As Christians, we observe communion to remember the death of our Lord. But the story doesn’t end there–Resurrection Day follows His crucifixion three days later. Hallelujah! Christ is alive forevermore and we, the Redeemed, will spend eternity in His presence.
“And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you’” (Luke 22:19-20 NKJV).
Have you ever sent children off to college or perhaps their wedding day? Think back to that last meal together as a family. As parents, you remind them of everything you taught them in preparation for this pivotal life change. You make predictions, explaining what they can expect as they enter this new phase of life, as well as warnings about coming pitfalls. Speaking into their spirits, you declare your love, support, and that you’ll always be only a phone call away. You pray over them, committing them into the Father’s loving arms. You reassure them that even though they may not understand everything you’re saying now, they will remember and fully understand later. After blessing them, you kiss them, and then let them fly away.
The book of John tells us the details of what the Lord proclaimed to His disciples during their last supper. In Chapter 13, Jesus began by washing His disciples’ feet before the meal, demonstrating complete humility and exemplifying servanthood. (Click HERE for our previous lesson about foot-washing.)
Knowing all things that were about to happen, the Lord encouraged His disciples before His departure. (To read, click on each verse in parentheses. All are taken from the NKJV.)
He manifests Himself to anyone who loves Him and keeps His commandments by giving them His peace, which is unlike the world’s (John 14:23-27). He is the vine, we are the branches. By bearing much fruit, we prove to be His disciples (John 15:5-8). Love one another (John 13:34-35).
He will prepare a place for them and come back to receive them. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. (John 14:1-6).
He won’t leave them alone but will send them another Helper—the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-16).
Do you celebrate with a Seder or Passover meal at your church or synagogue? If not, the details of what people eat during Pesach (Passover) and their significance are a fascinating study. Click HERE to read a detailed Messianic Jewish perspective of its history and present-day practices.
Dear Father, we humbly thank you for fulfilling the Law by establishing the New Covenant of grace. As we eat the bread and drink the cup, may we always remember Your death until You return. We look forward to the day when we will take communion with You in heaven. In Jesus’s Name we pray, Amen.
Welcome to the “Front Porch” Bible Study Series. This week we’ll prepare for Palm Sunday by studying the significance of waving palm branches to the Lord. Now I’ll always have a richer understanding of this Palm Sunday celebration of thanksgiving. Come along as I share this nugget from God’s treasure chest with you.
Click HERE to read today’s Scripture. For comparative Scriptures, click HERE to read Mark 11:1-10.
“The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: ‘Hosanna! “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” The King of Israel!’” (John 12:12-13 NKJV)
As Jesus and His disciples approached Jerusalem, He sent two of them ahead to find and untie a colt on which no one had sat. The Lord instructed them to answer anyone who questioned their actions by saying that the Lord had need of it, so they would allow it. As the disciples obeyed, it happened exactly as Jesus had said. They spread their cloaks over the animal’s back where Jesus then sat and led him down the hill into Jerusalem.
When the multitudes who had come to the feast heard that Jesus was arriving, they ran to meet Him. They laid their cloaks on the ground and cut down leafy branches as a “red carpet” for Jesus’s entrance into the city. The excited crowds consisted of those from Bethany who had witnessed Lazarus’s resurrection from the dead and those in Jerusalem who had heard about this great sign. They congregated joyfully around Him, waving palm branches and chanting Scripture taken from Psalm 118:25-26: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ The King of Israel!” (John 12:13 NKJV).
The Jews intended to cast off Caesar and his Roman rule and crown Jesus as their king. This uproar, however, distressed the Pharisees because they were losing the fight to suppress His popularity. Caiaphas expressed fear over what would happen to them politically, realizing they had to side with Rome against Jesus in order to save themselves.
What is the significance of people waving palm branches? We can trace this practice in both the Old and New Testaments.
“‘Rejoice greatly, O
daughter of Zion!
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you;
He is just and having
Lowly and riding on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey’” (NKJV).
Welcome to April on the “Front Porch!” This month we will be taking a short break from our study on the Fruit of the Spirit in order to focus on Easter. This month we’ll study the events leading to the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. I’m anticipating a very rich and meaningful study, and I look forward to sharing it with you. This week we’ll begin with the anointing of Christ for burial.
Memory Verse: “But Jesus said, ‘Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always'” (John 12:7-8 NKJV).
After Lazarus’s resurrection, many believed in Jesus. Others, however, ran to tell the Pharisees. Their Jewish counsel convened and planned how to end Jesus’s ministry. They feared all men would be converted, and thus Rome would remove their position as a nation. Caiaphas prophesied, “‘You know nothing at all,nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish’” (John 11:49-50 NKJV).
Therefore Jesus limited His presence to Ephraim, a city located in the countryside. As the Passover approached, the Jews sought for Him, wondering if He would attend the feast that year or not. The chief priests and Pharisees had issued an order that they be informed of His whereabouts so they could seize Him.
Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived in Bethany. He stayed at the house of Simon the leper where they made Him a supper. Martha served, Lazarus reclined with Him at the table, but Mary did the most important thing of all: she worshiped. She broke a very expensive alabaster vial of pure nard and anointed Jesus’s head and feet and wiped His feet with her hair. The disciples and others criticized Mary for her act of extravagant worship, protesting that the perfume that cost a year’s wages could have been sold and the money given to the poor. Jesus rebuked them, saying, “‘For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always ’” (John 12:8 NKJV).
Many people congregated to see Jesus and especially Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. As a result, many believed in this testimonial to the divine power of Christ. The distraught chief priests planned to kill both Jesus and Lazarus in their plot to stop these conversions.
Beginning with Jesus’s arrival in Bethany, He was no longer “in hiding.” In fact, quite the opposite. Throngs came to see the dead man, now alive, and the Teacher who had performed this miracle. Now He invited the crowds to come and surround Him, continuing all the way to His final journey at the cross.
But He didn’t hold Himself up as a “superstar.” He dined at the house of one who would have been exiled for leprosy, but one now healed from Jesus’s touch. He was not surrounded by the elite of that city, but by commoners. Mary had a very important role on this occasion. She didn’t realize the significance at that time, but hers was the only anointing of Christ before His burial. She broke open the alabaster jar with its precious contents–a pound of ointment of spikenard made from an aromatic herb from the valerian family imported from India, Arabia, and the Far East. Its cost was so great that only the very wealthy could afford to purchase it. Even the alabaster jar, made out of a white Egyptian semi-transparent stone, was very costly.
Have you broken your alabaster jar of sacrificial worship for Jesus today?
Dear Father in heaven, we come to honor and glorify the Name of Jesus. May our lives spill out our offering of sacrifice to You, and may we always be the fragrance of Christ to the world. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
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 5:16.
Welcome to Week 12 of the “Front Porch” Bible Study Series. In this last post of our study on JOY, we’ll look at one of the most amazing miracles of all: resurrection. When Jesus rose from the grave on the third day, His resurrection sealed our privilege of spending eternity with Him in God’s kingdom. Is there any greater JOY? Today we’ll read about the story of Lazarus’s resurrection.
Click HERE to read today’s Scripture about Jesus’s raising Lazarus from the dead.
Memory Verse: “‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die'” (John 11:25b-26a NKJV).
While Jesus ministered in another town, Mary and Martha sent word for the Lord to come to heal their sick brother, Lazarus. Although His disciples discouraged Him from going, Jesus explained, “‘This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.’” (v.4)
Two days later, Jesus and His disciples arrived in Bethany where Lazarus had already been buried for four days. Jesus spoke privately with Martha and then Mary before grieving at Lazarus’s tomb. The sisters and other mourners expressed their disappointment: Lazarus would still be alive if Jesus had come sooner. Jesus declared to Martha, “‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?’” (v.25-26). Martha declared, “‘Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world’” (v.27).
Jesus told them to remove the stone in front of the cave. He prayed aloud to the Father, asking God to answer His prayer that people would believe in Him. Jesus then cried out with a loud voice, “‘Lazarus, come forth!’” (v.43).
What a paradox. He purposely chose his dearest friends, whom He knew He could trust to endure deep yet temporary sorrow, to prove His identity as the Son of God. We know He loved Lazarus very much, as evidenced by His emotional weeping at his tomb. But human reasoning expressed by Martha and Mary came forth loud and clear: “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (v.21, v.32). Such a burden of disappointment and sorrow to bear.
Don’t we do the same thing as Mary and Martha? When something that we treasure dies, we weep inconsolably at its tomb. We cry out that if Jesus had shown up sooner, it would still be alive.
Perhaps it’s a dream that you believe will never come to pass, and your hope is flickering out. Or maybe it’s a physical illness you’ve prayed about for a long time, but you’re still waiting on healing. Perhaps a relationship appears dead and impossible to bring back to life. Or maybe something to do with money or income has left you mourning and troubled about the future.
Let’s listen as He speaks to our situation and commands whatever is dead to be resurrected back to life. Oh, the JOY that will fill our hearts!
Has the Lord brought you JOY by miraculously resurrecting something dead in your life?
I hope your JOY in the Lord has blossomed and grown this month. When the Holy Spirit lavishes us with the love of Jesus, gardens of JOY grow in our hearts. JOY isn’t conditional on our circumstances, thank goodness, but the Lord gives us JOY in spite of them. When we worship and praise Him through our tears, we are lifted up and out of this world. Isn’t God so good!
For more study on the topic of resurrection, click HERE for a sermon by Charles Spurgeon or HERE for a sermon by Ravi Zacharias.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for Your compassion and understanding of our human sufferings. We ask You to speak resurrection to our dying circumstances, for You are the Resurrection and the Life. We glorify You and pray these things in Jesus’s Name. Amen.
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 5:16.