What exactly is a parable? According to Merriam-Webster, it’s an allegory or a short fictitious story that teaches a moral or religious principle.
As an agrarian society, the people in Jesus’s day could easily identify with a story about farming. The sower in this parable scattered identical seed on four different types of soil, each yielding different results.
Same seed, different results…
Some seed fell by the wayside or the side of the road. People trampled over it, and birds devoured it before it had a chance to take root.
Some fell on the rock where plants sprang up immediately. But they withered and died just as fast due to a lack of water.
Some fell among thorns, which sprang up and choked out the new plants.
But the seed that fell on the good ground sprang up, producing a crop with a yield hundreds of times over.
“When He [Jesus] had said these things He cried, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear!’” (Luke 8:8b NKJV).
Why Jesus taught with parables…
The disciples asked Jesus why He spoke to the crowds only in parables. “And He said, ‘To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that “Seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand”’” (Luke 8:10 NKJV).
Have you ever heard unbelievers remark that if they try to read God’s Word, it makes no sense? The Word springs from a spiritual source, not from the world’s cistern. That may seem counter-productive, but God’s Word is precious, and Jesus warns not to let “your pearls be trampled by swine” (Click HERE to read Matthew 7:6).
God’s Word provides ample explanation about salvation to draw us to the cross. Accepting Jesus into our hearts as Lord and Savior opens our spiritual eyes and ears to understand His Word. As believers, we cherish, study, and hide His sacred Word in our hearts.
As Jesus explained to His believing disciples, the Word of God produces varied results in different people due to the kind of soil in each person’s heart.
Some hear, but Satan comes to immediately steal it away so that it never has a chance to take root.
Others hear and receive the Word with joy, but as soon as trials or temptations arise, they fall away.
Many bear the cares of the world, along with the pursuit of wealth and pleasures, all which prevent them from bearing mature fruit.
“But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear much fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15 NKJV).
What prevents us from bearing mature fruit…
Cares of the world: “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6 NKJV).
The pursuit of wealth: “Do not overwork to be rich; because of your own understanding, cease! Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle toward heaven” (Proverbs 23:4-5 NKJV).
Worldly pleasures: “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? … Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:1,4 NKJV).
The key to mature fruit…
And the most important ingredient? Patience. As we patiently serve the Lord, we must be steadfast while the fruit in our garden matures. Remember that a real gardener must hoe the soil and pluck weeds around the plants as he waits for the fruit and vegetables to mature to ripeness. So we must also patiently care for the Word as it grows in the good soil of our hearts.
Here are some tips that may help encourage you in your growth:
Listen to sermons often, not just once a week. The internet offers a myriad of sites where you can find a specific topic or a special minister. Many have YouTube videos you can watch online. Just type in what you wish in your search bar and see all the possibilities.
Listen to praise and worship music. There are many stations to fit your preferences on Pandora, for example, or you can download music from favorite artists to your device. Praise music lifts our spirits and lets us soar!
Too busy to sit down and read the Scriptures as often as you’d like? Download apps like BibleGateway. You can choose which translation you prefer and set it to read to you while you work or drive in your car. It’s a great way for your mind and heart to always be full of God’s Word.
Pray without ceasing. Talk to Jesus about everything because He cares about you–from your smallest to greatest concerns. He is waiting to have a conversation with you every day.
Are you growing patience in the good soil of your heart?
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the parable of the sower. May the soil of our hearts be tilled and ready to receive your seeds of patience today. Let us flourish with the sweet rain of the Holy Spirit and let us bask in Your light as we grow mature fruit. We give You all the praise and the glory. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
Welcome to our second lesson of study about patience.This week we’re focusing on the Book of Job. Of all stories involving patience shown through the worst trials imaginable, this man’s story takes first place. Let’s learn from his experience and apply that wisdom to our lives.
“Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the endintendedby the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful” (James 5:12 NKJV).
Probably no person on earth is as famous for enduring trials as Job. Job 1:1 tells us he was blameless, upright, feared God, and shunned evil. A godly man, he worshipped and sacrificed for the sins of his family on a regular basis. If anyone had favor with God, it would have been Job. On the surface, it appeared that Job was doing everything right.
But in one day’s time, calamity struck out of the blue. He lost his oxen, donkeys, sheep, camels, many of his servants, and all ten children. One by one, servants who had escaped each calamity came to him to report their master’s loss.
Why God allowed this to happen…
Why did God allow this to happen to an innocent, righteous man? God pulls back heaven’s curtain and allows us to witness something amazing–His conversation with Satan.
“‘Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?’ So Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!’” (Job 1:8-11 NKJV).
God took Satan up on his challenge by allowing him to take Job’s possessions, but not to touch his body. Would Job curse God or not? Satan bet that Job would.
‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the Lord.’
In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong”
(Job 1:20-21 NKJV).
“So Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!’ And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life’” (Job 2:4-6).
In this second round, Satan tried to use Job to discredit God by inflicting Job’s body with boils from head to foot. As Job sat in ashes and patiently scraped himself with a piece of broken pottery, his wife criticized him in exasperation. “‘Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!’ But he said to her, ‘You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips” (Job 2:10-11 NKJV).
Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite…
When Job’s three friends heard about his adversity, they came to be with him and bring him comfort. For three days, they sat with their friend whom they hadn’t even recognized from a distance. For seven days and nights, they remained by his side, silent, witnessing his enormous grief.
To briefly summarize, the next thirty-five chapters involve the conversations of these four men. When they broke their silence, Job’s friends questioned his heart’s motives, declaring that God must be repaying him for sinful thoughts or actions. They defined God’s power and character with their limited understanding. Instead of bestowing comfort and grace to their suffering friend, they brought criticism and condemnation.
Job continually rebutted their arguments by defending his actions and motives. He argued that he had done nothing wrong to deserve such treatment by God, thus making his self-righteousness come into focus. He kept reiterating that he wanted a chance to sit down with God to argue his case.
Can you imagine his shock when God showed up and spoke to him out of the whirlwind?
“Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: ‘Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me'”(Job 38:1-3 NKJV). (Click HERE to keep reading).
Throughout those chapters, God certainly dressed Job down. He quickly realized the debates with his friends had been utter nonsense. After God finished revealing His glory, majesty, and power, Job meekly responded.
“‘I know that You can do everything,
And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.
You asked, “Who is this who hides counsel without
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
Listen, please, and let me speak;
You said, “I will question you, and you shall answer Me.”
‘I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes’” (Job 42:2-6 NKJV).
The rest of the story…
True to His character, God was merciful and gracious. After Job prayed for his friends, God restored Job’s fortune two-fold. Here is the happy ending after the end of Job’s trials:
“Then all his brothers, all his sisters, and all those who had been his acquaintances before, came to him and ate food with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversity that the Lord had brought upon him. Each one gave him a piece of silver and each a ring of gold.
Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters. And he called the name of the first Jemimah, the name of the second Keziah, and the name of the third Keren-Happuch. In all the land were found no women so beautiful as the daughters of Job; and their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers.
After this Job lived one hundred and forty years and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations. So Job died, old and full of days” (Job 42:11-16 NKJV).
Does God exempt us, His children, from trials?
Wouldn’t we assume that a person like Job, of such sterling character and strong integrity, would be untouchable to Satan’s plans of destruction? Perhaps Job’s story assures every descending generation that God doesn’t play favorites, and that obedience and godliness of character aren’t an insurance policy of protection against facing life’s trials. On the contrary, God exempts no one—not even His Son, who willingly died on the cross for our sins.
All humans have faults, and Job’s was his self-righteousness. But before we jump on the same bandwagon of criticism like his friends, let’s be honest…are we not also like Job? If while we’re living a righteous, obedient life to God and a trial suddenly manifests for no good reason, don’t we beg the same questions?
God, why do I cry out and You don’t answer?
What have I done to deserve this?
Why are the wicked allowed to get away with tormenting the righteous?
How can a holy God look on evil and do nothing?
What have you lost?
Like Job, you may have lost material possessions, loved ones, or your health. People close to you may criticize you for being a Christian and trusting God when you’ve lost so much. Wouldn’t we love to have a sit-down discussion with God so we could ask what the reason behind all our suffering is? We all have questions that may or may not be answered until we get to heaven, but we have to patiently wait until that day.
How to take heart in trials…
Whenever you feel discouraged, reread the Book of Job, for in it are God’s answers to the WHY’S. The fact that He is Sovereign God is a good start to understanding WHY. God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient, and nothing can happen to us that He doesn’t allow. We are protected by His godly hedge, and our names are inscribed on the palm of His hand. He will never leave us nor forsake us.
How does Job’s story of faith help you grow patience in your life?
Dear Father God, Thank you for teaching us about patience through the story of Job. May we trust you as You lead us through the trials of life. May we praise and worship You as we walk through those hard valleys, for You are always by our side. We pray in Jesus’s Name, Amen.
Welcome to June! This month we’ll be studying about patience. Today’s culture encourages prompt satisfaction of our needs and wants without any wait, so we’re out of practice when it comes to patience. Let’s explore Scripture and find the blessings that will be ours by planting and nurturing this important fruit of the Spirit.
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4 NKJV).
God uses trials to test our faith. Our measure of faith may only be as small as a mustard seed, “‘but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade’” (Mark 4:32 NKJV). Our faith grows a little more through each test and has the capacity to become huge.
And the product of tested faith? Patience. James outlines the method for acquiring the precious fruit of patience as we endure trials. Here they are:
First, ask for God’s wisdom…
James tells us to first pray for God’s wisdom, which is free for the asking. “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6 NKJV). Doubt produces double-mindedness, which in turn robs us of God’s blessings. We can’t receive wisdom if one foot is in the world and the other in the Spirit. Ask, believe, and rest in the assurance that you have received God’s free gift.
Wisdom will also help us when we encounter persecution. As Jesus faced persecution, so may we. The godly person prospers by enduring the noonday heat, which in turn scorches and wilts the persecutors of their faith. “Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away” (James 1:9-10 NKJV). Wisdom will stand by us through trials and help us develop patience instead of a wrong response.
Second, understand the source of temptations…
Temptations can be hard to resist and to do so requires spiritual strength. Does God send temptations to us? No, not ever! We must never blame God for those trials because He is a good God who never tempts anyone to do evil. The true source of temptation comes from our own desires of the flesh. “Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:15 NKJV).
Last, embrace these for success…
We must control our tongues and our tempers. Learning to practice silence and good listening skills help us walk in God’s righteousness. “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20 NKJV). Here “slow” means patient.
As we humbly receive the Word that saves our souls, we must be doers of the Word and not merely hearers. “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25 NKJV).
Practice pure religion and bridle the tongue. “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:26-27 NKJV).
Merriam Webster defines patience as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.
What are you waiting on today? Whether it’s about finances, relationships, education, health, or something else—allow God to enlarge your faith. As you wait, you’ll be growing branches of patience inside your spirit. After all, “Let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:4 NKJV).
Dear Heavenly Father, help us face our trials with JOY. Grow our faith and produce the fruit of patience in our spirits. We thank you for making us perfect and complete through endurance in Jesus’s Name. Amen.
Welcome to our final week of study about growing in peace. This week we’ll look at how to find peace in the midst of conflicts.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV).
This week all Scripture will be woven into our lesson. To read, please click on each New Testament reference below.
“BE ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING…”
“‘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.’” (John 16:33 NKJV).
Little by little, Jesus disclosed the future to His disciples. ButPeter especially rejected the Teacher’s words.
that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to
Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes,
and be killed, and be raised the third day.Then Peter
took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Far be it from You, Lord;
this shall not happen to You!’ But He turned and said
to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me,
for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men’” (Matthew
The disciples reacted to Jesus’s arrest and crucifixion with incredible surprise despite the many times He had told them what would happen. In addition to His death, He also spoke plainly of His resurrection: “Now while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, ‘The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up.’ And they were exceedingly sorrowful” (Matthew 17:22-23 NKJV).
The proof of His deity as the Son of God always brought them to their knees in reverent worship and praise, both before and after His death and resurrection.
Click HERE to read about finding peace in the storm.
When the disciples couldn’t cast out demons the way Jesus had taught them, everyone despaired until Jesus revealed the remedy. Click HERE to read the story.
The Lord’s Prayer: The disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. This beautiful prayer of peace is still our model today. Click HERE to read.
Prayer for peace in terrible, sudden tragedy: Jesus didn’t intervene in John the Baptist’s fate, but He reacted to John’s death by praying alone all night and then feeding the five thousand the next day. Click HERE to read.
Prayer for peace in the midst of betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane: We see Christ’s humanity as Jesus prepared to suffer and go to the cross. He asked for God’s will, not His, to be done. He sweat drops of blood in prayer while an angel came to minister to Him, strengthening Him. Click HERE to read.
What does supplication mean? According to Merriam-Webster, it means:
“WITH THANKSGIVING, LET YOUR REQUESTS BE MADE KNOWN TO GOD;”
But what about thanksgiving? Are our hearts appreciative toward God—even when His answer may be contrary to what we’re asking? That’s hard, isn’t it, when God says NO. Mature adults may suddenly turn into spoiled and entitled children, demanding their way, stubbornly asking, Why not? Or, I want it NOW, not later! Worse, some may be angry at God and turn their backs to Him. All of these reactions are wrong.
Thanksgiving means being thankful and accepting God’s answer, no matter what it is. He knows what’s best for us and will always rule in our best interest. He sees the big picture through the binoculars of eternity while we can only see a tiny corner of the present.
An Example of Thanksgiving…
One good example in Scripture is the story of Lazarus. Although Mary and Martha were extremely disappointed that Jesus had not arrived soon enough to heal their sick brother, they still accepted the fact that he was dead and thankfully would be alive again in the resurrection. They had no idea that Jesus would shortly present Lazarus alive, causing their thankfulness to skyrocket. (Click HERE to read about it during our Week 12 study or HERE to read it in Scripture.)
“AND THE PEACE OF GOD, WHICH SURPASSES ALL UNDERSTANDING, WILL GUARD YOUR HEARTS AND MINDS THROUGH CHRIST JESUS.”
As Jesus walks with us, we walk in His peace. It is well with our souls.
Do you have Christ’s peace in the midst of conflicts?
Let’s conclude this month of study about peace with the famous hymn by Horatio G. Spafford. After losing his children, Spafford found salvation in Jesus. He composed this beautiful hymn, “It is Well with My Soul,” to testify to his salvation in Christ through the good and bad times of life.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for being our peace in the midst of conflicts. May we pray without ceasing and humbly give you thanks for guiding our lives through both good times and bad. May Your peace dwell richly in our souls today and always. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
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.