Jesus and the Samaritan Woman (John 4)

Last week we learned what Jesus meant when He said that God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, and that “whoever believes in Him is not condemned” and in fact would have eternal life (John 3:16-18). This week in John Chapter 4, we see Jesus put those words into practice in a way that you and I can understand and even act on in our own lives.

John 4
1 Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John
2 (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples),
3 He left Judea and departed again to Galilee.
4 But He needed to go through Samaria.
5 So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.”
8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.
9 Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.

David Guzik:
“Although the road through Samaria was the shortest route to Galilee, pious Jews avoided it. They avoided it because there was a deep distrust and dislike between Jews and Samaritans.

When the southern kingdom of Judah was conquered by the Babylonians, they took almost every captive, exiling them to the Babylonian Empire. All they left behind were the lowest classes of society, because they didn’t want “that type” in Babylonia. These that were left behind intermarried with other peoples who slowly came into the region, and the Samaritans emerged as an ethnic and religious group.

Because the Samaritans had a historical connection to the people of Israel, their faith was a combination of law and ritual from the Law of Moses, and various superstitions. Most Jews in Jesus’ time despised the Samaritans, even more than Gentiles.

Why must Jesus go through Samaria? Because there were people there who needed to hear Him.”

What people are there in our world that we find really difficult to love, much less have a normal conversation with? Every time I read this chapter I am convicted by the story. For Jesus to have a simple conversation with this woman was a remarkable thing. Incredibly, we will see that He took things a step further and explained to her the way of eternal life. How is God calling you and I to act today?

10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
11 The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water?
12 “Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again,
14 “but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

The idea of God being the “Living Water” was not new, as a matter of fact it was an old statement made by the Lord God about Himself:

For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.
~ Jeremiah 2:13

“On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.
~ Zechariah 13:1

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
~ Isaiah 12:3

We all need water to live. The human body is 65% water. Your body can only survive so long without drinking water; some say 3 days, others say as long as 10 days. Jesus is making the bold offer of water that gives eternal life.

Jeremiah calls God a fountain of living water. Zechariah says it’s a fountain-like shower that can wash us from our sins. Isaiah tells us it’s like a deep well where we can pull out water that gives us eternal life. Jesus Christ is that living water for each of us.

15 The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”
17 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’
18 “for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”
19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.
20 “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”

Here, Jesus knows exactly what this woman needs to hear to cause her to understand that He is God in the flesh. She initially believes that He is simply a prophet, but as they continue their conversation, she realizes He is the Messiah.

There are so many examples throughout God’s word of wise prophets from God revealing truth to the unbeliever – Daniel and Joseph come to mind. But Jesus is different from all the rest in that He makes the claim to be God. He was clearly not simply a prophet as other religions suggest. No other man in the Bible claimed to be the Son of God and performed such miracles to prove His authority.

C.S. Lewis made the point that Jesus was either a complete liar, or He was a crazy lunatic, or He was in fact Lord God in the flesh. Liar, Lunatic, or Lord. He couldn’t be anything else.

21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.
22 “You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.
23 “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and 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.”
25 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”
26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”

Jesus points her to the way of salvation. He says: “Believe me.” He tells her to “worship the Father in spirit and truth”. She firmly believes that the Messiah is coming, and he says “I am He”.

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. ~ Romans 10:9

27 And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why are You talking with her?”
28 The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men,
29 “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”

This woman believed and very quickly went out to tell others. She immediately acts on her new belief. Without knowing it, she is following God’s call to each of us to proclaim the Gospel.

In Mark and Luke, we see that Jesus instructed the man who had been relieved of demons was told to go tell others what Christ had done for him:

And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” ~ Mark 5:19

Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.
~ Luke 8:39

This Samaritan woman is simply responding to what God has done in her life. In this short conversation, Jesus showed this woman more love, kindness, and compassion than probably any man had ever shown her. Consistently throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus reached out to those who were difficult to love.

Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples.
And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
“But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” ~ Matthew 9:10-13

I love this: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” Jesus is calling each of us to help “those who are sick”. To show them “mercy and not sacrifice”. That’s exactly what Jesus did with this Samaritan woman in a Samaritan town, and in doing so, He changes the whole city!

30 Then they went out of the city and came to Him.
31 In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”
32 But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.”
33 Therefore the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?”
34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.
35 “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!
36 “And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.
37 “For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’
38 “I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.”
39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.”
40 So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days.
41 And many more believed because of His own word.
42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”

The love, kindness, compassion, and mercy Jesus showed to one woman changed this entire town! “Lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” Each of us is called to “look up” right now, right where we are. If you are in Spokane, Minneapolis, Decatur, Berlin, Tokyo, or Seattle – we are each called to show Christlike mercy to those around us who are among the most difficult to love.

Verses 36-38 show us that sometimes we are called simply to plant the seeds of faith – to “sow” by sharing Christ by reflecting love and mercy, or by telling our own testimony. Other times, folks before us have done the seed-planting and we are there to reap the harvest by praying with someone as they believe in Jesus Christ for their salvation.

43 Now after the two days He departed from there and went to Galilee.
44 For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country.
45 So when He came to Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things He did in Jerusalem at the feast; for they also had gone to the feast.
46 So Jesus came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum.
47 When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and implored Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.
48 Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.”
49 The nobleman said to Him, “Sir, come down before my child dies!”
50 Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your son lives.” So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way.
51 And as he was now going down, his servants met him and told him, saying, “Your son lives!”
52 Then he inquired of them the hour when he got better. And they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.”
53 So the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives.” And he himself believed, and his whole household.
54 This again is the second sign Jesus did when He had come out of Judea into Galilee.

This man simply man “believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way”. Jesus made the way to salvation very easy so even the simplest mind can have eternal life. He is the living water, all I need to do is to accept that he died for me so that I can have eternal life with Him in heaven.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
~ Romans 6:23

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Adversity, Trials, and Trouble (1 Peter 4)

The first letter of the Apostle Peter is so encouraging in times of trouble!

    12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;
    13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
    14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.
    15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters.
    16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.
    17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?
    18 Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?”
    19 Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.
    ~ 1 Peter 4:12-19

In the first of two letters written by Peter, this disciple of Jesus addresses the subject of trials and suffering. In 8 simple verses, God writes directly to you and I about how we should receive trials in our life, why they come to us, and how we should respond.

    Verse 12-13 “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.”

God is saying “Don’t be shocked. It’s going to happen.” Keep in mind too that it’s not just you or me that is going through that horrible circumstance. There is almost nothing that we go through that is unique to you or I.

    What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.
    ~ Ecclesiastes 1:9

David Guzik: “Instead of thinking of trials (even fiery trials) as strange occurrences, we see them as ways to partake of Christ’s sufferings. And if we partake of His sufferings, we will also partake of His glory and joy. Peter once told Jesus to avoid the suffering of the cross.”

    And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.
    And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
    But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
    ~ Mark 8:31-33

“Once it seemed strange to the Apostle Peter that his Master should think of suffering. Now he thinks it strange that He could have imagined anything else.” (Meyer)

    Vs 14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.

God tells us in verse 14 that if we are insulted or reprimanded (reproached) because of our faith in Jesus, we are blessed! And while the world abuses the name of God (blasphemes) when the storms of life hit, we are called to praise Him even in the foul weather.

    Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ~ Matthew 5:10

    Vs 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters.

“Suffering as an evildoer is deserved and brings shame to the name of Jesus. Peter recognizes that not all suffering that Christians experience is suffering in the name of Jesus.”
~ Guzik

We have all seen or heard about a Christian pastor that is popular or famous that has fallen because of his own sin. They get caught in their sin and suffer as a result. Peter warns us against that. Don’t let it happen!

    Vs 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.

The suffering of us as Christian believers is sometimes difficult to understand and we ask “why is this happening God?” or “why me?”

There are times when adversity is simply the Lord allowing difficult things in our life to smooth out our rough spots or to prompt us to change. In these times, perhaps He is teaching us patience, or to be more cautious, or to be more loving, or He is prompting us to learn to show kindness or generosity to others. There are many ways God uses adversity to challenge us to do things differently or to turn from sin.

    And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher.
    And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
    ~ Isaiah 30:20-21

God cares way too much about you and I to leave us the way we are! I’m so thankful for that. I can picture Him standing behind me saying “This is the way, walk in it,” when I “turn to the right” or when I “turn to the left”.

At other times, God will allow adversity so that He can be glorified in us and through us. As difficult as they are, in these trials we must remember to glorify God in all things.

    To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power,
    so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
    ~ 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

When we are listening to the Holy Spirit by spending time in prayer and daily reading God’s word, He will speak to us. At times it’s very quiet, and it may simply be so that in that awfully difficult moment we choose to praise Him and glorify Him.

    But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
    For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
    ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
    Vs 17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?

Guzik: “Peter tells us that judgment begins at the house of God. God uses suffering as a judgment (in a positive, purifying sense) for Christians (the house of God) now. It is right for judgment to begin at the house of God.”

“There is equity in it; for Christians profess to be better than others, and so they ought to be. They say they are regenerate, so they ought to be regenerate. They say that they are a holy people, separated unto Christ; so they ought to be holy, and separate from sinners, as he was.” (Spurgeon)

Guzik: “Now is our time of fiery trial (1 Peter 4:12); the ungodly will have their fire later. The fire we endure now purifies us; the fire the ungodly will endure will punish them. Yet we always remember that there is never any punishment from God for us in our sufferings, only purification. For the Christian, the issue of punishment was settled once and for all at the cross, where Jesus endured all the punishment the Christian could ever face from God.

The same fire that consumes straw will purify gold. The fire is the same, but its purpose in application is different, and its effect is different upon the straw and the gold. Even so, Christians do suffer some of the same things the ungodly do, yet the purpose of God is different, and the effect is different.”

This “judgment” (the purifying trials) that we go through can be awful! There is no doubt. It’s an incredible comfort knowing that God is using them in our lives to change us from the inside out. Yet for the unbeliever that dies in unbelief, how much worse will it be for them? “What will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?”

As we glorify God in the midst of our suffering, the non-Christian will see that faith in us. They will recognize our faith as something that is supernatural. When we share our faith in Jesus with them, what a powerful testimony that is!

    Vs 18 Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?”

My Bible footnotes say: “Scarcely saved does not mean that the righteous just barely receive salvation. “Scarcely” (Greek molis, “with difficulty”) means that the righteous are saved in the midst of suffering; their salvation is not easy and simple”.

And again Peter says in essence “if it’s that hard for the Christian, how much worse will it be for the non-Christian?”

    Vs 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

Verse 19 really sums up the message of 1 Peter. Even in our suffering, we are called to love God and hold fast to faith. That can be so tough!

    Who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.
    ~ 1 Peter 2:23-24

This verse is talking about Jesus who suffered pain beyond our imagination, but still committed Himself to God the Father. He did that so “that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness”. He died so that we could live for Him!

I pray that I will forever and in all circumstances “entrust my soul to a faithful Creator while doing good”.

If you’ve not yet believed in Jesus as your Savior, let me tell you how simple it is. All you need to do is to admit that you and I each do wrong things (sin), and that Jesus died for your sin and for mine to take away that punishment, and that God raised Him from the dead so that we’ll live forever with Him.

    But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
    For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. ~ Romans 10:8-10

No one is too far gone down the path of sin. No one! Take a look for yourself and see what the Bible says:

    Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.
    ~ Isaiah 1:18

    Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?
    ~ Jeremiah 32:37

    For nothing is impossible with God.
    ~ Luke 1:37

    If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
    ~ 1 John 1:9

    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
    ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

All is takes is for you to believe it and say it with your mouth. Feel free to message me below if you’ve done that and you don’t know what the next step is.

Daniel’s Vision of the Four Beasts – Daniel 7

Who remembers how many kings Daniel has now served under? Can you name them?

King Nebuchadnezzar, King Belshazzar, and King Darius. One of them had a dream in Daniel 2 about future kingdoms. Do you remember who? Right, King Nebuchadnezzar.

In that dream, the King saw a great statue that was made up of a head of gold, it’s chest and arms were silver, it’s middle and thighs were bronze, and it had legs of iron and feet of iron mixed with clay. A stone struck the statue at it’s feet and broke up the feet into pieces. Then the entire statue was broken into pieces. This stone then became a mountain over the entire earth.

The interpretation of that dream was this: Nebuchadnezzar and his kingdom were the head of gold. There would be a less great kingdom after him, that was the silver and it represented the Medo-Persian empire ruled by Darius. Then a third and lesser kingdom would rise that was the bronze belly and thighs of the statue, which was the Greek empire. After that would come a kingdom of iron (the legs) because iron breaks up all things, and it would be founded on feet of iron mixed with clay as the feet. This fourth kingdom was the Roman Empire.

After the four kingdoms, the interpretation of the dream showed the stone (not made by humans) that breaks up all the kingdoms and setup a king that would rule forever. This is God’s eternal kingdom. Remember, all of this was from Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in chapter 2 of Daniel. Now let’s look at chapter 7 where Daniel has a completely different dream, but it has a very similar interpretation that reveals the same four kingdoms and then God’s eternal reign. In this dream, the kingdoms are represented by animals rather than a big statue.

Where else in the Bible have we seen God reveal the same future events in two very different dreams?

In Genesis 37, Joseph had two dreams. In one dream, his own sheaf of grain stood up in the field, and the sheaves of grain of his father and brothers each bowed down to him. Then in another dream, the sun, moon, and eleven stars were all bowing down to him. Each dream foretold the same future when his entire family would bow down to him as the ruler in Egypt.

Later in Genesis 41, Pharaoh has two dreams. In one vision, the seven skinny and ugly cows eat up the seven fat cows. In another vision, the seven thin and ugly ears of corn eat and swallow up the seven plump and juicy ears of corn. Both dreams showed Joseph and Pharaoh that they would have seven years of great and bountiful harvest followed by seven years of horrendous drought and starvation.

This seems to be the Lord’s way of reinforcing or restating to the interpreter (Joseph in the book of Genesis and Daniel here in the book of Daniel) that the interpretation is correct, true, and certain.

Daniel 7 takes us back in time to when Daniel served under King Belshazzar. If you remember, Belshazzar was the ruler back in chapter 5 when the hand wrote on the wall, and then his kingdom was taken over in the night by Darius of the Medes and Persians.

Daniel’s Dream

    1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head while on his bed. Then he wrote down the dream, telling the main facts.

(It sounds like Daniel kept a notebook by his bedside like I do. When I think of important things in the middle of the night, I write them down so I can remember them later.)

    2 Daniel spoke, saying, “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea.
    3 “And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other.

The four winds of heaven stir up the sea, and four beasts rise up out of the ocean. We know that only God controls the weather. It is safe to say that God is in control here, and that God allows the entire world’s political circumstances to be such that each of these kingdoms rises up and takes control. But only because God allows them to do so.

    For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations. ~ Psalm 22:28 (ESV)

You see, God is in control of every single political situation in the world. He always has been and He always will be. Every king, every president, every country, every election, every government – they are all subject to God, and exist by God’s divine appointment and allowance.

    4 “The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings. I watched till its wings were plucked off; and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.

Similar to Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the statue with a gold head, this first beast is the kingdom of Babylon again. It was a lion with eagles wings. He had the strength and royal glory of a lion, coupled with the speed and power of an eagle. Daniel may have recognized that the first beast/kingdom was that of Babylon/Belshazzar, and that he would soon lose his throne.

    5 “And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear. It was raised up on one side, and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said thus to it: ‘Arise, devour much flesh!’

This second beast was a bear and it was “raised up on one side”. So it had an unequal power to it, where one side was stronger than the other. Remember, this kingdom was the Medes and the Persians combined in the Medo-Persian Empire. One of those kingdoms was the stronger of the two. The three ribs in it’s mouth could signify the three kingdoms it conquered – Egypt, Babylon, and Lydia. On the statue, this was the silver chest and arms meaning this kingdom was not as strong or great as Babylon was.

    6 “After this I looked, and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird. The beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it.

Beast number three is a depiction of the kingdom of Alexander the Great of Greece. Leopards are incredibly quick, and this one would have been even more so with four wings. That fact lines up well with the fact that Alexander took over the world quickly and at a very young age. After Alexander died, his kingdom was divided among four of his generals which are shown by the four heads of the leopard. On the statue, this kingdom was the bronze belly and thighs. Again, it’s a lesser metal that portrays a lesser kingdom.

    7 “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.

This kingdom was that of the Roman Empire. It is so dreadful and terrifying that it cannot be described by any animals we know of. The Roman Empire lasted much longer than any of the others and it was more ruthless and powerful than the others. The 10 horns may represent the 10 successive strong kings that ruled the Roman Empire.

    8 “I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words.

This little horn starts out small but becomes the most powerful. It overtakes three of the other horns. This little horn may signify the anti-christ.

“The angel seems more concerned to drive home his earlier words about the judgment to come and the triumph of the saints than to identify the little horn. The central point of the vision is that the time when the beastly kingdoms of the earth will oppress the saints is limited by God, and beyond it lies the scene of the heavenly court, where the beasts will finally be tamed and destroyed.” ~ (The ESV Study Bible, Copyright 2008 by Crossway Bibles)

    Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
    He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.
    And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
    The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
    ~ Revelation 20:1-4, 10

Satan, the anti-christ, and these kingdoms are only allowed to do what they will do by the God of the universe. They have NO POWER outside of what God allows. My point: God is in control, He is on the throne, and He watches over his people.

    More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. ~ Romans 5:3-5 (ESV)

    And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
    ~ 1 Peter 5:10 (ESV)

Christ is Coming!

    9 “I watched till thrones were put in place, And the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, And the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, Its wheels a burning fire;
    10 A fiery stream issued And came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, And the books were opened.
    11 “I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking; I watched till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame.
    12 “As for the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.

We can see from these verses (9-12) that Jesus Christ is in control and judgment is coming.

    13 “I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him.
    14 Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.
    15 “I, Daniel, was grieved in my spirit within my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.
    16 “I came near to one of those who stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of these things:
    17 ‘Those great beasts, which are four, are four kings which arise out of the earth.
    18 ‘But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.
    19 “Then I wished to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its nails of bronze, which devoured, broke in pieces, and trampled the residue with its feet;
    20 “and the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn which came up, before which three fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth which spoke pompous words, whose appearance was greater than his fellows.
    21 “I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them,
    22 “until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom.

As believers at the end of all things, we will live and rule with Christ over the whole of his kingdom!

    23 “Thus he said: ‘The fourth beast shall be A fourth kingdom on earth, Which shall be different from all other kingdoms, And shall devour the whole earth, Trample it and break it in pieces.
    24 The ten horns are ten kings Who shall arise from this kingdom. And another shall rise after them; He shall be different from the first ones, And shall subdue three kings.
    25 He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand For a time and times and half a time.
    26 ‘But the court shall be seated, And they shall take away his dominion, To consume and destroy it forever.
    27 Then the kingdom and dominion, And the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, Shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And all dominions shall serve and obey Him.’
    28 “This is the end of the account. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly troubled me, and my countenance changed; but I kept the matter in my heart.”

Jesus is called the “Ancient of Days” in this passage. That name for Jesus reminds me that He is on the throne and in control and He always has been! He is in control even when the rest of the world seems to be spinning out of control.

    I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. ~ John 16:33 (ESV)

    That people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things. ~ Isaiah 45:6-7 (ESV)

    For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.
    And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. ~ Colossians 1:16-17 (ESV)

He is on the throne, and He is in control. I am so encouraged by that!

Daniel, the Lions, and Faith – Daniel 6

When we left Daniel in Chapter 5, the Babylonian kingdom had just been overrun and conquered by Darius the king of the Medes. The Babylonian king Belshazzar had been killed after Daniel interpreted the dream of Belshazzar. Daniel has shown himself once again to be faithful to The Lord even at the risk of his own neck.

Back in chapter 4 when Nebuchadnezzar asked Daniel to interpret the king’s dream, it was not a very promising prophecy for the kings’ future. The king could turn from his pride and save himself the coming trouble, or if he did not he would encounter seven years of madness. It took incredible faith for Daniel to speak that truth into the king’s life. Yet Daniel believed God and stepped out in faith that God’s word is true, and that it was more important for the king to hear from God than for Daniel to live. What a great lesson that is for us!

When given the chance to interpret the handwriting on the wall, Daniel was again putting his own life at stake by giving the king an unfavorable interpretation. That must have taken tremendous faith!

    This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
    Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.
    ~ Joshua 1:8-9

You see, Daniel has chosen to follow God and His word. The Lord is NOT saying if you follow His word you’ll make lots of money. He’s not saying if you read the Bible every day, your business will do fantastic things and your job future is incredibly bright.

God is saying if you read/study/follow His word, He will go before you like He did with Joshua. He will fight your battles, He will walk with you. He will love you and He will show His love through you. You will have success in Christ. That can look much different than worldly success.

In Daniel’s life, God used Daniel’s worldly success and continued to increase his position and his influence. God blessed him in it so that he would have the ear of each king that came along into power over the Jews. (You and I don’t have the ear of the United States president, but perhaps God has someone in that position that we don’t even know about! We should pray that He does and that God would help that person.)

The people around you and me need the Lord as much as we do. I believe that God has you and me exactly where he wants us to be (in school, work, or home), and for His purposes and His glory we should stay until He moves us.

This week we see Daniel again go through a time of faith-stretching where he will have to stand firm, trust his God, and watch Him work.

Now let’s look at Daniel 6.

    1 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom;
    2 and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss.
    3 Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.

Daniel is given career success. Again, you and I may not have jobs or careers that are deemed highly successful by the world’s standards. But that doesn’t matter to God. What matters is that we serve Him right where He has put us.

    So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
    ~ 1 Corinthians 10:31

In whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. That doesn’t mean simply “do a good job”, or “work hard and God will reward you”. To do all to the glory of God goes far beyond that. How do we glorify God in our work, or in our daily life? If you are a framer on a construction crew and you fire a nail gun through your big toe, that may mean not cussing in your moment of pain. Or instead of telling your friends dirty jokes on your lunch break, talking about what God is doing in your life. It may mean that when you find an extra few hours on your paycheck that you know you never worked, going to your boss and letting them know of the mistake. And when your boss thanks you or asks why you told him/her, simply saying that you know God wants you to be honest in all parts of your life.

My wife, daughter, and I worked at a camp this week for underprivileged kids for the local Gospel Mission. There was archery, floating the river in tubes, challenge courses, devotions, games – all kinds of great stuff for the kids this week. There were also a couple of occasions where the kids had a chance to go fishing on the river.

Now, I love fishing. I relish the time of casting my line in the water, reeling it in slowly, and then strategizing in my mind how I’m going to outsmart the fish. One thing I don’t enjoy as much is teaching kids to fish. (I’m a sinner just like you. This is a moment of confession.) To stand there with a group of kids and untangle lines, bait hooks, cast for them, and watch them turn around and tangle up their line after the cast is really hard for me! At camp this last week, I went down to the water dreading it a bit, and I watched as other cabin leaders demonstrated love and patience with the kids. They showed them casting, they untangled lines on cheap old rods/reels, they patiently baited the hooks, and they did it over and over again. These leaders were doing all to the glory of God for these kids. And in that short period of time, the kids saw and felt the love of Christ. Those leaders taught me a lesson.

    By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
    ~ John 13:35

    But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
    ~ Romans 5:8

God is so patient with me, loving me and showing me His love! He has called you and me to do the same with those around us, even if it means doing something we don’t particularly enjoy. You see, those leaders who were helping the kids fish may not enjoy untangling lines. What they do enjoy is sharing God’s love with kids in whatever form that takes.

    4 Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him.
    5 Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.”
    6 Then these high officials and satraps came by agreement to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever!
    7 All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions.
    8 Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.”
    9 Therefore King Darius signed the document and injunction.

These leaders were obviously NOT doing their work for God’s glory, but for their own gain and glory. When we are serving God and doing everything for His glory, the desire to elevate ourselves falls away and the desire for God to be glorified rises to the top.

A great example from God’s word:
King David – A shepherd boy who simply served God while herding sheep in the desert, he was given his first shot at glory in slaying Goliath. David could have started the day by making a statement about how skilled he was with a knife or spear, how accurate he was with a sling, or offering an exact count of how many wild beasts he had killed. In today’s business world, that would be like me pulling out a spreadsheet to show all the great things I’d done in my work and taking credit for the numbers. Or a kid in school pulling out their report card and talking about how many hours it took to get all those fantastic grades. But that’s not David’s heart.

    And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you!”
    ~ 1 Samuel 17:37

David begins by predicting in faith that God will deliver! Then David meets the challenger Goliath down in the valley. Goliath has all sorts of big talk and puffed up pride.

    Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.
    This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel,
    and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear.” For the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hand.”
    1 Samuel 17:45-47

I love David’s heart! He gives all the glory to God ahead of time in complete faith “that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear.” It also encourages me to know that “the battle is the LORD’s” and he will deliver. It’s not our battle, it’s God battle!

When a nation goes to war soldiers are trained, prepared, and sent to the battlefield. But the war is not the individual soldier’s war, instead the soldier is fighting for his entire country. In the same way, as soldiers of Jesus, we are fighting the battle not for our own selves or for our own glory. We are fighting and soldiering for Jesus. The battle belongs to the Lord!

I had a great-great grandfather who emigrated from Germany to the United States in the 1850s because the king of his country was conscripting young men to go fight for other countries. Germany at that time had an army of soldiers for hire (Hessians), and the king would get paid money to send his young men to fight a war for someone else. My great-great grandfather – John Hess – came to the US and lived in Iowa. The Civil War came upon our nation and he signed up to fight for the North. He joined the war effort as a soldier because he believed in his new country and he felt the cause was right. He knew it was not his war but a war for the entire country.

The same idea is true for David with Goliath, and the same is true for Daniel. Daniel knows that God is in control and has put him in this position for a reason.

    10 When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.

Even though the order had been signed, Daniel’s prayer habits continued just as they had been. Even knowing that what he was doing violated the king’s new law, Daniel also knew that God had called him to worship the Lord and Him alone. He had faith that God would deliver him if He honored the Lord and that the “battle is the Lord’s” to fight.

    11 Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and plea before his God.
    12 Then they came near and said before the king, concerning the injunction, “O king! Did you not sign an injunction, that anyone who makes petition to any god or man within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king answered and said, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.”
    13 Then they answered and said before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or the injunction you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.”
    14 Then the king, when he heard these words, was much distressed and set his mind to deliver Daniel. And he labored till the sun went down to rescue him.
    15 Then these men came by agreement to the king and said to the king, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed.”
    16 Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!”
    17 And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel.
    18 Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him.
    19 Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions.
    20 As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?”
    21 Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever!
    22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.”

Daniel gives God the glory because Daniel knows it is God who delivers and saves. There were many times in my past work-life when I should have given God the glory for any and every success I had. It was so hard for me when talking with non-believers to say “God did the work, I just showed up.” But it is so true that the work done is truly God, we simply step forward and obey. I’m still learning that lesson today.

    23 Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.
    24 And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.

For boys, husbands, and dads, this is an incredible lesson right here in one single verse (vs 24). God has ordained us to be the “pastor” of our family. Sometimes we take that role seriously and follow Jesus and lead our wife and kids. Sometimes we don’t take that role seriously. Other times, we as men completely abandon that role as leader of the family. Being a dad is hard, there is no question about it. However “the battle is the Lord’s”, and all we need to do is show up and obey. I know I make it sound easier than it is.

Here these men in the king’s court were given incredible opportunity and responsibility. They used it for their own selfish goals and tried to get Daniel killed to get him out of the way of their own career. We as husbands and dads were also given incredible opportunity and responsibility.

Some dads will make career choices that take them away from their family, or they love other women besides their wife, or perhaps they love alcohol or a drug more than they love their family. I’d like to encourage you husbands and dads out there to do what God has called you to do. Be a man, stand with your family, make the hard choices, and follow Jesus in all you do. These men in the kingdom made terrible choices, and their entire family suffered as a result. That still happens today.

    Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
    ~ 1 Corinthians 16:13

Remember the exhortation in the book of Joshua? Be strong and courageous!

(Please know that I am aware of all you women out there filling the role of both mom and dad and I salute you! God bless you for all that you are doing to pour into the lives of your children, and I can’t say this enough: God can help you! Choose Jesus Christ as your savior and cry out to God every day for your kids. God will help you as “the battle is the Lord’s.”)

    25 Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: “Peace be multiplied to you.
    26 I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end.
    27 He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.”
    28 So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

Once again, Daniel glorifies God and steps out in faith that God will deliver him even from hungry lions. God took care of Daniel when he did that. God took care of David when David gave God all the glory. God will take care of you and me when we choose to follow Him and glorify Him in all that we do.

The LORD Speaks to Job out of the Whirlwind – Job 38-41

Our friend Job has had 2 chapters of trouble and 35 following chapters of dialogue with no reply from from God. God finally responds.

    1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said:
    2 “Who is this who darkens counsel By words without knowledge?
    3 Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me.
    ~ Job 38:1-3

“Over the previous 35 chapters (since Job 2), God has been directly absent from the account. We read nothing of God’s direct role in comforting, speaking to, or sustaining Job in the midst of his crisis. Over that time, Job has ached repeatedly for a word from God.” ~ David Guzik

God hasn’t spoken a single word of comfort to Job from the very beginning of his trials to this day. Wow, doesn’t that seem callous and harsh? Do we serve a God that doesn’t care?

On the contrary, much like a parent will allow their children to go through difficult things in order to learn and grow, God is simply doing what needs to be done. What parent teaches their child to walk without allowing them to fall down a few times? Or to ride a bicycle without letting them get into accidents once in a while? (Personally, I initially didn’t learn how to stop the bicycle. My method was to literally stop against a neighborhood car.) The difficult things that we go through are exactly what God allows in our lives in order to make us more reliant upon Him and to make us more like Him.

    And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.
    Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. ~ Romans 5:3-5

    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

If God had been coddling Job all through these trials, Job would not have learned the lessons that Job needed. And we would not have received 35 chapters of dialogue about God’s providence and His provision. All those lessons would never have occurred. And in the end we can see that God brought Job through it. He delivered Job and He set things right (we’ll see that at the end of the book of Job.) We discussed this in an entire lesson a few weeks ago in “Why Does God Allow the Righteous to Suffer?

    And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.
    ~ Revelation 21:4

When our kids were younger we were planning a big move from Spokane, WA to Corvallis, OR. In order to help the kids address any concerns they had about the Big Move, we created what we called “God’s Worry Jar”. Next to it was laid a pen and stack of scratch paper. Every time one of the kids had a worry or concern, they would write it down on a piece of paper, pray about it, and put it in the jar. Thus, these worries became God’s to deal with and not our own.

    Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
    ~ 1 Peter 5:7

We were amazed at how much the kids used the jar! And if you were to read these prayer requests today, you would see that every one of our children’s worries was answered by God. The math test that was a struggle to study for, the friendship that became difficult, the worry about our move to Oregon – every single request was answered by God in His time. Was every situation without pain? No, of course not. But God was and is faithful!

The Whirlwind Itself
Notice also that God replies to Job out of what seems to be a tornado or swirling tempest of some kind.

“Repeatedly in the whirlwind is associated with the divine presence. It speaks to us of the powerful, unmanageable nature of God; that He is like a tornado that cannot be controlled or opposed.
– God brought Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:1-11)
God’s presence is in the whirlwind (Psalm 77:18; Nahum 1:3)
God’s coming is like a whirlwind (Isaiah 66:15; Jeremiah 4:13 and 23:19)
God appeared to Ezekiel in a whirlwind (Ezekiel 1:4)

What an awesome God we serve, and what an incredible reminder of God’s power.

Who Laid the Foundations?

Now God continues His response to Job in a way that reveals His kingship over the entire planet:

    “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding.
    5 Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?
    6 To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone,
    7 When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
    8 “Or who shut in the sea with doors, When it burst forth and issued from the womb;
    9 When I made the clouds its garment, And thick darkness its swaddling band;
    10 When I fixed My limit for it, And set bars and doors;
    11 When I said, ‘This far you may come, but no farther, And here your proud waves must stop!’
    12 “Have you commanded the morning since your days began, And caused the dawn to know its place,
    13 That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, And the wicked be shaken out of it?

I love how Job so often recounts God’s sovereignty over all of creation! If God created the entire universe starting with nothing but His imagination, do you think He can overcome that hurdle you’re facing?

    He stretches out the north over empty space; He hangs the earth on nothing.
    He binds up the water in His thick clouds, Yet the clouds are not broken under it.
    He covers the face of His throne, And spreads His cloud over it.
    He drew a circular horizon on the face of the waters, At the boundary of light and darkness.
    The pillars of heaven tremble, And are astonished at His rebuke.
    He stirs up the sea with His power, And by His understanding He breaks up the storm.
    By His Spirit He adorned the heavens; His hand pierced the fleeing serpent.
    ~ Job 26:7-13

(I cannot say with certainty, but I would guess that the book of Job may be the Book of the Bible that most often talks about God’s creation and with the most detail – aside from the actual creation account given in Genesis 1-3. Psalms and Proverbs also offer plenty of detail on God’s creation so I could be wrong.)

God created it all, and God is in complete and absolute control of it all.

    By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. ~ Hebrews 11:3

    For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. ~ Colossians 1:16

    14 It takes on form like clay under a seal, And stands out like a garment.
    15 From the wicked their light is withheld, And the upraised arm is broken.
    16 “Have you entered the springs of the sea? Or have you walked in search of the depths?
    17 Have the gates of death been revealed to you? Or have you seen the doors of the shadow of death?
    18 Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth? Tell Me, if you know all this.
    19 “Where is the way to the dwelling of light? And darkness, where is its place,
    20 That you may take it to its territory, That you may know the paths to its home?
    21 Do you know it, because you were born then, Or because the number of your days is great?
    22 “Have you entered the treasury of snow, Or have you seen the treasury of hail,
    23 Which I have reserved for the time of trouble, For the day of battle and war?
    24 By what way is light diffused, Or the east wind scattered over the earth?
    25 “Who has divided a channel for the overflowing water, Or a path for the thunderbolt,
    26 To cause it to rain on a land where there is no one, A wilderness in which there is no man;
    27 To satisfy the desolate waste, And cause to spring forth the growth of tender grass?
    28 Has the rain a father? Or who has begotten the drops of dew?
    29 From whose womb comes the ice? And the frost of heaven, who gives it birth?
    30 The waters harden like stone, And the surface of the deep is frozen.
    31 “Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades, Or loose the belt of Orion?
    32 Can you bring out Mazzaroth in its season? Or can you guide the Great Bear with its cubs?
    33 Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you set their dominion over the earth?
    34 “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, That an abundance of water may cover you?
    35 Can you send out lightnings, that they may go, And say to you, ‘Here we are!’?
    36 Who has put wisdom in the mind? Or who has given understanding to the heart?
    37 Who can number the clouds by wisdom? Or who can pour out the bottles of heaven,
    38 When the dust hardens in clumps, And the clods cling together?
    39 “Can you hunt the prey for the lion, Or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
    40 When they crouch in their dens, Or lurk in their lairs to lie in wait?
    41 Who provides food for the raven, When its young ones cry to God, And wander about for lack of food?

God is over it all! God is in complete control, and there is so much comfort in knowing that. When I was a little boy, I was afraid of my dark room and whatever was hiding under my bed (I couldn’t let my feet touch the floor at night!) I remember my dad, who I thought was the strongest man on the planet, saying “I won’t let anything happen to you.” That brought me so much comfort! While you may or may not have a dad that says that to you, regardless we have a Heavenly Father who says to us that as long as we stay under His protection, He will take care of us.

That doesn’t mean we won’t ever have trouble, or be injured, or get sick, or go through painful family situations, or see the death of a loved one. It means God is King. He is in control, and He will care for us through the situation.

    Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved. ~ Psalm 55:22

    And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
    ~ Philippians 4:19

As a loving father, of course God wants to help save you and I from harm. He chose to save us from the ultimate and eternal harm – death – by offering up His Son Jesus to die in our place so that we can have the ultimate and eternal reward – life with Him.

    That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
    For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. ~ Romans 10:9-10

Years ago, Billy Graham’s organization found that folks wanted actual steps to follow to become Christians. It’s so much easier than you may think, and while the Bible doesn’t offer steps 1, 2, and 3, Billy Graham’s team spelled it out simply in “How to Know Jesus”.

Now we see Job reply to God in complete humility:

    Behold, I am vile; What shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth.
    Once I have spoken, but I will not answer; Yes, twice, but I will proceed no further.
    ~ Job 40:3-4

    Would you indeed annul My judgment? Would you condemn Me that you may be justified? Have you an arm like God? Or can you thunder with a voice like His?
    Then adorn yourself with majesty and splendor, And array yourself with glory and beauty.
    ~ Job 40:8-10

    Then I will also confess to you That your own right hand can save you.
    ~ Job 40:14

God loves humility, and He works situations around us so that we would learn humility.

    And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.
    So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.
    ~ Deuteronomy 8:2-3

    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.
    ~ 2 Chronicles 7:14

    For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation.
    ~ Psalm 149:4

Why would God want us to learn humility? Why would that be important to Him?

God wants us to rely on Him and on Him alone for our needs. He created us to love Him and worship Him. He is all-powerful, and He is worthy of our adoration.

    You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.
    ~ Revelation 4:11

    I will extol You, my God, O King; And I will bless Your name forever and ever.
    Every day I will bless You, And I will praise Your name forever and ever.
    Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; And His greatness is unsearchable.
    One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts.
    I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, And on Your wondrous works.[fn]
    Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts, And I will declare Your greatness.
    They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness, And shall sing of Your righteousness.
    The LORD is gracious and full of compassion, Slow to anger and great in mercy.
    The LORD is good to all, And His tender mercies are over all His works.
    All Your works shall praise You, O LORD, And Your saints shall bless You.
    They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom, And talk of Your power,
    To make known to the sons of men His mighty acts, And the glorious majesty of His kingdom.
    ~ Psalm 145:1-12

Why Does God Allow the Righteous to Suffer?

As we continue our study through the book of Job, this week we’ll travel over several chapters in Job to learn this one lesson: Why do the righteous suffer? Why couldn’t God allow only the evil to suffer and reward the righteous with a pain-free life?

In answer to the problems of life, it’s best to always look and see what the Word of God tells us. Now, the Bible isn’t going to tell you how to fix the refrigerator. But the Bible does address you about how you should deal with the broken fridge from within your own heart.

For example: “those who wait on The Lord will gain strength” and that we should “exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance”. (Isaiah 40:31 and Romans 5:3)

Also consider: “do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”. (Phil 4:6)

So the Bible often doesn’t deal with your situation directly (“How to fix the Fridge” isn’t found in the Bible), rather the Holy Spirit through the Bible gives us instruction to change our hearts as we deal with the situation.

Let’s look and see what God says about suffering and the righteous.

Job suffers and mourns his suffering

    Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him.
    And when they raised their eyes from afar, and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices and wept; and each one tore his robe and sprinkled dust on his head toward heaven.
    So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great. ~ Job 2:11-13

    After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. ~ Job 3:1

Job has suffered some horrendous tragedy, worse tragedy in such a short time than anyone I know. He’s lost all of his possessions, his servants, and his family (save his wife) in the same few moments of time. He is now incredibly sick and afflicted with a disease that results in horrible boils all over his body.

With Friends Like This, Who Needs Enemies?

Job’s friend Eliphaz now accuses Job of some sort of wrongdoing or sin.

    Remember now, who ever perished being innocent? Or where were the upright ever cut off?
    Even as I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.
    ~ Job 4:7-8

Eliphaz is one of the three friends that have come to comfort Job. After some time of watching his friend suffer, Eliphaz comes to a conclusion: That Job must have done something wrong to be punished by God like this. He says “who ever perished being innocent” as if the only folks that die or are killed are those that are guilty. His other question, “were the upright ever cut off?” suggests that God wouldn’t abandon someone who was righteous and certainly God seems to have abandoned Job, Therefore Job must have done something wrong.

Eliphaz then asserts that in his experience (“even as I have seen”), you reap what you sow. This is a general principal that, while true, isn’t a rule. Jesus sheds some light on this in Matthew.

    For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. ~ Matthew 5:45

Sometimes the shining sun is a blessing as it helps crops to grow, but there are other times it is a curse as when there is drought and starvation in the land. Often the rain is a gift from heaven as it waters the soil and provides for a community, other times it floods an entire town and destroys homes and businesses.

Often, life simply doesn’t seem fair. We see a worldly and evil person succeed in life and a beautiful and God-loving person die a tragic death. The lesson God wants us to learn from suffering is not one of evil and good, but rather a lesson for our own hearts and how we respond to suffering.

The Bible tells us that even though he’s suffering, Job’s heart remains right before God:

    In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong. ~ Job 1:22

David Guzik offers some insight on this spiritual battle of suffering that Job goes through:

In this first round of spiritual warfare Satan was singularly unsuccessful in shaking Job from his standing in faith. Job successfully battled against spiritual attack and fulfilled the exhortation that would come many hundreds of years later from the Apostle Paul: that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand (Ephesians 6:13).
– Job made his stand against fear and did not give into panic.
– Job made his stand against make-believe pretending and appropriately mourned.
– Job made his stand against pride and humbled himself before God.
– Job made his stand against self and decided to worship God.
– Job made his stand against a time-bound mindset and chose to think in terms of eternity.
– Job made his stand against unbelief and did not give into vain questionings of God.
– Job made his stand against despair and saw the hand of God even in catastrophe.
– Job made his stand against anger and did not blame God.

Bildad Tells Job to Repent and He’ll answer you

    If you would earnestly seek God and make your supplication to the Almighty,
    If you were pure and upright, surely now He would awake for you, and prosper your rightful dwelling place. ~ Job 8:5-6

Now joining Eliphaz in accusing Job of some kind of sin is Job’s friend Bildad. Have you ever asked “what have I done to deserve this?” You’re not alone. It’s a question that’s been asked by countless people over thousands and thousands of years.

(Don’t misunderstand me here. There are absolutely times when God allows suffering because of what a person DID sow, and they are now reaping the consequences. The person that commits the crime does the time, so to speak. Again, God wants us to seek His heart and His Word in everything. If we seek God and we read and study the Bible, God will provide comfort, He may provide answers, and He will give reassurance to our questioning souls.

    For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. ~ Hebrews 4:12

    All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. ~ 2 Timothy 3:16-17

    Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~ Romans 15:13)

Job agrees?

Now it seems that Job agrees that God blesses the righteous, but asks “how can a man be righteous?

    Truly I know it is so, but how can a man be righteous before God? ~ Job 9:2

Of course, Job’s friend Zophar has a response and says if you try hard enough you can do it!

    If iniquity were in your hand, and you put it far away, and would not let wickedness dwell in your tents; then surely you could lift up your face without spot; yes, you could be steadfast, and not fear.
    ~ Job 11:14-15

Zophar says you need to get away from that sin in your life (“If iniquity were in your hand, and you put it far away, and would not let wickedness dwell in your tents”). In Zophars mind, that should do the trick! Just get rid of the sin, you’ll then be righteous (without spot), and then God will bless you.

Is Zophar right? What does God say in the Bible about our righteousness?

    But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away. ~ Isaiah 64:6

    For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. ~ Matt 5:20

Our righteousness is worthless compared to God’s righteousness. We have nothing of worth to offer God as we were all born with a sin nature. Zophar is wrong. The Bible tells us: “There is none righteous, no, not one” in Acts 4:10.

The only way we can be righteous is by believing and trusting in Jesus’ death on the cross to take away our unrighteousness.

    And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.
    Genesis 15:6

    So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16:31

There is one way to righteousness, and it’s not the way of Jobs friends. We cannot be sorry enough, we can’t do enough right, we can’t make up for our wrongs. The only way to become “without spot” is in Jesus Christ.

Again, we come back to the Bible and the heart of God is to save us and also to change us. God uses trouble and suffering in our lives to change our hearts. At times, he even uses the pain and suffering of others to change what is in our own hearts. There is no other book like the Bible that can work in our hearts and create change in us.

Love God and trust Him that He is in control and on the throne. I know it sounds too simple for a heart that is hurting and seeking answers. God intentionally keeps things simple so that we can understand. The Creator of the universe cares about everything you’re going through, and you can trust Him with every part of your life.

    For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. ~ Jeremiah 29:11

    And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. ~ Romans 8:28

It’s Resurrection Sunday – Hallelujah, He is Risen!

This Sunday is Easter Sunday, the day Jesus was raised from the dead three days after being killed as a criminal, also in fulfillment of the prophecies about Him. I love the account we read from Luke chapter 24.

Last week we talked about Palm Sunday. Jesus came riding into Jerusalem humbly, on a young colt, not as the victorious King the Jews expected. Yet they praised and worshipped Him in fulfillment of the prophecies.

    1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared.
    2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb,
    3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
    4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel.
    5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?
    6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee,
    7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”
    8 And they remembered his words,
    9 and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.

Jesus knew what was coming for Him, He even told the Apostles about it ahead of time.

    And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” ~ Luke 9:21-22

    “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” ~ Luke 9:44

These angels are here to remind the disciples of Jesus’ words and to testify that it had happened just as Jesus said it would. If you are a believer in Jesus, you also have that testimony!

The New Testament teaches that God sent the Holy Spirit to glorify Jesus as the Son of God. Jesus said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth…. He will glorify me” (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit …. opens our eyes to see the self-authenticating glory of Christ in the narrative of his life and death and resurrection. He enables us to see Jesus as he really was, so that he is irresistibly true and beautiful. The apostle stated the problem of our blindness and the solution like this: “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God…. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4, 6). ~ Pastor John Piper

Even King David believed and foretold Jesus’ resurrection, and the Apostle Paul saw Jesus after His resurrection, he believed, and then he spoke in his testimony about it:

    22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—
    23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.
    24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.
    29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.
    30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne,
    31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.
    32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.
    ~ Acts 2:22-24, 29-32

Others will also testify of His resurrection

    10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles,
    11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.
    12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.
    13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem,
    14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened.
    15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them.
    16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
    17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad.
    18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
    19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,
    20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him.
    21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened.
    22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning,
    23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive.
    24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”
    25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!
    26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”
    27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
    28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther,
    29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them.
    30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them.
    31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight.

These disciples don’t recognize Jesus at first. Though they’ve been told that He has been raised from the dead, somehow they can’t see the miracle of Him standing right in front of them! Luke tells us “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself”. The whole of the Bible points us to Jesus as the Savior of the world. Here we see that Jesus is able to show them the Old Testament scriptures that point to Him. Yet, even as He is doing so, they are still unable to see the risen Savior. It reminds me of how the Holy Spirit works in the lives of those around us, and yet they can’t recognize Him. He is doing miracles in their lives, for their good and His glory. Yet they don’t seem to see or understand that it is God working.

Suddenly, we see a transformation that happens when “their eyes were opened, and they recognized him”! What a beautiful thing it is when that happens today! It brings joy to my heart when a unbeliever is beautifully transformed as the light of Christ dawns on their dark heart, and they choose to believe on Jesus to be saved. Or a believer that has strayed far from God has suddenly had his or her eyes opened to see and remember of who Christ is. These disciples remind us that God does these miracles, He opens minds and hearts to reveal Himself.

As we read the Bible, learn the Scriptures, and testify of what God has done in our lives, God uses what we’ve learned and our testimony to reveal Himself to others around us.

    32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”
    33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together,
    34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”
    35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
    36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!”
    37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit.
    38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?

Sometimes the work of God can be frightening or startling. That’s our human flesh, our doubt, our lack of faith. That is simply human. Jesus responds to their fear with “why?”

God has done miracle after miracle after miracle after miracle in my life. I have no reason to fear. I’m still afraid.

I’m afraid of the future. I’m afraid of the unknown. I’m afraid for my family. I’m afraid of evil. I’m afraid of crime. I’m afraid of my bank account. I’m afraid of what others think. I’m afraid I’m dumb, boring, ignorant, pompous, self-righteous, angry, abrasive, and sinful.

Yet Jesus assures me. He shows me how powerful He is just as He assures the discipes.

    39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”
    40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.

He shows us in the Bible that He has risen from the dead. We have many eyewitness accounts of His resurrection. Why should I be afraid? I have a Savior God that does miraculous and wonderful things!

Jesus Eats with the Disciples

    41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
    42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish,
    43 and he took it and ate before them.
    44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”
    45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,
    46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,
    47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
    48 You are witnesses of these things.
    49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Here we see Jesus remind them with His words that He was to suffer, die, and rise again “that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations”. He explains the Scriptures to them and in doing so, “he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures”. As we read God’s word, the Bible, God does the same for us. It’s important to read and study both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Both of them point to God’s eternal plan for us and they point to Jesus Christ. If we read only one of the other, we don’t see the whole picture that God has given us. Jesus gives us that example, right here in Luke 24 and also throughout the New Testament, as He uses the Old Testament in His teaching.

    50 Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them.
    51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.
    52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy,
    53 and were continually in the temple blessing God.
    ~ Luke 24:1-53

The Gospel of Luke begins it’s story in the Temple in Luke 1, and Luke also ends his gospel account in the Temple here in Chapter 24. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s Temple. God shows us again and again throughout His Word that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah – and the fulfillment of God’s eternal plan.

    18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?”
    19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
    20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?”
    21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body.
    22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
    John 2:18-22

The temple was designed by specifications given from God early in the Old Testament. God uses His entire Word to testify of Himself. We have that testimony as well! We can be witnesses, just as the disciples were, of a risen Savior.

Hallelujah, He is risen! He is risen indeed!

The Lamb of God Who Takes Away the Sins of the World

Last week we discussed how Jesus is our Passover Lamb.

This week we want to take some time to look at the many way God shows us that Jesus is the Passover Lamb. He is the Lamb of God that was offered as a sacrifice for our sins. Much of the below was taken from Matthew Henry’s commentary on Exodus 12:1-20. Matthew Henry’s words are in italics:

(For a primer on the verses from Exodus 12 click here.)

The (Passover) lamb was typical (or a ‘picture’) of Jesus

Christ is our passover

Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.
~ 1 Corinthians 5:7

Christ is the Lamb of God

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
John 1:29

Often in the Revelation he is called the Lamb.

All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.
Rev 13:18

The Lamb was to be in its prime; Christ offered up himself in the midst of his days, not when a babe at Bethlehem. It was to be without blemish; the Lord Jesus was a Lamb without spot: the judge who condemned Christ declared him innocent.

Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats. Exodus 12:5

It was to be set apart four days before, (from vs 3 and verse 6 – the 10th and 14th of the month) denoting the marking out of the Lord Jesus to be a Savior, both in the purpose and in the promise. (Jesus was “preferred” or chosen and set apart).

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! “This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ ~ John 1:29-30

It was to be slain, and roasted with fire, (vs 6 and 8) denoting the painful sufferings of the Lord Jesus, even unto death, the death of the cross. The wrath of God is as fire, and Christ was made a curse for us.

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. ~ John 3:36

Not a bone of it must be broken, which was fulfilled in Christ, denoting the unbroken strength of the Lord Jesus.

But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.
~ John 19:33

The sprinkling of the blood was typical (or a ‘picture’) of Jesus

The blood of the lamb must be sprinkled, denoting the applying of the merits of Christ’s death to our souls; we must receive that atonement.

For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
~ Romans 5:10-11

Faith is the bunch of hyssop, by which we apply the promises, and the benefits of the blood of Christ laid up in them, to ourselves.

These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
~ 1 Peter 1:7

It was to be sprinkled on the door-posts, denoting the open profession we are to make of faith in Christ.

Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. ~ Matthew 10:32

It was not to be sprinkled upon the threshold; which cautions us to take heed of trampling under foot the blood of the covenant. It is precious blood, and must be precious to us.

Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?
~ Hebrews 10:29

The blood, thus sprinkled, was a means of preserving the Israelites from the destroying angel, who had nothing to do where the blood was. The blood of Christ is the believer’s protection from the wrath of God, the curse of the law, and the damnation of hell.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. ~ Romans 8:1

The solemn eating of the lamb was typical (or a ‘picture’) of our gospel duty to Christ

The passover lamb was not to be looked upon only, but to be fed upon. So we must by faith make Christ our own; and we must receive spiritual strength and nourishment from him, as from our food.

Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.”
~ John 6:53-55

It was all to be eaten; those who by faith feed upon Christ, must feed upon a whole Christ; they must take Christ and his yoke, Christ and his cross, as well as Christ and his crown.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
Matthew 16:24-26

It was to be eaten at once, not put by till morning. To-day Christ is offered, and is to be accepted while it is called to-day, before we sleep the sleep of death.

For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
~ 2 Corinthians 6:2

It was to be eaten with bitter herbs, in remembrance of the bitterness of their bondage in Egypt; we must feed upon Christ with sorrow and brokenness of heart, in remembrance of sin. Christ will be sweet to us, if sin be bitter.

Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of The Lord.
~ Acts 3:19

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ~ 1 John 1:9

It was to be eaten standing, with their staves in their hands, as being ready to depart. When we feed upon Christ by faith, we must forsake the rule and the dominion of sin; sit loose to the world, and every thing in it; forsake all for Christ, and reckon it no bad bargain.

The Hebrews were called to be ready to leave everything behind them. This world offers nothing for us that we can take into eternity.

Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. ~ Hebrews 13:12-14

The feast of unleavened bread was typical (or a ‘picture’) of the Christian life

Having received Christ Jesus the Lord, we must continually delight ourselves in Christ Jesus. No manner of work must be done, that is, no care admitted and indulged, which does not agree with, or would lessen this holy joy. The Jews were very strict as to the passover, so that no leaven should be found in their houses. It must be a feast kept in charity, without the leaven of malice; and in sincerity, without the leaven of hypocrisy. It was by an ordinance for ever; so long as we live we must continue feeding upon Christ, rejoicing in him always, with thankful mention of the great things he has done for us.

Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. ~ 1 Corinthians 5:7-8

Jesus – He truly is our Passover Lamb.

See also “No Roof Over Your Head” for a great blog on how God covers us.

Who To Trust?

When I was a kid of about 4 or 5 years old, we lived in California and had lots of neighbors and friends that had swimming pools. We didn’t have a pool in our own family, but my mom and my dad felt it was important for us to learn how to swim.

The local public pool offered swimming lessons for a reasonable fee so my parents signed us up. I barely remember going in for the lessons, but I have a short video clip in my mind of me being held above water by an adult (or probably a teenager) and trying to keep my legs straight while kicking and flailing around. I remember being frustrated and nervous that the instructor would let me sink, and I knew at the time the instructor was a little frustrated with me as well.

I never did learn to swim from that instructor, as a matter of fact they gave my parents a full refund. You see, I had a problem with trust. I didn’t know this person well enough to have the confidence that he/she wouldn’t let me sink. After all, I was putting my life in their hands!

We all have “trust issues” don’t we? We’ve all trusted someone and been thrilled with the outcome, and we’ve trusted others and were disappointed. As a manager at work, I trust my employees to get things done. I trust my friends or loved ones to keep secrets. When I ask a close friend for prayer, I trust that they won’t criticize me for the concern.

After God created the earth and all that is in it in five days, God then created the first man – Adam. Then He created the first woman from that man. God gave them the entire garden to live in and play in, to enjoy the beautiful plants and animals. It would have been like a great big zoological garden! Can you imagine this incredibly beautiful place where every created lived and roamed with these two people? Wow!

Then… it happened. Adam and Eve would have had NO REASON to mistrust God. He had never lied to them or let them down. He always did what He said He would do. But Satan convinced Eve that God was not quite telling the truth. He told Eve that God was hiding this little secret from them and that if they ate the fruit, they would be like God. This is the same lie that Satan himself fell for! Satan wanted to be like God. We learned about this in last week’s lesson: Satan, God, and Fear – More of the Basics

What Does it Mean to Trust God?

Does “trusting God” mean that He won’t allow bad things to happen to you? There is so much hurt and pain in the world, sometimes it’s really difficult for us to believe that God cares. Or that we can trust Him. If God cares and we can trust Him, why do people die?

The Bible is full of situations where bad things happen to people that love God. Through those really difficult times, God asks us to persevere and to trust Him.

There are so many examples of men and women who had faith, trusted in God, and God showed Himself faithful. Look at Joseph who languished in prison in Genesis 40 and 41. Check out the scriptures about how David ran for his life from King Saul in 1 Samuel 24-30 and how God delivered him from the hand of Saul. Look at the life of Job in Job 1-2, then he struggles all through chapters 3 through 41, and God restores him in chapter 42.

The Passover Lamb

Look at the Hebrews in Egypt – they were there for 400 years! Many Hebrew men and women lived as slaves to Egypt and cried out to God all through their lives. They clung to the promise that God would deliver them.

God had foretold to Abraham hundreds of years before that this would happen, and that He would deliver them.

    Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years.
    And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions.” ~ Genesis 15:13-14

After 400 years in this horrible situation, God raised up a man, Moses, to lead the people out of Egypt. God instructed Pharaoh to let the people go, and Pharaoh refused. After 9 plagues and chance after chance to let the Hebrews go, God gave them one final plague, and with it, deliverance for Israel. (Read Exodus 7-13)

    3 “Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household.
    4 ‘And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man’s need you shall make your count for the lamb.
    5 ‘Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats.
    6 ‘Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight.
    7 ‘And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it.
    8 ‘Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.
    9 ‘Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire—its head with its legs and its entrails.
    10 ‘You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire.
    11 ‘And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s Passover.
    12 ‘For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.
    13 ‘Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. ~ Exodus 12:3-13

God commanded that the each household of the Hebrews was to slaughter a male, spotless lamb. They were then to mark the doorframe of each of their houses with the blood of this sacrificial lamb, then they were eat the lamb that was slain. After their meal, God told them to put on their traveling clothes and be ready to leave! “A belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste.” In the middle of the night, God would kill every firstborn of every house that was not protected with the passover lamb’s blood on the doorframe.

You see, God had promised them hundreds of years before that even though they would go through a time of real difficulty and trouble, they would be saved from all of that.

    21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Pick out and take lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb.
    22 “And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning.
    23 “For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you.
    24 “And you shall observe this thing as an ordinance for you and your sons forever.
    25 “It will come to pass when you come to the land which the LORD will give you, just as He promised, that you shall keep this service.
    26 “And it shall be, when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’
    27 “that you shall say, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice of the LORD, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.’ ” So the people bowed their heads and worshiped.
    28 Then the children of Israel went away and did so; just as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.
    29 And it came to pass at midnight that the LORD struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of livestock.
    30 So Pharaoh rose in the night, he, all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where there was not one dead.
    31 Then he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, “Rise, go out from among my people, both you and the children of Israel. And go, serve the LORD as you have said.
    32 “Also take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone; and bless me also.”

God gave them salvation. God heard them and delivered them after 400 years!
Look at what He says back in Exodus 2:

    Now it happened in the process of time that the king of Egypt died. Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage.
    So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.
    And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them.
    ~ Exodus 2:23-25

God heard their groaning. God hears your groaning. He hears it and He cares. Does that mean we won’t have difficult times? No, not at all. It means He hears us, He understands, and He carries us through it to the other side!

Look at what happens next in our Exodus story:

    8 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the children of Israel; and the children of Israel went out with boldness.
    9 So the Egyptians pursued them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and overtook them camping by the sea beside Pi Hahiroth, before Baal Zephon.
    10 And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the LORD.
    11 Then they said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt?
    12 “Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.”
    13 And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever.
    14 “The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”
    ~ Exodus 14:8-14

God delivers them out of Egypt only to have Pharaoh take chase after them. Pharaoh goes after the Hebrews with “the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army” and he “overtook them camping by the sea”. Pharaoh corners the Hebrews camped by the Red Sea, they are trapped with no where to go!

The Hebrews complain Moses saying: “It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.”

Moses responds with “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”

God hears them and delivers them just as He promised! God orders Moses to put his staff in the water and God parts the Red Sea in two. The Israelites walk across on dry ground in complete safety.

    28 Then the waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen, and all the army of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them. Not so much as one of them remained.
    29 But the children of Israel had walked on dry land in the midst of the sea, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.
    30 So the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.
    31 Thus Israel saw the great work which the LORD had done in Egypt; so the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD and His servant Moses.
    ~ Exodus 14:28-31

The passage that has struck me recently in my life is “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”

Have you ever been trying to demonstrate to someone else, and they interrupt your work with questions that, if they simply waited, they would see answered? What do we say when that happens? “Shush, just watch. I’m showing you right now. Just be patient and you’ll see!”

Just be quiet and watch God at work! It’s OK to ask questions, and to wonder “how long oh Lord?” But God is saying to us even today as we go through trouble: “Just watch what I’m going to do!”

That’s the trust that God wants us to have. Not trust that there will be no trouble. But trusting Him while we are in the trouble. The awful, difficult, and painful times will come for sure. But God wants us to trust that He will see us through.

Now think again about the Passover Lamb that was sacrificed so the Hebrews could be saved. What does that mean to us?

Notice that God gave Pharaoh 9 plagues, or 9 chances, to make things right and let the Israelites go. (Read Exodus 7-13) God is a God of mercy and grace. He didn’t want to kill Pharaoh and the Egyptians. He gave them opportunity after opportunity to do the right thing. He even warned them ahead of time in most of the plagues so they could know in advance what would happen if they disobeyed.

God doesn’t want to condemn us to eternity in hell. Jesus Christ was perfect, pure and spotless. We were sinners with no escape. God gave us His only Son to be sacrificed to be sacrificed on the cross, in death He became our Passover Lamb. God offers us mercy and grace.

    You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion.
    Matthew 26:2

    The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
    John 1:29

    Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.
    1 Cor 5:7

    He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.
    John 3:36

    Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.
    1 Peter 1:18-19

    All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.
    Rev 13:18

Jesus is our Passover Lamb. All you and I need to do is to trust Him, that He died for us, the He was raised up again so we can spend eternity with God. That’s what it means to “trust God with your life”. Put your faith in the salvation of The Lord – Jesus Christ.

Satan, God, and Fear – More of the Basics

Many times as a young or new believer I read something in the Bible about Satan, the devil, demons, or hell, and it genuinely scared me.  

So first, let’s establish a few things:

Satan is Real and Powerful

It’s true, and demons are also very real and powerful, and hell is a real place.  Satan hates God, and he hates man because we were made in the likeness of God and God loves us.  We know all of that from God’s word.  

    How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations!
    For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north;
    I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’
    Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
    ~ Isaiah 14:12-15

    Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.”
    And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
    Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
    Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
    ~ Luke 10:17-20

Here’s a verse that scares people:
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. ~ 1 Peter 5:8

It’s true.  Satan is looking for ways to trip us up and to cause us to stumble in our faith.  He’d love to destroy our faith if he can.  But take a look at the verses immediately before and after verse 8, they are so encouraging!

    5 Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
    6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,
    7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
    8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
    9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.  
    ~ 1 Peter 5:5-9

First, he addresses this to “younger people”. That could mean young in age, or maybe newer in the faith.  If you’ve been a believer for a short time, this verse was written especially for you!

Notice God “gives grace to the humble”.  Stay humble and He will favor you with His grace.  And then verse 6 tells us He will exalt or lift up the humble. 

Verse 7 reminds us to rest on God and give Him all our worries and that God cares for me and He cares for you!

Verse 8 tells us that Satan is looking to destroy our faith and we are called to “be sober, be vigilant”.  He’s saying “watch out!”  Be aware!

God encourages us in verse 9 by reminding us that EVERYONE goes through this stuff.  We all have struggles, not the same struggles, but struggles nonetheless.  We all get attacked by the demonic realm, not in the same ways, but attacked regardless.

We Have a Rescuer in Jesus Christ

    Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.
    ~  Galatians 1:3-4

In Jesus Christ and in His power and strength, we can resist the evil of this world and we can fight the devil. 

    Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
    For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
    Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
    ~ Ephesians 6:10-13

No Where in the Bible Does God Tell Us to Be Afraid

It’s true.  We are called to be brave and have courage, and to know that we have a savior and rescuer.

    Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.
    ~ Joshua 1:9

    Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
    Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and of good courage, for you must go with this people to the land which the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall cause them to inherit it.
    And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” 
    ~ Deuteronomy 31:6-8

Now look at again at 1 Peter 5:8-
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

God isn’t telling us to be afraid of Satan.  God is giving us a warning to be aware.  When He says “be sober”, He’s telling us that it’s not a joke, it’s not a matter to scoff at.  Satan and demons are very real, and so we need to be vigilant.  Be on the lookout.

When I was in Houston, TX a few years ago, the office building I was visiting was on a very busy street.  The crosswalk lights were not nearby, and my hotel was right across the street.  I could walk a considerable distance to the crosswalk, or I could risk cutting across traffic where there was no light or crosswalk if I was in a hurry (yes that’s called “jaywalking”. I’m not proud.)

I was given a warning at the beginning of our meetings for those of us new to town.  In Houston (or perhaps all of Texas?) pedestrians do not always have the right of way when crossing the street.  So cars tend to not slow down as much as they would in most other places in America.  You increase your odds of getting hit if you try to run across traffic there.

My friends had kindly gave me a warning.  Advice to me to make me aware.  To be vigilant.  Was I afraid?  No.  Was I more careful than I normally am?  You bet I was!

Satan Tricked the First Man and Woman on Earth

    Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”
    And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”
    Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.  For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
    So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.
    ~ Genesis 3:1-6

You see, it seems Adam and Eve forgot to be vigilant.  They didn’t forget that eating the fruit was wrong.  As a matter of fact, Eve even told Satan that God told her not to eat the fruit from that one tree.  What Eve didn’t realize was that Satan was trying to trick her and to fool her into going against God’s word (sin).  She knew it was wrong, but she forgot to be careful and to watch for trickery.  It has continued to happen all throughout the history of mankind, and it happens to all of us today.

Satan is cunning and smart, but we don’t need to fear him.  We just need to be aware.

Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.
~ 1 Corinthians 16:13

{As a side note, for those of you that DO NOT believe that Satan or hell is real: Let’s say you’re right, and you die tomorrow. Nothing bad happens to you. But imagine if the Bible is 100% true (and I assure you it is), and you die tomorrow. Your risk it eternal. It’s worth considering.}