God Takes Care of Elijah

I read about the prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 17.  Only God, the Creator could get ravens to feed a man.  These birds brought bread and meat to the prophet Elijah twice a day in the morning and in the evening.

A raven is:

unclean for food (Leviticus 11:15)

solitary in habit

flesh eating

black

It was the first creature sent from the ark (Genesis 8:7).

Jesus spoke of how God cares for the ravens.  He said, “Consider the ravens, for they neigher sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them (Luke 12:24).  It is interesting that God chose ravens to care for Elijah.

God had a widow in Zarephath take care of Elijah too.  Zarephath is a town of Sidon.  Sidon is a Canaanite city 20 miles north of Tyre.  God used a Gentile to care for Elijah.  As I read about the widow of Zarephath, I remembered that Jesus spoke of her.  He said, “But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah when the heaven was shut up three days and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow” (Luke 4:25, 26).

Jesus was illustrating His point that a prophet is not welcome in his own hometown.  God used unclean birds and a foreigner from Jezebel’s home territory to care for His servant, Elijah.  God sends help from unexpected sources sometimes.

This reminds me of the story of the Samaritan who helped the man who was robbed, beaten and left for dead.  His own people, the Jews did not lift a finger to help him but a Samaritan did.

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Faith in Action

Faith is a gift from God.  Faith is action (James 2:18).  Faith obeys the Word (James 2:22).  Faith proves itself by works (James 2:26).  Faith produces wisdom, humility, dependence on God and it endures awaiting Christ’s return.  Faith is critical in our relationship with God (Hebrews 11:16).  Where does faith come from?  Paul tells us in Romans 10:17.  So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”

Faith in action is when the woman with the issue of blood braved the crowd to touch Jesus’ robe.  She believed that if she was able to touch His robe she would be made well.  She had confidence and trust in Jesus’ power to heal.  Jesus told her that her faith made her well.  He said, “Go in peace and be healed of your affliction.”

When the woman had touched Jesus’ robe the flow of blood stopped–it dried up.  She felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction.  A person receives complete healing from Jesus.

For twelve years the woman had the issue of blood.  She spent all of her livelihood on doctors but she could not be healed by any of them yet when she touched Jesus’ robe at the hem, immediately her flow of blood stopped (Luke 8:43, 44).  Jesus had healed in an instant what doctors could not heal for twelve years. 

This message here is that “It is better  to trust  in the LORD  than to put confidence  in man” (Psalm 118:8).  The woman had placed her confidence in the doctors and wasted her money but faith drove her to seek the One in whom she could trust.  Finally, she was delivered from the condition that had kept her a prisoner for twelve years.  Praise the Lord!

Sowing Seeds

“Now these are the ones among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the ares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 4:18, 19).

As I read these verses I thought of ministers whose riches (wealth) have perverted their teachings and making them unfruitful.  I thought of Christians whose desires for other things choke the word of God.  Their desires lead them to seek other things such as spirituality.

Paul wirted to Timothy about these things.  “Now godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing out.  And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.  but those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:6-10).

Paul urges us to flee from these things and pursue:

  • righteousness
  • godliness
  • faith
  • love
  • patience
  • gentleness

Thank You, Lord for encouraging me to read the Gospel of Mark.  I am seeing a lot of things because You have opened my eyes.  Thank You.

The Rock

Mark 3:16 – Jesus gave Simon the name Peter or Cephas which means a stone (John 1:42).

Matthew 16:18 – “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this Rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”

Jesus was saying, “Yes, Peter, You are blessed because My Father revealed to you that I am the Christ, the Son of the living God.  I say to you, Peter (a stone) on this Rock (Myself) I will build My church and the gates of Hades (the grave) will not prevail against it.”  Like Jesus, His church will have victory over the grave.

Peter had declared who Jesus was in John 6:69.  “Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

In Luke 9:18-21, Jesus asked His disicples, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”  So, they answered and said, “John the Baptist, but some say Elijah; and others say that one of the old prophets has risen again.”  He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.”  And He strictly warned and commanded them not to tell this to anyone.

Peter’s name was not changed from stone to rock.  Jesus did not build His church on Peter who had spoken up and said who Jesus was .  Jesus built the church on Himself, the Rock, the Christ, the Son of the living God.  That is why He is the Head of the church.  Peter was one of the stones that built the church like we are the many parts that make up the body of the church.  We are members of the body of Christ and He is the Head.

Peter himself said that we as “living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).

Jesus is the chief cornerstone (1 Peter 2:7).  Isaiah 28:16 says, “A precious cornerstone, a sure foundation.”

Jesus is a sure foundation.  He is a Rock–immovable not like Peter, a stone that is easily dislodged.  Jesus is the Foundation of the church and of our faith.  1 Corinthians 10:4 says, “For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.”

Tax Collectors and Sinners

Now it happened as He was dining in Levi’s house that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him (Mark 2:15).

I love this verse for these reasons:

  • Jesus went to the house of a tax collector
  • Jesus dined with Levi (Matthew) and his friends
  • These outcasts–people whom society looked down on because they were tax collectors and sinners–these are the same people who sat together with Jesus and His disciples.
  • They followed Him

Jesus broke down walls when He dined at Matthew’s house.  He demonstrated that God’s love and grace were for everyone.  When the Pharisees criticized Him, Jesus quoted Hosea 6:6 which says, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.”  He told them to go and learn what that meant.

The religious offered the required sacrifices but failed to show mercy to those who were lost.  They treated them with contempt, showing them none of the love and mercy God had for them.  Jesus wanted to show that God loved the tax collectors and the sinners and had sent His Son to call them to repentance so that they, like the righteous can have eternal life.

He is Risen!

Can you imagine going to the tomb early Sunday morning with spices to anoint Jesus’ body and you find the stone that was in front of the tomb rolled away?  You look inside and it’s empty!  You panic.  You wonder what happened.  Where is Jesus’ body?  Who took it away?

As you stand there feeling confused, helpless and distressed, a man in white appears.  You are scared.  Where did he come from?  Then you hear him say, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.  But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”  You flee, scared and amazed by what you have just heard.  Jesus was alive!  On your way to see the disciples, you run into Jesus Himself!  He says to you, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.”  With a heart filled with joy, you run and tell His disciples the good news.

What if you were Mary Magdalene who found the tomb empty and wondered who took her Lord away?  She runs to tell the disciples.  Peter and John race to the tomb and find it empty just as she said.  They look inside and all they see are the linen cloths which His body had been wrapped in and the kerchief lying there, neatly folded.  They marvel and leave while Mary remains.

Beside herself with grief, she weeps and stoops down, looking through her tears at the empty tomb when she sees two angels who ask her why she is crying.  After she explains that she is wondering where her Lord was, she heard someone behind her and turns to see whom she thinks is the gardener.  He asks her the same thing–why are you weeping.  She explains and then, she hears Him call her name and her heart leaps with joy and amazement.  “Teacher!” she cries out and she runs to Him but He gently dissaudes her from touching Him because He still had to go to His Father.  He tells her to go and tell the disciples this.  Mary Magdalene went and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord,  and told them what He said.

Imagine you are one of the disciples and Jesus appears, standing among you and says, “Peace to you.”  But you and the others are terrified and frightened, and believe that you are seeing a spirit.  And Jessu says to you,  “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?  Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”

After He says this, He shows you His hands and His feet.  Would you still find it hard to believe that He is alive even though He is right there in front of you?  Luke said that the disciples still did not believe for joy, and marveled.   Thomas refused to believe until he saw Jesus with his own eyes.  Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed [are] those who have not seen and [yet] have believed.”

We personally did not see the risen Christ but we believe the testimonies of those who did.   We believe that Jesus came to save the world and that He died and was raised from the dead just as He said.  We believe in His testimony and the Gospel accounts of His resurrection.  Today we celebrate His victory over death.  He is risen!   He is sitting in the realms of heaven with the Father.  And one day we will see Him face to face when He comes in the clouds with the angels to take us home.  Until that day, let us continue  to spread the good news that we serve a risen Savior and bring others to Him so that they too can have eternal life.

Praise God who gives us the victory over death, the last enemy that will be destroyed, through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Hallelujah!

Rest Before Resurrection

Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath,  Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.  Pilate marveled that He was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time.  So when he found out from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph.  Then he bought fine linen, took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen. And he laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.  And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses observed where He was laid (Mark 15:42-47).

Now Jesus is in resting in the tomb.  He lay there while others prepared for the Sabbath.  The temple was destroyed (He was crucified) but on the third day, He will be raised up.

This makes me think of all those who have died and will die in Christ.  Their temples will be destroyed (death and decay) but on that day they will be resurrected incorruptible.  Right now they are resting before their resurrection.  The next sound they will hear is the voice of the One who was pierced.

When Jesus was on the cross, He said, “It is finished.”  He had spent three and a half years doing the work His Father had sent Him to do.   He went about preaching and teaching, performing miracles, casting out demons, healing the sick.  He was alone in His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He was betrayed and deserted.  He was arrested like a common criminal and brought before the council at night.   He was mistreated by the Jewish leaders and the Gentiles.

The members of the Sanhedrin who liked to think they were better than the Gentiles behaved no differently from the soldiers who mocked Him.  The chief priests, elders and scribes condemned Him to be worthy of death; spat on Him, blindfolded Him; beat Him and said to Him, “Prophesy!”  The soldiers who were present joined in–they struck Him with the palms of their hands (Mark 14:63-65).  Isaiah 50:6 says:  I gave My back to those who struck Me, And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard;  I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.  He was given thirty lashes (the same number of coins Judas was paid for his betrayal) and then handed over to be crucified.

As He hung on the cross, He was mocked,  “You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself!  If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross” (Matthew 26:40).

Jesus suffered for our sake as the prophet Isaiah prophesied.  “Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken,Smitten by God, and afflicted.   But He was wounded for our transgressions,  He was bruised for our iniquities;  The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,  And by His stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.  He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;  He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.
He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.  And they made His grave with the wicked— But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief (Isaiah 53:4-10).

Jesus went through a great deal for us and it must have pained Him to see the people pointing and laughing at Him and to hear their jeers yet, He asked His Father to forgive them.  It must have been horrible to feel the Father’s presence which He had known since the beginning of time leave Him.  You could almost hear the despair in His voice when He cried out,  “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34).  Afterwards He cried out in a loud voice and then took His last breath.

Now He is resting in the tomb.  His disciples and those who love Him are mourning.  The bridegroom is no longer with them.  Now they are fasting.  But in a little while, their mourning will turn to laughter and their sorrow to joy.  Let us remember and take comfort in these words, “Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy” (John 16:20).

Good Friday? What’s So Good About It?

Growing up in Guyana, I remember Good Friday as being a very solemn day. We weren’t allowed to play or make any noise. The place was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. I can’t say that I liked the day because as a child you like to run around and play and keep noise. I never understood why the day was called good. I knew it was the day that the Lord died on the cross. What was good about that? I was glad when Friday was over.

On Easter Sunday my family and I went to my father’s church. I knew that this was a much happier day than the Friday. People dressed up in their Sunday best. We sang hymns and it was always a beautiful, sunny day unlike Good Friday, which was always overcast. My favourite memory of Easter was going kite flying on Easter Monday. My family and I would drive up to an open ground, take lunch and my father would raise the kite and then give me the to hold when it was high in the air, moving gently from side to side. I think he enjoyed flying the kite as much as I did. He was the one who chose the kite.

 

For the longest time I remained clueless as to why the Friday on which Jesus died on the cross was called, “Good”. Then, recently I really thought about it and came up with the following reasons.

 

Prophecy was fulfilled

: “And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. (Daniel 9:26, 27)

The Love of God was demonstrated:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Sinners were converted: The Thief on the cross who asked,

 

“Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” (Luke 23:42)

The Centurion

, he saw what had happened, he glorified God, saying, “Certainly this was a righteous Man!” (Verse 47)

Reconciled to God:

For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and by him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of his blood on the cross. This includes you who were once so far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions, yet now he has brought you back as his friends. He has done this through his death on the cross in his own human body. As a result, he has brought you into the very presence of God, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. (1 Colossians 1:19-22)

Barriers were broken:

For Christ himself has made peace between us Jews and you Gentiles by making us all one people. He has broken down the wall of hostility that used to separate us. By his death he ended the whole system of Jewish law that excluded the Gentiles. His purpose was to make peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new person from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. (

Satan was defeated:

Because God’s children are human beings-made of flesh and blood-Jesus also became flesh and blood by being born in human form. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the Devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he deliver those who have lived all their lives as slaves to the fear of dying. (Hebrews 2:14, 15)

Life-changing experience:

As for me, God forbid that I should boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world died long ago, and the world’s interest in me is also long dead. It doesn’t make any difference now whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we really have been changed into new and different people. May God’s mercy and peace be upon all those who live by this principle. They are the new people of God. (Galatians 6:14-16)

It doesn’t matter how many times I read or watch a movie depicting Jesus’ death on the cross I always get emotional. It touches me just to see what He went through for us. He paid the ultimate price. So, what’s good about Good Friday? It’s the day Jesus finished the work He came here to do.

We Are Not Worthy

 “It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose” (John 1:27)

John did not consider himself worthy to even untie Jesus’ shoe strap. John was humble. And like him, John we are not fit to untie Jesus’ sandals yet He loved us enough to come into the world to serve us. We, sinners, are not fit to be His servants, yet He came to serve us. In His eyes not only are we fit to untie His strap, but through His death on the Cross, we are fit to receive the Holy Spirit. Because of Jesus and what He did for us, those who surrender their lives to Him, doing the will of God are now fit to be called sons and daughters of God. Jesus referred to those who “shall do the will of God, the same is My brother, and My sister and mother” (Mark 3:35).

The Roman officer did not think he was even worthy of a visit from Jesus. When Jesus was on His way to his house to heal his servant, the officer sent his friends with this message, “Lord, don’t trouble yourself by coming to my home, for I am not worthy of such an honour. I am not even worthy to come and meet you. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed” (Luke 7:7). The interesting thing about this situation is that highly respected Jewish leaders had great things to say about the officer. They begged Jesus to come with them and help him. “If anyone deserves your help, it is he,” they said, “for he loves the Jews and even built a synagogue for us” (verses 4, 5). In their eyes the officer was worthy of Jesus’ attention but in his own eyes he was not. What humility.

Jesus came to make the unfit fit, the unworthy worthy and the undeserving deserving. He came not only to make us fit to untie His sandals but also to live in Heaven with Him. John’s comment that he is not worthy to unloose Jesus’ strap reminds me of Paul’s comment, “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” – Romans 3:23. All of us are unworthy. It is only by the grace of God and the blood of Christ that we become worthy to receive the gift of salvation. Christ made it possible for us to have a relationship with God after sin had separated us from Him. Only Christ has made it possible for us to be spared the penalty of sin, which is death by dying in our place and thereby justifying us.

We are not worthy to be called His friends yet that is how He regarded us when He said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

We are not worthy of Jesus who went through so much pain, suffering, rejection and ridicule on our behalf. We are not worthy of a Saviour who willingly gave up His life for a world that is not willing to give up material things, habits, traditions and selfish desires for Him. We are not worthy of Jesus who died so that we can have eternal life. We are not worthy of Jesus who died so that we could be reconciled to God and so that we could have another chance. John, the Baptist was right. We are not worthy.

The message here is though we are not worthy of Him, Jesus died for us because He loves us and desires to have a relationship with us. He wants us to have eternal life so that we can be with Him forever. In God’s eyes we are worth much. Paul tells us, “God purchased you at a high price” (1 Corinthians 7:23). The high price was the shed blood of Christ.

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