Jesus is Coming Again

jesus_second_comingThe apostle, Peter wrote in his second letter, ‘First, I want to remind you that in the last days there will be scoffers who will laugh at the truth and do every evil thing they desire. This will be their argument: “Jesus promised to come back, did he? Then where is he? Why, as far back as anyone can remember, everything has remained exactly the same since the world was first created.”

“They deliberately forget that God made the heavens by the word of his command, and he brought the earth up from the water and surrounded it with water. Then he used the water to destroy the world with a mighty flood. And God has also commanded that the heavens and the earth will be consumed by fire on the Day of Judgment, when ungodly people will perish.

“But you must not forget, dear friends, that a day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise to return, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to perish, so he is giving more time for everyone to repent.” (2 Peter 3:3-9)

Make no mistake. Jesus is coming again.  The Lord does not make idle promises.  We do not know the hour but we can be certain that He is coming back.  The world has changed.  We are seeing evidence that it is soon coming to an end.  We serve a merciful God who desires that none should perish.  He is being patient for our sake.  He is giving people time to turn from their sins—to turn from their wicked ways and seek Him.

Don’t be discouraged. Be patient.  The Lord will come soon.  Prepare your hearts and lives for that glorious day when He will appear in the clouds with His angels.

Don’t doubt or despair because He hasn’t come as yet. Instead, remember this promise Jesus made: “Don’t be troubled. You trust God, now trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so, I would tell you plainly. When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” (John 14:1-3)

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Peter Defends God’s Grace

Acts 11:1-18

It’s interesting the reaction Peter got from his fellow believers when they learned that the Gentiles had received the Word of God. The Jewish believers contended with him, accusing him of associating with the uncircumcised.

I couldn’t help thinking of Jesus who thought nothing of going to the home of a centurion whose beloved servant was gravely ill to heal him. He went with the men the centurion sent to escort Him to his house. Jesus was not far away when the centurion sent other men to deter Him, saying that he was not worthy for Jesus to enter his home (Luke 7:2-10). No doubt the religious leaders would have had a problem with Him entering the home of a Gentile.

Peter had harbored the same prejudices as these believers but the Lord gave him a change of heart. He said to Cornelius, the Gentile whom Jesus had sent him to minister to, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean” (Acts 10:28).

Jesus didn’t discriminate. He ate with Pharisees and He ate with publicans. He didn’t play favorites. He gave all people His time and care and attention. He came to minister to everyone and manifest the love of God who sent Him to save the lost.

Are we guilty of reacting like these brethren? Do we harbor prejudices? Are there certain people we won’t associate with? What if God were to call us to minister to these people as He called Peter to minister to the Gentiles? Let us pray to have the heart and mind of Jesus. That is the only way that we would be able to rejoice with the angels when one lost person is saved.

Starting from the beginning, Peter explained what happened.  He ended his narrative with this rhetorical question:  “If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?”  The brethren couldn’t object to that.  In fact, they had nothing to say.  They became silent.  Then, they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”

We are to glorify God for His marvelous grace and remember that His salvation is for everyone.

Church Under Attack

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When I read this I couldn’t help but notice the irony. Herod took it upon himself to attack the church. He killed James and when he saw that this pleased the Jews, he had Peter arrested and thrown into prison. Herod clearly didn’t know that the powers of darkness would not prevail against the powers of light. When Peter was in jail, chained and secured between two guards, God sent an angel to set him free. At first Peter thought it was a vision but once he was outside he realized that this was really happening, he said, “Now I certainly know that the Lord has sent His angel and delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”

While he had been in prison, the other believers came together and prayed for him. God answered their prayers. After Peter went to the brethren and told them how the Lord had led him out of the prison, he went to Caesarea where he stayed. As for Herod, he was struck down by the Lord because he did not give Him the glory. The wicked ruler was dead but God’s Word spread and increased. The Word of the Lord could not be chained. “Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained” (2 Timothy 2:8, 9).

Today, many are trying to suppress the Word of God in countries where Christians are persecuted but God declared, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11). Until Jesus comes, we are to preach the Gospel even unto death. The saving of souls makes it all worthwhile.

Cornelius and Household Saved

apostol-san-pedro-y-cornelio2I like the fact that Cornelius invited his family and close friends over to his house so that they too can hear what God commanded Peter to share with him. This says something about Cornelius. He wanted those who were dear to him to be a part of something very important–something that could change lives.
If the Lord were to ask us to invite a pastor over to tell us the things we need to know, how many people we would invite? What do we say to them to convince them to come over? Did Cornelius’ have to convince his relatives and friends to join him? I don’t think so. Based on the kind of man he was, they would have had no problem accepting his invitation. I’m sure they were happy they went. They got to hear a powerful sermon about Jesus. They learned that God doesn’t play favorites and everyone who fears Him and do what is right and pleasing in His sight are accepted by Him. They heard about the ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. They had the assurance that whoever believes in Jesus will receive remission of sins.
While Peter was still speaking the Holy Spirit fell upon Cornelius and those who were with him. They began to speak in tongues and glorify God. Right away Peter made arrangements for them to be baptized. What an incredible experience this must have been for Cornelius and his household. They received Jesus and were baptized with the Holy Spirit. God demonstrated here that His grace is for everyone.

The Healing of Aeneas

Acts 9:32-35

peter heals aeneasImagine being bedridden and paralyzed for eight years!  It must have seemed like a lifetime for Aeneas.  However, his life was about to change.  Peter went through parts of the country and stopped off at Lydda where Aeneas was.  I could be wrong, but it seems to me that Peter actually went looking for Aeneas or it could be that someone told him about him.  The point is, he found Aeneas and he said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed.”

Aeneas responded in faith.  He immediately got up.  I can imagine him dancing and leaping with joy like the lame man whom Peter and John healed at the gate (Acts 3:1-10).

Peter made it clear to Aeneas that it was Jesus who healed him, not Peter.  When we reach out and help someone or minister to them, it is imperative that they know that what they have received is from God, not us.  We are but vessels through whom He works wonders.  So, Peter gave the credit where it was due.  The word, the touch and the name of Jesus bring healing.

When the people in Lydda and Sharon saw that Aeneas was no longer paralyzed, they turned to the Lord.  Our ministry should lead people to the Lord.

When God does something wonderful in your life, do you give Him the credit?  Do you tell others about it?  Has the Lord ever used you to lead others to Him?  Will you tell someone today that faith in the name of Jesus will bring healing, peace, joy and hope?  All of these things Aeneas received that day when, in faith he was able to walk again.

 

Mark 14:32-42

download (1)Jesus was troubled and deeply distressed.  He told Peter, James and John that His soul was exceedingly sorrowful even to death and asked them to stay there and watch.  He went a little farther in the garden and fell on the ground.  He prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him.

When I read verse 36 where He asks, “Take this cup away from Me,” I cried.  I cried because I thought of how heart-wrenching it would be for Jesus to be separated from His Father because our sins would be placed on Him as since the beginning–before the world was, He and His Father had been together–inseparable.  The cup mentioned in verse 35 was the agony of being separated from the Father.  When Jesus, the sinless Son of God took on the sins of the world, He would be separated from His Father so that we could have eternal life.  Sins separate us from God.

Then Jesus said, “not what I will, but what You will.”  Even though He knew what doing the will of the Father would cost Him, He was obedient.  Like Jesus, are we willing to place our Father’s will above our own no matter the cost?  Jesus did it because there was no other way through which men could be saved.  Jesus’ death and blood were the only ways we could be reconciled to God (Romans 5:10, Ephesians 2:13).

It is interesting that the three whom Jesus took with Him, weren’t there for Him when it mattered the most.  In Mark 14:29, Peter insisted that he would not desert Jesus.  In verse 37, Jesus addresses him only.  He asked him, “could you not keep watch for one hour?”

In Matthew 20:22, 23, James and John said that they were able to drink the cup He was about to drink and be baptised with the baptism that He would be baptised with and they said they were able.  Yet, like Peter, they could not keep watch.

There are times in our lives when we will be vulnerable to temptation.  What can we do to resist?  Jesus gave us the following tips:

  • Keep watch
  • Pray
  • Resolve to do God’s will

Mark 14:12-31

isitiLordThe disciples learned a few things at the Lord’s Supper:

  • Jesus was going to be betrayed by one of them
  • His blood would be shed for many
  • They would desert Him in fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy
  • Peter would deny Him three times

It must have been hard and seemed impossible that one of them would betray their beloved Lord; that He would die; that they would all desert Him and that Peter, one of the three who were close to Jesus, would deny knowing Him.  Later they saw for themselves that all these things came to pass.

Let us not deny Jesus.  Let us confess Him before everyone.  Let us not scatter but remain close to Him.  Let us not betray Him by conforming to this world or holding on to sins or things in our lives that would separate us from Him.  Let us not put ourselves, others, the world or anything before Him.  Let us put Him first in our lives, thoughts and hearts.

 

The First Disciples

Read John 1:35-42

p_0003John the Baptist, when he was with his two disciples, acknowledged Jesus as the Lamb of God–thereby, revealing the Messiah to his disciples.  Immediately, the two disciples followed Jesus.  They heard what John had said and heeded his words.  How many of us have heard about Jesus and know of what He did on the cross but still don’t follow Him?  How many of us have been given the opportunity to know Him but have decided not to?  Our indecision is a decision in itself.  Andrew and the other disciple seized the opportunity to follow Jesus–to have a relationship with Him.  They left John who had prepared the way for others to follow the Messiah.  They didn’t doubt John.  In faith, they took him at his word, believed that the One he pointed out was the Messiah and they went after Him.

Jesus saw them following Him and He asked them what they were looking for.  He already knew because He was omniscient but, perhaps He wanted them to state their reason.  What would you say to Him if He were to ask you, “What seek ye?”

The disciples’ question answered Jesus’ question.  They wanted to abide with Him so they asked Him where He was dwelling.  Jesus invited them to go and see.  They were willing to be with Him wherever He was.  They went with Him to see where He was staying and they stayed with Him.  How many of us are willing to leave the past behind and pursue a new life–a future with Jesus? How many of us are willing to forsake our old lives for a new one with Jesus?  How many of us are willing to leave the familiar and comfortable behind and pursue the unfamiliar and sometimes hard, uncomfortable future?  Yet, Andrew and the other disciple did so.  They left their familiar life with John whom they knew, to follow Jesus whom they did not know but had long heard of.  Their faith in God’s promise of the Messiah and John’s testimony led them to go after Jesus.  We have more than John’s testimony and those of the prophets.  We have the testimony of Jesus Himself yet many of us do not follow Him.

Andrew went to his brother, Peter and told him that he and the other disciple had found the Messiah.  He took Peter to Jesus.  When we find Jesus, like Andrew, we should be eager to share Him with others.  When Jesus saw Peter, He identified him as the son of Jona and named him Cephas (Peter) which means stone.  It was Peter whom He asked to feed His sheep.  It is interesting that Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him in front of the other disciples.  Why did Jesus do that?

Was it to give Peter a chance to redeem himself?  Was it to show Peter that though he had denied Him three times it by no means meant that he didn’t love Him?  Was it to reassure Peter who might have questioned his love for Jesus because of his denial?  Was it to show Peter and the others that despite what had happened that Jesus had forgiven him and still wanted him to be a big part of His flock?  He wanted Peter to carry on the ministry–to spread the Gospel–to feed the lambs and the sheep.

Peter denied Jesus three times and three times he was forgiven.  My study Bible says that Peter had been restored privately and personally but now it was to be a public matter.  He had disowned Christ in public three times.  Now he must own Christ three times in front of the other disciples.  Peter had sinned but Christ forgave him.  Handling the responsibility of Christ’s ministry was Peter’s way to redeem himself.

Jesus founded His church on Peter’s confession that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God.  This was revealed to Peter by God Himself.  Jesus recognized that Peter would be a great follower–that he would achieve great things in His name, that he would bring many to God.  Like Peter, Jesus sees great potential in each of us.  He knows us better than we know ourselves.  He knew Peter would deny Him but He also knew that Peter would further the ministry, leading many to repentance.  He knew that far from denying Him, Peter would glorify Him, teach others about Him even at the risk of persecution and death.

Peter counted it worthy to suffer shame for His name (Acts 5:41).  Far from denying Him, Peter and the others continued to teach and preach about Jesus though they were commanded not to.  Love for Jesus and his desire to carry out His command to feed His sheep far surpassed any fear Peter might have had.  If we truly love Jesus we should be willing to teach and preach about Him despite the risks, persecution, rejection we may face.  Like Peter and the other disciples we are to take up our crosses and follow Jesus no matter what.  Like Andrew and the other disciple, we should seek Him and abide with Him.

The Anointing at Bethany

“Why was this fragrant oil wasted? – Mark 14:4

she-anointed-his-head-matt-26-7Before the Passover, Jesus and His disciples were at the home of Simon, the leper.  As they sat around the table, a woman whom John later identified as Mary, Lazarus’s sister, came with an alabaster jar filled with expensive oil.

As the others watched, she broke the jar and poured the oil on Jesus’ head.  It amazes me how some of them reacted.  They were moved with great indignation.  “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor,” they demanded.  Didn’t they think that Jesus was worthy of being anointed with costly oil?  He was the Messiah.  He was the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world.  He was their Teacher who came to share the Good News of salvation.  Didn’t He deserve this honor?  Mark went on to say that they criticized Mary sharply.

Jesus defended Mary.   “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial.  Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”  This is true.  Sermons have been preached about the alabaster jar of oil and there are songs about it.  Mary had done a marvelous thing.  She had shown that Jesus was to be the Passover Lamb and that’s why she anointed Him. 

The disciples failed to see the significance of her actions.  They were more concerned with the things of this world.  John tells us that Judas Iscariot was those who objected to what Mary did and spoke about giving the money to the poor but he didn’t care about the poor.  The poor would not have seen any of that money because Judas was a thief and was stealing from the moneybox (John 12:6).   And Jesus made a very good point.  The poor would always be around but He wouldn’t be.  Mary always seem to know how precious little time she had with the Savior and always made the most of it.   She had given Him her best.  This was her way of doing something for Jesus–giving Him something that was valuable in gratitude for what He had done for her.  While her sister Martha was preoccupied with serving, Mary’s focus was on Jesus.

Before this time Jesus had told His disciples that He would die and be raised up on the third day.  Mary knew that Jesus was going to die and she came prepared.  She brought oil to anoint Him for His burial.  She accepted what the disciples couldn’t bring themselves to acknowledge–the Lord was going to die.  The disciples didn’t want to think about this.  Mark mentioned that they were afraid to ask Him what He meant (Mark 9:31, 32).  It didn’t fit in with their idea of Jesus and His kingdom.  They, like many others, believed that Jesus would overthrow the Romans and set up His kingdom.  They believed that Jesus’ kingdom was of this world.  Some people tried to force the issue (John 6:15).  When He was before Pilate, Jesus made it clear, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here” (John 18:36). 

The disciples still didn’t get it.  In Acts 1:6, they asked Him just before He ascended to Heaven, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” They were still expecting Him to set up an earthly kingdom before He left them.  It was perhaps in this kingdom which they argued about who would be the greatest (Mark 9:33, 34).  Yet in the kingdom in heaven which Jesus came to set up, greatness has to do with service to others.  It is the humble who are exalted, not the great or the proud.  Mary is not remembered for any greatness but for a simple yet profound act of love.

Matthew tells us that when Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day, Peter took Him aside and rebuked Him (Matthew 16:21, 22). Peter and the other disciples didn’t want to hear about their Lord, the Son of the living God being killed.  On the flip side, Mary who had heard the teachings of Jesus did not recoil in fear of His impending suffering and death.  Instead she prepared herself and Him for that moment.  And Jesus commended her for her “good work”.

Mary showed such love and devotion to Jesus that it’s a shame she was criticized for it.  It occurred to me that some of the people were acting self-righteously.  It was as if they were saying, “How could she waste money on expensive oil?  I would never do that.  I would use the money to help the poor.”  Are we the same way?  Would we have said to ourselves, “I wouldn’t have done what she did.  I would have given that money to help our church to spread the Gospel or to a charity.”

Do we find ourselves criticizing those who, through their actions show their faithfulness and devotion to Christ in ways we might not have thought of?  When at church do we find fault with other believers?  What should we do instead?  What can we learn from this story?

  • Always put Jesus first.  He is more important than anyone or anything else, even the poor
  • Give your best to the Lord
  • Expense or cost doesn’t matter when it comes to expressing love for Jesus
  • Don’t let criticism discourage you
  • Don’t defend yourself.  Let the Lord do that
  • Love in action
  • Don’t be critical of others
  • Don’t be self-righteous

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