Advent – Week One – “Hope”

I need to consider the season of Advent in my life to slow me down and help me appreciate all that was involved in the first coming of Jesus and how we are to anticipate His second coming.  It reminds me that God is faithful, and He fulfills prophecies and plans in His time.

   Advenhopet: week #1The Prophet’s Candle – “Hope”

This is a busy time of year for all of us.  Christmas is in our thoughts, and we find ourselves involved in a rush of activities.  Actually, however, we have not yet come to the season in the Christian Year that is known as Christmas.  We are now observing the season of Advent.

Advent begins the fourth Sunday before the night celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ into this world.  In the early Christian church, Advent was a time of repentance, fasting, and church attendance.  People were trying to prepare themselves for Christmas – for receiving God’s gift of love – the promised Messiah.

Through the centuries customs of Advent have changed. However, Advent is still the season of preparation, the time when we open our hearts and minds to prepare ourselves for new experiences of the Spirit, and new understandings of what Christ’s coming means to our lives. Continue reading

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Questions Jesus Asked Taking a Break

I’ve just finished looking at the questions Jesus asked in Matthew’s Gospel. As we approach Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas, I feel led to take a little different approach to my devotional life that will not include daily journaling, so I will be taking a break from posting to my blog on a regular basis. I have already begun looking at question Jesus asked in Mark’s Gospel and sorting out the questions that Matthew didn’t have in his Gospel.  I will most likely begin posting more Questions Jesus Asked near the beginning of 2017.

Until then, you may see an occasional post about various topics.  As Thanksgiving Day approaches, please remember it’s not about the turkey … but about giving thanks to God and to others who have blessed your life.

 

 

Questions Jesus Asked #59

Matthew 27:46 –  About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  NIV

This is the last question of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel. He has accepted the Father’s plan and will and is hanging on the cross to atone for the sins of humanity. He asks this question which is the first line of Psalm 22. Many if not most commentators make a point of saying that because Jesus is bearing the sins of the world His Holy Father cannot look upon all of that sin and for the moment that sin separates them. I have a problem with at least part that interpretation. The Father has been with Jesus all the way, and Jesus has submitted to the Father’s will and plan. Continue reading

Questions Jesus Asked #58

Matthew 26:55-56 – At that time Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled. NIV

The NIV’s translation of this question is a little misleading.  In effect, Jesus was leading a rebellion…a spiritual rebellion!  A better translation of this question is found in other versions.  The New American Standard Updated version translates it:  “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me as you would against a robber?”  (Matthew 26:55 – NASU) Continue reading

Questions Jesus Asked #57

Matthew 26:53-54 – Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”  NIV

Judas Iscariot has just led a group of soldiers to arrest Jesus. Jesus has told Judas to do what he came to do. However, one of the previously sleeping disciples grabs a sword and cuts off the ear of the servant of the High Priest. John tells us (18:10-11) that it was Peter wielding the sword and that Malchus was the name of the servant.  It is interesting that the disciples that could not stay awake and fight the spiritual battles with Jesus are now attempting to fight a physical battle in which they are probably out numbered and certainly ill equipped to fight.  Continue reading

Questions Jesus Asked # 56

Matthew 26:45 –  Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.  NIV

Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane praying, and He has asked Peter, James, and John to watch and pray with Him.  They fell asleep during the first round of prayer, and He woke them up hoping that they would join Him in prayer. When He came back a second time and found them sleeping, He didn’t even bother to try and wake them. Jesus now comes back for a third time, wakes them and asks, “Are you still sleeping and resting?” Then He adds,  Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.”

When He asked this question, His death was imminent. Judas was arriving with the Temple guards that were going to arrest Jesus. Today, He may ask that same question to His followers because His return is imminent, and many are doing little to gather in the harvest before He returns. We talk about reaching out. It is in our congregational purpose statements, but how much prayer and effort actually goes into sharing the love of Jesus with people who have not yet decided to follow Him? Continue reading

Questions Jesus Asked #55

Matthew 26:40-41 –  Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”  NIV

The setting for this question is the Garden of Gethsemane. It was the night before Jesus’ trial and crucifixion. He pulls aside His three closest disciples, Peter, James, and John, and it is obvious that Jesus is sorrowful and troubled.   He even admits that to these three that He is “sorrowful to the point of death” and asks them to “stay here and keep watch.”

He goes off by Himself to pray; and when he returns, he finds them sleeping. This is when Jesus asks the above question. He even admonishes them to pray for themselves because the temptations will be great. Even though their spirits want to follow Jesus, they are, also, suffering from a lack of emotional and physical energy. Continue reading