Have you ever received a gift that you asked for and got exactly what you wanted? How did you show your gratitude? In the story that inspired this post, found in Luke 17:11-19, highlighted what the Lord delights in.
Nehemiah’s passionate prayer and the 7 elements that made it great. Nehemiah was devastated. His brother Hanani had just returned from Judah and given him news of how his Israelite brothers and sisters were faring, those who had left Persia and returned to the land of Judah to rebuild Jerusalem and the walls that protected their cities. Hanani’s report was “The survivors in the province who have survived the captivity are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned in the fire.” This news broke Nehemiah’s heart. “When I heard these words, I sat and wept and mourned for days, and I was fasting and praying before the God of the heavens.” It had been 90 years since … Read More
Being that this month is about love and the legacy of African American history, I think we should talk about lust. Great Segway, right? Go with me on this one as we flesh (pun intended) this out and hopefully get to some practical resolutions and ways to liberate ourselves from the bondage of lust. Before I get in to my take on lust, I have to attack the notion and the tendency of the church to focus on the acts or the symptoms of lust (rubbernecking, impure thoughts, masturbating, pornography etc.) and guilt tripping its sufferers instead of trying to diagnose the cause or the underlying condition and introducing the remedy. My hope for this (my very first & very close to home)piece is to advocate for those … Read More
Death by crucifixion was a terribly agonizing way to die. It was humiliating; it was public; it was brutal and victims experienced excruciating pain. Crucifixion resulted in extreme shock to the body and a series of complications and organ failure that developed progressively. These complications included asphyxiation, blood clot in the lungs and hypovolemic shock. Jesus was flogged, a crown of thorns was placed upon his head and he was made to carry his cross to Golgotha. He was then nailed to the cross. The soldiers cast lots for His tunic and left Him naked. His body extended outwards. His knees were at a 45-degree angle, which forced Him to hold the weight of His body with His arms. This resulted in difficulty breathing. Through it all, His only declaration was, “I thirst.” From a medical perspective, He was legitimately thirsty, as His body tried to regulate itself from the trauma and shock endured. However, this was not a request for something to drink, but an announcement in fulfillment of scripture. At no point was Jesus at the mercy of His accusers. Jesus was in full control at all times in this epic rescue mission, as He reclaimed us from the hands of the enemy so that we can be reconciled to Him.
In Luke 23:43, Jesus exercised His authority to forgive sins while on the cross. This proved that He was God. In contrast, Matthew 27:46 reveals His human nature, as He cried out to the Father in this moment when He felt abandoned. The Father did not abandon Christ nor did Jesus’ cry diminish His authority and divinity. The Father was very much in agreement and approval of Christ executing the plan of salvation. Christ knew that God did not abandon Him, but the human part of Him probably felt alone. In this moment, Jesus was sin on our behalf (2 Corinthians 5:21), subjected Himself to abuse and ultimately sacrificed His life for mankind.
Women who are widows or have outlived their children, are targeted. They are often forgotten about, ridiculed, and left to fend for themselves. While the law made provisions for them (the corners of the fields were left for them to glean) they were at the bottom of the social chain. They could be subject to verbal, physical or sexual abuse. With no one to speak for them, no one to be their voice, they were susceptible to being taken advantage of. Christ understanding this, knew that his mother would fall into this category. Mary could be subject to years of abuse, and before He died, Christ secured her future. Christ went out of His way, to honor His mother, to show her the highest form of respect. She birthed Him, raised Him, taught Him, pushed Him to do His first miracle, and now He was going to die, leaving her alone. In death, Christ ministered to His mother. This moment in Christ’s life should serve as a reminder to us. Never let a moment of sorrow, or pain, of grief, keep you from ministering to this who will need Him most.
The picture painted in this scripture is one of mediation, redemption and damnation. It presents the story of salvation, as Jesus hung between two accused individuals. One received eternal life. The other did not. A mediator is a person who “goes between” to resolve conflict. Christ is the ultimate mediator, for Isaiah saw a vision of the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted and His royal robe filled the temple (Isaiah 6:1). Although Jesus was viewed as simply one who had also been accused, He was very much Lord, Savior and mediator on the cross.
Christ shed immortality and divinity to put on Mortality and humanity. On earth, He showed us what it looked like to be 100% man, while totally surrendering to God and keeping God in control. He became our perfect example, never once giving into temptation, or committing sin, showing us what a holy life looks like, and how our lives can be pleasing to God. If we follow His perfect example, we can rest in knowing that one day we will be with God in eternity. Christ sacrificed life in heaven where he was worshipped 24/7 to come to earth where he knew he would be ridiculed, ostracized, killed. He came to earth to this same mankind, knowing that humanity would betray Him, turn their backs on Him, reject Him. Despite all this, Christ chose to die for us anyway. It while he was actively dying, while He was on that tree, he uttered His first words: “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” They were breaking a commandment, killing someone and Christ knew that the punishment for this crime was death. Christ knew that God was well within His right to punish humanity for killing His only son. Christ hasn’t died yet, so humanity hadn’t been pardoned for their crimes. Christ knowing this, begins to plead and intercede for us. In this moment, Christ shows us that in the midst of our storm, our trial and tribulation, whatever we are going through, we can still forgive those who plot, plan and scheme our demise. If Christ can momentarily stop dying to forgive those who he came to save, the we can indefinitely stop what we’re doing to forgive those who hurt us.
Esther is the only book of the Bible that does not mention God’s name. Don’t believe me, read Esther for yourself! Interestingly enough, there is no denying God’s presence in the book, and in Esther’s life. How do we know this? The life that Esther lived, the decisions she made, the way she carried herself, and her faith all reflected a God that she had a deep and personal relationship with. Her relationship with God was so infectious that those around her would surrender to Him, His will, and would pray with her even though they had never had a God Encounter.
Esther 2:10 tells us she kept her identity a secret, and vs 15 let’s us know that the King’s eunuchs knew that there was something special about her. Her relationship with God, her love for Him, radiated out of her and caused those in her presence to respect her, find favour with her, and reverence God.