Who Will Call Him King of Kings?

Photo by Sean O. on Unsplash

Easter is over for one more year. Now what? Has anything in our lives changed since Sunday in how we respond to that most glorious news; He is Risen! He is Risen indeed? Or are we living pretty much unchanged? Like the disciples we are called to let the whole world know Jesus is the resurrected King of kings and Lord of lords. So how are we doing with that?

Jesus told the disciples to meet him in Galilee after his resurrection. The disciples did just as Jesus told them. There they worshiped him. At this time, before he ascended back to his throne at the Father’s right in heaven, Jesus commissioned the disciples to go into all the world, ALL the world, and make disciples in all nations, baptizing them, and teaching them to obey all the commands Jesus gave them. (Matthew 28:16-20) The disciples went everywhere preaching, and the Lord was with them and confirmed what they said by the miracles that followed their messages. (Mark 16:20)

As Christ-followers we are called to spread the Good News of a Risen Savior who loved us so much he willingly took our sin stain on himself, paid the debt we owed but could never pay, all so none would perish, and could live with him forever. This great commission is not just for the season surrounding Resurrection Sunday, but for every day of our life. Amen?

Who will call him king of Kings?

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 It was not long afterwards that he rose into the sky and disappeared into a cloud, leaving them staring after him. As they were straining their eyes for another glimpse, suddenly two white-robed men were standing there among them, and said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing here staring at the sky? Jesus has gone away to heaven, and some day, just as he went, he will return!” Acts 1:9-11 (TLB)
 
You can find my April Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well,

Sandy

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Seasonal Scripture Verses

For today’s post I am sharing several seasonal Scripture verses. Some verses we associate with the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. Some verses we associate with our celebration of Christ’s sacrificial death.

As we read these Scripture verses, let’s not forget we cannot celebrate Christmas without celebrating Christ Jesus’ Resurrection.

A child is born to us!
    A son is given to us!
    And he will be our ruler.
He will be called, “Wonderful Counselor,”
    “Mighty God,” “Eternal Father,”
    “Prince of Peace.”
His royal power will continue to grow;
    his kingdom will always be at peace.
He will rule as King David’s successor,
    basing his power on right and justice,
    from now until the end of time.
The Lord Almighty is determined to do all this. Isaiah 9:6-7 (GNT)

That night, in a field near Bethlehem, there were shepherds watching over their flocks. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared in radiant splendor before them, lighting up the field with the blazing glory of God, and the shepherds were terrified! But the angel reassured them, saying, “Don’t be afraid. For I have come to bring you good news, the most joyous news the world has ever heard! And it is for everyone everywhere! For today in Bethlehem a rescuer was born for you. He is the Lord Yahweh, the Messiah. You will recognize him by this miracle sign: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a feeding trough.

Then all at once, a vast number of glorious angels appeared, the very armies of heaven! And they all praised God, singing:

“Glory to God in the highest realms of heaven! For there is peace and a good hope given to the sons of men.” Luke 2:8-14 (TPT))

Who has believed our message? To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?
 My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.

All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. Unjustly condemned, he was led away. No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream.
But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people. He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave.

 But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied.

And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels. Isaiah 53 (NLT)

He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24 (NIV)

Today and always may we never forget the baby in the manger, whose birth we celebrate each December 25th, is also the Sacrificial Lamb who was slain for the sins of the world, that all may have life and have it abundantly. Jesus is Christ the Messiah. King of kings and LORD of lords. To him be glory, honor, and praise now and forever. Amen.

Do you have a favorite Scripture verse you read at Christmas?

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You can find my December Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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We Are Aliens In This World

Although this post first appeared October 4, 2016, I felt it worth re-posting.Hope you agree.

Last month during our trip through the Southwest, Pilot and I went through Roswell, NM on our way to Carlsbad Caverns. Although our intent was to visit the International UFO Museum Research Center to see if the truth really is out there, a tornado threatened to send us sheltering beneath the Roswell Museum and Art Center where Pilot soaked in the history of the Robert Goddard exhibit, so we decided to get out of town. Fast.

It seemed everywhere I looked between Roswell and Carlsbad there were aliens.

And this got me thinking about those of us who belong to Jesus.

We are in this world, but not of it. We are aliens, if you will. Sojourners traveling through this world, waiting for the day Jesus takes us to our eternal home in heaven.

To quote Henry David Thoreau, we march to the beat of a different drum. At least we should. People should be able to look at what we do, what we say, where we go, how we treat people, and notice we are different.

We are to reflect Jesus, not the world.

The patriarch, Abraham, was called out of the land of Ur to travel to a place God would take him; Canaan, the land the Israelites called the Promised Land. Abraham was an alien in a foreign land. He was just a-passin’ through.

We are called to be different from the world around us. We are called to a higher standard. A standard set by God. Not a standard set by the culture that surrounds us. God has chosen us to be holy and pure. We belong to him, as such, we are his ambassadors to people who do not yet know him.

This world is not our home. We are aliens. And that’s a good thing, don’t you think?

The truth is out there, and it isn’t found in a science fiction tv show. It’s found in the Words of Truth recorded in God’s Holy Bible.

Have you visited the International UFO Museum Research Center?

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But you are not like that, for you have been chosen by God himself—you are priests of the King, you are holy and pure, you are God’s very own—all this so that you may show to others how God called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.Dear brothers, you are only visitors here. Since your real home is in heaven, I beg you to keep away from the evil pleasures of this world; they are not for you, for they fight against your very souls. 1 Peter 2:9 & 11 (TLB)

You can find my November Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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The Good Shepherd

A random gust of wind, courtesy of Hurricane Delta, blew over a section of our fence. This side of fence borders our neighbors who own two dogs. The friendly dogs loved the new found freedom of exploring our backyard until the fence was repaired.

One day as I sat outside in the early morning silence listening to birds sing and watching flocks fly overhead, Scout and Gadget burst from their backdoor and bolted straight into our yard.

After some time, their owner called for them. Even though she called them by name, they ignored her.

In case you’re wondering, no, I didn’t entice them to stay. I simply sat in my chair and watched what they would do. Scout stood by my chair, looked in the direction of her owner’s voice, then looked at me. Gadget ignored her owner’s voice and continued exploring our yard.

After several more calls, Scout took one final look at me, turned toward her yard, and went home. Gadget looked toward home, yet didn’t budge. Several more calls. Nothing.

I stood, walked toward Gadget, called, clapped my hands, and told her to go on home. She came to me, paused, then walked into her yard.

Again, no. I’m not some irresistible dog whisperer, and our neighbors love and take care of their dog babies. So no reason to avoid going home.

But this interaction between owner and dog got my mind thinking about the interaction between the Good Shepherd and his sheep. When Jesus calls us, who are we more like? Scout or Gadget? Do we recognize our Shepherd’s voice and go to him? Or do we hear his voice but ignore him altogether?

In the tenth chapter of John, Jesus tells us he is the Good Shepherd. He is the Gate through which his sheep are saved. He is the Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. He knows his sheep and calls them by name.

When he calls, his sheep recognize his voice and come to him. His sheep follow him because they know his voice and know they can trust him. The sheep won’t follow a stranger, because they don’t know his voice.

Although I could have enticed Scout and Gadget to stay with me instead of going to their owner by offering them treats or belly rubs, I didn’t. Even though they know me, are comfortable with me, and know I won’t hurt them, they aren’t my dogs. They aren’t my sheep. They belong to someone else.

There are those in the world who take advantage of their position. They try to entice Jesus’ followers away from him with falsehoods, offers of influence, power, financial gain, any number of things. They want Christ’s sheep to follow them. They don’t want Christ’s sheep following the only true Good Shepherd.

As sheep who belong to the Good Shepherd, we need to shut our ears to false shepherds and open them to the voice of the One who knows us by name and loves us with an everlasting love. As our Good Shepherd, Jesus’ love for us is so great he willingly laid down his life in death so we would never face separation from him.

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The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice and come to him; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. John 10:3 (TLB)

You can find my October Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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The Work of God Displayed

Lately I’ve pondered events in our lives we wish didn’t happen, or wonder why God allowed in the first place. In re-reading the story of the blind man Jesus healed in John 9, his disciples asked Jesus who sinned. The blind man or his parents to cause the man’s blindness.

Jesus told the disciples neither sinned. The blindness happened so God’s glory, the work of God, might be displayed in the man’s life.

I find people today still ask the question the disciples asked. “Who sinned to cause this calamity?” They assume someone surely sinned. They don’t this it as an opportunity for the work of God to be displayed.

If we jump to John chapter 11, we see after Jesus deliberately tarried before he set out for Bethany, he raised his friend Lazarus from the grave. When Lazarus’ sister Martha questioned Jesus’ delay, he told her it was to show God’s glory so the work of God would be displayed.

A friend of mine once commented it is a good thing when Jesus raised Lazarus from the grave, Jesus used direct address and called Lazarus by name. Otherwise, if Christ simply said, “Come out!” with no name attached to the command, every body in the surrounding tombs would rise. True.

Thinking of our own lives, and the lives of those around us, can we look at the less than spectacular events, and see the hard things as opportunities to display the work of God? I think so.

Have the eyes of those once blind in darkness opened to the Light of who Jesus is as Savior, Lord, and King?

Have those once dead in sin raised to new life in Christ?

Has the bitterness of past hurts and unforgiveness fallen from lives as surely as scales fell from blind eyes?

Has the one who wandered far off God’s intended path re-calibrated their GPS coordinates and returned?

If so I would say each of these events, and many others, happened so the work of God would be displayed.

How has God displayed his glory and work in your life or the lives of those you know?

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Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believe, you would see the glory of God?” John 11:40 (NET)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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You can find my June Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

When You Turn Back

Did you ever notice when Jesus met the disciples on the seashore with a breakfast of grilled fish which he cooked for them after his resurrection, he called Peter Simon?

Jesus didn’t call the apostle Peter, the rock; the name Christ gave him. Instead, Jesus called the apostle by his birth name. I hadn’t paid much attention to that detail until I prepared this month’s Easter posts.

Also, I love the fact Jesus didn’t say if you turn back. No. Jesus said when you turn back.

Thank you, Jesus, he tells us the same.

It’s not one strike and we’re out. Not even three strikes and we’re out. Jesus tells us after we fail, after we fall, when we turn back to him his grace is sufficient. His sacrifice is sufficient. He is sufficient.

Do you think when Peter heard Jesus call him Simon, it was similar to the feeling we get when our parents call us by our first AND middle names? Maybe.

Jesus spoke Simon’s name twice. He needed Simon Peter’s full attention. The words Jesus spoke were extremely important. Especially given Peter’s previous denial as the Lamb of God awaited crucifixion.

Yes. Jesus named Simon the rock, however, Peter needed to understand in addition to his strong side, Peter also had a vulnerable side. Just like the rest of the disciples. Just like the rest of us. Every single one of our strengths can be turned into our weaknesses. Those are the areas where Satan shows up. He takes the good and twists it into something bad.

Peter felt confident he would never forsake Christ. Satan took that confidence and twisted it into self-pride. That prideful spirit allowed Peter to care more about protecting himself, and what others thought of him, than he cared about protecting Jesus.

Each of Christ’s disciples have a vulnerable side, a target Satan intends to penetrate to destroy our testimony about who Christ the Risen Savior is. It is a target Satan can only attack with God’s permission. A target of temptation Jesus prays we will withstand  through the power of the Holy Spirit in those who belong to him.

Peter’s story didn’t end when he denied Jesus around a fire the night Christ was betrayed. After he repented, turned back, and set out to proclaim Christ and him crucified, Simon Peter preached a sermon during Pentecost that saw thousands confess Jesus as Lord. And that was just the beginning.

Like Peter there are times we fail. We deny we ever knew Jesus through our careless words and actions. Jesus knows the outcome before Satan even draws back his bow and sends fiery darts our direction.

Like Peter, when we fall we have a choice.

Will we let our failure define us, give up, and walk away? Or will we acknowledge our fall, get back up, repent, and when we turn back, strengthen those around us?

Who knows? But one thing is sure. Whatever we do after we fall is just as important as what we did before we fell.

Grace. God’s grace. Grace that is greater than all our sins.

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Simon, Simon! Listen! Satan has received permission to test all of you, to separate the good from the bad, as a farmer separates the wheat from the chaff. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. And when you turn back to me, you must strengthen your brothers. Luke 22:31-32 (GNT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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You can find my April Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

Alive!

Although CO-VID-19 may have hijacked the way we usually celebrate Resurrection Sunday this year, the truth remains, Jesus is alive! Nothing. Absolutely nothing can change that most glorious fact. Amen?

In the story of Jesus’ arrest, we read Peter denied he ever knew Jesus. Not just once, but three times. The exact number of times Jesus predicted.

In the Resurrection account recorded in Mark, specific mention is made that Peter be told the Good News. Jesus is alive. That glorious information was not to be kept from the apostle. Peter needed to know Christ rose from the dead. Peter needed to know Jesus was alive. Peter needed to know Jesus wanted to include Peter in Jesus’ story.

Maybe we’ve been like Peter. One way or another, we’ve denied we knew Jesus. Maybe it happened through our careless words or thoughtless actions. Maybe we hid our light under a bushel when given opportunities to represent Christ in this dark world.

But you know what?

Jesus loves each of us. He really does. He loves us so much he willingly paid the price for our sins so we wouldn’t have to. He took the nails and sadistic lashes we deserved. Jesus took the punishment and wrath of God that was headed our way upon his perfect, sinless self.

He did that for you. He did that for me. All so we could be included in Christ’s story of Good News. Jesus is alive!

Jesus is not the Great I was. Jesus is the Great I AM.

Even after Peter’s denial, Jesus invited Peter to eat some grilled fish by the seashore before his ascension into heaven.

We may not be invited to eat fish with Jesus by the seashore, but he invites all who name him as their LORD and Savior to come to the table set in his presence.

The question for us is, what are we going to do about it?

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The next evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene and Salome and Mary the mother of James went out and purchased embalming spices.

Early the following morning, just at sunrise, they carried them out to the tomb. On the way they were discussing how they could ever roll aside the huge stone from the entrance.

But when they arrived they looked up and saw that the stone—a very heavy one—was already moved away and the entrance was open! So they entered the tomb—and there on the right sat a young man clothed in white. The women were startled, but the angel said, “Don’t be so surprised. Aren’t you looking for Jesus, the Nazarene who was crucified? He isn’t here! He has come back to life! Look, that’s where his body was lying. Now go and give this message to his disciples including Peter:

“‘Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died!’” Mark 16:1-7 (TLB)

 

He Is Alive!

©Frances Gregory Pasch

“Where has he gone?” the people asked.

“Who rolled the stone away?”

Most shook their heads in disbelief

And knew not what to say.

“Could this have been the Son of God?

Could all he said be true?”

Then angel smiled, “don’t be afraid

He’s gone ahead of you.

He is alive! He conquered sin!

He’s risen from the dead!

He’s on His way to Galilee,

Exactly as He said.”

How blessed we are to have a God

Who reaches out with grace

And promises if we’ll believe,

We’ll see Him face to face.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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You can find my April Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

The Power of Stillness

Jesus has been arrested and falsely accused. The high council’s next step is to send him to Pilate. As Pilate interrogates Jesus, Christ refuses to strike back. He refuses to plead his innocence before his accusers. Instead, Jesus displays the power of stillness.

Very early in the morning the leading priests, the elders, and the teachers of religious law—the entire high council—met to discuss their next step. They bound Jesus, led him away, and took him to Pilate the Roman governor.

Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Jesus replied, “You have said it.”

When the leading priests kept accusing Jesus of many crimes, Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer them? What about all these charges they are bringing against you?”

But Jesus said nothing. Much to Pilate’s surprise.

Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner—anyone the people requested. One of the prisoners at that time was Barabbas, a revolutionary who committed murder in an uprising.

The crowd went to Pilate and asked him to release a prisoner as usual.

“Would you like me to release to you this ‘King of the Jews’?” Pilate asked. (For he realized by now that the leading priests had arrested Jesus out of envy.)

But at this point the leading priests stirred up the crowd to demand the release of Barabbas instead of Jesus.

Pilate asked them, “Then what should I do with this man you call the king of the Jews?”

They shouted back, “Crucify him!”

“Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?”

But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify him!”

So to pacify the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.

(Mark 15:1-15 NLT)

The day when Jesus stood alone

And felt the hearts of men like stone,

And knew He came but to atone–

That day “He held His peace.”

They witnessed falsely to His word,

They bound Him with a cruel cord,

And mockingly proclaimed Him Lord;

“But Jesus held His peace.”

They spat upon Him in the face,

They dragged Him on from place to place,

They heaped upon Him all disgrace;

“But Jesus held His peace.”

My friend, have you from far much less,

With rage, which you called righteousness,

Resented slights with great distress?

Your Savior “held His peace.”

Taken from Streams in the Desert

The power of stillness.

Oh, that I practiced it to a greater measure than I do and let God answer on my behalf.

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But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed. Mark 15:3 (NIV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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You can find my April Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

On The Night He Was Betrayed

On the night he was betrayed, following Judas’ departure from the upper room where Jesus and his disciples ate the Passover meal, Jesus took the remaining eleven to the olive grove known as the Garden of Gethsemane across the Kidron Valley.

Having spent the last three years as a disciple, Judas knew Jesus often went to this garden to pray. So it is no surprise this is where Judas chose to betray Christ with a kiss of friendship.

It is here Jesus pulled three of his closest disciples aside to an inner section away from the other eight. It is here Christ told Peter, James, and John his soul was crushed with grief to the point of death.

Before the beginning of time, Christ knew what Judas and the High Priest plotted. He knew the exact moment the betrayer would arrive with armed guards to arrest him on false charges. He knew the horror the rapidly approaching hours held.

Until I read a devotion in Lysa TerKuerst’s book, Embraced, I’d never thought much about the significance of Jesus praying in an olive grove. In this devotion she explains the crushing process olives go through to produce olive oil.

The crushing times she calls it.

  • Lysa says the crushing times are necessary times. In order to be fruitful the olive tree has to have both the dry hot east wind and the wet Mediterranean west wind.
  • The crushing times are processing times. In order for the bitter olive to be edible, it goes through a lengthy process. It is washed, broken, soaked, and sometimes salted.
  • The crushing times are preservation times. The best way to preserve the olive is to crush it in order to extract the oil. It has to be pressed. Hard.
  • Crushing is not the end. Instead, crushing preserves the olive.

Jesus said his soul was crushed with grief to the point of death. His suffering was for our benefit. He could have called tens of thousands of angels to deliver him. He could have told God he wouldn’t suffer for humankind’s sins to bring those who believe in him salvation. He could have stopped Judas from kissing his cheek.

Jesus could have done a whole bunch of other things to prevent his crushing time, but he didn’t.

On the night he was betrayed and throughout the next day, Christ went through the horrific effects of accepting the Father’s will of the cross to bring salvation to lost sinners. He took the bitter sting of death upon himself. He paid the debt we owed but could never pay, making a way to preserve us.

Like the olive, we may go through our own crushing time where we feel beat up by the dry hot east wind and soaked by the wet Mediterranean west wind. We may feel crushed beyond anything we can bear. Our life circumstances might be washing and breaking us to the point we feel like there is no hope.

When we experience these very difficult times, let’s remember on the night he was betrayed, Jesus endured unbearable sorrow in a grove of olives where his soul was crushed with grief to the point of death.

All because he wanted to make a way to preserve us for a life with him in eternity.

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They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.” He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed.  He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Mark 14:32-34 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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You can find my April Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

A Somber Celebration

When the hour for the Passover meal came, Jesus and his apostles reclined on cushions around a low table. Although usually a joyous occasion, this Passover meal would be a somber celebration. It would be a time of revelation, new covenant, and request for remembrance.

Jesus told the twelve he eagerly desired to eat this meal with them before he suffered. His statement held both an eagerness in eating the meal and a sense of finality. Once again he told the disciples, his closest companions, his time of suffering neared. Jesus told them there would be a time when he would eat with them again.

Later.

When the kingdom of God came.

While offering the final cup of the Passover meal, Christ told his followers the cup was a new covenant in his blood poured out for them. It was a new agreement between God and his people. This covenant was superior to the covenant under the law handed down to Moses.

As soon as Jesus offered the bread and cup to his disciples, he revealed a traitor was in their midst. He knew Satan would enter the one who walked with Jesus for the past three years. Jesus knew the plot would unfold quickly in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew whose hand would receive blood-money from the high priest. Jesus knew who would betray him with a kiss.

While Jesus knew all this, the disciples wondered who the betrayer could be. Jesus prepared the disciples for what would soon take place that evening and the next day, yet they didn’t understand the gravity of his words. Instead, in their need to prove they weren’t the betrayer, they argued over who was the most loyal. Who was the greatest.

Jesus reminded his disciples they were not to be like those in the world who boast and try to outdo each other. He told them the greatest should be like the one who serves. He reminded them greatness in God’s kingdom is found in serving others instead of serving self. As an example, the Son of God stooped to wash the feet of men.

Jesus reminds us the same thing today. We are not to be like the world, boasting and trying to outdo each other. We are to be like Christ. Humbly serving others with a heart like his.

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“But here at this table, sitting among us as a friend, is the man who will betray me. I must die. It is part of God’s plan. But, oh, the horror awaiting that man who betrays me.”

Then the disciples wondered among themselves which of them would ever do such a thing. Luke 22:21-23 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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You can find my March Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.