On Wings Of Eagles

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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?


Matthew 27:46 (ESV)
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

What a heart wrenching question from the mouth of Jesus. The son who has been sharing an unhindered relationship with his father since eternity, is now driven to say these words. While we might think he is tempted to doubt his father’s love, he positions his circumstance against the backdrop of scripture and quotes from Psalm 22:1. From the depths of his pain he quotes scripture. Jesus’ life is so steeped in scripture.


Just as Psalm 22 is the cry of a community, Jesus here is identifying with the sufferings of this world and experiences what it means to be concealed from God’s love. He enters our struggle and abandonment and experiences what each one of us has to go through when we abandon the love of God for other lesser loves. The writer Augustine expresses this beautifully, Jesus is praying as the head and as the body.


This cry is a reminder that Jesus unites all our suffering. As Christians, we are reminded here that our suffering is not private. Jesus associates with us. Our suffering is also not private because we are a community of believers. Ideally, we ought to suffer with those who are suffering.


Today, let us remember that our suffering is not an isolated experience but we have Jesus who suffers with us. Let us also remember those who are suffering so that we may enter into their circumstances and offer our help and assistance.


We might feel Jesus isn’t doing enough to alleviate our suffering. Instead, he seems to plunge us deeper. That is right, he plunges us deeper by helping us realize that our suffering is not in vain. It is not meant to be an individual experience but a cooperative experience of redemption. Jesus’ involvement in human suffering and his cry of abandonment must serve as a model for us to stand in the gap and help.

Dear Lord, help us to step into, walk with and alleviate the pain of those who are suffering. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Woman, behold your son! Behold your mother!


John 19:25-27 (ESV)
25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

This is the second time Jesus is referring to his mother as “Woman.” The first time was at the beginning of his ministry at the wedding of Cana. And now at the end of his earthly life he refers to her as “Woman.” At the start of his ministry she spoke and expected him to obey. Now at the end of his earthly life she sits quietly by his cross.


Mary is a model mother, who steers her children to go out and do something but continues to stand by her children when the going gets tough. Parents have the privilege of steering their children to accomplish something beautiful. However, there are also times when parents are brought to their knees to silently cry for their children.


While Mary was crying, Jesus was making all things new. This offers hope to parents that Jesus is going to make all things new. The tears for our children will not be in vain. He will, indeed, make all things new.


The relationship children share with their mothers is most special. Mothers usually care for their children in ways most fathers struggle to. Here, we find at the foot of the cross when most people have abandoned Jesus, his mother, his aunty, 2 Marys and John.


It is difficult to be the mother of a misunderstood child. I have seen mothers argue on behalf of their children who they think deserve more. Mary here, is portrayed quiet at the foot of the cross where her bleeding son hangs. What the silence implied is difficult for us to comprehend.


Maybe, Jesus heard her heart's cry and the loneliness she might be feeling and said, “Woman, here is your son,” and then looking at John he said, “This is your mother.” We have an opportunity this season to reach out to our parents and offer them our company as they wade through the struggles of old age.


Like John, we can also reach out to the elderly in our community; welcome them into our homes. Or visit them, listen to them, or simply just give them company.

Dear Lord, hear our heart's cry and help us to hear the silent cries of the elderly wherever they might be. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Today you will be with me in paradise.


Luke 23:39-43 (ESV)
39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

The promise of salvation is not just for the future. It is also for today. There were two prisoners on either side of Jesus. Each of them had a view of Jesus that might resonate with anyone of us. The first one, in continuation of the mocking that Jesus had already received, challenges him to perform a miracle: “If you are the son of God, save yourself and us.”


This challenge was not new for Jesus. Even before he began his ministry Satan had asked him a similar question: “If you are the son of God, change these stones into bread.” Sometimes, we are tempted to ask Jesus the same question: “If you are the son of God, do this for me…”


To Satan he responded with scripture. To the first prisoner he chose to stay silent. He didn’t see the need to defend his identity.


Conversely, the second criminal on the cross does not want Jesus to ‘perform’.  Rather, he wants Jesus to ‘remember’ him. So to the second prisoner Jesus says, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Jesus’ ultimate answer to every one of our requests is – heaven.


Yet, he reminds us that heaven is not merely a place. It is a person. “You will be with me.” Heaven is where Jesus is. The offer of heaven is himself. He can make heaven enter into our lives if we are willing to allow him to make his home in our hearts. Jesus can help us change the perspective of our experiences.


The second criminal surprisingly viewed Jesus as ‘The King’ despite Jesus’ powerlessness. He asked Jesus for the most important thing – to remember him. Don’t we all get a boost when someone great remembers us? What a privilege for us to see Jesus now in all his power and know that he remembers us!


Today let us remember two things. One, heaven is not only a place to arrive at but we can have a foretaste of it, here on earth, with Jesus in our hearts. Two, Jesus has regained his splendor and majesty and he remembers us by name.


Dear Lord, help us to live everyday with the knowledge that You remember each of us. Help us to share that great gift with those around us today. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do


Luke 23:34 (ESV)
And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.

In the movie – The Passion of the Christ – the suffering of Jesus is portrayed very accurately. You can imagine what Jesus had just been through. He had been spat upon, his hair and beard pulled, they made fun of him, they ridiculed his teaching, they slapped him, they whipped him and they pressed a crown of thorns into his head. Eventually they nailed him to the cross. And this is what he says, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”


Even from the cross Jesus along with the father forgives his perpetrators. The union that he shares with his father is evident even in his forgiveness. Jesus teaches us that when injustice is being done to us the father takes it personally. Likewise, when we forgive we are forgiving on behalf of the father.


Jesus then reminds us that sin is ignorance. When we sin we become ignorant. We become so ignorant that despite being aware of the consequences of our behavior we still choose to go ahead with our action. Jesus reminds us from the cross that we can accept his forgiveness and change our ways.


Forgiveness is a very difficult decision. But it is a very important decision. More than anything,  it offers us, the victim, freedom. We must strive to forgive, because the father has forgiven us. With God all things are possible. So with God’s help let us try to forgive. Additionally, with the power of the Holy Spirit let us hope for our pain to be transformed into compassion and our memory into prayer and intercession.


The cross is at the center of our journey as Christians. Jesus reminds us from the cross that forgiveness comes from the father's loving heart and we must extend this forgiveness to others.

Dear Lord, thank you for the relief that Your forgiveness brings to our life. Help us find others to offer it today. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

I Have a Hope that Never Dies

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (ESV)
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.

Life without the empty tomb would be hopeless.

The very existence of Christianity depends on the truth of the empty tomb. Without Jesus fulfilling the promise to rise from the dead, where would we be?

Mary Magdalene saw it with her own eyes though. Mary Magdalene, the woman who was once possessed and didn’t know hope until Jesus found her, was the one to first see it with her own eyes. And not only did she see the empty tomb, she saw Jesus. Jesus came to her and spoke her name.

He simply spoke her name and things changed for Mary Magdalene. Hope had come back into her life.

When he walked out of that tomb, Jesus brought hope to the hopeless. He conquered death. He conquered death.

1 Corinthians 15:55 says, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

Our victory is in Jesus. Our victory is in his life, his death, and, praise God, his resurrection. The resurrection means everything. The resurrection validates that Jesus was who he said he was. It validates every word Jesus ever said. It shows us that Jesus can be trusted. He does what he says he will do.

The resurrection gives us unbreakable hope.

Will you say yes to that hope today? Will you live fully today because of the victory we have in Jesus?

Today’s Challenge: Be joyful today. We have the ultimate hope. And if someone asks why you have so much joy today, tell them why.

Dear Lord we thank You for the hope that we have through what You did for each of us. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Friday, April 12, 2019

I Have the Promise of Eternal Life


Romans 6:23 (ESV)
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Are you and I any different than the thieves that hung on the cross with Jesus?

Think about it. We are all sinners. We all fall short of the glory of God. Just like the two thieves who died next to Jesus.

The question today is: Which thief are you going to be? One thief joined the crowds and mocked Jesus. He said, “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” I wonder what it was like that day. Were the witnesses of Jesus’ death giving in to peer pressure and mocking because everyone else was doing it? Either way, one thief joined the jeers.

The other thief was changed. His heart had experienced the truth of Jesus while he hung on that cross. He was repentant and confessed his sins. Jesus said to him in Luke 23: 43, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Jesus saved a thief being executed right then and there. We don’t know any details of his wrongdoings. We don’t even know his name. Do you think that’s symbolic? Perhaps Jesus is saying it doesn’t matter what you’ve done or where you’ve been. Place your trust in me and you will live with me for all eternity.

Breathe that in for a minute.

Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.”

We can’t save ourselves but glory to God He can. God has given us this breathtaking promise through Jesus.

Will you trust today that God wants to give you the gift of eternal life?

Today’s Challenge: Schedule 10 minutes of quiet time for yourself today. Listen for God as you’re quiet. Or perhaps pray to Him that He will help you trust that this gift of eternal life is real.

Dear Lord, we thank You today that You paid the price for our sin. We thank You that because You took our sins upon You we can have eternal life with You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

My Life Has a Plan


Romans 8:28 (ESV)
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

When a baby is born there is often celebration. There are tears of joy. There are prayers of thanksgiving. There is pure wonder.

Imagine what Mary must have been feeling as she held the son of God in her arms for the first time—her son. Did she have plans for Jesus? Did she have hopes for her baby boy? Of course she did—what mama doesn’t have those types of plans for her children?

Not many mamas I know would have plans that would include a violent death. So as Mary watched her son hang on the cross, the sorrow and pain for her had to have been unfathomable.

This wasn’t the happy ending she pictured for her baby boy. Far from it—it was a nightmare.

But when God is the author of our stories, they often play out quite differently than had we been our own authors. God’s will doesn’t exclude pain and suffering. And that sometimes seems senseless to us.

How senseless the death of Jesus must have seemed to Mary. Do you think that when Jesus spoke to Mary from the cross, Mary had a feeling of hope or comfort? Do you think it was being revealed to her little by little that Jesus’ death was God’s plan of hope for His people all along?

When life seems unclear, God can be trusted. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Will you rest today knowing that God has a beautiful plan for your life?

Today’s Challenge: Take a small gift to a tired mother you may know. Read Romans 8:28 to her. Pray with her. Pray that she will trust her children’s lives in God’s hands no matter what that means.

Dear Lord, we thank You that we can trust our children’s life in Your hands. Help us to be the encouragement someone needs today. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

My Pain Is Understood


Hebrews 4:15 (ESV)
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Poverty. Disease. Injustice. Brokenness. Death. We live in a fallen world that includes immense pain.

We often ask God why there is so much pain. If you’re good, God, why won’t you stop the pain? We ask ourselves these questions and don’t often find the answers we're looking for.

The life of Jesus though… The life of Jesus can assure you and me that God knows our pain. He has felt our pain. And He understands our pain.

Think about everything He endured on this earth. Hurt from relationships. Torture. Mocking. Physical beatings. Death on a cross. He has felt our relational pain and he has felt physical pain.

The difference between us and Jesus is that Jesus suffered willingly. With his suffering came a promise to you and to me, a promise of compassion. God gave his son to die for us. Jesus endured that death.

While in the Garden of Gethsemane, Matthew 26 tells us that Jesus felt unbearable stress. He says in verse 39, “‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as a I will, but as you will.” He understands deep pain.

God knows. He sees. He understands.

Will you let Jesus’ suffering on this earth help you to understand that you are truly not alone?

Today’s Challenge: Read Isaiah 53:3-5 to a friend or family member. Listen to the words as you read and then explain to your loved one why their pain is understood. Make the connection between our pain and Jesus’ pain.

Dear Lord, we thank You for knowing our pain. We thank You for the things You went through for each of us. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

My Life Can Change


Matthew 27:3-5 (ESV)
3 Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” 5 And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself.

Have you ever done something you never thought you would do? And not something for which you are proud. The other kind.

Hours before his death, Jesus was betrayed by two of his followers—his friends. Judas and Peter both did something they never thought they would do. Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. Peter denied his friend three times within a matter of minutes.

Can you feel the guilt both of these men felt after they committed these acts? I can feel it. I’ve felt it. Ever done something for which you assumed God would never forgive? Haven’t we all? Usually when we feel this guilt, we’re brought to one of two places: remorse or repentance.

Judas tried to give the money he earned for his betrayal back to the chief priests. But that act wouldn’t erase his guilt. It didn’t change his responsibility in the death of Jesus. His remorse and sorrow couldn’t heal him. He ultimately committed suicide.

Peter wept and repented. Later Jesus would reinstate Peter and ask him to watch over His sheep. Jesus wanted to use Peter because even though he made mistakes, he still loved Jesus deeply.

2 Corinthians 7:10 says, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death."

Your life can change when you trust Jesus, when you admit your mistakes and give them to him.

Will you let Jesus’ love for Peter and forgiveness for his mistakes lead you to repentance and godly sorrow?

Today’s Challenge: Make a list of yesterday’s sins. Read the list aloud to God. Ask His forgiveness and then rip the list up and throw it in the trash because He forgives you.

Dear Lord, we thank You that no matter the sin we have committed that You have already forgiven us. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, April 8, 2019

My Life Has Purpose


Philippians 2:7 (ESV)
But emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

Imagine the Last Supper scene. The disciples were gathered, ready to celebrate the Passover with their friend Jesus.

When Jesus arrives he does something unexpected. He washes the disciples’ feet. Think about that. Most likely these men had traveled miles barefoot through streets and terrain that hadn’t been touched by a street sweeper. And Jesus wanted to wash their feet.

Philippians 2:7 says, “He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”

This feet-washing gig was usually reserved for a lowly servant. Not this time. Jesus, the Messiah, the son of God, got down on his knees and humbled himself before his followers. Why? That was his purpose. To serve.

The very next day Jesus would die on a cross for the world. The ultimate sacrifice. A beautiful act of service.

From the beginning there was a call on Jesus' life—a call to serve. That’s the call on my life too. I’m not here to serve myself or pursue my selfish ambitions. I’m here to serve, to give, to love.

After loving God with all our heart, soul and mind, Jesus says the second greatest command is to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

Our purpose is clear: Love God. Love people.

Will you let the story of Easter and Jesus’ example of service propel you to love and serve people with all you have?

Today’s Challenge: Love someone who would least expect it today. Do something kind for them. Maybe take flowers to someone who you usually disagree with or bring the co-worker who got the promotion before you a cup of coffee today.

Dear Lord, we pray today that we would show Your love to someone today. Bring that person to our mind so that we can share the love of Easter with them.  In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Where was Calvary?


Matthew 27:57-61 (ESV)
57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

Jesus was crucified around the year 33AD. The city of Jerusalem was then severely destroyed by the Romans in 70AD.

In the 130s AD the emperor Hadrian built a temple over the site of Jesus’ tomb near Calvary (Golgotha). Hadrian hated Christianity and sought to bury important Christian sites by building pagan temples over them. Finding Hadrian’s temples actually helped to know locations of important biblical sites.

In 313 AD the Roman emperor Constantine finally made it legal to be a Christian in the empire. Constantine’s mother, Helena, wanted to preserve the important sites of the Bible.

Helena had Hadrian’s temple torn down and the new Church of the Holy Sepulcher was built to preserve both the locations of Jesus’ crucifixion and tomb. Is the Church of the Holy Sepulcher really the place of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection?

Many people who travel to Israel today are shown a place called the Garden Tomb. It’s a peaceful place with gardens all around. You feel like you’ve just stepped into a 1st century cemetery. Many people leave Israel convinced the Garden Tomb must be the authentic spot.



The problem, however, is all the Garden Tomb burial spots are simply too old. We know Jesus was laid in a freshly carved tomb. There are no 1st century tombs in the area of the Garden Tomb. There are, however, 1st century tombs inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

Some say the Church of the Holy Sepulcher can’t be the spot because it’s inside the walls of Jerusalem. Crucifixion only happened outside the walls of Jerusalem.

Recent archeological work underneath the nearby Church of the Redeemer have shown the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is indeed outside the ancient city walls of Jersualem.

First, there’s a stone quarry found at the bottom layer of the excavation. These were always outside the walls of a city. Second, the Bible tells us there were gardens around the place of the crucifixion. Archeologists found proof of gardens in the area in the 1st century. Third, Golgotha was described as being on hill. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is a lot higher than it’s surroundings. It’s truly up on a hill.

So if you ever get a chance to walk into the Church of the Holy Sepulcher know that you’re walking into the air space where the sin of humanity was paid for on the cross and death was defeated at the resurrection of Jesus.

Dear Lord, we pray that we would never take lightly what You did for each one of us. Thank You for taking our sins on Your body on the cross and then conquering death so that we may live forever in Heaven with You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.  

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Crucified Man


John 19:1-6 (ESV)
1 Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. 2 And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. 3 They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands. 4 Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” 5 So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” 6 When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.”

The significance of the cross cannot be overstated for a person who believes the collective sin of the world was nailed to a single cross in Jerusalem during the first century AD. The Son of God, Jesus, experienced execution by crucifixion.

An artifact discovered in 1968 brought the first century form of crucifixion to our present-day lives.

Construction workers were working on a project in a suburb north of Jerusalem. To their surprise they accidentally uncovered a Jewish tomb dating to the first century. Inside the tomb was a stone ossuary (bone box) bearing the Hebrew name John. Inside the ossuary were found the skeletal remains of a man in his twenties who had been crucified. How did they know the young man had been crucified?

The man, stunningly, still had a nail driven through his right heel. The iron nail measured 11.5 centimeters (4.53 inches) in length. Why was the nail still in his heel? The end of the nail was bent. It looks like what happened is while the nail was being driven into the cross the nail hit a knot in the wood and bent. The people burying the man left the nail in place.

Remains of olive wood, additionally, were found between the head of the nail and the heel bone.

These bones found outside Jerusalem, amazingly, can be dated to a time very close to the time of Jesus. This young man was crucified in a way slightly different from Jesus. His feet were nailed individually to the outside of the cross. His arms appear to have been tied by ropes. His arms wouldn’t have experienced the same pain Jesus experienced, yet it probably took him much longer to die.

Significance of the Discovery
This artifact proves that death by crucifixion was happening in the exact city and at the exact time mentioned in the New Testament. As we look at the nail driven into this foot we can only imagine if the same man swung the hammer placing nails in the arms and feet of Jesus. Were the nails forged by the same blacksmith? We will never know.

This artifact gives us more confidence toward the historical reliability of Jesus’ death on the cross which has bought us life.

Dear Lord, we thank You that artifacts are found they keep showing the truth of the Bible. Help us to share the confidence that we have what You did for us to those around us. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Gethsemane


Matthew 26:36 (ESV)
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.”

Do we know where Gethsemane is located? Is it reliable to know where Jesus spent one of the most important nights in human history? The answer to both of these questions is: yes!

In Matthew, Mark and Luke we only know the disciples went to a place called Gethsemane. The word Gethsemane literally means “oil press.” Many oil presses were in caves. The temperature in caves allowed for better olive oil production. Caves also provided great natural protection from the elements.

There is only one cave in the area where people have said for 2,000 years Jesus prayed on that amazing evening before he went to the cross. The cave of Gethsemane is large. Excavations in 1956-1957 revealed the mouth of the cave was over 16 feet wide. They also found evidence as many as three olive presses were operating inside the cave.

We also know from the Bible that it was a cold night when Jesus prayed at Gethsemane. Mark 14 and John 18 say Peter was warming himself next to a fire later that night. This is important because the disciples likely did not lay down to sleep out in the open under the stars on that night. It gets pretty cold at night in Jerusalem and there’s usually a heavy dew. Having Jesus and the disciples initially laying down to rest inside the cave of Gethsemane makes much more sense.



Next to the cave, however, the garden of Gethsemane has been growing Olive Trees for as long as anyone can remember. Some of the trees in the garden today are among the oldest living things on planet earth. Many of the trees are hollow so they are unable to reliably date the older core of the tree, but they still date to well over a thousand years old!

It is likely Jesus left the disciples sleeping in the cave and then ventured out into the garden of olive trees to pray that the cup would pass from him. These are sacred places on planet earth where you can go and realize the important events of that night which lead to our soul freedom today through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Dear Lord, we are reminded again how important prayer is in our life through Your example. Help us to take the time to pray each day. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Caiaphas Ossuary


Matthew 26:57 (ESV)
Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered.

In December, 1990, a new park was being constructed in Jerusalem. As the workers, using modern construction equipment, dug down they soon stopped and realized they had found something special. A long forgotten ceiling collapsed revealing a room deep in the earth.

Archeologist Zvi Greenhut arrived on the scene to see what the construction workers stumbled upon.

Greenhut realizes they’re looking down on a burial tomb from the time of Jesus. The archaeologists have just stepped back in time more than 2,000 years. As the flashlights sweep the tomb several ossuaries are found. An ossuary is a box that would hold a person’s bones.

They discover an exceptionally fancy ossuary. The ossuary is dated to the first century. It’s covered with an ornate design which would seem to point toward an important person.

Inside this ornate ossuary are found the bones of two babies, an adolescent child, a teenage boy, an adult woman, and a man about 60 years of age.



On the outside of the ossuary is found an inscription in the Aramaic language saying, “Joseph son of Caiaphas.”

The New Testament describes Caiaphas as one of the primary individuals involved in the crucifixion of Jesus. You may be thinking, “Wait a second. The inscription says Joseph son of Caiaphas. Not just Caiaphas.” The way the inscription is written is actually why it drew so much attention.

The first-century historian Josephus identifies the high priest at the time of Jesus as not only Caiaphas but “Joseph Caiaphas.” Josephus tells us, additionally, that Caiaphas was the Jewish high priest from 18 to 36 AD (Jewish Antiquities 18:35). A source outside the Bible helps us to establish the right name at the right time. Josephus later refers to him as “Joseph who was called Caiaphas of the high priesthood” (Jewish Antiquities 18:95).

Significance of the Artifact
The 60 year old man found in the ossuary is determined by Greenhut and others to be the high priest involved in the crucifixion of Jesus.

For those of us who believe the crucifixion to be the most important event of human history, this artifact holds substantial significance. The Caiaphas Ossuary holds the bones of a 60 year old man who 2,000 years ago led the charge to put Jesus on the cross. The ossuary strengthens the historical reliability of the cross by supporting the existence of one of its central characters.

Dear Lord, we thank You for the way history keeps showing the reliability of the Bible.  In the Name of Jesus, Amen.  

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Pontius Pilate Inscription


John 19:9-11 (ESV)
9 He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”

Jesus speaks with determined clarity when speaking to Pilate. Those seeking the death of Jesus cry out to Pilate, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” (John 19:12)

Pontius Pilate eventually gives in and agrees to have Jesus crucified.

It’s common for people today to question the historical events of the Bible. Since most of the events of the Bible happened between 2,000 and 4,000 years ago, it’s understandable that people wonder if it all really happened?

So, was there really a Pontius Pilate who lived in Israel during the 1st century as governor?

In 1961, readers of the Bible were shocked that an artifact had been discovered taking everyone back to those events of the first century Roman province of Judea.



A group of archaeologists, led by Dr. Antonio Frova were excavating an ancient Roman theater near Caesarea Maritima. Caesarea was a leading city in the first century located on the Mediterranean Sea. A limestone block was found there with a surprising inscription. The inscription, on three lines, reads:

…]S TIBERIVM …PON]TIVS PILATVS …PRAEF]ECTVS IVDA[EA]

The inscription is believed to be part of a larger inscription dedicating a temple in Caesarea to the emperor Tiberius. The inscription clearly reads, “Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea.” The inscription is significant on several levels.

Significance
It makes sense for Pilate to be dedicating a temple in Caesarea Maritima. The prefect usually lived in Caesarea and only went to Jerusalem for special purposes. An inscription of Pilate found in Caesarea fits with the first century world described in the Bible.

The dating of the inscription, in connection with its mention of Tiberius (42 BC-37AD) places the governor Pontius Pilate at the same place and time as the Bible’s information about Jesus.

The vast significance of the Pilate Inscription is attached to the significance of the crucifixion of Jesus. The inscription does not prove the conversations between Pilate and Jesus. The inscription does not prove Pilate condemned Jesus to be crucified. The inscription does not prove the forgiveness of mankind’s sin through the death of Christ. The inscription does, however, put one of the central characters of the Easter story at the right place and right time as described by the Bible.

Dear Lord, we thank You for the great sacrifice You gave for each of us. Help us this Easter season share Your great love with those all around us. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Loved


1 John 4:19 (ESV)
We love because he first loved us.

One of the results of rejection is the inability to receive or give love. None of us can give love unless we have first received love. The rejection leaves us poor and needy in our relationships.


But God’s acceptance and His love makes us rich and transforms us into givers in our relationships.


1 John 4:19 “We love Him because He first loved us”.


The Cross tells us that we are loved and treasured by God. When we understand this truth, it sets us free to love God and others.


1 John 3:1 “See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God, and such we are”.


The first question you need to settle is “Who am I?


The root of rejection lies in our identity issues. It doesn’t matter who you thought you were before because now God has given you a new identity. You are no longer an orphan, with no one to love you. You are a child of God! You belong to Him, His family.


The more you focus on your new identity, the more you will be equipped to handle rejection from people.


Psalm 90:14 “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days”.


The second question you need to answer is, “Whose love will satisfy me?” Experience tells us that people fail us sometimes, just the way we fail people many times.


Why not decide to come to the One who is love, who will never fail you, who never runs out of love!


Moses’ prayer was that they would be satisfied with God’s love each morning. Not with His miracles or wonders or blessings.


The love of God is enough for all the needs of our soul. If we will be fed and filled with God’s steadfast love, then we will always have a song of joy in our mouths.


Dear Lord, we thank You for Your unending love. We pray that today we would rest completely in it. Help us be the one that shares Your love today. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Acceptance


Matthew 27:46 (ESV)
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Rejection, simply defined, is the sense of being unwanted or unloved. Usually, this stems from some form of broken relationship or merely a failure to show love and acceptance. It may start from the womb, childhood, adult life, marriage, and even old age. Rejection brings deep wounds in our souls and negatively affects our thinking and relationships. God has provided healing for the wound of rejection.


For the first time in the history of the universe, the Son of God called out to His Father and received no response. So fully was Jesus identified with man’s iniquity that the uncompromising holiness of God caused Him to reject even His own Son. In this way, Jesus endured rejection in its most agonizing form. Almost immediately after that, He died, not of the wounds of crucifixion, but probably of a heart broken by rejection.


Matt 27:51 “And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom”.


Almost immediately, as soon as Jesus died, the thick veil, in the temple, that forbade a sinful man from entering God’s presence, was torn in two. The blood of the sinless Lamb of God was shed! The way had been made!


Ephesians 1:6 “...He has made us accepted in the Beloved”.


Jesus was rejected so that we, unworthy sinners, can have the acceptance of God. To all those who are in the Beloved Son of God, He extends His acceptance.


Dear Lord, we thank You for taking upon Yourself the rejection of Your Father because You bore all of our sins.  Thank You that we are accepted into Heaven because of what You did for us. In The Name of Jesus, Amen.  

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Victory part 2


Matthew 18:18 (ESV)
Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed[a] in heaven.

Colossians 1:13, 14 “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His Beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins”.


At one time, all of us sinners belonged to the domain of darkness and were ruled by demonic spirits. The cross is the instrument by which God delivered us from the penalty of our sins and from the hand of Satan. Now we are a part of God’s kingdom.


Matthew 18:18 “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth, will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth, will be loosed in heaven”.


To bind means to make secure by tying – like arresting by putting handcuffs. Binding is done by legal authority. We have the legal authority in the name of Jesus to bind the works of darkness and all demonic activity. We, who were once ruled by the kingdom of darkness, now can stop its advancement. That’s real authority!


Loose means to untie, release and set free. People need to be loosed from destroying influences. Jesus gave us the legal authority to set people free.


Sheila, a former witch, who gave her life to Jesus, says, “After practicing magic for over twenty years, I want to say- I have never encountered any power like the power I encountered since I have become a believer in Jesus!”


In Acts 8, we see Simon, who was a sorcerer in Samaria. He held the people in awe through the power he demonstrated. But when he saw the Holy Spirit power in Peter and John’s life and in their ministry, he was so amazed that he offered to buy this great power.


“Let me also have this power...” (Acts 8:19)


Now, this power is yours through Christ Jesus. Use it over the powers of darkness, and set people free, in the name of Jesus.



Dear Lord, we thank You for the victory that You bring to each of us. Help us to share that gift with those around us today. In the Name of Jesus, Amen. 

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Victory


Colossians 2:15 (ESV)
15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Christ’s death was a defeat of the power of Satan. Satan’s only weapon that can ultimately hurt people is an unforgiving sin. Christ took this weapon away from him!


Colossians 2:13, 14 “… having forgiven us all our trespasses, by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross”.


The record of our sins was like an arrest warrant- a death sentence, hanging over our heads. But Jesus took it and cancelled it when he suffered on our behalf.


Now if you look closely through the eyes of faith, you will see that arrest warrant nailed to the Cross where His hands were once nailed!


Forgiven! Free! O what a God we serve!


Colossians 2:15 “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the Cross”.


With the only weapon removed, Satan, along with his forces, were disarmed through the Cross. Now they can’t harm you. They have to submit to you. Jesus gives you the authority to trample on demonic spirits and assures you that they will not be able to harm you. In Jesus, you are victorious!


Revelation 12:11 “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to death”.




We have to believe and we have to speak!


Dear Lord, we thank You for the victory that You brought by dying on the cross and raising from the dead to take our sins away. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.