Devotional: Road to the Cross-Part Five

But they shouted, “Take Him away! Take Him away! Crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Should I crucify your king?” “We have no king but Caesar!” the chief priests answered. So then, because of them, he handed Him over to be crucified. (John 19:15-16 HCSB)

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When my kids want something, they always come to me before they go to their dad. If I say no, they often keep asking. Actually, they always keep asking. They can’t seem to take no for an answer. I often give in, but sometimes I get tired of it and tell them to ask their dad. Our conversation usually goes something like this:

Son: “Can I go to So-and-so’s house?”
Mom: “No.”
Son: “Why not?”
Mom: “Your uncle’s in town.”
Son: “But I saw them last night. Why can’t I go to So-and-so’s house?”
Mom: “Your uncle will only be here for a few more days and then we don’t know when we will get to see him again.”
Son: “But I want to meet So-and-so’s dad. So, can I?”
Mom: “No.”
Son: “Why not?”
Mom: “Because your uncle is here.”
Son: “But I’ve already seen him. I want to meet So-and-so’s dad.”
(At this point, I think about ignoring my son.)
Son: “So, can I?”
Mom: “No.”
Son: “Why not?”
Mom: “Because I said no.”
Son: “But why not?”
(I ignore my son.)
Son: “Mom. Can I go?”
Mom: “Go ask your dad.”

Why did I pass the situation to my husband? Because I was tired of being the one responsible for letting him do or not do something. I know I would have given into the pressure.

When Jesus was handed over to Pilate, the religious leaders were trying to get out of taking responsibility for putting Jesus to death. They claimed it was unlawful for them to put anyone to death. So they fostered the responsibility on Pilate.

Pilate talked to Jesus and asked him questions. Jesus talked about being the King of a “Kingdom that does not have its origin here.” Nothing in Jesus’ answers led Pilate to believe he had done anything wrong. Pilate could see that the Jewish leaders were jealous.

Pilate tried to pass the responsibility back to the Jews. He told them he didn’t see where Jesus had committed any crime, but the Jews argued back that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. The Jewish leaders told Pilate that it was against their law to make yourself the Son of God.

Again Pilate talked to Jesus. This time, because he was afraid. He wanted to know where Jesus was from, but Jesus wouldn’t talk this time. Pilate tried to pull rank on Jesus, but it didn’t work. Jesus told him he wouldn’t have his rank if God didn’t want him there.

John 19:12 says: From that moment Pilate made every effort to release Him.

But eventually, Pilate gave into the pressure.

So, the truth is, I’m just as responsible for the decision as my husband, even though I sent our son to him.

I tell myself that I would stand my ground on things that are really important, but given my track record, I’m going to really have to pray for strength when those times come. Our son, won’t give up easily.

Lord, help me to see the times when it’s real important for me to stand my ground. Thank you for the strength you provide. Help me to lean on you.

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Devotional: Shalom

 

 

I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33 HCSB)

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FreeImages.com/Nino Satria

When I think of peace, I think of sitting on my couch reading a book with the television off and the kids nowhere around. Or lying in a hammock under some trees reading or daydreaming while the sky is blue, the clouds white and fluffy, the temperature a nice 70 degrees, and a sweet scent blowing in the breeze.

Some people find the beach peaceful while others would prefer a more mountainous setting. Many people find a light rain brings a sense of peace and restfulness. They often have their best naps during a drizzle.

I learned something about the peace Jesus was talking about in the verse above. Our English word peace was used to translate the Hebrew word “shalom.” Yet shalom means more than just a quiet moment. According to the Encyclopedia of the Bible found on BibleGateway.com also means soundness, completeness, welfare, harmony, concord, security, safety, assurance. That’s a lot more than just quietness.

I suppose that is why Jesus continues in the verse to say that we will suffer, but we have nothing to fear because he has already conquered the world.

What does He mean by conquered the world? In John 20, the story is told of how Mary went to the tomb but found the stone missing and the body gone. She ran to tell Peter and John. They, in turn, ran to the tomb to see for themselves. Jesus had told them over and over that he would come back to life. The scriptures explained it also. But they walked away not putting two and two together.

Then, the disciples were together behind locked doors on two separate times in chapter 20 and Jesus appeared to them. Once he entered he said, “Peace to you!” I believe this was not just a greeting, but a blessing to bring peace, soundness, completeness, welfare, harmony, concord, security, safety, and assurance. You see, the reason the disciples were locked behind closed doors was because they were afraid of the Jews. Afraid they would be next, I suppose. Afraid they would be thrown in jail, beaten, and who knows what else.

Can you picture it? They’re all standing and sitting around talking in hushed voices, depressed, and not sure what to do with their life now. Suddenly, Jesus is among them and says, “Peace to you!” Just as suddenly, they’re filled with a sense of calmness, completeness, security, happiness and boldness.

After Jesus goes to heaven, His words in John 16:33 are fulfilled. The disciples went out telling people about Jesus, but they were persecuted; they suffered in this world. Yet, they had courage because they understood that Jesus had already conquered the world. Many people have come to believe and are given the perfect peace that can come only from Jesus.

We also will have sufferings. Maybe not the same way that the disciples suffered though there are places in the world where they do. One thing is for sure, Jesus has already won the battle and we can have courage in that so that if we believe we can have peace even in our sufferings.

Lord, give me peace. Help me to understand it better. Not the peace the world understands, but the peace that comes in believing in Jesus Christ. May you have all the praise in the works of my hands. Thank you for loving me.

Devotional: Live Life Abudantly


“. . . I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” (John 10:10 HCSB)

FreeImages.com/RYAN Swallow

FreeImages.com/RYAN Swallow

I consider myself a simple person. I like simple things and I’m not particular about very many things. At least, I don’t think I am.

I don’t need the music playing as soon as I get in my vehicle. I don’t have to have the television on unless I’m watching something. I do have to eat gluten and dairy free, but I still enjoy south Louisiana comfort foods like gumbo and jambalaya.

If it were up to me, I would stay in my own little bubble and live happily ever after with no troubles or conflicts.

But, as a Christian (a believer in Christ), am I really living abundantly the way God intended? What does it really mean to live abundantly in Christ?

In John 10, Jesus tells a story. Most people call it a parable because there was always a reason for His stories. He tells us about being the Good Shepherd. That name in itself has a couple meanings to me. “Good” can be translated in Greek “kalos” which means “noble”. We all understand “noble” to mean someone with high morals or high personal qualities, but it can also refer to kings and queens. To me, Jesus embodies both nobility and high ethical values.

Yet, the parable is more than a picture of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. Jesus paints this image of Himself standing at the gate of the sheep pen blocking any danger from entering. Wolves can’t snatch sheep and drag them away. A thief can’t climb over the wall and steal them. What an awesome image of Jesus protecting me from the evil one; protecting me from what the Devil might want to do to me or what he might send my way.

But, there is more. Jesus says, “I am the Good Shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me, as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. I lay down My life for the sheep.” (John 10:14-15) Jesus and God have a close, devoted, personal relationship. As a believer, I can have the same close, devoted, personal relationship with Jesus. He knows me. He knows me! It’s unbelievable for me to understand that in all the peoples of the world, Jesus still knows me. I’m not a number to Him. I’m a person with a name. I have feelings and fears.

And He died for me.

He didn’t just say He would lay down His life for me. He did lay down His life for me. What am I supposed to do with this knowledge? The answer: hear Him call to me. In John 14:15, Jesus says, “If you love me, you will keep My commands.”

So, to live abundantly, I accepted Him as my Savior and do what He wants me to do. It’s simple. Yet, complicated. Another paradox.

Accepting Christ is easy when you are humble and let go of your ego. But it’s not easy to live a Christ-like life. But, when we rely on Jesus, he will make it easy and that is when we start to live abundantly.

Thank You for being my Savior and keeping me safe from all evil. Thank You for the peace and joy that comes from living abundantly in You. May I always remember.