John 7:37-39 The Living Water That Quenches Our Spiritual Thirst

There is a story of an old prospector in the last century who had to make a long journey across a hot desert. He couldn’t carry enough water to make the journey without dying of thirst, but he was told that there was a well halfway across the desert. He set out and sure enough there was a well right where the map indicated. When he pumped the handle, the well only burped up sand. Then he saw this sign: “Buried two feet over and two feet down is a jug of water. Dig it up and use the water to prime the pump. Drink all the water you want, but when you are done, fill the jug again for the next person.”

Sure enough, two feet over and two feet down was enough water for the prospector to prime the pump or finish his journey. Should he pour the water down the well or should he drink it? Most of us would probably drink the water that was buried. We don’t know who wrote the sign on that old pump. It could be a cruel joke. We could pour that water down a worthless well only to watch our lives drain away for lack of water.

The events in John 7:37-39 took place during the Feast of Booths, or Tabernacles. Every morning during the feast there was a procession to the fountain that supplied the water for the pool of Siloam. The priest filled his golden pitcher as the choir sang. Then the crowd proceeded to the temple carrying branches and twigs in the right hand, reminding them of the huts they built in the wilderness. In their left hand they carried a lemon or citron, a sign of the harvest. They proceeded to the altar waving the branches and singing. The priest went to the altar at the time of the sacrifice and poured the water into a silver funnel through which it flowed to the ground.

On the seventh day the crowed circled the altar seven times to celebrate God’s gift of water when Moses struck the rock in the wilderness at Meribah. It was at this moment in the midst of the celebration that Jesus stood and cried, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.” This invitation was rooted in the time and place when Moses faced the thirsty crowd at Sinai crying out for water, and almost in desperation, he struck the rock, and water came out abundantly. As the rock was struck in the wilderness, Jesus will be struck and broken open and life will flow forth to be shared with everyone who will come and drink.

These events took place before Jesus’ death and resurrection. They signaled to the disciples and everyone else who was present exactly who He was and what would come. It was also a message to a church that was facing persecution and uncertainty. His words reminded them and us of the essence of who they have come to follow and what life with Jesus, through the Spirit, offers to a church that is committed and weary, passionate and pursued, despairing and hopeful.

The crowd Jesus faced had far deeper, more urgent needs than their ancestors in the wilderness. Their thirsts were spiritual and eternal. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit that releases and sets free the streams of living water. The disciples quenched their thirst on Jesus until Pentecost, but after that event, they became a blessing to others in a new style of outgoing life. It was then a tide of living water flowed out of their life together, manifesting itself in a bold witness and wondrous works.

The Spirit could only be given after Jesus had been lifted up in glory. It was through the suffering and death on the Cross that His glory broke forth. It was almost as if when His side was pierced He released the Spirit that was in Him to be shared with those who believed.

To understand spiritual thirst, picture the prospector in the desert. His canteen was empty, his lips were parched, and he was desperate for water. Just as God provided water in the wilderness to quench the physical thirst of His people, Jesus offers living water to quench our spiritual thirst. Psalm 81 says, “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” The genius of the Christian life is opening our mouths, our hearts, and our lives wide-and just drinking the water of the Spirit. We will begin not only to live, but we will also experience the power of God in every area of our lives.

God wired us with a thirst-a “low-fluid” indicator. If we deprive our souls of spiritual water, our souls will let us know. Dehydrated hearts send messages such as snarling tempers, waves of worry, and growling mastodons of guilt and fear. We must treat our souls as we treat our thirst. We have to flood our hearts with a good drink of spiritual water.

Jesus did not focus on a particular group but made a universal appeal: anyone who thirsts can come to Him and drink. Jesus quenches every thirst-He is knowledge to the thirsty mind, love to the thirsty heart, peace to the thirsty conscience, and holiness to the thirsty spirit. Because God made us for an intimate relationship with Himself, our deepest thirst cannot be met anywhere else but in Him. Jesus offers the only satisfaction for spiritual thirst.

When Jesus asked a Samaritan woman for a drink of water-implying He’d drink from what she fetched from the well-He changed her life. She was surprised by His request because Jews looked down on Samaritans. He said in John 4:10, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” God’s refreshing Spirit revives us today when we’re tired. He is the Living Water that lives in our souls with holy refreshment.

Too many people settle for a dry life that doesn’t have any spiritual life, or a real experience of the presence of God working in them and through them. That is a complete waste, because it doesn’t have to be that way. If we want to live a real, rich, dynamic faith, we have to spend time with Jesus. How much of this life that we live is spent with Him and for Him?

People often look to the local church to change the arid conditions within their own lives and call for revival. A dehydrated soul can’t be revived unless it chooses to take in the living water that God’s Word provides. Those who want such outpourings must look deep within themselves. We misunderstand revival if we believe it can be manufactured during a church service or a church conference. God doesn’t honour such fleshly attempts. Great spiritual awakenings seem to start when one or two people persistently and consistently pray, “God, I have strayed. Show me where I have erred. May I think, speak, and live Bible. Help me to walk in a continuance of Your presence.”

The devil will do everything he can to discourage us from the unleashed power of a passionate life. That is why Scripture encourages us not to be ignorant of the enemy’s devices, one of which is busyness. From work to social media to church to family to friends to maintaining our homes, if the devil can’t stop a person from moving forward, he’ll just try to push them to move forward too fast. We can even get so busy doing work for God that we lose sight of Him in the midst of it.

The Holy Spirit has come and is releasing life-giving water that will lie deep within people who will yield to Him. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to see life from His perspective. When we yield to the Holy Sprit we will find ourselves taking on new interest and priorities in our lives. Yielding to the Holy Spirit means that we give up our own ideas and efforts and put ourselves in His hand.

There are different levels of relationship with the Holy Spirit which are important to understand. The first type of relationship we can experience is the Spirit within us. The fact that He is in the earth today gives us the opportunity to enter into a personal relationship with Him.

How can we be filled with and thus empowered by the Holy Spirit? There are five steps:

  1. Desire and faith. We must truly want the Holy Spirit, and we must believe that God will give it to us as He said he would.
  2. Commitment. What our hearts are filled with is what we are committed to. If we are genuinely committed to Christ and make Him Lord of our lives, we will be controlled by the Spirit and our lives will exhibit the fruit of the Spirit.
  3. Confession. If we have any unresolved sin in our lives, we must confess it and put it behind us. We can’t live in sin and be controlled by God’s Spirit at the same time.
  4. Openness. The real issue isn’t how much of the Holy Spirit we have, but how much of us does the Holy Spirit have?
  5. Personal honesty. The Holy Spirit is also known as the Spirit of Truth. To be filled with the Spirit of truth, we have to be truthful with ourselves as well as with God.

As followers of Jesus, we live on with exhortation of the One who came to us and  invites us to come to Him. Our thirst will be quenched. Our physical and spiritual needs will be met. Rivers of living water will flow out from within Him. It is the flow of water that perpetuates abundant life. From those waters, we may draw out strength for the dangerous journeys and deepest moments. Those waters change our celebrations and remind us of who we are. Those waters cleans and refresh, hydrate and repair, transport and restore. Those waters flow out from the Holy One and flow into us. As they fill us to overflowing, and we continually draw deeper and deeper from them, those waters beg to flow out from us.

Are there times in our lives when we grow tired of the battle and our souls cry out to God? We long to know God in a deeper and more intimate way, stripping away the layers of misunderstanding and perhaps fear which have kept us at a comfortable distance. King David said that his body, his innermost being, longed for God.

God placed that yearning, that longing, deep in our hearts so that He could fill it. God created the thirst, and He knew that He was the only thing that could satisfy the deep longing within. How does God satisfy that longing in our hearts? What should we do to know Him more intimately and personally? The answer is to drink crystal clear, pure, and cool spiritual water.


  1. Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; p. 1454
  2. Fredrikson, R.L., & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 27: John (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1985; pp. 145-147)
  3. Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles; 2005)
  4. MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
  5. Lucado, M.: The Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson; 2010; pp. 1467-1469)
  6. Berni Dymet, “Hand and Heart.” Retrieved from
  7. Richard Innes, “Empowered by God’s Spirit-Part II.” Retrieved from
  8. Dr. Ed Young, “Open Your Mouth.” Retrieved from
  9. Dr. Dennis Burke, “A Sensitive Heart.” Retrieved from
  10. Dr. Harold Sala, “Guidelines to Grow a Deeper Relationship With God.” Retrieved from
  11. Dr. Neil Anderson, “Living Water.” Retrieved from
  12. Patricia Rayban, “Living Water.” Retrieved from
  13. Christine Caine, “The Busy trap.” Retrieved from
  14. Pastor Jack Hibbs, “Thirsty?” Retrieved from
  15. Rev. Cheryl Lindsay, “Weekly Seeds: Flow Out From Within.” Retrieved from

Acts 1:1-11 The Meaning of Christ’s Ascension

The events that took place during the period between the Resurrection and Christ’s Ascension were as critical for us as they were for the disciples and the early followers of Jesus. What He said and did during that period solidified what had been, and raised expectation for what was to come. The same preparation for power must happen in us. We need to understand who the Holy Spirit is, what we can expect when He takes up residence in our minds and hearts, and what we can do to open the riverbed of our personalities for His flow. The infallible proof of His resurrection and victory over death were critical to the birth of the church, as His disciples were about to give their lives in Christ’s service.

We are living in a time when the Spirit is releasing people to respond in great numbers. He is doing His miraculous work in their minds, emotions, and wills-especially their wills. As Christ continues His ministry, He invades our wills and creates a willingness to be made willing to consider the truth of His love for us. Through His gift, the will allows the possibility for our minds to entertain the thought of our great need for love and forgiveness.

Every believer is baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ at the moment of conversion. From that point on, the Spirit lives inside the believer and empowers him or her for service to Christ. We are called on to be God’s ambassadors in the world, introducing people who don’t yet know Jesus to the love and grace of God that is available to them in Christ. We can only do this through the power of the Holy Spirit.

God has put the Holy Spirit in our lives to empower our lives to be lived for his glory. The world we have grown up in teaches us to rely on our own abilities in life; it teaches us to believe in ourselves and be confident in ourselves. In contrast, God wants us to believe in Him and be confident in Him.

Christ gave us His plan, His command to carry out the plan, and the power to reach His goal to reach the whole world with the Gospel. Jesus told the disciples the means by which the gospel would advance: the Holy Spirit imbued the early Christians with power so that their accomplishments were supernatural. Our relationship with Him is radically different. He is with us, and He lives within us. The power we receive would not be something but Someone: Himself. The eternal word through whom God created the universe, who dwells among us and whom we behold in glory full of grace and truth lives in us.

Christ’s work of redemption rests primarily on four pillars of truth: His incarnation, His crucifixion, His resurrection, and His ascension. The ascension was the exclamation point, completely and finally demonstrating that His atonement had forever solved the problem that sin created.

Christ was not finished when He arose from the dead or ascended to be glorified with reigning power. He came back to give the greatest gift of all-His own Spirit to live in us. With that thought we press on to experience further preparation for Pentecost.

With the declaration in Acts 1:11, the angels confirmed that the second Person of the Trinity was then, and forever would be, God and Man. Just as He left, so would He return-in His glorified body. This is a part of every Christian’s hope! Christ was the first fruit of the resurrection, meaning that when all things are made new, His followers will be made like Him.

We might not like to admit it, but there are things that are beyond our power. This forces us to give up control. When we surrender control of our lives to God, He allows us to experience what His control can do. It’s not about blindly following. It’s about fully trusting that God has our best interests in mind.

Jesus is telling us that the power of His Spirit will be entrusted to people who can accept His authority over timing. The Spirit is given for a very special purpose. Power here means supernatural power of the quality revealed in Jesus’ own life. That power allows His movement to spread throughout the earth. His followers are to present Himself and His finished work of redemption through the Cross and the Resurrection.

Our job as God’s soldiers is to be a liberating force. God’s will and purpose for sending the Holy Spirit was so that every person will know and make a decision for Jesus. This work will be costly. We must be ready to pay that cost. We are to die to ourselves and our control of our privacy and schedules and become available to share by life and action what Christ means to us and can mean to others.

The work of God’s Kingdom is never done. When we commit to fully serving Christ, we soon realize that our goals on this earth are enduring. Our service, prayer, and witnessing are never complete. There is always more to do for the glory of God, a deeper relationship to be had with God, and infinite wonders to be proclaimed about God to a world that desperately needs Him. We are to take this work seriously because it is our highest calling.

Doing God’s work involves waiting, and that’s hard to do. We want God to be like a microwave oven. We want Him to provide His miracles, His breakthroughs, His answers to our prayers in short order. The reality is that God is like a crock pot or a slow cooker. If it feels like God is slow to answer our prayers and meet our needs, we must remember that God is working in the waiting rooms of our lives. He uses the waiting time to help us grow. While we are waiting, we can do these things:

  1. Be active. Waiting is active, not passive. Waiting time is not the same as wasting time.
  2. Be obedient. As we wait on God, we can do the things He has commanded us to do.
  3. Be unified. There is great power in unity. Couples, families, and churches that need a miracle need to come together in unity.
  4. Be praying and praising. The disciples prayed continuously while they waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit. There is great power in unified prayer and praise. They start a spiritual fire that ushers in a great move of God.
  5. Be preparing. While the disciples waited for the Holy Spirit to come, they also selected a replacement apostle for Judas. Peter knew the Lord wanted twelve apostles to witness to the twelve tribes of Israel. While we wait, we can prepare ourselves for what lies ahead. Preparation is critical as we wait on God.

Who has God put in our lives to love and introduce to Him? Who now is alive forever because we cared about him or her and were used as the Lord’s spiritual obstetrician? Who in our lives may have missed both the abundant and eternal life because of our silence? Are we willing to be made willing for the basic, undeniable calling of every Christian?

The focus of our mission is at home in life’s most intimate relationships where people really know us. It also has a focus at work and in the community where the consistency of our life and witness can be observed. It also has a focus within our nation and the world. It includes wherever we are or are sent. We don’t have to wait for the call to be a missionary and a minister. We can start with the people we know, and, wherever life leads, there will be people waiting whose lives are being prepared mysteriously for the chance to meet Jesus and grow in Him because He arranged for us to be in the right place at the right time.

The coming of the Holy Spirit will begin a new age when the words and actions of the disciples are the fruits of the Spirit’s life in us. With the Spirit’s guidance our projects might take an unusual shape, a new routine, or an unexpected turn. Maybe we will be less driven, less success oriented, more accepting of the vices of others and more willing to be flexible when change is needed.


  1. Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New King James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; p. 1486)
  2. Ogilvie, L.J. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 28: Acts (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1983; pp. 21-48)
  3. Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles; 2005)
  4. MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
  5. Lucado, M.: The Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson; 2010; pp. 1501-1503)
  6. Rev. David Mainse, “Witnesses.” Retrieved from
  7. Michael Youssef, Ph.D., “Godly Goals.” Retrieved from
  8. Dr. Charles Stanley, “Evangelism: Every Believer’s Calling.” Retrieved from
  9. John North, “Acts 1:8.” Retrieved from
  10. Ed Young, “It’s Time to Reign.” Retrieved from
  11. Keith Butler, “You Shall Be Witnesses Unto Me.” Retrieved from
  12. Pastor Jeff Schreve, “What to Do When You’re Waiting on God.” Retrieved from
  13. Jude Siciliano, OP, “First Impressions, Ascension of the Lord (A).” Retrieved from

1 Peter 2:19-25 Being Christ-Like

Have you ever noticed that life isn’t fair sometimes? We do the right thing and people misunderstand us or mistreat us or they run their own selfish agendas. We end up with the raw end of the deal. Have you ever noticed that? When that happens sometimes we want to “tear that person’s head off.” Some of us can do that and we have become pretty good at it in time.

Then along comes Jesus. The Son of God-miracle man extraordinaire. If anyone had the right to tear some people apart when they arrested Him, beat Him, spat on Him, and mocked Him-well, He did. He said nothing, and they nailed Him to a cross. Why? Why didn’t He say something? Why didn’t He give them hell?

In 1 Peter 2:19-25, Peter addresses the subject of servanthood, which is a key part of the Christian lifestyle. Following Christ in obedience and serving Him is not an option for an authentic Christian lifestyle. Christians are not free to do their own thing nor to simply follow Christ without carrying on their responsibilities to their masters or employers. Christians are to be subject to every law made by man for Christ’s sake.

Peter’s audience lived a thousand miles east of Rome in what is now north-central Turkey. Like Peter, they didn’t conform to the social conventions of the day. Their social marginalization earned them abuse, scorn, slander, and malicious gossip from pagan critics. Even the name “Christian” was offensive to their enemies. Rome responded to Christian sedition and separation with persecution.

Being whipped or beaten into submission is one thing, but to submit one’s own free will to a harsh master is almost impossible to do without God’s help. Only Jesus, the sinless Son of God, could carry the heavy burden of our sin and its consequences. When He died on the cross, He took all our sins on Himself and offered us His forgiveness. Because He carried our burden, we don’t have to suffer the punishment we deserve.

Jesus said that as He suffered, so would His disciples. Every human being endures some suffering in his or her lifetime. It may be the physical suffering of sickness or injury. It may be the inner suffering caused by the death of a loved one, rejection by friends, or simply loneliness. Whatever the cause may be, we all seek to avoid it as much as possible. The Bible makes it very clear that Christians are subject to all the causes of suffering common to men, plus the added persecution that comes with taking a clear stand for Christ.

Peter calls on us to enjoy and practice the life of the Spirit, and that includes suffering for Christ’s sake just like Christ suffered and died for us. Suffering wrongly is commendable in God’s eyes, but there is no reward for those who suffer because of their own wrongdoing. The Greek word for “endures” suggests withstanding an object crashing down on a person. God gives His children this kind of fortitude.

Christ is the example for everything in life-including the reality of suffering and the Christian’s response to it. He endured and did not retaliate verbally but did what was right and committed the results to God, who judges righteously. When we, like Christ, do good and suffer for it, and take it patiently, God is pleased. It brings glory to God and has the potential of ministering to our masters and to others around us. Thanks to Christ’s submission and sacrifice, believers are redeemed, released from sin, restored to spiritual health, and returned to safety.

There are two reasons why we should not be defensive when we receive a critical, negative evaluation:

  1. If we are in the wrong, we don’t have a defense. If we are criticized for saying something which is out of order or doing something which is wrong, and the criticism is valid, any defensiveness on our part would be a rationalization at best and a lie at worst. We must simply respond by saying, “You’re right. I was wrong,” and then take steps to improve our character and behaviour.

  2. If we are right, we don’t need a defense. The Righteous Judge, who knows who we are and what we have done, will exonerate us.

For example, there once was a boy who was stricken with polio and was badly crippled in both legs. His father became very bitter over this. The father became an alcoholic and began to badly mistreat his wife and son.

Life became hell on earth for his family, but the mother and son began to attend church and both received Christ as Lord and Saviour. Their hatred and resistance to the man’s cruelty was changed to love and concern. One evening, after the father had beaten the boy badly, he realized that the boy was expressing love to him instead of fear and hatred. He was touched by that response even in his stupor. He asked the boy for the reason behind his strange response, and the boy replied, “It’s because I love you, Daddy.”

During the coming months, as he continued to abuse his wife and son, that simple message kept coming back to him, “God loves you, and so do I!” The more hatred and bitterness he directed toward his family, the more love they returned to him. One evening, he could stand it no longer. He was so convicted by the Holy Spirit through the love of his own son, he said to the boy, “I want to love you and your mother and God! How can I do that?” The boy explained how his father could come to know God through personal faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. The boy led his father to Christ. That is the potential power of “supernatural” living in relationship to harsh masters, bitter parents, and to all those outside the kingdom of God.

The people in this story are a good example of what happens when we experience God’s love. When we experience God’s love, we are free to live and grow. As we grow and share with others, we will be used by God to touch the lives of many in need of God’s healing help.

Peter encouraged his readers by mentioning that God is building something that will last for eternity. Despite persecution, the people should recognize the glory of their faith and take their God-ordained places in this new “building” of God. What is He calling you to do to help with the construction? All of us have a part to play.

To disobey even a harsh master is to sin. To obey with bitterness or anger or accommodation as our motive is also sin. Love is the only motive which is acceptable to God for any and all of our behaviour. We should follow the steps of Christ who did everything with the motive of love.

Those of us who have been saved for many years tend to lose sight of the cost of our salvation. We know the truth and we have read the gospel accounts of the crucifixion several times. We’ve heard many sermons on the cross and on salvation. We often fail to grasp what it means that Jesus took our sins onto Himself. This is because we are not following Peter’s instructions to “live unto righteousness.”

The human heart is caught in a contradiction. On one hand God has placed eternity in our hearts, leaving us with a God-shaped hole. We suffer from an inward famine. We are starving for God. On the other hand we want to be our own god, call our own shots, be in control of our lives. We are afraid to surrender. Our fear takes us on a quest to find fulfillment and satisfaction. Our fear of surrender can keep us from God. Healing comes from the wounds and the work of Jesus on the cross.

One of the greatest compliments we can receive is someone telling us, “You remind me of Jesus.” Not because we have a beard and a robe and a walking stick, but because we have a personality that compels other people to notice that in us. The highest motivation for submission is because we want to be like Christ. When we live like Jesus, it can be the catalyst that causes unbelievers to come to know Christ.

How can we do this? There are three steps:

  1. We have to have the right spirit. We have to keep a good attitude.
  2. We have to keep the right speech. We must not say things that are going to create division.
  3. We have to maintain the right service. We must keep working hard even if we are being mistreated.

How can we be like Jesus? Peter gives us several ways:

  1. Live with endurance. We are called on to put up with harsh circumstances and harsh people, to endure unfair treatment, because we follow a suffering Saviour.
  2. Forgo vengeance.
  3. Rest in confidence.
  4. Love with extravagance.
  5. Display patience.

The words to the old hymn, “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” make this declaration:

I have decided to follow Jesus.

I have decided to follow Jesus.

I have decided to follow Jesus.

No turning back, no turning back.

The word behind me, the cross before me…

Though none go with me, still I will follow.


  1. Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New King James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013, pp. 1787-1788)
  2. Cedar, P.A., & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 34: James/1&2 Peter/Jude (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1984; pp. 146-150)
  3. Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible; New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles; 2005)
  4. MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
  5. Lucado, M.: The Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson; 2010)
  6. Marvin Williams, “He Carried Our Burden.” Retrieved from
  7. Dr. Paul Chappell, “Jesus Took Our Sins.” Retrieved from
  8. Skip Heitzig, “You Remind Me of Someone.” Retrieved from
  9. Bayless Conley, “Spirit, Speech, and Service.” Retrieved from
  10. Steve Arterburn, “Two Changed Men.” Retrieved from
  11. Ron Moore, “Spiritual Healing.” Retrieved from
  12. Berni Dymet, “Saying Nothing.” Retrieved from
  13. Dr. Neil Anderson, “Why You Shouldn’t Be Defensive.” Retrieved from
  14. “The Cross-Suffering Part 6.” Retrieved from
  15. Skip Heitzig, “Living Like Jesus.” Retrieved from
  16. Christine Caine, “No Turning Back.” Retrieved from
  17. Daniel Clendenin, “Making the Best of a Bad Situation: Slaves, Submit to Your Masters.” Retrieved from

2 John 1:1-13 Love and Obedience

In 2 John 1:1-13, John’s concern about Christians obeying the commandment concerning love is forcefully emphasized. The phrase “love one another” occurs 13 times in the New Testament. Jesus used it four times and said that believers’ love for each other would show that they were His disciples. The apostles Paul, Peter, and John reinforced this nine times in their letters. Genuine love for God is shown through obedience. Love and obedience are the result of the Holy Spirit’s work in the life of a believer. The truth that Christ is both God and man, Lord, and Saviour, is more than a set of propositions. It is living, and it abides forever.

False teachers, whom John calls deceivers and antichrists, were spreading false teachings. To keep walking in the truth was how John’s readers would defend against such teachings. Some people think that only the sincerity of one’s beliefs is important, but the truth of those beliefs is what matters. All truth is found in Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God. 

John explicitly identifies Jesus as the Son of the Father to counter the claims of the false teachers, who denied that Christ had come in the flesh. The mention of truth and love anticipates two important themes in the rest of this letter. Truth and love are intimately connected, not just in hospitality but in the Christian’s everyday life, habits, and choices.

The doctrine of Christ refers to the teaching that Jesus was the Son of God who came in the flesh. Those who hold to this have true fellowship with both the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit is not mentioned here, simply because the Spirit was not the issue with the false teachers; Christ’s identity was.

In verse 7, John writes of an antichrist-one of several false teachers who were trying to convert John’s readers to their false beliefs-not the Antichrist. These deceivers did not confess the incarnation of Christ, and that was a fundamental heresy. Their teachings were contrary to the Word of God. Neither the Word of God which we have received, nor the Saviour and Lord who inspired it and lives in us, will ever change or abandon us.

The key to opposing false teaching is for God’s people to follow the doctrine of Christ, which is the truth that Jesus was fully divine and fully human. All who teach something different should not be welcomed in a Christian’s home or church; in fact, they should be shunned. The church should be a place of grace, but it must never tolerate the undermining of the faith.

Christians traveled throughout the Mediterranean world in the first century AD. For example, the apostle Paul wrote the Letter to the Romans and included a long list of people who were living in Rome, but Paul never visited Rome until he was arrested just before his death. Traveling Christians stayed as guests in the homes of other Christians from city to city. The Christian tradition of hospitality was an important part of the first-century church community, but John warned against its exploitation by people who masqueraded as Christians and took advantage of the generosity of Christian hospitality to spread their false teachings.

There is a threefold test to determine if a person is a false teacher:

  1. Does the prophet teach the truth?
  2. Does the prophet try to stay more than two days?
  3. Does he ask for money?

Although Christians should open their homes to nonbelievers for the sake of evangelism, Christians should not support false teachers in any way. In John’s day, traveling teachers needed a place to stay and people to teach. To open one’s home or church to a false teacher constituted an endorsement of his or her teaching and perpetuated his or her deception. These false teachers were carrying on a campaign to destroy the basic, fundamental truths of Christianity. The only correct response for Christians is to reject false teachers. Every believer will receive salvation, but those who live for selfish gain will lose those things they worked for, not receiving their full heavenly reward.

Loving God and loving others as we love ourselves, which is the core requirement of heaven, has remained the same from Old Testament times to New Testament times and on to today. John advocated a balance between a zeal for the truth, active tough love, and a discerning approach to people and situations. A false prophet is not helped in his or her own spiritual journey if he or she is allowed to exploit us. In the same way we do not do any favour to a confused person when we allow our lives to be woven by that person into a confused and distorted tapestry of false teachings. Such meekness is not love and is not just. John advocated the healthy mixture of law and gospel, of truth and grace, of wisdom and tough love.

In order to resist the devil and his false teachers, Christians must know God’s Word and depend on the Holy Spirit for discernment. We must study the Scriptures daily and become involved in a Bible study or worship service with other Christians. Most important, we have to get to know the Jesus who loves us and died for us. If we aren’t intentional in our walk with God, our spiritual energy wanes. If we don’t spend time meditating on Scripture, praying, worshipping, and fellowshipping with others, we lose the desire to please God. We forget the blessings He has given us. We forget to obey His commands. We become mixed with a secular world that continually draws us away from His goodness.


  1. Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; pp. 1819-1820)
  2. Palmer, E.F., & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 35: 1,2, &3 John (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1982; pp. 77-82)
  3. Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles; 2005)
  4. MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
  5. Lucado, M.: The Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson; 2010
  6. Carol Round, “Does Your Faith Walk Need an Energy Boost?” Retrieved from

2 Timothy 4:1-11 Paul’s Final Instructions to Us

Second Timothy 4:1-11 is part of one of the last letters the apostle Paul wrote before he was put to death. In this letter, Paul gave his apprentice Timothy instructions about how to do his work as a minister. These instructions also apply to all Christians.

Timothy was told to continue the work Paul had begun, just as Joshua did after Moses and as Elisha did after Elijah. Timothy was told to not only preach the word in all situations, but be ready to properly address his audiences, persuading with a clear presentation of the truth, rebuking in the face of sin, and course-correcting with patient exhortation and instruction as needed.

First, we are to preach the Word, which means spreading the Good News. If all communicators of God’s Word will treat it as a priority, all other reforms and godly missions can be accomplished. If the Word is neglected, however, very little of eternal significance will be produced. God’s final judgment will assess eternal value, not personal achievement.

Second, we must be ready in season and out of season. We must have a sense of urgency and forcefulness. This urgency and forcefulness must be controlled with common sense. Urgency and forcefulness are no excuse for insensitivity. We are called to speak the truth in love, but never tear someone down for the sake of making a point. We must not be surprised to see the world fighting as it is, but we must refuse to enter fleshly battles as a believer. Civility, reason, and dignity must reign supreme in our encounters with people, and we must affirm in them the same God-given value He has ascribed to us. We must stand firm in our beliefs and convey them as clearly as we can, but we must also surrender our need to win at all costs. We must allow ourselves to be hurt for the sake of expanding the Kingdom of Heaven.

Third, we must convince people that they are sinners who need salvation. This goes along with rebuking people when necessary and encouraging and inspiring them. This can be difficult because some listeners will turn their ears from the truth, regardless of a preacher’s faithfulness. Nevertheless, sound doctrine must be taught, and God’s workers must fulfill their ministry because they will be accountable to Him.

All of these instructions are to be carried out in a climate that includes longsuffering and teaching. We must be patient with others as God is patient with us. That is the environment of all Christian ministry. This is made more difficult because people tend to have the strange illness of “itchy ears.” Ministers who tickle the ears of their audiences have existed in every generation, and as long as people want to have their ears tickled instead of having their hearts and souls pierced, such teachers will have followers. We live in a time of “designer doctrine,” when people pick and choose what to believe, based on their desires and preferences.

In the Levitical system, the drink offering concluded the sacrificial ceremony. Paul’s life was his sacrificial offering. Paul’s exit from this life will mean a new life ahead in eternity.  Sooner or later, the time comes when each of us must “hang up the spikes.” Paul’s time had come, and he gave one helluva farewell speech. He faced many enemies in his ministry, and he successfully opposed them. He kept to the same path of Christian discipleship for a long time, and successfully completed the course Christ laid out for him-and so can we.

Paul has no regrets about his past. The three images of “fought the good fight,” “finished the race,” and “keep the faith” have involved sacrifice, labour, and danger. Now they represent the successful completion of Paul’s earthly ministry. Those who are eager for Christ’s return are usually eager to fulfill His calling before He returns. They persevere because they know that their final salvation and righteousness are sure.

Anyone who chooses to be on God’s side will be in for a fight from the devil and his followers. We must either fight or suffer defeat. We will either gain ground or lose ground, but we must be involved in this spiritual fight. If we try to avoid this fight, we will be knocked down, so we had better put on our spiritual armour. We have to learn principles from God’s Word that teach us how to be more than conquerors in Christ.

Everyone who ministers the Word of God is under the scrutiny of Christ. One day He will judge the works of all believers. Everything we do and say in our earthly lives has an impact on our lives in eternity. God-given opportunities accepted and honoured make a difference for us in the world to come.  In the case of our Christian race, the crown goes not only to Paul but to all who have done Christ’s work in our world. Any thought that only “superChristians” get special rewards is abolished. All Christians will get the same crown as Paul.

Serving God often produces loneliness. Although the Lord ultimately strengthens His servants, human friendship provides further courage to face the hardships and disappointments of ministry. Paul named 17 people, indicating how important his friendships are to him. Timothy and Onesiphorus were among the few people who widely ministered to Paul and remained true in his darkest hours. Paul was separated from some of his co-labourers (including Crescens, Titus, Mark, Tychicus and Carpus) simply because they were fulfilling the ministry duties he had assigned them. We need other Christians not only for fellowship but also for spiritual support as we work together for God’s kingdom.

Today, many Christians struggle to understand the challenges they are facing. So much is happening in the world today. People are facing heavy financial burdens and family issues. Others are experiencing deep grief. The challenges of life can bring a person down to the point where he or she can lose hope in God. It is in these times that people must keep their eyes on Jesus and look at their circumstances in the view of eternity.

What are we longing for? It is so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life or caught up doing what God has called us to do. Sometimes we get caught up in life’s pursuits or focus on God’s blessings. While there is nothing wrong with these things, sometimes they crowd out what our true longing should be. More than anything else, our desire should be for Christ and for His presence.


  1. Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; p. 1435)
  2. Demarest, G.W., & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 32: 1,2 Thessalonians/1,2 Timothy/Titus (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1984, pp. 290-299)
  3. Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles; 2005)
  4. MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
  5. Lucado, M.: The Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson; 2010; pp. 1678-1679)
  6. Pastor Allen Jackson, “Well Defined Eternity.” Retrieved from
  7. Michael Youssef, Ph.D., “Needing Others.” Retrieved from
  8. Bibby Schuller, “How We Fight.” Retrieved from
  9. Raul Ries, “A Soldier’s Spiritual Victory.” Retrieved from
  10. Clarence L. Haynes Jr.: “What is the Longing of Your Heart?” Retrieved from
  11. Greg Laurie, “A Very Real Spiritual War.” Retrieved from

Luke 24:13-35 Jesus Revealed

When you were a child, were you a fan of superheroes such as Superman, Wonder Woman, Spiderman, or Batman? If so, you aren’t alone. Children want to know secrets and tap in to something beyond the ordinary. Even as adults we want to believe that there is a hidden factor in life that we can tap into and fulfill our destiny. We are fascinated by the idea of extrasensory perception, or ESP, of somehow communicating mysteriously across miles.

Most of us hope that there is a force or power out there that is trying to get through to us to improve our lives. The last place most of us think of finding that power is in the Christian faith. Christianity often seems dull. Christianity may be true, but sometimes it isn’t very exciting. That’s because we forget that the most powerful force in the universe is present within us. That force is the Holy Spirit. This is the message of the Emmaus Road story, which we read in Luke 24:13-35.

On the Saturday before Easter, most people spend their day doing egg hunts, cooking, and expecting Easter Sunday. The feelings of Jesus’ followers were not especially. These people were grieving the loss of a friend, a teacher. Maybe doubt had crept in. Maybe they questioned if they had been deceived. Maybe they believed they were next to be crucified.

These two men on the road to Emmaus. were disciples of Jesus, perhaps among the seventy that Jesus had sent out. They had heard the message of Christ’s resurrection, but their hearts were broken, believing it was all a fraud. They still did not understand who Jesus was. They saw Him as a mighty prophet, not as the Messiah and the Son of God. The two men did not know that their traveling companion was Jesus, even though they knew the Bible. There is a difference between studying Scripture and spending time with the Author.

We are like these two men even with all we know and believe about Jesus. Why is it that sometimes we still don’t recognize Jesus on our journey? Most of us could make a list of excuses, but the most common excuse is busyness. This excuse is valid with the complexity of life these days. If Jesus is not woven into the very fabric of our busy lives, then we are travelling down the wrong path in life.

A disoriented spirit can often suffer from a form of inner blindness, an inability to see what is right and true and beautiful in front of us. The brain masks the obvious, and we are propelled into our worst stories, catastrophizing outcomes, and beginning to believe that our worst fears are being realized.

If we are to recognize that Jesus accompanies us on our own Emmaus Roads, we need a heightened sense of awareness. We should know Jesus, because we have the Scriptures to reflect His image, but it is still possible for us to read the Scriptures and have no glimpse of Jesus. We can be so preoccupied with life’s hurts and disappointments that we overlook what God says in His Word, but He is with us, nevertheless. We need to expect each day that Jesus will reveal Himself to us.

Jesus asked the men, “What are you discussing as you walk along?”. Many of us would pause at his question and give Him a litany of issues on our mind. His question is addressed to traveling disciples like us. We can tell Him what’s bothering us, such as families, jobs, violence in our neighborhoods, or the environment. He is listening. We can start talking to Him.

For these two men, when Jesus died on the cross, all their hopes of rescue from Roman opposition had died with Him. They were looking for an immediate earthly kingdom. They were struggling with doubt about whether He was the Messiah who would reign.  Because their hope was gone, they discounted the testimony of the women at the empty tomb. They still regarded Jesus as a prophet.

After Jesus opened the Scriptures for the two, blessed and broke the bread and gave it to them, their eyes were opened. They recognized what they had missed in the beginning: Jesus was with them, all along, listening to their disappointment and bewilderment. Now that they recognized Him and thought about what hardships may lie ahead for them as His disciples, they pleaded, “Stay with us for it is nearly evening and the day is over.” They were not referring to clock time. They were saying, “Stay with us—don’t leave us in the darkness.”

The resurrected Jesus challenges our false assumptions too. Without the Resurrection, Jesus is just a martyr, a moral teacher, a dead hero, or a liar. Jesus’ resurrection challenges the common false beliefs in our culture that all religions are true and equal, and any attempt at morality will earn you a seat in heaven.

We often hope that Jesus will do something for us. We want Him to make us successful, relieve our loneliness, free us from an uncomfortable situation at work, and more. Jesus is a powerful prophet, but He is infinitely more. Many people today know the basic facts about Jesus, but we are still learning to put together the whole story.

Our hopes and dreams do not always get dashed. A lot of them get diminished or watered down, a little at a time. How many times have we started projects with enthusiasm and high hopes, and then, with the passage of time and facing obstacles, we discover that we are investing less and less of ourselves in the effort. We need our hopes nourished because if what we hope for is important-such as peace, care for the elderly, hunger, homelessness, or the lack of affordable housing-then we will need encouragement, passion, perseverance, clear thinking, and the support of a believing and hoping community.

Jesus does not rebuke them for not believing the testimony of the women or the testimony of the empty tomb. He chides them for not believing the testimony of the Scriptures. Jesus’ rebuke to correct His followers misunderstanding in this instance is a good word to believers in every era to pay attention to all the Scriptures. While the Bible certainly portrays the Messiah as a ruling king, it also presents Him as a suffering servant. Both parts of Scripture must be honoured and believed.

Perhaps He expounded on the messianic psalms or spoke of Abraham and Isaac, explaining that although God had spared Isaac, He had not spared His own Son. Or perhaps He quoted Isaiah 53:6 by saying, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, everyone, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

As the men drew near their destination, Jesus did not force Himself into their home. He waited until they invited Him in, and then He became a crucial part of their lives. The result was fellowship. We have Jesus’ promise that when two or three are gathered together in His name, there He is in the midst.

When Jesus finally revealed His identity to the two disciples at Emmaus, they were filled with joy. It’s the same joy we feel when we realize that God is walking with us, listening to us, and sharing His time with us. The Lord who has come to us with humility and grace is the one to whom we can always pray.

Although His resurrected body was real and tangible, and even capable of eating earthly food, it also had certain properties that indicated it was glorified and altered in a mysterious way. He could appear and disappear bodily. He could pass through solid objects. He could also travel great distances in a moment. We many propose many theories about why Jesus vanished as soon as He was recognized, but they would be just that: theories. God often doesn’t explain Himself. He simply asks us to trust Him.

Jesus the guest quickly became Jesus the host. In an Eastern setting, bread was not sliced but came as an entire loaf. To serve the bread, a person broke off a piece and gave it to another. Apparently Jesus’ distinct way of doing this revealed His identity. Instantly, Jesus vanished from their sight, having previously promised in Luke 22:16 that He would not eat with His disciples again until He was in the Kingdom. Now the Kingdom had come!

When they invited Jesus in, everything changed. The same is true today. When we invite the resurrected Jesus into our lives as our only Saviour and Lord, He does not merely come in and take a seat; He takes over. When we discover true hope in the plans and promises of God, we will be moved from a place of sorrow to a place of service. He changes us through His ongoing presence. He gives us new perspective and new understanding. He gives us peace and joy that are beyond our understanding.

Through the Holy Spirit, Christ now leads Christians on a journey to God, a journey in which disappointed hopes are interrupted by the recognition that the Risen Lord walks by their side. When we recognize his companionship on the way, we allow Him to breathe life into our despair and frame our aimless, anxious journey in His Way.

Has your heart ever burned within you as if Jesus was speaking to you personally? Jesus left us His Word and His Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit living within our hearts, we can discern spiritual things, and it is only through the Holy Spirit that we can understand God’s Word.

The events of Easter cannot be reduced to a creed or philosophy. We are not asked to believe in the doctrine of the Resurrection. We are asked to meet the person raised from the dead. In faith, we move from a belief in the doctrine of the resurrection to knowledge of a person. We can say, “We met Him; He is alive.”


  1. Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; p. 1435)
  2. Larsen, B., & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 26: Luke (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1983; pp. 347-352)
  3. MacArthur, J.F. Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Version (Nashville, TN: Thom1as Nelson Publishers; 2006)
  4. Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles; 2005)
  5. Allister Begg, “Do You See Him?” Retrieved from
  6. Pas, Ralph Douglas West, “The Road to Emmaus.” Retrieved from
  7. Peter Hoytema, “Talking Things Out With God.” Retrieved from
  8. “Does Your Heart Burn?” Retrieved from
  9. Michael Youssef, Ph.D., “The Truth Confirmed.” Retrieved from
  10. Joel Vande Werken, “Then They Understood.” Retrieved from
  11. Jude Siciliano, O.P., “First Impressions, 3rd Sunday of Easter (A).” Retrieved from
  12. Michael Youssef, Ph.D., “Exchanging Our Misery for His Mission.” Retrieved form
  13. Alan Wright, “How the Spirit Heightens the Intellect (Part 2).” Retrieved form
  14. “Joy for the Journey: Reflections on the Walk to Emmaus, Luke 24:13-35.” Retrieved from www.patheos,com/resources/additional-resources/2011/05/joy-for-the-journey-alyce-mckenzie-05-02-2011?p=1
  15. “Were Not Our Hearts Burning Within Us? Two Disciples on the Road to Emmaus.” Retrieved from
  16. Dr. Lanie LeBlanc, OP, “Volume 2, Third Sunday of Easter Year A, April 23, 2023” Retrieved from

Ezekiel 37:1-14 Dry Bones

Ezekiel 37:1-14 is a prophecy. In this prophecy Ezekiel is taken to a valley in which he sees the skeleton remains of a fallen army that was slain long ago and never buried. This army represents the people of Israel after the fall of Jerusalem. What he sees happen is a source of great hope for God’s people. He sees in the resurrection of the bones the revival of God’s people. This passage looks forward to a day when God will gather the remnant of His people to Israel again. He will breath new life into them in such a way that the whole world will see the miraculous hand of God.

Ezekiel began his prophetic work around 591 BC, was taken into exile in Babylon in 587 BC, lived through the destruction of Jerusalem ten years later, and continued his work until at least 571 BC. He was designated as a sentinel and was commanded to warn people of the coming destruction. This visionary experience probably happened in 580 BC, when hope for the restoration of Israel was at a low ebb from a human point of view. Israel was defeated militarily, its people were taken into exile, and it suffered because it abandoned God. Israel was alone, exhausted, discouraged, impoverished, and as good as dead-but God had other plans.

Before we can understand the events in this passage and their symbolism, we have to understand how burials were done in ancient Israel, as well as how the people expected the resurrection of the dead to take place. When someone died, his or her body was placed in one of several chambers that lined the walls of a large family tomb, which was typically cut out of rock. The tomb was then sealed until another member of the family died. When the family reentered the tomb, they would find that the body had decayed, and the only part that was left intact was the skeleton. The skeleton was then taken from the chamber and placed in a common bone coffin in the middle of the tomb. This common coffin, called an ossuary, contained the bones of many family members. The bones were often separated from their usual skeletal positions in order to make the storage of bones more efficient. For example, a rib cage might be placed next to a foot. The purpose of the ossuary was to group everyone in the family together as they awaited the resurrection. The resurrection would take place in reverse order of the decay of the body. Instead of beginning with a full body of flesh and ending with bones, the resurrection would begin with bones and end with a full body of flesh.

The Israelites were like us. They were hostile to people who weren’t part of them, and we often show the same hostility. The Israelites were a special group, but they weren’t supposed to be special for themselves. They were to be special for the nations. God was going to make them a light to the nations so that all the nations would come to God and know His Name. The people thought that it was all about them, their land, their sanctuary, and their buildings. God told them to change their ways or they would be driven out, but they rejected Him and His Laws.

Sometimes we get transported into a valley. Perhaps there is a diagnosis of illness that leads to uncertainty. Perhaps relationships that were loving and tender become sour and argumentative. We lose a job, lose a loved one, lose our way in the world in which we thought we were living. Things are going well, and then all of a sudden we enter a valley. What do we find in the valley? Bones. What do our bones look like? Are they strong and solid, or frail and brittle? DO they hold us up or weigh us down.

There is a two-part formula for revival in this passage. The first ingredient is the preaching of the Word of God. Prophecy essentially means preaching God’s Word. The second ingredient is the Spirit of God. Only God can bring genuine life, and so these assembled bodies do not come alive until God places His own breath in them-much as Adam did not become a living soul until God breathed into him the breath of life. The appearance is there, the promise of life is there, but life does not come until God Himself breathes His own life into the slain.

God Himself interprets the vision for the people: “The whole house of Israel” had been ejected from its land and vast numbers of the people had died because of their rebellion, yet one day God would bring a remnant of His people back to the Promised Land. Then He would begin to prosper them, and finally He would bring about a nationwide revival in which He would restore their hearts to Himself.

God accomplished His plan through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus came to pay for human sin by giving up His own life and then rising from the dead. God’s Spirit came to breathe new life in us, guiding us to know the Lord and trust Him for forgiveness and salvation. Spiritual awakening is something that all Christians want to see take place. It doesn’t matter if this is in our own neighbourhood or throughout the world. We are going to ask God to do what He did in Ezekiel. For those who have no hope, or who are dead in their sins, their spiritual life can come back to life because of the power of Jesus. God’s breath can give them new life. They can be reborn because of Christ.

The Israelites thought of themselves as a dead people. They were dead for so long that they could not imagine any life coming back into them. They were dead politically, socially, and religiously. They weren’t united to their God, but that didn’t matter to God, because He had a plan to bring His people back from the dead. Ezekiel was given the task of proclaiming this plan to the people. He must do what He promised so everyone will know that He is Lord.

Spiritual dryness comes when we become too busy with life that we don’t take time to be alone with God. Sin is another reason we feel dry and distant from God. Yielding to sin and being too busy to worship God quickly lead to a divided mind and heart. If we continue along this track, we will begin to spend more and more time doing other things and less time in prayer with God. Before we know it, we will feel tired, drained of energy, and just plain worn out. That’s when the devil begins to tempt us with sin.

The physical return of the Israelite exiles to the Promised Land began with the decree of Cyrus, the Persian conqueror of Babylon, in 539 B.C., which was a few decades after Ezekiel preached hope to the exiles on the basis of this vision. The end of the Exile and the beginning of an orthodox community of faith signaled the dawn of a new age, whose brightness could be seen only when Christ arrived, and whose fullness is yet to come.

Perhaps you feel like the Israelites did. We are all just a pile of dry, dead bones until we receive the Holy Spirit. Perhaps you are alone, dejected, and watching a scene of physical or spiritual death unfold before you. Do not worry. If the God of Ezekiel is your God, then know that even the dry bones before you can live again. In His grace they can live and stand upon their feet.  God’s Word from Ezekiel offers hope to everyone who has suffered terrible ordeals in their lives. The days we live in may be dark, but God will offer us comfort in these days. He will help our hurts to heal. All we have to do is ask God to breathe His Holy Spirit into us by remembering the words of the hymn “Breathe on Me, Breath of God:”

Breathe on me, breath of God.

Fill me with life anew,

That I may love what thou dost love,

And do what thou wouldst do.

Breathe on me, breath of God.

Until my heart is pure

Until my will is one with thine

To do and to endure

Breathe on me, breath of God,

Till I am wholly thine

Until this earthly part of me

Glows with thy fire divine.

Breathe on me, breath of God.

So shall I never die,

But live with thee the perfect life.

Of thine eternity

God’s spirit can breathe new life into our bodies, minds, and dreams. God will give us the resources and chances to make the dreams He has given to us realities. We have to be still, pray, and watch God move in our lives. If we speak life, renewal, and provision for our dreams, we can know that God’s plans for our lives will take place with faith and hard work.

God has provided a way out of spiritual dryness, but we have to do our part:

  1. We must be willing to listen to the Word of God. When we are in a dry place with no hope and no apparent answer to our problems, we must accept God’s Word. It begins the process of deliverance from disorder.
  2. We must be willing to respond in obedience to the Word of God. It is our willingness to act on what is spoken by God that continues this deliverance from our “dry bones” state of existence.
  3. We must be sensitive to the movement of God’s Spirit. God’s Word gives us order, but the Spirit gives life. The Holy Spirit provides the power to bring the truth of God’s Word to fruition.

Unless we are ready to respond to the hand of God which would lead us to the bones and make us dwell among them, we are not prepared for the work of raising them to life. The work cannot be done at a distance. We have to preach the word of God to dry bones and to do this God will take us and push us, shake us, and place us in the middle of those valleys of dry bones and demand that we should preach His word to them.

The application of the vision involves the restoration of the nation of Israel, but it also refers to reality. God knows the location of every bone, every fragment, every molecule, and every grain of dust of all the saints of the ages. One day He will supernaturally bring our human bodies together, breath His Spirit into us, and equip us physically for eternal life. Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, the process of death will be reversed one day, and death will be swallowed up in victory.

Ezekiel has not interrupted a prayer service to tell the people God is rewarding them for their fidelity. This is a familiar story. God takes the initiative to come to a people in slavery, either because of a conquering nation, or by their own sins (which describes us today). God offers them and us a free gift of salvation, without prerequisite merits of their own. What must they do? It is the same thing we have to do today-accept God’s free offer and then live changed lives. Does that sound like Lent to us?


  1. Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; p. 1098)
  2. Stuart, D., & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 20: Ezekiel (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1989; pp. 331-336
  3. Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles; 2005)
  4. Hatch, Edwin, “Breathe on Me, Breath of God.” Printed in Common Praise (Toronto, ON: Anglican Book Centre; 2000)
  5. MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
  6. The Rev. Dr. Michael Zeigler, “My Spirit Makes My People.” Retrieved from
  7. “Bible Pathway-Sept. 11, 2017.” Retrieved from
  8. Pastor Victor Robert Farrell, “Dream Word-METTLE.” Retrieved from
  9. “It’s Never Too Late to Dream.” Retrieved from
  10. George Young, “With God’s Spirit in Us.” Retrieved from
  11. Emma Danzey, “A Prayer for Spiritual Awakening.” Retrieved from
  12. Dr. David Jeremiah, “The Vision of Dry Bones.” Retrieved from
  13. Dr. Tony Evans, “Revival in the Valley of Dry Bones.” Retrieved from
  14. “Prophesy to the Bones.” Retrieved from
  15. Jude Siciliano, O.P., “First Impressions, First Sunday of Lent (A), March 26, 2023.” Retrieved from

Jeremiah 7:21-27 Obey God

You have likely heard the old saying about getting a taste of your own medicine. It means having something done to you that you do to others. We see a good example of this in Jeremiah 7:21-28. God was disgusted with the Israelites. They had provoked Him to anger. Now they would get a little taste of what it felt like to be provoked. Enemies would come upon them. They were no longer to be the object of Jeremiah’s cries or of his prayers. The protective covering that they had was removed because even the ordinary things of life were contaminated by idolatry.

The people were still very religious outwardly, but Jeremiah told them that they were being hypocritical. Several times Jeremiah said that they refused to listen to God. They practiced what is called “syncretism,” which is the combination of what otherwise would be two or more distinct religions. We are the same. We claim to believe in God, but often we act as if everything depended on us, our efforts, and wisdom, our ability to keep all the little planets of our concerns in perfect orbit around the great blazing sun of our inner control freak.

One of the greatest problems of our time is our isolation from each other and from God. We don’t want to ask for help, and we are afraid of being thought of as being “needy.” Some of us will walk in our own counsel right off a cliff rather than show our vulnerability to another human being, or turn to God in prayer. Jeremiah would agree with that assessment. The world tells us to follow ourselves and trust ourselves, but God tells that if we do that we will go backward and not forward. We are just as God made us, and that includes being needy. God made us to fit together. We are interlocking parts that hold Creation together. He wants the best for us, but like the Israelites sometimes we do not listen, even if we have heard the voices of the prophets, the disciples, God, and Jesus.  

The key to Scripture is obedience to God. The Israelites did not want to hear that one day they would have to pay for their sin. They were stubborn. Today, we don’t want to hear that there will be a day of reckoning. We do not want God to have any deadlines. We want to continue saying “we are delivered” even when our ways are horrible mockeries of God’s ways. When God told Jeremiah to stop praying, His voice was heard only in the confines of Jeremiah’s heart. The voice of gladness, the sounds of mirth and celebration that God had intended their life to be, would be cut off. Jeremiah cut his hair and sat on the high place that should have been filled with wonder.

The whole thrust of Jeremiah Chapter 7 is that for sacrificial worship to be acceptable to God, we must come to the altar with yielding and believing hearts and a purpose to do God’s will. The Israelites failed to understand that they were a holy people, called out to a new life of total obedience to God’s will.

As He does frequently, God invited His people to remember the past. He told them that God would bring discipline on Jerusalem. The people had maintained the mechanical traditions of burnt offerings and sacrifices while forsaking God’s true commandment: “Obey My voice.” The nation had forgotten God after the death of King Josiah.

God wants us to be prosper. He wants us to be whole, balanced and growing and fruitful and fulfilling His purpose for our lives. We have to ask ourselves, “What do I desire? How am I acting on it?” He wants us to listen to Him and do what He says. Is that too much for Him to ask?


  1. Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; p. 974)
  2. Guest, J., & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 19: Jeremiah, Lamentations (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1988; pp. 72-75
  3. Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles: 2005)
  4. MacArthur, J.F. Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
  5. Lucado, M: The Lucado Life Lessons Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson; 2010; pp. 1031-1032
  6. Rev. David Mainse, “Jeremiah 7:23.” Retrieved from
  7. Molly Baskette, “Functional Atheism.” Retrieved from
  8. Pastor Ken Klaus, “Getting Better.” Retrieved from

Isaiah 1:10-20 The Meaning of Redemption

In Isaiah 1:10-20, we see another case where the Israelites have turned away from God. The Israelites were still offering sacrifices, but they used them to attempt to manipulate God, so God rejected their worship. God wants worship from a sincere heart. He will not accept the so-called worship of those who mistreat others.

Once again God offered the Israelites redemption from their sins, but He also gave them three instructions:

  1. Listen and stop. God told the people that He will not tolerate the mixture of temple prayers and idol worship that the people offered to Him. The Israelites wanted the best of both worlds. They sacrificed to the popular idols of the day while offering prayers to God. They tried to cleanse themselves by offering sacrifices, burning incense, saying many prayers, and gathering together in solemn assemblies. Yet their hypocritical and sinful hearts remained. God reminded the people of the first commandment that “you shall have no other Gods before me.”
  2. God called for a halt to the calling of evil assemblies that were substitutes for the Lord’s day. His commandment to “remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy” was nonnegotiable.
  3. Cease and desist. God asked for repentance. Repentance and a return to right conduct-by promoting justice in the land-would bring God’s mercy. All three steps are involved in repentance. A sinner must be open to inward cleansing, which is shown by a personal rejection of the past and a public demonstration of change.

God asked the Israelites for positive evidence of repentance. There are five parts of a new life:

  1. Learn to do good. Even with inward cleansing, old sinful habits have to be unlearned and new habits of righteousness have to be cultivated.
  2. Seek justice. Personal repentance will lead to a renewal of social conscience.
  3. Remove oppressors.
  4. Become an activist on behalf of children who are without fathers because of abandonment, divorce, or death.
  5. Become an advocate for defenseless women who are most vulnerable to schemes and scams that rob them of their sustenance.

When we fall short of God’s expectations, when we miss the mark, when we go astray, or when we turn our backs on God and what we know is right, we commit sin. We are all afflicted with the disease of sin. As Isaiah says in Isaiah 53:6, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Sin is like a pile of dirty laundry that has been sitting around for some time-it stinks!!!!

As proof that He has not given up on His people, God invites them to talk with Him as intelligent and rational beings. Dialogue builds relationships. Genuine prayer has all of the qualities and characteristics of a deeply meaningful conversation  between two people. This image of God and man sitting down together for a good talk is a good example of prayer.

Can we say that we have felt or heard God’s invitation to come to Him? He wants communion with us. He wants to hear from us about what keeps us from communing openly and honestly with Him. He wants to know why we are hurting. He wants to know what is keeping us from giving our lives completely to Him. That’s what He says to each one of us. It’s a miraculous thought indeed that He cares that much about us.

The phrase “reason together” means to “come to a legal decision, debate a case.” God is our judge, and He calls His guilty people to acknowledge their sins before Him. As a judge, God would rather pardon the sins of His people. The image of sin as crimson and scarlet suggests hands full of blood, while the image of snow pictures the removal of sin through forgiveness. The context indicates that this cleansing is contingent upon their changing their sinful ways and obeying God.

As much as He wants His people to repent and turn to Him, He will not force them to return. This is a great insight into God’s character. Even though He has the power to control both the universe and human history, He would not renege on His own creative act. When He made us in His own image, He also gave us freedom of choice and took the risk that we would rebel. If we repent, we will join Him in heaven and take part in the heavenly banquet. If we continue to resist Him, we will suffer eternal consequences.

In Old Testament times, a sinner had to take an unblemished animal to the priest at the temple. In front of the priest, the sinner would grasp the animal with both hands and confess his or her sin. The guilt of the sinner was transferred to the animal. The priest would then give the sinner a knife, and the sinner would kill the animal so that it was obvious the animal died as a result of the sinner’s action.

There is a misconception today that since Jesus died as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, we are automatically forgiven. That idea is false. We overlook the vital truth that we have to grab the Lamb of God with our hands of faith and confess our sins. Then we have to acknowledge that Jesus was slain for our sins as surely as if we have plunged the knife into His heart. When we do, the Lamb of God becomes our High Priest and offers His own blood on the altar of the Cross on our behalf. God then accepts our sacrifice and we are forgiven.

Being willing to repent means more than saying “God, if you want me to prosper, I’ll prosper.” It means that we apply the force of our wills and determine to receive by faith what God has promised, no matter how impossible the circumstances may seem to be. We have to be willing to act. We have to be prepared to do what God wants us to do. Many Christians want to do just enough to get by. They don’t like responsibility. Those who carry the greatest loads are also the ones who seem to be the most blessed, and that’s because they are willing to do what God asks them to do. Many people want to be successful, but they do not want to do what is necessary to obtain success.

God does not want the empty thoughts and prayers of people who continue to tolerate injustice. God wants us to act to end all forms of injustice, especially those we hear so much about: gun violence, children separated from their parents, and refugees denied justice, to name a few. God wants us to use our hands, feet, and voices in action, because action for justice “fills up” our otherwise empty thoughts and prayers in meaningful ways.

Have you accepted God’s offer of salvation? Or do you say things like, “I’ll think about it,” or “I want to do some fun things first”? Jesus paid the price for you to have your sins forgiven, but you must accept the free gift of eternal life He offers.


  1. Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; pp. 881-882)
  2. McKenna, D., & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 17: Isaiah 1-39 (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1993; pp. 54-59)
  3. Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles; 2005)
  4. MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
  5. Gloria Copeland, “Get Aggressive!” Retrieved from
  6. Jerry Savelle, “Be Willing to be Successful.” Retrieved from
  7. Marvin Williams, “God Cleans the Stains.” Retrieved from
  8. Kathy Adam, “Isaiah 1:10-18.” Retrieved from
  9. Anne Graham Lotz, “Wonder of Wonders.” Retrieved form
  10. Harold Sala, Ph.D., “When We Fall Short.” Retrieved from
  11. Pastor Jack Hibbs, “Come Now.” Retrieved from
  12. Hazel W. Merret, “Dumb Excuses.” Retrieved from

Romans 5:12-19 The Grace of Christ

“We won! We won!” shouted August as he dashed into the house. “Our team won the archery competition at school today, and look what I got!” He held out a blue first-prize ribbon.

“That’s great!” said Mom. “And you’re always saying you’re no good at archery. How many points did you make?”

“Only two, but it didn’t matter, because I was on the best team–Jonathan’s team. He’s the best archer in the whole school.” August grinned. “I could never win an archery competition on my own–most of the others on my team couldn’t either–but Jonathan won it for us. He made so many points we wouldn’t have had to make any. But the whole team got first-prize ribbons.”

Mom smiled. “Well, I’m glad you had a good time today.”

A couple days later, August and his parents attended a service at their church. On the way home, Mom commented on the message. “August, I thought of your friend Jonathan when Pastor Curtis talked about Christians being righteous in God’s sight.”

“You did?” August asked curiously. “Why would that make you think of him?”

“You told me you’d never be able to win first place in archery on your own, but the points Jonathan made in the competition counted for everyone on his team, right?” Mom asked.

“That’s right,” said August.

“Well, no person can ever be good enough to win eternal life with God on their own either,” Mom said. “We’re all sinners who have done wrong and fallen short in God’s eyes. But because of what Jesus did on the cross, everyone has the opportunity to go to heaven. Jesus won eternal life for us when He died on the cross for our sins and rose again, and all who trust in Him are on His team. Just like all the kids on your archery team shared in Jonathan’s victory in the competition, all Christians share in Jesus’s victory over sin and death.”

“Wow! Then we’re members of the very best team of all, aren’t we?”

Dad nodded. “As Pastor Curtis pointed out, when we trust in Jesus, God sees His righteousness in us instead of our sin. Then we all share in His victory and receive the prize of eternal life with Him. We’re members of his eternal team.”

In Romans 5:12-19 Paul talks about the struggle all Christians have with the four monarchs of sin, death, grace, and life. Satan was the original violator of the righteousness of God, but sin entered the world through Adam and death entered the world through sin. Paradise was polluted by sin. The fact that sin entered the world is not always treated with the solemnity that it deserves.

Part of the problem is that in our preoccupation with sin and our struggle against sin, we ignore the fact that Adam’s sin was a calculated decision to disobey God and accept the consequences of his actions. When man introduces something new into human experience, the human race will always be left to live with the consequences. When sin entered the life of a man, it also entered the experience of a race as yet unborn. Even though there was no law, death was universal because people were still sinful. They died because they inherited the nature of death from Adam, not because of their sinful acts.

Because humanity was exposed to sin, it was also exposed to the horror of death. As sin entered, abounded, and reigned, so also did death. When God spoke to Adam about obedience He made it clear that disobedience would lead to death. God was not referring to physical death because Adam and Eve survived the Fall for many years. God was referring to spiritual death, or alienation from the life of God. Adam experienced that alienation, and the human race is still largely alienated from God today.

Christ in His obedience corrected the wrong Adam did in his disobedience. Christ is not Adam’s successor but his Saviour. They are alike only in the sense that both had universal significance: Adam for death, Christ for Life. The key is the phrase “much more.” Whatever humankind has inherited from Adam, they have much more in Christ. By using the words “abound” and “reign” to describe the action of sin, death, and grace in human experience, Paul used the reality of sin and death as an illustration of the reality of grace, which is not always easy to understand.

Christ’s one act of salvation was far superior to Adam’s one act of rebellion. One Bible commentator said,” that the one single misdeed should be answered by judgment, this is perfectly understandable: that the accumulated sins and guilt of all the ages should be answered by God’s free gift, this is the miracle of miracles.” Christ’s reign in life is greater than Adam’s “reign” in death.

The Law of Moses applied to the people of Israel. They were under the reign of sin, but when the Law was applied to their lives, their hidden sin came out into the open. The most appalling example of this was their rejection of Jesus as Messiah when they shouted, “Crucify him, crucify him!” When Pilate washed his hands of the controversy, the Jewish leaders said, “Let his blood be on us and on our children.” At that moment sin was abundant, but grace was even more abundant. When the soldiers hammered in the nails, sin was abundant, but when Jesus said “Father, forgive them,” grace was more abundant. When He was insulted by one of the thieves and the other one asked for forgiveness, grace was very abundant when Jesus said, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Christ’s obedience is greater than Adam’s disobedience. Adam was in an environment conducive to obedience (the Garden); still, he disobeyed and brought death. The second Adam (Jesus) was in an environment that hindered obedience (the fallen world), yet He obeyed and brought life.

The reign of Christ’s grace is as far-reaching as the reign of sin. Through Adam the entire human race was reached by sin, but it was also touched by Christ’s grace. Through birth all are related to Adam; through faith “the many” are related to Christ. Adam’s people suffer death, but Christ’s people enjoy the all-pervading reign of grace, eternal life, and righteousness.

In verse 17 Paul writes that “those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” The other three reigns speak of powers or principles under which human beings live, but the reign of grace speaks of the quality of life which redeemed individuals are to demonstrate.

One of the hardest things to do is to be saved by grace. There’s something in us that reacts to God’s free gift. We have a tendency to create laws, systems, and regulations that will make us “worthy” of our gift. Why do we do that? It is probably because of pride. To accept grace means to accept its necessity, and most people don’t like to do that. Accepting grace also means that one realizes his or her despair, and most people aren’t too keen on doing that either.

Those who receive Christ are born to the heavenly palace and have the royal blood in their veins exclusively through Him. It is what He has done and who He is in their lives that alone makes reigning in life a possibility. With Him all things are possible; without Him we will fail. With Him we can stand in the presence of God without a sense of fear, guilt, or inferiority, and with no consciousness of sin.

If we are tempted to think that our sins are too great for God to forgive, we must remember that the power of God is infinitely greater than our sin. When God looks at us He doesn’t see us in weak, defeated, or leftover positions. He sees us as rulers and royalty. We have His royal blood flowing through our veins. God uses our sin to motivate us toward greater spiritual achievement, to quicken our compassion toward sinners and to show God’s tender heart for the fallen.

If we are tempted to think that Satan is too powerful to resist, we must remember that the power that raised Christ from the grave lives in us. If we are tempted to doubt our salvation, we must remember that it is well with our souls because Jesus has perfectly paid the price for our sins. Our justification happened at the cross. It means God has acquitted us of our sins, vindicated and pronounced us righteous in His eyes. We are as much justified the hour we first came to Christ by faith as we will be for all eternity.

If we have received Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, then through the application of the principles in God’s Word we can see every situation in life turn out positively and for our good. This does not mean that we will never suffer hardship. Being able to live supernaturally above the circumstances of life is conditional; it is based on us receiving God’s overflowing grace and the free gift of righteousness. These gifts can’t be earned. They were paid for by Christ’s blood. They are precious gifts from God that we can only receive in the same way we receive anything else from God: by faith. When we realize that we are the righteousness of God in Christ, that we are in right standing with God, the works of Satan in our lives are forever destroyed. Grace restores our relationship with God and frees us to live the life Jesus offers. His grace allows us to face our past, to confess our sins, and to repent and lead in a new way today. It frees us to apologize to those we have hurt and guides us as we make amends.

Are you on God’s team? There’s no way you can have victory over sin and death and win a place in heaven on your own. But Jesus has already won the victory, and He invites you to share in it. Will you trust Him as your Savior today? Then when God looks at you, He’ll see Jesus’s goodness–His righteousness–and you’ll be on His team forever!


  1. Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; p. 1550)
  2. Briscoe, D.S., & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 29: Romans (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1982; pp. 117-126)
  3. MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
  4. Jerry Savelle, “A Revelation of Righteousness.” Retrieved from
  5. Jerry Savelle, “Reign of a King.” Retrieved from
  6. Jerry Savelle, “Revelation of Righteousness.” Retrieved from
  7. Michael Youssef, Ph.D., “Christ Arose and We Won.” Retrieved from
  8. Max Lucado, “An Undeserved Gift.” Retrieved from
  9. Joel Osteen, “Reign in Life.” Retrieved from
  10. Selwyn Hughes, “Grace-Greater Than All Our Sin.” Retrieved from
  11. Joni Eareckson Tada, “Justification.” Retrieved from
  12. Hazel Marett, “The Best Team.” Retrieved from