Exodus 34:29-35 Being With God Changes Us

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to experience God’s glory? Have you ever wondered how God’s glory would change you? If you answered “yes” to either of these questions (or both), then you can appreciate what happened to Moses in Exodus 34:29-35. This passage gives us a glimpse of God’s glory. He provided another glimpse of His glory in the person and ministry of Jesus.

When Moses came down from the mountain and gathered the Israelites together to share with them what God shared with him, the skin on his face shone so brightly that the people were afraid to come near him. Moses reflected the glory of God. The experience of the Holy had so transformed Moses that he wore a veil so no one could look upon him. In one sense, when we spend time communing with God, we too “shine” with His glory.

Moses’ veil obscured him from everyone around him who didn’t go up on the mountain. It made him a bit mysterious, a bit removed from them. We have similar experiences when we experience God’s glory. They are wonderful and exciting for us, but they put veils over our faces to everyone else, and if they weren’t there, or if they haven’t experienced something similar, it can become alienating or frightening.

The phrase “he was not aware that his face was radiant” points to Moses’ humility. Humble people don’t know they are humble. People who are rich in God’s grace are usually the ones who feel they lack it the most. Moses was humble. For example, he didn’t feel that he was worthy enough to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.

Once Moses became aware that his face was reflecting the glory of God, he also realized that it was an ever-fading reality. Moses did not want the Israelites to know that it was fading away. He went from not being aware of it to needing to protect it. He covered his face with a veil, but in time this veil became a barrier between the Israelites and God. It was similar to the veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple. That veil was torn in two when Jesus died on the cross. Jesus destroyed the barrier between the people and God. We do not need a mediator to approach God. We can approach Him directly.

In 2 Corinthians 3, Paul interpreted the veil. He said that Moses wore the veil so that the Israelites  would see that the glory of the Old Covenant that was made between God and man on Mount Sinai was fading. It would be overshadowed by Jesus. Paul compared the veil to the blindness of the Israelites. They could read the Scriptures, but they could not understand their meaning. Only Jesus could remove the veil.

It wasn’t radiance Moses found for himself. It wasn’t a glowing reward he earned by reaching the summit. Rather, it was from Moses’ direct relationship with God. Alone, we may be unable to put on radiant faces; however, God treks up every mountain with us, joins us at the summit, guides us back down, and remains with us across the valleys of our daily lives. Through our relationship with God, we reflect God’s radiant glory.

Moses’ face glowed after every encounter with the Holy One. Yet, every encounter pushed him down the mountain to bring guidance to the wayward and recalcitrant people he led. Our moments of spiritual clarity are meant to shine a light on – and give clarity to– the challenges of daily life. In seeing the light, our calling is to be the light for others – exposing falsehood and guiding with truth. When we find the perspective of the mountaintop, we can face the uncertainties of our congregations and personal lives with a sense of trust in God’s ultimate providence and care.

Before any person can go before the people and speak about God, he or she must first go before God. He or she should spend more time in prayer that he or she spends preaching in public. Spending time alone with God in prayer, reading Scripture and meditating helps us to release our fears and entrust our lives to a merciful and gracious God. We attempt to go to Scripture and bring back from our search a word that can challenge and refresh us. This work can involve a veil that blocks both our searching and our speaking. Moses put the veil on to help the people hear what he had to say, and he took it off when he wanted to speak to and listen to God. Those of us who speak the word of God often veil ourselves as we try to talk to God instead of standing before God without any veil separating the two of us. Too often we take the veil off when we try to talk to the people instead of taking the word of God so seriously that a veil would help us tell the people about that seriousness, that divine truth that should not be reduced to easily digestible pieces.

We might not be able to see how our experiences with God change us over time, and our transformation won’t be as physically apparent as Moses’ beaming face. As we spend time with God and turn our lives over to Him every day, we can reflect His love. God will draw others closer to Him as the evidence of His presence shows in and through us. When we spend time with God, we reflect His glory, His pain, the glory of the search for an answer or the ability to live with questions, the clarity of God’s presence or the luminous desire for that presence. Other people will notice, and some people may be moved by the same thing that moved us.

We long to live in the presence of God. We pray to see the face of God, to be there in His presence, to know what it is like. It’s a scary thing because we will be changed by the experience. Will other people turn away from us because they are afraid of our shining faces and the truth we speak? The more time we spend with God, the more our lives will reflect the renewing of our minds. We have to let ourselves be a conduit between God and others, just like Moses was a conduit between God and the Israelites. Moses’ shining face helped the Israelites know that God was working through Moses.

In Luke 9:28-29, Jesus also went up a mountain and prayed. While He prayed and talked with Moses and Elijah, His face changed and His clothes became dazzling white.  In Christ we have everything. We have the life that He is. We are changed into His likeness from glory to glory. He is the light of the world, and in Him we are lights of the world.

The parallels between Jesus and Moses are striking because Jesus is the new Moses. Just like Moses led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, Jesus leads us out of the slavery of sin. Moses was the mediator of God’s covenant with Israel. Moses was the mediator between the Israelites and God. The Israelites could clearly see by the radiance of Moses’ face that he was the mediator of God’s presence. They also knew that Moses was the mediator of the restored covenant as he would tell the people what God told him. Jesus mediates a new covenant with all creation. Both Jesus and Moses revealed the radiance of God in powerful ways. Moses spiritually radiated because he spent time with God. Similarly, we should be working toward the ability to radiate God in our own lives.

Bibliography

  1. Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New King James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013, pp. 1761-1762)
  2. Dunnam, M.D. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 2: Exodus (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1987; pp. 348-350)
  3. MacArthur. J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
  4. Joni Eareckson Tada, “Humility That Matters.” Retrieved from info@joniandfriends.org
  5. A.W. Tozer, “Prayer: Long Before the Lord.” Retrieved from Biblegateway@e.Biblegateway.com
  6. Xochitl Dixon, “Reflecting God’s Love.” Retrieved from donotreply@email.rbc.org
  7. John Nunnikhoven, “Exodus 34:29.” Retrieved from noreply@ailbe.org
  8. “Wilderness: The Two Letters That Changed Everything.” Retrieved from farmteam@seedbed.com
  9. “Last Epiphany, March 2, 3019.” Retrieved from info@livingchurch.org
  10. Wade Reddy, “Exodus 34:29-35.” Retrieved from communic@luthersem.edu
  11. Bruce Epperly, “The Adventurous Lectionary-Transfiguration Sunday-February 27, 2022.” Retrieved from www.patheos.com/blogs/livingaholyadventure/2022/02/the-adventuruos-lectionary-transiguration-sunday-february-27-2022/#disqus_thread
  12. Mary Simpson Clark, “Exodus 34:29-35.” Retrieved from communic@luthersem.edu

Hebrews 11:32-12:2 Keep Your Eyes on Heaven’s Prize

“You should have a good game today, Noah,” said Brad, who had recently gotten his driver’s license and was taking his younger brother to the baseball park. “And you’re going to be the pitcher, right?” Brad asked.

“I sure am, and I’m gonna strike out all those guys,” Noah boasted.

Brad smiled. “I hope you’re right, but don’t be too sure,” he cautioned. “That team creamed you guys last year, you know.”

“Yeah, but our coach worked us hard all summer,” replied Noah. “He taught us a lot and he says we’re a much better team now. We’ll win this time.”

Noah kept up a constant chatter about the upcoming game, and Brad smiled and nodded his head now and then. “I hope I get good enough to play in the major leagues some day! Wouldn’t that be great?” asked Noah, eagerly turning to look at his big brother. Noah frowned. “Hey, Brad, you’re not paying attention to me,” he complained. “You never even look at me when I’m talking to you.”

“No, but I hear you,” Brad assured him. “But Dad gave me strict instructions before letting me take the car.”

“What kind of instructions?” Noah asked.

“Mostly stuff I already know–like to keep my eyes on the road and not be distracted,” said Brad.

“Oh. I thought he probably told you something the Bible says about driving,” said Noah with a grin. “Dad seems to find Bible verses for everything.”

Brad laughed as he carefully pulled into a parking space at the ball field. “Actually, Dad did say that driving is sort of like living for Jesus because it requires focus,” Brad said. “Dad says some people have wrecked their cars by being distracted and letting their eyes stray from the highway, and others have wrecked their lives by letting their eyes stray from Jesus.”

“What does that mean?” asked Noah.

“I asked that, too,” replied Brad, “and Dad said it means we can’t let anything distract us from what Jesus wants us to do. Keeping your eyes on Him means to focus on what He wants you to do in every situation.”

Noah grabbed his mitt from the floor and opened the car door. “Well, in baseball, you have to keep your eyes on the ball,” he said. He grinned at Brad. “But I’ll keep my eyes on Jesus, too, and act the way He wants me to while I play.”

All the heroes mentioned in Hebrews 11:32-12:2 were the foundation stone on which others would be laid. They would be completed in those who would come later. We are those stones. We give the saints of old the joy and satisfaction realized by those who are able to look back and see.

The heroes mentioned in this passage fall into two categories: those who knew victory before their deaths and those whose victory came after their deaths. Some, like David, subdued kingdoms. Some, like Abraham and Sarah, obtained promises through lively. unshakeable faith. Faith in God should be proportionate to the object of faith. Faith and God can’t be diminished.

Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthah are from the age where the judges ruled Israel and everyone did that which was right in their own eyes. These four men served when Israel had no king to demonstrate the courage needed to stand up for what is right.

In the Hall of Faith, David alone represents the age of kings in Israel because he lived a life of complete devotion to God, and perhaps he faithfully trusted in God’s promise to make him king despite all the hardships he endured. The prophet Samuel so trusted God that he was willing to stand against the people, rebuke king Saul and wait for God’s anointed-king David.

The faith that equips people to be strong in victory also equips them to be hopeful in suffering. Even with the record of victories presented in verses 35-38, the writer shows that suffering is part of God’s purposes. When faced with the alternative between death and renouncing their faith, these champions, like the Old Testament prophets, refused to be broken. They accepted the world’s worst to gain God’s best. They would not sacrifice their future on the altar of the immediate.

Some heroes, like many Christians in Third World countries, were persecuted for their faith. The apostle Paul comes to mind. These Christians died without the promise, but they persevered in faith in anticipation of the future award that awaited them in heaven. Christians today in countries such as North Korea and Iran often suffer similar fates, but they also have the promise of a reward in heaven. Martyrs share a common belief-they are going to be with Jesus after their earthly deaths. They could see beyond their earthly lives to their eternal life in heaven. They were futurists-just like the heroes mentioned in this passage from the Letter to the Hebrews.

In verses 39-40, the writer summarizes that these people believed God, even though they never saw the final fulfillment of God’s promises. These worthy souls did all they did before the coming of the Messiah, trusting in the “something bigger” of God’s future promise of resurrection and redemption. The Old Testament saints had only the shadows and the promise; New Testament Christians have the substance and fulfillment-Christ. The faith of the heroes of old has been remembered in the songs, histories, pageants, and hearts of subsequent generations. They are tied to later generations by the living community of faith in God.

Of the great men and women of faith listed in Hebrews 11, one stands far above them all-Jesus. The heroes of chapter 11 help believers to see that in their own strength they cannot live a life of faith, but Jesus makes it possible. Because He has already finished this race, His people can trust that the obstacles have been cleared for them to finish their race.

African bushmen had a clever way to trap monkeys for food. They would use a box or some other container and put a hole in it just big enough for the monkey to stick in his hand. In the box was a banana that was used as bait for the unsuspecting monkey. The monkey would put his hand in the box to grab the banana only to find out that the hole wasn’t big enough to pull the banana out. Instead of letting go, the monkey would pull and pull and pull, hopelessly stuck, until the hunter would come and kill the monkey.

When it comes to sin, many of us behave in the same way. We hold on relentlessly to the bait of the enemy-the sin that entangles us-until it ultimately destroys us. The heroes of faith in this passage are cheering us on as we run the race of faith. They are encouraging us to get rid of anything that will hinder us during the race. It could be anything such as overconfidence, arrogance, sin, or our worldly lives. We can run the race successfully when we look to Jesus. He designed several aspects of the race He has called us to run:

  1. He set the pattern of identifying with those in need.
  2. He claimed that His own life was the essential base for life itself.
  3. He accepted social outcasts and ministered to them without being repulsed by their outward appearance or behaviour.
  4. He set a difficult portion of the race, that of loving our enemies.
  5. He set His lordship under those He served in order to hold them up to their highest potential.

Why did Jesus run this race of servanthood and suffering? He could see beyond the suffering to a future of redemptive blessing for all humanity. He was willing to suffer short term pain for our long-term gain.

The word “therefore” offers a crucial transition, drawing attention to the conclusion of this section. These witnesses are not a crowd of spectators who are watching believers on earth; they are experts whose experience testify to God’s faithfulness. Christians who succeed them should look to them and be encouraged that they too” …can run the race of faith with endurance” until they reach the finish line of heaven.

The word “looking” means “to look away from something and fix your gaze on the right thing.” Christian men and women should look with spiritual eyes beyond their immediate trials to Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith. He exemplified completing the Father’s will for the heavenly joy that awaits. Becoming a Christians and following Christ does not mean forfeiting joy; it only means that it may not be fully realized in this life.

When we fix our eyes on Jesus, we end up focusing on the big picture-spending eternity in heaven. Anything that discourages us seems so insignificant-like life’s challenges and disappointments. God is calling us to prepare ourselves and walk with Him more closely than ever before. He is calling us to be mighty, fearless warriors of faith. Satan can’t defeat us. He can only make us quit, but God will help us endure. Taking our eyes off of God will lead to failure, just like keeping our eyes on Him will lead us to victory. We must “keep our eyes on the prize.”

Do you keep your eyes on Jesus? When you have a bad day, do you go to Him for comfort? When you have a need, do you trust Jesus to meet that need? When you don’t know what to do, do you ask Him to show you? Fill your mind and life with things that please Jesus. Don’t let problems–or fun things–distract you from what He wants you to do.

Bibliography

  1. Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New King James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013, pp. 1761-1762)
  2. Evans, L.H. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 33: Hebrews (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1985; pp. 198-219
  3. MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
  4. Lucado, M.: The Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (Nashville, TN Thomas Nelson; 2010; pp. 1703-1708)
  5. Doug Fields, “Changing Your Focus Overcomes Discouragement.” Retrieved from www.homeword.com
  6. Vikki Burke, “Wrestling With Weakness.” Retrieved from dbm@dennisburkeministries.org
  7. “How to Steer Clear of the Enemy’s Trap.” Retrieved from mydevotional@leadingtheway.org
  8. “No Distractions.” Retrieved from newsletter@cbhministries.org

Psalm 19 How Does God Speak to Us?

During World War II a proverb developed among military men: “There are no atheists in foxholes.” The meaning is that in times of crisis every human being seeks a Higher Power-even those who strenuously object to the existence of God during times of peace. The Bible supports the idea that every person understands that there is a God-even atheists. The Bible also adds in Romans 1:18-32 that humanity has a sinful aversion to acknowledging the proof that God exists. This proof can be found in Psalm 19.

Psalm 19 reveals the God who continually speaks to us through His deeds and His Word. He does this to reach us. He even uses nature to speak to us. God is not limited to words when He speaks to us. He uses angels, visions, dreams, impressions, and mental pictures. Since God is the communicator, we need to hear Him speaking to us beyond the limited capabilities of our lives. His presence may not be verbal, but it is real. Humanity is accountable to God because of His verbal and non-verbal communications.

This psalm points out the two areas where God has chosen to reveal Himself. “The heavens” refer to what appears in the sky above. “The firmament” means the expanse of God’s creation. The entire universe testifies to the Creator and brilliantly displays the glory of God. God has placed the sun (an object of worship among the pagans) in the heavens and is therefore supreme over it. The figures of the bridegroom and the runner picture the sun’s glory and power as it moves across the sky. Since it is so glorious, how much more glorious must its Creator be.

The elements of creation declare God’s glory in such a way that humans are without excuse because they are surrounded by the evidence of God’s existence. This evidence is found in nature, so why do so many people refuse to acknowledge it? In Romans 1:18,22,25 and 28, Paul writes that the reason is because people have exchanged the truth of God for the lies of Satan, They worship God’s creatures instead of God. Paul goes on to argue that they are fools when they deny that God exists.

God also speaks to us through the Bible. It is filled with so many gems of wisdom to help us live. It tells us how to have healthy relationships, raise our children, how to work, and provides comfort when we experience feelings of loneliness, depression, grief and other emotions. The hidden treasures in this book are endless, but if we keep the Bible on a shelf and never bother to read it, we will experience spiritual poverty and never know the riches that the Bible contains. We have to study it and put it in practice in our lives to experience the benefits and live abundantly.

In Old Testament times, God spoke to the Israelites through the Law. It revealed His holiness and the sins of the people. The full revelation was given when the work of the Law was done. That happened when Jesus died on the cross, especially when He said, “It is finished.” When God speaks, He tells the truth. We can put our weight on God’s testimony and it will hold us up.

The Ten Commandments are pure because they were given by a holy God. They are literally clean and morally right. They are sanctified by God and therefore they bring enlightenment to our eyes. Our eyes transmit the light of God to our souls. In Christ we become light, and we are to live in that light.  When God reveals His will, it is awesome. It is also fearsome because of our sin. We cry out the words of Isaiah 6:5: “Woe is me.”

Testimony, statutes, commandments, and judgments are all synonyms for God’s law, the Bible. The connection between verses 1-6 (also known as creation) and God’s word in verses 7-9 is that as the sun is the centrepiece of creation, so must God’s Word be the centre of believers’ lives.

While God may seem silent at times, the problem is not that He isn’t communicating; it’s that we aren’t hearing Him. Withdrawing from the pain of life may have cut us off from the many ways God expresses His love: through the inner transformation of the Holy Spirit, through nature, through caring family and friends, through opportunities to serve. Our ears may be clogged with self-pity. Because of weak faith, we may refuse to believe God cares or continues to demonstrate His love.

The Bible teaches that man is basically sinful and he is born sinful. He is not a sinner because he sins; he sins because he is a sinner. Sin comes naturally to all of us. The Bible tells us that. It also tells us that human beings are capable of very evil things.

All of us have hidden sins. We are aware of some of them, and those are sins we often try to hide. Our hidden sins are also those that we are not aware of. There are so many things we should do in obedience to God that we have not done. There are also sins that we commit daily such as selfish or spiteful thoughts, and hurtful words and actions. How can we discern every sin? How can we know if we have committed a sin? We can find out through God’s Word-both written in the Bible and through nature (because of things such as climate change and pollution). God knows all of our sins, even the hidden ones. We cry out along with the psalmist “Declare me innocent from hidden faults.” If we accept Christ as our Saviour, we are declared innocent by God.

God has given us spiritual laws not to take away our joy and freedom, but to give us the fullness of life as well as eternal life. We defy these laws to our eternal destruction. We heed these laws not because we are legalists and have to obey them, but because we want and choose to obey them because we know we need to for our own well-being and that of our loved ones. His boundaries are for our good. God set them out of love for us. His commands are perfect, trustworthy, right, clear, true, fair, desirable, sweet, and a warning. When we follow His commands, our soul will be revived. We will gain wisdom. We will receive joy and insight for living. We will receive a great reward. God has even promised to help us obey.

The psalmist’s rhetorical question in verses 12-14 expresses that without God’s Word, it is difficult for people to know if or when they violate God’s will. The Word brings hidden faults to light and offers strong warnings about what displeases God so that the believer’s actions, words, and thoughts may receive God’s favour.

The writer of Psalm 19 warns about the danger of succumbing to those who are arrogant and insolent, who have no regard for God’s Law or creation. The psalmist asks God to restrain him and not allow arrogant people to take control of his will. The psalmist gives us a good example to follow. We must ask God to restrain us and not allow arrogant, sinful people to control our lives. We must ask God to take control of our wills.

The world can’t satisfy the human heart. Humanity was created for eternity, which leads to a longing for something beyond this world. This longing for eternity is a reflection of humanity being created in the image of God. Humanity contemplates eternity and the need for something bigger because of a longing to reconnect with the God of all creation.

Our understanding of God based on creation alone is not adequate for a saving knowledge of God. Our sinful natures must be quickened by the Holy Spirit to cause us to embrace the specific truth about salvation through faith in Christ. There is enough evidence, even to sinners, that God does exist.

To hear His Word and obey it is to build our house on the rock. To seek, study, and obey His Word is to labour with that which lasts. No precious metal can compare to God’s Word. There are three rewards in obeying God’s Word:

  1. The reward of doing God’s will.
  2. The reward of living a fulfilled life-converted, wise, rejoicing, enlightened, enduring, true, and righteous.
  3. The assurance of living ready to stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

Because of sin, God’s Word is not our natural instruction or our natural delight. The power of the Holy Spirit has to bring the Word and its power to convict us of our sins and cleanse us from our sins. The Holy Spirit will baptize us and protect us from sin. It sets us free from the bondage of sin so we can love God, serve God, and be acceptable to Him. The God who made the universe wants to use that same power on our behalf to help us speak, think, and act in a way that honours Him. He wants to be involved in every aspect of our lives.

Meditating on Scripture is like a song that lingers in our heads all day. We whistle and sing that song until our lives are consumed with the song. Meditating on God’s Word is to have God’s Word echo in every moment of the day. God values people who trust Him and boast in Him. Every part of the Christian life depends on the Word of God.

Biography

  1. Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; pp. 718-719)
  2. Williams, D. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 13: Psalms 1-72 (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1986; pp. 157-165)
  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. 710-712)
  6. Charles R. Swindoll, “Listening with Returned Ears.” Retrieved from info@insightforliving.ca
  7. Dr. Ed Young, “The Meditating Heart.” Retrieved from ministry@winningwalk.org
  8. “Who Do You Boast In?” Retrieved from Christianity.com@crosswalkmail.com
  9. Richard Innes, “Hidden Treasures.” Retrieved from www.actsweb.org
  10. Dr. Paul Chappell, “The Perfect Word of God.” Retrieved from daily@dailyintheword.org
  11. “Agreeing With God: God’s Boundaries.” Retrieved from Christianity.com@crosswalkmail.com
  12. Pastor Greg Laurie, “What Makes a Person Wise.” Retrieved from www.harvest.org
  13. Richard Innes, “Successful Living.” Retrieved from www.actsweb.org
  14. Dr. Carol Geisler, “Declared Innocent.” Retrieved from www.lhm.org
  15. “God’s Creation PREACHES! Psalm 19 Links Nature and Torah.” Retrieved from https://www.patheos.com/blogs/ecopreacher

Mark 3:7-12 Rest for the Weary

The events in Mark 3:7-12 happened after the Pharisees conspired with the Herodians to kill Jesus. He had to decide if He would force them to act immediately and risk short-circuiting His ministry or if He would leave the scene to bide His time while He prepared for a major move that would bring His ministry of servanthood to full maturity.

Jesus set a good example for us to follow. He withdrew to the sea to regain His balance in the rhythm of life. Work is an activity of high intensity and high production, but even creative work has to be balanced by a period of rest so we can work again. Modern society has upset the rhythm of life. Work has been devalued and play has been invaded by the purpose of work.  Because of the multitude of leisure options, play has been subjected to a time-clock schedule. Work is a necessary evil, play is work, worship has become idolatry and rest is a short course in death.

Those of us who live close to the sea understand how it can renew us. It has a message for us in the ever-changing water. It reminds us of the words in John 1:16- “grace for grace.” Grace is God’s free gift of love for us. Grace for grace is like the waves of the sea. God’s unending love washes over us and refreshes us.

Jesus’ periods of rest were often interrupted by the needs of the people He met, and the events in this passage from Mark are no exception. The demons knew that Jesus was the Son of God. Jesus rebuked them. He wanted His teachings and actions to proclaim who He was. His actions were proof to those willing to see who He is, and they will choose to follow Him, not just shout out His identity. Jesus doesn’t need any help from Satan, and He won’t take it either.

Jesus was followed to his place of rest by a crowd. They came from all over the countryside. His popularity caused great concern for the religious leaders. He was challenging their man-made system with all of its rules. Jesus came to free the people from this legalistic form of religion. The religious leaders began planning to get rid of Jesus. The people embraced Jesus as God’s Son. They weren’t disappointed. That is still true today. Our relationship with Him is the most important part of our lives. How can we be with Him?

Bibliography

  1. McKenna, D.L. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 25: Mark (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1982; pp. 72-76)
  2. MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Version (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
  3. Berni Dymet, “The Multitudes.” retrieved from berni@christianityworks.com
  4. Dave Wyrtzen, “The Jesus Movement Exploding.” Retrieved from truthenote@gmail.com
  5. Ron Moore, “The Crowds.” Retrieved from www.ronmoore.org
  6. Ramona Davies, “That They Might Be With Him.” Retrieved from Crosswlak@crosswalkmail.com

Ezekiel 3:4-11 A Vision From God

Have you ever had a vision from God in which you were given a message to share with the people? If you have, how was the message received by the people? Was it accepted or rejected? If it was rejected, you can sympathize with how the prophet Ezekiel felt in Ezekiel 3:4-11.

Ezekiel was a priest who had favour in God’s eyes. Ezekiel suffered because of the sin of the Israelites. The Israelites were a people descended from a common ancestry. They were God’s chosen people and a nation among others. They were Ezekiel’s own people, the people he grew up with, the people who spoke the same common language he did. Ezekiel’s life was changed by God’s call just like our lives are changed by God’s call.

In the vision, Ezekiel was given a scroll and was told to eat it. The scroll was full of lamentations, mourning and woe. The vision foretold how Ezekiel would be satisfied with God’s message, even though it revealed the sorrows that would happen to the Israelites for rejecting his message. Ezekiel’s task would not be easy because the people were rebellious, but God never expects anyone to proclaim His Word in his own strength. God gave him the strength and resolve to carry out his mission.

There is an old saying that God does not call the equipped, but He equips the called. It means that God will give us everything that we need to accomplish the mission that He has laid out before us. Our skills can be useful to God, but we don’t need any particular skills to serve Him. We are enough, and our lives are enough.

Ezekiel is also a good example of Jesus’ comment that a prophet receives honour everywhere but in his hometown. Foreigners listened to Ezekiel but the Israelites didn’t. To the foreigners, Ezekiel was someone new, an outsider. Ezekiel knew it would be difficult for the Israelites to receive his offer to repent, but he continued his mission. They had the same hostile attitude that Pharoah had toward Moses.

Ezekiel had to understand that the rejection he encountered was not directed to him personally. He could acknowledge that any lack of acceptance of his message was not his fault. Jesus gave us the same message to preach. The gospel we preach must not be one we create. It must be God’s Word. We are to clarify it and not invent it. Conviction and strength proceed more from the heart than from the head. Hearing God’s Word is not enough; the message must penetrate the soul, where it takes root and branches out into a person’s being.

The word Ezekiel means, “God Strengthens”. Because Israel was so adamant in its rebellion against God, the Lord made the prophet even more determined to faithfully declare divine judgment against the nation’s sin. Effective ministry requires not only compassion and empathy but also strength, conviction, and firm resolve.

In order to carry out his mission, Ezekiel had to listen to God. Listening to God is essential to walking with God. It requires not only straining to hear His word but taking His words so seriously that they set up shop in the deepest places in our hearts.

Biliography

  1. Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; p. 1055-1056)
  2. Stuart, D. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 20: Ezekiel (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1989; pp. 37-41)
  3. Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles; 2005)
  4. Lucado, M.: The Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson; 2010)
  5. “Bible Pathway-Sept. 1, 2017.” Retrieved from www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/biblepathways

Luke 2:41-52 Is Jesus Missing In Our Lives?

Have you ever misplaced something? Of course you have. We’ve all done that. Perhaps we were reading a book and put it down and then later couldn’t remember where we put it. Maybe we were watching television and couldn’t remember where we put the remote control. What do we do when we misplace something? We usually retrace our steps to all of the places we have been until we find it.

Our Gospel reading today is about some parents who misplaced something. Now, these weren’t just any parents. They were Mary and Joseph — the parents of Jesus. Mary and Joseph didn’t misplace something like a book or some keys. They misplaced Jesus!

Luke is the only Gospel writer to give us a clue about Jesus’s childhood. As a doctor and an observer of life, he had a sense of the importance of the story. He chose this one incident because it reveals so much about the boy Jesus.

Sometimes we lose Jesus. We get so busy in our daily routine that we never give him a thought. Then, one day we realize that He is missing. Do you know what we need to do when that happens? We need to retrace our steps and go back to the place we left him. Where do we usually find him? In his Father’s house!

Things other than children can go missing. Many of us spend our lives looking for peace. We often look for it in things such as relationships, drugs, alcohol, food, or material possessions. True peace can only be found in a relationship with Jesus. We can find Him in His Word.

Jewish law required every adult male living within 25 miles of Jerusalem to attend the Feast of the Passover and then the succeeding celebration of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread. Every male Jew, no matter where he lived, desired to partake in these high and holy days of Judaism at least once in his lifetime. Women were not required to go, but they often did. Mary, Joseph and Jesus went during the Feast of the Passover on this occasion.

Mary had to search for Jesus for three days. Those of you who are parents can imagine the severity of her fear and stress. She might have questioned her ability as a mother to let something like this happen to her son. She might have been filled with self-doubt and self-loathing along with her maternal instinct to never stop searching for Jesus, no matter what the cost to herself. Did she eat anything during these three days? Did she get any sleep?

Leaving Jesus behind was not an act of negligence by Jesus’ parents. Most entourages to the Passover Feast went by caravan, with the women and children traveling ahead because they had to go slower, and the men following behind. Whole caravans of relatives and friends traveled together. There was less danger of robbery and increased fellowship. If the journey lasted more than a day, the travelers would agree on a stopping place and then set up camp for the night. Joseph might have assumed that Jesus was with Mary, and Mary might have assumed that Jesus was with Joseph. At that gathering point at the end of the first day is probably when Mary and Joseph realized that Jesus was not with either one of them.

After searching they found Jesus in the temple with the teachers. He was listening and asking questions. This was appropriate, because God is love, and love involves listening. During Passover the Jewish religious leaders or teachers would come out to the terrace of the temple, sit in a circle on the floor, and discuss matters of the law, Jewish theology, and worship. Guests could become part of that discussion-if they could hold their own. As Jesus spoke with the teachers in the temple, He was not speaking and teaching the leaders as God. He spoke as a boy with a passion for God and a keen mind seeking to learn as much as possible from these respected teachers.

By the time Jewish boys were five, they would have begun to read the Scriptures aloud, including Leviticus, the book of ceremonial laws that explained how devout Jews should perform their various religious observances. By the age of 12, they knew the Psalms and were instructed in the basics of Hebrew law and history. Jesus’ understanding (the ability to integrate and articulate a diversity of information) was extraordinary.

Although Joseph apparently held his tongue, Mary reacted emotionally, calling attention to the distress Jesus had caused them. His parents did not yet understand Jesus’ meaning, but these first recorded words of His establish that He knew both His divine identity as the Son of God and His purpose. Mary didn’t understand all that God was doing in the life of her child, but she accepted that God was at work, that Jesus really was about God’s business in God’s house.

Jesus’ response startled his parents. They did not understand that Jesus had just crossed a spiritual threshold, claiming His rabbinical vocation. He asks, He answers, and He grows. Jesus became attuned with God’s vision for His life. He became our healer, teacher, and Saviour. He experienced divine wisdom and stature. He experienced a sense of holiness in the events of life and openness to the image of God in unexpected and contrasting places. If His parents had known where He must be, they would not have searched so frantically in so many other places for so long. Jesus told them something about the sense He had of God’s call on His life.

Jesus, like most children, possessed a special clarity and wisdom when it came to matters of faith. They seem to understand at some deep and innate level that Jesus is for them and that they belong in God’s house. It’s no wonder that Jesus told His disciples, “Let the little children come to me.” It’s also no wonder that Jesus told us that we have to come to the kingdom like little children-naïve, full of wonder, curious and trusting. Unfortunately, we as adults often throw cold water on this understanding with rules, regulations, and structures.

What would our churches and faith communities look like if we could instill in our congregations that they are to treat children the same way that the teachers treated Jesus? They did not tell Him to go away. They engaged with Him and let Him speak. If we engage with children, one of them might become the next Billy Graham!

Joseph and Mary did not fail to trust in Jesus, who is also their Lord. They didn’t see the demands of love unfold, and trust as part of love makes more demands as the years go by. God is with us through Christ, so children should be given His divine presence as early as possible. Unless they die, they will grow just as Jesus did. Jesus grew in wisdom, grace, age, and love. To grow in love is to grow in the capacity both to trust and to be trusted.

When Jesus answered Mary and Joseph, He made a clear distinction between His heavenly Father and His earthly father. This is the first time that Jesus introduces us to the concept of God as a father who is present, someone we can call “Abba,” which means father or daddy. This was not the awesome God that the Jews worshipped, served, and feared. We can talk to God about anything. We can relate to Him and He can give us direction. He cares about us in all situations of life.

From a very early age, Jesus spent a lot of time alone with His heavenly Father. This practice made Him spiritually mature far beyond His years. Even as a child, Jesus spoke of spiritual issues in ways that His hearers often did not understand. Serious Christians often struggle to gain understanding as Mary and His disciples did.

Like any child, Jesus was subject to His earthly parents. Being the Son of God did not relieve Him of His responsibilities as a member of Joseph and Mary’s family. Jesus took on a human form and submitted the use of His divine powers to God’s will. There were times when His godly powers were used, and other times when they were hidden by His humanity in accordance with His Father’s will. Jesus was therefore subject to the normal process of human growth. When Jesus turned 12, He was no longer just growing. He was advancing. Growing is passive. Advancing is intensely active.

Jesus grew and learned. He didn’t have all knowledge from the time He was born, because He emptied Himself of all knowledge when He became human. He, like all children, learned by observing and by trial and error. He learned responsibility by parental rules and enforcement until these rules and values became internalized. Even though He had to learn like all children, He was specially gifted by God. He knew who He was even if His parents did not. He answered His call to obey God, but part of that obedience involved submitting to His earthly parents. In doing so, He obeyed the commandment to honour His earthly mother and father.

If we like things to stay the same for us and we like our friends to be familiar, the Christian life can be scary and chaotic. That was part of what Mary experienced when she didn’t know who Jesus was. Sometimes we don’t know either. Jesus’ own life was chaotic and scary at times also. The Christian life is an adventure. We know we have to do this. We know we have to be with Jesus and with each other.

Jesus said it was important for him to be in his Father’s house. His priority was set. It is also important for us to be in God’s house. Why? Because His Father’s house is our Father’s house too! It is a house of worship, a house of prayer, a house of peace, a house of love, a house of joy. We must fight the urge to naturally drift away from this priority. This includes saying no to anything that keeps us from doing what matters most. Jesus knew what His priority was. Do we know that our priority should be the same as His priority? What better place and priority could there be for a child of God than to be in the Father’s house?

Bibliography

  1. Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible, New King James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; p. 1389)
  2. “In My Father’s House.” Retrieved from info@keysforkids.org
  3. Larsen, B. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 26: Luke (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1983; pp. 61-67)
  4. Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles; 2005)
  5. MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Version (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
  6. Os Hillman, “The Ultimate Franchise.: Retrieved from tgif@marketplaceleaders.org
  7. Fr. Euan Marley, O.P., “A Forgotten Component of Love.” Retrieved from www.english.Op.Org/Torch/HolyFamC#
  8. Brian Krause, “Luke 2:41-52.” Retrieved from communic@luthersem.edu
  9. Paul Chappell, “Doing What Matters Most.” Retrieved from daily@dailyintheword.org
  10. “The Heart’s Business.” Retrieved from  ministry@winningwalk.org
  11. Bruce Epperly, “The Adventurous Lectionary: The First Sunday after Christmas-December 26, 2021.” Retrieved from www.patheos.com/blogs/livingaholyadventure/author/bruceepperly
  12. Michael Fitzpatrick, “Treasures in Her Heart.” Retrieved from www.journeywithjesus.net
  13. The Rev. Sharon R.Blezard,“Cherish the Children God Has Blessed You With.” Retrieved from www.stewardshipforlife.org
  14. Dr. Ralph Wilson., “The Boy Jesus (Luke 2:39-52).” Retrieved from jh@joyfulheart.com
  15. Jude Siciliano, O.P., “First Impressions, Feast of the Holy Family -C- December 26, 2021.” Retrieved from firstimpressions@lists.opsouth,org
  16. The Rev. Mary Hinkle Shore, “The Boy Who Wasn’t Lost.” Retrieved from http://www.day1.org

Jeremiah 33:14-16 A Beacon of Hope

Several years ago a minister mentioned that many of the prophecies in the Old Testament were fulfilled in the New Testament. One of these prophecies is mentioned in Jeremiah 33:14-16. The prophet Jeremiah mentioned that God would provide a descendant to King David. This descendant, who was Jesus, would bring justice and righteousness to the earth.

The beginning of the church year is the beginning of consideration of the end of all things. Jeremiah’s message is urgent and is also a call for people to listen to him. The coming of Jesus is the arrival of the end. Human history and providence meet to reveal the Word made flesh, through whom all things were made, all things are guided, all things are brought to their consummation in God. Jesus is the centre of all things, the purpose in all time, and He directs all things toward the heart of God.

Jeremiah’s message is one of reassurance. We need this reassurance in order to absorb what will follow throughout Advent. Many messages in this season of Advent are filled with words of doom and gloom. A good example of this is found in Luke 21:25-36. God’s new era will emerge out of the Israelites’ history and life experiences. He will fulfill His promises in ways that are in line with His previous promises.

Jeremiah spoke this message to a people living with disaster, uncertainty, and guilt over their unfaithfulness to God. The prophecy was a beacon of hope during a dark time in Israel’s history. The Israelites had lost their humanity. Israelite kings were supposed to reign for God as His anointed, modeling for the people the justice and righteousness of God and caring for the people as a shepherd. Many of the kings led the people in destructive worship of foreign idols, used their position for their own advantage, and depended on the strength of military power and foreign alliances to secure their position.

In his best moments as a king after God’s own heart, King David was the shepherd king, a king who led the people to be the people that God had intended them to be. This is the type of king that the prophetic hope longs for. Not only is the king to execute justice, but the king is also to lead the community to be a people who actively do justice themselves. Thus, not only will this king be called righteous and just, but the people will also be called righteous and just as well.

The passage from Jeremiah, like much of the Old Testament, has righteousness and justice going hand in hand. Righteousness refers to uprightness in the eyes of God, which is to be in right relationship with God and with each other. Justice is not about retribution as we so often diminish it in our society; it is about restoration. Specifically, it is about restoration to right relationship or community. Even the retributive acts of God that Jeremiah so often speaks of have restoration as the goal.

By the time Jeremiah wrote his letter, Jerusalem was under siege by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar and the people would shortly go into exile.  Jeremiah was in prison. The people were about to lose everything that gave meaning to their lives-the temple, the city, the king, priesthood, their homes, family, etc. God seemed to be silent, absent, and preoccupied with judging the people for past wrongs. Jeremiah 33:14-16 was written to give hope to the people. The coming Messiah would become righteous for the Israelites and for us. Jeremiah told the Israelites the same thing he tells us. We are to have hope in God, who will restore us. God does not give up on us no matter how far we stray from Him.

There are times when we wonder if God will answer our prayers. He is perfect, and He can’t do anything that is outside of His character. Everything He does is motivated by love. If we have to wait for Him to answer our prayers, then His reasons for making us wait are based on His love for us. If we are praying for His return and it is not coming when we want it to come, it is because of His love for us. He loves us so much that He wants to give us plenty of time to repent. Also, only God knows when Jesus will return. His timing is perfect. In His own time and in His own way He will fulfill His promises of restoration, salvation, and safety. These same promises are ours for today.

Advent is a season of waiting. We often find waiting a waste of time. We get jumpy if we have to wait for anything. While we wait we become fearful. That’s why we try to keep busy so those fears will stay below the surface.

What if we embraced our waiting and focused on spirituality? Advent gives us time to do just that, especially when we are anxious. Jeremiah wrote during another anxious time to a divided nation. The people hoped for a unified nation. While Jeremiah speaks about the future work of God, he also addresses the present situation for the Israelites. Can we trust that God has not forgotten us and left us on our own with our own fears and dread? When we look at the hopeless, present world situation can we trust that God sees it also and is giving us strength and a reason to hope? We need Advent to force us to slow down, catch our breath and watch and wait patiently. Advent invites us to look forward to God acting on our behalf not only now but in the future.

The phrase “the days are surely coming” means the day isn’t here yet. And while we may sit on the other side of this text and proclaim that the hoped-for shepherd king has come, we’d be missing the true message of this story if we ignore the deep pain and despair behind the text. What can help illustrate this is for us to consider that this hoped-for king didn’t come until some 500 years after Jeremiah wrote his message. 

When God grafted Jesus into the human family tree, He gave us a branch that changes all of the other branches. Since we as Christians are part of that family tree, we are also changed by Jesus. Because He has changed us, we can be righteous. When God looks at us, He sees righteous branches and not bad branches bearing rotten fruit.

God knows that we can’t make ourselves righteous, however hard we try. That is why He gave us the promise of Jesus. Jesus, the Son of David, came to fulfill all God’s promises and to make us righteous—not by our power, but by His. He is the One who laid down His life for us, to remake us as clean, pure, whole human beings—people the way God meant us to be. That is what the cross was about. He took our brokenness upon Himself. He died from it, and then He rose from the dead, victorious over all that—and shares His Easter victory with us.

Advent is a time when God calls on us to embrace the message of hope that is the centre of our faith. It is a period of waiting in the darkness. It is a season in which we are caught between joyful expectation and the harsh realities of our present lives while we wait for God’s promises to be fulfilled. The discipline of Advent puts the church at odds with our modern culture in which the holiday season consists of bright lights, celebrations and packages tied with neat bows. There is no room for darkness and little patience for prayerful expectation when holiday carols blare from every speaker and the neighbourhood is glowing with displays of lights. Ironically, this experience of being out of sync with our surroundings may attune us more deeply to the nature of Advent. In Advent, we live in the unsettling tension between what is and what will be.

God promises in Jeremiah’s message that He will renew us-not just on the inside, but on the outside as well. He promises that He will renew the world. He will create a new future because of His forgiveness. This is the Good News that the church and the body of Christ are called on to spread to the entire world. It is the message of assurance of God’s promises that were raised to life in Christ.

Bibliography

  1. Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible, New King James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; p. 1009)
  2. Guest, J. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 19: Jeremiah/Lamentations (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1988; pp. 221-223)
  3. Lucado, M.: The Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson; 2010)
  4. “Hope for the Promises.” Retrieved from info@dailydisciples.org
  5. Jude Siciliano, OP, “First Impressions, 1st Sunday of Advent, -C-, Dec.2, 2018.” Retrieved from firstimpressions@lists.opsouth.org
  6. Paul A. Herpich, “Jeremiah 33:14-16.” Retrieved from communic@luthersem.edu
  7. Dr. Kari Vo, “Strange Branch.” Retrieved from www.lhm.org
  8. Jude Siciliano, OP, “First Impressions, 1st Sunday of Advent, -C-, Nov. 29,2015.” Retrieved from firstimpressions@lists.opsouth.org
  9. Michael J. Chan, “Commentary on Jeremiah 33:14-16.” Retrieved from www.workingpreacher.org
  10. Anne Stewart, “Commentary on Jeremiah 33:14-16.” Retrieved from www.workingpreacher.org
  11. Melinda Quivik, “Commentary on Jeremiah 33:14-16.” Retrieved from www.workingpreacher.org
  12. Bruce Epperly, “The Adventurous Lectionary-The First Sunday in Advent-December 5, 2021.” Retrieved from www.patheos.com/blogs/livingaholyadventure
  13. Karen G. Brockelman, M.Div., “Jeremiah 33:14-16.” Retrieved from communic@luthersem.edu
  14. “Another Coming.” Retrieved from https://livingchurch.org
  15. Tyler Waters-Smith, “Jeremiah 33:14-16.” Retrieved from www.aplainaccount.org
  16. Dr. Kari Vo, “Righteousness.” Retrieved from www.lhm.org

Revelation 1:4-8 Christ Our King

This coming Sunday-Nov. 21, 2021- is Reign of Christ Sunday. It marks the end of the church year, so it is the church’s version of New Year’s Eve. It is the day when we remember that Christ is our King and that He will return one day to claim his kingdom here on earth.

It is not an ancient festival in the Christian calendar. In fact, it was only established by Pope Pius XI in 1925. It was established at a time when Europe was in chaos. Inflation was rampant, and colonialism was at its worst. The seeds of evil that would eventually grow into the Holocaust and World War II were being planted. Pope Pius XI established the Festival of Christ the King to declare that Jesus Christ is King

The Book of Revelation is the story of Jesus himself. After the opening greeting, John gives us a prophetic description of Christ’s Second Coming. Although each of the seven churches received a special letter from Christ through the Book of Revelation, each congregation could read what was written to the others because everything was contained in one large letter. God’s people have the same advantage today. To have the same perspective of the divine Head of the church is convicting. Modern churches could solve some of the problems they face today by reading God’s recommendations to each of the seven churches.

When sinners come to Christ in faith, they receive eternal salvation through God’s grace. We don’t have to do anything or promise anything. Salvation is God’s gift to us. This new relationship with Christ will overcome any trials we have in this life, just like Christ overcame death. This new relationship is due to the work of the Holy Trinity.

All three members of the Trinity-Father, Son and Holy Spirit-were involved in the creation of the Book of Revelation, including the passage we heard from Revelation 1:4-8 earlier in today’s service. John refers to God as “the One who is and who was and who is to come.” God is in control of our unpleasant past, our unnerving present and our uncertain future. Jesus has the authority to rule as the promised King from the line of David. The Holy Spirit represents God and gives us wisdom, understanding, advice, strength, knowledge and fear of the Lord. We can take comfort in the knowledge that Jesus reigns now and forever during the good times and the bad times.

Jesus is described as the one who loved, loosened and lifted the people up. The word “washed” could be more literally translated as “loosed” or “freed.” John 11:44 describes Lazarus as being loosed from his grave clothes. The word also recalls that the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt. Jesus has likewise freed believers from their sin. He conquered death and gave us new life. Consequently we can share his authority as Priest and King through our union with him through the Holy Spirit.

In our present, sin-filled world, guilt is something we avoid. We run from it frantically, drown it in alcohol, escape from it through entertainment, talk about it to a therapist, blame it on someone else or suppress it through mental gymnastics, but we can’t avoid it. It’s like a stain that won’t come out of our clothes no matter how many times we wash them or what type of detergent we use. Salvation is God’s gift to undeserving sinners such as us. We must never forget that. This grace gives us a relationship that offers us true peace and that peace helps us overcome any problems we face. Jesus is the only thing that can wash away our sins. God has given us a conscience with a guilt alarm that goes off when sin enters so that we will go to Jesus for cleansing.

When people are shuffling for power, prestige and wealth, Jesus reigns. He is the only person who can get rid of the plagues of terrorism, poverty, crime and disease. If we let Christ be our King, we don’t have to be kings. We don’t have to rule our world. We also don’t have to let things such as money or fame rule our lives. These things can’t make our lives worth living. Only Jesus makes our lives worth living. Jesus gives us our greatest freedom-freedom from death. That freedom gives us the freedom to live. In return, we are called to serve until Christ returns to claim his earthly kingdom.

Only in Revelation is Christ given the title of “faithful witness.” He was a genuine martyr, faithful until death, and his followers must also be faithful to death. The phrase “ruler over the kings of the earth” refers to Christ’s present reign, not the future one. He is the King of Kings now because he has triumphed over death and he is sovereign over all earthly powers.

Revelation 1:7-8 presents the theme of the entire Book of Revelation-the return of the King and establishment of his rule over the kingdom. “Coming” describes the arrival of the King and the changes in the situation that his arrival proclaims.

Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Here they point to the eternity of Christ and his all-inclusive power. Christ is the supreme sovereign. There is nothing that he doesn’t know, so there are no unknown factors that can sabotage his return. Jesus is the beginning of all history and the goal for whom all things are made. Jesus is the boundless, tireless and powerful One. God is eternal, and he will come again at the end of time to judge and to save.

The purpose of our Christian lives is based on our faith in a God who is eternally past, present and future. It starts in the present. Each of us must encounter and experience the presence of God in our own lives on a daily basis. He continually reaches into our lives and transforms us. He gives us a future to look forward to. We need to look forward to this royal inheritance. We need to begin practicing for the perfected life that will be ours someday. We need to act like the children of a king, because that’s who we are. God ordained the nation of Israel to witness to his glory, majesty, and power. He calls on us as members of his kingdom to do the same.

Our understanding of who Jesus is determines our eternal destiny after death. Of all the pursuits in this life, the knowledge of who Jesus is will be the greatest. To know Jesus is to know who we are and what we really are in this world. To know Jesus is to know the security of purpose and the assurance of peace. Jesus is both Lord and Saviour. He has allowed us to know Him personally like never before.

Ordinary people who receive Christ’s love and freedom are willing to become Christ’s servants and ultimately his very kingdom in the world. We will witness Christ’s return, and we will have the right to enter God’s kingdom. Jesus made us to be both a kingdom here on earth and priests. We are both a kingdom and priests because Jesus loves us and frees us from our sins by dying on the cross. The word “kingdom” refers to the body of believers throughout the world, and that Christ is the King of that kingdom. We as believers are priests who have direct access to God. He is our hope, our refuge and our salvation. His return will be a joyous occasion because it is the event we’ve been waiting for. On the other hand, his return will be mourned by his opponents. Everything will change. Evil will be shut down, order will be restored, and justice will reign.

God’s reign is the power that keeps our world turning, the rain falling and the seasons returning. It is an expression of God’s faithful, everlasting love-the love he has for us as our King. God cares about the ultimate details of our loves. No matter what comes against us in this life, no matter if all of the power of pain and chaos of the universe seems to overtake us all at once, no matter if we can’t control one single thing or fix one single thing in our lives, the worst is over and the healing has begun, because the Lamb of God is on his heavenly throne.

The Book of Revelation gives us hope in a God we can trust and expectation for a future that God has created. That’s because Jesus is the beginning and the ending, the dawn of the world and its dusk. The Book of Revelation tells us to lean into our faith in a Christ who holds the future in his hands. Nothing can frustrate his eternal will, and that eternal will includes us who will be spending eternity with him in his eternal kingdom here on earth.

Bibliography

  1. Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible, NKJV (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013)
  2. ESV Study Bible, Part of Wordsearch 11 Bible software package.
  3. Palmer, E.F. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 35: 1,2&3 John/ Revelation (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1982)
  4. MacArthur, J.F. Jr: The MacArthur Study Bible, NASV (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
  5. Anne Graham Lotz, “Washed in the Blood.” Retrieved from angelmin.info@angelministries.org
  6. Pastor Jack Hibbs, ”Oh, To Know Him!”  Retrieved from wttw@calvarycch.org
  7. Ron Moore, “The Action of Jesus.” Retrieved from www.ronmoore.org
  8. Pastor John Barnett, “The Safest Spot.” Retrieved from enews@dtbm.org
  9. Steve Preston, “When Jesus Returns.” Retrieved from bibletalk@freegroups.net
  10. The Rev. Eugenia Gamble, “Saltwater Apocalypse.” Retrieved from http://day1.org/821-saltwater_apocalypse.net
  11. Steve Arterburn, “The Grandness of God.” Retrieved from Christianity.com@crosswalkmail.com
  12. Swindoll, Charles R.: Swindoll’s New Testament Insights on Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan; 2011)
  13. Jeremiah, David: Agents of the Apocalypse (Carol Stream, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers; 2014)
  14. Dr. J. Howard Olds, “The Lord of All.” Retrieved from https://www.esermons.com/sermon/the-lord-of-all/1442836
  15. Patrick Rooney, “The Perfect Sacrifice.” Retrieved from https://www.esermons.com/sermon
  16. Leonard Sweet, “The God Who Is, Who Was, and Who Is To Come.” Retrieved from https://www.esermons.com/sermon/the-god-who-is-who-was-and-who-is-to-come
  17. King Duncan, “Nobless Oblige.” Retrieved from https://www.esermons.com/sermon/noblesse-oblige//1347099
  18. Dr. Keith Wagner, “Thanks Be to God.” Retrieved from www.lectionary.org/Sermons/NT/27/Rev/Rev-01-04-8-ThanksBe-Wagner.htm
  19. Eric Baretto, “Commentary on Revelation 1:4-8.” Retrieved from http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1623
  20. Swindoll, Charles R.: Swindoll’s New Testament Insights on Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan; 2011)

Revelation 1:4-7 Jesus Christ-Alpha and Omega, First and Last

“A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, and Z.” Hailey looked at her three-year-old brother. “Okay, Curtis, now you try.”

Curtis looked like he was thinking intensely. “A!” he suddenly shouted, and then, after a pause, “Z!”

“Ugh!” Hailey put her hand on her head in frustration.

Dad, who was watching the whole thing, began to laugh.

“I’m glad you think this is funny,” Hailey said. “I’ve been working with him for an hour, and he’s just not getting it.”

“Why is it so important that he know the alphabet right now anyway?” asked Dad.

“Jenny and I are having a race,” replied Hailey. “I’m trying to get Curtis to learn the alphabet before she teaches her dog to sit and roll over. If Curtis learns the alphabet first, I get to pick the movie we watch this weekend.”

Dad chuckled and shook his head. “You guys are silly.”

Hailey laughed. “Yeah, I guess.” She put her head in her hands and sighed. “Yesterday Jenny asked me a question that made me feel really silly. She asked me how old God is. I didn’t know what to say.”

Curtis walked over to where Dad was sitting, and Dad picked him up and put him in his lap. “Well, Curtis just told you the answer,” he said.

Hailey gave her dad a confused look. “But all he said was, ‘A, Z.’ That’s not a number.”

“In the Bible, Jesus says He’s the Alpha and Omega–the beginning and end. Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, like our A and Z. God is A to Z, just like Curtis said. He always was, is, and will be. He doesn’t have an age.”

“So God has no beginning or end?” Hailey asked.

“That’s right.” Dad’s eyes twinkled. “And yet, He was born–and also died.”

“But wait, you just said…” It took Hailey a moment to realize what Dad meant. “Oh, I get it–you’re talking about Jesus! He was born as a baby and died on the cross for us.”

Dad nodded. “Jesus is God, who is eternal with no beginning or end, but He was willing to become human and die for us so we could have eternal life.”

“Wow,” said Hailey. “He really sacrificed a lot to save us!”

All three members of the Trinity-Father (“Him who is and who was and who is to come”), Son (“Jesus Christ”) and Holy Spirit (“seven Spirits”)-were involved in creating the Book of Revelation.

They were present at the beginning of time, and they will be there at the end of time. God is Lord over all of history-past, present and future. There is more to be expected from Him than what we have experienced so far. God the Father is described as Yahweh, the One who ultimately is, and who makes Himself known, the One who is author of grace and peace. The Holy Spirt is described as being in fellowship with the Father and Son, and who from that presence also sends grace and peace to the churches and to us.

The words “Alpha” and “Omega” are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. In this passage they point to the eternity of Christ and to His all-inclusive power. Jesus is the boundless, timeless and powerful One. Unlike humans and everything else, God doesn’t have an age–there was never a time when He didn’t exist! But even though He has no beginning or end, He still chose to be born on earth and die on the cross so we could be saved. He made that sacrifice so we could be with Him forever.

Although each of the seven churches received a special letter from Christ through John, each congregation could read what was written to the others because everything was contained in this one, larger letter. God’s people have the same advantage today. To have the perspective of the divine Head of the church is convicting. Modern churches could solve some of the problems they face by reading the Lord’s recommendations to these New Testament congregations.

How do we hear a word for us even though the letter is clearly addressed to them? We don’t need to be persecuted or enslaved by temporal powers like the early Christians were in order to desire freedom. We are all in bondage to sin and can’t free ourselves. Wholesome people may face an imminent end. All of us will eventually die and will find comfort in the knowledge that Jesus opened a way for those who believe in Him. The promise of Jesus’ return is a promise that the sufferings in this world will come to and end and a world of peace, joy and love will take its place.

Both John and Paul use the phrase “grace and peace” in their letters. John makes the connection that grace and peace come from God. Grace is the surprise gift from Him. Peace is wholeness and health. The result of grace is peace whereby the walls of hostility are broken and we see ourselves as belonging to a new world view ruled by all three members of the Trinity.

Jesus Christ is described as the one who loved His people, freed them from the bondage of sin and lifted His people up. The term “washed” could more literally be translated as “loosed” or “freed.” John 11:44 describes Lazarus as being loosed from his grave clothes. The word also recalls that the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt. Jesus has likewise freed believers from their sin!

Only in the Book of Revelation is Christ given the title of “faithful witness”. He was a genuine martyr, faithful unto death. The phrase “ruler over the kings of the earth” refers to Christ’s present reign, not His future one. He is now the King of Kings.

Revelation identifies Jesus as a faithful witness as the “firstborn of the dead.” Revelation ties Jesus’ glorious reign to his most inglorious death. If Jesus reigns through His faithfulness, His followers will inherit His kingdom through their own faithful testimony.

Verses 7 and 8 present the theme of the entire Book of Revelation: the return of the King and establishment of His rule over the kingdom. The word “coming” expresses Christ’s return. It describes the arrival of the King and the changes in the situation that His return produces. Jesus is the most important person in the universe. He thinks we are so important He gave His life for us. In His eyes we are important.

In Revelation we are introduced to ourselves and we learn of our own worth, the meaning of our lives and the task of our living in the world. We also learn about the meaning of history, which is one of the theses of Revelation. We also learn about God’s love. When we see God’s love for creation, we see what we have to do to care for creation as His priests. When we see how God controls the future, we don’t have to worry about our own future. We are encouraged to take hold of our time as followers of Jesus. What we do and say has lasting significance because of Jesus.

Priests are mediators between people and God. They represent humanity to God and God to humanity. That’s our role on earth. We introduce to people to God and help them grow in their relationship with God. Jesus will return to earth and make all things new. It’s an exciting message. Until He returns, we have to tell the world that there is a God, we matter to Him, and He has a plan for our lives. If we cooperate with Him and serve Him, He will change our lives for the better.

God’s grace has set us free from our sins by Christ’s costly grace. This gift of freedom is a daily experience and obligation for those who receive it. People who receive this gift are the ones who are willing to become Christ’s servants and His kingdom in the world.

In our pleasure-driven society, guilt is frowned upon. We try to avoid it through frantic activity, alcohol, entertainment, talking to a therapist or blaming someone else, but we can’t get rid of it. It’s like a stain in our clothes that we can’t get rid of no matter how many times we wash it. The stain has become part of our fabric. The only way we can wash away our sin and guilt before God is through Christ’s shed blood. God has given us a conscience with a guilt alarm that goes off when sin enters so that we can go to Christ for cleansing.

Will all of our problems vanish if we give our lives to Christ? No, not necessarily. But we will no longer be alone. Christ will give us wisdom and courage to tackle our problems.   We are on a journey where we will encounter cancer, death, hunger, wars, terrorism, AIDS and other dangers. We will be tested with idols. At times we will be tempted to compromise with the world, but if we put our trust in God, He will lead us to a place where He lives.

Bibliography

  1. Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New King James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; pp.1838)
  2. “How Old Is God? (Part 1)” Retrieved from info@keysforkids.org
  3. Palmer, E.F. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 35: 1,2&3 John/Revelation (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1982; pp. 110-114)
  4. Dale Melenberg, “A Kingdom and Priests.” Retrieved from today@thisistoday.net
  5. Anne Graham Lotz, “Just Think on Jesus.” Retrieved from angelmin.info@angelministries.org
  6. Pastor Allen Jackson, “An Exciting Message.” Retrieved from contact@intendministries.org
  7. The Rev. Billy Graham, “Will Jesus Make My Problems Go Away?” Retrieved from www.arcamax.com
  8. Anne Graham Lotz, “Washed in the Blood.” Retrieved from angelmin.info@angelministries.org
  9. Israel Kamudzandu, “Commentary on Revelation 1:4-8.” Retrieved from www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2825
  10. Greg Carey, “Commentary on Revelation 1:4-8.” Retrieved from www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2683

John 18:33-37 Long Live the King!

This coming Sunday, November 21,2021, Christians will celebrate the church’s version of New Year’s Eve-also known as Reign of Christ Sunday. The following Sunday-December 5th, 2021-marks the start of Advent and Year C in the three year cycle of readings from the Revised Common Lectionary. It is a day when we remember that Jesus is the king of our lives. It is not an ancient festival in the Christian calendar. In fact, it was only established by Pope Pius XI in 1925. It was established at a time when Europe was in chaos. Inflation was rampant, and colonialism was at its worst. The seeds of evil that would eventually grow into the Holocaust and World War II were being planted. Pope Pius XI established the Festival of Christ the King to declare that Jesus Christ is king. He is the goal of human history, the joy of all who hear, and the fulfillment of man’s aspirations.

The conversation between and Jesus and Pilate allows John to proclaim in his Gospel that Jesus is a king with a divine authority. Jesus was accused of plotting to overthrow the government, and he was being questioned by Pilate. This gave Jesus a chance to tell his side of the story. Jesus argues that his kingdom is founded on truth. This is in contrast to earthly kingdoms which are founded on power.

In fact, Pilate’s “kingdom” was based on power. In his mind, truth was what the powerful said it was-and the same is often true today. Jesus offered Pilate the same choice he offers us today-advance your status on earth or walk in the light of truth. The choice we make will determine which kingdom we will serve-God or man.

Jesus saw the world differently that the way the world sees the world. He defied logic by the way he lived and by what he taught. He taught that truth is the cornerstone of healthy relationships and strong communities. If something or someone claims to be truth and has violent intentions or acts in a coercive manner, then it is not truth. Truth may be attacked but it cannot be harmed. It is not “of this world”. This is how the gospels speak of truth, and this is why John’s Gospel calls Jesus “the true and living way”.

Healthy relationships require confidence that both partners will tell the truth. We have to trust that individuals will do what they promise to do. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, especially with politicians. We often manipulate the truth to serve to serve our purposes-both by what we say and what we don’t say. In contrast, Jesus always speaks the truth.

It is hard for us to know what truth is in today’s world. To make matters worse, it is also hard for us to know who to trust. There are few honest heroes anymore. There are few authority figures anymore. Everyone seems to have his or her own agenda. Truth is essential to life. It is essential to a successful marriage. Society needs integrity in order to survive. Think of the terror that would exist if police officers were thugs. What would happen if pharmacists were to dilute our prescription drugs in order to sell contraband out the back door?

We must remember that we are citizens of another realm, with a different ruler and a different rule. When it comes to spiritual things, truth is Christ. We leave behind anything else that has power over us. We follow the one who gives us a freedom that no political power can grant. This kingdom is one where Jesus will rule over our lives and the new heaven and the new earth.

One day Jesus will return to earth to set up his kingdom-one where he will rule firmly and deal justly with sinners. Until then, his kingdom focuses on redeeming the hearts of the lost. So what does it mean to say Christ is the King of this world? It means that this is an unfinished world. There is unfinished business because the world is made up of unfinished people. Even when we are at our best, we are not all that Christ intends for us to be. Christ came into this unfinished world and made the ultimate sacrifice for us. He has commissioned us to be in his army to see that this unfinished world becomes the kingdom over which he will reign forever.

Our gospel text focuses on part two of the dialogue between Pilate and Jesus. When Pilate asked Jesus if he was the king of the Jews, it was a political question. If Jesus presented himself to the people as a king,  he was a rebel in Pilate’s eyes and needed to be dealt with accordingly. Jesus was a king, and indeed he is still a king. He is a king who has come to judge all earthly kings and kingdoms. He is the king of heaven and earth. He is full of grace and truth. He is our champion. He fights our battles for us. He leads us to victory over Satan and sin. He sets us up to lead his kingdom on earth until he returns. His kingdom occurs when we freely choose to serve him. This is in contrast to a worldly kingdom where power is obtained by self-centeredness and self-esteem. To love God is to become humble by paying the price of leaving people free to be who they will be.

Jesus does not wink at our sins. Paul reminds us in Romans 1:18-32 that even now Jesus is pouring out his wrath against those who think they can make better sense of their lives than he can. As his ambassadors on earth, we have a duty to live consistently by our Christian faith and speak against anything and everything that is contrary to it.

This text is about the clash between the earthly kingdom and the heavenly kingdom. We have to choose which kingdom we will serve, but we must remember that if we choose to serve an earthly kingdom, we will lose the struggle, because just like Christ was victorious over death, he will be victorious on earth when he returns to set up his kingdom. Jesus was a king, but he was not a typical king. He was a servant king. The symbol of his kingdom is the cross. Jesus takes the worst we have to offer-and the worst form of torture imaginable-and changes it into life and hope.

The challenge of the kingdom is for each of us:

  1. To let God be God…in us
  2. To let God be God…in our church
  3. To let God be God…in our neighbourhoods
  4. To let God be God…in our lives, our families and in our world

In order to find meaning, peace and purpose in our lives, we must keep asking ourselves, “What is Jesus telling me to do with my life?” When we do ask and listen for the answer, then we are experiencing the power of his kingdom in our lives.

It is the duty of us as Christians to represent Jesus here on earth. The church does best when it imitates Jesus who had no place to lay his head and who brought sight to the blind, helped the lame to walk, cleansed the lepers, made the deaf hear, raised the dead and brought good news to the poor. Just as Jesus’ power was in the cross, so the church’s most effective witness is in service and sacrifice to people in need. It is not in political connections, spectacular connections or great architecture.

When we are in Christ’s presence, we should feel a sense of humility. Christ is our friend and our big brother, but we can’t appreciate Christ’s friendship and Christ’s role as our big brother unless we acknowledge that he is our Sovereign, our Saviour and our Lord.

In John 18:37, the themes of John’s Gospel are restated-incarnation, glory, truth. John’s Gospel is more concerned with Jesus’ origin than his birth story. Although he was born of the Virgin Mary, the greater reality is that he came from God. He came from a great king, and he is a great king. He came into this world to show us a new kind of king. His was the power of love, not the power of the sword. He came to rule not from a throne, but from the cross. He came not on a great horse, but on a donkey. He came not catering to the powerful but catering to the poor and the less fortunate. He chose his inner circle not from the powerful, but from the lowly and the meek. He calls us to be just like him. He calls us to take command and wield authority like he did. He has called us to give instead of take. He calls us to love instead of judging others. He calls us to care instead of ignoring the plight of the less fortunate.

The truth to which Jesus testifies is the truth of the cross. Ever since the dawn of Christianity it has seemed strange that a man would become king by dying on the cross. Paul called it the foolishness of the cross, but Jesus called it the truth.

I’m going to close this message with a story from World War II. Sportsman and best-selling author Pat Williams, in his book The Paradox of Power, tells about one man who deserved to bear the name Christian. In fact, that was his name, Christian X, king of Denmark during World War II. The people of Denmark remember him the way any of us would want to be remembered, as a person of character, courage, and principle. Every morning, King Christian rode without bodyguards in an open carriage through the streets of Copenhagen. He trusted his people and wanted them to feel free to come up to him, greet him, and shake his hand.

In 1940 Nazi Germany invaded Denmark. Like so many other European nations, this small Scandinavian country was quickly conquered. But the spirit of the Danish people and their king proved unquenchable. Even after the Nazis had taken control of the nation, King Christian X continued his morning carriage rides. He boldly led his people in a quiet but courageous resistance movement.

On one occasion, the king noticed a Nazi flag flying over a public building in Copenhagen. He went to the German commandant and asked that the flag be removed.
“The flag flies,” the commandant replied, “because I ordered it flown. Request denied.”
“I demand that it come down,” said the king. “If you do not have it removed, a Danish soldier will go and remove it.” “Then he will be shot,” said the commandant.
“I don’t think so,” said King Christian, “for I shall be that soldier.” The flag was removed.

On another occasion, the order came from the Nazis that all Jews were to identify themselves by wearing armbands with the yellow Star of David. King Christian said that one Danish person was exactly the same as the next one. So the King donned the first Star of David, and let it be known that he expected every loyal Dane would do the same. The next day in Copenhagen, almost the entire population wore armbands showing the Star of David. The Danes saved 90% of their Jewish population.

Later, the Nazis decided that all eight thousand Jews in Denmark would be rounded up and sent to concentration camps in central Europe. A German diplomat with a troubled conscience secretly informed King Christian of the Nazi plans. So the king organized a resistance effort that smuggled 7,500 Jews to Sweden within a single two-week period. The remaining five hundred Jews were rounded up by the Nazis and sent to an internment ghetto in Czechoslovakia. King Christian interceded on their behalf and all but fifty-one survived their treatment at the hands of the Nazis.

King Christian paid a price for his bold courage. The Nazis imprisoned him from 1943 until the fall of the Third Reich in 1945. An old man in his seventies, imprisonment was hard on his health. He died two years after his release, but he willingly paid the price for truth, as did other World War II heroes such as Corrie ten Boom. If people like King Christian, Corrie ten Boom and Jesus can willingly pay the price for what they believe in-namely, the truth-shouldn’t we as Christians also be willing to pay the price, especially when we are called by Christ to fight for the truth? After all, he is the final authority and power in the universe. Christ is King!

Bibliography

  1. Swindoll, Charles R.: Swindoll’s New Testament Insights on John (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan; 2010)
  2. Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, NASV (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.; 2009)
  3. Pete Briscoe, “How to Live a Life that Defies Logic”. Retrieved from Crosswalk@crosswalkmail.com
  4. Jude Siciliano, O.P. “First Impressions, Christ the King (B)”. Retrieved from www.preacherexchange.org
  5. Michael Youssef, PhD, “Thy Kingdom Come”. Retrieved from www.leadingtheway.org
  6. T.M. Moore, “Ambassadors from another Realm”. Retrieved from www.colsoncenter.org/thecenter/columns/viewpoint/15752-ambassadors-from-another-realm
  7. Dr. Philip W. McLarty, “What is Truth?” Retrieved from www.sermonwriter.com
  8. The Rev. Dr. Wiley Stevens, “Thanksgiving in Three Tenses”. Retrieved from www.day1.org
  9. Lectionary Homiletics, Oct./Nov. 2012 (St. Paul, MN: Luther Seminary)
  10. Exegesis for John 18:33-37. Retrieved from www.sermonwriter.org.
  11. King Duncan, “Christ the King”. Retrieved from www.esermons.com
  12. King Duncan, “Held Hostage”. Retrieved from www.esermons.com
  13. King Duncan, “What is true and Who Can You Trust?” Retrieved from www.esermons.com
  14. King Duncan, “A Strange Kind of King”. Retrieved from www.esermons.com
  15. Steven E.  Albertin, “Having the Last Word”. Retrieved from www.esermons.com
  16. John Shearman’s Lectionary Resource, Year B, Season after Pentecost, Reign of Christ. Retrieved from www.lectionary.seemslikegod.org/archives/year-b-season-after-pentecost-the-reign-of-christ.html
  17. Roland McGregor, UMC, McGregorPage #886, Pentecost 25, 11/25/12. Retrieved from www.mcgregorpage.org
  18. Daniel B. Clendenin, PhD, “Yes, I am a King”: The Anti-Politics of Christ the King. Retrieved from www.journeywithjesus.net