Whenever I hear today’s song, I think of my decision to leave youth ministry. After burning myself out in less than a year, the song Somewhere Somehow was released as a duet between Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant. Subsequently, as this song plays I think of all the special friendships and people that I met while serving the Lord in Columbus, Indiana. Just as the lyrics express, I hope for a reunion in the future.
Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east [where they are dispersed] and gather you from the west, Isaiah 43:5.
If this reunion doesn’t occur on earth, there is always heaven to look forward to. Whenever two famous artists unite for a special project or song, I get excited and emotional all at once. Nonetheless, Somewhere Somehow serves as a remainder that God is in control, not you. Therefore, as you listen to the lyrics of this special song, may the Holy Spirit help you believe that anything is possible with God.
Fake News isn’t something that former President Donald Trump invented. Rather, there have always been rumors that have evolved over time like children playing the telephone game. Each listener passes on this information with a new twist that deviates from the original message. The plot to cover up Jesus’ resurrection began with a Roman rumor that continues today by revisionist historians.
While they were on their way, behold, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had occurred. 12 And when they [the chief priests] had gathered with the elders and had consulted together, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers, Matthew 28:11-12.
The apostle Paul writes about a time when people will reach a point where they will believe what their itching ears want to hear, 1 Timothy 4:1-2. This passage reminds me of a group of teenage girls sitting at lunch, gossiping about the latest rumor in school. Unfortunately, gossip can become like a drug to some, getting cared away by words like “did you hear about what so and so did?”
And said, Tell people, His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we were sleeping. 14 And if the governor hears of it, we will appease him and make you safe and free from trouble and care. 15 So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this story has been current among the Jews to the present day, Matthew 28:13-15.
While many Christians around world will gather together to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection this Easter Sunday, the Roman rumor spread 2,000 years ago is still passed on today. As a former Bible teacher, I was forced to address this lie with facts and biblical truths. Perhaps the same demons and deceiving spirits that Paul wrote about still exist today. Whatever the reason for rumors, may resurrection Sunday inspire you to confront the father of lies with the light of truth found in the Bible.
There are various forms of agreements that you will make over the course of your life. This may be a handshake between friends, a business deal, a pledge you make to a local church or charity or a mutual consensus. Unfortunately, some of these agreements are temporary, contain escape clauses or are broken by someone who feels like they got the short end of the stick.
Now may the God of peace [Who is the Author and the Giver of peace], Who brought again from among the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood [that sealed, ratified] the everlasting agreement (covenant, testament), Hebrews 13:20.
The phrase “all good things must come to an end” comes from a medieval poet. The origin of this expression was first written by Geoffry Chaucer in Canterbury Tales. While this is true in the context of life and death, the Bible speaks of an everlasting agreement. The apostle Paul uses the analogy of receiving a gift in Romans 6:23. However, the key is accepting this free gift as your own by taking ownership of it.
And this is that testimony (that evidence): God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who possesses the Son has that life; he who does not possess the Son of God does not have that life. 13 I write this to you who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) the name of the Son of God [in [c]the peculiar services and blessings conferred by Him on men], so that you may know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that you [already] have life, [d]yes, eternal life, 1 John 5:11-13.
First century Christians referred to this everlasting agreement as the gift of eternal life, John 3:16-17. In the passage above, one of Jesus’ disciples believed that you could know for sure about your eternal destiny. There was no hopefully or maybe, but an absolute guarantee based upon your belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, Romans 10:9-11. As 2022 begins this week, make sure you secure this everlasting agreement.
Famous poet Robert Frost published the poem Carpe Diem in 1938. Carpe diem is a Latin aphorism taken from book 1 of the Roman poet Horace’s work Odes. When translated into English, Carpe Diem refers to “seize the day”. To seize involves to make the most of this present time and give little thought to the future. This is the sense of urgency the author of Hebrews is attempting to communicate.
So let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering the [c]hope we cherish and confess and our acknowledgement of it, for He Who promised is reliable (sure) and faithful to His word, Hebrews 10:23.
Holding fast means to tightly secure something that is deemed important and valuable. This process focuses on continuing to believe in and adhere to an idea or principle. In the passage above, hope is the glue meant to cement the faith of modern day Christians. Like a cherished teddy bear that a small child clings to each night in bed, hope is what you wrap your arms around in times of need.
Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, [a]the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]. 2 For by [faith—[b]trust and holy fervor born of faith] the men of old had divine testimony borne to them and obtained a good report, Hebrews 11:1-2.
In football games, defensive players attempt to force, intercept, punch and remove the ball from the individual who has it. To retain possession, running backs, receivers and quarterbacks do everything in their power to avoid turning the football over. This is the message Hebrews is trying to convey by seizing, holding fast to and retaining hope. As life continues to fly by, may faith and hope be secured despite what the forces of this world may do to try to change your mind, Ephesians 6:12.
If you are a student of history, you can learn from past events to enhance your chances of succeeding in the future. Such is the case of Joshua who was chosen to lead Israel into God’s Promised Land. During a battle against the Amalekites, Joshua followed the advice given to him by Moses. On the surface this sounded crazy, but low and behold as long as Moses held his hands high, Israel prevailed, Exodus 17:9-11. Perhaps this one event opened Joshua’s mind to the concept of letting your war cry be the praise of God.
And the Lord said to Joshua, See, I have given Jericho, its king and mighty men of valor, into your hands. 3 You shall march around the enclosure, all the men of war going around the city once. This you shall do for six days. 4 And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams’ horns; and on the seventh day you shall march around the enclosure seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets, Joshua 6:2-4.
The boundaries of the ancient land of Canaan included the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, west of the Jordan River. The last step toward taking possession of God’s promised land was conquering the city of Jericho. The greatest obstacle to taking control of Jericho was the vast wall surrounding this city. As strange as it may sound, the Lord gave Joshua unusual instructions in the passage above. Yet, this master plan didn’t seem like a logical idea. Nonetheless, Joshua believed and trusted God, passing on these directions to the entire nation of Israel.
So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. When the people heard the sound of the trumpet, they raised a great shout, and [Jericho’s] wall fell down in its place, so that the [Israelites] went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. 21 Then they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, ox, sheep, and donkey, with the edge of the sword. 22 But Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, Go into the harlot’s house and bring out the woman and all she has, as you swore to her, Joshua 6:20-22.
Instead of picking up traditional weapons of war, a marching band started their procession. For 6 days, the ark of the covenant was carried along the external walls, once a day with the trumpet section leading the way. On the 7th and final day of God’s plan, this marching band let in rip like an excited progressive band during a competition. Once everyone received the signal from their leader, a war cry of praise in accompany with trumpets hit one of the highest decibels recorded in the Bible. The next time you witness the Lord do the impossible, let your war cry be praise.
Despite how proud you may be, everyone experiences an embarrassing moment in life like Simon Peter. One day you boldly proclaim “I’ll never do that” only to succumb to temptation in the days or weeks that follow. When actions don’t match what you say or believe, hypocrisy leaves a sour taste for those observing this fall from grace. This is one of the consequences of what happens when faith does not hold up under temptation.
Not to allow your minds to be quickly unsettled or disturbed or kept excited or alarmed, whether it be by some [pretended] revelation of [the] Spirit or by word or by letter [alleged to be] from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has [already] arrived and is here. 3 Let no one deceive or beguile you in any way, for that day will not come except the apostasy comes first [unless the predicted great falling away of those who have professed to be Christians has come], and the man of lawlessness (sin) is revealed, who is the son of doom (of perdition), 2 Thessalonians 2:2-3.
There are several reasons why faith does not hold up under temptation. Sometimes this is a continuation of a spiritual slide that began out of a period of idleness, similar to what happened to King David in 2 Samuel 11:1-2. Meanwhile, faith is only as strong as your environment, Matthew 13:19-23. If spiritual foundations are weak, Colossians 2:6-7, when storms or trials arrive unexpectedly, faith tends to waver as winds and waves continue to strengthen.
Therefore let anyone who thinks he stands [who feels sure that he has a steadfast mind and is standing firm], take heed lest he fall [into sin]. 13 For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear]. But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently, 1 Corinthians 10:12-13.
In a historic chapter about past failures made by Jewish leaders in the Old Testament, the apostle Paul wraps up this section with a valuable lesson. According to Paul, every temptation offers a way out. Unfortunately, when the pressure to conform mounts, it’s hard to take your eyes off of temporary pleasures. Instead of bowing down to temptation, keep your head up so that you will see the door to escape temptation so that faith will prevail.
Every day a new set of obstacles arise with the sun. Some of these challenges are recognizable, allowing individuals to easily side step these obstructions. Unfortunately, many of these impediments will come as complete surprises, catching the average citizen off guard and unprepared for what lies ahead for the future. Thus, when the sunsets to end your day, many are left scratching their head mumbling, “how did this happen and why?”
But since we were bereft of you, brethren, for a little while in person, [of course] not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great longing to see you face to face,18 Because it was our will to come to you. [I mean that] I, Paul, again and again [wanted to come], but Satan hindered and impeded us, 1 Thessalonians 2:17-18.
In the first century, the apostle Paul didn’t believe in bad luck. Rather, when strange things started to happen to hinder and impede his most recent missionary journey, Paul blamed Satan. When your spiritual opponent is able to masquerade as an angel of light, 2 Corinthians 11:14, faith must be elevated. If the enemy is the ruler of the air, Ephesians 2:2, it time to start fighting back with spiritual weapons, 2 Corinthians 10:4-5.
Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. 8 Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour, 1 Peter 5:7-8.
One of Jesus’ disciples shares his own recollection of Satan’s attacks. As Peter was about to celebrate a victorious moment in his life, Matthew 16:16-18, a few moments later everything changed. Peter goes from a spiritual hero to being accused of being on Satan’s side, Matthew 16:22-23. When Satan hinders or impedes your spiritual progress, it’s essential that you take your thoughts captive. Just as Jesus used fasting and prayer to overcome temptation, Matthew 4:1-11, be vigilant so you can withstand the next spiritual attack that you’ll face. When you draw near to God, the Devil flees, James 4:7.
The apostle Paul wrote two letters to a teenage pastor in the first century. Serving as a spiritual mentor to Timothy, Paul provides a glimpse of what you should expect in the future. Paul warned of a time when individuals will begin to believe what their itching ears want to hear, 2 Timothy 4:3-4. Like a group of teenage girls chatting at a lunch room table, it won’t be long before urges to gossip using exaggeration spreads from one table throughout a school.
Now these [Jews] were better disposed and more noble than those in Thessalonica, for they were entirely ready and accepted and welcomed the message [concerning the attainment through Christ of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God] with inclination of mind and eagerness, searching and examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so, Acts 17:11.
During two separate trips to nearby cities, Paul experiences two distinct mindsets. Paul’s initial encounter in Thessalonica is like most large cities in the United States today, Acts 17:5-6. Like a scene from 2020, a mob mentality developed in the streets of Thessalonica. Unbelieving Jews served as agitators, doing whatever it took to prevent Paul’s ministry from winning over hearts and minds to Jesus.
But test and prove all things [until you can recognize] what is good; [to that] hold fast. 22 Abstain from evil [shrink from it and keep aloof from it] in whatever form or whatever kind it may be, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22.
One day later, Paul was impressed by the character of the Bereans. Unlike the Thessalonians who believed whatever they heard, the people of Berea developed a system for testing concepts and theories with God’s Word. After listening to a recent sermon on TBN, America needs a new generation of Bereans to rise up today. Rather than caving to the Cancel Culture, this nation needs noble individuals guided and inspired by biblical convictions. This is my prayer for future generations.
Every Easter pastors, priests, and teachers read passages in the Bible of disciples abandoning Jesus in His greatest time of need. When asked to pray late at night, they fell asleep. After being confronted about his relationship, Peter, a member of Jesus’ inner circle, denied knowing Jesus on three different occasions. As the winds of doubt began to blow on that original Good Friday, the only disciple not uprooted by the pressure to conform was John who took care of Mary after Jesus ascended into heaven.
Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind. 7 For truly, let not such a person imagine that he will receive anything [he asks for] from the Lord, 8 [For being as he is] a man of two minds (hesitating, dubious, irresolute), [he is] unstable and unreliable and uncertain about everything [he thinks, feels, decides], James 1:6-8.
According to first centurion historians, even Jesus’ earthly brother, James, did not believe until Resurrection Sunday. Perhaps, the passage above is a personal confession, disappointed by his own lack of faith. Instead using his God given ears to hear and eyes to see, gusts of doubt blinded James from Jesus’ true identity. Nearly 2000 years later, the gusts of doubt continue to blow. Some of these storms are hidden by gray clouds, appearing without a moments notice. When the sky clears, a trail of wounded souls and debris remain.
And Jesus answered them, Truly I say to you, if you have faith (a firm relying trust) and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, Be taken up and cast into the sea, it will be done. 22 And whatever you ask for in prayer, having faith and [really] believing, you will receive, Matthew 21:21-22.
The apostle Paul compares faith to a deeply rooted tree, Colossians 2:7, nourished and built up by Christ. Unfortunately, winds of doubt often separate believers from their source of light and life. After cursing an unproductive fig tree, the disciples were shocked by Jesus’ miraculous powers. Jesus uses this teachable moment to reveal how doubt impacts his followers. Therefore, the next time you feel the gusts of doubt begin to blow, clear your mind before prayer is exercised to secure a firm defense.
Approach refers to draw closer; to come very near to. Prior to coming to faith, I viewed God as the great disciplinarian. Growing up in a Roman Catholic Church, God’s grace, love, and mercy was foreign to me. Thus, I developed an Old Testament perspective, one of judgment and wrath. I never felt good enough or worthy to approach God. Until joining a Methodist Youth Group in high school, I couldn’t comprehend an unreserved approach to God.
In Whom, because of our faith in Him, we dare to have the boldness (courage and confidence) of free access (an unreserved approach to God with freedom and without fear). 13 So I ask you not to lose heart [not to faint or become despondent through fear] at what I am suffering in your behalf. [Rather glory in it] for it is an honor to you. 14 For this reason [seeing the greatness of this plan by which you are built together in Christ], I bow my knees before the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Ephesians 3:12-14.
As the apostle Paul began to meet other Jewish converts to Christianity, a similar mindset prevented many from drawing near to God. The passage above serves as encouragement, opening the door to what is possible for those who believe in Jesus. Instead of allowing doubt to reign in your head, dare to have the boldness, courage, and confidence to approach God. When the presence of fear is removed, an unreserved approach to God is possible.
For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning. 16 Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it], Hebrews 4:15-16.
The passage above connects the Old Testament with the realization of the Messiah in the New Testament. Rather than continue in the ways of Mosaic Law to atone for sin, the author of Hebrews refers to Jesus as a great High Priest. This symbolism fulfills the words of Moses in Leviticus 17:11 which grants access to the throne of God. Part of the good news about Jesus Christ is that those who believe are granted permission to an unreserved approach to God. Take advantage of this new access, Romans 5:1-2.