Jesus


In His Will is Our Peace

One day after Easter we remember the secret of true discipleship—we are subject to the will of Christ, and we know that, as Dante says, “In His will is our peace.”

 

Michelangelo's Pietà in St. Peter's Basilica

Michelangelo’s Pietà in St. Peter’s Basilica

My future I can leave;

safe in Thy care;

I place it in Thy hand

and leave it there.

It is so sweet to feel

My whole life long

Thy loving plan for me

Cannot go wrong.

I know that thou wilt choose

The best for me,

And I can be at rest,

And trust in thee!

 

Griffith Thomas, W. H. (2016-12-29). The Apostle John: Studies in His Life and Writings (Kindle Locations 951-958). CrossReach Publications. Kindle Edition.


Passion Week: Holy Saturday

Peace be with you. (John 20:19)

Joseph of Arimathea providing a tomb for Jesus’s body

Joseph of Arimathea providing a tomb for Jesus’s body

This is seventh post in a BCBC in Action series remembering Christ’s final earthly days.

Day 7: Holy Saturday

After the crucifixion, with hopes dashed, undoubtedly Jesus’ followers questioned all that happened during the past 2 years.

It’s been said that faith isn’t something that arises after moments of understanding. Rather, faith is what you cling to when understanding and reason lay dead.

Faith is what Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea showed during those dark hours of Holy Saturday.

They were closet followers of Jesus, as well as members of the Sanhedrin, the court that condemned Jesus Christ to death. Before this day they were too fearful to publicly profess their faith because of their prominent positions in the Jewish community. Now, deeply affected by Christ’s death, they come forward and risk their reputations and lives because they realize Jesus was, indeed, the long-awaited Messiah.

Joseph asks Pilate for the body of Jesus… With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. (John 19:38-40)

The Pharisees, on the other hand, are uneasy. They remember what Jesus said.

Jesus answered and said unto them destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body. (John 2:19-21)

They turn to Pilate.

“Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” (Matthew 27:62-64)

And Pilate responds.

“Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard. (Matthew 27:65)

Through growing faith Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea play their role in the Passion. In contrast, the Pharisees, who just a few hours earlier engineered the death or Jesus, are now powerless to block the unfolding events. Not even Roman guards can help them.

Tomorrow: Easter Sunday

Click here to begin reading this series with Day 1: Palm Sunday.



Passion Week: Remembering Christ’s Final Earthly Days

Have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who… made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-9)

The entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week.

The entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week.

Passion Week (aka Holy Week) is the time from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday (Resurrection Sunday). It is so named because of the passion with which Jesus willingly went to the cross in order to pay for the sins of his people.

Follow BCBC in Action this week as we remember Christ’s final earthly days.

Day 1: Palm Sunday

After 2 years of ministry, Jesus begins his final journey to Jerusalem for the Passover. He and the disciples are not alone. Pilgrims from far and wide are entering Jerusalem for the Passover. They meet Jesus along the road and begin to cry “Hosanna!”

“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Matthew 21:9).

Hosanna is often thought of as a declaration of praise, similar to hallelujah, but it’s actually a plea for salvation. The Hebrew words yasha (“deliver, save”) and anna (“beg, beseech”) combine to form the word that, in English, is “hosanna.” Literally, hosanna means “I beg you to save!” or “please deliver us!”

Palm Sunday at Bent Creek Baptist Church

Happy the preacher and happy the hearer who find their theme and their attraction in the atoning death of our Lord and Savior. Thomas Griffith

Riding on a donkey to fulfill prophecy, the King of Israel wails loudly and pronounces judgment on Jerusalem.

And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, (Luke 19:41)

Arriving late in the day, Jesus enters Jerusalem through the eastern Susa Gate, directly into the temple courts. Jesus looks around for any who bear the fruits of repentance, and then returns to Bethany with the disciples.

And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. (Mark 11:11)

Tomorrow: Jesus openly proclaims his divinity.


Consider the Birds

 

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Matthew 6:26)

Debbie Blue is a founding minister of House of Mercy, a church in St. Paul, Minnesota. She has published a book titled: Consider the Birds: A Provocative Guide to Birds of the Bible.

In the book, Pastor Blue covers the history, theology, and symbolism of birds discussed in the Bible: pelicans, eagles, vultures, ostriches, quail (and also pigeons).

Through these (usually) minor characters we receive poignant life lessons about humanity, faith, and God’s grace. Her thoughts on the sparrow — a common and somewhat nondescript bird — tell us of God’s love.

“God’s eye is on the sparrow. Our eyes are so often on something with a little more prestige… But the Scripture keeps pressing us to hear this: God loves what is ubiquitous. God loves the world — every single part of it — the bland, the ugly, the dingy squishy-faced, the monotonous and grating. There is no way in which God reserves God’s love for what the world finds beautiful or important. God loves the sinner. I believe God might like for us to have some of this love. Have it and share it — widely, all around.”

Jesus told us to consider the birds and recognize that we have nothing to worry about if we trust God to care for our daily needs. Amy Julia Becker reviewed Pastor Blue’s book and suggests that perhaps he also told us to consider the birds because they have much to teach and transform within us.


Pastor Sam Bennett Devotional: Love for One and Other

Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

Rising Love. Robert Pavao

Rising Love. Robert Pavao

Aran sweaters from the islands off the West coast of Ireland are intimately linked to the clans who live there. In addition to repelling water, the complex, textured stitch patterns on each garment are purposely designed to identify the people who wear them. In fact, Aran sweaters have been used to help identify bodies of fishermen washed up on the beach following an accident at sea.

As Christians, we wear breastplates. They’re not tactile; they’re woven by faith and sewn with the love of our Heavenly Father. Our breastplates work best when we speak to others with love. That doesn’t mean we must harness our beliefs, but information, correction, and admonition to others must always be done in the context of love.

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:1-2)

But was Jesus speaking with love or sarcasm when spoke to Nicodemus?

Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you don’t understand these things? (John 3:10)

Was Jesus acting with love or anger when he cleared the temple courts?

So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the moneychangers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market! (John 2:15-16)

From a 21st century perspective where sarcasm and anger prevail, it’s easy for us to interpret the words of Jesus with an “attitude”. So, how do we reconcile statements and actions read in the 21st century with the Jesus of the first century? How do we guarantee that we receive God’s message without the oppressive influence of 21st century culture?

The answer is through love, of course. Origen, who was Bishop of Alexandria during the second century, taught that most people fail to recognize the deeper truths enshrined in scripture, because they don’t realize that aside from a literal reading, we must journey into scripture’s very soul.

When reading the word of God remember the most important commandments. Interpret everything Jesus did as an act of love. Nicodemus didn’t understand; but rather than dismiss him, Jesus showed love by repeating his lesson 3 times. Jesus overturned the moneychangers’ tables, but there’s no evidence he caused physical harm to anyone in the temple courtyard. Lessons were stern but never punitive.

Each day, in all things, wear your breastplate — your beautiful heavenly Aran sweater — with love. So that everyone will recognize you as a child of God, always.

 


The Freedom Challenge: Tanner Besosa Blogs from BMW

Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. (1 Peter 2:16)

Tanner Besosa

Tanner Besosa

Tanner spent time last week dealing with Hurricane Matthew. The Florida Free BibleMissionary, & Work Training Center (BMW) evacuated the students to one of their sister ministries in Indiana. They are safe, and are now back fixing the minor damage around campus.

The Freedom Challenge

Among the challenges faced by college students is the freedom challenge. Out from under parental guidance and restrictions, priorities can change. For Tanner this has “made my responsibility for school work and spiritual life increase, because I no longer have anyone to push me to do school work or my alone time with God.” The responsibility falls on him now, and this “forces” him to be responsible.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)

Freedom in Christ III

Freedom in Christ III

Some of the challenges faced by a student at BMW differ from those confronted by students attending a secular college. For example, how do you say no to your friends when they choose to do something that you are uncomfortable with? “Most of the time,” says Tanner, “I do not have to say no to my friends, but every now and then I do have to say no so that I do not fall behind on school work. For the most part, none of my friends take part in immoral living.”

At BMW however, students have differing views of Christ. “Teen Missions doesn’t lean to one or another doctoral view, so people from different denominations can work together without one or the other being pushed aside. But it does sometimes make for debates on doctrinal issues. Yet, by the goodness of God, it never affects our ministry here.”

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. (Ephesians 5:1-2)

Next time, we’ll discuss the diversity challenge for students.

The first post of Tanner’s blog can be found here.


Each of Us, Evangelists

For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 13:47)

The Light of the World, Holman Hunt, 1853

The Light of the World, Holman Hunt, 1853

Over the past few Sundays, Pastor Tommy has described a vision for the BCBC congregation to take their faith to their neighbors as a natural part of our daily interactions.

Today, Pastor Erwin W. Lutzer, writing for Decision Magazine, made a similar plea.

Says Pastor Lutzer, “We want God to come in great power to convert people, but the Bible stresses the need for personal evangelism. I believe that America’s crumbling walls cannot be rebuilt until Christians—bankers, lawyers, nurses, factory workers—all see themselves as representatives of Christ wherever He has planted them.”

But here’s the challenge…

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. (Matthew 5:13)

“One of my greatest disappointments,” he continues, “is the number of Christians who work next to unbelievers without ever making it clear that they are Christians. Lovingly and winsomely [sweetly, innocently, charming, winning, engaging], we must share the Gospel message through our lips and testify to its transformative power by our lives. Unless that happens, America’s walls will not be rebuilt.”

“We as the church,” he concludes, “through the power of the Gospel, have the seeds of renewal. Unless they are watered, cared for and cultivated, we will not rebuild our crumbling walls.”

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. (Matthew 5:14)


Meditate on Scripture

"God Provides" (Genesis 22). Abraham’s relief of God's provision and the benefit of trusting God even when circumstances seem tragic.

“God Provides” (Genesis 22). Abraham’s relief of God’s provision and the benefit of trusting God even when circumstances seem tragic.

Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. (2 Timothy 2:7)

It’s easy to read the Bible too quickly, especially if you’ve read the story before. After all, you know the ending. But reading quickly not only risks missing deeper knowledge but also underlying emotions.

Can you imagine Abraham’s mental contortion when he learned his son would not be sacrificed?

"The grief of God: A new beginning" (Genesis 7:1-24). Imagine the moments after God shut the door to the ark. Fists banging and voices yelling for the only way that leads to life to be reopened. The way we live our life matters.

“The grief of God: A new beginning” (Genesis 7:1-24). Imagine the moments after God shut the door to the ark. Fists banging and voices yelling for the only way that leads to life to be reopened. The way we live our life matters.

Have you considered the agony of Noah and his family when the rains came, and they heard clawing and anguish on the other side of the arc. Too late.

Some believe that Jesus might have been two years old when the wise men finally made their way to his house. What is the emotion of a young boy or a young God-man when foreigners arrive at the door?

"The Terrible Lie" (Genesis 3:1-24). Distraught and distant from God, Adam and Eve wonder what will happen next. Emotionally separated from each other, having to leave the garden must have been so scary.

“The Terrible Lie” (Genesis 3:1-24). Distraught and distant from God, Adam and Eve wonder what will happen next. Emotionally separated from each other, having to leave the garden must have been so scary.

Were Adam and Eve capable of understanding the full consequences of their actions?

"Beholding God With Us" (Matthew 2). Siting at Joseph and Mary's front door, Jesus watches the Magi arrive. At two years old (or even as an infant), did Jesus know the Magi would come? Psalm 139 tells us God's eyes saw us when we were formless, and all our days were written and planned before a single one of them began.

“Beholding God With Us” (Matthew 2). Siting at Joseph and Mary’s front door, Jesus watches the Magi arrive. At two years old (or even as an infant), did Jesus know the Magi would come? Psalm 139 tells us God’s eyes saw us when we were formless, and all our days were written and planned before a single one of them began.

Craig Hawkins has thought about such things, and using charcoal, put his thoughts to paper. Ponder his work. Perhaps he has uncovered a new dimension of Biblical insight for you.

We’re here for you. Share your thoughts with us every Sunday at Bent Creek Baptist Church.

 


Perseverance and Growth in Nicaragua

Even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. (Psalm 137:10)

Enjoy this final post of a series of reports from Nicaragua by Daniel Bridges

Wednesday, 7/13/16: Growing in discipleship 

The discipleship group this day was very difficult. Something about losing the Holy Spirit through sin was brought up during group. I started to feel the weight of legalism here in Nicaragua, and it made me feel down for a while.

Then, I realized that all I am called to do is share who Jesus is and try to give them the resources to grow. It’s not up to me to change their minds about things. The Lord is in control of their hearts and not me.

After this difficult time, it was very helpful to be able to go see Ice Age with the group at the local movie theater! It was a lot of fun, and I ate a lot of popcorn.

Thursday, 7/14/16: Perseverance

After a relaxing morning, we headed off for El Trianon. There we sang songs, got to know the message, and gave a message to some of the youth.

After this we played soccer with kids in a field nearby. It was a good day, and even though I wasn’t very confident that the message I gave was good, my teammates were very encouraging!

Friday, 7/15/16: Growing in the Word

We spent the day at the Mission Center, and had our discipleship group. It was much better than the last meeting, and I was able to share Romans 7:15.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do. But what I hate, I do. (Romans 7:15)

and also John 14:16, which reminds us that the holy spirit will never leave.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, (John 14:16)

They seemed to understand and agree with me, and we all said we have struggled with knowing we are saved because of sin, but then we all understood that we could not go anywhere away from God as we looked at Psalm 139. It was a great encouraging meeting.

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?

If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!

If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

Even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. (Psalm 139:7-10)

Later that night we ate ice cream with the group.

Saturday, 7/16/16: Out and about

This day was the Word Race free day and we planned a bunch of fun stuff to do with them!

Cerro Negro volcano

Cerro Negro Volcano

We started off the morning hiking the Cerro Negro Volcano. It is astounding every time you get to the top and see all of God’s glory on display, and I definitely wouldn’t mind returning for a 5th time in the coming years.

After leaving the volcano, we went to Leon to eat lunch at Hollywood Pizza, and then headed to the Parque Acuatico en Telica (Water Park in Telica). It was a blast to swim and slide with many of my friends from the US and Nicaragua.

Thelma and I would sneak up on each other in the pool and pull each other underwater. I think I won, because she screamed at one point “Esta historia continuará!” which means this will continue later, it is not over.

This day was a very relaxing and fun day, but we all were exhausted.

Sunday, 7/17/16: Sunday School with the kids

In the morning Lauren Parham, Lauren Wagoner (my fellow intern), and Ron and I went to Dr. Michael’s church.

Lauren, Lauren, and I did a Sunday School activity with the kids. It was a great morning and on the way back we stopped for iced coffee at central plaza!

Monday, 7/18/16: Goodbye to good friends

It was very sad to say goodbye to all our friends on the World Race team. They will for sure be missed.

Then, we were supposed to have discipleship group, but it stormed so no one was able to come.

During this time although, I was able to have a great conversation with Carlos. Later that night we went to a surprise birthday party for Tony’s sister Lenin. I kept going from Tony’s house to Carely’s house to hang out with her and her little sister Ayleen (who is just as crazy as Carely was when she was younger). It was a tough day, but the night went a lot better than the morning.

Tuesday, 7/19/16: Time off from a busy week

Today was the anniversary of the Sandinista revolution, so we stayed inside all day.

Buses loaded with people inside and on top are all making their way to Managua for a huge celebration. It’s always dangerous to travel on revolution day because of the traffic and drunk people, so we had a “snow day” at the Mission Center.

Later in the afternoon we went back to Bethel while the traffic was less, and said our goodbyes.

That night we watched Home Alone 2 for our “snow day”. Halfway through, our discipleship groups surprised us with Fresca, Oreos, encouraging words, and song. It was a great last day.

Wednesday, 7/20/16: Off to Managua

We set off for Managua at noon. After eating quesillos (corn tortillas with cheese, onions, and cream) I felt pretty sick in the bus, but I survived.

We stopped by the hospital and visited with Ixcel. Then, Ron, Lauren, and I went to the hotel.

Thursday, 7/21/16: Going home

My flight left Managua around 8 am, and I arrived in Atlanta around 1:30 pm.

Little did I know what lay ahead of me. I planed to leave for the beach with my brother Nathan at 6 pm when I landed in Asheville. So, timing was very important. But my flight was delayed and then cancelled. The next flight was cancelled as well.

While waiting in the help desk line, I heard a man and woman speaking with someone about renting a car to Asheville. I asked, “Are you all going to Asheville?”

“Yes,” and they had 4 seats open if anyone wanted to come. After some thought I joined the group, and traveled home with Steve and Sally.

By God’s grace we made it, and I went to the beach early the next morning with Nathan, returning yesterday the 24th.

Final thoughts

Reflecting on this whole experience, I see God’s hand in all of it.

I see God’s true sovereignty in all of life, and His provisions for my life. I look back and smile because I know that God was with me every step of the way, even if I didn’t acknowledge Him right then!

Daniel Bridges in Nicaragua, 2016

Daniel Bridges in Nicaragua, 2016

Thank you church and friends for all your prayers this summer. This trip was truly unforgettable — a profound spiritual and physical journey for me.

I am confident that the work I did was not in vain, and that God will use the words I spoke and the  verses I shared with my discipleship guys to begin a transformation in their spiritual lives.

Sincerely,

Daniel Bridges

North Carolina State University

Earlier posts in this series include…

Daniel Bridges: Live Fully for Him

Daniel Bridges: Time to Share God’s Message

I Prayed for My Heart and Read His Word

Daniel Bridges: Labor Not in Vain