triumph

Sudden Resurrection

“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead?’” – Luke 24:1-5 What an awesome truth we celebrated this past Sunday! I can’t stop thinking about it! Though the road to the cross was dark and filled with pain and His death was bloody and horrible, Jesus’ resurrection overcame it all! Naturally, when His mother and friend came to the tomb to tend to

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The Suffering Savior

“Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ And they slapped him in the face.” – John 19:1-3 Having just celebrated Easter, the death and resurrection of our Savior Jesus is fresh on our minds. There’s no better time to remember the long and painful road our Savior endured to get to the cross. After three years of difficult public ministry that were no doubt physically, emotionally and spiritually draining, He was betrayed by one of His own disciples. He was turned over to Roman authorities, who, after pressure from the zealots among His people, agreed to have Him killed. As if the sentence of death by crucifixion wasn’t horrendous enough, He was beaten to

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Claiming Victory

“For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” – 1 John 3:4,5 The Bible is not ignorant of the world’s suffering. When you study the Jewish Scriptures, especially the Old Testament, you’ll see that the authors grappled with this question: why do good people suffer? Job, one of the first books of the Bible, is devoted entirely to the subject. Moreover, the majority of the minor prophets and the Psalms are lamentations: Oh Lord, how long will you forget the poor?, How long will you forget the downcast, oh Lord?, How long must we sing this song? In fact, Jesus Christ’s words on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” are a Psalms quote. The

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God of Armies

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” – Exodus 14:14 One of the most commonly used names for God in the Bible is Yahweh Tsebaoth, which literally means “Lord of Armies,” “Lord of Soldiers,” or “Lord of War.” In fact, this interesting depiction of our Heavenly Father is used over 250 times in the Scriptures, and yet very few people are familiar with it. This is because Bible translators have often inserted their own theology and made it “Lord of Hosts.” Even though most people don’t know what a host is (other than someone who entertains people in their home), they do it because they’re reluctant to connect God with something as ugly as war. However, this becomes less of a concern when we understand the context. When Yahweh speaks of being the “Lord of Armies,” He’s actually referring to a spiritual battle. He wants

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Saved From the Serpent

“They spoke against God and against Moses, and said, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!’ Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, ‘We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.’ So Moses prayed for the people.” – Numbers 21:5-7 I’m always fascinated when I read the account of the Israelites and their journey to the Promised Land, because no matter how many times God showed them His glory, they seemed to forget and go back to complaining. Even though they were in the middle of one of the greatest epochs of all time historically speaking, they refused to

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God’s Got the Power

“So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs.” – Exodus 7:10-12 There’s an interesting account in the book of Exodus that took place after Moses and his brother Aaron were commissioned by God to lead the Israelites out of slavery. Having been oppressed and abused for 400 years by Egyptian officials, the Lord heard the cries of His people and put a plan into action to deliver them. He called Moses to guide them, and He appointed Aaron to be a prophet to speak on His behalf. Promising to

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Crushing Evil

“But Jael, Heber’s wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died.” – Judges 4:21 I love that the Old Testament is full of stories about good conquering evil. Through the lens of a Jew born before Christ, every victory the Israelites had pointed to the ultimate victory of the Messiah and to the heart of a God who wanted justice to prevail. That said, there’s a very interesting account in the book of Judges, and I’m especially fond of it because it involves the forces of darkness being taken down by a woman. In the tradition of Eve, whose offspring would eventually crush the serpent’s head, this story is yet more proof of the Lord’s power to triumph over wickedness. Having been oppressed by a

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The Devil is Defeated

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” – Genesis 3:15 I can’t imagine what God felt at the moment Adam and Eve rebelled against His perfect plan. He must have been crushed, and I’m certain that his anger burned against Satan. After all, the lineage of mankind — the glory of His Creation — was now tainted by sin, and He wanted to make sure that such an atrocity never happened again. To seal the deal, He cursed the devil and his forces of darkness forever. Though there would be an ongoing battle, or enmity, between humanity and demonic powers, He promised that one day, the father of lies would be crushed on the head and defeated. This means that now, while our adversary can still inflict surface wounds, he

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Sacred Ironies

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” – Genesis 50:20 Yesterday, we talked about Joseph of Arimathea and how he gave Jesus an honorable burial despite the fact that He was a crucified “criminal.” And though we know that his sacrifice played a part in the unfolding of our Savior’s death and resurrection, many of us aren’t familiar with the story behind what remains of the famous tomb. Forgive me for being nerdy again, but I love history, and I especially love Israel. As a traveler who has been all over the world, Jerusalem is still my favorite city, and to me, the most special place there is the Holy Sepulchre. It’s run by six different denominations, and though it looks like a church from the outside, inside, it’s an eerie mix of staircases,

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Speak Victory!

“David said to the Philistine, ‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.’” – 1 Samuel 17:45 Lest any of us forget, words are powerful, and the things we say to ourselves and to others dramatically impact our outcomes. David was proof of this. Although he was young, inexperienced, and may have looked foolhardy to some, he spoke affirmatively and confidently in the presence of people. In fact, such a leader was he that he used his words to comfort and assure King Saul himself, telling him not to lose heart, and reminding him that the Philistines would ultimately be defeated. Even when Goliath spoke violently and intimidatingly in his hearing, the young shepherd responded with resolve as he invoked the name of His great

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