When You Become God’s Surprise Witness

How Matthias reveals our insignificance is seen by God.

Sometimes God surprises us with opportunities we never sought, never expected, and never even imagined. Often these moments come in the middle of our ho-hum lives.

When You Become God's Surprise Witness

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It happened with Matthias.

Ever since John the Baptist had prepared the way for the Messiah, Matthias 
had followed. He had walked in Jesus’ footsteps from the Jordan River to the rugged hills of Galilee. He had followed the Savior with passion and persuasion—and without recognition.

Matthias was a willing unknown.

Then one day it all changed.

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Kursi—Choosing Between People, Pigs, and Priorities

Why is it sometimes we regret the wrong things?

Sometimes in the swell of our emotions, we make promises we don’t mean. On one occasion, two individuals approached Jesus and declared they would follow Him wherever He went.

Kursi—Choosing Between People, Pigs, and Priorities

(Photo: The steep slope at Kursi beside the Sea of Galilee. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

But Jesus’ response to them indicated that their hearts were more devoted to comfort and to family than to Him (Matt. 8:19-22). It happened in Jesus’ day, and it happens in ours.

We’ve all done it. Sometimes we’ll express our spiritual desires in terms that really boil down to boasts:

  • I’ll have my quiet time every morning for the rest of my life.
  • I’m willing to follow God wherever He leads me.
  • I will love people more and need them less.

Overwhelmed by the moment, we’ll express our feelings in terms of commitments we’d like to do. But often, we come to regret our words.

The problem is we’re regretting the wrong thing.

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Truths You May Have Missed About Struggle in the Christian Life

We had no idea what following Jesus would demand when we started out. Oh, we thought we knew. We had hopes. We had great ideas.

Truths You May Have Missed About Struggle in the Christian Life

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We thought the Christian life meant that once we believed in Jesus, if we walked obediently, certain things would happen:

  • God would bless us
  • Protect us
  • Put us at ease
  • Basically dote on us as His children.

To some extent, we still expect that. But God wants to give us something greater than those things.

Much greater.

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How to Stop Looking for God in the Wrong Places

The world makes promises it can’t keep. It says the reason we’re unhappy is that we just haven’t found the right whatever yet. But if we keep looking, we’ll find it.

Looking for God in the Wrong Places

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The right spouse, the right hairdo, the right salary, the right entertainment system, the right church, the right pastor, the right Bible, the right seminar, ad infinitum . . . ad nauseam.

You don’t have to be without Jesus to fall into the trap. Even those of us who do believe in Jesus can chase those shadows.

We may not know we’re looking for God. But we are.

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The Transfiguration of Jesus—What Hope Can Do for You

Jesus had just dropped the bomb. At Caesarea Philippi, the Lord informed His star-struck disciples that He, the Messiah, would soon die and rise again. Amazingly, that didn’t hit them as good news.

The Transfiguration of Jesus—What Hope Can Do for You

(Photo: Mural in the Basilica of the Transfiguration of Jesus, Israel. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

To these men—who only understood the Messiah in terms of providing the good life of God’s kingdom—news of Jesus’ death came as a sucker punch to their dreams. It’s no wonder Peter blurted, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You” (Matt. 16:22).

Jesus’ reply should cause us all to pause and ponder:

If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. —Matthew 16:24

In wake of their confusion, Jesus took these disappointed disciples to a nearby mountain for a good dose of hope. They needed it.

As we struggle with our own disappointments, we can use that same hope today. We need it too.

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Connecting Archaeology and the Passion Week of Jesus

Easter and Christmas always bring a slew of television specials claiming to find some new archaeological connection to Jesus. Most are hype and even attempt to discredit the biblical account.

Ossuary of Joseph son of Caiaphas, from Jerusalem, 1st c AD

(Photo: Ossuary of Joseph son of Caiaphas. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

But occasionally archaeology gives us a true connection to Jesus, and the results are tremendously affirming. The Israel Museum in Jerusalem has devoted a small corner of the museum to archaeology connected to Jesus of Nazareth.

The good folks at SourceFlix.com put together a short video that highlights several of these archaeological finds that relate to Jesus Christ—and the Passion Week in particular.

I’ll also explain why they’re significant to us.

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This Passion Week and Easter the Dates All Align

Every Sunday celebrates Easter. First-century Christians transferred the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday. This year is special, for the days and dates of the Passion Week align with our calendars.

This Passion Week and Easter, the Dates All Align

(Photo: Jerusalem through the window at Dominus Flevit. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Because the Bible and history offer specific details, we know that Jesus Christ was crucified on April 3, AD 33.

It takes years for the calendar to roll around and allow for the exact dates of the Passion Week to align with our own calendars. This year it’s happening.

Here’s a simple chronology of the Passion Week’s events with the days and dates they occurred.

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The Ascent of Adummim—A Tough Hike in More Ways than One

On Jesus’ final journey to Jerusalem, He passed through Jericho. Leaving town, He would have walked between the palace buildings of Herod the Great, the king of Jews when Jesus was born.

The Ascent of Adummim—A Tough Hike in More Ways than One

(Photo: The Ascent of Adummim Roman road. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The opulent palace straddled the ancient road Jesus traveled and connected to itself across a bridge that spanned the road. When Jesus passed beneath the bridge between the buildings of Herod the Great, He must have considered this paranoid king who tried to kill Him as a boy in Bethlehem.

Ironically, King Herod died in this Jericho palace while the true King of Israel lived to pass between its walls on His way to lay down His life.

As Jesus and His disciples leaned uphill toward Jerusalem, they walked a well-traveled road called the “Ascent of Adummim.” This wasn’t the first time Jesus walked this road.

Nor was it the first time He used it as a setting for teaching us a lesson.

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Why Jesus Waits to Answer Your Prayer

As much as we wish it were otherwise, life has no easy answers to our struggles. Oh, I know, I know . . . God is the Answer. But what happens when the Answer doesn’t answer?

Why Jesus Waits to Answer Your Prayer

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Because God can stop our pain, we think He should. So we pray. And pray.

But nothing happens.

That’s what occurred with Mary and Martha. They sent a message to Jesus that their brother Lazarus lay sick. But instead of immediately traveling to Bethany, Jesus stayed right where He was beyond the Jordan River. When He finally did arrive, Lazarus had been dead four days.

In other words, Jesus had taken His sweet time showing up.

From what happened next, I see 3 lessons to help us understand why Jesus waits to answer our prayer.

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Why God Teaches You the Same Thing Over and Over Again

Jesus performed more miracles in the vicinity of the Sea of Galilee than any other place in His ministry. Standing on its shores, one can easily see across the shallow lake.

Why God Teaches You the Same Thing Over and Over Again

(Photo: Waves crash ashore on the Sea of Galilee. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The hills to the east and west tower above the water. As cool air from these heights rushes down the slopes into the lake’s warmer basin, winds can whip up the surface of the water to deadly proportions.

A small craft, such as the one Matthew reported the disciples clung to during a stormy night, could find itself foundering in an instant.

In one day, Christ taught His disciples a simple truth we should never forget.

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