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Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

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Daily Devotions

The Cowardice of Many Chief Rulers

John 12 42 and 43

John 12:42,43

We sure like to throw rocks at those lousy Pharisees, don’t we? We like to sit back and judge them for their legalism, hypocrisy and rejection. Here is the bad news; we can very much be them. Atheism, the simple lack of a belief in any god or gods, has been replaced by the New Atheism. Rather than simply resting in their state of disbelief, the New Atheists have a plan and an agenda; that plan is the eradication of faith in general and the Christian Faith in particular. The tools of this are mockery, name calling, cultural pressure and even legislation. They want to put us out of the Synagogue so to speak.

As non-believers, we fall prey to this pressure and reject Jesus ourselves. Even as saved children of God, we fall prey to this and wander away under the pressures of this world. We, too love the praise of that world more than the praise of God.

Friends, Jesus has this. Some 2000 years ago God made Himself in the form of the man Jesus Christ, and walked this Earth for the specific reason to save us from ourselves and offer us a place eternally with Him. Jesus IS God, and has all the power of God. The praise and approval of men today may satisfy us in the moment, but our eyes need to be on the praise of God in the forever.

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The Prophecy of Isaiah

John 12_40.JPG

John 12:39-41

Here, things get a bit complicated, as we see the almost incomprehensible balance of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. The prophet Isaiah had foretold the massive rejection of Jesus by His own people; in fact, in the eternal plan of redemption, this rejection was actually absolutely necessary. This is a difficult thing, for sure. It might even seem that God caused the Jewish nation to reject Jesus, as we see hinted at in the above passage. Yet, we see clearly the idea throughout Scripture that men make choices about God our Father and Jesus.

The eyes of the Jewish nation certainly did become blinded, rendering them unable to see. They absolutely made choices not to see the clear evidence before them. Friends, these non-believers hardened their own hearts, and God certainly allowed them to do that, and even knew that they would.

Despite our nature and tendency to reject and harden our hearts, God still reveals Himself to us all and offers all men and women the opportunity to come to Him. Jesus came as God in the flesh not for a few, or a pre-selected group of humanity; He came to extend His offer to all humanity. The choice is ours and ours alone. As you take a look at your own relationship or lack of with Jesus always remember that. If you have that relationship always remember it as well as you move through a largely non-believing world.

Lazarus a Living Testimony

john 12 10 and 11.JPG

John 12:7-11

John 12:17-23

The non-believing world in the day of Jesus was hostile to our Lord, and got more and more hostile as His ministry continued. It seems fairly amazing that, in light of the clear and evident fact that Jesus raised Lazarus that the Pharisees still refused to believe in Him. Instead of believing, they were angry that others were choosing to believe in and follow Jesus. The solution of the Pharisees was to eradicate the evidence! Clearly, many of these men had seen the miracle of the raising of Lazarus and that many of those who chose to believe also had; yet, their response was to not simply ignore the evidence but to attempt to make the evidence go away. “If we only kill this guy Jesus raised from the dead, then our problems are solved;” this seemed to be the rather convoluted logic of the non-believing Pharisees.

Guess what, friends? Not a thing has changed. Even today, the non-believing world thinks if only they can erase the evidence of God, then God will cease to exist. Eternally sadly for them, that simply will not work. Just like the Pharisees could not actually erase the fact that Lazarus died and came back, the clear evidence of God and our Lord Jesus Christ likewise can never be erased. The only question is: who will we choose to believe?

The Evil Heart of Judas Iscariot

John 12_5.JPG

John 12:4-6

Martha was not the only guest at this gathering who had something to say about what Mary was doing for Jesus. First, it seems beyond doubt that Martha loved her Lord, but was just somewhat distracted by the things going on; she had simply lost sight of priorities. Judas Iscariot, clearly, did NOT have good intentions in his heart. In fact, we know he rejected our Lord, and even today is eternally separated from Him in the torment of Hell.  What we see here is the posturing and preening of a man pretending to be righteous while really hiding evil in his heart.

Friends, that is true for many today. Of course not all are hiding overt evil in their hearts while pretending to do good as Judas was. Many are simply convinced that they can actually do enough proper and good things to warrant the favor of God. It simply does not matter, as the end result is the same. We cannot earn the favor or our God, nor can we even do enough to balance the scales in our favor eternally. We may not be hiding the level of evil in our hearts as Judas was, but the fact remains that our hearts are evil due to the fact that we have all fallen short of the perfection of God’s glory.

We have a choice. Will we rely on empty posturing and good works, or accept the full payment Jesus made on our behalf?

The Precious Gift of Mary

John 12_3

John 12:1-3

Many of us are very, very busy. Many of us are Marthas, so wrapped up in the things that we are “doing,” that we lose sight of many things more important. If we take a look at this story in Luke Chapter 10 we can see that Martha was “cumbered about much serving;” one translation says “Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.”

In the middle of all of the excitement and preparations we see Mary seemingly doing nothing. If fact, in the Luke account, Martha calls out her sister for just that! To paraphrase, Martha more or less asks Jesus to make Mary get up and get busy doing something useful. Jesus quickly points out to Martha that Mary is actually doing the one thing that is important.

Friends, if you are one of the “busy” people, maybe it is time to take a step back and figure out if what we are “doing,” is the needful thing. Sometimes, let us just be a Mary, and spend some time with our Lord devotedly loving, worshiping and fellowshiping with Him. In this story, Jesus was heading quickly toward the appointed time at which He would allow Himself to be sacrificed as a payment for the sins of mankind. Today, this is finished and the sacrifice has been made. Will we respond like Mary, or will be get so busy running around “doing” things that we forget what really matters?

What Happens When a Believer in Christ Dies?

2 corinthians 5_6

2 Corinthians 5:1-6

Life is tough. Reality tells us that, and we can all see it in our daily lives. We get older and our bodies break down; many live with unending physical pain. We suffer diseases, some of which can claim our very lives. Financially or economically we don’t always get what in want; in fact, sometimes we literally are without absolute necessities. People are mean, unreasonable and hateful in many cases. Life is, indeed, tough. I may be a shock to some, but God has never promised otherwise for His children; there are numerous references in God’s word to not “if,” but “when” believers will suffer the trials of life. In some cases, it is the very act of being a believer in The Lord Jesus Christ that brings the suffering!

Why is that so? Our verse above tells us that answer. It is because, while in our bodily homes, we are absent from the physical presence of the Lord. We are trapped in our physical states as fallen, decaying and imperfect humans. That seems a tough word, but it is a true word.

Friends, glory to God, it will not always be that way. That is, if we are His children. Some day we will be absent from the body and be present with the Lord. There, we will be just as He is: perfect, holy and without flaw or blemish. There, in that eternal state, there will be no trials or suffering but only perfect eternal glory.

The Decision of the Council

John 11_55

John 11:53-57

At this point, things took a rather serious turn for Jesus and His disciples. The decision was set, the proclamation was made and the path to the death of our Lord was laid. There would be no turning back now. The culture and powers of the time were pulling out all of the stops to stamp out what would eventually become the Christian Faith.

Friends, God has told us there is nothing new under the sun, and there still is not. The decision has been set, the proclamation has been made and the beginning of a likely systemic campaign to rid the world of religious faith, particularly the Christian faith, has seemingly begun. Society in large part screams for our silence; where that does not work legislation is put in place to legally mandate our silence. This will only get worse as we near then end, as it got worse as Jesus neared His earthly end.

In this, as all things, our Lord provides our example. Note that he “therefore walked no more openly among the Jews.” Jesus did not become silent or disappear; however, He did become more circumspect in His actions. That is, until the time was right for Him to act and move, which He did upon His triumphant return to Jerusalem. Friends, in this hostile world we also need to choose our battles carefully and yet be prepared to leap into action when The Lord says the time is right.

The Council of the Chief Priests

John 11 50 and 51

John 11:47-52

Not everybody was happy when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, to say the least! As usual, the Pharisees and the religious powers of the day saw only the threat that Jesus saw to their position, and not the fact that Jesus was the promised Messiah. Immediately afterward, all of these right way started plotting how they could remove this threat to their place of control and influence.

As is also the norm, we quickly see that God had things well in hand, even when things seemed grim and without hope. God is not sitting back, just watching things unfold and hoping they work out okay. Today, we again live in a world that does not want to see and accept that Jesus is the promised Messiah, but wants to hang on to their position of control. Now, as then, many plot ways that they might impede or even destroy the work or our Lord and His people.

The world continues to be an unfriendly place for the children of God, and it is getting worse rather than better. Friends, God is working His plan and His promises are secure. All things which happened are either caused or allowed by Him to happen. Remember that, when the powers and Pharisees are coming after you that now, as then, God uses everything in the furtherance of His sovereign plan.

The Sorrow of Mary

john 11 28 and 29.JPG

John 11:28-34

As in the past, Martha and Mary have distinct ways of reacting to things. Martha ran out of the door and way down the road to more or less confront Jesus. Mary simply waited; she never left the place she was until Jesus called for her. Martha seemed to understand fairly clearly that Jesus could make things right; she said so. It is not clear from the story how much Mary really understood, as we are not told that. Mary seemed to understand that Jesus had things in hand, even if she did not know precisely how.

Mary’s reaction is telling, though. Despite her possible lack of complete understanding she did something; when Mary did meet Jesus, she “fell at His feet.” She simply surrendered herself to her Lord, reaching out to Him for comfort and trust that somehow He could make things right.

Mary waited. Jesus called. Mary came running and threw herself at Jesus’ feet. Friends, there is a great lesson here. We will never always be in full comprehension of God’s plan, and sometimes waiting rather than charging forward blindly is the best course. Eventually, Jesus will call, and when He does we also need to come running. Finally, sometimes we simply need to surrender and reach out to Him with trust and faith. When we do that, we may be granted to see God’s plan unfold in all of its glory. As this story continues, we see that this is what definitely happened.

 

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