Posted in Bible Study

Blame, Pain, and Redemption

Matthew 27:15-20 NLT

15 Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner to the crowd—anyone they wanted. 16 This year there was a notorious prisoner, a man named Barabbas.[a] 17 As the crowds gathered before Pilate’s house that morning, he asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you—Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 (He knew very well that the religious leaders had arrested Jesus out of envy.)

19 Just then, as Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him this message: “Leave that innocent man alone. I suffered through a terrible nightmare about him last night.”

20 Meanwhile, the leading priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be put to death.

In the story of Barrabas and Jesus on trial, fingers could be pointed several directions as to why Jesus, an innocent man, was sent to the cross while a murderer is set free.

1. Pilate: He could have ignored the custom of releasing a criminal according to crowd choice and made his own choice. He knew the leaders had arrested Jesus out of envy (v. 18). To top it off, his wife told Pilate of a dream she ad and pleaded to release Jesus. Still Pilate washed his hands clean and released Barrabas. No matter how many times Pilate washed his hands, the spots of guilt would remain (until he took his sins to God, which I hope he did).

2. The elders: They convinced the crowd to ask for Jesus (v. 20). These men should have noble and pursuing God’s justice and mercy instead of convincing the crowd to follow their corrupted lead.

3. The crowd: Yes, the elders put bugs in their ears, but the crowds were still sentient beings. It isn’t fair to say the crowd had to follow the elder’s advice. The members of this crowd still share some of the blame for the course of events on this day.

Blame could be placed on any of these people, but placing blame does not change the fact that an innocent man was placed on the cross. All of these people will answer for their faults when they reach heaven. Thankfully for us, God takes the sins of humans and makes a beautiful story. Through the faults of all of these people, God’s plan of salvation moved one step farther. An innocent man was killed and a sinful man was set free. Read that last sentence again and think about your own salvation. From a young age we were all guilty of sin, yet we are still offered the choice to be set free. An innocent man, Jesus, was killed so that you, a sin-filled human, could be set free.

If you’ve already accepted this gift from God, take a few moments now to thank God. Thank him for orchestrating these events. Thank him for giving up his son so that we could all have a relationship with him. Thank God for his gift too wonderful for words. (2 Corinthians 9:15). And then try to put it into words.

If you’re just now seeing yourself as filled with sin, take a moment to think how you will never be able to stand before God as you are. Know right now that Jesus also died for you so that you could be set free from sin. You will be able to stand before God when you die and he’ll welcome you in with a hug. Currently without the grace of God through Jesus’ sacrifice, you will spend life on Earth searching and life after death in Hell. If, though, you choose to accept Christ’s actions and his place as God’s son; and you choose to follow his will, you will have a relationship with God and spend eternity in heaven.

Let me tell you, this choice is the right one. It gives you hope and purpose, and it’s entirely free! Feel free to contact me if you want to know more about this choice. I’d love to talk to you.

Advertisements
Posted in Bible Study, Life

Lessons of Hope

It’s been a long time since I posted here but I just haven’t felt much like writing to the public. Honestly at this point I’m not sure what I will say.

Hope.

Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Hebrews 10:23.

Sometimes hope is all I have. I have a ring that says hope to remind myself where my hope lies. It does me no good to hope that people will be there when I feel stretched. Hope has to be in God and his promises. I’ve learned that through my recent heart aches and loneliness and happiness. I’ve learned to hold tightly to the hope that God provides. And what I’ve been shown is that if I hold tight to the hope I have in God rather than a hope in people, God will grant the desires of my heart in his perfect way, in ways that I probably wouldn’t have imagined.

That’s what I’ve learned.

Hope.

Posted in Bible Study, Gratefulness

In versus About

“We rejoice in our hope, not in our circumstances.” -Matt Chandler

This reminds me of a devotional I read this week about 1 Thessalonians 5:18. “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for those of you who belong to Christ Jesus.”

Hard circumstances, filled with pain and confusion, can be difficult to find joy in. Just two verses before this, Paul advises us to”always be joyful.” Maybe it’s just me but when I feel tired, hurt, confused, or overwhelmed, it’s hard to be joyful, much less to be thankful. Surely Paul is not asking us to be thankful for the difficult and painful situations.

In order to understand this verse a bit better, look at my favorite part of speech: the preposition. Pay careful attention to Paul’s choice of the preposition “in.” He doesn’t use the word “about.” Paul is saying to be thankful in all circumstances. So when the world seems cruel, find something to be thankful about and you’ll be following this advice. You don’t have to be thankful for the circumstance (although I have found that trying to be thankful for a circumstance can often help me see why God has placed me in that situation).

That brings me back to the quote from Matt Chandler. There is always hope to be thankful for. Know that God has a perfect plan for each life. There’s a reason for every situation, and God’s reason is always for the best. God wants us to be happy, but sometimes that means we have to go through hard times in order to learn more about him. Knowing more about God is happiness, so if hard circumstances bring that, bring it on. I can be thankful for hard times if I look at them with eyes of hope. So remember, be thankful and take joy in the hope that God works through every situation.

Posted in Literature

A choice to believe

“Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things- trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then ask I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones….We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t a Narnia.” -chapter 12 of The Silver Chair.

Sometimes I have moments of doubt. I wonder if there really is more than this life. I can’t prove it myself. The only evidence I have is the many lives lived before me who believed it enough to die for it. I have the Bible which has survived much longer than other books I read and definitely gets read by many more people. I have the times when I’ve felt God’s presence. But is that enough evidence to base a belief that effects my entire life? Some would say no.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not doubting what I believe. I’m just being honest that sometimes these doubts run through my mind. I believe it’s the devil that puts them there as a temptation to give up. Belief is something that we must continually remind ourselves of. That’s why I read my Bible, pray, and attend church and Bible study. This is how I prepare myself for these attacks on my belief that come from within.

I recognize that these doubts exist but I choose faith and hope. Like Puddleglum in this passage I choose to believe what may seem to some as a make-believe. The fact of the matter is that this belief has much more hope than anything else in this world. I’m on God’s team even if there is no God to lead it (although I believe there is). I will live as a Christian even if there turns out to be no heaven.

Posted in Bible Study

Christ Is Enough For Me

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

 

Christ is enough for me?

Maybe the question should be “Am I living life to prove that Christ is enough for me?”

Maybe there shouldn’t be a question at all.

Instead maybe we should just accept that Christ is enough. He is all we need because he supplies all we need.

It’s easy to forget that though when our earthly desires of human love, food, things, opportunities, etc are not met. It seems that God has disappeared. We ask “where are you God? Why didn’t I get what I want?” We look to Psalm 37:4 and blame God that we didn’t get the desires of our heart. Or was it the desires of our mind?

We forget the beginning of that verse- “Take delight in the Lord.” Our heart must be seeking the Lord in order to receive the desires of our heart, which as a consequence will be the Lord and his will.

In those moments of doubt, instead of asking God where he is, we can realize that he’s right there. He’s waiting on us to say that He is enough. He’s waiting on us to say that we have decided to [once again] follow him wholeheartedly.

Christ is enough for me. I may not live that way, but remember that I live in the flesh and do battle there. Fortunately, Christ is on my side and battling for me. He’s enough. In that I take hope.

Posted in Life, London, Music

Everything Rides on Hope

“Everything rides on hope now…”

The past couple weeks have been a bit of a rough transition back into life here in the States. I knew I might have some stress jumping straight back into classes and work, but I never imagined how stressful and how purposeless I would feel. There have been times I just feel like I’m moving through life with no purpose. Most of this feeling is just because I have been exhausted and tiredness always messes with my emotions, but part of this emotion is true. My life in London had so much purpose on a daily level, but here at school it’s harder to see the purpose of everyday life. I have been frustrated with the idea of sitting in classes and writing papers just to get a grade. It feels so pointless compared to the work I did in London. Last night was one of those nights, but my friend reminded me that I have to look at the bigger picture. Sitting in classes and writing papers does have purpose in that it is preparing me for more. Also there are little things in life that I can do that have daily purpose and serve a goal of sharing love.

“When my life is like a storm
Rising waters all I want is the shore
You say I’ll be ok and
Make it through the rain
You are my shelter from the storm”

Hope is what will pull me through this transition back to the daily grind here. Hope that God has it all figured out. Hope that He will reveal my heart’s questions in the right time. Hope that God knows what I desire and how and when to best fulfill those desires. Hope that it will feel better soon. Hope that I will make it through.

There’s nothing I can do to make life slow down a bit.

Hope.

“Everything rides on hope now.

Everything rides on faith somehow.”

Posted in Education

MY HOPE FOR THE WORLD (as a teacher)

My education teachers keep asking me what my “hope for the world” is and I keep coming up with something that sounds good at the moment because I honestly don’t know what to say.  I have never really thought about this.  I don’t like those questions that ask “if you could change one thing in the world, what would it be.”  Gah!  Those annoy me.  I don’t really have any desire to change the whole entire world.  I could take the approach that I want to change the world one student at a time, but really I just want to teach them English.  Period.

Not a very good hope for the world.  I can’t really tell my teacher that because then she’d ask why I want to teach them English and why that is more important that math per say (which it is by the way).

So my hope for the world (or what I have decided so far):  As a teacher, I want to teach my students to think for themselves and value their own opinion.  This stems from my own life where I haven’t always felt comfortable talking aloud in certain classes.  Sometimes it is the setup of the room, others it is the teacher, and sometimes it is the students that make me feel inadequate or uncomfortable with sharing my opinion on certain subjects.  When I have my own classroom, I want to make it so that students feel comfortable sharing their thoughts.  I also want students to think their own ideas.  Too many times, there seems to be a “correct answer” in English classes when interpreting literature and I am not sure how this is determined.  Unless the answer come directly from the author, how can anyone know why an author included a specific part of any piece of writing.

In return I hope that these skills cause my students to value others, be who they are, and turn out to be the best that they can be.  Best is individualistic though, because I cannot determine what is the best for any person.  Each person must determine that for themselves and even that may take some time and searching.  My job is to help give each student opportunities to search for what is their best and to show them how to value what others do as well.