A Holy Saturday

A Holy Saturday

Today’s guest post is by Andreas J. Köstenberger, the senior research professor of New Testament and biblical theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina.

For good reason, the Gospels devote a great deal of space to the events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion on Thursday and Friday of Passover week, as well as Jesus’ glorious resurrection on Sunday, the “Lord’s Day.” Yet little space is given in the Gospels to the day between “Good Friday” and Easter Sunday, sometimes known as “Holy Saturday.”

None of the Gospels record any of the activities of the disciples on the Sabbath after his burial and prior to his resurrection, except for Luke, who simply writes, “On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment” (Luke 23:56, ESV). However, this passing reference to the disciples’ Sabbath rest may veil the considerable inner turmoil they were likely experiencing.

It is probable that Jesus’ followers were doing on Saturday what they were doing on Sunday when Jesus appeared in their midst—meeting together behind closed doors for fear of the Jewish leaders. Their hopes and expectations had been crushed. The one they hoped was the Messiah had been killed as a criminal. They hadn’t understood Jesus’ predictions about suffering and dying before the crucifixion took place (Matt. 16:21–23; 17:22–23; 20:17–19 and parallels), and it would not be until Jesus appeared among them the following day as the risen victor and conqueror of death that they would begin to understand.

Most likely, they were concerned, if not anxious or even terrified, that what had happened to their leader would now happen to them as well.

Only Matthew gives any concrete details as to what took place that day behind the scenes while activity was limited due to the Sabbath. According to his account, it was on Saturday that the Pharisees and chief priests came to Pilate and asked for a guard to be posted at Jesus’ tomb, saying, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first,” (Matthew 27:63–64).

It seems that the disciples were not the only ones who were afraid! Perhaps the unusual circumstances surrounding Jesus’ death—darkness covering the land, an earthquake, the tearing of the temple curtain—gave the Jewish leaders reason to be concerned. The Pharisees were obviously aware of the predictions Jesus had made about his resurrection, although they were not necessarily inclined to think that his words may actually come true. In fact, their words show nothing but disdain for Jesus whom they call “that impostor” and “fraud.” Nevertheless, it is ironic that not only were the Jewish leaders aware of Jesus’ prediction that he would rise on the third day, they acted on it, which exhibits more “faith” than Jesus’ own followers were able to muster at that time.

Pilate’s response, “You have a guard of soldiers” (Matthew 27:65), is somewhat ambiguous. It may be that the Roman governor grants the Jewish leaders’ request and provides them with a detachment of Roman soldiers. Alternatively, he may simply be telling them, with thinly veiled antagonism, to use their own temple police to do the job. In either case, he grants them permission to guard the tomb, and they proceed to do so.

The Jewish authorities  were adamant that the body placed in the tomb and that it must stay there and not be removed. In the context of Matthew’s account, these activities on Holy Saturday serve as proof that the Romans and the Jewish authorities secured Jesus’ tomb, which makes it unlikely that grave robbers could have stolen the body or that it could have disappeared through some sort of foul play in another way. In this way, Matthew sets up the narrative perfectly for what is to ensue on Easter Sunday at the crack of dawn.


Adapted from Andreas Köstenberger and Justin Taylor, The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014), 169–71.

Comments:   |  Leave a Comment...

Exclusive Free Ebook from Leading Women in Ministry

What I Wish I'd Known

26 leading women in ministry have graciously donated their time to assemble What I Wish I’d Known, a brand-new, free ebook only on Vyrso. In What I Wish I’d Known, you’ll find a collection of wisdom and insight gleaned from decades of experience in ministry.

Last summer, Faithlife, the makers of Logos Bible Software, brought together some of the leading women in ministry for a two-day conference in Dallas, Texas. This ebook brings together encouragement and insights that were shared by the bloggers, authors, teachers, and leaders at the conference.


In this ebook, you’ll find chapters on topics such as:

  • Decision-making
  • Serving God and others
  • Following God’s compass
  • Advice on taking criticism
  • And many others!

Be inspired by chapters from Kay Arthur, Elyse Fitzpatrick, June Hunt, Gwen Smith, Liz Curtis Higgs, and many others!

You won’t find this ebook anywhere else. Download your copy today from Vyrso!

Comments:   |  Leave a Comment...

Good Friday: Death Has Been Defeated


Today’s Good Friday guest post is by Rebecca Greenwood, author of Let Our Children GoDefeating Strongholds of the Mind, and Breaking the Bonds of Evil.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. . . .”
—Matthew 28:5–6, NIV

Death seems so harsh and final. I can imagine that the disciples were feeling the finality of the Crucifixion as they had witnessed the cruel death of their friend, teacher, and Lord. After all, they had left everything to follow him, and the end result was a torturous death that in appearance seemed absolute. I am sure they were confused and emotionally overcome. But the truth is, if they would have gone back in their memories, they would have recalled an important event and statement Jesus had made.

But standing there at Lazarus’ tomb, Jesus spoke forth these hope-filled words: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, yet shall he live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:25–26, MEV).

The disciples would have recalled Jesus standing at the tomb of his close friend Lazarus. They would have remembered that Jesus did something totally unexpected: he wept (John 11:35). These two words reveal the deep sympathy God feels for the sorrow, death, and suffering of his people. The Greek word for wept, dakruo, indicates that Jesus burst into tears and then wept silently. This should be a great comfort to all of us who experience sorrow. Jesus feels the same sympathy for each of us that he felt at the tomb of Lazarus and for the relatives and friends of Lazarus. He loves each of us that much. I believe he knew that death was not part of God’s original plan. Humanity was not meant to grow old, to suffer with disease, or to die. But because of the sin of Adam and Eve, sin entered the human race, and death followed with it. And death spread to all of us. Jesus wept because it broke his heart.

The resurrection of Jesus is one of the unchangeable central truths of the gospel. It is the good news that forever stands as a testament that he is truly the son of God, our Redeemer who lives, the risen Lamb, and the Messiah and Savior of all mankind.

What does this mean for each of us who have chosen through faith to walk in the gracious gift of salvation? Friends, death has been defeated! It is not the end! [Click to tweet!]

It is the foundation for Jesus’ gift of the Holy Spirit and spiritual life to those who believe.

It is the establishment for Jesus’ heavenly intercession for every believer.

It makes available to us the presence of Jesus and his power over sin in our everyday lives and experiences.

It provides a way for us to enter into heavenly intercession with our Lord.

It assures us, as believers, of our future heavenly inheritance.

Physical death is not a tragic end, instead it is the gateway to abundant hope, eternal life, and fellowship with our heavenly Father and risen Lord.

Just as Jesus lives forever, we too, as resurrected believers, will never die.

We will have new bodies, immortal and incorruptible.

If we put our faith and belief in Jesus, then his resurrection means that we will not be devastated by death, but we will live forever in the holy and majestic presence of God in a glorious fellowship with him.

Comments:   |  Leave a Comment...

Washing of the Feet: Christ Washes Us Clean

The Power of the Cross

Today’s post is written by Jessica Thompson, author of Everyday Grace: Infusing All Your Relationships with the Love of Jesus, Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesusand Answering Your Kids’ Toughest Questions

“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” —John 13:3-5


The disciples and Christ have just finished their last meal together. The disciples, of course, don’t know this, but Jesus does. In an act displaying his humility and kindness he kneels before them. Jesus, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,” (Philipians 2:6-7) lays aside his outer garments. Presumably the very same garments that hours later would be stripped off of him and gambled for are the ones that he voluntarily lays aside now to wash his disciples’ feet. Then he takes the towel and ties it around his waist. He pours the water into the basin and begins to wash their feet. He washes the feet of each of the disciples that is there.

Judas, the one “the devil had already put it into [his] heart . . . to betray him,” (John 13:2). Christ washes Judas’s feet with the full knowledge of what he is about to do. He stoops and washes this betrayer’s feet.

Peter, “the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times,” (John 13:38). Christ washes the feet of Peter who would not have the moral fortitude to admit knowing Jesus to a young girl at a campfire. He stoops and washes this coward’s feet.

Philip, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us,” (John 14:8). Christ washes the feet of Philip who just needs a little more convincing that Christ is the Messiah; he just needs one more sign. He stoops and washes this skeptic’s feet.

Thomas, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe,” (John 20:25). Christ washes the feet of Thomas who would refuse to believe, without physically touching him, that Christ had risen from the dead. Christ stoops and washes this doubter’s feet.

James and John, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory,” (Mark 10:37). Christ washes the feet of James and John who were motivated by power and prestige and completely misunderstood what Jesus had come to do. He stoops and washes these glory thieves’ feet.

One by one Christ goes through and washes each disciple’s feet. These disciples who “had argued with one another about who was the greatest,” (Mark 9:34). These disciples who, at his greatest moment of need, “he came . . . and found them sleeping for sorrow,” (Luke 22:45). These disciples who cowered when Christ was arrested—“And they all left him and fled,” (Mark 14:50). Do you see yourself in any of these disciples? Perhaps you see yourself in all of them. I know I do.

And yet, Christ washes us as well. It is not because of our worthiness that he performs this glorious act. It is because of his gloriousness that this takes place. Christ knew what awaited him. He knew the pain. Yet, he also knew “that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God,” (John 13:3).

What had the Father given to him? He had given him us—the doubters, the skeptics, the betrayers, the glory thieves, the cowards—and Christ loved us unto death. He also knew that he was going home to once again be with his Father. He knew that his death on the cross and resurrection would ensure that someday we would all go home with him.

And so on this Holy Thursday, be sober, rejoice, rest, remember how he has made you clean by his greatest act of condescension and love. Consider this perfectly loving one who loves because of who he is, not because of who we are.

Comments:   |  Leave a Comment...

5 Ebooks to Prepare Your Heart for Easter

Easter is a wonderful time to reflect on the work of Christ, the cross and resurrection, and how Jesus’ sacrifice changed the world. Perhaps you’ve been exploring the Gospel of Luke in preparation for Easter Sunday, walking through Christ’s final days and reflecting on the Easter story.

Sunday is a celebration of the victory of life over death, the cross over the weight of our sins and shortcomings. If you’re looking to celebrate, or even learn more about, the gospel, Vyrso has plenty of ebooks to help you get immersed in what Jesus did for us.

Here are five ebooks that will help you get ready to reflect on and celebrate this upcoming Easter:

passion-how-christs-final-day-changes-your-every-dayflesh-bringing-the-incarnation-down-to-earth risen-50-reasons-why-the-resurrection-changed-everything the-action-bible-easter-storyordinary-hero


Passion: How Christ’s Final Day Changes Your Every Day by Mike McKinley

Walking readers through the Gospel of Luke, McKinley looks at the last day of Jesus’ life and the details of his resurrection. He unpacks the biblical details found in Luke to help   readers marvel at the love of Christ, and how readers can learn from Jesus’ passion and    integrity to change their own lives.

Passion is on sale for just $0.99 through April 3.


Flesh: Bringing the Incarnation Down to Earth by Hugh HalterBe inspired this Easter season with author Hugh Halter’s Flesh, and take a look at how the incarnation of Jesus enables us to be fully alive. For anyone burned out or disenchanted, Flesh will invigorate your faith.

You can download Flesh for only $1.99 through April 3.


Risen: 50 Reasons Why the Resurrection Changes Everything by Steve Mathewson

What would happen if believers in Jesus truly grasped how the resurrection changes not just their own understanding of God, but that it changes everything? Author Steven Mathewson unpacks the New Testament Scriptures to look at the reasons Jesus was raised from the dead.

Get Risen for only $1.99 through April 5!


The Action Bible Easter Story by Sergio Cariello and Doug Mauss

Explore the Easter story with powerful illustrations from Marvel and DC Comics artist Sergio Cariello. The Action Bible Easter Story is perfect for sharing with your family.

Download The Action Bible Easter Story for free today and enjoy the powerful illustration of the Easter story.


Ordinary Hero: Living the Cross and Resurrection in Everyday Life by Tim Chester

What does it really mean to be a Christian believer in everyday life? The cross and resurrection provide the pattern for discipleship, calling Christians to a new way of living. Author Tim Chester writes on what it means to be a Christian disciple today and includes discussion questions for your small group and church.

Tim Chester’s Ordinary Hero is just $1.99 through April 3.


Want more ebooks to read before Easter Sunday? Check out our selection of ebooks that will help you get ready for Easter

Comments:   |  Leave a Comment...

Betrayal and Jesus’ Loyal Love


Today’s guest post is by Peter Hubbard, the teaching pastor at North Hills Community Church in Taylors, South Carolina. He has two master’s degrees and is currently completing a Doctor of Ministry degree in pastoral counseling at Westminister Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Peter and his wife, Karen, have been married 25 years and have four children. He is the author of Love into Light.

My wife and I recently sat with a friend whose husband had just announced he wanted to be married to another woman. He was abandoning his wife and kids. As we sat with her, I didn’t know what to say. I’ve been with many widows and grieving parents and have walked with friends through deep loss. But something felt different this time. Betrayal is like losing a loved one, except the loved one isn’t taken. He leaves. And the loved one is acting like a thief and the thing stolen all at once.

Betrayal is an invasion from within—an insider acting like an outsider, doing damage without tripping off any alarms. The pain is deep and toxic. And the victim of betrayal usually feels stunned, used, and angry. As Michael Card explains, enemies can’t betray one another:

“Only a friend can betray a friend

A stranger has nothing to gain

And only a friend comes close enough

To ever cause so much pain.”

The strongest word for “friend” in the Hebrew Old Testament is allup, a close companion. This word is often used in the context of betrayal to highlight the intensity of the treachery. The adulterous woman, for example, “forsakes the companion [allup] of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God” (Proverbs 2:17). In Psalm 55, King David captures the agony of betrayal.

“But it is you, a man, my equal,
my companion [allup], my familiar friend.
We used to take sweet counsel together;
within God’s house we walked in the throng.”
—Psalm 55:13–14

David knew the cold, sharp, back-stabbing pain of betrayal. But at another time he wielded the knife. Uriah was his loyal friend, yet David stole Uriah’s wife and orchestrated his death (2 Samuel 11:1-27; 23:39). Betrayal went viral. Many of David’s friends and sons turned on him and sought to take him down.

Jesus befriended betrayers. He called the 12 disciples to follow him, yet he predicted their acts of treason: “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me” (Matthew 26:21). He made this announcement as they shared a meal. And after Judas went into the darkness, they sang a hymn, and Jesus broadened the prediction, “You will all fall away” (Matthew 26:31). Even Peter, who promised loyalty, was told he would deny Jesus. And he did.

The kiss of betrayal is far more painful than the crushing blow of animosity. Jesus, the friend of sinners, embraces the pain of betrayal so that we, his unfaithful friends, might taste loyal love. [Click to tweet!] And this loyal love changes us. It interrupts the epidemic of betrayal and transforms the tongue of treachery into a tool of truth and praise!

“Thank you, Jesus, that you invite betrayers to your table. And through the treason you endured, you fill us with your unfailing love.”

Comments:   |  Leave a Comment...

Redefining Greatness through God

Redefining Greatness through God

Today’s guest post is written by Jan Harrison, author of  Life After the Storm: God Will Carry You Through, speaker, and Bible study teacher who has inspired thousands of women for over 15 years. She and her husband, Frank, have three grown daughters and reside in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Lent is the 40 days before Easter when we prepare our heart to receive the joyous reality of Christ’s resurrection power by reflecting on his life and death. In sincere and genuine reflection, I find myself under conviction. God’s firm but gentle hand is leading me to look into the mirror of his word.

Will you join me in your heart and pray with me?

Lord Jesus, When I look into the mirror of your word I see selfish, self- centered, self-protecting me. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I’ve neglected your example and failed to practice what you taught when you washed your disciples’ feet. Show me what it looks like in my life to genuinely serve others as you did. In your name I pray, Amen.

Jesus said, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be a slave to all.” (Mark 10:44-45).

To be perfectly honest, I would like to be great for God.  I genuinely desire to live my life with eternal purpose and to bring glory and honor to his great name.  My challenge is to remember whose voice I allow to define the meaning of ‘great’.

Greatness is usually defined in terms of numbers of people who follow, like, listen, and talk about us favorably. This world measures greatness by the number of people who serve you. We like to be catered to and taken care of. We gladly pay for people to serve us. Maybe one reason Jesus was rejected by the Jews and religious leaders, and by people today, is because he came as a suffering servant. Born in a manger, trained as a carpenter, roamed the countryside with unprofessional, unlearned men and misfits in society—hardly the resume of a ‘great’ man. Read Jesus’ words and you will find ‘greatness’, according to his standard, rearranges everything you ever heard.

“I am among you as the one who serves,” (Luke 22:27).

Greatness for God didn’t just happen, not even for Jesus. Read the words from Philippians 2: 5-8, and see how Jesus became great:

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking on the form of a bond servant, and being made in the likeness of man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross.”

Jesus emptied himself of glorious heavenly perfection.

Jesus humbled himself and willingly became a bond-servant. The king of glory stooped low to assume the position of a slave.

Jesus obeyed the Father’s requirement of death on a cross to atone for sin. He laid down his perfect, sinless life on a painful, shameful cross to pick up and pay for my sin and shame.

As I reflect on the price for greatness with God I have to ask myself,  “Am I willing to take the same steps required of Jesus?

Will I:

1. Empty myself and hold nothing for myself? Paul said it this way, “Whatever things were gain to me, and those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ,” (Philippians 3:7). 

2. Humble myself, bow low and stay there everyday, in every circumstance? “He gives grace to the humble,” (James 4:6).

3. Become obedient and discipline myself under the Word where the will of God is revealed and respond with obedience? “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,” (I Samuel 15:22).

4. Suffer willingly and allow my suffering to be used to bless others? “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His suffering, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow to attain the resurrection of the dead,” (Philippians 3:10).

 How serious are we about being great for God? Crowded into the upper room to eat the Last Supper, the disciples got into a dispute about who would be the greatest. Patient Jesus gave them a demonstration of greatness instead of a lecture. Without introduction or fanfare, he got up from the table, took off his outer garments, and tied a towel around his waist. He moved quietly around the table where they reclined and washed his disciple’s feet. Emptying himself, humbling himself, obeying his Father, suffering for others, just as he had done everyday of his life on earth. When finished he said,

“For I gave you an example that you should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, neither is one who is sent, greater than one who sent him,” (John 13:15-16).

What do you consider to be gains in your life? I would call these the things we consider to give us a “leg up” in life. Some possibilities could be your heritage, spirituality, education, a talent, career, family, social position, reputation, influence? Would you consider them all as loss, and be willing to empty yourself of them in order to genuinely serve in the name of Christ?

It’s time to do more than reflect. It’s time to repent. Using these prompts as I did, allow the Spirit to redefine greatness. [Click to tweet!]

Comments:   |  Leave a Comment...

Discipleship: It Looks Like Jesus

Discipleship: It Looks Like Jesus

Today’s guest post is Rebecca Davis, collaborating author of Tear Down This Wall of Silence: Dealing with Sexual Abuse in Our Churches (an introduction for those who will hear.) She is an author and editoe with a passion to help the oppressed, and is currently on  the advisory board of Speaking Truth in Love Ministries.


What does discipleship look like if you have a painful past?

It looks like Jesus.

What does discipleship look like if you’re interacting with people who have painful pasts?

It looks like Jesus.

Sometimes Jesus did things that left his friends’ mouths hanging open, not just with his miracles, but the scandalous ways he berated the scribes and Pharisees.

But more often, the discipleship of Jesus took place in the simple nitty gritty of life.

You need faith like a grain of mustard seed.

Follow me.

Why is that storm making you afraid? (Hear the gentle voice.) Where is your faith?

Follow me.

Hold my commands in your heart if you love me. Then my Father and I will love you, and I will reveal myself to you.

Follow me.

One of the ways we follow Jesus is in the way we treat his fellow disciples. [Click to Tweet!] He is our Example in discipleship, as in all of life.

Jesus knew his destiny. He had been given authority over all things.

We as Christians know our destinies. We’re seated in the heavenlies with him.

Jesus knew where he came from. He had come from God.

We know where we’ve come from. We’ve been lifted out of the pit, and now our feet are set upon the solid rock of Christ.

Jesus knew where he was going. He was going back to God.

We know where we’re going. We’re headed toward an eternal glory with him.

And so . . . and so . . .

Jesus took the position of the lowliest of the lowly and washed his disciples’ feet.

When we’re grounded in the faith of Christ, we’ll happily take the lowliest place and wash the feet of others.

Because it’s what our Savior and Master did.

It’s what disciples do.

Not because we’re obligated. Not because it’s on a ‘List of Things to Do.’

But because by faith we know who we are. We know where we came from. We know where we’re going. We know who our savior is.

In the down and dirty, the nitty gritty, and painfulness of life, we’ll wash the feet of others.

Because we love as Jesus loves.


You can get Rebecca Davis and Dale Ingraham’s ebook, Tear Down This Wall of Silence: Dealing with Sexual Abuse in Our Churches on Vyrso today. The ebook provides—through personal memoir, voices of authoritative professionals, and the words of abuse survivors themselves—a foundational explanation of the problem of sexual abuse in churches and its aftermath, and offers hope for real change.

Comments:   |  Leave a Comment...

What’s the Big Deal with Palm Sunday?


Today’s guest post is by Rob Bentz, author of The Unfinished Church: God’s Broken and Redeemed Work-In-Progress (Crossway, 2014). Rob and his wife, Bonnie, have been married for 17 years, have two children (Reid and Bethany) who like to laugh, and live in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Palm Sunday is a day most Christians recognize, yet many consider a second-tier faith holiday. Perhaps we should all reconsider—Palm Sunday is a big deal!

The biblical narrative, often referred to as the Triumphal Entry, is one of the rare stories of the life of Jesus found in all four Gospels (Matthew 21:1–11, Mark 11:1–11, Luke 19:28–44, and John 12:12–19). That fact alone makes the details of the story something significant for every Christ follower. Yet there’s a whole lot more for us to engage with when seeking to grasp the magnitude of this moment in Jesus’ life.

Here are the key points of the narrative: Jesus, riding a young donkey, enters Jerusalem. He’s greeted by crowds of people honoring and praising him with shouts of “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” The crowds cover the dusty path before him with their cloaks and palm branches as they would for an earthly king.

Theologians call this day “Passion Sunday,” as it’s the beginning of Jesus’ final week on earth. I call this one of the most poignant moments in all of Scripture!

The God-Man who left the comforts of perfect unity with the Father to enter our world is now willingly riding on a young donkey. But it’s not on a joy ride—rather it’s a bittersweet moment of half praise as he journeys the city of his death to be sacrificially slaughtered for your sin and mine.

As a child, I recall getting thin little branches in Sunday school on Palm Sunday. We waved them in honor of Jesus that day. Then I would take my branches home and move on with my life. Like my childhood experience, I fear that many of us overlook the significance of this biblical narrative. Many of us—myself included—often consider Palm Sunday simply a nice Bible story complete with a tangible object lesson for children.

But this thinking is to our detriment.

Read the Gospel narratives of the triumphal entry afresh and take note of the irony. The masses praise Jesus for what they think he’s about to do. They wave palm branches to honor his coming kingship. Yet Jesus doesn’t come to establish an earthly throne, but a heavenly one. He doesn’t offer tangible earthly benefits to his followers, but eternal ones.

This biblical narrative that begins Holy Week is significant because it gives us a vivid picture of the truth that Jesus’ ways are not the ways of man. His plans and purposes are different than even his followers can fully comprehend. For many of us, our life seems upside down, inside out—the negative image of what we believe it should look like. It is in the midst of this messiness that we are reminded of the powerful image of our Savior riding on the back of a donkey.

Palm Sunday is an ironic, hope-filled beginning to a world turned upside down by Jesus, the Christ.

Comments:   |  Leave a Comment...

Hearing the Voice of God


Today’s guest post is by Dr. Brian Simmons, the lead translator for The Passion Translation. He is also the author of I Hear His Whisper, 52 devotions to encounter God’s heart for you.

True prayer is a love relationship with God—it is enjoying a relationship, not enduring a religious activity. Prayer is the privilege of soaring to the very throne of God to touch His face. It is meeting with God Himself. Our souls are starved for this sense of awe . . . to speak and to hear from God. We must never forget that Father God loves to share His heart with His children.

Fellowship with God in prayer is meant to adjust us, not to adjust God to what we want. We must have frequent, intimate contact with our Father—the Daddy Abba Father of Galatians 4:6. Prayer is more than speaking to God; it is speaking with Him. We cannot build an intimate relationship on one-way speeches.

As I pray to God, I am aware of this: both of us will speak, and both of us will listen. When we practice two-way prayer, listening carefully and humbly, God will often speak. This prophetic interchange is not limited to verbal communication. We can expect to encounter God in various ways. However we hear Him, this divine encounter will always do two things: it will change us, and we will be given ammunition for spiritual warfare.

As we hear accurately from God, the church will begin to enter into prophetic praying. Prophetic prayer is praying with revelation and receiving God’s response. It is becoming a prayer partner with Jesus. God will not only speak to us, but He will also pray through us.

I encourage you to become one who hears from God in the secret closet where you are trusted with strategic prayer assignments. Instead of praying, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening,” it’s easy to fall into “Listen Lord, your servant is speaking!” Decide today that you will have a heart that will wait on the Lord and listen for His voice.

Your tools for ministry must include a consistent life of hearing from God. I love the words of Isaiah 50:4–5 (NKJV):

“The Lord God has given Me
The tongue of the learned,
That I should know how to speak
A word in season to him who is weary.
He awakens Me morning by morning,
He awakens My ear
To hear as the learned.
The Lord God has opened My ear;
And I was not rebellious,
Nor did I turn away.”

Ask Him for a listening ear! Marvelous revelations and a deeper understanding of Scripture await those who will ask for it . . . and linger in His presence to hear His voice. Our Lord is known as the great “Revealer of mysteries” (see Daniel 2:29, 47). There is much He has to say to the seeking heart.

Sometimes people ask me, “How do I know when it is God speaking? I don’t want to be misled. I only want to listen to the Holy Spirit.” Here are some simple guidelines for knowing God’s voice and discerning when it is the voice of the enemy:

  • Jesus is a gentle Shepherd; Satan is a condemning and accusing intimidator.
  • The Lord’s voice is often quiet and deeply internal; Satan’s is intrusive and vulgar.
  • The Holy Spirit calls and draws us; Satan threatens, demands, and drives.
  • Check the content—does it agree with the Scriptures?
  • God’s voice drips with mercy; He does not condemn our personal worth before Him.
  • The Lord’s voice will change you and touch you.
  • His voice is rooted in hope, not negativity or despair.
  • God’s Word is for now; Satan locks us into our past.
  • God uses the ordinary, not merely the spectacular.
  • His Word gives more hope, not more condemnation.
  • God’s voice inspires us to love, not to criticize others.
  • Peace comes from God; anxiety comes from Satan.
  • The voice of the Spirit will always glorify Jesus as Lord and point us to Him.

John 10:2–4 (TPT) gives us reassurance that we can hear God’s voice. Are you listening today?

“And the sheep recognize the voice of the True Shepherd, for he calls his own by name and leads them out, for they belong to him. And when he has brought out all his sheep, he walks ahead of them and they will follow him, for they are familiar with his voice.”

Comments:   |  Leave a Comment...

Copyright 2015 Faithlife / Logos Bible Software