Betrayal & Desertion

Maundy Thursday. The events of this day always give me pause. I am simultaneously disappointed in His disciples, amazed by His love, and reflective of what my reaction would have been had I been there with Him. Indeed, it is an active day that culminates with Jesus standing alone before His accusers.

“‘…but all this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures of the prophets’. Then all the disciples left Him and fled.”

Matthew 26:56

As I read Matthew’s account of the events of this day (Matthew 26), I’m struck by how much happened in the span of just a few hours. Jesus and His disciples celebrated Passover, during which Jesus instituted the sacrament of Holy Communion. He announced to His stunned disciples that one of them would deliver Him into the hands of those who seek to kill Him as the rest of them flee for their personal safety. His disciples promised to stand by Him, but Jesus knew they would not and stated so.

Jesus’ agony in the Garden of Gethsemane was real. Here we see His nature as Son of God (true God) and Son of Man (true man). As a human, He asked God to remove the burden He was about to undertake. He expressed His frustration at His disciples who did not grasp what was going on, and could not stay awake and keep watch as He prayed. As God, Jesus knew exactly what was coming, He knew it must be, and He went willingly. As Judas betrayed Him with a kiss and He was seized by soldiers with swords and clubs, the 11 disciples fled, just as He knew they would. Jesus faced His accusers alone, just as He knew He would.

I would like to think that I would have reacted differently had I been one of the eleven. I would like to think that I would have stood beside my Lord as He was carried off to face the authorities. I would like to think that I would have spoken up in His defense and, if need be, have gone with Him to death. I would like to think these things, but I know I wouldn’t have reacted any differently than the 11 did. How do I know that? Because, like them, I am human. Pondering the events of Maundy Thursday, I think about opportunities to witness that I have squandered, avoiding the subject because it can be uncomfortable to discuss. When I squander those opportunities, I betray Him. I think about the times when I say and do things that I know displease and dishonor Him. When I say and do these things, I betray Him. Just as Jesus knew His disciples would abandon Him, He knows and understands my shortcomings and failures. Knowing all of this, His love never wavered. He went to the cross for them, for me, and for you.

When Jesus distributed the bread, “…this is My body…” and the wine, “…this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins,” (Matt 26:26-27) He announced a new covenant. He would be the perfect Sacrifice, sufficient to achieve perfect, everlasting atonement for our sins. I look forward to Maundy Thursday worship tonight. Tonight, with my church family and with Christians all around the world, I will celebrate Holy Communion. I will receive, once again, His forgiveness for my sins. And I will remember the events of this night over 2,000 years ago – the night on which Jesus went forth to die for you and for me.

Soli DEO Gloria!

Image Credit: YouVersion Bible App

(c) workisministry.com 2019

Palm Sunday: Jesus’ Mission

My allergies have been relentless over the past few weeks! How frustrating it was for me to be in worship on one of my favorite Sundays of the year with no voice, unable to join in hymn and worship. But then I remember, this is not about me. My vocal limitations did not reduce the significance of this day.

The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest!”

Matthew 21:9

For as long as I can remember, Palm Sunday has been one of my favorite worship days of the year. Reading about all that Jesus said and did in the three years prior to His fateful entry into Jerusalem, it’s no wonder the people were celebrating. The people believed that Jesus had come as a conquering king; the one who would seal their protection from Rome and from their enemies. Indeed, Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords, but He is not the sort of king the people expected. And, in just a few short days, as this reality hit home, their shouts of “Hosanna in the highest” would become shouts of “crucify Him”!

Today, as we ponder Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, we have the lens of Scripture through which to view these events. Through Scripture, we know that Jesus knew exactly what was to happen. You see, Jesus knew his mission. It was not to conquer Rome. It was not to amass an army to take on the world. No. Jesus’ mission was to achieve the greatest and most important victory of all time: the victory over sin and death. He knew that His mission would be achieved that very week through pain and agony – indeed through death. He went willingly, out of love for those He came to save, including me and including you.

On the church calendar, this is Holy Week. I am using this week to prepare my heart, my mind, and my soul to confess that my sins hung Him on that cross, to remember that He went willingly out of love for me, and to be assured once again that I am saved by His grace through faith. I’m also using it to reflect on my mission in life. I know God has me here for a purpose, as He does each of us. Let us each pause in the busy-ness of life to prepare our hearts to celebrate His victory over sin and death in our behalf and to ponder anew what God would have us do to serve, honor and glorify Him.

Soli DEO Gloria!

Image credit: YouVersion Bible App

(c) workisministry.com 2019

“What is it Like…?”

The question stopped me in my tracks. It was January 6, the first Sunday of 2019. I was sitting in the pew next to my wife listening to the first sermon of the year. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed when I read the title in our bulletin: “Living Under the Influence: Resolve”. Great. A sermon on New Year’s resolutions. Not exactly what I came to hear. But as our pastor spoke, I realized that my prejudgment was (as it often is) way off the mark. Preaching on a portion of Acts 14, Pastor was speaking of how critical a proper attitude is to living a life that glorifies and honors Christ as we seek to make Jesus visible to the world around us. Then he suggested we ponder this question:

What is it like to live with me every day?

Rev. Dr. Trey Little, Grace Presbyterian Church

Wow. I have never considered that. Glancing at my wife seated next to me, I wondered how she might answer that question. After all, I’m not always the easiest guy to live with. Then I thought about my coworkers at Sysco. If I were to ask them what it is like to work with me every day, how might they answer? Am I supportive? Am I approachable? Am I respectful? Am I trustworthy? Next I considered people with whom I do business – insurance brokers, claims professionals, attorneys, and various consultants. How might they answer? As I’ve pondered this over the past couple of weeks, I’ve come to realize that these answers are important, but their importance is less about me than it is about Him.

My chief mission in life is to conduct myself in a manner that honors God while seeking to be salt and light to the world in which I live, just as Jesus Himself described.

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

Matthew 5:16

See why I say the answer to the question is more about Him than it is about me? I do not seek the “right” answers to these questions so I can puff up my chest and be proud of the great man everybody thinks I am. No. I seek the “right” answers to these questions because I want to be a beacon in this dark world. I want to be different from the world so God can use me to draw the lost to Him through me – by whatever manners and means He chooses to use. I want my life to glorify Him.

Ever since Pastor posed this question I’ve sensed some change. The question is written in my prayer journal to remind me to ponder it each morning. Indeed, I am God’s work in progress. I stumble every day. I say stupid things. I make mistakes. Thankfully, I know that God will not give up on me. And neither will I.

So, what say you? Does this question give you pause as it did me? If so, what are you going to do about it? As I go into my work place this week, I pray that God will equip me to conduct myself in a manner that draws others to want to know Him. How about you?

Soli DEO Gloria!

Image Credit: YouVersion Bible App

(c) workisministry.com (2019)

Worried?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes for me life can seem overwhelming. Between the demands of my work, my responsibilities at home, the need to work part time to repay our government loan, I am often tempted to worry. Am I making the right decisions at work? What if I’m not? I’m too tired to work through this stack of mail this evening – what if something important is there? Thanks to property damage from post-Harvey flooding, when will I be able to retire? Will I be able to retire? Where will those resources come from? Yada-yada-yada.

“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Jesus: Matthew 6:34

I believe that worry is the most negative energy one can expend. Think about it. When has worry ever solved a problem? Do you ever feel better about a situation after having worried about it a while? Do you sleep better when you worry? Do you eat healthier foods or drink less alcohol when in worry mode?

When we really stop to think about it, worry is a distraction from that which is really important. Don’t get me wrong; I often worry about important things. But I’ve learned over time that worry hinders my problem-solving abilities even as it hinders productivity. Indeed, the worried mind is a distracted mind; when we worry, things often seem worse than they really are.

I love Jesus’ instructions here. Don’t worry about tomorrow, or next week, or next month, or next year. Deal with the circumstances of today. Focus. Seek God’s guidance and trust Him for the resources, solutions and results you need. He is reliable and He will provide. When we put our faith and trust in Him, He will not leave us hanging. We can trust Him for that.

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of sorrow; but it empties today of strength.”

Corrie ten Boom

The author of the my 2019 Bible reading plan offered the above quote from Corrie ten Boom, and it really resonated with me. If you’ve never heard of Corrie, don’t despair; I hadn’t heard of her until this morning. What a hero! During WWII Corrie and her family defied the Nazis by helping Jews escape Nazi persecution. You can read about her heroism here.

Sometimes I wish I could simply flip off my worry switch, but it’s not always that easy. Fortunately, I can lean on my Savior when the worry bug strikes. Lifting the situation in prayer, reading His Word (such as Jesus’ words above) and trusting Him for the outcome helps put my mind at ease as it restores my focus and grants me peace of mind.

Friends, God wants to hear from us. Additionally, the Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit intercedes in our behalf (Romans 8:26-27). Not only is He a good listener, He is my advocate. It doesn’t get any better than that!

What is on your mind today? What worries are distracting you from the important things you need to accomplish? Why not take a pause, lift them up to the Lord in prayer, then watch expectantly to see what He does. If you need prayer support, please reach out. I’m happy to pray for you.

Soli DEO Gloria!

Image Credit: YouVersion Bible App

(c) workisministry.com 2019