Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and He finally presented himself alive to me. It was fitting that I bring up the rear. I don’t deserve to be included in that “inner circle,” as you well know, having spent all those early years trying my best to stamp God’s church right out of existence. 1 Cor 15:1-9 (NIV and “The Message”)
It had been a long three days. Sometimes they thought back about the many good and amazing times that they had had with Jesus. But then, reality would force its way back to the surface of their thoughts. “What had gone wrong?!?”
Things had been so glorious in the beginning, the early days, the days of sunshine…days of ministry! The voice of the first prophet in 400 years had been thundering across the Jordan River and into the hearts of sincere believers! A man sent from God whose name was John had come to prepare Israel for the coming of her Messiah, her Savior! “Get ready,” John said, “prepare your heart, repent of your sin, and be baptized, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!!!”
A great stirring was taking place among the ordinary people of Israel–they were coming out to listen to the message of John; they were responding! They were turning from their sins, they were being baptized; they wanted to be ready and prepared!
One day when John was preaching and challenging Israel to turn to the Lord, he stopped… and he found himself looking straight into the eyes of Jesus!!! “AT LAST YOU ARE HERE!”
John turned to those present and said, “BEHOLD, HERE IS THE LAMB OF GOD WHO TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD!
“Lamb of God? What does that mean? I know plenty about all of the lambs I have sacrificed time after time, year after year, at the Temple. But what does John mean, “GOD’S LAMB?”
Some of the people standing there were tuned in to the Spirit of God that day, and they were drawn to Jesus! They left John and followed Jesus from that moment. They must get to know Him, learn of Him, follow Him, be His disciples! They became the first followers of Jesus. Not content to just follow Him, they felt compelled to tell others about Him, to invite them to come, see, listen…” Not too long after this, the followers began to grow in number!
After instructing them, Jesus sent them out 2 by 2 to proclaim His message. First there were 6 teams, then 35 teams! It wasn’t long until there were thousands (!) of seekers! Some came from spiritual hunger, others were curiosity seekers, but they came, the saw the miracles, they heard the teachings!
The message of the Kingdom of God began to explode in Judea, Samaria, Galilee, then to Tyre, then to Decapolis… Jews and Gentiles, seeking this One called Jesus!
On His face was the SMILE of God.
In His heart was the LOVE of God!
From His lips proceeded the WORD of God.
He spoke with the AUTHORITY of God.
He healed in the POWER of God!
Everywhere He went He drew the children to Himself and blessed them. Jesus was like a magnet to the spiritually hungry, the neglected of society, those whose life had been ruined by sin, by demonic oppression, and self-destructive lifestyles!
A roman soldier comes and pleads for the health of his servant! Jesus heals the servant!
A gentile woman comes and asks Jesus to heal her daughter. Jesus heals her daughter!
A synagogue ruler comes to beg Jesus to come and pray for his daughter. She is raised from death!
Lepers come, the demonized, the blind, deaf, paralyzed, poor, rich, religious, skeptic… all were drawn to Jesus!
Wherever He went…
He touched the untouchable.
He healed the unhealable.
He gave hope to the hopleless.
He helped the helpless!
He enabled the blind to see and the deaf to hear.
The crippled walked.
The mute spoke!
The dead were raised!
He turned the flavorless water of OT Law into the delicious wine of NT grace!
He fed 5000 people with a boy’s sack lunch!
When the waters of Lake Galilee became so stormy that the boat was about to capsize, He spoke, and the waters calmed!
Things were building to such a pitch that, everywhere He went, the people brought their sick and afflicted, their demon-possessed, their crippled and physically afflicted… and He healed them all!
The crowds were so large at the Lake of Galilee that Jesus had to climb into a boat and row out a ways so that He could preach to the people! Some wanted to make Him KING, by force, if necessary!
When He entered Jerusalem for Passover week, crowds went ahead of Him laying palm branches and their own cloaks before Him shouting: “Hosanna, Hosanna,
Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!”
Where was all of this going to go?
Watching all of this—AND HATING EVERY MOMENT OF IT—were the chief priests, elders, Pharisees and Sadducees… i.e. the “professional religionists” of that day!
Jesus was drawing the people away from their control! Jesus was troublesome to them because of His strong call to the people to GET REAL with God! All the compromised leaders of Judaism cared about in that day was keeping the people in line, making sure they paid their Temple tax, brought in their offerings. There was, by and large, NO EMPHASIS ON THE HEART!
Satan does not mind if you want to play religion, even FERVENT religion, as long as there is NO CHANGE OF HEART. Do this, do that, don’t do this, don’t do that, eat this, don’t eat that, observe this day, etc. Look at our world today… 987 religions! Cults, isms, new age, blah, blah, blah…
Jesus had exposed the sham of religion, and the people were coming to HIM for the Word of God; they were coming to HIM for their needs.
Of all things, they who should have led Israel to welcome their Messiah(!) actually begin to conspire to kill Jesus! But they must be careful, for the average person loved Him. So they conspire to take Him secretly, at night, quickly before word could get out and put Him to death!
Judas(!) one of the 12, now steps in and offers to lead them to the place where Jesus stayed every night. Judas, poor Judas, he never “got it,” leads the mob to where Jesus is praying, steps up to Him and kisses Him on both cheeks, and watches as Jesus is arrested!
The next few hours are a blur of activity:
a hurried, mock trial is put together (at night, which was illegal in Israel.)J
false witnesses come, lie, but their lies don’t match
Pontius Pilate, the week governor, tries to wash his hands of any responsibility… eventually gives the crowd permission to crucify Jesus.
All along, the evil one, Satan, thinks he is in control of this situation! But Jesus said much earlier: John 10:18
That night, Jesus Christ, eternal son of God, who became man and lived a sinless life, gave His life on the cross for the sins of the world!
2 Cor 5:21 says, “He who knew no sin became a sin-offering for us that, in union with Him, we might become righteous in the eyes of God the Father!”
Now it had been three long, weary days since Jesus had died! Taken down from the cross, already dead, laid in a borrowed tomb—borrowed because He would not need it for long!!
Sunday morning, early: “I don’t know why,” said one woman, “but I just feel compelled to go to that tomb! I mean, look, I know He’s dead, but, for some reason, I just need to go and be near Him! He totally set me free from all the demons that had so controlled my life for years!”
“I’ll go with you,” said another, and another! “So, when we get there, how are we going to get in? There’s a big stone in front of the tomb, and a bunch of soldiers standing guard at the entrance!” “I don’t know,” said another, but we’ve got to go. I’ve got these spices and, well, He didn’t even have a decent burial!”
But when they arrived at the tomb, the stone wasn’t even in front of the tomb entrance any more! And the guards all looked like they were in a daze! A being in a dazzling white robe was sitting at the entrance to the tomb!
“You’re looking for Jesus, aren’t you! I have wonderful news! He is not here! He has risen from the dead! See, that’s where he had been placed; there’s the wrapping for his head and there are the burial cloths. But he has risen from the dead!”
They were soon reunited with Jesus and, for forty days, He fellowshipped with them, ate with them, but, most important, He taught them how the OT scriptures repeatedly spoke of Him! He showed them how He had conquered sin on the cross, and defeated death by His own resurrection.
Now they were to go into ALL the world and tell everyone the GOOD NEWS that the Savior has come to reconcile us to the Father! He paid our debt, appeased the accumulated wrath of the Father toward all sin and rebellion. Now, anyone can come to God and everyone is invited to come! We come to God, not on the basis of what we DO for Him, but we receive salvation as a gift of God on the basis of WHAT HE DID FOR US!!!
Three Results of the Resurrection:
1-Forgiveness for the past! – God made Him Who knew no sin to become a sin-offering for the world, so that we—by uniting ourselves to Him—could become forever righteous before the Father “in Christ!” 2 Cor 5:21
2- Direction and power for the present—the every day issues of life!
How does the commandment, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13), affect our understanding of suicide?
Suicide has been called the only act where one individual is both the perpetrator and the victim! Among young people, suicide is the #2 cause of death, second only to car accidents.
But, yearly, thousands of people—all ages, all strata of society , atheists and very religious, rich and poor, all races, both sexes, educated and ignorant, some physically sick, but others with a bright and prosperous future ahead of them—take their own life!
Suicide is high among professionals, counselors, some who have been trained to keep others from suicide.
God holds all human life sacred! Life is a priceless gift from God. God not only desires that we live a long and prosperous physical life, but also that we live eternally with Him in Heaven! So, where did anyone get the idea that suicide would be preferable to life?!?
II. The origin of suicide:
Suicide—both the thoughts and the deed itself—is deeply rooted in two ongoing problems:
A. The sinful, self-centered human heart.
B. The salacious, destructive nature of Satan!!
1. The sinful, self-centered human heart:
It is in our fallen nature to seek to center all of our life around “personal wants and desires.”
Life must go as I desire…
People must do as I please, cater to my needs and my whims, go where I want to go, do what I want to do…
My plans must always work out…
I must get the promotion, the attention, the applause, win the game, get the credit, etc.
I connive, strive, manipulate, lie, cheat, undercut, whatever… because what I want is the most important thing in the universe.
2. The destructive nature of Satan!
“The thief comes only to kill and destroy!” John 10:10
Whatever God values, Satan denigrates.
All that God loves, Satan hates.
All that God desires to bless, Satan wants to destroy.
The #1 object of God’s love on this planet is the human race, which He created in His own image! Satan wants—more than anything—to destroy human life!
Satan desires to destroy fallen humans by destructive guilt, by godless anger, resentment, bitterness, revenge, fear, worry, anxiety—whatever will work on any individual soul! He watches us to find our temperamental and psychological weak spots, then attacks us whenever, wherever and however he can!
Something happens—we lose a job, break up with someone, don’t get a promotion we expected, we have disappointments… and here comes one of Satan’s henchmen to put destructive thoughts into our mind:
Life isn’t worth living
I wish I was dead…
I’ll show them, him, her…
I see no way out of this…
Often these are just fleeting thoughts—we realize how stupid they sound and put them out of our mind. But Satan watches for that vulnerable personality, the crucial moment, to seek to plant that thought into our mind.
He will seek to lead us into some kind of self-destructive behavior: get drunk, use drugs, smoke pot, pop some pills and zone out, escape into pornography or some sexual deviation….
This is why it is so important for you and me as Christians to carefully monitor our thought life—especially when impetuous, impulsive or compulsive thoughts come into our mind!
Suicide has made some strange inroads into the religious and political arenas. Muslim extremists believe that dying for allah is honorable. 9-11, people with bombs strapped to their body, terrorist-acts. German and Japanese Kamikaze pilots who dove to their own death to strike the enemy even when their own defeat was sure; Buddhist monks who set their clothes on fire, etc.
In reality, all of these acts are motivated by Satan through false religions and beliefs.
III. Suicide defined:
“Suicide is the willful taking of your own life to escape a situation that seems intolerable at the moment.”
Something has happened that has jolted your life. You see no workable situation. You are tired of failure, of dealing with a certain problem, whatever. “If I can’t have_______, I don’t want to live!” (That is the kind of logic Satan feeds into our fallen, self-centered nature.)
Let’s look at these words in the definition:
Willful: Sometimes a person is not making rational decisions… they are “off of” their medication; or they are taking medication they shouldn’t be taking; or they are in debilitating depression, or in extreme pain, under the influence of mind-altering drugs, or mind-altering religion (!) (Jim Jones)
Willful taking: As opposed to giving your life to save another person or group of people. Diving on a grenade…
To escape a situation that seems intolerable at the moment…“Suicide is a very permanent and unalterable solution to a temporary problem.”
Sadly, the problems that lead people to suicide are most often temporary in nature, something that could be worked through, something that will change. And often when you are closest to a breakthrough is when Satan is working hardest to convince you that there is no hope!
Satan delights in taking temporary problems and magnifying them to make it seem like there is no way out! “You’ll be better off if you just take your life… No more pain… This will end your guilt… You don’t deserve to live after what you’ve done… There’s no point in going on… It’s going to keep getting worse… There’s just no hope!”
“Suicide is a very permanent and unalterable solution to a temporary problem.”
IV. Suicide is wrong! Why?
Because, first of all, it is murder! It is the unauthorized taking of a human life. As such it is a direct violation of the sixth commandment.
¨ “The Lord gives and takes life.” 1 Samuel 2:6
¨ “Behold, all souls are Mine”. Ezekiel 18:4
Suicide is wrong! Why?
Because it denies God’s power to change things. Remember: Nothing is impossible for God!
Suicide is wrong! Why?
Because it is the ultimate act of selfishness; it is devastating to all around you… your family, your friends…
Suicide is wrong! Why?
Because in nearly every case, the person is not a Christian and will spend eternity in hell!
V. Suicide solves absolutely nothing!
Instead, choose life! Choose God! (Young girl who called, going to commit suicide…)
Most people get discouraged from time to time. They don’t think of committing suicide, but they are “down and out” and “give up” emotionally, and live defeated, direction-less lives, at least for a while. Maybe someone here today feels like what I have been describing…
Never listen to Satan’s lies! Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10
God wants to give you a brand new tomorrow! Entrust your hurts, your pains, your angers, your fears, your failures—everything—to God!
God will give you a new kind of life, a new victory over sin, a new guidance, a new empowering, a new spiritual family, a new eternal home, a new protection, and a new tomorrow, and another, and another!
Never give the enemy a foothold in your heart. With God there are always solutions. Always.
1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation [and that includes the temptation to take your own life] has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it [and live to see another day].”
If you’re contemplating this major decision, why not call someone to talk first.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255
VETERANS, press 1
ESPAÑOL, oprima el 2
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
I have a grandson that is fascinated with every aspect of the Titanic which, as we know, sank on it’s “maiden voyage” over 100 years ago! Of the 2220 people on board this luxurious liner, only 705 were rescued by the Carpathia! The story is very sad, to say the least.
But there is one aspect of this tragic story that we seldom hear about: There was another ship (the Californian) which was stopped only 10-20 miles away from the Titanic as she was sinking. She could have rescued all of the remaining passengers—everyone could have been saved!
After Titanic hit the iceberg, she sent out numerous calls for help: “S-O-S” and “C-Q-D.” The investigation committee eventually learned why the Californian did not respond to Titanic’s distress calls: the wireless receiver had been turned off 10 minutes prior to the collision. Sadly, her distress signal was not being received by anyone aboard the Californian.
“Throughout the night, no one on board the Californian attempted to wake their wireless operator, and ask him to contact the ship to ask why they were firing rockets and trying to signal them, until 5:30 AM. By then however it was too late — the Titanic had gone down at 2:20. When she had slipped below the water, the sudden disappearance of lights was interpreted by the Californian crew that she had simply steamed on her way.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Stanley_Lord&oldid=541407990).
There are people “drowning” all around us—next door to us, in our neighborhoods, on our jobs, at school– people who are struggling to “keep afloat!” Addictions, pregnancy out of wedlock, others on the brink of divorce, drowning in financial problems—they need a friend, need a helping hand, a church. They need the Lord in their life!
“But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them?” (Romans 10:14, The Message)
We must ask ourselves: have we turned off our receivers? Have we turned off our care, our concern, our involvement, and have we gone to sleep!?!? Are there young people around us at school who are drowning, but we are so self-absorbed that we don’t even see it? Are there people in our neighborhoods whose lives and families are falling apart, and we don’t even care!?
Early in His earthly ministry, Jesus was asked which of the commandments was the most important. Here is His reply:
“‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40, NLT, emphasis mine)
“Come away to a solitary place…”
Mark 6:31 (Berkeley Translation)
This study is one of the most important I have written, because it is designed to help you spend time “with God” every day of your life!
Listening to the average person on the street today, we hear all kinds of descriptions relating to life: words like complicated, frustrating, irritating, hectic, defeating, and nerve-wracking. These words do describe the lifestyle of many people of our day, INCLUDING CHRISTIANS!
Like it or not, this is the kind of world we find ourselves in! The big question is: What can I do to live a victorious life and be the person that God wants me to be IN THE MIDST OF ALL THIS CHAOS? There is no easy catch-all answer to that question, but one sure help is to MEET WITH GOD DAILY IN THE “QUIET PLACE.”
I. WHAT IS A QUIET TIME?
The Quiet Time is NOT an escape from reality, nor is it a return to the “monastery!” It is not designed to WITHDRAW you from your daily life, but to EQUIP you to deal with your daily life.
The “QUIET PLACE” is where you go to get the CORRECT PERSPECTIVE on life, because you desire to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, you desire to do HIS will, and you put God first in your life.
It is when we are “quiet before God” that we take on the calm sure confidence that only comes as we learn to REST IN GOD!
Someone has well said that we “tend to relate our whole day to the way we spend the first moments of it.” Compare for a moment these two types of people: Can you see, even on a human plane, how their days will differ?
HARRY, THE HURRIER:
“Harry, the Hurrier,” is a very undisciplined person. A TV addict, he stays up too late watching talk shows. Next morning, he sleeps in to the last possible moment (just one more minute feels sooo- good!) But, now since he has chosen to sleep late, he must rush to get ready; no time for breakfast, dear, I’ll just grab coffee and a donut at the AM/PM if I have time. Boy is the traffic ever slow today! Come on, lady, move it! “But officer, the light was still yellow!”
“Did you have a nice day at the office, dear?”
ROBERT, THE RELAXED:
Robert likes late night talk shows too, but he has learned that “tomorrow morning really begins tonight,” so he goes to bed between 9:30 or 10:00 nightly. Next morning, he feels like getting up about 30 minutes before he needs to; has a little breakfast, goes to his quiet place and reads the Word of God; prays and meditates on the Word. He prays to be able to meet the day ahead in the power of God, lifts up his boss and fellow employees to the Lord, especially asking God to bless that person at work that is having a hard time. He then leaves for work, leaving plenty of time to get there.
“How did your day at the office go, dear?”
II. WHEN SHOULD I HAVE MY QUIET TIME?
“In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” Psalm 5:3
The BEST times to have your quiet times with the Lord are: FIRST THING in the morning and LAST THING every evening. If you must choose one, choose the one which is best for you. The ideal is to have both, even if they are shorter in the evening.
III. WHERE SHOULD I GO FOR MY QUIET TIME?
Pick a favorite spot where you can be ALONE; some room in your home, perhaps at the kitchen table, the living room, etc; some place where you can be comfortable, alone with your thoughts, where you can regularly meet with God.
Obviously there are no two situations alike; you will have to adapt to your surroundings. If you have children to get to school, or a husband to get off to work, it may be necessary to wait until they have gone to have your quiet time. If you work also, you just may have to get up before the kids and have your time with God. The point is the same: FIND SOME TIME to get alone with God! …and DO IT!
It might be well to note at this point that it will take persistence to develop new habits in your life. Your body and your mind will resist any change: You will have to show them who is boss! There will be times when you “feel” like doing it, and times when you do not. If the devil can get to you to “follow you feelings,” he will pur forth every effort to see that you never “feel” like going to the QUIET PLACE.
IV. WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS IN A GOOD QUIET TIME?
If you have more time, you may choose to include more in your quiet time, but here are the elements in a ‘15 minute quiet time’:
1. BIBLE READING:
Your quiet time is NOT the time for Bible STUDY; this is when you READ the Word of God for its devotional and meditative value. It is usually best to stay in the Psalms, Proverbs, and the New Testament during this time. You may wish to vary translations and/or use paraphrases during this time. If you find any word or idea that you want to STUDY, jot it for future reference, and proceed with your devotional reading.
Having read from God’s Word, practice sitting still (or kneeling), and wait quietly before the Lord. Meditate on what you have read; pray for the guidance of God; it may help to ask yourself the these questions:
What was God saying in the text I have just read?
What is my prayer to God having read this text
– an example for me to follow – a command for me to obey – an error for me to avoid – a sin for me to forsake – a promise for me to claim???
There is another book in this Discipleship Series dealing specifically with Prayer. But. for now, let’s discuss a few basic elements of Prayer:
a. Worship, Praise, Thanksgiving
This most important part of prayer is usually ignored or just “tacked on” as a token ritual, but here is one of the truly GREAT opportunities of prayer: to WORSHIP Almighty God and to PRAISE Him just for who He is, and then to THANK Him for all of His blessings (Eph 1:3)
b. Submission, yieldedness:
This thought is always a vital part of prayer: THY will be done. Submit yourself to God; resist the devil!
c. Confession of all known sin by name!
Confession is not telling God what He does not know; God knows all of our sin. Confession is the act whereby we AGREE with HIS purpose: to make us over into the image of Jesus Christ.
d. Petition: (asking)
God encourages us to make our requests made known to Him! In this time we can pray for:
1. Strength to live victoriously this day. “Please fill me with your Holy Spirit.”
2. Guidance regarding decisions that need to be made, attitudes, thoughts, words, deeds.
3. Leadership awareness: that we might be aware of opportunities to share Christ with others!
4. Increasing faith: to reach out and CLAIM the promises of God.
Praying for others; our family, those with whom we work, our lost loved ones, etc…
V. RECORDING INSIGHTS:
Many times, as you wait before the Lord, you will receive an insight or teaching that means a great deal to you. Write it down and refer to it often.
VI. RETREAT DAYS AND EXTENDED RETREATS
Closely associated with and, more or less and extension of the QUIET TIME concept, are Retreat Days and Extended Retreats.
A Retreat Day is a day when you go off alone just to be with God. (it is definitely NOT the same as “going fishing”!) (Although it might include a little fishing, walking in the woods, etc…) On this kind of a retreat, the object is to spend extended time going through the elements of the QUIET TIME more slowly and thoroughly. This is therapeutic to body, mind and spirit!
On a retreat day, the schedule might go like this:
8am Breakfast and a quiet walk. Spend this day totally away from other people.
9am-11am Bible reading, perhaps some Bible STUDY. Take along your notebook, Bible, concordance and other helps.
11-noon Relax, perhaps nap.
Noon-1pm A leisurely lunch, perhaps a little devotional reading.
1pm-3pm Prayer time, as previously discussed.
3p-4pm A nice relaxed walk, meditating, singing, praising, praying.
4pm Drive home!
Extended Retreats follow the same essential plan for a longer period of time.