I was supposed to get a delivery yesterday, but the scheduled delivery never happened. The post office marked the reason as “business is closed.” I never knew that I was running a business at my home. If we are, there are no employees, no services provided, and no profits so we are failing miserably. The non-existent business may need to close its doors soon.
I’m assuming that this reasoning was a simple technical glitch or possibly someone wanting to push through their Sunday deliveries. It is possible that someone would assume a business-like order would actually be delivered to a business. By a quick review of the deliveries that often come to my home, one would assume there was a business here. I can understand the confusion.
Today, consider what people would say about you when they look at you. Could they tell that you are a Christian? Would they see some fruit in your life that would point them to Jesus? Do you look like everyone else? Would your actions give them a false assumption? Or is it possible the assumption isn’t false at all? Reflect inward today. Ask God to open your eyes. Are you shining His light? Are you living life on the narrow path? Has your religious routine neglected to impact your heart for Jesus?
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:2 [NIV]
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light — for the fruit of the light results in all goodness, righteousness, and truth — discerning what is pleasing to the Lord. Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what is done by them in secret. Everything exposed by the light is made clear, for what makes everything clear is light. Therefore it is said: Get up, sleeper and rise up from the dead, and the Messiah will shine on you. Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk — not as unwise people but as wise — making the most of the time, because the days are evil.” – Ephesians 5:8-16 [HCSB]
Matthew 27 / Mark 15 / Luke 23 / John 18-19
Pontius Pilate – Roman Governor –Procurator.
- He was in charge of appointing the high priest and controlling the Temple and funds.
- He had full control of the province.
- He had full powers of life and death as he could reverse capital sentences passed by Sanhedrin.
- He had a bad reputation with Jews and Samaritans.
- He was guilty of slander, robbery, violence and murder – and at least twice was called to account by the Roman imperial authority.
- Because people threatened Pilate, that they would inform the emperor that Pilate hadn’t eliminated a rebel against Rome, Pilate went against what he knew was right. He didn’t do the right thing.
- He was later removed from his office for unnecessary and brutal treatment of his subjects.
- Pagan historians only mention Pilate when mentioning his authorization of the death of Jesus (Tacitus).
- Historians documented that Pilate was forced to commit suicide during reign of Gaius (AD 37-41).
1) DISCOVER THE TRUTH – What is Truth?
Jesus told Pilate, “In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth” John 18:37 (NIV). The question that Pilate and many others have asked is “what is truth?” (v. 38 NIV). The Bible mentions the word “truth” over two hundred times. God revealed truth to us through Jesus. Jesus says in John 14:6 that He is “the way and the truth and the life” (NIV).
I believe absolute truth is God’s truth. The Bible is God’s Word and God’s Word is Truth. The Bible says that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2), which therefore means that He speaks only what is true. The Psalmist writes “Teach me your ways, O LORD, that I may live according to your truth” (Psalm 86:11a NLT). God is the source of all truth. I believe Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life” and I believe that Jesus is infinite, living Truth.
When we read the garden scene in Genesis 3, it is quite clear that God presents absolute truth with regard to this tree of knowledge of good and evil to Adam and Eve. Satan challenges God’s truth, and deceives Adam and Eve into questioning what God says as well. Even today, Satan attempts to get us to challenge God’s Truth, to ask “did God really say” when we encounter His Truth. God’s Truth does not change; though we may attempt to misrepresent or skew His Truth, it still remains as Truth, as absolute reality. We can choose to accept His Truth and live by it, or to deny it and live as a fool, lost and wandering in search for another alternative which just is not there.
Some people believe that there is truth and it can be found through science and logic. Anything claimed of God that has no scientific or logically basis is not seen as being true. Other people reject the idea of absolute truth and believe that what may be true for one person is not necessarily what is true for another person. Truth is what we make it to be and we each will find our own truth. That means one person can claim God to be God and that is seen as Truth for that person. Another person may claim that there are three gods and that is truth for that particular person.
Many people will spend their lives asking the same question as Pilate, and will never get the true answer because they are seeking for answers in the wrong place. I cling to the promise found in John 16:13, “But when he, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth” (NIV). Only through a relationship with God, as a result of Christ’s redemption and the working of the Holy Spirit are we able to understand Truth. If only Pilate realized that he was speaking to the Truth, he would have seen the answer was right before him.
Truth is God’s Truth
Jesus is God’s Truth – John 1 says Jesus is full of grace and TRUTH.
God’s Word is Truth (John 17:17) – We find truth when we read & study the Bible. We need the belt of Truth in place (Ephesians 6:14)
We are to correctly handle/explain God’s Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
To be a disciple of Christ, you must continue in His Word and you will KNOW the truth and the truth will SET YOU FREE. (John 8:32)
Pilate said, “So you are a king?” Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.“ – John 18:37 [NLT]
Every child of God knows the truth as Jesus, and is on the side of truth, and stands by it.
Pilate avoided the truth:
- Tried to get out of the situation? Sent Jesus to Herod (Luke 23:6-17)
- Tried to get someone to side with him?
- Tried to put responsibility on someone else – Told Jews “judge by your own law” – a mockery (John 18:31)
- Tried to escape – offer to release “criminal” (John 18:39)
- Tried to washed his hands – though it didn’t cancel guilt (Matthew 27:24)
- Tried to compromise – Had Jesus flogged (John 19:1-3)
- Tried to appeal to sympathy – Shall I kill your King? (John 19:15)
All this despite Pilate never having doubt of Jesus’ innocence – 3 x’s said NOT GUILTY!
2) DOING THE RIGHT THING EVEN WHEN IT COSTS EVERYTHING
When you know the Truth – then you must make a choice – what will you do with the Truth?
James 1:23-24 speaks about person who stares in the mirror and walks away, forgetting what he looks like. The mirror becomes useless after you walk away from it. James was saying that if we simply hear the word but don’t act, it’s useless just like the mirror.
St. Augustine said, “Wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it. Right is right even if no one is doing it.”
Right choice could mean
Social Rejection / Career Loss / Public Ridicule
“Teach me your ways, O LORD, that I may live according to your truth” (Psalm 86:11a NLT).
Here’s my heart, Lord
Speak what is true
Here’s my life, Lord
Speak what is true
Since my kids went to the Creation Fest, I had some time freed up to allow me to do things I do not so often get the opportunity. I gladly accepted a dinner invitation from my aunt. When we were relaxing and having conversation, she asked me who is Mark Best.” I responded, “I don’t know, who is he?” I thought she was telling me a joke. Then she pointed to my hand.
On my hand was a typical scrawling of some passage I wanted to look back to when I had the time to sit down with my Bible in hand. I had the normal lunch date with God earlier in the day but there was a passage that I wanted to reflect upon more. The passage was from Mark and at a first glance I could see why she thought it said “Mark Best.”
I’m sharing this with you because I want you to grasp the importance of understanding God’s Word and remembering God’s Word. When there is a verse you want to remember, to really remember, write it down. Keep a journal. Take notes in your Bible. Keep it close till it’s written on your heart. When you have a question, write the passage or verse down. Seek guidance to understand better. Approach your pastor. Pull out a commentary. Read the passage in another translation. Today, make it a Mark Best day.
“How can a young person live a clean life?
By carefully reading the map of your Word.
I’m single-minded in pursuit of you;
don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted.
I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart
so I won’t sin myself bankrupt.
Be blessed, God;
train me in your ways of wise living.
I’ll transfer to my lips
all the counsel that comes from your mouth;
I delight far more in what you tell me about living
than in gathering a pile of riches.
I ponder every morsel of wisdom from you,
I attentively watch how you’ve done it.
I relish everything you’ve told me of life,
I won’t forget a word of it.”
-Psalm 119:9-16 [MSG]
Recently I read a posting from a friend who was sharing something she heard earlier on television. To summarize the discussion, she held that comfort and courage cannot coexist in life. I felt compelled to speak up because personally speaking I have both comfort and courage from Christ. I am not sure I would have the courage without the comfort.
I will always believe that both are possible. Yes sometimes we face difficult trials in life. I’ve had and still have many. I have the courage to step forward through the storms of life and the comfort to know I am not alone. It is all because of Jesus. It is summed up as confidence in God’s grace and His care.
Comfort and courage are actually used synonymously in multiple areas of the Bible. Psalm 23:4, “Your rod and your staff give me courage” [GW] and “your rod and your staff, they comfort me” [NIV]. How about 2 Corinthians 13:11, when Paul writes to “take courage” [WEY], whereas the YLT says, “be comforted”? I only have courage because I have the comfort of Christ. It is courage. It is comfort. It is confidence. Jesus is my hope. I pray you too can have the same comfort and courage in your life.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. – Psalm 23:4 [NIV]
“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” – Revelation 4:11 [NIV]
Recently, as we were sitting in church awaiting the start of the morning worship service, my daughter was looking at the church bulletin. She saw the names of those who were serving that week listed on the last page and she said, “Mom, isn’t that so cool that your name is there?” Then she circled my name. Although recognition is important, those who serve cannot be given the most recognition—attention should be on Jesus. It is to Him we must always point. I took my pen, crossed out the names on the bulletin and wrote, “Jesus,” in large letters. Then I reminded her that we were there for Him, not for our own glory. That with everything we do, it’s all about Him. It’s all for God’s glory.
Too often we can get caught up with the recognition game. We start to get acknowledged for some great thing we did. It feels good. Our hard work paid off. Our time and dedication have been noticed. People are paying us honor for our achievements. I am not against a pat on the back, an award, a gift card, a name on a paper. What I do see as a problem is when we start to live for our name to be in the spotlight. It is a problem when we aim to get attention, and we do something so as to have eyes on us instead of on Jesus. It is a problem when it becomes all about us.
Today, remind yourself that everything you do is for God’s glory. Is there an area of your life when you are trying to stand out? Are you standing out for yourself or to promote the Gospel? Is there something that God has done for you, but you have taken the credit? Let us give God the glory He alone deserves. No one can take His glory—it is His.
“To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.”
– Daniel 1:17 [NIV]
Today’s verse says that God gave Daniel and his friends the knowledge and understanding. Now in this passage, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are all supposed to eat what the king has commanded. It was from the king’s table so one would believe it to be good—fit for a king. However, Daniel “resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine,” and he asked if he could eat his own diet of food (v. 8). The official agreed to let Daniel and his friends eat what they wanted for ten days. After the ten days, they were “healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food” (v. 15). This could cause some people to have problems digesting.
So often we look at Daniel and his friends going against the king’s rules and following a special diet of vegetables and water. We conclude that these vegetables and the water provided the four young men with better nourishment, as the passage states, and that is what we take from this passage. However, we cannot forget that it was God who gave these men the knowledge and understanding. God was and is at the forefront.
There are times in our own lives when we use our God given gifts and resources and find great success. We start to attribute this success to our hard work, our talents, etc., but we need already remember that God gave us everything—God gets the glory.
Today remind yourself of what God has given you and take the time to thank Him.
“He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” – Psalm 91:4 [NLT]
When walking the dog, a cat came into view. My dog immediately got excited to “make friends” with the cat. I do not think that the cat was too eager for this friendship and she ran away. What struck me as funny was the fact that she ran and stopped beside her family’s dog and got herself comfortable beside the dog, as if the relax in her protection. She looked at peace lounging beside the dog. My dog noted the change of situation and kept on walking. It’s not so often that I see a cat lounging at peace beside a dog.
As the dog offered great protection to her family’s cat, so God offers us great protection. We are able to run to Him and rest in Him. We can be sure that when we are covered with His wings, we are safe—we are secure. Nothing can pluck us from His hands (John 10:27-28). The Bible tells us over and over again to fear not. Why? Because He is with us and He is in control (1 Corinthians 3:16, Proverbs 19:21). Because He loves us and He has promised us a hope and a future (John 3:16, Jeremiah 29:11).
Today may be one of the hardest days of your life—rest in Him. He will bring you comfort. He will bring you strength. He will provide you all that you need. He always does.
“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.” – Psalm 46:1 [NLT]
“He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.” – 1 Peter 2:24 [NLT]
When I walked into the grocery store, I was unable to move. There was a lady who walked into the entrance and she found a regular sized shopping cart at the doorway. She didn’t want to use the cart; she wanted the smaller shopping cart. She took the large cart said, “This isn’t mine” and pushed it in front of all of us entering from the opposite entrance rather than simply moving it to the side. It was as if to say, “You deal with it” or “it’s not my responsibility.” Remember, the cart wasn’t hers.
We all do this at times. We walk by and see someone who needs help, but we do not see it as our responsibility. A co-worker drops the report on the floor but it’s not our responsibility to help her get it all picked up—she dropped it we remind ourselves. An elderly man in the parking lot is having problems but we keep going. We see trash on the street but we did not put it there so why should we gather it up and put it in the bin?
Sadly this lack of responsibility has spread around and has become the attitude of many. Today remember that Jesus came here to save us from our own mess. He did not say that it was not His responsibility. He did not pass by those in need. He did not push aside what was right before His eyes because it was not His own making. He reached out. He helped. He paid attention. He didn’t say, “This isn’t mine.” He “personally carried our sins.” We each got personal attention.
“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” – John 14:12 [NIV]
There’s a very cute commercial on television for Purina Pro Plan. The words “I could be great” are sung as these cute dogs are shown on the screen. The commercial is suggesting that you may have a good dog, but with Purina Pro Plan, you could have a great dog—this will increase the potential of your dog. The dogs are shown leaping, soaring, reaching new heights.
As I watched, I remembered the promise to each of us—that we would do “greater things.” We might be on a path where we don’t see the “greater things.” But each of us has potential through the Holy Spirit to do “greater things.” Don’t focus so much on the particulars of the “greater things.” Instead, focus on Christ, through Him everything is held together—through Him, we soar, we reach new heights.