Today is Ash Wednesday and it begins our journey towards the Cross of Calvary and the Ressurection of our Lord. During the life and times of Jesus, the Romans were the only Gentiles with the authority to crucify people. Jesus had to fist die before He could be resurrected on the third day, providing the world with the ultimate proof, that He, Jesus is the Messiah. As Jesus shares with His disciples about His resurrection, they only hear about His death. When the Lord speaks to you, do you listen to what He is saying, even though it is oftentimes not the question you asked? 

As part of our growing faith, we must learn to listen, to concentrate and process what the Lord speaks to us. Jesus says death, but He is really talking about life. This is God’s plan, from beginning to end, no one can have a new life without first having death. We must learn to die to self and follow after Jesus with our whole lives. What does this mean? The concept of dying to self is found throughout the New Testament. It expresses the true essence of living as God intended, dubbed the Christian life, in which we take up our cross and follow Christ. (Luke 9:23) Dying to self is part of being born again; the old self dies and the new self comes to life (John 3:3–7). Not only are believers born again when we come to salvation, but we also continue dying to self as part of the process of sanctification. As such, dying to self is both a one-time event and a lifelong process. 

Is there an area in your life today that God is asking you to let go of, a place where the Lord is working to change you so that you can be all that He has created you to be. It may be something really big like a habit He wants to deliver you from or it may be something really small that seems insignificant. Know that in God all things in our lives matter and His goal is perfection for you in Jesus Christ. So, today consider what He is saying and how He is working in your life to make you exactly what He planned and purposed you to be. Pray about this and ask Him to help you and He will. He will give you the strength to become all that He knows you can be. In so doing you will discover the greatest joy, His joy filling your life. This is why Jesus died for you, so you could grow closer to the Lord and be who He created you to be.

God’s Ratings

What do you do to process the opposition that comes into your life? The Bible teaches us that we are to scrutinize our daily opposition that comes our way by processing the information. (20:17-19) In Jericho, Jesus shares His travel plans with the twelve. Matthew 20:17-18~Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death. (ESV) 

This is Jesus’ 4th, and most specific, prediction about His approaching crucifixion and resurrection. The First is found right after the second “from that time.” Matthew 16:21~From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. (ESV) The next is found in Matthew 17:9~As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” (ESV) 

Then later in the same chapter of Matthew 17:22-23~When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief. (ESV) Although it is common knowledge the Jewish leaders want to have Jesus killed, Mark tells us Jesus’ prediction strikes fear in the hearts of the Twelve Mark 10:32~They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. (NIV) 

According to God’s divine plan, Jesus is leading His disciples to Jerusalem for the Passover. Being delivered to the chief priests implies His betrayal. Where they will condemn him to death, this refers to the legal proceedings of a trial. Jesus knows every detail. Psalm 22 asks My God, my God why have you forsaken me. These are the words we hear spoken from the cross. Listen as Jesus adds this in Matthew 20:19~and they will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day, he will be raised to life! (ESV) 

How would you feel or even respond if you were a disciple 2000 years ago? You had given up everything for Messiah, believing He would set the world right and rule. Only He begins with what is most important, our hearts, which is to say our relationship with God. They struggle with this, just as we do walking through some of our own struggles, problems, people, difficulties, and life lessons. We simply do not understand all that God is doing on, in or through our lives. This is why a growing faith is such a vital part of a believer’s life.

Well Seasoned

Jesus has finished His ministry in Galilee and is continuing His final journey to Jerusalem. Matthew 19:1~When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. (NIV) Our pericope reveals He is headed for Jericho, which is at the north end of the Dead Sea. Whose shoreline is the lowest elevation on earth, standing at 1,388 feet below sea level. This sea is dead because it contains no life due to its 33% salt content. You may know many salty people, but this is the saltiest of seawater. 

Now the city of Jericho sits 850 feet below sea level and is the oldest continually inhabited city on earth. It’s about fifteen miles northwest of Jerusalem, that’s like Clover for us. Since Jerusalem is about 2,500 feet above sea level, they go up over 3,300 feet from Jericho. That is taller than Kings and Crowder’s Mountain stacked on top of each other, and the climb is done in just 15 miles. Feeling vigorous on a Saturday? Then you may want to summit both in one day, it is completely doable. 

However, for most that is not even a temptation. But for each person who lives life on this earth, we all face 3 types of temptations. Though they may come to us veiled in various forms tailored by our enemy and adversary the devil, they all fall into 3 categories. Listen as John shares this fact with us in 1 John 2:16~For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. (ESV) 

If we want to overcome temptation then we are going to have to walk with Jesus. Today, why not take a few moments to ask the Lord to reveal anything that may be hindering your Christian walk. Then sit still for a few moments and listen for any feelings, intuitions or thoughts that come to mind. This will do two things. First, it will help you learn how the Lord speaks to you and second, it will let you know what you need to confess and begin to work on in your life. Then take time to thank the Lord for sharing and helping you be who He created you to be.