Romans chapter 8

Like Christ

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son…” – Vs 29 NIV

There was a movie out not too many years ago called “Like Mike.” It’s about a young inner-city kid named Calvin who lives in an orphanage. One day he finds an old pair of basketball shoes with the faded letters MJ handing on a power line. One stormy night, as he attempts to remove the shoes, Calvin and the shoes are struck by lightning. When he later puts the shoes on, he discovers that he has the basketball skills of Michael Jordan. Of course, in true Hollywood fashion, he ends up getting signed to an NBA team and wows the world with his amazing feats of athletic prowess. Sure, it’s pure fantasy and every little boy’s dream, but it’s also a great picture of what this verse seems to be saying.

Instead of being made “like Mike,” I have been made like Christ. God determined in advance that I would be made into the image of His Son, even before I became a Christ-follower. That was part of His divine plan. In order for that to happen, He placed His Spirit within me. I’m not the same-old-me anymore. I have new powers and abilities that allow me to live a life I never could have lived before. I can do amazing feats I was never able to do before. I can say, “No!” to sin when before I always had to give in. God has placed me on His divine team. He has made me His heir. Like Calvin in the movie, I find myself no longer an orphan living in poverty, but a son of God who has resources and abilities I never had before, and I did nothing to earn them. They were given to me.

God is in the process of making a significant change in me. He has already called Me. He has justified me. He is sanctifying me. He is progressively conforming me more and more into the very likeness of Christ Himself. That is where the analogy of the movie breaks down. Calvin got all of Michael Jordan’s skills immediately. I have the capability, but must learn to live out that capability over time. I must discover the power within me as I do battle over which will control me – my sinful flesh or the Spirit. I must realize that I have the ability to live a new life. I can be and am being conformed into the image of Christ. Each and every day.

Father, Thank You for reminding me that You are conforming me into the likeness of Your Son every day. It is a fact, not just a promise. I have the power to become just what you determined I would be. You cause all things to work together for good – my conformity to Christ. You use everything that happens in my life to accomplish Your objective – my conformity to Christ. Let me never forget that. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Romans chapter 7

The question of the ages

“Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin?” – Vs 24 NLT

This is Paul speaking! Not some dirt-bag loser living a life of unrepentant sin in a flea-bag motel on the wrong side of the tracks. How can the great apostle Paul make a statement like this? He’s just finished writing about being released from the Law, having died to sin, and being able to live a new life in the power of the Spirit. Now he’s describing himself as someone needing to freed from a life that is sin-dominated and misery-filled. Why? Because that’s the reality of life on this planet – even as redeemed followers of Christ. It’s especially true for us as believers because we have two natures doing battle within us. We have a sin nature and a new nature. Our new nature did not eradicate our old sin nature. It released us from the Law (Vs 6). We don’t have to try and keep the Law in order to produce a righteousness of our own. But we still have a sin nature. Sin has always been the problem, not the Law. Paul makes that clear in verses 7-12. Twice he says, “sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment” produced in me all kinds of wrong desires and deceived me and through it killed me. My sin nature literally used the Law as a base of operations to produce in my life actions and attitudes that would end up violating the Law of God and lead to my own condemnation and death sentence. Even as believers we have active sin natures that cause in us the same conflict that Paul had: “I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do the very thing I hate” (Vs 15 NLT).

We have within us a sin nature or disposition that strives to control our lives, producing fruit for death (Vs 5). And as long as I try to keep the Law, as long as I try to please God by adhering to some religious rules or standards of men, the result will always be fruit for death. But while Paul reminds us that we are free from having to keep the Law in an attempt to produce righteousness, there’s still the problem of our sin nature. He speaks for all of us when he says:

“I know I am rotten through and through so far as my old sinful nature is concerned. No matter which way I turn, I can’t make myself do right. I want to, but I can’t. When I want to do good, I don’t. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway. But if I am doing what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing it; the sin within me is doing it. It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. – Vs 18-21 NLT

If we’re honest, this is me and this is you. This is how we feel just about every day of our lives. And if we’re not careful, it can produce in us an attitude of defeat. But listen to what Paul says. He says that he is rotten through and through so far as his old sinful nature is concerned. He can’t make himself do what is right. He says it is the sin within him (his sin nature) doing it. Which is what leads him to exclaim, “What a miserable person I am!” But then he calls out, “Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin?” (Vs 24 NLT). His answer? God did, through Jesus Christ. Because of what Jesus did on the cross, Paul had a new capacity to bear fruit for God, keeping the Law out of a sense of devotion, not obligation. His life could now bear fruit for God instead of fruit for death. He no longer had to live controlled by that inner sin nature. It was still there. It was still alive and active, but he had a new nature empowered by the Holy Spirit that allowed him to live a new life. He could live in increasing victory instead of defeat. And the same is true for us. We can serve in newness of the Spirit (Vs 6). We can serve in a new way, by the Spirit. We have been set free from this body of death.

Father, Thank You that the answer to the question, “Who will set me free?” is your Son. He has set me free from having to live bound to the sin nature within me. I can live differently. I can live victoriously. Sin has not be eliminated, but it has been defeated in my life. It is no longer in control. Show me how to allow my new nature to become the dominant nature in my life as I allow your Spirit to guide and direct my life. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Romans chapter 6

New. Not new-and-improved.

New lives. Is that what most of us are experiencing? Or have we settled for a slightly improved version of our old life? This chapter really reminds me that I have been given the power and the expectation to live a brand new life free from the enslavement of sin. I can live differently. I can live victoriously. I am no longer a slave to sin because my old self died with Christ on the cross. I should consider myself “dead to sin and able to live for the glory of God through Christ Jesus” (Vs 11 NLT). I am dead to sin, but I am alive to God. Like Jesus, my new life is to bring glory to God. Every time I choose NOT to sin, it brings God glory because the power to do so comes from Him. Every time I choose to obey the Spirit within me, I give God glory. But any time I let any part of my body “become a tool of wickedness, to be used for sinning” (Vs 13 NLT), I rob God of glory. I am letting sin master me, when in reality God is my new Master. I am to be a slave to righteousness, not sin.

Paul says that every time I choose to let God control me and righteousness master me, I am becoming holy. When sin was my master, I was unable to pursue holiness. In essence, I was free from its control. Now everything has been reversed. I can now free to pursue holiness and to reject sinfulness. That is what Paul means when he says we can live new lives. We can live differently. We can live holy. But do we? Many of us as Christians don’t experience this newness of life, but live as if sin is still our master. We read a chapter like this and long to experience it as a reality in our daily lives, but we’ve resigned ourselves to a life of spiritual mediocrity. Part of the problem is that we’ve stopped believing. Our belief stopped at salvation. We believe Jesus died for our sins and has promised us eternal life in the future. But we fail to believe that we can have new life NOW. We don’t really believe we are dead to sin. We don’t really believe we are new creations. We don’t really believe our lives can bring glory to God here and now. So we settle for the status quo. We’re getting by by just getting by. But Jesus promised life and life more abundantly. New life. Life with power. Life that leads to holiness. Not in the sweet by and by, but in the here and now. Do you believe it’s possible? Paul did. He lived it. And so should we.

Father, I want to live a new life. Not some new-and-improved version of my old life. I want to live with You as my master and not sin. Every day You give me a glimpse of what this can look like, but it is so easy to fall back into old habits, to give in to the old way of thinking. I listen to the lie of the enemy that says I haven’t changed. He wants me to reject the truth that I am a new creation. But I am dead to sin and alive to God. My life can bring glory to You each and every day. I can present myself as a slave to righteousness and experience increasing holiness – each and every day. All because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross. Thank You for that reminder. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Romans chapter 5

Amazing Grace!

What a gift we have received! Because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross, we stand immersed in the abundance of God’s amazing grace. We were sinners condemned by the Law and under the wrath of a righteous, holy God. And we couldn’t do anything about it. But “when we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners” (Vs 6 NLT). “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Vs 8 NLT). God extended grace, His unmerited favor, while we were stuck in our sinfulness. Instead of giving us what we deserve, He gave us what we could never have earned: His grace in the form of His Son’s death on our behalf.

What should our response be to this amazing grace? Paul says we should rejoice. Three times he uses the word kauchaomai, which means “to glory on account of a thing.” We are to glory, boast, exult, or rejoice in the fact that Christ’s death has reconciled us to God. We are no longer under His wrath, but under His grace. The blood of Jesus Christ, spilled on the cross, has justified us. We stand before God as saints, not sinners. We are sons, not enemies. Paul stresses that we have this right standing NOW. “So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God––all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God” (Vs 11 NLT).

This is all a picture of God’s amazing grace. It is a free gift from God made available to me through the death and resurrected life of Jesus Christ. And what’s the value of that gift? Paul says, “all who receive God’s wonderful, gracious gift of righteousness will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ” (Vs 17 NLT). We can live in triumph over sin here and now. We have the love of God “poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Vs 5 NASB), so we have the power to live in victory over sin. But there’s more. We also have the assurance of eternal life. But every man and woman will experience eternal life. Some in a state of separation from God, perpetually experiencing His wrath and judgment. But we will experience eternal life in a state of righteousness, standing in the presence of God as His children and heirs – all as a result of His grace. We didn’t deserve it, but we will still receive it. Now that’s amazing!

Father, Your grace really is amazing. So much so that it’s hard for me to really grasp the magnitude of it all. That word, grace, has become so over-used and common to me that I fail to recognize just how incredible it is that You would GIVE me the gift of Your grace and all that it contains. I was a hopeless, helpless sinner who deserved nothing but wrath, but You showed me mercy. You paid for my sins with Your own Son’s life. You demonstrated Your love for me by having Him die for me WHILE I was still in my sinful state. You didn’t demand that I get my act together, because You knew I couldn’t. You loved me at my most unloveliest. You saved me, justified me, and reconciled me.  All as a free gift. You are amazing! Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Romans chapter 4


You’ve seen the ads. They seem like they’re everywhere these days because of the downturn in the economy. Everyone is offering to check your credit for free, because bad credit can be bad news in an economy that thrives on credit. And as I read through chapter four of Romans this morning it was as if Paul was offering me a free credit check on my righteous standing before God. And the news was not only good, it was great!

Eleven times in this chapter Paul uses the Greek term logizomai which can be translated “to reckon, count, to pass to one’s account, or to impute.” It carries the idea that “a thing is reckoned as or to be something, i.e. as availing for or equivalent to something, as having the like force and weight” (NET Bible study notes). In Paul’s illustration, Abraham’s belief or faith was credited to his account as having the same value as righteousness. His belief was the equivalent of righteousness. This theme runs throughout the chapter as Paul stresses that our righteousness is not based on anything we do, any law we keep, any ritual we go through, or any works we may perform. Righteousness is credited to our account as a result of simple belief. Like Abraham, we “who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead” (Vs 24) believe in a promise. We believe that what God has promised regarding His Son is true. We believe that Jesus was the Son of God and that He lived a sinless life, yet died a sinner’s death, and rose again three days later, having paid the penalty for our sins. We believe that His death satisfied the justice of God and allowed us to be restored in our relationship with God. We believe that Jesus is coming again some day and that He has prepared a place for us to live with Him for eternity. We believe all this based on the promise of God, having never seen any of it. Paul says, “In hope against hope” Abraham believed. In other words, when everything looked hopeless Abraham believed anyway. His faith didn’t weaken (Vs 19), it actually grew stronger over time (Vs 20). “He was fully convinced that what God promised he was also able to do” (Vs 21 NET). And that faith was credited to him as righteousness.

God doesn’t look at all my efforts. He doesn’t weigh out the relative value of my works. He isn’t impressed with all that I do for Him. Those things carry no value and have no credit with God. No, “faith is the key! God’s promise is given to us as a free gift” (Vs 16 NLT). We simply have to believe in the promise. We just have to keep hoping even when things look hopeless. The law showed we could never earn righteousness. It is a free gift provided to us by God and paid for by Jesus Christ on the cross. When I believe that, righteousness gets credited to my account. It is as good as mine. It’s a done deal! When God looks at me, he doesn’t see a deadbeat, spiritually broke and morally bankrupt. He sees me as overflowing with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Like David, I am blessed because God has credited righteousness to my account apart from any effort on my part. I stand before God as one of those “whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered” (Vs 7 NASB).”Yes, what joy for those whose sin is no longer counted against them by the Lord” (Vs 8 NLT). My credit is great!

Father, thank You for GIVING me great credit. Jesus settled all my debts when He died in my place on the cross. And because I believe in the promise of new life through Your Son, I have been credited with His righteousness. You look at my account and see it full, not empty. And I did nothing to deserve it. It was a gift. Not help me to continue to believe even when everything looks hopeless. Help me to keep believing the promise even when things look shaky. May You continue to strengthen my faith in the midst of the trials and difficulties of life.  Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Romans chapter 3

But now apart from the law the righteousness of God (which is attested by the law and the prophets) has been disclosed – namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe. – Vs 21-22 (NET)

The latter part of this verse is traditionally rendered, “through faith in Christ for all those who believe” (NASB). But the New English Translation has chosen to translate it, “through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ.” That really caught my eye as I was reading this morning. They are in no way attempting to replace or get rid of the concept of faith in Christ as the basis for our salvation. But they are simply indicating that Paul was trying to show the worthiness of the one in whom we place our faith. He is worthy to be trusted because He is trustworthy or faithful. Without the faithfulness of Jesus, we would have nothing to have faith in. He was faithful to leave heaven and take on human flesh. He was faithful to resist the temptations of Satan and stick to the redemptive plan of His Father, even though it was going to mean His eventual death. He was faithful to fully obey all that His Father had commanded Him to do. He was faithful to keep all of the Law, perfectly and completely. He was faithful to live a sinless life so that He would be the perfect sacrifice for our sins. He was faithful to put up with the disciples for over three years – even when they just couldn’t seem to grasp what it was He was telling them. He was faithful to endure the agony of the cross, when He could have stopped it at any minute. He was faithful to His word when He told the disciples He would rise again. He was and is faithful.

One of the reasons I like this translation is that it reminds me of the faithfulness of Him in whom I have placed my trust. I sometimes forget about that, and I am tempted to put all the wait on MY faith. While it is true that I am saved by faith. I am saved by faith in the faithfulness of Christ. My faith is based on what He has done and is going to do for me.

“But they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God publicly displayed him at his death as the mercy seat accessible through faith. This was to demonstrate his righteousness, because God in his forbearance had passed over the sins previously committed.” (Vs 24-25 – NET).

The faithfulness of Jesus is was publicly displayed on the cross. The faithfulness of Jesus is what caused Him to shed His blood on my behalf and in my place. The faithfulness of Jesus demonstrated the righteousness of God, because He was able to act justly and punish sin, yet because the penalty of sin had been paid, He has shown mercy by passing over our sins. All because Jesus was faithful.

Father, thank You for reminding me that my faith is not baseless, but it is centered on the faithful One – Jesus Christ Your Son. Because He was faithful, I have a firm foundation on which to place my faith. He did what He came to do. He was who He claimed to be. He finished what He began. He paid the price I could never have paid. And He deserves my faith.  Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Romans chapter 2

Or do you have contempt for the wealth of his kindness, forbearance, and patience, and yet do not know that God’s kindness leads you to repentance? – Vs 4 (NET)

In chapter one, Paul gave a list of all the sins of those whom “God gave over.” He included unrighteousness, greed, evil, envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice, gossiping, slander, insolence, hatred for God, arrogance, boasting, being disobedient to parents, lack of understanding, untrustworthiness, and lack of love and mercy. Now in chapter two he warns his Gentile readers that whether they have committed any of those sins or not, they still stand before God as guilty. Even in our passing of judgment on those who practice such sins, we reveal our own guilt. Like those professing Roman Christians, we may not have been given over by God to impurity, degrading passions, or depraved minds, but we still find many of those same sins evident in our lives. And each time we do find them showing up in our lives, and we do nothing about them, Paul warns us that we are storing up wrath (Vs 5). Paul uses the them of the coming judgment of God a lot in this book. It is a warning.

If we are truly believers and we sin, which we will, there is something that needs to happen. Paul makes it clear in verse four: “Or do you have contempt for the wealth of his kindness, forbearance, and patience, and yet do not know that God’s kindness leads you to repentance?” As followers of Christ, we have received God’s kindness in the form of His mercy and grace. He has not given us what we deserve: death. But instead, He has given us what we don’t deserve: forgiveness of sin and eternal life. He has shown us great patience. This kindness has a purpose though. It is to lead us to repentance. Repentance is to change one’s mind, and it includes the idea of reformation. He kindness is intended to lead us to a different way of thinking and a changed life style. Our lives are no longer to be characterized by that list of sins from chapter one.

To live in continued sin is to live with a stubborn and unrepentant heart. It is to show contempt for the kindness God has shown. And that kind of life, according to Paul, will be judged harshly by God, because He “will render to each according to his deeds” (Vs 6). “He will give eternal life to those who persist in doing what is good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and practice evil deeds.” (Vs 7-8 – NLT). Eternal life or anger and wrath. Only those who live a life of repentance, based on their understanding of and appreciation for the kindness of God, will enjoy eternal life. An unrepentant life is the sign of an unsaved life. When we are saved by Christ, our eyes are opened to the reality of our own sinfulness and the awesomeness of God’s grace. That comprehension of His kindness, His giving us what we don’t deserve instead of what we did deserve, it what leads us to repent – to turn from our old way of thinking about sin. We will choose to do good instead of evil. And because we have the Holy Spirit living within us, we have the power to do so.

I love how The Message paraphrases this verse: “Or did you think that because he’s such a nice God, he’d let you off the hook? Better think this one through from the beginning. God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.”

Father, thank You for your incredible kindness that You showered on me through Your grace and mercy. But never let me take that kindness lightly. I don’t want to live in unrepentant sin. I don’t want to stubbornly cling to my old way of life as if Your kindness means nothing. I want my life to reflect the radical life-change available to me because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross.  Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Romans chapter 1

…the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith… – Vs 17 (NASB)

There’s an interesting contrast in this chapter that Paul seems to give us. One is about God’s righteousness. The other is about God’s wrath. Paul tells us how both are revealed or made known. In other words, he is letting us know how we can recognize the righteousness or rightness of God in the world, and how we can see God’s wrath or anger in the world.

In verse 17, Paul says that God’s righteousness is revealed in the gospel – the Good News of Jesus Christ. Paul says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes” (Vs 16). He was, “eager to preach the gospel” to those in Rome for this very reason. The gospel and its message of salvation through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is what reveals God’s righteousness. He is a righteous God. As the Greek word indicates, God’s character is one of integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, and correctness. But God’s righteousness wasn’t just revealed in the gospel. Paul says it is made known “from faith to faith.” What does that mean? Well, here is my take on it. I think Paul is saying that the real power of the gospel is revealed when men come to faith and they share that faith with others. That’s what he means by the phrase “from faith to faith.” Some commentators interpret it to mean “in ever-increasing degrees of faith,” but that doesn’t seem to fit the context. Paul has been talking about preaching the gospel. He has talked about how the faith of the Roman believers is “being proclaimed throughout the whole world” (Vs 8). I think what Paul is saying is that as the gospel is preached and proclaimed, people’s lives are changed by its power. But the real power of the gospel is made known when the faith of one changed individual leads to faith in another. The gospel message has a contagious quality to it. It spreads. And every time it does spread, God’s righteousness is revealed. Because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross, God is right and just to declare men righteous and restore them to a right relationship with Himself. This whole process of one man’s faith leading to another man’s faith reveals over and over again the righteousness of God.

But how is God’s wrath or revealed? In verse 18, Paul says it comes directly from heaven. Unlike His righteousness that is revealed from faith to faith, or through the viral sharing of our faith from one to the other, God’s wrath is made known directly from Him. It comes from His throne room. It comes in the form of judgment and decrees against man’s sinfulness and rebellion. In describing how God reveals His wrath, Paul simply puts it that “God gave them over” (Vs 24, 27, 28). He literally hands them over to the power of another. The Greek word means “to deliver up one to custody, to be judged, condemned, punished, scourged, tormented, put to death.” He turns them over “to impurity” (Vs 24), to “degrading passions” (Vs 26), and to “depraved minds” (Vs 28). We can see it all around us. God’s wrath or punishment is evident in the lives of so many in the world today as they struggle with these very things. His wrath is revealed or made known by the sinful actions of men and women who have rebelled against Him and rejected the message of the gospel.

The righteousness of God. The wrath of God. We can see them both all around us. But we have the ability to make known His righteousness as we live our lives in righteousness by faith (Vs 17). When we live righteously, others see it. It becomes contagious. Our faith leads to their faith. And as they place their faith in the Good News of Jesus Christ, God’s rightness and justice is revealed to men. Look at the contrast. When man is left to himself, the result is an ever-increasing degree of unrighteousness and godlessness. We see it evident all around us. But God has done the right thing, the righteous thing. He has made it possible for men to be made right with Him. He has provided a solution: A Savior. And every time someone accepts Jesus Christ as His Savior, God’s righteousness is declared.

So like Paul, let us not be ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation. It is the key to revealing His righteousness on the earth – day after day. So let’s be eager to preach the gospel and live lives of righteousness.

Father, I want my life to reveal Your righteousness, but I also want to see others come to faith because of my faith so that Your righteousness can be made known again and again. Every time someone steps into the kingdom, it shows that you are a just and righteous God Who is saving mankind from a fate worse than death – eternal separation from You. May I grow increasingly eager to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with everyone I meet.  Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Matthew chapter 28

…but some were doubtful. – Vs 17 (NASB)

Jesus has risen from the dead! The guards assigned to prevent anything from happening to the body and who worked for the High Priest are literally scared stiff. The women arrive at the tomb only to find it empty. An angel gives them orders to tell the disciples what has happened and to tell them the no-longer-dead Jesus is going to meet them in Galilee. As they run to tell the disciples the great news, Jesus Himself meets them and reminds them exactly what it is they are to do. Then when Jesus appears to His disciples – alive and well – Luke says, “some were doubtful.”

That blows my mind! How could they be doubtful? He had told them this was going to happen. They refused to believe it, but on more than one occasion Jesus had clearly said that He would be killed, but that He would rise again three days later. Now it had happened! These guys had watched Him die. Now He stood before them alive! But some doubted. Sure, Luke also says that some worshiped Him, but it’s hard to look past the fact that some were doubtful. The living Lord stood right before their eyes and they were doubtful. The Greek word for doubtful is distazo and it comes from the word dis, which means “twice.” They were literally wavering between two opinions. They wanted to believe that what they were seeing was true, but their common sense told them it was too good to be true. They were having difficulty reasoning this all out in their minds. Their senses were in conflict. It was a classic battle between faith and reason. And it is still going on today.

I have to ask myself which group I would have been in that day – the worshipers or the doubters? When Luke says that some worshiped, he uses a word that conveys the idea of falling upon your knees and touching the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence. It’s exactly what the women did when they encountered Jesus along the road in verse 9: “And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him.” They were overcome with fear and joy. They recognized that they were in the presence of the Son of God and reacted accordingly. The disciples did the same thing when they saw Jesus – at least some of them. The others stood by doubting, wavering, and debating in their minds what exactly it was they were witnessing. Did they think they were seeing a ghost? Was this all a dream? Had Jesus not really died? It’s interesting that Mark records in his gospel that when the women first told the disciples that they had seen Jesus alive, “they refused to believe it” (Mark 16:11). Why? Because it was unbelievable! The impossible had just happened. Now that they were standing in front of Jesus themselves, they went from disbelief to doubt. It was hard to deny that something had happened, but they just weren’t sure what it was.

And many of us are still doubting today. At one time we were disbelieving. We denied the reality of Jesus and the need for Him to be our Savior. But then we placed our faith in Him and become Christ-followers. But at some point, doubt set in. We have seen Him work in and around our lives, but we waver and doubt in our minds whether it was really Him. We face struggles and trials and know we should turn to Him, but we doubt that He can really help. We allow our minds to overwhelm our faith. We let reason convince us that He isn’t real or, at least, He isn’t reliable. So we doubt. He is standing right in front of us, alive and well, with all the resurrection power He had that day He walked out of the grave, but we stand on the edge wavering in our belief. We are His doubting disciples. And if we are doubting Him, it is impossible to truly worship Him. You can’t truly worship and waver at the same time. He is risen. He is alive. He is exactly Who He said He was. The Son of God and the Savior of the world. The cure for wavering is worship. Quit standing around doubting and debating. Get on your knees and acknowledge Him for Who He is.

Father, Your Son is alive and I want to be one of the worshipers, not the the waverers. I want to be the one who is on my knees in reverence and awe, not standing around wondering if all this is really true. Forgive me for doubting so often the reality of the resurrected Lord. I confess that there are times I reveal my doubt in my fears and apprehensions, or in my refusal to obey Your commands. I doubt and it shows up in my actions. But Your Son is alive and He has proven Himself so in my life. I have no reason to doubt.  Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Matthew chapter 27

Come down from the cross. – Vs 40 (NASB)

As Jesus hung on the cross, He continued to suffer verbal abuse from His accusers and those who had gathered to watch the grisly spectacle of His death. Matthew records that they were “hurling abuse” at Him, mocking and taunting Him. They shouted, “So! You can destroy the Temple and build it again in three days, can you? Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross” (Vs 40). They were reacting to a statement Jesus had made earlier in His ministry and that had been brought up again at His trial. John records it in his gospel. When Jesus had cleansed the Temple in Jerusalem, kicking out the money changers and overturning tables, the Jewish leaders had demanded a sign to confirm that He had authority to do what He had done. Jesus’ response was, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19 – NASB). This was the main accusation brought against Jesus in His trial by false witnesses. They claimed that Jesus had said, “I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days” (Matthew 26:61 – NASB). But John makes it clear that Jesus had been speaking of the temple of His body. He had been predicting His bodily resurrection.

Now, here He hung on the cross and was being taunted to come down. In their minds, this would be what it would take to convince them of His claim to be the Messiah. Not that they even remotely believed He just might do it. But I find it interesting that they were asking Him to do the one thing He could not, or would not do. Come down from the cross. That is exactly what the enemy would have loved to see Him do. Come down from the cross. Stop the one thing that would bring redemption and hope to mankind. Stop God’s divine plan for man’s ultimate salvation. If Jesus had called down angels and had them rescue Him from the cross, many would have probably believed. But they would not have been saved. Their sins would not have been payed for. They would still have been required to live according to the Law, attempting to satisfy the righteous demands of a holy God, in their own strength. And they would have failed, like all those before them.

“Come down from the cross!”, they shouted. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! So he is the king of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross, and we will believe in him! He trusted God––let God show his approval by delivering him! For he said, ‘I am the Son of God'” (Vs 42-43, NLT). This whole event made no sense to them. If He was the Messiah, then He wouldn’t be on the cross in the first place. And if He was the Messiah, then God would avenge Him by delivering Him. If THAT was to happen, then they would believe. But it wouldn’t happen, because it couldn’t happen. Because our hope lay not in God delivering Jesus from the cross, but from death. Jesus’ victory was not going to be over the cross, but over sin and the grave. “For the power of the life–giving Spirit has freed you through Christ Jesus from the power of sin that leads to death” (Romans 8:2 – NLT). Had Jesus come down from the cross, it would have accomplished nothing. Sure, it would have been impressive, but it would not have been redemptive. It would not have saved. He had to die in order that we might live. He had to be sacrificed in order to satisfy the righteous demands of a holy God. Coming down from the cross was NOT an option. And because Jesus chose to remain where He was and suffer the full brunt of sin’s assault on His life, we have eternal life. “But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power” (Acts 2:24 – NASB). God delivered Jesus from death, not the cross. And for that I am eternally grateful.

Father, thank You for the victory of Jesus Christ over death and sin. Thank You Jesus for enduring the cross, for remaining where You were and enduring what You didn’t deserve – all for me. Thank You that You chose not to save Yourself, so that we might be saved. Yours was a life of selfless service right to the very end. And I am eternally grateful.  Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men