Which are looking for?

Roman crucifixion was common during Jesus’ day. Thousands of people were killed in this way. It was one of the worst ways a person could die. The Romans perfected it.

In fact, the word excruciating literally means ‘out of the cross’. So next time you step on a Lego, you begin to understand how excruciating pain can be.

It seems, though, that only three men were crucified on, what we now call, Good Friday.

Two common criminals. Thieves, malefactors, deserters, traders; really, the worst of the human race. One hanging on each side of Jesus.

Three crosses that stood on a hill | Easter | Pinterest | Tatuagem jesus na  cruz, Tatuagem de santo, Jesus na cruz

An inspection of the words spoken by these two men can reveal many things. Here is Luke’s version:

From Luke 23:

39One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

40But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 

41We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

42Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. d ”

43Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”


The first one insulted Jesus. Matthew and Mark both record more of the conversation while John does not have any recorded words about these two rebels. But whatever gospel you read, the words are negative and hurtful. For what ever reason, this criminal was yelling at Jesus.

He was looking for the acceptance of the crowd.

And he was not alone. There were comments made by others. It would easy to imagine a small crowd gathering to watch the events unfold. Hecklers are always present in a crowd.

This first criminal was just one of the crowd. He probably got some nods of agreement with his words. But eternity tells a different story.

Enter the second criminal. This accused man was mark by an attitude far different from the first one.

He looks past Jesus and rebukes the first criminal. He realized that they were doomed. Yes, physically, but even more importantly, spiritually.

He then turns to the Savior and asks to be remembered into the Kingdom of heaven.

Jesus replies, as only a Savior could, that it will happen.

The second malefactor was looking for the acceptance of the Christ.


You and I are hanging on a cross today. We have lived our lives and now we are condemned. But we have a choice.

Regardless of what we have done or where we have done it, we can make the right choice.

Even if we don’t really know or understand all the specifics about faith, we can call on the name of Jesus.

Today can be the day of our salvation.

But it will never happen if we are looking for the acceptance of the crowd.

You can rest assured, however, that it will happen if we are looking for the acceptance of the Christ.

A Winepress and a Warrior

This post is a continuation of some Old Testament people. Click on Abraham or Joseph to read the other two Old Testament posts.

Gideon. As with most of these people, their stories are filled with crazy, supernatural stuff. Angels visiting, people testing God, battles begin fought. It all seems unreal to me. But yet it is real. And that is what strikes me. These people, especially Gideon, are normal people. And by normal, I mean normal-every-day-average-unremarkable people. 

Just like me.

But before we get to the angel visit, the testing, or the fighting, we find Gideon hiding. 

He was hiding from the enemy. Why? So they would not take his wheat. The enemy of Israel was oppressing Gideon and all of Israel. For seven years this was happening. The first 11 verses of Judges 6 give us the account. It was all the Israelites could do to stay alive. They hid in caves. Their crops and livestock were under constant attack. It was bad. 

But that is what happens when, “Again, the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord,”. God let the enemy invade and oppress.

Is the enemy of your soul invading and oppressing you? Are you doing evil in the eyes of the Lord? Just a thought.

Back to Gideon. He was in a winepress threshing some wheat. This picture shows an ancient winepress. The next one shows a threshing floor.

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threshing_floor

Note the difference. The threshing floor is an open area where the wind can blow easier (perhaps like the Holy Spirit?) . Gideon was in a winepress. He was trying to thresh the wheat in a secret place. Only fearful people do such things. Wheat was meant to be tossed into the air out in the open. This way, the wind could separate the wheat from the chaff. It is much more difficult if you are hiding in an enclosed space.

But that is what happens when doing evil in the eyes of the Lord. We are meant for one thing but we are doing another. Our actions are secret or hidden instead of being lived out. But if you are discouraged about that, the story is not over. 

Verse 12 shows how God feels about Gideon. Here is the verse, “When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”

Boom! Gideon was not a warrior, he was in a winepress! However, God feels differently.


Your surroundings should not dictate your status. Your circumstances do not negate your christianity. Your foes can’t take away your faith.

Gideon needed a supernatural reminder of his position. I think that you and I could use reminders now and again, don’t you?

Well consider this your reminder. God created you. You are a mighty warrior! Get out of your winepress and get to the business of God.  

Have a victorious week. More on Gideon next time. God bless!

A Dream and a Destiny

Dreams. Sometimes we dream silly dreams. Others can be scary or bizarre. But then there are times when the dreams are confusing.

On my part, I don’t dream too much. Daydream? Yes. But I don’t feel like I am a “dreamer”.

To be honest, dreams confound me. They are often close to reality but certainly not real.

But for today, I am not talking about my dreams but the dreams of a cocky teenager from the book of Genesis. 

The whole story can be found in Genesis 37-50. 

coat

 

Joseph had some dreams. And as a 17 year old, he was not mature enough for the dreams to be fulfilled. His eleven brothers hated Joseph. He was the favorite. His dad gave him the best coat. Joseph was spoiled. 

So his brothers took action. And if it was not for Reuben, Joseph would have been killed. Instead, being stripped of the robe, he was thrown into a pit, sold to merchants, and transported to Egypt.

All of these things might have confused Joseph. He had dreams after all! Had not the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob given those dreams?!?! So why was he now ripped from his family and in captivity in a foreign nation?

But he works hard. Promotion. He is now making a life for himself. Then the temptations. Potipher’s wife. It has been said that opportunity knocks but temptation leans on the doorbell. This woman had it bad for Joseph. 

But our cocky little dreamer has been growing up. He stayed true! Way to go Joseph!

And now back to prison. More hard work. More promotion. Dreams. And it was the dreams of the baker, cupbearer and even Pharaoh that eventually got Joseph out of prison.

Second in command of all of Egypt. Dude! These last few years have been rough, to say the least, but Joseph is finally in place. In place for what?

For the dreams to come true and be fulfilled.

joseph-of-egypt

Time does not permit me to go into the whole story. Please read it for yourself. It truly is one of the most amazing stories in the Bible.

I will conclude with a few thoughts about Joseph, the dreams, and God’s destiny.


 

  • If God gives you a dream, recognize the origin of it and then release it. There often needs to be a transformation of the dreamer after the transmission of the dream.
  • If life is not going the way you think it should or there are obstacles to your dream; you can do two things; run or remain. Don’t try to escape the problem but ask to be empowered in the problem. God’s grace is greater than the grief of life.
  • Dreams still not fulfilled? Keep waiting and keep working.
  • Only after God has done his work can we say what Joseph said, “But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Gen. 50:19-20