Why did they not believe?

Reading in the book of Matthew today, I came across a note in my handwriting. This note is the title of this post.

And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white a snow: and for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay…. Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and showed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept… and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.
– Matthew 28:1-6,11-13,15

If you’re at all like me, you may have skipped reading the above quote, please go back and read it!

What an amazing story! As we have read this again and again, it may sometimes lose some of its meaning, but it is no less amazing, but perhaps simply worn out in our minds. What a day it was when a few ladies were going to visit the tomb of a dear dead friend – and as they went, a great earthquake came (if I read the timeline of this account correctly in accordance with the other gospels). Before they arrived, the Roman guards, the world’s most skilled and highly trained soldiers, fell over in fright as an angel of God came down from the sky.

Yesterday while working on some electronic parts, a friend of mine was shocked by about 60,000 volts at a low amperage. The shock caused him to drop everything and jump backwards. He is fine now, but it was quite a surprise to him. Can you imagine how much greater was the shock for these Roman guards? Just 3 days earlier, there was a great earthquake and the sun became dark when this man was killed. The events were so obvious that the centurion in charge of ensuring Jesus’ death proclaimed “truly this was the Son of God.” When the angel came, the men guarding the tomb against a possible “resurrection” attempt by Jesus’ disciples shook and “became as dead men.” They had the shock of their lives. This angel descended from heaven. The angel had a face like lightning, and his clothing was white as snow. This was obviously a being from beyond the natural world.

Put yourself in the place of the guards for a moment please. Imagine being through the earthquake and blackness for 3 hours while Jesus died. Then again, while guarding this notable man’s tomb, another earthquake and this angel show up, which left them in such fright that they acted like they were dead. What a tremendous shock! Surely they would go and become his disciples also after such compelling evidence of Jesus’ deity! Surely they would believe and go tell others!

But they did not.

They went to the Jewish leaders and told them what had happened. Now the priests and elders of the Jews had a first-hand account of Christ’s resurrection, besides having seen the thick curtain which divided between the holy-of-holies and the rest of the temple being torn in two – from top to bottom – living through the two earthquakes, the 3 hours of darkness, and now, according to Matthew 27:53, many dead saints rose from their graves and went into Jerusalem. Surely now these Jewish leaders had more evidence of Jesus’ resurrection and deity than anyone could hope to have! They wanted signs, and they were given signs. They saw the dead come to life, the lame walk, and the blind see. They heard Jesus preach with authority, they were stumped when He asked them questions they were unable to answer, and amazed when He easily answered their long-argued questions and put to silence the sect of the Sadducees with an easy answer as to the reality of resurrection. Surely the Jewish leaders would believe!

They did not.

These leaders had a meeting, determined that this would all make them look bad, and so paid the soldiers to cover the evidence. They put a story in the soldiers mouths, and so all the people with the clearest evidence of Jesus’ resurrection ignored that of  which they had infallible proof!

How could they not believe? Because their hearts were hard. They were ‘religious’, but without God. How could you, as myself and most of my readers, read this passage in the Bible regularly, and yet cease to be amazed with our God? Familiarity. The Jewish leaders had God’s word, they had the prophesies of the coming Christ, they had God in person in their midst to ask questions of. Yet despite all this, they weren’t looking for evidence of who He was, their minds were bent on keeping others from believing on Jesus because His existence hurt their authority, reputation, and quality of life.

Dear friend, have you not yet trusted on Jesus as your savior? Why is it? Do you not yet have enough evidence, or are you choosing to ignore the evidence? Many have tried to disprove that Jesus was the Messiah of the Jews, that He was God in the flesh, yet they generally come to faith in Him because the evidence is too great than to justly believe anything else.

Or friend, are you the saved Christian trying to win others to our Lord, yet they won’t believe? Keep trying! We as good soldiers for the Lord must not give up. However, more and more today in our present world, and especially in my country, we have great ease and many are loath to believe for fear of losing some of their comforts and pleasures, or else their position. People are presented with the evidences of Christ’s resurrection, of His deity, yet they turn a blind eye towards all and continue down the broad easy road to hell. We would win them and turn them to the narrow road to heaven, that road that leads only through Christ and the cross, yet they would not believe for it might cost them something. Surely, it may cost, but the rewards are far greater. Many have gone to horrible deaths for their faith, yet they did so knowing that to know the Lord is far sweeter than the pain of any death could be. So keep trying to win them, keep working, keep showing others the truth, yet do not be discouraged or give up when they don’t believed.

The soldiers and Jewish leaders had infallible proof right in front of their eyes and still didn’t believe. Will you believe? Or will you also ignore the evidence and continue to live for this short world?

One of my greatest encouragements to keep living for the Lord is from the mouth of a young woman named Denisa upon seeing a tortured man recant his faith in Christ, be released from his torture, and then die in agony. She said “O unhappy wretch, why would you buy a moment’s ease at the expense of a miserable eternity!” Moments later, she also was beheaded. Do you think she would wish it otherwise? No, her testimony was so great that hundreds of years later, we are still inspired to live for our Lord through the testimony of her words and life. Do not, please do not, ignore the evidence of our Lord and His physical resurrection to buy yourself a little more pleasure in the here and now. It is not worth it. I had rather have a moment’s hardship – and this life is only a moment – and have eternity with the Lord than to have a lifetime of ease here on earth and a miserable eternity!

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The Effect of God’s Word

After Jesus’ triumphal entry, he cleansed the temple and then did more great works. Interestingly, while the people where praising God and shouting Hosanna to the son of David, not all had the same perspective. The triumphal entry was recognized by the people as relating to the King of the coming kingdom – hence the references to the “Son of David.” Christ did not at that time claim His kingdom – He will return and do this in the future. However, while the people accurately recognized Jesus as the Christ at this time, the Pharisees had a different perspective. When the children praised him and shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David,” the Pharisees asked Him if He heard them, saying “Hearest though what these say?” They question was based on their assumption that Jesus was not the Messiah, and therefore as a good teacher should stop the blasphemy.

Jesus’ response was quite a slap in the face to the Pharisees, “Yea: have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?” He then left and went to Bethany. Jesus’ response did not rebuke the children, rather he condoned it. The children were right, the teachers were wrong, Jesus is God.

Shortly thereafter, the chief priests and elders approached Jesus with another question. “by what authority doest though these things? and who gave thee this authority?” We just saw the answer to that question, God did, and Jesus is God. Jesus’ answer – demonstrating His authority by the way in which He asked these rulers on earth – was to ask them a question. “The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men?” God’s word, as a written by the Holy Spirit who knows all thoughts, tells us how the rulers thought over His question and reasoned out their answer. They considered the two options, of heaven, or of men, from the perspective of how the audience would take their answer.

Here is the key point I’m looking at right now. First, the rulers rejected Jesus as Christ, and so interpreted everything He did as blasphemy [He was crucified under the charge of blasphemy], and secondly, in answering His question, they did not look for truth or what they believed to be true, but rather looked to see what would be a popular answer. When we approach God’s word, we have the same options. Do we approach it as the word of our living God, or do we read it like a novel? When we are out and about in life, do we tell others the truth of God’s word, or do we instead consider if our message will be accepted and tailor it – without regard to truth – to the audience? To seek to please men is to not please God.

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Who is Responsible?

While looking up a passage earlier this week, I came across the below linked sermon by Charles Finney. It was good for me to read, though not painless. Below are a few excerpts, though hopefully you will enjoy the whole sermon.

The three main points:




An especially challenging paragraph:

Thousands of times when I have pressed myself close up, I have had fear lest the blood of souls was upon me. When I have heard that this man and that man was gone, who had sat under my ministry, I have often asked myself, Have I done my duty by that man? was I faithful? or was I indolent and unfaithful? Did I shun to declare the whole counsel of God? I have often thought of this also–and I say it, not boastfully as you know,–that I could say so far as I know myself I had never kept back what I thought the people wanted most to know; that I never kept back what I believed the people most needed to be told, because I was either afraid of them on the one hand or any other motive on the other. I never had courage to keep back the truth. When people have said sometimes, how dare you preach this thing and the other, I have told them that I had not courage to disobey God, and rush to the solemn judgment with the blood of souls on my hands. Indeed I have no such courage! Whom should I fear, God or man. How much faith must a man have if he cannot walk right up and tell the sinner the truth of God to his face. And if he cannot do this, how can he walk right up the face of God and then give an account of himself to the great searcher of hearts! He who is more afraid of men, than of God, must be an infidel.

The rest may be found at the link below:

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Pleasing God

Tonight at church, a friend commented that I’d been an encouragement to them. I’ve certainly been encouraged, but what have I done? While thinking on that tonight, it struck me, “when was the last time I did something 100% because it made someone else happy?” Biblical charity is unselfish, yet every time I do something for someone else, it seems to have a selfish motive – I get to see them happy, they like me more, it makes me feel good to do something that helps someone else, etc. It’s amazing to see God’s design in giving us blessings as we look to bless others, but maybe we don’t really ever do things solely to bless other people? Perhaps you do, it seems I’m surrounded by people right now trying to be a blessing to me, yet at the same time it’s convicting because I feel too busy… with God’s blessings… to reach out and really look for ways to bless others. That shows a clear misalignment of priorities, at the same time, not all those tasks and priorities can be disposed of.

The message tonight was on faith, and really expecting God to answer when we pray, yet the point that really hit me was about whether or not we still are looking to please God, and to know Him more. When was the last time you did something for no other reason than to please God? If it was without faith, God was not pleased [without faith it is impossible to please God]. Is knowing God a priority in our lives? It is sometimes easier to work to make people around us happy – we can see them with our eyes. Right now, God must be seen through eyes of faith, so it can be harder to keep Him first in everything, yet a concerning thing if He isn’t first in everything is that then we become like the wicked as noted in Psalms where “God is not in all his thoughts.” I want to please God – and suspect that anyone taking the time to read this does as well. Let’s work to keep Him 1st in all our thoughts – and look for ways we can please Him or know Him better!

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More Musings

Recently, I’ve been staying more busy than usual with some big projects going on, however, the last few days, its seemed that the Lord is further from my mind… because I’m thinking on these other things instead. Because of this, last night, I determined not to work on those projects today, but rather spend that time [even though rather small] with the Lord. It’s been neat to see Him bless that today.

This morning I woke up with the song, “Glory, I’m saved, Glory, I’m saved, my sins are forgiven, my debts are all paid!” If that is true for you, is it possible to have a bad day? My worst day has to be better than an unsaved person’s best – I’m saved, I know where I’m going – the Lord has purchased me, and covered all my sins in His blood!

At church this evening, a sad story came up about a 2 year old boy who fell from the 11th story of an apartment near us. What a sad story, we for awhile discussed the shortness of our lives. Why do we not work harder to get others saved? I went into Wal-Mart tonight while in town for church to get oil and filters for my car, and was amazed to see God’s provision – the filters were on sale in a cart at the front of the store $1/each – and my style was in there. Little things, but it is neat to see God’s provision. Back on the topic of getting people saved, God worked in my life in that way, yet on my way in, I realized I had few tracts to share with people, yet didn’t go back to my car for more. We see [know people are] people dying around us, yet do so little to warn them of their destination.

The day started with “Glory, I’m saved,” and after church, a tract on the CD in my car ended with an excellent question. In response to all that Christ has done for me, saving me, giving me victory, blessing me with safety, health, and material blessings beyond the vast majority of those before me, “how then can I not bring them to Jesus, when He’s done so much for me?”


Side note: A culturally Jewish co-worker asked about my music today, and commented on what makes Christian music – is it that the people who do it are Christian? After a further discussion, he concluded that “you’re a Christian singer since you sing around here.” I asked, are you ever going to be a Christian singer?” He responded that he doesn’t sing.
Me: “Will you then be a Christian live-er?”
Him: “I’m Jewish.”
It was neat to share with him how in reading this morning in Zachariah, I read about how the Jews will one day mourn over “Him whom they have pierced.” They have already pierced Him – Jesus – and will yet mourn for Him. Whom else have they pierced that they might mourn over? Praise the Lord for allowing me to inherit some of the treasures of the Jews – I’m just a Gentile grafted in!

Let’s bring them to Jesus!!!


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The Lord is Good

Encouragement for the day:

The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth them that trust in Him. 

Nahum 1:7

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Simply Trusting

Simply trusting every day;
Trusting through a stormy way;
Even when my faith is small,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Trusting as the moments fly,
Trusting as the days go by,
Trusting Him, whate’er befall,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.
– Edgar Stites

Tonight on the way home from work, I was thinking about how it is a fact of life for all of us that things sometimes turn out otherwise from how we expect. As Christians, sometimes we pray about something, even for an extended period of time, consider multiple paths, and choose what we believe to be the best option, but find the door closed.

In times like these, often it is good to stop and ask questions, other times, it is best to keep going leaving the past behind and pressing forward so that we can be most useful to the cause of Christ. It is not uncommon to hear people who have trusted Jesus Christ for their eternal salvation express fear to trust Him with some other aspect of their lives.

At a young age, I listened to the testimony of a veteran missionary, Darlene Rose. She experienced many trials on the mission field, in large part due to being caught in the middle of World War II. For some time, I felt the Holy Spirit tugging on my heart asking me, would you go there if I sent you? At first, I didn’t respond, then later said ‘Lord, I’ll serve you, but please not there.’ Finally, about the age of 13, I went into a closet and said, Lord, I’ll go anywhere.

Since then, I’ve learned a little more about what happened there. I was afraid that my God would send me somewhere bad, somewhere which would have a negative effect on my happiness and comfort. Since then, I’ve begun to learn that my God loves me.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

Can you imagine such love? Such is the love of our Savior for us, He came and died. Died on a cross. Died for you and I.

Can a God who loves me so much send a redeemed soul to a place that will be harmful to them? To answer this question, let’s first ask, what is harmful in God’s eyes? My God loves me so much that He cares more about my eternal state and my being conformed to His likeness than He does my comfort and happiness today. The seal of my birth into His family is the Holy Spirit living in me. One fruit of this is His joy, a joy which will not come and go with circumstances. This means that even in a situation such as Darlene Rose faced, I can continue to have joy. This means that even in such a situation I am not alone – God is with me.

Furthermore, I know that in all things in my life, as a born again believer, God will work His good. Whether or not I make good decisions, as I fulfill the qualifications in this passage [them that love the Lord, to them who are called according to His purpose – which qualifications will change how I live], God will bring good from them. I still have a free will, I will still reap consequences from my decisions whether good or bad, but the worst decisions I can make under those qualifications will still bring about good.

We know also that God uses difficulties, trials, in our lives to grow us. Tribulation brings patience, patience experience, and experience hope – a hope that helps us to better understand God’s love. So back to our question, will this loving God possibly send me to a place that is harmful to me? No, not in the long run. God sees beyond today, and in doing so works to develop in me the character above. He uses difficulties and pain now to make me more like Him in the future.

As I learn more about The Lord by going through difficulties, sufferings, and unexpected changes of plans in ways that are not pleasant, I come to more greatly understand who He is. He is the I AM, He is all we need, He is all I need.

Have you ever, as I did, [and perhaps still do and may in the future to new trials] been afraid of what God’s will might be for you? Have you been afraid to surrender to whatever He may have? Let our answer always be, “speak Lord, for Thy servant heareth.” Whatever God does for me is good. I know He loves me and cannot, will not, do anything that will have a net ill effect on me. This certainly does not mean I won’t have difficulties, rather, it likely means He will send me testing, He will chasten and chastise me, but it will be in love to accomplish His perfect will.

Today I say, Lord send me anywhere. Why? Because I trust my Savior. He will never send me somewhere that He will not go with me, He will never give me a temptation that I cannot bear, He will never lead me to a danger, but that it will mold me to me more like Jesus.

What is your answer today? Let us simply trust Him.



Note: Trials may come for a variety of reasons which I don’t claim to understand all of – who can know the will of God? However, we know it will be for His glory and for our good. Job would likely never have known God as he did at the end of the book if it were not for the trials he experienced.

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Jonah and Christ

Reading this morning of the prophet Jonah, I am again amazed at Jesus’ love for us. This will be very brief and unpolished due to the time [time to go to work…], but on my heart to write about.

Jesus said that Jonah was a sign to the generation alive during His time on earth about Christ’s 3 days and nights in the heart of the earth. In studying Jonah, It is interesting to see why he did not want to go to Nineveh. This was the capital of the very wicked and bloody nation Assyria. Jonah said he feared to go there because he knew God was merciful and might spare them if they repented. Jonah wanted to see Nineveh destroyed, likely because if they were not destroyed, they would instead destroy Israel.

To this end, Jonah was willing to suffer death in the sea, and God’s wrath for his disobedience. What does all this have to do with Jesus’ love for us? He was willing to come to earth and die for us, suffer God’s wrath for our sins, spend those 3 days and nights in the heart of the earth; but not for a people that loved Him. He died to save His enemies. We were yet without Him, we were enemies of God as we were servants of sin and therefore of the ruler of the darkness of this world.

Jesus did not flee this difficult mission. Rather, He came and gave everything in His love for us and obedience to His Father so that we could be saved. Praise the Lord for wonderful salvation! Let us go and share His message with all, whether they like us or not, whether they would love to see us destroyed as Assyria would have Israel, and Jonah, Assyria, or else they are close friends and relatives whom we love to a degree we would not offend them – but perhaps not enough to warn them of God’s impending judgment.


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A Reed Shaken Mt. 11

7 And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? 8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. 9 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. 10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. – Matthew 11:7-10 KJV

Tonight while out for a walk, this passage came to mind. Perhaps this won’t be an exegesis of the passage, but rather a few questions in relation to it and to us.

While walking past much tall grass waving in the wind here on vacation, the question came to mind, why am I down here? What is it I have come to see? In this case, it is to fellowship with friends and Christians, to hear good preaching, to see God working.

Why are you where you are? What have you come here for? Why are you going to church tomorrow? What is it you want to see?

I want to see God at church tomorrow.

Is that a strange thing to say? A reed shaken in a wind is nothing. All flesh is as grass and all the goodliness of man as the flower of grass. Grass burns up in the heat, and grass is mowed and trashed. If I go to church tomorrow to see perfect people, to hear perfect preaching, there will be disappointments. I want to see God at church tomorrow, God working in the people around me, God being genuinely praised in the singing, God being manifest in the preaching. Why are you going to church tomorrow? I want to see God.

This may be sounding repetitive by now, but intentionally so. Sometimes I/we need to look at our motives twice to see what we are really doing. Speaking of which, what do people see when they see us? Do they see a reed shaken in a wind? If we are just us, that is all they see. If God is in us, there is much more. If God is in us – and truly being lived out in our lives – then everywhere we go, we will be a light, a joy, we will bring peace – and we will be messengers of God.

Today you have a choice. Are you going to be a reed, filled with self, but in reality filled with nothing, or will you be a messenger, consumed with your Master? One is worthy of being burned, the other of fellowship with the Master.

Lord, make me a messenger.

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Great men

Great men will never be the less respected for their humility, but the more.

– Matthew Henry’s complete commentary speaking of David’s humility in 2 Samuel 24

Note, Those know not what religion is whose chief care it is to make it cheap and easy to themselves, and who are best pleased with that which costs them least pains or money. What have we our substance for but to honour God with it? and how can it be better bestowed?

-more from the same commentary

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