Jesus Christ Archives - Big Dream Ministries
Big Dream Ministries exists to help people understand the Bible as God's amazing Word and help them apply Biblical truth to their daily lives. We do this by offering studies that drive people to the Scriptures for answers and equipping leaders with excellent resources to reinforce learning.
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Jesus Christ Tag

Jesus wept. As He stood at the tomb of his beloved friend, Lazarus, who had died four days earlier, He wept (John 11:25-42). The Sovereign Lord with the power to heal and raise the dead – wept. He wept because death is not the way it is supposed to be. God created man to be in His own image, our spirits are a reflection of His (Genesis 1:27). We were created to love deeply and live eternally, that is until sin entered the world (Genesis 3).

Now, our nation is weeping for the same reason – death as a result of sin. Our hearts ache over the senseless killings, racial inequality, and violent outbursts. It is not supposed to be this way.

Join us in praying God’s Word over the deep pain that is being experienced by individuals, families, and communities.

  • May we start by examining our own hearts for any sin that must be confessed – Psalm 139:23 “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!”
  • May the anguish of loss and oppression be healed by the Lord Jesus – Isaiah 61:1 – “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.”
  • May we respond to others with the love and compassion of God – John 13:35 – “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
  • May we see the image of God in every single person, each created for a unique purpose – Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
  • May we see and address the social injustices within our communities – Isaiah 1:17 – “… Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”
  • May we seek to be united with others, especially those who are different from us – Ephesians 4:1-3 – “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

The only hope for our nation is Jesus Christ. As Christians filled with the Holy Spirit, we need to be His ambassadors in this world (2 Corinthians 5:20). There are challenges we all face and we need each other: leaders, law enforcement, and every single person who calls our nation home. Let us be a people who listen to one another in order to do what is right for each other (1 Corinthians 10:24). And may we seek to be a part of the solution in our spheres of influence – Matthew 5:9 – “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

 

Written by Pat Harley

Based on John 11:1-44

We are in the midst of a pandemic. Around the world as of this morning, there have been over 200,000 deaths from the Coronavirus. It makes no difference if one is rich, powerful, poor, or even destitute. The virus is no respecter of persons and makes no differentiation between social classes or bank accounts. At present, no weapon, no medication or vaccine can take it down. It is a ruthless enemy. And behind every one of those deaths is a home where loved ones are grieving, their lives changed forever.

Two thousand years ago, there was another home with a family who was grieving deeply. The two sisters knew there was a cure for the disease their brother was suffering from, yet they were unable to procure it. And so as days went by, they simply had to sit by helplessly and watch their brother, whom they loved dearly, slowly slip away unto death.

It was enormous sorrow – certainly sorrow over their great loss, yet that sorrow was intensified, because the cure was none other than the One they had accepted as the Messiah, and He was their dearest friend. They had witnessed His power. They had heard amazing stories from reliable witnesses about healings from disease, from demon possession, and paralysis. It had been His very words that had raised the young man in Naim, raised him right out of a coffin. They had heard about the leper whose body had been completely healed and cleansed. The disciples had told them about the calming of the storm and the feeding of the five thousand. And yes, they had believed every one of those stories. They had believed without a doubt that Jesus was the Christ, sent from God, and the Son of God.

Lazarus Suffered

They had enjoyed His company and friendship, but they had never needed His power until now. And so, as Lazarus lay suffering, the sisters cried out to Jesus through an anguished message. “Behold, he whom you love is sick.” And then they waited, knowing surely He would come at once. But Jesus did not come. The hours of suffering continued as life gradually slipped away. And then … Lazarus was dead. Anguish, Loss, Confusion, Doubt. No more chances for healing; all hope was gone.

And so, the sisters wrapped Lazarus’ body in strips of cloth layered with the accustomed spices. Some of the men then carried his body to the family tomb, laid it on a cold stone slab, and rolled the stone across the opening. Done. The end.

Almost a week went by. No word came from Jesus. Then after six days, Martha heard that He was coming to Bethany and their home. She went to Him immediately and spoke the words that had plagued her for days. “Lord if You had been here my brother would not have died.” But clinging to the last bit of faith, she continued, “Even now I know whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”

And Jesus responded, “Your brother will rise again.” But Martha continued, seeking perhaps answers, perhaps an explanation, most likely seeking HOPE.

“I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”

And then Jesus spoke words of comfort, assurance, joy, TRUTH. Words so important for us today as we are surrounded with sorrow and grief and fear death.

“I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE: HE WHO BELIEVES IN ME LIVES EVEN IF HE DIES.”

Within the next few hours, Jesus would once again show His awesome power, and yet in a way he had never done before. Mourners once again gathered at Lazarus’ tomb along with the sisters. Jesus, even as Martha objected, asked that the stone be rolled away. And then Jesus spoke, no commanded. “Lazarus come forth.” And in a moment, death was replaced with life, mourning with joy, and doubt with robust faith, for death had been conquered and Lazarus was alive.

The Resurrection and the Life Are For Us

As I sat under the awning, reserved for family members at my mother’s grave during the funeral, the casket resting just above the open grave, I was overcome with sorrow and loss. I had prayed for healing for Mom. I had prayed that she would walk again and enjoy life for a few more years. That prayer was not answered. But then as I looked upon the opened grave that was before me, the Lord brought to mind those same words He had spoken to a sorrowful sister some two thousand years ago. Only this time my name was inserted into the sentence. “Pat, I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE. HE WHO BELIEVES IN ME SHALL LIVE EVEN IF HE DIES.”

And then I envisioned Mom, not with limbs twisted from debilitating disease, but whole and joyful and free of pain and suffering. It was a glorious picture but one that was real because Momma KNEW Jesus. And at that moment she was more alive than she had ever been, never to face death again. She was with her Savior and there was LIFE. And for me those words brought immense comfort, abundant comfort for such a sorrowful heart.

At Easter, we celebrate the empty tomb. It is an awesome reminder that he has indeed overcome death and for those of us who believe, death truly will be swallowed up, and we will be fully alive, fully healed, and fully at home with the One who gives life to enjoy Him forever.

The Savior Is Calling

The Savior IS calling to all of us, not just during a terrifying pandemic, but every day. Come to Me. I AM the resurrection and the life…even if you die you will live.

Libby came into class beyond excited! Now she could see! She could see what her husband was talking about. She could see what her friends were talking about. She grew up attending church and heard all the Sunday school stories about Jesus, but she could not see what the consuming passion for Him was about. In fact, Libby was pretty annoyed with Joseph’s new found love for Jesus. Joe had been challenged to read through the gospel of John with a co-worker who practically dared him to stick with it until the end. Libby didn’t hear her husband talk much about his time reading the Bible, but she definitely noticed some changes in him. He was a bit more patient with their boys; he was a bit more helpful around the house, and he was a bit less sarcastic – and she was not complaining! However, Libby was dumbfounded when Joe returned home early from work one day and announced that he was born again. She just couldn’t see what he was talking about.

At Joe’s urging Libby reluctantly joined the women’s Bible study at a local church. They were teaching The Amazing Life of Jesus Christ so she thought she would start there. Now, 9 weeks after she reluctantly started the Bible study, she could see Jesus for who He is and the sacrifice He made on her behalf. She was no longer confused; her eyes had been opened so that she could see the truth of Jesus.

 

Jesus’ Disciples Couldn’t See

Following Jesus’ resurrection, His followers couldn’t see the truth about Him either. Cleopas and his friend had been in Jerusalem for Passover when the city was reeling with the news about Jesus’ crucifixion. These men were His disciples; they had known His teaching and they believed and desired Him to be the long-awaited Messiah. The problem was that they only saw what they wanted to see about Jesus. He said He was coming back after three days, yet instead of anticipating His arrival and waiting in Jerusalem, these two disciples were heading home to Emmaus. When Jesus joined them on the road, they didn’t recognize Him (Luke 24:13-16).

Jesus, always a teacher, questioned the travelers about their conversation, drawing out all that they knew about Him and the events that had taken place. They relayed the facts accurately, even the women’s report of Jesus’ body being missing. Yet, the two still could not see Jesus right in front of their eyes (Luke 24:17-24). When they had finished their account of the events surrounding the weekend, Jesus spoke to them.

       “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to enter into His glory?”    ~Luke 24:25-26

Jesus Uses Scripture to Open Their Eyes

Then Jesus reviewed all the Scriptures written by Moses and the prophets – highlighting how they pointed forward to Him. What a Bible study!  Even with the detailed exposition of the Scriptures, Cleopas and his friend still could not see Jesus. It was not until later in the evening when Jesus broke bread with them, that they were able to receive not only the bread, but their spiritual sight – they could see Jesus and couldn’t wait to share the news. Once the men moved beyond knowing only the facts about Jesus, to receiving Him, they were able to see.

Bible study teachers have the privilege of walking students through the Scriptures, pointing to Christ along the way. The Bible is more than a historical narrative of what has occurred; it contains the very words we need to know about Jesus.  When we teach the Bible with the purpose of knowing the Lord better, every book, every chapter, and every word will point to Christ. As we see Christ portrayed, His heart is revealed over and over again – and the Holy Spirit will affect a person’s heart and open their eyes.

 

Bible Studies Are a Lens to See Jesus

Everyone attending Bible study needs to see Jesus in a fresh and comforting way. Students attend studies for different reasons. Some are committed to learning more about Christ. Others come to satisfy their need for companionship or curiosity. We have heard countless testimonies from people taking The Amazing Collection: The Bible, Book by Book or The Amazing Life of Jesus Christ that the truth of Scripture and Christ is revealed to them as never before.

Let us never to be so accustomed to Scripture that we only learn the facts, but rather approach each and every study with the prayer, “Open my eyes that I may see!”

 

 

Are Your Arms Open or Closed?

Josh was stunned. He imagined so many scenarios of how the reunion would go, but never did he imagine the response he got. He had been a young boy when his mother remarried and moved away from his paternal grandparents. The college years were busy with studies, working, and friends, and time slipped away from him. Now, as a young 20 something, he was making his first visit to their home. A surprise visit, he had not spoken to them in years. Nothing hurtful or wrong, just overly involved in his new life.

He waited at the curb by their house until he saw his grandfather arrive home from work. Josh got out of the car and slowly walked to the door, with every step feeling heavier with the weight of the distance in their relationship. After ringing the doorbell, the black wooden door opened slowly and there stood his grandfather, silently staring at him. Josh’s heart pounded hard as he uttered the words, “Hi, Grandpa.” Then, without saying a word, his grandfather slowly closed the door. Josh, confused, stood at the closed door for an unusually long time before returning to his car. He never imagined the stony silent reception. If his grandfather was not going to welcome him back into his life, he would have preferred a heated argument, a good fight to at least feel justified in the strained relationship. But now what? Was restoring the relationship worth the hurt?

How we respond to others when they hurt us is a big deal to Jesus!

The morning after Jesus’ triumphant entry into the city on the back of a colt, He was traveling from Bethany to Jerusalem and teaching the disciples about the power of faith and prayer.  He shared that whatever they asked of the Father and believed would happen, it would be granted. But then Jesus added this very crucial key for prayer, “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.” (Mark 11:25).

Our prayers must not be offered from an unforgiving heart.

It is easy to see the harsh and unforgiving reaction of Josh’s grandfather, but harder to see our own heart as unforgiving. Yet what is our response when our neighbor lets their dog roam through our freshly planted flowers or when someone swiftly pulls into the parking space we have been patiently waiting for? How do you respond when you run into the woman you once called a friend until she shared your very sensitive and very private situation with others?

Jesus knows that forgiveness does not come naturally for us.

So much of Jesus’ teaching was about forgiveness. He taught that we are all sinners who have been forgiven and that when we recognize that hard truth, forgiving others should be our overflow response (Matthew 6:14-15).  He elaborated that we should be prepared to forgive others often and repeatedly (Matthew 18:21-22).  And, he knew we would be quick to point out others’ faults when he taught, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone.” (John 8:7).

Jesus modeled the way of forgiveness.

At the crucifixion Jesus’ arms were nailed wide open on the cross in the ultimate act of forgiveness. He laid down His life in order for sinners to be reconciled to the Father. Every sin, every time, has been forgiven for those who have faith in Jesus’ work on the cross (Ephesians 2:8).

This Easter let’s celebrate His Resurrection by opening our hearts and our arms to embrace those who we need to forgive – open the door to restoring the relationships that need restoring.

Written by Traci Martin.

 

Written by Traci Martin

The need for discipleship

Jesus is amazing, but when I moved to the south, He was not on my mind. In fact, I don’t really think Jesus was on my mind even when I was in my childhood church. But that quickly changed when my husband and I transferred to Georgia. We were surrounded by Christians! They were everywhere, or at least it seemed so. As I observed them doing life, they seemed different to me. There was a positive outlook at the way they approached issues; they called it joy. There was an assurance that everything would work out for the best even when they were in crisis; they called it peace. And they talked about Jesus and to Jesus as if He was sitting right there with them. How they lived was attractive to me and I wanted what they had.

One night as I was home alone, I told Jesus that my life was His and it was a sweet time with the Holy Spirit. But then what? The only thing I knew to do was observe the other Christians in my life – and mimic their behavior. I fell right into the trap of legalism. Just tell me the rules and I will do or not do accordingly as a Christian. However, I did not need rules; I needed to be discipled.

Decades later, as I mentor young women who desire to grow spiritually, I recognize that discipling others is to teach them how to walk with the Lord.

But what does discipleship look like if it is not about adjusting behavior?

Jesus modeled how to disciple when He said to Simon Peter and Andrew, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). He was not inviting them to learn the “Christian rules” but to join Him in what He was doing. He started with the invitation to follow Him with the purpose of being redefined from “fishers of fish,” to “fishers of men.” Did they really understand what that meant? I don’t think so. We don’t read about Jesus implementing a rigorous training program; instead Jesus took them to a wedding where they witnessed His miraculous power of turning water into wine (John 2:1–11). They watched Jesus respond with godly authority when He cleared the Temple of money changers (John 2:13 – 25). And in amazement, the disciples observed Jesus offering hope to an outcast woman in an outcast city with the simple gesture of stopping at a well for a drink of water (John 4:126).  

Belonging

As Jesus was expressing His power, His authority, and His hope, he was giving the disciples a sense of belonging. They wanted to be with Him, but more impressively is that Jesus wanted them! These fishermen and tax collectors and other seemingly undesirable members of society were given an elevated status of belonging to this rising leader. As Jesus taught about the kingdom of God, they inferred that Jesus would be the one who would squelch the Roman occupation of Jerusalem; He would be the one to set them free. They did not understand the full picture of what Jesus was teaching until He explained the deeper meaning of the parables – only to His followers and disciples (Mark 4:10–12).

Believing

Jesus provided opportunities for His disciples to apply the lessons He had been teaching them. He healed the leper and then sent him to the priest to be declared clean (Matthew 8:1–4). He healed the centurion’s servant from afar with just a word (Matthew 8:5–13). And He healed Peter’s motherinlaw, and then she got up and served Him (Matthew 8:14–15). Think of the faith progression in these healings: the Hebrew disciples were not going to get close to a leper to examine his disease; they would leave that for the priests. They didn’t actually see the centurion’s servant, so they could not verify the healing for themselves. But Peter’s mother-in-law was a different story. She got up without any residual symptoms of the fever, and tended to Jesus’ needs. Even though Peter was an eyewitness to the healing power, he and the other disciples still had to grow in their own belief. When they thought they were perishing on a boat in a storm, Jesus rebuked them for their “little faith” (Matthew 8:23–27).

Fast-forward toward the end of Jesus’ discipleship training; the disciples are once again in a boat with choppy waters and high winds. This time Jesus was not in the boat with them.  Peter’s belief had grown tremendously as he climbed out of the boat to walk on the water towards Christ. While it was a short walk before Peter’s fear took over, it prompted the disciples’ declaration that Jesus was the Son of God (Matthew 14:22–33).

Behaving

Believing Jesus as the Son of God changes how we respond to the authority of the Bible and the teachings it contains. Jesus gave many sermons on how to live, how to interact with fellow mankind, and how to interact with God. He regularly chastised the Pharisees for their outward appearance of piety; in other words, their behavior was only religion (Matthew 23:27). But He offered grace and forgiveness for the sinner (John 8:1–11).

Believing in Jesus and knowing we belong to Him changes everything about us, including how we respond to people and situations in our lives. It is the difference between the Peter who denied Christ three times (Luke 22:54–62) and the Peter who was arrested for boldly preaching about Jesus (Acts 4:1– 20). Peter started as a Christ-follower and became a Christ-proclaimer; that is discipleship.  

Walk this Way

As we come alongside of new or emerging believers to disciple them, we are, in essence, teaching them to walk with Jesus. They may want a list of dos and don’ts to know “what would Jesus do,” like I did. Or perhaps the exact opposite is true and their life does not resemble anything godly. Our temptation is to try a “fix” their behaviors first.

Behavior is not the starting point for walking with Christ. Discipleship begins with understanding who Jesus is and who we are in Him. It must start with belonging – knowing they are loved unconditionally and there is nothing that can separate them from His love (Romans 8:35-39). For some, depending on their background, it could take a while for them to have assurance of this fact. However, once the love of Christ penetrates people’s belief systems, it changes them through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is then that the Bible becomes amazing for them and it is then that they want to obey the Word as an overflow of what has been done inside of them. Discipleship that works helps believers feel a sense of belonging, increases their belief, and thus, affects their behavior.

For more information about our engaging Bible Studies and teaching resources, visit us at www.BigDreamMinistries.org or email us at CustomerCare@TheAmazingCollection.com