Renewing Rain

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selective focus photo of obalte green leafed plants during rainPhoto by Bibhukalyan Acharya on Pexels.com

From Isaiah 45:8:  “Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the skies rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation may spring up, and let it cause righteousness t sprout up also; I the Lord have created it.”

Rain showers continuously hydrate the lands

Sending restoring moisture from God’s hands

Perhaps God’s design will deliver to rinse off me

Washing away transgressions that affix on thee

 

Flowers, grass, and trees experience joy now

Smiling as additional raindrops take their bow

This errant life feels God’s restoring spirit of the rain

Helping me to reconcile and move away from pain

 

The clouds hang low, soon rain comes again

Witnessing Christ’s love, forgiving all our sin

Temperatures remain cool, clouds shroud the light

Feeling God’s lasting affection, realizing His might

 

My disposition cools, harsh feelings evaporate

Praying to my Lord, as the…

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View today’s reading at Bible Gateway

New Testament study

John 18:19-40

The High Priest Questions Jesus

19 Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.

20 “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. 21 Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.”

22 When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded.

23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” 24 Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Peter’s Second and Third Denials

25 Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself. So they asked him, “You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?”

He denied it, saying, “I am not.”

26 One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?” 27 Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.

Jesus Before Pilate

28 Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?”

30 “If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.”

31 Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.”

“But we have no right to execute anyone,” they objected. 32 This took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die.

33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”

35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”

36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. 39 But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”

40 They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising.

New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Why Is Evidence Important for Faith?

by Josh McDowell, from session one of Evidence that Demands a Verdict

[God] has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus… to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles… I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. — 2 Timothy 1:9, 2 Timothy 1:11-12
Welcome

Imagine a courtroom scene. At the head of the courtroom, behind a desk on an elevated platform, sits the judge. Positioned nearby is the court reporter, the clerk, and the bailiff. To the right is the jury. In the middle of the room, off to one side, is the lawyer who will be prosecuting the case. To the other side is the defendant and his attorney.

faithgatway
It is the job of the prosecutor to make his case in such a way that it leaves no reasonable doubt the defendant is guilty. To do so, he will call witnesses to testify and present relevant evidence. But now imagine that as the prosecutor steps up to make his opening arguments, he simply tells the judge and jury that they need to have faith that his convictions about the defendant are true. Chances are, not only would the prosecutor fail in his attempts to get the court to believe him in “blind faith,” but he would also likely get thrown off the case.

What is interesting is that many Christians today treat their faith this same way. Some even believe this type of blind faith is required… that they are never supposed to have any doubts about God, or the Bible, or the doctrines they learned in church. German philosopher and atheist Friedrich Nietzsche criticized Christians for this very reason when he wrote, “Christianity has done its utmost to close the circle and declared even doubt to be sin. One is supposed to be cast into belief without reason, by a miracle, and from then on to swim in it as in the brightest and least ambiguous of elements… What is wanted are blindness and intoxication and an eternal song over the waves in which reason has drowned.”1
The truth is that Christianity never demands blind faith.
Furthermore, by taking on the role of the prosecutor and investigating the claims of the Bible, we find that God does provide enough evidence for rational belief. In fact, author Lee Strobel, a former journalist and skeptic, found after conducting his own investigation of Christianity, “The conclusion was compelling, an intelligent entity has quite literally spelled out the evidence of his existence through the four chemical letters in the genetic code. It’s almost as if the Creator autographed every cell.”2

God has not provided exhaustive knowledge of His existence, but He has given sufficient knowledge for those with an open heart and mind. In this session, we will take the first step on this journey to discovery by looking at why evidence is so important for faith.3

Reflect

Why is it important to have evidence to back up your belief in something? When are some times that you put your faith in something that later proved to not be worthy of your trust?

— or —

What is the single biggest question about truth, the Bible, or Jesus that you find people struggle with today? What evidence are you hoping God provides to you during this study to answer that question?
Read
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Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
According to this passage, what should believers in Christ be ready to defend?

What traits should you display when sharing the evidence for your faith?

Which of these two is harder for you to maintain when you are in the midst of defending your beliefs? Why?

Watch Session One:
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Continue to our blog
to watch the video and read the remaining content from session one!

Your Turn

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