Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

2522-large


From now until New Years Day, all Kindle editions of the “Montgomery Lake High” book series will be on sale for $2.99! These can be read on all iPhone, iPad, and Android devices with the free Kindle App. 

Picture 2

mlh-1-new-cover

mlh-2-new-cover

mlh-3-new-cover2

mlh-aftermath-new-cover

mlh-forces-new-cover

Wishing you a very merry Christmas and a blessed 2017!

By Max Alva

Kids have a lot of questions… that is no secret! But someone has a haunting secret (and plethora of questions) bound within the pages of When Darkness Tries to Hide by Stacy Padula. When Darkness Tries to Hide is the thrilling second book in the young adult fiction series Montgomery Lake High. The story takes place in a fictional town in western Massachusetts. Jason Davids and Chris Dunkin take the lead roles in this intriguing book, but Chantal Kagelli and Jon Anderson also play central parts.

When Darkness Tries to Hide reads like a movie reel across your mind. You get to see how a bunch of characters think, instead of just being trapped in one person’s mindset. The story begins two months after where the first book, The Right Person, left off. The main problem in this book is that Chantal’s boyfriend, Andy, is in a coma, and Jason feels responsible for the accident that landed him there. The hail is pelting down. The lightning is a spider web across the sky. Lady, Chantal’s golden retriever, is nowhere to be found. Andy is outside in the ominous storm searching for her. As far as Jason is concerned, he should have been outside saving Lady from the tornado-spawning storm. Instead Andy is sent into a coma, and Jason into a world of dismay. “He had not slept a wink in thirty-seven hours. He glanced at his clock again, seven twenty. You can do this Jason, he said to himself. Just get up and go. Go tell them the truth. Tell everyone at Alyssa’s party that you found Andy’s body. Tell them that he looked dead. Tell them about the horror in Chantal’s eyes when she came rushing up the stairs. Make sure you tell them that it is all your fault.” (page 22) No one knows about Andy’s accident until Jason spreads the news at Alyssa Kelly’s party the following evening. At the party, Jason seeks out his ex-best friend, Chris Dunkin, to confide in. Chris lends Jason an ear, even though Jason has been spreading slanderous rumors about Chris around Montgomery Lake High ever since Chris turned away from drugs, alcohol, and their group of friends two months prior. At the party, Jason and Chris come up with a plan to help Andy and unite the students at Montgomery Lake High. However, no one—not even Chris—knows Jason’s secret about the day of the storm.

I recommend When Darkness Tries to Hide to all teenagers, even ones who have not read the first book in the series. I especially recommend this book to people who are going through hard times, and people who have issues with drugs and alcohol. I give this book four and a half stars! It deserves such a high rating because it has a very interesting idea running all the way through it that keeps the reader fascinated with the story, even after they have finished the book. The ending leaves you wanting to know what happens next and trying to imagine what the third book in the series will bring. I think it should be made into a movie, or a TV series! When Darkness Tries to Hide is filled with answers to those tough questions often asked by kids and teenagers!

John 19:26-27 states, “When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.”

Here we see Jesus: drenched in his own blood, with his skin ripped to the bone in places from the 39 cat-of-nine-tail lashes He received. With nails through his wrists and feet and a crown of thorns cutting into his head, he glanced down to people at the foot of His Cross. He saw not the 5000 men he had fed by the Sea of Galilee, nor even his 12 disciples.

But there, beside his mother Mary, was one of the twelve: John, the youngest of all, who was about 18 years old.

What we see here is that Jesus entrusted his beloved mother to John. This is very interesting because Jesus had many brothers and sisters of his own. The difference was that John went to the Cross.

In Matthew 12:48 Jesus said, “Who is my mother and who are my brothers? Whoever does the will of My Father in Heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” We see this lived out at the foot of the Cross, as Jesus entrusts Mary to John.

As it was Jesus’ love for us that kept Him on the Cross, it was John’s love for the Lord that brought him to the Cross. In 1 John 4, John wrote, “We love because He first loved us.” John is known as “the disciple of love”, and he referred to himself in scripture as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. John knew God’s love and was therefore able to give God’s love.

In our own lives, we often have many friends around us when things are going great. But when trials enter our lives, we can be taken by surprise by those who disappear. It is a painful yet invaluable lesson to learn, for genuine love and loyalty are tested and proven through hardship.

So, where were the other disciples during the Crucifixion? What is it that kept them from the Cross?

More importantly: what is it that keeps us from coming to the Cross?

Is it fear of the unknown? Or the fear of losing things we deem valuable? A fear of change? Or perhaps, a fear of being ridiculed, rejected, or misjudged by others?

What is it that keeps us from the Cross-from the full, complete trust that Jesus knows what is truly best for our lives-from complete trust that anything He sends our way will be good for us and for His Kingdom-from complete trust that anything He withholds from us, or asks us to let go of, is not good for us to have?

Is it fear that keeps us from fully committing our lives to the One who gave His life for us?

John-the disciple of love, the one who was not afraid to be seen at the foot of the Cross-is the apostle who wrote, “perfect love casts out fear.” He also wrote “he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”

God tells us 365 times in the Bible “do not fear.” Fear is one of Satan’s greatest weapons. It can immobilize us. It can keep us from God’s best-if we let it. It can keep us from coming to the Cross and laying down the things he asks of us. Fear can keep us from receiving the many blessings the Lord wants to bestow upon us.

As we see Jesus entrust His precious mother to John, what does that show us?

When we come to the Cross of Christ, The Lord entrusts us with what is important to Him.

When we remain at the Cross-even at times when everything around us is falling apart, times when it would be so easy to get mad at God and turn away from Him-when we remain there, the Lord comforts, guides, and instructs us through the words He speaks and the love He gives His believers for one another.

So, as we look toward the Cross this Easter weekend, I pray that God gives each of us a deeper understanding of His love-which is best demonstrated through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Words from the Cross: A Good Friday Message.

About 10 years ago, I found direction for my life, wisdom to make hard choices, and passion to fuel my drive. This happened when I returned to God, as an adult, desiring to learn and carry out his will for my life. After having run from him and my Christian upbringing as a teenager, I was left feeling quite empty, confused about my place in the world, and discontent. By returning to a bible teaching church (that did not cloud things up with man-made rules), I found exactly what I needed: I learned how to recognize God at work around me, as well as how to understand his promptings and how to discern his will. I learned my value and my purpose, and my heart became full of new desires – ones that brought about positive results. I lost interest in things that actually were not good for me, despite having seemed so at first, and found genuine happiness and fulfillment that I had never before known. It has been a wonderful ten years, and I am thankful to God for the life he has given me, the grace he has extended to me, and the love he has placed within me. I am still a work in progress, and I mess up a lot, but He always helps me find my way back to where I belong. This Christmas season, I am choosing to celebrate the one who the holiday is in honor of: the one who died to pay the penalty for my sins – the one who has blessed me with the best things in my life simply because I put my faith in him. Thank you, Jesus.

Excerpt from Stacy Padula’s novel “The Aftermath”

Prologue

Jason Davids glanced at his bedroom clock. Seven nineteen. Twenty-four hours had passed since one of the darkest moments of his life. He sighed and fell back on his unmade bed. He curled into the fetal position and tried with all of his might to will the horrifying image out of his mind.

He had not slept a wink in thirty-seven hours. He glanced at his clock again. Seven twenty. You can do this Jason, he urged himself silently. Just get up and go. Go tell them the truth. Tell everyone at Alyssa’s party that you found Andy’s body. Tell them that he looked dead. Tell them about the horror in Chantal’s eyes when she came rushing up the stairs. Make sure you tell them that it is entirely your fault.

Jason heard a loud knock on his bedroom door. “Jay-dawg, you ready?” Luke’s voice cried out. “We have to pick up Laurelle and Missy on the way,” he added as he whipped open the door.

Jason sat up in his bed and rested his head in his hands. “Yeah,” he replied to his older brother. “I’m good.”

“You’re going to Alyssa’s party in a t-shirt and sweat pants?” Luke asked as he sat down at Jason’s desk and stared at him with amusement.

“Oh,” Jason said and glanced down at his attire. The thought of getting dressed had not even occurred to him. “No, I guess I’m not.”

Luke laughed. “What drug are you on right now?” he questioned him.

“None,” Jason stated flatly and stared blankly at his feet.

“Then what the heck is wrong with you?” Luke asked.

Jason shrugged.

“All right, well, get dressed and come downstairs when you’re ready,” Luke said, eyeing Jason with a look of concern.

Jason nodded slightly.

“Did you sleep last night?” Luke pressed him.

“No,” Jason admitted quietly.

“You and Cathy all right?” Luke asked, holding his stare on Jason.

Jason shrugged.

“Well, freshen up. I’ll see you in a few,” Luke stated. He tossed something at Jason as he exited the room.

Lifelessly, Jason glanced at the minuscule bag that had landed beside him on his bed. If he had the energy, his eyes would have protruded from his face in horror. “You have got to be kidding me, Luke,” he heaved, shaking his head in dismay. He flung the bag onto his floor, fell back on his bed, and closed his eyes. You can do this, Jason. Just get dressed and get out the door, right now. Bring out the charm and the plastic smile. Forget what Cathy said. Just get up and face the facts. You’ve made a mess of a good person’s life. You have to tell them the truth. It doesn’t matter what Cathy wants. Andy is all that matters now.

 

 

Chapter 1

***

(Three Weeks Later)

It sounded like a train coming toward him, but there was not a train in sight. A flash of light shot through the room—the capsule. Was this a time warp? Or, perhaps, a flashback? Running—more running without getting anywhere. “No, Chantal! Stop!” he screamed. His words froze in the air.

She could not hear him. Time was running out. She was running toward the staircase with her long auburn hair flowing into Jason’s face. Watching, he knew that she was not going to make it before the trembling began. She fell over before he could reach her. Once again, he had let her down.

The light flickered, and he struggled to remain standing. He reached the stairs, but did not stop by Chantal’s side. The door ahead looked like a castle wall—a barricade. The other side held the destruction. The other side possessed the danger. This door—his enemy—was keeping them safe.

“Jason, don’t!” Cathy’s voice cried out. She did not sound like his fifteen year old girlfriend; she sounded like a hissing demon.

He latched onto the doorknob as it transformed into a vault. It looked like his locker. His mind was blank. I can make this right, he thought. He pressed his hand to the door. It was a glacier. Water began trickling through his fingertips. He felt completely alone. A crackling sound above caught his attention. Wake up, Jason! he screamed at himself. Wake up before you see him. Not again.

In an instant, Andy’s pale face appeared through the water. Jason’s heart pounded. “Trade places with me!” Jason pleaded as he reached out toward Andy. There was a crash, and then Andy was gone.

Breathing heavily, with sweat dripping down his forehead, Jason shot his large blue eyes wide open. “Again? Really?” he said aloud in the stillness of his dark bedroom. He brought his hand to his chest and breathed in deeply. He turned toward his alarm clock. Three thirty-three a.m. It had been three weeks since the storm had struck Montgomery, since Andy had slipped into a coma and since Jason had realized that he was living in a cloud of darkness.

* * *

Later that evening, Jason sat upon the bleachers behind Montgomery Lake High School, leaning back comfortably and paying little attention to the JV football game in front of him. Surrounded by the popular MLH underclassmen, Jason continuously yelled obscenities at everyone who was not his friend. As usual, this caused obnoxious laughter to erupt from the crowd and embarrassment to burn within the innocent passerby. Each time Jason got a reaction out of someone, his friends gave him props, which only egged on his tactless behavior.

“Yo, dude! Is Luke really dating Missy Kent?” Nick Chandler, a sophomore, asked Jason. “I’ve heard some things.”

Jason shrugged carelessly. “I have no idea, dude,” he replied after taking a sip of vodka and Sprite from his soda bottle.

“Your brother’s the man, dude. Seriously,” Nick stated and slapped Jason’s hand before walking over to a group of junior girls.

Jason glanced toward the field. Where’s my boy? he thought as he shot his eyes from left to right, looking for Chris Dunkin. Coach Mitchell wouldn’t rest his star running back—not against Lincoln North. Jason looked toward the scoreboard. 7 to 3, us. Glancing back at the field, he saw Bobby Ryan throw a long pass toward the end zone. There he is. He catches; he runs; he scores! “Woot! Woot!!” Jason yelled loudly as the band began playing MLH’s touchdown song. Jason turned to slap hands with Bryan Sartelli. “If Chris had gotten sober before tryouts then he probably would have made varsity,” Jason commented beneath his breath as he turned back toward the field. “My brother should pull him up.”

“Let’s go back to Luke’s car. I need a refill,” Bryan said. He waved his empty coke bottle in the air, stealing Jason’s attention away from the field. “I don’t get many nights like this, without ‘you-know-who’,” he added and rolled his hazel-brown eyes. Jason assumed that Bryan was referring to his overbearing girlfriend—the mayor’s daughter—Courtney Angeletti.

“Ha!” Jason laughed as he rose from the bleachers. “Let’s peace-out. Luke wanted to go to Samson’s anyway. You can do a lot more than booze out of a soda bottle with that crew.”

“All right. See you guys later,” Bryan called loudly and nodded toward the large group that they had been sitting with.

“Yeah, later,” Jason said as he glanced at the field before descending the bleachers.

“Let’s grab Anderson,” Bryan suggested.

“Where is that kid? I haven’t seen him since we got here,” Jason asked as he paused to peer through the crowd.

“There he is!” Bryan called out.

Jason followed Bryan’s gaze and spotted Jon standing behind the cheerleaders with Katherine Rossi. “Ha! Of course he’s talking to type-A-quality. He never lets us down.”

“He’s so sweating that girl,” Bryan said with a laugh as he stepped in front of Jason.

“He’s ridiculous to think that he has a chance with her,” Jason stated. “She’s here trying to watch her boyfriend play, and Jon’s here trying to score points of his own.”

Bryan shook his head and laughed. “He’s the champ! I wouldn’t discredit the possibility.”

“Tru-dat,” Jason sang and flicked the visor of Alyssa Kelly’s baseball hat as he passed by her.

“Hey, guys!” she cried out with a bright smile. “Where are you headed?” She was sitting beside Marielle Kayne, who was wearing Chris’ football sweatshirt.

“Oh, hey,” Bryan said as he turned to face the girls. “I didn’t see you there.”

“Hi,” Marielle said quietly. Jason noted the suspicious expression on her face as she glanced at Bryan’s empty soda bottle.

“We’re grabbing Jon and then heading out with my brother,” Jason stated and nodded toward Jon. “What are you ladies up to tonight?”

“You’re not staying to watch the game?” Marielle asked. “Chris is playing so hard out there!”

“Obviously!” Jason exclaimed. “He’s winning the game for us. I don’t need to watch the whole thing. I have faith my boy will pull through.” Jason turned away from Marielle and took a sip of his drink.

“We’ll catch you girls later,” Bryan said as he jumped down a row of bleachers. “Have a good one.”

Jason waved goodbye, without making eye contact with either of the girls, and followed Bryan down the rest of the bleachers.

My philosophy is that the world was created by God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit—God in three forms. God also created time, as a way for humans to experience his creation. Before he invented time, it did not exist and, therefore, God is not subject to time. I believe God experiences things eternally; he sees the past, present, and future all at once. Imagine a parade going down a long street. Someone at street level sees what is directly in front of him or her and experiences things in a linear order. If someone were high above the parade, he/she would see the parade in its entirety all at once. The person on the ground experiences bit by bit what the one above takes in all at once—able to see the beginning and the end and not subject to time.

I believe that God always has existed because, remember, time is merely an illusion created by God for us humans. I also believe that everything that exists has always existed, but in various forms. Science has proven that energy and matter cannot be created or destroyed, which implies that what exists has always existed and that nothing new can come into existence. Anything “new” is actually something that already “was” but just in a different form. A human for example was once an egg and a sperm inside the form of his or her parents… who were once eggs and sperms inside their parents, etc. Another example would be the weather: a domino effect, resulting from pressure, systems, and patterns within our atmosphere that have always existed but transform as they travel around and intersect with each other. It is all a “flow” or a system of things working together and transforming, not creating something from nothing, but rather changing form as it progresses.

In this world, there are absolute truths because saying that there are not absolute truths would actually be an absolute truth! So in a way, it is like a trick question, a paradox, or an oxymoron. Absolute truths are true, whether someone believes they are or not. The force of gravity existed before humans were able to recognize it or calculate it mathematically. A stop sign still exists, whether people believe they need to stop at it or not. The truths exist; people, however, do not always believe in them. It does not make them any less true; it makes the people wrong.

Prophecy is proof of absolute truth and of the illusion of time. Hundreds of years before crucifixion even existed, the Prophet Isaiah wrote Isaiah 53, which describes Jesus’ crucifixion. Jesus’ life fulfilled roughly 350 prophecies. These prophecies were true when they were first declared and true when they were fulfilled. Therefore, time is relative to the thinker. One may believe the prophecy was true when it was spoken, while another deemed it only true once it was fulfilled. Either way, it was true all along. God could share it with His prophets because He is not subject to time restraints. Past, present, and future are all one in His perspective. Aside from prophecies of Jesus, there were others that prophesied of Alexander the Great’s feats, wars, Israel gaining its land back, and so many more. Throughout history, Biblical prophecies have come true. This proves that what was declared is both true and eternal.

My belief in right and wrong is based on what God declares as right and wrong. He established principles in His word and declares certain actions as sins. God has also designed a path for each person to discover and walk in. The map to the path is found through reading the Bible, praying for God’s guidance, and watching Him work in circumstances around you. Men have free will; they can seek out God and follow his pre-designed path for them, or they can follow their own ideas of right and wrong. However, they will miss God’s blessings and purpose for their lives if they fail to find the path that they were designed to live—the path designed (with love) for them alone.

Mark 12:28-34 -The Most Important Commandment

28 One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. 30 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’[a] 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] No other commandment is greater than these.”

32 The teacher of religious law replied, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other. 33 And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law.”

34 Realizing how much the man understood, Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Notes

There are 613 Jewish Laws, Jesus’ answer summarizes them all.

God’s laws are not burdensome, they can be reduced to 2 principals: Love God & love others (Deut 6:5, Lev. 19:18)

When you love God completely you follow the Ten Commandments as a result of your love. You love God when you obey Him.

Why does loving God & others sum up all the laws?

1. When you love God you want to obey Him because they thought of hurting the one who died for you hurts your heart and makes you sad.

2. When you love someone you look out for what is best for them. NOT YOURSELF. You would not steal from someone you genuinely love because you think of their needs before your own and love does not envy.

3. Love is truthful and does not lie

4. You can’t hold Unforgiveness towards someone you are loving because love does not keep record of being wronged

“Love is patience with the ability to be taken advantage of over & over again…it stands the test of time. It makes it through the hardships & difficulties… love refuses to give up, it refuses to surrender, it will not stop believing or hoping, it will simply not stop loving.” – Greg Laurie

5. When you love someone you place value in their name and do not disrespectfully use it in vain

6. When you love someone you want to spend time with them. So when you love God you desire to spend time praying, reading His Word, going to AWANA and Sunday School, singing Him Praises and making Him proud. If you have no desire for the things of God, do not be deceived, you do not truly love God.

7. When you are acting in love you do not mistreat someone with harsh words or physical pain because love is patient and kind.

8. Loving God & others brings them honor. If you love your parents you will respect their authority, obey them, and think more highly of them than you do yourself.

9. Love expects nothing in return for the nice things it does

10. Love is not a feeling. It is an act of putting others first, laying aside your own desires & instincts, and asking God to help you do it.

The key to loving God & others is asking God to fill us with His Holy Spirit. Love is a fruit of the Spirit so the more time we spend with God the more love will be produced in our lives.

If you have to make a decision ask yourself which choice best shows love for God and/or love for others?

“Loving others may mean tears, heartache, and much persevering in prayer; but love overcomes all obstacles.” – Andrew Murray

Take a moment and think about the way you treat your parents. Do you respect them? Honor them? Obey them? Put their desires before your own? Are you more concerned with their happiness than your own? Think about it and decide if you are really loving them the way God wants us to love them.

Take a moment and think about the time you spend with God. Do you respect Him? Honor Him? Obey His Word? Put His desires before your own? Are you more concerned with making Him pleased than doing what you think is fun? Decide if you are really loving God the way he wants us to.

 

Mark 7:5-7, 20-23

Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?”

6 He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:

‘ This people honors Me withtheirlips,

But their heart is far from Me.

7And in vain they worship Me,

Teachingasdoctrines the commandments of men

“Hypocrites” – Pharisees pretend to be something they are not and have no intention of being. They worshipped God for the wrong reasons – not motivated by love for God, but their selfish and self-centered desires to appear holy, gain profit, and gain social status.

Have you ever done anything just to look good to you someone, or because you want them to like you? Not just out of your love for them?

Like the Pharisees people today can be hypocrites. If someone pretends to love God just to make their parents or friends or teachers happy they are hypocrites. 1 Samuel 16:7 tells us that man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at our hearts. God judges by faith and character. Because only God can see on the inside only He can accurately judge people. James 4:11 tells us we are not to speak evil and judge a brother because then we become a judge of the law instead of a doer. 1 Cor 4:5 tells us to judge nothing before the appointed time, wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. We are to confront those who are sinning, in love, but we must not judge who is a better servant for Christ. When you judge someone you are considering yourself better than him or her and that is sinful behavior.

Have you ever had someone dislike you and they don’t even know you? How does it feel when someone judges you? Does it hurt? Does it feel unfair? How should you react? Pray for that person! Does it make you never want to put someone else through the pain they have caused you?

As you grow up you may have a lot of people come against you and judge you by your outward appearance. They may seeks to taint things that you have done out of a pure heart to ruin your reputation or to make themselves look better. They may attack your character and accuse you of doing things you never did. They may spread rumors, slander, or gossip about you. They may attempt to judge you without even getting to know you. All of these things are contrary to God’s word and are attacks from the enemy.

If the judgment and accusations comes from a Non-Christian then it is Satan using them to discourage and condemn you. If it comes from a Christian it is Satan trying to cause strife and division. Don’t let the enemy keep you down. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Don’t worry about what men think of you. God is your defender! He knows your heart. If you can stand before God with a clear conscience, knowing who you are in Him, as someone who desires His Will for your life then fear not. Worry not. What can man do to you? Nothing – God is your deliverer and your shield. God is in control. So when you are tempted to give into Satan’s plan and get upset over what others think of you – just remember that God knows the truth, He knows your heart, and His opinion is the only one that matters. It was the Pharisees who were concerned with their outward appearance, not Jesus!

The Pharisees were concerned about looking “holy”. They wanted people to fear them as the religious leaders, making sure everything looked perfect from the outside but paid little or no attention to what was taking place in their hearts. God’s word tells us that when we seek Him with our whole hearts, we will find him. If they had truly been seeking God in their hearts they would have known Jesus as Messiah. Instead they were hypocrites.

We become hypocrites when we pay more attention to reputation than to character. (Whether its others’ or our own)

We become hypocrites when we follow religious practices but allow our hearts to remain distant from God.

We become hypocrites when we emphasize our own goodness but others’ sins.

We are supposed to do everything in love. Without love, works profit us nothing (1 Cor 13). God sees our hearts and desires for our hearts to be close to Him. He did not desire the Pharisees traditions and man made laws; he desired a relationship with them. We grow close to God by praying, reading the Bible, obeying His commandments, trusting Him, and desiring His Will above our own wants & desires. God promises when we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. What do you do to draw near to God?

 

Mark 10:35-45

35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.”

36 And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?”

37 They said to Him, “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory.”

38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”

39 They said to Him, “We are able.”

So Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized; 40 but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared.”

41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be greatly displeased with James and John. 42 But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. 44 And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.

45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Who were James & John? Who is the Son of Man?

James and John were close with Jesus, so it is natural that they would want to sit on either side of him in His Kingdom. When you chose a seat, don’t you look for where your closest friend is sitting? At that time the disciples thought Jesus was going to set up an earthly Kingdom that would set Israel free from Rome. They did not realize until after the Resurrection that Jesus would be setting up His Kingdom in the heart of His believers.

James and John were not only seeking to be close by Jesus they were seeking to exalt themselves. We know this by Jesus’ response to their request. Jesus sees the heart behind all of our questions, actions, and prayers. He did not get angry with them for their request, as did the other disciples, instead he taught on a valuable lesson.

James and John were concerned with their status, recognition, and having a high place in the Kingdom instead of being others centered. The apostle Paul tells us in His letter to the Philippians:

3Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

To be others centered means to put others first. To put their needs and desires before our own. We are to serve God by serving others. That is not always easy to do. Our natural flesh wants to be served, waited on, and pampered. Our natural flesh can be quite selfish. So how do we conquer our flesh and learn to put others first? Abiding in Christ. You see when we abide in Christ (pray, read the Bible, repent, obey God, and desire God’s will instead of our own) the Holy Spirit will produce Christ’s love in our own hearts. Love is not selfish, it looks out for others, it thinks first of others. Love lays down its life for others and it NEVER fails. As we grow in our walk, and grow closer to Jesus, He will work in our hearts. The more we read and study God’s Word the more we will see things through God’s eyes of love. As we grow in grace and love we become more like Christ and therefore more others-centered.

Jesus said that whoever desires to be first will be slave to all, and whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. So what does that tell us? How does Jesus want us to treat each other?

Jesus said the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life. Jesus was referring to Himself. If anyone deserves to be served it is our LORD! He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! Yet, he came to earth and healed the sick, cleansed the lepers, fed the hungry, rose the dead, gave sight to the blind, and gave his life so us sinners could have life. Jesus never sought to exalt Himself. Every miracle He performed brought Glory to God.

Just like the disciples we have a lot to learn from Jesus. We are to humble ourselves and put others first. We can go to God in prayer for the strength and desire to do so. This is pleasing to God. We serve Him by serving others. It is by devoting our lives to serving the Lord , doing His Will, denying ourselves, and giving of ourselves that we find life. .

What are some other ways you can put others first? What have you done in the past month to serve someone else? The easiest way to know if you’re a true servant is by how you react when people treat you like one!