Archive for October, 2016

More than the moment (John 6)

October 17, 2016

27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” John 6:27

So much of our world looks only at the moment with no consideration of the implications for down the road.  Usually this translates into a consistent view of, “what’s in it for me.”

I believe most of the participants in John chapter six would fall into this category.

The chapter begins with the glorious feeding of thousands of people.  However the chapter takes a strange turn in Vs: 15:

15 Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

One would ask, “Why not, Jesus?”   In the moment, it sounds like a good deal!  But a look beyond the moment merits the question: “What about the cross and what about our need of redemption?”  Jesus looked beyond the moment.

Question: “How can we look beyond the moment?”

  • We have to be secure in our moment.

When the disciples were frantic about how to feed the people, John records, “Jesus knew what He was going to do.”  The disciples have not come to a secure place in trusting Jesus provision for all their daily needs.

  • We have to strive for another moment.

The people follow Jesus for one purpose, “they want more food for the moment.”  However, Jesus wanted them to understand beyond the moment.  He wanted them to come and follow Him as the eternal bread of life.

When this happens a person becomes secure in their faith and they begin to strive in faith knowing they will receive the end of their faith, the salvation of their souls.  I love John 6:40

40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

Maybe you know someone who is locked only in the moment.  Reach out to them, direct them to the eternal source of life and happiness.  Maybe you are locked in the moment with work, family, bills, and life?  Look to the Bread of Life and be filled!

What sort of man is this? (Matthew 8:14-34; Mk. 4-5)

October 14, 2016

27 And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” Matthew 8:27

This day you will be met by people who will be in discovery mode.  These people, will be forming opinions about you based upon the following criteria: “what you say, what you don’t say, what you do or don’t do, what your facial expressions indicate, and often  by what do others say.”  This is a moment of reality for us!!!

But this is exactly what Jesus puts before us in Mk. 4: 21

21 And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand?”

I honestly found it both convicting and challenging to realize we are to be the light at all times.

It was that way with Jesus.  Think about it, for a moment.  Every moment Jesus was under the microscope of the eyes of man.  Let’s consider Matthew 8:

  • Jesus is the healer who is worthy of being served, 8:15.
  • Jesus is the Savior who become one of us, 16-17, Isaiah 53:4.
  • Jesus is the King who became poor so we might become rich, 18-22.
  • Jesus is the Sovereign Lord over creation and the forces of hell, 23-34.

But for most men there was not the recognition of who He was.

Brothers and sisters, you and I know Him!  He has saved us and given us of His eternal grace.  We have been called to a life of service that begs for us to live in such a way that men would wonder, “what sort of person is this?”

When they wonder, they may ask, “Who are you?”  In that moment, God has opened the door of harvest.  It is time to put in the sickle of the gospel and reap the harvest!!!

It’s going to happen beloved.  You are going to meet people.  So be ready, be excited to tell them about your healer, Savior, King, and your Sovereign Lord.  “Let’s roll!” 

A Word for our time (Matthew 13; Luke 8)

October 13, 2016

41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. Matthew 13:41-43

Each day it seems that the actions of people in our world leave us more and more speechless.  For example, “our current options for president leave us almost speechless in every way.”

Even worse, the violence against the church leaves us even more speechless.  Last evening I could not sleep, so I got up and began reading for a while. I found myself reading about all the current persecution of Christians around the world.  I found myself in speechless horror as I saw a published picture of ISIS fighters holding the heads of four beheaded Christians.  I went on the read an article about 11 Christian missionaries who were beheaded and placed on crossed for seven days with a sign placed by their crosses.  The sign read, “Infidels.”  All of this taking place in Syria brought great tears to my eyes.

Brothers and sisters, “What is God’s Word for such a time as this?”

In Matthew 13 we have the word for our time.

Jesus gives us 8 parables which teach us about the power of the gospel.  We see how the gospel impacts those who respond to it.  It is of the greatest of value (13:41-44).  It bears fruit of righteousness in the world (13:23).

However, we also see the impact of those who reject the gospel (13:41).  Such people are law breakers who sin and cause others to sin.

Jesus teaches us that such people are going to be in the world until the day of Judgment. On the day of judgment such people will face the eternal fires of hell.  When the Lord casts the net of His gathering of all nations.  It will be judgment day (13:47-50).  On that day it will be glorious for God’s people.  We will shine like the sun as we joyously enter in (13:43) to God’s kingdom.  But it will be torment for the those who are not God’s people.

You might say, “I am looking forward to this day.”  Yes, I am looking forward to this day as well. But God’s Word says I am to be focused on the now:

51 “Have you understood all these things?” They said to him, “Yes.” 52 And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”  13:51-52

Those who understand their times know they have been given God’s Word, both the Old and New Testaments.  Such people understand the need of the gospel to be their response to such times.

I admit it, every time I closed my eyes last night I saw that picture of those four beheaded men.  I prayed, “Lord use me to speak your Word.”

I am now praying for you, “Speak His Word in the darkness of this day.  Raise a standard that will be the lighthouse in the storm.”  This is our time brothers and sisters!!

The danger of swept, EMPTY, and put in order (Matthew 12:22-50; Luke 11)

October 12, 2016

44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.” Matthew 12:44-45

Matthews account of Jesus in ministry in Matthew 12 seems, to the person who glances at the text, as just random events in the ministry of Christ.

  • Jesus teaching on the Sabbath.
  • Jesus miracles of healing.

But a deeper Spirit filled look merits the reality of how connected this chapter really is.  Throughout this entire chapter Jesus is facing outright opposition.  Vs: 14 tells us of the Pharisees desire to have Jesus murdered.  They question his ever move.

So we ask, “What is happening here?”

There is a fight between righteousness (Jesus) and religion (Pharisees). There is a battle between grace (Jesus) and law (Pharisees).  There is a disparity between power (Jesus) and powerlessness (Pharisees).

The illustration of this is given by Jesus in Vs: 43-45.

  • Religion seeks to clean up its own life, to adhere to a set of beliefs, and to look good on the outside.  But eventually it all caves in, because Satan and the old man wins out.  (Such a person’s last state is worse than the first).
  • Righteousness teaches us that we cannot clean up our own lives.  We cannot ever be good enough to earn eternal life.  We know an outside source has to come and to help us.  So this day we cry out, “Save me Jesus.”  This Jesus who saves us, places with us the Holy Spirit who is the power source to overcome our old nature.  This Jesus is our power source to overcome Satan.

Our power-point is this:  “If we sweep our house clean, empty is out, and put it in order. we have deceived ourselves.  We need Jesus to cleanse us (Sweep it clean).  Empty us of us and fill us with the Holy Spirit.  We need His righteousness to put us in and to keep us in order.”

Here are precious verses of Scripture that amplify this power-point:

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. Romans 8:9-10

What John the Baptist teaches us (Matthew 11)

October 11, 2016

and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see, Matthew 11:3-4

It seems that Scripture spends much time highlighting the ministry of John the Baptist.  This morning I was gripped by what the Scripture taught me.  I offer it to you as well.

John was a very instrumental figure in God’s redemptive place.  John’s assignment was supernatural, Vs:10; Malachi 3:1.  John’s anxiety was crushing his life as he sent word to Jesus from a prison cell, Vs: 1-3; 14:1-12.  Even though John would die in prison, his accomplishments still are very important, Vs: 11.

Now for where you and I come in:

  • Every believer has an assignment that is supernatural. We have been called by God to proclaim the gospel and to prepare people for the Second Coming of Christ, Lk. 13:3; Mk. 1:16; Matthew 28:18-20.

 

  • Every believer must remember, his or her anxiety does not have to crush them.  This is the beauty of Matthew 11:28-30.  We look to Jesus as our source of rest and perspective.

 

  • Every believer can accomplish more than John if he or she operates in the power of the Spirit. Vs: 11; John 14:12.

John the Baptist was almost crushed by the weight of the call on his life.  But the news of all Jesus did became the source of his victory.  If I have learned anything from the ministry of John the Baptist, it is this:  “We serve a supernatural God who is greater than any anxiety we face.  If I will walk in the Spirit, I will see God’s Kingdom grow.”

Read Isaiah words of encouragement from him prophecy in Isaiah 35:3-6

Strengthen the weak hands,
    and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who have an anxious heart,
    “Be strong; fear not!
Behold, your God
    will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God.
    He will come and save you.”

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
    and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then shall the lame man leap like a deer,
    and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.
For waters break forth in the wilderness,
    and streams in the desert

We serve an amazing God!!!

Praising God for the “I will.” (Matthew 8:1-13; Luke 7)

October 10, 2016

And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” Matthew 8:7

The last few days have been filled with the news of hurricane “Matthew.”  As I am writing this blog, the question still remains, “how much damage will Matthew unleash?”  Several times during last evening I awakened as lifted up my prayer to God.  I prayed, “Lord, please spare the people on the East Coast.”

This morning our Scripture reading takes us to another Matthew.  The Gospel of Matthew.  The news in Matthew and in Luke is far different from the national news of our day.  The news is of a hurricane world that encounters Jesus.

In Matthew 8 we read of two hurricane moments:

  • Jesus encounters a man with leprosy who asks, “Will you heal me?” 8:1-4.
  • Jesus encounters a man whose servant is paralyzed.  The man asks, “Will you speak healing to the servant?” 8:5-13 (Luke 7:1-1).

In both hurricane moments Jesus says, “I will.”

Brothers and sisters, I praise our God for being the “Great I Will.”

Luke 7 reveals to us the great impact of the ministry of the “I Will.”

  • The great “I Will” has compassion on a widow’s deceased son, Luke 7:11-17.
  • The great “I Will” has power over brokenness, disease, and demon possession, Luke 7:10-23.
  • The great “I Will” promises that the church will do greater things, Luke 7:24-28.
  • The great “I Will teaches us the power of praise in relationship to forgiveness, Luke 7:36-50.

Brothers and sisters, “Let us praise our great God for being “The Great I Will.”  This very day He is still “The Great I Will.”  Take time and pause in the mist of your hurricane day.  Lift up His name in praise.  Lift up His name in petition.  Could it be the Lord will move the eye of the storm away from you?

Just ask the widow at Nain!!! Luke 7:11-17

11 Soon afterward[a] he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. 12 As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus[b] gave him to his mother. 16 Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!”17 And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.

No Down Time (John 5)

October 7, 2016

17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”John 5:17

When it comes human beings the statement, “No down time,” can stir a variety of emotions.  For example:

  • This means I never get any rest.
  • This means there is constant chaos.
  • This means that eventually there will be a break down.
  • This means there is continual work.

Question:  “Could there also be another meaning?”  I believe John chapter 5 cries out, “Yes.”

John 5 continues to show us the ministry of the Son of God!!!  Here we see Jesus ministry in light of the statement: “No down time.”

  • In Vs: 1-9 we see the power of the Son of God.
  • In Vs: 10-18 we see the opposition to the ministry of the Son of God.
  • In Vs: 19-57 we see the proof of the ministry of the Son of God.

In the midst of this chapter Jesus makes the statement: “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”  Jesus tells those who oppose Him, “You are commanded to take time off to rest, but I never rest from the ministry.

This is an amazing statement to me!!!  I am so thankful, Jesus is always on the job.  I am so thankful, He is always there ministering for us, to us, with us, and at times, in spite of us.

This very moment Jesus is powerfully ministering in the Bethesda’s of our world.  His power is proof positive that He is the Son of God who is the Savior of all men.

I believe truly God has called His people to take heart in this Bethesda world.  We can work hard, live in faith, and rest in confidence because Jesus is always on the job!!!

A strange but effective approach (Mark 2)

October 6, 2016

Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Mark 2:6-7

I really wasn’t getting anywhere with my approach.  It seemed the more I tried the less results I was getting.  I had a choice, “either give in or change my approach.”

Question: does the above scenario characterize some area of your life today?

In mark chapter two we encounter 3 ministry moments in the ministry of Jesus.  It would seem that Jesus approach was different in each encounter.  A deeper look reveals this overriding fact:

The gospel of Mark presents the ministry of Jesus from the viewpoint of Jesus being “the suffering servant.”  We discover Jesus approach as that of being a servant of the Father in any ministry setting.  This is a strange approach.  Here is what I mean:

  • Jesus ministers in grace and power in what would have been to others a paralysing moment.  Mark 2:1-12

Four men with great faith, in Jesus, bring their friend to Jesus.  The Scribes with zero faith, in Jesus, try to paralysis the moment.  Jesus approach brought salvation, healing, and proof of who He was.  A strange but effective way.

  • Jesus ministers in grace and discernment in what would have been a divisive moment. Mark 2:13-17

The crowd of sinners would have missed the grace of Jesus if Jesus had not given grace to religious leaders who wanted to tear down the gospel.  I strange but effective way.

  • Jesus ministers in grace and wisdom in what would have been to others a powder-keg moment.  Mark 2:18-27

Jesus clearly shows us the coming of the New Covenant as well as His Lordship over every day of the week.

After reading this chapter, I asked myself: “Do I need a different approach to how I minister to others?”

God’s desire is for us to minister as servants filled with grace, power, discernment, and wisdom in every opportunity.  A strange but effective way!!!

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, Ephesians 5:15-18

 

A miracle in 3 months (John 2-4)

October 5, 2016

25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” John 4:25-26

Yesterday, while taking my once a day dive into Facebook land, I was reminded of this fact, “Christmas is only 12 weeks away.”  The person who posted this, from another state, received the following comment:  “I have already started buying presents.”  Suddenly I thought, “I have to get busy.  It will be here before I am ready.”

Thankfully, in this moment the Holy Spirit spoke, “really, surely there are more important things to get ready for.”  This mornings readings, has made this clear for me.

John chapters 2-4 place us in the ministry life of Jesus.  We, for example, see 3 moments of ministry in chapter 2.

  • Jesus turns water into wine, which shows us how true joy follows only from Him.
  • Jesus evict’s the merchants from the temple, which shows us how God is concerned about a pure temple of worship.
  • Jesus dialogues with people, which points us to His complete commitment to our salvation.

John shows us Jesus as the Son of God who is the Savior of the world.

You might ask, “How does this have anything to do with Christmas?”  Jesus was the miracle that had come to the world.  The woman at the well came to experience the miracle personally.

2000 years later you and I have the joy of remembering the miracle.  In three months we will remember.  Question, “what gifts will you buy for the coming King?”

For me, I want to bring before the Lord as many names as possible of those I have harvested for His glory.  Oh Lord, I want to be ready for the coming miracle.  Take time to soak in how Jesus taught the above truth:

Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them,“My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. 36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor. John 4:31-38.

Until Next Time (Matthew 4; Luke 4-5; John 1:15-34)

October 4, 2016

13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time. Luke 4:13

The statement, “until next time,” causes varied emotions in my heart and mind.  The emotion is breath taking when I consider leaving the beauty of an ocean sunset for the last time on our yearly family vacation.  The emotion is heartwarming when I consider saying, to Ovi, “until next time in Malawi.”  The emotion is with anticipation when I leave home each day.  Finally the emotion is sobering as I consider the truth that Satan is saying, “until next time.”

Surely, you know Satan is saying to you, “until next time?”  Yes, after every mountain-top spiritual victory, Satan limps away with the resolve, “until next time.”  This is very sobering to me.

Let be back up for a moment!  Our readings for today share with us the gospel narrative of the early days of Jesus earthly work. His work can be characterized by three words:

  • Ministry.  Jesus had a ministry of compassion.  Illustration in Luke 5:12-13 “I will.”
  • Miracles. Jesus miracles were performed for all types of people.
  • Message.  Jesus proclaimed the “gospel of the kingdom.”  Luke 4:43.

To the naive eye it would seem that Jesus ministry was extremely easy.  The truth is, it was very much the opposite.  Satan continually fought the ministry of Jesus.  We see this in Matthew 4:1-11 as well as in Mark and Luke.

Two thoughts here:

I. Satan tempted Jesus with what was common to man.

He tempted Him with the provision of life.  He tempted Him with position of life.  He tempted Him with the pride of life.  Each time Jesus faced the common temptation.

II.  Our Savor triumphed over what overcomes common man.

Jesus was victorious, unlike Israel in the wilderness.  Jesus was victorious, unlike any other man.  Jesus was fully aware of what was going on in this moment.  He was fully aligned with God the Father.  He spoke with authority in commanding Satan, “Be gone,” Matthew 4:10.  But we know, “He was saying as he left, until next time.”

Brothers and sisters, I want to challenge you to always be ready for each attach from our common enemy.  Daily stay in God’s Word so you will be aware of every attack.  Daily submit to the Father’s lordship of your life.  He is the decision maker.  Daily speak with authority in Jesus name.  Satan fears the name of Jesus.

Here is how James describes it:

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7