Archive for November, 2016

A good reason to get in trouble (Acts 4-6)

November 16, 2016

And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. Acts 4:1-2

The word “annoyed” would be an accurate description of my feelings concerning those who feel the need to enter into the social media world of discussion concerning the issues of our day.  Now, I know this is unlike the way I usually write, but I believe in righteous anger.  Today I was reminded of the only good reason to get into trouble in life whether it is in person or on social media.

The fact is, most of the time we fall into the trap of sharing out of a fleshly  response that is neglectful of a Biblical World View.  This day I want to point you to a Biblical Word View about what is worth speaking about.

We see it clearly in Acts 4.  The church was willing to get in trouble for the gospel.

Here is a simple outline of the passage:

  • The leaders were arrested for the preaching of the gospel, 4:1-2.
  • The leaders were given an audience because they would preach the gospel, 4:5-12.
  • The leaders were anointed with power to deliver the gospel, 4:13-15.

The opposition wanted to stop the further spread of the gospel, but they could not.  The early church knew that the sovereign purpose of God was for the church to endure suffering for the gospel’s sake.  They were willing to do so and great power of harvest came to the church.

Brothers and sisters, I am not against social medial posts or public protest’s if they have their purpose, “the redemption of men.”  The reason the church was given an audience was for the purpose of the gospel.  The reason God gave each of us access to social media is for the purpose of the gospel.

Here is what a leader of the Jewish resistance said about God’s Work:

38 So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice, Acts 5:38-39.

This is the cause that is worth getting in trouble for!!!

The good old days? (Acts 1-3)

November 15, 2016

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe[a] came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. Acts 2:42-43

Each time I have the honor of opening my Bible to the Acts of the Apostles I am challenged to do the following:  To look back, to look now, and to look ahead.

Allow me to explain:

  • I always am reminded to look back when I read the book of Acts.

Dr. Luke was God’s chosen vessel to record the beginning days of the New Testament Church.  His narrative covers the first 30 years of our history.  As I look back, I am reminded of Jesus final moments on the earth.  I hear Him saying, “Wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit.” I hear Him commissioning the church, “Be my witnesses in the World.”  I see Him ascending to the Father.  I know He is coming again.

I praise the Lord for the keeping of His promise.  The Holy Spirit did come!!!  The power was now in the church to be able to accomplish the mission of the church.  We see that power in Peter’s first sermon.  3000 people  were convicted and converted to Christ!!!

I read and reread Luke’s overview of the fundamental workings of the church, Acts 2:42-47.

  • I always am reminded to look at the now when I read the book of Acts.

I cry out to God, “do it again Lord.”  I want to be apart of God’s continual work in His Kingdom building.  I do not read the book of Acts as if it is “just the good old days.”  I am reminded of what God has been doing and what He is still doing in the church.

  • I always am reminded to look ahead when I read the book of Acts.

In chapter 3 we read of the first miracle performed by the Apostles.  But greater still is the message that Peter proclaims in the setting of this miracle.  Here is one verse from his message: Acts 3:21

21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.

I praise the Lord for the following fact:  “Jesus is coming again!!!”

The book of Acts always challenges me to get to work and to be encouraged in the work because the best is yet to come.  Yes, there were good old day to remember, but there are even better days now and in the future. So heed the words of the angels in Acts 1:11

11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

 

Where is the body of Jesus? (Luke 24; John 20-21)

November 14, 2016

23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Luke 24:23

Several years ago Bill O’Reilly released a book entitled, “Killing Jesus.”  The book was the telling of Jesus life and death from a purely historical perspective.  The book ended with O’Reilly commenting, “The body of Jesus was never found.”

I can still remember the stunning and sinking feeling that came to my heart as I realized how many people do not believe the truth of Jesus resurrection.  Even more heartbreaking is the truth of the lostness of men who have no hope of eternal life apart from Jesus.

Below I have listed for you the facts given by Luke concerning the resurrection of Jesus:

  • Those who came to the empty tomb were amazed by what they saw, 24:1-12.
    • The women had to go and tell what they saw and heard.
    • The disciples were in awe of what they saw.

 

  • Two witnesses were filled with zeal when they recognized the resurrected Jesus, 24:13-35.
    • They began to proclaim, “the Lord has risen.”

 

  • The disciples were reminded that Jesus had fulfilled all Scripture, Vs: 36-39.

These facts along with Matthew, Mark, and John’s witness give proof positive of the resurrection of Jesus.  But also, we read of where Jesus is now.  He has ascended to heaven to occupy the seat of authority at God the Father’s right hand!!!  Some day He is coming again!!!

This is amazing news for us.  Two takeaways come to my heart:

  1.  Because of Jesus work on the cross, people can be forgiven for their rebellion against God.  Luke 24:47

47 and that repentance for[a] the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

2. Because of Jesus work in resurrection, people can have eternal life with Him in heaven.  I Corinthians 15:20-24

Where Jesus is will be where you and I will be in the end!!!  Praise God!!!

 

A rough day (Matthew 27; Mk. 15)

November 11, 2016

16 And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters),[a] and they called together the whole battalion.[b] 17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him.18 And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him.20 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him. Mk. 16:16-20

After reading Matthew 27 and Mark 15 I think it is fair to say, “Jesus was having a rough day.”  Certainly we can each identify with having rough days.

When rough days come they seem endless and sometimes useless!!!

Consider Jesus rough day:

  • The day began with Jesus on trial.  Mk. 15:1-15

Our Lord stands before Pilate having endured a severe beating from the religious establishment.  He stood before a depraved judge who was hearing trumped-up charges.  He had to endure a crowd that had been bought off.  It was a rough day.

  • The day rises with Jesus continual abuse. Mk. 15:16-20

Jesus faced physical abuse in ways that we cannot even imagine.  Jesus faced mental abuse that we could never conceive.  It was a rough day.

  • The day intensifies with Jesus enduring the cross. Mk. 15:21-32

This was a rough day!

  • The day ends with Jesus in a borrowed tomb.  Mk. 15:33-47.

This was the roughest of days.

Brothers and sisters, the key to getting through the rough days is in looking to the one who redeems our rough days!

A. In our rough days we remember-Jesus on His roughest day made a payment for my sin debt.

B. In our rough days we remember-Jesus on His roughest day defeated hell, death, and the grave.

Here is how the writer of Hebrews describes these things: 2:14-17

14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham.

17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

Praise God for a Savior who endured a rough day so that we can have victory in all of our rough days!!!

What the world does not know (John 14-17)

November 10, 2016

22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” John 14:22

There are so many amazing things in this world that I do not understand.  For example, I don’t understand how it is even possible for me to text words on my phone and simply send them to Ovi in Malawi Africa.  In a matter of seconds he has my text and then in a few seconds, I have a reply.  How could someone figure such a thing as this?

Now, I am sure there are far more amazing things than texting I could have used as an example, but so goes the simple mind of a pastor.

Consider with me someone even more amazing.  Something that the world does not know.  Something that even Judas (a lost man) noticed.  Something that I am so thankful for.

Here is that something, “God has made a way, through Jesus, for men to know God.”

In John 14 we see three particular ways in which we are blessed to know God:

  • We are blessed to know the God of peace, Vs: 1-3; 27-31.

This is truly amazing.  In our world there is great tribulation.  Despite all of our earthly knowledge, we cannot solve the problem of hatred, evil, and war.

  • We are blessed to know the person of God, Vs: 4-12.

Jesus was amazed in how His disciples had been with Him for three years and still they were questioning as to who He was.  Brothers and sisters, you and I have been blessed to know who Jesus is,

  • We are blessed to experience the power of God, Vs: 12-14; 25-26.

God offers His power to all who pray in obedience to Him.

I trust you will go back and read this chapter with a deeper look into what God has given you.

Without a doubt the world is saying, “This is not fair.  Why do we not know God?”

Jesus answer is so clear.  The world has chosen to reject God, 15:24-25.  If the world would come to God, through Jesus, she would be given the following: “Redemption, illumination, and empowerment.”

Some people would wrongly say, there is little hope of the world coming to know Jesus today.  Such theology is false.  Here is what Jesus promised in His prayer in John 17:26

26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

People cannot know unless those who know share what they know!!!

Oh that God would lead you and I to share what we know!!!

 

Being prepared (Luke 22; John 13)

November 9, 2016

13 And they went and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover. Luke 22:13

Someone once said, “I am prepared for anything.”  A few minutes later, a pop-up rain storm proved the falseness of their statement, as they were drenched because they did not have an umbrella.

This morning I was pricked in the heart by the Holy Spirit as I once again read the familiar story of Jesus instructing His disciples concerning the Passover.  I remembered the disciples being instructed to find the place (the upper room) but I did not remember His instructions for them to prepare the meal.

You probably are thinking, “so, they prepared it!”  Yes, but there is a big deal here.  As Jesus was preparing to become the sacrificial lamb, these men were to sacrifice a lamb.  I wonder, “were they starting to get what was really about to happen?”  Were they prepared?

Each day our lives are filled with both opportunities and obstacles; activity and assault; responsibility and roadblocks; possibilities and pitfalls; and we have to decide which way do we go!

This leads me to an important question: “What will the world write tomorrow about your decisions made on this day?”

Here is what Luke wrote about the evening of the Passover:

  • Judas surrenders Himself to Satan’s leadership.
  • Peter succumbs to the pressure of men in denying our Lord.
  • Jesus submits to the perfect plan of God for our redemption.
  • The men who were holding Jesus beat Him without thought of who He really was.

In this moment we must admit, “only Jesus was correctly prepared for this moment in time.”

If you and I want to follow Jesus in being prepared, we need a plan to daily be prepared.  Here is that plan:

  1. Watch and pray daily so we do not enter into temptation, Luke 22:46.
  2. Serve others daily so your focus will be on a ministry like His, John 13:1-11.
  3. Take up the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God, Lk. 22:36.
  4. Love God passionately and your neighbor intentionally, John 13:33-34.

This plan will help you be prepared for each day.  Well, I would write more, but I need to prepare!!!  I pray, you are doing the same!!!

 

What a waste? (Matthew 26; Mk.14)

November 8, 2016

And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? Matt. 26:8

In this life you and I can safely say, “there are things we have wasted.”  Personally, I have wasted time, talent, and treasure in my life.  In those moments I have found myself looking back and wondering, “why did I get in the place where I wasted my time, talent, and treasure?”

However, there have been many days when, by the grace of God, I did not waste my time, talent, and treasure.  God is so amazing in bringing His children to a place of moment by moment making the most of every moment.

Question:  “Are you currently making the most of your life, or are you in a season of waste?”

In Matthew 26 there are conflicting views about the ministry of Jesus.  In verse 8 the disciples accuse Mary of waste.  They believed the expensive perfume could have been used for something much better.  Honestly, those words stuck like a knife in my heart.

This entire chapter helps us focus on waste:

  • In verses 1-2 Jesus tells his disciples, “In two days I will be arrested and crucified.”  Was His information wasted?
  • In verses 6-13 Mary says, “I want to give Jesus my best?”  Was her best wasted?
  • In verses 14-16 Judas believes he has wasted his time with Jesus.  Was his time wasted?
  • In verses 30-35 Peter says, “I will die with Jesus?”  Was his commitment wasted?
  • In verses 57-75 Peter denies the Lord three times.  Was his opportunity wasted?

Brothers and sisters, a wasted moment for a believe always brings sorrow.  The chapter ends with these words, “And he went out and wept bitterly.”  Mark add, “He broke down.”

Brothers and sisters, our lives do not have to be a series of wasted moments.  Consider Jesus example in the Garden of Gethsemane:

  1. Jesus prays:
    1. Father, is there another way for humanity to be saved?  There is zero arrogance in this prayer.
    2. Father, I understand humanity has no hope if I bypass this day. This is total surrender by our Lord.
  2. Jesus surrenders:
    1. Father, I will die for the sins of the world.
    2. Father, I will do your will.

What an example for us to follow.  If we will daily pray and daily surrender to the will of the Father, our days will be filled with success for the glory of the Lord.

Dear Father, show me your will for this day.  Dear Father, I surrender to do your will in this day. 

 

Who will win? (Matthew 25)

November 7, 2016

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Matthew 25:31

In 24 hours the American people will vote to decide who will be the next president of the United States of America.  On the eve of this election there are at least three reflections I can state:

  1. This has been the most wicked campaign year in the history of our nation.
  2. This has been the most frustrating campaign in the history of our nation.
  3. This has been the most defining campaign in the history of our nation.

It is to the last reflection that I want you to really reflect.  In this campaign year, what people believe and where they stand has really come out.  According to Matthew 25, it has always been this way with people.

In Matthew 25 Jesus teaches us that some day He will return to this earth and sit on the throne.  This speaks clearly to his eternal rule and reign.  Notice 3 very important clarifying  truths:

  • Some people will be prepared to meet the Lord and some people will not be prepared to meet the Lord.  25:1-13.
  • Some people serve the Lord and some people do not serve the Lord.  25:14-30.
  • All people will stand before the Lord to be judged.  25:31-46.

On this day, it will not be either current presidential candidate who will rule.  It will be Jesus Christ.

Now, I know that most who read this, believe the above fact.  But the question is, “does this viewpoint win out in the troubling environment of our day?”  I truly believe, if we embrace the truth of Matthew 25, the following will be you:

I. You will rejoice on the eve of the election because you know the true King.

II. You will be resolved on the eve of the election because you serve the true King.

III. You will be resting on the eve of the election because you are going to see the true King.

Brothers and sisters world-wide, rejoice in Jesus, be resolved to serve Jesus, because your King is coming!!!

Straighten up (Matthew 23; Luke 20-21)

November 4, 2016

28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Lk. 21:28

When I was a kid, my dad would occasionally (maybe more than occasionally) have to call me aside to simply say, “Straighten up!”

In these last days before the United States presidential election I want to say to the candidates, “Straighten up.”  But they are not the only ones who need this direction.  We who claim the name of Christ need to do the same.

Jesus teaching in Luke 21 helps me personally to know how to straighten up.  Here is what Jesus teaches us:

  • He teaches us to look wisely for the following coming events:
    • The temple will be destroyed and the city will be conquered.  This happened in A.D. 70.
    • The Disciples would face great suffering.  All of them died for the cause of the gospel.
    • The gospel would be proclaimed in all the nations.  This is still to be accomplished.
    • Jesus is going to return to this world, Vs: 25-28.
  • He teaches us how to live wisely as we look forward to events still to come.

 

How do we live wisely?

The most important wise thing we can do is to simply calm down knowing we are on the winning team, Luke 21:25-28.

Our Lord has promised to meet our every need, Matthew 6:25-33.  Our Lord has promised to come again to receive us into His kingdom.  We do not serve a president, we serve a soon coming king.  Our redemption is drawing nigh.

The second most important wise thing we can do is to supernaturally work, witness, and wait for the King. Luke 21:34-36.

Here is what Jesus said:

36 But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

When we stay awake we do not enter into debate with things that have no eternal value.  When we stay awake we are focused on things worth debating, which include the glory of God and the winning of souls to the kingdom.

Brothers and sisters, I hear the Lord speaking from heaven, “straighten up!”  I wonder, what will be our response?

 

 

 

What if we are wrong? (Mark 12; Matthew 22)

November 3, 2016

27 He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.” Mk. 12:27

Imagine someone who listen patiently to what you said and then with a quite but firm response, they said: “You are quite wrong.”

This is exactly what happens in Mark 12.

This chapter is filled with quite wrong views:

  • The Jewish nation was wrong in their abuse of the prophets and soon their killing of the Son of God, 12:1-12.

 

  • The Sadducees were wrong in their viewpoint of life after death, 12:18-27.

 

  • The Scribes were wrong in who they were to love, 12:28-40.

 

  • The people were wrong in why they were giving, 12:41-44.

Question:  What is your view of who Jesus is?

If you and I have the correct view, our love for Jesus will be seen in what we say and in what we do with our lives.  Out of all of these people who were quite wrong, one was close to being right.

We do not know his name.  However, we do know what Jesus said of him, “You are not far from the kingdom of heaven.”  How tragic to be close but still not getting in.

Jesus illustrates this in Matthew 22:1-14

22 And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants[a] to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

The only way to get in is to be robed in the correct way.  Here is that way, “Robed in the righteousness of Christ,” Rev. 3:18; 19:8.

Imagine standing before the Lord on judgment day and realizing you were wrong in what you believed, taught, and lived by!!!

Oh that we would believe the correct things of the gospel of the kingdom!!!