Saturday, April 30, 2011

The KJV - 400 years old this week, but still alive and powerful!

This week is the 400th anniversary of the Authorized Version, the King James Bible.

History is replete with the stories of those whose blood was shed to put the Word of God into the hands of common people and in their own language.

We should all love the Word, list to it, learn it, live it and long for it.

It is our life, our bread, our water, our honey, our milk and our meat.

It is a sharp two-edged sword, a mirror, a hammer and a fire.

The Word comforts us, guides us, instructs us, convicts us, reproves us and corrects us.

God’s holy Word is our manual for life, God’s love letter to us and His revelation of Himself to us.

Andrew Jackson stated: “That book, sir, is the rock on which our republic rests.”

And since the Scriptures have made us wise unto salvation (II Ti 3:15), and since we are born again by the incorruptible seed of the Word of God (I Pe 1:23), then it is the rock upon which our souls rest.

Read your Bible today and be blessed by its timeless truths!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Ah, Come On, Ma!

Mat 20:20 Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. 21 And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. 22 But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. 23 And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father. 24 And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren.

You remember when your mom licked her finger to wipe a smudge off your face? Guys, how about the times when you were a little boy and she drug you into the ladies' room at the department store? Talk about your embarrassing moments!

How about when the mom of James and John, these "Sons of Thunder" comes to Jesus, right there in front of all their buddies and says, "Jesus, I want special seating in heaven for my boys, see what you can do."

Imagine those rough and tumble guys; Peter, the swarthy fisherman, Simon, the uber-patriot, Andrew, tanned and leathered from outdoor activity, all gasping for air as they laughed at their fellow disciples. "Hey boys, so glad mommy stopped by today for a visit with the Lord!" Then their laughter turned to anger, "Why, the very thought of it, those guys getting better seats at the table than us, harrumph!"

How sheepish must James and John have felt to have mom making such requests right there in front of God and everybody?

Moms do that. They demand a hug in front of the other middle schoolers. They reprimand you in church for passing notes. Shucks, I'm in my 50s and my mom demands that I sing solos more than anyone else in church!

Mother's Day is next week and we really should be thankful that we do have that one big fan, our moms.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Forgiveness Imperative.

Mt 18:21-35
Mat 18:21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

Not long before she died in 1988, in a moment of surprising candor in television, Marghanita Laski, one of our best-known secular humanists and novelists, said, "What I envy most about you Christians is your forgiveness; I have nobody to forgive me."

It cannot be stressed enough how imperative it is that we learn to forgive. Never are we more like God than when we forgive another their trespasses against us. It has been said, to err is human, but to forgive is Divine.

It is highly therapeutic for us to grant forgiveness to another. Our Lord modeled this for us in His commentary on the Lord's Prayer when He said, "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Matt 6:14,15.

Three quick thoughts I would like to share with you here:

1. The Quantity of Forgiveness - 70x7. That's 490 times, in case you were are tabulating. But then, by that time, who's counting?

2. The Ratio of Forgiveness - Christ forgave us tens of thousands of our sins. Think about it, if you sinned 3 ONLY times a day, that would be 20 sins a week, 80 per month, 1000 sins a year. If you lived your threescore and ten, you would have to stand before a righteous, holy God with 70,000 sins for which to answer! Talk about hopeless!!! But every one of those sins against God's holiness is washed away in the blood of Jesus, completely forgiven, covered in mercy & grace.

Yet we quibble about forgiving someone else of 4 or 5 offences. You have heard it, perhaps you have even spoken it, "I just can't forgive him/her for what he’s/she's done to me!"

Consider and contrast what the man in our passage received, yea, what you have received in the way of forgiveness and then what you have such a hard time granting to another. This wretched man needed the attitude adjustment that was coming to him in debtor's prison. Do you need a similar adjustment?

3. Rationale of forgiveness - If we have been forgiven for so much, how can we not forgive So little?

It only makes sense, we ought to forgive because of the forgiveness we have received. Jesus said, freely ye have received, freely give. That not only includes the gospel message and the many blessings poured out upon our lives, but forgiveness.

Who stands in need of your grace and mercy today? Who desperately needs your forgiveness? News flash: you need to forgive MORE than they need to be forgiven!

After the Civil War, Robert E. Lee visited a Kentucky lady who took him to the remains of a grand old tree in front of her house. There she bitterly cried that its limbs and trunk had been destroyed by Federal artillery fire. She looked to Lee for a word condemning the North or at least sympathizing with her loss. After a brief silence, Lee said, "Cut it down, my dear Madam, and forget it." It is better to forgive the injustices of the past than to allow them to remain, let bitterness take root and poison the rest of our life.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Personal Blessing

2Sa 7:9 And I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest, and have cut off all thine enemies out of thy sight, and have made thee a great name, like unto the name of the great men that are in the earth.

God brings certain people into our lives to enrich and encourage us in our walk with the Lord. These people may be salt of the earth, regular people that we come across at church, work or at a social function. They may be great giants of the faith whose godliness emanates from them like a spiritual force field.

I have had the distinct privilege of being blessed by several of these people in just the past 24 hours. It was a blessing to have lunch with some special servants of the Lord yesterday; pastors, Christian leaders and Christian media representatives. But I was especially blessed to meet our fine state senator Mark Christiansen. What a fine, godly man God has inserted into our state government. He is a man of character, integrity and spiritual depth.

I was interested to hear him relate the story of the little boy in his church who, I suppose you have heard and seen much of lately, Colton Burpo, who visited heaven while his 4 year old body lay on the operating table some time back. At the very same time as he was relating this story to me, my wife was on her plane to Phoenix reading the account in the best-selling book, Heaven is Real. That, my friend, we call a God thing!

This morning I was blessed to be in a small prayer group with Reese Kauffman, President of Child Evangelism Fellowship. To have him call my name in prayer to the Father stirred and humbled me. His assistant, Buzz Baker, another godly man of great spiritual vigor, also lifted me before the throne.

Last evening and again this morning, I enjoyed close fellowship with a true hero of the faith, internationally known by all evangelical pastors, Brother Warren Weirsbe. This is one of the wittiest, kindest and most learned men I have ever met. And to think, he took time to fellowship with one who is among the least in the kingdom of God.

My head is still spinning in regards to these great people I have been blessed to fellowship with over the past day. Yet, tonight I meet with my dear church people. I will meet once again with these “famous” saints in glory, but I get to be with my church family who will company with me on both sides of the pearly gates, great people in their own rights. I am blessed.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Striving for Greatness

Mat 18:1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? 2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

A little assertiveness can go a long way when it comes to the job market. We teach our kids to do their best and put their best foot forward. But when it comes to God's kingdom, we go farthest on our knees as servants.

God is great, and when we find ourselves serving Him and others, our greatness is wound into His. It is His glory we seek, not our own.

Jesus modeled this for us in that He left the glory of heaven to be an example of
servant hood. Philippians tells us, But (He) made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

Furthermore, Jesus instructed us that we can unburden ourselves by being more like Him while on this earth, meek and lowly. Mat 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

The meek and lowly don't need or seek greatness, therefore the pressure is off.

Strive not for greatness, but for godliness.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Tomb is Empty

Mat 28:5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. 6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

I have been there, done that and got the t-shirt! I mean, twice I have been to the tomb of Jesus, and sure enough, it is empty!

Some of the implications of the empty tomb:
Our Minds are not! We are not crazy. The women saw Him alive, the disciples all saw Him. Thomas felt the nail holes in His hands and feet and declared, "My Lord and my God!" The two disciples walked and talked and ate with Him, over 500 brethren saw Him at the same time. And most of all, I know He lives! You ask me how I know that? He lives withing my heart!

Our Hearts are not! Oh, we believers are filled to overflowing with love and the resurrection power of Jesus. We cannot contain ourselves when we proclaim that we serve a risen Savior! He walks with us and He talks with us and He tells us that we are His own. And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.

Our Lives are not! We Christians are busy people. The resurrected Christ told us to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. That gospel contains the message that Jesus died for our sins, was buried and rose again on the third day. We can't afford to dilly dally, He's coming again and we've got to get the Word out.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Low in the Grave He Lay

Mat 27:65 Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. 66 So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.

Saturday of Holy Week has always been an odd day for me. I find myself chomping at the bit as if awaiting the original bodily resurrection of the Savior.

Sure, He rose again long ago and now lives within His own, abiding faithful as our High Priest. But I impatiently await Resurrection Sunday each year expecting a fresh wind to fill the sails of the church and each believer.

I love to stand on a beautiful hillside for Sonrise services and listen to the victorious shouts of the believers. No day brings more "Amens!" from our people as does Easter.

I love to gather around the tables of fellowship for an Easter Sunday morning breakfast with excited saints, living in expectation of a great worship service. Then, church time arrives, the music, the bright clothes, the smiling faces, the victorious attitudes, the fervent singing, the beautiful special music, the powerful preaching of the old rugged cross and the vacated tomb, these are the Sundays we live for.

But now, it's Saturday. Things are calm, but they are ready to be stirred. As Jesus' body lay on the cold stone slab, our spirits rest within us, knowing that an explosion of life is about to burst forth, leaving us filled with hope and promise and commission.

It's Saturday, wait for it, wait for it, wait for it...... but Sunday's coming.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Open Graves

Mat 27:50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. 51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

Today is Good Friday. There is an ongoing debate as to whether the Lord gave Himself for us on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. I personally ascribe to Thursday. The fact remains that He did indeed die as a sacrifice for sin.

So significant was the death of our Lord, so violent was the earthquake that accompanied His final cry, that the temple veil ripped from top to bottom and many of the local graves cracked open, exposing dead bodies. I wonder what the Jerusalem Post had to say about that in its next edition?

The swollen city must have been all a buzz considering recent events; Passover, 2 Sabbaths, the crucifixion of the King of the Jews and a couple of thieves and the release of the insurrectionist, Barabbas. Now this, people's loved ones, long dead and buried, have their decayed bodies exposed to the elements for three days.

But after the resurrection of Jesus, unusual as that was, these decayed bodies of believers regenerate and reunite with their departed spirits. They get up and go home! Imagine a knock on your front door and its Grandpa who passed back in the 48 BC!

Well, glory be! That amazing event was a precursor to a great day coming. Our believing loved one's graves are going to open up someday also. And just before we are called up in the rapture, they will receive their wake up call first.

The death and resurrection of Jesus was so powerful that it shakes our world even today, in life, in death and in resurrection.

But, you have to be a saint to get in on this. Verse 52 says, "And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose."

Trust Christ as Savior, call on Him today, confessing your sins and you will one day get in on a grave opening.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

High Noon! Showdown at the not so OK Corral.

Please read Matthew 23

After this scathing rebuke of the scribes and Pharisees, it's no wonder they worked so feverishly to have Jesus arrested and killed.

In one holy tirade of righteous indignation, He called the religious rulers hypocrites, children of hell, vipers, whited graves, murderers, prima donnas, blind guides, dirty dishes and fools.

This was the ultimate slap in the face that signed His death certificate. They must have said, "He's messing with the wrong crowd, we'll show Him!"

Indeed, Jesus went to Jerusalem for this very purpose. As He made His way from the Galilee, it is said of Him that He set his face as a flint toward Jerusalem. He had a meeting with destiny, the death of the cross. He did not shy from it, but egged it on. This affront to the Pharisees was Him fanning the hateful flames that would blaze against Him.

Judas would now be bribed, sinners would be stirred against him, liars would be hired to testify against him, magistrates would be manipulated, and they would not rest until their treachery was complete.

But they didn't take His life, He laid it down. He was the captain of His own ship, the master of His own destiny. He played them like a finely tuned harp.

And here's the kicker... the whole time, He had you in mind! The salvation of your sin-sick soul was His target. The nails, the crown of thorns, the beatings, the cruel mockery, the spittle, the cross, He planned it all out to the smallest detail so that your sorry carcass would not burn in hell.

Jesus came to this shootout with these low down varmints with both gospel six-shooters a' blazing. He let them know there was the new sheriff in town, but in the end, He took a bullet for you. He didn't stay long on boot hill. His body was exhumed by the Father and He lives! There's soon to be a round up and He'll be riding point.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Don't be Deceived

Mat 24:3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? 4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
(Read Matthew 24)

There is a lot of deception concerning the end times. Jesus makes many things clear in this chapter that we would not be deceived.

1) Jesus impersonators will arise. 5
2) Wars will increase, national and global. 6,7
3) Natural disasters will boom. 7
4) Persecutions will multiply. 9
5) Betrayal will be common place. 10
6) False prophets will burgeon. 11
7) Sin will flourish while love will wane. 12
8) The Gospel will be proliferated. 14

We can all agree that our day closely bears a resemblance to the prophecy of Jesus.

It is for us then to look for the coming of the Lord, to work harder to bring the wanderers into the fold and to live holy lives in the light of His return.

Today could be the day, are you ready?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

In Honor of Bro. Glenn

Dan 12:3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

We interrupt this blog to give you the good news that my good friend and one of our charter members, Bro. Glenn Haigh, entered into the joy of our Lord this morning at about 3:30.

Yesterday, I told him I was jealous that he got to beat the rest of us to glory, but we will all be along soon enough.

Mary, his faithful help meet, is praising God for His mercy and grace. Glenn suffered so these past couple of weeks and is now pain free. He is absent from his mortal body and present with the Lord, as Paul teaches us.

We will miss Glenn. He was the consummate “good ole boy.” He loved to witness to everyone he could, though his methods were somewhat unusual. But he wasn’t shy in telling people about Jesus and about our church.

We always had great fellowship, always refreshing one another in the Lord. I’ll never forget the day he came to my house with a basin and a towel and decided he needed to wash the pastor’s feet. I did get super frustrated with him at times. He was going to do things his own way and in his own good time. But only the good memories will remain.

Rest well, Bro. Glenn, unless the Lord allows you to drag Glory Road up there in your Camaro! I hope you don’t drop your tranny.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tax Day

Mat 22:17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? 18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? 19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. 20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? 21 They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.

Mat 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Alright, here is the deal, April 15th is past and still taxes aren't due. But at the stroke of midnight tonight, the tax man cometh. We render unto Caesar on the 18th this year because of Emancipation Day. It fell on Saturday, but in order for Washington to celebrate it, it was held on tax day, April 15th. Therefore, the deadline for taxes was moved to Monday, the 18th. In other words, the celebration of the freedom from slavery could not coincide with the day we are reminded that slavery still exists in America. Is that clear now?

I despise paying taxes! I do it because Jesus said we have to render unto Caesar, so we are rendering, but I don't like it one bit. If my tax money meant secure borders and national defense it would be a different matter, but since my taxes fund: the dreams of illegal aliens, the welfare state, Michelle’s world tours, the International Monetary Fund which finances godless global wars, the National Endowment for the Arts, National Public Radio, Planned Parenthood, etc., I cringe when I sign my returns. I do usually add the words, "under duress" to my John Hancock.

But I must tell you, I have no problem rendering unto God what is God's. I know that what He asks from me will be spent wisely and righteously. And so, I gladly render my love to the Lord; heart, soul and mind. And that is not taxing at all!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Sorry King

Mat 14:9 And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her.

Herod was as sorry a king as they come.
He was an adulterer
He was a people pleaser
He was a drunk
He was complicit in the imprisonment and murder of John the Baptist. He killed the greatest man who ever drew breath.
He was complicit in the death of Christ our Saviour.

Is there any wonder where he is now and what he is doing? And yet, Christ died for his wretched soul also. Had he repented, he would have found forgiveness and pardon.

Herod was a sorry king. Yet, we are sorry sinners in our own right. Our iniquities, like the wind have carried us away. All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to our own way, and He hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all. The major difference between the sorry king Herod and the sorry sinners writing and reading this is the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Passion Week

I would suggest that we each make the most of this holy week by taking full advantage of every opportunity to draw close to the One Who thought of you and acted on your behalf throughout that fateful and historic week. You see, the passion that our Lord displayed that week, was a passion for you!!!

This should be a week of:
 Reverence – for the One Who gave His life for our salvation. We ought to live in holiness and reverence throughout this week and always.
 Reading – Let’s all join in on reading together the following chapters on their respective days: Today-Mt 21, Mon-Mt 22, etc. until Mt 28 on Easter.
 Reflection – Spend a good portion of each day contemplating His love, teaching and actions which were on our behalf
 Remorse – Not penance, but a godly sorrow that leads us to repentance. II Cor. 7:10
 Rejoicing – Jesus paid the price for us and is now alive evermore, interceding on our behalf.
 Request – That we might be witnesses of the gospel to the lost
 Reception – If you have not confessed Christ as Savior, receive Him into your heart by faith. If you have, receive Him as Lord of your life.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Eternity's two sections:

1. Screaming: Mat 13:42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

2. Shining: Mat 13:43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

I am a big baby when it comes to pain. I can stand being sick for, oh, about 5 minutes, then it's "get me some meds!" Burns are about the worst, as a boy of about 11, I got baked in the Colorado and Arizona sun on vacation, I mean, totally, completely burned on my shoulders. I was writhing in pain. We tried using creams and lotions, both to no avail. Someone told us to try vinegar. I then smelled horrible, but had no relief. Finally, someone suggested we use 7-up! Guess what, it worked! Oh, what wonderful relief. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around a whole body burn for all of eternity with no relief available whatsoever.

So, shunning the screaming section, I have made my reservations for the shining section in eternity. I did this by trusting Christ, Who took my pain and suffering for me on the cross. He, who know no sin, became sin for me, that I might be made the righteousness of God in him. 2 Cor 5:21

So, perhaps you grew up in a Christian home. Your nation might be a Christian nation. You try to keep the 10 Commandments, you do your best to treat people right. You attend church, give to charity. Do you realize, that until you trust Christ and His work for you on Calvary, your future will be in the screaming section of eternity?

Trust Him today! Simply pray, saying, "God, I know I am a wicked sinner. I have repeatedly broken your holy law. I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross in my place, that He was buried and then rose again on the third day. I now trust Christ as my Savior. Jesus, I open my heart to you, come in and wash me clean from all my sin. I give my life and my eternity to you. Thank you for your salvation. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen!"

If you just prayed that prayer, welcome to the family of God, and, welcome to the shining section of eternity!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Mat 12:46 While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. 47 Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. 48 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? 49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

I pastored a little church on the eastern Colorado plains. Let me rephrase that, I did my time in the desert. Those people fought about everything. You heard about churches fighting about the color of the carpet? These folks would fight about anything at the drop of a hat. You could cut the drama with a knife when you went into that building.

The only reason they called me was because each side thought they could control this young pup and make him take their side in all the arguments.

Then, I said something in the pulpit that turned grandpa's side against me. (Grandpa was the old illiterate deacon who was about as spiritual as a rattlesnake just coming out of hibernation). In my preaching I said that Jesus was our elder brother. They called me a heretic!

But here I see that anyone who does the will of the Father is brother, sister or mother to Jesus. Praise the Lord!

I hope G-pa Henderson made it to heaven, I really do. There, he would have found out that our Savior does wish to have a personal relationship with us unlike anything we can imagine. And that relationship only deepens through our obedience to Him. It is a familial relationship in which we get to be called mom, sis and bro to the dear Savior.

I'll say "yes, Lord, yes" to your will and to your way
I'll say "yes, Lord, yes" I will trust you and obey
When your spirit speaks to me
With my whole heart I'll agree
And my answer will be "yes, Lord, yes!"

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Grass is Greener

Mat 12:3 But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; 4 How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? 5 Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? 6 But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. 7 But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.

It has arrived, lawn-mowing season. Big churches have the luxury of hiring someone to cut the grass. Churches like ours have to get volunteers or the pastor has to do the mowing himself. So, yesterday the lawn needed its first haircut and I was the only one around to do the honors.

Did you know that a mower will not start, I mean even if you choke it, pour gas into the carburetor, charge the battery for hours, it just will not start until you connect the plug wires to the spark plugs??? Two hours later...

So, I have a hospital, a nursing home and a home to visit. These are all muy importante, even life and death, and I am trying to get a mower going because the grass is a little long. Oh, what a nice beginning to mowing season!

It got me thinking of ministerial responsibilities and priorities. When the disciples are hungry and there is corn that could be plucked on the Sabbath, we tend to concern ourselves with how the lawn looks.

Our Lord teaches us that He is more important than the temple, ministry trumps mowing, the immediate need of the disciples was more important than archaic regulations, vital relationships are greater than rules.

He said that He desires virtues such as mercy more than sacrifice.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Woe Unto You Lincoln

Mat 11:20 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: 21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. 23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.

Reading the curses pronounced upon the cities surrounding Galilee; Chorazin, Bethsida and Capernaum, got me to thinking about the town in which we dwell, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA.

What would our Lord have to say if He were to ascend the elevator of our state capitol to the observation deck and survey our city?

I think He might note the church spires dominating the skyscape. I believe He would notice that ours is a hugely religious town, overwhelmingly "Christian" in name. Lutherans, Catholics, Methodists and the other brand name churches have done very well here. He might also see that Christian values which spring from His sermon on the mount are the norm here in Middle America. The majority of the people work hard, they try to love their neighbor, practice the golden rule and show compassion.

The name of Jesus is held in reverence by a good portion of our population. The gospel is not hindered here in the heartland. At any time you can listen to one of several stations playing Christian music or airing Bible preachers. All day long, public access is broadcasting church services free of charge for those groups with a camera and software. Our police chief is not shy about his faith. He rarely speaks without invoking the Scriptures. Our fire chief preaches the gospel of the Lord Jesus. Our most famous citizen, the winningest college football coach in history and former US Congressman is well known for his Christian testimony. Our longest tenured University football coach has a goal of preaching the gospel to every city, town and hamlet in the entire state, and is “getting ‘er done.” (A phrase made popular by the world’s current most successful comedian, a local boy, son of a preacher!)

Oh, to be sure, the enemy is also alive and well in our town. Besides his obvious haunts; the bars, the nudey joints, the concert venues, he likes to pay visits to the religious institutions where he does some of his best work. He uses these fine mid-western values against the eternal souls of his prey. If he can get them to thinking they are okay because of their lifestyles and ethics, if he can con them into trusting their own goodness, then he can convince them that they need not be born again. He makes them reason that, if they will simply trust in their religious heritage, their baptism and confirmation, if they keep the big 10 and go to church fairly regularly, dropping a few dollars into the plate, they don't have to become fanatics. He's happy with Brylcreem Christians, "A little dab'll do ya!"

So, there in the top of the Tower on the Plains, Jesus could overlook our mini metropolis and be pleased that His message of how to live is taken to heart and put into practice in Lincoln, Nebraska, USA. However, as the sower three floors up above His head perpetually sows the seed of the farmer, He would have us to sow the seed of the true gospel, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Eph 2:8,9

Monday, April 11, 2011

Offended In Him

Mat 11:2 Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, 3 And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? 4 Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: 5 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

John, the greatest man to ever draw breath, was wasting away in prison, soon to be executed for having the gall to call a spade a spade. "Laying the axe to the root of the trees" meant that an axe would be laid to his neck.

His message was all about repentance and turning to God. The price for being honest was high. Because he fulfilled the high calling of God in his life meant he would be beheaded.

The most righteous, God-loving, sold out evangelist would soon die because the adulterous Herod got his thrills watching the sensuous gyrations of the daughter of his mistress and made a foolish gesture in appreciation of her dance. Herod's live-in hated John for his straightforward honesty. She despised his popularity and was affronted by his finger pointing. She felt he was too judgmental, that he ought to just preach love and forgiveness. She must have been miffed that he wouldn't mind his own business, that he was so intolerant of alternative lifestyles.

And so, the forerunner of Jesus, that prophet plus, the Elias who piped while the religious refused to dance, now languishes in the hold of Herod.

What is he thinking? "I have only done what I was called to do. They came from everywhere by the thousands. I preached my lungs out. I baptized them until my back ached. Is this the reward?" And so he sends a couple of messengers to Jesus to ask a question, "Are you the One?"

John just wanted to know one thing for sure, all the baptisms, all the preaching, the advice to the tax collectors and the soldiers, the paths that he straightened out, the mountains that he moved, the high places that he leveled so that Messiah could make His way into people's hearts and lives, was it effective or was it all in vain? If Jesus was the Promised One, the Deliverer, the Anointed of God, then this death sentence would be worth it. But John needed a final assurance that all his work counted.

Isn't that really what you want to know, deep down? Don't you look for validation that the countless hours of work and worship, the tremendous amounts of giving, the great investment of tears and prayers are all for the right cause?

Jesus has the answer for your deep down questions, "What have you heard and seen? The spiritually blinded now see, the emotionally crippled now walk, sinners have been cleansed, those who refused to hear now give close attention to the gospel, those who were dead in trespasses and sin have been quickened and the Word is preached in more modes and venues than ever before."

There is your validation! Happy are you if you will not allow the difficulties brought on by your service to Christ to set you back.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Dream Team?

Mat 10:2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him. 5 These twelve Jesus sent forth

Have you ever thought about the criteria Jesus used to select His apostles? At first blush it seems He could have found some better candidates, but His ways are not our ways. He looked way down the road and saw what no one else could have ever seen in His original dream team.

Gothe said, "Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you will help them become what they are capable of becoming."

Instead of faithless, faltering fishermen, publicans and zealots, He saw the men who would turn the world upside-down. Jesus knew that the two brothers and “sons of thunder” who wanted to call fire down upon their enemies could have that energy harnessed to write gospels, epistles and revelations, plant churches and do great things to change history. He knew that cussing, denying Peter would one day preach the Pentecostal sermon that would result in 3,000 converts and that he would hang upside-down on a cross for the faith.

"But what about Judas?" One might ask. "Wasn't that a poor choice for an apostle?" Jesus knew exactly what He was doing in selecting this 'demon' as a disciple. Prophecy had to be fulfilled. Jesus had to be betrayed into the hands of sinners, He had to have His own familiar friend lift up his heel against Him. Jesus foreknew that we would need to know that there are grievous wolves which enter into the flock to devour the sheep so that we could be on guard.

He also selected some "lesser light" disciples like Simon the Canaanite, Jude Thaddeus, Thomas Diddymas and Bartholomew. What's up with that? The church that Jesus established was a body made up of a mouth (Peter), backbone (James and John), heart (Andrew), etc. But every body needs parts to function which are less prominent. These are the Thomases and the Judes.

And that brings us to our body, the local church. You may not be on the platform from one Lord's day to the next. You may not have a prominent position or a glamorous ministry. You may be called to work in the trenches, unnoticed for the most part. It may be that you feel like you lack the gifts to do anything special. However, God takes the long look. Your day of Pentecost is coming. Sooner or later, you will have your part in God's scheme of turning the world upside-down.

Though your life may seem more like insomnia or a nightmare, you are indeed part of God's dream team.

Friday, April 8, 2011

For Hire: Professional Criers Needed... mourn the death of the young daughter of a certain ruler. This is a one day gig. Must be able to laugh or cry on a moment’s notice. Overtime pay available for ability to laugh the Savior to scorn. Be prepared to be shut out of the house. In the event of a resurrection, all criers will be immediately dismissed without pay. Minstrel experience preferred. Applications accepted online.

Mat 9:18 While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live. 19 And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples. 23 And when Jesus came into the ruler's house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise, 24 He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. 25 But when the people were put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I Will Draw All Men

Mat 9:9 And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him. 10 And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? 12 But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. 13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

The sheer magnetism of this Stranger of Galilee was unparalleled.

Imagine a tax collector hearing the call of the Master to come and "follow me" immediately leaving his world behind to go after Jesus. And Matthew drew others with him. Soon several more tax collectors were surrounding Him at supper. He had the whole local IRS office accompanying Him for dinner.

People liked Jesus and were drawn to Him like no other. He was a breath of fresh air. His message was encouraging, He offered hope and help. His was not a teaching of Do's and Don'ts, but of How's and Why's. He not only named the sins, as did the His counterparts, but He brought the solution. His teachings were given with love and a smile, rather than scorn and a frown. He spoke with authority. He made the Scriptures make sense and come alive with real application. His Spirit gave life.

The local ministerial association were miffed. They had targeted this crowd for shunning. Never had they thought to try to bring them to God. Yet, here they were, sinners becoming whole by the hand of the Great Physician.

They pestered the brand new disciples as to Jesus' ministerial tactics. "Why does He eat with sinners?" The future apostles hadn't learned yet how to deal with the whited sepulchers so Jesus put them in their place, the first of many times He would do so.

Later, Jesus would tell Nicodemus, one of these very same Pharisees, that if He, the Son of Man would be lifted up all men would be drawn to Him. I hope you are as compelled to be drawn to the Savior as I am.

I wonder, how could anyone say no to this wonderful Savior?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

5 Miserable People in the Churches Today

Rev 3:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

1. Those who are unsure of their Salvation
2. Those who are undisciplined in Prayer
3. Those who are unseparated from Sin
4. Those who are unwilling to witness for the Lord
5. Those who are uncertain of the Will of God for their life

(thanks to some preacher somewhere for this idea)

The Power of Jesus

Mat 8:16 When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: 17 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.

I am struck by the many miracles of Jesus in this one chapter. A leper, one who was palsied, one suffering from a fever and many others who were brought to him were healed of their illnesses. Many demons were cast out and the wind and the waves were calmed.

One can relate to the disciples who marveled, saying, "What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!"

In each of these instances, Christ was summoned by people of faith to work on their behalf. They came to Him expecting something and receiving that which was beyond their expectations.

Have you allowed this matchless Savior to do the miraculous in your life? What great need have you laid before the One who commands even the wind and the waves and they obey Him? No problem is above His ability to solve. Trust Him today for something big.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Unthinkable Touch

Mat 8:1 When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. 2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshiped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

Jesus touched a leper! Nobody touches a leper! Leprosy was so communicable, so deadly, so loathsome that the diagnosis meant your life was over. You would never feel the touch of another human soul again. No hugs, no kisses, no pats on the back and no compassion. It meant banishment to a colony where everyone had a death sentence, everybody smelled of death, everyone was a walking, loathsome creature with no hope.

But Jesus changes all of that with one touch. "I will" Jesus said to this leper, "be thou clean." What did He will? He willed that this leper's worship be accepted, that his life be restored to him, that he be returned whole to his family, that he be able to return to society, go to his synagogue, kiss his wife, hug his kids and have a testimony beyond any other!

And Jesus wants the same for you. You see, leprosy is like sin. Nobody has leprosy anymore, but all are diseased with sin. Sin cuts us off from God, it brings the curse of death upon us. It is ugly, loathsome and vile to our God. In the end, it brings forth death and eternal separation from God and our loved ones. Sin takes us to a place where we will never feel the touch of a loved one, never feel the embrace of a child, no, not for a billion years. And it really doesn't matter how many good things we have done, our righteousness is as filthy rags that lepers use to wrap their putrid wounds. All our goodness cannot cover or wash away the leprosy of sin found in us.

Only the touch of Jesus can change it all. When we come to Him, completely aware of our wickedness and our inability to change, to cure ourselves of our loathsome condition, and we ask if He is willing to do for us what we can't do, then we will hear Him say, "I am not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."

Only by His touch, is our eternity altered, our disease cured and our life restored.

You have leprosy! You are untouchable. Fall at the feet of Jesus to worship Him and ask Him for His cleansing touch. That one touch will change everything!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Beautiful, Bountiful Buffet of Blessing and Beatitude for the Believer

Mat 5:2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, 3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. 10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

The Old Testament concluded with a curse, Malachi 4:6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

Here, as Jesus begins the ministry of the New Testament, He preaches blessings!

The Preacher was Jesus - His first sermon, historically known as the famous, Sermon of the Mount. It is undoubtedly the greatest sermon ever preached. Not only is He the preacher, but He stands as Prophet, Priest and King.

The Place - A hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee. A natural amphitheater in which the teacher sits and the people stand.

The People - The Disciples who had just been called to follow Jesus and many scores or possibly even hundreds of Galileans. These are the blessed ones who had a front row seat to history.

The Preaching - The Beatitudes, the Lord's Model Prayer and so much more. Dozens of oft used, modern axioms proceeded from this lengthy missive.

They include:
Ye are the salt of the earth
Ye are the light of the world
Putting your candle under a bushel
Let your light shine
Turn the other cheek
Love your enemies
Don't let the left hand know what the right hand is doing
Prayer closet
Vain repetitions
Daily bread
Forgive us our debts
Lead us not into temptation
They have their reward
Lay up treasures in heaven
Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also
Consider the lilies
O ye of little faith
Seek first the kingdom
Judge not
Cast the beam out of thine own eye
Ask, seek and knock
Don't cast your pearls
The Golden Rule
Wolves in sheep's clothing
Ye shall know them by their fruits
The Wise man built his house upon a rock

Oh what a beautiful, bountiful buffet of blessing the beatitudes and the next 3 chapters bring the believer. If each Christian would devour and then live the Sermon on the Mount, how different our homes, churches, city, nation and world would be!

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Fourth Temptation – the Temptation to Put Out Brush Fires

Mat 4:11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him. 12 Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee;

Up to now, Jesus had been tempted with hunger, jumping off the temple and the kingdoms of the world. But a fourth one comes on their heels. It seems as soon as He comes out of the wilderness, He is met with the news of John's imprisonment. This is His cousin John, the one who leaped in his mom's womb at the presence of the Lord inside of Mary. The one whom Jesus would call the finest man to ever live, Mt 11:11.

How it must have struck him hard to receive the news that this fiery country preacher who vowed to lay the axe to the root of the trees got his axe a little close to Herod's roots and is now nigh to execution.

I would have been tempted to dispatch that same angel that slew 185,000 soldiers in one night a few centuries earlier to whip up on Herod's henchmen. I would have been tempted to go immediately to John's prison to make a visit of encouragement. Instead, He left John to languish in lockup so He could go into the Galilee to show a great light to the many there who sat in darkness, vs 16. He had the prophecy of Isaiah to fulfill, vs 14. He had to take the same message that John preached elsewhere, "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." vs 17.

No one would have blamed Jesus for turning stone into bread or taking a break to go visit His cousin in oubliette. But with Jesus, it was always first things first. Priorities took precedence.

And so it ought to be with us today. Many things will demand your attention. But you should be ready to say, "It is written..." or "I must be about my Father's business" or "I must needs go through Samaria" or "Let the dead bury the dead."

You have appointments made by the recording angel. You have "God things" to participate in. Don't allow brush fires here and there to detract you from the mission.