Monday, April 30, 2012

The Shining Face

Eccl 8:1 Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? a man's wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed. So many sad, long-faced people these days. They are burdened down with multiple cares. But God invites us to cast all of our cares upon Him, for He cares for us. Eccl 8:2 tells us that wisdom will make a person's face to shine. Here are a few other things that cause a person's countenance to light up... 1. Having hope in God: Psa 43:5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. 2. Being happy deep down inside: Pro 15:13 A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken. 3. Having a good friend who challenges you with ideas: Pro 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. 4. Being in the presence of the Almighty: 2Co 3:7 But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you today so that your countenance may shine toward others!

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Day the Catholics and Reformers Came to the Table

Church History: Rome and the Reformers "almost" got back together. On this day, April 27, 1541, Emperor Charles V convened a conference at Ratisbon (Regensberg) to discuss reunification of the western church. In his opening statement, Charles said that he realized that religious differences had torn Europe apart and had allowed the Turks to drive almost into Germany. He wanted to find a peaceful solution, he said. Pope Paul III also hoped for reconciliation. He sent as his representative Cardinal Contarini, a man of pure life, whose views on the doctrine of justification were close to Luther's. The Protestants also wanted peace. They were outnumbered in Europe and knew that they must suffer a good deal if some agreement could not be worked out. John Calvin turned up to watch the proceedings, but he proved prophetic when he declared that the differences between the two sides were too great to be resolved by mere discussions. Negotiating for the Catholic side were Eck, Pflug, and Gropper. Speaking for the Protestants were Melanchthon, Bucer, and Pistorius. The talks followed an outline known as the Regensburg Book, which had been prepared in advance by Martin Bucer and John Gropper and read and revised by Cardinal Contarini. Pope Paul wanted the issue of his authority settled first. Contarini recognized that this was best left until the dispatch of easier matters had created a momentum of cooperation. And, in fact, the negotiators quickly came to agreement on such doctrines as original sin, free will, and even justification. Calvin rejoiced that the compromises kept "all the substance of the true doctrine." The negotiators skipped over matters of church authority when they saw they were at loggerheads, and moved on to discuss the sacraments. But on the Lord's Supper (Eucharist) agreement could not be reached. The Catholics insisted that the bread literally became Christ's body and was to be adored; the Reformers declared that Christ was merely present, and that adoration of the symbols was idolatry. Attempts to contrive formulas that would allow each side to hold its own view failed. And so did the conference. Although the participants talked some more about the other questions still on the table, the discussions were half-hearted. Reconciliation had failed. From: This Day in Church History

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Hair-Triggered Temper

Eccl 7:9 Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.
Just try to empty a tube of toothpaste and then reinserting the paste back into the tube. Or, tear open a feather pillow and spread its contents to the wind. Then try to re-gather those feathers back into the case. Impossible! Once a shotgun blasts its pellets, the damage cannot be undone. And so it is with the quick temper of a man. The blast of anger does irreparable damage that cannot be undone. I have seen tempers divide families, split churches, crumble marriages and destroy friendships. Oh, that we would learn to be filled with the Spirit so we would not cave to the carnality of the flesh. Spirit power provides us with the needed love, joy, peace and longsuffering that will keep our unruly tempers in check. Last evening, after a powerful, Spirit-anointed church service with a Filipino missionary, I was basking in the afterglow on the drive home when a crazed lunatic rushed upon my bumper, almost running us off the road. (Anyone who drives faster than me is a crazed lunatic, anyone who drives slower is an old granny!) My fleshly reaction was to retaliate and join in this guy's reckless game of chicken. Some of you know exactly what I am talking about. But due to the fact that I was filled with the Lord's Spirit at this time, I was careful to just get out of his way and let the moment pass. Two hot heads in the same area combined with escalation does not a pretty sight make! If you have a problem with a quick temper, you need to give that problem over to the Lord before you do irreparable damage to a valued relationship or some other unfortunate malady ensues. Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid? Does your heart the Spirit control? You can only be blessed And have peace and sweet rest As you yield Him your body and soul!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Importance of Finishing Well

Eccl 7:8 Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
I have seen more than my share of flashes in the pan. You know those folks who come in a make a big splash in the little pond, but down the road, they aren't working out so well? We tend to initially get really fired up about something. Our emotions are piqued and our resolve is high. But with time and the usual distractions, we lose interest. But better is the end of something than its beginning. When good intentions have been followed through and the deed is done, then we can get especially excited. We would do well to consider the following when we embark on a new project: 1. Look before you leap. Is this something to which you can really give yourself over the long run? 2. Count the cost. Do you have what it takes to finish the job? 3. Have a proper resolve. Character demands sticktoitiveness. 4. Maintain your enthusiasm 5. Be patient. The verse says that patience trumps pride. It'll take you much further toward completion. 6. Push through the difficult times. Nothing of consequence is going to come easy. 7. Look to the Lord for needed strength. "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." Isa 40:31 8. Keep your eyes on the prize. Ignore the temptations to quit. If it was worth doing, it is worth finishing. Just finishing a job has a great reward. What have you started that needs a good finish? Most of all, finish your Christian race with the words of the Apostle Paul, "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." I Tim 4:6-8

Monday, April 23, 2012

Enjoy the Trip

Ecc 5:16 And this also is a sore evil, that in all points as he came, so shall he go: and what profit hath he that hath laboured for the wind? 17 All his days also he eateth in darkness, and he hath much sorrow and wrath with his sickness. Ecc 5:18 Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion. 19 Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God. 20 For he shall not much remember the days of his life; because God answereth him in the joy of his heart.
No one yet has ever made it out of this life alive. We are born, we grow, we work, we die. What will we have to show for our productive years? Some people work hard their whole lives only to see their labors taken away by the wind. Others learn that work is only a vehicle to provide for ministry. Among the things that last are the satisfaction of doing right, influencing others for the Lord, and enjoying the gifts of God. I am reminded of the little child who built her sandcastle on the beach. For her, it was a masterpiece which she proudly displayed to all passers-by. As the sun began to set, the swells increased until a waved washed ashore to pull her work of art into the sea. She laughed with glee and carried her little plastic bucket and shovel back to her home. Wouldn't we enjoy life more if we could spend less time worrying about our legacies and more time cherishing our journeys?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Great Equalizer

Eccl 4:1 So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter.
King Solomon here is lamenting the great oppression he is observing in every crevice of society. He bemoans the inequity between the powerful and the powerless. This oppression continues to our day. Cyclical poverty begets exploitation. The haves oppress the have nots. Powerful banks dispense credit cards to reckless spenders like candy. The poor and needy masses irresponsibly abuse these venom laden resources resulting in the extraction of godless usury. The rich become richer and the poor become poorer and the subjugation cycle continues. The middle class of our society is vanishing due to these oppressions that are done under the sun, that is, in broad daylight. We could reference the oppressions foisted upon those predisposed to crime, substance abuse and mental illness because they were born into the wrong social strata. A person does not need to have been born in a slum to be a target of the oppressor. Greed, avarice and corruption are no respecters of color or class. Those who deal in oppression would just as soon exploit a white middle class housewife in Sheboygan as a down and out gang banger from an L.A. barrio. Money, power and control drive the oppressors to sadistically keep others down while padding their own bank accounts. But our Lord does not see color, culture or class. He yearns to save from the uttermost to the guttermost. The ground is level at the foot of the cross. He is willing and able to save all who come to Him in humility to accept His free offer of salvation. No matter the zip code, Jesus preaches an “any man” gospel. "If any man will come unto me, I will in no wise cast him out." "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." "If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." By trusting the One Who loves in spite of status, a person can be transformed from being oppressed to being possessed of eternal life. If you are wilting under the heat of oppression, find relief in One Who will put up for your cause and give you rest for your weary soul.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

It Is About Time!

Eccl 3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose
under the heaven: 2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant,
and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 3 A time to kill, and a time to
heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 A time to weep, and a
time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 A time to cast away
stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time
to refrain from embracing; 6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to
keep, and a time to cast away; 7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to
keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a
time of war, and a time of peace. 9 What profit hath he that worketh in that
wherein he laboureth? 10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to
the sons of men to be exercised in it. 11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time:

Friend, there is a time for everything! We tend to procrastinate or even to
be in denial. As we read this passage, we may see it merely as beautiful
poetry or as a comfort in the time of the passing of a loved one.

But we should take this passage to heart today and every day. This
Scripture is for you, for now, for a purpose.

Wouldn’t today be a great day for something big for you? Why put off until
tomorrow trying to win that friend to Jesus? Why wait until a more
convenient day for something you really desire to accomplish? Why don't
you make today your day to get busy trying to get something big done for
your Lord?

And why do you often expect others to get something done? Perhaps this
passage is tapping you on the shoulder right now! Have you been born
again? Now is the time!

What seeds will you plant today? If the seed stays in the barn, there will
never be a harvest. Maybe today is harvest day for you. The crops are never
going to get to the Co-op with you lounging in front of the TV. Kill your
fleshly, not tomorrow. Heal somebody's hurt, cry for the lost,
build up the broken.

Weep over the fallen. Laugh and enjoy the blessings of today. Mourn those
who have suffered loss and dance for God's goodness.
Get out in the garden and cast away the stones and clods in this evening’s
coolness. Gather some stones together and make a fire pit for some
fellowship. Hug someone who is hurting, and definitely don't hug anybody
who will cry, "Sexual harassment!"

Buy something sorely needed for your home, lose a couple of pounds. Keep
your friends, drop one of those people who do nothing but drain you.

Tear up that list of grudges you are holding and mend some old divisions.

Bite your tongue when tempted to gripe or criticize but be very forthcoming
with praise.

Love the unlovely but hate ungodliness.

Go to bat for righteousness, fight evil tooth and toenail, but work for unity
and peace in the body of Christ.

It is a beautiful day for you to be proactive in each of these areas. Don't wait
until tomorrow or hope someone else is going to do it!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Who Can Eat More Than I Can?

Eccl 2:14 The wise man's eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness: and I myself perceived also that one event happeneth to them all.

Solomon sought fulfillment in the following:
unique treasures,
men singers,
women singers,
musical instruments,
greatest riches,
being the best of the best,
practicing no restraint.

But in the end, he summarizes: “It was all vanity and vexation of spirit. They all meant nothing. Anything new I tried was no big deal because it had already been done. One thing is common with all men, no matter what...death! And you can't take it with you.”

Solomon ended up leaving it all to his son, Rehoboam, an idiot! As Solomon was wise, his son was a dufus.

Therefore, he concludes, "a man should eat and drink and make his soul enjoy good in his labour because these simple things are from the hand of God." vs 24

*special note: Warren Buffett now has cancer. He says it is not serious at all, but cancer is cancer. As Solomon was insanely rich, so is Mr. Buffett. Though he is not a believer (even though he was reared in the Omaha Bible Tabernacle and his mom was a Sunday school teacher) he has learned to find joy in the simple things. He drives a modest car, lives in a modest home, lives simply and finds joy in common and simple things. We are praying that he will come to grips with his mortality and return to the God of his childhood, thus finding complete fulfillment. We hope that He would recognize the hand of God in his life.

Lord, let Mr. Buffett see the every good and perfect gift comes down from heaven, that you are the Author of wisdom. May he know that his days are short and it is time to come to Jesus. Draw him with your Holy Spirit. And Father, may each of us look for true joy and satisfaction in You and enjoy the simple pleasures you grant us. In Jesus' name, Amen!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Please view:

Eccl 1:14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.

Old King Cole was a merry old soul. Sadly, not so much could be said about Old King Solomon. He started so well, and ended well. However, the in between was no so good. His quest for happiness had him looking in all the wrong placed and the result was bitter and futile frustration.

Solomon had won the mega-millions lottery and picked the power ball. But his money did not but happiness. We are told that 4 of 5 lotto winners are bankrupt within 5 years. Super rich Solomon became morally bankrupted due to riches.

No manner of toys and goodies were withheld from Solomon. If Stuff Mart was selling it, he was buying it.

In the end, it brought him nothing but emptiness. Everywhere he looked, he saw vanity. The only positive in his life was that the utter despair that stuff brought him drove him back into the arms of God and back into the pulpit where he preached that Only God can satisfy.

Save yourself a ton of trouble by trusting in true riches. Don't look for happiness in things, find your joy in Christ! Everything else is vanity and emptiness.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Titanic Story You Have Not Heard

April 15, 1912, the “unsinkable” Titanic, on its maiden voyage struck an ice burg in the Atlantic Ocean, pulling 1500 souls to a watery grave.

You have read stories and viewed movies depicting that fateful voyage. You have heard of John Jacob Astor IV, the richest man in America at the time. You knew about the “Unsinkable Molly Brown.” You were aware that the string quartet played “Nearer My God to Thee” as the vessel went down.

The story you may never have heard is about a preacher, a Scotsman, on his way to Chicago to accept the pastorate of the Moody Church. Pastor D.L. Moody was succeeded by A.C. Dixon up until 1912, when Rev. John Harper, a widower, along with his niece and 6 year old daughter, boarded the grand vessel for the transatlantic journey to America.

Having pastored churches in London and Glasgow, Rev. Harper was a preacher’s preacher. Gifted in his ability to move audiences with the preaching of God’s Word, Moody Church anxiously awaited the arrival that would never come.

Tragically, an ice burg gashed the hull of the mighty ship and changed the course of history. Harper seized the opportunity to plead with the frenzied passengers to accept the Lord Jesus as their Savior.

He safely placed his charges in lifeboats, but counted not his life dear unto himself as he went from one to another bidding them to be saved. He called out, “Women, children and the unsaved to the lifeboats.” A lost man refused the offer of safety, so Harper gave him his own life vest, stating, “You need this more than I do.”

As the ship sunk, Harper braved the frigid waters to swim from one piece of debris to another asking those who were clinging to the flotsam to trust Christ. This he did until he succumbed to an icy death.

A reunion of the survivors four years later in Canada revealed the testimony of one man who initially refused Harper’s plea for salvation, but upon the pastor’s return, he accepted Christ as his own. He testified “I am the last convert of John Harper.”

A few lessons are evident as we consider this account.

1. There is no boat that God cannot sink. It was bragged before the Titanic sailed, “Not even God could sink her!” Oops!!! Remember, it was professionals who built the Titanic, Noah and his boys built the ark. There is safety only in the Ark of Jesus. No other boat is seaworthy when they sail on the perilous waves of life.
2. There is no soul God cannot save. This is why Pastor Harper was adamant about telling each person he could of the saving grace offered by Jesus.
3. There is no time when God cannot save. Up until the last breath of earthly life is drawn, any person, young or old, may trust Him.
4. There is no witness that God will not bless.
5. There is no soul winner that God will not reward. Dan. 12:3

Let us be as avid in our soul winning fervor as was the never-to-be pastor of the Moody Church, John Harper.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Words of the Preacher

Ecc 1:1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. 2 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

There's not a church in the world today who would even consider perusing Solomon's resume'. This man had 700 wives and 300 concubines. (One little Sunday-schooler called them porcupines, and for good reason, life got rather prickly!)

His heart had been drawn from the Lord by his idolatrous wives. He tried to experience fulfillment through everything the world had to offer. In the end, he could get no satisfaction. (Okay, quick singing that song in your mind!)

But now, toward the end of life, with much experience under his girdle, he wizens up again and begins to preach about the basic principles of life. Mainly, fear God, serve Him and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

We can learn a lot from experience, and Shlomo sure had plenty of that. So I am taking a little excursion into his "wisdom" book, Ecclesiastes.

They say he was the wisest man who ever lived, but he pulled some of the most boneheaded stunts imaginable. He reminds me of me! When I am walking with the Lord as I should, I am surprised with myself (and pleased with the One Who dwells within me). But when I do things on my own, lean on my own understanding, take matters into my own hands, etc., watch out! Boneheaded actions result in less-than-desirable consequences.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Meet Me Back in Galilee

Mat 28:10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

Mat 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. 17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Olivet, Bethany, the Temple, Gethsemane, Calvary, the upper room. All of these places capture our imagination. They all play important roles as places of the passion of our Lord. They are all within 2 1/2 miles of each other.

But, subsequent to the resurrection of the Lord, He ordered them back to the Galilee for His most important message of all, the Great Commission.

Casual readers may get the impression that Jesus ministered mainly around Jerusalem. Not so! Galilee was ministry central for the Lord and His disciples, most of whom hailed from that region north and east of Judea.

We tend to cling to the old rugged cross, to kneel at Calvary, to behold the empty tomb and to gaze into the ascension skies. But the Lord wants us to reconnoiter up in Galilee to receive our command to go into all the world.

Though they are nice places to visit, you won't see Jesus on the cross. His tomb is empty. The Temple is long gone. If you want to see Jesus, you will meet Him at a place where you will receive your orders going forward. Win the lost, get them to follow the Lord in believer's baptism and train them to fulfill the Lord's command.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Prayer is a mighty thing.

Eph 3:14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

We can barely comprehend the unseen realms to which we enter when we simply pray!

In its early days, Dallas Theological Seminary was in critical need of $10,000 to keep the work going. During a prayer meeting, renowned Bible teacher Harry Ironside, a lecturer at the school, prayed, "Lord, you own the cattle on a thousand hills. Please sell some of those cattle to help us meet this need." Shortly after the prayer meeting, a check for $10,000 arrived at the school, sent days earlier by a friend who had no idea of the urgent need or of Ironside's prayer. The man simply said the money came from the sale of some of his cattle!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Is it I?

Mat 26:25 Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.

Each of the disciples asked Jesus this same question. Oh, how many times have we sold out our innocent, benevolent Savior? He has showered us with great grace, full forgiveness and magnificent mercy. No love matches His.

Yet, we sell Him out because of fear, embarrassment, pride, lust, greed, convenience, etc.

Think about it, would He EVER sell you out? You know the answer, don't you? He would never pull a Judas on us. Never would He plant a betrayer's kiss on our cheek.

One thing we have to admit about old Judas, at least his conscience kicked in after his dirty deed. The guilt of what he had done drove him to suicide, which meant out of the frying pan and into the fire for him.

Have you noticed though, when Jesus made the announcement concerning His impending betrayal, nobody looked at Judas as the obvious perpetrator? Each one asked, "Is it I?" They each knew what they were made of and how flawed they really were. I mean, hey, when you are walking dusty roads everyday next to perfection, your foibles are pretty evident.

Today is Thursday prior to Easter. Most likely the day of crucifixion during holy week. Today we focus our thoughts on the cross. With God's help, let us each stay faithful.

Fanny Crosby's classic hymn states:

Jesus, keep me near the cross,
There a precious fountain—
Free to all, a healing stream—
Flows from Calv’ry’s mountain.

In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever;
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.

Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and Mercy found me;
There the bright and morning star
Sheds its beams around me.

Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day,
With its shadows o’er me.

Near the cross I’ll watch and wait
Hoping, trusting ever,
Till I reach the golden strand,
Just beyond the river.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Mat 26:33 Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. 34 Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. 35 Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.

Oh, Brother Peter! Always so quick to open your mouth. Always obligated to insert your foot!

Impetuous Simon, a mover and a shaker among the Apostles, mouthpiece par excellence. Well, not quite.

Every group has one of these, you know, that outgoing sanguine, prone to speak before thinking, act before considering and swallow hard before saving face.

Not everyone is as outgoing as this chief Apostle. Thomas would try to keep his doubts to himself as much as possible. Judas hid his intentions in the darkness of his heart. But Peter put it all out there on his sleeve. "Master, if it's you, bid me come to you on the water!" "No Lord, I will not let them crucify you!" "I don't know about the rest of you guys, but I'm going fishing."

Oh, most of us are men and women of like passion with Peter, just not willing to open our mouths and remove any doubt from others minds how foolish we are.

You got to hand it to old Pete. He was a man of action. If he felt like lobbing off someone's ear, he didn't need an engraved invitation. He wasn't one to look before leaping or to bite his tongue or count to ten until the rage passes.

People like Peter are so sure of themselves, though their history ought to have taught them to mull things over a bit, need to get filled with the Holy Spirit. If we walk in the Spirit, we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Gal 5:16). We will be less prone to say stupid stuff and act in a way which we will regret.

Look, if God made you to be outgoing and decisive, more power to you. Here's a secret, we introverted and mulling plodders greatly admire you!!! Just be sure to walk closely with God and use a little wisdom and discretion. It'll save you a ton of grief and perhaps the rooster will let the rest of us sleep in a bit.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

They Sang a Hymn

Mat 26:30 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.

Jesus had just announced that He would be betrayed. He had just served them the "Last Supper" commemorating His impending death. He was heading out to Olivet for betrayal, arrest, trial and crucifixion. Yet, He and the disciples took the opportunity to sing a hymn.

Traditionally, the appropriate song would be the Egyptian Hillel, Psalm 113-118. This Hymn included the words, "This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it."

Indeed, this was the day of all days, crucifixion day, the day of redemption!

But, to be able to sing in the face of injustice, sorrow, pain and suffering? Singing praises when betrayal, denial and abandonment loomed?

How could Jesus lift His voice at such a time?

First, He was fulfilling the prophecy of Psalm 22:22 "I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee." This is the Psalm of the suffering Saviour.

Second, He had great reason to rejoice in song. Hebrews 12:2 states, "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."

There was joy set before the Saviour. Beyond the pain lay Paradise. After the suffering waited the seraphs. Past the trouble awaited the throne. The suffering would endure for a while, but joy would come in the morning! When the sun rose on Sunday morning, it would reveal an empty tomb. Paradise would be robbed of its inhabitants as they relocated to heaven. Jesus would soon ascend back to His place on the right hand of the Father's throne.

We can learn a valuable lesson. When everything is at its very worst, the joy that’s coming the morning will dispel every memory of sorrow and pain.

You may be under water on a mortgage right now. Your car may be on its last legs. You may not have two dimes to rub together in your pocket. Your health might leave a lot to be desired. But if you are a born again child of God, the morning is coming when all will be made right. You will turn in those crosses for glorious crowns.

Oh friend, the sufferings of this present world are not even worthy to be compared to the glory that will be revealed in you.

The half has not even been told, eyes have not seen, ears have not heard, it hasn’t even entered into the hearts of man the things that God has in store for those that love Him.

So, keep on keeping on! Sing through your tears, praise through your pain, give thanks in your poverty!

Oft times the day seems long, our trials hard to bear,
We're tempted to complain, to murmur and despair;
But Christ will soon appear to catch His Bride away,
All tears forever over in God's eternal day.

It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
Life's trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race till we see Christ.

Sometimes the sky looks dark with not a ray of light,
We're tossed and driven on, no human help in sight;
But there is one in heav'n who knows our deepest care,
Let Jesus solve your problem - just go to Him in pray'r.

It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
Life's trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race till we see Christ.

Life's day will soon be o'er, all storms forever past,
We'll cross the great divide, to glory, safe at last;
We'll share the joys of heav'n - a harp, a home, a crown,
The tempter will be banished, we'll lay our burden down.

It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
Life's trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race till we see Christ.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Lord's Supper

Mat 26:26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. 27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. 29 But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.

In two days, our church observes Communion, The Lord's Supper. Oh, how we look forward to this important, inspiring service.

Varying denominations have different takes on Communion. We feel we have to be strictly biblical when it comes to observing something so important. We always observe Communion on the Wednesday night prior to Resurrection day, since Jesus was most likely crucified on a Thursday. In keeping with the actual schedule of Christ's week of passion, we feel it would have been on a Wednesday night that He instituted His Supper.

Admittedly, we cannot be completely dogmatic about some of these things, as trusted Bible scholars cannot come to agreement in totality. But we must honor our biblical convictions.

A few thoughts...

*We always partake of this ordinance in the evening. It is called the Lord's Supper. If He had instituted the Lord's breakfast, perhaps we would observe it in a morning service.

*We are careful who partakes. It is the Lord's Supper, not ours. Therefore it is for those who can truly recognize the meaning of the supper, saved, scripturally baptized believers. The ordinance is for the church, not for unaffiliated people who need to feel good about themselves by partaking in a religious act.

*We don't observe communion every week, or even once a month. We want it to be very special, not ritualistic. When the Bible says, "as oft as ye do it" does not mean to do it often.

*The elements are unleavened bread and unfermented juice from the vine. Leaven and fermentation are a type of sin. Since these elements represent the body and blood of the sinless Savior, there is no place for leaven or fermentation. There is no argument concerning the unleavened bread, but how can we not see the incongruity of employing fermented wine in the same celebration? Biblically ignorant persons like to quip, "But Jesus drank wine!" I beg to differ. In relation to the Lord’s Supper, it is referred to as “the cup” and “the fruit of the vine” but never as “wine.”

*The elements are purely symbolic. They do not turn into the literal body and blood of Christ when a bell sounds. They merely represent to body and blood of Jesus

*The Lord's Supper is an ordinance, like baptism. It is not a sacrament. There is no saving grace imparted to those who partake. We observe Communion in remembrance of our Savior, not to be saved.

*The Lord's Supper prompts us to look forward to the time when we sit with Jesus in heaven at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. He said that He would not partake of the fruit of the vine until we could do it together in heaven.

Having related our procedures concerning Communion, I hasten to add that this observance is something very positive, retrospective and introspective. It is a powerful service which motivates us to deepen our relationship to the Lord.