Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Certainties for Uncertain Times

Our futures are uncertain, as to our knowledge; but secure as to God’s knowledge. Our only certainties are based on the Bible.

 

As for the present, “we know not what shall be on the morrow”. James 4:13-15.  See Proverbs 27:1 for the same truth.

 

It’s right and sensible to plan our futures,  Proverbs 16:9 teaches that; but adds the warning that even in our planning, we must be surrendered to God’s will.  Luke 22:32 records how Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane,  “Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from Me; nevertheless not my will, but Thine be done.”

 

The Certainties of the Unsaved

 

The man who has never received Christ as His Saviour has no certainties, except death, judgment and hell, Hebrews 9:27 teaches.  That’s the sum total of a man’s certainties outside of Christ.

 

The Certainties of the Saved

 

We share with the unsaved  the uncertainties in this present world; but that’s as far as the similarities go.  For the Christian life is filled with certainty.

 

Everything is based on the certain Word of God.  Psalm 119:89 assures us that God’s Word, the Bible, is forever settled in Heaven. Christian friend,  you can take any promise in God’s Word to the Bank of Heaven and cash it any time, if your heart is right with God.

 

Peter, in II Peter 1:16-21 reminisces about his experience on the Mount of Transfiguration when He saw Jesus transfigured and glorified and heard the voice of the Father in Heaven assuring him that Jesus was His beloved Son and that we were to listen to and obey Him.  Then Peter contrasts that amazing experience with the written Word of God and assures us that the Bible is more sure than his experience on the mountain.

 

Matthew 24:35 assures us that although one day the heavens and the earth will pass away,  God’s Word will never pass away.

 

In Job 23:8-10  God assures troubled Job that God knows the end from the beginning.  Psalm 37:23-25 assures us that God directs every step of our lives as believers.  Psalm 31:15 assures us that “our times are in His hands.”

 

God loves us and will never leave us,  Hebrews 13:5-6 assures us. Since that is true, we are reminded to go through life avoiding covetousness and the fear of men and be content with God’s provisions. You will save a lot of credit card debt with its constant increasing stress.  

 

Sin is fun and pleasurable

 

Do you remember the story of  Moses in the early chapters of Exodus who was hidden as a baby from the Pharaoh, who was killing all the baby boys of his Israelite slaves?   His mother attempted to hide him from the Pharaoh by making a little basket boat and hiding him among the river plants and had his older sister, Miriam, watch over him from a distance.

 

Lo and behold, who should find the baby but the princess, Pharaoh’s daughter. When she heard the baby cry, her heart was touched and she took the baby boy as her own.  Miriam near by, assured her that she could find a nurse for her and  Moses mother was hired to care for her own son as a baby.  I’m sure that as Moses grew his mother taught him of his heritage as an Israelite and he never forgot it.

 

One day, as a young man,  Moses had had enough of life as Pharaoh’s son.  Hebrews 11:24-26 tells of his decision to forsake the pleasures of sin in Pharaoh’s palace and identify himself as an Israelite, enduring their suffering as slaves. 

 

It says “He chose to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.”  It says, “He esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.”  In other words, he understood that what God offers in eternity is far better than what Satan offers on this earth now.  Oh, that every Christian could learn that lesson and make the right choices in life! Yes, sin is pleasurable, but only for a season; only for a short time!

 

Solomon, the wisest of kings, tossed his wisdom out the window in order to enjoy the pleasure of hundreds of wives and concubines.  He turned out to be one of the greatest fools who ever lived.  At the end of his life, he came to his senses and wrote Ecclesiastes. You’ll find that little book in the middle of your Bible right after Psalms and Proverbs.  In Ecclesiastes 12:1 Solomon warns young people, “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh when thou shalt say, ‘I have no pleasure in them.” 

 

Earlier Solomon, before he had lost his wisdom,  warned young people in Proverbs 14:12  “There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

 

One of the certainties Christians share with the unbelievers is that we will all die someday.  The unbeliever dies and his soul goes to hell to be separated from God for eternity.  When the Christian dies, his soul goes right into the presence of Christ. 

 

One day, perhaps sooner than we can imagine, Christ is coming back to catch up all those who are His own through faith in Christ.  Those caught up in the Rapture, are the only Christians who will never die.  But in a sense, no Christian dies as the unsaved die. 

 

Our eternal life does not begin when we die and go to Heaven.  It begins the moment we put our trust in Christ.  For the Christian the experience of death is simply falling asleep in this life and awakening in the presence of Jesus.  II Corinthians 5  teaches this doctrine of death very clearly. Yes, we Christians have the certainty of eternal life with God in Heaven. 

 

That certainty is determined by our relationship with Jesus.  Those who have Jesus as Saviour have eternal life.  Those who do not have Jesus as Saviour do not have eternal life.  Study I John 5:11-13 and get this truth settled firmly in your heart now.

 

Revelation 22:11 teaches the truth that Christian will enjoy purity and holiness throughout eternity.  On the other hand, the unsaved will continue to experience sin and impurity throughout eternity, but with no opportunity to ever enjoy their sins.  Remember the truth of Hebrews 11:25?  Sin is only pleasurable for a season.  No one is going to be enjoying sin in hell. So sinner friend,  forget about your dreams of beer parties and women in hell.  Hell will be a place of eternal agony and utter loneliness.

 

Another certainty for us as  Christians is that God has His hand  on us only for good.

 

He presently, as well as eternally, has His hands on us only for our good. Read and delight yourself in His many promises to you as a Christian. 

 

The Bible is filled with promises for us.  Here are just a few. Psalm 23, 37, 91, I Peter 5:7,  Read the short epistle to the Philippians.  This should be enough to whet your appetite to read through the whole Bible this year and search for all the promises to you as a Christian. 

 

If you are not a Christian, you can start right now by simply admitting you are a helpless, hopeless sinner in need of God’s salvation.  Trust Jesus, who died on the cross and rose from the dead three days later, to save you from your sins.

 

Read I John 5:11-13  until you are assured of your salvation.  Then start growing as a Christian by reading God’s Word.  A good place to start would be to tackle this web site with over 500 practical Bible studies. Study them with your Bible, checking the references to make sure you are reading the Truth.

 

As you learn and grow, share with others what Jesus is doing for you. May God bless you with His salvation and with His constant presence in this new year!

December 26, 2008 Posted by | New Year | Comments Off on Certainties for Uncertain Times

The Stones Cry Out

In the Luke 19:26-40 account of the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem,  we see the crowds exalting Jesus as their long awaited  Messiah and King. Of course, this exaltation was superficial. They had no desire to turn from their sins;  they just wanted a powerful political leader who would free them from Roman domination.  A week later this same crowd, stirred up by their religious rulers,  would be shouting for Jesus’ crucifixion.

 

Some of the Pharisees among them became very incensed. They rejected the deity of Jesus and saw this homage of Jesus as blasphemous and demanded that Jesus take control of the crowd and put a stop to it. 

 

It reminds me of the liberals in America today who want to stifle the voice of Conservatism on radio and TV through the so-called “Fairness Doctrine”. What they really want is not fairness, but censorship. No one is being unfair to the Liberals.  They are free to use the media to promote their doctrine.  In fact, they have controlled the major news media for generations.  Not only do they control the media, but they control the public educational system from Kindergarten through college. They control the unions in the work place. They control the legislative, judicial and now the executive branch of government.  What more do they want to control?  They will not be satisfied until the voice of Truth is silenced in our land. If they could, they would also silence preachers across America just as Socialism and Communism has persecuted and attempted to silence the voice of preachers throughout the world.

 

Jesus answered the irritated, whining Pharisees that even if He tried to stop the people from praising Him, the inanimate stones would cry out in praise to Him. All of creation praises Him. Certainly, we who are redeemed should never stop praising the Lord for all He has done for us.

 

The Heavens declare the glory of God.

 

Everything God has created from the invisible atom to the largest of the galaxies of stars brings glory to God, as Psalm 19 declares.  Many other Psalms speak of this, including Psalm 97  and 148.   The Lord reminded Job of this in Job 38.  Every rational person who observes this creation, is aware of the fact that He must one day deal with the God who created him. That is made clear in Romans 1:18-32  and 2:1-11.

 

The earth and all animate and inanimate objects bring praise to God.

 

Everything God has made reflects His glory and bring praise to Him. This was a constant theme of the Psalmist as is seen in Psalms such as  96,98 and 148.

 

Isaiah 55:12-13 is but one passage among many in the Bible that uses the literary form of anthropomorphism, that is, ascribing human characteristics to inanimate objects, to glorify God.

 

Other examples of nature glorifying God by being obedient to His commands and laws are the frogs, flies and lice of the Exodus plagues in Egypt and the hornets of Exodus 23:28 driving out the Canaanites from the land God had given Israel.

 

In Numbers 22 we read of a donkey who spoke to the disobedient Prophet Balaam.

 

Nearly everyone is aware of the great fish that God prepared to swallow Jonah who stayed for three days and three nights in the fish’s stomach undigested. Even the fish could not stomach a disobedient prophet Jonah.  He was finally vomited up on shore and got back to doing what God called him to do.

 

By the way, those three days and three nights in the fish’s belly is extremely important to the doctrine of the resurrection of Christ. To understand the full significance go to the category  RESURRECTION and read  “Jesus, Our Passover Lamb.”

 

An Ominous Warning to Israel

 

Would you notice that following that Triumphal Entry. All praise from the crowds ceased. From that point on to this very day, the Jews as a nation have ceased praising Jesus as the Messiah and Saviour of the world.  The shouts of praise turned to angry shouts calling for His crucifixion later that week.

 

Jesus, in Luke 19:40-44 prophesied that the stones of the buildings and walls of Jerusalem would cry out as a testimony of their destruction which occurred about forty years later when Rome sacked Jerusalem leaving not one stone on top of another. The nation of Israel was scattered and has been hunted down and persecuted for 2000 years. 

 

Only since 1948 has Israel been back in their homeland and that is the first step to the unfolding of prophecy that will lead to Israel‘s recognition of Jesus as their Messiah and Saviour. But that’s a big, exciting story that you can read about in my series on PROPHECY.  For a foretaste of this wonderful truth, read Romans 9, 10 and 11.

 

But until that wonderful day, the stones continue to cry out concerning the Jews rejection of their promised Messiah, foretold so clearly in the Old Testament.

 

In Habakkuk 2:9-14  the prophet Habakkuk prophecies how the stones would cry out in condemnation and judgment  against the persecution of the Jews down through the centuries by the nations of the world.  No wonder Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem again, as recorded in Luke 19:41. 

 

Beware of following the crowds!

 

Have you ever noticed how fickle people are?  Note, how they fawn over a political leader, such as the president.  Then note how quickly they follow leaders in mass, turning against a once popular president.   They do the same thing with pastors and others who stand before the public. Crowds are fickle as are individuals.    By God’s grace, don’t be a crowd follower. Any dead fish can float down stream with the rest of the fish, but it takes a strong, fighting salmon to swim upstream against the current.  I encourage you to be a salmon Christian, standing for Jesus and living your life by the Bible, regardless of how unpopular the position.

 

 

December 26, 2008 Posted by | Triumphal Entry | Comments Off on The Stones Cry Out

Standards for Church Leadership

An Amazing Mystery

 

 

God’s Word holds high and holy standards for Christ’s Church, pictured as the Bride of Christ  in Ephesians 5.21-33.   Christ is in the process of sanctifying or perfecting us through His Word and through  the ministry of His indwelling Holy Spirit.  Because God is holy, He commands us in I Peter 1:15-16  and  Hebrews 12:14  to be holy, even as He is holy. These are standards for the entire church; but for the church to adopt them, they must be modeled by the church leadership.

 

 

A Holy Aspiration

 

 

Church leaders, such as  pastors, elders and deacons, as well as others in teaching or administrative responsibilities,  are called to set examples of spiritual maturity by modeling Christ to the rest of the church.   As goes the church leadership, so goes the congregation.

 

 

As choosing justices for the Supreme Court is one of the most crucial responsibilities of a president and for the senate which confirms those nominations;  so choosing  pastors, elders and deacons, are the most important decisions a church makes.

 

 

Moral Qualifications

 

 

We live in a loose, immoral age, just as the Apostle Paul did two thousand years ago. In such an age church leaders are called to hold high God’s moral standards.  The most complete listing of these standards are found in I Timothy 3  and Titus 1.  Those who flagrantly ignore those standards disqualify themselves as leaders.

 

 

Note the moral standards for leadership in these passages.  The first is a blameless, irreproachable reputation, since salvation. We must not judge ones life before his salvation.  If that were the case, the Apostle Paul would not have qualified for even the most menial job in the church.  A church leader must be spiritually mature, blameless of lust, pride, laziness, a love for money and material things.  He must not have an attitude problem, such as an argumentative, pugnacious spirit.

 

 

Pastor and Elders must remember that leadership is not a matter of lording it over the congregation.   If there is anything the church does not need  it is church bosses.  Rather our leadership is exercised over the people by our example as the following passages teach us. I Peter 5:1-4,   Hebrews 13:7  and I Timothy 4:12.

 

Another qualification for a church leader is that he must be morally pure, a one-woman man; whether single or married.

 

If he is still single, but courting a woman with plans to marry her; if I were on a pulpit committee, I think I would wait for him to be married before I would consider  him as a pastoral candidate. He has enough to consider at the present time, without adding the burdens and responsibilities of a pastor.  

 

If he has been divorced, I would be willing to examine the circumstances carefully and prayerfully; however, I would probably reject him as a candidate for pastor. There are other areas of ministry where he might be qualified to serve.   

 

Having no children does not disqualify him, but if he has children, they must be under control and a Christian example to others.

 

He must have a good reputation in the community regarding his financial matters.   If a man cannot keep his own personal and family finances under control,  he is unfit to deal with these matters in the church.  In short, he must live a disciplined life.  There is no place in Christian leadership for one whose life is in constant chaos.

 

 

 

Functional Qualifications

 

 

Church leaders, including pastors, elders and deacons,  are basically servants of the church.  The Greek word for deacon means servant.  They are to have servant hearts and exemplify this beautiful trait to the entire congregation.  When it comes to hospitality, these servants are to show hospitality, not only to their family and friends, but also to strangers and those who are not able to reciprocate, nor strengthen the churches finances.

 

In addition to servanthood, pastors and elders must possess the gift and ability to teach and preach the Word clearly and practically to people. In fact, that’s the only functional qualification required of pastors and elders beyond that of servant.  We best exercise this gift of teaching when we understand we are not teaching the Bible to people. That is, we are not pouring our pitchers of Bible knowledge into the heads of our class or congregation. Rather, we are teaching people Biblical truth for their lives. SELAH! But regardless of his Biblical knowledge and ability to preach; his moral qualifications must be considered first. If a man is unfit morally, he is not qualified to pastor a church.  

 

 

To teach people God’s Word, we need to know the people we are teaching.  We need to connect with them, whether they are children or teens or adults.  Understand also that the Holy Spirit is the true teacher.  We work with Him as we help people understand God’s Word. Each of us as teachers must spend much time in prayer as we seek what needs to be emphasized in our teaching.

 

 

 

The Congregation’s Responsibility

 

The congregation’s responsibility, shown in Hebrews 13:7 and 17,  is to submit themselves to the church leadership as the leadership evidences submission to God’s Word and to the control of  the Holy Spirit.

 

 

The Church’s Ever-Present Enemy

 

 

The church’s ever-present enemy, Satan, is always at work seeking to destroy the work; but Jesus said in Matthew 16:18 that Satan cannot keep Christ’s Church from moving forward.  Satan’s method is to undermine the integrity and reputation of  church leaders. If he accomplishes that, he hinders the progress of the church.  When you pray for the integrity and reputation of your church leaders, you are praying for protection and spiritual prosperity of your church. 

 

 

II Chronicles 16:22 warns us to never be a part of “touching the Lord’s anointed”.  That is, don’t gossip about and slander your church leadership.  Such sin has drastic consequences.    God shows his fury towards those who are guilty of such sin in a story found in Numbers 16 of three ring leaders in an uprising against Moses.  Read the dreadful story of Korah, Dathan and Abiram who challenged Moses’ leadership and of how the earth opened up and swallowed these three men with their families, including everything they owned. God’s judgment still falls on those who attempt to oppose God’s faithful servants.

 

 

How Can We Protect Ourselves From Such Sin?

 

 

We all have our  ideas and opinions as to how the church could be improved.  Let us be quick to listen to one another and slow to throw cold water on new ideas, even from visitors and from the newest of church members.

 

 

Let us test sermons,  ideas and proposals by the plumb line of God’s Word.

 

Let us ask God to give us a humble attitude towards one another, “in honor preferring one another”. Romans 12:10  We are warned in Proverbs 13:10  that “only by pride comes contention.”    If you tend to have an unbending, argumentative, contentious spirit and you find problems in the church; no doubt, the problem is with you.

 

 

Beware of having a stubborn, closed mind that refuses to consider anything new. That sometimes comes with old age, but it ought not to be.

 

 

Remember, church is not just about going to Sunday School, singing,  preaching and listening to sermons, praying and enjoying fellowship suppers. Church is also about listening with an open mind and considering  the ideas of others.  If Christ rules in a church, and we are committed to the supremacy of Scripture, people with differing opinions and ways of doing things can work well together in love and harmony.

 

 

If I were seeking a church, there are only three factors I would consider.

 

1. Is that church faithfully proclaiming God’s Word?

 

2. Can I trust and respect the church leadership?

 

3. Are there needs in that church and are there opportunities for me to be actively involved, fulfilling my God-given gifts to help meet those needs?

 

 

If your heart is right with God,  your attitude will be right and God will open doors of opportunity for you to use your gifts for His glory and make you a blessing to others.

 

December 20, 2008 Posted by | Church Series | Comments Off on Standards for Church Leadership

Behold, The Lamb

At this Christmas season I invite you to join me in taking a closer look at Jesus who is the heart and soul of Christmas as we

Behold the Lamb –  John 1:29,

Behold the Man – John 19:5,

Behold My Servant – Isaiah 42:1-4,

Behold, Your King – John 19:13-15,  and finally

Behold Your God – Isaiah 40:9

 

We begin our study of Jesus with John the Baptist’s introduction of Jesus to the Jews and to the world  as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

 

Why did John refer to Jesus using this term, “Lamb of God”? 

 

The Lamb of God, whose blood is offered as a sacrifice for sin, is the theme of the whole Bible from Genesis through Revelation.  The Blood atonement is the scarlet thread that run through the entire Bible from eternity past to eternity future. Remove the blood atonement from the Bible as the Liberals have done, and you have cut the heart and soul out of the Bible.

 

Much of modern Evangelicalism, though they  teach and preach about Jesus, have swallowed the liberal’s message of preaching an emasculated gospel of the life and teachings of Jesus; but leaving out the central truth of the Gospel, the blood atonement of Christ as the propitiation for our sins. The truth is that God hates sin so much that He poured out His wrath on Jesus as He hung on the cross, so that those who trust Him can be saved from that wrath.  They consider that truth  too gory and too negative and too humiliating to preach. They cannot grasp that a holy God is infuriated by their sins.

 

That’s why every Gospel preacher must be tested by his attitude and attention given to the Blood of Christ. Those who ignore it must be recognized as under God’s curse, Paul warned in Galatians 1:7-9.

 

If you have never seen yourself as a wicked, guilty lost sinner facing and deserving the wrath of God in eternal Hell and if you have never seen the importance of Christ’s death on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins, then you have never been saved. You may have had a spiritual experience, but you’ve never been born again.  If God is convicting you of your lost condition; if you will trust Christ as your sin-bearer, who died to save you from your sins,  He will save you this moment.

 

How essential is the Blood of Christ for salvation?

 

Listen to God’s Word.  “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul.”  Leviticus 17:11

 

“And almost all things are by the law purged with blood: and without the shedding of blood there is no remission.”  Hebrews 9:22

 

“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by traditions from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”  I Peter 1:18-19

 

Listen to the song of the redeemed in Heaven as you read Revelation 5:9-14. They magnify and glory in the shed blood of Christ. Will you be able to join the angelic host of the redeemed in Heaven as they glory in the shed blood of Christ?  You won’t if you are not glorying in His shed blood as the atonement for your sins now.

 

Learn the following lessons concerning Christ, our Lamb.

 

I. THE SHEDDING OF INNOCENT BLOOD IS THE ONLY ATONEMENT FOR SIN. 

 

Adam and Eve were created perfect and placed in the perfect garden of Eden; but with a freedom to obey or disobey God. He further warned them that they would die if they disobeyed Him in the matter of eating fruit from a forbidden tree in the Garden. Daily He walked and talked with them in perfect fellowship.  God was not surprised nor caught off guard when they listened to the serpent, Satan, and chose to disobey God.  God knew their choice and had provided a solution to the sin problem long before He created them and placed them in the Garden.

 

That solution was the shedding of innocent blood.  After they sinned, they died spiritually and tried to hide from God; but God found them and confronted them about their sins. God saved them by slaying animals in their place, shedding the animal’s blood as an atonement for their souls.

 

Furthermore, God covered their nakedness with the skins of the animals He had slain. Prior to that time, they were not even aware of their nakedness.

 

At the same time, God declared war on Satan.  That declaration of war is found in Genesis 3:15.  It is the heart and seed bed of the Bible.  It is the story of the whole Bible summarized in 28 words.

 

No sooner were they driven from the Garden of Eden when they began to have children.  The first two sons were Cain and Abel.  The parents taught the truths about a blood sacrifice to their sons.  Abel recognized he was a sinner and he made the right blood sacrifice for his sins.  Cain, filled with self-righteousness, attempted to show God that his sacrifice of part of the harvest from his fields was a much nicer sacrifice than Abel’s bloody sacrifice.

 

God accepted Abel’s blood sacrifice, but rejected Cain’s sacrifice of produce. As a result, Cain became angry and killed his brother Abel, the first martyr for his faith in God.  Unbelievers have been hating and persecuting God’s people ever since.  Where do you stand?  Are you among the persecuted or the persecutors?

 

II. THE LAMB OF GOD PROPHESIED

 

Move forward to Genesis 22.   There we read  of faithful Abraham taking his son up to Mount Moriah to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac, as a sacrifice in obedience to God. As they journeyed up the mountain, Isaac noted that Abraham had the wood, the fire and the knife, but asked, “Where is the sacrifice?”   Abraham answered prophetically,  ” God will provide HIMSELF a sacrifice.  Two thousand years later God did just that by providing His only begotten Son, Jesus as the perfect, complete and final sacrifice for sin.

 

 Now a young man, Isaac could have easily overpowered his father and gotten down from the altar, but he chose to stay there in obedience to the will of God.  In this, he is a type of Christ who willingly hung on the cross to die for our sins.

 

As Abraham lifted the knife to plunge it into the heart of his son,  God stopped him in his tracks.  He had proven his faith in God and his willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice in obedience to God. God let him know he did not need to kill his son. Instead, God provided a ram caught in a thicket near by.  Abraham sacrificed the animal instead of His son, Isaac.

 

Isaac was a type of Christ in that He was willing to be sacrificed by His Father.   The ram is also a type of Christ in that it was a substitute sacrifice in place of Isaac.

 

III. THE LAMB OF GOD DESCRIBED

 

As we continue through the Bible in  our study of a blood sacrifices, we come to Exodus 12 and the story of the first Passover.   Israel is now in slavery in Egypt.  They had been there for four hundred years.  God calls Moses to deliver His people from the Egyptian slavery.  That deliverance begins with the first Passover. In  Exodus 12:5 we read the qualification for a passover sacrificial lamb. They perfectly describe The Lord Jesus, the perfect sacrifice for our sins.

 

The Lamb had to be without blemish. See I Peter 1:18-19

 

It had to be a lamb in its prime of life.

 

It was sacrificed, that is, it was slaughtered. See Psalm 22, Isaiah 53  and the four Gospel accounts of the crucifixion of Christ.

 

This took place according to Exodus 12:2 &6 on the 14 day of first month of the Jewish year. That was the very day Jesus was crucified.

 

IV. THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB OF GOD APPLIED

 

As we continue reading in Exodus 12:3-13 we learn how the blood was applied. 

 

First, the lamb was eaten by the household.  Though we do not eat the flesh of Jesus in the communion service (the Eucharist) we do personally appropriate Christ through faith. In John 6:48-58 it would seem that we are to literally eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ;  but Jesus clarifies what He means when in verse 57 and 63 we learn that we appropriate Christ in a spiritual sense, not a literal, physical, sense.

 

The communion bread and fruit of the vine are simply symbols of Jesus broken body and poured out blood. Taking communion does not save us, but as we trust in Jesus sacrifice for our sins on Calvary‘s cross, we are given the gift of eternal life. Taking communion is simply a memorial feast of the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross. We do it in memory of Him.

 

Then the blood was splattered on the two side posts and on the upper post over the door. When the angel of death came through Egypt to kill all the first born in each household,  the angel passed over the doors splattered with blood.  When we trust Christ for salvation, His blood is applied to our lives, delivering us from death and hell.

 

Note, how the value of the blood sacrifices increase in value.

 

In the story of Abel’s sacrifice in Genesis 4, the blood of that lamb saved one person,  Abel. 

 

In the passover story in Exodus 12,  the blood of the lamb saved a household.

 

In Leviticus 16,  describing the Day of Atonement for Israel,  the blood of the goat was sacrificed for the nation of Israel.

 

In John 1:29 we learn that the blood of Jesus is valuable enough to save all those who trust Him throughout the whole world and throughout human history.

 

V. THE LAMB OF GOD PERSONIFIED

 

In Isaiah 53:3-7 we learn that the Saviour of the world will be a man.

 

VI. THE LAMB OF GOD IDENTIFIED

 

As John the Baptist is preaching repentance and baptizing converts,  Jesus approaches and in John 1:29  John points to Him and declares Him to be the Lamb of God come down to die for the whole world.

 

In Acts 8 the Evangelist Philip also identifies the person spoken of in Isaiah 53  as Jesus Himself.  How can anyone reading Isaiah 53 miss Jesus?

 

The Book of Hebrews also identifies Jesus as our sacrifice for sin. Note especially chapter 7, 9 and 10.

 

VII. THE LAMB CRUCIFIED AND RAISED FROM THE DEAD

 

As you read the last chapters in each of the Gospels, you read of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.  Revelation 13:8 refers to Jesus as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. It was God’s eternal plan to slay His Son as an atonement for our sins.

 

VIII THE LAMB GLORIFIED

 

We redeemed ones who have put our trust in Christ, glorify Him with our lives and in our worship here on earth.  We do not glory in religion.  We do not glory in our denomination. We do not glory in our church.  We do not glory in our righteousness.  Paul writes in Galatians 6:14  “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Jesus is everything to us and Revelation 5:9-13, 21:22, and 22:1-3 reminds us that Jesus will be our glory throughout eternity.

 

A FINAL WARNING AND INVITATION

 

Each of us either receives Jesus as our blood sacrifice and Saviour from sin now, or else one day we will face the wrath of the Lamb at the great White Throne Judgment. Revelation 6:12-17  and  20:11-15. If you’ve never received Christ as your Saviour from sin,  may this be the moment that you cast yourself on God’s mercy and receive Jesus as your Lamb, slaughtered on the cross for your sins, and raised from the dead for your justification.

December 4, 2008 Posted by | Christmas Series | Comments Off on Behold, The Lamb

Behold, the Man

As we Behold the Man, Christ Jesus, let’s begin our study by reading the account of Jesus’ trial before Pilate as found in John 18:26 through 19:5. As you behold the Man, Jesus, it is my prayer that you will be overcome with adoration and love for  this Man,  God in human flesh.

 

It’s true that this truth of Jesus being fully man and fully God is a mystery that is difficult to comprehend; nevertheless, it is true. Paul writes about this mystery in I Timothy 3:16  He admits “And without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”

 

II Corinthians 3:18 teaches us that as we read and meditate on these truths concerning Jesus, we will increasingly reflect His glory.

 

THE FACTS OF JESUS’ MANHOOD QUESTIONED

 

After Jesus had ascended back to Heaven, heresies appeared  that denied both His humanity and His deity. Either of these heresies are an attack on the Doctrine of Christ. Jesus was both fully human and fully God.

 

II John 7-11 warns that if someone is wrong on the doctrine of Christ,  they cannot be trusted as Bible teachers.  We are warned not to attempt to have Christian fellowship with them.  We are not to be involved with them in Christian ministry of any kind.  We are not to ask God’s blessing on their work.  Of course, we can still love them and seek their salvation.

 

This is a Biblical command that has been totally ignored by some Christian leaders over the last half century and they have caused irreparable harm to the cause of Christ.  Like Balaam in the Book of Numbers, they preached the Gospel, but used their influence to break down barriers of separation between Biblical truth and error.  As a result, it continues to have  a damaging effect on the state of Evangelicalism today.  See the series on SEPARATION for more on this.

 

THE FACTS OF HIS MANHOOD DECLARED

 

The fact is that in Jesus,  God the Creator (without ceasing to be God) came down to this world in a human body, through the womb of the virgin Mary. Read the account of that miraculous event in Luke 1 and Matthew 1. 

 

Because the baby was not conceived by a human father,  He did not inherit the curse of a sinful nature, though his human nature was as human as any man. He felt every temptation and every weakness of a man; yet without a taint of sin in thought or action. Read of His humanity in Philippians 2:5-8. Read about it all through the four Gospels and in Hebrews 4:14-16 as He grew weary and troubled and felt every human emotion that we experience.

 

His hands, described in Isaiah 40:12 became the infant  hands waving uncontrollably in His crib.   His powerful voice that spoke the universe into existence became the tiny voice of a baby crying for milk, or because of the discomfort of a wet diaper,  or because He was sleepy and didn’t know what His problem was.

 

He, who is the source of all true wisdom, became a little baby boy who grew up as other little boys, learning how to talk, increasing in wisdom, stature, socially and spiritually as Luke 2:51-52 tells us.  He had to be taught by His mother and step-father, Joseph to walk and talk and learn skills for living.

 

The omnipotent Creator who never tires nor grows weary, became the man Jesus, who was often  tired and thirsty and had to ask for a drink of water. He often had to retire from the crowds who  continually surrounded Him and seek a little peace and rest in the mountains or on the Sea of Galilee.

 

He who established human government and who raises up and puts down political leaders, had to submit Himself to human government and pay His taxes.  Ultimately, He had submit to the mob who eventually had Him crucified as a criminal.

 

He understood what it was to be homesick, lonely and misunderstood.

 

He felt the agony of dying on a cross, but that agony was multiplied to infinity because He was God in human flesh. Go to the link, JESUS, for a heart-rending account by a medical doctor of His physical agony as He died.

 

THE TRUTH OF HIS MANHOOD CONFIRMED

 

Going back to that description of His trial before Pilate, as recorded in John 18:28 through 19:22,  read that account again and note how desperately Pilate tried to free him from the mob. Pilate was convinced Jesus was a righteous man and totally innocent of the charges made against Him. Pilate’s wife felt the same way about Jesus.  He desperately wanted to allow Jesus to walk free,  but the political pressure mounted on him to let the mob have their way and he finally turned Him over to the Roman executioners for crucifixion. 

 

He finally led Jesus out to the people and with anger towards the crowds who were forcing him to convict an innocent man  and with conviction in his heart,  proclaimed, “BEHOLD the MAN!  He was saying,  if I have ever seen a true man,  it’s JESUS.    

 

Later he had a sign written and placed at the top of Jesus cross,  JESUS, KING OF THE JEWS.   When the Jewish crowd read it, they cried out to Pilate to correct the sign and state that He only claimed to be King of the Jews.  With his patience run out in anger and with steel-like determination and with his teeth gritted, He shouted,  WHAT I HAVE WRITTEN, I HAVE WRITTEN!!! 

 

Not only was his sinless manhood confirmed by Pilate, but also by the repentant thief on the cross.  Read his testimony in Luke 23:39-43.

 

Read also in Luke 23:47 the testimony of the Roman Centurion who was in charge of Jesus’ crucifixion. I wouldn’t be surprised to meet this man in Heaven one day.

 

WHY DID JESUS COME DOWN TO THIS EARTH AS A MAN?

 

He came down to live perfectly the life we never could live.

 

He came down as a man to shed His human, holy, sinless blood as the perfect sacrifice for our sins.

 

He came down to be a sympathetic, understanding High Priest for us, as Hebrews  2:17-18 reminds us. 

 

He came down to destroy the power of Satan.  Hebrews 2:14

 

I Timothy 2:5 declares to us that He came down to be the perfect Mediator between God and man. This was a problem that perplexed Job that  you can read about in Job 9:32-33.

 

A little girl became fearful in her bedroom as a thunder crashed in a storm. As she cried out, her mother came into the room and reminded her that God was there with her.

 

She continued to sob in fear, “but I want  God with skin on”.

 

And that’s who Jesus is.  God with skin on to comfort us in our fears and to be understanding of our weaknesses.   Because He has sat where we sat and experienced our trials and fears, He is our perfect Saviour.

 

Are you trusting in Him?   Do you love Him?

December 3, 2008 Posted by | Christmas Series | Comments Off on Behold, the Man

Behold Your King

The world sees Jesus as a man, a good man, but just another sinful, imperfect man, as the rest of us.   Christians see Him, not only as a sinless God/man, but also as the prophesied Lamb of God, sent from Heaven to die for our sins. Not only do we see  Him as the  Lamb of God, we must also see Him and bow before Him as our Lord and King. Let’s consider that thought now.

 

Pilate recognized Jesus as King of the Jews, according to John 19:14; however, the Jewish masses were fickle.  Though they were ready to make Him king a week earlier as He arrived in Jerusalem riding on a donkey; within the week, they had been swayed by the Jewish religious leaders who claimed that Jesus was a blasphemer and now they were shouting, as blind sheep following their false shepherds, for His crucifixion.

 

As Pilate met with Jesus in the Judgment Hall and conversed with Him, he became convinced that Jesus was indeed an innocent man who did not deserve to be executed.   But more than that; he became aware that Jesus was, no doubt, the rightful king of the Jews. 

 

We who have seen ourselves as guilty sinners, helpless to save ourselves; have turned in faith to Christ, recognizing Him as the God/man come down from Heaven.  We have recognized Him as the Lamb of God sent to earth to take away our sins through the shedding of His blood on the cross.  But more than that, we have also beheld Him as our rightful Lord and King of our lives.   As Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 33:14-17 by God’s grace, we have “seen the King in His beauty”.

 

How do we know that Jesus is the rightful King of the Jews? 

 

First, from the Seed Plot of the Bible in Genesis 3:15 we have recognized Jesus as the promised Seed of the Woman who would ultimately destroy Satan after Satan had attempted to destroy the Seed, Jesus.  

 

As we study the Abrahamic Covenant in Genesis 12-17, and compare it with Romans 4  and Galatians 3;  we are convinced that Jesus is the promised Seed of  Abraham.  Genesis 17:15-16 first announces that kings will come from his seed.

 

The Abrahamic Covenant is passed on to Abraham’s son, Isaac in Genesis 26 and then to Isaac’s son, Jacob in Genesis 27and 28.  Then in Gen. 49:10 the promise is made to Judah, one of Jacob’s twelve sons, that the royal scepter will not depart from Judah‘s line.

 

Why the ten generation break in Judah‘s line?

 

From that promise of a royal line from Judah to King David, there are no kings for ten generations.  Why is that?  It’s a sordid story, but here are the facts. Judah had illegitimate twin sons, Pharez and Zerah,  by his daughter-in-law. Genesis 38 gives the details.

 

God’s law in Deuteronomy 23:2 concerning illegitimate sons was severe. They were to be shut out of the participation and blessings of Israel for ten generations. Yes, the illegitimate sons and daughters were innocent.  They had nothing to do with the sin.  Nevertheless, they were shut out as strangers.  Regardless of what you or I think about that law, it does give us a warning that God is displeased with us when we are involved in pre-marital or extra-marital sex and visits the consequences on our children for several generations.

 

That does not mean that children born out of wedlock are cursed and hopeless.  God, in His grace, can bring blessings out of the worst of circumstances.  I have known of such children who were saved and became useful servants of God.

 

But in Judah‘s case, there were no kings in his line for ten generations. Turn to Ruth 4:18-22 and count down the line of Judah. Starting with Judah and his eldest son, Pharez,  down to Jesse, the father of David; you will see the ten generations of Judah  who were not permitted to reign over Israel because of Judah‘s sin.

 

David was the first son in that line who was qualified to reign.  However, Israel had already insisted on a king so that they could be as other nations. In their self-will they chose Saul, of the tribe of Benjamin to be their king. God, in His long-suffering, allowed them to have Saul from the tribe of Benjamin, even though the tribe of Judah was the royal line.  Saul was their “dream ticket”,  tall, handsome and charismatic.  But he turned out to be a dismal failure.  In the meantime, young David was waiting in the wings, anointed as king by the Prophet Samuel. 

 

King Saul became insanely jealous of David and constantly hounded him as his enemy, even though David always treated King Saul respectfully and kind. You can read the exciting story in I Samuel.  Eventually Saul died and David became the first qualified king in the royal line of Judah. David could reign as  king from the tribe of Judah because the ten generations under the curse had been fulfilled.

 

When you turn to the New Testament, you will find two lists of kings from David to Joseph and Mary, who were both from the Tribe of Judah.

 

In Matthew 1 you can read the genealogy of David through his son, Solomon all the way to Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus.  In that list you will read of King Jechonias who was cursed and carried away into Babylonian Captivity with the Nation of Judah. Read in Jeremiah 22:28-30 of a curse on Coniah (another name for Jechonias) No one in his line could ever reign over Judah.  That would rule out Joseph, the step father of Jesus  and any blood son of Joseph.

 

Now turn in Luke 3 to the genealogy of Mary, the virgin mother who conceived and bore Jesus without the aid of a human father. Here again we see the line of David, the King of Judah, and we see that line traced down from Nathan, another son of David. The first name mentioned in Luke 3:23  is Joseph, who is referred to as the son of Heli.  Heli was actually the father of Mary, so Joseph was his son-in-law.  You will note in this line that there is no Coniah with his curse.  Therefore Jesus, the supernaturally conceived Son of the virgin Mary, who was also of the tribe of Judah, had a legal right to sit on the throne of David.

 

The Jews reject Jesus as their King

 

Though throughout Jesus’ earthly ministry the crowds would gladly have made Jesus their king because of His ability to perform miracles of healing and feed crowds with little or nothing; yet when whipped up into a frenzy by the religious leaders,  they turned on Him and shouted for His crucifixion.  The cried out, “We will not have this man reign over us!  His blood be upon us and on our children!  We have no king but Caesar!” 

 

This rejection of Jesus by the Jews had been prophesied in Psalm 22,  69,   and a number of other Psalms, as well as Isaiah 53.

 

God is not through with Israel.  He has glorious plans for them.

 

The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 11 of the temporary rejection of  Christ by the nation, Israel and also of their glorious restoration.  The Old Testament refers several times to their future acceptance of Christ as their Messiah and King.  Most notably you can find these references in Ezekiel 36 through 39 and In Zechariah 12 through 14.  I encourage you to go systematically through my Prophecy series for more details on all of this.

 

When The Lamb is ultimately The King

 

If you’ve not yet read The Lamb in this Christmas series, I encourage you to do that now. It contains the most vital information one needs to be saved.  There is coming a day when Jesus, The Lamb of God, who was crucified and slaughtered for our sins; will be seen by all Christians as the glorious Lamb on His throne in Heaven.  We will never cease to praise Him for His blood shed for our sins.  That’s our only grounds for being in Heaven with Him. Read of that occasion in Revelation chapters 4 and 5.

 

How about You?

 

Do you continue to reject Him as your Saviour from sin,  or have you received by faith His shed blood as the atonement for your sins and have you bowed to Him as your Lord and King? Some day, Romans 14:10-12 tells us, every knee will bow and proclaim Him Lord. 

 

If you continue to reject Him as your Saviour now, one day you will have the horrifying experience described in Revelation 6:12-17 of crying for the rocks and mountains to fall on you and crush you in a vain attempt to avoid the wrath of the Lamb.  I beg you to cry out to Christ, the Lamb of God, and ask Him to save you and cleanse you from your sins and bow before Him now as your Saviour and King.  Then one day you will join the multitudes who stand before His throne in Heaven, described in Revelation 4 and 5 beholding your Lamb and King, the Lord Jesus Christ, and giving Him ceaseless praise.

December 2, 2008 Posted by | Christmas Series | Comments Off on Behold Your King

Behold My Servant

In Isaiah 42:1-4  we find a prophecy concerning God’s faithful Servant.  Comparing Matthew 12:14-21 with the Isaiah 42 passage we note how the Lord Jesus perfectly fulfills this prophecy. From these passages we as Christ’s servants can learn lessons in service from observing Him.

 

A Chosen Servant

 

God takes the initiative by choosing us, Jesus tells us in John 15:16, “You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit.”   In Ephesians 1:4 we learn that “He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.”

 

He chooses us, not for what we are; but for what He can do through us for His glory as we see in Ephesians 1:6 & 12. 

 

As Jesus was a despised Jew of Nazereth, so He still chooses those who are despised by the world for Jesus’ sake to be His servants.

 

A Voluntary Servant

 

It is possible for us to be both chosen and voluntary servants of God. In Philippians 2:5-8 Paul writes of how Jesus in humility submitted Himself to His Father’s will and voluntarily came into this world with a servant heart.  So we are to have the same humbleness of mind.  As Paul says in I Corinthians 9:19,  we are free in Christ; yet we serve Christ by willingly choosing to serve others.  We are constrained  to servanthood by cords of love for Christ  and not by chains of force, Paul writes in II Corinthians 5:14-15.

 

Though God chooses us for service and wants to use us, He will not force anyone to serve Him.  We must volunteer, as Isaiah did in Isaiah 6  and as Saul of Tarsus did in Acts 9.

 

A Beloved Servant

 

A faithful servant of God will experience; not only the hatred and disdain of the world, as Jesus taught in John 15:19-23 and the Apostle Paul taught in  II Cor. 4:7-12;   but he will also experience God’s loving support from those who love the Lord.  No true servant of God is normally popular with the world and often with his own family. In fact, Jesus warns His servants in Luke 6:26 to beware “when all men speak well of you.”   To the contrary, Hebrews 13:12-13 warns us to expect just the opposite; rejection and suffering from those we would serve.  Those who do not learn this lesson early will not last very long in ministry for Christ.  Though it pays to serve Christ in eternity,  it costs to serve Christ in this present age.  

 

Most people liken the ministry of the Gospel to a prestige position: such as being a medical doctor or a lawyer or the president of a firm. Young person, if you choose the ministry with this expectation, you are in for a cruel awakening, especially if you are faithful to Christ and His Word. Though those who love Christ and His Word will treat you with love and respect, many within the church will treat you as II Chronicles 36:16 describes Israel‘s treatment of their prophets. “They mocked the messengers of God and misused His prophets until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people till there was no remedy.”

 

Note God’s sober warning to those who would dare to rise up against a faithful servant of God as found in I Chronicles 16:22  “Touch not mine anointed and do my prophets no harm.”  One who dares to do that is playing with something more dangerous than lightening.

 

If you are a preacher who finds yourself hopping from church to  church because you feel you are not loved and appreciated, perhaps you have missed your calling.  Hopefully, you are a faithful pastor who has had a wrong view of the ministry; but are humble enough to receive reproof and make some changes in your attitude towards your calling.

 

Early in my ministry, I read in Ezekiel 3 of how God called the prophet Ezekiel and of the response he would receive to his ministry.  That has helped me to have the right response to opposition throughout my ministry.

 

Understand this, dear servant of God.  Though hated and despised by the world and sometimes by carnal Christians; you are beloved of God. Read John 15:10-15 and understand that Jesus does not deal with His servants as servants, but as friends.

 

A Faithful Servant

 

God the Father was well pleased with His Son Jesus, who came as a servant to earth. Jesus had set His face like a flint to go to Jerusalem and to the cross.  He had prayed for His Father’s will in the Garden of Gethsemane.

 

A servant’s most important trait is faithfulness.  Proverbs 20:6 declares that faithfulness is a rare quality in men. I think all of us would agree, What good is someone to you if you can never count on their word,  if they never do what they say they will do?

 

An Empowered Servant

 

God asks us to do a supernatural work.  That can only be accomplished through the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. Luke 4:1 tells us that even Jesus ministered in that same power that’s available to us.

 

According to Colossians 2:6-10 we are complete in Christ to be what He wants us to be and to do what He wants us to do.  I Timothy 3:16-17 teaches us that we are equipped by God’s Word.  As David, when he went to fight Goliath, as recorded in I Samuel 17;  we do not need the armour of the world.  All we need are the five smooth stones of God’s Word.

 

A Gentle Servant

 

According to Matthew 12:19-20  God’s servant is gentle.  The Apostle Paul in II Timothy 2:24-26 and II Corinthians 10:1 emphasizes the importance of gentleness in our dealings with people.  We compel by love; not force. God’s wisdom is exercised by gentleness.  James 3:17   The Fruit of the Spirit includes gentleness.  Gal. 5:22.

 

 A Victorious Servant

 

Political causes will fail. As much as we love America,  it will fail one day. It’s been crumbling morally for as long as I can remember.

 

Religious organizations, including denominations, churches, colleges and seminaries have fallen under the control of Theological  Liberals for more than a century. One day the Lord Jesus is returning to this earth to reign and the Bible tells us that faithful Christians will reign with Him.

 

 

President Woodrow Wilson said, “I would rather fail in a cause that will triumph, than to triumph in a cause that will fail.”   We can apply that to Christians and the cause of Christ.  One day Christ’s cause will triumph and faithful Christians will share in that triumph.

 

December 1, 2008 Posted by | Christmas Series | Comments Off on Behold My Servant

Crime is Contagious

“Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a law breaker, it breeds contempt for the law, it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.”

 Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis 1916- 1939

            appointed  by President Woodrow Wilson

                                                        

 

December 1, 2008 Posted by | Gems | Comments Off on Crime is Contagious

The Lord Has Need of You

As Jesus continued His final journey to Jerusalem to be crucified, He came to two small villages of Bethany and Bethphage, just outside of Jerusalem. Probably He was in Bethany, where His friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus lived.  He had raised Lazarus from the dead a little earlier. Certainly He was well known by the town’s people. 

 

It was there that He asked two of His disciples to go to Bethphage and there they would find a colt, the foal of a donkey, tied to a post.  He instructed them to untie the donkey.  He explained that the  owner would come out and ask them what they were doing.  They were to answer, “The Lord has need of him.” The owner would give his permission to them.  No doubt, the owner was also a follower of Christ, and therefore knew exactly who was asking to borrow the donkey.  

 

Everything worked out just exactly as the Lord said it would. The two disciples returned to Jesus, leading the colt to Him.

 

Try to grasp this! 

 

God, the Creator of the Universe,  came down in human flesh and had to borrow a colt, the foal of a donkey, on which to ride into Jerusalem.   God had need of a donkey.  But that’s the way is has always been.  Even to this present day,  God still delights to use unlikely people and things.   Read  I Corinthians 1:28-31  and rejoice that God can even use you and me.  He can use anyone who is totally yielded to His will and anyone God uses, He blesses.  Let me give you some well know people and things Jesus used while He walked on this earth.

 

First, He used a virgin,  Mary, to be his mother so that He could come to this earth in a human body to die for our sins.  Mary gave her permission and God blessed her above all women.  Imagine, being given the privilege of being the mother of God come down in a human body.  You can read the story of this miracle of the virgin birth of Christ in Luke 1 and 2. It doesn’t make Mary great or worthy of our worship. She was simply blessed in a way no other woman has ever been blessed with the privilege of being the mother of Jesus.

 

He needed Joseph, a young man betrothed to Mary.  They had not yet consummated their wedding, when he heard of her pregnancy.  Crushed, he tried to grasp what had happened.  The Angel Gabriel who had announced to Mary God’s plan of using her,  now came to Joseph and explained what had happened.  Joseph humbly and gratefully accepted God’s will and became a good foster father to Jesus.

 

God needed a place for His Son to be born.  It ended up being a stable.  No one had room for Him.   Mary delivered and laid the baby Jesus in a manger. 

 

God needed someone to tell others about the birth of Jesus.  He chose to announce this amazing news to some shepherds caring for their sheep. And ever since, God has been using shepherds, pastors,  to proclaim  the Good News. 

 

Years later, Jesus tired and thirsty while traveling through Samaria, met an immoral promiscuous woman.  Jesus needed a drink and asked a cup of water from her.  Read the wonderful story in John 4 of how He led this woman to drink the Water of Life and become a changed person, on fire to share her good news with the people of her home town.

 

Once, while preaching to crowds by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus asked Peter to loan Him his boat so He could push off a little from the shore to have more room to preach to the crowds who had gathered.

 

Another time, He asked a boy to give Him his lunch,  five loaves and two small fish.  The boy gladly gave it to Him and He multiplied the lunch and fed 5000 men besides the women and children.

 

Jesus traveled for three years throughout the land of Israel, having no place to call home, no bed but to lie in the fields under the stars.  Sometimes, Jesus was invited to spend a night in the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus.  What a blessing that was for this little family!

 

When it came time for Jesus to die on a cross,  a friend, Joseph of Arimathaea,  gave his tomb for Jesus’ corpse.  It turned out to be a loan, for Jesus only used it for three days and three nights and then rose again in His glorified body.

 

What does Jesus need of us today?  

 

He needs our faith in Him, just as husbands and wives,  parents and children, pastor and people,  mutual friends need faith in each other. We need to receive by faith His sacrifice on the cross as the full payment for our sins. He took the death penalty that we deserved.

 

As He has loved us, so He needs us to reciprocate by loving Him with all our heart.  He needs our love as it is expressed in spending time with Him in prayer and in the reading and studying of His Word and He needs our love as it is expressed in obedience to Him.

 

He needs our bodies. In Romans 12:1-2  we are challenged to present our bodies to Him as a living sacrifice.  He needs our intellect, our voices, our hands and feet to do His will.  Are you willing to respond as the Apostle Paul,  “Lord, what will you have me to do?”   or as Isaiah,  “Here am I, send me!”  How can we do less than give Him our best?

 

Hebrews 13:15 teaches us that He need our praise.  Not just the superficial praise of the Palm Sunday crowd who were excited about using Jesus as their political saviour from the oppression of the Roman Empire.   He wants more from us than just an emotional feeling in a praise service. He wants us  boldly standing  for Him and living consistently for Him is the midst of a world that scorns and reviles Him.  He wants us to be willing to bear that suffering with Him. He wants our full surrender to Him for life. 

 

The Rewards of Living for Him

 

In II Corinthians 6:9-10  we see how eternal rewards are linked to our willingness to suffer with Him. 

 

The unknown by the world, we are well known in Heaven. 

 

Though living a crucified life daily, we discover His abundant life.

 

Though chastened by God for seemingly little wrongs, and though it seems as though the ungodly get away with murder, we have the comfort of our loving Father’s concern for us. See Hebrews 6:5-11 for more on this.

 

Though we sorrow over a lost hell bound world, yet we can live a life of rejoicing in Christ.

 

Though many Christians have little in this life, we possess everything that Christ possesses as joint-heirs with Him.

 

Be careful of possessions.  They can easily possess us.   What matters most is not how well we do in the stock market, but how well we do in Heaven with the time, money, possessions and  life we have invested in Heavenly concerns.

 

The Lord has need of YOU!  Have you given yourself completely to Him?  Remember, if  God could use a donkey to speak to the disobedient prophet, Balaam, and if He could use a donkey for Jesus ride,  then surely He can use even you and me.  Are you surrendered and broken before Him?

 

 

December 1, 2008 Posted by | Triumphal Entry | Comments Off on The Lord Has Need of You

A Cab Ride

I walked to the door and knocked. ‘Just a minute’, answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.

 

After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90’s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie.

By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.

There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

‘Would you carry my bag out to the car?’ she asked.. I took the suit case to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.

She kept thanking me for my kindness. ‘It’s nothing’, I told her. ‘I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated’.

‘Oh, you’re such a good boy’, she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, and then asked, ‘Could you drive through downtown?’

‘It’s not the shortest way,’ I answered quickly.

‘Oh, I don’t mind,’ she said. ‘I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice’.

I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. ‘I don’t have any family left,’ she continued. ‘The doctor says I don’t have very long.’ I quietly reached over and shut off the meter..

‘What route would you like me to take?’ I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me thebuilding where she had once worked as an elevator operator.

We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.

Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, ‘I’m tired. Let’s go now’

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.

Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her.

I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

‘How much do I owe you?’ she asked, reaching into her purse.

‘Nothing,’ I said

‘You have to make a living,’ she answered.

‘There are other passengers,’ I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

‘You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,’ she said.

‘Thank you.’

I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.

I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his
shift?

What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life.

We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

author unknown

December 1, 2008 Posted by | Encouragment | Comments Off on A Cab Ride