Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Something to Shout About

Those who know me, know that I am quiet and never boisterous about anything.  Very  little excites me enough to raise my voice. Though I am repulsed by the filthy, sexual innuendo of most television comedy today; I   thoroughly enjoy clean comedy and tend to laugh quietly and even silently. Canned laughter on noisy slapstick television comedy irritates me and I will reach for the remote to silence it.

Sports have never interested me, but  even if they did, I can’t imagine myself joining in with the roar of the crowds.

Politics excite me, especially when my side is winning. I enjoy listening to the speeches of both my political friends, as well as my opponents. Most exciting is election night as the votes are coming in and are tallied;  but even then, my excitement is muted and usually silent.

PREACHING

There is a time for a preacher to raise his voice in the pulpit, but I am wearied  by preachers and evangelists who believe that they must shout continuously  to be preaching in the Spirit.

There are times when I preach with passion; but even then, it is a quiet, earnest passion.  Occasionally, I will lift up my voice, as Isaiah 58:1 commands me to “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet and show my people their transgressions.”  I lift up my voice by speaking plainly;  not so much by volume.

WORSHIP

 

Most of my times of worship are  in silence.  Psalm 46:10 teaches us to “Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen.” You will find a mini series on this topic on this web site under the title, BE STILL.

But then in the very next Psalm, chapter 47,  we are taught to clap our hands and shout in triumph and worship of God.

Yes,  there is a time and there are occasions when we ought to shout the glories of God  from the house tops and clap our hands in praise to God.  We are to worship God with loud voices and with musical instruments, singing with all our might and strength as we sing the glories of God.

Our music ought to be loud enough that passers by outside will turn in to see what’s going on.  The loud music that comes from our churches ought not be like the loud, raucous music, shouting, laughter and drunken brawls that come from a road house or tavern late into the night;  but it ought to be loud, joyful music as we sing the praises of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Psalm 33:3, 40:3, 96:1, 98:1, 149:1`instruct us to “Sing unto the Lord a new song;  that is, a song different from the world’s songs. The new birth engenders a new song. The unregenerate world has always had their songs.  The world’s songs over the past century  have included the sensuous jazz of the 20’s-40’s and   and the rock beat that began in the 50’s and continues to this day. The new song, spoken of in the Psalms, is the spiritual song spoken of in Ephesians 5:19.  A spiritual song is a Scripturally based song that lifts our spirits to God in worship and speaks of His love and grace to us or testifies to our love for Christ. Such a song that blesses is found in a setting of  beautiful melody and harmony.   As the beauty of a diamond ring is  enhanced by its setting, so an excellent spiritual song is enhanced by its musical setting.

Psalm 98:4 tells us to “play skillfully with a shout of joy.”

You are. no doubt, familiar with Psalm 100. “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before His presence with singing.

Again, Psalm 150:5-6 encourages us to “Praise Him upon the loud cymbals: praise Him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let everything that hath breath, praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.”

The worship that we’re experiencing in church now is only a small foretaste of our worship in Heaven, as described in Revelation 5:11-14.  That will be glorious  beyond our imagination.

WHY SHOULD THE MUSIC BE LOUD?

Because God is awesome!

 

Why should we shout and sing our hearts out in church?  Psalm 47:2 answer that question.   The King James Version answer ” For the Lord most high is terrible.”  A much better way of expressing God’s glory is with the word “awesome”.   God is an awesome God.  Today that adjective awesome is overused to describe everything from ice cream to movies and Rock stars. I prefer to reserve that word to describe only God and His creation.  It describes that which is indescribably  glorious.  Only God can properly be described as awesome.

God is King over the whole earth.

 

Not only should our singing in church be loud because God is awesome; but also because He is the King over all the earth.  Not only is He king over the so-called “Christian nations”.  but all the nations of the world, even those that are openly opposed to the Gospel of Christ.

One day when He returns He is going to subdue all nations; not only under His feet, but also under the feet of Christians.  That’s what Psalm 47:3 tells us.  One day Christians will rule with Christ over the whole world.  That is truly an awesome experience awaiting Christians who are willing to suffer with Christ in their identification with Him in this world now, according to II Timothy 2:12.

God chooses our inheritance for us.

 

Another reason for us to praise God with all our strength is because He has chosen an eternal inheritance for us, according to Psalm 47:4  and I Peter 1:3-4.   We’re already blessed in this world and greater blessings await us in the world to come.

Jesus ascended back to Heaven with a shout and is returning with a shout.

 

That’s the messages of Psalm 47:5.   Though in the Acts 1 account of His ascension back to Heaven, there is nothing said of shouts on earth, we can be sure there was shouting and rejoicing in Heaven as the Son of God returned in His glory, having dealt a death blow to sin and Satan when He died on the cross and  rose again the third day as prophesied in the Old Testament.

Yes, there are many reasons for our rejoicing and  singing loudly our praises to God.

Experiences from the 1940’s

I will never forget my years as a young boy in the People’s Church located then in the heart of downtown Toronto, Canada. How, with the choir and orchestra, the congregation of 2,000 people sang the great hymns of the church. The music was loud and glorious and was a major attraction to those outside. Many were drawn in by the excitement and enthusiastic singing.  Week after week, people streamed down the aisles every Sunday morning and evening during the World War II years in response to the invitation to receive Christ as Saviour and Lord.

In the mid fifties I will never forget, when as a student at Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C., we gathered for chapel each day. The music of the many trained voices of  three thousand students,  singing in four part harmony was absolutely  thrilling.

Our sovereign God reigns over the heathen who do not even bow to Him now, Psalm 47:8 informs us.  Though they presently rebel against God now, when He returns to reign, the shields and banners and flags, representing all the nations of the earth will be under His absolute sovereignty then. We, His victorious Church will exercise Christ’s authority over the earth. Read the following passages that describe that time.

Psalm 47:9 speaks about the princes of the people, Which people?  The people of the God of Abraham.  That’s us, those of us who share in the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant.  Christ is the fulfillment of that Covenant and we are blessed through Christ.  To delve into this, go to my series on FREEDOM, a study of Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians.

Note also these other references to Christians reigning with Christ in His Kingdom Age which begins when He returns for us.  Revelation 5:9-10,  20:1-6,  22:1-6  and II Timothy 2:12.

May God bring back in these dark days of sin and apostasy a revival of  God’s people. Not just a revival of holy living, but also a revival of rejoicing, loud, joyful  singing in our churches.

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August 30, 2010 Posted by | Worship Series | Comments Off on Something to Shout About

The Burning Heart

The women, including Mary Magdalene and some others listed in Luke 24:10,  were the first to meet Jesus early Sunday morning after He had risen from the dead. Jesus’ twelve disciples had been known as “The Twelve”.  With Judas now dead, they became known as “The Eleven”, as we see in Luke 24:9. Later on in the Book of Acts Matthias was added by lot to bring the number back up to twelve, and they were once again referred to as The Twelve.

Though referred to as “The Eleven” here in John 20, we learn from John 20 that of “The Eleven”  only ten were gathered together Resurrection morning.  Thomas was too discouraged and disheartened to be there that morning. He would meet Jesus a week later. That very emotional meeting with Jesus is described in John 20:26-29.

 Note from Luke 24:9 that with “The Eleven” were some other followers of Christ and they are referred to in verse 9 as “all the rest”.  These were gathered in a secret place together that first Easter morning, for fear of the Jews who had just crucified their Messiah.

Two of those listed in Luke 24:9,  Cleopas and another, finally decided to leave Jerusalem and return to their home in Emmaus, about sixty furlongs, or seven miles northwest of the city. It would be about a two to three hour walk back home.

As the two began their walk back to Emmaus, discouraged and confused, they were suddenly joined by a stranger who overheard and observed their discouragement. He began to ask them some questions concerning their depressing demeaner.  Basically, He was asking them why they were so sad and depressed.  

The two were amazed by His seeming ignorance of all that had taken place the last few days:  Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem,  His violent, but controlled, cleansing of the temple and  His trial and crucifixion.

Cleopas and his friend continued talking to the Stranger.  You can read the full response to the Stranger’s question concerning their depression in Luke 24:13-24. Certainly by now, you are convinced that this stranger was none other than Jesus.  But take note that Jesus did not identify Himself to the two disciples as they walked those seven miles.  That would come later in Emmaus.

Note also that Jesus did not appear in His blazing glory, as He did  earlier on the Mount of Transfiguration to Peter, James and John.  Rather, He appeared as a very ordinary man.  Earlier that morning, Mary Magdalene mistook Him for the gardener.  Actually their eyes had been prevented from recognizing Jesus until He chose to reveal His identity.

At this time along the road to Emmaus, He had something much more important to teach them which could best be taught if they did not recognize Him.  If they had recognized Him at this point, they would have been so star struck that they would have missed what He wanted to teach them.

From the Old Testament, beginning with the Pentateuch written by Moses under the inspiration of God, and continuing with all the Prophets,  Jesus gave to Cleopas and his friend, a survey of the Old Testament, pointing out many of the prophecies concerning Himself, showing them from these Old Testament Scriptures the many references to His death by crucifixion and his bodily resurrection the third day.  Two of those references He, no doubt,  dwelt on were Psalm 22  and Isaiah 53.   But beyond that, He would have shown them that He is the fulfillment of Genesis 3:15 and the Abrahamic Covenant of Genesis 12  and 17.   and the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant of II Samuel 7; as well as so many other Old Testament Messianic references.

By the time they arrived in Emmaus,  their minds were swimming in their new-found knowledge of the Bible and their hearts were about bursting with joy in their new-found understanding and joy of seeing  Christ prophesied in the Old Testament.

As they arrived in Emmaus,  Jesus appeared to be continuing his journey. Cleopas and his friend, insisted that they stop at their home for supper and to sleep for the night.  Jesus, seeing their desire and hunger for more Scriptural truth, accepted their invitation to enter their home.

At the dinner table, it tells us in Luke 24:30 that He took the initiative and  broke bread and shared it with them.   In so doing the light began to dawn.  They recognized that their Bible teacher and companion was none other than Jesus Himself, alive from the dead.  It doesn’t say so, but they, no doubt, noticed the nail holes from the crucifixion  in His hands.  Regardless, God now gave them a divine recognition of Jesus and with that recognition, Jesus, in His glorified resurrection body, disappeared from their sight.

Here’s the point I want you to see from verse 32.  It was not the physical appearance of Jesus that thrilled their hearts, though I do not want to belittle that thrill.  Rather, it was a recognition of Jesus throughout the Old Testament.  This was something that they had never seen before.

Let me make an important point here.  That which causes our hearts to burn with love and joy are not the dreams and visions we have of Christ. It’s not our emotional worship experiences.  It’s not the super-star preachers who impress us with their presence. The burning heart experience has little or nothing to do with our feelings.  Rather the reality that will cause our hearts to burn in love and joy will be our understanding and recognition of Jesus seen throughout the Old Testament as the prophesied and typified Messiah and Saviour.

This is something the nation Israel did not recognize two thousand years ago when they crucified Jesus.  That spiritual blindness continues to this day; not only with Israel, but with people from all the nations of the world, including America.

Spiritual blindness continues in any heart that has not yet seen Jesus as the Son of God who was crucified for our sins and raised from the dead three days later for our justification.

Until we understand what David wrote in Psalm 40:7-8; the Bible will be a dry, boring book to us.  Jesus will be just another religious man who died for his cause and that will never change our lives.   But when we read in Psalm 40:7-8 “Lo, I come, in the volume of the book, (The Old Testament) it is written of Me, I delight to do Thy will, O My God” and when we see that this was written of Jesus; our hearts will be set on fire with love and joy for Jesus our Saviour and Lord.  

When this truth overwhelmed Cleopas and his friend, immediately after Jesus had disappeared, those two disciples turned around and walked those seven miles back to Jerusalem in the dark, for by now, the sun was setting.  They headed back to that secret gathering place of the disciples to share with them the Good News.

What was that Good News?  That Jesus Christ was alive and they had seen Him.  But even more thrilling and life-changing than that, they rejoiced that since Jesus had opened the Old Testament Scriptures to them, that now it all made sense.   Their hearts were burning with their understanding and recognition of Jesus throughout the Scriptures.

That’s what causes our hearts to burn and rejoice. It’s not that we experienced a feeling of excitement and worship in a worship concert. It’s  not that we were wowed by seeing and hearing a famous preacher; but that we now have a recognition and understanding of Jesus who is God the Creator in a man, and that He died for our sins and was raised from the dead the third day and that He lives in Heaven. Our hearts burn with joy and excitement as we see Jesus who is the center and purpose of the whole Bible

August 19, 2010 Posted by | Resurrection | Comments Off on The Burning Heart

The Breadth and Depth of Worship

There is nothing so popular and misunderstood and divisive in churches today as “Worship.”   The Charismatic movement of the 1960’s has emphasized it as an experience to be sought.  The Rock and Roll movement of the hippies of the  60’s has given modern worship  the rock beat for its music.  Rock and Roll is itself associated with sexual intercourse.

The hippies at that time were in rebellion against their parents and against the government and against all authority and moral standards in general.  They used their rock music to express their rebellion. The Contemporary-minded Church, of the 60’s chose to adopt their rock music for worship in order to try to reach them for Christ.  For fifty years now their rock beat has been the medium for worship music in what is known as The Contemporary Church.  God, not numbers, is the judge of how successful that has been.

We’re presently studying the third chapter of Ezra in which the people of Judah are setting up the altar and preparing to build a new temple.  You may remember that Solomon’s temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar when he conquered Judah and took them into Babylonian captivity.

In this third chapter we see them preparing for the Feast of Tabernacles, a time when they built lean-to shelters of branches to temporarily live in as they celebrated God’s faithfulness to them during their wilderness wanderings.

Ezra 3 gives us three  facts concerning their worship and how we must worship and carry out the work of  The Church.

1.  Everyone was united as one man in this concern.  Ezra 3:1

2. Everything was done according to the Law of Moses.  Today we can broaden that to the complete Word of God.  Ezra 3:2,4

3. At the heart of worship was the burnt offering which typified the importance of Christ’s blood sacrifice, whose sacrifice is the foundation of Christianity.  Ezra 3:3

Let us keep in mind than when it comes to worship and to how we conduct church services, our final authority is not our opinions nor our preferences. Those are what divide churches and Christians in general.  Rather, our final authority must be The Word of God.  God’s principles and standards are applicable to any age.

THE PEOPLE WERE UNITED

 

The people were united in Ezra’s day according to Ezra 3:1  just as they were united when the Church got underway at Pentecost, as we see in  Acts 2:1 There were no denominations or factions at that time.  Acts 2:44-47,  4:24, 32-35. According to  Ezra 3:11-13  the sound of their music and the shouting of the young men  and the weeping of the older men could not be distinguished and it was heard from afar. They had a united testimony. There was no “generation gap”.

Any worship that does not make much of the shed blood of Christ for our sins, is counterfeit.  In true worship as we stand before God; age, gender, race, wealth, status and personal preferences all fade away into insignificance.  All that matters is God’s glory.

Our God and our worship of Him is all bigger than ourselves and our preferences.  You and I have no right as individual Christians to determine by our preferences what is and what is not acceptable to God. God’s Word must be the final authority. Our God and our worship is too small when we limit the expression of our worship  to the values and musical tastes of a particular generation- young or old or to a particular period of time or a particular nationality.

One thing we know from the Bible is that worship has been expressed through melodies that spring from  regenerated, joyful hearts, as we see in Ephesians 5:18-21  and Colossians 3:16.  The essence of Christian music is Scriptural truth perfectly married to beautiful, singable melodies.

According to Psalm 47, worship may also involve clapping our hands; not necessarily as we would clap for a musical performance in a recital, but spontaneous clapping that expresses our joy and agreement in worship, much as AMEN  is used to express agreement.  Of course, it is possible to totally distract from the preaching of the Word by dancing in the aisles and chasing people around the church sanctuary as I have observed in some church services.

 

CONSIDER THE DEPTH AND BREADTH OF WORSHIP

 

All music consists of melody, harmony and rhythm. What concerns me about contemporary worship  is not so much the rock beat rhythm, which I could understand, though probably never appreciate in sacred or secular music.  What concerns me most about contemporary worship services is its limitation and lack of breadth of worship music.  It all seems limited to the rock beat. It seems to me that this generation of worshipppers are afraid to stray from the Rock beat.

What grieves me deeply is that in the contemporary worship services, generations of Christians born after the 1960’s are missing out on knowing and singing over several thousand great hymns of The Faith, as found, for example, in church hymnals of the past.  What grieves me  is that this generation of Christiansare becoming spectators as they watch and listen to the worship teams. They are losing their ability to sing. I listen to them  groaning, not knowing where the melody is going.

I grieve that they will never hear nor know about thousands of hymns and Gospel songs by Charles Wesley, Fanny Crosby, a blind saint of God who wrote about 8,000 Gospel songs, including  Tell Me the Stories of Jesus,  Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross,  Blessed Assurance, To God be the Glory,  All the Way My Saviour Leads Me, I Am Thine, O Lord,  Draw Me Nearer, and My Saviour First of All, a song in which she describes her joy as a blind person of one day seeing Jesus.

Then there are hundreds more hymns and Gospel songs written by hundreds  of song writers, including:  Al Smith.  Oswald Smith, John Peterson, and Bill & Gloria Gaither.  Frank Garlock and Ron Hamilton have added a large selection of beautiful hymns and Gospel songs with their beautiful, rich  harmonies  to church music.

 

THINK ABOUT THIS

 

Contemporary Christian Music and its monotonous rock beat  has become the exclusive, staple sound and atmosphere of contemporary  worship.   The Christian music of  past centuries has been BANNED from this generation as being embarrassingly out of date.  It’s like a young family locking their grandparents in a closet so that they will not be embarrassed by their age.   It’s like a young woman not being caught dead in her mother’s dress, for fear of being out of style.

Again I remind you that  the CCM crowd who consider themselves contemporary and up-to-date are actually locking themselves into a style of music that is now over seventy years old.  Why do they call it contemporary?  Who cares whether it is contemporary?  The questions that matter are:  “Does it speak Biblical truth to the heart?  Does it reflect our response to Biblical truth? Is the music really beautifully  married to the words?

Worship music must not be based on that  which appeals to the opinions and  preferences of unregenerate sinners. They have no idea what true worship of God is, nor do they desire to worship Him.   They live in rebellion to God.

Why should rebellious sinners be allowed to dictate to us how we are going to worship God and what we can and cannot sing or  preach?

Christ is building His Church.  We are not called on to rebuild or reinvent the church.   Over the past several decades there has been a concerted effort to rebuild the church to try to meet changing needs of each generation. They want to change the worship style, music and preaching content.  Each new generation wants it different from the former generation. Vainly the church tries to be in vogue  by changing styles as often as hair styles and dress styles change.

God gave the pattern, as well as the standards for church leadership for the church,  in Acts and in Paul’s Epistles.

It is not our calling to attempt to try to make God more popular with fallen sinful man by ignoring or overlooking the need to confront sin.

Looking at verse 10-13 of Ezra 3 we see the united sound going out from the builders of the temple. The younger were more enthusiastic and noisy.  The older were more melancholic and sentimental. But the sound that went forth was a mighty united sound that made it impossible to distinguish the younger from the older.  The volume of that sound was not measured in decibels, but by the love, unity and fellowship heard for miles around.

August 16, 2010 Posted by | MUSIC | Comments Off on The Breadth and Depth of Worship

Who’s Upsidedown?

‎”Scripture says the early Christians ‘turned the world upsidedown’ Acts 17:6. In our generation the world is turning the church upsidedown.” From John MacArthur’s 2010 3rd edition of his book, Ashamed of the Gospel, a book well worth reading.

August 9, 2010 Posted by | Gems | Comments Off on Who’s Upsidedown?

Crucified to the World

My desires seem especially to be after weanedness from the world, perfect deadness to it, and that I may be crucified to all its allurements. My soul desires to feel itself more of a pilgrim and a stranger here below, that nothing may divert me from pressing through the lonely desert, till I arrive at my Father’s …house.” –

David Brainerd  18th century American missionary to Native Americans in the New York/Pennsylvania area.  Died at the age of 29.

August 8, 2010 Posted by | Gems | Comments Off on Crucified to the World

Don’t Worry

Corrie Ten Boom said, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.” When God says no, there is a reason…and it is a good one.

God’s doing something upriver that you just can’t see yet. It’s always tough when something we want doesn’t happen, but the best thing about God is, He’s got your best interests in mind.  anon.

August 7, 2010 Posted by | Gems | Comments Off on Don’t Worry

Reaganism

 

Principles that President Ronald Reagan taught and lived.

He described himself as an undying optimist, especially in regard to America’s future.

Life is one grand sweet song, so start the music.

The top priority of the federal government is the safety of this country.

Some have forgotten why we have a military. It’s not to promote war. It’s to be prepared for peace.

Some people wonder all their lives if they made a difference. The Marines don’t have that problem.

We don’t have a trillion dollar debt because we haven’t taxed enough; we have a trillion dollar debt because we spend too much.

Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber, and as deadly as a hit man.

Man is not free, unless government is limited.

We have long since discovered that nothing lasts longer than a temporary  government program.

Government tends not to solve problems, but to rearrange them.

It is rather to make government work with us, not over us, to stand by our side, not ride on our back.  Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it.

Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

I believe that Communism is another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages even now are being written.

Always remember that you are Americans, and it is your birthright to dream great dreams in this sweet and blessed land, truly the greatest, freest, strongest nation on earth.

Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite on one end and no responsibility on the other.

How can a President not be an actor?

I have wondered at times what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through Congress.

While I take inspiration from the past, like most Americans,  I live for the future.

If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under.

There is no institution more vital to our nation’s survival, than the American family.

Through love and instruction, discipline, guidance and example, we learn from our mothers and fathers the values that will shape our private lives and our public citizenship.

With our eyes fixed on the future, but recognizing the realities of today… we will achieve our destiny to be a shining city on a hill for all mankind to see.

Don’t let anyone tell you that America’s best days are behind her- that the American spirit has been vanquished.  We’ve seen it triumph too often in our lives to stop believing in it now.

______

From Reagan Ranch  2011 Calendar celebrating Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday.    Born February 6th, 1911

August 7, 2010 Posted by | America | Comments Off on Reaganism

Magnolias

 I spent the week before my daughter’s June wedding running last-minute trips to the caterer, florist, tuxedo shop, and the church about forty miles away.

As happy as I was that Patsy was marrying a good Christian young man, I felt laden with responsibilities as I watched my budget dwindle.

So many details, so many bills, and so little time. My son Jack was away at college, but he said he would be there to walk his younger sister down the aisle, taking the place of his dad who had died a few years before. He teased Patsy, saying he’d wanted to give her away since she was about three years old.

To save money, I gathered blossoms from several friends who had large magnolia trees. Their luscious, creamy-white blooms and slick green eaves
would make beautiful arrangements against the rich dark wood inside the church.

After the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding, we banked the podium area and choir loft with magnolias. As we left just before midnight, I
felt tired but satisfied this would be the best wedding any bride had ever had! The music, the ceremony, the reception  and especially the flowers  would be remembered for years.

The big day arrived –  the busiest day of my life – and while her bridesmaids helped Patsy to dress, her fiancé  walked into the sanctuary with me  to do a final check. When we opened the door and felt a rush of hot air, I almost fainted; and then I saw them – all the beautiful white flowers were black.
Funeral black. An electrical storm during the night had knocked out the air conditioning system, and on that hot summer day, the flowers had wilted and died.

I panicked, knowing I didn’t have time to drive back to our hometown, gather more flowers, and return in time for the wedding. Tim turned to me. ‘Edna, can you get more flowers? I’ll throw away these dead ones and put fresh flowers in these arrangements.’

 I mumbled, ‘Sure,’ as he be-bopped down the hall to put on his cuff links.

 Alone in the large sanctuary, I looked up at the dark wooden beams in the arched ceiling. ‘Lord,’ I prayed, ‘please help me. I don’t know anyone in
this town. Help me find someone willing to give me flowers – in a hurry!’

 I scurried out praying for four things: the blessing of white magnolias,
courage to find them in an unfamiliar yard, safety from any dog that may bite my leg, and a nice person who would not get out a shotgun when I asked to cut his tree to shreds.

 As I left the church, I saw magnolia trees in the distance. I approached a house. No dog in sight. I knocked on the door and an older man answered. So far so good. No shotgun. When I stated my plea the man beamed, ‘I’d be happy to!’ He climbed a stepladder and cut large boughs and
handed them down to me. Minutes later, as I lifted the last armload into my car trunk, I said, ‘Sir, you’ve made the mother of a bride happy today.’

No, Ma’am,’ he said. ‘You don’t understand what’s happening here.

‘What?’ I asked. You see, my wife of sixty-seven years died on Monday. On Tuesday I received friends at the funeral home, and on Wednesday . . . He paused. I saw tears welling up in his eyes. ‘On Wednesday I
buried her.’  He looked away. ‘On Thursday most of my out-of-town relatives went back home, and on Friday – yesterday – my children left.’

I nodded. ‘This morning,’ he continued, ‘I was sitting in my den crying out loud. I miss her so much. For the last sixteen years, as her health got worse, she needed me. But now nobody needs me. This morning I
cried, ‘Who needs an eighty-six-year-old wore-out man? Nobody!’ I began to cry louder. ‘Nobody needs me!’

About that time, you knocked, and said, ‘Sir, I need you.’ I stood with my mouth open. He asked, ‘Are you an angel? The way the light shone
around your head into my dark living room…’ I assured him I was no angel.

He smiled. ‘Do you know what I was thinking when I handed you those magnolias?’

‘No.’ I decided I’m needed. My flowers are needed. Why, I might have a flower ministry! I could give them to everyone! Some caskets at the funeral home have no flowers. People need flowers at times like that and I have lots of them. They’re all over the backyard! I can give them to hospitals, churches – all sorts of places. You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to serve the Lord until the day He calls me home!’

I drove back to the church, filled with wonder. On Patsy’s wedding day, if anyone had asked me to encourage someone who was hurting, I would have said, ‘Forget it! It’s my only daughter’s wedding, for goodness’ sake! There is no way I can minister to anyone today.’ But God found a way. Through dead flowers. ‘

Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.’ If you have missed knowing me, you have missed nothing. If you have missed some of my emails, you may have missed a laugh. But, if you have missed knowing my LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST you have missed everything in the world.  May God’s blessings be upon you.

 

-copied from an anonymous email forward

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 6, 2010 Posted by | Encouragment | Comments Off on Magnolias

Witness of the Women

Each of the four Gospels describe details of Jesus’ Resurrection as the writers saw it. Each of them is inspired of God and therefore without error or contradiction.  Each of them deal with critical truths concerning His Resurrection.

1. The empty tomb and the undisturbed grave wrapping

2. The testimony of the women rejected by the Apostles

3. The testimony of the Jewish leaders, enemies of Christ,  who bribed the

    Roman guards to spread a lie.

THE EMPTY TOMB

 

Mary Magdalene arrived at the tomb first very early that Sunday morning while it was still dark.  Finding the heavy stone rolled away she looked in and found the tomb empty and surmised that someone had stolen the body of Jesus.  John 20

Immediately she returned to her friends, Peter and John and informing them  of the awful news.  The three immediately returned, running to the sepulchre. 

John, younger, arrived there first and looked in, considering carefully what he saw.  Jesus body was indeed gone. The grave clothes that had been wrapped around him like a cocoon were still undisturbed and intact.  The linen cloth that had covered His face was now folded neatly in its place.  His resurrected body had  obviously passed through the grave clothes leaving them totally undisturbed.

Peter, a little older, finally arrived at the tomb and immediately rushed in and saw what John had just seen.  John followed Peter into the tomb and as the facts settled into his mind,  he believed that Jesus was indeed alive and risen from the grave.  Then the two men, having seen the evidence and were settled that Jesus was alive, left the tomb and returned home.

Mary Magdalene continued there alone, stooping down and peering into the empty tomb, weeping uncontrollably in sorrow for her missing Friend, As she looked, she saw two angels in white sitting: one at the head of the slab and the other at the foot of the slab where Jesus had lain.  They spoke to her, “Woman, why weepest thou?”

She replied to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord and I know not where they have laid Him.”

At that moment she sensed someone standing behind her.  Turning around she saw through her tears a man standing, but did not recognize Him as Jesus.  He spoke to her, “Woman, why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou? 

She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if thou hast borne Him hence, tell me where thou hast laid Him, and I will take Him away.”

At that point, Jesus spoke her name,  “Mary!” Immediately she looked into His face, recognizing Him and with great joy addressed Him,  “Rabonni”  “Master!” 

As she reached out to grab hold of His feet, Jesus cautioned her, “Touch Me not, for I am not yet ascended to My Father.  But go to my brethren and say unto them,  ‘I ascend unto My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.”

THE TESTIMONY OF THE WOMEN

 

With that, He vanished and Mary Magdalene immediately rushed to the place where she knew she would find the disciples and shared the good news with them.

A little later in the morning before dawn, several other women, friends of Jesus, arrived at the tomb:  Mary, the mother of James and Joses,  and Salome, the wife of Zebadee and the mother of another James and John. Luke also mentions Mary Magdalene, although she had come earlier to the tomb.  These women also found the tomb empty and reported what they saw to the disciples of Jesus; who when they heard their testimony, rejected it as mere gossip and visions of their imaginations.  Luke 24:1-11

THE TESTIMONY OF THE JEWISH LEADERS, ENEMIES OF CHRIST, WHO BRIBED THE ROMAN GUARDS TO SPREAD A LIE

 

In Matthew 28:11-15 we have the story of the Roman guards reporting to the Jewish religious leaders what had happened at the tomb.  The leaders, intent on covering up the facts of His obvious resurrection, bribed the Roman soldiers to spread the lie that His disciples had come during the night while the Roman soldiers slept, pushed aside the heavy rock, breaking the Roman seal and stolen the body of Jesus- all of that without waking up the soldiers. 

What a preposterous lie they concocted! Imagine the disciples being willing to suffer and die for the truth of the Gospel when secretly they knew it was all a lie!  No one would purposely die for a lie!

HOW IMPORTANT ARE WOMEN TO GOD?

 

Would you note something very interesting about the four Gospel accounts of the resurrection of Jesus?   Only women were witnesses of Jesus death, burial and resurrection.

HIS DEATH

True, the Roman soldiers and the Jewish masses of people all saw Jesus die; but as far as Jesus friends are concerned, only the women witnessed His death.  The disciples of Jesus had fled.  John, the beloved disciples had been sent home with Jesus’ mother, Mary.  a little while before Jesus’ death.   Of Jesus’ friends, only the women watched Him die.

HIS BURIAL

 

True,  Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus, secret followers of Christ, were involved in burying Jesus.  But it was the women; not the disciples, who were involved in bringing spices for His burial. 

HIS RESURRECTION

 

On Sunday morning,  the women were the first to go to the tomb and discover that it was empty.  Jesus’ body was gone.  It was the women who heard the angels and Jesus Himself  announce His resurrection. According to Luke 24:11, the Disciples rejected their news as idle tales and nonsense. They would not believe the women.

CONSIDER THIS

 

As Eve, the first woman,  influenced her husband Adam to disobey God and eat of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden and women have to this day borne the stigma of leading the human race into the sin of rebellion against God  (even though God held the man, Adam, and not his wife Eve responsible for leading the human race into sin. Romans 5:12-19 

I Corinthians 15:22)

So God has in His love for women, allowed women to have a major part in the redemption of the human race from the curse of sin. 

It was Mary, a humble young virgin woman,  who was given the high honor of  supernaturally conceiving and bearing the body of Jesus, God in human flesh, who eventually died and rose again for the redemption of  repentant sinners. 

And it was women who had the privilege of witnessing the death of Jesus, His burial and His Resurrection, announcing it to the disciples.

I TIMOTHY 2:8-15

 

In Paul’s instruction to men and women found in this difficult passage, we learn how their stigma of having a major influence of bringing sin and its curse into the world is reversed by child bearing.  Follow with me here.

In verse 8, first the men are instructed to lift up holy hands in prayer. The emphasis here is not so much on the posture nor the position of the hands as it is that men should be living holy lives as they approach God in prayer.

Then in verse 9-12 women are instructed, of all things, as to how to wear their hair and how to dress when they come to church and what part they should have in the worship services.  They are instructed to be modest in their hair and dress styles, so they do not unduly call attention to their appearance and thus draw away attention from God in worship.  Also they are instructed to not teach men nor lead churches.

So how does a woman reverse the stigma she brought on herself by leading her husband into the sin of disobeying God?  She reverses that stigma by learning in silence and by her tremendous influence in bearing raising and training children for the glory of God.  As I’ve said before repeatedly, it was women, mostly single women, who had the most godly influence in my life as a child.  I am the preacher I am today because of the godly influence of single, as well as married women primarily.

I believe this is what Paul is saying in I Timothy 2:15 when it says, “she shall be saved in childbearing.”   It’s not that women are saved from their sins by bearing children.  Rather, the stigma she brought on herself in the Garden of Eden by leading her husband into sin is reversed as she bears and influences and trains the next generation of children for God.

August 6, 2010 Posted by | Resurrection | Comments Off on Witness of the Women