027: Untempered

Untempered

Today, you can’t just throw a building together and call it done. First, a building permit must be obtained. Then there are strict building codes and standards that must be met which usually means hiring an architect. Preparing and laying a solid foundation are crucial. After the construction phase, ultimately, the building must be deemed safe and useable by an inspector.

When all these things are in place, when blueprints and codes are followed, if inferior building materials are used to cut costs, the structure might be compromised. Even the best building is not without its flaws, and a storm will reveal any imperfections in the structure that need to be repaired.

The same can be said for our lives. We are a building in the making, and God is the chief architect. He has a plan for what He wants our life to be. If we will just submit, God knows exactly what needs to be done to make us useable to Him.

Maybe you feel like God has been working overtime on your building and you’re not sure how much more pressure you can take. But God is a master builder! He knows where all your flaws and weaknesses are.  Stay tuned to this podcast episode and be encouraged. Just trust the builder and submit to His plan.

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2 Camels, 1 Needle

2 Camels 1 Needle

They are filthy rich! It’s obvious from the clothes they wear to the car they drive to the mansion they live in. This person is well off! Of course, nowadays you can’t be too sure. When so many people are trying to live in luxury, way beyond their means, it can be hard to distinguish between who’s wealthy and who’s just drowning in debt.

Are you rich? Or are you trying really hard to be rich? Be careful! Jesus warns…

For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Luke 18:25

Whew! I’m safe! I’m not even close to being rich so I won’t have any trouble going through the eye of that needle.

Rich is a relative term. How do you determine who’s rich and who’s not? Rich in one part of the world might be considered poor in another. How do we know what Jesus meant? How do we apply this verse?

In the gospel of Mark, Jesus elaborated …

23 And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!

24 And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!

Mark 10:23-24

Jesus not only cautions those having riches, but he extends the warning to those that trust in riches. Maybe the question at hand is not necessarily about what you have, but more about what has you.

In Luke 18-19, the scripture gives the stories of two wealthy men who each have an encounter with Jesus. When these two men meet Jesus, they are faced with the greatest decision they will ever have to make. The first man is an unnamed young ruler. The second is a tax collector by the name of Zacchaeus. Both men are very rich, yet it’s interesting how their encounters with Jesus turn out totally different.

The First Camel

In Luke 18, a rich young ruler has been doing some thinking. Life has been so good to him. He’s a ruler…He enjoys his status. People respect him. In fact, he gets special treatment wherever he goes. This young ruler enjoys his wealth too, but he’s smart enough to know these pleasures won’t last forever. So he approaches Jesus with a question…

18 And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

19 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.

When it’s all over, what am I going to get out of all this? How can I guarantee I will inherit eternal life?

20 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.

21 And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up.

Undoubtedly, he was very religious, for the rich young ruler had been careful to keep all these commandments. Yet there was still a void that neither riches nor religion had filled.

22 Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.

That’s not exactly what the rich young ruler wanted to hear. He had a lot at stake! His wealth, his position, all the pleasures and luxuries he had gotten used to.

Could he really trust this Jesus? Why should he have to give up all that was rightfully his? He was a ruler, not a follower. How could he be expected to blindly submit and follow someone who fellowshipped with the unclean and the sinners?

It just didn’t seem fair! The rich young ruler had carefully followed the law…he faithfully attended all the church services. He did everything right in the eyes of the religious. Yet Jesus said it wasn’t enough!

23 And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.

There’s no way I’m going to give up all this to follow Jesus into poverty.

24 And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!

25 For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

The rich young ruler was just like a camel looking into the eye of a needle. This is impossible! There’s no way I can go through with this! I can’t give up all of my treasures and all of my power. Life as I know it will be no more. Where will I live? What will become of me? I will surely lose everything. I won’t have a life worth living!

26 And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved?

27 And [Jesus] said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.

The rich young ruler could’ve cried out to Jesus. Lord, this is impossible! But…if you help me, then I will try. Instead, he walked away sorrowful. He turned his back on Jesus to put his faith and trust in what his riches could do for him.

The Second Camel

In Luke 19, we find Zacchaeus, a wealthy tax collector, despised by everyone. He is a thief and a scoundrel, getting rich at the expense of his own people.

1And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.

And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.

Zacchaeus was chief among the publicans. Like the rich young ruler, he indulged in all the pleasures money could buy, but Zacchaeus was not happy with his life. He was searching for something that money couldn’t buy. Unlike the rich young ruler who was only after his eternal inheritance, Zacchaeus had no other ulterior motive except he wanted to see Jesus.

And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.

Zacchaeus didn’t just want to lay eyes on Jesus he wanted to “…see Jesus who he was.” He had heard the stories about the miracles, how Jesus touched lives everywhere he went. I believe Zacchaeus seriously wanted a life change. He was so desperate that he was willing to do anything…

And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.

And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.

And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.

When Zacchaeus saw Jesus, he also caught a glimpse of his own wretchedness. Zacchaeus realized he was a lowly sinner in need of a savior. When Jesus saw Zacchaeus’ hungry heart, the Savior reached out in love and compassion. The instant Jesus spoke to this little man, Zacchaeus surrendered and sold out all he had and received Jesus joyfully and took Him into his home.

And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.

Yes, Zacchaeus was a sinner, but now he had a Savior. Unlike the rich young ruler, Zacchaeus never asked Jesus for anything. He never once questioned what he could gain. Instead, Zacchaeus offered up all that he had.

And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.

Zacchaeus was so sorry for his sin that he was willing to give half of all his goods to the poor, as well as pay back four times the amount to all those he had cheated.

And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.

10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

 

Zacchaeus traded all his riches for salvation, something worth more than all the treasures in the earth.

Two Camels, One Needle

Two very rich men stood before Jesus. The first camel wandered around the needle saying it’s impossible. The rich young ruler could have asked Jesus to help him. He could have asked Jesus to change his heart. The rich young ruler could have said I’m willing to be made willing. I’ll go through the eye of that needle no matter what it takes. Instead the rich young ruler walked away and forfeited eternal treasures for his earthly riches that would soon fade away.

The second camel faced the same impossibility as the first camel. The eye of the needle didn’t change…it was still just as tiny and narrow. It wasn’t any easier for Zacchaeus than it was for the young ruler. Zacchaeus found himself staring into the eye of the same needle and had to decide. Is Jesus worth it? Should I give up all my riches and my position? Do I take a chance and trust this Jesus to be my everything?

Zacchaeus and the rich young ruler both met Jesus, under the same conditions. But only Zacchaeus acknowledged his own weakness. Only Zacchaeus acknowledged his own inadequacy. Only Zacchaeus acknowledged his own sinfulness. Only Zacchaeus longed for forgiveness.

Zacchaeus believed on Jesus and trusted Him to be his personal savior. He made Jesus Lord of his life. When you really see Jesus for who He is, then you also see yourself for who you are. It becomes crystal clear: you owe Jesus everything! Selling out is not the ticket to salvation, but the fruit of salvation.

Zacchaeus chose to trust Jesus. His heart was changed! His sins were gone! And Zacchaeus had the promise of treasure in heaven!

 21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

Matthew 19:21

What about you? Maybe you’re not wealthy by society’s standards, but you don’t have to be rich to trust in riches. Some spend a lifetime spending money they don’t have pursuing riches and pleasures that will all burn up one day.

Maybe that’s not you. Maybe you live a simple life…never needed a lot of money.

So money is not your pursuit…but you have a wealth of other things you haven’t fully surrendered to Christ. Are you willing to sell out all you have? Your thoughts, your ideas, and opinions? Your hopes and dreams? Your plans? Your passions? Will you give it all up to follow Jesus?

The rich young ruler wanted insurance of eternal life, but wasn’t willing to sacrifice anything in this life to get it. He was so caught up in the here and now…

What are you trusting in today? What are you pursuing? What has a hold on you?

Do you know Jesus as savior and Lord? Or are you putting on a religious front, going through all the Sunday morning motions? Like the rich young ruler, maybe you do all the right things. You have the church crowd convinced, and you don’t feel quite as guilty, but deep down you know something is missing.

Jesus wants all of you! He’s not interested in your bank account. He’s not interested in your possessions. Jesus wants you to sell out everything so He can become your everything.

What does it mean to be sold out to Jesus?

It’s not about money, but goes much deeper than that. When all the stuff this world has to offer…relationships, pleasures, positions, pursuits. When you reach the place the world no longer satisfies you, then you will know exactly what it means to sell out to Jesus Christ.

If you’ve reached this point and you are ready to make Jesus Lord of your life, all it takes is a simple prayer of surrender. Jesus, I am a sinner in desperate need of a savior. I’ve been disappointed one too many times by what this world has to offer. I need something real that won’t ever let me down.

Jesus, I surrender everything I have. Now You are all I have! Jesus, be my everything today and forever!

If you’ve enjoyed this message take a moment to leave your thoughts in the comments section below. You can also subscribe to receive new content as soon as it is published.

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026: Preparing for a Feast

Preparing For A Feast - Sun Mar 6

Has this world left you feeling a little empty? Okay, maybe more like starving! You used to be so excited about what the future held, but then the disappointments came…one right after another. Now it seems like you’re always scraping the bottom of the barrel, looking desperately for something to fill the void. Sound Familiar?

Have you been blindsided by circumstances beyond your control? Or are you just reaping a harvest of bad choices and sinful living?

No matter who you are or what you’ve done, you don’t have to live in need. God wants to bring you to a place of abundance, a place of blessing. Right now you may feel poor and destitute, but do you realize it’s God’s will for you to eat at the King’s table?

No matter how great the need, God “…is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Ephesians 3:20).

If you are facing the impossible, tune in to this podcast episode and prepare yourself for a feast. Your impossibility may be the very invitation that brings Christ in abundance into your situation.

Please take the time to share your thoughts about this message in the comments section below. If you subscribe you will receive new content as it is published as well as a free E-Book. I look forward to hearing from you!

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The Engrafted Word

Engrafted Word - Sun April 17a.m.

In this age of information, the Bible has never been more accessible than it is now. But for some, the Bible is nothing more than a piece of literature, a collection of stories to convey life’s lessons. Others see it as a mere historical document, or just another text book for the academia.

Yes, the Bible is full of mystery and intrigue, and has been the inspiration of many Hollywood productions. However, the Word of God is no fairy tale! Every word of the Bible is true and even secular scholars consider it to be one of the most historically accurate documents in existence.

Yet to the Christian the Bible is so much more than just words on a page, or at least it should be. The Bible is the divinely inspired written Word of God with the power to change lives.

12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

The Word of God is powerful, and sharper than a two-edged sword! Wow! That sounds dangerous! So why do we handle it so carelessly? I’m afraid even Christians have become way too casual with something so precious and powerful.

What is God’s Word to you? Do you realize the Word has the power to direct and change lives for eternity? Or has it just become part of your Sunday morning routine, something you grab once a week on the way out the door to church?

Maybe you’ve been in church all of your life. You know the Bible and can even quote scripture with the best of them. But have you really let the Word of God change you? Can you say you are more like Jesus today than you were yesterday, a month ago, or a year ago?

Okay, I get it. I’ve got to take the Word and apply it to my life.

HOW TO BECOME A DOER!

Yes, you need to be a doer of the Word, but how do you go from hearing the Word to effectively doing the Word?

21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

James 1:21-22

Before you can be a doer of the Word, you must receive the Word! You must receive the engrafted Word of God! Hearing the Word won’t change you, but the engrafted Word…now that is able to save your soul!

Engrafted comes from the root word graft. What does it mean to graft something?

Farmers and the horticulture industry depend on every tree in their orchards to maximize production of the best fruit possible. That’s where grafting comes into play.

Growers use various grafting techniques to alter the fruit produced by their trees. They know which tree yields the lushest, fullest fruit. They will take a cutting from this “father” tree and use it to alter the growing characteristics of other inferior trees.

An incision is made into an inferior tree to make an opening where a cutting from the “father” tree can be inserted. The inferior tree, if left alone, will continue to produce fruit of its own poor nature; but when you graft in a cutting from the good tree, the poor tree will start growing branches and take on the new nature of the “father” tree. Once the grafting takes place, the poor tree will begin to produce good fruit just like that of the “father” tree.

In the same way, when God’s Word is engrafted into your heart, a change takes place. You begin to take on a new nature. The things you used to do in the flesh nature are past. With the engrafted Word of God, you begin producing a holy fruit that only comes from the nature of the Heavenly Father.

However, until the Word is engrafted in you, it won’t have the power to change you. A graft can’t just be laid on the surface; it must be placed in the deepest part of your being. There’s no way around it! You must be cut by the Word!

WOUNDED BY THE WORD!

On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached the Word of God…

37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

Acts 2:37

They were pricked in their heart.

It’s not enough to just hear it or read it. The Word must prick your heart!

How many anointed sermons have you heard, straight from the Throne of God, yet you still remain unchanged? Maybe at the time, you were challenged and convicted in your spirit. Like the crowd on the day of Pentecost, you may have even asked “…what shall [I] do?” But you never followed through to allow the Word to be engrafted into your heart.

Why is it that our flesh resists the Word of God so?

They were pricked in their heart when they heard the Word (Acts 2:37). The word prick means to strike through violently. To be pricked is not just a little stick, but a violent stabbing to make a deep open wound.

That sounds painful!

The Word of God can’t be engrafted in you until it has wounded you. Naturally your flesh is going to rise up and resist any kind of discomfort or pain. Your flesh will hinder what the Word wants to accomplish in you, which is to completely change you into the image of Jesus Christ.

The cross of Calvary was very painful! It was no nursery rhyme experience and can’t be depicted as anything less than violent and gruesome. Jesus shed His blood and suffered a cruel torturous death for you and me! I’m sure His flesh cried out and resisted, but Jesus surrendered His will to the His Father’s will.

On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached and the people were pricked in their heart. The razor sharp Word cut and convicted them to ask “…what shall we do?”

38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

Acts 2:38-39

It’s not easy to come face to face with your sin. However, once you hear the Word, you have a choice to make. You can either commit and be a doer of the Word, or you can walk away and remain unchanged.

Nobody wants to admit their guilt and wretchedness. Dealing with your own sin and shame is painful, but once you do you will be forever changed from glory to glory.

After hearing Peter preach the Word, the people were truly sorry for their sin and repented.

41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

Acts 2:41-42

They gladly received the Word and continued steadfastly. This means they were committed! They were in for the long haul, no stopping or getting off. The people weren’t content to just attend church: they were the church! The New Testament church wasn’t stagnant but growing and maturing to produce fruit…fruit from a heavenly source. Continuing means to go onto perfection to be like the Lord Jesus Christ.

Every time you respond to God’s Word, God is cutting away the flesh and conforming you to the image of Jesus so that He can use you for His Honor and Glory! That sounds like a privileged opportunity to me…to be used by Almighty God.

Have you been cut to the heart lately? Even Jesus was pierced… But why did the soldiers have to pierce His side? Jesus was already dead! Wasn’t that enough?

33 But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs:

34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.

John 19:33-34

Recall Jesus is the second Adam. Where the first Adam failed and forfeited his position, the second Adam triumphed. In Genesis, God put a deep sleep on Adam, opened his side and pulled a rib from Adam in order to make him a bride.

Similarly, Jesus had to be pierced in His side so that God could make His Son a bride. If you know Jesus as Savior and Lord, then that’s you! You and I are the bride of Christ: the Church. Every time we are cut by the Word, God is grafting us with the blood and flesh from the very side where Jesus was pierced.

I want to be a part of this church! I know Jesus, but don’t know that I will ever be worthy enough to be His bride. He has done so much for me, but I have absolutely nothing to offer Him!

Your right! We have nothing to offer God. But all He wants is you: surrendered, willing and obedient.

None of us can accomplish anything apart from Jesus Christ!

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

John 15:5

But if you and I, the branches, are grafted and abide in the vine, then we will bring forth fruit, not from our own flesh, but from Jesus Christ.

Is the Word engrafted in your heart? Just reading the Bible or listening to a sermon won’t change you. This may touch you and convict you, but that alone will not transform you into what God wants you to be.

You have to be willing to let the Word of God cut you! No matter how painful, let it pierce deep enough to search out your innermost being. Your flesh will resist, but receive the engrafted Word and release the power to change you into the image of Jesus Christ!

Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below.

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The dragon and The Lamb

Dragon and the Lamb - Sun May 1am

As gentle as a lamb…A lamb is a weak and defenseless creature. Yet throughout the Bible, Jesus is referred to as a lamb. It’s easy to understand this depiction when we think of Jesus as the sacrifice for our sins…the Lamb for sinners slain!

But what about in the book of Revelation? Most of us know the book of Revelation is the end…the culmination of events when Jesus puts an end to the devil once and for all…the same devil who has done everything in his power to intimidate, tear down, and deceive as many Christians as he can.

And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world…

Revelation 12:9

How is a defenseless little lamb going to be a match for a fire breathing dragon?

Stay tuned to this podcast episode to learn more about why you should cling to this little Lamb. Even though the circumstances and trials you are facing are bigger than you, you can rest in this Lamb of God! You don’t have to be smarter or more cunning than the devil! You don’t have to be bigger or stronger than the devil! You don’t have to rise equal with the devil because even when the devil brings his best, God only needs a little Lamb to defeat this dragon once and for all.

Digging Ditches

Digging Ditches

I just don’t understand! I’ve done everything I know to do, but nothing is working! How desperate are you? Are you willing to surrender all control and do things God’s way for a change? Will you follow the Lord, even if His way doesn’t seem to make any sense?

Sometimes God’s way doesn’t seem the most logical at the time. Naturally, we like to understand things and sometimes we get too smart for our own good. It’s hard to surrender to God when you are constantly trying to figure things out for yourself.

At some point, you have to trust God and stop leaning on your own understanding.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust God’s leading even when it doesn’t make sense!

In chapter 3 of II Kings, Jehoram and Jehoshaphat find themselves in a dry, barren wasteland facing a mighty enemy. One of the kings knows he can’t afford to lean on his own understanding. Even when God’s way doesn’t make sense to him he dares to trust God anyway.

The story begins when the king of Moab rises up and rebels against Jehoram, the king of Israel…

But it came to pass, when Ahab was dead, that the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel.

Jehoram was a wicked king and “…wrought evil in the sight of the Lord” (2 Kings 3:2).

Although Jehoram was ungodly and leading Israel away from the things of God, he didn’t mind enlisting the help of a God fearing man.

Jehoram makes a plea to Jehoshaphat, the good king of Judah.

Will you help me fight the king of Moab? I don’t need your God, except when I’m in trouble. Aren’t we guilty of the same? We like to do things our way, follow our own plans, do our own thing until we are facing tragic circumstances. Then we are quick to call on the prayer warriors.

Jehoshaphat was a righteous king, and for whatever reason agreed to join forces with Jehoram to fight their common enemy, the Moabites. Maybe Jehoshaphat longed for the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah to be united once again.

I can almost picture Jehoram, frantic because his gods were failing him. He’s about to lose part of his kingdom and all the tribute from the king of Moab. The power and wealth that he put so much faith in, along with all the pleasures that it afforded him were fading away. He was distressed!

Jehoram must have relied on the calm, steady nature of Jehoshaphat for his faith was in a God that wouldn’t fail him.

And [Jehoram] said, Which way shall we go up? And [Jehoshaphat] answered, The way through the wilderness of Edom.

Jehoram, desperate to save himself, followed Jehoshaphat’s plan and went by way of Edom where they joined forces with the king of Edom.

Edom was a desert, barren land. Sadly, the Edomites were cursed to live in this unfertile land all because they were the descendants of Esau. It all started when Esau forfeited his birthright and blessing for a measly bowl of beans just to satisfy his own flesh (Genesis 25).

So the king of Israel went, and the king of Judah, and the king of Edom: and they fetched a compass of seven days’ journey: and there was no water for the host, and for the cattle that followed them.

Talk about gloom and doom! These three kings were facing the mighty Moabite army, but now even more vulnerable, they were stranded in a barren wasteland with no water supply.

What do you do when all hope is gone and there’s nothing left to do? Most of us would say cry out to God for help. But Jehoram was wicked. Rather than humble himself and turn to God and repent, he mocks and blames God for their predicament…

10 And the king of Israel said, Alas! that the Lord hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Moab!

However, Jehoshaphat trusted the One True God for everything, especially when there was no hope in sight. Jehoshaphat was committed to God not just in the best of times, but in the worst of times as well. He knew he had to seek the Lord for help and guidance, else all would be lost.

While Jehoram ranted and raved about their plight…

Jehoshaphat trusted the Lord! Let’s see what my God has to say!

11 But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the Lord, that we may enquire of the Lord by him? And one of the king of Israel’s servants answered and said, Here is Elisha the son of Shaphat, which poured water on the hands of Elijah.

12 And Jehoshaphat said, The word of the Lord is with him. So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him.

So Jehoram, Jehoshaphat, and the king of Edom went to the prophet Elisha to seek God’s will.

Can you imagine what Elisha must have thought when wicked Jehoram sought the advice from a prophet of the very God he had blatantly disregarded and disobeyed?

13 And Elisha said unto the king of Israel, What have I to do with thee? get thee to the prophets of thy father, and to the prophets of thy mother. And the king of Israel said unto him, Nay: for the Lord hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Moab.

You can feel the hostile sarcasm of Elisha when he asks Jehoram, “…What have I to do with thee?” Why don’t you go to the prophets of your mother and father? You know the ones you chose to serve instead of the Lord God Almighty. If the idols and false gods that satisfied your flesh were good enough before, why aren’t they good enough now?

Of course, Jehoram smugly replies, your God is no better, “…for the LORD hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Moab.”

14 And Elisha said, As the Lord of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, surely, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look toward thee, nor see thee.

Elisha agreed to seek God’s will, but made it perfectly clear it was not for the evil King Jehoram. Essentially, if it wasn’t for the godly King Jehoshaphat, Elisha “… would not look toward thee, nor see thee.” Thankfully, there are still people today like Jehoshaphat who have a testimony of living right to please God.

Elisha prayed for an answer and the Lord revealed His will…

16 And he said, Thus saith the Lord, Make this valley full of ditches.

Dig a ditch in the middle of a desert! Not just one ditch, but cover the whole valley full of ditches!

I can hear Jehoram…Really Elisha? That’s all you’ve got! You want us to dig ditches when we should be wielding a sword! How’s that going to defeat the enemy?

Like Jehoshaphat, are you willing to trust the Lord when it just doesn’t make sense?

17 For thus saith the Lord, Ye shall not see wind, neither shall ye see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, that ye may drink, both ye, and your cattle, and your beasts.

I’m sure they all had their doubts. We are facing an army! We have absolutely no water for the troops or our animals. There’s no clouds in the sky, no sign of rain whatsoever… so where’s the water going to come from?

Have you ever wondered how God would work all the mess out in your life? Are you facing decisions right now that you just aren’t prepared to make? Nothing catches God off guard!

18 And this is but a light thing in the sight of the Lord: he will deliver the Moabites also into your hand.

It’s nothing for the Lord, a light thing!

God will conquer the Moabites His way, and not by man’s devices. Put your swords down, pick up your shovel, and start digging!

God said dig a ditch, and He will fill it! If you do your part and obey, God will do the rest.

The Bible doesn’t tell us…but I wonder if Jehoram even picked up a shovel. Or was that just too humiliating…digging ditches in a desert? Really? Was Jehoram content to rest in his tent while Jehoshaphat did all the hard work?

I’m sure it wasn’t easy and Jehoshaphat may have struggled with feelings of resentment towards Jehoram. But Jehoshaphat knew he wasn’t digging ditches for Jehoram or himself. Jehoshaphat dug those ditches because God told him to! This work was for something greater than defeating the Moabites. This work was about the whole nation of Israel, bringing a divided kingdom together to witness the glory of God.

What are you willing to do to be in God’s will? Will you humbly dig a ditch when you’ve planned to wield a sword? God wants to use you to build His Kingdom, to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world. But it’s got to be His way…

Dig a ditch, and God will fill it!

20 And it came to pass in the morning, when the meat offering was offered, that, behold, there came water by the way of Edom, and the country was filled with water.

The water God promised came from Edom. Wait a minute! A miracle came from the barren, cursed wasteland of Edom. Never underestimate what God can do! He can make a way where there seems to be no way. Sometimes your hopeless situation, might turn out to be your next miracle.

God will provide! It may not be how you would have imagined. Trust God anyhow! He is in complete control of every situation you might be facing today and He is faithful to those that are committed to Him!

Okay, it all sounds good! I want to commit myself to God, but I am no king Jehoshaphat. If anything, I’ve been like wretched Jehoram. I don’t deserve a miracle! I’m in this mess because of my own rotten self. I chose this path and it’s only right that I suffer the consequences.

God will take your wretchedness, your mistakes, your faults, and turn all of it into a vessel of honor for Him, if you are willing.

None of us deserve God’s mercy, but He extends it anyway. Without Jesus Christ we all deserve an eternity in hell separated from God.

God wants to work miracles in and through your life, but the greatest miracle starts with knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior. God gave His only begotten Son, Jesus, not because you deserve it, but because He loves you! God is full of mercy and compassion and wants to work everything out in your life for your good, and for His honor and glory.

The Moabite army assembled, put on their armor, and waited at their border for the battle to begin.

22 And they rose up early in the morning, and the sun shone upon the water, and the Moabites saw the water on the other side as red as blood:

Miraculously, God angled the sun’s rays just right so that the water reflected red. The Moabites thought the ditches were full of the blood of the three kings and their armies.

23 And they said, This is blood: the kings are surely slain, and they have smitten one another: now therefore, Moab, to the spoil.

The Moabites reasoned, surely everyone’s dead. The spoils are ours for the taking and we don’t even have to fight for it. And they proceeded down into the camp …

24 And when they came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose up and smote the Moabites, so that they fled before them: but they went forward smiting the Moabites, even in their country.

The Moabites were defeated! Not by man’s way! But God’s way, with a valley full of ditches!

What about your life? Are you facing enemies right now wondering how you are going to make it through? Sickness, cancer, depression, … relationship problems, financial struggles, and the list goes on and on…You worry and wonder how it’s all going to work out.

Do you want to see God move? Then provide the vessel… Dig a ditch to hold the outpouring and God will fill it up to overflowing.

If you need a miracle, God needs a ditch to fill! If you need salvation… He’s the Savior! If you want to be filled… He’s the Baptizer! If you are sick… He’s the healer.

Whatever you have need of, God is willing and able to meet your need. But if you never dig the ditch, how can you expect God to fill it?

Commit yourself to God! Set time aside for prayer! Turn the TV off and read God’s word! Fast a meal or two! Walk in the Spirit! Live a life to please God!

God said to make the valley full of ditches, not just a little hole in front of your tent. But cover the entire community with ditches. The work of God is not just about you… Miracles don’t just happen so my circumstances change. The power of God is demonstrated to point souls to Jesus Christ! An outpouring of God’s Spirit is about building God’s Kingdom and bringing glory to God.

We want an outpouring of God, but are we willing to pick up a shovel and dig some ditches to receive it? When you’re desperate for God, you will dig…But you don’t have to wait for a tragedy to seek the Lord.

Break out that shovel that you used a long time ago when you first got saved. Recall that moment when you first cried out to Jesus. Remember when you were desperate for something this world couldn’t offer.

Pick up that shovel and start digging ditches. Be committed and faithful to God’s work. Don’t question His way. Just dig, and dig, until the miraculous outpouring of God comes.

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Strange Things

Part 1

Strange Things - Sun April 17pm

26 And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day.

– Luke 5:26 KJV

A man afflicted with the palsy was too weak to even get off his bed much less walk. The Bible doesn’t elaborate how long he had been suffering. Maybe he used to work in the marketplace, or he could have been a fisherman, or even a scribe in the temple. Now he was good for nothing…worthless, rejected, and stripped of all his dignity.

For whatever reason, four men were burdened to help this crippled man. We don’t know if they were just passing by or if they had known him for years. Moved with compassion, the foursome recognized the established religion of the day was doing nothing to help the sick man. He had no help and no hope! The poor man was snubbed by society and condemned to lay there and die!

The four men must have been inspired when they heard the stories about Jesus. How did a man have the authority to cast out demons? Could He really heal the sick? All the religious leaders they ever knew only cared about themselves. At least Jesus reached out to the hopeless and hurting.

News was out Jesus was preaching in a house in Capernaum. If they could just get the lame man inside where he could be seen, then Jesus would at least do something. Perhaps they weren’t sure what would happen, but something was better than nothing. What did they have to lose? But the man was so feeble they would have to carry him on his bed.

The house was crammed full of people trying to see Jesus. Even the doorways and windows were blocked. Can’t you just imagine the four men pressing through the crowd carrying this man and his bed? “Pardon me, please. This man desperately needs a touch! Jesus is his only hope. Won’t you please let us in?”

People from all walks of life came to see Jesus. From near and far they came to hear what He had to say…

17 And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them.

Luke 5:17

Even “…Pharisees and doctors of the law…” were there listening, critiquing Jesus’ every word, waiting for an opportunity to accuse Him. Surely the four men recognized some of these social elites as they struggled to maneuver the bed through the crowd. You have to wonder if the four men maybe mumbled as they passed, “You watched this poor man suffer and never did anything to help him. Let’s see what Jesus will do!”

The crowd wouldn’t budge! Nevertheless, the men’s faith in Jesus began to rise! The four would get this man in somehow, someway…Desperate times call for desperate measures!

 19 And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus.

Luke 5:19

What? Shoulder a lame man and his bed up on a roof! Bust the stone tiles up to make a hole big enough to lower him down! Wow! Who would go to all that trouble to get inside?

Just imagine the crowd intently listening to Jesus, when suddenly…. THUMP! Clunk! Click! Clack! It was hard to ignore the click-clacking of the footsteps on the stone roof above. Then the pounding, banging, snapping, and cracking of tiles!

Were they crazy enough to cut a hole in the roof? No not crazy…just desperately needing Jesus. The four men weren’t worrying about what the crowd thought. Their eyes were focused on touching Jesus and getting His attention.

Have you been there before? Nobody understands your pain and sorrow. Nothing satisfies the emptiness you feel inside. You desperately need a change of circumstance.

How hungry are you for Jesus? Do you trust Him for everything? Would you go to such drastic measures to be in His presence?

We have seen strange things today…

Were the four men and the sick man the only ones in this large crowd of people needing a touch from the Lord? I’m certain there were others just as dissatisfied with their circumstances. I’m sure there were others in the crowd that day longing for peace and joy. Religion had failed them! Many were yearning to be healed physically and spiritually.

Why didn’t more recognize “…the power of the Lord was present to heal them”? Were they not hungry enough or desperate enough to go to such drastic measures? Were they afraid to make a scene? Or could it be they feared publicly challenging the religion of the day? The religious leaders…they were very intimidating.

20 And when [Jesus] saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.

Luke 5:20

The power of the Lord was present to heal them! Yet the scribes and Pharisees immediately protested… They were so smug and content, too calloused to even recognize who Jesus was or what He could do. They were too busy analyzing and scrutinizing, so consumed with themselves and their positions that they missed the God of all Heaven!

Jesus said,

24 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house.

Luke 5:24

Right away the feeble man obeyed! He picked up his bed and walked out of the crowded house glorifying the Lord!

26 And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day.

Luke 5:26

We have seen strange things today…

In an instant, the crowd witnessed the transformation! The symptoms of palsy involved more than just paralysis. The painfully shriveled up limbs, hands, and feet of the man were fully restored back to health. A crippled man healed by the power of God! That certainly was an extraordinary, strange thing!

We have seen strange things today…

The four men went above and beyond what was normal. They recognized the withered man’s only hope was Jesus. The men could’ve given up, but were determined to lay his bed at the feet of Jesus. It was strange what they were willing to do to get one man to Jesus.

Can you say that about your life? Can you say it about your church? Like these four men, are you willing to do whatever it takes to lead people (or just one soul) to Christ? Are you willing to surrender your plans to God’s will…to give up your time and efforts for the cause of Christ?

 The crowd was so caught up in their own agenda that day and refused to move to help a desperate, hurting soul get to Jesus. That didn’t stop the work of God though! Help us Lord to never be so consumed by our own selves that we hinder the work of God.

It’s not about religion! It’s not about church programs! It’s not about you or me!

Jesus said,

32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

John 12:32

It’s all about pointing lost, hurting souls to the Cross of Calvary! Not just to be healed physically, but to be made whole by the blood of Jesus Christ. God wants to use your life to lift up Christ. Not just in your church, but at home, on the job, in school, on the street…wherever you go. All you have to do is let Jesus live in you, lift Him up, and He will do the rest.

We have seen strange things today…

The power of God was present to heal them, but only five men even acknowledged it! God longs to save souls, to deliver people from sin, to heal the sick, to restore marriages and broken homes. God wants to move in our midst so that He will be glorified. Like the crowd, how often is the power of God in our midst, yet so many walk away unchanged?

Strange things don’t happen to congregations or religious people! Strange things happen to people that aren’t content with the norm…people that aren’t satisfied with just going to church, singing a few songs, and listening to a sermon. What about you? Has serving God become just a Sunday morning ritual?

Strange things happen to those that are so desperate they will do anything to get to Jesus. Is that you? Is Jesus your everything?

Strange things are for those that are sold out and committed to spreading the gospel! Are you willing to sacrifice all you have to lay others at the foot of the cross?

But I have no talent, nothing to offer God.

God made you just the way you are for a purpose: to glorify His Son, Jesus Christ! God doesn’t need your talents or gifts. He wants someone who’s willing! It’s God’s desire to use each and every one of us to lead a lost and dying world to Jesus Christ! Not by your power, but by the power of God living in you!

Would you share Jesus and let your light shine to point others to Christ?

But you can’t share something you don’t have!

If you don’t know Jesus as Lord, you can. Or maybe you knew Jesus at one time, but got busy or distracted and left your first love. Either way, Jesus loves you and is patiently waiting for you to surrender. All it takes is a simple prayer to be free from your guilt and shame, to feel the peace and love of God cover you, to know you have a heavenly home.

Jesus, I know I am a sinner in need of a savior. Please come into my heart today and be my Lord. I want to be a part of the Kingdom of God!

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The Eternal Now

 

Eternal Now - Sun Apr 10Eternity…Our minds can’t even fathom what eternity will be like. While we live on this earth bound by time, God exists in one time. He doesn’t have a yesterday or a tomorrow. He is not limited by time. God lives in an eternal now.

Do you ever reminisce and wonder where all the years have gone? God sees everything and knows everything from start to finish. Do you sit and wonder what tomorrow will bring? While we look ahead anticipating what the future will hold, God is already there.

Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

Psalm 90:2

God is from everlasting to everlasting. He is the first and last, the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end.

Your time on earth starts at birth and ends at death (or the rapture). However, whether you realize it or not, the only time that really matters for you is right now…this very moment in time. The past you can’t change, and your future belongs to God. The only thing you have control over is a decision in this temporary now. Will you decide to live for Jesus, or live for yourself?

In Time Past

I wish I could live a Christian life! I’ve tried, but I have so many regrets. I feel so unworthy…so many mistakes, so many wrong choices, and now I have to live with them! I don’t know if I’ll ever overcome this. I’ll never be good enough!

Sound familiar?

No matter what you’ve been through, whether you have a lifetime of wonderful memories or haunting regrets, one thing is for certain. We all have a past and there’s no going back. There are no do-overs! What’s done is done!

1And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;

Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

Ephesians 2:1-3

In time past you were dead in trespasses and sin. All of us, saved and unsaved alike, have at some point in time lived in disobedience to please the flesh. But praise God our lives don’t have to be judged by the times past.

The question is: what are you doing right now?

 

Right Now

There are certain days that stand out as you look back over your life. We cherish and safeguard happy, joyous occasions with photos, scrap books, or souvenirs. While heartbreaking, tragic events that we wish we could forget, remain embedded in our conscious as long as we live. Some say all these things mold and make you into who you are. All these circumstances, good or bad, may affect your life here on earth. However, the most important event that should concern each and every one of us affects not just your time on earth, but your eternity when you leave this earth. The most important time of your life is the time at hand, right now…

Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

Revelation 1:3 (emphasis mine)

Time is at hand for all of us. Right now is the most crucial time of your life! Your right now moment changes with each tick of the clock. It’s only God’s mercy that we are given another right now moment.

None of us deserve it…

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,

Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

                Ephesians 2:4-5

That’s why it’s called amazing grace! It’s not about how good you can be. You can’t be holy enough to earn God’s favor.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

Even the most kind, compassionate person can’t be good enough to approach God. If it was about good works, then there was no need for Jesus to suffer and die a cruel death on a cross. But it’s not about how good we can be. The Bible says ”…there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Romans 3:12).

If you don’t know Jesus as Lord and Savior, salvation is a gift that is yours for the taking. All you have to do is receive it, right now! Essentially that’s all you have is right now. There’s no point in looking ahead to the future because you aren’t guaranteed another moment.

 

Time No Longer

Your future belongs to God! If you’re saved, then your future is secure in Christ! However, whether you are saved or not, God still holds your future. What you do with your now moment determines how you will stand before God in eternity

But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

Ephesians 2:13

If you say yes to Jesus, God will judge you for your right now decision “…by the blood of Christ.”

I’m not ready to surrender to God right now! One day when the time is right, I will call on Jesus then. God gave me a choice to do it that way, right?

You do have a choice right now who you will serve? But there are no guarantees you will ever be given the opportunity again. Time is running out!

And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer:

Revelation 10:6 (emphasis mine)

There is coming a day, according to the book of Revelation, when time will be no longer. When you enter the eternal now one day, you will either stand before God in His mercy or in His judgement.

If you choose to submit to Christ in this temporary now, your past will be covered by the blood of Jesus. However, if you never take advantage of the now moment, then you will stand before God in judgement. Your life will be judged by your time past.

I’ve been a good person! I haven’t committed any crimes. What do I have to worry about?

No flesh can stand before a Holy, Righteous God and live! You must be covered in the blood of Christ!

God sounds so frightening and intimidating!

God is all-powerful! He is not the most powerful, but all-powerful! If He was the most powerful, then there would be others in line as the next most powerful. But there isn’t even a close second most powerful! God is all powerful!

Yes, He is all-powerful to carry out His justice in righteousness. But God is equally all-powerful to cover me in His love, mercy, and grace. God is all-powerful in everything!

You may be resisting God every step of the way, but He loves you so much and has done everything to make a way for you to be saved. No matter where you go God still loves you and continues to draw you to Himself.

Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

Psalm 139:5-8

The word beset in Psalm 139:5 means to confine or corral in. God is working right now in your life. He sets up circumstances and situations in your life, not to control you, but to guide you to the cross. In mercy and love, He narrows your path and points you to surrender to Jesus Christ.

You’re not a robot. God won’t force His will on anyone. It’s your choice what you do with Jesus right now. Those who make Jesus Lord and Savior of their life, not years ago or yesterday, but right now, the eternal benefits and blessings of being a child of God begin right now.

And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 2:6-7

In God’s eternal now, if you are in Christ, you are already seated with Christ. The riches of God’s grace are yours. Instead of judgment, you are covered in His loving kindness right now.

Will this be your now moment? You can draw near to God right now by just calling on the name of Jesus. Then you can say I was once a sinner eternally separated from a Holy God, but now…because of the blood of Jesus Christ, I am a part of the Kingdom of God. You can sit with Christ in heavenly places, and partake of God’s mercy and goodness.

 

 

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Jesus Glorified

Part 1

Jesus Glorified - Sun April 3

It was the time of Passover. By mandate, Jews came from near and far to come to the feast in Jerusalem. But the Passover wasn’t the only thing they had on their minds. Jesus had captured the attention of everybody, Jews and Gentiles alike.

They were fascinated by the miracles Jesus had performed. Even more intriguing was the way Jesus challenged the religion of the day. He taught in the temple with such wisdom and power that no one could deny His authority. Who was this man? With a holy anger, Jesus rebuked the profiteering and cleared the temple of all the merchants and moneychangers. It was intimidating for the religious leaders to say the least.

Jesus broke all the rules and traditions that the religious establishment had put in place. He was unholy because He ate with the publicans and sinners. He was unclean because He touched the diseased and afflicted. This Jesus totally disregarded the law of Moses! What gave Him the right to heal people on the Sabbath day? Jesus confounded religious efforts even more by claiming “…I and my Father are one (John 10:30).” What Blasphemy!

The current religious system was working great if you were “holy”. The chief priests and Pharisees enjoyed their lofty status. They weren’t about to let this Jesus threaten their position. The more famous Jesus became, the more the religious authorities hated Him. However, they couldn’t invalidate the works and the miracles. Instead, they attempted to use the law against Him.

It was on the Sabbath day when Jesus passed by a man who had been blind from birth. While the religion of the day reasoned this man was blind because of sin, Jesus declared the man’s blindness was so “…that the works of God should be made manifest in him (John 9:3).” He was blind so that God would be glorified!

Jesus spat on the ground, made some clay, and anointed the eyes of the blind man. Then Jesus told the man to go wash in the pool of Siloam. The man went away and did as Jesus commanded him. Was this really happening? Yes, he could see for the first time in his life! But the man had yet to see Jesus, the one who had touched him.

As the jubilant man shared the great miracle Jesus had done for him, the Pharisees’ grew more and more hostile toward him. What good could come from Jesus who defied their sacred system? However, the man boldly insisted:

If [Jesus] were not of God, he could do nothing.

John 9:33

The religious leaders couldn’t argue, but still refused to acknowledge the great miracle that had been done. They condemned the man and cast him out as a sinner.

Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?

John 9:35

Now… the man not only could see in the physical, but his spiritual eyes were opened as well. He believed on Jesus and worshipped Him. There’s a difference between receiving a miracle and actually knowing the miracle maker. Many people see the work of Jesus with their physical eyes, but never really behold Jesus and embrace Him for who He really is.

Then there was the ultimate miracle when Jesus called Lazarus back to life! Was the story really true or just a rumor? Lazarus had been dead for 4 days! His body had already started to decay.

Jesus saith unto [Martha], Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?

John 11:40

When Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth”, a rotting corpse came out of the grave alive and well!

Now the chief priests not only wanted to put Jesus to death, but Lazarus as well.

Because they witnessed this miracle, many Jews now believed on Jesus (John 12:11). The religious leaders were desperate at this point. Jesus was corrupting everyone! “The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him (John 12:19).”

We want to see Jesus!

People gathered along the side of the road, waiting to see Jesus pass by. It wasn’t just about the miracles, but it was how He performed them. The old religion never reached out the way Jesus did. Jesus offered something more than the chief priests and scribes ever did. Jesus showed love and compassion to those that religion had condemned and rejected. Jesus touched the unclean, the hopeless, and the hurting.

And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast:

John 12:20

These Greeks came to worship God, but were denied full access to the temple. The Greeks were pagans and idol worshipers. They were unclean and would surely defile the temple. Still these heathens were hungry for a move of God; they needed something more than what religion had to offer. They didn’t come seeking rituals or ceremonies! They were searching for truth! Then they heard about Jesus.

21 The [Greeks] came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.

22 Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.

John 12:21-22

They pleaded with Philip. We want to see Jesus! We want to witness Him for ourselves!

I’m sure the Greeks saw Lazarus and knew the miracles were for real. They may have even watched Jesus from afar pass by. But it wasn’t enough! They wanted to see Jesus up close and personal. They wanted to experience Him for themselves.

Today, we need a fresh revelation of Jesus Christ. It’s not about miracles! It’s not about exciting, spirit-filled services! It’s not about beautiful church buildings and elaborate programs!

The real question is: Do you long to see Jesus up close and personal? To commune with Him! To stand in awe of His beauty and holiness!

Where do we find Him?

For the Greeks and anyone who was seeking something better than a dead, corrupt religion, Jesus replied…

32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

33 This he said, signifying what death he should die.

John 12:32-33

Jesus had to die on the cross to fulfill His Father’s will. If the Greeks wanted to see Jesus, it couldn’t be through great works or miracles, nor could it be through great doctrines or discourses. If they were to see Jesus, they would have to go to the foot of His cross. Behold, Jesus, the Lamb for sinners slain!

If you truly want to see Jesus, you must look through the lens of the cross as well. Before you can even begin to walk with God, you must see Jesus through the work He did on the cross. There’s no other way! Without the cross, we have no access to God!

It’s not enough to go to church. It’s not enough to see the Spirit moving in the lives of others. You must experience Christ at the cross for yourself. When you taste the peace that comes in knowing your sins are washed away, and you are no longer a servant of the devil, then you will know you’ve seen Jesus.

However, the work of grace doesn’t stop here. Jesus didn’t go to the cross to make you a better person. He didn’t die to make you look good or feel better about yourself. You are saved for one reason: that Jesus be glorified in you!

Somebody has to be a conduit between a world that needs to see God, and a God that wants to be seen. When you are saved, you become that vessel. The world sees Christ in you!

As you study the Bible, each time you pray and seek the Lord, when you intercede for others, whatever you accomplish, it’s all so that Jesus be lifted up. When the church comes together for fellowship and prayer, to sing praises and worship God, to hear the preaching of God’s word, it’s all so that Christ be exalted.

The priority of Pentecost is not for you to get the Holy Ghost, but for the Spirit to possess you. You are baptized in the Holy Ghost not so you can boast about what you’ve got. It’s not about speaking in tongues, or miracles, or exciting church services. The purpose of the Spirit is not for entertainment or to lift people up. The Spirit comes to exalt Jesus Christ!

There’s nothing wrong with asking God to move. There’s nothing wrong with believing in faith for a miracle. We should bring all our needs to the Lord, but… until what we need lines up with what God wills, there will be a disconnect. Whatever we ask of the Lord, the ultimate goal should be to glorify Jesus Christ!

Is that your desire today? To see Christ glorified in your life? To see Christ glorified in your church?

23 And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.

24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.                                         

John 12:23-25

What are you willing to do to see Jesus?

What’s your motive for following Christ? Do you love Him and long to see Him, or are you more focused on His wonder working power? Is your passion for Christ or what He can do for you?

What are you willing to do to see Jesus glorified? Would you follow Jesus to the cross and sacrifice your will just to be near Him? Like that corn of wheat Jesus spoke of in John 12:24, are you willing to die to yourself so that you can grow and bring forth much fruit to glorify the Father in Heaven?

Jesus was nailed to the cross, but that cross has a back side. If you profess Christ as Lord and Savior, then you belong on the back side of that cross. The spikes that went through Christ’s wrists and into the wooden beam didn’t stop there. They protruded out through the other side through the back of the hands of all those that will say…

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

 Galatians 2:20

Christ can’t be glorified in my life while I live! My will has to be crucified. I must surrender all I have to the one who willingly suffered and died for my sins. Christ tells me where to go, what to do, what to say, and what to think. He controls me, so the world no longer sees me, but Jesus in me.

Are you willing to be crucified with Christ?

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We Have an Altar

We Have An Altar - Sun Mar 20am

You’re desperate! The guilt and shame you feel is unbearable. You long for forgiveness! You need to throw yourself at the altar and make things right with God, but you are too weak to make the journey to the temple. Even if you were able to get to the temple, you have no money! Nothing to even barter with, to pay the outrageous price of an animal to give to the priest. No sacrifice means no forgiveness! It’s hopeless!

Go back a couple of thousand years and just imagine being at the mercy of this corrupted religious system man had created. Can you hear the helpless cry of the poor, the lame, the broken ones?

Then there’s the worthless sinners, the lowest of the low. I’m sure many longed for an altar to seek repentance, but they were already hopelessly condemned by the law and the religious leaders. They had to die for their horrendous deeds. A woman caught in the very act of adultery was shown no mercy: she was to be stoned to death! The scribes and Pharisees pressed Jesus to agree with them. But little did they know when they cast the woman at Jesus’ feet, they were throwing her into a whole new dimension of an altar where mercy rejoices over judgement. Jesus “…said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her (John 8:7).

Have you ever felt as condemned as this woman?

I feel like I’ve gone too far to even be worthy enough to step foot in a church, let alone throw myself on their altar. Even if I get enough nerve to go to their altar, all I have to offer God is a broken, messed up life.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Psalm 51:17

If your heart is broken and you are sorry for your sin, then you have the best sacrifice you could possibly offer up to God.

An altar is always the path to God.

The only way to God is through an altar. Okay, but what if I want to surrender my life to God right now? I am nowhere near a church. I need to find an altar!

An altar is simply a place to meet with God. It’s not just a piece of furniture located at the front of a church sanctuary. Church should be a refuge, an ideal place to meet God, but it’s not the only place. God will meet you wherever you are, regardless of who you are.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

                                                           Romans 10:13

When you call on the name of Jesus, you are making an altar right where you are!

The Old Testament saints made altars everywhere! Starting with Abel then Noah, as well as Abram, Isaac, Jacob and the list continues on. In fact, in the Old Testament, the word altar is mentioned over 400 times. From mountaintops to valleys, in the middle of deserts and alongside the riverbanks, nowhere was too far out of God’s presence to build an altar.

But you don’t understand! I have never even prayed! I don’t even know how to pray! You don’t know where I’m at or what I’ve done. I’m not sure God will even honor my altar!

God is no respecter of persons! Scripture says whosoever…shall be saved. Not whosoever, except… Whosoever includes the drug addict and the dealer, the prostitute and the porn addict, the hurting and the hated, the abused and the abandoned…Whosoever excludes no one!

Whosoever included the adulteress woman in John 8. While the religious leaders did their best to keep her from their altar, in doing so they were only condemning themselves.

Have others labeled you as a hopeless case, hindering your efforts to get to an altar? Or can you relate more to the scribes and Pharisees? Do you enjoy the comfort of your religion while looking down at those who aren’t as “churched” as you?

Much of Christ’s ministry while on this earth was focused on those that others had deemed worthless. The religious leaders condemned Jesus for ministering to the publicans and sinners. People may condemn you and even exclude you from their “Christian” circle. But Christ doesn’t condemn or exclude anyone.

Jesus is calling…

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28

 

We have an Altar.

God’s loving mercy covers it all. You don’t have to make an altar because God has provided one for you.

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.

Hebrews 13:8-9

Don’t get bogged down in doctrines or man’s religious systems. It’s really very simple! You don’t have to make a long journey, or go through a ritual or ceremony like those that serve the tabernacle. You have an altar available to you 24/7!

 

10 We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.

Hebrews 13:10

The word altar appears in the New Testament in only 23 verses most of which either are referring to history in the Old Testament or a heavenly vision in the book of Revelation. Hebrews 13:10 is the only verse that stands alone in the context: We have an altar! You have an altar! You have a place to go to meet God. You have a refuge to find mercy and forgiveness, peace and comfort, healing or deliverance. Whatever you need can be found in this altar!

When Jesus suffered and spilt His own blood on the cross, He became the ultimate sacrifice for our sin. You don’t have to go through a priest, the pope, a preacher, or a religious system.

11 For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp.

12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.

                                                     Hebrews 13:11-12

Jesus willingly laid down His life to be our sacrifice. He conquered death, hell, and the grave. Now He is seated at the right hand of God, acting as our great high priest.

13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.

14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.

15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

Hebrews 13:13-16

The priests, sacrifices, and altars of the Old Testament were just a type of what was to come. Like in the Old Testament, you still must go through an altar to get to God. Halleluiah! Jesus fulfilled all of it! Christ is your altar!

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

John 14:6

No matter where you are, you can call on the Lord Jesus right now! Christ is your altar, but it’s up to you what you do with Him. You can ignore the altar, trample over it, kick it, neglect it. Or you can take hold of it and humbly bow down before it, and let Jesus change your life. Submit all you have to Christ. He wants to take everything you have, the good and the bad, and use it for His honor and glory.

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