024: He That Is Greatest

He That Is Greatest - Sun Feb 7am

Judas Iscariot, the betrayer… How could someone who physically walked and talked with Jesus turn on Him? I would never do that! I love Jesus too much! Oh, really? Judas sold Jesus out for 30 pieces of silver. How many times have each of us sold Jesus for less than that? What is Jesus worth to you?

Judas witnessed with his own eyes the miracles Jesus performed. He heard with his own ears the words Jesus spoke with such authority that even the winds obeyed. Judas was no stranger, but was close to Jesus. He was chosen to be one of the twelve disciples! Judas couldn’t have been this close to the Son of God without personally experiencing His power, His peace, His love, His mercy. Judas witnessed with all his senses the very presence of God Himself, yet betrayed Him. How could he do that?

Considering this, how much better are we than Judas? Have you ever compromised your relationship with Christ to pursue your will? How many times have you sold Jesus out to seek temporary pleasures? Every minute of our lives we have a choice to make. Will I strive to make myself great? Or will I choose to glorify Christ?

If you are wondering if you are capable of betraying Jesus, then you need to tune in to this podcast episode. When you look closely at the Table of Betrayal in Luke 22, you will find Judas wasn’t the only traitor among the disciples.

 

023: Escaping the Vulture’s Eye

Part 2

Escaping The Vulture's Eye - Sun Oct 25

The devil made me do it! As much as we would like to, we can’t blame our sin on the devil. Like a vulture, the devil is drawn to the stench of rotting flesh. Every time you walk in the flesh, you are giving the devil rights to devour you. You don’t have to be prey for the devil. Fight back! Walk in the Spirit and you won’t fulfill the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16)!

Okay, I’m walking in the Spirit and doing everything I know to do that’s right! But…the devil is still fighting me every step of the way! Vultures aren’t going to fight for their food. Just keep submitting yourself to God’s will, resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7)!

This doesn’t mean you’re not going to go through trials and temptations. Regardless of what you’re dealing with, God is good and faithful!

God’s faithfulness is not determined by your weakness. Tune in to this podcast and be reminded of the many ways God is faithful to you. I pray you will fully trust Him to deliver you and keep you today and forever!

The Gardener

Part 2

The Gardener - Sun Jan 31am

 

IF YOU MISSED PART 1, CLICK HERE!

 

Jesus is the Gardener. Unlike the first Adam who disobeyed and failed to keep God’s garden, Jesus stands guard over the Church today. He fulfilled His Father’s will when He submitted and went to the cross. Now He stands ready to intercede for whoever will call upon His name. Jesus!

Growing in the Garden of God

If you know anything about growing things, gardens don’t just happen naturally. You don’t just one day walk outside and scatter seed and expect a beautifully landscaped garden to sprout forth. Fields don’t just naturally form in perfect rows either.

The garden of God is no different. The natural man can’t produce the garden God intends.

…Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.

Zechariah 4:6

If you want to grow to please God, you must walk in the Spirit. When the flesh runs things, it will only go back to the wilderness it was before God redeemed it.

For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

Romans 8:6

Flesh can’t please God! If Christ is the Gardener, then only the spiritually minded will produce a garden acceptable to God. When God’s children work together in harmony and think with the mind of Christ, God is pleased. Then a lovely, fragrant garden is cultivated.

 

What’s This Mess?

The garden is rich with color and fragrance! But as you stroll along a path, you find a mess that seems to throw everything out of order. Diseased clippings and dead branches litter the ground. The stench of rotting vegetation lingers in the air.

What happened to such a beautiful garden? All the lush green vines and branches look mangled and deformed.

1I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.

Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

John 15:1-2

Like any good caretaker, God puts His pruning shears to work! He prunes the branches and purges all the infected areas that will eventually destroy our life. He only leaves the parts that will bring forth fruit and glorify Him. Are you willing to surrender and let the Gardener go to work in you?

Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

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 15:3-5

For a time, it may look like a mess, but wait until the next growing season before you judge what the good Gardener is trying to do. The Gardener is not trying to harm you, but is making you more productive so you can bear much fruit.

It may be painful and almost unbearable at times, but…

Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified.

Isaiah 60:21

It is all for God’s glory!

He tends to you because you are the branch of His planting, the work of His hands. God knows how to cultivate the perfect plant. He knows how deep your roots go. He knows when to apply pressure to your life to make your foundation more secure so you can withstand anything.

This branch needs snipping! These roots need severing! Ouch! It may be painful, but the good Gardener has a plan. The goal is to use your life…

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

Isaiah 61:3

He has promised He will turn all the mess, and deformities, into the planting of the Lord. A good Gardener will take drastic measures to care for His plantings, so “…that they might be called trees of righteousness.” If necessary, God might even transplant the tree altogether in order to save it.

But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.

Matthew 15:13

Although it may be painful, you can trust Jesus. He is a Master Gardener! If you’re not rooted properly, God knows it’s better to uproot and transplant the plant, than to just let it wither away.

He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.

Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?

Luke 13:6-7

When others are saying give up. There’s no hope for that plant, “…why cumbereth it the ground?” God says, wait! Let me tend to it and nurture it a little more. Nobody has ever loved and cared for this bush so it needs extra attention. This one doesn’t need any cutting or severing. It’s been trampled over enough. It just needs a little more grace and some tender loving care.

And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:

And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

Luke 13:8-9

How many seasons has God given you to bear fruit? Have you submitted your life to this Gardener? Or are you resisting and fighting Christ every step of the way? He wants to take everything that’s wrong in your life and make it right!

Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

Romans 2:4

 

He’s a loving, merciful Father who wants the best for you. He is patiently waiting for you to submit and surrender your life to Him. He is laboring over you right now. Watering, fertilizing, pruning.

Maybe you feel so worthless and condemned that there’s no hope for your life to turn around. You don’t have any branches and barely any roots to offer God. You have tried everything under the sun to make things right only to be disappointed time and time again.

Everyone you know has given up on you, and you gave up on yourself a long time ago. If you think you’ve gone too far to turn back now, may I remind you of the woman in Luke 8:2. Mary Magdalene was possessed with seven devils. Drug addiction, sexual perversion, unforgiveness, mental anguish…The Bible doesn’t elaborate on how the demons tormented her. But one thing is clear Jesus delivered her and turned her life around.

The number seven in the Bible represents completion, a finished product. That tells me Mary Magdalene was too far gone. The work had been completed. She was beyond hope, until Jesus passed by. But that’s what Jesus does! In His presence, the impossible becomes possible. He takes the nothing and turns it into something for Him.

Maybe your life has been great and you can’t exactly relate to a Mary Magdalene. It doesn’t matter how beautiful your branches are! If the branch isn’t producing fruit, then it’s useless to the Gardener. You may have the perfect life, perfect job, perfect family! You may have the utmost respect of everyone in the church and the community, but at the end of the day, is it all bringing glory to God?

No matter who you are, Jesus, the Gardener wants to use you in His garden. The garden is not complete without you in it. But God can’t plant you unless you are willing. Will you surrender to Christ today and let Him have His way in your life?

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The Gardener

Part 1

The Gardener - Sun Jan 31am

Mary Magdalene… She’s known as the woman who was delivered from seven devils. No details are given in scripture about how the demons tormented her, but you can be sure Mary’s life before Jesus was a living hell.

I’m sure Mary Magdalene longed for peace and relief from the mental anguish and physical torment the demons inflicted on her. In desperation, she may have even sought comfort from drugs or relationships only to subject herself to even more pain and more abuse. Overwhelmed with feelings of worthlessness and despair, Mary may have even attempted suicide to escape the living nightmare she was in.

But one day, Jesus in mercy and love reached down and delivered Mary Magdalene from hell itself. She would never be the same. The demons that once possessed her would never haunt her ever again. The chains of fear, condemnation, and torment were loosed and Mary was set free to fulfill God’s purpose for her life.

 

An Empty Tomb in a Garden

Outside the grave, it had been three days since they crucified the Lord. Now all that was left was grave clothes inside an empty tomb. After Peter and the other disciples saw the empty tomb, John 20:10-11 tells us they went back to their homes. Mary, on the other hand, stood by weeping. Without Jesus she had no home! She had nothing to go back to, except the scars of her past.

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

John 20:15

Mary assumed the man she saw in the garden was the gardener. Why would the Holy Spirit include what seems to be such a trivial statement “…[Mary] supposing him to be the gardener…”? First of all, you need to understand the Bible isn’t like other books that use filler to amuse the reader. Every word in the Bible was recorded with intention and purpose, but not for entertainment. On the surface it looks like Mary simply mistook Jesus to be the gardener, when in fact, she couldn’t have been more correct. Mary supposed Him to be the gardener because Christ is the Gardener!

You have to admire Mary’s faith and determination. She loved Jesus and was so committed that she wasn’t leaving the tomb without her Lord. Mary longed for the presence of her Jesus, dead or alive! By faith she declared she would relieve the gardener from the burden of the body of Jesus without even considering how she would carry Him. How committed are you to Christ today? Are you willing to go to such great lengths to honor His presence?

Mary didn’t recognize Jesus until “Jesus saith unto her, Mary…” (John 20:16). What would it take for you to acknowledge Jesus? Would you even recognize His voice if He called you by name?

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

John 10:27

Lord, draw us close to You. Like Mary Magdalene, may we hunger for your presence, no matter what the cost. Would you surrender all that you have to honor Jesus today and for the rest of your life? Christ is either your everything, or He is nothing at all.

 

The first Adam was the first gardener, but failed.

Christ is the Gardener, but Adam was the first gardener.

And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.                                                

Genesis 2:8

God designed the garden of Eden and gave Adam everything he needed to tend to it. Can you just imagine walking through this beautiful garden enjoying perfect unhindered fellowship with the God of all creation?

What was Adam’s role in the garden?

And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.                                               

Genesis 2:15

You can’t fully understand Adam’s purpose in this garden without studying the context of the command God gave him in Genesis 2:15. God commanded Adam to dress and keep the garden. The word dress in this passage means to serve another. Adam was not placed in the garden to fulfill his own will, but to serve God by following God’s plan for the garden.

The word keep means to watch and guard against. Not only was Adam to carry out God’s will, but he was to also protect and guard against anything that would harm the garden.

Yes, Eve was deceived by the subtlety of the serpent, and she is partly responsible for the fall of man. However, perhaps the greater tragedy in the fall is that Adam failed to obey God’s command. Adam, not Eve, failed to dress and keep the garden.

 

Jesus, the last Adam, is the Gardener who triumphed.

Mary supposed Jesus to be the gardener because He is the Gardener. If you have been washed in the blood of Jesus, then you are planted and growing in this garden.

In Song of Solomon, Christ, my beloved, goes into His garden to fellowship with His bride.

My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies. I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine: he feedeth among the lilies.

Song of Solomon 6:2-3

 

Jesus often times communed with his disciples in a garden, the same garden where he was arrested.

When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples… Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples.

John 18:1-2

Jesus is the gardener because where He was crucified was a garden. When the precious blood of the sinless Son of God was spilt, it saturated the seed of the word of God which sprouted forth a church. Every blood bought child of God makes up this garden.

Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.

John 19:41

Adam was the first gardener, but forfeited that role by choice. Man started in the garden, but because of disobedience was banished out of God’s presence into a wilderness.

Jesus came into a wilderness, but through His obedience, moved into a garden which made a way for man to fellowship with God once again. Where the first Adam failed, the last Adam triumphed. Christ made a way for you and me to return to the garden, and come back into fellowship with God the Father.

If you’ve never experienced the redeeming love of God, through Jesus Christ, the Gardener wants to establish you in His garden. Like Mary Magdalene, are you desperate to be free from the bondage of sin? All it takes is a simple prayer. Jesus, I need you! Just like You saved Mary Magdalene who was possessed with seven devils, please save me! I confess I am a wretched sinner in need of a savior. Wash me in Your precious blood and plant me in Your garden today.

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