phone home

April 22, 2018

John the Baptist, had a time of doubt. He was languishing in prison and he began to wonder, “If Jesus is truly the Messiah, why am I, His messenger, here in prison?” So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?” Jesus replied, “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the gospel preached to them.” Then He gently rebuked John’s doubt by adding, “And blessed is he who keeps from stumbling over Me” (Luke 7:22, 23). Jesus went on to tell the crowd that among those born of women, there is no one greater than John. He was a godly man, but he had his time of doubt.

Maybe you never have doubts about the deity of Jesus. Maybe it’s more a feeling of unworthiness. Hey, you look in the mirror, you know your sins,, your short comings. The sermon always seems to be aimed at you, you read your bible and feel like nothing is sinking in. you hear others at bible study or Sunday school and they are talking about answered prayers and miracles and you’re trying to figure out how to stop jock itch and that weird rash you picked up at the gym.

Like John the Baptist, first reach out to Jesus, take 2 minutes more to read your bible. Set an egg timer to pray a little longer. Any feeling of lack of intimacy with God is your own fault. Nobody likes to hear that. Joel Osteen isn’t going to tell you that, neither will any of the “I have the secret to victory” books at the bible book store.

Stud up, man up, step up, grow up, it’s easier to talk to God than you think. Feeling guilty, that’s what your prayer is going to start with; “God, I feel guilty”. Feel worse than the dog poop you can’t get off your best shoes, yep, that’s your prayer. Angry, yell at God he can take it. I once was so frustrated with the trial I was going through that I was picking up rocks and throwing them at God. I didn’t get struck with lightning, the rocks did come flying back at me. The trial didn’t end. But my prayer life changed.

Make a list of what you are doing wrong, put it in your bible and pray about fixing one thing. Stop waiting for a miracle or thinking that it will suddenly get better because you put more money in the offering plate. It doesn’t work like that.

Read the story of the prodigal son in the NASB, (new American standard bible). It says ‘when he came to his senses’ then he saw the mess he was in and surrendered, swallowed his pride and went home.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

God isn’t Walt Disney and you’re not Pinocchio, although you may be a block head.

Seriously, you need to talk to God more.

WHAT TIME IS IT?

April 16, 2018

  “Sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law but under grace” (Rom. 6:14).

  Grace forsaken is freedom forfeited.

  In considering the whole testimony of the Bible, it is almost as important for the believer who would do the will of God to recognize that which does not concern him as it is for him to recognize that which does concern him.

You may have to read that sentence a couple of times for it to make sense, I rewrote it ten times and that’s the best, clearest way I could write it. (and I know Ms Kate, that’s not good grammar).

 

Apart from the knowledge of dispensational truth, the believer will not be intelligently adjusted to the present purpose and will of God in the world. Such knowledge alone will save him from assuming the hopeless legality of the dispensation that is past or from undertaking the impossible world transforming program belonging to the dispensation which is to come.

We are not living in the kingdom world yet, that dispensation has not occurred yet.

The Law of Moses is interrelated and wholly dependent on the sacrifices and ritual provided for Israel in the land. The laws of the kingdom (Sermon on the Mount) are only related to the future kingdom conditions which shall be in the earth under the power and presence of the King when Satan is bound, creation delivered, and all shall know the Lord from the least unto the greatest.

 All harmony of truth is shattered when there is the slightest commingling of the principles of law and grace. Grace alone now reigns through Christ to the glory of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

  “By the grace of God I am what I am; and His grace, which was bestowed upon me, was not in vain, but I labored more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Cor. 15:10).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

SHOUT

April 13, 2018

The opening remarks by President Ronald Reagan at the Jewish Memorial day, April 11th 1983.

“In the early days of our country, our first President, George Washington, visited a Hebrew congregation in Newport, Rhode Island. In response to their address, he wrote them a now rather famous letter reflecting on the meaning of America’s newly won freedom. He wrote, “All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens.”

Well, certainly our country doesn’t have a spotless record, but our fundamental beliefs, the ones that inspired Washington when he penned that letter, are sound. Our whole way of life is based on a compact between good and decent people, a voluntary agreement to live here together in freedom, respecting the rights of others and expecting that our rights in return will be respected….”

Read those paragraphs over a few times and realize that today in 2018, white, conservative, Christian, heterosexuals are being marginalized and silenced. Our universities are the capitals of inclusion and diversity. I spoke at a private college last month and was booed off the stage at a diversity commencement. They wanted me to talk about the role of immigration in America. And I did. The largest wave of immigration to America were the people of Ireland. So if you are Irish then you are part of the largest immigrant group in this country.

That isn’t what they wanted to hear. We have a congress woman from Missouri calling for the assassination of President Trump. No Secret Service agents showed up at her door.

A minority, a militant minority is spewing its doctrine of hate, and if we keep silent like the Jews did, the white conservative Christian will be silenced and chained.

Jesus called us to love one another, all people of all races, and walks of life, sexual preferences, to love and be light and preach a message of love and hope and redemption.

I’ve never wrote a devotion of this tone or subject, but I cannot remain silent and watch our country, led by a media of hate and obsession turn us against one another. Loyalty and patriotism should still count for something, love of God and country should still be taught. Young people today are not being taught about the holocaust, only the mistakes this country has made.

Stand up, speak out, be brothers and sisters of Christ, of love and hope, but do not be silent. I’m a veteran, a Republican, a Christian, male heterosexual, bible believing, praying, miracle believing, proud of America and will not be silent.

Protest, march, pray, be loud, be proud to be a Christian. I’m not a racist or a hater, but I am Irish.

And no, I’m not running for office.

God bless America.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Our last post of the Jesus Narrative Series, God Bless for being so patient with this long, very long series, individually and collectively.

Everyone wants our money. Letters come from every charity, political and religious organization, pleading for our money to continue their work. We give to some, we feel guilty about not giving to others, and some letters we just throw away without a second thought. Our motives for giving are mixed. We think about whether or not we can take a tax deduction. We respond to emotional appeals that are prepared by professional fund raisers and often ignore the smaller, more effective works that do not make such a big splash but really need us more. Extracting our money from us is a big time business.

So it is the straw that breaks the camel’s back when you come to church and the sermon or the lesson is about giving. Should not the church be more spiritual than to ask us to give money?

Interestingly, the Bible has a great deal to say about money. For instance, one verse out of seven in the book of Luke is about money. Money is God’s greatest rival for our worship. That is why Jesus said, Luke 16:13. “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Paul gave a serious warning when he wrote to Timothy.

1 Timothy 6:6-10

We all know people who have wandered from the faith and brought upon themselves many sorrows because acquisition of money became their god. Maybe it is something you are struggling with even now. The first impressive church discipline recorded in Acts 5 involved money. Ananias and Sapphira both died because they pretended to give more than they did. Since money represents so much danger to our lives the Scripture also tells us how to be free from bondage to it.

The solution: Honor God with your money and trust Him to meet your needs.

It was the middle of the last week of Jesus’ life on earth, just before Passover. He had entered Jerusalem on the back of a colt the previous Sunday to the tumultuous welcome of the common people. He went to the temple daily to teach and had engaged almost immediately in constant confrontations from all the different factions who hated and feared HimCthe Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, priests and teachers of the law. They tried again and again to trap Him into taking positions which would either alienate Him from the people or get Him in trouble with the Romans. Each time He skillfully evaded their traps and revealed their ignorance of God’s Word and God’s ways.

After one such exchange He warned the people:

Mark 12:38-40

These teachers and preachers loved the honor and privileges they received because of their position. They did not get paid a regular salary for their work, but were supposed to be supported by tithes and offerings brought to the temple. Jesus accused them of exploiting widows, pressuring the very people they should have protected, women with the most limited means, to give them their property. He accused them of just making a show of spirituality by long prayers, but they were really con men. They loved money and were unscrupulous in getting it. These religious leaders today who preach a prosperity theology which they prove by living in multi-million dollar houses are not just at 21th century phenomena. Notice also that He said they would be severely punished.

When He finished speaking He sat down on a bench opposite the temple treasury. In the women’s court of the temple enclosure, the only place where women could come, there were 13 trumpet shaped receptacles for people to drop their offerings.

Mark 12:41

Picture the scene. The city was crowded for the Passover celebration. People came from all over to give their tithes and offerings to the Lord. Many rich people threw in large amounts. Can you not hear the sound of their coins clanging against the receptacles? Not only that but Matt 6:2 tells us that some wealthy people even had a trumpet fanfare announce their offering. Unnoticed among these proud and prominent men was a little widow.

Mark 12:42

She quietly slipped in and put her two tiny coins in the treasury. They hardly made a sound. They were only worth 1/3 of a cent, 1/64th of a day’s wage. This humble widow, poorly dressed, sorry that she could give no more, gave her tiny gift and slipped away hoping that she had not been noticed. But she was!

Mark 12:43-44

Jesus saw her and was so impressed by her offering that he called his disciples to him to use her as an object lesson for the kind of giving that pleases God. He said, “She gave more than all the others.”

God has an altogether different way of judging the value of our gifts. We look at the actual amount and are impressed or not impressed by it.

GOD MEASURES OUR GIFT BY WHAT WE HAVE LEFT FOR OURSELVES.

It is not a sacrifice to give 1 million dollars when you have 100 million left. It is not a sacrifice to give $1000 when you are earning $100,000 a year. But it is a total sacrifice to empty your purse into the collection plate when there is nothing in the bank. That is what this widow did. Was not it a little unrealistic for her to do that? After all, does not God expect us to use our common sense?

What was she really saying when she gave all she had to live on? She was demonstrating her faith in God to supply her needs. She loved the Lord and was grateful to Him. She was not embittered by self-pity, she was not expecting any handouts. She was simply entrusting herself to God. He was her Husband, her Provider, her Security. (Is. 54:5.)

She was a living example of Matt. 6:31-34

So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or What shall we wear? For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father KNOWS THAT YOU NEED THEM. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

By her giving she acknowledged God as the Source of all she needed, that He knew her needs and she was willing to trust Him to provide one day at a time. That is really great faith.

No wonder Jesus commended her. Talk is cheap. Actions are costly. God did not need her money, but she needed to give. Do you honestly think that God was going to let her down after such an expression of faith? I am sure there was bread on her table that day.

1000 years earlier King David had the same perspective about wealth. He gave his personal fortune to buy the materials for Solomon to build a temple for the Lord that David would never see. His example stimulated the generosity of this people and they had a great day of dedication of the gifts for the temple.

1 Chronicles 29:10-16

God is the One who gives us what we have in the first place. It all belongs to Him. When we give to Him we honor Him by acknowledging that He is the Source of all our blessings.

GOD DOES NOT NEED OUR MONEY. WE NEED TO GIVE AS PART OF WORSHIP.

While the whole Bible has much to say about money and giving there are 2 chapters that especially concentrate on the subject and give us some important principles to govern our attitude about money.

The Corinthian Christians had a lot of problems. Some of them were that they were impulsive, changeable and fickle. The previous year they had committed themselves to giving to support the ministry of the Gospel and sharing with the needy and they had started with enthusiasm. But they had not continued and Paul speaks very frankly to them.

He used 3 examples of sacrificial giving to admonish and encourage the Corinthians.

Three examples of sacrificial giving

1.THE MACEDONIAN CHRISTIANS

2 CORINTHIANS 8:1-3

If any people had excuses not to give, they did. They were suffering many hardships. Some had lost their means of earning a living because they were Christians. Some had been rejected by their families. They were in extreme poverty. But they were so joyful in their faith that they gave more than they were able to give. In fact they pleaded to give. No one had to urge them to sign pledges or faith/promise card.

Why were they so generous? They had first given themselves to the Lord. When we give ourselves, it includes our pocketbooks. Paul then says, “Follow their example, finish what you started.” Giving is a grace. God will enable you to give.

  1. THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

2 CORINTHIANS 8:9

What a paradox. Jesus left the riches of heaven to become a human being. To live on earth in a humble carpenter’s home. To earn His living with His own hands. He was a poor man. He never owned any property. Then He suffered the humiliation of a criminal’s death for us. But he rose victoriously from the dead. When we put our faith in Him we become heirs of God, all the riches of heaven is promised us in the future and the rich blessings of a right relationship with God is ours now. Jesus gave Himself for us so that we, who were poor, might be rich.

2 CORINTHIANS 8:11-12

Notice how God evaluates our gifts. By our eager willingness and according to our means. Our giving must be voluntary. Notice that God never asks us to give what we do not have, but from what we do have. That is why it is so good to have a percentage as a guide. When you have a little, you give accordingly, when you have a lot, you give accordingly. The O.T. had the tithe, 10% as a guide. But there were 3 tithes taken. (2 yearly and 1 every 3rd year)

Dr. Charles Ryrie estimates that the tithes actually came to about 22%. And beyond that they gave freewill offerings. Whatever amount you decide on, giving a percentage of your income is a good start. Then as you get used to the blessings that come from giving you can increase your percentage. You see giving is not a one-way street. You do all the giving and someone else gets all the benefits. Giving blesses the giver. It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Giving is a good measure of your spiritual maturity. Giving is not an option; it is a command. Your love for the Lord is measured by obedience. Generous giving pays wonderful returns.

2 CORINTHIANS 9:6

Action Steps: First, the law of sowing and reaping applies to your giving. If you plant a just a few seeds you get a little crop. If you plant a lot of seed you get a large crop. If you invest generously in God’s program, the returns will be far beyond your imagination. People will be saved in countries you will never go to because you supported a missionary, a radio program, a literature campaign. These people will meet you in heaven and thank you for helping to make it possible for them to be there, too. That is what Jesus meant when He said,

Luke 16:9 (NIV) I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

2 CORINTHIANS 9:7

Attitude: The decision about how much to give is yours to make. Just be sure that you are not giving because someone is pressuring you, but because you are willing. God loves a cheerful giver, a hilarious giver. And God knows exactly the attitudes and motives for our giving.

2 CORINTHIANS 9:8-11

Ability: Do you see what this is saying? God will continue to supply all that you need personally, so that you can continue to give generously on every occasion. He is really saying,

“Put my interests first and I will take care of yours. Trust me with your material needs. I will give you the ability to give abundantly.” Two ways to meet our needs: get more money or spend less.

Accomplishments: What does this kind of giving accomplish here and now?

2 CORINTHIANS 9:12-15

Your giving is a ministry, a service to God. (Priestly service, diakonia, liturgeia) Credited to you. Your giving will supply the needs of God’s people. They will praise and thank God for your ministry.

Your giving is proof of your obedience and a good testimony to others.

People will pray for you and care for you because you have cared for them in your giving.

  1. GOD THE FATHER

2 CORINTHIANS 9:15

He gave His Son for us. Anything we give is in gratitude for this gift which is beyond description.

That leads to the question, where should we give?

How should we distribute the Lord’s money?

Your local church should have priority in your giving. The salaries, building maintenance, and materials all cost money and you are the beneficiaries. The folks at the Christian Science Church are not going to give to this church.

Family members in need.

Give to those in need in your own family, e.g. aged parents.

Ministries that personally bless you.

Missions.

Diversify: foreign, home, children, education, evangelism, church planting, etc.

The poor.

First in God’s family, Gal. 6:10. Then to others. We are responsible to care for needy believers. Samaritan’s Purse, Voices of the Martyrs, etc.

Charities

Those who are fighting battles for morality in the public square.

Give purposefully, intelligently and obediently as God lays it on your heart to give. But give.

2 Cor. 9:11 says that God will supply abundantly so that we can be generous on every occasion.

If you are having financial problems, the solution may not be to get more, but to give more.

Giving to the Lord from what He has given you will break the stranglehold that money and things have on our lives. It is a great step of faith, but God can handle it. He has not broken a promise yet. Are you willing to be obedient to Him in this important area? I am sure Jim Elliot’s famous statement included our money as well as our lives.

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Jesus used this poor widow’s act of devotion and faith to teach us many things about our money and our God.

What does Jesus reveal about God, our heavenly Father?

Our Father is the Source of all we have. It belongs to Him.

Our Father does not measure the worth of our gifts by their size, but by what we have left.

Our Father looks at the heart, our motive for giving. He does not reward ostentatious generosity for purpose of impressing people.

Our Father does not expect us to give what we do not have. We are to give from what we have and everyone has something. No gift is too small.

Our Father will not compel us to give, just as He will not compel us to love Him. Giving is a personal matter.

Our Father wants us to give voluntarily and generously with faith that God will supply our needs and enable us to keep on giving. Not acceptable if reluctant.

Our Father will give generously to us so we can continue to give generously.

Our Father gives eternal returns on our investments. We will leave all our bank accounts, investments and real estate here when we die. But we will be welcomed in heaven by those we have reached through our giving. These are eternal returns.

Our Father uses our giving as a testimony to cause others to thank and praise God, and to pray for us.

Our Father Himself is the most generous Giver.

If giving to the Lord has been a problem for you, confess it as selfishness, unbelief, or greed. Then tell the Lord you want to believe Him for this area which has such a stranglehold on our affections. You want to be free from bondage to money. Then decide what percentage you will faithfully give. Do it and see how God will bless you.

When we started this series I said we would emphasize what the Lord Jesus would reveal about our invisible Father in heaven. We have seen Him to be our omniscient, omnipotent Creator, a Father who is compassionate, loving, strong, generous, welcoming, interested in every detail of our lives. He initiates a relationship with sinners and makes them His children by faith. He delivers us from sin. He is patient with ignorance and hates arrogance and hypocrisy. He gives us forgiveness, peace, and joy. He sent Jesus so we could be with Him forever in heaven. Let me remind you of what J.I. Packer said.

“You sum up the whole of New Testament teaching in a single phrase if you speak of it as a revelation of the Fatherhood of the holy Creator. In the same way, you sum up the whole of the New Testament religion if you describe it as the knowledge of God as one’s holy Father. If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all. For everything that Christ taught, everything that makes the New Testament new, and better than the Old, everything that is distinctively Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up in the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God. Father’ is the Christian name for God.”

God bless, as this concludes the series we’ve called the Jesus Narrative.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

THE BREAD OF LIFE

What do people all over the world spend most of their time and energy doing? What are the barest necessities of life? Food, shelter and clothing. We spend most of our waking hours working to obtain these necessities. But of them all, food is the most important. Physical hunger is so consuming that we cannot think of anything else until it is satisfied.

Jesus used the legitimate cravings of the body for food to describe a deeper hunger the hunger of the soul for God and the longing for eternal life. And He demonstrated vividly His ability to satisfy that hunger forever. The disciples had been on the road with Jesus for over 2 years. They had heard His teaching and seen His miracles. He had been training them and now it was time to send them out in teams of two.

Luke 9:1-6

Do you see what He did? He delegated His power to them to do the same miracles he did. But He also sent them out by faith. They were to take nothing for their material needs. They were to trust God to supply their needs through other people day by day.

Can you imagine how excited they were when they returned? They had cast out demons and healed many sick people. And all of their personal needs had been supplied. What an experience!

Mark 6:30-32

Rest and refreshment. Time to be alone with Jesus. Time to relax and shareand be restored. How important that is for all of us. Have you ever had an exciting and productive experience and when it was over, there was a letdown? This is the remedy. Time alone with the One who made you fruitful and gave your life an impact.

Mark 6:33

The people ran around the northern shore of the lake and when the boat landed at Bethsaida, there was a large milling crowd waiting for Jesus. They wanted to see more miracles. This certainly was an interruption in His plans, was not it? How would Jesus react?

Mark 6:34

He welcomed them and had compassion on them. They were like sheep with out a shepherd. That does not mean much to us today, because very few of us have flocks of sheep. But a sheep without a shepherd has a very short life span. On its own a sheep cannot find safe pasture to feed on or still pools of water to drink. It cannot clean itself, defend itself or find its way home. Without a shepherd a sheep is totally helpless and hopeless and in peril for its life.

Jesus had come to be their Shepherd. So He healed their diseases and taught them God’s Word. This was what they needed most.

The hours went by as the crowd listened attentively. But the disciples began to worry about some practical matters. This was a very large crowd, 5000 men plus women and children; over 10,000 people. There were no Krogers or Tom Thumbs, and no Holiday Inns. How could these people be fed and find shelter for the night? They had better tell Jesus to quit preaching and send them home.

Mark 6:35-36

They were right to be concerned, but they had the wrong solution. The answer for anyone’s need is not to send them away from Jesus but to send them to Him. He is the only One who can meet any need we have, physical or spiritual.

But Jesus really surprised them with His answer:

They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat. (Matt. 14:16, NIV)

Who? Us? Surely Jesus did not expect them to buy bread for a crowd like this. Now remember, they had just come back from an extended tour during which all their needs had been supplied as God had motivated others to share with them. Surely they should have considered the supernatural in their equation. But they did not. Are we not like that? We do not remember God’spast provision when faced with a new crisis. Our faith for the new trials we face in the future will remain sturdy if we deliberately remember God’s provision in the past. Each experience should build on the last.

The disciples looked at the impossibilities, not at Jesus’ proven ability. They looked at their own inadequate finances and not at His limitless resources. They looked only to their helplessness and not at His power to work through them. Jesus was giving them the opportunity to be part of a great miracle, the only one that is recorded in all four Gospels besides the resurrection. He wanted to use them and all they could think of was their checkbook balance.

Are they really so different from us? God gives us a challenging child to raise, a difficult marriage, a job that stretches us, a family of origin that was unhealthy, an illness that saps our strength, finances that end before our expenses do. And we look at our inadequacies and poverty and say, “How can I do this? Surely God, you do not expect me to get through this.” And that is true.

He does not intend for you to find the strength you need from within yourself. 2 Co. 1:9 tells us that these things happen so that we might not rely on ourselves, but on God.

Mark 6:38

John tells us that a boy gave his lunch to Jesus: his five little barley loaves and two small fish. I wonder as the disciples went through the crowd asking for food, if there were others who had food but hung on to it selfishly. This little boy gave everything he had to Jesus and Jesus accepted his gift and used it. I think that children still respond this way to Jesus. That is why we must not wait till they get hardened and unbelieving as adults are before we tell them that Jesus loves them, died for them and wants them to trust Him. In fact, Matt. 18 says that adults must come to Christ humbly as little children do.

Mark 6:39-41

The crowd was now seated in orderly groups on the green grass. Jesus stood before them, took the tiny little lunch in His hands, and looked up to heaven. He thanked God and then divided the loaves and the fish. The disciples stood before Him with their empty baskets and he started putting bread and fish in each one. Before their astonished eyes the bread and fish just kept on multiplying till all of their baskets were full. Then they turned and distributed the food to the crowd.

I believe that even as the people reached in and took as much as they wanted, that the bread and fish in their baskets never ran out. Jesus took what was given to Him and multiplied it to feed all of these people. He used the little boy’s lunch and He used the disciples to meet the needs of over 10,000 people. You see, He never expects our resources to be adequate. He just wants us to give what we have and what we are to Him and He will multiplyour resources and use us to feed those who are dying of spiritual hunger all around us. But of course, the catch lies with us. How much will we give Him of our resources and ourselves? What was the result?

John says “Everyone had as much as they wanted.”

Mark 6:42

They all ate and were satisfied. Is not that the way it always is with Jesus? Just as He satisfied their physical need, He is the only One who can completely satisfy our spiritual hunger. This does not mean just the initial act of receiving Him as our Savior. This means that our spiritual life is sustainedand constantly renewed by Him alone.

John 6:12-13 (NIV) When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.”

We never come to the end of what He wants to give us. He supplies more than enough. He came to give us an abundant life, not just mere subsistence. Nothing wasted: always enough for us to share with others. (One way to measure this is to see what God does with our money when we give it to Him. There is always enough there.)

As wonderful as this story is, there is significant meaning behind it that the Gospel of John goes on to explain. This miracle, in contrast to the others affected everyone there.

John tells us the crowd was so excited by this miracle that benefited all of them that they wanted to take Jesus by force and make Him King. This was not His timetable for that, so he withdrew from them and went back to Capernaum. The next day the people found Him there.

John 6:25-27

Jesus knew that they were there to get their stomachs full every day. That is how shallow their interest was. But he used their desire for food to teach them that He could give them something permanent-eternal life.

John 6:28

No different than millions of people today. They were so sure that if they just knew that special formula of works they could do, then they could do it and earn eternal life. Jesus answered them in words that could not be clearer.

John 6:29

There is only one work that will give you eternal life and it is not a work at all. It is simply to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. And God will give eternal life as a free gift.

To show you how materialistic and obtuse they were, listen to their next demand.

John 6:30-31

What miraculous sign will you do for us? Incredible! These were the same people who had all been fed just the day before. Now they challenged Him. They really meant, Moses gave our forefathers manna, bread from heaven, for 40 years. Can you top that? We will follow you if you feed us every day like you did yesterday! Jesus’ answer to this arrogant demand was very revealing.

John 6:32-35

Jesus here makes the first of seven claims about himself in John beginning with the words I Am. Surely this should have reminded them of the name God revealed to Moses at the burning bush, I AM WHO I AM. He is the Bread of life, (bread that is living/or gives life). Really saying to them: Do not compare me to Moses. Compare me to the manna. The rest of his conversation with them shows how God was giving them something greater than the manna that He sent their forefathers every day but Saturday for 40 years in the wilderness.

MANNA

JESUS CHRIST

Picture

Reality

Sent by the Father

Sent by the Father

For All

For all

Bread from Heaven

True bread

They had to pick and eat

We have to believe

They hungered again.

We will never hunger

Physical/temporal

Spiritual/eternal

They died

We live

Picture

Reality

The manna was just a picture of what Jesus Christ would be when He came to earth. He is the reality.

Sent by the Father.

Over and over Jesus states that the Father sent Him to give eternal life to everyone who believed in HIM.

For ALL

Just as the manna was for all the 3 million people of Israel. Just as the bread and fish were for all the 10,000 so Jesus Christ was sent for all the people in the world.

Bread from heaven/True Bread from heaven

The manna was bread from heaven. Ex. 16:4I will rain down bread from heaven for you. But Jesus was the genuine, real Bread from heaven. Six times in this chapter alone He claims heavenly origin.

They had to pick and eat. We have to believe

The manna did not keep them alive just by being on the ground. They had to eat it. It is not enough to know that Jesus came into the world, that He did miracles and that He died for sins. We each personally must put our faith in Him. That is why He kept using terms like eating, drinking, coming to Him. They all involved an act of the will to believe in His Person and His work.

They hungered again. We will never hunger or thirst

They picked the manna every morning for the day. They ate breakfast each day from it. After a few hours they were hungry again and had to eat again and the next morning had to gather it again. Jesus claims to completely satisfy the hunger of the human heart for God forever.

Physical-Temporal/Spiritual-Eternal

The manna kept them alive physically for 40 years in the wilderness. Though it was bread from heaven, its purpose was earthly and temporal. Jesus is the One Who gives life to our spirits, eternal life. Eternal life is a new quality of life as well as quantity.

They died/We live

The wilderness became one vast cemetery. The manna was just food for their bodies. Jesus gives us eternal life for our spirits now and resurrection for our bodies when He returns. Then we will be with Him in heaven forever.

Now He explained how He was the Bread of Life.

John 6:51-54

This bread is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life. (NIV)

Can you imagine how repulsive this was to the Jewish mind? Blood was forbidden and human flesh! They missed the point entirely.

You see, again here that Jesus used material and physical things to explain spiritual truth. He used physical digestion to illustrate the process of faith. When you eat food, your body digests it and assimilates it and the food actually becomes part of your body. Jesus was telling them ahead of time that He would die for the world. That death and resurrection is an historical fact. But it does not apply to you unless you believe that Jesus Christ died in your place and you receive Him by faith. Eating and drinking are just another way of explaining what it is to believe. When you do that He comes to live in you and you live in Him.

Gal. 2:20 (NIV) I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

This means that He not only gives us eternal life when we initially trust Him, but He actually lives in us. He is our life. He exchanges our sinful, failing, inadequate life for His holy, powerful, fruitful life. He gives us the strength to endure suffering, He continues to change us and bring us to maturecharacter. In using the term Bread of life, Jesus is really saying that He alone is all that we will ever need to have eternal life, to know God, to be kept secure, to experience resurrection.

What was the result of this revealing discourse with was preceded just the day before by a spectacular miracle that illustrated it so powerfully?

John 6:60-66

REJECTION! It was a hard teaching to them to “eat flesh and drink blood.” Even though Jesus explained that He was talking about spiritual realities, not literal flesh and blood, they did not believe. And these uncommittedfollowers left Him.

Can you not hear the pathos in His voice as He turned to the Twelve?

John 6:67-69

FAITH These men did not understand everything Jesus said and did, but they trusted Him and were committed to Him. This sequel to the great miracle tells us something important. Miracles do not necessarily produce faith.That is why it is so important not to be presumptuous and demand of God that He do something spectacular for you to believe. Jesus Christ has already done everything miraculous that needed to be done for us to believe that the Father sent Him to reveal God to us and to give us eternal life. There are only two responses we can have to the claims of Christ.

Belief or unbelief. This applies to our daily walk with Him as well as our initial birth into God’s family.

What does Jesus reveal to us about God, our Heavenly Father?

  • That our Father’s heart is moved with compassion for us as we wander in our hopeless, lost condition.

  • That our Father knows both our physical and spiritual needs and provides for both.

  • That our Father is not impatient with us even when He knows our motives are self-serving.

  • That our Father will multiply what we give Him and use us to have an eternal impact on those around us.

  • That our Father will put us in situations that stretch our faith.

  • That our Father supplies abundantly, not skimpily.

  • That our Father always knows the degree of our commitment from the start.

  • That our Father sent Jesus to give eternal life to all who believe in Him. This is the only “work” we can do to be saved. We cannot earn eternal life by our own efforts.

  • That our Father gives us to Jesus and he will never drive us away. We are safe forever.

  • That it is our Father’s will that believers have eternal life and resurrection.

  • That our Father requires that we make a decision. We can choose to not believe in Jesus Christ. But there is no other way to God.

  • That our Father provides for our spiritual life to be sustained daily by “feeding on Christ.”

Are you feeding on Christ? How?

Matthew 4:4 (NIV) “Man does not live on bread alone…”

Reading His Word, obeying it, talking to Him, depending on Him and letting Him be our life. Jesus is the one who gives us the strength to face the trials and inequities of life. He is the One who gives us joy that is unrelated to our circumstances. He is the One who will take us all through this life with all of its uncertainties and then take us to be safe at home with Him. He is the Bread of Life and all we need.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

the perfect spot

April 4, 2018

  “And you, that were once alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamable and unreprovable in His sight” (Col. 1:21, 22).

  In order for our Father to be satisfied with us, He placed us in His Son. In order for us to be satisfied with our Father, we “rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (Phil. 3:3).

  “On what ground is our faith tested? It is on the ground of our very relationship with God and God’s attitude toward us. The concentration of the enemy is upon that point—to interfere with our link with God.

  “What is our link with God? It is this—the Lord Jesus Christ, as the answer to God and to Satan for us. It will never be what we are in ourselves. If you are expecting a day to come when in virtue of what you are in yourself you can satisfy God, you are destined to an awful disillusionment. The day will never come when we can satisfy God in ourselves, not even more or less.”

  “How could there be any doubt about the believers perfect security if his position in the Lord Jesus were realized? It would be impossible. Can He change? Or will God say to Him, I cannot any longer accept You as standing for this people? Or, once again if standing for them, is He on probation? Is His work completely done, or still to do?”

.

  “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses” (Col. 2:13).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for broken and strained family relations, for forgiveness in families.

Pray for genuine repentance in Larry R, this may be his last chance with his family.

 

The Jesus Narrative (part four)

Ok, I know these are long, but if I did them it parts it loses some rhythm and style. Just bear with me this week.

How do you classify people? Do you think of some people as more “worthy” of hearing the Gospel? Are there some people you think are such terrible sinners that they are sort of hopeless cases? Sometimes, when you read the paper about a person that has committed a terrible crime, do you almost hope that he never has a chance to be forgiven, because he really deserves to suffer eternal punishment? We human beings have such a different way of looking at each other than God does. I think that there is a little of the attitude the Pharisee in our story displayed in all of us, if we are honest.

Jesus was becoming very popular. And why not? When had there ever been anyone like Him? He healed every kind of disease, He cast out demons, he made the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear and the dead live again. But as His popularity increased, so did the opposition against Him. The Jewish religious leaders, the Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes or Teachers of the Law had for many years been in the driver’s seat. They were the arbiters of what was right and wrong. They considered the common people ignorant rabble. They were very particular about whom they associated with and judged others the same way.

The Pharisees were a strict religious sect that was based on separation. In fact, that is the meaning of their name, to separate. There were about 6000 of them spread throughout the country. They were teachers in the synagogues and appointed themselves guardians of the proper observance of the law. They added hundreds of rules to interpret the Mosaic Law in order to attain a legal righteousness. They had great influence and even the Roman rulers did not want to antagonize them. The major distinction of the Pharisees was that they gave equal authority to the oral lawCall the additions to the Mosaic LawCas they gave to the Scriptures. They considered their tradition as binding as God’s Word, and many times it directly contradicted God’s Word. We have similar things today. We must always make a distinction between what God’s Word says and the way it is interpreted and applied by men. That is why it is so important to check what anyone tells you with the Scripture.

For instance, the Pharisees despised sinners. And they felt that they reflected accurately God’s attitude towards sinners. By “sinners”, of course, they meant tax collectors, prostitutes, thieves and murderers. They considered themselves righteous because they obeyed the hundreds of rules they had made. They actually taught that there is joy before God “when those who provoke him perish from the world.” In their thinking, God hated sinners and withdrew Himself from the. Since Christ welcomed sinners and even ate with them the Pharisees generally concluded He could not be from God.

Luke 5:29-32

This is just one place where we hear their complaint. Of course, Jesus did not mean that there was anyone so righteous that they did not need His salvation. But only a person who admits that he is a sinner is open to the Gospel. The last thing a Pharisee thought himself to be was a sinner.

Luke 7:29-30

They had not repented when John the Baptist preached and consequently rejected God’s purpose for themselves. Jesus exposed their closed minds and contradictory standards by His comments in

Luke 7:33-34

Purpose: Not Faith, But Judgment

Keep this in mind as we read about their invitation to dinner from a Pharisee named Simon.

Luke 7:36

Why did Simon invite Him? Was it because he believed in him? Was it because he sincerely wanted to observe Him and check Him out? Or was it because he had already made up his mind and wanted to get more evidence to support his presupposition?

In those days, people did not sit around the table in chairs as we do. They reclined on couches with their heads near the table and their fee extending away from it. It was permissible in that day for uninvited guests to come and listen when an important person was a guest in someone’s home. The needy could also come to receive some of the leftovers. In that town was a woman, a sinful woman, most likely a prostitute. She must have heard Jesus speak on previous occasions. Maybe she even witnessed some of His miracles. In any event, she had believed in Him. When she heard that He was right there in town at Simon’s house, she wanted to show her love and gratitude and did the only thing she knew how to do.

Luke 7:37-38

Can you not imagine the scene? Jesus is eating and conversing at the table. Suddenly he feels something on His feet. There is a woman, weeping. Her tears are falling on his feet. She came to anoint Him with an expensive perfume, but before she could even open the jar, she is overwhelmed with emotion. These are tears that expressed repentance and gratitude. Then she stoops and in an act of deepest intimacy and humility, she kneels, takes her unbound hair and wipes his fee. Then she kisses His feet over and over and pours perfume on them. Jesus, who knew her heart and her motives, calmly stays as he is and lets her express in her own way her love for Him. He is not embarrassed nor uncomfortable. He is not annoyed by a crying woman. He accepts us as we are. He knows our motives. He accepts our worship. He knows just what each of us is offering in sacrifice to Him. This woman came with an expensive perfume and poured it all out on Him. The fragrance of her devotion filled the room. No one could miss what was happening.

Can you not see Simon, the host? He is observing the scene wit icy disapproval. What is this notorious woman doing in HIS house? And why has Jesus let her do this to Him? Does not he know what kind of woman she is?

(You’ll have to google this, there is a woman who wrote a book called; “The Bad Girls of the Bible.” You can get the book or the DVD. I recommend the DVD. When you hear this story told it will make you weep, if you don’t you need a spiritual heart check up).

Back to our narrative.

Luke 7:39

You see, this just gave him the evidence he needed to support his foregone conclusion. His reasoning was that if Jesus were a prophet, He would know what kind of woman was anointing His feet. If He knew what she was He would not let her do it. Since He did let her do it He was no true prophet. This of course was based on his presupposition that God HATES sinners and will not accept them. He did not have to say anything. Jesus knew what he was thinking and spoke to him.

Luke 7:40-43

Such a simple story. Two debtors. One owed about $50,000 and one owed $5000 by today’s standards. But neither could pay their debt. Instead of throwing them into prison, or making them work as slaves to pay it off, the creditor just canceled the debts. Both of the debtors were now free of obligation and could go on with their lives. But Jesus’ question was not dealing with the law, but with the heart. Who would love the most? Simon reluctantly gave the obvious answer. Now Jesus makes a very relevant application.

Luke 7:44-47

Simon’s polite reception of Jesus into his home had had no warmth of real welcome. His deficiencies as a host showed what he really though of Jesus. Simon did not consider himself a sinner, therefore he had no need of forgiveness and consequently felt no love for Jesus. But what sins does he display in jus this episode?

Pride, hypocrisy, harsh, judgmental attitude, self-righteousness, coldness, lack of generosity as a host, lack of compassion and unbelief in Jesus Christ. These are just the sins we see demonstrated HERE! Jesus in no way implied that Simon’s sins were little, but that Simon did not consider himself in need of forgiveness because he did not believe he was a sinner.

Simon did what you and I usually do. We compare ourselves with other people whose sins are blatant and offensive: the prostitute, the homosexual, the thief, the rapist, the murderer, the pornographer, the drug dealer and of course we come out looking very good. But that is because we are comparing on a horizontal basis.

If we are walking down Main Street, we would see people who are shorter or taller, thinner or heavier, younger or older than we are. But if we went to the top of one of those new buildings and looked down, everyone would look like bugs about the same size.

When God looks down from heaven, he knows that we are ALL sinners. That is why He says:

Romans 3:10-12, 22b-23

There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no on who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one… There is no difference, for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (NIV)

We are sinners by nature. The ways we choose to express that nature differ. But that gives us no reason to assume that we have a better chance with God because we are not as bad as other people. In fact, it is often harder for the moral unbeliever to admit that he is a sinner and must come to God the same way as the worst sinner in the world.

Jesus freely acknowledged that her sins were many. And they were ALL forgiven. Why were the forgiven? Because she loved Jesus? No, her love was the RESULT of being forgiven, not the BASIS for forgiveness.

Luke 7:48-50

Then Jesus said to her, Your sins are forgiven. (NIV)

Your immorality, your greed, your impurity, your infidelity, your breaking of all the laws of God are ALL forgiven. Can you not see the other guest turning to each other and saying, “Who is this that even forgives sins?” They knew that God alone could forgive sins. Luke 5:21. But they refused to acknowledge that Jesus was God in spite of all the miraculous evidence they had seen.

Why was this woman forgiven?

Your faith has saved you. Go in peace. (NIV)

It is faith alone that saves. Faith in who Jesus Christ is God. And faith in what He has done died in our place on the cross and rose again.

She believed in the Lord Jesus and she was forgiven and saved from a sordid life which had no escape hatch. He could say, “Go in peace,” because He not only forgave her many sins, but gave her a clear conscience as well.

Hebrews 9:14

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished dot God cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! (NIV)

I think many of us carry the guilt of past sins which God has forgiven because of our faith in Jesus Christ. This guilt eats away at our sense of worth and keeps us from serving God freely. Let us see what God does when we put our faith in Christ, our Substitute, the Lamb of God who TAKES AWAY the sin of the world.

OUT OF SIGHT, Is. 38:17.

OUT OF MIND, Jer. 31:34, Heb. 8:12

OUT OF REACH, Mic. 7:19; Ps. 103:12

OUT OF EXISTENCE, Ps. 51:1, 2; Is. 43:25; 44:22

This is what happens to your past sins when you trust Christ. If you have never done this, I invite you to trust Him as your Savior today. He is God’s gift. The only way o get a gift is to reach out and take it. That is FAITH.

But how about the sins we BELIEVERS commit each day? Impatience, bad temper, selfishness, self-pity, disobedience, bitterness, malice, criticism, promotion disunity, gossip, greed, materialism, bad use of money, impurity or immorality in thought or deed. How about the person you just cannot forgive? Do you think that a true Christian does not commit sins like these?

1 John 1:7-10

God has provided a way for us to continue to have close fellowship with Him. Our relationship is not broken when we sin; we still are His children. But we do not feel close. We do not feel like reading our Bible or praying. Even coming to church gets to be a drag. God wants fellowship with Him restored because he loves us.

“Confess” means to agree with God that what you have done is sin. As long as we keep calling “sins” mistakes and sicknesses; as long as we keep blaming everything on our background, on what someone else has done to us, we will never take responsibility for our own action s and responses. That is why God requires that we agree with Him that our PROBLEM is sin.

You see, He can forgive sin because the penalty is paid. That is why He is JUST. And He WILL forgive because He has promised to. That is why He is faithful.

But even when we confess, we often do not FEEL forgiven, do we? That is why I believe we ought to always tell the Lord.

“With an act of my will I accept your forgiveness. Now you have to handle my emotions.”

Do you have something you cannot seem to forgive yourself for? Does a little voice inside say to you, “If people ever knew what I did!” Or “How could I ever have done that?”

Satan is called the “accuser of believers.” He is the one who wants you to be crippled by guilt, not Jesus. Jesus shed His blood to give you a clear conscience so that you may “go in peace,” just as He told this woman to. Tell the Lord you accept His forgiveness and you will never bring that past sin up to Him again because, He has blotted it out from your record!

What Did Jesus Reveal To Us About God In This Incident?

That God wants to reach the moral, upright sinner as well as the flagrantly immoral sinner. He associated with both. He ate with tax collectors and Pharisees.

That there are no hopeless cases with God. He extends His grace to everyone!

That God loves and forgives women equally with men.

There are no second class members of His family.

That God knows our hearts and motives even when we do not say anything.

That God will never stay in the box we put Him in.

That God hates hypocrisy and self-righteousness.

That God fully forgives ALL our sins and gives us peace.

That God accepts us individually.

He accepts our love and worship and the manner in which we express it.

This woman showed her love for the Lord by her weeping, her kissing His feet, and her anointing them with a precious perfume. She loved much because she had been forgiven much.

Do We Really Love The Lord Jesus Christ?

How do we show our love? Or do we show it at all? We have all been forgiven much. The Lord gave His life for us. All he wants from us is that we live for Him day by day.

The Jesus Narrative (part three)

Jesus was now very active in His public ministry. He was traveling through the villages and towns proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand and His ministry was authenticated by the many miracles He performed. He had chosen His 12 disciples and they traveled with Him. They were back in Galilee and crowds were increasingly following him from all over Israel and neighboring countries

Luke 6:17-19

No one had ever seen a man do the miracles He did or heard the words He spoke. Yet busy as He was He always had time to stop and care for that one person with a special need. The crowd was not just a faceless mob to Him. They were individuals in whom He had a personal interest. They were like sheep without a shepherd and He had come to be their Shepherd.

Luke 7:11

Jesus left Capernaum where He had healed a centurion’s servant from a distance, without even seeing him. Now He and his disciples traveled on down to Nain, a town about 25 miles southwest of Capernaum.

Luke 7:12

Try to imagine the scene. Jesus and His disciples were approaching the town gate, followed by a large, excited crowd. Suddenly a hush fell on the crowd. There was a funeral procession coming out of the town. A litter with a dead body on it was being carried out to the cemetery. A weeping mother, dressed in widow’s clothes followed. She was accompanied by a large crowd of friends mourning with her. This was a noisy crowd in a different way. They were wailing, weeping and some had torn their clothes to indicate their grief.

The dead man was the only son of his mother and she was a widow. (NIV)

This poignant sentence tells a sad story. This woman had lost her husband, now her son was gone. In that day, parents depended upon their children to care for them in their old age. The death of her only son meant that she would not only be lonely but possibly destitute. Now the Mosaic Law provided for widows, orphans and the poor. They could glean in the fields after the reapers and gather their grain and fruit. There was also a special tithe taken every third year to be distributed to the poor. God warned his people that they were never to oppress or exploit the poor or the widows and orphans.

Ex. 22:22-23 (NIV) Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry.

Deuteronomy 10:18 (NIV) He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow.

It was the responsibility of the community to care for the poor in that day. Jewish people today still care for their own to a greater extent than other ethnic groups usually do.

Now Jesus knew all this. He could have just passed by and assumed that this town would rally around the widow and see that she at least had food and clothes.

Luke 7:13

When the Lord saw her, His heart went out to her and He said, “Do not cry.” (NIV)

Cannot you picture Him? He leaves His followers, walks up to her and with tenderness and compassion says just two words. They would have been unrealistic and unkind coming from anyone else. She had plenty to cry about. To me there is something very comforting in knowing that when I am in pain, God’s heart goes out to me. He is the One who really feels my pain, He cares for me and wants to comfort me. He is not a cold, distant, helpless deity. He is a loving, compassionate Father.

Psalm 103:13

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. (NIV)

In 2 Corinthians 1:4-5 He is called the “Father of mercies” and the “God of all comfort.”

But that is not all Jesus said and did. Now He walked over to the litter and touched it. The pallbearers stopped. Imagine what they must have thought. Touching the dead made a person ceremonially unclean. Here was a rabbi, a teacher, doing it. But that still was not all. Jesus then spoke directly to the dead man.

“Young man, I say to you, get up” (NIV)

Jesus stood and faced our worst enemy, Death. And with the ring of divine authority He exercised His power over it. This is the first time He raised a person from the dead. In each of the three recorded cases, He spoke to the corpse. And the dead heard His voice and obeyed. John 5:28.

Luke 7:15

The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. (NIV)

Cannot you sense the gentleness, the understanding, the personal interest in her that these words reveal? Can you imagine the joy Jesus felt being able to do this for her. I wonder if we realize what it meant to Him to reverse in a tangible way, the curse which is the result of human sin. I think He smiled as He saw her tears turn to unbelievable joy. Her son was alive. She would not be left alone. She would see her grandchildren, her future was secure.

What impact did this miracle have on the crowd?

Luke 7:16-17

They were filled with awe, reverence, fear of God. They praised God. (NIV)

Surely they were reminded of the dead child that Elisha raised from the dead over 800 years before in the town of Shunem which was just on the other side of the hill from Nain. But did they actually realize that God really had come and was living among them? They may have remembered the Scripture:

Isaiah 35:4-6 (NIV) Be strong, do not fear; your God will come…He will come to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.

This was what the Messiah would do when He came. And that was exactly what Jesus was doing! This miracle also illustrated some important truths. We have seen that God is deeply concerned with our grief and pain. Jesus actively did what He had the power to do to alleviate this woman’s suffering. In this he modeled for us what we are supposed to do to relieve human suffering today.

All around us are people who are hurting, without the essentials to sustain life, lonely, or disabled. Some have suffered broken marriages, or estranged children. Some are homeless, jobless, hopeless, and lost. There is something each of us can do. It may be very small in comparison to their degree of need, but that is not the issue. We can bring a meal, make a visit, bring clothes, blankets, listen to their troubles, pray with them and for them. We can counsel and support women in crisis pregnancies. We can give money so that ministries like Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago, the largest men’s shelter in the world or The Mission Shelter program or Veterans Cause who minister to the down and out so they can continue their work. We can share the Gospel. Remember we are Christ’s Body on earth. He works through us to show God’s love and concern.

We all can and must do something. We cannot close our eyes and pretend there is no one out there that needs our help.

We find the next effect of this miracle in the following verses. John the Baptist had been in prison for quite a long while and he may have expected that Jesus coming would have different results. In his uncertainty he sent directly to Jesus.

Luke 7:18-23

The purpose of miracles in the Bible is always to accredit the messenger and the message. Jesus was saying to John:

Remember the prophecies in Is. 35 and 61, see what I am doing, and put it all together.

Thus he reassured John that He was the Messiah.

But I believe this miracle also illustrated visibly what the Lord Jesus came to accomplish by His death on the cross and His resurrection.

2 Timothy 1:9-10

This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed (abolished) death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. (NIV)

How did death become a part of human existence. It was not part of God’s original design. Adam and Eve were created to live forever. In that beautiful garden God gave them every provision and perfect freedom to enjoy each other, to enjoy life and to enjoy their Creator. There was one prohibition.

Do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In the day you eat of it you will surely die. (NIV)

We all know the story. Satan tempted them and they ate the fruit and experienced spiritual death immediately, which is separation from God. We know this because for the first time they were afraid and hid from Him when He came to walk with them in the Garden. Then their bodies began to die and death has been the expectation and experience of every human being since. The penalty for sin is death, both physical and spiritual. Since were each born with a sinful nature, we all sin and we all will die unless the Lord returns first and takes us home.

God commanded an approach to him that constantly reminded his people of that truth. Israel could never worship God without a blood sacrifice. When they sacrificed a lamb, goat or bull, they were offering a substitute to die for their sins in their place. When Jesus began His public ministry it was John who identified him as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

He was the only substitute God would accept. When Jesus hung on that cross He took the full penalty for our sin in His own person. When he cried out, My God, why have you forsaken me? It meant he experienced spiritual death, which is separation from God. And of course, He died physically. But then he rose from the dead. If there was even one sin that could not be forgiven by the sacrifice of Christ, He would still be in the grave. His resurrection proved that every sin ever committed since the world began has been paid for in full.

Thank God for the Gift of His Son, our Savior and Risen Lord.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

The Jesus Narrative (part one) (this is a long post, you may want to print it out)

God was here! Walking this planet. He lived in an obscure village in a tiny country on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. From the age of 12 till Jesus was about 30 there are no incidents recorded about Him in the Bible. So any stories you hear about the miracles he supposedly performed as a child are the product of someone’s imagination. But there are things we can know about his family life.

Mark 6:3 tells us that Mary and Joseph had at least 6 other children, 4 sons and 2 daughters. Jesus knew what it was to live in a large family and be the only half-brother. Joseph taught him the trade of carpentry and he supported his family by working as a carpenter, because by the time he began his public ministry, Joseph was dead. Jesus knew what it was to work with his hands to earn his daily bread. All the time Jesus lived on earth He never used his power to make life easy for himself.

But now the time had come to begin his public ministry. For months John the Baptist had been preaching that the Messiah was coming and people were being baptized to indicate that they repented of their sins and were waiting for the Messiah (Christ) Jesus started his ministry by going to John to baptize him.

When he came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit descended upon him like a dove.

John 1:32-34

Now John knew for sure that Jesus was the promised Christ. That was the sign he had been told to look for. After his baptism Jesus went into the wilderness and successfully endured 40 days and nights of fasting while Satan tempted him. He proved his qualifications to be our sinless Savior when he defeated Satan and would not sin.

John 1:19-21 gives us a rapid sequence of events that took place just before the occasion we are studying today.

When Jesus returned from the wilderness John pointed his own disciples to Jesus as the Lamb of God and the Son of God. So these men followed Jesus and brought others. By the time the chapter ends Jesus had about 5 men with him who believed on Him because of John’s testimony and their own experience. These 5 were the first of that special group of 12 ordinary men who lived with Him and were trained by him for over 3 years.

In John 1 we have many titles and names for Jesus:

The Word, the Light, the One and Only from the Father, God, the One and Only, Lord, Lamb of God, Son of God, Messiah or Christ, the Prophet like Moses, Jesus of Nazareth, King of Israel, Rabbi, Son of Man.

Theses titles had tremendous significance for the Jews familiar with OT promises about the coming Messiah. They meant that Jesus was the one they had been eagerly waiting for. What spectacular thing would Jesus use to reveal who he was? Where would he start? Can you imagine what Hollywood would do with an opportunity like that? But Jesus revealed His glory for the first time in a very strange but meaningful way.

John 2:1-2

Cana was a village in the hills of Galilee. Its location is not certain, but scholars believe it was located about nine miles north of Nazareth. I think it is worth noticing that the human race began with God officiating at a wedding between a man and a woman and the ministry of Jesus, God on earth began with His presence at a wedding. This tells us something about God’s view of marriage which we need to hear in a day when marriage is being avoided or destroyed by abuse, infidelity, lack of commitment and divorce. Actually, when it is in danger of being redefined to allow same sex marriage to be equally normal.

Jesus obviously was not a recluse. He was a social person. He was willing to take time out of his busy schedule to share in the joy of others. This was not just going to a ceremony and reception for a few ours. The wedding celebration lasted seven days. In that day a couple would become betrothed, usually for about a year. This betrothal was as binding as a marriage and could only be broken by divorce. The wedding was celebrated when the bridegroom came to take his bride and escort her to his home, where there would be a great time of feasting, singing, dancing and general rejoicing for a week. At the end of the week the bride would be escorted by her parents to the nuptial chamber and marriage would be consummated. This was obviously a time of great joy.

God wants us to enjoy life, to share other people’s joy, to smell the flowers along the way. He has given us all things richly to enjoy and Jesus modeled that for us.

John 2:3

Mary must have been visiting with their hosts or helping out when she was in on an embarrassing discovery. The wine had run out! Lavish hospitality in the east was a sacred duty. Either they had underestimated the number of guests or they had been skimpy in their provisions. This was not just an embarrassment, it was a disgrace. It was a never-to-be-forgotten social faux pas.

Mary knew where to go for help. She depended upon her oldest Son and he had never failed her yet. This request tells us a little about Mary. She was concerned about other people’s problems. She was not aloof or quick to pass judgment. She wanted to help her friends. Maybe she also thought this would be a super time for Jesus to do something spectacular to reveal who he really was. After all, she of all people knew where He came from. So she simply came to him and stated the problem. His answer seems strange to us.

John 2:4

Jesus knew His timetable. There is a sense of order and destiny in the measured way He moves through the Gospel records. He was not going to do the showy, spectacular miracle to draw attention to himself. He also in a gentle way let his mother know that he was no longer under her authority. Mary did not question him or go away disappointed. She just left it to him to do as he pleased. She trusted him to solve the problem and the next verse records the only command she ever gives in the Bible.

John 2:5

Do whatever he tells you. (NIV)

These words are as relevant to us today as they were to the servants then. You will notice that Mary never focused on herself, but on Jesus. He is the one we come, He is the one who has the power to help, He is the one to obey.

John 2:6-7

These large stone water jars were used for the ceremonial washing required by religious Jews. Their religion had become almost entirely external with very little impact on their spiritual lives. Can you imagine what the servants must have thought when a guest told them to fill all six water jars with water. That is from 120-180 gallons of water that had to be drawn from the well. But they filled them to the brim and came back for further instructions.

John 2:8

What do you think they thought? They knew these just were just filled with water. How could they take them to the master of the feast as wine? But the lady had said to do whatever this man said and they just obeyed. We would do well to follow their example. Jesus speaks to us today through the Bible. We have in our hands the written record of what he expects his followers to do. It is not necessary for us to know ahead of time just how everything will work out. Our responsibility is to simply do what He says to do.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Who is Jesus, part four

March 28, 2018

JESUS IS GOD THE SON. HE REVEALED THE NATURE OF THE INVISIBLE GOD TO US. HE SPOKE GOD’S WORDS, THOUGHT GOD’S THOUGHTS, FELT AND EXPRESSED GOD’S EMOTIONS, DID GOD’S WORKS.

Malachi 3:6 (NIV) I the Lord do not change.

Hebrews 13:8 (NIV) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

The loving, gracious, righteous, compassionate God Jesus Christ revealed is the same today. He is our heavenly Father if we have trusted His Son Jesus Christ.

What he thought then, He thinks now.

What He felt then, He feels now.

What he did then, He would do now.

Maybe you are thinking, So What? What does this mean to me?

It means that your heavenly Father still has compassion for the poor, the oppressed, the helpless and the sorrowing. Your heavenly Father cares for you in the situation you are in right now. Your heavenly Father knows your heart is aching because of the failure of your marriage or the disappointment of children who have turned from the truth and bought the world’s lies. Your heavenly Father knows that your husband has been without a job for a long time. Your heavenly Father knows your needs and He cares. Your heavenly Father knows what sickness has done to your family and He cares. Your heavenly Father knows the difficulties in caring for an aged parent and He cares for both of you. He may not bring relief in the spectacular ways Jesus did while here on earth, but He does give strength, the ability to endure, moment by moment. And that is a quiet miracle, is it not?

Your heavenly Father does send provision for material needs in many unexpected ways, does not He? The anonymous gift of money, the friends who bring meals, who come and relieve you from the constant care of a loved one, the people who pray for you, who drive you to the doctor, who babysit your children. These are just a few of the ways your heavenly Father meets your needs today.

His heart is the same, His power is the same, but his method is different. Instead of Jesus Christ living in one human body on earth as He did 2000 years ago, He sent the Holy Spirit to live in each one of us who have trusted Him as our Lord and Savior. He lives in millions of human bodies. We together are His body on earth.

1 Corinthians 12:27 (NIV) Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. (Not an option)

He lives in us and through us to touch the hurting world around us.

He said that we would be the light of the world when He went back to heaven. How can people see God revealed in our lives today? How can we let God’s glory shine through our bodies?

Matthew 5:16 (NIV) Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Is it really possible to live in such a way at home and in the community that other people will see our heavenly Father in our everyday actions? That is precisely the reason for which we have been saved. We were not saved to just go on living self-centered, self-serving lives. We have been given a new motivation, a new reason for living and a new power to live.

2 Corinthians 5:15 (NIV) And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

How do we live for Him in practical ways? How can our lives reveal our heavenly Father to others? By doing what Jesus did.

By showing compassion

By actively relieving the distress of those around us, first in God’s family, then the community.

By helping those widowed by death or divorce. Caring for orphans.

By visiting the sick and sorrowing.

By showing love and mercy for the aged.

By feeding the hungry, listening to the confused, sharing our material possessions with the needy.

By praying for the deliverance of those in bondage.

By moving out of our own tight circle of friends who buy their clothes at the same shops, drive the same kind of cars and become friends with people out of your social class.

By helping an unwed mother go through with her pregnancy, providing emotional, spiritual and practical support. It is not enough just to be against abortion.

Most of all, by bringing the good news of the Gospel to those who dont know Jesus Christ, the only way to God the Father. Jesus is the Bridge from earth to heaven, the giver of eternal life.

Here’s a prayer you may have not thought of, “Lord, make me a bridge between my world and You, help me to bring You to others, especially those outside my circle.”

Now I’m not proposing selling all your goods or putting your life in danger carrying little Gideon bibles to crack houses. Start by saying God bless you to everyone you encounter, the clerk at the gas station, the waitress at Luby’s. that’s assuming you’ve been polite enough and not an a$$ hat to everyone you meet.

Just food for thought.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Keep Karen in prayer, she is going on 13 hours of labor and the doctors will say in another hour it’s time to go to plan ‘b’.