So you thought you had a bad day.

Michael is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, “If I were any better, I would be twins!”

He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Michael was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation. Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Michael and asked him, “I don’t get it! You can’t be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?”

Michael reply: “Each morning I wake up and say to myself: Mike, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I point out the positive side of life.”

“Yeah, right, it’s not that easy.” I protested.

“Yes, it is.” Michael said. “Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situation. You choose how people affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It’s your choice how you live life.”

I reflected on what Michael said. Soon thereafter, I left the Cell Tower industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I heard that Michael was involved in a serious accident, falling some 60 feet from a communication tower.

After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Michael was released from the hospital with rods placed in his back. I saw Michael about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied: “If I was any better, I’d be twins. Wanna see my scars?” I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what had gone through his mind as the accident took place. “The first thing that went through my mind was the well being of my soon to be born daughter” Michael replied. “Then, as I lay on the ground, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or I could choose to die. I chose to live.

“Weren’t you scared? Did you lose consciousness?” I asked. Michael continued, ” The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the ER and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read ‘he is a dead man’ I knew I needed to take action”

“What did you do?” I asked.

“Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me,” said Michael. “She asked if I was allergic to anything.”

“Yes?” I replied.

The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply.

I took a deep breath and yelled “Gravity”.

Over the laughter, I told them, “I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.”

Michael lived, thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude.

I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully.

Attitude IS everything.

So then, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

The Braying

April 10, 2018

  “The things that thou hast heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2).

  Truth based upon law will be presented legally—it will be legislated. Truth based upon grace will be shared graciously, in love. “Adorn the doctrine of God” by “speaking the truth in love” (Titus 2:10; Eph. 4:15).

  There are two things that have to be taken into account in communicating truth. Not merely should there be certainty that it is the truth from God, but it must also be suited to those whom you address. They might need it all, but they may not be in condition to receive it all; and the more precious the truth, the greater the injury, in a certain sense, if it is presented to those who are not in a state to profit by it.

We see a servant in Acts 8 taken away from an interesting field of service, to meet one man in the desert. “It is not a question of how we succeed; but have we the assurance that we are doing the Lord’s work? Happy is the servant of God, who is so led by Him that he always presents the right measure of truth suited to the maturity of the believer and refuses to supply the knowledge that is not fitting or proper to their spiritual condition.

If you thought preaching was easy, it’s anything but that. One of my hardest battles was realizing you can’t teach a fool, no matter how much you liked them.

  “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Cor. 2:13).

A right word at the right time to the right person at the right moment; only when you are led by God.

And most of the time (99%) you will never know it when you do.

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 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

 

WHO IS JESUS (PART 3)

March 27, 2018

THE SON IS THE RADIANCE OF GOD’S GLORY (Hebrews 1:3)

Radiance means outshining of the brightness of God’s glory. You cannot separate the brilliance of the sun from the sun itself. And you cannot separate the glory of the Son from His deity. He is God. The disciples saw His glory when he was transfigured before them on the mountain.

Representation is the word, “charakter,” only here in NT. It means a mark stamped on something, like an image on a coin. When we see Jesus we see what God’s nature really is like.

Col. 1:15 (NIV) says “He is the image of the invisible God.”

SUSTAINING ALL THINGS BY HIS POWERFUL WORD.

Col. 1:17 (NIV) says, “in Him all things hold together.”

Scientists have never been able to discover the force that keeps the protons and electrons in the atom spinning in perfect order. What keeps the planets and stars in orbit? The Bible says that God the Son is not only the Creator, but the Sustainer of this immense universe.

THINK: If He cares about the atom and the stars, how much more do you think He must care about sustaining our lives, of holding our lives together. We are the ones for whom He came to die. The next statement brings us to that.

AFTER HE HAD PROVIDED PURIFICATION FOR SINS:

Seven words, but what a story they tell.

How did the Son make it possible for us to be forgiven and cleansed from our sins?

He, God in human form, suffered and died on the cross to satisfy God’s justice. He himself took the penalty for the sins of his fallen creation, so that those who believe on Him might have eternal life and fellowship with God. Then He rose from the dead to prove that He was truly the Son of God and to prove that all the sins of everyone who has ever lived were paid for. 40 days after his resurrection he went back to heaven and

HE SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE MAJESTY IN HEAVEN.

This is a very important statement. He sat down because the work of redemption was finished. Do you remember He said precisely that when He hung on the cross?

“It is finished” meant penalty for sin was paid in full.

There were no chairs in the OT tabernacle. The priests never finished their work because there were always sacrifices to be made for sins. Animal blood could not pay for people’s sins. Every animal slain on every altar in the OT just pointed to the future One who would be the one sacrifice for all sins forever, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Heb. 10:11-12 gives us the contrast.

Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. (NIV)

It is absolutely essential for your spiritual life that you understand that when you study the Bible it is not for the purpose of just learning all kinds of facts about the Bible. You can go to seminary or any other kind of study and learn the facts and stories from the Bible. But if that is all you do you miss the point entirely.

Donald Barnhouse:

“Suppose a friend had a hotel room in Acapulco overlooking the ocean on his vacation. He comes back and tells you about the wonderful window in his room. It had one large pane of glass, and 4 smaller panes on either side. It was 6 feet long and 4 feet high. Its framework was made of steel that resists corrosion. In fact, he even had the glass analyzed chemically. Would you not think he had missed the point? The window was there for him to see the ocean, not to study the window.”

The Bible is a window. We look through it to see Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And when we see Him we see God in His essential nature. We see our heavenly Father.

Have you realized before today that the One who died in your place on the cross is really God the Son, your Creator and Sustainer? Have you put your faith in Him alone to forgive your sins, give you eternal life and make you a child of God.

Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6, NIV)

You may, with an act of your will, put your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ today, right where you are sitting. Just tell God:

I know I am a sinner. I believe that your Son died for me and rose again. I put my faith in Him alone to forgive my sins, bring me to God and give me eternal life.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Rolling Stone

March 23, 2018

A patient of mine came in for counseling and immediately started crying, turns out her younger brother had been arrested for public intoxication. She went on to tell how between drugs and booze this seemingly bright kid with a stellar career ahead of him had tanked and bombed.

Now he was living on the streets panhandling for booze and weed. She asked if we could spend her counseling session praying for her brother; after a while she asked if I would pray for him.

My prayer for him went basically like this; “God make his pillow a stone, may he find no rest, no peace, no ease until he confronts his personal demons and seeks help and becomes sober.”

When I looked up I could see a smile on her face, she said; “I’ve known you for years and your prayers have always been on the strange side, but I also know that they seem to work out amazingly well, so I will believe this prayer with you.”

Cut forward 9 months later and Christmas is coming up, she has not heard from her brother in all this time and doesn’t know if he’s in jail, drunk or dead. But she keeps praying that prayer; ‘make my brother’s pillow a stone’.

So she makes a Christmas gift for him and keeps it a secret from everyone, it’s in a plain brown bag and hidden in the closet.

Imagine her surprise when he shows up Christmas Eve, sober but ragged and looking like death warmed over. He comes into the house and says; “Sis, I am totally at the end of my rope, I haven’t slept in months and I think I am going crazy from the lack of sleep, it’s as though my pillow is made of stone and the mattress like rock.”

So she jumps up, runs out of the room and comes back with the gift in the plain brown bag, she hands it to him and he pulls out a pillow that she has embroidered with the following words. ‘Come unto me and I will give you rest’.

End of story, she leads him to Jesus and now 24 years later he’s still sober and still a street preacher and Men’s shelter Director, serving the Lord.

For those of us that had to reach rock bottom first, thank God that He is patient and long suffering and we didn’t die before His grace won our hearts and saved us from our sin and addictions.

Stay sober, stay strong in the faith.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

My son and our daughter in law, just got back from a week in Chicago, while there for fun they visited the Pacific garden mission, largest, oldest men’s mission in the nation, look it up, check it out, and on your next vacation don’t leave Jesus out of it.

 

Slow Motion

March 16, 2018

  “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect; but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:12).

  In faith we apprehend the growth truths; in fact the Lord Jesus apprehends us for growth in those truths.

  “I have been much struck by the thought of the hiddenness and slowness of God’s workings. It must be a matter of distinct faith. If we do not understand this it will make us impatient. If we understand it will teach us to rest in God and to yield ourselves all the more joyfully to Him to work out His purpose. In all creation time is the great perfecter of growth. So with us, God will perfect that which concerns us.”

  “‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness’ (Rom. 4:3), when his faith apprehended the promise of God; yet it was nearly 40 years after that this Scripture was fulfilled, when he offered his son. The faith had its apprehension and enjoyment for many a year before the work of faith.

  “In proportion as the revelation is of God, in like measure must there be an answer to it sooner or later. Effect must follow cause. If the light has been received, the day will come that it must assert and obtain an expression of itself.”

  “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

hang on or let it go

March 13, 2018

For some reason the last couple of days I’ve remembered more of the bad stuff than the good. It doesn’t cause me to doubt my salvation, just my sanity. Sometimes I’m shocked when I recall some things. But it’s important to remember your past has no hold on you, it doesn’t have to dictate the decisions you make today. Only if you are conscious of the influence thoughts have and you are more strategic then whimsical (never thought I could use that word in a sentence) in your decision making.

So I purposely, occasionally pull out this list of things I may think about and then I can put them in the right context of what I am doing today. It’s one of the reasons I’ve studied to become a master chess player and a martial artist. Train the mind, train the body.

Remember the forgiveness of God and the complete restoration He has given. Salvation and Sanity seem to go together.

What special memories do you have about your childhood?

  1. How did you get along with each of your parents? What were they like’

  1. What did you like and dislike about your parents’

  1. What were your hurts and disappointments as a child’

  1. What were your hobbies and favorite games’

  1. How did you usually get into trouble’

  1. How did you usually try to get out of trouble’

  1. What did you enjoy about school and its activities’

  1. What pets did you have? Which were your favorites and why’

  1. What did you dream about doing when you were older’

  1. Did you like yourself as a child? Why or why not’

  1. What were your talents and special abilities’

  1. What awards and special achievements did you win’

  1. Did you have a nickname’

  1. Who were your close friends? Where are they today’

  1. What would you do on a hot summer afternoon’

  1. Describe the area where you grew up—people, neighborhood, etc.

  1. What were you afraid of? Do you have any of those fears today’

  1. How did you get along with your brothers and/or sisters?

  1. If you had none, which relative were you closest to?

  1. Who did you date and for how long? Where did you go on dates?

  1. How did you feel when you liked someone and that person didn’t care for you?

  1. What was your spiritual life like as a child? As an adolescent?

  1. How has being an adult changed your life?

  1. How are you different today than you were 20 years ago? Ten years ago?

  1. What have been your greatest disappointments? How have you handled them?

  1. What have you learned from them that you would want me to learn’

  1. If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently’

  1. What do you want to be remembered for?

The Apostle Paul recounted his past and the complete forgiveness of God, all things are forgivable, the only exception is refusing the call of God, the wooing of the Holy Spirit to salvation.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Got Pruned?

March 12, 2018

Got Pruned?

A great mystery surrounds the spiritual growth of the hungry-hearted believer.

The Spirit gives a foretaste of a deeper life before the believer is led into the fulness of it. Many believers mistake their foretaste for the fulness, not realizing that the Lord is just beginning to lead them

The hard-heartedness of our nature is the failure of our youth—our spiritual youth, as well as our natural youth; eagerness to run in God’s path, but not apprehending what the path is, or what it requires to walk in it. On the other hand, when the cost is counted, and our weakness known, the energy begotten of self-confidence being gone, we need a stimulating call on God’s part, to get out of the persistent occupation with our weakness now, as with our strength before.

Suffering is not meant by God to be loss and deprivation. Satan says that it is. God means suffering to result in increased spiritual capacity, which is the basis of added responsibility, trust, and fruitful sharing. The branch of the vine may bleed from the drastic pruning and feel stripped of much glory; but more and better fruit is the vinedresser’s vindication.

But we being of such stubborn nature, like the Apostle Paul, ‘kicking against the prods.” Thus, the school of the desert, the wilderness wanderings, the warring in our hearts with what we should and what we most heartily do naught. There is as much left undone in our lives as what ought to be done. Thus the reason that God is a Vinedresser and we the vineyard.

  “As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Cor. 15:49).

Thank God, He is patient, or we would be branches thrown in the fire.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

A special thanks to our prayer warriors, and a big shout to the encouragers. I can’t tell you how many nights I come to the keyboard and think there is no more to be poured out. And yet He gives more, all glory to God, He is worthy of all our praise. And to Ms. Kelly, yes, these are all rough drafts, “grammar be damned “ (G. K. Chesterton)