Saturday, April 22, 2017

What’s Next?

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One week ago we celebrated the anniversary of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It has been approximately 1,987 years since Jesus was crucified, buried and raised to life again. Each year we get closer to His second coming and the rapture of the Church. But why has God waited so long to bring this age to a close and to begin the millennial reign of Christ as King upon the earth? Consider this:

·        The Apostles of Jesus imagined that Jesus would set up His earthly Kingdom prior to the crucifixion. In other words, they never expected Jesus to die.
·        Once Jesus was buried the Apostles and those who believed He was the Messiah were disappointed, afraid and confused. Although Jesus had told them, as yet they did not understand, that Jesus was going to be resurrected from the dead on the third day after his death.
·        Even after several credible and trusted witnesses reported that they had seen the risen Lord, the Apostles still did not believe.
·        All of their hopes were shattered and they no longer expected to see the Kingdom of God established on the earth.
·        When the tomb was discovered to be empty and they could not find the body of Jesus, those close-knit followers of Christ debated among themselves and questioned others as to where His body had been moved. They wanted to visit His grave to pay their respects.
·        After Jesus appeared alive to 10 of the Apostles that first Sunday evening and then to the 11 Apostles one week later, on the next Sunday evening, and showed them His nail scared hands and the piercing wound in His side, they obeyed His earlier instructions to go to the Galilee where they would see Him again.
·        If God had chosen to immediately set up the Millennial Kingdom of Christ on the earth at that time there would have only been perhaps 120 to 500 Believers in heaven. God wants and has prepared for a large family … 10,000 times 10,000 and thousands upon thousands from every nation, tribe, kindred and  tongue upon the earth.

Immediately after the Resurrection of Jesus that first few weeks, the Apostles were still primarily focused on Jesus setting up His earthly Kingdom. They were ready for Him to be recognized, deliver His people and reign as King on the earth.

Acts 1:6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”

As I said earlier, when Jesus died on the cross it shattered the Apostle’s world … they didn’t know what to do so they just sat dumbfounded in that upper room in Jerusalem. After Jesus appeared alive to them twice in the first 8 days they were elated to see Him and talk to Him but they still had no clue as to what they were supposed to do.
·        Jesus told them to go to Galilee where they would see Him again. But, so what???
·        Was this to be the extent of their lives and service? Were they to go from town to town waiting on Jesus to manifest Himself?
·        What was next?

It is at this point we catch up with seven of the Apostles in John chapter 21. They are sitting and waiting on Jesus to show up in a village on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. They had walked from Jerusalem … the journey took several days and now they were growing restless and perhaps a little hungry as well.
·        No doubt the other villagers, some close friends and family members were as confused about their future than were they.
·        These friends had not had the personal experience of seeing Jesus alive.
·        Perhaps the people around the Galilee thought these Disciples of Jesus were stupid, or crazy, perhaps liars, or maybe just deceived …
·        Some of the Apostles had families to feed and take care of – and you might well imagine that the ministry resources it took to pay bills and buy groceries for all those followers had dried up a bit.
·        Offerings now were probably at an all-time low!
·        Yet, they waited … just how long can a person wait?

John 21  NKJV
1 ¶  After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself:
2  Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together.
3  Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We are going with you also.” They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing.
4  But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.
5  Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?” They answered Him, “No.”
6  And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.
7  Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea.
8  But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish.
9  Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread.
10  Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.”
11  Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken.
12  Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast.” Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?”  — knowing that it was the Lord.
13  Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.
14  This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.

Some things to notice about this passage when considering what’s next:
1.   The test of waiting on God
a.   What we do while we wait can determine
                                           i.    How long we wait
                                          ii.    If we are productive while we wait
b.   Only God can determine the right time
2.   Our decisions influence others
a.   Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”
b.   The six others said, “We’re going with you.”
c.   Our decisions influence others.
3.   He knows the answer before He asks
a.   Have you any food?
b.   Then why does He ask?
c.   So that you can know the answer too.
4.   When we confess our emptiness He opens our hearts
a.   No!
b.   Nothing opens a heart like emptying ourselves before Him.
c.   There is such potential in an empty vessel …
5.   Everyone has their part
a.   Peter swam to shore alone while others brought a boat and the net filled with fish
b.   Peter was not more spiritual because he got there first.
c.   Someone always must do the work.

They were excited to see Jesus … but … What’s Next?

Jesus begins to admonish Peter with words that have continued to give direction to Believers in every generation for the past 1,987 years. These words answered the questions of the Apostles and they continue to point us to what’s next in our lives as well …

John 21
15 ¶  So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”
16  He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”
17  He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.


Until Jesus returns our duty is clear … Feed and take care of those Jesus loves … and … He loves the whole world!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Resurrection

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Mark 16 NKJV
1 ¶  Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him.
2  Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.
3  And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?”
4  But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away — for it was very large.
5  And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.
6  But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.
7  “But go, tell His disciples — and Peter — that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”
8  So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
9 ¶  Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons.
10  She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept.
11  And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.
12  After that, He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country.
13  And they went and told it to the rest, but they did not believe them either.
14 ¶  Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.
15  And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
16  “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
17  “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;
18  “they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
19 ¶  So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.
20  And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.

What does the Resurrection of Jesus speak to people living in the world today?

1.   “Let there be light!”
a.   On the first day of the week … First things First!

Mark 16: 2  Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.

b.   When you were without form and void, when darkness claimed you, the Holy Spirit watched over you and God spoke … and the Light of Christ separated you from the darkness of this world.
c.   Light is greater than darkness …
d.   The Resurrection revealed the power of the Light of God

2.   In Him was Life

Mark 16: 6  But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here …

a.   Life is greater than death.
b.   Life overcomes death … death cannot destroy life!
c.   Do not be alarmed or afraid …
d.   The Resurrection confirmed the power of the Life of God

3.   God so loved the world …

Mark 16: 15  And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”

a.   Go to the store and buy a pound of butter …
                                         i.    We can go everywhere, and visit every store, and buy and buy and buy – but unless we understand that it is all about the butter … we’ve missed the mark.
                                        ii.    The Resurrection is all about the Light, Life and Love of the Gospel.
b.   If its purpose and product is not Light, Life and Love – It’s not the Gospel of the Resurrection of Christ!
c.   The Resurrection declared the power of the Love of God

Jesus is:
·        The Light
·        The Life
·        The Love
o   Of God
o   For all mankind

o   For eternity!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Passover

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Today is April 12, 2017 unless you are Jewish and then according to the Hebrew calendar the date is Nisan 16, 5777.

This date is a very important day each year. Let me give you a brief and important look at why this date is important for Christians as well.

The Book of Exodus gives the historical account of God delivering the Children of Israel from Egyptian bondage as promised. God sent Moses to tell Pharaoh to “let His people go!” Pharaoh refused and so a series of 10 plagues were released by God upon the land of Egypt and the inhabitants excepting the Jews. The Jews were given a special covering by God and as long as they followed the instructions given them by Moses the plagues did not affect them.

The 10th and final plague was a terrible plague. The angel of death passed through all the land of Egypt killing the firstborn child and animal alike from the palace to the prison. The holy hope was to be covered by the blood of a lamb. Moses instructed the Jews to do as God directed. Here were their instructions as recorded in:

Exodus 12 KJV
1 ¶  And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying,
2  This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.
3  Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house:
4  And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.
5  Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:
6  And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.
7  And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.

12  For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.
13  And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.

According to Exodus 12:51, on that selfsame day the Lord brought the Children of Israel out of Egypt. Reading the entire account from Exodus Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, the Bible continues to give instructions as concerning this all momentous time of the year and specifically today’s date on the Jewish calendar. God is very date conscious and date connected.

The killing of the Passover Lamb was commanded to be observed on the evening of the 14th day of Nisan which is during the full moon. The day following is considered a special Sabbath whereupon begins the yearly Feast of Passover which lasts for 7 days. The day after that special sabbath, the 16th day of Nisan, begins what is referred to in the Book of Leviticus as the “Days of Omer”.

So, today at sundown began the yearly recognition of the Days of Omer. Now what are the Days of Omer and who cares … or to better put it, what difference does it make to us?

The Days of Omer count down the specific number of days between the Passover Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Pentecost. Or in other words, God was sending a message each year and inviting each one of His children to participate in a few dress rehearsals which the Bible calls Feasts. Each one of the 7 Feasts observed by the Children of Israel was a dress rehearsal and a reminder of not only what God did in their history but also what God was going to do in their future.

The Passover Feast of Unleavened Bread pointed the Children of Israel to a time when God would sacrifice a Passover Lamb and cover them with the Blood of that Lamb so that the angel of death would pass over them. The Feast of Pentecost which took place 50 days after the Passover Feast of Unleavened Bread on which day God sent the Holy Spirit as recorded in the 2nd Chapter of the Book of Acts.

Th days between these two feasts are known as the Days of Omer – which are a countdown to what God did on Mount Sinai, what He did in Jerusalem and what He will yet do in the ultimate fulfillment with the release of a power the likes of which this world has never seen! We can rest assured … God has a plan and He has perfect timing!!!

Look at how the Bible scriptures fit together … only God …

Exodus 12:6 And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.

Matthew 26:17 ¶  Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?

Mark 14:12 ¶  And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover?

Luke 22 
7 ¶  Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed.
8  And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat.
9  And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare?
10  And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in.
11  And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples?
12  And he shall shew you a large upper room furnished: there make ready.
13  And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover.
14  And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him.
15  And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer:
16  For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.
17  And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves:
18  For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.
19  And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.
20  Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

Sound familiar? I encourage you to read the rest of this account and how Jesus was betrayed a few hours after that last supper by Judas to the High Priest, arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane and judged. Later that same night Jesus and through the next morning Jesus was taken to stand trial before Pontus Pilate and King Herod before being beaten, mocked, led outside the city of Jerusalem and crucified on Mount Calvary between two thieves.

Jesus died on the cross as a sacrificial Lamb without blemish. He was buried in a tomb in a nearby garden and then on the 3rd day, early on that Sunday morning, Jesus was raised from the dead victorious over sin, death, hell and the grave and He lives forevermore!


We will hear more about His resurrection this Sunday morning as we celebrate together right here in memory of that day. Remember, there’s a countdown ongoing in heaven and it begins today! Happy Counting!!!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Palm Sunday


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Matthew 21 NKJV
1  Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples,
2  saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me.
3  And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.”
4  All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying:
5  “Tell the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your King is coming to you,
Lowly, and sitting on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ”
6  So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them.
7  They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them.
8  And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road.
9  Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:
“Hosanna to the Son of David!
‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’
Hosanna in the highest!”
10  And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?”
11  So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.”

When I think about the Palm Sunday I think about:
·        The generations who waited for Messiah to come
o   Zechariah’s Prophecy in Zechariah 9:9 – 500BC
o   Isaiah’s Prophecies in Isaiah 31 – 700BC
o   King David in Psalm 23 – 1000BC
o   The First Passover with Moses – 1400BC
o   Jacob’s Prophecies in Genesis 49 – 1800BC
o   Abraham’s Sacrifice of Isaac – 2000BC
o   Noah’s Prophecies in Genesis 9 – 3000BC
o   God’s Promise to Adam and Eve – 4000BC
·        I think of how long people waited for the Promise

Sometimes it seems like so much of life is waiting on something to happen that will heal us, encourage us, deliver us and set us free. Every generation has its trouble and in every generation there is hope.

God did not leave Adam and Eve without hope and neither will He abandon you. Our hope is in Messiah. The Children of God who lived in the generations before Christ looked forward with faith to the coming of Messiah and in the 2000 years since we who have believed in Jesus look back with that same faith.

Today I believe it is prudent for us to remind ourselves of three important and eternal truths concerning the lessons we learn from Palm Sunday.

1.   There is no one better than a parent to bring a child to Christ
a.   v.2 “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me.”
b.   A young child will follow a parent to Jesus.
c.   God is sending servants out to cities and villages today hoping to set both parents and children free. When He does, bring your family to Jesus …
2.  The Lord has need of you
a.   v.3  “The Lord has need of them …”
b.   God needs you and your family – it is not just a want but it’s a need.
c.   Jesus needs to be carried to your family, friends, neighborhood, community, city, state, nation and generation …
d.   The Lord has need of you!
3.  People want to know
a.   v. 10  “Who is this”

b.   v. 11  “This is Jesus!” – Show them Christ

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Timeless Truth


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The Bible is the Holy Word of God, inerrant in its original text, without compromise in its intent and wholly true in its account. The words were penned by men under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit from one book to another and designed by God to perfectly fit together and tell one story, His-Story … God’s Story – a story of the creation and the redemption of mankind.

The Bible reveals the plan of God for all mankind and gives detailed accounts of man’s departure from that plan. The intent of the Bible is to present the timeless truth: God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

For 4000 years after Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden and brought the curse of sin and death into the earth, God chose covenant men and women to carry the timeless truth of His love. Then, 2000 years ago God sent His Son, Jesus, into a lost world.

Jesus was born of a virgin; He lived a sinless life; He died an atoning death; He carried and buried the sins of mankind in the grave; He was raised to life the 3rd day victorious over sin, death, hell and the grave; He ascended to heaven where He sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for us until His enemies are made to become His footstool; and He is coming again in the heavens with a shout at the last trump, the dead in Christ shall rise first and we which are alive and remain shall be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and be caught up in the air to meet the Lord. The grave shall have no victory and death shall have no sting. Even so we say, come Lord Jesus now!

Three of the 33½ Jesus lived and ministered in the flesh on the earth was spent by Jesus teaching, preaching and healing the sick. He ministered one on one, He raised up a group of disciples and taught the multitudes as well. His passion and compassion compelled Him to do whatever He could to connect people to His Father, God. Some of His most passion-filled moments were spend with Him praying Himself and for others.

Tonight we are going to look at two places in the scriptures that give us accounts of Jesus teaching others how to connect with God in prayer. The first account is early on in His earthly ministry. Jesus is on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee near the town of Capernaum on a hillside which we have come to know as the Mount of Beattitudes. During His classic Sermon on the Mount discourse Jesus turns the attention of His listeners to prayer. This, He said, is how a person should pray:

Matthew 6  KJV
9 ¶  After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10  Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11  Give us this day our daily bread.
12  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
14  For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
15  But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

·        The Praise aspect of Prayer
·        The Priority aspect of Prayer
·        The Provision aspect of Prayer
·        The Penitent aspect of Prayer
·        The Petition aspect of Prayer

Three years later we find Jesus praying and one of his disciples asked a question:

1 ¶  And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.
2  And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.
3  Give us day by day our daily bread.
4  And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.
5  And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves;
6  For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?
7  And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.
8  I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.
9  And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
10  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
11  If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
12  Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
13  If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?