Sunday, July 26, 2020

A Greater Mission


John 11
1 ¶  Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.
2  It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.
·        John identifies this Mary by referencing an act that took place soon after this account of Lazarus. What Mary did was a well-known and often told story in the first century Church. We read more about what she did in John 12:3ff. John records how:
o   Mary’s love and appreciation is shown in how she offers her riches, her heart, and herself to Jesus perhaps in thanksgiving to Him for the life of her brother.
o   The instance of Mary anointing Jesus with costly perfume takes place about 2 months after Jesus after our story today.
o   When Mary anointed Jesus with that perfumed oil, Judas did not like it and he complained.
o   The Judas’ of this world will always find something to complain about. They are worldly, selfish, liars and thieves, who care for no one but themselves. They make noise and betray trusts. Yet Jesus loves them and gives them every chance to know Him.
o   Some people will never give their money, and neither will they give themselves to Jesus.
o   But, when someone does give their heart, they give everything they have and all they are.
o   Mary had given her heart to Jesus, Judas had not.
·        It is a sobering thought that a person can be so close to Jesus and even help Him with His work, yet never give their heart to Him.
·        Jesus defended Mary and only gently rebuked Judas … why?
·        Jesus had a greater mission, as He still does today. Let’s continue with the story of Lazarus and his sisters …
3  Therefore the sisters sent to Jesus, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”
4  When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
John 11:5  Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.

Note here that Jesus loved this family, each one, and yet Jesus did not immediately come to their aid, at least not in the way they asked of Him. Jesus told His disciples that the sickness was not unto death.

Some who seek to find contradiction in truth might raise a question here. No generation lacks this sort. However, the word of the Lord is always right and is proven in ways God intends. Truth is never determined by a show of hands nor disproven through the lens of current concerns.

In the end, truth demands no defense. Jesus does not need us to save Him, we need Him to save us!

6  So, when Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was.

7  Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”

11  … “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.”
12  Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.”
13  However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep.
14  Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.
15  “And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.”
16  Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”

Things must have looked pretty bleak about then:
·        Jews were seeking how to kill Jesus … they wanted Him dead!
·        The disciples did not agree that they needed to go back to Jerusalem at that point.
·        Jesus told them that His friend Lazarus was dead. Wait … He had just told them two days earlier that this sickness would not end in death.
·        As always, Jesus knows something the others do not …
·        Thomas abandoned all hope that any one of them were going to live.
·        It must have been more difficult for Jesus, just a little more stressful on Him hearing His disciples talk defeat and resigned to death.
·        Jesus had something much bigger and more important on His mind … He was on a greater mission … and He had a plan.

17 ¶  So when Jesus came, He found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days.
18  Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles away.
19  And many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.
20  Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house.

These two girls were disappointed, and they were dealing with their grief in different ways. While Mary sat weeping while Martha went to meet Jesus and leveled an indictment. She basically, although respectfully, shared her hurt and her frustration with Him.

John 11:21  Then Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Basically, it is really your fault. And I know you could do something about this right now if you would.

22  “But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”
23  Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24  Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

Jesus answered her … but it was not enough. Martha wanted help now!
·        If only you would have done something – problems of the past
·        I know it will all be better in heaven one day … promises of the future … But what about now!

25  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.”
26  “And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

That is the question of the day. It is not about the problems of the past nor about the promises of the future … but about what Jesus can do for you right now! He is what we need! Do you believe this?

27  She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

What is your answer? … let’s continue … Martha went home to Mary …

28  And when she had said these things, she went her way and secretly called Mary her sister, saying, “The Teacher has come and is calling for you.”
29  As soon as Mary heard that, she arose quickly and came to Him.

Notice how Martha went out to meet Jesus when she heard He was coming and how Mary ran quickly to Jesus when she heard He was calling for her. People are different. Some seek Him out and some respond to His call.

John 11:32  Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
·        These two girls had evidently been talking and they both felt the same way and they both said the very same thing.
·        Jesus had such compassion on Mary and her loss and grief. He is easily touched with the feelings of our infirmities. (Hebrews 4:15)

33 ¶  Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.
34  And He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”
John 11:35  Jesus wept.
36  Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!”
37  And some of them said, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?”
38  Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it.
39  Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”
John 11:40  Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?”
·        He had already asked Martha if she believed … now her faith is put to the test.
·        Remember … There will be a test …
·        It is not a test of action but a test of faith that demands action …
·        What do you believe?

41  Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.
42  “And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.”
John 11:43  Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!”
·        One Word from the Lord changes everything.
·        When will we hear that word? When Jesus is ready … and I believe He is ready!
·        Jesus has not forgotten us and His love for us. He has a plan that is much bigger and more important than our current concerns.
·        Jesus has a greater purpose in all of this going on around us.
·        Just as He said to Martha, I ask you: “Do you believe this?”

On Friday I received a text from a woman whom I have known to be a true intercessor and gifted with the spiritual gift of prophecy. Many of you know her. She preached for us in March, just before COVID19 dramatically impacted our world. Her name is Lanell Miller; she is the wife of Pastor John Miller at Church on the Rock in Texarkana. She is also the daughter of one of a well attested modern-day prophet, Emmanuel Cannistraci.

She said in her text to me that while she was praying Friday morning, she had a spirit of intercession come upon her and she began weeping like she has not in a long while. She asked God what it all meant, and she believes the Lord showed her that “Jesus is weeping over our nation and the nations of the world. But He is about to cry out: COME FORTH!”

I wholeheartedly believe that we are right on course and headed for the destiny which God declared from the beginning of time. Jesus was not late in John 11 and He will not be late now. Jesus never intended to attend the funeral, He planned on showing up for the resurrection!

Despite Covid19, the cancel culture, violent protests, nightly shootings and murders of innocent children and adults in Chicago, Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, Baltimore, New York City and elsewhere in our nation, calls to defund the police, the defacing of our national monuments, revisionists history, Church burnings, political divisions and fake news, Jesus is still Lord and even though He might not be answering our prayers when and how we want Him to, nonetheless He has a plan and He is never wrong and He is never late.  

He had a much bigger and more important mission than Martha, Mary or His disciples knew … and He still does today! He has a Greater Mission and we have a Great Commission.

What is our part in all of this?
1.   Believe … Have Faith in God
a.   “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?”
b.   God will do what only God can do … but then …
2.   Get ready to Take off those graveclothes from the people Jesus will be resurrecting and put on the garments of praise!
a.   Go and make disciples of all nations, teaching them all the things that Jesus taught His disciples
b.   God is with us … even to the end of this age. (Matthew 28)

44  And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”

I have a lot more to say about being bound hand and foot with graveclothes and a face covering, but that will have to wait for another time. For now … Believe Jesus is what we need and prepare yourself to disciple those whom He will be resurrecting to new life soon …

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Good News


We are in some crazy times. Well, this morning I have some Good News and I have some more Good News.

The First Good News
·        God is not worried. He is Sovereign, Omnipotent and Omniscient.
o   God has a plan
o   He will succeed
o   We have a chance to participate

You might say, “Where do you get that from pastor?”

Isaiah 46:10  Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, “My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure.”

Corrie ten Boom, a Dutch Christian who was arrested and sent to a Ravensbruch concentration camp for helping Jews and the mentally ill hide from the Nazis during WWII, recalls some of the last words of her sister, Betsie, before she died in the camp. Betsie told Corrie, "There is no pit so deep that He [God] is not deeper still."

Some More Good News 
·        We have a chance to participate …
·        If you are a Born-Again Believer in Jesus Christ, God has something He needs you to do for Him. We will find His specific instructions for today in 2 Timothy 2.

While you are finding our text for today, allow me to share three brief truths:
1.   Contrary to what some imagine – No one has the right to not be offended.
a.   No US soldier, sailor, airman or marine died on the battlefield to protect your right to not be offended.
b.   At times, even the truth can offend people.
c.    We do have a right and a responsibility to speak the truth.
d.   The truth should always be spoken in love and aimed at helping
2.   Problem Solving is a result of critical thinking and not emotional outbursts.
a.   If we are intending to solve a problem, it will involve a process that encourages, considers, and benefits from dialogue, contrary thought, and alternative opinion.
b.   Absurd algorithms and foregone conclusions erode confidence and delay results.
c.    Emotional vomit destroys the fabric of relationships which are the key components to meaningful change.
3.   America has failed to teach her children the value of the lessons learned from losing.
a.   When everyone wins, everyone loses.
b.   Not all contestants deserve the same ribbon.
c.    There are times we win and times we lose … deal with it.
d.   The greatest heroes in every culture were those who faced hardships and turned past losses and current failures into future wins.
e.   The greatest win is to know the one true and living God through the blood bought salvation provided to man by the sacrifice of His only Son, Jesus Christ.

Have you found our text in 2 Timothy? Let’s read God’s specific instructions for the Born-Again Believer living in the world today.

2 Timothy 2
22 ¶  Flee also youthful lusts; and pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
·        God intends this to be a unified group effort … “with those …”
23  But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.
·        God does not work through the anger of men. (James 1:20)
24  And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient,
25  in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,
·        What is the truth? We are reading it this morning.
·        Humbly correct those who oppose God’s word, will and way.
·        God has a way He does things and so does the devil …
26  and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

2 Timothy 3
1 ¶  But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:
2  For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3  unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,
4  traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
5  having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
·        Basically denying its power to transform lives …
·        Simply, no trust in God …
·        Do you trust God? Then act like it …
·        Choose to not follow people who deny God or refuse to trust Him.
6  For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts,
·        Desires of the flesh
7  always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
·        They know so much, and it all means nothing …
·        Empty knowledge – False claims – Resistant to truth – Just like …
8  Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith;
9  but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.
·        Paul says … now follow me on this one … You have seen my life …
10 ¶  But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance,
11  persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra — what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me.
12  Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
13  But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.
14  But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them,
15  and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
16  All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
17  that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 4
1 ¶  I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:
2  Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
3  For the time will come when people will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;
·        The word “heap” only occurs here in the New Testament. It means to multiply or accumulate. We see this today with people searching out multiple:
o   Newscasters
o   Commentary journalists
o   Politicians running for office
§  Traitors and slanderers
§  Men and women of corrupt minds
·        The word “itching” in this verse is also only found here in the New Testament. It literally means to tickle, excite, please or satisfy. To rub so as to take away the uneasy, restless desire for gratification.
·        In other words … searching for those who will confirm what you want and as such …
4  and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
·        Fables =
o   a fictious narrative invented to support a falsehood
o   a myth, story or tale designed to initiate and instruct
·        Used here in a negative application to teach falsehoods with purpose
5  But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Conclusion … This is a fairly simple picture that has been painted for us by the Holy Spirit. It seems easy to understand and reasonable to follow.

1.  Be watchful
a.   Sober; calm; collected; circumspect; on guard; temperate.
b.   Study the Word of God so you can discern the truth – there is no other way to guard against the lies of satan.
2.  Endure hardship
a.   Suffering is a part of the Gospel message
b.   Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Christ
3.  Lead others to Jesus by sharing the Gospel
a.   Abandon all hope and faith in mankind
b.   Cling to the hope that is in Christ and the Gospel
c.    We cannot help the world without giving them Jesus
d.   Do not be weak on Jesus … He is the only way!
e.   Salvation requires repentance – Preach repentance …
f.    Without Jesus, we are only putting makeup on a corpse
4.  Fulfill your commitment to God
a.   Follow through with giving Him your life
                                         i.    Word
                                        ii.    Thought
                                      iii.    Deed … because He has saved you … not so He will
b.   Keep the faith
c.    Preach the Word
d.   Finish your course with joy
e.   Accomplish something for Christ

Sunday, July 12, 2020



Since the day we first began our journey together, I have continued to confirm that:
·        God has a plan …
·        He will succeed …
·        You have a chance to participate!

We cannot always know God’s plan and often we find it difficult to imagine how God allows things we do not agree with. We understand our vision is limited and that God has the advantage of seeing the end from the beginning.

From social injustices to sudden death, life challenges us and leaves us with more questions than answers. The only thing we have to console us and comfort our souls is our faith in the Bible. We believe God is a good and loving Father and that He knows best.

The Bible teaches that you were born with a purpose and that you have been given a grace to accomplish that purpose. However, what you do with your life is your choice. These truths are confirmed over and over in story after story throughout the Bible.

Take for example the young lady named Esther. You can find her story in the book of Esther. Although she was an orphan from a disfavored people group living in a foreign land, she embraced her calling and saved her people from certain annihilation.

Esther 4:14  “For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

It was not an easy decision for Esther. It was a life and death decision. She did not feel special and she was not auditioning to become a Bible character. She faced daily decisions just like you and me. Esther had no guarantee that everything was going to work out in her favor.

As we read the account of her life, we see she faced her fears and used the position God gave her to make a difference. It was not easy, but she just chose to do her best for God, and He gave her the grace to do it.

You were also born with a purpose. You face no greater challenges than did Esther or Ruth. Remember Ruth, she was the barren widow of a lower-class immigrant. She was no one and had nothing except she mattered to God. Ruth was given a part to play in God’s plan and God was willing to help her do it … but … the choice was hers. Would she take the easy way out or would she face her fears and do what’s right?

Others around Ruth did not understand or support her decision to selflessly serve her mother-in-law. Even her closest friend went another way. Ruth had no promise of any reward greater than simply knowing that what she was doing was the right thing. Naomi, her mother-in-law, told Ruth to go back home to her own country because there was no other hope for her future.

Ruth 1
16  But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.
17  Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!”

Ruth had to work hard. Life is not just one right decision and then it is all easy. Ruth was given a part to play in God’s plan and God also gave her the grace to get up every day and go out to work in the field and pick up the little bit of grain others dropped or left behind. It was hard work, hot work, and dangerous work. But, because she was willing and faithful, God made her able.

You, just like Esther and Ruth were born with a purpose by the will of God. We cannot always know the plan of God and how we fit but, if you are willing and faithful, God will give you all of the ability you need to play your part. He will give you the grace to make every right decision no matter what others think about you. Esther and Ruth were not superheroes with superpowers … but … they did serve the One True God and He is super! Do you remember a young boy named David?

David’s father and brothers thought very little of David and sent him to the backside of the desert to tend a few sheep. The rest of the family entertained the Prophet Samuel and enjoyed a feast in the comfort of their wealthy surroundings while David fought with a bear and a lion to keep his father’s sheep safe. David was not even invited to the party.

However, God had given David a part to play in His plan. God saw David’s heart and God made David able to do things beyond anyone’s imagination.

Acts 13:22  “And … He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’”

David was not perfect, but he was forgiven. The only perfect man that ever lived was Jesus, and the world crucified Him. What do you think they will try to do to you if you stand up for Jesus? You do not have to imagine … Jesus already said that “All who live Godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” God uses imperfect people … they are all He has.

David taught us to lift our hands and bow our knees to the One True God who made heaven and earth and to trust in Him even after we fail. The greatest failure is to let fear keep you from doing your part for God.

2 Timothy 1:7  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Before time began God purposed to make you a part of His plan and He knew you would be challenged by fear, feel powerless, and maybe even confused about what to do when it came your turn. Well, it is your turn now! Do not fear; Do not be confused; Do not feel powerless … God is with you. The Bible is a lamp to your feet and a light to your path …

You were born with a purpose. You have a part to play in God’s plan. God has called you and given you all the grace you need. It is your turn and you can make a difference. Take a step of faith!

Like Esther, Ruth, David, Moses, Gideon, Samson, Mary the mother of Jesus, the Apostles, you have been given a superpower that, if you choose to use it, will enable you to do the work of God. All you will need to supply is the willingness and the faithfulness, stand up and shine the Light. God is not the one trying to make you afraid … that is the devil. 

7  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
8  Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God,
9  who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.

You, yes you! You matter to God and you matter when it comes to the lives and the eternal lives God hopes for His children. The devil is trying to destroy our lives, divide our families, disrupt our communities, and drive our nation into chaos and disorder. Do not be fooled …

John 10:10  “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

You have a part to play in God’s plan … You matter to God … Do you trust Him? Are you ashamed of the Gospel of Christ? Who is pushing your buttons … Jesus or the devil? What does the Bible say?

James 1
19 ¶  So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;
20  for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

I challenge you, decide today and begin playing your part in God’s plan. Speak the name of Jesus and bring the peace of God into every conversation. One word from God changes everything. Hold the people you love accountable … you may be the only one who can …You! Yes you!