Dangerous Amazing Grace

Grace For The Journey


16Mar  The Bible tells an amazing story in 2 Kings 5:20-27 about Elisha’s servant, Gehazi; after seeing Elisha tell Naaman , commander of the army of the king of Syria, how to be cleansed and forgiven and then refuse to take anything from Naaman; Gehazi says, “Look, my master has spared Naaman this Syrian, while not receiving from his hands what he brought; but as the LORD lives, I will run after him and take something from him.”   I want us to look at this passage of Scripture today

Before we get into the truths of this passage, let me introduce to you 4 men . . .

  • Fritz Saukel – Nazi Head of Labor and Supply, described as the greatest and cruelest slave driver since Pharaoh, who worked millions of slave labourers to death without mercy; 2) Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel – Chief of the Supreme Command of the Armed forces. His unquestioning obedience to Hitler led to his being responsible for more deaths than anyone could count.
  • Wilhelm Frick – Minister of the Interior, a vicious hard-line Nazi who title covered up his reign of terror.
  • Joachim von Ribbentrop – Hitler’s Foreign Minister, who had greeted King George VI with a “Heil Hitler”.

Each man was on trial at the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal. Each man was found guilty of the most horrendous crimes against mankind.  Each man was sentenced to be hanged.  As Ribbentrop was asked for his last words by the executioner, he said, “I place all my confidence in the Lamb who made atonement for my sins.” And he turned to the Christian who had been assigned to be chaplain to the condemned men and said, “I’ll see you again.”

Saukel the slave driver, and Keitel the head of armed forces made similar statements, and Frick the man who terrorized hundreds of thousands informed the chaplain that he too had come to faith in Christ.

The chaplain was a man called Henry Gerecke, who wrote, “I have had many years experience as a prison chaplain and I do not believe that I am easily deluded by phony reformations at the eleventh hour.”

It would seem that these conversions were genuine.  And these men, despite their hands being red with the blood of millions are going to be in Heaven . . . and your very nice neighbor who would do anything to help you, and who is the picture of decency and moral integrity is going to Hell because he does not admit his sin and receive forgiveness and eternal life from “the Lamb who made atonement for (his) sins.”

That is the shocking nature of the gospel.  It cuts both ways . . .

It is so wonderful and powerful that

If a mass murderer accepts it,

They will be saved.

But . . .

It is so important and precious

That the most decent person

Cannot get to Heaven without it.

The Gospel is a sword that cuts both ways.  It cut Naaman free from his idolatry and pride, but it also cut Gehazi out of the people of God.

With Naaman we see

The transforming power

Of the gospel,

But now with Gehazi

We see the exposing power

Of the gospel.

It is amazing grace,

But it is dangerous amazing grace.

And from 2 Kings 5:20-25, we learn a great truth and two very important warnings.

The great truth is: God IS too easy on us!

Gehazi was right in verse 20.  Let me remind you of the story… Naaman had his sins forgiven and his leprosy washed away, Elisha wouldn’t allow him to give him anything.  Gehazi is outraged because it is outrageous!  And although Gehazi is a wicked and greedy man he still makes a profound statement here.  Of course, he doesn’t react in a right way to what he says, but nevertheless it is still true.

Think about it for a moment. God is far too easy on us.  Every day for all of your life you have disappointed and disobeyed God.  One sin is enough to see you cast out of His presence.  But we haven’t just sinned once, we have sinned many times each day in what we have thought, in what we haven’t thought that we should have thought, in what we have said and what we haven’t said, in what we have done and what we haven’t done.  So, there’s an absolute bear minimum of 6 sins per day.  That’s over 2000 per year.  Take your age and multiply it by 2 and add the word “Thousand” at the end.  If you are 10 that’s 20,000 sins, if you’re 25 that’s 50,000, if you’re 40 that’s 80,000, if you’re 75 that’s 150,000.  And those numbers are based on the ridiculous idea that we only sin once in each of these areas each day.  They’re far too small.  So . . . before the perfect holy God is the vast mountain of your personal sin.

And we need to remember that each sin is a personal offence against God.  It is a personal insult to Him.  And what does he do when you come seeking forgiveness for this vast mountain of wrong? What does he require of you?

To come and repent.

To admit your sin

And be sorry enough

To turn from it.

And to believe

What He says

About himself

And for that . . .

God removes all the guilt

And all the punishment

That was waiting for us.

Gehazi was right!

God is far

Too easy on us!

It was His complaint . . . It should be a source of unending wonder for us.

Think of what we get – we get eternal life.  At most we follow Him for a few short years, and He gives us eternal life!  The reward is vastly out of proportion to the service.  And all the more, when we realize that those who turn to Christ at the end of their lives receive the same eternal life!  So, it’s not as if we earn the eternal life by following.

We who are dust get to live in eternity forever – we who are an offence and a stench to the nostrils of God – that’s ridiculous, wonderfully ridiculous.

Gehazi spoke the truth,


He didn’t see

The wonder of it.

Those of us who are Christians need to take this opportunity and stop to wonder at the greatness of God’s grace.  It is utterly amazing.  God could ask the world of us, and it still wouldn’t be enough to pay for one sin.  Yet, all He asks of us is that we repent and receive . . . Turn away from our sin, look to Him, and accept what He has done in Christ.

God has been far too easy on us.

 It is a magnificent, wonderful,

Soul-enriching truth.

And that explains what happens in this passage.  But let’s consider the rest of the truth conveyed in this passage.  Since His grace is such a magnificent and amazing act . . . there are two very important warnings to consider . . .

1) God will not tolerate his grace being distorted

That’s main thrust of this section.

Elisha has worked with Naaman

To make the point that

God’s salvation costs nothing.

It is just as free to Naaman

As it is to any Israelite.

That’s the whole point of him refusing Naaman grateful reward. He knows that when Naaman arrives in Damascus, people will ask . . .

The obvious questions,

“What happened to you?”

He wants Naaman’s answer to be,

“The God of Israel saved me,

He made me clean.”

“How much did it cost?”


The God of Israel

 Saves people for free.”

 Gehazi is livid that Elisha has taken nothing from Naaman. Gehazi is determined to make Naaman pay.  It doesn’t matter to him that Elisha has been trying to teach Naaman a very important biblical truth.

So he goes off after Naaman with this made up story about two prophets arriving in great need.  And of course Naaman gives him the money and the clothing . . .

Naaman is so thankful

For his new life,

And his new salvation

That he’d do anything for God,

And for God’s people.

And in a moment Gehazi undoes all that Elisha had taught in verse 16.  In a moment he distorts the grace of God.

Now we may think that we would never do that.  But . . . what was you first thought when you hear about the Nazi war criminals earlier in this blog?  Did you not think?  “That’s not fair, they should be made to pay.”   If you did . . . you are in danger of making the mistake Gehazi made.

The grace that is amazing

Is also dangerous.

It is dangerous if we forget

That we didn’t deserve it either.

The simple truth is none of us deserves anything from God.  The Gospel is monumentally unfair.  It is unfair to God – in that He should have to pay for something He didn’t do so that we could get something that was never ours.

We distort God’s grace every time we add anything to the gospel.

  • You’ve got to be a Christian and wear the right clothes.
  • You’ve got to be a Christian and come from the same background as us.
  • You’ve got to be a Christian and be the same color of skin as us.
  • You’ve got to be a Christian and not done anything really terrible in your past.

Have you ever done that – assigned someone to a second class Christianity because you find out that they did something awful before they became a Christian?  Or because they have been divorced?  Or because they married someone who isn’t a Christian?  Or because they don’t have the same theology as you?  Or because they don’t have the same pedigree in the church that you have?

No matter what background a person has – all God requires is to recognize our sin, repent of that sin, and receive the pardon and life that God offers.  When anyone does that, they are a child of God, equal with every other child of God.  There are no second-class citizens of Heaven.  And pride has no place in the believers life. The only thing a Christian can say is “That could have been me.”

But, here is another important truth to consider . . .

Just as we must not

Distort God’s grace

With regard to others,

So we must not distort

It with regard to ourselves.

There are some Christians who are immensely hard on themselves – they look at who they are and they feel that they couldn’t possibly be accepted by God.  They feel that they are some sort of second-class Christian.  We’re not to do that to ourselves.  God has said that we are His children, and we must not distort that grace.

God’s grace is utterly amazing.  We are all undeserving, and He makes any repentant sinner a son or daughter with all the rights and privileges of a child of God.  We must not distort something so wonderful.

And the second warning is this:

2) God will not tolerate those who ignore His grace

In this chapter we see that you can be amongst the godly and be ungodly yourself.  You can have experienced all sorts of blessings, like Gehazi –

  • He had seen countless miracles,
  • He had heard countless sermons,
  • He had lived in close proximity to a very godly man.
  • He had been a part of many blessing from God.

Yet he was far from God.

And that is a solemn truth.  You can be far from God while at the same time being very close to God’s people.  You can attend church; live in a home with other Christians; your closest friends can be Christians; and you still be far from God.  You can have the opportunity to see and hear about God’s grace and ignore it.

And you may even fool many people. I ‘m sure the other prophets didn’t suspect Gehazi of being anything other than a full-bodied believer.  I’m sure that the woman at Shunem, or the widow thought Gehazi was a was a believer.

But God was not fooled.  And we see that He made it clear to Elisha that Gehazi was a deceiver (verse 26).  It is important that we notice what Elisha said to him, “Was not my spirit with you when the man got down from his chariot to meet you?  Is this the time to take money, or to accept clothes, olive groves, vineyards, flocks, herds, or menservants and maidservants?  Not only did God see what Gehazi had done when no-one was looking, but He knew exactly what he planned to spend the money on.  And he revealed all of this to Elisha.

This is a great Bible warning – Look how close you can be to the kingdom of God and yet not be in it.  Do you see what has happened in this chapter?  We started with Naaman the Syrian, the leper, and Gehazi the Israelite.  We end with Naaman, the true Israelite, and Gehazi with his heart set on the things of Syria, the leper.  There has been a complete reversal.  The Israelite receives the curse, and the pagan receives the blessing.  And the story that started with an unconverted pagan and a professing believer, ends with the roles changed, and Naaman professing faith, and Gehazi condemned.

Some of us need to look into our hearts today and marvel that God has dealt so easy with us.  Some of us need to repent of wrong attitudes and superior feelings.  Some of us need to need repent of ignoring God’s grace.  God’s grace is amazing, but the grace that is amazing is also dangerous if we distort or ignore it.

This is God Word … This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

 Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”





Holding Fasts To The Gospel

Grace For The Journey


13MarSome things are so central to a product that if they were removed or eliminated it would cause a major disruption among its patrons.  For example . . .

  • Imagine an Oreo without cream filling.
  • Imagine McDonalds without calories.
  • Imagine basketball without Michael Jordon, Koby Bryant, or Labron James.
  • Imagine the Patriots without Tom Brady or Patrick MaHomes.
  • Imagine Washington without corruption.

I think you catch my drift.

This past year, however, some companies and corporations have been making changes to things central to their identity.  As a result of changing long-standing tradition, major ripple effects have been felt through their consumer base.  Consider the following:

  • Miss America without a swimsuit contest.  In July 2018 it was reported that the Miss America pageant was eliminating the swimsuit competition. No matter what one thinks of these ladies parading on stage in limited clothing, there is little question that the swimsuit has been a key component of the contest since 1921. As a result of eliminating an almost 100-year tradition of the pageant, the report said that “nearly half of Miss America’s board has quit or been forced to resign.” Wow. It appears that messing with tradition can cause a revolution.
  • Dunkin without Donuts. Dunkin Donuts shocked the market last year when they rebranded themselves, dropping “Donuts” from their name.  From now on they shall ever be named “Dunkin.”  An article called “Dunkin’ Fans Say Losing the Donut Leaves a Hole,” reported that people around the nation were outraged by the change.  Robert from Pennsylvania said, “I’ll call them Dunkin’ Donuts until I die.” Ariel from Massachusetts said, “What are you Dunkin’ if there’s no Donut? Many agree with these two customers.  The Donut is so fundamental to the brand that no matter what they call themselves, a lot of people will forever call them by their original name.
  • Valentine’s Day without Candy Hearts.  Who can forget those colorful, heart-shaped candies which always sweetened Valentine’s Day – “Be Mine.” “Love Me.” “Dear One.” “Kiss Me.” “True Love.” “My Baby.”  Well, I have really sad news for all you sweethearts.  A recent news report said: “For the first time in over a century, the original conversation hearts aren’t rolling off conveyor belts.” The disruption in production of heart candies was caused by the candy-maker Necco going out of business.  News of Valentine’s Day without Candy Hearts crushed consumers around the nation.  Jamie from California said, “My childhood is dying little by little.” Olivia from Virginia spoke of the “raw emotion of losing something that’s a bedrock to society.”

Far more disturbing than Valentine’s Day without heart-shaped candies is . . .

The existence of a local church

Without the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The gospel, which is the clear teaching

Of the life, death, resurrection,

And exaltation of Christ

Is central to the

Identity of the Church.

In fact, any institution that calls themselves a “church” but does not hold fast to the gospel, stops being a church.  They have simply become a religious institution that meets occasionally and encourages their people to model good behavior.

That is not the Church that Jesus gave His life to redeem.

Of central importance to the identity of the local church is their commitment and dedication to announce and live out the gospel of the Lord Jesus.  That is the cream of the Oreo.  That is what makes a church, the Church.

Over the years, entire denominations that once held firm to the gospel have departed from the central claims of Christ and have removed the very thing that makes them the Church.  In January of this year, it was reported that leaders of the United Methodist denomination is expected to split.  According to the report, church leaders agreed to spin off a “traditional Methodist” denomination, and allow the reminder of the denomination to permit same-sex marriage and LGBT clergy for the first time in its history.

This issue is simple – The future of the third largest denomination in the United States will be determined by their commitment or departure from the teaching of the Word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ.  In fact, any church or denomination that removes the centrality of the gospel removes the very thing that makes a church, the Church.

Many Miss America fans are saying, “Put the swimsuit back into the pageant.”  Many donut lovers are saying, “Put the Donut back in the Dunkin’.”  Many romantics are saying, “Put the heart-shaped candies back in Valentine’s Day.”  And those of us who love God and are following His Word should be saying, “Put the gospel back in the church.”

May it be our prayer that every church holds fast to the gospel and that members of every local churches clearly display a commitment to Jesus Christ with their lives.

This is God Word … This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth! 

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”



Where Has Civility Gone? Concern For A Culture Of Outrage

Grace For The Journey


12Mar When I was younger, the trend of the day was a large picture book called Where’s Waldo?  Every page displayed an assortment of pictures that overstimulated the eyes with colored objects and chaotic disorder.  But hidden somewhere on the page was a little man named Waldo, wearing his rimmed glasses and a red and white beanie hat.  The game, of course, was to find Waldo in the midst of the chaos.

As I look at our culture today, I am overstimulated by all of the disrespect, name-calling, and unrestrained expressions of emotions.  In the midst of all the blogs, tweets, Instagrams, social media blasts, and political rancor I am left wondering, “Where’s civility?”  Civility has been lost in the midst of all the partisan rhetoric and name shaming.

We live in a culture

That seems to value outrage,

Intolerance, and disrespect.

The louder and bolder one shouts their message, the more “likes” they get on social media.

As the political contests heat up during this election year, I think it is important and imperative that we ask, “Where is civility?”  Even the word seems to be outdated and antiquated.  Think of it: when was the last time you used the word “civility” in a sentence?  Its synonyms include words like “politeness, courtesy, respect, graciousness, and good manners.”

Where are these important and needed traits in culture?

  • Where are the good manners from one human being to another?
  • Where is the graciousness of speech that treats others with respect even if there is disagreement?
  • Where is the courtesy where people of opposing sides at least have a posture of politeness to their common man?

I wonder how long we would have to look at culture before we begin to see civility emerge.

A recent Wall Street Journal article was written about civility in American history.  The article examined where good manners have gone in America, citing a work from 1899 by Isaac Peebles called, “Politeness on Railroads.”  In that work, Peebles was aiming to “help Americans navigate a new mode of transport that had suddenly thrust people into close proximity – and to correct the evil of too great laxity of true politeness.”  In other words . . .

With Americans now rubbing shoulders

With strangers on a regular basis,

What rules should govern their interactions?

What standards of conduct should

People display toward other?

For Peebles, the starting point in 1899 was to “give special attention to the ladies, aged, feeble and the cripple.”  The primary posture of cultural interaction for Peebles was this: “Let all look after the interest of one another, assisting one another when necessary.”  In other words, Peebles called Americans to a standard of civility that would govern our social conduct.  That is good advice, but where is the power to be able to live in this way.  There are highly educated and cultured people who know better but have given in to the climate of the day.

The last two years the political discourse in our country has been push to new extremes of disrespect, intolerance, and outrage.  There is so little evidence of politeness and courtesy, it makes one wonder if it even exists anymore.

We may not be able to influence all of American culture, but we can influence our workplaces, homes, and neighborhoods with a spirit of civility towards one another.  God calls us to such attitudes and actions and the Bible teaches us that what God requires He provides.  I offer just a sampling . . .

Philippians 4:5, “Let your gentleness be known to all men.  The Lord is at hand.”

Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.”

Titus 2:7-6, “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.”

That is what civility looks like in a culture of outrage.

  • It looks like our speech being “gracious.”
  • It looks like a life that models “good words and works.”
  • It looks like people who are “reasonable and respectful” in social interactions and on social media.

America needs a course correction for 2020.

This is one course correction that

We can implement in everyday life.

It is time to sort through the cultural outrage and reclaim civility, politeness, courtesy, repect, graciousness and good manners.  For Christians seeking to live by biblical principles, politeness “means more than graceful manners, courtly conversation, and rules of fashion. It was an inner disposition, a heartfelt sentiment that grows out of our personal walk with God and leads to a constant consideration for the honor and edification of others.”  What we need to reclaim is a heart and mind change that leads to attitudes and appraisals that honor and glorify God and has a constant aim for the uplifting and edifying of others.

As Christians . . .

We do this not as an end in itself,

But to display the glorious riches

Of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We seek to show civility

Because the One who has redeemed

And changed us gives us the power

To love, respect, and seek to honor others

Who might think differently than us.

We seek to show civility because

We are children who represent

The most gracious God

Man has ever known.

We aim to be polite and reasonable

Because in doing so we stand

In sharp contrast with

A world of chaos and disorder.

Where’s civility in America?  If it is anywhere, may it be found in the people of God.

This is God Word … This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”



The Tears Of Jesus, Part 3

Grace For The Journey


9Mar  This is the third in my series of blogs on Jesus’ tears, and these tears are perhaps even more wondrous than the previous ones.  We read of these tears in Matthew 26:37ff.

The hour is late.  Christ has left Jerusalem with His disciples. They leave the warmth of the house and make their way out into the cold night, down into the Kidron valley and start to ascend the Mount of Olives.  At its foot lies a small grove of olive trees with a press for crushing the olives.  Here close by was the Garden of Gethsemane, a peaceful place where Jesus had spent many a time in prayer.

Jesus takes Peter, James and John with Him into the garden.  He begins to pray and soon His face is marked once more with tears. Why is He weeping?

In these tears Jesus

Displays for us

The agony He went through

To win our salvation.

Although we are not told of the tears in any of the gospel accounts, the Bible makes it clear for us in Hebrews 5:7, “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the One who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverent submission.”

And these perhaps are the most precious tears . .

Because in these tears we see

What we have been spared from.

We see the depths of

Jesus’ love for us,

And we see the awful price

He paid that we might be forgiven.

It is easy to lose sight of the immense personal cost that Jesus paid in winning our salvation.  It is easy to stand in the garden on the resurrection morning and gaze at Him standing majestically, but we also need to stand in the garden of Gethsemane and see Him struggle in agony at the thought of the cost He was going to have to pay.

What do these tears tells us?

These Tears Speak Of The Intense Sorrow Jesus Felt.

This was no usual sorrow.  Jesus was a man of sorrows.  The holy Son of God lived amongst sinful men and women.  He saw behind their masks of decency.  He lived a lifetime amongst the suffering caused by the fall.  He was a man of sorrows.  But this is unusually real and deep.

He was overwhelmed to the point of death, surrounded by grief and drowning in pain.  Mark in his account says Jesus was “greatly distressed.”  This word describes the sudden and horrifying alarm as some great terror approaches.  Like a man seeing a colossal tidal wave just about to hit him.  Luke calls it an “agony.”  So intense is His sorrow that He feels just inches away from death.  It wrings from Him great drops of blood-soaked sweat in the chill of the evening.

Never before, and never again

Was there a man so utterly

Immersed in misery,

Sorrow, and agony.

Just for us.

These Tears Speak Of The Awful Suffering Jesus Would Bear.

It was not the physical pain of the cross, immense though that was, which troubled Jesus.  In the Garden of Gethsemane an awful prospect was set before Him in a fresh light. What was it?

He is going to take the sins of His people on Himself.  In this moment it is as if all the sins He will have to bear crowd into his vision in the most glaring light.  Is it any wonder that He looks on this and shudders in utter abhorrence?  The awfulness of it swamps Him.  It sweeps over Him like a relentless tide of raw sewage that keeps on coming and coming and coming.  And He hasn’t got to Calvary yet where it actually happens, but this is just (if I can say just) the realization of the awfulness of it.

And that was not all . . .

Not only is there our sin to bear,

But there is something much worse

– The wrath of His Father.

The gracious smile of the Father was to be lost . . . Replaced with a face of holy judgement.  Here in the garden we see Christ is deep and terrible distress. The awfulness of what awaits Him crushes Him and the thought of facing His beloved Father and seeing the face He loved filled with holy anger against Him squeezes rivers of silent tears from Him.  It is pictured in Matthew 26:39 as a cup full to the brim with the undiluted wrath of God against evil.  This cup of unspeakable suffering is placed in Christ’s hands.  The anguish it brings causes tears to run in rivers down His cheeks.

So then, these tears speak to us of the unspeakable agony that our Savior faced on our behalf.

These Tears Speak To Us Of The Thanks Our Savior Deserves.

In verse 39, Christ prays, as He lies prostrate on the ground, “Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.”

Was He having second thoughts?  Far from it.  So awful was the prospect that in His sinless human nature He recoiled from the cup of wrath, from bearing the sin with every fiber of His being.  As one would do if approached with a red-hot poker.  But there was no weakening of His obedience.  In just a few moments He will say to the sword wielding Peter, “Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given Me?”

And here is the grounds for our thanks.

Although death and Hell

Were in that cup,

Although the prospect of it

Overwhelms him and leaves him

Gasping as the full brunt of it hits Him,

He will take that cup and

Drink it down to the last drop.

In this moment we see Christ enduring our Hell so that we might be set free to enter His heaven.  At unspeakable cost He will drink all of the cup.

These tears tell us how much

We owe our Savior,

How much we must love him.

There was a cup at our place, but He sat in our seat and drank our cup and turned and gave up His life for us.  He drank the cup of sin so that we could drink the cup of salvation.  He drank the cup of wrath so we could drink the cup of love and grace.

This is God Word … This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”



The Tears Of Jesus – Part 2

Grace For The Journey

9Mar  Tears are like a window to the heart. They show our deepest emotions.  In Luke 19:41 we find the second occasion of Jesus weeping, this time over the city of Jerusalem.  Why?

I want to paint two pictures.  The first is found in Luke 19:28-38. Jesus is approaching Jerusalem for the last time.  It’s a sunny afternoon. Jesus rides on a donkey, at the center of a great crowd.  People from Bethany have accompanied Him, shouting excitedly.  They have watched Him raise Lazarus from the dead. News has spread to Jerusalem, and people have thronged out of the city to see Him, to sing His praises.  Palm branches are being waved, people are throwing their cloaks down on the ground for the donkey to walk on.  Slowly the donkey makes its way through the crowd.  There is a majesty about the moment – like a royal procession.  See the colors of the robes, the flashes of the afternoon sun, the vibrant green of the palm branches.  Hear the excited, delirious, triumphant shouts of the welcoming crowd. Smiling, happy faces, full of hope and life and joy.

As He moves through this great crowd of welcoming people He comes to the edge of the Mount of Olives, and He has a magnificent view of the city.  He is above it and looking down on it.  The roof of the temple, covered over with gold, reflects the afternoon sun.  It was a magnificent sight.  He sees, not only the crowds behind, beside and in front of him, but also the great sprawling city of Jerusalem with all its teaming multitudes.  It is a city rich in history, rich in culture, and above all rich beyond measure in the knowledge of God.  And He can see all this and hear the roar of the crowd; and He loves this place, and all its people.

But as the Son of God looks, He can also see the future.  It is a different scene. (He describes it briefly in verses 43,44, and the early historian Josephus confirms these events in much greater detail).

In His mind’s eye He looks out over the majestic city and sees what will happen 40 years from now.  The City is surrounded by Roman soldiers digging siege trenches and stripping the land bare of trees to build their siege towers and great battering rams. He sees the Roman soldiers setting up fortifications circling the city to prevent any provisions getting through.  The siege lasts for 9 months.

All hope of escaping is cut off for the Jews.  Jesus sees the famine slowly taking hold.  People die by whole houses and families; the upper rooms are full of starving, dying women and children, and the lanes of the city are full of the dead bodies of the elderly.  He sees the countless thousands starve slowly to death.

He sees their bodies flung over the walls into the valley by their fellow citizens while the Romans watched.  He sees the Roman general Titus doing his rounds along those valleys, seeing them full of dead bodies, and raising his hands to Heaven, calling God to witness that this was not his doing.  He sees inside the city where the famine is so bad that people steal food out of one another’s mouths.  Women kill and eat their own babies.
He sees the Romans finally breaking into the city.  He sees the slaughter of countless thousands.  He sees the temple set on fire. He sees slaughter in the temple courts.  No mercy is given.  He sees Jerusalem ablaze; He sees the soldiers toppling the temple walls; He sees the city He loves razed.  He sees the people that are currently greeting Him so warmly, their corpses lying scattered throughout the city for the wild animals to scavenge.

And as He sees Jerusalem in front of Him in mid-afternoon glory, and as He sees in His minds eye the horror that it will become, He weeps.  This is not quiet subdued weeping.  The word “wept” describes bitter weeping, loud sobbing.

Now that you have those pictures in your head, we’ll be able to answer the question, “Why did Jesus weep?”

He Wept Because Of The Great Opportunity That They Had Lost.

In verse 42 Jesus says, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace.”

He was their only hope,

But He knew that,

Despite all their religious show,

They would want nothing

To do with Him.

They could have had

Eternal peace with God.

But they would reject it.

And Jesus weeps for them

As they lose their only opportunity.

Many today are doing the same thing.  They have a great opportunity.  They have been brought up in a country where the Bible, God’s Word, is freely available, but they are living in danger of missing out.  Are you rejecting the opportunity and choosing to die without Christ?  If so, Jesus weeps because of this.

He weeps . . .

Not just because they were

Losing a great opportunity,

But also because it was

An opportunity for

A great peace,

A great future

With God.

He says to them, “What joys you might have had!”

  • The delights of pardoned sin.
  • The bliss of eternal safety.
  • The joy of communion with God.
  • The rapture of fellowship with Christ Jesus.
  • The heavenly expectation of infinite glory.

All might have been yours; but they will lose it all because they will reject their Messiah and Savior.

See Jesus’ heart for the lost.  Here is no cold heart, instead a heart moved by compassion.  What sort of heart for the lost do we have?

He Wept Because Of The Destiny They Faced.

Jesus saw the future.  In Luke 19:43-44 He predicts the awful events of AD70.  Our Lord saw this coming; a city in flames, bodies heaped high, the rotting stench of carcases mixed with the bitter reek of smoke.  Our Lord wept to think this would be so. Few events, if any, exceeded the horror of the siege of Jerusalem.  But . . .

It is nothing compared to Hell.

And Jesus wept here

Because He saw

What happens when

People reject God.

Jesus sees the

Unspeakable horror

And He weeps.

Here we see the judge weeping over the sentence He knows He has to deliver.  It gives Jesus no joy to speak of judgement.  But the doom must be pronounced.  God’s justice and holiness demand it.  But tears fall amid the thunders.  It is no small matter to be sent to Hell.  It grieves the very heart of Jesus Himself.

Even though they were set against Him, so awful was what they faced, so awful was the destiny they had chosen that He wept , He sobbed, His cryings were there to be heard.

If you are not a believer, Jesus sees what is in store for you and He weeps.  You too need to weep, to come and seek forgiveness for all the years of rejecting Him.  As Christians, does Hell bother us – it is real – and the thought of people being their should trouble us.

He Wept Because He Loves Sinners.

Jesus knew that the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going to execute Him in a few days.  Yet, He wept for them.  Jesus has a vast compassionate love which extends to every man, woman, boy, girl, backslider, atheist, everyone.

Surely this shows us the very heart of God – a God who is rich in mercy and love towards sinners.  Friend, if you haven’t put your trust in Jesus, let this encourage you.  If you have any hesitation, look at these tears.

But do not count these tears as softness.  Do not think that He will excuse your sin.

He wept because

He saw that there

Was no way that sin

Would be excused.

Jesus’ love is balanced by His justice.

In His love He has provided a way of escape.

In his justice he will judge anyone who rejects it.

This is God Word … This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

 Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”


The Tears Of Jesus – Part 1

Grace For The Journey


9Mar  There is something deeply moving about tears. We see someone weeping and it can have quite an effect on us.  The stronger the person who weeps the more powerful the effect is upon us.  We are more affected by seeing a man weeping than a child.  And when the man is a strong emotionally stable man, with tears running down his face, it speaks volumes to us.

We are told of only three occasions when our Lord wept. I intend to look at each of them in my blog over the next three.

This is not just at a

Great man weeping,

That would be

Touching enough,

But here we see the

Son of God weeping.

Tears allow us to see what really matters to a person.  And it is no different with Jesus.

In John 11:35 we come to the first instance of our Lord’s tears. His close friend Lazarus has just died and Jesus has gone to see Lazarus’ sisters.   The Bible tells us in John 11:33-36, ‘When Jesus saw Mary weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.
‘Where have you laid him?’  He asked.   ‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied.  Jesus wept.  Then the Jews said, ‘See how He loved him!’”
The question we need answered is: “Why is Jesus weeping?”

Jesus is not weeping because Lazarus is dead.  He knows that in just a few moments He will raise Lazarus from the dead.  So why is He weeping?  I suggest 2 reasons . . .

Jesus Is Weeping Because He Loves Mary & Martha .

Have you ever had a moment when you’ve seen something and it moved you so much that your eyes filled and the tears ran in rivers down your cheeks?  Jesus tears were not like the loud wailing of mourners gathered with Mary and Martha, for a different word is used.  Instead, these were silent tears running down His face as He looked at the suffering His loved ones were going through.  The people around are struck by this. They react, “See how He loved him.”

Our Savior is no cold conqueror who comes to dispatch the enemy and to free the prisoners.

He is one who weeps

As He sees what the enemy

Has done to His people.

His heart is moved

By our plight.

When we are struggling He is not is not unaffected or watching impassively.

Jesus knew that in a few minutes Mary’s tears would be turned into inexpressible joy; that delight would wash away the memories of sadness.  That in a few moments time Lazarus would be restored to them.  But though He knew all this, still He weeps.

  • He weeps for the pain that sin has cause.
  • He weeps for the mess that sin has made of what was a perfect creation.
  • He weeps at his loved ones having to suffer.

There is no casual pat on the back, no glib “All things work together for good;” instead there is love made silent through tears. The quietness of sympathy.

The momentary sadness

Of His people

Matters to Him.

Here He weeps

At His loved ones

Having to suffer.

Here we see the beauty of Christ’s tenderness.  Here we see Jesus’ love for His people in the midst of suffering.  The Savior who offers Himself to us is a most tender caring and feeling Savior.  He knows what you are going through and He cares.  He wants us to bring our troubles to Him.

Although He is not with us as He was with Mary and Martha, He hasn’t changed.  He has still the same heart.  And although He knew exactly where the body was, He shows His love to Mary when He asks, “Where have you laid him?”  He wants her to take Him, to show Him, because He loves her.  And . . .

He does the same with us,

He invites us to

Tell Him our problems,

To take Him to them.

He comes gently to us.

What struck me here was how much my Savior enters into my feelings.  Do I realize how much He loves me?  As those who surrounded Jesus that day said, “See how He loved him,” can you hear the angels say to each other in awed amazement, “See how He loves them?”

But these tears are not solely tears of sympathy.

Jesus Is Weeping Because Of His Anger At Sin.

He sees two of His dear friends, Martha and Mary distraught at the death of their brother.  He sees their grief, pain, and suffering. And another emotion stirs in His heart.  It is a surprising one.  It is anger.

The phrase “was deeply moved in spirit” (verse 33) literally means “was deeply angered.”  As Jesus sees the misery and pain that sin has brought to the world it angered Him.

Jesus sees before Him

All that life was

Not meant to be.

Pain, suffering,

Sadness and death

Only came into the world

After Adam and Eve sinned.

Jesus hates to see

The suffering

That sin causes.

In Mary’s grief

Jesus sees

The history of

The whole human race.

And He is angry.  But His anger is not wild and uncontrolled.  It is focused.

He approaches the grave of His friend,

And we see in His tears

A desire to reverse the situation.

Sin will not triumph this day.

Death will not win.

Satan will not

Have the last say.

Jesus did not come

To leave sin and suffering

Reigning supreme.

He came to defeat them.

His victory at the tomb of Lazarus is a foretaste of His victory at Calvary.  And if He walked determinedly to the tomb to Lazarus to call him forth, how much more will He do the same for us, and call His people from the grave into an eternity of unending pleasure?

Here is proof that

Christ has defeated sin.

How joyful we should be.

Some men go to war not knowing the demands it will make.  They go off full of high hopes of an easy victory, and an idealism of what it will be like.  Not so this warrior.

As Jesus approaches the tomb

He knows what it will take to defeat sin,

To free people from death.

He knows that there is a price to be paid,

A high price, the highest price.

He knows the pain and the suffering

That His own death will involve,

But His desire to defeat sin

And to free the hostages is greater.

And in verse 41 we are told that He thanks His Father for this opportunity.  He is glad to pay that price.  Have you gotten a glimpse of how Jesus feels about you and what He is willing to do for you?  May this insight cause you to run to Him, to receive from Him the salvation He freely offers, and to rejoice in what that means for today and on into eternity!

This is God Word … This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”




Relishing the Love of God

Grace For The Journey


6Mar  Greg Louganis, one of the world’s top divers from the 80’s and 90’s, was asked how he coped with the stress of international diving competition.  He replied that as he climbs to the board, takes a deep breath, and thinks, “Even if I blow this dive, my mother will still love me.”  Then he goes for excellence.

It is great to have people to love us in spite of our failures and imperfections.  Zephaniah 3:17 is a magnificent verse that assures us of the deep passionate love of God for us.

We need to take this verse

And grasp it with both hands.

We need to breathe it in

And savor it like we would

The smell of a delicious

Meal on the table.

We need to let it roll round

The taste buds of our minds.

But, before we can get to the verse we need to make sure it is written for us.  Zephaniah gives us three characteristics of those to whom our verse applies . . .

Verse 9 – If you are calling on Him and seeking to serve him
Verses 11,12 – If your pride has been broken and you have come to Him humbly seeking forgiveness
Verse 13 – If you are growing in holiness by obeying His commands

All three go together.  Collectively these form a description of those who will enjoy the hope and encouragement held out in this verse we are about to look at.

Make sure you grasp

The richness of God’s love

As we look at this verse it is important that we grasp several truths . . .

Charles Spurgeon has described this verse so well, “We come now through the narrow doorway and before us lies a sparkling array of the most amazing riches, overflowing, spilling over the floor.  So, having made sure that we have a right to be in this treasure room, we must not stand with our eyes closed.  We had better take time to appreciate what exactly God has for us.”  Let the powerful truths sink into your mind and heart as you read Zephaniah 3:17: “The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Each phrase of this verse deserves our attention.  In each one we see tremendous truths that excite and encourage our spirit.

1) A great presence.

Verse 17a says, “The Lord your God in your midst.”

How that should cheer our hearts when we feel alone, or when we feel abandoned – God has arrived to live with us.  He is here with us in all the details, all the frustrations, all the disappointments of everyday life.  He is there.

How comforting it is to know that – when I am doing something practical – like ministering or counseling – It is comforting to know that He is there, that He can see what I’m doing, and if I make a complete mess of it, He will be there to intervene, or to help tidy up.  His grace, His strength, His wisdom, and His presence will guide me through.  It is a powerful and comforting truth to know that God is with us, in the midst of all that we do.

When Satan, the world, and even our own sinfulness comes to us, often we feel alone and unprotected.  It is at those times we need to see with heavenly eyes the great host that surrounds us, and His great presence with us!  That is what gives us the greatest comfort and confidence.

2) A Victorious Warrior

Verse 17b says, “The Mighty One, will save …”  We are looking at this great description of God’s love for his people, but lest we think . . .

That God’s love is

Some sort of soft,

Sentimental emotion that

Has no strength to act;

That this is all

Words and no action,

We are introduced here

To a mighty warrior.

This is our God – the word used is the same as that for David’s mighty men.  He is a mighty hero.  He is the defender of the weak and the fatherless.  And the express purpose of this mighty warrior is to save His people.  We see it clearly on the cross – the mighty warrior taking on sin on our behalf to provide protection.  We see the depths, the lengths to which His love will go.

There is no doubt about the outcome . . .

This is a warrior who triumphs.

Our God is a mighty warrior

Who overpowers His enemies.

He is in the midst of His people

Fighting for them and with them,

Wrapping His arms

Around them like a shield.

Does He have power to show us His love?  Does His being with us have any effect?  The Bible tells us in the strongest way . . .

He is mighty to save,

The warrior who gives victory.

3) An Overjoyed Father.

Verse 17c says, “He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you with His love; He will rejoice over you with singing.”  We now come to a truth that should utterly blow us away.  Here is a picture that is beyond belief.  Here is mighty God, in all His holiness regarding me, and how is it He feels?

He will take great delight in us,

He will quiet us with His love,

He will rejoice over us with singing.

Let’s take each one of these awesome truths and think about them more . . .

  • He Delights In Us.

Here is a picture of a husband looking at his wife or a father looking at his newborn child.  One moment he is overcome with joy and rapturous delight; the next minute holds her quietly, somehow lost for words’ the next minute feeling his heart will burst as he sings his way down the hospital corridor and out into the car park.

This is the picture the Bible paints of God as He looks at us.  He takes delight in; He rejoices over us with gladness.  Our Almighty God looks at us and His heart is made glad. Never once does He regret the price He paid.

  • Quiets Us With His Love.

We see God’s love from another angle here – the word “quiet” has a two-fold meaning: (1) He will quiet you with His love; and (2) He will be silent in His love.  Here is a picture of perfect contentment – the mother holding her new-born baby close to her, as the baby lies sleeping with its velvet soft skin pressed against hers.  She is silent in her love.  Wordless adoration.  The husband looks into his wife’s eyes and is lost for words – no words seem adequate.  He will be quiet with love.   And as God responds to us in this way, our hearts and spirits are quieted, resting in the warmth of His love.

Can you grasp it?  The almighty God looking at you and me, with a look of perfect contentment on His face?   We’re not perfect yet – we know that, He knows that, but He is not bounded by time – He can see in us the unfinished image of His son, finished in all its glory and as He looks He is quiet in His contented love for us.   He looks with that look of love that he has had from the beginning of time.

The word used here for “love” is a word that speaks of a fathers intense fondness for his children.  It speaks of the deep heartfelt bond between David and Jonathan, where one would die for the other; It speaks of a passionate love, like the love between Jacob and Rachel.  The love God has for us is the love that never fails, despite our failings, and it is also the passionate longing of His heart, an intense desire for us, deep and heartfelt.

Amazing – how could the holy, righteous God ever feel like that towards us?  How that should affect the way we feel about our wonderful, loving God!

  • He Rejoices Over Us With Singing.

Verse 17d says, “He will rejoice over you with singing.” Here we read, that the silent contentment doesn’t last for long – it cannot be contained, as God burst forth in jubilant singing.

Can you imagine God singing?  So ecstatically happy that He cannot contain himself!  He bursts into elated singing!  Can you hear the voice that said, “Let there be light,” reverberating around the heavens in triumphant song?  Why?  Because We are his.

When I hear about this singing . . .

I stand dumbfounded, staggered, and speechless

That He is singing over me.

He is rejoicing over my good

With all His heart and with all His soul

Can you feel the wonder that the Lord exults over you with loud singing?  Grasp it, revel in, relish it – for it is true of all who trust in Christ.

Almighty God

Finds you a delight,

A joy, a source of

Unending happiness


Heart bursting elation.

Here is the deep inner joy and personal satisfaction of God Himself in you and me.  Grasp this . . .

We have a God

Who loves us,

With a deep passionate

Heart-bursting love.

All this because of Christ!  This is what it is to be in Christ!


We cannot be

The recipients

Of such great love

And let it leave

Our lives unaffected.

As Christians it is our responsibility to showcase this treasure to the world.  We will do that by three things.

  • We should live confidently in the unfailing love of God.

Other religions have you serving God with a constant worrying thought – “is he happy yet?”  Not ours.  We’re never good enough, but He still loves us.  It is not an arrogance to be quietly confident. God has tells us here in the most startling of terms how He feels towards His people.

  • We should be spurred on in faithful obedience .

This verse does not minimize our sin and shortcomings, but it reminds us that . . .

Our God is not standing there

With a big stick to batter us,

But when we fail and

Know we have failed and

Come to Him in repentance

And seeking forgiveness –

We find love and delight in us.

At the beginning of each day, how good it would be for each of us to take a deep breath, say, “Even if I blow it today, my God will still love me,” and then, assured of grace, go into the day seeking to live in surrendered confidence!

  • We should be displaying this great love to others.

A young man falls in love.  She is far beyond what he could ever have imagined – each new day reveals yet more qualities and gifts, and depths to her love.  Does he keep quiet?  Absolutely now.  It spills out of him with joyful enthusiasm.  He can’t help speaking.  And even when he is quiet you can tell he’s happy.

Shouldn’t it be the same for us?  We stand in this great treasure room.  We need to keep reminding ourselves of God’s great love so that we will have something of this enthusiasm for ourselves.

This is God Word … This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”




Jesus’ Offer Of Rest, Part 2

Grace For The Journey


04Mar  In yesterday’s blog we looked at Matthew 11:25-30 and discovered the first of two great biblical truths regarding the offer of rest to all who come to Christ.  We saw the first prerequisite of our Savior’s offer – Jesus is more than willing to reveal the Father to those who humbly come seeking Him, but the truth is given only to the humble and will remain hidden from those who are proud.  Today we will look at the second prerequisite of Jesus’ offer of rest.

In these verses we find . . .

The necessity of Jesus’ work in a person’s life through revelation.

Verse 27 states, “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son, except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” This verse reveals the unique relationship between God the Father and Jesus, God the Son, as well as states the necessity of Jesus’ work in a person’s life in order to be saved.  It should remove all pride from anyone seeking God.

Romans 1:18-22 and many other passages make it clear that God has revealed Himself to all mankind enough through creation itself so that all are accountable to Him and without excuse.  In addition, Jesus’ teachings were declared openly when He was upon the earth and are freely available to all now in the Bible.

The problem is not that

The revelation of God is hidden,

For it is out in the open

Where anyone can examine it.

 In addition, Hebrews 11:6 among other passages

Declares that God will reward

Those that will believe and

Diligently seek after Him.

The problem is that man’s pride

Blinds him to seeing

What is in front of him,

Or as the Bible states it in Romans 11:7, “What then?  Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded.”  And in 2 Corinthians 3:14, “But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ.” … Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.”  Man will not seek God on his own (Romans 3:11).

Who is it that Jesus chooses to reveal the truth?  He said in verse 25 that it was to “babes” – these those who have humble and acknowledged their need of God, have received God’s gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ, and have ben born-again by the Holy Spirit.  We saw this same truth in the Beatitudes.  Entrance into the kingdom of heaven is given to those who are “poor in spirit” – Those who know they have nothing to give and nothing to offer God come to Him begging for mercy.  God not only grants them mercy, but He also satisfies their hunger and thirst for righteousness.  Jesus is more than willing to reveal the Father to those who humbly come seeking Him, but the truth will remain hidden from those who are proud.

Jesus’ reference here is to those who are proud because they think themselves to be wise and intelligent and so refuse to come to God on God’s terms.  God will resist such people.  At the same time, the humble, who are referred to in this text as “babes,” will be given grace and understanding of what the Father has revealed through Jesus’ preaching and teaching.

In verses 28-30 Jesus describes . . .

1) The Response To The Call.

Those who are humble will respond to Jesus’ offer.  The nature of His offer is found in verse 28, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”  Jesus’ offer is a call to all who are weary and heavy-laden to come to Him.  Such a call involves a change in direction, and hence a change in life.  In a word, it involves repentance.

John Bunyan illustrated this well in Pilgrim’s Progress.  Pilgrim is walking the trail with this a huge pack on his back.  He is weary and heavy-laden.  Suddenly he hears a voice telling him to come over here if he wants to be released from the burden he is carrying.  In order for Pilgrim to respond to the call, he must hear and heed the call.  If Pilgrim had been proud to the point he was preoccupied with his own plans to get rid of his burden, he would not have even paid attention to the call.  If he heard the call, but remained proud and convinced that his own plans were better, he would continue on his journey according to his own wisdom with the burden still firmly attached to his back.  He had to be humble to hear and heed the call.  He had to recognize that he needed help to get the burden off his back, for only then would he step off his current path and walk in a new direction according to the directions given to him by the call.

The first thing we see about the nature of the offer of rest that Jesus is making is that it is a call.  The offer will not do you any good unless you heed the call.  If you want rest from your burden, then you must be humble to respond to the call being given.

What is this heavy-burden

That makes man so weary?

It is man’s efforts to deal

With his sin problem by

His own means and methods.

Sin is a heavy burden to begin with which is only compounded when man tries to take care of that sin himself.  He is completely incapable of dealing with it on his own and can only make the problem worse.  That is one of the reasons I find modern psychology to be so harmful.  Man cannot “cure” himself of anything.  The most he can do is trade one sinful attitude and practice for another deemed more acceptable to the individual or society, or drugs can be used to control emotions or behavior to within acceptable parameters.  The sin may not present itself as obnoxiously as before, but it is still present, so there has been no cure.  The drugs can mask the problem so that you can function, but the problem is still there and may be getting worse.  It is like giving Tylenol to a cancer patient.  The pain is relieved, so you feel better, but the cancer keeps growing.  You must deal with the cancer.

A “cure” for sin is only accomplished

When the person in both action and attitude

Does what God desires of him.

The efforts of the Jewish religious leaders of the time only made the burden of sin heavier.  Jesus described this specifically in such language in Matthew 23:4 saying of scribes and the Pharisees, “And they tie up heavy loads, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.”  Peter describes this as well in Acts 15:10 when rebuking those who wanted Christians to follow Jewish religious rituals saying, “. . . why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?”

The same continues to be true today

In all the religious systems that seek

To gain access to God and freedom from sin

In some manner other than coming to Christ

And seeking the rest that only He can give.

When a person hears and heeds the offer and comes to Christ, then rest is given for the bondage of sin is broken.  A cure is given and a person can begin to live in a manner that is pleasing unto God.  Access to God which was never available before regardless of how many acts of righteousness or penance a person did is now freely available through Jesus Christ.  Christians are given rest for their souls and so are no longer weary and heavy-laden. Jesus exchanges the yoke of manmade religion for the truth of His mercy and grace.

In Matthew 11:29-30, Jesus describes . . .

2) The Character of the Response.

The second aspect of the nature of Jesus’ offer of rest is that there is a new yoke” “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden in light.”  Now some might say, “Wait a minute!  Isn’t that just trading one burden for another?  I thought you said Jesus was offering rest?”  He is, but there is a yoke.

So what is a yoke?  A yoke was a device that was placed upon an animal so that it could pull more comfortably and effectively.  It was made out of wood and carved to fit the individual animal. That would provide part of the comfort.  Since the yoke would also distribute the weight more evenly, it would also make it both easier and more comfortable to pull.

The term “yoke” was often used as a metaphor for submission.  In particular, it was used of students who attached themselves to a teacher to learn from him.  For example, the ancient Jewish advice to students was, “Put your neck under the yoke and let your soul receive instruction.”  The ‘yoke” in this passage symbolizes obedience to Jesus which includes learning His ways and following them.  That is emphasized in the phrase following Jesus’ call to take his yoke – “and learn from Me.”  To take on the yoke of Jesus is to become His disciple, and in following Jesus you will find a release from the heavy burden of sin that makes you weary and find rest in following His plan for your life.

Jesus goes on to describe . . .

3) The Offer’s Reward – Rest for Your Souls.

The result of taking Jesus’ offer is a change of masters, a change of life, and rest for your souls according to verses 29 & 30.  Jesus is no taskmaster.  He is gentle and compassionate in heart.  The word “easy” has a two-fold meaning: (1) It is suitable and pleasant; and, (2) I is not difficult to bear.  The load of following Jesus’ commands in comparison to following the schemes of man or even your own way is light.  A better fitting yoke and a lighter burden would be a wonderful reward all by itself, but Jesus also gives us rest for our souls.

There are several aspects of that rest . . .

First – There is the sense in which there is a cessation of action, motion, labor, or exertion.  All efforts at earning your own salvation cease.  That impossible burden is removed, so you can be at rest.

Second – Rest involves freedom from that which makes one weary or disturbs.  Spiritually, Jesus gives those that come to Him freedom from the cares and distress that would rob them of peace and joy.  This rest includes the peace that passes all understanding that comes from being able to bring everything to Jesus in prayer (Philippians 4:6-7) and cast all of your cares upon Him (1 Peter 5:5).  You can leave all your cares in His hands for He cares for you.

Third – Rest is something that is fixed and settled.  To rest in Jesus includes the wonderful assurance that your eternal destiny is secure in Him.  Your soul is no longer bothered by the uncertainties brought up by the philosophies of man or the ideas expressed in the various false religions and cults.  You have the confident assurance that Jesus keeps all His promises including being with Him throughout eternity, and with that, there no longer has to be fear even of our great enemy, death.  What comfort for the soul!

Fourth – Rest also speaks of being confident and trustful.  Jesus gives us God’s rest that not only assures us of eternity with Him, but also that “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).  Jesus’ yoke gives your life meaning in both the present and for eternity.  The quest of the soul for meaning and purpose is given rest.

And finally – Rest describes being able to “lean, repose, or depend upon.”  The rest that Jesus gives includes being made a fellow heir with Him and a child of God.  Our heavenly Father will certainly supply all our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).  He will take care of us.

If you are reading this blog have not yet entered into the rest that Jesus offers, then be assured, the offer is being made to you right now.  The prerequisites are that you be honest and humble about your spiritual need and that He has revealed Himself to you as Solver and Savior to your sin problem.  You will need to be humble enough to realize that you are a sinner in desperate need of the Savior, and that you need Jesus to release you from the burdens of guilt, shame, confusion and fear that you are carrying – all those things that are part of life without Jesus Christ.

The revelation has been made to you through God’s very Word, the Scriptures.  If you understand what I have been talking about, then Jesus has revealed Himself to you.

Now there is a decision that you must make.  Jesus is calling to you – “Come to Me.”  Will you come to Him?  It will require you to stop traveling on your current path and step out in a different direction.  You will have to turn your eyes away from the sinful enticements of this world and look to Him and step toward Him. The first step is confessing your sins to Him and asking for His forgiveness based on His death on your behalf on the cross of Calvary, and then asking Him to lead and guide you through life. He will do it.  That is His promise.  Every other step is simply walking in obedience to His commands, for He is the master.

Will you exchange your exhausting yoke and burden of doing things your own way or according to some religious system for the yoke of learning of Him and doing things His way?

His yoke is easy,

His burden is light.

It enables you to fulfill

The purpose for which

God created you.

The reward is His rest.

Jesus is calling,

Will you heed

His call and come?

For those of you have already placed yourself under Jesus’ yoke, continue to yield yourself to it so that you may continue in His rest.  Even a well fitted yoke will cause chaffing to those who struggle against it thinking their way is better than God’s way. Give the Lord praise and thanksgiving for it and tell others about it and how they can also enter into Jesus’ rest.

This is God Word … This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”




Jesus’ Offer of Rest, Part 1

Grace For The Journey


04Mar  In John Bunyan’s classic analogy of the Christian life, Pilgrim’s Progress, the story begins with the character Pilgrim having a large and heavy burden upon his back. It weighs him down and makes everything that he does difficult.

The first part of the story centers

Around Pilgrim’s efforts to find

A way to get rid of the burden.

It is not until Pilgrim comes

To Jesus that he is freed.

The rest of the story describes

Pilgrim’s progress in the Christian life

After he is freed his burden.

The analogy of a heavy burden on your back is a good description of what life is like apart from Jesus Christ.  Even for the Christian, it can feel like the weight of the world is upon your shoulders when you are not walking with the Lord as you should or are striving to do things in your own power.

In today’s blog we are going to be looking at Matthew 11:25-30 and Jesus’ offer of rest to those who are burdened and heavy-laden.  But before we can understand the offer of rest, we must understand the setting of the offer.

Verse 25 begins the narrative by stating, “At that time Jesus answered and said . . . “  Some have tried to establish that Luke is repeating himself by pointing to Luke 10:21-23 where Jesus prays almost the same thing.  However, the two events are not the same.  The similarity of the two passages is only that Jesus prayed the same thing on both occasions.  Luke 10 is not the parallel passage.

This passage begins in Matthew 11:20, but Luke only gives the general time setting and not a specific one.  The general setting is that Jesus has been ministering in the region of Galilee (11:1). John the Baptist was in prison and was beginning to have some doubts.  He sent two of his disciples to Jesus, and the Lord gave John confirmation that his original message was correct.  Jesus is indeed the Expected One, (11:2-6) for He was fulfilling the prophecies concerning the Messiah including healing the sick and the lame, giving sight to the blind and raising the dead.  After John’s disciples left, Jesus gave a wonderful tribute to John saying that no human before John had been greater (11:7-15). Jesus then turned His attention to the critics of John and Himself in Matthew 11:16-19.

The critics were saying that John was demonized because of his austere manner of living while at the same time they were accusing Jesus of being a glutton and drunkard because He ate and drank what everyone else did.  So . . .

John was too ascetic for them


Jesus was not ascetic enough.

They also criticized Jesus for being a friend of tax-gatherers and sinners because they did not believe a man who was truly holy would have such associations.  They were blind to the fact that their prideful self-righteousness was a greater stench in the nostrils of God than the sinfulness of the publicans and harlots.

Jesus said that they were childish like the kids in the marketplace who would not play the game the other children were playing even when they switched games.  Nothing would satisfy them. These critics claimed to be the ones with wisdom, but wisdom is verified by its works, and their works proved them to be foolish.

Starting in Matthew 11:20, Jesus began a very strong reproach against the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum because of their apathetic response to all that Jesus had done in those cities.  Most of Jesus’ miracles had been done in those cities, yet the people did not repent.  Jesus’ words are stern and forceful.  They would be judged harshly because they had rejected the great amount of grace that had been extended to them.

Jesus’ denunciation of His vocal critics

And those that ignored Him is the setting,

But He now changes to the opposite tone

In presenting a wonderful and gracious offer.

The offer begins with a prayer.  Verses 25-30 state, “At that time Jesus answered and said, “I praise Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou didst hide these things from the wise and intelligent and didst reveal them to babes. Yes, Father, for thus it was well-pleasing in Thy sight. All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son, except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son will to reveal Him. Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Jesus begins His prayer, “I praise You, Father.”  This opening statement teaches us two things: (1) Praise is a fitting beginning to prayer; and, (2) Jesus is the Son of God.

The tendency for most people when they pray is to jump right into petitions.  People usually start or very quickly move into asking God for what they want and often forget to praise Him.  The reality is that praise is the proper beginning of prayer for, as Jesus points out in the next phrase, God is “Lord of heaven and earth.”  God is the creator and master and so is worthy of our praise.  God is not a “cosmic vending machine” whose purpose is to satisfy man’s desires.

Too often people go to God

As if He exists

For their purposes

When the reality is

That God created man

For His purposes.

The particular word translated here as “praise,” gives emphasis to the importance of praise as part of prayer.  This is not one of the more common words for praise, but is the one used in the Septuagint in the Psalms of thanksgiving and praise.  It is a compound word that has a basic meaning of “to agree with” or “to say the same thing” and came to be used to express praise to God for what He has done.

In this passage we get the sense of Jesus’ praise of the Father rising out of His agreement and unanimity to what the Father has done.  The same thing becomes increasingly true in the believers  own life as we grow in our faith and have a greater understanding and agreement with what God has done and is doing.

Notice that Jesus does not begin with the phrase, “Our Father,” as He did when teaching His disciples a model of prayer in Matthew.  Neither does Jesus refer to God as Father in the universal sense as the Creator since He addresses that in the second phrase of the prayer, “Lord of heaven and earth.”  When Jesus prays to God the Father, as He does here, Jesus simply addresses God as “Father.” (See Matthew 11:25,26; Luke 10:21; 22:42; 23:34, 46; John 11:41; 12:27, 28; 17:1, 5, 11, 21, 24, 25). Jesus uses the phrase, “My Father” twice (Matthew 26:39,42) and “Abba!  Father!” once (Mark 14:36) in speaking directly to God the Father.  Jesus speaks to God the Father directly addressing Him simply as Father because of His unique relationship with Him that signifies His own deity.  Jesus calls God “Father” because Jesus is the Son of God.  The Jews of the time certainly understood what Jesus meant by this for Jesus’ enemies sought to stone Him for blasphemy for addressing God that way in John 10.

Jesus is the Messiah, God in human flesh, so it is no wonder that we find God the Son giving praise from a basis of unanimity to God the Father.  The specific thing which was well pleasing in the eyes of the Father (verse 26) and the Son was that “You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.”

What was hidden from some and revealed to others?  All that Jesus had been proclaiming and teaching to this point in His ministry.  That includes the Sermon on the Mount in which Jesus presented His kingdom program and the characteristics of true righteousness necessary to be part of it.  Those such as the Scribes and Pharisees who only have the righteousness of an outward conformity to the demands of a religious system will not enter God’s kingdom.

That brings up the first prerequisite of receiving Jesus’ offer of rest.  In verses 25-26 we find . . .

The Prerequisites to the Offer – Only the humble of heart will hear and understand the offer being made.

We may wonder why Jesus is glad that the things of the kingdom were hidden from the wise and the intelligent.  Some would even claim it would not be fair to do this reasoning that the kingdom would then only be for simpletons and the stupid.  While there are plenty of intellectuals that claim that Christians lack intelligence to believe what we do, is having a low IQ a requirement for salvation?  Of course not, a fact demonstrated by the very high IQ of many Christians and their accomplishments in every field of science, health, art, business, and government.

The terms “wise” and “prudent” are used here in the same way that Paul uses them in 1 Corinthians 1:18-29, “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.”  Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.  For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.  For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.”

Jesus is using these words to refer to those who think they can do it their own way and so do not need a Savior.  They think they can figure it all out on their own and provide for themselves.  It is a reference to the foolish pride of mankind which schemes, plots and develops his own religion or philosophy so that he does not have to trust in God and His mercy and grace alone.  This was exactly what the religious leaders of Jesus’ time had done.  They modified the Mosaic Law to the point that they actually thought they were keeping it and therefore were pleasing God to the point that He would have to let them be part of His kingdom.  They ignored the warning of the prophets that even their righteous deeds were as filthy rags before the Holy God who created them (Isaiah 64:6).

That pride is still very much present today.  It is found in all the false religions and philosophies which includes Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, paganism, secular humanism and all the rest.  It is found in the many cults which claims some sort of tie to Christianity because they speak about Jesus and use New Testament terminology such as mercy, grace, faith, hope, salvation, etc., yet they often have different meanings for those words including having a different Jesus, and/or they achieve salvation by their own efforts.  Even Christian denominations that at one time held to the truth have lost their way in the same manner as the Jewish leaders of old.  They replace the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ alone with salvation in some system of works.

God has always resisted the proud while giving grace to the humble (Psalm 138:6; Isaiah 2:11-12;Matthew 23:12; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5).  Jesus’ reference here is to those who are proud because they think themselves to be wise and intelligent and so refuse to come to God on God’s terms.  God will resist such people.  At the same time, the humble, who are referred to in this text as “babes,” will be given grace and understanding of what the Father has revealed through Jesus’ preaching and teaching.

Tomorrow we will look at the second prerequisite of Jesus’ offer of rest.

This is God Word … This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”



Have You Found the Book?

Grace For The Journey


3Mar I want to tell you the story of a great leader, a man whose example can change our lives.  He was one of the greatest leaders of history, though you may not even know his name.

  • It isn’t Alexander the Great, who conquered the world and died at age 32.
  • It isn’t Napoleon Bonaparte, who tried to conquer the world and died in exile.
  • It isn’t George Washington, who was a Christian and the father of our country.
  • It wasn’t Abraham Lincoln, who most likely became a Christian before his death.

This is the story of the biblical king Josiah, whose story is told in 2 Chronicles 33-35. Notice the way chapter 33 begins – “Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years.  He did evil in the eyes of the Lord …”

This chapter tells us about King Manasseh of Judah, who was the Adolf Hitler of his day . . . diabolical, savage, ruthless and brutal . . . evil in every way.  I don’t have time to describe the terrible atrocities he committed, but here’s the interesting thing – He was invaded and captured by the Assyrians.

The Bible tells us what happened to him after that – 2 Chronicles 33:12-13 says, “In his distress (Manasseh) sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors.  And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so He brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom.  Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God.”

In the Old Testament there is one man we never would have expected to come to faith in God – Manasseh.  In the New Testament there is one man we would never have expected to come to God – Saul of Tarsus who became the apostle Paul.  We have these two great examples in the Bible to tell us that . . .

No one is beyond

The power of the grace of God.

If you’re worried about someone, don’t give up on them.  Keep praying.  The Lord is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than we can ask or imagine.  The worst of sinners can become the greatest of testimonies.

After Manasseh came to faith in God, he had six years with his grandson, who was named Josiah.  I can’t prove it from the text, but I can infer that Manasseh poured his newfound faith into his grandson.

Don’t ever underestimate

The power of a grandparents faith.

How many people are servants of God today because of the influence or prayers of a godly grandmother or grandfather.

When Manasseh died, his son became king but was shortly assassinated, and little Josiah, who was only eight, rose to the throne of Judah.  2 Chronicles 34:1 says, “Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years.  He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed the ways of his father, David, not turning aside to the right or to the left. In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David.”

He was sixteen.  As he began to assume real power, he decided to do it as a spiritual man.  Where did he get that impulse?  There’s only one place I can think of – from his grandfather, who must have told him, “One day you will the king of this land.  Don’t do what I did or make the mistakes I made.  From your first day on the throne, serve the Lord Jehovah-Yahweh.”

People often ask me if there will be another revival in American history, and I believe it could happen with young people, as it often does.  Look what happened when Josiah was twenty-four.  2 Chronicles 34:3 declares, “In his eighth year of his reign, while he was sill young, he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of high places, Asherah poles and idols.  Under his direction all the altars of the Baals were torn down; he cut to pieces the incense altars that were above them, and smashed the Asherah poles and the idols….

It’s very interesting how the inspired writer points out Josiah’s age at every point.  Look at verse 8: “In the eighteen year of Josiah’s reign, to purify the land and the temple, he sent Shaphan son of Azaliah and Maaseiah the ruler of the city, with Joah son of Joahaz, the recorder, to repair the temple of the Lord his God.”

Solomon had built the great temple of Jehovah, and there God’s presence dwelt in the Most Holy Place.  But during the half-century reign of Manasseh, the site had been desecrated.  King Manasseh had promoted satanic worship, child sacrifice, and he had built some kind of demonic image and placed it in the temple.  Manasseh apparently moved out the Ark of the Covenant and put in a demonic statue.  The entire complex fell into deterioration and dilapidation.

It’s easy for the work of the Lord

To deteriorate and become dilapidated

In a church or in a nation,

But the right person can come

In the power of the Holy Spirit and change things.

Verse 9 says, “They went to Hilkiah the high priest and gave him the money that had been brought into the temple of God, which the Levites who were the gatekeepers had collected from the people of Manasseh, Ephraim and the entire remnant of Israel and from all the people of Judah and Benjamin and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.  Then they entrusted it to the men appointed to supervise the work on the Lord’s temple.  These men paid the workers who repaired and restored the temple.  They also gave money to the carpenters and builders to purchase dressed stone, and timber for joists and beams for the buildings that the kings of Judah had allowed to fall into ruin …”

The Bible says in verse 14, “While they were bringing out the money that had been taken into the temple of the Lord, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord that had been given through Moses. Hilkiah said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord.” He gave it to Shaphan.

Biblical scholars are uncertain about the exact nature of this book, but I have a theory.  I believe this might have been the original copy of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy – the first five books of the Bible, known as the Pentateuch or sometimes just as the Law. These books had been written by Moses during the forty years of wandering in the desert.

That original copy must have been carefully preserved. Copies of it had been made, of course, but they were few and far between because of Manasseh’s reign of terror.  I’m sure Manasseh had sought to destroy every copy of the Word of God.  But some brave priest had hidden the original copy in some ingenious place within the temple. I suspect this is what the builders found.

Verse 16 says, “Then Shaphan took the book to the king and reported to him: “Your officials are doing everything that has been committed to them. They have paid out the money that was in the temple of the Lord and have entrusted it to the supervisors and workers.’ Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read it in the presence of the king. When the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his robes.”

He broke out weeping and sobbing.  To see those precious scrolls, to hear the words, and realize how far his nation had sunk, to realize the judgment they were facing – it broke the king’s heart and he tore his robes and cried a baby for the sins of his people.

He gave orders to his aids: “Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the remnant in Israel and Judah about what is written in this book that has been found.  Great is the Lord’s anger that is poured out on us because those who have gone before us have not kept the word of the Lord; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written in this book.”

Hilkiah and those the king had sent with him went to speak to the prophet Huldah, who was the wife of Shallum son of Tokhath, the son of Hasrah, keeper of the wardrobe. She lived in Jerusalem in the New Quarter.

In the Bible, there were times when great women of God played a critical role, and here was the wife of the man who kept the wardrobe, either kept the royal wardrobe for the king or the temple wardrobe for the priests. This woman had a special relationship with God. Look at verse 26, “Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before God when you heard what he spoke against this place and its people, and because you humbled yourself before me and tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the Lord. Now I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place on those who live here.’”

So, they took her answer back to the king.  The king did something extraordinary.  He called together all his people and stood by one of the great columns of the temple and raised his voice as loud as he could and read from the ancient words. The people – from the youngest to the oldest – dedicated themselves to Jehovah-Yahweh, to love Him, to serve Him, and to obey Him forever.

Imagine if the President of the United States gathered the members of Congress together, and the governors, and the mayors, and all the people tuned in by television, and he said, “I have just discovered in my own life the power of the Bible, and this Book is at the heart of America’s story, and if we don’t rediscover it, our blessed nation will be judged like ancient Sodom, ancient Judah, ancient Rome.  And what if the entire nation began singing, “Have Thine own way, Lord, have thine own way.”

It may not happen exactly like that – but America needs a spiritual awakening before she sinks beyond recovery or redemption.  If it happened in the days of Josiah, it can happen now.

But the story’s not over.  In chapter 35, the entire nation followed up on their commitment by celebrating the festival of the Passover.  Verse 1 tells us, “Josiah celebrated the Passover of the Lord in Jerusalem, and the Passover lamb was slaughtered on the fourteen day of the first month. He appointed the priests to their duties and encouraged them in the service of the Lord’s temple. He said to the Levites, who instructed all Israel and who had been consecrated to the Lord: “Put the sacred ark in the temple that Solomon son of David king of Israel built….”

Apparently wicked Manasseh had taken the sacred Ark of the Covenant out of the Most Holy Place and replaced it with his vile image or statue.  Josiah had the Ark restored to its rightful place.

Verse 7 says, “Josiah provided for all the lay people who were there a total of thirty thousand lambs and goats for the Passover offering….”  This festival commemorated the night the Children of Israel escaped from Egypt because the blood of the slain lambs protected them from death.  The Passover Lamb is the Bible’s great preview of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.  On that day in Jerusalem, there were 30,000 reminders that Jesus Christ was coming into the world.

Verse 10 says: The service was arranged and the priests stood in their places with the Levites in their divisions as the king ordered. The Passover lambs were slaughtered and the priests splashed against the altar the blood handed to them.

This is predictive of the spilled blood of Jesus Christ, as the hymnist has said: “Would you be free from your burden of sin?  There’s power in the blood.”

Verse 18 states, “The Passover had not been observed like this in Israel since the days of Samuel; and none of the kings of Israel had ever celebrated such a Passover as did Josiah, with the priests, the Levites and all Judah and Israel who were there with the people of Jerusalem. The Passover was celebrated in the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign.”

Josiah was only twenty-six, but he had brought spiritual reformation to his people.  He had another thirteen years to lead his people politically and spiritually before he was tragically killed in battle at the age of thirty-nine.  From that point, the nation of Judah spiraled downward like airplane out of fuel. Josiah was their last, best hope – and he provided hope for his generation.

Let me close today’s blog with three propositions.  Our nation, our states, cities, our schools, and our homes are in trouble.  We need a revival like that of Josiah.  What were his secrets.

1) Rekindle the burden.

Even as a boy, Josiah was burdened for the Lord and His work.  He wanted God to use him.  We can’t do anything without a burden, and God gives each of us a different burden or set of burdens.  I’ve been reading a book by Jim and Shirley Combs.  They were serving as missionaries in Brazil when a little poverty-stricken boy named Marcos showed up at church to get a chocolate Easter egg.  Like Josiah, his heart was tender and he wanted to learn more about what he heard in church that day.  He found Jesus Christ as his Savior and was baptized.

One day Marcos didn’t show up at church, and Shirley went looking for him.  She found his ransacked home and went in.  He was standing there silent.  His mother sat in the only chair, covered with blood.  The boy’s father was in a rage, and Shirley had to leave. But Shirley said, “I have never been able to leave that scene.  It influenced personal decision and personal commitments” as it related to their future ministry.  Marcos was rescued and became the first of many.  That’s how God gave Shirley a burden.

Let God give you a burden for His work, and don’t bury your burden.  Without some kind of burden for this world, we can never change it. Josiah had the burden.

2) Rediscover the Book.

Everything changed with the rediscovery of God’s Word.  Without the Bible, there’s no revival – no global revival, no national revival, no personal revival.

The American Bible Society told of a man who was a patient in an American hospital in the nation of Turkey, and while there someone gave him a copy of the Bible.  He was released and went back to his home-town and showed it to his friends.  A Muslim teacher snatched the book out of his hand, tore out its pages, and threw them into the street.  A grocer was passing by, and he picked up the papers and started using them as wrapping paper for his produce, and in this way the pages of that Bible were spread all over town.  People read the pages they had and wanted more.  Sometime later, a Bible translator came into town and was amazed to find a hundred people lined up to purchase a copy of the Bible.

If our nation is going to experience an awakening, it will only come through the faithful, steady, accurate, piercing reading, studying, and preaching of the Word of God.

3) Rely on the blood.

After Josiah developed the burden and discovered the Book, he instituted the Passover where the blood of the Passover Lamb was shed, forecasting the death of our Lord Jesus Christ on Calvary’s cross and the redeeming blood that flowed from His back, His brow, His hands, His feet, and His side.  The Bible tells us that “without the blood, there is no remission of sins.” (Hebrews 9:22)

You cannot recover your life for God without going through the blood of Jesus.  We can never fully fathom the purpose and the power of the blood of Christ. It resides in the deepest mysteries of the counsel of the Triune God.  But this we know – His precious blood is . . .

  • A medicine that cures us from every everlasting ill.
  • An acid that burns away our deepest stains.
  • An ointment that heals our deepest scars.
  • Tt’s the fuel of our faith.
  • A liniment of life.
  • An elixir for joy.
  • A lotion for peace.
  • It’s a vaccine that immunizes us against all the diseases of the devil.
  • Most of all, there’s a foundation filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins, and sinners plunged beneath that blood lose all their guilty stains.  In Jesus we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

When you combine the burden, the Book, and the blood, you have the blessings of God on your life, your family, your city, and your nation.

Is there one of those elements missing in your life?

If it’s the burden, ask God for it until He gives you the specific burden that reflects His will for your life.

If it’s the Book, make a renewed commitment to read and study it every day.

If it’s the blood, you can do something about that right now by asking God to forgive your sins, wash your inward stains, and give

This is God Word … This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”