Where Does Your Faith Lead?

Grace For The Journey

31JulyIn today’s text, ten lepers are healed, but only one returns to give the Lord Jesus the proper thanks for His healing touch upon them.   When this lepers returns to express his joy and gratitude for the healing he received from Jesus, the Lord asks two questions:

“Were there not ten cleansed?”

“Where are the nine?”

If you figure it out percentage wise, only one out of ten, or 10% came back to thank the Lord Jesus for what He had done.  Let’s not be guilty of being part of that 90% who do not give Him thanks and glory due His name.

The subject of Luke14 chapter is faith.

The issue is not

The size of our faith

But the

Sequence that faith takes

Us through in our lives.

If we have genuine faith, it will lead us to do three things . . .

1) True Faith Leads Us To Gain A Proper Knowledge Of Our Spiritual Condition.

Notice . . .

The Condition Of These Men.

  • They Were Diseased.

 Luke 17:12 says, “And as He entered into a certain village, there met Him ten men that were lepers …”  Leprosy pictures sin in a person’s life or an individual before salvation.

  • They Were defiled.

The later part of verse 21 says, “… which stood afar off:”  Lepers had to cry out Unclean in the presence of others in order that they might be warned of defilement.  The Bible says in Leviticus 13:3, “And the priest shall look on the plague in the skin of the flesh: and when the hair in the plague is turned white, and the plague in sight be deeper than the skin of his flesh, it is a plague of leprosy: and the priest shall look on him, and pronounce him unclean.  In Leviticus 13:45-46 the Bible also says, “And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean.  All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.”

  • They Were Distanced.

No one wanted anything to do with a leper.  The Law of Moses required lepers to keep their distance.  Leviticus 13:45-46 says, “And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean.  All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.

The legal distance which these unfortunates were compelled to keep from passers-by was a hundred paces.

We too, before salvation are a far off from God.  The Bible says in Ephesians 2:11-13, “Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh” … “that at that time you were without Christ” … having no hope and without God in the world” … “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”

But now in Christ Jesus you who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”

  • They Were Denied.

 A leper was not able to take part in public worship due to the fact that he was defiled and might infect others.  A person’s sins must be forgiven before he or she can truly worship God.  We all need to see ourselves as these lepers did.  They were unclean before God and man.  Leprosy, a dreaded skin disease, is a picture of sin (Luke 14:14,17).  Leviticus 13:38-46 & Numbers 5:2-4 tell us that there were severe physical and social consequences of leprosy.  One historian stated, “Lepers were treated as if they were, in effect, dead men” (Ephesians 2:1).

  • What They Declared.

The first step of faith is to acknowledge our desperate condition before God.  We all need to do what these lepers did . . .

Call out to Jesus

The Master

For mercy.

 Jesus will never turn a deaf ear to a cry like that!

These men knew Jesus by name, but they also called Him Master, acknowledging His authority.  Luke is the only gospel to use this word in addressing Jesus, and every other time it is used by the disciples.  In uttering this cry, these lepers take their proper place under the Lord Jesus’ sovereign authority.  We must put Him in His proper place as Lord and Master when we come to Him.

The lepers pleaded, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” Mercy, like grace, is God’s undeserved favor.

Grace is getting what we do not deserve;

Mercy is not getting what we do deserve.

Mercy also contains the thought of compassion in view of the sufferer’s pitiable condition.  By crying out for mercy, these men were acknowledging that they did not deserve healing.  They weren’t claiming, “We are lepers, but we are pretty good lepers. We think we’re worthy of being healed.”  They knew that there was nothing in themselves to earn healing or to commend them above others.  This is the only way that we can come to God for deliverance from the leprosy of sin . . .

To acknowledge that we deserve

To be separated from God,

But to appeal to His great mercy.

The good news is that God delights in showing mercy to those who cry out for it!  The Bible says in Romans 10:12-13 that He is, “abounding in riches for all who call upon Him; for whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”

When Moses asked to see God’s glory, in Exodus 34:6-7 the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression, and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”

God’s holiness demands

That He judge sin,

But His mercy

Is the predominant

And leading attribute.

Whatever your need, call out to the Lord. He is full of mercy.

2) True Faith Leads To Experiencing God’s Power For Spiritual Healing.

We all need to respond as these lepers responded: with obedient faith.  Without any

evidence of healing, Jesus commands the lepers to show themselves to the priests.

We can image the conversation they had.  Nine missed the greatest miracle.  The nine

got what they wanted, but they went no farther (Verse 19).

In this, their situation was similar to that of Naaman the Syrian, whom Elisha told to go and bathe in the Jordan River (2 Kings 5:10-15).  It was a test of faith for them to go without any evidence of healing.  We are not told whether the ten lepers had a debate about whether or not to go.  I can well imagine talking among themselves, “We’ll look like fools if we show up before the priest in our present condition!”“Yes, but we’ve got nothing to lose; this is our only hope.  But it hurts to walk on these leprous feet!  I know, but if we do what He says, maybe we’ll be healed” …  “This isn’t the way He healed the other lepers.  Why doesn’t He heal us in the same way?” … “I don’t know, but we must obey.” 

Maybe they didn’t have any such debate, since the text doesn’t record any, but at any rate, it says, “as they were going, they were cleansed.”  I don’t know if it happened to all of them at the same instant, or if first one and then another got healed.  But, suddenly by the Lord’s power, they all were restored to perfect health.  If they had lost fingers and toes, they were restored.  All of the devastating effects of this terrible disease were erased.  It must have been a marvelous experience!

As I’ll argue in a moment, I believe that only the man who returned to give thanks to Jesus was saved spiritually.  But, in spite of that, the cleansing of these lepers pictures what God does to the souls of those who call out to Him for salvation. He instantly cleanses us from all our sins.  He clothes us with the perfect righteousness of Jesus.  He restores and heals our souls.  The only condition to receive God’s healing for our leprous souls is that we take Him at His word, that whoever believes in His Son Jesus will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

Just as these lepers

Did not first try to clean up

And make themselves presentable,

So we are to come

To Jesus just as we are.

Just as these lepers

Did not just believe intellectually,

But had a faith that

Obeyed Jesus’ word,

So we must exercise personal

Obedient faith in Him

With regard to His promise

To save us from our sins.

But even though in one sense all ten lepers illustrate saving faith, in that they took Jesus at His word and acted upon it personally, in another sense the nine fell short of saving faith.  The nine got what they wanted from God in terms of healed bodies, but they went no farther.  They never returned to Jesus to receive salvation of their souls. They received the temporal benefit of healed bodies, but it is only to the one thankful leper who returned that our Lord proclaimed, “Your faith has saved you” [literal, 17:19]. In the same way, it is possible to receive special blessings from God in answer to prayer, such as a healing from a serious illness, and yet to fall short of the best blessing of all.  Thus . . .

When we realize that God

Has blessed us with

Some temporal blessing,

We must not become satisfied

With that and stop there.

3) True Faith Leads Us To Glorify God.

 We all should respond as the one leper did . . .

Glorify God

At the feet of Jesus

With thankful hearts.

The thankful leper represents

The full fruit of saving faith –

Giving joyful thanks to His name.

This leper’s praise was heartfelt – Verse 15.  He glorified God “with a loud voice” (17:15).  If before his voice had been hampered by leprosy, it was freed up now and he exercised it with full force!  Others may have been embarrassed by his exuberance, but he didn’t care!  Jesus had healed him, and he was going to make it known!  This leper’s glad praise should be that of every person whose heart has been healed by Jesus’ mighty power.

Twice it is mentioned that the man glorified God (17:15, 18).  To glorify God is . . .

To extol His attributes

And His actions.

It is to exalt Him,

To let others know

How great He is.

As the Puritans rightly stated, “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever on account of His blessings of salvation toward us who deserved His judgment.”

C. H. Spurgeon points out that “while ten men prayed to Jesus, only one praised and thanked Jesus.”  Sadly, here are far more who are prone to pray in a time of need than to praise God when He meets that need.  Oswald Chambers observed, “The great difficulty spiritually is to concentrate on God, and it is His blessings that make it difficult.  Troubles nearly always make us look to God; His blessings are apt to make us look elsewhere.”  

If the Lord has delivered

Our souls from judgment,

We ought to let others

Know about it.

I have to remind myself that “Praise the Lord” is not just a slogan or something nice to do; it is a command.  If my life is not marked by frequent praise to God for His many blessings, I am not being obedient.  While prayer will last for this life only, praise will continue throughout eternity.  Those who have experienced Jesus’ cleansing power should glorify Him.

Notice now that he is bowing “at Jesus’ feet.”  Before the man had to keep his distance

from Jesus because of his disease, now he comes up near to Him and falls on his face at Jesus’ feet.  I doubt if he understood the deity of Jesus, but nonetheless, he took the proper place of worship at Jesus’ feet.  Jesus said in John 5:23, “He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.”  We cannot properly glorify God if we do not fall in adoration at Jesus’ feet.  He is the eternal God who willingly left the glory of heaven to come to this sinful earth and suffer and die for us. We must spend much time at His feet.

The man’s position on his face at Jesus’ feet also shows the proper attitude of humility that should characterize those who have been healed by His mercy. We owe everything to Him and can claim nothing as coming from ourselves. This leper wasn’t maintaining his dignity and self-esteem.

He wasn’t claiming,

“Jesus did His part,

But I did my part.”

He knew that he

Had been healed

Totally because

Of Jesus’ mercy,

And so he readily

Fell on his face

At Jesus’ feet.

That’s where every saved person should camp out!

Noticed he did it with a thankful heart – The leper was “giving thanks to Him” (17:16). The Masai tribe in West Africa has an unusual way of saying thank you: They bow, put their forehead on the ground, and say, “My head is in the dirt.”  Another African tribe expresses gratitude by sitting for a long time in front of the hut of the person who did the favor and saying, literally, “I sit on the ground before you.”  These Africans understand . . .

What thanksgiving is and

Why it’s difficult for us:

At its core,

Thanksgiving is

An act of humility.

It acknowledges our

Debt to the other person.

Clearly, Jesus was pleased with his expression of thanks and grieved at the absence of the other nine (17:17-18).  Hebrews 13:15-16 states, “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.  And do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”  Every day we should be filled with gratitude for all that the Savior did for us when we were spiritual lepers before Him.

Thirteen years before his conversion, John Wesley had a conversation late one night with the porter of his college that deeply impressed him and convinced him that there was more to Christianity than he had found.  Wesley discovered that the man had only one coat and that nothing had passed his lips that day, except a drink of water, and yet his heart was full of gratitude to God. Wesley said, “You thank God when you have nothing to wear, nothing to eat, and no bed to lie upon. What else do you thank him for?”  The porter answered, “I thank him that He has given me my life and being, and a heart to love Him, and a desire to serve Him.”

Even so, if we who have known Jesus’ saving healing power in our souls will live each day to glorify Him with thankful hearts, others will be drawn to the Savior to find mercy for their souls.

Let’s all learn from this exuberant and thankful leper how to respond to God’s blessings, especially to the blessing of salvation.  We should join him in glorifying God at the feet of Jesus with thankful hearts.

How often do we take our blessings for granted and fail to thank the Lord?  Genuine faith will lead us to respond with overflowing gratitude and thanksgiving for what God is doing.

Four times the psalmist cries out, “Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” (Psalm 107:8,15,21,31).  May our faith create the same response in our hearts.

This is God’s 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.”

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Will You Lay Down Your Life For My Sake?

Grace For The Journey

30July  The United States has the highest occurrence of tornadoes of any other nation in the world.  In an average year, over 1,000 tornadoes will occur across the continental U.S.

Along with the damage they cause, tornadoes are dangerous because they can be somewhat unpredictable.

At the close of John chapter 13, the Lord Jesus makes a very somber forecast for the life of Simon Peter.  In verse 37, Peter had boldly and brashly proclaimed that he would lay down his life for Jesus.  In verse 38, Jesus repeated that claim, this time in the form of a question.  Then he pronounced a forecast of failure in Peter’s life.  He said, “Will you lay down your life for My sake?  Verily, verily, I say unto you, the rooster shall not crow, till you have denied Me three times.”

Within a few hours of that forecast . . .

Peter’s boldness would be

Replaced by brokenness.

The Bible says that Peter “wept bitterly” because he had cursed and denied that even knew the Lord Jesus.

From this passage, we learn that this type of failure is not without its predictors.  There are certain traits and signs that we can see in Peter that point to the failure for which he was headed.  By studying Peter’s words in this text, perhaps we can learn that we could be headed for a similar failure in our own Christian life.  By learning from the failure in Peter’s life, someone can spare themselves from the bitter tears of regret.

Notice . . .

1) PETER’S FUTILE ARGUMENT.

John 13 is a chapter full of instruction.  It records the final evening that the Lord shared with His disciples prior to His arrest and crucifixion, and it is full of parting words and directions from the Savior.  Trying to prepare His disciples for His coming death, the Lord says to them in verse 33, “Little children, I shall be with you a little while lnger.  You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, “’Where I am going, you cannot come,’ so now I say to you.”  Not content with the information he was given, Peter asks in verse 36, “Lord, where are You going?”  Jesus answered him, ‘Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.’”  As usual, Peter’s mouth is not easily closed, and in verse 37 he protests and asks, “Lord, why can I not follow You now?  I will lay down my life for Your sake.”

There are times when, like Peter, we are resistant and even rebellious against the work of the Lord in our lives.  The problem is that our stubbornness often leads to our sinfulness.  Notice what was going on with Peter and his futile argument.  Notice first of all . . .

The Message He Disregarded.

In verse 33, Jesus told His disciples that He was going to be leaving them.  He then moved from that announcement to the instructions He wanted to leave with them before His death.  In verse 34, Jesus said to them, “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”  In verse 35 . . .

He goes on to tell them that

Their love for one another

Is what would reveal to the world

That they were in fact His disciples.

In the context of this conversation, this is the main point the Lord was trying to convey to His disciples.  Yet, Peter completely misses this point, and goes back to the statement the Lord had made about leaving.  In verse 36, we read, “Simon Peter said unto him, ‘Lord, where are you going?’  Jesus answered him, ‘Where I am going You cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.’”

There are some people who resist the work of Christ in their life because they have missed the larger point of what He is trying to do in them.  For instance . . .

  • There are people who will not tithe because they don’t like to part with their money, but they have missed the fact that the Bible teaches that it is not really their money in the first place.
  • There are those who won’t attend church faithfully because they don’t feel like they have to. All the while, they have missed the message that attending church is not something we have to do; it is something we should want to do.

Peter argues with the Lord because he had disregarded the primary message that Jesus was trying to convey.  Notice something else that is going on in this futile argument.  Notice not only the message he disregarded, but notice also further . . .

The Message He Disliked.

The real reason why Peter argued with the Lord in this text is that he did not like what he had heard.  The Lord told the disciples that He was going to be leaving, and that they would not be able to accompany Him.  In verse 37, Peter protested, “Peter said unto Him, ‘Lord, why can I not follow You now?  I will lay down my life for Your sake.’”  Even though the Lord had said it, it didn’t sit well with Peter, and he disliked the message Christ had given him.

Many people are resistant and stubborn about the Lord’s work in their lives simply because of what He has said to them, and what He has asked of them, is not easy or enjoyable.

Notice a second truth that points to the forecast of failure in Peter’s life.  Notice not only Peter’s futile argument, but notice also secondly:

2) PETER’S FOOLISH ARROGANCE.

Peter was the Apostle with “the foot-shaped mouth.”  He was, eager, aggressive, bold, and outspoken – with a habit of racing his mouth while his brain was in neutral.  I would say that most of us relate more easily to Peter, than to any of the other apostles.  We see his flaws and his failures and his imperfections in our own lives.

Notice a couple of things about Peter’s pride . . .

His Misplaced Confidence.

Jesus said to Peter, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me yet.” Peter boastfully responded in verse 37, “Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake.”  Jesus said, “You can’t,” but Peter said, “I will.”  Peter believed that his devotion and faith were strong enough that if it came to it, not even death would part him from his Master.

It turned out, however, that the interrogation of a little girl was enough to send the once arrogant disciple into a foul-mouthed, full-fledged denial of His Lord.

Peter was confident in himself,

And self-confidence,

According to the Word of God,

Is always misplaced confidence.

Notice something else about Peter’s foolish arrogance.

His Misguided Commitment.

The Lord had been telling His disciples about His coming death.  He was preparing them for the crises through which they were about to go.  Peter’s intentions were sincere, but they were contrary to the will of God.  He was foolishly arrogant to think that his plan was somehow better than God’s.  He warns us against stubbornly and arrogantly resisting God’s will in our lives.

There is a third predictor of Peter’s failure that we find in this text. Notice not only Peter’s futile argument, and Peter’s foolish arrogance, but notice also thirdly . . .

3) PETER’S FEEBLE ABILITIES.

Peter felt as if he was able to stand for Christ, regardless of the dangers it would bring. Jesus revealed the truth about Peter’s abilities when He said in verse 38, ill you lay down your life for My sake?  Verily I say to you, the rooster shall not crow til you have denied Me three times.”  Though Peter promised a big stand for Christ, the reality is that he was not ready to be the man he claimed to be.  His failure was due to the feebleness of his abilities.

Notice a couple of things about Peter’s feeble abilities . . .

He Was Not Bold Enough.

Peter sounds so valiant and courageous when he says, “I will lay down my life for Your sake.”  

The only problem is that

Not only was Peter not bold

Enough to die for Jesus,

He was not even bold

Enough to defend Jesus.

He slinked along behind the crowd, watching as Jesus was unjustly taken and tried.  When the little girl by the fire said, “You are one of His followers, aren’t you,” Peter’s courage wasn’t even sufficient to claim Jesus, much less rescue Him.  The reality is that Peter had the wrong kind of boldness.  His boldness on Passover night was a courage bolstered by his own arrogance.

Before his failure, Peter wasn’t bold enough. His confidence before his failure was a self-confidence, and it was never enough to stand in a spiritual battle.  Peter’s insufficient boldness warns us about having the wrong kind of courage.

Notice something further about Peter’s feeble abilities . . .

He Was Not Broken Enough.

As long as Peter thought he was able

To do something for Christ,

He would never be able

To do anything for Christ.

Peter had not come to

The point of brokenness,

Where he realized that he was

Totally dependent upon the Lord.

God uses broken things.  Job eased his bodily pain with broken pieces of pottery. Mary broke her alabaster box, and used its contents to minister to Christ.  Paul and his companions escaped from the sea on the broken pieces of a ship.  Peter was eventually used by God in a mighty way, but only after his self-confident, over-bearing will had been broken by the shame and regret of his sinful failure.

The same Peter, whose pride and arrogance led him to such a devastating fall, would one day write these words in 1 Peter 5:5-6, “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.  Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.”

Those are the words of a man speaking from experience.

Peter learned the hard way

That if we do not submit

Ourselves completely to God,

We are setting ourselves up for failure.

May the story of Peter’s failure cause us all to examine ourselves, and to look to God to keep us from falling.

This is God’s 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.”

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Who Is Greater?

Grace For The Journey

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29July  In Luke 22, at the table of the Last Supper, the disciples began to bicker about which one of them was the greatest.  Hearing their silly argument, Jesus took the opportunity to teach them that true greatness, at least in the Kingdom of God, belongs to those who serve.  In verse 27, Jesus posed a question to His disciples. He asked them, “For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves …?”  That’s a good question.

Jesus teaches us that in the Christian life, it is always better to serve than to be served.

There are three truths we find in this passage that help us to see the greatness that can only come by being a servant.  Notice first of all, in this passage that . . .

1) JESUS EXAMINES THE CULTURAL PERSPECTIVE.

Most of the teachings of Jesus run completely counter to this world’s way of thinking.

For instance, Jesus taught that you should . . .

  • Love your enemies,
  • Bless them that curse you,
  • Be glad about persecution.

Those kinds of concepts are in direct opposition to a world that says . . .

  • Enemies are to be attacked,
  • Curses are to be matched,
  • Persecution is to be avoided at all cost.

In our text, in order to show how differently the world operates from the kingdom of God, Jesus makes an observation about the culture of this world.  In verse 25, Jesus says, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.”

Notice with me a couple of things we draw from this cultural perspective that Christ examined.  First of all that Jesus points out . . .

How the World Views Power.

In verse 25, Jesus pointed to worldly type of ruler and how they used their rule.  Notice the phrase “exercise lordship over them.”  It comes from one Greek word, and it means to “control someone.”  Jesus pointed to the kings of His day and how they used their power to control the people under them.  They “lorded over” the lives of their subjects.

According to the world, power is an opportunity for control.  If a person can get power, whether in a government or in a company, the world says that power is the perfect vehicle to control people, and tell them what to do.

History is full of examples of what our Lord referred to.  Hitler, Mussolini, Lennon, Stalin, Castro, Chairman Mao, Saddam Hussein.  These are just a few of the names of men who used power for control.  Jesus was merely pointing out a philosophy that pervades human culture. That is, if you can get power, you can use that power to make people do what you want them to do.

Notice something else Jesus pointed out as He examined the cultural perspective. Notice not only how the world views power, but also . . .

How the World Views Position.

Jesus goes on in verse 25, and says, “…they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.”  This is an interesting phrase.   The word “benefactors” comes from a compound of two Greek words and it literally means “good workers.”  In other words, Jesus says that in this world’s system, those that hold positions of authority are looked up to, admired, and regarded as someone who has done something right.

We live in a world that equates position with achievement.  If a person has climbed the ladder, moved up, and succeeded, we are apt to celebrate them, even though they may have achieved their success by doing unscrupulous and unethical things.

Can you imagine working for a company among whose employees . . .

  • 29 have been accused of spousal abuse,
  • 7 have been arrested for fraud,
  • 19 have been accused of writing bad checks,
  • 117 have been involved in bankruptcies,
  • 3 have served time for assault,
  • 71 have bad credit,
  • 14 have been arrested on drug-related charges,
  • 8 have been arrested for shop-lifting,
  • 21 are currently being sued, and
  • 84 were arrested for drunk driving in one year?

What kind of company is that?  It is the United States Congress.  However, in spite of their largely “scoundrel” status, people will still gush and fawn over politicians for no other reason than the fact that they hold a position.

Jesus heard His disciples arguing over greatness, and He pointed them to the world’s perspective on power and position.  Notice a second truth . . .

2) JESUS EXPLAINS THE CHRISTIAN POSITION.

Verse 26 says, But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be s the younger, and he who governs as he who serves.”  Notice the opening words of verse 26. Jesus said, “But not so among you …”  The world wants and worships power and position, but that is not supposed to be the case for the Christian.

The disciples disputed about which one of them was the greatest.  In verse 26, Jesus explained to them that greatness is measured very differently in the kingdom of God.

Jesus contrasts the Christian’s worldview with that of the culture in which they live. Notice a couple of things He reveals about the Christian’s position on greatness . . .

How the Christian Understands Achievement.

In verse 26, Jesus says, “But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be s the younger …”  The world says that greatness is found in climbing to a position above others where you have the power to tell them what to do. Jesus says that for the Christian . . .

Greatness does not

Come from climbing,

But from condescending.

Notice that phrase, “let him be as the younger.”  Throughout Israel, the menial and unpleasant tasks were often given to the youngest son because it would be beneath them.  Most people would think that achievement is getting to the point where you don’t have to get your hands dirty by doing the servant’s chores.  Jesus says that for the Christian, achievement comes from doing those things that nobody else wants and likes to do.

Somewhere, a wealthy CEO settles in to his favorite chair, as a employee serves him a gourmet meal.  On the other side of the world, a missionary woman cuddles an African infant, dying of AIDS, in a dirty hut, with a small plate of rice, and a bottle of powdered milk.  Which picture do you equate with success and achievement?

Our Lord says that in His kingdom,

Achievement looks more like

A missionary than it does a millionaire.

In 1745, David Brainerd was a weak, depressed, and slowly-dying missionary, sleeping in a tent in the cold forests of New England, trying to reach the Native Americans. Within two years, he would die of tuberculosis, no doubt made worse by the environment in which he ministered.  The hardship of his life did not deter him.  Brainerd wrote in 1747, “O I longed to fill the remaining moments all for God!  Though my body was so feeble … yet I wanted to sit up all night to do something for God.”

Brainerd died with very few converts from his ministry.  Some would say his life was not a success.  Yet, the countless missionaries that have been inspired by his diary and letters would certainly disagree.

Notice not only how the Christian understands achievement, but also . . .

How the Christian Uses Authority.

Verse 26 continues, “… He who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger,  and he who governs as he who serves.”  Notice that phrase, “he that is chief.”  It comes from a Greek word that speaks of one that leads or rules.  The word “serve” comes from a Greek word that gives us our English word, “deacon.”  It literally means “to wait tables.”

Jesus says that in the Christian community, those that lead and have authority over the body ought to be the ones waiting the tables, and performing the acts of service.

In the Kingdom of God,

Authority and leadership

Are opportunities to serve.

For the Christian, leadership

Is not a license to give orders;

It is a chance to serve others!

During the Revolutionary War, a man in civilian clothes rode past a group of soldiers trying to repair a defense barrier.  Their leader was shouting commands as the men struggled to do the job.  The man on horseback stopped and asked the leader why he wasn’t helping his men.  The man barked back, “Sir, I am a corporal!”  The stranger apologized, then dismounted his horse and proceeded to help the men fix the barrier.

As he was about to ride off, he said to the corporal, “Next time you have job like this, and not enough men to do it, go to your commander-in-chief, and I will help you again.”   The stranger was George Washington, and the corporal was embarrassed.

The Christian understands that

Achievement is measured

By the service you give,

And authority is used as a

Means of performing that service.

There is one final thing we draw from this text.  Here, not only do we find that Jesus examines the cultural perspective, and that Jesus explains the Christian’s position, but notice also thirdly that, in this text . . .

3) JESUS EXEMPLIFIES THE CORRECT PRACTICE.

Verse 27 says, “For who is greater, he that sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table?  Yet, I am among you as the One who serves.”  Jesus asks a question that seems to have an obvious answer.  In essence, Jesus asks, “Which one is greater; the one sitting down and being served, or the one serving?”  Jesus knew that to the world, it would appear that the one being served was the greater of the two.  However, Jesus goes against the thinking of this world, and says in verse 27, “… Yet, I am among you as the One who serves.”

Jesus had taught His disciples that

True greatness comes through service.

He did not just preach this principle.

He portrayed it with his life.

Notice a couple of things about the example our Lord gave us. Notice first of all . . .

His Selflessness.

If anyone had a right to sit down and be served, it was Jesus.  He is the God of the universe.  His Word had brought the world into existence, and His power holds it together.  Yet, we find Him setting aside His heavenly garments, leaving the praises of heaven’s choirs, and clothing Himself in the humble wrappings of a peasant, surrounded only by a few shepherds and some smelly livestock.  He left the streets of gold to walk the dusty roads of Galilee.  He left the Father’s side to eat next to the likes of Peter, Thomas, and Judas.  He descended from His Heavenly throne to be lifted up on a horrific cross in front of jeering crowds and spiteful spectators.

Men should have served Him;

But they slew Him instead.

He could have claimed the world for Himself,

But He gave Himself for the world instead.

Notice something else we find in our Lord’s example to us. Notice not only His selflessness, but notice also . . .

His Service.

In verse 26, Jesus told His disciples that the leaders in His church must be the ones who will serve.  Then in verse 27, He declared, “… Yet, I am among you as the One who serves.”  Luke doesn’t record it, but John tells what happened after this discussion. John 13;4-5 says, “(Jesus) rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.  After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.”  Washing the feet was a necessary practice in that day, but it was one that only the slaves and servants were expected to perform.

Jesus talked to His disciples about service,

And then He demonstrated for them

The kind of work a servant would do.

A man once talked to his pastor about one of the principles he had preached about.  The man said, “It comes down to basin theology.”  The pastor was a little puzzled, and he said, “What is basin theology?”  The layman said, “Remember what Pilate did when he had the chance to acquit Jesus?  He called for a basin and washed his hands of the whole thing.  But Jesus, the night before His death, called for a basin and proceeded to wash the feet of the disciples.  It all comes down to basin theology. Which one will you choose?

Jesus left us a clear example of what it means to be great in His kingdom.  Those who serve are always greater than those who sit.  Jesus asked, “Which one is greater? Is it the one who is served, or the one who serves?”  For the Christian, the answer is found in the example of our Lord.  Let us serve, instead of sit.

This is God’s 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.”

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What Is It That You Want Me To Do For You?

Grace For The Journey

28July  Something remarkable happened on a crowded road just outside of the ancient city of Jericho.  A large group of people followed the Lord Jesus as he traveled toward Jerusalem.  Suddenly, the Lord stopped and was about to make available to one man the great blessings of God.  That one man was a blind beggar named Bartimaeus.  He cried out to the Lord for mercy, and the Bible says that Jesus stopped, called him, and asked him this question, “What do you want Me to do for you””   

That is an amazing question.  With that question, the God of eternity put Himself at the service of a blind beggar.  Bartimaeus had never had much more than some loose change, and the rags upon his back.  Yet, at that moment the whole world was offered to him.

It is interesting to me that of all the people standing there that day; Christ asked this question to only one man – Bartimaeus.  How would you like to hear the Lord Jesus say to you today, “What can I do for you?”  As Jesus passes by in this blog, what is it that you need from Him?

How do we get the Lord to stop and offer this kind of help to us?  How can you get Him to say to you, “What is it that you want me to do for you?”  Through his memorable story Bartimaeus teaches us how we can have Christ intervene in our lives.  This question that was posed to Bartimaeus in verse 51 of our text is one that is reserved for a very specific group of people.  Notice first of all this question is for . . .

1) THOSE THAT REQUEST HIS ATTENTION.

The Bible tells us in Mark 10:46, And they came to Jericho: and as He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.”  There was, as Mark says, “a great number of people” traveling with the Lord Jesus, however, that day outside Jericho, there was only one person that was crying out to Him.

Verse 47 says, “And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me. !” 

The people to whom the Lord Jesus

Makes Himself available

Are not those who

Merely surround Him,

But rather those

That earnestly seek Him.

Notice a couple of things about the way Bartimaeus sought the attention of the Lord. First of all, he cried out . . .

With Desperation.

The Bible says that he “cried.”  The Greek word translated “cried” is a word that was used to describe “the squawk or call of a raven.”  It speaks of loud scream, or a cry of anguish.  The same word is used later in Mark 15:13, where it says that the crowd, “…cried, ‘Crucify Him!’”  As Bartimaeus found out that the Lord Jesus was passing by, he didn’t offer a half-hearted, “Dear Lord, bless us, we pray.”  No, crying out as if his whole life depended on being heard, Bartimaeus screamed, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

When was the last time you prayed with desperation?  Have you ever cried out to the Lord Jesus as if your whole life depended upon Him hearing you?   John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrims Progress, had a unique way with words.  Though never formally educated, Bunyan was a brilliant preacher and author.  Years ago I read a quote from Bunyan that I have never forgotten. He said, “When you pray, rather let your heart be without words than your words without heart.”

Bartimaeus wanted the Lord’s attention.  In order to get it, He cried out with desperation. Notice something else about the way He sought the Lord’s attention.  He not only cried out with desperation, but also . . .

With Determination.

The crowd that was following Jesus that day must have been a group of Baptists, because as soon as someone began to get emotional and passionate about the Lord Jesus, they told him to be quiet. Verse 48 says, “And many charged Him that he should hold his peace: but he cried all the more, Son of David, have mercy on me.”  Ignoring the crowd’s attempts to muzzle him, Bartimaeus kept crying out, Mark says, even more. He didn’t back off of his cry.  Instead, he cried with more urgency and emotion, determined to get the Savior’s attention.  Bartimeaus was determined that Jesus may pass by without stopping, but it will not be because He did not hear the beggar crying.

Have you quit crying out about your need?  Was there a time when you desperately sought the Lord about a matter, but now you hushed your prayers?  Bartimaeus was determined to cry out in spite of the discouragement he faced.  As a result, the Lord Jesus stopped, and responded to his cry.  Those who get the Lord’s attention, cry out for it with desperation and determination.

The question the Lord asked Bartimaeus is not only reserved for those that request His attention, but notice also secondly that it is only for . . .

2) THOSE THAT RECOGNIZE HIS ABILITY.

Bartimaeus sat by the road side that day as he had many days before.  Though he couldn’t see, he could tell there were a lot more people crowding the road side than usual.  Someone has said . . .

“He had no eyesight

But he had insight.”

The crowd knew the Lord only as “Jesus of Nazareth,” which referred to the place where the Lord had grown up.  Bartimaeus, on the other hand, called Jesus by the name, “Son of David.”

Bartimaeus saw more with faith

Than the rest of the crowd saw by sight.

He recognized the ability of the Lord Jesus.

Notice a couple of things Bartimaeus recognized about the Lord’s ability. He recognized His ability . . .

 To Hear.

The crowd that day tried to silence the cries of this beggar, and yet he kept crying.  It was as if he knew the Messiah would hear the cries of those in need.  Those who have the privilege of the Lord intervening in their lives are those who truly believe that when they cry out to Him, He hears them.

Bill Moyers was a special assistant to President Lyndon Johnson.  Once, while sharing a meal with the president and his family, Bill was asked to say the blessing.  In the middle of his prayer, President Johnson said, “Speak up, Bill!  Speak up!”  Moyers stopped his prayer, and without looking up said, “I wasn’t addressing you, Mr. President.”

Bartimaeus not only recognized the Lord’s ability to hear, but notice also further that he recognized the Lord’s ability . . .

To Help.

In his heart, Bartimaeus believed that Jesus was the Son of David, the long awaited Messiah.  Perhaps his mind went back again to a service in the synagogue, when the Rabbi read from Isaiah 35:5, where it says that when the Messiah comes, “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened…”  This blind beggar believed that Jesus Christ had the power to open his eyes!  He recognized that Jesus had the ability to help him.

What about you?  Do you really believe that Jesus Christ can help your situation?  Do you really believe that He has the ability to intervene on your behalf?

Fred Lynch is the high school boys basketball coach at Laney High School in Wilmington, NC.  He has had a long and relatively successful career at Laney, and yet, Lynch will always be remembered for a decision he made nearly thirty years ago.  Coach Lynch cut a skinny sophomore from his varsity roster.  That kid was Michael Jordan.  Obviously, at the time, Coach Lynch didn’t see all the ability that the skinny sophomore truly possessed.

I fear that many Christians do not fully realize all they have in knowing the person of Jesus Christ.  He has the ability to meet their every need, and yet they often cut Him out of their lives, and fail to call on Him with their needs.

There is a final truth we draw from this text. Christ will make Himself available not only to those that request His attention, and to those that recognize His ability, but also finally to . . .

3) THOSE THAT REQUIRE HIS ASSISTANCE.

The crowd came to a stop, because as verse 49 says, “Jesus stood still …”  He stopped, because a beggar on the side of the road was crying out, “Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.”  Bartimaeus had begged for charity and panhandled for loose change, but this request was very different.

He wasn’t asking Jesus for money.

He was asking for a miracle.

Bartimaeus needed divine assistance.  Notice a couple of things about his situation that required the Lord’s intervention.  Notice first of all that . . .

He Was Unable to Alter His Situation.

Bartimaeus’ blindness was obviously not something he could fix on his own.  He was powerless against the darkness in which he lived.

Bartimaeus didn’t need more money.

He didn’t need nicer clothes,

He didn’t need a better spot

On the side of the road.

He needed God to heal his eyes.

There are times in life when we face things that we must admit are bigger than our abilities.  There are times in which we must face the fact that we cannot alter our own situation.

Do you realize that when you reach that point,

Where you are reduced to the point of

Begging God for mercy that is when

You are most likely to see

His divine intervention?

As long as you think you can fix it, you will not cry out in such a way that Jesus stands still to hear your voice.  As long as you still have a backup plan, and a last resort to fix your problem, you will not beg for mercy and therefore you will not have the Lord open Heaven’s resources for you.

The Lord Jesus stops and helps

Those who know that

He is all they have,

And all they need.

Contrary to what many think . . .

The Lord helps those

Who can’t help themselves.

Notice not only that he was unable to alter his situation, but notice also further that . . .

He Was Unwilling to Accept His Situation.

A busy road, like this one leading out of Jericho, would have attracted many of the downcast beggars of that city.  Yet, only one of them cried out to the Lord Jesus.  Only one had faith to believe that he could be healed.  Only one blind beggar saw hope in Christ.

Some of you have settled for your current situation.  You have given up hope that your need will ever be met, and you are willing to go through life with your burdens on your back.

  • You have settled for the fact that your husband will never be by your side in church.
  • You have settled for the fact that you will always be bound by that besetting sin.
  • You have settled for blindness when you could have blessing.
  • You have settled for the mediocre when you could have the miraculous.

Bartimaeus had the will not to give up, and not to accept his situation.  What about you? Do you require the Lord’s assistance, or are you settling for a life on the road side?  In verse 51, Jesus asks Bartimaeus, “What do you want Me to do for you?”  As I contemplated that question, I thought, “That seems like an unnecessary question.” Surely the Lord could see that Bartimaeus was blind. nSurely, being the Son of God, He knew already the condition of the man calling His name.

As I prayed and meditated over this text, I realized that yes, the Lord knew what Bartimaeus needed, but He wanted Bartimaeus to ask anyway.  He wanted to hear him confess his need.

In much the same way, the Lord knows exactly what your need is.  Yet, if you want Him to stop and help you, then like Bartimaeus, He wants to hear you call His name, confess your faith in Him, and tell Him what it is you need from Him.

This is God’s 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.”

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For What Shall It Profit A Man?

Grace For The Journey

27July  Right now, everybody seems to be feeling the pain of a slow economy.  Well, not everybody.  At Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest oil company, it’s all profit.  In 2017, the company set another record, with $40.6 billion of net income.  That works out to a cool $1,287 of profit for every second of last year.

The Lord Jesus was not a businessman.  While He often spoke about money, He did not come to earth to make money.  While His mission was not economic, at the close of Mark chapter eight, He asked a question that dealt with the issue of profit and loss.

Through this question . . .

Christ taught that it is possible

For a man to gain and still lose.

In fact, His question implies that if a man could gain the whole world, with all its wealth, all its luxuries, and all its pleasures, and still end up a loser in the end.

The message revealed in this penetrating, insightful question is that . . .

A secure soul is more eternally valuable

Than the most profitable portfolio in the world.

If a man makes billions of dollars in profits, and yet his soul ends up in hell, his profit will be loss.  All the money in the world will not make up for a soul that is lost forever.

In Mark 8:36 the Lord Jesus asks one of His most penetrating and insightful questions. As this question is considered, there are three challenges that emerge from it.  As you read the question, these challenges must be answered in your own heart. First of all, this question . . .

 1) CHALLENGES OUR PRIORITIES.

In this question there are 2 different sets of priorities:

One involves the pursuit of worldly things;

The other involves the preservation of the soul.

What are the priorities that govern our life?

Do We Have Selfish Priorities?

Many in our day are like the little boy who was riding a wooden horse with his sister. Frustrated at her, he said, “If one of us would get off, there would be more room for me.”

Let’s be honest, and ask, “Do we live our life for the sole purpose of making our life better?”   When we evaluate what is most important in our life, do all our priorities somehow involve the improvement and benefit of ourselves?

Do We Have Spiritual Priorities?

Where do the things of God rank on our list of priorities?  How important is it to us to read the Bible?  How much time do we spend in prayer?  How faithfully do we attend church?

2) CHALLENGES OUR PERSPECTIVE.

How you look at something makes

All the difference in how you will approach it.

Someone once said that David fought Goliath because he had a different perspective. All the other soldiers looked at Goliath and said, “He’s too big to knock down.” David looked at Goliath and said, “He’s too big to miss.”

There are basically two different perspectives on life.  You are most likely living with one of these two perspectives.  Notice them both with me.  The first perspective is that:

Life Is Limited To Earth.

There are those who view this life as if this is the only journey they will ever take.  They begin at birth, and death is the final destination.  For these people, the only philosophy that makes any sense is, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”  They live for the things this world has to offer, ignoring thoughts of anything beyond their last breath, and dismissing their loose behavior by saying, “Hey, you only live once.”

Life Is Lived In Eternity.

The perspective Jesus puts forth is that this life is mere preparation for the life that is to come.  This life, with its brief span and vaporous speed are but the introduction, the preface to an eternal existence.

When you truly believe that life is lived in eternity, then the temporary things of this world are not nearly as important as the things that survive into eternity.  Accumulating the treasures of this earth is not nearly as important as sending ahead treasures for heaven, when you live with an eternal perspective.

There is a third challenge to be drawn from this question. It not only challenges your priorities, and challenges your perspective, but notice also finally that this question . . .

3) CHALLENGES OUR PREPARATION.

No one, no matter how hard they may try, could ever gain the whole world.  Yet, there are many who have lost their soul.  There are two things you ought to ask yourself as you consider this text.  First of all, you ought to ask yourself this . . .

Where’s The Concern for Your Soul.

We live in a day in which people are increasingly concerned about their physical appearance and the shape of their bodies.  People pay thousands of dollars for surgical procedures to shrink this and enlarge that, all in an effort to keep up their outward appearance.

However, most people have little concern for their souls.  In many ways, they are like a person who pays thousands of dollars to have a house painted that is infested with termites. They are like a person who puts new tires and wheels on a car with a broken engine.

Charles Spurgeon, while preaching on this text in 1856 said, “Consider how precious a soul must be, when both God and the devil are after it.”

What Is the Condition of Your Soul.

With His question in verse 36, the Lord Jesus presents the possibility of your soul being lost.  The word “lost” in this text literally means “to suffer damage.”  What is the condition of your soul?  Do you know for sure that if you have nothing else, you have security for your soul?

How can you know the condition of your soul?  A good place to start is by examining your priorities?  Are they selfish or spiritual?  What about your perspective?  Do you live as if life is limited to this earth, or are you living for the life that is to come?

The Lord Jesus measures the success of a life by very different standards than the world.  If someone were to gain the whole world, no doubt he would be considered a success.  Yet Jesus says that if there was a man who could gain the whole world, it would not be profitable to him if lost his soul.

I pray you will consider this question in our heart and in an honest way.

This is God’s 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.”

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 How It Is That You Do Not Understand?

Grace For The Journey

GraceForTheJourneyThemeFor2017

24JulyB  Not everyone that has a brain actually uses it? For instance, I read a story about a woman that was pulled over by the police. The officer kindly asked to see the woman’s driver’s license.  She huffed a bit and said, “I wish you guys would get your act together. Just yesterday you take away my license, and today you expect me to show it to you.”  I also read about a man who went in to a pizza place and ordered a small pizza to go.  The clerk asked the man if he wanted the pizza cut into four slices, or six.  The man thought for a moment, and said, “Just cut it into four slices.  I don’t think I’m hungry enough to eat six.”

Having a brain and using it

Are two different things.

If we were honest, all of us have moments when our minds go into a coma, and we say and do things that cause the people around us shake their heads.  If you study the disciples, as they followed the Lord, there are times that their behavior causes you to wonder if the Lord had picked the right group.  Obviously, with the exception of Judas, the disciples became the foundation for the expansion and success of the Church, indicating that eventually, they got it.

However, in Mark chapter eight, there is an incident recorded in which the disciples obviously did not get it.  The Lord was trying to teach them an important spiritual lesson, but at the time they were thick-headed and blind to what was going on around them.  In response to their stupidity, the Lord hit the dense disciples with a series of indicting questions, finally asking them in verse 21, “How is that you do not understand?”  Unfortunately, the original twelve were not the only dense disciples our Lord would ever have.  Still today, there are Christians who just do not get it.  For them, the Lord’s question is still valid. “How is that you do not understand?”

By examining the disciples in this text, we are challenged to think carefully about our Christian life, and how well we understand what the Lord is doing.  Notice that the disciples . . .

 1) WERE CONCERNED WITH THE SIMPLE.

Mark chapter eight is a good snapshot of a typical day in the life of a disciple. The chapter opens with Jesus feeding a crowd of four thousand with only seven loaves of bread and a few small fish.  On the heels of this spectacular event, the Lord was confronted by the Pharisees, who challenged Him to perform some sort of a sign, as if His previous efforts were not sufficient.  As this typical and yet remarkable day came to a close, the Lord and His disciples boarded a boat headed to the next location.

Surely, the disciples would spend the trip contemplating and discussing the significance of the day’s events.  Certainly, they would be concerned about the Master and His work.

But instead of celebrating a wonderful day and praising the Lord notice what their concern was.  Verses 14-17 tells us, “Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, and they did not have more than one loaf with them in the boat.  Then He charged them, saying, ‘Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.’  And they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘It is because we have no bread.’  But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, ‘Why do you reason because you have no bread?  Do you not perceive nor understand?  Is your heart still hardened? ‘”

The simple concerns of the disciples serve to remind us of how many times we are too concerned with the wrong things.  Notice a couple of things about their concerns.  Notice . . .

How Narrow Their Concerns.

The Lord had been doing great things . . .

The sick were being healed,

The dead religion of the Jews

Was being confronted,

And yet

Christ’s disciples seemed

To care only about bread.

In much the same way, many Christians today spend the majority of their life narrowly focused on themselves, and their present situation.

You tell them that the world needs Christ,

And the gospel must be proclaimed,

And all they seem to be worried about

Is why the preacher didn’t shake their hand,

Or why the temperature of the building

Isn’t set exactly like their living room at home.

The Lord Jesus asked the disciples in verse 18, “Having eyes, see you not?  And having ears, do you not hear?  And do you not remember?”  Notice not only how narrow the simple concerns of the disciples, notice also . . .

How Needless Their Concerns.

That same morning, these twelve men had watched the Lord Jesus take seven loaves of bread, break them, and miraculously multiply them in order to feed the 4,000 hungry people.  Their discussion over the lack of bread is trivial, futile, and needless in light of all that had gone on that day.

We fret over things like houses, clothes, doctor bills, cars, and other largely petty things. In many ways, we are like the dense disciples worrying about one loaf of bread.

Notice something else we draw from these disciples . . .

2) WERE CLUELESS IN THE SPIRITUAL.

The busy day was winding down, and as the boat started out across the water, the Lord was meditating about the confrontation he had had with the Pharisees.  The disciples, on the other hand, were busy arguing about which one of them had forgotten the bread, and which one of them had dibs on the one piece that had made it on board.

Suddenly, the Master speaks from the back of the boat.  Verse 15 tells us, “Then He charged them, saying, ‘Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.’”  The Lord had a spiritual truth He wanted to convey to the disciples, and yet, verse 16 says that they continued discussing the issue of the bread, as if the Lord was referring to that.

The disciples misunderstanding of the Lord’s statement to them is a reminder of how often we are clueless regarding spiritual things.  Notice a couple of things about their cluelessness.  First of all, they were clueless . . .

About His Word To Them.

Jesus makes an important spiritual statement, and the disciples completely missed the significance and meaning of what He had said.  The Lord asked them in verse 17, “But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, ‘Why do you reason because you have no bread?  Do you not yet perceive nor understand?  Is your heart still hardened?’”  There are many people who sit on church pews week after week and they hear the Word of God declared, yet they leave with no clue of what it truly means for them.

These dense disciples were not only clueless about His word to them, but notice that they were also clueless . . .

About His Work In Them.

The Lord said to His disciples in verse 15, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.”  The Lord was trying to develop cautious and intelligent disciples that would be prepared to minister in the midst of a culture that opposed them.  The disciples thought He was giving a lesson about buying the right kind of bread.  They were clueless about the fact that He was trying to do a work in their lives.

Every day of your life, God has something He wants to say to you and do in you. Unfortunately, many of His children are too clueless to realize that what He wants to do has nothing to do with Sportscenter or American Idol.

Notice a third truth we draw from this text. The disciples are not only concerned with the simple, and clueless in the spiritual, they are also . . .

3) WERE CALLOUSED TO THE SUPERNATURAL.

What is so astounding, and almost comical, about this whole scene is that twice in recent days, these same men had watched the Lord Jesus take a few loaves of bread, and feed somewhere close to ten thousand people.  Though they had seen Him work miracles in the past, they were calloused to His miracle working ability.

The Bible is filled with stories of God’s miracle working power.  Some of you have seen Him work miracles in your own life.  Yet today, in spite of what you know about Him, you are worried about bread.

Notice a couple of things we draw from the disciples’ callousness toward the miraculous work of the Lord Jesus.  Notice first of all . . .

They Saw No Miraculous Potential.

In verse 18 notice the Lord’s question, “Having eyes, do you not see?  And having ears, do you not hear?  And do you not remember?”  In the next couple of verses He reminds them of what had happened the last time two times that they were in a situation where there was not enough food.  In both cases . . .

The Lord had taken what seemed

To be an insufficient amount,

And had multiplied it until it was

More than what was needed.

In spite of this fact, as the disciples discussed a very similar situation, none of them seem to even consider the possibility of a miracle.  Though they had seen the miraculous occur, it did not occur to them that a miracle might happen in their situation.

You may know that God

Can perform miracles,

But when was the last time

You gave Him the opportunity

To do it your life?

When was the last time you quit counting the bread, and asked Him to multiply it instead?  Notice further . . .

They Saw No Miraculous Person.

In the text, even when Jesus interrupts the great bread debate, none of the disciples even think to ask Him to intervene in their food shortage.  Think about that. There in the boat with them was the Son of God.  He had the power to multiply the one piece of bread they had, or to create 12 new loaves of bread out of thin air.  He had spoken the universe existence.  A dozen dinner rolls would be no problem.

Listen to His question in verse 21, “So He said to them, ‘How is it you do not understand?’”  Imagine He is asking it to you?  What are you most concerned with?  Is it the things of God, or are you worried about bread?

Do you understand the things Christ is saying to you and doing in you, or are you clueless about spiritual things?  Ask God to make you more aware and awake to His power that needs to be at work in your life.

This is God’s 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.”

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Why Are You So Fearful?

Grace For The Journey

23July  Several years ago, a publication called USA Weekend ran a story entitled “Fear: What Americans are Afraid of Today.”  A poll was conducted, and people were asked to name the things they feared the most.

  • 54% of those surveyed said that they were afraid of being in a car crash.
  • 53% said they were afraid of having cancer.
  • Among other fears listed in the survey were Alzheimer’s, inadequate Social Security, and natural disasters.

Fear is a subject with which most of us are familiar.  However, there is a fear that can be beneficial to us.  The Bible tells us in Psalms 111:10, The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do His commandments: His praise endures forever.”  This type of fear is good and should be encouraged.  On the other hand, there is also a “spirit of fear.”  This type of fear should be avoided.  A “spirit of fear” will hinder your walk with the Lord.  The Bible says in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

While we should reverence and fear the Lord,

Apart from Him,

The Word of God calls upon us

To live fearlessly in this world.

We can overcome fear by looking to God and receiving His Love.  The Bible tells us in 1 John 4:18, “perfect love casts out fear.” 

As children of God,

Our lives are

To be lived

By faith, not fear.

In Mark chapter four, we find the disciples panic-stricken and frightened during a violent storm on the Sea of Galilee.  After the Lord stopped the storm, He asks them a pair of good questions.  In verse 40, He asked them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?

That night, as the boat began to fill with water, and the disciples envisioned their own burial at sea, they had no faith, just fear.

Notice three truths that we see in this story.  Notice that even in the storm . . .

1) THE PROMISE OF THE LORD SECURES US.

In verse 35, before the disciples began their journey out on to the Sea of Galilee, the Lord Jesus said something to them that at the time seemed insignificant, though it could have helped them had they remembered it in the storm.  Verse 35 says, “And the same day, when the even was come, He said unto them, ‘Let us pass over unto the other side.’”  

It was the Lord’s plan

To go from one side

Of the lake to the other.

Because the Lord planned

To reach the other side,

His plan was as

Good as a promise.

Though the disciples thought they were going to die that night in the storm, had they recalled what Jesus had said, they would have known that for them to die in the storm would be for the Lord Jesus to break His word.

Likewise in our lives, though the storms of life may rage, we have a word from God regarding our trip through life.  The Bible says in Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that He which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

We got in the boat with Christ the day we were saved.  Though at times the wind blows hard, and the storm rages around us, God has told us where we are going.

Notice a couple of things about the promise that secures us.  Notice first of all that this promise is . . .

A Promise for Our Deliverance.

There are those who take the presence of a storm in their life as an indication that God has failed them, or that His Word has not come true.  However, in our text . . .

The Lord made no assurances

For an easy journey.

He did not promise His disciples

That there would be no storm,

Or that the sailing would be easy.

Notice again His words in verse 35.  He said, “Let us pass over…”  That phrase comes from one Greek word that literally means “to go through.

Nowhere is the Christian given

A guarantee of clear skies

And calm seas

As they journey through life.

No, in fact, storms are part of God’s providential plan For the lives of His children.

What is promised

For the followers of Christ

Is that regardless

Of the storm that blows,

We are going through it.

We may enter the storm, but the assurance for the believer is that at some point we will exit the storm as well.  We may get wet at times, but we will not drown.  We may get soaked by the storm, but we will not sink in the sea!  We have a promise for our deliverance.

Notice further that the promise that secures is not only a promise for our deliverance, but it is also . . .

A Promise for our Destination.

Notice again in verse 35.  Jesus said, “Let us cross over to the other side…”  The destination was the other side of the Sea of Galilee.

Though the storm would toss the ship,

And turn it from its course,

The promise of the Lord Jesus

Assured the fact that at some point

That little ship was going to reach the other side.

The disciples thought the ship was going to end up at the bottom of the lake. The only destination they saw for themselves was a watery grave.  Yet, the Master had clearly stated that they were going to the other side.  Their arrival at that destination was certain before the journey even began!

The Word of God tells us that this world is not the final stop on our itinerary.  We are pilgrims passing through, in search of another city.  Our Savior has promised that we are going to reach the other side someday.

The good news for the believer is that no matter how bad the weather may be in this life, one day, by God’s grace, and in fulfillment of His promise, we are going to reach the shores of Heaven.

The itinerary of the believer

Will never be changed by a storm.

We may have to go into the storm, but we are going to make it through, and on to our final destination.  We can be at rest during the storm, because the promise of the Lord secures us.

Notice also secondly that . . .

2) THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD SETTLES US.

Verse 37 states, “And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat , so that it was already filling.”  Notice that this storm arose as the boat made its way across the Sea of Galilee.  We are told that the storm became so violent that the waves began to pour into the ship and fill it with water.

When the disciples came to the Lord, rather than wringing His hands, He was sleeping.  Verse 38 tells us, “And he was in the stern, asleep on a pillow.  And they awoke Him, and said to Him, ‘Master, do You not care that we are perishing?’”

The truth is that though things looked bad.  Yet, the disciples could have been at ease as well.

Though the Savior may have been asleep,

He was asleep on the ship with them.

His presence alone should have been

Enough to settle the scared disciples.

The storms of life may rock our little boats, but we can be settled in the storm knowing that the Lord is with us.

Notice a couple of things about His settling presence.  Notice first of all that . . .

His Presence Insured Them.

The infamous Titanic, built in 1912, was dubbed by some as “unsinkable.”  A deck hand was reported to have said, “God himself could not sink this ship.”  Unfortunately, on April 14th, on its maiden voyage, the Titanic ended up at the bottom of the ocean.

If there ever has been such a thing

As an unsinkable vessel,

It was this little boat

That carried the Lord and His disciples

That night on the Sea of Galilee.

His presence in their ship was insurance that they were not going down.  No vessel that carries Jesus will ever be overcome by the storm, or buried in the sea.

Notice not only that His presence insured them, but notice also that His presence had a settling effect on them because . . .

His Presence Instructed Them.

The wind was howling, the thunder was crashing, and the waves were spilling over into the boat.  The disciples turned to the Lord, only to find Him sound asleep, resting on a pillow.  This was one of those many moments when the disciples were no doubt astonished by the actions of the Lord Jesus.

Jesus rested, not because

He was unaware of the storm;

He knew about it before it ever began.

He rested because

He was unafraid of the storm.

We need to look to Him, and learn from Him.

Our journey may not always be calm,

But that does not mean that we cannot be.

We can rest, even in the raging storm,

Knowing that Christ is with us,

And our Father is in control.

Trials will come, but we can be settled by the presence of our Lord Jesus!

There is one more truth we find in this text that enables us to live with no fear, just faith. Notice not only that the promise of Jesus secures us, and the presence of Jesus settles us, but notice also thirdly and finally that . . .

 3) THE POWER OF THE LORD SAVES US.

 Verse 38 says, “But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow: and they awoke him, and said to Him, ‘Master, do You not care that we are perishing?’”  This question was answered by the Lord as He stood up and performed a miracle.   Verse 39 states, “Then He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, ‘Peace, be still.’  And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”

 This story reminds us that our salvation in and from the storm always comes from the power of the Lord Jesus.

Notice a couple of truths about the Lord’s power. Notice first of all . . .

Jesus Can Stop the Storm.

With the authority and power that can only belong to God, the Lord Jesus shouted over the storm, and demanded it to settle down and be quiet.  The wind ceased and there was a great calm.   The truth is that our Lord has the power to stop a storm just as quickly as it arises. The disciples could have stood on that ship and shouted at the wind and barked orders at the waves until they were hoarse, but it would have made no difference.

Likewise, all our struggling and worrying over our storms is to no avail.  They will blow until the Lord says, “Stop!”

Notice not only that He has the power to stop the storm, but notice also further that . . .

Jesus Can Strengthen the Saint.

The Lord’s words to the storm had the same effect upon His disciples.  It could be that . . .

What you need

More than fair weather

Is a firm heart.

Perhaps . . .

What Christ wants

To do for you

Is not stop the storm,

But rather

Strengthen your faith.

Albert Einstein once said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”  For the believer . . .

In every storm-tossed journey

There is an opportunity

To see the power of God

displayed in your life.

Next time it is stormy . . .

Don’t look at the sea;

Look at the Savior.

When the winds quit howling, and the swelling sea became a glassy calm, the Lord Jesus turned to those wide-eyed disciples, with their mouths open, and said in verse 40, “. . . Why are you so fearful? how is it that you have no faith?”

Those are good questions.  They are good questions for us today.  In the midst of our circumstances, when we panic, fret, and fear what might be, the Lord must surely wonder why we are so afraid, and why we have no faith.

When you recall that we have the Savior’s promise, the Savior’s presence, and the Savior’s power, no matter how rough the sea gets, we can live with no fear; we can rest in that promise, that presence, and that power!

This is God’s 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.”

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Could You Not Watch With Me One Hour?

Grace For The Journey

GraceForTheJourneyThemeFor2017

22July  In Matthew 26:38-46, we find the record of Christ’s toil and anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane.  The cross was just hours away, and our Lord’s humanity wrestled with all that trial would require.  Gethsemane is one of the most majestic and yet mysterious scenes in the entire life of our Lord.

In the midst of this struggle, there is something very unusual and almost unbelievable. In the midst of His agonizing with the Father Jesus pauses to check on the three disciples He had brought with Him.  Verse 40 tells us He asked Peter, “Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What?  Could you not watch with Me one hour?”  When we read this question that the Lord asks it ought to grasp our attention rouse us from our slumbering spiritual state.

As we examine this incident in the Garden of Gethsemane, we are reminded of three truths to which we all need to be awakened.  Notice first of all, we need to wake up and hear:

1) THE LORD’S INVITATION TO US.

Verse 38 says,Then He said to them, ‘My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: stay here and watch with Me.

The eternal Son of God, all-powerful and self-sufficient, wanted in this most critical moment, to be with His beloved disciples.   He invited them to “stay” with Him, and to “watch” with Him.

In much the same way, the Lord Jesus invites us into His presence, and asks us to wait and watch with Him.  As we look at verse 38, we notice a couple of things about this invitation.  First of all this is an invitation to . . .

To Sit With Him.

Notice in verse 38, the word “stay.”  Jesus wanted these disciples to “wait” with Him. The word “stay” is translated from a Greek word that means “to remain, or to dwell.”  The word speaks of staying and waiting for an extended period of time.  The Lord asked these men to stay and to wait with Him.  He wasn’t asking for any action or work or labor on their part.  He just wanted them to sit down, be still, and stay with Him.

Of all the adjectives that could be used to describe our lives, stillness is probably not on the list.  If we have to wait and be still, it usually aggravates and irritates us because we are sure there are other things we could be doing.

The truth we draw from this text, is that as we are running around, busying ourselves with what we consider the “important” things of life, the Lord Jesus invites us to come away with Him, settle down, sit down, and just “wait” and stay in His presence.

Before He sent them out to minister He called them to Himself.  Verse 14 says,  “And He ordained twelve, that they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach.”  We too should spend time with Him before we attempt to minister or do His work.  We like a fast-food Christianity.

We want a quick conversation,

But what He is offering

Is a quiet communion.

He invites us to sit down, stop our running about, and spend time with Him.

Mary and Martha are a good illustration of what Jesus is getting at.  What Martha was doing wasn’t wrong it just wasn’t the best.  Mary chose the good part.

As we look at this invitation in verse 38, we see not only that this is an invitation to sit with Jesus, it also is an invitation . . .

To Share With Him.

Notice the two special words Jesus finishes He statement in verse 38, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death.  Stay and watch with Me.”  That night in the garden, God the Father and God the Son were talking among themselves.  The Lord Jesus was engaged in earnest prayer.  He certainly did not need the disciples to help Him.  He could do this on His own.  Don’t miss the fact that He invited them to share with Him in this historic and heavenly conversation.

Though He

Did not require

Their presence;

He requested it.

He invited them to share with Him.

Unfortunately, far too often we think of Christ only in terms of what He has done for us, or what we are doing for Him.  What we fail to consider are the many glorious things He wants us to do with Him.  Like the disciples that night, the Lord invites us to share with Him in times of meditation and prayer.  He calls to us to take time to share with Him in private and personal times of retreat and communion.

We need to be awakened and hear the Lord’s invitation to us, but notice secondly that we need to wake up and hear . . .

2) THE LORD’S INDICTMENT OF US.

After the Lord asked His disciples to wait with Him, verse 39 tells us that He went on a little further from them, and fell down and began to pray.  In the midst of His of prayer, He comes back to where the disciples were, and where in verse 40 it says, “Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping and said to Peter, “What?  Could  you not watch with Me one hour?”  In light of where they were, and Who they were with, it seems unbelievable that they fell asleep!  The Lord seemed surprised as well, and He ask them, “What, could you not watch with Me for one hour?”

Notice a couple of things this question implies.  This question points to the fact that . . .

They Were Unaware.

They were asleep that night in the garden.  Christ asked them if it was so hard to just stay awake with Him for one hour.  This was not just any other night.  Within minutes, the Roman guards led by traitorous Judas would come and arrest the Lord, taking Him to His eventual death on the cross.  Surely, had the disciples truly realized the significance of that night, they would have been able to combat their fatigue and waited alertly with their Lord.

Shortly after the 1912 election, new President Woodrow Wilson went to visit one of his elderly aunts.  She asked him what he had been doing lately.  He said, “Well, I was just elected president.”  She said, “That’s nice, president of what?”  He said, “The United States.”  She gave him a strange look and said, “Don’t be silly.”  Like the sleeping disciples, many of us are ignorantly unaware of the importance of where we are, and Who it is we serve.

This indictment question not only pointed to the fact that they were unaware, but notice also further that . . .

They Were Unavailable.

In verse 39, the Lord is on His face, agonizing before His Father.  For some reason, He pauses in His prayer, and comes to the disciples, only to find them unavailable.

They were unavailable

Because they were unawake.

There is a third truth we draw from this passage.  We need to wake up to the Lord’s invitation to us, and the Lord’s indictment of us, but notice also lastly that we need to awaken to . . .

3) THE LORD’S INSTRUCTION FOR US.

Like the Great Physician He is, the Lord has a prescription for His sleepy disciples.  Verse 41 says, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  The Lord invites to come apart and abide with Him in private communion.  He indicts His disciples for being sleepy when they should have been awake and available.  He then instructs them on how to keep their eyes open and hearts close to Him.

Notice a couple of truths from the instructions of verse 41 . . .

We Need to Be Cautious.

The Lord told Peter and the others to “watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.”

If they had been more in tune to the moment,

And had joined their Lord in watching and praying,

They would have been much less likely

To have failed Him by falling asleep.

The word “watch” speaks of being awake and alert.  It means “to be on guard and aware of your surroundings.” 

We often act as if there are

No dangers and no entrapments.

The Lord’s words to His blurry-eyed disciples are of great value in our day.

We must spend less time playing and more time praying.

We must quit being so casual, and start being more cautious.

We must heed the words of1 Peter 5:8 which tells us, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”

The Lord’s instructions in verse 41, remind us not only that we need to be cautious, but also that . . .

We Need to Be Conscious.

The Lord told His disciples to watch and pray.  Then He added this statement.  He said, “…the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  The Lord was aware of something the disciples had not realized.  I am sure their desire was to be with the Lord, to watch with Him, to wait with Him, and to pray with Him.  That was their desire, but it was not what they actually did.

Their spiritual willingness was overpowered by a physical weakness.  Their physical desires and needs were a stronger force in their lives than their spiritual desires.

We need to be conscious of what our Lord said.

As long as we are alive,

We will have to wage war with our flesh.

Our bodies will want to do that

Which is counterproductive to our spirit.

We must understand and recognize

That while our heart may have good intentions,

Our body will often have strong contentions.

The instructions of the Lord remind us to always be conscious of the fact that our spiritual desires are in a fight with our physical weaknesses.

May God help us to live righteously in this unrighteous world.

This is God’s 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.”

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What Do You Believe About Jesus?

Grace For The Journey

21July  The Lord and His disciples are about 120 miles from Jerusalem in northern Palestine. The time is getting near when He will go to the Holy City and the cross upon which He will die.

We come to what is not just a good question, but . .

Possibly the single greatest question in history.

In verse 15, the Lord Jesus asked His disciples,

“But who say you that I am?”

How a man defines the Lord will make all the difference in that man’s existence and eternity.  How a person answers the question put forth in this text is the single issue upon which destinies are made and eternities are mapped.

The disciples have been with Jesus for about 3 years, and now it’s final exam time. He asks first who the crowd says He is, and then who the disciples say He is.

Notice:

1) THIS QUESTION IS PUBLICLY ARGUED.

In verse 13 of Matthew 16, Jesus privately polls His disciples and asks them what the people are saying about Him.  He says, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?”  In verse 14, the disciples give Him for opinions, “And they said, “Some say that You are John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.”

A Few Opinions Offered

 John the Baptist

He is at the top of the list because of his preaching ministry and message of repentance.  The Lord was a far greater preacher than John, and He spoke with an authority that was astonishing.  He not only spoke the Word of God, He IS the Word made flesh!

John only pointed to the Lamb of God,

But Jesus personified the Lamb.

 Elijah

He is on the list because of His miraculous prayers and miracles.  Elijah prayed and the heavens opened and closed, whether rain or fire.  Jesus had a powerful prayer life.  The disciples never asked Him to teach them to preach, or to work miracles . . . but they DID say, teach us to pray!  They were blown away by His ability to talk to His Father, and they were happy to learn they could easily do the same.

 Jeremiah

He is on the list because of His compassion.  Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet, and he was known particular for His tears.  Jesus was known for being moved to tears . . . from His view of a multitude in a crowd like sheep with no shepherd, to the tomb of just one and the shortest verse in the Bible, our Jesus wept and wept, and still today when we are hurting, He hurts right along with us; His heart breaks for us, and our tears are a language that our God understands!

In our today, many think highly of Jesus.  I venture to say that there are very few people who would have something negative or derogatory to say about the character or conduct of the man, Jesus.

  • People consider Him to be a master teacher.
  • They consider Him to be a prophet or holy man.
  • They call His life the supreme example.
  • They appreciate His sacrificial life and service to others.

For many, Jesus is just inspiring.  Like a hero from the pages of time, they look to Him with fondness, and regard.  They respect His impact and influence on history, and his example of selflessness.

We will never find the right answer

To this persistent question

By taking a public opinion poll.

When it comes to the Lord, the crowd is always wrong, yet many make public opinion their main method of gaining spiritual understanding.

All Flawed Opinions.

In verse 14, the people associated Christ with some of the greatest figures in Israel’s religious history.  Yet . . .

As fond as their opinions may have been, they were inherently flawed.   Men have argued about the identity and nature of Christ for some 2,000 years, and while they may have admirable and high opinions of Him, their fond opinions are often flawed, and fall short of who He really is.

When we consider the question of defining Jesus, we see not only that this question is publicly argued, but notice also further that . . .

2) THIS QUESTION IS PLAINLY ANSWERED.

Verse 15 says, “He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?”  

The Lord narrows His focus.

As we study the response given by the Lord’s disciples, we are reminded that the question of, “Who is Jesus,” is one that has been plainly answered, in spite of the various opinions.

Every person must answer this question.  The crowd cannot answer it for you.  You cannot abstain or opt out from answering . . . you can delay, but you cannot hide forever, you will answer someday.

There are really only 4 answers that can be given . . .

 He is a legend.

It is all made up.  He never really was.  A very small minority today believe this. Intellectually you cannot hold this position.  Why?  Because there’s more historical proof of the existence of Jesus Christ than of any other person in human history.  I hate it when cable channels try to deal with Bible stories because they totally botch it up so often.  And when they investigate who Jesus was, there’s no exception, they flaunt their ignorance as if it were a neon sign flashing above their heads.  But there is one thing they never even attempt to do, and that is to deny His existence . . . there’s simply too much historical evidence to even begin to go there.

 He is a liar.

He deceived people into thinking He was someone He was not.  He was a good teacher, a good person who did good things, but He was not God in the flesh.  This position is not even an option.  Why?  Because He claimed to be God, and if He wasn’t then He was a liar, and good people don’t go around living a lie.  It wasn’t a little white lie if He was lying, He was a pathological, habitual deceiver . . . is that a picture of a good person?  No!  And people can see right thru that kind of liar.

 He i a lunatic.

He was off in the head.  Maybe sincere, but crazy . . . mentally deranged.  But again, read His words, and see how the people marveled.  They said, “Where does He get His wisdom.”  The most brilliant minds have studied His words for centuries and have only scratched the surface at the depth of His wisdom!  And so, if he was not a legend, liar, or lunatic, then there’s only one other conclusion you can make.

 He is Lord.

Note the testimony of His Followers.  Who else would you expect to answer the Lord’s question?  Of course, it was Peter.  Peter got it right!

This has been, for 2,000 years

The confession and testimony

Of all who follow the Lord Jesus.

To those who know Him best, He is not just a man; He is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

There is one more truth that we draw from this question of defining Jesus.  Notice not only that this question is publicly argued, and this question is plainly answered, but notice also thirdly that . . .

3) THIS QUESTION IS PERSONALLY APPLIED.

In verse 15, Jesus moves His question from the court of public consensus to the realm of personal conviction.  This question must be read and applied personally by each and every one of us.

The question is, “Who do you say that I am?”  Notice a couple of things we find when we personally apply this question.  We find that . . .

It Is an Individual Question.

The Lord Jesus was no longer interested in hearing the opinions of the public.  In verse 15, His question was a personal one.  Ultimately . . .

It does not really matter

What everyone else confesses

Regarding the Lord Jesus.

As far as you are concerned,

The only opinion that matters is yours.

The Lord Jesus wants to know

How you define Him.

Jesus is not asking you to tell Him what your parents or grandparents thought of Him.

It is not only an individual question, but notice also further that:

It Is an Important Question.

If He is what He claimed to be,

What His disciples affirm Him to be,

And what the Word of God declares Him to be,

Then what you think of Him,

And what you personally believe

About Him is of the utmost importance.

Considering the weight of eternity, no question, no issue is more important than a proper definition of Christ in your life.

The Bible says in Romans 14:12, “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”  On that day, when each of us, individually face the God of eternity, only one thing will matter – what we personally believed about Christ.

Defining Jesus is something we must all do at some time or another.  We must decide what we believe about Him.  Whatever others may say, there is coming a day when all that will matter is what you have said.

Years ago, a man walked a tightrope high in the air with no safety net.  A great crowd gathered below to watch.  Then he took a wheelbarrow across.  Then he talked to the crowd and asked, “How many here believe I can take a person across inside the wheelbarrow?” Everyone raised their hand.  He pointed to one man raising his hand and said, “You sir, come here and jump in.”  The man took off running!  He believed it in his head but not in his heart.

So, who is Jesus Christ to you?

This is God’s 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.”

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Important Questions To Consider – How Does Christ See Us?

Grace For The Journey

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20July  Today I am beginning a new series of blogs entitled “The Questions of Christ.”  As we start this study, it is important to be reminded that the Lord doesn’t ask questions in order to find an answer . . .

He asks these questions

To bring those

Being questioned

To a place of awareness.

He doesn’t need

To get the answer,

For He knows all things.

Over the next 3 weeks we will consider the questions our Savior asks, and pray that the Lord will make us aware of the things that the Lord wishes to reveal in asking these questions.

Have ever wondered to which generation you belong.  I have found some data that may help you. .

  • The Builders / Greatest Generation. Born between 1901 and 1924.  These folks fought the first World War, and largely built the America that their children and grandchildren have enjoyed.
  • The Silent Generation. Born between 1925 and 1942. This group of people inherited the work ethic of your parents, and used it to quietly and resiliently. Shaping Events – Enjoyed the “Roaring Twenties” and survived the Great Depression.
  • Baby Boomer Generation . Born between 1943 and 1960. These folks are a part of one of the largest generations ever.  The majority of Boomers were protesting in the sixties, marrying in the seventies, and building businesses in the eighties.  Baby boomers are the biggest consumers of traditional media like television, radio, magazines, and newspaper.  Despite being so traditional 90% of baby boomers have a Facebook account.  This generation has begun to adopt more technology in order to stay in touch with family members and reconnect with old friends.  Shaping events: Post-WWII optimism, the cold war, and the hippie movement.
  • Generation X.  Born between 1961 and 1981.  Most of those born during this time cannot remember a time without television, and we cannot function without a computer or mobile phone.  They are known as: the “Latchke.”  Gen X still reads newspapers, magazines, listens to the radio, and watches TV (about 165 hours of TV a month).  However, they are also digitally savvy and spend roughly 7 hours a week on Facebook or other online services (the highest of any generational cohort).  Shaping Events: End of the cold war, the rise of personal computing, and feeling lost between the two huge generations.  Gen Xers are trying to raise a family, pay off student debt, and take care of aging parents.  These demands put a high strain on their resources.
  • Millennials (Gen Y).  Born between 1981-1995.  Also known as Gen Y, Gen Me, Gen We, Echo Boomers.  95% still watch TV, but Netflix edges out traditional cable as the preferred provider and streaming services is a popular choice. .  This generation is extremely comfortable with mobile devices but 32% will still use a computer for purchases.  They typically have multiple social media accounts.  Shaping Events: The Great Recession, the technological explosion of the internet and social media, and 9/11.
  • Generation Z.   Born between 1995 and 2015.  Also known as the  iGeneration, Post-millennials, and Homeland Generation.  The average Gen Zer received their first mobile phone at age 10 years of age.  Many of them grew up playing with their parents’ mobile phones or tablets.  They have grown up in a hyper-connected world and the smartphone is their preferred method of communication.  On average, they spend 7 hours a day on their mobile device.  Shaping Events: Smartphones, social media, never knowing a country not at war, and seeing the financial struggles of their parents (Gen X).

While sociologist and historians divide us up into categories and divisions, in many ways, we are all a part of one generation.  We live in a common time, and we share a common society.  We are all a part of the present generation.

In our text the Lord offered an evaluation of the generation in which He lived.  He used an analogy to sum up their overall attitude and life.  His evaluation was not exactly a positive one.  He compared His generation to a group of children playing games in a marketplace.   While Jesus was speaking specifically to the Jewish people that surrounded Him some 2,000 years ago, as we study His assessment of them, there are some truths that definitely apply to each generation.

Note the question the Lord asks in Matthew 11:16, “But to what shall I liken this generation?  It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their companions.”  There are three truths that the Lord points out on this verse.  Llet’s see how they apply to us as well.

1) IT IS A SILLY GENERATION.

Jesus says that the generation in which He lived could be compared to, “…children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their companions.”  The people were acting immature and childish.  There was silliness about the way in which these people lived. By examining the Lord’s words, we find some clues as to why the Lord compared them to children. Notice first of all . . .

They Were Silly Because Of Their Apathy.

The Lord Jesus said that the people were like children, “sitting in the markets…”  Important business is being transacted in the market. Money is changing hands, livelihoods are being made, and the business of life is taking place all around.  Yet, the Lord describes his generation as being like children, completely oblivious to the importance of the things going on around them.

As we look at our present world, important events are taking place all around us.  The “signs of the times” are literally plastered on the front pages of newspapers.  The leading stories on the nightly news often sound like a contemporary report of Bible prophecies.  All the while, many in our generation are blissfully unaware of the critical nature of the day in which we live.

We are in our own little world,

Unconscious of the real world

Rapidly turning from God

And seeking to live without Him.

It reminds me of a famous photograph that was taken while John Kennedy was president.  In the picture, the president in on the phone in the oval office, conducting the business of the nation, and all the while, John Jr. is under the desk, playing with a toy.

John Jr. was not only oblivious to the importance of what was going on around him, he really didn’t care.  His childishness made him apathetic to the historic events unfolding around him.

The Lord compared His generation to “little children,” and that is not only because of their apathy, but notice further that it is also:

They Were Silly Because Of Their Activity.

Look again at the picture Christ paints in our text.  He compares his generation to little children, sitting in the market. Look at verse 17:17, “And saying, ‘We have played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we have mourned to you, and you did not lament.’”  These children are playing games.  The phrase “we have played the flute,” refers to the music played at a wedding.  They were playing wedding songs. When they say, “…we have mourned…,” they are pretending to be at a funeral.  Literally, Christ compared his generation to a group of kids playing games of make-believe and pretending.  Their lives were nothing more than silly, childish games.

Today we live in a day and among a generation that is addicted to amusement and being entertained.   According to Entertainment Weekly, Americans spent over 33 billion dollars on movies, either at the rental store, or the theater.  According to the A.C. Neilson Co. the average American will spend an estimated four hours a day watching television or playing video games.  We often talk about how busy we are when in reality . . .

Most of our time outside

Of work or school is spent

Trying to amuse ourselves

With activities that

In the scope of

Eternity mean nothing.

They are, as in Christ’s analogy, childish, silly games!  There is nothing wrong with amusement, and enjoying certain activities.  Yet, when our whole lives consist of nothing but one mindless amusement after another, we then become like silly children.

2) IT IS A SELFISH GENERATION

Look again at the words of the children in verse 17, “And saying, ‘We have played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we have mourned to you, and you did not lament.’”

Imagine them, with the arms crossed, bottom lips sticking out, upset that they did not get their way.  Like petty children . . .

They selfishly expected the world

To revolve around them.

This image of a selfish generation is a hard one to swallow, but it is unfortunately an accurate one.  The selfishness of the people Christ described is seen in a couple of ways.  Notice first of all that:

They Were Demanding.

The children in the story call out to their cohorts, “Didn’t you hear me playing the music? You are supposed to dance when I play the music?” “Didn’t you hear me say that we were going to play funeral? Get over here and weep like you mean it!”  Do you sense the demanding, bossy tone in the words of these children?

They act as if others owe it to them

To do whatever they want them to do.

Do you recognize this attitude of entitlement in our world today?  We have a segment of people among us today who truly believe that everybody owes them something.  Their parents owe them money and possessions.  The government owes them health care and a college education.  The company owes them a high-paying job.

This sense of entitlement and demanding attitude are symptoms of the disease of selfishness.  Many believe and adopt the Burger King slogan, “Have it your way.”

This attitude has crept into the church, where people honestly believe that the church is supposed to meet all their needs, and not the other way around.  When the music, or the preaching, or the ministries don’t meet our needs, we go somewhere else, where we can be catered to, petted, and served.

Note what the Lord said in verse 28, “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”  Their selfishness is not only seen in the fact that they were demanding, but it is also seen in the fact that:

They Were Delicate.

Again, when you imagine these children, scolding their friends for not playing with them, you can almost hear and see in your mind the pouting, whiny attitude of these childish characters.  Their feelings are hurt because their friends didn’t do what they wanted. They childish sensitivities are evident, and you can almost hear them say, “I’m mad! They won’t play with me!”

Unfortunately, we live in a culture today that is absorbed with how the feel.  We are overly sensitive, and when someone says or does something that we don’t like, we are apt to pout and whine like the children in this story.

The Lord Jesus warned His disciples about persecution.  He then told them in Matthew 5:12, that when they were persecuted, they should, “Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven: for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”  Being overly sensitive is a sure sign of selfishness.  Those who don’t think too highly of themselves are less likely to get hurt when others slight them.

There is one more truth we draw from this picture the Lord painted of His generation. Notice not only that it is a silly generation, and it is a selfish generation, but notice also further that:

3) IT IS A STUBBORN GENERATION.

When you read this little analogy that Christ used, it is important to remember that there are two groups of children mentioned in this story.

You have the group that is piping and mourning,

And then you have the group that is

Ignoring them, and refusing to play along.

This silent group, that refused to join in the games, represents the stubbornness and hardness of the culture in which Christ ministered.  Notice a couple of things we draw from this stubborn group.  This group represents those who are:

Ignoring The Wonder Of The Gospel.

Matthew 11:17, states, And saying, ‘We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.’”  In other words, we played a happy song, and you refused to celebrate with us.

The message of the gospel is the good news.  It tells the wonderful story of how God’s love intervened for sinful man in the glorious person of Jesus Christ.  It tells men . . .

That their sins can be forgiven,

Their lives can be transformed,

And

Their future can be certain.

It is a wonderful message.

Yet, there are those, like the stubborn kids in the story, who are unmoved by the good news of the gospel.  They fold their arms, and sit unimpressed with the wonderful offer of salvation through Jesus Christ.  The joyful melody of redemption does not excite them.  There are many in our generation that are largely unimpressed with the joyous, wonderful claims of the gospel.

Notice not only that these children were stubborn in ignoring the wonder of the gospel, but notice also that their stubbornness is seen in the fact that they were also:

Ignoring the Warnings of the Gospel.

Matthew 11:17, says, And saying, ‘We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.’”  They offered to play not only a happy game, but a somber and sad one as well.  The results were the same.  The other group of children did not want to play along.

The good news of the gospel

Is always accompanied with

The bad news of judgment.

The good news is that

You can be delivered.

The bad news is that

The wrath of God is going to fall

Upon those who disobey the gospel.

In our culture, when a preacher proclaims the wrath and judgment of God, for the most part people are either offended by it, or they simply ignore it.  The gospel largely falls on deaf ears.  The generation in which we live, much like that of Christ’s day, is stubborn regarding the gospel.

Neither the hope of the salvation

Or the threat of damnation

Seems to move them.

Like children with their fingers in their ears, they refuse to hear the Word of the Lord.

The storm of judgment is coming, but many are indifferent to the warnings.  The Lord described a stubborn, hardened generation.  The stubbornness of those around Him is not unique to His day.  There is still a hardness and coldness in our generation.

It is hard to look at this analogy given by the Lord and not see some resemblance to our day and our generation. The question is: “What are we to do?”  

We know that there is a silliness,

Selfishness, and stubbornness

That has pervaded our culture,

But how are we to combat it?

The answer is to live differently ourselves!

We cannot change everyone’s behavior,

But we can change our own!

We can cut much of the silly, frivolous activity out of our lives, and give that time to serving the Lord instead.  We can quit living in a selfish bubble, and can instead give our lives in service to others.

Finally, we can quit treating the glorious message of the gospel as if it is a dusty, old, worn out tale!  We can listen and respond with gladness and excitement to the Word of God today, instead of stubbornly refusing to answer His call!

The generation evaluation that Christ gave in our text is not a kind one.  Yet, we must hear it and respond if we are ever to change what our generation is facing and feeling.

This is God’s 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.”

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