Sunday, September 25, 2011

Come Boldly To the Throne of Grace

We live in a world of uncertainty and wonderment. Things can happen in a moment that can change the course of our lives. The choices of others can seem to crash our life pulling all hope and peace out from under us like a rug. Have you ever been in a situation like that? One that makes you question your faith in God, your spouse, your children, or the perfect will of God for your life. It is times like these when the enemy of our soul seeks to crush us and cause us to give in to disappointment and a spirit of giving up. These times produce overwhelming feelings and emotions that leave us finding it hard to function properly.

There are so many verses that could be used to express help, but the first one that comes to mind for me is,

Hebrews 4:16

16Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Come Boldly

First the Lord wants us to realize that we have access to walk into His presence. What an awesome thought! With all of our problems the God of the universe is still willing to give us an audience right in the very throne room. We walk in...throw ourselves in His arms and He holds us close. He has time for us...and He cares about our situation. Boldness means confidence that we are allowed in...confidence that He cares....confidence that He has a solution. God knows our state of mind and what it will take to build faith within us. This is why it is so important for us to be willing to come to the throne room even when every instinct is telling us to run for cover.

The Choice when the Crisis hits the lowest spot

Remember Jairus, the leader of the synagogue, whose daughter was dying. He went to ask Jesus to come heal her...and Jesus was on his way to his house. Things were looking up, until a little woman with a sickness reached through the crowd and touched the hem of Jesus' garment. She was instantly healed and any other day Jairus would have rejoiced but this day was different. He didn't have time for a delay. Hurry he thought ...just hurry! "Don't bother the teacher anymore messengers came and told Jairus...the girl has died" Imagine the hopelessness that those words brought to Jairus, the disappointment and the questions. Yet Jesus spoke afterward... “Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well.” Luke 8:50 What would Jairus do? Would he continue to lead Jesus to his home even with the message of woe or would he retreat alone to face his sorrow?

The Throne Room holds His presence and our answer

Jesus cleared Jairus' house of everyone except Jairus , his wife and a few disciples. "Little girl...rise" The life of this family was changed as they allowed Jesus into their house. His presence is still the same today. He changes things. His plan is not always what we would think..but His presence will leave us changed for the better. He really does have our answer.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ponderings of the Resurrection

Mary and Joseph obeyed God by bringing Jesus to the temple to be consecrated as the firstborn. God had arranged to have a prophet and prophetess speak over Him.

Mary hid these things in her heart.

Simeon Blesses Mary and Joseph and Says many things about Jesus

Simeon blessed Mary and Joseph and proclaimed many things about Jesus. My eyes have seen your salvation. Simeon declared that Jesus was indeed the Messiah and would bring Salvation. He would bring a light to the Gentile nations and be the glory of Israel. The prophets of the Old Testament confirm that God would show his love to the Gentiles, but that seemed like a far off thing. He would bring glory to Israel....the people of his time couldn't see this happening. Many could not see Him as sent of God at all. The Jews of Jesus time were waiting for a deliver who would free them from the oppression of Rome and restore the nation to the glory of David. They were not aware that God's Salvation would start with individual hearts and changed lives. Genesis 12 reminds us that God told Abram that the nations would be blessed through the Jewish nation.

A Hard Path

Simon spoke further, "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

Imagine if you will these parents. Mary the mother and Joseph the willing step-father hearing these words and having to process them. I have to adult boys and remember fondly their babyhood. The hopes and dreams for blessing in their lives. The promise their little lives held amazed me. Mary and Joseph had agreed to allow God to work in their allow the Son of God to be born to them. Perhaps they like those of their time dreamed of Messiah as freeing them from oppression. They'd held him in their arms...they willingly sacrifice their reputation and future to obey God. Now these words shed light upon the purpose and plan of God for their son. I would do anything to help my boys have a good life and to fulfill the plan of God. I hate to think of the hard parts of their lives and really wish they could all be eliminated. Mary and Joseph were willing to sacrifice much, but they did not realize how much Jesus would sacrifice and what he would do to bring salvation to the world.

Not my will but thine
Certainly as God in the flesh Jesus wanted to do the will of the Father. As a human being that grit and determination towards obedience to God was shown to him by parents who said..."Let it be unto me as you have said." and followed obedience.

What steps of obedience has God asked of you? Do you have the fortitude to obey God even when things are not easy? Take some time to ponder what the Lord has spoken into your life.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Reflections of the Ressurection season

Resurrection Sunday is April 24th this year. During the weeks leading up to this special day of celebration we ponder the work of the cross and His resurrection.

The first reflection I'll share is about Mary and Joseph and their devotion to the things of God despite the obstacles they faced and how that godly character impacted Jesus.

Mary and the promise
The Messiah was promised in the book of Genesis. Every Jewish child heard about it and waited for His coming. We don’t know all the details of what Mary was doing when the angel came to visit her and gave the news that she had been chosen to bring the Messiah into the world, but we do know that it was very dramatic. Many overlook the treasure of things to be learned from her life because others wrongly ascribe worship to her. One of my favorite things about her is the statement…”Mary pondered all of these things”. The ponder statement is right after the description of the shepherds visit to the manger where they surely shared the story of the angels that came to their field and told them the Savior had been born.

She had a lot to ponder.
Mary encourages me because in everyday life there is a lot to ponder. To ponder means to intensely consider something or events. Walking out our life in God’s will can be like that…we can be right smack dab in the center of God’s will and yet have a lot to think about.

Being chosen and willing
Mary and Joseph were chosen of God to raise Jesus because of their godly character. It was a matter of the right time, the right place, and the right people. Sometimes serving God faithfully in our everyday life may not seem like an earth shattering thing, but God takes note of our love and devotion towards Him. While we know that Mary and Joseph weren’t perfect think a moment about the trust Father God put in them. Mary’s response at the end of her conversation with Gabriel was, “Be it unto me as you have said.” Every time I read those words of hers my mind goes to the garden where Jesus said to the Father, “Not my will but thine” Jesus is both fully God and fully human. He took on human flesh when Mary said, “Be it unto me as you have said.” and that human being needed parents who would whole heartedly obey God at every turn. He needed parents that would give Him that example in their daily lives. Mary and Joseph surely must have pondered, “why us?” but they rose to the task. We like Mary and Joseph may wonder at those things that God has placed in our spear of influence and responsibility. Sometimes we may wonder if we are up to the task. Their life shows us that God can take a person of character who is willing to obey Him and trust them with a great task. Remember others wouldn’t see the greatness of their task. Being parents seemed ordinary to those around them who didn’t understand who Jesus was and the circumstances for those unwilling to believe the truth would seem scandalous. The angel told Joseph, “Don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife” and explained who Jesus was and that He would bring Salvation. “Not my will but thine”, Jesus said…that last night in the garden…Can you see Mary and Joseph’s love and upbringing in that statement of total commitment!

Take a minute today and insert yourself in this story. First their story causes us to stop and ask ourselves if we have built godly character into our lives through obedience to the principles of God's Word and our relationship with Him that would give the Father trust to assign us an important task? Also do we realize that the seemingly everyday mundane responsibilities can add up to great godly importance and reward? Take a while to pause and think about the total commitment they made once they realized the hand of God in their assignment. "Be it to me as you have said"...."He took her as his wife"....The commitment would require a lot out of them. Are you willing to commitment to God in ways that require sacrifice ? Next time we will examine some of those sacrifices and how they impacted the life of Jesus.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Mark 8 through Mark 12

Mark Chapter 8

Mark Chapter 9

Mark Chapter 10

Mark Chapter 11

Mark Chapter 12

Monday, February 14, 2011

Mark 3 through 7

Mark 3

Mark 4

Mark 5

Mark 6

Mark 7

Friday, February 11, 2011

More NT Readng Questions. Did Jesus minister to the Gentiles?

Most of us are Gentiles. A Gentile is simply a person who is not a Jew. Those that are familiar with the book of Genesis know that God founded the nation of Israel from Abraham so that they would be led to understand his ways and in the course of that be a witness to all the peoples of the earth. There were times in the Old Testament that the Jews were told to separate from the other nations that did not serve God and that practiced evil. We are all blessed that we as Gentiles were graphed into the family of God through Jesus. So what did Jesus mean when he said,

Matthew 10:5-8

5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,a]">[a] drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. NIV

That sure sounds like Jesus is encouraging the wall to remain up between Jew and Gentile. As Gentiles it can make us feel like...Wow doesn't He care about us? "Go to the lost sheep of Israel" As we put things together by continuing to read the New Testament (and even the book of Matthew) a picture emerges. That is that the gospel, the good news, was given first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. Jesus primary ministry was to the Jews to whom the Messiah had been promised to come through. God had made them guardians of His Word (the old Testament) His life was to be a revelation of God's Promise and an opportunity for the Jews to understand and accept God's redemption. He was rejected by His own. (Though keep in mind the first Christians were primarily Jews who had accepted Him as Lord and Savior) The encouraging thing is that as we continue to read Matthew and the rest of the New Testament we see the plan for the Gentiles emerge. We see Jesus healing the Centurion's servant, the Gentile woman's daughter who was bound by an evil spirit, we see the Jesus ministering to the Samaritan at the well. All of these people had faith to see God move in their life and Jesus honored that faith. The book of Acts goes even further as Peter has a vision which opened the floodgate to introducing the gospel to Gentiles. Jesus spoke first to His people the Jews...but as evidenced by His inclusion of those Gentiles with faith to believe upon him in the gospels we are welcomed into the fold.

Here is a verse that clarifies the fact that Jesus went first to the House of Israel...but that the gospel is for all men.

John 11:49-52

49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” 51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. 53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Some good Questions as we Read through the New Testament

We are done reading the book of Matthew and some folks have asked me some great questions in regard to our readings. So in the next few days I'll talk about some of them here on the blog.

When I was in Bible College I started my quest of reading through the entire Bible for the first time. God is always faithful to show us wonderful things and to speak to us about issues that are just what we need for our everyday life. Sometimes we have questions...some questions may seem silly and some may seem profound...but the searching and asking God for answers draws us closer to Him and helps us in our everyday life .

1. Matthew 15. Didn't Jesus understand about germs? I know people in those days didn't know about germs...but Jesus is God the Son .
This was the first question I had at seventeen years old as I tackled reading through the entire Bible for the first time. I look back now and laugh at myself, but the truth is we all have these moments of not quite understanding. I studied the answer to it all those years ago, but a few days ago...I found a few more things that shed some new light. I've read through the Bible many times since then and every time there is something new to search out, to ponder and to allow Holy Spirit to speak to our heart about.

The Pharisees asked,

2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”

Jesus answers first by calling into question their hand washing tradition and neglect of the law of God. I remember as a seventeen year old my mind immediately went to what could You possibly have against washing your hands...get rid of the germs. What I was missing was it was not simply washing hands as we would today but it was a ceremonial washing. I was reading this week that there was a special way to do it and one was suppose to wash all the way up to the elbows. That satisfied me at that time...realizing that Jesus was not against washing hands but that a special ceremonial washing was not necessary. The phrase the "tradition of the elders" says a lot here. This washing was not about God's law or even hygiene it was more about tradition.

Matthew 15:10
10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

There it was again. A few verses down I was back on the germ issue. Germs after all can hurt a person if they eat without washing there hands and it seemed like Jesus was saying that it didn't matter. I was totally wrong about what Jesus was really saying. I didn't have any idea why he was saying what he was to the Pharisees or the multitude. I decided to leave it to the answer above...this was just about tradition...Jesus wasn't against the washing of hands. A few days ago I decided to look at it again and I found something I'd missed before. I found out that Jesus was denouncing a belief that the tradition of the elders was espousing. They actually believed that if you didn't wash in the ceremonial way that the devil could gain entrance to your soul while you ate. Wow! That explains a lot. Jesus was dealing with an issue that was putting people into awful bondage. Imagine the normal person washing their hands up to their elbow everyday at meal time afraid of giving entrance to the devil if they didn't. Jesus was setting that straight among the people.

Others had some great questions that I'll discuss in the next few days. Did you have questions as you read Matthew? It is not to late to is fun to study it out.

Hope you are enjoying the book of Mark which is another look at the life of Jesus. More later on that.

Matthew 28-Mark 2

Matthew 26....Monday's Reading

Matthew 27....Tuesday's Reading

Matthew 28 Wednesday's Reading

Mark 1 Thursdays's Reading

Mark 2 Friday's Reading

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Matthew 26....Monday's Reading

Matthew 27....Tuesday's Reading

Matthew 28 Wednesday's Reading

Mark 1 Thursday's Reading

Mark 2 Friday's Reading

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Matthew Chapter 21 through 25

Matthew 21

Matthew 22

Matthew 23

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Matthew Chapter 16 through 20

Matthew Chapter 16

Matthew Chapter 17

Matthew Chapter 18

Matthew Chapter 19

Matthew Chapter 20

Sunday, January 16, 2011

LWF Reads Through the NT Matthew 11 through 15

Matthew Chapter 11

Matthew Chapter 12

Matthew Chapter 13

Matthew Chapter 14

Matthew Chapter 15

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sermon and Sunday School

Casting Your Cares Upon Him

Sunday School

Reading through the New Testament Chapters 6 through 10

Monday January 10, 2011 Chapter 6

Tuesday January 11, 2011 Chapter 7

Wednesday January 12, 2011 Chapter 8

Thursday January 13, 2011 Chapter 9

Friday January 14, 2011