Tag Archives: Jesus

Good Friday

Let’s say – You have an appointment with the doctor.  You’re feeling fine, no symptoms, just a checkup.  The doctor comes in with the lab reports and says you are going to need surgery, right away.

What do you think?  Do you just sign on the dotted line and ask where those drafty blue gowns are?  NOOOO!  You ask to see the result of the tests, the x-rays, the blood tests…show me the chart that says I have a problem.

Everyone in this room tonight is at that appointment.  All of you have the problem.  It’s called sin.  No matter what tests you have done – it’s ALL going to come back positive.

And there is only one cure – you need surgery.  That sin that is part of your life needs to be removed, and the only way it can be removed:  JESUS CHRIST.

Don’t be the patient and just stare at the lab results and toss them away…Don’t be like those at the cross and just be like the crowd that walks away.  You want to be able to call this day good?

You want to have victory in your life?  Trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior, have him forgive your sins and give you new life.  There is only ONE WAY.  Pray in your heart to Jesus and you will be able to see what many already see…how good, how oh so good – Good Friday is.

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Can Jesus Really Sympathize With Me?

Jesus.  King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Savior of the World.  The Messiah.

Could the Son of God truly sympathize with me?  Did he really have the same struggles that I have today?  Hebrews 4:15 says it is so.  But to what degree?  What are some examples of how Jesus knows exactly how you feel?  Off the top of my head, here are few…

  1. Fatigue – Jesus’ ministry schedule was pretty packed (3 years to start a revolution) – he understands the fatigue of young mothers with little sleep, he understands the student after a long work week, and he understands the elderly weary from battling their health
  2. Health – would be naïve to think Jesus didn’t go through flu season, have a cold, or a headache from all the hammering in his father’s shop
  3. Physical pain – Sure there was the indescribable pain on the cross, but what about growing pains, hitting his thumb with a hammer or falling down on his 1st camel ride
  4. Temptations – Jesus was at times treated like a rock star (not what He intended). But as the crowds grew, I’m sure there were women who desired his power, businessmen who say $ signs, and an enemy who would tempt him in every possible way.  You think your temptations are intense – how hard do you think Satan tried with Jesus who held the keys to his eternal future in the lake of fire.
  5. Job Demotion – Wait, when was this? Hello?  From heaven, to take a form of a servant…talk about a job loss!  Still 100% God, but took the form of man.
  6. Financial struggle – Jesus was rarely home in his ministry days, often did not have much financially as he traveled, and his treasurer skimming off the top of his ministry funds!
  7. Sorrow – He wept over his friend Lazarus. Had to be alone when he heard of John the Baptist’s execution.  And several times recorded his cries over the city of Jerusalem.

I’m sure there is more.  But you get the idea.  Christ is not just our Savior, he is our sympathetic high priest who was tempted in every way we were, suffered every possible ailment we experience…yet He did not sin.  Yet, He does not fail to give us sympathy in our struggles.  No, we have a high priest that cares, suffers with us, and even intercedes on our behalf.  Oh, what a Savior!

Listen to the entire sermon here – http://mbconline.org/sermons/current-year – 2/25/18 Sermon

 

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Faith’s Checkbook – Preview Review

Book Review Preview:  Faith’s Checkbook by Charles Spurgeon

The Good:  This is the book I have chosen as part of my devotions this year.  So, naturally I am just a couple of months into it, but I wanted to share a few quotes that were especially memorable.  Bookmark this blog post, as I hope at the end of 2018 to list off all the incredible quotes from the book, which I believe will have an impact on your life.  Here are a few lessons I’ve already learned from “Prince of Preachers”.Quote #1:  “My Own Weakness makes me shrink, but God’s promise makes me brave”

Isaiah 41:10 comes to mind.  An encouragement to God’s people from the prophet Isaiah.

Reminds me of the many men and women in Scripture who were given a task.  Moses to lead the Israelites, David to defeat Goliath, the disciples to risk their lives for the early church, Paul fighting for the name of Christ while in shackles…how could they do it?

This quote really hit me hard – “my weakness makes me shrink”.  It does guys.  I’m not the best conversationalist – so does that weakness give me an excuse in sharing Jesus with others?  I’m no longer the young, cool youth pastor (never was, but you guys didn’t have to think that), so does that mean I can’t dive deep into the lives of teenagers?

Each of us have been given a task, a mission field, an assignment from the Lord – how often do we let our weaknesses get in the way…when God has proven over and over in Scripture how He, and He alone, can make us brave.

Quote #2 – “Among the lost souls in hell there is not one that can say “I went to Jesus and He refused me”.

John 6:37 – Aren’t we thankful this statement is true?  Jesus would never deny us if we come to Him.  What an amazing statement of truth.  Oh what a blessing that is.

Because you know what – I don’t know about you, but there are certainly a boat load of reasons Jesus could say no to me.  At one point an enemy of the cross and at this point, very much a sinner…but Jesus can’t deny me as His Savior.   Why?  Because of His love, His grace, His mercy…and everything else that makes Him my Redeemer.

Doesn’t that just give you chills?  There is no one in hell because Jesus denied them their chance at eternity in paradise.  No, it was because they denied Jesus.  And all those that are fortunate enough to call Him Savior – we are eternally grateful He did turn us away

Quote #3 – “If we are wise, we shall rather welcome the refining process than decline it.”

Zechariah 13:9 is the verse accompanying this quote.  Refining silver is a process that takes some time.  High heat of over 1700 degrees F, intense melting process, ridding the mineral of its impurities takes time…

We are no different.  God will continue to work on us, sanctify us until the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6).  The worse thing we could do is to resist the process.   Silver isn’t refined in a microwave or with a Bic lighter…it takes time and major heat.

The difficulties, challenges, temptations, disappointments…let them be teachers.  Don’t miss the refining process.  Don’t “decline” what God is doing in your life.  The goal of the refining process was a precious metal.  For us, God’s refining process, if we allow it and submit to it, can also produce something very precious.

Conclusion – hope these quotes can challenge and encourage you today…

Quote #1:  “My Own Weakness makes me shrink, but God’s promise makes me brave”

Quote #2 – “Among the lost souls in hell there is not one that can say “I went to Jesus & He refused me”.

Quote #3 – “If we are wise, we shall rather welcome the refining process than decline it.”

 

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Which is Better: The Creator or The Creation?

I remember when I learned that Jesus was there at creation – my mind was blownYou understand why there are plural pronouns in the creation account in Gen. 1:26You see it clearly in John 1 that Jesus was a big part of the start of this worldColossians 1:16 becomes like a bright and shining star.  And in, Hebrews 1:2 it is pretty clear I was missing out on something special.  Jesus was THERE before creation, during creation, and will be there after the created world perishes

Every year at Thanksgiving – my wife hopes that I will show up in a different sweater.  But the last 10 years, I have worn the same sweater.  Each year, I faithfully wear that brown & orange argyle piece of art.  To my wife, it makes little sense to show up in that ugly, old, and tattered the sweater year after year.  With the choice of a new sweater vs. one that by most accounts is hideous, it should be an easy choice.

In Hebrews 1:10-12, we find a comparison of the Creator (Jesus) vs. Creation – after we review this, the choice should be easy…

CREATOR (JESUS) CREATION
Creator Created
Unchanged Grow Older
Eternal Death
Just the Beginning End is Near

Do me a favor and look at these lists.  Which do you want to follow?  Which list do you want to be a part of?  Which list wins?  Which list is better?

It’s an easy choice.  You’d rather have the creator, unchangeable, eternal, and beginning of an incredible future…instead of an old, headed for death, ending soon creation. Easy choice?  Then why do we constantly make the wrong choice.  We choose creation all the time over the Creator.  We choose the ugly, wrinkled, old sweater…We choose money over the joy of giving. We choose lust, pride, and anger over purity, humility & grace.  We choose to love the things of this world instead of putting our treasures in heaven. We choose wrong all the time – and we put a list like this, side by side, and puts our hearts to shame.

It’s an easy choice…that we make WAY too hard.  When we get the creature (US) and the creator (Jesus) mixed up…our life gets messed up.  We do things on our own – w/out the counsel of Scripture.  We rely on our own strength and we fail in our weakness – it’s why we ARGUE (our way seems beset), why we FIGHT (our way was violated) and why we GET DOWN (our way wasn’t chosen).

I can remember in high school.  We had soccer practice in the rain, and to end practice we decided to slide through the mud.  I thought it was a good idea…until I got home.  My mom, and rightfully so, would not let me in the house.  You’ve been there – your mom looked at your clothes and said “Yeah that stain’s not coming out.”  The shirt gets rolled up and tossed…she says “Go take a shower and change into something new”.

This world we live in – it’s like those clothes.  It’s dirty.  It’s full of sin.  Just turn on the news for 5 seconds and you are reminded we live in a fallen world.  Sin has tainted its beauty and innocence that were part of it during creation week, only to be robbed of its purity in the Garden.

But Jesus – one day will roll it up, toss it aside and lay out a new one…without the dirt, the pain, the suffering…everything will be made new.  What a day that will be.

(You can listen to the entire sermon here – click on 1/28/2018 sermon)

 

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Book Review: The Art of Neighboring

Book Review:  The Art of Neighboring by Jay Pathak & Dave Runyon

The Good:

Best Camouflage is Right in Front of Your Face.  I had a high school teacher that would repeat that phrase when he didn’t notice the person in the front row raising their hand.  It tends to be true in life.  We often neglect the things that are right in front of us.  This book is one of those obvious premises that is so clear in Scripture, but we often generalize it and walk right past it.  Love your neighbor actually means to LOVE…YOUR…NEIGHBOR.  Imagine that?

Uber Practical.  If you have read my reviews in the past, you know what a big fan I am of practical books.  Don’t just give me all the information and don’t give me pointers on what to do with what I learned.  Help this poor slow reader connect the dots.  And boy does this book do that!  It gives you numerous ideas and even personal examples on how to put the principles into practice.

The B-I-B-L-E.  Pathak & Runyon do a fantastic job of using Biblical examples, typically from the life of Jesus to drive each point home.  If I’m going to step out on a limb here and start applying these bold, but needed actions, it helps to have some Biblical support.

The Bad:

Huh?  One concern I did see was on page 174.  The paragraph under the heading “Find a Partner”.  With phrases like “all truth is God’s truth”, and listing of various religions as possible partners in “honoring God”.  Could cause some confusion and almost sounds like relativism.  I don’t think that was his intention, but did raise my eyebrow.  Basically, it was not a well-thought out idea and slightly tainted the ending of the book for e.

The Grade:  B+

Well thought out practical ideas that the church needs to hear.  You want to read books that change your life, and I can honestly say this book does.  It has convicted me in how I interact with my neighbors and in the month that I have been reading this book, I’ve met at least 3 new neighbors.  Sure, not astronomical numbers, but it’s a start.  Want to be a good neighbor?  I think even Mr. Rogers would tell you, try this book on for size.

 

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Why Do I Want to Shake Joseph of Arimathea’s hand?

Jesus was far from home during the crucifixion.  As a result, his family did not have a tomb, or any other family’s member’s tomb they could use…In comes Joseph.

Who is Joseph?

Wealthy man – shown in the size of the tomb.  A possible reference to Isaiah 53:9, prophesying Jesus would be “rich in his death”

Member of Sanhedrin – lawgivers/judges – the group of men that pushed for Jesus’ death

Jesus’ Disciple – A follower of Jesus, secret follower…until now!

Good Man – He didn’t agree with the death of Jesus.  Recorded in Luke 23:51 & John 19:38.

What did he do?

Went to Pilate – That took some guts.  But it also took some clout, but Joseph of Arimathea had it, in his Sanhedrin position.

Ven. Bede said this – “It was divinely appointed that Joseph should be rich, in order to have access to Pilate, for no mean man could have access to the governor; and that he should be a just man, in order to receive the body of our Lord”

Took the body – Took the body off the cross and carried it off the hill, most likely with the help of Nicodemus.  A Jew, willing to defile himself – willing to do so for His Savior.

Wrapped the body – He and Nicodemus spared no expense in wrapping Jesus’ body w 75 lbs. of spices.

Laid body in the Tomb–Laid Jesus’ body in the tomb – Joseph cut with his OWN hands.

Rolled the stone – Gospels just say he rolled the stone in front of the tomb.  Maybe he and Nicodemus were power lifting partners during lunch breaks?  Maybe they used a fulcrum system?  Maybe they dug a trench and rolled the stone down the hill.

Why did he do ALL that?

Here’s the point.  He didn’t have to.  He did all this because he was willing to boldly put his faith into action.

Listen this man risked EVERYTHING:  His status, his wealth, his job, his life…to bury the Savior.  Now that’s BOLD.

But to me, it’s more than that…In heaven, after praising my Savior and my God …you know who one of the first hands I want to shake next…JOSEPH OF ARIMATHEA.

Why?  Well, it almost goes without saying that good men weren’t hung on a cross.  That was reserved for the worst criminals of society.  So, normal practice was to leave the crucified bodies on the cross to be eaten by the birds, the cut down and thrown into a makeshift grave by the side of the hill.

Listen, Jesus didn’t deserve the whip, the thorns, the nails…

You want to know WHY I want to shake Joseph’s hand…Because my Savior certainly doesn’t deserve for his dead body to be eaten by birds, put into a wheelbarrow and dumped on the side of a hill.

So thank you Joseph.  Jesus had suffered enough humiliation because of my sin.  Thank you for stepping up and giving my Jesus a proper burial.  Thank you for your boldness.

[Entire Sermon can be heard/watched here – click on special messages –  9/17/2017 link]

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Does God Really Care About the Details of Your Life?

You know, there are times when I study God’s Word, and I get goosebumps when I see God’s hand.  Did you know that the temple of Jerusalem, the city which overlooked the hill of Jesus’ death…were located on what is called a “seismic ridge”, a geological fault line that extends all the way to the Great Rift Valley in Kenya.

You think God didn’t know where Jesus was to killed…where his death would be?  He did!  To think when God created the world, HE knew the very place where this fault line would be…He knew in how he formed the earth that in that specific place…there would be an earthquake that would reverberate from the core of the world he created for man to live.

You don’t think God is in every detail?  You think your life is any different?  That God doesn’t have a plan, that He doesn’t know your suffering, that He isn’t in complete control?  He was, and is, and always will be.

An Excerpt from the sermon called “The Earth Shook”.  (Watch the entire sermon here)

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Our Reaction to the Resurrection

What is your reaction to the resurrection?  Here are four reactions that come to mind.he_is_risen-title-1-still-4x3

Belief.  Do you believe Jesus died and rose from the dead?  A lawyer named Frank Morison was determined to disprove evidence for the resurrection.  He believed Jesus lived a wonderful life, but he saw the Resurrection as more a fable passed down from generations.  His plan was to write a logical, well-thought out argument against the Resurrection.  But as he studied, something happened.  When he approached the fact, looked at them in a legal manner – methodically and carefully.  He changed his mind.  He eventually wrote a Best-Seller called “Who Moved the Stone?”, filled with pages of evidence for Christ’s resurrection.  The very thing he set out to refute. Instead he wrote a book with the 1st chapter aptly named “The Book that Refused to be Written”.  He went from unbelief to BELIEF. (Paraphrase from “More Than a Carpenter” by McDowell)

Live With Purpose – I Corinthians 15:12-14We have a message – Not a lie, but a message of a loving, living Savior.  We can have faith – Paul declared that without the resurrection of Jesus, the faith they held was not good for anything.  Now it’s good for everything.  We can live forgiven – With the resurrection of Jesus there is reconciliation.  We can live with a future in mind – Our future is bright…for all eternity.

Live with Hope – I Corinthians 15:16-19.  Maybe there is a job you hope to have someday?  Because you believe it can happen…and that gives you motivation to show up to work on time, work hard, perform well…or maybe study well for a degree.  You can’t see what job you will have someday but you strive for it and you hang on to the hope of it.  Eternity, you cannot see, but you have hope of attaining it one day if you trust in Jesus…and because of the resurrection, there is hope.   Because of that hope, you can live another day, work hard for the cause of Christ…because one day you will attain eternal life.  What hope that is.

Live with New Life –  I Corinthians 15:20-23.  Guarantee.  You ever taken back an item that said “lifetime guarantee”?  And then the person at the register or over the phone asks you to get your magnifying glass out to read the fine print that has lists all the things the guarantee doesn’t include.  You see, it has exceptions.  Not eternal life.  The “firstfruit” here refers to the 1st part of the harvest that was put in the storehouse.  So Jesus represents the 1st to be resurrected, and those that believe in Him will follow Him someday…Not many things are guaranteed in this life…but God gives us the guarantee of eternal life through faith in Jesus…the resurrected Savior.

What is your reaction?  Feel free to share in the comments below.  And if you don’t have a church to celebrate…you are welcome to visit ours!

 

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Can I Really Be Used by God? Me?

Read Mark 5:1-20 – This is becoming one of my all-time favorites in the Gospel, love this story`

Background

In the timeline of Mark, Jesus had just got done sleeping on the very first water bed in the bottom of the boat…before calming the storm.  (Get it, because there was water in the bottom of the boat, and Jesus was sleeping, oh forget it.)  He then steps off the boat and is immediately greeted by a demon possessed man.

Demon-Possessed Man

This man had incredible strength – no chains or shackled could hold them down.  It says these metal restrains were broken into pieces.  Dude was strong.  This poor man suffered day & night – crying out and cutting himself with stones

The Demons

Just like earlier in Mark (1:24), we see the order of power.  These demons knew right away who Jesus was, and declared His deity.  The demons, who Jesus was calling out, asked Jesus’ permission to enter the pigs.

The Change

Verses 15, 18 – Look at the contrast here.  This man goes from screaming & cutting himself to asking to follow Jesus.  I love it.  He was so excited to be free, he wanted to follow Jesus wherever he went. He was like, “Where can I get an application to be a disciple?”  “Hey Peter, scoot over…John you mind if I sit there?”  Then Jesus said, “Whoa, whoa…now hold on a minute”…obviously appreciating his new enthusiasm.  And then gives the demon possessed-man some basic instructions.

Jesus’ Basic Instructions

Here’s what I want you to see…Look who Jesus sends out with the Good News:

  • A man who was possessed by thousands of demons.
  • A man who was out of his mind
  • A man who would scream day and night, cutting himself with stones in a graveyard
  • He was an outcast to society

And what does Jesus tell him to do?  Go tell the people of this city how the Lord has changed you from the inside-out.  Tell others about God’s mercy.  And when this man told others about these things…what happened?  At the end of our passage – it says people “marveled”.

3 things to remember from this passage:

  1. Never underestimate a life changed by Jesus. No matter who you are, what you have done…God can use you to do MARVELOUS things.
  2. Never doubt a life can’t be changed by the “Son of Most High”. The change is remarkable, people will notice, and God can change anyone He wants to.
  3. If Jesus told a demon-possessed man to be the carrier of Good News…what does that mean for us. These basic instructions of “Tell others about how your life has changed and share about His mercy”.  These are instructions for us too, and we need to be sharing, and watch other marvel at the Good News.
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What does Jesus’ ascension have to do with you?

the_ascent-content-2-still-4x3In Acts 1:8-11, the ascension of Jesus Christ takes place.  Something special happened as Jesus gave his final instructions and shot off into the clouds.  What was it?  What does this event have to do with you?

When Jesus ascended to heaven, an eternal hand-off from Jesus to the disciples. 3 years of public ministry had come to an end and now it is up to them.  And now it is up to us.  In John 16, Jesus said it would be to the disciples advantage that he would leave…because then…you would get the Holy Spirit.

Let me ask you this – I understand this was a promise for the disciples…but is this a different Holy Spirit? A different source of power than the HS that lives in us?  Are we to be a witness to a different Jesus?  We have the power to be a witness for Jesus in our neighborhood, our community, our workplace..and we as a church are giving to missions, some of us are answering the call to missions to allow the Gospel to go to the ends of the earth.

If a loved one held your hand before they passed, and they gave you final instruction… would you listen? People, this was Jesus’ last instruction before leaving earth.  So church…ARE YOU? Are you being a witness to others?  Your mission is to spread the Gospel, the message of Jesus…He came, He died, He rose again…and He left – and has chosen us to spread Word about Him, His love, and His Salvation.  Will you?

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