Sunday, April 22, 2012

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

Read Luke 2:25-35

I'm not a good waiter.  One of the longest waits I ever had was when my youngest son was born.  Back in the olden days when fathers had to wait in..well, waiting rooms while mothers had all the fun.  That day(and night!) I waited almost 24 hours as several other husbands came and went to see their new babies.  

We spend a lot of our time waiting for something good to happen and fail to enjoy the moment we have now.  A child can't wait to be a teen.  A teen can't wait to drive, then vote.  A young adult looks forward to finishing school, then beginning a career, then having a family.  From there it is waiting for that big break, big promotion, then retirement.  Each time we think when we reach a certain goal that we will be content.  But, ultimately we are not because we are bound by the milestones, events, or things we are anticipating.  They rarely, if ever, satisfy.

Simeon was a good waiter.  He was not waiting for a thing; he was waiting for a person.  Simeon was a godly man who had the Holy Spirit and was promised by the Lord that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah.  He was looking forward to having something more in life.  He didn't want his life to end until he met the Christ(Greek for Messiah)He had come to realize that all his hopes and dreams were tied to a person.  In promising Simeon that he would not die until he saw the Messiah, God was guaranteeing he would never die!

All that we ever need or really want is tied to Jesus the Christ.  All our hopes and dreams are answered in a personal relationship with Him.  When Simeon saw the baby Jesus, he took him in his arms and "praised God, saying, 'Sovereign Lord, now let your servant depart in peace as you have promised.  I have seen your salvation which you have prepared for all people."  Simeon had found what he was waiting for.  It came in the person of Jesus.  From the time of Adam's first sin the world had been waiting for a savior.  Their hopes and ours have been let down many times by failed promises of false messiahs.  There is only one who can break the bondage of sin and self, and give us lasting peace.  


Simeon could now die in peace.  The word used here for "die" can mean "depart", "release", or "set free".  It is in experiencing the Christ that we are set free to be all the Lord wants us to be.   Each milestone in my life has left me wondering what all the fuss was about.  I have only found true joy and contentment in my personal relationship with God's Son.  I have been set free and I can now depart from all those false hopes and dreams.  







Saturday, April 14, 2012

Resurrection Life

Read I John 1:-2:1

As the Apostles met in that upper room on the first day of the week(Jn. 20),  they were scared out of their wits.  "the doors were locked...for fear of the Jews".   Jesus had been executed and they thought they might be next.  They were afraid despite the fact that the women had reported that Jesus' tomb was emptyMary Magdalene, and two other disciples had told them that they had talked with Him, Peter and John had also seen the empty tomb, and Christ had predicted that He would rise from the dead!  

Jesus suddenly stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you."  This wasn't the first time that Jesus had brought peace into a difficult situation.  After all, He is the Prince of Peace.  I suspect the disciples thought back to the time they were in a boat on the lake when a storm came up.  Jesus was sleeping, they awakened him and said, "Master, don't you care that we are perishing!"  He rebuked them for lack of faith and said to the storm, "peace, be still!"--and it was!  Whatever troubles we may be having, Jesus wants us to relax and trust Him.  He not only gives peace, He gives us something to do.  In that upper room He breathed on the disciples and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit."  He was giving them, just as He gives us, His resurrection life.

Later, John would write, "We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked at, and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life--this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us--we declare to you what we have seen and heard...This is the message that we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him there is not darkness at all."(I Jn. 1:1-5)  They must have said something similar to Thomas who had not been present at that meeting.  Thomas said would not believe unless he could see and touch Jesus himself.  One week later, Jesus came again and let Thomas touch His wounds.

In that encounter, Jesus said that the most blessed ones were those who did not see and still believed.  He knows that if we will just hear the word of the gospel and believe, we will be blessed beyond measure.  Let us understand that God is all about bringing light into our darkness.  When we take John and the other New Testament writers at their word we begin to discover that "God is light and in Him is no darkness at all."   The root cause of almost all of our problems is sin--either ours or someone else's.   John reminds us that we have an advocate in the risen Christ who is the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.(I Jn. 2:1)  The cross of Christ is a constant reminder that our sins are forgiven and He is on our side.  His blood atones for our sins, and His resurrection life brings us salvation.  Remember, John speaks of experiencing life("what was from the beginning, the word of life, eternal life") and this is what he declares to us.  We can have Christ's resurrection life as we receive His word(a word spoken is a breach breathed) by faith.

Those first disciples were constantly bearing witness to the resurrection of Christ.   Early on, after some very trying times (Acts 3 & 4) they prayed and we are told that they were "filled with the Holy Spirit and preached the word of God with boldness and testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ."  


The secret to the victorious Christian life is hearing with faith.  We hear the word about Christ and receive it by faith(Eph. 1:13).  When that happens my life is changed and I begin to demonstrate resurrection power as Christ, via the Holy Spirit expresses Himself through me.  The proof of the resurrection is a changed life.  The disciples' changed lives changed the world!  It's our turn.  There is a world to change--lets go!


I have this idea in my mind that after the day of Pentecost, when Peter preached that great sermon and 3,000 people got saved, the next day they all showed up to find out more about this Jesus.  In my mind I see Peter, seeing the throngs of converts, asking John, "Look at all those people!  They're expecting me to say something.  What do I say?  John says, "Hmm----- I know. Tell them this:  "We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we heard, what we saw with our eyes, what we looked at, what our hand handled, concerning the word of life--this life was revealed and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us--we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.  This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all."  Amen!


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Resurrection Sunday

 Sunday:  The Resurrection.  Mk. 16, Mt. 28, Lk. 24, Jn. 20, 21



He lives!  Do not look for a dead Jesus.  You cannot find Him in a tomb.  He is no longer on the cross.  When preaching the gospel I must always remember that while the death of Jesus is wonderful and necessary I cannot leave Him there.  He is not dead—He is alive!  I am afraid that, at times, we expect to find a dead Jesus in our religion, faith, church, or life.  All too often there is no energy to what we believe.  We are going through the motions of religion without experiencing its life.  We have “a form of religion but deny its power.”  Such a lack of power can come when we have no expectation of God’s presence.  If we will listen carefully however, we can hear the angel say, “You are looking for Jesus who was crucified, He is not here (dead in a tomb) He is risen!”  When it literally dawns on us that Jesus is alive then everything changes: our mood, our perspective, our witness, our life. 



Because He lives we will live also.  And He will energize our lives with His resurrection power!  “The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead” will live in us when we trust Christ as Lord and Savior.  He is not a dead historical figure.  He did walk this earth and He did die but overcame the tomb.  And now He wants to live in our hearts.  Invite Him into the dead areas of your life.  Declare Him Lord and see the miracles He can do in your life.  Let your life be a “Hallelujah” to Him.



Let us “go to Galilee.”  There we will see Him.  Go back and read the pages of the gospels with the perspective that Jesus is alive.  What He did for the people in the Bible He can do for you.   Let Him heal you, calm the storms in your life, turn the water of drudgery into the wine of joy, provide for you, and teach you.  He will be your Shepherd, Bread, Light, Way, Truth, and Life.  He is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.”  You will find Him in the scriptures for they bear witness of Him.  But trust Him to come off the pages and into your heart and you will experience His resurrection power.



He wants you to tell Him you love Him.  Worship the once-crucified but now-risen-Lord with all that you have.  Respond to His life by telling others about Him.  This is the gospel:  Jesus is alive and He will bring life to all those who are dead and want His life.  The gospel is good news.  News, in order to be news, must be told.  We have the greatest news in the world!  And they really want to hear it.  If you discovered a cure for cancer, you could not keep it a secret.  You would not only have a moral obligation to tell others but also the shear excitement would compel you let the world know.  We have something better than a cure for cancer!  We have the cure for death!  How can we not tell such news?
The angel told the women.  The women told the disciples.  The disciples told the world.  The disciples told the world.  The rest is history!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Holy Week: Saturday
Saturday: At the tomb.  Mk. 15:47, Mt. 27-61-66, Lk. 23:55-56



Jesus was dead.  Hope was gone.  The Jewish leaders were still plotting.  There are many dark hours in our lives where all hope seems to be gone.  A child is dead.  A job is lost.  A spouse has left.  A friend has betrayed.  A sin has been committed.  It seems as if we are buried under a load of guilt, fear, anger, loneliness, or helplessness and there appears to be no way out.  The Saturday after Good Friday had to be the darkest of them all.  The realization that Jesus was really dead began to sink in.  You don’t bury someone unless they are dead.  Often in those grave moments in our lives, we forget the promises of God. Ask God to let you feel the hopelessness of Jesus’ followers for just a moment.  Think about the utter emptiness, the sad darkness, the lightless tunnel that the disciples must have experienced.  It may be hard because we know the outcome.  We know that Sunday will bring an empty tomb and a risen Lord Jesus! 



We can handle Friday and Saturday because we know about Sunday.  But sometimes we can’t see Sunday.  Sometimes our darkness is so great that it overwhelms the light.  This is the time to simply trust the Lord.  He is the God of resurrection!  Try to reflect on the promises of God.  He will never let you down.  It is always darkest before the dawn.  But there is a dawn!



I have observed many people who have gone through agonizing loss or severe depression but with the Lord’s help they eventually found hope.  God tells us through experience that, if we trust Him, things will get better.   Either the situation will change or we will be given the grace to adjust to it.  “He will give those who morn a garland instead of ashes.”  There will be a new day.  God has a plan.



Night is followed by day.  Spring follows winter.  Apparently lifeless trees sprout leaves.  Dead flowers come to life.  God, even through nature, is telling us something.  “The heavens are telling the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.”  He speaks through His creation.  We can trust Him to bring renewal.

The witness of scripture is even more powerful.  We can trust God and we can believe His word.  “I am making all things new.”  There will be a new day.  There will be a dawn!  “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  “My grace is sufficient for you.”   I don’t minimize the pain we sometimes feel—it is real.  But let us maximize the reality that there will be resurrection.  God has a plan.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Good Friday

FridayJesus in the Garden.  Mk.  14:26, 32-42, Mt. 26:30, 36-40, Lk. 22:39-46,
                                                  Jn. 18:1

In His humanity Jesus did not want to go to the cross but He was committed to the will of God.  He came to do the will of God.  We are called to do the same.  Logic would have dictated that Jesus stay around and heal and preach but God’s plan involved the death of His Son.  Sometimes the Lord wants us to give up what is so precious to us in order to accomplish a higher purpose.  God’s will must always be our heart’s desire whether it makes sense or not.

The arrest, trial, crucifixion, and burial of Jesus.  Mk. 14:43-15:46, Mt. 26:47-27:60,
                                                                                     Lk. 22:47-23:54, Jn. 18:2-19:42

Thousands of wonderful illustrations have been given about the love of God.  By far the greatest example ever given is the one that Jesus gave when He went through the events of Good Friday.  The death of Christ on a rugged Roman cross is love at its ultimate.  Millions of words and hundreds of songs have been written but none can fully explain the love of God like the cross of Christ.  Here was a man who had never done anything wrong.  He had never told a “white lie,” talked back to His parents, lusted sexually, desired anything that was not His, hated anyone, or put anything or anyone ahead of the Father.  He was perfect.  Yet He died the most painful of deaths as He took on the sin of the world.  “He, who knew no sin, became sin.”  How do you adequately describe that gift of Himself?   He did it for you and me.  He paid the debt that we owed—a debt we were unable to pay.  Oh, the thought of it leaves me breathless!  As I gasp for words I can only lie in awe of the greatest act of love ever committed and the most sacrificial gift ever given.

While it was the Father’s will to put Jesus to death, it was done to atone for our sins.  God cannot wink at sin.  It ought to grieve us deeply that our rebellion is what necessitated this great sacrifice.  The law points out our sins and need of a savior but His cross perfectly pictures it.  There we can see our sins nailed on that cross and the Savior so willing experienced the pain.

And so on that fateful day the Son of God lived out both His love and His justice.  Sin could not go unpunished, so out of love Jesus met His own righteous requirements.  How can anyone think about this great action without taking action based on it?  How can anyone not receive His forgiveness and live every day for Him who loves us so. 
There was an old man who apparently was homeless and also a little crazy.  But he was smart enough to know and sing (not realizing he was being recorded), “This one thing I know, that He loves me so—Jesus’ blood never failed me yet.”

If you do nothing else today, take time to read about the passion of Christ in the scriptures and meditate on these things asking God to show you your proper response to all He has done.  “When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died, my richest gain I count but lost, and pour contempt on all my pride."

Holy Week: Thursday


hursday: The last supper.  Mk. 14:12-25, Mt. 26:17-29, Lk. 22:7-20, Jn. 13:1-30,
                                              I Cor. 11:23-26.

The Lord’s Supper is a time of celebration and self-examination.  As we remember what Christ has done for us we rejoice.   In Communion we express our faith in Him and we symbolically partake of Him.  Jesus is our life.  He died the death that He died so that we can live the life that He lives.  What we do during the Lord’s Supper is the acting out of how we should live every day.  He is the tree of life that gives us all we need for an abundant and meaningful life.  There are many examples in the Bible of eating and drinking as a picture of our trusting God.  “I am the manna that came down from Heaven.”  “If anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink.”  The eating of food is an act of faith.  We take it in believing that it will give us energy and not poison us.  Once taken in, the food or drink does its job without our help.  Once we really trust Jesus, He comes in, spiritually energizes us, and gives us His life.

As we celebrate the reality of Christ in us, we should pause to examine ourselves to see if we actually have been living by His life and not by our own.  Our failures and sins can all be traced to a lack of faith which ultimately comes down to our not partaking of Him.  The actual wrongs we commit are a symptom of unbelief and poor “communion” with our Lord.  He can change us.

When you enter a typical Baptist Church worship center, you will see the Communion Table in the middle of the front.  Whether or not you literally take the Lord’s Supper that day or not, look at the table and let remind you of what Christ has done and wants to do for you, in you, and through you.

Farewell Address.  Jn. 14-16

Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to become His presence and power in our lives.  A Spirit-filled person not only will do great works but also will reflect the character of Christ.  It all works itself out as we abide in Him through regular and constant prayer.  Are you filled with His Spirit?  By faith you can be.  Just ask Him. 

The Lord’s Prayer.  Jn. 17

This prayer is for us!  In it Jesus defines eternal life(vs. 3),  says what His goal on earth was(vs. 4), tells how He protects us(vs. 12), defines our mission(vs. 18), says why He gives us His glory(vs.22), and tells how others will know that The Father sent Him(vs. 23).  In your own prayers you can know that if you pray what Jesus prayed for you, you will have the request.   Let this prayer be an inspiration for you to get your prayer life going strong.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Holy Week: Wednesday


Wednesday: Leaders plot Jesus’ death.  Mk. 14:1,2, Mt. 26:6-13, Lk. 22:1,2

It is a tragic truth of life that so many want to please people but they put God to death.  They feel a need to put any thought of God and accountability to Him out of their minds yet they want humans to think well of them.  The desire to be loved is powerful!  Ironically, God loves us far more than any person ever could.  Instead of looking for a way to kill Jesus, let us receive His wonderful love and forgiveness which are available even while we have our backs turned away from Him.

The Anointing at Bethany.  Mk. 14:3-9, Mt. 26:1-5, Jn.  12:2-8

God has given us more love than we need.  Our proper response to His love is to love Him back.  It may seem wasteful to others but when we pour out love to Jesus, our lives can better serve Him.  It is through worship that we express our love to Him.  True worship is both private and public.  Lovers express their love for each other in an intimacy that is personal and private.  They also want others to know how special their “significant other” is to them.  Husbands say “I love you” to their wives in front of others.  Wives tell their friends how much they love their husband.  So too, we will want times of close personal intimacy with our Lord as well as times when we pour out our love to God in front of and with others.   To outsiders this may seem to be a waste of time and money but to us it is the most important thing we can do.  We must love the one we love! 

Helping the poor and performing other acts of service come out from those times of worship with Jesus.  In these times, service becomes worship as well.  The great commandment is to love God, and then we can and will love others.

Judas bargains with the rulers.   Mk.  14:10,11, Mt. 26:14-16, Lk. 22:3-6

The opposite of loving God is loving anything or anyone more than Him.  We must be honest with ourselves here.  Is money, power, popularity, fame, pleasure, or another person more important to you than our Lord?   Judas didn’t hate Jesus; he just loved something else more.  Those who do not take the first commandment and the great commandment seriously are

Monday, April 2, 2012

Holy Week: Tuesday


Tuesday:  The Barren fig tree.  Mk. 11:19-25, Mt. 21:19-22, Lk. 21:37, 38

Jesus expects His people to bear fruit.  Don’t worry about the poor fig tree!  The point is that it did not have any fruit.  We may have all sorts of reasons as to why there is no spiritual fruit in our lives.  God doesn’t want excuses; He wants fruit!

Jesus’ authority challenged.  Mk. 11:27-12:12, Mt. 21:23-22:14, Lk. 20:1-19

We will bear fruit when we keep Jesus the center of our worship and witness.  The religious leaders rejected Jesus and so, like the barren fig tree, they would be cursed.  The Kingdom opportunity has been passed on to us.  What are you going to do with the King?

The Church has become the new Israel.  We are God’s chosen people.  What a privilege!  What a responsibility!  We are always in danger on institutionalizing our faith rather than personalizing it.  We worship King Jesus.  His character (fruit) is expressed in and through us when we surrender to Him as Lord.

The attempt to trap Jesus.  Mk.  12:13-17, Mt.  22:15-22, Lk. 20:6

While our primary allegiance is to God, we are to be good citizens of our earthly country.  It is easy to let legalism and theological nit-picking keep us from our focus on Christ.

Question about the resurrection.  Mk. 12:18-27, Mt.  22:23-33, Lk.  20:27-40

You can always find absurd reasons to doubt the truths of God.  You must settle the fact of the resurrection in your own mind and heart for it is the basis for all we believe.  Study the scriptures and ask the Lord to give you an experience of His power.  God is the God of the living!  The Bible teaches it and His power displays it.

The greatest commandment.  Mk. 12:28-34, Mt. 22:34-40

If we will love God, we will love others and we will bear fruit and keep our focus on Him and experience His resurrection power.

The Messiah’s descent from David.  Mk.  12:35-37, Mt. 22:41-46, Lk. 20:41-44

While He is descended from David, Jesus was and is before David.  He is the “I AM.”

Jesus blasts the religious leaders.  Mk. 12:38-40, Mt. 23:1-39, Lk. 20:45-47

Is there hypocrisy in your life? Are you sincere in your faith?  Do you walk the walk?
The widow’s mite.  Mk.  12:41-44, Lk. 21:1-4

God does not need our money.  He wants us to give to Him in order to show Him and us where our heart really is.  When we trust Him, we will not give him only what is left over.

The second coming. Mk. 13:1-37, Mt. 24, 25, Lk. 21:5-36

Jesus is coming again.  Are you ready?  We can take comfort in the fact that no matter how bad things get, God is in charge.  He will have the last word!  These words of Jesus, known as “The little apocalypse”, make no reference to a rapture.  Be very careful to not be left holding your charts when things happen that you did not expect.  The lesson to learn is that Jesus is coming and He will set things right.  We have nothing to fear.

Holy Week: Monday


Monday:  Cursing the fig tree and cleansing the temple.  Mk. 11:12-18, Mt. 21:18, 19,
                                                                                                12, 13, Lk. 19:45-48.

The people of God are now the house of God.  We are the church.  We are not a building but a people.  In the cleansing of the Temple, Jesus is saying that we, who are now His Temple, are to be a people of prayer.  Our primary function is to be in relationship with God.  Prayer is spending time with the Lord talking and listening to Him.  When taking stock of your Christian life do not focus on how well you have obeyed God’s laws(Ten Commandments, Church attendance, tithing, helping others etc.), but rather how much quality time do you spend  with Him.  If you have good quiet times with Jesus, your obedience to Him will take care of itself.   Do you take time alone with Him to share your burdens, pray for others, read and meditate on His word, and listen to His still small voice, ask Him to help you, and be refreshed by Him?  Why not make prayer a priority in your life.  Almost all of us can do better in this crucial area of our lives.

With a good strong prayer life we will begin to bear fruit.  Others will see and experience Jesus in us and lives will be changed.  We will find ourselves doing more to bring people to a saving knowledge of Christ.  We do not exist for ourselves.  Our mission is to bring people of “all nations” into the wonderful relationship with God.  Is your priority and understanding that we exist to be with God and that we work to bring others to Him?

Greeks would see Jesus.  Jn. 12:20-50

Jesus had to die and be raised in order for people to recognize Him.  We say that Jesus is the only way to God and that statement is true.  But, speaking of this fact, we must understand that it is the once-crucified Jesus and now-risen Lord that is the only way to the Father.  Jesus said that the Son of Man must go up to Jerusalem, suffer, die and be raised on the third day.  The cross of Christ is an absolute necessity for our salvation!  This is the gospel!  This “good news” must be the center of everything we think, say, or do.  Is it?

This story also reminds us that we must die spiritually and be raised in order to see Jesus as He really is.  There is a cross for you and me also!  Our cross involves our complete surrender of everything to God (our rights, wills, dreams, finances, families, habits, sins, good deeds, etc.) including our lives and our receiving of His resurrection life.  Everything we are and have, the good and the bad, must be placed at the foot of the cross.  And then as we ask Him to fill us with the Holy Spirit, we will see Jesus in a powerful way.   Spend some time meditating on His cross and yours and you may discover a new and fresh understanding of who He