Month: May 2018
On Mother’s Day, Pastor Steve brought this message to encourage women to be the women that God, in His image, created them to be. The woman in Proverbs 31 is far from under-rated, under-paid, and under-respected. She is well spoken, well gifted, and well compensated. Furthermore, she is well known for the exercise of all of her gifts both in the home and in the market. She loves her family well and is held in high esteem by all. In the face of hyped up feminism, a woman who fulfills her God-given purposes stands in stark contrast and is greatly fulfilled and respected by all.
2 And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples 3 and said to Him, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”
4 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: 5 The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”
Do the things of God ever cause you to doubt? John the Baptist gave his life, from the womb, to serve his God. Jesus called John the greatest man ever born of woman. Without doubt, John the Baptist (the baptizer) was the greatest Old Testament prophet and in his life fulfilled prophesies of other prophets as the forerunner of the Messiah. John’s message was fiery, so much so that he had a great following of those who repented and of those who hated him. John gave everything to complete the mission that God created him to do.
John may have envisioned himself as the prophet of God in the kingdom of the Messiah. He, like the apostles, may not have understood the spiritual nature of the kingdom of Christ but was looking forward to the revival of the throne of David. Jesus was the Messiah! John had baptized him, the Spirit of God descend upon him and John heard the voice of God from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son.” John believed what God said and followed the Messiah.
But now, John found himself in prison with a death sentence. This was not what he understood was supposed to happen. Furthermore, Jesus did not come and get him released so it looked like his doom was certain. “Was Jesus really the Messiah? Am I not the forerunner of this Messiah? Why doesn’t he come and save me from this prison and from this death sentence?” As these questions ran through John’s head we find him sending messengers to Jesus asking him if he really is the Messiah who was to come or was there yet another one coming?
Have we ever doubted the word or the power of God? Have we ever assumed that God was going to do something and when he didn’t a seed of doubt entered our hearts? John did not deny Christ, and neither do we; but John did question why Jesus did not come and deliver him. My friends, when we don’t think that God has done something the way we think he should have, we are in good company. Many before us have wondered the same thing. At those moments of doubt the Lord Jesus calls us to focus on him. Jesus told John to pay attention to the miracles: notice the sick that were healed, the lame who walked, the dead raised, and the poor hearing the gospel preached to them.
In our hours of doubt we too are called to greater faith in who Jesus is and in what Jesus did. Jesus is God. Jesus came to this earth, lived a sinless life, died a substitutionary death, and rose in a justifying resurrection. Jesus was seen by over 400 people after his resurrection and then rose bodily to heaven promising to return in the same manner. This is where our faith needs to be.
Finally, notice that Jesus did not get John released from prison but let Herod have him beheaded. John’s work was finished and God took him home. The moment John found himself in the presence of the God he loved and served it all made sense. At that moment, regardless of how we get there, every trial and blessing of this life will make sense for us too. Have faith.
We had a great Mother’s Day at church and at home. God led us to Proverbs 31 as we studied the value of women. When we follow God’s plan for our creation, women have great value and bring that value to every part of their lives. I am so thankful for women of value who have been such a key part of my life from birth to today. There were many women of virtue and value who were part of shaping me into the man that I have become. Thanks to my mom, my wife, my mother-in-law, and dozens of others who caring for me made me into the man that I have become. Ladies, don’t look for fulfillment in trying to be something God did not make you to be. (For more on this, listen to the message on Proverbs 31, A Woman of Value.)
Pray today for peace in Jerusalem. Regardless of your politics on a US Embassy in Jerusalem, people are involved in violent protests and we should be praying for peace in Jerusalem. Only Jesus will broker the final peace there but for now they need God to move on their behalf.
Three churches were bombed in Indonesia yesterday. One family picked out three churches and a father, mother, two sons, and two daughters blew themselves up in a Catholic Church, a Pentecostal church, and a Christian church. Ten have died and dozens were injured. Pray for those brothers and sisters in Christ who lost family in this terrorist attack.
Thankfully, our Lord Jesus is the final victor and in time His kingdom will be established and will rule in peace for a thousand years. Have faith.
Have a great day in the Lord,
39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.
40 “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.
41 He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.
42 And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”
As we lose our lives in this world and then find our lives in Christ and in the pursuits of his kingdom, we are going to treat people much, much differently. Losing our lives means that we willingly give up our own goals for greatness, for pleasure, for retirement, and so on in exchange for giving ourselves to the care of others in God’s kingdom. (When I speak of God’s kingdom I speak of the kingdom of never-dying souls who need to hear and believe the gospel of God which alone leads to eternal salvation in the kingdom of God.) When we are living apart from the goals of this life for the goals of Christ we will find ourselves seeing others differently and determining to care for them.
Verse s 40-41 teaches us the benefits in God’s kingdom of caring for others. When we receive the Lord Jesus, we also receive God the Father. The two are inseparable. Religions that deny the deity of Christ are also missing out on the presence of the Father. When we receive the Son, we are also receiving the Father. When we deny the Son we are also denying the Father. John makes this clearer in his letter that we call 1 John.
If we consider that the messengers of God, the prophets, the pastors, the evangelists, and other righteous people, are going to receive a special reward from God for their lives lived for God, then pay close attention here. Jesus taught that when we receive a prophet or a righteous man we will receive the same reward from God that they will receive. You see, those who are life-time ministers of the gospel need the care of those who work jobs in the community. Paul often spoke of those who cared for him along the way of his missionary journeys. Every one who cared for Paul will receive the same eternal rewards that Paul receives. Do you invite ministers and missionaries and evangelists into your home to receive them there? Do you take time and effort to care for those who don’t have community jobs but as ministers to the church rely on the church for their well-being? Every time you receive a messenger of God you are preparing yourself to receive the same blessings that they will receive.
But Jesus goes one step further when he says that even if we give a cup of cold water to a thirst person we will not lose our reward in heaven. This verse has taught me that no gift is too small when given from a sincere heart of care. All of us need water to live. When we care for others we are laying up rewards in heaven. Ask God to give you a chance to care for someone today.
Last night Stefani and Andrew taught the youth group lesson. They have been concerned about seeing their church friends begin down paths that lead to failure so they prepared a lesson to bring these paths, and their ends, to light. Do pray for our teens as they are facing extreme pressures both at home and at school. These pressures lead to all kinds of negative places and we know that when young people follow Christ the dead ends are avoidable.
Pray for my lunch appointment today. I am meeting with a friend from the community.
Have a great day in the Lord,