Monday, September 07, 2015

this old blog... 

Not sure what I should do with this blog. So much time and effort, pain, joy, musings, idiotic thinking have gone into it. I am hardly the same person…In some ways I am a little embarrassed of myself when I read old postings. Nonetheless, its me…was me, is still me. Maybe I should resurrect it...Maybe I should just start a new one...Maybe do nothing...

an old sermon I gave on Forgiveness. 

New Hope Sermon 12-19-10 Ingredients for reconciliation Bible reading: 2ND Corinthians 5:18-20 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. Last week Pastor and I shared on the first part of reconciliation. We looked at the definition of reconciliation, meaning to “no longer to appose, to co-exist in harmony, to make or show to be compatible, to fix what is broken and heal what is injured”. We looked at the story of the Prodigal son and examined the brokenness and injury that occurred in the relationship between the father and the son, who had demanded his inheritance early. And we read that after the son wished his father dead, and took his inheritance, he fled to a near by country and squandered his wealth on wild living. We also looked at Genesis chapter 3, the fall of man. And we discussed the once perfect relationship between our Father, the Creator, and mankind. We saw this harmonious relationship between man and God. God walks amongst Adam and Eve, and Adam and Eve walk naked and unashamed in the Garden and just like the story of the Prodigal Son, sin is introduced and the relationship is injured, damaged and severely broken. That direct line between man and God was and still is broken because of Sin. We know that God cannot be in a relationship with Sin because of His Holiness. However, the there is a remedy to mend that broken relationship, and that is through our Savior, the Son of God, and the Reason for the Season, Jesus Christ. We saw at the end of the story of the Prodigal Son, that after the son had lost everything, and was starving to death, he humbled himself and returned to his father, hoping for a job as a servant. What we saw in story was the father was ready to forgive the Son, even before the son could speak the first words of his apology. The father kissed him, threw a robe on him, had a ring put on his finger and sandals on his feet, then had a fatten calf slaughter so they could have a feast; for his son was once lost but was now found. He was once dead, but now is alive. We have all sinned against our Heavenly Father. We have all fallen short of the glory of God and WE ALL deserve death; but by His grace only, God provided us a remedy for our severed relationship with Him. He provided us a path to reconciliation. He did it by giving all of us the ULTIMATE Christmas Gift, His Son Jesus Christ. Now there are two ingredients to reconciliation. We briefly touched on them last week. Those two ingredients are FORGIVENESS and REPENTANCE. You cannot have true reconciliation without both components. However, sometimes, just one ingredient is all you get, and we will talk more about that in a little bit. We closed last week’s services with the same scripture reading we opened tonight, which read, All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. We are eternally grateful that God has shown mercy and grace towards us by reconciling us to Him through Christ and the Apostle Paul writes, that since God reconciled us, we are now called to the ministry of reconciliation. I believe that to be a two-fold commission. The first part being that we now are ambassadors Christ, we are called to work as agents of change and help others reconcile to God; otherwise known as evangelism. We do that through building relationships. By living a life that is Spirit filled and that bears fruit. We help other’s reconcile with God by sharing our faith, stories, testimonies and lives. We do so by loving one another. Now there is a second part to the commission of reconciling and that is with others. We are called to reconcile with others within our own personal relationships. The bible calls us to be “Peacemakers”. Jesus is quoted in Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God”. However, reconciling or making peace with others is not always easy. But what if it was? What if we could take some sort of pill that resolved all of our inter-personal conflicts? Well, I think we found that pill. Lets take a look at this Video…. RECONCILATION VIDEO Too funny, May cause extra hugging and sloppy kisses or pregnancy…Just like Christmas to bring out all those longstanding grudges, unresolved family conflicts, issues, and hurts…Its so true…And I would add injuries; nothing like Christmas to bring out those unhealed, longstanding injuries. If it were only that easy to take a pill to have harmonious relationships with others…but its not… Since we can’t take a pill, how do you make peace and reconcile with someone who has injured you deeply? Let me ask, who has cut you so deep, its as if the wound will never heal. Who has scarred you so badly it still pains you today? What are we to with those damaged emotions, and hurt feelings? What do we do with that parent who was abusive or absent? What about the best friend who betrayed your trust? The family member who treats you less than… The person who has used you and had taken advantage of you over and over again… The person who stole your trust…The loved one who abandoned you. The one who you loved dearly but has battered your spirit? We have all been cut deeply at one time or another and healing is not something that comes quick and easy. There is no over the counter pill. Lets take a look at a story for a moment. I want to talk about Joseph. You know Joseph, the one with the multicolored tunic or coat. Now Joseph was done wrong, REALLY wrong by his own brothers. They did him dirty…The Story of Joseph is kind of a long one. It starts in Genesis chapter 37 and goes through Chapter 50. For tonight’s purpose, I am just going to hit the highlights. The story takes place when Joseph was about seventeen years old. Joseph was the son of Jacob. And the Bible tells us that Jacob loved Joseph more than all of his sons because Joseph was the son of his old age and he had made Joseph a multicolored coat. The brothers saw that their father loved Joseph more then them and they hated him for it. So much that they could not speak to him on friendly terms. Now Joseph really didn’t do himself any favors when he began to share the dreams God had given to him to his brothers, which were interrupted as brothers bowing down to him and he ruling over them. I could see how that might stir the pot a little…but so far, we see Joseph is in no fault. He cant help that his father has taken a liking to him over his brothers and he cant help that God has given him prophetic dreams. The story goes on, with Joseph one day sent by his father to go check on his brothers in the field. When his brothers see him, they plot to kill him. It was jealousy that was driving them to murder. It was his brother Reuben who swayed the other brothers from killing Joseph suggesting that they throw him into a well instead to avoid any blood on their hands; figuratively and literally. They captured Joseph upon his arrival, striped him of his coat and tossed him into a well. Reuben was the only one of the brothers who was not for the plan of murder and actually was planning to return to the well later to rescue poor Joseph. Now while the brothers were kicking back enjoying their lunch, they saw some Midianite traders. So they pulled Joseph out of the well and sold him into slavery for twenty (20) shekels of silver. A plan that Reuben was not a part of because, later when Reuben return to the well to rescue Joseph, he was gone. This upset Reuben so much he tore his own garments. Meanwhile, the other brother’s made up a story. They took Joseph’s coat and dipped it in goats blood and return to their father, showing him Joseph’s coat, telling him that they had found the coat and suggesting he had been torn apart by wild beasts. We see in the story that Joseph is then sold to a Pharaoh’s officer, the captain of the bodyguard. And it was there, that Joseph earned good favor and became successful that was until he encountered the Captain of the bodyguard’s wife. What happen was that after Joseph was made the overseer of the Pharaoh’s officer’s house, his wife tired to seduce Joseph. And what did Joseph do? He did what we all should do when we encounter sin or become tempted and that is flee. Now the Captain’s wife took it as an insult and made a false accusation of rape against Joseph, in which he was thrown into jail for a period of two years. It was at that time that Joseph starts to interpret the dreams of fellow prisoners and the Pharaoh himself. Joseph interprets the Pharaohs dream, which if you remember is of the seven fat cows, then the seven skinny cows devouring the seven fat cows, telling the Pharaoh that God is reveling seven good years of harvest that are coming followed by seven years of drought and famine. Joseph is then not only freed but his made the ruler of Egypt. In Chapter 41: 39-41 the Pharaoh says to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.” So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” Now this is really the part of the story I want to get to. Once the famine set in, people all over the world were starving, but because Egypt had prepared for the famine, they still had bread. People from all over the earth, came to Egypt to buy grain. Now because of the starvation, Jacob, Joseph’s father sent his sons to Egypt to buy grain so that may live and not die. Since Joseph was now the ruler of Egypt, he was the one that sold grain to all the people. So it came about that his brothers came before him; however, they did not recognize him and they bowed before Joseph. Now Joseph appears to test the waters here. He not only disguises his voice so that his brothers would not recognize him, but he tests their motives. Their brother Benjamin was not among them, so Joseph sent them back to Cannon to retrieve their brother to prove they are not spies. Now when the brothers return to Egypt with Benjamin with some reluctance on behalf of their father Jacob, Joseph meets with them in his house. And it is this encounter that stirs all kinds of emotions for Joseph. Chapter 43 verse 30 tells us that “Joseph was deeply moved at the sight of his brother, Joseph hurried out and looked for a place to weep. He went into his private room and wept there.” There’s that unresolved conflict. The pain of an open wound that never healed. It came to the point that Joseph could not longer hide himself from his brothers. Chapter 45 says that “Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it.” We further read that then Joseph kissed all of his brothers and had shown complete forgiveness. He did not count their trespass against them. And he could only do this because they first repented. Remember, there are two ingredients to reconciliation, Repentance and Forgiveness. At first, we might think that Joseph was giving his brothers a hard 
time in order to get revenge for the way they had mistreated him. But 
as we carefully examine the events, he frequently felt 
real pain and he turned aside and wept, suffering with them. Joseph was 
leading his brothers, step by step to repent of their sins. Their trouble stirred their guilty 
consciences and they began to talk about what they had done, they 
confessed to one another the evilness of their deed. Obviously, Joseph is in a position of great power. Joseph already had his brother’s temporally thrown in jail until he could determine their motives. He could of easily left them in jail. He could of denied his brothers the grain they were seeking. He could of revealed himself immediately and said, yo! What’s up? Who’s the sucker now? And have them put to death. All of that would have been justified. Look at the sin the brothers committed. They abandoned and forsaken their own little brother. They were ready to kill him. They had hurt him so deeply, that every time Joseph had dealt with them in Egypt, he wept. But Joseph did not play the “eye for an eye card” …Instead he relinquished his right of to get even. He responded to evil with love. He forgave. And in doing so, he open the door to healing. I was talking to my friend John Greco, who by the way is an author. Quick plug, you can buy his book, The Jesus Sessions, getting beyond the bumper sticker gospel on Amazon or at the Scripture House. Anyhow, he said to me that often times we Christians have this wrong idea of forgiveness, as if we are to become door mates for other people. We think its righteous to set ourselves up to be abused and taken advantage of over and over again because Jesus said “if someone hits you in the check offer him the other.” My friend John is right. You can forgive, but you don’t have to make yourself a victim all over again. You can forgive someone as you pull the knife out of your back but you most certainly don’t have to hand them the knife back. Unfortunately for us, and unlike the story of Joseph, we don’t always get see repentance in our damaged relationships; therefore, they can’t be reconciled. The story of Joseph is a best-case scenario. Just because the person who hurt you, betrayed you, or forsaken you, doesn’t repent, it doesn’t exclude us from our responsibility to forgive. Matthew 18: verses 21 and 22 Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Jesus instructs us in Luke Chapter 6 verse 28, to “Bless those who Curse us, to pray for those who mistreat you”. Isn’t ironic that us, mankind, a creation that God created to be in relationships can do this right? God created us to breath and sleep, and talk and all kinds of other things, and we appear to do those things just fine, but the part about us being created for relationships, we just can’t get right. We are constantly screwing that up. Why? Sin…and sin damages relationships. Remember that quote I read to you guys last week from the old dead guy from the 1600s? Thomas Therhan. He wrote that Love can forbear and Love can forgive but Love cannot reconcile itself to an unlovely object. Therefore, He (God) cannot reconcile Himself to your sin, because sin cannot be altered. However, he can reconcile himself to your person, because that can be restored. When he says that the person can be restored, that is through repentance. I believe that also applies to us within our relationships. I will tell you that I have mother and father issues. My dad was pretty much absent and neglected us most of our lives. He was just a guy that came home to sleep after work and if he was not at work, he was at the golf course. He wasn’t there at my choir concerts, baseball games, swim meets or award assemblies. My mother is an alcoholic. She at times could be verbally abusive and to this day, there are things that she said when she was drunk that still hurt when I think about them. I know that I am not the only one in this Church tonight that has broken relationships. This room is full of people that have pain and scars on their hearts left by others. Inflected by people that we loved. By people we trusted. By people that should of protected us and loved us back. I can share with you that because of my mothers continued drinking I cant reconcile with her and have the type of relationship my heart longs for. I have been hurt many times because of it and the last time I preached I shared with you that I am a recovering alcoholic. Now obviously, it wouldn’t be very healthy for me to open myself up to my mother’s mess and allow that conflict, sin, sickness and engulf my life. For years and years, I was angry at my father and I am still feel hurt today by his lack of involvement in my life. He should have been the one to teach me how to throw a football, not the 7th grade PE teacher. He should have taught me how to throw a baseball, not Greg Burdick. I don’t know if you remember that Greg, but you did, out in the backfield of the Green Akers Middle School. My father should have taught me how to ride a bike, not the neighbor. He should have cheered for me in the stands at swim meets and baseball games because no one else was… Now there is a lot more to my family dynamics, but basically you need to know because of these issues, hurts and sins, I have no real relationship with either of my parents. And this is the part of our scripture reading that conflicted me the most. I initially struggled with the commission of reconciling with others. In my mother’s case, I have tired, but she has chosen the bottle over family time and time again. And what about my father? How do I reconcile what never existed? How do any of us reconcile with others? We know there is no pill to fix it. We know that alcohol, sex, drugs, food, and other vises only numb the hurt for a little bit but actually bring us to a worse state and cause us more damage and pain. What are we to do? First, perhaps we can do what Joseph did and that is look for where God is at work. Joseph recognized Gods hand in his life, regardless of the unfortunate circumstance. He tells his brothers in Chapter 45 verse 5, “don’t be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.” Take just a second and reflect on where God has had his hand on your life despite the injuries others have inflected. Where has he shown up within the brokenness? Look for His goodness. It wasn’t God that hurt you, that was man. That was sin. But it’s only God who can heal. Second, take it Jesus. Jesus knows first hand what it feels like to be abandoned, forsaken, hurt deeply. He was spit on, laughed at, mocked, flogged, abandoned and crucified. Ask for God to heal you. Ask for discernment. Discernment? Yes Discernment. You need to examine yourself and the conflict and determine if you yourself have any amends to make. You need to find the part that you need to take responsibility for. And if there is an area where you owe an apology, you have to make it. Warning, be careful of pride. Pride is the one thing that will keep a person from seeking forgiveness or granting forgiveness. Also, in part to discernment, you need to re-examine the relationship. This may be something that is really not healthy. Maybe this is an area, like Pastor Patirck talked about a while back where you need to use the discipline of in-difference. May be this is something where you need to release that person. Third, we need to forgive. Forgive regardless. Even if the person does not seek repentance, and continues with their destructive ways, you will never heal without first forgiving. Without forgiveness you can easily be entrapped with the bondage of angst, bitterness, resentment and self-pitty. You don’t want that bondage. He have proclaimed over and over again that Jesus has come to set us free! Free of bondage, free of lingering pain and hurts, free of self-pitty, free of insecurities, free of addictions, and free of burdens and He has done this so that we may live life to the fullest. And fourth, pray for that person and damaged relationship. This is an area I need to improve in. Do you want to know how you have come to forgive someone? You know you have forgiven them if you are praying for them. Praying for restoration. Praying for healing and praying for blessings. Don’t pray that they get hit by a car or slip and break their hip or neck; nothing along those lines, but honest prayers of goodwill and blessings. Let close in prayer. Father God, you know the pain that we sometimes inflect on others just as much as the pain we experience. You know this because you to have felt it. You know our hearts Father God. If there are relationships that we need to heal and make amends for, convict out hearts. May the Holy Spirit lead us in the direction of restoration and reconciliation... And for those wounds we still feel today. We lift to you. We no longer want to carry that hurt. We want to be free of it. Heal us Jesus and help us forgive those who have inflected the pain upon us. May we pray for those who have cursed us and bless those who have mistreated us, but along protecting ourselves from further injury. Give us discernment so that we may not cast our pearls among the swine. Thank you Jesus for all you have done and your hand within our lives. Forgive us of our trespass, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Amen.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Yesterday I had to take my two children to the dentist; Gracie, seven years old and Jacob, four years old. The morning started out with some excitement, Gracie and Jacob both brushing their teeth will extra vigilance in hopes to impress the dentist, but as time drew close to the appointment, the excitement began to fade and turn into anxiety and then fear. The car ride the dentist became quite and only a whisper was spoken in the visiting room. When the dentist called for both children to come in from the visiting room, fear and terror filled their eyes, both looking to me for comfort and protection. My heart broke for them, especially when Jacob in a soft whisper asked “daddy will you go with me?” There was a problem; the dental staff particularly did not want parents in the back rooms. Before they received their check ups and cleaning, I was able to embrace both of my children and reassure them that they would be ok and that I would be with them always and that there was nothing to be afraid of.

Then a thought occurred to me. I have been dealing with fear a lot too lately. I have been going through something tremendously hard, painful and scary. At times I can’t help but wonder where God is; why my prayers are not being answered, and why He is allowing me to hurt so much? But perhaps, He is there, right there with me, just like I am with my kids. I know the dentist is scary for them, and I wish they didn’t have to experience that type of fear, but in the end, it is for their own good and health. Perhaps, the same goes for me?

Monday, October 17, 2011

sermon I preached two weeks ago 

God Loves you
Rock Church

John 15:12-14 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater Love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are my Friends if you do what I command.”

Tonight I would like to unpack the truth that God loves us. Unfortunately, the statement on its own, has become somewhat cliché and a bumper sticker gospel, meaning, that people hear it, they say it, but really don’t know how profound, and deep this truth is. Understanding God’s love for you is extremely deep waters. It’s huge and when you seriously think about it, its mind-boggling. I mean seriously, who are we that God would be mindful of us? This is a question that even King David wrestled with? David asks that exact question in Psalm 8:4 “ what is man that you are mindful of him?”

Who are we, that God, creator of the universe, Who is all powerful, mighty, holy, perfect, and just be mindful of you and I, dirty little sinners? It’s pretty amazing that God, Who is so big, vast, and beyond our comprehension has a love for us. And that love should create a sense of awe in you when you think about it

And here’s why: God is perfect; we are flawed. God is righteous; we are wicked. God all powerful; we are not. God is holy; we are sinners. God exists out side of time; we while on earth, live and die by the clock. God is all knowing; we only think we are.

Here is the deal…God is so great and perfect and so way beyond us, yet He loves us. There is nothing we could ever do that would make Him love us more or less. We are completely unworthy of His love, but He loves us regardless. And because of God’s love, He has done something for us that we are incapable of doing on our own, in that God has given us hope, redemption and Salvation, through His son Jesus Christ.

There are things God want us to know. Truths, which He has revealed to us through scripture. God wants us to know Him, and that He is all of the things I just mentioned, that He is holy, just, perfect, omnipresent, the only true God, He is righteous, and worthy of all praise. He is the creator and that He is love.

1st John 4:8 : reads simply “God is Love…”

Oswald Chambers in his book The Love of God writes: “Its an eternal fact that God is Love. God is not loving, but rather He is love. God and Love are synonymous. Love is not an attribute of God, it is God; whatever God is, Love is. “

When you read through the holy bible, you will find another truth and that is we are sinners. We are nowhere near God’s level or standard of holiness. We have a bad habit of judging one another based on human standards of goodness and or deeds but the bible is clear that we all fall short of God’s glory. We may think we are holier, or a better human being than those who have murdered, cheated, robbed, and have physically hurt others, but the key word is ALL. Not some, not a few, but ALL.

Romans 3:23 “ for all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God.”
As Christians, we have to be honest with ourselves here. We are wretched. We are full of sin, whether it be pride, lust, drunkenness, envy, strife, jealously, hatred, gossip, judgment, selfishness, self-centeredness, vanity, conceitedness, and the list goes on. Sin has been ingrained in us ever since the fall of man with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Paradise. Since then, we have been in rebellion against God. The bible even uses the word “enemy”. We have been an enemy of God…Think about that. Nothing you could ever do or say could put you on the same level of God. God is way up here, perfect, holy and blameless and we are way down here, defiled, ugly and wretched. And because of that sin, we are eternally separated from God. Because God is holy, just and perfectly blameless, he cannot be in a relationship with sin, meaning He cannot be in a relationship with us, if…left in our state of depravity.

Here is the thing….the mind blower…God loves you…God loves me. God, the almighty, loves us, who are depraved, sinful and hopeless…This is a deep affectionate Love. He loves us so much, He does something remarkable. Through His love He is willing to forgive us, and has provided a means of reconciliation and redemption. He has granted us salvation, which Pastor Patrick explained a few weeks ago, can only come from Him, through His Grace and Mercy. We clearly cannot achieve salvation on our own…Its simply a gift, which is rooted and motivated by love. His Love for us…

Here is the thing about Love. Actions need to accompany it. I would not have much of a marriage and would not be much of a father to my children if I only told them I love them, but never displayed that love in actions. Honestly, without actions, its not love at all. What kind of marriage would you and I have if we never gave our spouse a hug or a kiss,
if we never gave them compliments, if we never put them before ourselves, if we never remember birthdays or anniversaries, or if we never bought them gifts or spent quality time with them? The same goes with parenting, what kind of Love would it be if you never showed affection, or provided food and shelter for your child; if you never listened to them or spent quality time with them, if you never played with them or praised them or disciplined them. Yes even discipline, if done in a Godly way is an act of love. You can say you love them all you want, but without actions it is meaningless and not Love at all.

All through the bible we see God showing up big time, displaying Love and Grace in actions. But there is no greater display or action of Love then what we see with Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross for us.

Jesus said so Himself, Greater Love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. This is the clearest and most magnificent display of Love that God has for us.

Romans 5: 6-8 reads: “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Just so we are clear, lets unpack the cross for a moment.
Jesus, the son of God, perfect and blameless and without sin,

and as Hebrews 1:3 reads, He is the radiance of His Glory and the exact representation of His nature; translation; Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory and Jesus is the exact representation of God’s nature.

Jesus comes to earth, born of a virgin, and at age 30, starts out on His ministry, wherein He lives a sinless life, befriends sinners, eats and drinks with them, heals the sick, raises the dead, called twelve disciplines and taught them in God’s ways, and all along fulfilling every prophecy ever written about the messiah in the old testament. Jesus also knew that He would be handed over and murdered, as it was the Father’s will and out of love, Jesus obeyed…

At age 33, Jesus is betrayed by one of His own disciples, Judas Iscariot, which again, Jesus already knew was going to happen and even prophesied about it during the last supper. Jesus says to his disciples during the Passover meal, “ Truly I say to you that one of you will betray me”, in which all the disciples said “Surely not I”. So it comes about that Judas leads a multitude of people armed with clubs and swords from the Chief Priests and Elders of the people and they arrest and seize Jesus. Jesus is placed on trial 6 times, 3 of which were illegal according to the law, because they were held at night and at each of those trials, Jesus is beaten severely.

The bible details Jesus’ death in that, it records Jesus being punched, mocked, spit on, and slapped. They pulled out chunks of whiskers out of His beard. They blind folded Him and continued to punch Him with their fists, telling Him to prophesy who hit him. They crushed a crown of thorns down on His head and gave Him a staff and again mocked Him, calling out hail king of the jews, then they took the staff and beat Him over the head with it.
Now the Jews were not permitted to put anyone to death, so they take Jesus to Pilate, a Roman governor who had the authority to put Jesus to death, but here is the thing, he found no wrong in Jesus, he even sent Jesus off to another Governor, Herod, who too found no guilt in Jesus so, he sent Him back to Pilate.

Pilate, not wanting to kill Jesus, he figures if he could beat Jesus enough, it would move the crowd to compassion, sparing Jesus’ life. So Pilate has Jesus scourged, starting the fulfillment of the prophesy of Isaiah 53:5 “But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.

So Jesus is whipped with what they call a cat of nine tails… I don’t know if any of you have seen the movie the Passion of Christ. All of what Jesus had endured is violently portrayed in the movie. I have only seen the movie once, and I don’t think I ever need to see it again because the scenes and images of brutality, wrath, and raw viciousness are forever burned into my memory. The scene in the movie where is Jesus is whipped is pretty accurate. The cat of nine tails was a whip with nine stripes of leather and at the end of the leather strip would be a small metal ball or hook. The balls were there for tenderizing the flesh, like you would with a steak. The hooks where made of metal or bone. Their purpose was to hook into the flesh, then rip and tear it apart. A person who was to be scourged would be tied to a stump or a block of wood, exposing the back, buttocks and legs. They would then proceed to whip you, each time the metal balls tenderizing your back and the hooks sinking in and taking a hold of your flesh, then violently ripped out, basically flaying your back, legs and buttocks open. After Jesus was whipped and made to be a bloody mess, Pilate presented Jesus before the crowd.
But the crowd begins to yell and chant “Crucify, crucify, crucify.” You can imagine the bloodthirsty frenzy building up among the people. Pilate in turns tells the crowd that he has no found no fault in Jesus and tells them “ you take him yourself and crucify”. The Jews answer back “ we have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the son of God”. Now prior to Jesus crucifixion, as accustom to the Governor’s Feast, which was being held at that time, one prisoner of the peoples choice was released.

Now Pilate presented both Jesus, the messiah, and a man named Barabbas, who was a robber and murder before the people and asked who they should have released, and the crowed called out for Barabbas. Also Pilates wife who appeared to have a little more discernment than Pilate begged him not to kill Jesus because of a dream she had; however, Pilate knew not crucifying Jesus would result riots and civil unrest, which would be viewed by Rome as poor governorship, so he opts to kill Jesus. Before so, he public washes his hands before the people and tells them that he is innocent of Jesus’ blood, and the crowd responds, “ may his blood be on us and our children”. Jesus is then is lead away to be crucified. They even have Jesus attempt to carry His own cross, but he was took weak and beaten, so they pulled a man out of the crowd by the name of Simon to carry Jesus’ cross. We know him as Simon of Cyrene.

Once they arrived to a place called Golgotha, which means place of skull, they nailed Jesus to the cross, crucifying Him. They also divided up his garments and gambled for them, again fulfilling more prophesy of the Old Testament.

Jesus, stripped of His clothes, is hung on the cross, suffering in unimaginable pain and people continue to mock Him.
The actual cause of death during crucifixion is suffocation. People are hung in a way that restricts their breathing. The only way to breathe while on the cross is to push up from your crucified feet, which no doubt would hurt, so that you could inhale. This goes on for hours in the baking sun. Your body burning, and become dehydrated, you becoming weaker and weaker, until you no longer have the will or strength to lift yourself up for breath. In some cases, Roman soldiers would break the legs of those being crucified, prohibiting them from being able to lift themselves up to breath, expediting the death process. In Jesus’ case his legs were not broken, again another fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy. Jesus is left there on the cross until he dies and then to ensure He is dead, they run a spear up His rib cage, puncturing His lungs and heart sack and blood and water flow.

Graphic I know, and here is what is so astonishing about the whole ordeal…

Hebrews 12:1 says “for who the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the thrown of God. Jesus, who the joy was set before Him endured the cross!

Are you kidding me? Joy? What Joy could there ever be in that type of torture and brutality? All of you would be hard press to find any joy in crucifixion. So what possibly could that joy be?

“For Who the joy set before Him endured the cross..”

The joy is that He (Jesus) was purchasing many sons and daughters for the Father.

He gave His life for you and I because He loves us. He gladly works as an interceder between us the Father because He loves us. Remember, Jesus said so Himself, Greater Love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

What’s extraordinary is that not only does God love us, but He knows us…He knows and see the good and bad. He knows our weakness, He knows our flesh, He knows we are going to fail, and stumble. He knows that we are going to sin and that we are going to be drawn to wicked things, which make us feel yucky, dirty, shameful and embarrassed, but that is the point of the Cross!

Listen, The cross is God’s love in action and it is a picture of God’s love for you in spite of you. The cross is necessary because of you, and me…but it is also the picture of how mighty God’s love is and how far He is willing to go and pursue us.

And this Love God has for you should motivate you to do two things. It should motivate you to repentance and gratitude.

There are many Christians who doubt this love or don’t fully believe it. They think and feel that what they have done in the past is unforgivable. As if God had not gone to the cross for their sins or that His grace some how does not apply or insufficient. That is nonsense! That is a lie from the enemy! The bible is very clear about His love for us.

Romans 8:35-39 Reads: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Paul doesn’t mince words here. “ We are to be considered sheep to be slaughtered..” Look, becoming a Christian does not exclude you from hardship, pain and bad things. Sometimes its self-imposed, other times, it’s just life. The world is full of sin, and sin wreaks havoc, pain, devastation, and turmoil. There is a Christian Pastor in Iran that is about to be executed because he would not renounce Jesus. Christians get sick with illness like cancer daily. People rob us, hurt us, and fail us. But we have something the world doesn’t have, and they can’t take it away. We have Jesus, and His love! The world can rob us blind, drain our pensions, take our lives for confessing Christ, hurl insults at us, mock us and betray us, but they cannot take Christ and His love from us!

The Message bible puts it this way: So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn't hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn't gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God's chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We're sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I'm absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

The bible also says there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8-1)

Once you have embraced God’s magnificent Love and grace, by surrendering and turning your life over the Christ Jesus, repenting of your sins, and proclaiming and confessing that Jesus is son of God and that He has not only forgiven you of your sins, but has paid the price for them, by being sacrificed upon the cross, YOU ARE IN CHRIST JESUS. That meaning, God no longer sees you in your depraved state, rather, through Christ Jesus who is blameless and pure.

I heard a story about a woman, whom while engaged to be married she slept with another man. Afterwards she was filled with guilt, shame and remorse. She was also filled with fear.
Fear that if she told her fiancé, he would not marry her, and after they were married, she feared if he ever found out or if she ever told him, he would hate her and divorce her. The guilt, shame, and dark secrete began to erode the marriage, until one day, she confessed. The husband’s response was to go to the store and buy a white night gown for his wife. He returned home, undressed his wife and put the white night gown on her and told her he chooses to see her as Jesus does.

It is because of Jesus’ love and that action of His love that he displayed on the cross that it can be as Isaiah writes (Isaiah 1:18-19) “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.”

Because of Jesus we are white as snow. How magnificent His love for us is!

Application. Real simple. Know and embrace God’s love for you! Stand firm in that. Don’t let the enemy speak discouraging lies to. Don’t beat yourself up over failures, instead, repent and move forward by the power and grace of God’s love. Don’t doubt God’s love. Instead share His love. Love others, as He has commanded us to do so. The cross is not a free pass to continue in your sin. We as Christians respond to His love with love, in that we obey to the best of our abilities His commandment, which Jesus says in (Mark 12:30-31) Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

Lets pray….

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Exerts taken from Desiring God by John Piper. "Suffering, whether it be sickness, or persecution have this in common: they are both intended by Satan for the destruction of our faith and governed by God for the purifying of our faith. God rules over Satan and gives him no more leash than can accomplish His ultimate purpose. God's purposes are opposite of Satan's. Christ's sovereignly accomplishes His loving, purifying purpose by overruling Satan's destructive attempts. Satan is always aiming to destroy our faith, but Christ magnifies His own power in our weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

King David was a man after God's own heart (1st Sam. 13:13-14 & Acts 13:22) and nothing more clearly shows this then David's writings in Psalms. Psalm 27:4, David asks one thing. He writes: "One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek; That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to meditate in His temple." What is David asking for? He is asking to Glorify God and to bask in His glory. David is not asking for earthly treasures but rather, the ULTIMATE TREASURE, the eternal treasure, the heavenly treasure, God Himself. ( I am my beloved, and my... beloved is mine...Song of Solomon 6:3) He is our beloved. He is our treasure! And though David asked, he must still seek. The Devil desires to Seek and Destroy; we however, must learn to Seek and Glorify!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I have nothing coming 

I have come to the conclusion, that we all have more than we deserve. There should be no expectations or feelings of entitlement, because, none of us have anything coming...If anything, those of us that follow Christ, the only thing we have coming is a cross to bare. With that in mind, we should always have a sense of gratitude. We should be grateful for what we do have. We may not have everything we want, but God has already given us everything we need and more, starting with the first waking breath we took this morning. The hot water for the shower, the breakfast we ate, the job we have, the car we drive, the health we are enjoying, the wives we married, the healthy children we were given and the friends we were blessed with is all extra.

Monday, January 10, 2011

My friend C.W.

It really is a travesty to not realize how important or how much a person means to you until they fall ill, sick, or become inured, worse yet, are gone. This morning when I began to pray for my friend C.W., I began to cry because I realized how important he has been to me and how much he has taught me. C.W. is ill and has been recently hospitalized. He has been battling cancer for a while now, but you would never know it because he never mentions it. I would have never known about his cancer if it wasn’t for a mutual friend who told me.

See, C.W. isn’t prideful or embarrassed, he is the opposite. He doesn’t talk about himself because he is a humble man and he is always more concerned for others than himself. I met C.W. within my first week of recovery from Alcohol, and over the last couple of years, I have watched him treat all new comers the same way as he did with me. That is with open arms, compassion and encouragement. I have never heard him speak or complain of his cancer, though he has ever right to do so. Instead, C.W. is a man of few words, and of those few words, I have heard the same words from him over and over again, yet they have never gotten old. Whenever C.W. is called upon to speak in a meeting, he always opens with his name, followed by “I am an alcoholic- Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I was once lost, but now I am found, was blind but now I see.” And sometimes, he just leaves it at that. He once told me that when he first had gotten sober, he attended an AA meeting that was within a church. He said while he was waiting for the meeting to start, he picked up a hymnal and opened it, and right there, the first words he read, was that of Amazing Grace. Ever since then, he has repeated those same words he read over a decade ago every single time he is called upon to share. C.W. gets it…God help me to get it too.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tonight at church, I am speaking a little bit about Christmas and the story of the Prodigal Son.

I am sure you are wondering, what does the Prodigal Son have to do with Christmas, and I would say everything!

Let me start by saying the story of the Prodigal son is a special one because its one of those 3 for 1 deals. With one story, you get three applications. We see that there are three characters, the father, son, and a brother and with each character, there is an application. We see a story of the son’s EGO, life of sin, and then repentance. We see the father’s forgiveness, reconciliation, and grace. Then there is the brother’s who is angry and jealous that the father has so readily taken back the brother. Tonight, we are going to look at the story of reconciliation between the son and the father. And that’s why this story is important to Christmas. It’s a beautiful story of reconciliation and of a metaphor or parable of God the father, and mankind, which includes all of us.

My favorite Christmas song is Hark the herald Angle Sing, because of the line, “ God and sinners reconcile.”
It’s that line right there that is the good news we proclaim as Christians.

Lets look at the word reconcile for a moment.

The word reconcile means a couple of different things.
The dictionary defines reconcile as “case to co-exist in harmony; make or show to be compatible or to no longer appose.”

Try this definition on for size. How about “ to fix what is broke…”

So what’s broke? Well in the story we just read, we see that the father and son’s relationship has broke. So you understand how serious of a deal this was, let me explain some of the context. This isn’t a story of a son asking his dad for 100 bucks and staying gone all weekend. This is so much bigger than that. When the son asked his father for his inheritance in advanced, be basically wished his father dead. You are dead to me, so give me what I have coming is pretty much what the actions of the son spoke here. The son has shown complete disrespect, selfishness, and greed. We see first hand through the story what self-will run riot looks like. Surprisingly, the father grants the son his request and gives him his inheritance, then the son leaves. And what does he do with his money; he spent it on “wild living”.
By today’s standards of wild living, I think of Tiger Woods. Think of everything we learned about Tiger this last year and his escapades, and I think that Tiger’s once secret lifestyle is not too different from the Son’s.

During the course of time that the son was out living life in the fast lane, boozing, and eating at all of the best restaurants, chasing women, and gambling, he has no contact with his father. Why should he? He wished his father dead so that he could take his inheritance. The relationship that once was is not completely broken.

Let me pause there for a second and point out another relationship that was broken and that story is in Genesis chapter 3. See, after God made earth, and all of the animals and mankind, Adam and Eve, he said it was Very good. And He had a relationship with Adam and Eve and would walk amongst them in the garden. They had a direct line to the Creator. They had a perfect relationship with God. They were in harmony with God and did not appose Him, that was until the serpent shows up on the scene. And we know, as the story goes, Eve eats from the tree and then has Adam eat, and immediately their relationship with God was forever changed. They were once naked and unashamed, but now, they run and hide and cover themselves. Of course, God is not happy about this, and because God is pure and holy he cannot be in a relationship with sin. Which is what Adam and Eve brought upon themselves.

The bible tells us that God is a loving and kind; however, he is also just and in Him there is no darkness. 1st John 4:8 reads God is Love, with that in mind, let me read you a quote from a Thomas Thaherne, a priest and private Chaplin, in the later part of the 1600s and also a favorite writer of C.S. Lewis. Thomas Thaherne writes:

Love can forbear and Love can forgive…but Love can NEVER be reconciled to an unlovely object...He therefore, can never be reconciled to your sin, because sin cannot be altered; but he may be reconciled to your person, because that my be restored.

There we have it people. Because God cannot reconcile to Sin and because of man’s EGO (Which really stands for Edging God Out), the relationship between man and God was broken. Thankfully, there is a remedy and path for reconciliation.

Did you catch that part within the quote that says “God me be reconciled to the Person, because that may be restored”? And we know that we can only be restored through our Savior Jesus Christ. We have an opportunity to become restored because of the ultimate Christmas gift God gave to us, Jesus Christ. We now have a pathway for reconciliation with God. Sure, the relationship is not like the one Adam and Eve initially had with God, but we have a secured hope in the end, that when we join the father, we will again see Him and live again in complete harmony with the mighty creator, spending eternity basking in His glory and worshiping Him.

On a side note, I want to address some poor theology and that is that some people believe that God sent Jesus as a plan “B” because mankind was a failed experiment. That we messed things up so bad, that God had to revise His game plan, which is absolutely not true. God knew all along how all of this was going to play out. This is His story. He has written it from beginning to end. He is omnipresent. He was in the beginning and in the end. He knew what He was doing and it was always part of the plan. And what is so mind-blowing, and humbling is that God has written each of us into His story. There is a problem though, and that is we are constantly trying to highjack His story and make it our own story, were we become the main character and that it’s all about us.
EGO. (Edging God out).

As we go back to the story of the Prodigal Son, we see that son eventually lost everything. I imagine he had a hole in his heart the whole time he had departed from his Father, which he tried harder and harder to fill with fleshly desires. And then he hit rock bottom, and he hit it hard. We can all relate to being hungry, but I can’t say I have ever been so hungry that I longed to eat the pig slop. With no more money to spend on things that would temporarily numb his emptiness, let along feed himself, he decided to humbled himself and returned to his father, asking for forgiveness and to give him a job as a servant. And we read that “while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” And “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”

Reconciliation… what was once broken has been fixed; restored and placed back into harmony.

Now, there is a little bit more to the idea of reconciliation and we read about it in
2nd Corinthians 5:18-19:

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?