Come on out and enjoy the musical fun!!!
Blog and Community Notifications
The Bible tells us that when Moses came down from the mountain with the 10 Commandments fresh from God, he heard something that made his blood boil. He heard the Israelites wanton partying and debauchery…and he threw down the tablets in exasperation and disgust. The people of Israel were having a rowdy, drunken orgy. So, Moses was the very first person to break the Ten Commandments.
Moses broke the 10 commandments out of exasperation, anger and disgust. He broke them for the opposite reason people break them today. Moses was exasperated, angry and disgusted because of the behavior of the children of Israel. People today break the 10 commandments because they want to act like the children of Israel.
It’s easy to think of the 10 commandments as binding, negative and stifling. It’s easy to think that God was just using them to show people how bad they are. But, when we understand them, we’ll discover that they are God’s 10 Principles of Empowerment and Freedom.
God put together a list of 10 principles that can enable us to enjoy our lives as well as stay free from the hassles and pressures that would otherwise mar our time on earth. God knew that, if we could just put into practice these 10 Principles, the enemy would never be able to wipe us out or wreck our lives.
First of all, you want to remember that these Israelites had been slaves for more than four hundred years. They had been enslaved, held back; had stinky lives and no hope. Then, God had set them free, so they could become everything He had designed for humans to become. Now, He’s wanting them to be able to STAY free so they COULD grow and move forward in life.
God never wants us to go backwards, into the same old ruts and the same old pains and failures. He knows that, unless we DO something, though, we WILL naturally backslide. Man is a natural backslider.
God knows how easily we’re gotten off track. Plus, He knows how we get discouraged easily. And, how the first thing that most of us do is get mad at HIM when we’re having problems. We tend to accuse Him of holding us back and of not wanting us to have any fun in life.
So, as a way of introduction, before even the very first commandment, He reminds us that HE is the one who sets us free from the forces that would enslave us. He reminds us that He’s already proven that He has our best interests at heart.
He says, “I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the Land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” He’s saying, “ I KNOW how to break limitations off of people. I KNOW how to free people from the forces that would hold them back. I KNOW how to break bondages off people. I’ve already proven Myself to you. And YOU know it!”
Now, He gives us 10 principles for keeping free from the limitations, negative forces and bondages that will try to get a stranglehold on us again. He wants His people to be able to stay free not just from Egypt, but from ANYTHING that seems to offer freedom, but really will ultimately wipe us out.
That’s where He gives us the first commandment: “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.”
God has set HIS people free, and right off the bat wants us to know how to stay free from false gods and twisted religions that promise freedom, but ultimately enslave people and hold them back. Only the God of Heaven frees people and brings us to our full potential. All others hold people under and take away the joy of being alive.
Then he moves on to, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in Heaven above or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down to them, nor serve them.”
Sometimes people ask, “why are the commandments so negative?” “Thou shalt not…” The things that God says not to do are simply markers that mark off small areas that we want to stay away from if we want to stay free and keep on moving into the place that God has prepared for us in life.
He gives us a few areas to stay away from. We can go anywhere else in life that we want to.
It’s like, if you go to King’s Dominion and they have a sign telling you to not go into any of the doors marked “Employees Only.” You can go anywhere else in the park that you like. By telling us the few places NOT to go, we have a whole lot more freedom and potential for enjoyment.
God goes on to tell us that when we start cutting Him out of our lives, to follow other gods and religions, it will cause problems not only in OUR lives, but in the lives of our kids and even our grandchildren.
See, if WE try to break spiritual laws, and never figure out how to get a grip on our desires, habits, moods, and drives…we’ll never be able to teach our kids how to do any better. So, our kids will have to live under the burden of messed up parents as well as their own inadequacies. Think what kind of parents our kids will become, since they won’t know how control their emotions, desires or drives. Our grandchildren will have such messed up lives that it will be hard to comprehend how savage they will become. All because we didn’t want to think that God had our best interests at heart. (Do you think that this could be an explanation of why American society is in such a predicament?)
“Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vein.”
God’s talking here about more than just taking His name as a cuss word. You wouldn’t have caught the children of Israel using God’s name like that, or actually praying that God would burn other men and women in the fires of Hell. No way.
No, He’s dealing with something a lot more common: Using His name flippantly as just an exclamation. Or saying that God told us something when He said nothing of the kind.
When a person does this, he or she is showing a disbelief in a God who really listens to us. It lets us know that the person doing it doesn’t really take it seriously that God truly cares how we act or feel toward Him.
And, when we use His name casually or for our own purposes, it’s a sign of contempt not just for God, but for those who actually DO love Him and want to please Him and want to please Him. We can’t be loving God and our neighbor while using His name to manipulate other people!
Christians can be guilty of taking God’s name in vain in another way: When we do what we want to do, and then ask God to bless it – so it looks like it’s God’s will we’re concerned about. When all along, it’s really just doing whatever we feel like at the moment. This is the original sense of taking God’s Name in vain.
Some of the major things we do are based on the feeling that, if we go through the right motions and say the right things, then God will have to respond in a certain way.
God gives us the fourth principle of excelling in life by saying, “Remember the Sabbath say, to keep it holy.” This is the first positive command. One day a week to set aside a party for our God. A day to take off work, not to be doing the same things we do on the weekdays. It’s a day to spend enjoying the presence and fellowship of God. A weekly God party.
God says, “Take off work and let’s have a family day. A day of the Father with His children.”
We want to have a fun day. But we think that the way to have fun is by forgetting God, not by remembering Him. And, it’s our own fault for not knowing Him well enough to discover that He’s great fun to be with.
I’ve had it! I think if I run across ONE more complicated book or cassette tape series on “How to Pray,” it’ll make me want to pray and ask God to get these people to stop making it so hard for us to pray! I’ve got books that tell you that you have to get up early in the morning to pray, if you really want God to listen to you. Another book says that you should also get on your knees – that’s the only way that’s really honoring to God. While one writer wants you to pray like Jesus did, that is, lifting your eyes towards Heaven, and talking out loud. Another well known teacher on prayer and faith says that the key is that the first sentence of your prayer should always be something like “Father, I come to you in the Name of Jesus and through the blood of Jesus.” Then, there’s the tape series that teaches that the REAL way to effective prayer is to end each prayer with “In the Name of Christ Jesus.” (Instead of Jesus Christ)
Like you, I want to know that God is listening when I pray. That’s why I bought so many books and tapes on prayer and having an effective devotional life. In fact, one evening, I was reading a book on how to pray better, and it dawned on me: I had been so busy reading BOOKS on prayer, that I hadn’t been doing any real praying!
Prayer isn’t meant to be hard work. It isn’t something that you should have to get in a certain physical position, or something you should have to do in a special room or place.
Prayer also isn’t just for “spiritual” problems and situations. Prayer is for business problems. It’s also for school problems. And social problems as well as household problems. And financial problems. Prayer is for any and every problem that you and I face.
Another area we can miss out is that we can think that we should only pray about “important” things. That God doesn’t really want to be involved with the “unimportant” things in our lives. If something’s important enough to need YOUR attention, it’s important enough to get God’s attention.
I’ve noticed one thing in common in all of the people I’ve met who have particularly satisfying prayer lives. They all talk to God like He’s a close friend, and is right there with them. They talk to Him like they would a neighbor, or a business associate or an old and close friend. (I heard it said that a lot of Christians when in church talk to God like He’s right there in the building with them…and He’s hard of hearing!)
No, we don’t have to shout, or use a “spiritual” sounding voice or special vocabulary…
When a problem comes up, we can just simply talk it over directly with God, no matter WHERE we are. We can talk to Him in the car, as we walk, do the dishes or study. He’s always with us and ready to help us. (That’s why it’s absurd to talk about prayer being banned in the public schools…that’s impossible! God’s at school every day, and my kids talk to Him there!)
They just talk to Him about the everyday questions that come up and they need help with. If we do that, it doesn’t take long for us to be able to continually sense the presence of God with us. It’s what the old monk called “practicing the presence of God.”
Just like when asking a friend for advice, when you ask the Lord, you need to be quiet and give Him a chance to answer. You don’t have to pray a long or complex prayer for guidance. Just a simple, “What should I do next, God?” is enough – as long as you get quiet afterwards so He can impress on your mind what the best thing is for you to do. Sometimes I just say, “Lord, I need an idea…quick!” and then I wait quietly, and one comes within a matter of seconds.
It’s not any harder than that, really. It’s a matter of asking, believing and receiving. Sometimes, you might want to keep a little notebook to write down the insights that come to you. I find this helps tremendously.
When you get an insight or direction from the Lord, what do you do next? First, you want to compare it to what you can find in the Bible. God will never give you insight or ideas that don’t go along with what He’s given us in the Bible.
A second reason for this is that more often than not, what you get from talking with God will get you started along a particular line of thought on the Bible. Then, when you find the Bible verses or story that goes along with the thoughts that God gave you, it will give you even more complete understanding and direction.
A third reason is that it IS possible for us to “miss” God. To think we’re hearing from Him when we’re not. Or to think it’s just us, when it’s Him. Using your Bible can help you to tune in better to what He’s saying to you and can help you to recognize His voice more accurately.
After talking it over with God, hearing an answer and checking your Bible, you want to begin to “see” it as it will be when God’s answer has been acted on. If it’s a situation that you’ve been praying about, you want to begin to use your faith to see the situation as already done.
Keep meditating and thinking on the situation as being in God’s hands. Keep reminding yourself that He’s working on it and will keep on working on your behalf. Meanwhile, you want to keep doing YOUR part.
See, we have to do what only WE can do, and then God will do what only HE can do.
Keep thinking on God’s answer, rather than your problem. As you keep counting the situation as being taken care of by God, and doing your best to work with Him and be led by Him, things will start changing fast.
Keep applying God’s power to your situation as you follow the guidance He gives you. It’s sensational the ways that God will work things together to bring the answer to pass in your life.
For example: You’re almost sure you’re going to lose your job. You don’t feel very confident in your abilities and you know there are going to be layoffs.
So, first you pray and ask God for guidance and direction. Then you read the Word, and you discover that there are several passages that let you know it’s God’s will for you to work and make a living. Also there are verses that say that He wants you to have enough to be able to give to the poor.
So, you commit your job situation to Him and begin to hold a “faith picture” of yourself continuing to work and continuing to be paid well. Picture yourself giving money to those with needs. See yourself paying off your bills…early!
Now that God is in charge of managing your career, you want to keep that idea in your head and heart. Know that He NEVER will let you down. Let His power in your life keep you confident.
On the job, be as energetic and as positive as a person SHOULD be who has God managing their life…Plus, go out of your way to talk to people and also skim the Want ads. A person with God working in their career will have LOTS of opportunities.
Should an attractive position open up through the Want ads, apply for it. If they want to hire you, it gives you leverage on your current job. If not, you haven’t lost anything. Being currently employed gives you an edge with prospective employers. Being in demand by other employers gives you an edge with your current employers.
The fact that you’re “changing” your entire job situation with the power of prayer and the guidance of the spirit of God will make a very real difference in every encounter you make. Believe me, this stuff works!
If I could tell you how to cut your worrying, frustration and anguish in half, would you be interested? What if you would be able to not only cut out most of your worries, but would in it’s place find a super abundance of energy? Would that catch your interest? What if, ON TOP of being able to wipe out worry and anguish, and having more energy to do what you wanted, you could discover how to find MORE ENJOYMENT in your life? If that gets your attention, you’ll thrill to what you’ll get.
We all know people who make life harder than it needs to be, because they worry…they fume…they get depressed. Nothing seem to please them. Nothing’s ever good enough for them…They whine. And fuss. And cry. And are full of the woes and problems. (You probably have heard PREACHERS like that, too!)
One thing I dislike more than being around someone who’s upset, worrying and frustrated is this: I hate to BE the person who’s worrying, upset and frustrated!
Did you know that the Bible has some powerful keys to cutting your problems in half? If it didn’t, I would probably have an ulcer by now. As it is, I rarely find myself upset. Or worried. Or frustrated. And, it’s all because of discovering and using a handful of Bible principles.
In the Bible, there’s a story that illustrates perfectly what I mean. One time when David and his army were out fighting a battle, ANOTHER enemy attacked David’s hometown. This enemy kidnapped the wives and children of David and his men. They stole all the valuables in town. Then, to make matters worse, they burned the whole town down to the ground.
When David and his troops returned, can you imagine how heartbroken they were? Their homes and everything they owned had been destroyed or stolen! Their wives and sons and daughters, their entire families had been kidnapped, and who knows what would happen to their loved ones?
Well, David and the people who were with him cried until they couldn’t cry anymore. Then, to make it worse the people with David turned on him! They blamed him for leading them in a battle, and leaving their town unguarded. Some of them were so upset, they tried to stir up the rest of the people to stone David – they wanted to kill him!
Can you imagine how you would feel if YOU lost everything you owned AND your family had been kidnapped? (As well as the families of most of your neighbors.) then, what if the few friends you had left decided to blame YOU for their problems…and wanted to murder you? How would you deal with it? After you cried until you could cry no more, THEN what would you do?
You probably have never been in the exact same situation that David was in that day. But I bet you’ve hurt almost as bad. I bet you’ve been almost as worried as David was. And, I bet you’ve probably been as scared as he was that day. What did David do? Did God come down and encourage David? NO!
First of all, the Bible is very clear that David DIDN’T wait for God to take away his sorrows. He didn’t even ask God to make him feel better. The Bible says that, “David encouraged HIMSELF in the Lord his God.”
Do you get the impact of that? David DIDN’T wait for God to encourage him and make him feel better. He encouraged HIMSELF in the Lord his God.”
Some people spend years trying to cope with hurts, pains, grievances and disappointments. Some turn to drugs, alcohol and tranquilizers. Others go from church to church, from crusade, from retreat to retreat, hoping God will do something to dull their pain.
And, all along, God is waiting for THEM to do something! Isn’t that something? We’re waiting for GOD to do something and He’s waiting for US to do something!
One of the first things we learn in the Bible about our feelings, worries and frustrations is that they DON’T come from other people, other things or the events that happen to us. They come from INSIDE of us. That’s what the Bible teaches.
Seriously! The problem ISN’T that our kid (or our boss, or teacher, spouse or friend) ISN’T BEHAVING THE WAY WE WANT THEM.
So, we FIRST have to take care of our OWN feelings, so we’ll be free to deal with how the other person’s behavior. That’s why the Bible says the things it does about managing our emotions.
For example, in Psalm 37:1, it says, “Fret not thyself…” Notice, it tells US not to “fret” our SELVES because of how other people behave. THEY don’t make us fret. WE do. (We’ll talk about it in detail)
Or, in John 14:1, where Jesus says, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” See where tells US not to let our hearts be troubled? It’s something that WE do or don’t do.
I want to share with you some terrific tips and techniques from the Bible for stopping the worry, frustration and anger habits. In the story of David we started out with, there are some clues as to how David was able to go from being afraid, worried and frustrated to being able to rise up, pursue his enemy and even beat his enemy…and getting back EVERY thing and every one who had been taken!
We’ll explore together some of the empowering words in the Bible that will help you to beat the deadly habits or worry, anguish and frustration. I say “deadly” because these negative emotions produce toxic poisons in our bodies and create emotional illness.
When we are upset about our lives, our families, the problems our nation faces and world conditions, it drains us of our energy and leaves us fatigued. If we watch the news everyday, and listen to the complaints and problems of those around us all week, and then go to a church where we hear sermons about how awful everything is in our country, is it any wonder that we feel drained and tired?
I believe that church is a place to worship God, to praise Him, to get our batteries recharged, to get filled with hope, faith and power! It should be like Jesus said to His disciples in Mark 16:31, “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place and rest awhile.” The House of God is the place where we get revitalized and filled with joy. Otherwise, like Jesus said, the cares of this life will choke the Word in our hearts and make the Word unfruitful.
Some of the things you can do NOW to break the power of worry and anguish in your life are:
-make a specific practice of thinking peaceful and empowering thoughts several times each day. I try to program it into my day at various interludes. Like with each cup of coffee. And after each time I’m on the phone. When I’m driving, I practice peaceful and empowering thoughts whenever I’m at a traffic light.
-create a 15 minute “mini-vacation” at least once every day. Absolutely stop all activity and literally do nothing, but sit and be peaceful. It won’t just happen by itself. You need to literally “grab” the time by the throat and take it. And then, just do nothing, but be calm, peaceful and serene.
-once you’re calm and quieted on the inside, read a passage or two from the Book of Psalms (in the center of your Bible). After reading from the Psalms, have a you some helpful and positive verses that will help you get started.
After David “encouraged himself in the Lord,” he was able to hear God. When he heard from God, he knew what to do next. His faith level rose. And he got the energy to DO SOMETHING about his situation instead of just worrying and being frustrated and discouraged. I’ll explain more about HOW to do this.
1 – After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem
2 – and asked, Where is the One Who has been born King of the Jews? We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.
3 – When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.
4 – When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born.
5 – In Bethlehem in Judea, they replied, For this is what the prophet has written:
6 – ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a Ruler Who will be the Shepherd of My people Israel.’
7 – Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.
8 – He sent them to Bethlehem and said, Go and make a careful search for the Child. As soon as you find Him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship Him.
9 – After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the East went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.
10 – When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.
11 – On coming to the house, they saw the child with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.
What are some things we can learn about being wise and about God through this passage?
1. VISION – Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” First of all, you need to have vision. A vision is a goal; an inspiration, a motivation to ACT and DO something that will direct and affect your future in the will of God. The wise men had vision.
2. They saw the star that God was using to speak to them and they ACTED on what He was showing them. It’s not enough to have vision, even godly vision. If you have vision, but don’t act on it, that vision will never come to pass in your life. The Bible says that faith without works is dead. The wise men ACTED on that vision. They DID something that demonstrated their FAITH.
3. TIMING. There is a time for planting and a time for harvesting. If you miss your time of planting, you’ll miss your time of harvesting. These men were wise, and responsive to the leading of God as He was showing them it was the right time to move. If they had come sooner, they wouldn’t have found Jesus. The vision would not have come to pass, even though they had acted on it. You have to not only have vision, and you have to not only ACT on it, but you have to act on it at the right time. God has MANY BLESSINGS that people miss because they put it off, they procrastinate; they miss their time of planting.
Look, listen and sense the hand of God, the power of God and the leading of God, and be sensitive to His timing. Too many people live “woulda been, coulda been” lives.
4. CREDIBILITY; A track record of doing things right. YOU need to to do things right, to establish credibility; to have a reputation for wisdom. Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”
Their wisdom and reputation opened doors for them. They had a name for being wise, and they acted in wisdom, and God moved to bring them to not only WHERE they needed to be, but He directed them into the PRESENCE of who they needed to speak to. That is why you and I need to develop a reputation for walking in wisdom, of being dependable, of being honest, trustworthy and godly.
God says in Proverbs 4:7, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” God will open doors for you. When the wise men came to Jerusalem looking for the One Who had been born King of the Jews, they had no trouble getting inside the palace of the King! Not only that, the doors were open for them to immediately meet with the king himself. God tells us in Proverbs 22:29 that being diligent, or working hard and wisely will elevate us in life. He says, “See a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before low and insignificant men.”
5. RESTRAINT IN SPEECH. They didn’t speak ALL that they knew. Use wisdom in what you say and in what you talk about! It is not wisdom to share everything you know with everyone. They didn’t tell Herod all that they knew about Jesus. If they had, Herod would have killed Jesus. And they could have said, “but we were just being honest! God says in Proverbs 29:11, “A fool utters all his mind: but a wise man keeps it in till afterwards.” God said in Ecclesiastes 3:7, that there is .. “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.” They knew some things that were TRUE, and that God had made known to them, but they did not feel compelled to talk about it. That is a mark of wisdom!
6. PREPARATION. I want to tell you that there is NEVER “down time” in the Lord. He tells us to be “redeeming the time, making the most of your time, because the days are evil,” in Ephesians 5:16. A lot of Christians miss out on God’s best because they have not learned how to VALUE their time. They think there is time that doesn’t count, doesn’t matter and can be wasted. Those times are times that God has GIVEN you for PREPARATION. Are you PREPARING for your next step in the Lord?
These wise men PREPARED and that made it possible for them to GO wherever God lead them. The wise men knew that they had to be WILLING to go wherever God sends them, whenever He sends them. They had to KNOW it was God, and not just their own desires, or feelings.
When you KNOW it’s God, you’ll be able to make the journey, no matter what the price is, or how inconvenient it is. A lot of people think it’s unspiritual to plan, to prepare, to discipline themselves for what God is calling them to prepare for. It takes WISDOM from God to understand that He is wanting you to PREPARE for what He has for you.
These men didn’t leave their homes unprepared for the journey. They had the provisions they needed, the plans they needed and the principles they needed to be able to complete what they had started. They had enough money, and had made enough time, and when they got to their destination, they presented the newborn King with very expensive gifts; the gold, the frankincense and myrrh. They had INVESTED in the ministry that God had called them to. Whatever He calls you to will require investment on your end. There is always a PRICE to pay for walking with the Lord and fulfilling His calling on your life.
7. WORSHIP. As much as we think of these men as being men of wisdom, preparation and action, they were men who were WORSHIPERS. God wants you to be a WORSHIPER. The first priority is to worship the Lord. Before they settled in or conducted any other business in Bethlehem, their priority was to get to the place of worship. A lot of Believers lose out because they don’t value the importance of getting into the place of worship, and offering worship with the other Believers. That was their purpose in the whole journey, to obediently worship Jesus! So they found the place of worship, and then they brought their gifts to Him!
8. BE A GIVER. God put it in their hearts what they needed to give. That is also a sign of wisdom, to seek God in your giving. VALUABLE, it COST them a LOT of money. And they were obedient. That is part of their wisdom. To listen to God in their giving and then be obedient. God still speaks to people to give very specific things, for a very specific purpose in the Kingdom of God. What would a baby need with gold, frankincense and myrrh? It didn’t matter! It is what God told them to give, and they gave it!
9. FLEXIBILITY is another mark of being wise. They had their own plans all set as to when they would be arriving and when they would return home. They even had their route all planned. But God warned them to change their course, and they did! That is wisdom!
Many times, we get it in our heads that we are going to do something, and we will do it no matter what! That isn’t wisdom; that is stubbornness and pride, and inflexibility. “I always go to the theme park on the third weekend in March so that is when I am going! But God sends a thunderstorm and high winds, and you decide to go anyway! That isn’t wisdom – that is folly!
10. HAVING A LISTENING HEART. Wisdom knows that God can and will speak through more than one means. He speaks through the Bible. He speaks by His Spirit. He speaks through Godly men and women who are doing well in the area that we need more wisdom in. He speaks through circumstances. Like I said earlier, you may FEEL like keeping your plans to go to the theme park, but the thunderstorms and high winds are God trying to get your attention and make you more flexible! When God makes His will clear, we need to listen and pay attention to Him. Otherwise He may stop speaking to us, if we refuse to take His council.
God’s ways are higher than our ways. He says that in Isaiah 55:9: “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
We might be well trained and highly educated or we may be proud of our street smarts, but God has higher ways and thoughts. These magi were wise and knew more than most people! That is why we refer to them as the three WISE men. They came from what is now Iran and were noted for their knowledge of religious documents, healing arts, and astronomy. They were the brainiacs of their time.
They were the experts on the law, and on justice. Our word Magistrate comes from the word magi. These men were the scientists, mathematicians, doctors and legal authorities of their culture. They had a working knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures and prophecies regarding the coming Messiah. They would have been familiar with passages like Numbers 24:17 which says, “…a star shall come forth from Jacob, and a scepter shall rise from Israel.” They would have known that their own journey was prophesied in Isaiah 60:3 where it said, “Nations will come to your light and KINGS to the brightness of Your dawn.” They were ready, they prepared and when the Messiah’s star appeared, they saw it and understood its meaning.
God is looking for worshippers and will bring them from wherever He needs to! He is bringing people here to worship Him and even now is preparing people who are right now far away to come here and to worship Him here!
In Matthew 2:11 it says that the Magi bowed down and worshiped Jesus as soon as they saw Him. They told Herod that the purpose of their long journey was to worship the new King. God cherishes worshippers and will lead them, guide them and provide for them, no matter where He has to bring them in from!
God expects us to follow His leading and guiding. God’s invitation was for them to come and be among the first to worship Jesus, His only Son. It’s interesting that the wise men were NOT lead by some sort of inner feeling, but by an amazingly bright star in the East. Something that was beyond their abilities and outside of their control or influence, and it was the leading of God. Many times, God leads us by the things that are beyond our control or influence! That way we KNOW it is God and not ourselves!
Some people talk about it as though it was a star up in the sky that “just happened” to show up at that time. But, I believe that this special light was God’s Shekinah glory, a manifestation of the glory of God, because it led them to travel in the right direction, which a star could do, but it also directed them to the very house where Christ was living as a toddler with Mary and Joseph. Stars don’t shine that precisely!
The Star was a manifestation of the Glory of God to them, just like the Pillar of Fire by night and the Cloud of Glory by day had led the Israelites. The Star was the presence of the Holy Spirit manifesting Himself, like the tongues of fire over the heads of the hundred and twenty in the Upper Room on the day of Pentecost, that hovered ahead and above the three wise men and guided them to Jesus Christ.
Wisdom is not in a hurry, but it is right on time. The wise men did not get there for the weekend of Jesus’ birth. It was about two years later, and Mary and Joseph already had left the stable and were living in a house with their young son, according to verse 11. That is why when Herod asked when they had seen the star, he slaughtered all the boys two years and under. It took them about two years to make this journey, and it was right on time. Always be sensitive that God’s timing is not our timing!
God always has a blessing waiting for us at the end of our journey when we follow His leading and guiding. God reveals Himself to all those who are looking for Him. People who aren’t hungry for Him miss the blessing. God never forces Himself on anyone. But He WILL reveal Himself to all who hunger and thirst after Him! Anyone who seeks Jesus, will find Him.
I think of God’s promise in Deuteronomy 4:29 where He said, “If you seek Me with all your heart, you will find Me.” If we truly want to know Jesus, and if we seek for Him, we will find Him. We are seeking Him, and He is seeking you. Jesus said in Luke 19:10 that He came to earth “…to SEEK and to save that which was lost.” God isn’t lost, WE are lost in life. The Bible says that all of us, like sheep have gone astray. And the glorious news of Christmas is that Jesus -the Good Shepherd- has come to bring us back to God. All we have to do is call on Him and He will come to us.
The wise men showed their wisdom by responding to God’s leading. This is a good time to be wise like that. Where is God leading you today? Perhaps you are a Christian and feel God leading you to join this church or to a deeper walk with Him? Maybe you have a lot of bible knowledge but you haven’t been acting on it. You haven’t been serving Him in your daily life.
Maybe you’ve been raised in a Christian home but are not following Jesus as your Savior and Lord. God is guiding you as He did those wise men to worship Jesus as Your new King! You can’t really celebrate Christmas until you decide to accept God’s gift of salvation through His Son. The truest form of worship is when we decide to make Jesus the Lord and King of our lives.
HOW TO GET PEOPLE TO LIKE YOU…USING THE SAME BIBLE PRINCIPLES THAT JESUS USED.
BY STEVE DAVIS
The Bible calls it “having Favor.” Jesus had it. So did the virgin Mary. Abraham had it. Moses had it. So did Joseph, Ruth, Esther, David and a slew of other people in the Bible. You can have it, too. This week, you’ll get at least the basics of what it means to have Favor. You’ll understand how it can make your life more pleasant and a whole lot easier. You’ll learn at least 2 ways to get Favor operating in your life.
Since the Bible talks so much about Favor, and since so many of my heroes in the Bible were people who enjoyed having Favor, I thought I’d do well to find out just what “Favor” is and how to go about getting it.
So, the first thing I did was to get out of my dictionary. I looked up “Favor”. According to the dictionary says: it’s “something helpful…; the condition of being looked up with liking or approval…; special treatment prompted by friendliness, liking or approval…; to increase the chances of success.
That’s something that ALL of us want, isn’t it? We all want people to like us and treat us well. We all want our chances of success to be increased; none of us wants to fail at what we do. And the Bible tells us that Favor is something that every major character had. That’s what enabled them to do as much as they did in such a short time. It’s what enabled them to help and influence so many people. It’s what enabled them to accomplish what normally would seem impossible. It added “go power” to their faith and undertakings.
Even if we sometimes say we don’t care whether we’re liked or not, the truth is that we really DO want to be liked, cared for and appreciated by other people. And by God.
We’ve all known people who were not well liked, and who wanted desperately to be popular. And, sad as it is, popularity avoided them. Then, there are other people who just seem to be well liked, highly regarded and sought after.
That’s what we mean by having Favor: To be held in esteem; to be well thought of; to have the affection of friends and colleagues; to have people WANT to be around us and to wish us well.
The God who made us knows that few things are as depressing as to feel unwanted and unneeded. It’s devastating to feel alone and isolated. There are few miseries that can equal a sense of aloneness. One of the most dreaded ways of punishing someone is to put them into solitary confinement.
In the book of Genesis in the Bible, we read about a teenager named Joseph. He was talented and smart. Be he was almost totally lacking people skills. In fact, his brothers got to where they just couldn’t stand to have him around…so they threw him a pit and sold him to some slave traders.
During the next few years, Joseph worked for the most powerful man in the country. One day, when the boss was out of town, the bigwig’s wife wanted to have an affair with him. When he turned her down, she accused him of trying to come on to her and had him arrested.
When Joseph landed in jail, the Bible says that God gave Joseph Favor. Before long, he was put in charge of everything in the prison. Favor kept working in Joseph’s life. It enabled him to get out of jail. Then, as an ex-con, to soar to the highest civilization post in the whole nation!
Other Bible heroes experienced similar meteoric rises from poverty and obscurity to positions of influence and power. And the Bible says that each one did it by operating in “Favor” with the other people in their realm of influence.
The Bible tells us that God is willing to GIVE us “FAVOR”. Even Jesus used “Favor” to operate His ministry. The Bible, when describing Jesus as a young man, says that, “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:52)
This means that Jesus didn’t just naturally HAVE Favor. It was something that He had to grow in. there were specific formulas and procedures that He had to follow. If we follow these same procedures faithfully, they will make you and me into the kinds of people whom other people like and want to be around.
And, boy did people like to be around Jesus. They hung around Him day and night! They loved being around Him day and night. They loved being around Him so much, that the Bible tells how some people wanted to get closer and couldn’t because of the crowds. One tax gatherer had to climb a tree to see Jesus, because the crowds were so thick around him. Another man, who needed a touch from Jesus had his friends let him down through the roof of the house where Jesus was visiting; so many people were trying to see Jesus that it was the only way the man could get in!
Jesus used the very same procedures to gain Favor that the other men and women in the Bible used. That’s why the religious people were so jealous of Him: He was more well-liked and sought after than they were. That’s it! They said so themselves!
And, like I said before, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Ruth, Esther, David, Daniel and others all knew how to operate in divine Favor. It’s the power tool they used to be able to help and influence thousands of people…Yet these heroes usually began life in humble and disadvantage circumstances.
Even if you’re normally shy and not very outgoing, with Favor, you’ll be able to enjoy satisfying and close personal relationships with other people. You CAN become someone who enjoys easy and pleasing friendships with high quality people.
Here’s what you can experience when you start operating in Favor:
You’ll attract and win many, many true friends.
Your enemies will be at peace with you…some of them will even become new and close friends with you.
People will respect and admire you – holding you in high regard.
People will WANT you to notice them and like them…so much so that they will want to do you Favors, cooperate with you or just don’t WANT to.
Sure, there will still be a rare few people who just make up their minds to not like you. But you can be sure that they’ll be VERY few. A very few stubborn, obstinate and unreasonable people…ones who either won’t bother to get to know you or just don’t want to.
But, with divine favor, you’ll be gaining so many true and loyal and QUALITY friends that those who choose to NOT like you will be aware that it’s exactly that: their CHOICE.
When you look at the world and society, you see people in all kinds of sins, habits and compulsive behaviors. By compulsive behaviors, I mean people saying things and doing things they KNOW are wrong, things they KNOW they will suffer for, yet they do them anyway.
The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 4:4 it’s because the god of this world, Satan, has blinded their minds. That’s the reason we have crack addicts, drunkards, sex addicts, shopaholics and compulsive gamblers. People allow themselves to be blinded by the enemy, so they give in to their temptations, and next thing you know, they’re caught in the grip of sin.
Now, the Bible says in 2 Cor. 3:17, “Now the Lord is that Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty, freedom, the power to think right, speak right, act right and make clear godly choices, based on the Word of God. The Spirit of the Lord opens your eyes, and gives you liberty, so you’re not driven by your lusts, so you’re not ruled over by sin any longer.
See, when you get saved, the Holy Spirit comes into your heart. It’s not keeping the rules, or self-discipline that saves you, it’s repenting of your sins, turning from them, and asking Jesus to come into your life, as your Lord and Master. That’s what gets you saved.
Without the power of the Holy Spirit, you’ll never be able to rise above your old life. No matter how hard you try, the old temptations will keep coming back and pulling you down. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” His power gives you freedom you’ve never had before. With the Holy Spirit in your heart, your decisions aren’t made by drugs, alcohol, lust, anger, depression, greed, or pride. He sets you free from all that.
The devil doesn’t mind you being in church. He doesn’t mind you singing the songs. He doesn’t mind you carrying a Bible. Matter of fact, the devil LOVES you to be in church, singing the songs and carrying a Bible, as long as you’re still walking in your own strength and living in your sins! Because then, you’re just be one more hypocrite who keeps people out of the kingdom of God! One more person who sits in church on Sunday and acts like the devil all week!
Without the reality of the Holy Spirit in your life, you’ll be just one more hypocrite! And, you can’t be saved and be a hypocrite! Jesus Himself said so (Matthew 24:51)!
Jesus said in Luke 24:49 that we need to spend time with Him until we receive “power from on high.” This is literally power from Heaven!
Heaven’s power operating in your life! You can have all the songs memorized, know all the hymns, quote Bible verses, and even speak in tongues and operate in all the gifts, but without the power from Heaven operating in your life, you will keep falling into sin, and growing hard towards God.
God talks about in 2 Tim. 3:5 those who are in the churches who have “a form a godliness, but deny the power of it.” In other words, there are people who enjoy being in the house of God and among God’s people, but they don’t live in the power of the Holy Spirit. Then He tells you, “turn away from such people!” Don’t hang around with them!
Why? Because, before you know it, they’ll have you compromising, giving in to your flesh and sooner or later you’ll end up worse off than before! Jesus has made it so you are able to live in the power of the Spirit against sin, demons, anger, depression, lust, drugs, alcohol and every negative force you ever come across.
Jesus lived His life in the power of the Holy Spirit. He depended on the Holy Spirit’s power in EVERYTHING He did. He said in John 5:19, that He did NOTHING on His own NOTHING, but depended on the Father, through the power of the Spirit in His life, you and I need to rely on the Holy Spirit in everything. That’s the only way to not be brought back into your old lifestyle.
See, I don’t preach compromise to sin, I preach DELIVERANCE FROM IT! I use the Word of God to set you free! Like it says in 2 Cor. 4:2, “we have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” We have renounced the old life of being crafty. We do not use deception.
You don’t have to put on an act, when you’re really full of the Holy Spirit. I don’t pretend I am anything; I am a trophy of God’s grace, and know I can do nothing of myself.
Listen. You and I will be both led by the Spirit and in conflict with the devil as long as we are on earth! I face the devil just like you do, and have the same kinds of temptations. I can only overcome one way, and that’s to let the power of the Holy Spirit deal with everything the enemy strikes at me with!
The Bible says that we are not wrestling against flesh and blood. There are spiritual forces that are working day and night to bring you low. The Bible calls them “familiar spirits”. They KNOW you, they know your patterns.
They know what gets you down, what discourages you, what gets you angry, what pushes your buttons. And, they all work together, they conspire to set up circumstances and also send PEOPLE into your life to seduce you away from serving God.
Sometimes these are people who are outright anti-God. But more often than not, they send people to you that SEEM to not mind your walk with God, but step by step, they try to lead you into a little compromise here and a little disobedience there, until you find yourself having wandered far from God and feeling lost.
This is why God says in Ephesians 4:27, to give no place to the devil. Don’t give him room to operate. Don’t let him get a foothold in your life. Jesus said, that the prince of this world came and found NOTHING in Him. That’s because Jesus stayed so full of the Holy Spirit that there wasn’t ROOM for the devil to put anything in Him.
“The prince of this world has nothing in me” is a sword of the Spirit for you to use against the devil! When the devil comes back to you with temptation, say “you have nothing here.” Ask the Holy Spirit to fill your heart, to crowd the devil’s things out! Stay full of the Holy Spirit and there won’t be room for the enemy! That’s why I try to stay so full of the Holy Spirit – otherwise, I’ll be weak and cave in like anybody else. Stay full of the Holy Spirit and “resist the devil, and he will flee from you!”
God says in Proverbs 13:15 that “the way of the transgressor, or the person who breaks God’s laws, is hard.” The devil wants you to have a hard, painful and disappointing life. But Jesus says, “My burden is LIGHT.” When you come to Jesus, He lightens your load, cleanses you from sin and sends you the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you.
The enemy makes you sneak, lie, deceive and cover your tracks. He puts burdens on you. He weighs you down with guilt and sin. We don’t water down the Gospel. We bring it like it is: We have a Jesus who is able to not only SAVE you, but also DELIVER you from those sins that so easily trip you up.
You say, “Well, I’m afraid I won’t be able to live a strong and good life.” True. You can’t – on your own you are very weak, just like I am, but God says in Isaiah 41:10, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Thank God!
Fear not, I am WITH YOU. “I AM your God,” not “I will be your God.” “I WILL strengthen you.” “I will HELP you,” not “I will hassle you and cause problems.” He says, “I will UPHOLD YOU with the right hand of my righteousness.” Give your heart to God, and He will hold you up!
“Holy Spirit, I ask You to come into my heart fill my life with Your presence! Cleanse my heart, mind, soul and spirit! I root out all known sin, and ask You to fill me with Yourself! I believe Jesus died for me with and rose again, paying, the price for my salvation! In Jesus’ Name, I resist the devil and yield to You! Amen!”
I began a series of teachings on Understanding Spiritual Warfare. We began with some verses that help God’s people understand what goes on behind the scenes – how spiritual forces operate and bring pain, grief and havoc into our lives. Also, we’re looking at how God tells us we can over- come these negative forces and be victorious and blessed in life.
This week, we have to be out of town, to be at the General Conference of the Southern Methodist Church. So, I went to prayer, to get God’s direction on who He would have come and bring the Word to you.
God opened the door for my friend and close brother in the Lord, Rev. Mark McCoy. Mark is a minister at Save the Seed Ministry in White Plains, MD. He works full time with men and women who have been brought to the bottom through addictions, drunkenness and other illicit lifestyles.
Some of these people have been the lowest of the low: down and outters. Others have been the highest of the high (literally!) the up and outters. Then, there’s those who have just been the in and outters; people who sometimes do really well, and other times get caught in the snare of the enemy.
One thing each one of them has in common is that Jesus saw them, reached down and saved them. That’s the first part of winning in life – asking Jesus to be your Lord and Savior. The closest thing to the heart of God is saving lost men, women, boys and girls.
The next step is learning to grow and be a disciple. That’s what Mark specializes in. A major part of his ministry is teaching his people how to not fall into the same old traps, and how not to make the same old mistakes. This is where learning to resist the devil and waging successful spiritual warfare begins. ”
Inner conversations. You’ll learn how to direct the inner conversations in your heart and head. You know what they are. They’re the voices, drives, old patterns and habits that try to get you to “act out,” and to act like the world.
You say, “Well, l’ve been a Christian for a long time, and l’ve never done drugs or alcohol or any of that.” Thank God! Thank God you have never given the enemy a foothold in any of those areas! But, that doesn’t mean he’s going to leave you alone!
No, the enemy loves to work on your mind, to trouble your heart and stir up your emotions and get you miserable, hurt and angry. He loves to bring up your past, to remind you of all the times life has been unfair to you, and to get you to go backwards instead of forwards.
Mark will use parts of his life story to tell you how he learned to use Ephesians 4:25, “Be ye renewed in the spirit of your mind,” to turn his life around. He had allowed the enemy to twist his thinking and get him in a pattern of self-destruction, to the point that his life was falling apart.
Mark McCoy wasn’t some ghetto kid who barely made it through school and then hung out on the streets. He spent nine years in the U.S. Air Force. While he was in the Air Force he gave his heart to the Lord, in 1978. His life was working, and he was on his way to the top.
But, when the enemy started working on him, Mark fell prey to temptation. He had never been taught about his authority in Jesus Christ. No one had told him there would be a battle going on for his mind. He had no idea how to resist the devil.
He caved in to the pressures of life and to the temptations that began to offer themselves – even though he was already a Christian! He ended up getting kicked out of the Air Force in 1983. Ultimately, he went on a 10 1/2 year backslide. He lived in darkness and frustration for more than a decade. Even though he had known Jesus and had served Him for two full years!
I don’t want that to ever happen to you! Nobody should have to know the misery of being lost, found and then going back out in darkness again! I’m telling you, nobody HAS to! Thank God, He’s given us everything we need so we can be successful in life and victorious in Jesus Christ!
That’s why l want you to be here to learn what Mark had never learned, until it was too late. lt does not have to happen to you, or your family like it did to him.
See, when Mark was out there angry, hurting and empty, God saw him, and had compassion on him. ln May 1990, Mark began to let Jesus be the Lord of his whole life, his heart, mind, soul and body. Mark came to Save the Seed Ministry, where he studied under Rev. Freeman every day for more than a year.
God showed Mark how to “be transformed by the renewing of his mind” like it says in Romans 12:2. Through filling his spirit with the Word of God, he overcame the enemy and his old patterns by faith. He graduated from Save the Seed Ministry and got a good job with the Veterans Administration.
As Mark kept drawing closer and closer to God, the Holy Spirit kept putting it in his heart to serve the Lord in full time ministry. God gave him a burning desire to serve God’s people. He knew he had to help them like he’d been helped. In December 1994, he left his job at the V.A. to serve full time with Save the Seed Ministry, where there are more than 200 people in the Residential Discipleship Ministry.
You’ll be thrilled, challenged and blessed when you hear the words Mark’s going to bring you from God. I receive all I can from God, but I don’t hear everything all the time! So, from time to time, the Lord will send someone here to bring you a nugget of truth or a word from God that will fill you with faith.
If God is Our Father, where is the Respect that He should as a Father? Too many of His children treat Him like a pal or a playmate – and not a very close one, at that!
By Steve Davis
I became a believer several years ago and have been causing problems for the church crowd ever since. See, not knowing any better, when I prayed that prayer asking Jesus to come into my life, I believed He would really come in and make some very real changes. I absolutely meant it when I prayed…with every fiber of my being. And, Jesus really did come in; in a mighty way, flooding my being with His presence and His power. It wasn’t the wimped out, watered down, anemic little Jesus of the religious crowd – it was the Jesus of the Bible Jesus! The Bible Jesus! The Jesus who saves and keeps and fills people with joy, power and real life!
Jesus exploded such radical changes in my life that I couldn’t wait to meet other people who knew Him. People who were excited – people who were as turned on to Jesus as I was. People who wanted to avoid sinning and wanted to live positive and empowered lives.
Soon, I got involved with people who’d been hanging around the churches a lot longer than I had, and got to know what they were really like. That’s when I discovered that there were a whole bunch of people in the churches who truly didn’t give two hoots about how they made GOD feel. All they were interested in was cashing in on all the benefits and going to Heaven when they died.
Then I began to notice a strange and spooky phenomenon: People who were actively proclaiming themselves to be Christians (and equally actively proclaiming other people as “lost”) would easily and without good reason skip church whenever the notion took them. They’d cuss if they thought it would impress their unchurched friends. They’d steal from their employer if they felt they were underpaid. In other words, they’d do the same kinds of things that all the “lost” people were doing. And then some!
They could commit all kinds of sins as long as they thought nobody in the church would find out. (THAT is STILL going on!) and, if a person who TRULY loved Jesus would mention their inconsistencies, all of a sudden you’d hear all kinds of lamebrained excuses. Most of them having to do with nature of God’s graciousness, and His mercy.
Odd, but I rarely heard one of these people talk very much about God’s holiness. Or His righteousness. Or His justice. Always His forgiveness, mercy and grace.
I always wondered why it would take the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to produce people who play religious games. Because the Jesus that I had met set people FREE from religious games and self-deception.
Then, I learned that so many people had actually been taught to believe they could con God. The preachers and the priests had taught them that you could promise God anything, and if you didn’t follow through, it was ok, “God will understand.”
In the Bible, God says there are people who have put themselves in the company of Believers, and that we aren’t even aware that they’ve slithered in. they crashed the party quietly and came in unannounced. They’re real big on teaching about the grace of God; the mercy of God; His longsuffering and forgiveness. But the way they teach it causes people to not live holy and godly lives. You can tell when a person has been taken in by this kind of teaching.
People who have given over to this kind of teaching have very specific and obvious characteristics. They enjoy the songs. They love bible teaching. They believe all the right things. They LOVE hanging around with other people who say they love the Lord. When they’re having a time of trouble, they don’t hesitate to ask for prayer, and they even make great promises, no matter how simple their promises was. It could be in the area of tithing. Or cleaning up their act. Or church attendance. Once God has done HIS part, they forget all about the commitment they made to Him. That’s ONE mark of this kind of person.
People who have opened themselves up to this kind of teaching CHANGE what they believe, as they drift further from God. Where they USED to believe that certain things would grieve the Holy Spirit, now they DO the same things without a twinge of conscience. Things they used to come against in other people, now are regular and accepted parts of their own lives.
There are things that we USED to know that we don’t seem to know anymore. We’ve been taught other doctrines – fun doctrines, and they’ve robbed us of our will power.
Now God says, “I need to remind you of how things really work. I don’t put up with a bunch of uncleanness and foolishness. Remember the angels that sinned? I wasn’t about to allow that kind of goings on in my kingdom. Well, I didn’t allow it then and I don’t allow it now. I don’t play and I don’t wink at sin. Never have and I never will…”
The problem is what we’ve been listening to and what our flesh has WANTED to believe. We figure that God’s a nice guy, a nineties sort of guy and HE knows that we can’t take EVERYTHING He says seriously. So we do what we want and figure that God is just going to have to understand. The truth is, that when God says something, He means it; and WE are the ones who are just going to have to understand!
Remember when He delivered the children of Israel from Egypt? Well, after awhile, they got the foolish idea that they could just live any old way they’d like and still get into the promised land. Just like a lot of people today erroneously deceive themselves into thinking. But they’re deluding themselves.
As long as the children of Israel believed God, they were ok. But when they stopped believing, their unbelief caused them to be wiped out. Completely. That’s why so many “Christians” lives are a mess, and getting worse by the week. They’ve stopped believing the truth about God and how He deals with us.
That’s why God wants us to remember these things that we KNOW in our hearts are true. Most of the “religious” people I know (not those who really and truly love Jesus) actually LAUGH at how they USED to “limit” themselves. Back when they wouldn’t drink, and wouldn’t cuss and didn’t cheat. But now they have a “bigger god.” (Little “g” on purpose!) No, they have a different god. Now their god is the god of their feelings.
These “liberated” religious people get antsy whenever you bring up the subject of the judgement day or even the fact that there IS a law of paybacks in life. (Watch ‘em sputter and snort when you mention HELL! It’s almost like a comedy routine, if it wasn’t so serious.) See, they want to be able to do anything they feel like and still pretend to have the blessing of God on their lives.
They don’t want to EVER feel guilt. For any reason. In church, all they want is a “praise experience” during the music part of the service and a “bless me” type of sermon – and it had better be a SHORT one!
FALSE guilt IS something we all want to avoid. But we SHOULD feel guilty when we ARE guilty! I want to help people to avoid feeling guilty when they’re NOT guilty. And, even stronger than that is my drive to help people to not BE guilty in the FIRST place.
Believe me, preaching the Word like I do doesn’t win me a lot of friends among the church gang. I endure a lot of rejection for the sake of preaching the Bible Gospel. But I’m not out here to play the church growth “numbers” games. I stopped playing the numbers when I gave my heart to Jesus!
Where there’s only the teaching about the grace of God, people end up losing their sense of balance and their fear of God. And, that’s where the spirit of uncleanness enters in…and they end up being worse off in the end than they were in the beginning. You CAN get just enough religion to totally mess you up for the rest of your life!
People can end up worshipping the “nice guy” God denying the real Lord. And they pervert the character of the Lord Jesus Christ. They start believing in some kind of lily-white goody-two –shoes country-club style Jesus. One who never hurts anybody’s feelings, rarely mentions specific sins and only says pleasant things that make people feel good.
The Jesus of the Bible said a whole lot of things that rubbed the religious crowd the wrong way. That’s why they crucified Him. What he said offended them. When you start talking like the Jesus of the Bible, the religious types will avoid you like AIDS. And it’ll hurt. But people who aren’t afraid of a little truth, and people who have had enough of pretending will be glad to receive you.
We’re not here to gather a big crowd of religious people. God never called me to do that. He called me to fish on the other side of the boat and to take those people whom the traditional churches think are too wild and too hard to get to conform. That’s who I’m called to. And this handful of “called out” ones hear the Word gladly.
We all know the story of Palm Sunday: lt’s in Matthew 21:2-15.
Here’s how it started: Jesus told the disciples to go into town where they would find a donkey and its colt. They brought back the donkey and colt, and laid their garments on the donkeys back for Jesus to sit on. A crowd lined the road as Jesus rode into Jerusalem. Most of the multitude spread their garments in the road, and others cut palm branches and laid them in front of Jesus, making an impromptu royal carpet.
Hundreds of people went ahead of Jesus, cheering! Those who followed behind Him cried out, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
Then Jesus entered Jerusalem, and all the city was excited! The crowd got bigger! Other people were saying, “Who is this?” The multitudes would answer, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee!”
The crowd followed Jesus right up to the Temple steps, where He got off the donkey and started acting up!
Why would Jesus be acting up? What were the crowds there for? The crowds were there because the Passover was coming up, which was a huge religious holiday for the Jews. But why did Jesus act up? And, why were the people so excited? Well, first off, they knew Jesus! That’s enough to make Me excited, knowing Jesus.
He had healed some of them, restored sight to others, cleansed others of leprosy and other diseases. Then, there were those who had been fed by Jesus when they were hungry and had nothing. Others were there because Jesus had forgiven them of great sins, and had shown them the mercy of God.
He had demonstrated to them that God is a good God, and that good things come from God. He had shown them that God is approachable, and has mercy to those who will call upon Him.
But, do you know why else they were excited? Because the Scribes and Pharisees, the religious people of their day had basically shut them out of the temple! The Temple had become place for the rich people, the snobs, and the country club set- while the poor were looked down on, and kept out.
These people, just like people today, had a hunger for God, and all the religious rules and rituals and customs kept them out. And, not a one of them could do anything about it!
Then, all of a sudden, Jesus comes in! Riding a donkey! Usually He walked, but today was different! What was He doing? He was fulfilling a prophecy from the Prophet Zechariah: “Behold, thy King comes to thee, meek, riding a donkey, with a colt.” God was answering their prayers!
Jesus was coming in as their King! To open the doors of the Temple to them, so they could come into the presence of God! No wonder they were cheering!
Just imagine Jesus on the donkey, with its little colt tied behind it. The crowds are pressing around Him. The poor, the tired, the lonely, the old, and the crippled. They throng around Jesus – Jesus who loved them, and who introduced them to the Heavenly Father who had a heart of mercy and compassion for them.
And, even though the crowds are touching Him and calling out to Him, His eyes are fixed on the temple. See the multitudes, casting down their garments and palm branches, thrilled to honor their Lord and Savior.
Hear the shouting get louder as the crowd grows: “Hosanna! Hosanna to our King! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
As He enters the city, visitors join the crowd, asking, “Who is this Man?” And the crowds answer: “He’s the miracle worker! He’s the One who raised Lazarus from the dead! He opens blind eyes and deaf ears! He makes the lame walk! He Ioosens the mouths of the mutes! With just a word, or even a mere touch, miracles happen and people are healed!”
But, Jesus isn’t working miracles right now. He isn’t stopping to talk to people. He doesn’t stop to touch a blind eye or a deaf ear! When the sick reach out to touch Him, He doesn’t release healing power! He doesn’t even reach out to the children He loves so much! He doesn’t offer encouraging words to the poor who are so near to His heart!
Jesus is on a mission! He doesn’t look to the right or left. He’s focused! He is headed straight for His Father’s house! He stops the donkey at the temple steps and dismounts. He walks through the crowd without stopping and talking to anyone.
The fire that’s in His heart blazes in His eyes -the holy zeal of a jealous God is upon Him! “For the Lord your God is a consuming fire; He is a jealous God,” Deuteronomy 4:24 says. The Pharisees have shut out the common people, and making God’s house a place of merchandise!
As Jesus makes His way into the temple, and something rises up on the inside of Him! Sure, there were crowds inside, and activities. There was a great program of singers, musicians and great speakers. The people with money were crowding around the tables, buying souvenirs, trinkets, gifts.
The money boxes were overflowing with money; the ministers of the temple were thrilled! Money was flowing and the best of society was coming to the services!
Jesus stops behind some empty boxes and picks up some cords that were laying loose. He stands there by the column, weaving those cords into a whip. Then, without warning Jesus charges to the tables, swinging the whip in his hand! He turns over the tables, spills the money and lets the sheep and doves loose!
Both the buyers and the sellers pull back and run in fear! Jesus must be crazy! Doesn’t he realize he’s destroying a lot of good merchandise? Doesn’t he care that some of these people have been waiting all year to buy souvenirs of the temple and doves and pigeons for sacrifices? What’s His problem, anyway?
He keeps shouting, “it is written, my house shall be called the house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves!”
Jesus was quoting a passage from Isaiah 56. God was saying that even people who had bad back- grounds, who had sinned, who had not been part of the people of God- all these are welcomed in His house.
ln Isaiah 56:7, God says, “even them will I bring into My holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer. Their sacrifices shall be accepted… because My house shall be called a House of Prayer for all nations.”
Jesus opened the way for ALL people to come to God for forgiveness, healing and help! Think of the multitudes outside, cheering their Champion on!
Matthew 21:14 says that when Jesus cleansed the temple, He openly received those who needed vision! He made room for the ones who had a hard time walking in life!
Maybe that’s you. You’ve felt your vision fading, and your sight going dim. You need a fresh touch from Jesus.
He also touched the lames ones. Those who were having a hard time walking right- and those who seemed to do more falling than walking. Jesus can heal you, too.
Be here this Palm Sunday, to proclaim Jesus as your Lord, and to receive a fresh touch in your soul and spirit.
|8 Men of favor fellowship luncheon||9||10||11||12||13||14|