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Archive for the tag “Jesus’ Message”

Worship Night Reflections

Last night, there was a gathering of the church for worship. It was a night of praise music, somber reflection and communion then celebration of what God has done for us. Whenever we take communion, we are told to examine ourselves before we receive the cup and the bread. It’s in the moments before receiving communion when we come clean with God. We confess our wrongdoing before Him. In those moments we are to repent of those sins that keep us from our full relationship with Him.

I confess to you today, I am a sinner. I fall short of God’s standards. I will never get it right on my own. I can’t be good enough to win God’s favor. It’s just not within me. My flesh wants what it wants. It’s only by the grace of God and His mercy every day that I can live in right standing with Him. It’s only through Jesus and His righteousness that gives me freedom in the knowledge that I am right with God. I have forsaken my desires for His. At least, that’s the goal. I don’t succeed all the time.

One of the big themes I hear quite often is repent. It’s what Jesus called all the religious leaders to do whenever they were in ear shot of Him. John the Baptist spoke of this as his calling was to clear the way for the Lord. Repent. It was the theme for Jesus’ day as it is for ours. But we have fallen away from that message.

As I consider the times we live in, I believe we are near the end of the church age. I believe the church will be removed soon. I don’t know if I will see it in my lifetime or not, but times are moving closer and closer to that day. Just as John‘s message was to clear the way for the Lord, I believe we are in need of that same message for the church to be ready for Jesus to return.

The church is always top priority when it comes to God’s judgment. The church is His light. He will always clean house with the church first before He judges the unbelievers. Jesus cleaned the temple courts twice to get rid of the idolatry infested within those holy walls. I see a cleansing happening today. We may not understand what’s really going on in the church world right now, but I do believe Jesus is cleaning house.

We’ve seen it in the news time and again about the Catholic priests and sexual immorality. Southern Baptists are having a time of it as well. Leaders are falling and losing their “lamp stands.” The Methodists are determining their future too. This is the time to repent and come clean. It’s what we’re called to do before it’s too late. Repent before the coming of the Lord.

I know it’s not a popular word. It’s never really spoken about these days. The fire and brimstone preaching is a thing of the past. Now it’s the feel good messages – everything will be alright. But it won’t be right unless we make changes to get right before God. By God’s grace and His mercy, we confess and repent – change our mind about our sins. We agree with God on our sins – they are wrong and not the best way to live and keeps us from a full fellowship with Him.

God’s standards are our boundary lines. When we live in God’s boundaries, we have more freedom. Sin keeps us enslaved and in a debt we cannot remove unless we have the power of the blood of Jesus. It’s through Him we are given freedom. It’s by His blood we are cleansed. It’s by His body that was broken for us that we are given life everlasting. It’s His Spirit who seals us for that Day when He returns for us.

Following our flesh and our own desires is nothing in comparison to the life He gives to us. It’s the future life that is beyond words – beyond our imaginations. The flesh is nothing. Its temporary pleasures. What good is it to have the whole world and forfeit eternity? Why would we cling to this life of destruction when God gave us so much more? Because we don’t know what the future looks like walking in God’s way.

Where will He take us? What would He have us do? It might be uncomfortable. It might take us away from all that we know and love. Or it could be the best thing ever. It could be a life so full and overwhelming that we could actually regret not doing it sooner.

This is the time for examination before communion with Him. Jesus said to count the cost and then follow Him. To the churches He said, to those who have ears, let them hear.

Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Revelation 3:2-6

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Think About This

Do you ever wonder what it would have been like to live when Jesus walked the earth? What would it have been like to be in the crowds listening to Him preach the Word of God? Would you have walked away when the teaching got hard? I might have. I would like to think I would have been as attentive as Mary sitting at His feet. I would like to believe that I too would have followed Him even if it meant I would die for my beliefs. I know many people followed for a little while then many left because He wasn’t what they had envisioned as their Messiah – a war hero that came to conquer Rome.

Since the Christmas season, something I read during that time has been marinating in my brain. The story of the wise men visiting the baby Jesus is the seed of thought. When the wise men inquired about the place of birth for the King of the Jews, they asked the sitting ruler of the region, King Herod. The King didn’t know the answer, so he called the chief priests and the teachers of the law. The men knew the answer because it was written by the prophet Micah centuries ago.

The wise men told the King the star had risen in the east and they followed the star so that they could worship the king of the Jews. The king was disturbed and all of Jerusalem with him (Matthew 2:3). I understand why the king was disturbed – he didn’t want to be replaced by another king. His lifestyle would have changed; his position would come to an end; maybe even his life if a new king was crowned. But why was Jerusalem disturbed? Also, why is it when the wise men set out for Bethlehem, they went alone? Wouldn’t the chief priests want to see their Messiah and worship Him too? Weren’t they curious?

These were learned men. They had been taught from very early in life and memorized everything written in their Scripture. Yet, they missed the best thing about the Word – the Word came to life that day. The chance passed without one thought toward it because they kept missing Him.

The next time we read about Jesus, we find Him old enough to sit in the temple listening and asking questions of the teachers. Luke records everyone was amazed at His understanding and his answers (Luke 2:47). But no one seems to have been aware that the Messiah was in their midst. If these teachers were in the crowd that day at King Herod’s palace when the wise men came to visit, they didn’t seem to recall the Messiah had been born. Surely the Messiah would show up one day in the temple where everyone was expected to visit – especially during their high Holy Days. They obviously didn’t connect the dots.

The next time we see Jesus, He’s a grown man and ready to change the world. He visits the temple in His home town. But they couldn’t get passed the snotty little kid that they had known from years ago to this learned scholar who knew things that they didn’t understand. And they had no understanding how He came to be so knowledgeable. They missed the greatest thing to ever come out of Nazareth. They missed the Messiah – their King. They actually got angry with Him and tried to kill Him (Luke 4:14-30).

Scripture tells us many were amazed at His teaching. Crowds followed Him eager to hear Him speak and see the miracles He performed. They probably left every time and spoke about Him to everyone they met because word spread throughout the region. Yet, the chief priests got angrier and angrier as the years passed by. Jesus didn’t follow the rules. Jesus came into their midst and they missed His significance even though they knew the Holy Scripture that spoke of Him through every verse they had memorized. How can this be? How can they be so clueless?

Hindsight always gives greater insight so I can’t be too harsh with them. I might have been just as bad. I might not have liked His hard teaching to turn the cheek or give my coat to one who did not have one or any of the other teachings that got me out of my comfort zone. After all, I have those same words before me today and I can be just as stubborn as the Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law. I can ignore those teachings just as they did. At times, I am no better than them. And I guess that thought is what is disturbing me since Christmas. I have a lot to consider about my actions or lack thereof if I truly want to follow Him like He desires.

It’s never too late for any of us to consider these things and change. What a different world we would live in if we would truly take these things to heart. I think revival of the church body begins with each of us. We all have to consider where we stand with Jesus. Are we following closely, at a distance or have we walked away feeling let down because He wasn’t what we had anticipated? Where do you stand today?

Jesus is the answer we seek, even though it may be different from our expectation. He is the total package – the real deal. Let’s not miss Him being in our midst. Sit at His feet and listen, then go and do as He instructs. Let’s change the world.

“I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” John 17:20b-21; 25-26

Still the Message

Repent! For the Kingdom of God is near!” John the Baptist was given this message before the ministry of Jesus began. He was the one who called from the wilderness to bring about the change of heart for those who would hear and heed the word. Jesus had the same message. It might have been stated a bit differently. He spoke of forgiveness of sin to those who came for healing. The sick and hurting came in large groups for healing. But Jesus always looked to their hearts first to find their true sickness. He offered forgiveness and told those who came to Him “Go and sin no more!” The same message of repentance – turn away from your sins, and you will receive the Kingdom of God. Overcome that thing that holds you back. For the one who overcame, many promises were given. When Jesus taught the large crowds He ended His teachings with this phrase: “For those who have ears to hear, let them hear.”

In Jesus’ time, the message was verbal. No one had ten copies of scrolls that they kept on their nightstand or coffee table to show those who entered their dwelling how “spiritual” they were. They went to the Temple to learn from the scholars. No one carried a scroll around to read while waiting for the next caravan to come around to take them to the mall to shop. It was all by the word of mouth that people were taught. So when Jesus said, “for those who have ears” He meant everyone that was listening to the sound of His voice. Pay attention – this is important to grasp the understanding you will need to enter the Kingdom. He said the way to the Kingdom is narrow and only a few would enter by the narrow gate.

I was listening to someone speak about the seven churches in Revelation on Sunday morning. I had a few thoughts that came to mind as they were speaking that I took note of and wrote them down. The first thought was: these letters were sent to churches – believers. I know it’s pretty obvious. Jesus wasn’t pointing out flaws or giving encouragement to non-believers. He had a message to give His followers. He had to get them back on track if there were going to fulfill His mission. Jesus gave every church a directive and a promise. Every church was called to repent of their deeds and for those who overcame their “issues” a promise was given. I have a red-letter Bible (meaning that the words that Jesus spoke are printed in red). Every word in this section of Revelation chapters two and three are in read letters. John wrote down what Jesus instructed to the seven churches. After Jesus gave the direction to each church, Jesus ended each letter “for those who have ears, let them hear.”

The message reminded me also when Peter, James and John went up the mountain with Jesus. Jesus was transfigured before them and they were overwhelmed with His glory. Peter being Peter started talking nonsense about building shelters for Moses and Elijah. God interrupted Peter telling them to listen to His Son (Matthew 17:5). Pay attention, boys! Jesus’ words were important to record. If they were important to write then they must be important to remember and obey. Listen! For the Kingdom of God is near.

Do we get that in this day and time? Are we so far removed from the message that we fail to hear the truth behind it? Would Jesus still give us this message today? The word today should still be repent for the kingdom of God is near. For believers today, the kingdom is already here – the Holy Spirit dwells within us. Even more today, we should pay attention to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us. For those who have ears to hear: Pay attention! Repent! Set ourselves apart from the worldly pursuits and pursue holiness! This is not a message we like to hear. But we’re all called to do just that. Our lives matter here on earth to bring glory to Jesus. But it takes a pure heart and a willing spirit and a renewed mind. It’s still the same message today. Pay attention to what the Lord is saying today.

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:19-20

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