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Saturday, February 20, 2010


When You Have Difficult Decisions

Pray About The Decision

Mar 14:32 They *came to a place named Gethsemane; and He *said to His disciples, "Sit here until I have prayed."

Jesus knew that Judas was about to betray Him and give the Rulers of the Jews means to fulfill their desire to kill Him. As God in the flesh Jesus knew what was to be done but the human side of Jesus did not relish the idea of the beatings, the scourging of the whip and the death on the cross. Jesus, the human, had a decision to make and for that He consulted God, His Father in prayer.

Mar 14:33 And He *took with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be very distressed and troubled.

Jesus, the human, was a man of courage. On the History channel, this week, I saw WW II and Korea fighter pilot and Ace, Boots Blesse, and he described courage and I laughed out loud and very hard. Many have asked me and have not understood what Boots said and what I told people that asked. Every time I entered aerial combat I was scared but in spite of the fear I did what needed to be done, my duty. In like manor, the human side of Jesus wanted no part of what was coming.

Mar 14:34 And He *said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch."

Just as King David's Mighty Men of Valor tended to congeal into a unit and draw strength from one another, Jesus was modeling that to His followers the need for a need for reinforcement of one's self through comradeship.

Mar 14:35 And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by.

In the prayer of Jesus we see that just as Mary knew she would, a virgin, give birth to the Son of God, Jesus knew His fate and obviously the reason for it.

Identify God's Will

Mar 14:36 And He was saying, "Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will."

I'm not 100% certain of many things and that is true of this passage. I know from my studies that Jesus said and did many things for our knowledge and I believe that is the case here. I see Jesus leading by example, He was teaching us how to submit to God.

Mar 14:37 And He *came and *found them sleeping, and *said to Peter, "Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour?

There are a variety of thoughts concerning this passage and I believe that most of them are, in some manor, valid. What I take from this is the beginning of Peter's most difficult lesson of forgiveness and restoration. I see the rebuke common to most lines of thought but more importantly I see Jesus alerting Peter to mark and to recall this event that, almost immediately, follow Peter's declaration of complete faithfulness.

Mar 14:38 "Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

Here Jesus reinforces the need to be ever watchful and our need to pray for the Father to send us the help our fleshly bodies need to endure.

Mar 14:39 Again He went away and prayed, saying the same words.

In their sight He once more models the fighting stance of the Christian, on our knees or on our face in prayer.

Commit To Do God's Will

Mar 14:41 And He *came the third time, and *said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? It is enough; the hour has come; behold, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.

I feel that it is important to remember that Jesus have twelve legions of angels at His disposal as we read much of these events and from that knowledge it is hard to imagine that anything happened that He was not aware of. Jesus knew that Judas was betraying Him just as He knew when the woman with theissue of blood touched the hem of His garment. (Mark 5:25)

Mar 14:42 "Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!"

Jesus knew exactly when Judas would return and in this passage gives us the eternal proof that He went to the beatings, scourging and cross willingly. Instead of fleeing and hiding, He marched forward, in command of His circumstance.

Mar 14:43 Immediately while He was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, *came up accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs, who were from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.

Immediately, He was surrounded by the blood thirsty mob, prepared to do battle.

Mar 14:44 Now he who was betraying Him had given them a signal, saying, "Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him and lead Him away under guard."

In collusion with the Sanhedrin, Judas had made a fool-proof plan to insure that, in the dark, no mistake could be made. He was unaware the commitment of Jesus to endure these events.

Keep The Commitment

Mar 14:45 After coming, Judas immediately went to Him, saying, "Rabbi!" and kissed Him.

Mar 14:46 They laid hands on Him and seized Him.

Judas fulfilled his part in this ungodly transaction for which he was paid 30 pieces of silver. In my research I have found that one piece of silver likely amounted to one denarii, or a days wages. Judas sold the life of Jesus for a months wages for a common laborer.

Mar 14:47 But one of those who stood by drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear.

From John 18:10 we know that was Peter and while some seem to think they know more than the Word of God and believe that he might have taken the sword from one of the soldiers, I believe in the in-errancy of scripture tend to go with the idea that is supported by reading scripture. Peter was the first to proclaim that he would die before he allowed Jesus to be hung on a tree and seeing Peter's character in the scriptures, I find it more likely that Peter, who is much like me, would have armed himself and did not need to disarm one of the soldiers to be armed.

Mar 14:48 And Jesus said to them, "Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me, as you would against a robber?

Jesus was treated as a common thief and was a bit incensed by the idea. Standing there, not resisting but instead healing Malchus by replacing his ear (Luke 22:51) and rebuking Peter (John 18:11) Jesus conducted Himself just as God should.

Mar 14:49 "Every day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me; but this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures."

Jesus admonished them with the reminder that they could have taken Him on any day at the Temple as He taught there.

Mar 14:50 And they all left Him and fled.

Just as Jesus had predicted, the disciples dispersed, fearing their own arrest.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

God Means it!

Today, when we wish to add emphases to a word, we commonly place quotes before and after or we modify the text or underline it to attract attention to it. If we find a passage or a sentence of particular interest we might use a highlighter to mark it. In the scriptures God uses another method to mark the passages and things of great importance to Him, He repeats it and if it is of great importance for His people to take note of He will say it three times.

In these last days there are various heretical thoughts on the scripture that runs the entire spectrum. Of prominence we find folks that I call extreme liberals that believe that the Word of God can be found in the Bible but that most of it is not. Further along the spectrum we have New Testament Christians and these include a strange lot from The Sermon on The Mount only through The teachings of Jesus only. (The spectrum is greater than I have indicated and this list is incomplete.) The point is that there is a very large portion of the believing Christians that do not read their Bibles except for selected passages.

When the Fortune Five Hundred company CEO writes a letter he calls his secretary, Mary or Joe(?) and he speaks and the secretary writes and later types for him to sign before mailing or distributing. Absolutely not the same but in similar manor, God sent the Holy Spirit to inspire men to recored the Word of God so that you and I could know the heart of God.

The thing that troubles me the most is that in The Gospel of John, chapter one, verses one through three we find that Jesus is the Creator of everything that has been created. For me, that means that all of the Bible, from The Creation of Genesis through all of the Revelation of Jesus to John, are the teaching and acts of Jesus. Jesus is not the God of the New Testament, He is the God of the Bible, second person of the triune God, revealed in the flesh of man in these later days.

By now your asking where does this introduction take us? I stated in the beginning that God places emphases on some things that are very important. On my latest read through I am in the last book of the Pentateuch, Deuteronomy, and I am reading, for the third time in four books, all penned by Moses, of the Exodus of Israel from Egypt. God has had the Exodus recorded and then summarized twice in the first five books of the Bible. There is a passage I read this morning that is a restatement of what God has promised Israel. In Deuteronomy 11:24 there is the repeat of the promise of the land that belongs to Israel, from the wilderness on the south to Lebanon on the north.

That description will not be of to much concern to the world but God does not stop there, The western border of Israel is the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern border is the Euphrates River. Now, according to God, the southern tip of Syria, most of Iraq, the northern tip of Saudi Arabia and all of Jordan belong to Israel. At this point in time we have an Islamic raised president, whose citizenship has never been established, that demands Israel give part of the splinter she holds to a nation that never existed and many, calling themselves the followers of Christ, agree. Former Presidents Carter, Clinton and Bush have either agreed or made that same demand of Israel.

There is another promise from our LORD to the faithful remnant of true Israel. He promised never to abandon them for a thousand generations. (Exodus 20:6) this promise is repeated twice in the following three books. For anyone to believe the Christian has replaced the Jew is shear folly, God never breaks His promises. Some will cry out that this promise is conditional and they are correct but they ignore the fact that God has always held a remnant in the sons of Judah. There are even completed Jews living among us today, they are known as Messianic Jews, they follow the Messiah.

Israel holds to the promise that God made to them to be a great nation and some argue that this promise has been fulfilled through Kings David and Salomon. My problem with that statement is the borders of Israel, as given by our LORD. When the Messiah was here the first time it was to pay the sin debt for man, to reconcile man to his former position, the one held by man before Adam's sin in the garden. The next time the Messiah puts a foot on the Earth it will be as the King of the Earth and His throne will be seated in Israel. I do not for a moment believe that He will not claim the land He has given to the sons of Jacob for an everlasting possession. God does not reign in mediocrity.

I confess that I do not read through the Bible every year but I have done so a number of times and hope to do so several more times, to prepare myself for my arrival Home. The truth is that I might not read another paragraph before I am called to go Home, that is the truth about all of us. My prayer is that all of you will lust after the same thing that King David and I do. David sought after the heart of God and so do I but there is no way to know the heart of God if you fail to study to show yourself approved.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

When You Feel Overwhelmed

Prepare By Trusting The Spirit
Mar 13:9 "But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them.
This lesson's author speaks in his comments as though this event has already happened and we need not be concerned. The truth though, as I see it, is that this condition has never ceased to be and as I sit here in my old age and watch as Islam is concurring the world, I know that this condition will only grow worse. For years now, I have seen men and women martyred for the cause of Christ in the Arab Nations, China and Africa. Today, our legislators are preparing legislation to silence the Church or to put them in prison. I have forgotten the bill number but it is being modeled after the Canadian bill that was made into law, resulting in men being placed in prison for declaring th whole word of God.

Mar 13:10 "The gospel must first be preached to all the nations.
I am often called down for proclaiming to folks that we are living in the last generation before the Rapture, they tell me that only a fool will name the date of that event. Of course they are correct in their statement but they err in that they have not payed attention to the signs they are given to look for. The signs Jesus enumerated for us to look for are happening all around us and yet we are not excited.

Mar 13:11 "When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit.
In 2Tim. 2:15 the KJV teaches us to study the Word to show ourselves approved. I sometimes surprise folks because I can tell them what the scriptures say but because I have cognitive reasoning and short term memory problems due to my MS, I need my computer or a little time with my Bible to find the address of the scripture. When I need an answer the Holy Spirit is always true to provide it because I have been as faithful as I could manage to study, learn and to follow Jesus. If we will seek after the heart of God, the way King David did, the Holy Spirit will speak through us.

Mar 13:12
"Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.
On the Local News in the last month or so there have several murders where sibling have murdered one another and there are more and more instances where children and parents are murdering one another. Right now, in Houston, there is a new warrant for a man they believe has escaped into Mexico that murdered his wife and both of his children and over and over I have seen young men going off to prison for the murder of their father or their mother and sometimes both. In a not too distant case the son hired the murder of both parents done.

Mar 13:13 "You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.

This is an oft misused verse in some sections of the Church. Here are teachers that use this verse, out of it's context, to force people do give until it hurts. When we read 2Cor. 9:6,7 we get some clarification for the second half of this verse. Another good verse for comparison is the parable of Mark 4, the parable of the sower of the seed. Not every person that claims the name of Christ in the early days of their hearing the Gospel will walk to the end with Him, that saves.
As for being hated or disliked, the day I walked away from my former life people began to show their dislike and distrust for me. In the past nineteen years some of them have tried to draw me back into my former life of perpetually planned sin. I was hated the day I walked away from sin and declared Jesus to be my Master and that condition will never change, so long as I do not turn back.

Prepare By Staying With The Truth

Mar 13:21 "And then if anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Christ'; or, 'Behold, He is there'; do not believe him;
This verse must be the least known scripture in the Bible. We know from reading the scriptures that our LORD will not touch the Earth again before the Rapture, a.k.a. the catching away, followed by the most horrible seven years the Earth has ever known under the, soon coming, One World Government and yet there are people, everywhere, that are walking around with a christ.

Mar 13:22 for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect.
I have seen members of my own family be temporarily drawn away from the truth they have known to be. The most amazing part, to me, is that these people do nothing more than pervert the scriptures. I have yet to see one of these false christs do anything any more amazing than to burn themselves, their followers and their children to death.

Mar 13:23 "But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.
If we will read the Bible, the very Word of God, and hide it in our heart, we cannot be deceived. While Jesus spoke in parables to separate the believer from the hangers on, He has revealed everything we need to know to keep from being deceived.

Prepare By Rejoicing

Mar 13:24 "But in those days, after that tribulation, THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT,
Mar 13:25 AND THE STARS WILL BE FALLING from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken.
Many of the Post Trib. Rapture folks will use this scripture as proof for their view but the problem is that the context of the Bible and of this chapter will not support that view. The preceding verses of this scripture set the table required for understanding this verse. The tribulation spoken of here is not the Great Tribulation, it is the troubled time that has been going on for the past two thousand years. From my studies I find that there have been folks that have proclaimed their messiah status ever since before Jesus was born.

Mar 13:26 "Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN CLOUDS with great power and glory.
Jesus has just given us the exact method of His arrival and He mentions nothing of His feet touching the Earth at this time. In Jesus' second appearance He will not be here for the Kingdom on Earth, as has been expected by the Jewish believers for thousands of years.

Mar 13:27 "And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven.
It will be, at this time, that Jesus will gather the Church to Himself and take them to Heaven.

Prepare By Remaining Faithful

Mar 13:32 "But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.
Except we see these signs and we are looking at Jesus, standing on a cloud we cannot know the time of His coming. Instead of being busy trying to out smart God by figuring the time table that none can know, any way, we need to be busy being prepared for His arrival every day.

Mar 13:33 "Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come.
Mar 13:34 "It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert.
With the Great Commission of Matt. 28:18-20 we received our orders for our duty while the LORD is away. If we will perform our assigned task we will find the constant need to read and to learn the scriptures. If we read the scriptures we will continue to grow in out faith and our faith will keep us on the alert for His arrival.

Mar 13:35 "Therefore, be on the alert--for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning--
Mar 13:36 in case he should come suddenly and find you asleep.
Mar 13:37 "What I say to you I say to all, 'Be on the alert!'"
Even the lost man will do well to constantly be observant.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Whole Bible

For the past nineteen years I have studied the scriptures to learn more and more about the Father of the Man that died on the cross for me. I have also studied to learn how to live my life more like the example set by Jesus, the Christ, and through this entire process, ever since that night of New Years Eve, nineteen-ninety, the Holy Spirit has indwelt me and given me a passion for reading and learning the scriptures.

I have encountered a number of people that proclaim themselves to be New Testament Christians and when I have queried them they have, almost all of them, informed me that they do not read, nor do they need the Old Testament. I find that statement to be alarming. When I first began to teach, at forty-seven, I taught the Primaries Class, what better class could a Baby Christian, not two years old, teach? As I studied the lessons each week, I became grounded in the Word of God, the Bible.

In that class we sang songs of praise to the LORD and one of the first I learned to lead the Little People in was Father Abraham and over the course of better than three years we learned about Samson, David and Goliath and of Abraham and Sarah. In short order, I learned that Christianity was rooted in the history of Israel. In the letter to the Roman Gentiles, Paul uses the example of an aged Olive Tree to represent Israel and the root and the trunk are God and the branches are the Jews. The gentiles, that's us, are the Wild Olive branches that are grafted to the tree. From the creation of Adam, in the Garden, there is a continuity throughout the history of man that will not be severed.

The most serious problem I have observed in the Church is the one of taking a scripture out of context and building a religion around it. This also happens when a passage of scripture is removed from it's context. It all sounds so true because it is from the Bible, after all. One of the things I learned in the Vietnam War was that for propaganda to be passable, a.k.a. believable, was that at least ten per cent of it must be true. The same is true of heresy. The thing about the Bible is that while approximately 40 different men penned the scriptures, they were, every one of them, inspired by the same person of the Triune God to write them. So we have about forty men, living over a period of better than two thousand years, many of them having never read the others writings and yet the message is one continuous flow, one idea. That makes the Bible to be of one context from “In the beginning...” through the last “Amen” of Revelation 22 and just as in the reading of our favorite novel, we cannot open it to the middle, or at any other point, and read one paragraph and then, from that reading, claim to know the story.

I have encountered “homosexual Christians” from time to time and in taking the time to sit down and to engage them in exploring their beliefs I have found that they have completely discarded the passages in the Law about the homosexuals and totally disregard the Romans one passage from verses eighteen through twenty-seven. The only way anyone can become a follower of Jesus, including homosexuals, idol worshipers, adulterers and all other sinners, is to repent of their sins and never do that again. Turning my life to move in the other direction involved a twenty-three year process so it can take a good mentor a good portion of his or her life to turn a lost person around. I remember three that worked with me over that twenty-three year period, I certain there were more and I just do not remember them in my later years.

In the last three verses of Matthew we, the followers of Jesus, receive the Great Commission. With the present line of thought it is very difficult for the pastor to see this commission fulfilled. The congregation, the real Church, has placed this responsibility on the back of the pastors and evangelists. Admitting that I cannot do it, I also know that those of us that are following God and we that have been called to service must pray for God to do what we cannot. If you feel that you cannot witness, preach or teach, you can pray. And there is an important passage in 2 Chron. 7:14. Will you open your Bible and read it? Will you obey God?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Mark 12

When Priorities Are Challenged

What Do I Owe Government?

Mar 12:13 Then they *sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him in order to trap Him in a statement.
Mar 12:14 They *came and *said to Him, "Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?

Jesus has over-thrown the crooked merchants tables inside the gates of the Temple and in my mind there is little doubt that the Scribes, the Pharisees and likely some Sadducee merchants were and had lost income because of the actions of Jesus. They were even aligning themselves with the politicized Herodians to kill Jesus. All of the local rulers were feeling the threat of Jesus to their authority and understood that they needed to do something with Him.

Mar 12:15 "Shall we pay or shall we not pay?" But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, "Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius to look at."

They asked Jesus what could have been an honest enough question but Jesus saw right through it because He knew their goal was to exterminate Him and His threat to their leadership. Immediately Jesus announced His knowledge of their deception to them with His question and then He moved very swiftly into changing their posture into one of defense. They were on the defense as soon as He asked for their aid in answering their own question.

Mar 12:16 They brought one. And He *said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" And they said to Him, "Caesar's."

And in this verse we see that they are busy answering the very question they had asked Him. It is very disarming when a person takes another's aggression and turns it onto themselves. It leaves a person feeling very silly.

Mar 12:17 And Jesus said to them, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." And they were amazed at Him.

They were amazed because Jesus had taken their own knowledge and their own reasoning and turned the tables on them.

What Do I Owe God?

Mar 12:28 One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, "What commandment is the foremost of all?"

In any group of this type there are usually the tag-alongs that consider themselves smarter than the collective group and they will often seek to impress by standing out. This Scribe was making, just, such a move.

Mar 12:29 Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD;
Mar 12:31 "The second is this, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

Jesus, being the author of the Law knew all 613 of them more intimately than any man ever did or ever will.

What Do I Owe Others?

Mar 12:32 The scribe said to Him, "Right, Teacher; You have truly stated that HE IS ONE, AND THERE IS NO ONE ELSE BESIDES HIM;

The Scribe, in my opinion, was so impressed with the answer given to the others and then with no time to rethink His position Jesus answered the sharpshooting Scribe with the only correct answer and Jesus had, likely, put it in such a way that the Scribe had never considered, he too was amazed.

Mar 12:34 When Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." After that, no one would venture to ask Him any more questions.