Archive | July 2013

From the Pastor’ Pen

Final thoughts on Mark 14:17-19

In the evening He came with the twelve.  Now as they sat and ate, Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you who eats with Me will betray Me.”  And they began to be sorrowful, and to say to Him one by one, “Is it I?”  And another said, “Is it I?”        NKJV

According to Matthew 26:22, every single one of Jesus’ Apostles responded to his announcement that one of them would betray Him with the question, “Is it I?”  They all recognized the potential for betrayal within themselves.  Likewise, the potential for betraying the Lord is in each of us as well. 

Abraham was a man of commendable faith and the friend of God (James 2:23), and yet when the famine came, he betrayed the Lord who had called him to the land of Cainan by fleeing to Egypt and there lying about his relationship with Sarai, his wife (Gen. 12:10-13).  David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), and yet he betrayed the Lord in his adulterous affair with Bathsheba (II Sam. 11).  Peter was a leader among the Apostles (Matt. 16:16-19), and yet after stating that he would never forsake the Jesus (Matt. 26:33-35), he betrayed the Lord by denying Him three times (Matt. 26:69-75). 

Dear reader, do you recognize the potential for betrayal within yourself?  Perhaps you are considering betraying the Lord by taking a job that is immoral, or unethical, or a bad Christian testimony because of the money that it pays.  Or maybe you are considering betraying the Lord by accepting a sales position that will require you to lie about a product, or accepting a job that will take you out of church services on Sundays.

Will you betray the Lord by falsifying your requirements on a job application, or by taking a bribe of some type, or by cheating on your income taxes?  Perhaps a young woman or young man is reading this who is considering betraying the Lord by giving up her/his purity for a moment of sexual pleasure.  Or maybe you are being tempted to betray the Lord by using addictive substances such as drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes.

The potential for betrayal lies within each of us, but the power to overcome these temptations comes from the Lord (John 15:5, Phil. 4:13, II Pet. 2:9); and if you have already fallen to temptation do not despair, but seek the Lord’s cleansing, for He is ready and willing to forgive and heal the one who truly repents of his sins and trusts in Him (I John 1:8-2:2).      

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final thoughts on Mark 14:3-9

And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard.  Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head.  But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted?  For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.”  And they criticized her sharply.  But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial.  Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”               NKJV

 

When you hear the word extravagant, what imagery comes to mind?  Is it some jewelry dripping with precious stones?  Maybe a grand estate with a lavish mansion?  A brand-new luxury automobile or a completely restored vintage car?  An exotic spa vacation with a plush, five-star hotel?  Whichever picture filled your mind, my guess is that your thoughts weren’t about worship.  In our text, we have a picture of an extravagant worshiper.

This unnamed woman comes into the noisy dinner at Simon’s house and refuses to let anything stop her from accomplishing what the Lord has put on her heart.  She takes this spikenard that cost 300 days wages and consciously forgets its original intended purchase and instead, she uses it to anoint Jesus’ head.

How delightful is Jesus’ response to the people’s shock?  He blesses her extravagant worship  and tells the other guests that she is preparing Him for burial.  Her worship proves that she understood the Lord’s agenda better than Jesus’ Apostles and she altered her agenda to match His as an act of worship.

Extravagant worship always focuses on the Lord Jesus, giving glory and honor to Him no matter what the cost or what other people think.  Jesus will always receive extravagant worship whether it is financial, through song, in service to the church, in the sharing of scripture with others, in the giving of your time serving Him, or in the way you live your everyday life as a testimony for Him to bring glory and honor to His name.  I Corinthians 10:31 tells us that whatever we do, even in such simple acts as eating and drinking, we are to do all to the glory of God.  Jesus said of this woman, “She has done what she could.”  Today, are you doing all you can to worship extravagantly the One who has saved you by His grace?

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final thoughts on Mark 14:1-2

After two days it was the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take Him by trickery and put Him to death. But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar of the people.”      NKJV

Because the crucifixion of Christ took place the week of the Passover, the early church understood that the Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled the symbolism in the Passover meal as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). The marking of blood on the doorposts (Ex. 12:7-13) has a clear tie to the shedding of Jesus’ blood on the cross, and it is therefore no surprise to learn in the New Testament that the Passover is a type of Jesus’ redemptive death on the cross (I Cor. 5:7).

Without the Lord Jesus Christ, God the Father looks upon the world He made and sees only a mass of vile corrupt sinners, guilty of breaking His divine laws, who are deserving of nothing more that His wrath. But since Jesus has died for us, God the Father now sees in the midst of fallen humanity believers whose sins have been covered by the blood of His Son through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (I John 3:5, Rom. 8:1). His wrath has been turned aside from us who are blood-bought Christians in a passing over even greater than the one over the houses of Israel so long ago.

The irony in our passage is that the Jewish religious leaders, who knew the scriptures and should have recognized in the Lord Jesus Christ the fulfillment of those Old Testament Messianic passage and types, rejected the very One who the Passover that they were about to partake pictured, and as a result would perish in their sins. Being Jews did not save them. Not did being from esteemed families, or teachers of the Scriptures.

Likewise, dear reader, do not think that being born into a family of Christians or even being a teacher of the Bible will save you from the wrath to come. Unless you truly repent of your sins (Luke 13:3, 5) and trust in the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ on your behalf, as your personal Savior (John 1:12), you will perish just as those Jewish religious leaders did. Heed the warning of God’s word.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.           John 3:16-18      NKJV

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final thoughts on Psalm 34:8-10

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!  Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints!  There is no want to those who fear Him.  The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.                      NKJV

These verses are a wonderful reminder of God’s sufficiency.  Though I may feel empty, lonely, or even discontent at times, the declaration of God is that I lack nothing good.  If even the mightiest of God’s creation (the young lions) cannot find fulfillment in their own strength, why do I think that I can manipulate situations to achieve my own ends?   What a statement of God’s sufficiency!   Though even the most majestic and powerful of the animal kingdom cannot provide for themselves, the omnipotent God is able to provide abundantly for His dependent and needy children.

Notice that there are three actions I must take to enjoy this all-sufficient goodness.
First, I must be trusting in God (v. 8).  This means that I must rely on Him alone.  I cannot truthfully say that I am trusting God while I am looking anywhere else for fulfillment, protection, or safety.  God alone is my Deliverer and Refuge.

Second, I must fear God (v. 9).  I must have an awe-inspiring reverence for who He is.  All too often we approach God flippantly with no recognition of His holy hatred for sin and His omniscient eyes.  We easily forget that our God is a holy consuming fire.  To fear God means that we always live in the realization that God is watching us, which results in a disdain for sin and a delight in living for God.  To those who fear God, His Word promises they will lack nothing.  What a promise!

Finally, I must seek God (v. 10).  If I am to “taste and see God” that presupposes that I am close enough to Him behold Him, and can draw close enough to actually reach out and taste Him.  Far too often in our lives we are content to go hungry just outside the doors of God’s banquet hall. A.W. Tozer exposed this tragedy when he wrote, “The world is perishing for lack of the knowledge of God, and Church is famishing for want of His Presence.”  Tragically, we are happy to occasionally catch a glimpse of His glory or snatch the odd crumb that falls from His table, when He invites us to seek and see and taste Him.

In the banquet hall of God’s goodness it is a satanic lie to believe that He has withheld any good thing from our lives.  We need only to partake of His goodness.  We need to realize that He will give us the absolute best.

The past need not bring despair nor the future bring worry, for the same God that is my portion today will be my portion forever.  O taste and see that the LORD is good.  That is a challenge.  Put God to the test.  He will not disappoint.                   Sam Sinclair

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final thoughts on Ephesians 5:2

 

And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.                      NKJV

 

In the Old Testament, when a burnt offering was killed, its head is severed, the fat removed, and the entrails and legs washed.  Then, everything was placed on the bronze altar and burnt, and the sacrifice was a sweet aroma to God (Lev. 1:12-13).

This sacrifice pictured the death of Jesus, who has “given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”

The head of the sacrificed animal pictured the mind of Christ offered as a covering for our minds. Although our minds are often clouded with unbelief, worries, foolishness, filth, and human reasoning, God treats us as though we have the mind of Christ, without wrong or displeasing thoughts, bringing pleasure to Him like a sweet smell.

The fat of the animal pictured the riches of Christ, His best, for God equates the fat of something with the best of that entity (Genesis 45:18).  The fat of the burnt offering pictures Jesus giving us His riches, His best, as our covering. So God does not see us in our lack, but in the riches and excellence of Jesus going up to Him as a sweet aroma.

The animal’s intestines pictured Jesus’ motivations, feelings, affections and desires.  We often feel fearful, anxious, stressed out or angry (and it affects our stomach and intestines).  But God sees only Jesus’ feelings and desires, which are always pure, beautiful and acceptable to Him — a sweet smell.

The legs of the animal pictured Jesus’ perfect walk — His power to serve and obey the Father — imputed to our weak and faltering walk.  And the fact they are washed shows that even our crooked walk has been cleansed.

Believer, God does not see your foolish mind, weak nature, inadequate feelings or faulty walk. Instead, He sees you in the perfection of His Son, who gave Himself up for you as a sweet-smelling sacrifice to God.

God does not see you in your imperfections, but in the perfections of His Son.          Joseph Prince