Wednesday, November 26, 2014

NTDS (25): After I Have Risen

Matt 26:32
 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee."  NIV

These beautiful words were spoken to the disciples shortly before Jesus would be arrested, beaten and put to death by means of crucifixion. It is an amazing proclamation for a couple of reasons.

Number one, Jesus states as a matter of unquestionable fact that He will live again after He has died. AFTER I have risen, He says. There is no “if” in this statement. It is going to happen! He made it very clear because the circumstances they were about to experience would certainly cause them to doubt the truth of that prediction.

Jesus told these men, that on that very night they would desert Him. He quoted from the book of Zechariah, telling them that He, the shepherd would be struck and that they, the sheep, would be scattered. This is what makes the second half of verse 32 so incredible. Even though Jesus knew that His closest companions would forsake Him during the darkest hour of His earthly life, He would still “go ahead” of them into Galilee and meet them there. He assured them ahead of time.

All that Jesus said would happen did happen. The disciples, who swore that they would stick with Jesus, even if they had to die with Him, could not even stay awake with Him for one hour while He prayed. Sure enough, when He was arrested, put on trial, beaten, flogged and crucified, they all scattered. Peter denied he even knew Jesus three times.

Why is all of this so important for us? Because it speaks of the astonishing love that Jesus had for His disciples and for us.  A love that is so deep, it led Him to pay an enormous price to bring us into a holy and righteous relationship with Him. He paid it for our redemption from sin.

Jesus fulfilled His promise to go before the disciples into Galilee. When the women came to the tomb on the third day, an angel repeated the instructions to them. “Go to Galilee.” They were on their way to tell the disciples what had happened, when the risen Jesus came to them. Matt 28:10 Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me." (NIV) Notice that He now calls the disciples “My brothers.” How great a love must it be, that you could call those who deserted you in your darkest hour, “brothers?”

This is the same love Jesus has for you and me. Even when we are unfaithful, He will go ahead of us and meet us. When you have come to Him in faith and repentance, He will always be there to meet you. After giving the “brothers” their new marching orders, He assures them that He will always be with them, helping them to carry those orders out (28:20). His assurance is there for you as well. Jesus is rise, He is alive and if you are a believer in Him, He goes before you no matter where you go. When you are following His lead, He prepares the way for you. His love for you is that great. Continue to follow His instructions for you and meet Him wherever He calls you to go!

If you have not yet received Jesus and experienced this great love, I pray that you will turn to Him today and put your trust in Him for salvation. Then you can also be assured that He will guide and direct your life and go before you as well.

God Bless You


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Thanksgiving Message

Every year at this time, I find it interesting that Thanksgiving Day does not seem to be surrounded by the same kind of controversy as Christmas and Easter.You know, Christmas and Easter always bring mention of God and Jesus so some people get upset.They just don’t want to hear about Jesus or God.
But Thanksgiving seems to be ok, because there is not much mention of God anymore.That always makes me wonder. If you are not giving thanks to God, who are you giving thanks to? I mean, who does an atheist give thanks to? Maybe it is to those wonderful gas molecules, that were somehow floating around when suddenly there was this  “big bang” and life began. Thank you Mr Molecule. Or, maybe he or she should thank Charlie the Chimpanzee, who they believe was one of their ancestors. Thanks Charlie for mutating just enough to make  us what we are today! Wait, I know. It must be to that “cosmic flow of energy” that surrounds us as we become “one with the universe” May the Force be thanked!
Seems strange to me that we can miss the whole point, that Thanksgiving is about giving thanks to the Creator. At least that is what our forefathers thought.Certainly our public schools don’t do a very good job anymore of teaching about the origin and tradition of giving thanks to God on this day. According to their revised version, we were just thanking the Native Americans for their saving the day.
Well, here is some real history behind our tradition of giving thanks to God.
The first New England Thanksgiving was celebrated less than a year after the Plymouth colonists had settled in the new land of Massachusetts Bay Colony. The first dreadful winter in the colony had killed nearly half of its members.
But new hope emerged in the summer of 1621 when the corn harvest brought rejoicing. Governor William Bradford decreed that a three-day feast be held beginning on December 13, 1621. Thus came about a Thanksgiving Day set aside for the special purpose of prayer as well as celebration.
The custom of Thanksgiving Day spread from Plymouth to other new England colonies. During the Revolutionary War, eight special days of thanks were observed for victories and deliverance from perilous times. On November 26, 1789, President George Washington issued a general proclamation for a day of thanks. For many years there was no regular national Thanksgiving Day in the United States until President Lincoln in 1863 proclaimed the last Thursday in November as "A day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father." As one studies early American history it becomes obvious that our early settlers and forefathers expressed their "thanksgiving" and their "gratitude" to God daily rather than once a year. As a nation we need to go back to the pilgrims' fine art of gratitude toward God!
At least as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, I think we know to whom we give thanks!
Each year on Thanksgiving, we have the family gathering at our house.One of the traditions we have is to take some time just before we pray for the meal, to give every person a chance to tell God what they are thankful for this year. I am sure that many of you have similar traditions.I am also sure that you hear many of the same things that we do in our house. Thanks for our homes, families, jobs, food on the table, clothes on our back and often times our grandchildren mention their pets.
This is in the tradition of our forefathers and it is great thing. I think it help us to remember that it is God who has provided all these things for us But we also know that there are many people, all over the world, who do not have many of the things we are thankful for. They are in need of just the basic necessities.
And maybe right now you don’t have a lot of things that we just mentioned. Maybe you are out of a job. Maybe you don’t have any family and maybe you don’t even know where your next meal is going to come from, so you feel like you have no reason to give thanks to God.  Maybe you are even angry at Him for your circumstances, but if you are a believer in Christ, you need to listen to what the apostle Paul tell us in 1 Thess 5:18.
“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus “
How is that possible when your life circumstances may seem so dire? Well, it must be possible because Paul say it is God’s will that you do so. I believe it is only possible when you realize that God has provided the one thing that we all need most. The one thing that is more important than any earthly, temporal need that we might have.
What is it? It is redemption. Redemption from the judgment of God, which is the just penalty of our sin. That redemption is only possible because Jesus Christ paid the required price and took the penalty of our sin upon himself with His death on the cross.It was a price we could not pay, because it could only be paid by one who had  no sin.
What’s more, is that His death proves something beyond a shadow of doubt. It proves God’s goodness and love toward His creation. In John 3:16 He tells us that the reason that God gave His only son, Jesus, was because He so loved the world.
You know, I get a little upset at some of these emergent church leaders that say that judging anyone, sending them to Hell because they do not accept Christ, would make God out to be a moral monster. It would not be something a loving God would do.
That kind of statement shows their total lack of belief in the veracity of scripture and the foolishness of human thought. Would the lack of judgment on an unrepentant murderer like Adolf Hitler be a loving act? Would God be loving, if He allowed Hitler into heaven with all those he murdered?
Look, God does not need to do anything more than He already has to prove His love toward us. He has proven it at the cross. He has given all of us a way to escape judgment, by accepting Jesus Christ as  our Lord and Savior, the substitute for us. So we can be thankful, if for no other reason than because we know God loves us and has given us the opportunity to have a relationship with Him, thanks to Jesus’ death on the cross
Maybe you are reading this and you have not yet experienced the love of God and what it means to have a relationship with Him. Maybe you are heading into this Thanksgiving with fear and doubt about your future and you believe that you have no reason to be thankful to God.
I wan to let you know that God loves you! He desires to have a relationship with you and to bring you redemption. 2 Peter 3:9 says ”The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”  ESV
On the right side of this blog site, you will see a section entitled “How to become a Christian". It is there to help you understand how to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord and to come into relationship with Him. You can do that right now and experience God’s love and care for you and receive eternal life. Then you will truly be able to give thanks to God!
God bless, Coach


Monday, November 24, 2014

NTDS (24): You Are Mistaken

Matt 22:29  29 But Jesus answered and said to them, "You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God. NASU

What a bold and powerful statement Jesus made to the group of Jewish leaders known as the Sadducees. Jesus had already severely chastised the other group of leaders, the Pharisees, who were biblically conservative, but highly legalistic and self-righteous. Now he will go after the religious liberals of the day. They were just as opposed to Jesus as the Pharisees were.

Just as the Pharisees had done so many times, the Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, tried to trick Jesus with their question. You can see the question in verses 24-28.

In the answer that Jesus gives, He rebukes them for their lack of understanding the scriptures and their lack of faith in God’s power. He shows them in scripture that there is certainly a resurrection, quotinq from Exodus 3. Matt 22:31-32  "But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God: 'I AM THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB'? He is not the God of the dead but of the living."  NASU

In verses 34-40, the Pharisees, encouraged that their rival Sadducees had been silenced, decide to test Jesus again. Once again, as recorded in in verses 41-45, Jesus shows them their ignorance concerning scriptural interpretation. They are mistaken!

There are two major points of application for us. One is that we need to know, understand and apply scripture correctly. The Pharisees and Sadducees were both guilty of misinterpreting God’s word. If you misinterpret His word, you will misrepresent Him. God does not take kindly to being misrepresented. Do you remember what happened to Moses when he misrepresented God? He was not allowed to go in to the promised land.(read Nu 27:12-14)

Paul says to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15 to “rightly divide” the word of truth. It must not just be “quoted.” It must be interpreted correctly and applied correctly. We must have a proper understanding of what God wants to say to us in His written word.

It seems unusual that these men were not able to rightly divide the Word of Truth. They certainly had the biblical training to do so. Why were they getting it so wrong? Simple, they wanted to use their interpretation of scripture to enhance their standing and power in the community and leadership of Israel.

We face the same problem today. It is not that the teachers of the Word today do not have the resources to know the Bible. We have more opportunity to know God’s word today than ever before. But, as in that day, they also interpret the bible a certain way, in order to bring people into their churches and build power and influence. They teach only the things they think will be appeal to people.

The apostle Paul says in 2 Tim 4:3-5 “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. (NIV) It is important to understand that when the whole truth of God is not taught, He will be misrepresented. 

That brings us to the second point of application. These men did not know the power of God. We need to make sure that we do know His power! When we study the scriptures, we see that God wants us to know His power. He wants us to participate in His power by prayer and through the use of the gifts He gives us. He wants us to experience the power of the Holy Spirit, changing and transforming our lives.

Rom 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. NASU

Rom 15:18-19 For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed, in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; NASU

1 Cor 1:18-19 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

1 Cor 2:4 ...and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. NASU

Col 1:10-11 walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; NASU

When our motivation for knowing the scriptures is to know Him, then we understand the power of God. We are then persuaded, that God wants to work with power in our lives, so that we may bring Him glory. So let us not be mistaken, but instead let us delight in knowing His word and seeing His power working in our lives!

God bless you


Saturday, November 22, 2014

NTDS (23): Figs, Faith and Failure

Matt 21:19 Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it, "No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you." And at once the fig tree withered. NASU

This event may seem insignificant, but the truth is just the opposite. It is very significant in the lessons it can teach us. By God’s sovereignty, this tree has been placed by the side of the road where Jesus will pass by, so that Jesus can teach an important lesson to His disciples about faith, failure and judgment.

The immediate lesson is contained in verses 20-22. The disciples were amazed that when Jesus cursed the tree, it withered at once, It is hard to figure out why they would be surprised after all they had already witnessed in their nearly three years with Him, but they were. Jesus uses the event, to let them know that they will be doing much more than that, if they will ask Him in faith. On the surface, it would seem that this is the major lesson Jesus wanted them to learn, but a reading of the rest of the chapter shows that He had much more in mind.

Jesus had already taught the disciples many lessons about faith, using other miracles, so what lesson would He teach using this miracle? The answer is contained in the symbolism of the tree.

This fig tree was in its fruit-bearing season, yet it had no fruit. If there is no fruit on a fruit tree when there is supposed to be fruit, what is it good for? If a tree does not do what it is supposed to do, it is worthless, it serves no purpose, so it might as well be cut down to make room for something that will fulfill it’s purpose. There is much biblical precedent for this idea.

Luke 13:6-9
 And He began telling this parable: "A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. "And he said to the vineyard-keeper, 'Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?'  "And he answered and said to him, 'Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.'" NASU

Isa 5:4-5
Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones? "So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard:I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed; I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground. NASU

Here in Matthew, Jesus is using the fig tree as a picture of the nation of Israel. In verses 28-45 He emphasizes their failure to produce the fruit that they should have been bearing. Israel was supposed to be a nation that shined the light of God by their example and by their teaching, but they had failed miserably at both. They had become a nation bound by legalistic rules and corruption, as evidenced by Jesus having to cleanse the temple. Matt 21:13 "It is written, 'MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER'; but you are making it a ROBBERS' DEN." NASU

They were not bearing the fruit that God had intended them to bear and were so far from Him as a nation, that they rejected His Son, their Messiah. They refused to place their faith in Him. Therefore they would suffer the same kind of judgment that the failed fig tree did. This happened in 70 AD when for all intents and purposes, they ceased to exist as a nation until 1948.

What is the application for us? It is simple. We must heed the same warning. Look at what Jesus said in John 15:2  "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” and John 15:6 "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. NASU

You see, like Israel, we are called to bear fruit. Jesus said we are salt and light in this world (Mt 5). The witness, of who God is, to His love, His justice and His Mercy, has been passed from Israel to the church, until the “times of the Gentiles” are complete (Lk 21:24).

Jesus exhorts us to fulfill our testimony, by placing our faith in Him, abiding in Him and letting Him work in our life to bear much fruit! We do not want to fail in that task. We do not do this by our own power or strength. We do it by abiding in Him. That word abide literally means “to stay” in a given place or relation. When we abide in Him, He gives us the power and ability, through our faith in Him, to bear that fruit. It flows out of us because of the joy we have in Christ our Savior. So let’s abide in Him and bear the fruit we are supposed to bear. Then we will never dry up and be cast into the fire, but instead be a blessing to a world that is hungry for His fruit.

God bless you


Friday, November 21, 2014

NTDS (22): What Do You Want Jesus To Do For You?

Matt 20:32 Jesus stopped and called them. "What do you want me to do for you?" he asked. NIV

Picture this scene. Jesus and His disciples are leaving Jericho with a large crowd following them. There were two blind men sitting by the road. They hear that Jesus is passing by, so they shout, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” The crowd tells them to be quiet but they just shout louder!

Jesus then stops and asks them this amazing question. The answer would seem to be obvious. They wanted their sight, but that may not be as obvious as we think. Normally a blind man in that day would be sitting by the side of the road in order to ask passers by for money. This was the only way they could survive. This was the life they were accustomed to and they could have been afraid of how their life might change if they were given their sight. But these two men were not afraid. They wanted to see!

They knew something was different about this passer by. The amazing thing is that even without being able to see Jesus, they knew who He was and therefore what He could do! They address Him as “Lord” (kurios in Greek, meaning supreme in authority) and Son of David” (a Messianic title). They knew that Jesus was capable of giving them more than money and they did not want this opportunity to pass by. They were going to get His attention, no matter what it took!

Well, it worked. Jesus stopped and asked the question. When they answered, the Bible records some beautiful words. “Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.” (Matt 20:34 NIV)

I want to you to note three things. One, Jesus had compassion on them. All through the book of Matthew, we read that phrase. James 5:11 tells us that the Lord is full of compassion. Two, His compassion leads to action. Jesus immediately heals the men and they receive their sight. Three, the response of the two men is to follow Jesus. They could have just thanked Him and gone home, but instead, they followed their Lord and Messiah.

What a tremendous lesson for us. It seems that, even as believers in Jesus, we do not take the same approach as these two men did when we have a deep need or desire in our life. Let’s be clear on what they did and see if we can apply it to our relationship with Jesus:

Make sure we get His attention. How do we do that? In prayer and supplication. Phil 4:6-7 but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. NASU

Believe that Jesus has compassion on you and loves to meet your need.
Matt 7:9-12 "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" NIV

Have faith in His ability to provide for your need. Heb 11:6 "And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him." NASU

Follow Him! This is the response the Lord desires, following Him.
John 10:27-28 "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; NASU

We serve an awesome and mighty God. He is the creator of all things and holds all things together (Col 1:17). He gives life to all things and supplies us with all things (1 Ti 6:13,17). He loves to bless His children. Matt 7:7-8

 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. NIV

Do you have a great need in your life today? Take a lesson from these two blind men and let the Lord know what you would like Him to do for you! I know He has the same compassion for you that he had for them. Have faith that He will give you what you need and then, most importantly, follow Him!

God bless you