Friday, April 27, 2007


Malachi 4. What A Difference A Day Makes

Some of us have recently had our car in for a scheduled check-up. Students have just recently or soon will be engaged in some check-ups called exams. And to prepare the way for further education, students have engaged in a check-up called the HSC, Bethany and Jacob Barker are engaged in that this year. And some of us have been to see our Doctors for our annual check-up. Check-ups are important. If we do them right and don’t play games, they are beneficial, healthy. As prophecy comes to a close in Scripture, God calls me in for a personal check-up. Malachi lived in a day when political leaders who professed to be believers violated God’s righteous expectations, abused their office and betrayed the public trust. Religious leaders were “professionals” who were out for what was in it for them. They had little time and little heart for God. And a depressingly large number of the ordinary folk who considered themselves religious had so bought into the pagan value system that for them God’s Promised Messiah was little more than a fairy tale. And in this setting the prophet looks back to the roots of the promise to Abraham and Moses and David, then forward to the fulfillment of the Promise–the awesome Day of the Lord, and he calls all who will hear him to engage in a personal checkup.
There was one question that is asked always and is asked today, as it was asked then: What’s the difference between the righteous and the wicked?”
I talked with our painter about that on Friday. Paul talked with a Roman governor about that in Acts 24 :24 After some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and listened to him on the subject of faith in Christ Jesus. 25 Now as he spoke about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix became afraid and replied, “Leave for now, but when I find time I’ll call for you.”
What’s the difference between the righteous and the wicked?”
First, there is a difference. Last week we saw that most in Malachi’s first audience were corrupt, vicious and arrogant. They called evil good, and good evil (3:13). They thought they were getting away with murder so they must be blessed. But God knew better. Now, there were also some in that first audience who “feared the LORD.” And Malachi, along with all the prophets, declares unequivocally that God knows the difference. And this one-of-a-kind, gracious God spares them like a man spares his own child. There IS a difference.
1. There Is A Difference In Destination
And there is going to be a difference. Some prophecy is prediction. And sometimes the prediction functions as a credential so “by this you shall know that the LORD has sent me...; for this is not my doing.” But often the prediction itself adds to the message– the teaching God has sent.
God says, “Look here! The day is coming.” (4.1) Malachi refers to this “day” in 3.17 “the day that I prepare my own possession.” Here in 4.1. Again in verses 3 and 5 “on that day when I do these things” and “that great and awesome day of the LORD.” He uses the same kind of language the prophet Joel uses
(Joel 2.11, 31). The Lord raises His voice in the presence of His army. His camp is very large; Those who carry out His command are powerful. Indeed, the Day of the Lord is terrible and dreadful— who can endure it? 30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.
For each of the prophets who speak about this “day of the LORD” it is “near” or “at hand.” As they saw it, it could happen at any time because they saw evidence that God was so engaged in their own day. And at the same time, they realized that there were aspects of this “day’ which were yet future when God would offer His Son to suffer for the sins of many and rise victorious over sin and death to reign in righteousness over all the nations.
Zech 14.1, A day of the Lord is coming when your plunder will be divided in your presence. 2 I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem for battle. The city will be captured, the houses looted, and the women raped. Half the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be removed from the city. 3 Then the Lord will go out to fight against those nations as He fights on a day of battle.
8-9 And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. 9 And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.
The prophets saw two sides to this “day.” On the one hand, it was a dark day for unrepentant rebels; a day when God holds the wicked accountable. The prophets use the metaphor of a “consuming fire.”3
But this same “great and awesome day of the LORD” is also a bright and glorious day. For believers, it is marked by the “sun of righteousness” who is a “light to the nations.”
Malachi speaks of him as the “messenger of the covenant” whom God would send (3:1). And 400 years later the Jewish priest, Zacharias, indicates that some in the Jewish community understood and believed this.Luke 1: 76 And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; 77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, 78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, 79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
He links Malachi’s “sun of righteousness” with the advent of Messiah that Isaiah 9 Galilee of the nations. 2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
The prophets saw this “day of the LORD” as one day with successive development over time until it reached its ultimate goal. The prophets are clear that the distinction is not between plaster saints and wretched ogres. We’re all sinners. It’s between arrogant self-righteousness on the one hand and repentance and faith in God’s gracious Promise on the other.
Check-up: So, Where do I stand? Am I responding to God’s taking the initiative to love me by loving him back with all my heart, all my soul, all my ability? Do I more and more consistently choose to renounce sin and accept His forgiveness and cleansing. Is my relationship with Him authentic? Do I belong to Him?
“For indeed, the day is coming, burning like a furnace, when all the arrogant and everyone who commits wickedness will become stubble. The coming day will consume them,” says the Lord of • Hosts, “not leaving them root or branches. 2 But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings, and you will go out and playfully jump like calves from the stall. 3 You will trample the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day I am preparing,” says the Lord of Hosts
Loel Stein, columnist for the Los Angeles Times said: Heaven is totally overrated. It seems boring. Clouds, listening to people play the harp. It should be somewhere you can’t wait to go, like a luxury hotel. Maybe blue skies and soft music were enough to keep people in line in the 17th century, but Heaven has to step it up a bit. They’re basically getting by only because they only have to be better than Hell.
2. There Is A Difference In Direction
I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. --2 Timothy 1:12
A Christian always lives for two days, this day and "that" day. Obviously, believers are to live for this day…the current day…the time God has given us here on earth to worship and serve Him. But we are also headed for an even bigger day: "that" day! Paul was using this term to refer to the time when Jesus Christ will come for us and we finally get to see Him face to face in all of His glory! What a glorious day that will be, the day when Christ returns for us and we get to be with Him for all eternity. So even though as Christians we live for this day, everything we do should be in preparation for that day when we will be with Christ. Our calling as believers is to obey God and live fully for Christ until the glorious day of His return. Are you preparing for Christ's return? If not, you can start today by living this day in light of that day.
4 “Remember the instruction of Moses My servant, the statutes and ordinances I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel.
So first: “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws that I gave him at Horeb for all Israel.” Malachi 4:4 Remember God’s Torah: His Instructions; God’s righteous expectations. Jesus said, “do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Matt 5:17-19 These instructions expose our rebellious heart and drive us to God’s Promised Messiah–our only hope. (Gal 3.22-24)
Now, in Hebrew “to remember” is not merely to recall or to think about the past. “Remember” is not synonymous with “action” but the two ideas are connected. Remembering implies doing. So, e.g., Nehemiah prays, “Remember me...O my God, and show mercy to me according to your great love.” Neh 13:22 Remembering implies doing something. Last week we saw the arrogant challenged for their disregard for God’s covenant expectations. God challenges me to check and see how I’m living in light of His righteous expectations.
Check-up: How is it going? In what ways am I “remembering” God’s Word? Is God’s Word a “lamp to my feet and a light to my path”? Am I consciously living before an audience of One. Does my life–my attitude, my values, my choices and behaviour give plausible evidence of a loving, personal relationship with Holy God? Does my behaviour, do my responses indicate that I love my neighbor as myself?
3. There Is A Difference In Dynamic
Look, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome Day of the Lord comes.
6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to [their]children and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise, I will come and strike the land with a curse.”
Malachi reminds his audience of the prophets, God’s spokespersons. Here he highlights a little different aspect of the role of God’s spokesperson: “Look here! I’m going to send you Elijah the prophet before that great and awesome day of the LORD comes. Presidents and prime ministers, kings and queens have “advance people” to get things ready for them. God would enlist an advance man for the Messiah.
This prophecy of Elijah’s coming has 2 dimensions to it. There is The First coming of Jesus prepared by the coming of Elijah. Though Malachi and his audience may not have known it at the moment, prophecy was over until God would send THE Prophet–God’s Ultimate Spokesman–Jesus. And just before He comes on the scene, God would send a spiritual descendant of Elijah to come and prepare the way for Messiah. For the prophet Malachi and his first audience and for the next 400 years they were looking for one who would prepare the way for the God’s Messiah to come the first time to pay a debt he did not owe in order to provide for you and me a gift we do not deserve. Still today, when observant Jews say grace at mealtime they pray “May God in His mercy send us the prophet Elijah.” After reading from the prophets on Sabbath they recite “Let us rejoice, O Lord, through your servant, the prophet Elijah, and through the kingdom of David, your Messiah. May he come soon and rejoice our hearts.” Elijah was known for his transformational leadership. He made a difference. He denounced rebellious idolatry and called for repentance–challenged his audience to turn their hearts back to the faith of Abraham and Isaac, of Moses and David–believers whose hearts sought after God.. And John also made a difference as an advance man for Jesus.
Luke 1: 16And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. 17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
So Jesus says of John the Baptist: “This is the one about whom it is written: 'I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.' I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist.... And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come.”
There is a Second Coming of Jesus prepared again by a coming of Elijah. Notice Malachi 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:
Notice there it is an end times event that is prophesied. In a very difficult piece of Scripture John writes:
Revelation 11:1 And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. 2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. 3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. 4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. 5 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. 6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. 7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. 8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. 9 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. 10 And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. 11 And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. 12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. 13 And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.
A couple of weeks ago in our midweek meeting we examined how Zechariah 2 and this passage fit together. It appears that maybe John the Baptist and Elijah will come back during the tribulation time as clear warning of the Lord’s powerful return to destroy His enemies.
The last word of Malachi is herem (ban, curse) which is something of a “downer” so scribes repeated v. 5 after v.6 so it doesn’t end so harshly. The LXX, the translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, also changes the order so our v. 4 is the last. However, the point Malachi makes is that unless God comes in grace and people respond by faith, He comes in judgment. There is no neutrality. The Bible tells us that God’s heart desire is that none should perish but that all should come to repentance.
So what does the promise of Jesus’ coming again have to do with how I live and interact and do business? The Apostle John wrote: “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.”
Time for a check-up: In what ways am I "preparing" for His coming? Is the fact that He promised He is coming again having any impact on my life? Am I living in light of His coming? Am I an effective advance man? In what ways am I preparing the way for Him to come again?
Advance people have an impact. Twelve years out of office, ex-VP Quayle is still America’s poster boy for a dumb politician because of what happened in Trenton on 15 June 1992. As reported in the Trentonian, that’s when he participated in a staged photo op: a spelling bee at the Mun~oz Rivera School. After being shown several activity centers at the school, he was taken to the multi-purpose room where the spelling bee was to take place. "What are we supposed to do?" he asked Keith Nahigian, the advance man who had prepared this little photo op. "Just sit there and read these words off some flash cards, and the kids will go up and spell them at the blackboard," the advance-man told the VP. "Has anyone checked the card?" another aide asked.
"Oh, yeah," responded Nahigian. "We looked at them and they’re just very simple words. No big deal." When Billy Figueroa’s turn came, the VP announced his word. Billy knew how to spell "potato," and he wrote it nice and legibly on the blackboard. Quayle looked at the blackboard, then at the card he had been given. Gently and quietly the VP told the boy, "You’re close, but you left a little something off. The e on the end." Hmmm. An advance man can have a significant impact! So listen: Just as God raised up those who would prepare the way for the Messiah to come the first time, He is raising up those who are preparing the way for His second coming. The question is: am I willing to be one of the Messiah’s “advance people” who seek to turn lost people toward the Savior and make ready for His appearing? Are you?

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Malachi 3 Repentance And Remembrance

7 “Since the days of your fathers, you have turned from My statutes; you have not kept [them]. Return to Me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Hosts. But you ask: “How can we return?” “Your words against Me are harsh,” says the Lord. Yet you ask: “What have we spoken against You?”
14 You have said: “It is useless to serve God. What have we gained by keeping His requirements and walking mournfully before the Lord of Hosts? 15 So now we consider the arrogant to be fortunate. Not only do those who commit wickedness prosper, they even test God and escape.”16 At that time those who feared the Lord spoke to one another. The Lord took notice and listened. So a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who feared Yahweh and had high regard for His name. 17 “They will be Mine,” says the Lord of Hosts, “a special possession on the day I am preparing. I will have compassion on them as a man has compassion on his son who serves him. 18 So you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.

1. Repentance

Repentance is biblical word. The Old Testament thunders, “repent and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin” Ezek 18:30.
The New Testament also vigorously exhorts men and women to repent Luke 13:3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as well!
Acts 3:19 Therefore repent and turn back, that your sins may be wiped out so that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,
Acts 17:30 Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God now commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because He has set a day on which He is going to judge the world in righteousness by the Man He has appointed. He has provided proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead.”
But this theme proclaimed so emphatically by prophets and apostles is scarcely ever mentioned by contemporary preachers. The clear trumpet blast calling men and women to repentance is conspicuous for its absence from the modern pulpit. We have preached the dignity of humanity rather than its depravity. We have declared our goodness rather than our wickedness. We have vindicated ourselves rather than confess our guilt.
God called to the people of Malachi’s day “Return to Me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Hosts. But you ask: “How can we return?” “Your words against Me are harsh,” says the Lord. Yet you ask: “What have we spoken against You?”
God told them once (Mal 3:7-12), and now He tells them again!
14 You have said: “It is useless to serve God. What have we gained by keeping His requirements and walking mournfully before the Lord of Hosts? 15 So now we consider the arrogant to be fortunate. Not only do those who commit wickedness prosper, they even test God and escape.”
Gone is the mourners bench, gone are the tear stained cheeks of godly sorrow for sin and gone is the joy in heaven over wanderers returning to the father’s house.
None of us wants to accept blame for our sins. But either the Bible is wrong or we are wrong.
What is repentance? God called Malachi to call on the people to repent.
“Return to Me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Hosts.”
Things could not be simpler. “Return to Me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Hosts.” But look at how we foul things up.
Repentance is not penance. Penance is the voluntary suffering of punishment for sin, and does not necessarily involve a change of conduct or character. They may do some religious rituals but this act does not mean that their guilt has been absolved.
Repentance is not remorse. Judas was remorseful over his sin of betrayal of the Son of God, but his shallow regret led to suicide instead of to God, because remorse is not true repentance.
Repentance is not self hatred. You may hate yourself for your sinfulness but staying there leads only to despair and self destruction.
There are three elements in genuine repentance.
First there is conviction. There is a conviction that you are going wrong. There is a conviction that you have lost your way.
On Palm Sunday, hundreds responded to Robert "Evel" Knievel's testimony by asking to be baptized on the spot. Knievel told the congregation in Orange County, California, how he had refused for 68 years to accept Jesus Christ as Lord. He believed in God, but he couldn't walk away from the gold and the gambling and the booze and the women. “I don't know why I fought it so hard," he said. "I just did”
But Knievel knew people were praying for him, including his daughter's church, his ex-wife's church, and the hundreds of people who wrote letters urging him to believe. And then something indescribable happened during Daytona Bike Week this March.
“I don't know what in the world happened. I don't know if it was the power of the prayer or God himself, but it just reached out, either while I was driving or walking down the sidewalk or sleeping, and it just—the power of God in Jesus just grabbed me. … All of a sudden, I just believed in Jesus Christ. I did, I believed in him! … I rose up in bed and, I was by myself, and I said, 'Devil, Devil, you bastard you, get away from me. I cast you out of my life.' … I just got on my knees and prayed that God would put his arms around me and never, ever, ever let me go.”
Evel Knieval had been going down the road the wrong way. He became convinced he was going the wrong way and needed to turn.
“Return to Me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Hosts.
Repentance is like that. Its like a sign saying “Go Back You Are going the wrong way.”
The second element of repentance is true contrition. Psalm 34:18 The Lord is near the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit.” “Repentance” Greek Metanoia, to think after.
2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly grief produces a repentance not to be regretted and leading to salvation, but worldly grief produces death.
This godly sorrow is not a shallow sentiment or an empty emotion> It is a sincere regret over past sins and an earnest desire to walk in a new path of righteousness. Matthew 26:75 and Peter remembered the words Jesus had spoken, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
Thirdly repentance carries the idea of changing; changing your mind, changing your attitudes, changing your ways. “Return to Me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Hosts.
1 Thessalonians 1:9 For they themselves report about us what kind of reception we had from you: how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
Repentance is turning from and turning to. Its turning to the Lord Jesus Christ as the only One who can save us.
It is a change of Saviour.
A fellow fell over the edge of a cliff, and on the way down grabbed onto a tree root. As he hung there, unable to move up and very unwilling to let go and fall down to his death, he called out
“is there anyone up there?”
“Can you help me?”
“Let go of the tree”
“Who is there?”
“is there anyone else there?”
So with salvation we are always keen to do what we can to get us to heaven. But the Lord says don’t hold on to your good works, Hold on to me. Let go of everything but the cross> Its what the Lord Jesus has done for us is enough to get us to heaven.
It is a change Of Lord.
It is a change from rubbishy religion to real relationship.
2. Remembrance
God Listens To Us The words, "Heard" and "Hearkened" means to "pick up the ear, to listen, give heed, and to pay attention." God was aware of their words of adoration, their walk of consecration, and their ways of separation. He had been observant and attentive of their faithful life.
God's Lists Us A book of remembrance was kept by God of their walk, ways, and words. God had kept a record of their commitment. It was an ancient custom of kings to keep a record of benefactor's names so that they might be given proper recognition.
Esther 6:1 "On that night could not the king sleep, and he commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king. And it was found written, that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's chamberlains, the keepers of the door, who sought to lay hand on the king Ahasueru."
God is keeping a record on each of us. Psa.56:8: "Thou tellest my wanderings: Put Thou my tears into Thy bottle: Are they not in Thy book?"
God Loves Us "And they shall be mine." We often joke about "claiming" someone. God unhesitatingly claimed these as His own. He declared, "They belong to me." They were a property and possession that He in which He was pleased and of which He was proud.
I Cor.6:19-20, "What? Know ye not that your body is the Temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God In your body, and in your spirit, which are Gods."
We belong to God by creation. He made us. We also belong to God by salvation. He saved us.
He Sees Us As His Precious Possession. He called them His "jewels." The word speaks of a treasured or precious possession. A king in a sense of the word owned everything over which he ruled. He owned every building, every farm, and all the lands. But in his palace he kept a treasure chest of his own in which he stored precious stones are other valuables. This was his treasured possession (jewels). This treasure chest was his "segullah" which is the word that is translated "jewels."
God loves everyone equally, but His faithful ones seem to hold a special place in His heart. It is not an act of favouritism on God's part, for He is no respecter of persons. But as we love all, there are some that are special to our heart; those who love Him and exalt Him in their life are "jewels."
17 “They will be Mine,” says the Lord of Hosts, “a special possession on the day I am preparing. I will have compassion on them as a man has compassion on his son who serves him.
17 And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.
"And they shall be mine."
The Psalmist declared in 58:11 "Verily there is a reward for the righteous..." God will bless and reward the faithful.
There is a Difference
Judgment was about to fall on the ungodly. But when that judgment fell, the righteous and faithful would be delivered. It is a promise of God's protection. They were called "sons" Just as an earthly father watches over his son, our Heavenly Father watches over His children.
18 Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.
Repentance is always the first step towards revival. Rick Warren.

Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.

There is A Destiny

Next week as we llok at Malacho 4 we will see how there is a day of judgement coming. There is a separation of those who know the Lord and those who don't.
There are two destonies, and the issue is repentance.

Today you may be feeling that you repented once 40 years ago, and have no further need of repentance. Repentance is the every day, day by day normal christian life. You need to repent each day.The Lord says to you "Return to me and I will return to you. In James 4 it says Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
You have as much need today to pray a prayer of repentace as the person who has never prayed it. So I invite you to praqy with me now...

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Erasmus On Contentions

as Erasmus once said "I think one gets further by courtesy and moderation than by clamour. That was how Christ brought the world under His sway.... We must take pains to say nothing out of arrogance or faction, for I think the Spirit of Christ would have it so. We must keep our minds above the corruption of anger or hatred or of ambition; for it is this that lies in wait for us when our religious zeal is in full course. May the Lord Jesus ever more richly endue you with His Spirit every day for His own glory and the good of mankind" To Luther May 30 1519.
Again to Luther he wrote on August 1 1520 "It is a serious matter to challenge men who cannot be overthrown without a major upheaval. And I fear upheavals of that kind all the more, because they so often burst out in a different direction from what was intended. If a man lets in the sea it is not in his power to control where it should go. .. I wish you could write a treatise on some part of Holy Scripture and keep personal feelings out of it. It may be in the meantime that this turmoil will die down."

Proverbs 11:12 Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.

To speak with grace you need grace in your heart.
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." cf Col. 3:16
Before your speech can be "alway with grace," you need grace in your heart!
"A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh." cf Luke 6:45

Wednesday, April 18, 2007



I noticed today that someone googled my web site looking for help with a problem like this "I've done things that I cant tell my husband about because he wouldn't forgive me, do I run away and get a new identity? or do I commit suicide?"

That is a deeply distressing and depressing problem.

I am very upset for the woman experiencing this sort of a problem.

There are some very important things to note:
1. That the first relationship that needs to be dealt with is between this woman and God.

There is forgiveness with God.

John 3:16 is still as true today as when the event happened 2000 years ago:

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

2. That unless we receive pardon from the Lord Jesus Christ we stand under God's wrath for our sins.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

We see that we are all condemned unless we accept the pardon that is offered in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

God doesn't want you to be lost. He sent His Son to die for you.
God wants you to experience His pardon and forgiveness.

1John 1:7 .. the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

3. You need to come to Him and receive that forgiveness and pardon.
Jesus said Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

John 1:11-13 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

4. There is forgiveness with God, and eternal life. And the Lord wants to restore your life now as well. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

The Lord Jesus comes into our lives and renews us from within when we receive Him as our Saviour and Lord.

You definitely need to take this step right now.

Pray "Dear Lord, I have really messed things up real bad. I know I am sinful and wrong. I know I've done a lot to make you angry with me. Thank you for loving me any way. Thank you that the Lord jesus christ died on teh cross for my sins so I can have eternal life. Please come into my life. please forgive me my sins. please restore me. make me new. In Jesus' name, Amen."

Your second problem is with the things you've done.
Those things need to be stopped.
Make some changes that will make you a better person. Find out how to do that by reading God's Word each day. He'll direct your paths. trust Him to help you.

Your third problem is being the sort of person that your husband can love and respect. Make a new start today. If ever your past comes out, then be the sort of woman now that he can trust then.

Make those things right that are wrong.

A good conscience is a wonderful wonderful thing.

Suicide? Its NEVER an option. You'll hurt you family and your friends deeply. There is no agony like the agony of grief for those who suicide. There is no shame greater than that which a child or a parent feels when their loved commits suicide. It never helps any problems and only makes matters much much worse. And those who suffer, suffer for many many long years. Their lives are ruined.
If you still feel that way.. write to me here (my email is on the top left corner)... or talk to a pastor near you at home.

We care, we'll help as much as we can.

But do that now.



What does the Bible say about tongues?

By Jimmy Draper

EDITORS' NOTE: Today is the second day in a week-long series of columns on biblical
doctrine by former LifeWay Christian Resources President Jimmy Draper. The series
coincides with "Baptist Doctrine Study" week within the Southern Baptist Convention.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Recently there's been much discussion about the issue of
tongues in Southern Baptist life. I know individuals who believe in the gift of
tongues and know that they love the Lord and His Word. So with what I write I am not
attacking anyone. I only endeavor to summarize the scriptural teaching on this

Primary passages in two books -- Acts and 1 Corinthians -- describe the gift of
tongues. One resulted in thousands being saved, the other in confusion and problems
in the church. In Acts 2 the apostles and about 120 other disciples were gathered in
a room near the temple when the Holy Spirit filled these believers and they began to
praise God in other languages. People had gathered from 15 different provinces, yet
each person heard the words of praise to God spoken in his or her own dialect.

In Acts 10, Cornelius -- the first Gentile convert -- had a similar experience but
without all of the supernatural manifestations. Several years later in the city of
Ephesus the Apostle Paul met 12 believers in Christ who had been led to the Lord by
a follower of John the Baptist. They had an incomplete understanding of the Gospel,
so Paul instructed them, baptized them and placed his hands upon them. The Holy
Spirit came upon them and they spoke with languages and prophesied (19:6).

Each of these instances involved individuals speaking in a known language they had
not learned. Their speaking was understood by those who heard them. No evidence is
found that anyone sought or prayed for the gift of speaking in other languages.
Every occurrence was the spontaneous work of the Holy Spirit. The fact that this
phenomenon was not mentioned in all of the other great experiences recorded in Acts
shows its lack of importance as an ongoing ministry.

The emphasis in Acts is not on the gift of tongues, but the filling of the Holy
Spirit in believers. That filling revealed the continuous control that the Holy
Spirit exercised over the disciples so they could witness in power (1:8).

In the 22 books of the New Testament that follow Acts, only 1 Corinthians mentions
tongues. These 22 books contain 143 chapters, yet only three chapters make any
reference to this gift, and only one chapter treats the subject in detail. Whatever
we may deduct from this, it certainly means that speaking in tongues was not a major
factor in the spread of the Gospel or in the practice of the apostolic church.

Additionally, when Paul listed the spiritual gifts in Romans 12 and Ephesians 4, he
did not mention speaking in tongues. Believing that the Holy Spirit has inspired
every word of the Bible as He spoke through the writers, we must conclude that the
gift of tongues was either not a matter of importance, or that it was not practiced
by the Christians in Rome, Ephesus and elsewhere.

In the three chapters in 1 Corinthians several things emerge regarding gifts that
need to be noted. No one is left out. Everyone is given a spiritual gift or gifts.
They are not rewards for spiritual maturity and achievement. It is not the normative
experience for all believers. Chapter 12 clearly teaches that the gifts are divinely
distributed and work for the good of the entire body of believers. They are designed
to prepare a people to function as a witnessing community.

Another thing is abundantly clear in this passage. The abuse of tongues was a
problem in the church in Corinth. Care was given to regulate and restrict the use of
tongues in the church and not to encourage their use. Clearly it teaches that no
believer has all of the gifts and none of them are equated with the infilling of the
Holy Spirit. Paul used a distinctive negative participle in all of the questions
asked in 1 Corinthians 12:29-30 which indicates that the answer to each one was
"no." None of these gifts is bestowed upon all, nor are all bestowed upon any one
individual. The great apostle concludes in verse 31 that the Corinthian believers
should "desire the greater gifts. And I will show you an even better way." The
better way is love, according to chapter 13.

In chapter 14, Paul provides restrictions for the use of the gift of tongues and
in-depth instruction on how to correct abuses found in the church. The key is found
in the last verse of this chapter when we read, "But everything must be done
decently and in order."

Paul noted something positive about the gift of tongues, but each time he did so he
followed the positive with a qualifying statement. For instance, he wrote in verse
four that tongues edifies only the person speaking, but follows that with the better
alternative. It is best, he wrote, to do what builds the body of believers. In verse
five he expressed a desire that all of the Corinthian believers should speak with
other languages, but he desired even more for them to prophesy. That is, he wanted
them to expound the Word of God in a language that was understandable. Paul saw this
act of proclaiming the Gospel as being far superior to speaking in other languages.
Though he spoke in languages more than those in Corinth, he wrote that he would
rather speak five words with understanding than 10,000 in another language

Careful restrictions were given on the exercise of the gift of tongues in these
chapters. Here are just a few. The gift of tongues should not be exercised in the
presence of unbelievers (14:23). Only one person at a time is to speak and not more
than three in one service and an interpreter must always be present (14:27). This
must not cause confusion among believers (14:33). Women are not to speak in tongues
at any time in the church (14:34-35). This was probably because it would be too
similar to the temple prostitutes' ecstatic frenzies as they practiced their pagan,
immoral rituals. In no way does this mean that women cannot teach or speak in
church. That issue was settled in 1 Corinthians 11:3-10 when Paul gave instructions
to the women as to how they were to dress when they prayed or prophesied in the

One thing is clear: pre-occupation with tongues-speaking is childish (14:20). It was
a problem with the immature and carnal Christians in Corinth. These chapters were
not given to recruit people to speak in tongues, but to correct, control and
restrict the use of the gift.

All spiritual gifts are divinely bestowed by our sovereign God. He can give the
gifts as He pleases and to whom He pleases. No one can "develop" a gift or be
"taught" how to exercise a gift. This gift must not be a test of fellowship, but it
must be restricted and regulated by Scripture under the authority of the ministers
of the church. It should not be a reason for disfellowship unless the one practicing
the gift uses it in a way that promotes confusion and disharmony.

We must remember that nowhere in Scripture is anyone commanded to speak in tongues.
Gifts are sovereignly bestowed individually by God. The church must be a ministering
church expressing love as the greatest gift, "the even better way."
Jimmy Draper is the former president of LifeWay Christian Resources.

Monday, April 16, 2007


Prayer Opens Doors and Opens Hearts Col 4:2

Colossians 4:2-6. “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.
In 1886, John R. Mott was in sitting in a crowd gathered in Northfield, Massachusetts when the Holy Spirit electrified him for the lost through the preaching of D. L. Moody. Moody called for 100 men to step forward for missions. John Mott left his seat to stand forth.
As God refined this call on Mott’s life, it became clear that the mission field for him would be college campuses. For the rest of his life, John Mott devoted himself to the salvation and spiritual growth of college students. Simultaneous to this, he passionately worked toward the unifying of various denominations for the sake of advancing the Gospel globally. God granted John Mott amazing inroads internationally. Governments and religious leaders around the world were influenced toward cooperation, and because of this, John Mott was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize of 1946.
For all his achievements, Mott was bold to make one thing clear. These are his words: “More important than the most earnest thinking about a problem, more important than a personal interview to influence an individual, more important than addressing and swaying an audience—far more important than these and all other forms of activity is the act of coming into vital communion with God. It is indeed true that he that saveth his time for prayer shall lose it. And he that loseth his time for communion with God shall find it again in added blessing and power and fruitfulness.” John Mott not only believed prayer was a weapon in the hands of the saints, he acted on that belief.
Graham Scroggie, who had the unenviable task of being a pastor and preacher in England during that nation’s hardening against Christianity, once said, “One of the greatest mistakes that a Christian can make is to imagine that increased social or spiritual activity can be any compensation for the lack of…communion with God. There’s time for business, time for pleasure, time for social and Christian service, but no time for that exercise which would give to all these, and other things, power and effect. The simple fact is, we must find time for prayer or we shall perish.”
2 Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving. 3 At the same time, pray also for us that God may open a door to us for the message, to speak the mystery of the Messiah—for which I am in prison— 4 so that I may reveal it as I am required to speak.
12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a slave of Christ Jesus, greets you. He is always contending for you in his prayers, so that you can stand mature and fully assured in everything God wills. 13 For I testify about him that he works hard for you, for those in Laodicea, and for those in Hierapolis.
Right now, the Gospel is sweeping the globe at a rate that is unimaginable. Avery Willis, the VP of the 5000 strong IMB, has reported that statistically, most of the people who have ever been saved in history were saved during the 20th Century. Willis suggested as high as 70% of the total number of people who have been saved throughout world history have come to Christ in the last hundred years.
But get this: 70% of that number has been saved since 1945! Let me boggle your mind with one other layer of observation from this world missions expert: 70% of those saved since 1945 were saved since 1990! That’s how fast the Gospel is storming our world. That means that at the turn of the 21st Century, possibly one-third of all Christians who have ever lived have been converted since 1990!
What does that look like? In Nepal, just 2000 Christians were known in 1990; ten years later that number had grown to half a million. Cambodia claimed only 600 believers in 1990; there is a reported 60,000 today. In Korea during the 20th Century, the country advanced from being 2% Christian to about 40% Christian today. East Africa is experiencing one of the greatest movements of God in history. In Uganda alone, HIV/AIDS once claimed the lives of one-third of the population. The World Health Organization predicted the complete collapse of the Ugandan economy by the year 2000.
But revival has come to that country. With the salvation of many has come a transformation in morals, so that AIDS is down to 5%. So great is this revival that one church alone went from 7 in attendance to an average of 2000 in just two weeks! Currently, that same church as a membership of 22,000 and has planted 150 other churches.
In almost every quarter of the globe, Christianity is advancing…except for four primary areas: North America, Japan, Australia, and Western Europe. Guess what one of the common denominators is everywhere Christianity marches forward? Christians spend time in prayer together. Track what God is doing in Korea, in China, in India, in Eastern Africa, and you will find behind the scenes prayer meetings.
I can’t imagine living without it. Can you imagine how things would be if Jesus said.. OK Here’s what I want you to do. Give your life. Spread the news of grace and forgiveness. Change the world! And by the way… you are on your own. I have great plans… but I am fresh out of POWER.
Some of say, No problem. We can pretend…. That’s what we do… God says of one early congregation… “You have all the forms right … but you don’t have the power!”
Let me tell you about a lady in South Florida, who learned to live without electrical power…
When a hurricane hit South Florida, Norena's home was one of many that was severely damaged. The elderly woman received an insurance settlement, and the repair work began. However, when the money ran out, so did the contractor, leaving an unfinished home with no electricity. Norena has been living without power ever since.
The astounding part of this story is that the hurricane was not Katrina, but Andrew. Hurricane Andrew struck in 1992. Norena has been living in that dark, unfinished house for 15 years. No heat when the winter chill settled over South Florida. No air conditioning when the mercury climbed into the 90's and the humidity clung to 100 percent. Not one hot shower.
Without money to finish the repairs, Norena just got by with a small lamp and a single burner. Her neighbors didn't seem to notice the absence of power. Acting on a tip, the mayor of Miami-Dade got involved. It only took a few hours of work by electrical contractor Kent Crook to return power to the house. CBS News says Norena plans to let the water get really hot, and then take her first bubble bath in a decade and a half. "It's hard to describe having [the electricity]…to switch on," she said. "It's overwhelming."
As tragic as that may seems, it is even more tragic to think about the people – perhaps in this very auditorium this morning – who settle for the same powerless kind of living when it comes to how they live from day to day. Powerless on the interior
Objects: An electric power strip with multiple outlets (the kind that computers and appliances are plugged into). One or two appliances and a light.
Experience: Hold up the power strip for everyone to see and say: "You have all seen one of these. We use power strips to plug computers or appliances into." Then plug one or two appliances and lights into the strip. Finally, plug the power strip into itself and attempt to turn on the lights and appliances. When they don't turn on, ask, "Why won't this work?"
"Well, obviously it won't work because the power strip doesn't have any electrical power in itself. It has to plug into an electrical outlet in order to bring any power to the other appliances." Then, unplug the power strip from itself and into a wall outlet so that the appliances and lights turn on.
1. Prayer involves Dedication to the task
"devote" - to be strong toward - (present tense - continually) Men ought always to pray. Devotion Intensity Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance but laying hold of His willingness.
Drive by prayers? No Watch and pray
Amy’s car, has been a worry. One day it wouldn’t start. Took it to auto electrician at Charlestown, it stopped on way up the hill! Finally got there, bought a new battery and brought it back to the car. Got vcar to auto electrician and found out it wasn’t the battery. It was the connection. The wires that connected the battery to the car, both looked like they were connected but the positive terminal was loose – I could move it from back and forth with my hand. He cleaned the contacts, tightened it up good and tight. …. And never had another problem. Without a good connection were going nowhere.
The auto electrician was happy. Amy was happy, but my wallet wasn’t. I had bought a new battery when I didn’t need one.
The sustaining and transforming power of God is more than enough for anything you will ever need. The only question is: do you have a good tight connection?
7 days without prayer makes one weak!
2. Prayer involves Discipline
"keeping alert in it" - word means "to stay awake" - to be spiritually alert.
Sensitivity, be alert in prayer. Watching
Don’t become blasé about people. Care for people
Pray for people each day. Everybody has a hole in the heart.
All of their lives getting and doing being and then nothing.
We need to break up fallow ground through prayer before proclamation.
- it is easy to "fall asleep" spiritually - cf. Matt. 26:36-46 - Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He told the disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. 38 Then He said to them, “My soul is swallowed up in sorrow—to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with Me.” 39 Going a little farther, He fell facedown and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” 40 Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping. He asked Peter, “So, couldn’t you stay awake with Me one hour? 41 Stay awake and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, Your will be done.” 43 And He came again and found them sleeping, because they could not keep their eyes open. 44 After leaving them, He went away again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. 45 Then He came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the time is near. The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Get up; let’s go! See—My betrayer is near.”
Two things emphasized in Matt. 26:41:
a. The Purpose of discipline "that you may not enter into temptation"
b. The Problem in discipline "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak"

3. Prayer involves Delight in what God is doing and allowing "in thanksgiving"
Thanksgiving in prayer is our way of saying thank you for answering prayers in the past.
It’s a marker of how God has worked in past days that shows us the future days.
Paul in a great storm on way to Rome, acts 27:35 After he said these things and had taken some bread, he gave thanks to God in the presence of them all, and when he had broken it, he began to eat. 36 They all became encouraged and took food themselves. 37 In all there were 276 of us on the ship.
4. Prayer Involves What God is Doing
(twice - "in order that") Pray For An Open Door
Colossians 4:3 - “And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.”
Acts 14:27 - “On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.”
1 Corinthians 16:9 - “But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.”
How do we put ourselves into a position to experience Christ’s “open door?”
Open doors come from Jesus, not us (Revelation 3:7). “The Holy One, the True One, the One who has the key of David, who opens and no one will close, and closes and no one opens
Jesus says about Himself, “I am the True One.”
Jesus says about Himself, “I have the authority.”
If the door to reaching people is to be open for us, it will take Jesus Christ to open it.
God is the one Who "opens" doors! - None of us have the ability or the techniques to do this!
That's why we need prayer! Only God can do it!
70% became Christians because someone personally invited them to become a Christian.
We are so afraid of saying the wrong thing we say nothing.
Easier to be a teaser use bait, rather than be a closer. To close the deal.
Pray For Open Hearts
Acts 16:13 On the Sabbath day we went outside the city gate by the river, where we thought there was a place of prayer. We sat down and spoke to the women gathered there. 14 A woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God, was listening. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was spoken by Paul.
1 Tim 2:1-4 First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, 2 for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Pray For An Open Mouth
For clear speech. Most don’t now how to help others become Christians.
In Colossians 4:12 the apostle Paul describes Epaphras as "a servant of Christ Jesus". He is mentioned only three times in the New Testament – in Colossians 1:7-8; 4:12-13 and Philemon 23. He was a native of Colosse and a zealous worker for the Lord; through his ministry many of his fellow-countrymen had been converted, and thus the church at Colosse had been founded. In this church, as well as in the assemblies at Laodicea and Hierapolis, Epaphras exercised a pastoral and a teaching ministry (Colossians 4:12-13).
EPAPHRAS WAS A BELOVED FELLOW-WORKER In Colossians 1:7 the apostle describes Epaphras as his "dear fellow-servant". There was a special reason for referring to him in this way. At the time this epistle was written Epaphras was with Paul in prison, and he had visited Paul to seek his advice and counsel concerning errors which were creeping into the church at Colosse. But he did not only seek help, for without doubt he gave much help to Paul, comforting him and ministering to him in a number of different ways. What a great privilege it was for Epaphras to minister to God's honoured, suffering apostle, and how natural that Paul should feel a deep affection for Epaphras!
EPAPHRAS WAS A FAITHFUL MINISTER OF CHRIST He was undoubtedly a successful servant of the Lord – but Paul emphasises that he was "a faithful minister of Christ" (Colossians 1:7). Can there be a greater commendation than this?
Colossians 4:12 tells us this. We should all be men and women of prayer, though some may be specially called to a ministry of prayer, as Epaphras evidently was. Notice the three characteristics of Epaphras' praying:-
It was PERSISTENT prayer – "always…" Is not this where we so frequently fail? We give up, instead of holding on.
It was AGONISING prayer – "wrestling…" or, quite literally, "striving in an agony…" Here is the idea of intensity in prayer Acts 20:31Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for three years I did not stop warning each one of you with tears.
It was INTELLIGENT prayer – "that you may stand firm, in all the will of God, mature and fully assured." What need there is for such Spirit-taught praying –Romans 8:26In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings


Malachi 3:10

Have you robbed God? You need to know the answer to this question, because despite what you might think, you can steal from Him! Handle your finances the wrong way, and God will say that you have taken what is His. Handle them the right way, and God has real blessings in store.
God is very much interested in your finances. D on't worry, He doesn't want your money. He surely doesn't need your money. No, Psalm 24 says, "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof." God says in Psalm 50 that if He were hungry, He wouldn't come to you. If He were truly hungry, nothing you could produce could begin to fill Him up. Don't get the idea now that somehow God is broke, or that He is in financial difficulty. But this God who has everything He will ever need is very interested in your finances. Just read the Bible and you'll see how interested He is. Of the 38 recorded parables told by Jesus Christ, 16 deal with man's use of finances: how he secures his money, saves his money, spends his money, or shares his money. As a matter of fact, one out of every ten verses in the Gospels deals with personal finances. Over and over again, God speaks to us about money and possessions because He knows that "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matt. 6:21). There are about 500 verses in the Bible about prayer. There are about 500 verses in the Bible about faith. But, my dear friend, there are some 2,000 verses in the Bible about our personal possessions.
The devil is also very interested in your finances. Satan knows that if he can trap you into financial bondage, he can bring wreck and ruin into your life.
Finally, the third person who is, or should be interested in your finances is you. If you say you are not, perhaps you are not telling the truth. You are interested, and well you should be, because God expects you to be a good steward of what He has placed in your hands. ? If you want to honor God with your finances, I will give you four steps right out of His Word.
1. Recognize Your Failure
Step one is a painful step. You must recognize your failure. You cannot get right until you recognize where you are wrong. In Malachi 3:9, God says that some people are "cursed with a curse." That curse is financial bondage. Do you use mastercard for some daily expenditures because you don't have enough money?
Do you find yourself putting off paying bills for lack of money? Do you find yourself unaware of just how much you do owe? Do you have creditors and bill collectors calling or writing you about past due bills? Do you make new loans to pay off old ones? Do you ever argue over finances with your spouse? Have you ever even thought about being dishonest about money? Do you find it difficult to return God's tithe? Maybe none of this is you! You can still be in financial slavery. Its not what you own but what owns you! Ecclesiastes 5:10, "He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver." You can be in financial bondage when you spend your time worrying over your wealth. Proverbs 15:6 says, "In the house of the righteous is much treasure: but in the revenues of the wicked is trouble." You can be in financial bondage when you become a slave to your money. Proverbs 23:4 says, "Labour not to be rich." Maybe that's your problem: gold is your god. Or maybe you are in financial bondage because you have plenty in the bank, but you're poor toward heaven, destitute in the eyes of God. Proverbs 23:5: "Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven." How do you break out of financial bondage? Malachi 3:7. God says, "Return unto me, and I will return unto you." O.S. Hawkins said, "The principle hindrance to the advancement of the kingdom of God is greed. It is the chief obstacle to heaven sent revival. It’s seems that when the back of greed is broken, the human spirit soars into regions of unselfishness. I believe that it is safe to say there can be no continuous revival without ‘hilarious’ giving. And I fear no contradiction: wherever there is ‘hilarious’ giving there will soon be revival!"

2. Renew Your Fellowship .
If you want financial freedom, just return to God. I want to remind you that it is not your money that God really wants. It is you. God needs absolutely nothing from you, but He desires your love and devotion. Psalm 50:12. God says, "If I were hungry I would not tell thee, for the world is mine and the fullness thereof." God loves you for yourself, not for what you have. God wants you. Return to Him and He will return to you. Also, don't give your money without giving of yourself. If you think that I am trying to somehow wrestle money out of you, you are so wrong. God neither needs nor wants what is not freely and gladly given. 5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God. 2 Cor 12:14 for I seek not yours, but you: A lot of people who are trying to get right with God never get right financially. So they never really get right. The kind of repentance that has never reached the purse has never reached the heart.
"Ye have robbed Me." How have we robbed You, Lord? How have we robbed Him? "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed Me. But ye say, 'Wherein have we robbed thee?' In tithes and offerings."
Men and women today rob God by withholding their tithes and offerings. Most of us will never get a gun and a mask and go in and rob a bank. I heard about a man once who tried. He shoved a note to the teller which said, "This is a robbery. I've got a gun on you, put all of your money in a bag and slide it over." She wrote him a note and sent it back to him which said, "Straighten your tie, they're taking your picture."
God is taking your picture. You can fool your friends and your church. You may even be able to fool your spouse. But you can't fool God. He knows and He is taking your picture. When you fail to return the tithe, you do rob God.

3. Release Your Finances
there is a definite proportion that He asks you to bring. "Christians are under grace,'' they say, "not under the Law." But look at this: when Jacob decided to give a tenth of everything to God, he did so long before the Mosaic Law was ever recorded. In fact, Abraham, the brightest star in the Hebrew heaven, gave tithes to the priest Melchizedek 400 years before Moses and the Mosaic Law. Melchizedek was a picture and a type of the Lord Jesus Christ. Abraham tithed before the Law. In Matthew 23:23 Jesus said: "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone." May I say this about the tithe? Abraham commenced it. Jacob continued it. Moses commanded it. Jesus commended it. Who am I to cancel it?
there is a designated place "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him" (1 Cor. 16:2).
there is a determined purpose. What is the purpose? That there may be meat in God's house. In other words we give in order to sustain His work.

4. Restore Your Fruitfulness
God will renew our faith,
Many people say, "I just can't grow in my Christian life. I wonder why I'm not growing. I wonder why I don't have more faith. Why is it when I pray the heavens are like brass? Why is it I don't understand the Bible?" Just get right with God in your finances. In Luke 16:10 Jesus said, "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is also unjust in much." Here, the least means material things, and the much means spiritual things. "If you've not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches" (v. 11).
He will rebuke your foes. Malachi 3:11: Proverbs 3:9-10 says: "Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine."
"Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete it shall be measured to you again" (Luke 6:38).

A young man had come to his first church after seminary, in view of a call as Pastor. When he met with the Pastor Search Team for his first interview, the Chairman asked "Young man, what do you consider to be the greatest aspect of your ministry - what is your greatest strength?" The candidate replied, "Well, Sir, in all humility, I expect my greatest strength would be my extremely clear knowledge and great depth of understanding of God's Word, the Bible." "Which part of the Bible do you know the best?" another team member asked. "Well, Ma'am, I suspect I know the N.T. the best," he answered. "OK, son," said the chairman, "suppose you share with us your understanding of the Gospel of Jesus from the N.T."
The young man began, "Well, it goes something like this: There once was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, who went down to Jericho by night and fell on thorny ground, and the thorns pretty near choked him half to death! The next morning Solomon and his wife Gomorrah came by and saw him and picked him up and took him down to the Ark so Moses could take care of him. But as they were about to enter the Ark from the Eastern Gate, he got his hair caught in a tree and he hung there for 40 days and 40 nights. Afterward he was ahungered, and the ravens came and fed him with two fishes and five loaves. The following morning three wise men came by and opened their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Then they took him down to the boat dock and put him on a boat to Nineveh. A great storm arose and capsized the ship, but God caused a huge whale to swallow him for three days and nights, then spit him back out on the shore. Now when he approached the city, he saw Delilah sitting on the city wall. So he called out to the boys on the wall, and said "Chuck her down, boys!" So they answered and said, "How many times should we chuck her down, till seven times?" And he answered and said unto them, "Nay, verily, I say unto you, NOT till seven times, but seventy times seven!" So they chucked her down 490 times! And she burst asunder in their midst, and they gathered up of the fragments twelve baskets full. So I ask you, In the resurrection, whose wife shall she be?"
Well, the chairman of the Pastor Search Team sat their a moment, scratching his head, then looked at the other team members and said "Folks, I realize he's young -- BUT HE SHORE KNOWS HIS BIBLE!"

Saturday, April 07, 2007


TWO Secret Disciples Who Met Jesus and had a second chance .. (JOHN 19: 31-42)

Dr. Wilbur Smith has said, “We know more about the burial of Jesus than we do of any other person in ancient history.”
The Lord Jesus was crucified at about 9 am Good Friday morning. This evening is the early evening of the Jewish day which is 3 P.M. to 6 P.M., the closing out of the day, the Sabbath day will begin around 6 P.M. and run from evening to evening. And so it is three in the afternoon on Friday. It is the early evening. A very important note. By 3 P.M. Jesus was dead.
And then following that they would give what Edersheim calls "the death stroke." And they would ram a spear into the heart. The idea was to cause the victim to die immediately. And therefore take the body down off the cross and maintain the sacredness of the Sabbath. The spear wound, by the way, was so deep in Him that He could say to Thomas at a later time, "Thrust thy hand into My side and be not faithless but believing," when Thomas needed assurance that this indeed was the risen Christ. By the way, the blood and water show that He was truly human and they also show that He was truly dead...truly dead.
Now once this happened the body had to be taken off the cross. And when taken off the cross it would be thrown into a common criminal's grave. And it's very likely that that would be a pit somewhere where they threw the criminals or it might be Gehenna, the valley of Hinnom, where the city dump in Jerusalem was and they might have just throw the bodies there to be consumed by the always smoldering fire or to be ripped and shredded and eaten by wild animals. The Romans customarily did nothing more than throw the bodies of criminals into pits to be burned or eaten by scavengers. And that was what would have been assigned to Jesus. Isaiah 53 says in verse 9 He would be assigned with the wicked in His death...but He would wind up with the rich.
How would this happen? And who would care for His body? The disciples were all fled. Even John doesn't seem to be around at this particular time. And certainly the rest haven't shown their faces at all. And the women don't have any resource to bury Jesus Christ, they're from Galilee, they don't have any grave in the city of Jerusalem. Who is going to care for this? And how fast it must be cared for so that Jesus should be in the grave by six o'clock so that He can be there part of Friday because by His own prophecy He has to be in the ground three days. And so, God the Father in a miraculous and marvelous way moves on the heart of a man, and we pick the scene up in verse 57 right where God would have us pick it up, "When the evening," that is when it came to be between three and six, "was come, there came a...what kind of man?...a rich man."
The only thing we know about Arimathea is a statement made by Luke in chapter 23 verse 51 that Arimathea was a city of the Jews. Now that designation puts it in Judea rather than Galilee. Galilee was known as Galilee of the Gentiles because it had been populated by so many Gentiles from other surrounding areas. But Judea, the southern part, was distinctively Jewish, so when it says it was a city of the Jews it is to say it was in Judea.
Now we assume that it was in great proximity to the city of Jerusalem because the fact is that Joseph of Arimathea had his own grave in there, in the city, right outside the city--I should say--of Jerusalem where he would put Christ eventually. So we assume that he wouldn't have lived very far from there. Many Bible scholars feel that the Arimathea is just a form of the old word Ramah which is the city from which Samuel came approximately three or four miles north of Jerusalem, which is very likely.
Still. Cold. Death has claimed its greatest trophy. He is not asleep or resting or comatose; he is dead. No air in his lungs. No thoughts in his brain. No feeling in his limbs. His body is lifeless.
The executioners made sure of it. When Pilate learned that Jesus was dead, he asked the soldiers if they were certain. They were. Had they seen the Nazarene twitch, had they heard even one moan, they would have broken his legs to speed his end. But there was no need. The thrust of a spear removed all doubt. The Romans knew their job. And their job was finished. They pried loose the nails, lowered his body, and gave it to Joseph and Nicodemus. Joseph of Arimathea. Nicodemus the Pharisee.
" And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified, there was a garden ; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day ; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand." The funeral was over ; the two men stood before the tomb. They had known a long, grim struggle ; and although they had suffered many setbacks, their courage had ultimately triumphed gloriously.

When You Meet Jesus You Might Find Cowardice In Your Heart.
John 3:1 seems to be their story: There was a man from the • Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Him at night and said, “• Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher, for no one could perform these signs You do unless God were with him.” 3 Jesus replied, “• I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus and Joseph had one thing in common—they looked for the Messiah. It would appear that whereas the ruler of the synagogue was governed by intellect, Joseph of Arimathea was ruled by his heart. One man was pre-eminently a thinker—the teacher of Israel; the other was an honourable counsellor, of whom all men spoke well. We know that the teacher visited Christ under cover of darkness. Probably aware that Daniel had foretold the time of Messiah's coming, and that the stipulated time had already elapsed, Nicodemus wanted to know if Jesus of Nazareth were the Messiah. Thus he planned his night visit (John 3). We do not know how Joseph first made contact with Christ. Possibly he stood on the edge of a crowd and heard the greatest sermon of his life. He saw also the sick being healed, and his doubts were instantly dispelled. Confidence was born in the hearts of both men, yet neither of them had the courage to make open confession of his faith. Nicodemus carefully preserved the secret of his visit to Jesus ; and of Joseph, the Scriptures declare that he was " a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews" (John 19:38).
Nicodemus had come to Jesus once before, at night. He was like many today, fearful to really own Christ. Why they know of Him. They have even met Him! But own Jesus publicly? No let them visit at night for awhile. When no one need see nor know.
Why be known as a fanatic? Why lose the prestige they had gained. Why suffer mocking from friends? No Jesus could wait. He was happy with a part discipleship.
And Joseph was somewhat the same John 19:38 After this, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus—but secretly because of his fear of the Jews
Although it had been close. Nicodemus had almost nailed his colours to the mast!
On one occasion it is recorded that Nicodemus made an attempt to support Christ. When the conference chamber was in an uproar; when the Sanhedrin was incensed because the officers of the law had failed to bring in their prisoner; when tempers were frayed, and anger threatened violence, " Nicodemus saith unto them. . . . Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth? They answered and saith unto him. Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet" (John 7:50-52). Nicodemus remained silent. His intellectual capabilities might have provided a glorious defence for Jesus, but rather than risk the animosity of his fellow rulers, he withdrew into obscurity. At a later meeting, when the council decided to crucify the Lord, " Joseph did not consent to their deed." He hated the decision of his fellow counsellors, but decided that discretion was the better part of valour. There were others who similarly remained silent (John 12: 42 Nevertheless, many did believe in Him even among the rulers, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, so they would not be banned from the • synagogue.
43 For they loved praise from men more than praise from God.
Perhaps they had been at the trial before Annas and Caiaphas because their Sanhedrin membership would give them access. Maybe even there at the trial before Pilate. But they had not spoken up. Perhaps the words caught in their throats. They realized that they ought to speak up. They knew He is the Son of God. But when it came to standing up before Annas and Caiaphas, these men found weakness in their souls.
Some have wondered why both Joseph and Nicodemus came together now. It has ever been true that the scholarly type have often found favour with the rich men of their community. Nicodemus was obviously a sincere seeker after the truth. A man who knew well the Word of God. And Joseph seems to have been his supporter, his financier. In a different century Erasmus needed the support of Henry the viith.
It was Luther who found a supporter in the Frederick, the Prince Protector of Germany! Perhaps Joseph felt that he and Nicodemus could do something about reforming the Jewish religion, bringing it back to the Messiah, Jesus, while they played a calm quiet silent hand.
Sometimes the scholarly type is not a strong confident speaker, and like Erasmus needs a Luther as a mouthpiece! But there was no Luther in Nicodemus’ time. And it all fell back on him.
And when it did, he failed.
Yes Nicodemus and Joseph had both been there when, in response to the wonderful miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead, .. John’s gospel reads:
John 11:46 But some of them went to the • Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the • chief priests and the Pharisees convened the • Sanhedrin and said, “What are we going to do since this man does many signs? 48 If we let Him continue in this way, everybody will believe in Him! Then the Romans will come and remove both our place and our nation.” 49 One of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all! 50 You’re not considering that it is to your advantage that one man should die for the people rather than the whole nation perish.” 51 He did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to unite the scattered children of God. 53 So from that day on they plotted to kill Him.
Yes they had both been there. Yes they had had the opportunity to speak. In fact they were expected to speak. But fear held them in its grip. And they could not bring themselves to utter the nay to the motion that Jesus be crucified!
Fear had swallowed them up. The opportunity was there! I guess after the Sanhedrin meeting, Jospeh and Nicodemus both imagined what they should have said:
“There are many witnesses to this miracle!
The Sanhedrin could meet and speak to Lazarus himself!
Jesus is the Messiah! He is The Christ!”
Yes they could have made that statement, but… when push came to shove…
On the Night of Jesus trial we read John 18:12 Then the company of soldiers, the commander, and the Jewish temple police arrested Jesus and tied Him up. 13 First they led Him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. 14 Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was advantageous that one man should die for the people.[
Undoubtedly both Joseph and Nicodemus were there too!
Yes one word could have changed the vote that night, but fear gripped their hearts. Terror held them in its sway! And again, they were silent. Nothing would they say.
As members of the Sanhedrin and they were found out to be following Jesus, it would be the end of their Sanhedrin rights. It would be the end of their wealth because they wouldn't be able to do business with anybody. It would be the end of their social status, their families would be alienated and ostracized. It would be the end of everything. The price would be very, very high to identify themselves with the Lord Jesus. And the price is high today!
Perhaps you have not openly identified yourself as a Christian at work? Your workmates would call you a hypocrite. They’d mock you. Life could indeed become difficult for you. Perhaps you have not openly identified yourself as a Christian at school! Its just too hard in school. What would my friends say? I remember thinking that in year 11 at High school. It wasn’t until 2 good friends died in tragic circumstances just 6 months after my own conversion and went to hell that I realized I had an obligation to speak up! I remember Kyle a friend in deep shock and distress at our friend’s death confronting me and holding my collar and asking me, shaking me, demanding of me “what does a person have to do to get to heaven!” and I had to quietly just walk away. I didn’t know then what to tell him.
I made sure in the coming weeks that I did know what to tell him!
I guess there comes a time when a man has to do what a man has to do. But for these men, no. The task was far too hard. Let’s not be too hard on them. Haven’t you stood where they stood? Haven’t you had opportunity to speak up for the Lord Jesus? And you have said to yourself, “No. no the time is not opportune. I’ll wait a little longer.”
Sometimes we take so long “building bridges” to someone else, and never never cross those bridges to speak up for the Lord Jesus. We have gotten to enjoy the person’s company too much, and we cannot risk losing their friendship to speak up for the Lord.

When You Meet Jesus You Might Find Confidence In your Heart.
It was all over; they had lost their chance to kneel before a living Christ. Joseph, haunted by memories, and ashamed of his earlier cowardice, decided to do the only decent thing left to do. He made himself responsible for the funeral of his Lord. In another part of the city, Nicodemus, driven by remorse, and utterly ashamed of his unworthiness, determined upon a similar course of action. It seemed a thousand pities that he was unable to confess his faith before Christ, but at least he could be true to his memory.
But God moves on his heart. Supernaturally wonderfully, And Mark says he summoned up courage...he summoned up courage.
Do you need to summon up courage? To own Jesus Christ before men? To speak up for the Lord?
To be baptized as a confession of your own faith in the Lord Jesus?
So here comes Joseph and he went to Pilate in verse 58. That was something, folks. I mean, you can't imagine the price he paid when he did that. In the first place, he didn't know what Pilate would do to him. Pilate had had enough of Sanhedrinists. Pilate had enough of those intimidating blackmailers who were going to tell Caesar on him if he didn't do what they wanted. The Sanhedrin had forced him to kill an innocent man. The Sanhedrin has forced him to violate his conscience. The Sanhedrin had even given nightmares to his wife. The Sanhedrin had put him in a humiliating position for a haughty Roman. And he didn't like them, you can be sure of that. And why would he be generous to a member of the Sanhedrin and give him the body?
He polluted himself in a traditional ceremonial sense by even going to Pilate, he sort of polluted himself for the Sabbath. And then he further, as I said, polluted himself by carrying the dead body of Jesus which we assume he must have carried himself. No doubt the soldiers took Him down and then Joseph took Him away.
And it says that Nicodemus brought myrrh and aloes, aromatic spices. They didn't embalm, they just anointed the body with a heavy load of spices to keep the wretched smell of death from polluting the area around. Myrrh was a liquid and aloe's a powder and they mixed it. And Joseph got the fine linen, it says in verse 59. So they must have worked out a deal where you buy that and I'll buy this. The only time anybody ever got anointed with 72 pounds of that stuff was when they were royalty. And these two dear men are saying, in effect, the world may not offer you that kind of respect that a king should have, but we will even in your death. And they bury Him with a burial of a king. And the women helped, too. And they wrapped each limb, arms and legs, and then the torso and a special napkin for the head. And as they wound those robes...those linens around Him, they filled the linen with all the spices and put Him in the grave.
And verse 59 says, "When Joseph had taken the body..." My belief that he carried it himself. You say, "Well, was it a long way?" Well not according to the latest archaeological discoveries. Those of you who have been to Israel know that what they believe to be the burial place of Jesus Christ now called Gordon's Calvary, that area, and the Garden Tomb is completely adjacent.

IT’S TIME TO BRING YOUR CHRISTIANITY OUT OF THE CLOSET. Are you a secret believer? Ask God for the courage to step it up in front of your friends, your coworkers, your neighbors, and your family members. Take a deep breath, say a quick prayer, and courageously communicate that you are a Christ-follower. One way to do that this week is to bring up the Passion movie and talk about what Jesus means to you. You could also invite someone to come to church with you.
ITS TIME TO USE YOUR RESOURCES FOR GOD’S PURPOSES. Joseph and Nicodemus gave what they had in service to Jesus. How might God want to use you, and your resources, for His purposes?
ITS TIME TO ALLOW JESUS TO REWRITE YOUR STORY. Perhaps you’re ready to surrender your life to the Saviour right now. I’m going to help you do that in just a minute. I read something that was stunning to me. A man went to the see the Passion and when it was over, he was so overcome with his guilt and the gift of forgiveness, that he turned himself into the authorities and confessed to them that he had murdered someone. After viewing what Jesus did for him, he was compelled to do whatever it took to make things right
ITS TIME TO TELL HIS STORY TO OTHERS. This is a great time of the year to tell others about what Jesus did for them, and why He did it.
ITS TIME TO TELL YOUR STORY. People want to know what Jesus went through and they also want to know your story. Look for ways to share how He has impacted your life. Simply share your story as God gives you opportunity.


John 21 When you Meet Jesus

When a vice-president of IBM came up with an idea to set up a separate division, he was given permission by the CEO, Thomas Watson. When he put the plan in motion, he promptly lost ten million dollars. He came in and told Mr. Watson that he was resigning, and when Watson asked why, the vice-president said, “Because this thing was such a miserable failure.” Watson responded, “You’re not resigning after I just spent ten million dollars on your education.” Sometimes we feel like giving up. Sometimes our greatest frustration is us! Peter knew that too.
i) He was very impulsive. His fellow disciples hardly knew what to expect from this big fisherman, for while they soberly considered the pros and cons of a matter, their colleague enthusiastically pronounced a verdict,
(ii) He was very inquisitive. He was susceptible to the opinions of other people, and more often than not this led to trouble,
(iii) He was very inflammable, very temperamental. He could be alternately joyful and sad ; inspired and carnal. Yet in spite of that fact, we all like Simon Peter. Simon Peter: Frustration Frustration at his greatest failures
God has a custom-designed plan for our lives. Sometimes we blow it! And then we keep on blowing it! We drift away from the Lord. We get happy with our disobedience. In fact, we may even do religious stuff just not to think too much about our real relationship with Jesus.
We should say, "Lord, what do You want us to do? We want You to guide and direct our steps. We don't want to go fishing and pull up empty nets. We want You to direct us. We want You to guide us." But we don't. We go our way. And that is just what happened to Peter and the other disciples.
"The fishing disciples didn't have God's direction at this particular time. As they were pulling up empty nets, they heard a voice calling from the shore: "Children, have you any food?" The Greek work for children could also be translated "boys." I prefer that translation, like a father talking to his sons. "Boys, did you catch anything?"
They might have been a little upset. "Who is He calling boys? We are full-grown, adult men." I don't think they were respectful when they responded. They didn't know who this guy was. "No. Don't rub it in," they answered.
Then the man from shore said, "Why don't you cast your nets on the other side of the boat, and you will catch a lot of fish!"
John, always the perceptive one, said, "It's the Lord. I can't make Him out. I can't see His features. But I'm telling you, it's the Lord." When they pulled up their nets, after listening to and obeying the Lord's direction, they had so many fish that their nets couldn't contain them all.
Why did Jesus ask them, "Do you have any food?" He wanted them to admit their failure—not to rub their faces in it, but to get them to acknowledge that they needed His help. Today nobody wants to admit wrongdoing. We want to blame it on somebody or something else. We want to blame it on our circumstances or on some condition or syndrome that we claim to have. Nobody wants to say, "Yes, I am responsible." But Jesus wanted His disciples to come clean and call it what it was. Once they yielded to Him, they pulled up a large number offish. This scenario reminds us of a similar situation earlier in the disciples' ministry, recorded in Luke 5. They had fished all night and caught nothing. Jesus said, "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch" (v. 4).
They didn't really know the Lord all that well at that point. Peter, a veteran fisherman, replied, "Master, we've toiled all night and caught nothing!" (v. 5). He implied, "Jesus, we really appreciate You. We respect You. You are really the greatest teacher around. But, Lord, give us a little credit here. We are, after all, seasoned fishermen. We do this for a living, you know." But it's interesting what Peter added: "Nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net." The phrase used could be translated, "At Your word, captain of this ship, we will do it." It's a unique nautical term not used any other place in the New Testament. I wonder how that phrase was said. It makes all the difference in the world. Did Peter say it in respect and obedience? Or did he say it with sarcasm? Either way, when they followed the Lord's orders, they pulled up full nets, reminding them of how important it was to have Jesus on board, guiding and directing their steps." Greg Laurie, "The God of the Second Chance" 136-139
Peter experienced frustration at the current failure. The bottom line: No fish. But suddenly they realised “it is the Lord!” 7 When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tied his outer garment around him (for he was stripped) and plunged into the sea. 8 But since they were not far from land (about 100 yards away), the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish. 9 When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it, and bread.
1. When You Meet The Lord You Will Find Restoration 1-14
A fire. Not like the last fire. Mark 14:66 While Peter was in the courtyard below, one of the high priest’s servants came. 67 When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with that • Nazarene, Jesus.” 68 But he denied it: “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about!” Then he went out to the entryway, and a rooster crowed. There is Silence on that beach at that breakfast. They knew it was the Lord
Steps to Peter’s reconciliation
a. The Look Luke 22: 60 But Peter said, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed. 61 Then the Lord turned and looked at Peter. So Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.
b. The Encouragement Mark 16: 5 When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; they were amazed and alarmed. 6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he told them. “You are looking for Jesus the • Nazarene, who was crucified. He has been resurrected! He is not here! See the place where they put Him. 7 But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see Him there just as He told you.’ ”
c. The First Interview 1Corinthians 15:4 that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to • Cephas, then to the Twelve. Luke 24:34. after the Emmaus road: 33 That very hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem. They found the Eleven and those with them gathered together, 34 who said, “The Lord has certainly been raised, and has appeared to Simon!”
And now, personally the Lord takes Peter to His heart.
Yes the Lord had been patiently restoring Peter, helping him to get over the greatest failure of his life. Mark 14: 27 Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will run away, because it is written: I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.
28 But after I have been resurrected, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.”
29 Peter told Him, “Even if everyone runs away, I will certainly not!”
30 “I assure you,” Jesus said to him, “today, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times!”

"When they brought the fish in to shore, they saw that the Lord had made a fire of coals, and fish were on it. Now this amazes me. The Creator of the universe, who had come to earth in human form, been crucified, and risen from the dead, was taking time to minister to even the smallest of needs of His disciples. He knew they would be chilled to the bone from being out on the cool water, so He built a fire.
Peter came in dripping wet, pulling the big net offish. He walked over and stood in the fire's glow, probably embarrassed to even make eye contact with Jesus. For Peter, this was deja vu. It had only been a short time since he had made eye contact with the Lord in the glow of a fire outside the house of Caiaphas. Now he was probably so humiliated, so ashamed, he could say nothing. As they sat around the fire and ate, we don't read about anyone speaking. In the old days Peter might have been the first to speak up and perhaps boast of his deep love and devotion to the Lord. But he had no boasting to do that day. Finally, Jesus broke the silence. He turned to Peter and said, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?"
(v. 15). Note that He did not say Peter. He said Simon. Simon was the name given to him by his parents^ Peter was the name Jesus gave to him, which means "rock." It speaks of solidity and strength. That day, however, Jesus saw Simon. In essence, Jesus was implying, "Hey, Simon, you haven't been acting much like a rock lately, have you?"
"Do you love me more than these?" Jesus asked. He only asked that particular question one time. It's true that He asked Peter three times, "Do you love Me?" But only one time did He ask, "Do you love Me more than these?" That's where His emphasis was.
The old Peter—the one in the upper room—would have said, "Of course, I love You more than these. Do fish swim? I would die for You." But the new, improved, humbled Peter only said, "Lord, You know that I love You." He had learned some important truths after he denied the Lord.
In the original rendition of this conversation, Jesus used the Greek word agapao, and Peter used the Greek word phileo. Agapao speaks of a sacrificial, deeply intense, all-out kind of love, whereas phileo speaks of a tender, affectionate, brotherly love.
In essence, Jesus asked Peter, "Do you love Me with an all-encompassing, devoted, and sacrificial love?" And Peter replied, "Lord, I love You like a brother." Or, putting it another way, Jesus said, "Peter, do you love Me 100 percent?"
And Peter said, "Lord, 1 can commit to 60 percent." Simplifying it even more, Jesus asked, "Peter, do you love Me?"
And Peter responded, "Lord, 1 really like You a lot." Now, I don't blame Peter for that. In reality, he did love the Lord, but no longer would he boast of his love for Jesus. That is always wise. Never boast of your love for God. Instead, boast of His love for you. Don't tell me how much you love Him, how much you have done for Him, what a wonderful servant you are. No. Tell how much He has done for you, how much He loves you, and all that He has worked out in your life. A lot of people today run around saying, "Oh, I love Jesus so much!" But how do we really know if we love Jesus? Is it just a tender emotion that we feel inside, and if we cease to feel that emotion, does that mean that we no longer love Him? Or is there more to love than that? Of course, there is more, because love is more than a feeling. Love is a commitment that we make." Greg Laurie ibid.
Never let me wound again The love that set me free.
Nor ever crucify afresh, The God who died for me.
The Lord Jesus speaks to Peter’s heart. While Peter’s love may have been doubtful, the Lord’s was not. For now the Lord reinstates Peter.

2.When You Meet The Lord You Will Find Reinstatement 15-20
The sea-side breakfast had ended, and the disciples were watching the silvery waves moving along the beach. Surging emotions filled their souls, for they realized that the Stranger who had awaited the incoming boat was the Lord. It was wonderful to see Him as He gracefully sat watching the hungry men eating the meal He Himself had prepared. Tenderly He had spoken to Peter, and the thrice-asked question, " Lovest thou me," had stirred them deeply. Their colleague had been moved almost to tears, for the denials of an earlier occasion were still present in his mind. 3 times asked Do you love me. 3 times denied Him Feed my sheep
Entrusted with ministry
“Feed My lambs,” He told him.
16 A second time He asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” “Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.” “Shepherd My sheep,” He told him. 17 He asked him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time, “Do you love Me?” He said, “Lord, You know everything! You know that I love You.” “Feed My sheep,” Jesus said.
From among all the disciples Jesus Chose to reinstate Peter. He defined for him the ministry the Lord had for Him. It included those most precious to the Lord. The Lord was entrusting Peter with ministry to
“His lambs’ “His sheep” His people are precious to the Lord. He counts them as vitally and precious. And now Peter is entrusted with His precious ones.
Of course, the picture is straight from Psalm 23. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Peter takes this up in his first Epistle
1 Peter 5:1 Therefore, as a fellow elder and witness to the sufferings of the Christ, and also a participant in the glory about to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you: 2 shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but freely, according to God’s [will]; not for the money but eagerly; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
The Lord entrusts you with ministry. You may have failed through cowardice. You may have failed and been frustrated. You may be impetuous like Peter, but the Lord calls you back to Himself and to caring for His sheep.
Do you notice what the Lord says to Pete? Its not all about Peter. Its about Peter serving others. Its not about Peter having a position, its about Peter forgetting about Peter and serving the sheep. Do you see, its not about you and your position and your possessions and your pride, its about serving God’s people. Forget about yourself Peter and get on with the job. Stop being sef-centred and get on with serving feeding the lambs, tending the sheep.
Entrusted With Martyrdom 18,19
18 “• I assure you: When you were young, you would tie your belt and walk wherever you wanted. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will tie you and carry you where you don’t want to go.”
19 He said this to signify by what kind of death he would glorify God. After saying this, He told him, “Follow Me!”
He who had been once a coward, he who had once been selfish, is now entrusted again.

3.When You Meet The Lord You Will Find Renewal
Peter is called apart to follow Jesus, and hears a footstep behind him. Its John. John had been a close friend to Peter. a. Had gone with John into the High Priests’ courtyard. b. John had taken Peter into his house the three days between crucifixion and resurrection. John was the only disciple to stay at the cross through the crucifixion. If Peter would be entrusted with much, how much more John. “Lord what shall his man do?”
A Dangerous Concern "You tell me that when I am old another shall gird me and carry me whither I would not. Well, what about John? What will happen to him?" And the Lord answered, " If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?" Simon Peter, your greatest mistake is that you are often looking at, and thinking of, other people. Do you remember how I sent you to take money from the mouth of the fish? You were upset then because other people's opinions had overshadowed your outlook. Do you remember how you denied knowledge of me? That happened because you permitted other people to influence you. Peter, be less concerned about other folk, and think more of your Master!
A Direct Correction " What is that to thee?" " If I be the Lord, and you are My servant, your chief aim should be to do My will. If I decide that John should linger till I return, that is no business of yours, is it? Simon Peter, if you are to feed My lambs, and shepherd My sheep, you will need to look constantly to Me. The days ahead will be difficult, and if you lose sight of your Master anything can happen. Therefore do not be unduly inquisitive concerning John. Attend to your own affairs." Thus did Christ correct His disciple, and we all realize how necessary this had become. Even in after days Simon still permitted the opinions of others to sway his actions, and on one occasion Paul rebuked him because he compromised with the exponents of circumcision. Peter was always getting into trouble because he had not mastered the art of minding his own business, You do what you have to do. “If I want him to remain until I come,” Jesus answered, “what is that to you?
A Definite Command " Follow thou me." When Peter heard this command, his thoughts probably went back to the morning when the Lord first called him, when afler borrowing Peter's boat, Christ said, " Follow me, and I will make you to become a fisher of men." Now another commission has been given. He has been told to shepherd the flock of God. "Simon follow Me, for only thus will you succeed."
(i) The Follow Me of Enlightenment. The Christian pathway is beset with many dangers, and problems will arise to confound those who are not prepared for the emergencies of the way. Follow Me. and you will learn of Me.
(ii) The Follow Me of Endeavor. To follow Christ means to emulate His example. It means more than accompanying Him. When a soldier follows an officer into battle, he does so to help his leader in the conflict ahead. To follow Christ means to fight for Him.
(iii) The Follow Me of Endurance. " But when thou shall be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God." Tradition asserts that Peter was crucified for his faith ; and that at his own request he was crucified head downwards, for he considered himself unworthy to die as did his Lord. Thus the fearful disciple who failed before the taunts of a servant girl, eventually reached unprecedented heights of personal loyalty. He followed his Lord to a cross; he was faithful unto death.
“ As for you, follow Me.” You concentrate On Jesus Divisions because not concentrating on Jesus. Denominations because distinctives were more important than following Jesus.
In the early 1700's there existed in Europe a missionary community ... the Moravians ... under the direction of Count Zinzandorf. They were a very missions-minded community and sent missionaries all over the world. One day there came to that colony two men by the name of Dober and Nitschmann. They heard Zinzendorf tell of the island of St. John in the West Indies where the natives were treated as animals, worked, beaten, and left to die in the cane fields. Afterwards these two men approached Zinzendorf and insisted, "We want to go to the island of St. John to minister, but who will send us?" Zinzendorf inquired, "You don't need anyone. God called, He will provide." But they asked, "How can we go?" He suggested, "We will do down to the docks, find a ship, and you can work to pay your own passage over."
So that is what they did. When the arrived on the island of St. John, they asked the Dutch masters if they could go into the cane fields and preach to the slaves. The masters replied, "It is no use. These men are not humans. They have no souls." Dober and Nitschman insisted, "These are men ... they are people ... God sent us to tell them of His love.", but their pleas were to no avail and they were ordered out. They went down to the beach, sat down on the sand, and wept and prayed, "Lord, you sent us here, and now we cannot go into the fields to preach. Lord what shall we do?"
That night the Lord spoke to them and told them what to do. Early the next morning they went back to the Dutch Masters and said, "We want to sell ourselves into slavery." The slave masters were astounded and asked, "What? Why do you want to sell yourself into slavery?" And Dober and Nitschmann answered, "God called us to preach to these men and we will become one of them and preach to them while we work." So they did. In a few months other missionaries from the Moravian colony in Europe arrived on the island of St. John. They found there two freshly dug graves. Dober and Nitschmann had died from the heat and deplorable working conditions. But on the island they found 30,000 slaves who had become Christians as a result of Dober and Nitchman's witness. When I hear this story I think ... "I don't know if I am willing to literally give my life for Christ ... I have a hard time giving Him hours or days ... it is hard for me to comprehend that level of commitment." But their example and the example of other followers like Peter challenges me from my self-centeredness. There is a price to be paid in following Jesus and serving as His minister ... but no cost is too high if it leads the lost to Christ.
Where are you today? Are you hiding from a failure in your life? failure in the way you budget your finances failure in your school failure in your relationship with your family
failure in trying to overcome those old habits failure in your dealing with your children
Are you feeling insignificant because of a failure? Are you hurting every time you're in the presence of God over a failure you haven't really dealt with, so you're withdrawn and in self-pity? Christ's love to you is not the question, Jesus asks us "DO YOU LOVE ME?" If we can answer yes...we can be healed and find ministry again that comes from a joyful heart and not a guilty heart!
Jesus is asking you ... and me, "DO YOU LOVE ME?"...what's your answer?
I want to end this morning by having us listen to a song by Point of Grace called, “Jesus Will Still Be There.” Think of the Savior standing on the shore…just waiting for you.

Things change, plans fail
You look for love on a grander scale
Storms rise, hopes fade
And you place your bets on another day
When the going gets tough
When the ride’s too rough
When you’re just not sure enough
Jesus will still be there
His love will never change
Sure as the steady rain
Jesus will still be there
When no one else is true
He’ll still be loving you
When it looks like you’ve lost it all
And you haven’t got a prayer
Jesus will still be there
Time flies, hearts turn
A little bit wiser from lessons learned
But sometimes, weakness wins
And you lose your foothold once again
When the going gets tough
When the ride’s too rough
When you’re just not sure enough
When it looks like you’ve lost it all
And you haven’t got a prayer
Jesus will still be there

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