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Holy Week 2012

This was originally posted on Believing God Today on April 20th 2011 as Holy Week.

As I was pondering the cross of Christ and what that means, I thought of something I would like to write. What came out on paper was another matter altogether. This happens from time to time! If Jesus had not gone to the cross…we would not have forgiveness of sin. We also would not have eternal life with God, instead we would be eternally separated from Him. I for one can’t imagine eternal life with the Living God…even more then that I can’t get a grip on being separated from Him forever!

The cross of Christ…how often it is talked about. The cross should be talked about, no cross…no forgiveness. Jesus paid a very high price for our sins. Can you even imagine being brutally tortured and then being crucified after that? Jesus did this and more.

At the start of Holy week on Palm Sunday we see Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey (Matthew 21:2-7) while a large crowd of people spread there cloaks on the road (Matthew 21:8) and others spread palm branches on the road. (John 12:13) Why is this so special?

This verse in (Zechariah 9:9) predicts that the Lord will enter Jerusalem on a donkey, See also (Matthew 21:4-5). A donkey was also symbolic of humility and peace. The donkey was as well a symbol of Davidic Royalty. When King David chose his son Solomon to be king, he had Solomon ride on his (David’s) own donkey, (1 Kings 1:33,38-39) which indicated David’s public sanctioning of Solomon being the next king. Spreading ones cloak out before someone was an act of royal homage. Palm branches were used in a victory celebration, and the Apostle John saw a great multitude in heaven (Revelation 7:9) before the throne holding palm branches. So we can see that Jesus upon entry into Jerusalem was treated like royalty. This was of course no accident, if He would not have been acknowledged as He was, the very stones themselves would have cried out. (Luke 19:40)

 Then Jesus clears the temple, and then is healing people, (Matthew 21:12-16) and the children were calling out to Him Hosanna to the Son of David. This did not endear Jesus to the Pharisees who were already out to get Him.

On the following day Jesus proceeds to teach the people and warn them about the Pharisees.(Matthew 21:23-24:51) The Pharisees were threatened by Jesus teaching and were actively plotting how they could kill Him.

Jesus disciples made preparations for all of them to eat the Passover meal together. It was during this time Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, (Matthew 26:26-28) giving thanks for the bread and then breaking it and giving it to the disciples and saying, “take and eat; this is my body.” After Jesus took the cup of wine gave thanks and said, “Drink from it all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Jesus also tells who it is that will betray Him.

Jesus then goes to the Mount of Olives into Gethsemane to pray. He takes with Him the inner circle-Peter, James and John. Jesus goes a little further into the garden and prays three times and each time comes back to find the disciples sleeping! Mark 14:34-41 Luke records in his gospel (Luke 22:44) that so great was the anguish of Jesus that He sweat drops of blood (This is medically speaking possible for this to happen). Jesus prayed that the Father would take from Him this cup which He was to drink. Yet He also prayed that the Father’s will be done…not His despite how great the strain was on Jesus.

Jesus is after all this arrested and brought before the high priest and then Pilate. All the while Jesus is taunted and then severely beaten. (John 19:1-3) As all of this is occurring Jesus is not fighting back or even really defending Himself. He allows Himself to be mistreated horribly and accepts it. There is a lot to be said from all this…it would be difficult for any of us to accept these things were they done to us. It would be impossible for any of us to withstand the flogging Jesus took and then carry the cross (part of it) as He did to His crucifixion. Jesus was a bloody mess after what they did to Him, the flogging was much worse then what was normally done to other people. Jesus suffered all this as a man for sure, but the strength He possessed to get through this was garnered from the presence of the Holy Spirit in Him and His belief and confidence in His Father.

Lastly of course Jesus was crucified on the cross. This alone was a painful experience, but He had to take upon Himself all the sin of the world so that we could be forgiven our sins. Jesus also paid the penalty of death and separation from the Father…which is the very penalty those who do not believe will have to pay. This is called the second death. Only for those who do not believe…in the last day at judgement this will be permanent. Believe in Jesus and be saved…He paid a very steep price for your life.

Related articles http://ptl2010.com/2012/03/30/palm-sunday-the-palm-leaf-and-the-cloak/

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Homeless – Until He Moved in With Jesus

πίστις:

This is a great story, which happens to be true! A story about one man being touched by another and inspired by that chance meeting on a cold Chicago street. Or was it chance?
Read this engaging article by Darrell, it will move you I promise!

Originally posted on Darrell Creswell - A Study of Christian Grace:

Experts estimate that at any given time there are between 1 to 2.5 million people who are homeless in America.

Years ago, I traveled quite frequently and on this cold winter night in 1985, happened to be in downtown Chicago. I was staying in a hotel downtown and wanted to take a short walk before retiring for the evening. I stepped outside and saw a gentleman slowly walking toward me. He was a haggard soul, wearing a hat, walking with a cane and humming a gospel song that I recognized from my days as a young man at camp meeting in Texas. As he approached, I asked him how he was and he said “Blessed, I am blessed”. I asked him his name and he replied in the most curious way—he said to me, “I have no name, I have no face, I am but an ordinary man, but God…

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A Prostitute Teaches Me How To Worship

As Christians, we often spend a lot of time wondering what is wrong with us.

We hear of martyrs on foreign soil  laying down their lives for the gospel in bloody extravagant fashion. Church history testifies of men and women who stood against fierce political and social opposition and proclaimed boldly the foolishness of the cross. In our bible reading the fearless radical passion of the early church in the book of Acts is an indictment on our listless and dry spiritual estate.

Even reading a popular book calling us to “Radical” gospel commitments doesn’t necessarily bring the quick spiritual fix we long for.

It’s enough to make any solid sincere saint at the least question their own fruit, and at the most question their very salvation.

All of this begs the question.

Thankfully, as is always the case with the most important questions, the Bible is forthcoming with a more than adequate answer. It’s found in Luke 7:36-50:

When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

Let’s stop there for now.

Where does such passion, boldness, and extravagant worship come from?

This is an excellent article written by Bryan over at Chief of the Least. This article is about worship, do we worship unashamedly? Why don’t we if we don’t? What reason did the prostitute have to perform such an open act of love and worship before others? Do we worship openly or while trying to blend in and hide?

Read the rest of this great post here, http://chiefofleast.com/2012/03/31/a-prostitute-teaches-me-how-to-worship/

While you are there check out the rest of Bryan’s site and let him know you were there! Make sure you catch the next article Bryan will be doing as part of this series on worship.

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How can God Forgive Me?

Have you ever thought to yourself, “how can God forgive me after what I have done”? Or maybe you asked yourself that question along with this one, “how can God love me after the things I have done?”

I have a couple answers for you, actually several answers.

Matthew 12:31 And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. As you can see here in this scripture, all sins will be forgiven, so no matter what you have done, if you ask with a sincere heart, you will be forgiven. As for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, if you are worried about it, then most likely you have not committed it, and if you are a believer…you cannot commit this sin.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Note the wording of this verse; it does not say for God so loved only the people who committed “these” sins…it says that whoever believes in Jesus will have eternal life! “Whoever”, is you! There are no hidden stipulations here, if you believe in Jesus and His work on the cross as being sufficient to forgive your sins…you are forgiven and you receive the free gift of salvation as well.

Roman’s 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Before you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you were for all intents and purposes God’s enemy! Keep in mind here that God’s enemies will at the end of all things wind up in hell. However, God is not willing that any would perish.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Since God has this great love for us, all of us, He made a way out of our sins for us. Confess your sins to God; accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, and you will be forgiven…not just the believer who sins, but also the person who has never asked forgiveness, regardless of what they have done. Yes even that person, who is God’s enemy, will be forgiven!

Still you think to yourself, “what I have done is unforgivable”, well let us look at an example of some one who really offended God. This man did so many things over many years to anger and offend God; it is in a way amazing that God did give him another chance. Then again, remember who we are talking about here, a God that is willing to forgive all sins, so He says in His Word. I am talking about King Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33:1-17).

King Manasseh was a very bad man. He erected alters to Baal, he made Asherah poles. Asherah was the name of the wife of the chief Canaanite god El, and the poles were set up in her honor. King Manasseh also built alters to all the starry hosts, right in the Lord’s temples. King Manasseh sacrificed his own children to these pagan gods. He also practiced sorcery, divination, witchcraft, and he consulted with mediums and spiritists. All these things are of course forbidden by God to do. King Manasseh was then a very bad man, a man who spit in the face of God and did unbelievably evil things.

King Manasseh was punished, and when he called out to God, God listened. God did more then listen though…He forgave King Manasseh his sins and even restored his kingdom to him! After all this man had done against God, God forgave him and set him back on the throne of Judah.

Regardless of what you have done, go to God and truly, from your heart ask forgiveness. God will hear you and forgive you your sins. God loves you and wants to forgive you, but you need to go to Him and ask for forgiveness. Do it today, right now.

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The Operating Principle of Life

     

Sun.Son,
by Neil Anderson
March 31

THE OPERATING PRINCIPLE OF LIFE
Mark 11:22 
And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God”
The sun is perhaps the most credible object of faith for the world. It appears to be immutable. It has always been there, 24 hours of every day, 365 days a year. Without the sun, people couldn’t live. If the sun didn’t rise tomorrow morning, what would happen to the world’s faith? All of humanity would be thrown into confusion.
If we have such great faith in the sun, why don’t we have even greater faith in the Son who made the sun and all the rest of the fixed order of the universe?
Our faith is in God. Genuine faith is born out of a knowledge of the will of God and exists only to fulfill that will. Faith is not a means of getting man’s will done in heaven; it is the means of getting God’s will done on earth.
After hearing me speak on spiritual conflicts, a young man came by to talk about his personal life. He said he’d had several experiences of not being able to speak the name of Jesus aloud. I asked him about his faith. He thought he had made a decision for Christ years earlier in an evangelistic meeting. He tried living with some American Indians to continue his spiritual journey, but that proved to be disastrous. He finally ended up living in a pastor’s home where he was helped with the assurance of his salvation. The pastor encouraged him to just go live by faith.
The young man said to me, “I’ve been trying to live by faith for three years, and it has been one trial after another.”
“Faith in what?” I asked.
He didn’t know how to respond. This young man was trying to live by faith in faith. But faith itself is not a valid object. The only valid object for faith is God and the revelation we have of Him in His Word. Faith is the operating principle of life. The only difference between Christian and non-Christian faith is the object. God must be the object of our faith.
Prayer: Lord God, I place my faith in You alone today. Help me not to allow anyone or anything to take Your place as the object of my faith.


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Rediscover the Church

 
 
TUESDAY, MARCH 27, 2012
Rediscover the Church
—1 Peter 4:11
If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

We are living in a time in which some people are saying that we need to re-envision the church or reinvent the church. But I beg to differ. I think we need to rediscover the church. I don’t think we need a new version of it as much as we need to get back to the original version that Jesus himself established.That is the church that changed the world. That is the church that turned its world upside down. I don’t know about the church of today. It seems to me the world today is turning the church upside down.I think the answer is to get as close as we can to the original foundation and template for the church that Jesus himself established. This is God’s original design for the church.My goal as a senior pastor is not to have a big church; it is to have a strong church—and even more to the point, a biblical church. Having said that, there should be church growth, and I think the best kind of growth is through the addition of new believers.A trend in a lot of churches today is to be relevant to the culture, so they are trying to do everything they can to connect. I am all for relevance. However, I do not believe in relevance at the expense of reverence. This is still the church. And when I stand up to speak, I am not there to entertain or to give my personal philosophy or political views. I am there to teach the Word of God and to call people to Jesus Christ.I think sometimes we are trying so hard to be cool that we have forgotten how to be biblical. Let’s keep the integrity of our message intact.

Greg Laurie

I read this devotional today and thought that truer words have not been spoken. My next thought was related to Greg Laurie’s statement in this devotional that,
“A trend in a lot of churches today is to be relevant to the culture, so they are trying to do everything they can to connect.”

Now while I am all for connecting with people in whatever ways we can as a church body, that does not include doing things that are clearly un-biblical!

For one, teaching that God wants you to “have it all baby”, insert prosperity gospel teaching here, that is wrong. God does not want to give you all things! If you had everything your heart desired, what would you want God for? God promised the Christian life would be a hard act to follow, but but well worth it. God promised to bless us…He did not promise to give us gazillions of dollars, nice cars, and big houses. Yes some of us will have those things, not all.

Another one that gets me…the use of foul language from the pulpit! It helps people to “relate” Really??? Are you serious here? How about Paul’s teaching on not using foul language, only saying what is useful to build people up and edify them(the church)?

When Paul said that he became like whatever people group he was trying to reach, he did not mean to completely turn yourself into those people. Paul tried to reach the Pharisees with the Gospel. Paul used to be a legalistic person, so he could relate to them on that level, it does not mean that he himself became legalistic. I used to drink…a lot. So I can relate to the people who do so, I can talk their language, that does not mean I’m going to go get drunk with them!

Today’s church goes to far in trying to blend in…if the church itself blends in so well with the world that people can’t see a big difference between the “church” and the “world”…is the church all that much different from the world that is not to be a part of?

The church needs to relate any way possible to today’s world and the people in it, but it cannot do so to the point of compromising the Gospel. A church needs to be a church, and stand on the same biblical values the original church did. It is one thing to offer to help people that are lost in their sins, while making it clear they won’t be judged, but helped…it is a whole different thing to modify the teachings of the bible so as not to “offend” anyone.

When I go to church, I don’t want some “feel good phony baloney”, I want to hear the truth!

Related articles Faith Child – No Reverence or Relevance
Cite Simon – http://citesimon.com/2012/04/16/why-church-inc-is-a-bad-idea/
Michael Conner – Comfortable Christianity

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Rediscover the Church

TUESDAY, MARCH 27, 2012

Rediscover the Church

If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

We are living in a time in which some people are saying that we need to re-envision the church or reinvent the church. But I beg to differ. I think we need to rediscover the church. I don’t think we need a new version of it as much as we need to get back to the original version that Jesus himself established.

That is the church that changed the world. That is the church that turned its world upside down. I don’t know about the church of today. It seems to me the world today is turning the church upside down.

I think the answer is to get as close as we can to the original foundation and template for the church that Jesus himself established. This is God’s original design for the church.

My goal as a senior pastor is not to have a big church; it is to have a strong church—and even more to the point, a biblical church. Having said that, there should be church growth, and I think the best kind of growth is through the addition of new believers.

A trend in a lot of churches today is to be relevant to the culture, so they are trying to do everything they can to connect. I am all for relevance. However, I do not believe in relevance at the expense of reverence. This is still the church. And when I stand up to speak, I am not there to entertain or to give my personal philosophy or political views. I am there to teach the Word of God and to call people to Jesus Christ.

I think sometimes we are trying so hard to be cool that we have forgotten how to be biblical. Let’s keep the integrity of our message intact.

Greg Laurie


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When Strongholds Become Entrenched

     


by Neil Anderson
March 27
WHEN STRONGHOLDS BECOME ENTRENCHED
2 Timothy 2:4 
No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier
Once your consideration of a temptation has triggered an emotional response leading to a Plan B choice, you will act upon that choice and own that behavior. You may resent your actions or claim that you are not responsible for what you do. But you are responsible for your actions at this stage because you failed to take a tempting thought captive when it first appeared at the threshold of your mind.
People who study human behavior tell us that if you continue to repeat an act for six weeks, you will form a habit. And if you exercise that habit long enough, a stronghold will be established. Once a stronghold of thought and response is entrenched in your mind, choosing to act contrary to that pattern is extremely difficult.
Like environmental stimulation, a stronghold of the mind can be the result of a brief encounter or a prevailing atmosphere. For example, a woman goes into a deep depression every time she hears a siren sound. It turns out that she was raped 20 years earlier while a siren was wailing in the distance. In the weeks and months after the rape, the sound of a siren triggered traumatic memories. Instead of resolving that conflict, she relived the tragedy in her mind, deepening the emotional scars and locking herself into a thought pattern she cannot seem to break. That’s a stronghold.
Other strongholds are the result of a prevailing pattern of thinking and responding. Imagine, for instance, a nine-year-old boy whose father is an alcoholic. When the father comes home drunk and belligerent every night, the boy is simply scared stiff of him. He scurries out of sight and hides. As the boy continues in his defensive reaction to his hostile alcoholic father, he forms a pattern of behavior. Ten years later, when he faces any kind of hostile behavior, how do you think he will respond? He will run away. His deeply ingrained pattern of thinking and responding has formed a stronghold in his mind.
Prayer: Father, don’t allow the enemy to deceive me into weak-willed actions that dilute my testimony and effectiveness as a believer.


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At the Threshold of Temptation

     


by Neil Anderson
March 26
AT THE THRESHOLD OF TEMPTATION
Titus 2:11, 12 
The grace of God has appeared . . . instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age
Yielding to temptation is another step toward a stronghold being established in your mind. Whenever you are stimulated to conform to Plan B instead of God’s Plan A for your life, you are experiencing temptation. The essence of all temptation is the invitation to live independently of God and fulfill legitimate needs in the world, the flesh or the devil instead of in Christ. That’s the great contest. And Satan knows just which buttons to push to tempt you away from dependency on Christ.
The moment you are tempted to get your need met in the world instead of in Christ, you are at the threshold of a decision. If you don’t immediately choose to take that thought “captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5), you will begin to consider it as an option. And if you begin to mull it over in your mind, immediately your emotions will be affected and the likelihood of yielding to that temptation is increased.
The Scriptures teach us that God has provided a way of escape from every temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). But the escape is right at the threshold of the temptation. If you don’t control the temptation at the threshold, you run the risk of allowing the temptation to control you. Rare is the Christian who can turn around after directing his will toward Plan B.
For example, a man sees a pornographic picture and is tempted toward lust. He has the opportunity to respond by saying something like, “My relationship with sin has ended. I choose to take this thought captive to the obedience of Christ. I’m not going to look at it or think about it.” And he separates himself from the picture immediately and escapes the lust.
But if he hesitates at the threshold, stares at the picture, and begins to fantasize about it, he will trigger an emotional landslide producing a physical response which will be difficult to stop. He must capture the tempting thought in the threshold or it will probably capture him.
Prayer: Dear God, I want to be obedient to Your perfect plan for my life today. I don’t want to give in to Plan B thinking. Strengthen my will to obey.


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How You are Programmed

     


by Neil Anderson
March 25
HOW YOU ARE PROGRAMMED
Colossians 2:8 
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men . . . rather than according to Christ
The first step toward the formation of strongholds in our minds can be called “environmental stimulation.” You were designed to live in fellowship with God and fulfill His purposes, but you were born physically alive and spiritually dead in a hostile world (Ephesians 2:1, 2). Before you came to Christ, all your stimulation came from this environment. Every day you lived in this environment you were influenced by it and preconditioned to conform to it.
The worldly stimulation you were exposed to was both brief and prevailing. Brief stimulation includes individual events, situations, places and personal encounters you experienced. You were influenced by books you read, movies you watched, music you listened to, and traumatic events you experienced or witnessed, such as a car accident or a death in the family. You learned a way (which may or may not have been God’s way) to cope with these experiences and resolve the conflicts they produced.
Prevailing stimulation consists of long-term exposure to your environment, such as the influence of your family, your friends and peers, your neighborhood, your teachers, and your job. If you grew up separated from God, and were raised in a non-Christian environment, you developed a philosophy of how to survive, cope and succeed in this world apart from God.
When you became a Christian your sins were washed away, but your predisposition to think and behave a certain way, which you developed as you adjusted to your environment, remained programmed in your mind. In fact, you can become a born-again believer and continue to live on the basis of the lifestyle you developed while living independently of God. That is why Paul insists that we be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).
Prayer: I know I was saved in a moment, Lord. But my character still needs daily transformation. Help me be as patient with others in their transformation as You are with me.