Jesus used to drink. He doesn’t drink any more though! He didn’t take a 12-step program to help Him overcome a drinking problem (’cause He didn’t have one). It’s just that He doesn’t like to drink without His friends. In fact, the last time He sipped the fruit of the vine was with His closest friends on the night before He was crucified. The next time He drinks it will be when He’s hanging out with those He purchased with His Blood.
Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. “This is my blood of the (new) covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.” Jesus of Nazareth (Mark 14:23-25)
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together
in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13
When your parents named you, did they come up with it on
their own, or did they get it from a magazine, a movie, or one of those huge
books with thousands of baby names? I
was named after my father, like many boys are.
My wife and I named all of our children after relatives or with names
that have Christian significance to us.
We did look through baby name books, but we also did something
else. We prayed about it. We prayed for God to give us a “good
name” for each of our children, and when we believed we had that name, we
prayed about that too. You may ask why
so much thought and prayer goes into naming a few babies, but you may be
surprised to know God has been involved in naming every person who ever
lived. Life is no accident, and every
moment of our lives (including receiving our names) was known by God even
before the beginning of time. In the
verse below you’ll notice Jesus’ name was given to his parents BEFORE He was
conceived in His mother’s womb. While
that happening to Jesus may not be hard to believe, the Scriptures support the
fact it’s also true of you! Believe me,
if God knew your name before you were even conceived, He cares more deeply for
you than you could ever imagine.
“On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.” Luke 2:21
There once was a time when pastors and priests were held in high honor by most people. Those days are gone. No doubt it’s the fault of many of the ministers who have been caught up in so much horrible sin, but the fact remains few care to even listen to what they (we) have to say. I believe the problem is largely that people want their pastors and priests to be perfect, which is impossible. They hold them up to such a high standard that they only set them up to fall. Another reason is ministers are serving to get attention, instead of pointing to Jesus! God never honors that type of ministry. Then there’s the whole Satan thing. Surely he wants to bring ministers as low as he can bring them-no doubt that’s happened a lot in the last 30 years! There’s one other reason though, and it’s not just for pastors and priests, but for all Christians. They hate us because they don’t know the Father. To them we are the enemy! The Scriptures are clear this type of thinking will get worse and worse until Christians are actually treated like criminals (just like they already are in many countries) and are once again put to death for their faith.
“All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me.” Jesus of Nazareth (John 16:1-3)
Lust is an interesting sin. It desires what it does not
have, and slowly destroys the ability of the host to function as God intended.
If our minds are God-given super computers, then lust is a virus that enters
looking very innocent, but in the end this Trojan horse is full of destruction
that only demons could conceive. This “innocent” sin can actually
damn a soul to hell.
Although commonly thought of as a part of maturing, lust is
actually a sign of immaturity. At it’s core, it is a sign someone is being
controlled by the flesh, and not the Spirit. The Scriptures are full of
warnings, including one from Jesus that suggests it would be better to gouge
out your eye or cut off your hand than to let something cause you to
“sin” and damn you to hell (Matt 5:29/18:9). Why so severe? Because
in the end, the presence of lust in one’s heart will make it impossible to see
or hear or even conceive the things of God. Like all sin, this sin is poison.
And those who wish to walk with the Lord must be very aware of this sin.
Virtually every arm of the media dangles this forbidden fruit as bait. Don’t
bite! There is a hook!
Lust must be dealt with today, not tomorrow. This is not a
secret sin, as the Lord looks at the heart and knows all things. Admit this
sin, give it to the Lord, learn to live in the here and now and not in the
fantasy world. Lust is not a precursor for “love”… it is the
opposite of love and only serves itself-it kills one’s ability to truly love.
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:24
The Scriptures tell us that God did not have a beginning,
and He does not have an end. For you and
I that may be hard to understand (possibly because on this earth we will have
both!) Knowing I had a beginning (in my mother’s womb or even before that in
the mind of God) serves to humble me greatly. I did not ask for life, and yet I
have it! Think about it for a moment… the same God who put the stars in the
sky conceived you in His mind before your mother conceived you. Then, the
Scriptures tell us He “knit” you in her womb. While we probably will
never be able to fully understand how God could always have been, we will one
day move from the restraints time and space put on us and into eternity. Once
we’re there, I’m betting our perspective on life will change radically. Then
the thinking unborn babies are “choices” and human embryos are fodder
for “experiments” will be exposed by God Himself. Until then, He
relies in great part on you and me to carry the torch of “life!”
Believe me; God is pro-choice in the sense He gives us choice in whether or not
we follow Him. But the Scriptures are resolute in the fact He is pro-life when
it comes to shedding innocent blood. Some 60ish years later we now look back at
Adolph Hitler’s “experiments” as cruel, inhuman and even Satanic.
Think back to your school lessons. In his mind didn’t Hitler believe he was
advancing mankind through “selection” and the through the sciences?
Death only advances itself.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:13-14
“He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them
authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter)
and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and
Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and
Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, WHO BETRAYED HIM.” Matthew 10:1-4 (Emphasis mine)
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want “Who betrayed Him” ever written behind my name. Makes you think about the way you serve, doesn’t it?
No stone was left unturned in early efforts to kill the
message Jesus came to share. At the hour
of His birth, Satan pushed Herod to have Him killed. Eventually Satan succeeded in murdering
Jesus, but that very murder played right into those nail-scared hands! Eventually even Herod the great died, but the
message lived on, and it still lives today!
The “Gospel,” as we’ve come to call it, at its core means
“the good news.” The good news
is we need not remain separated from God because of our Sins… and there’s
more good news. The Gospel continues to
be preached in spite of hell’s efforts to the contrary!
“Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died. But the word of God continued to increase and spread.” Acts 12:23-24
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out there are a lot of
people buying for our time and attention these days. I can’t remember a day when we haven’t had at
least one telemarketer call our home.
Our mail is stacked with unsolicited offers; we receive SPAM mail almost
daily; and we can’t drive a quarter mile without running across some type of
advertisement. In class after class in
college I learned the most effective ways to reach people through communication. Professor after professor touted their
favorite–One preached jingles, another, audio/visual presentations, still
another either stunning printed media or the spoken word. Unfortunately for the guy paying the college
bills (namely ME!) every single professor was wrong. The #1 most powerful form of communication is
a simple prayer! Forget all the
high-tech hoopla, all the power of Heaven above can be at our beck and call
with a simple whisper. When was the
last time you told your heavenly Father what was on your mind?
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18
Who’s the most important person in your church? Most people would immediately say their
pastor or priest, but would that be true?
What makes the boss more important than the janitor? The truth is that one is gifted in one thing,
and another in something else. They are
both equal and both equally important to the Body of Christ. You already know who preaches the sermons in
your congregation. This week why not
take a moment to find out who cleans the bathrooms and shake THEIR hand on the
way out of the building–the pastor’s sermon wouldn’t have been half as good if
he spent the whole week cleaning up the building… Or maybe it would have been
“The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable” 1 Corinthians 12:21-22
Life is tough! You
don’t have to be more than a few years old before that realization no doubt
comes full-force toward you. And
although it’s tough, there is also a lot to learn through those tough
times. In fact, if you look back over
your life to the times you’ve grown the most, I guarantee they will be some of
the toughest times you’ve had. And the
same is true of your walk with Christ.
As you look back to the times you grew the closest to Him–the times
when you were sure you had made great strides in the battle against sin,
they’ll be times when God tested you the most.
Try to remember this truth the next time trouble comes your way. He is
slowly but surely ridding you of your sinful ways.
“Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.” 1 Peter 4:1