Sermon Sunday December 12 2021 – Why Christmas 2

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Why did God decide to intervene in History at the time he did? It was a campaign to bring freedom and salvation into the world, to provide a way to reconcile man to God, so the timing had to be perfect, the pieces had to be in place. As with any military or political campaign, timing is everything. The creator of all things was on a mission to set the captives free, Jesus came to a world enslaved by sin, to set us free. The timing of this mission had to be perfect. “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son” (Galatians 4:4). What made this the perfect time?

Let’s look at the pieces that were in place that made this time in History perfect for Jesus to be born. The Roman Empire ushered in a time, when for the first time in history, all the nations and peoples of the known world in the Mediterranean region, were unified. This started under the Greeks as Alexander the Great brought all the nations together, and the Romans continued to expand this development by building an incredible system of roads. Transportation and sea travel linked people groups and nations that previously had no contact with each other. All these developments paved the way for the message of Jesus Christ to be easily spread by word of mouth and letters.

There was also the period in world history of unusual peace, from 27BC to 180AD, known as Pax Romana. The Roman Empire was stable and there was a relative peace across the known world, Prince of Peace came at a time of peace in the World.

Another major factor was Language. The Roman Empire was influenced by the Greek Empire, and the common language across all the empire was Greek. Language experts say that Hellenic Greek was one of the most articulate languages in history. A perfect language for the greatest story ever told.

When the time had fully come- God set the timeline, and He is still setting the timeline as we await the second coming of Christ.

So we can see why Jesus came when he did, but why Bethlehem? Why should this place be the location for the one born who was to be the savior of the world?

Bethlehem was not a major city of any importance. But when Jesus was born there, it became the most important town on the face of the earth. Looking back in the Old Testament, we see that Bethlehem has quite a legacy. One of the first pieces of history we read about Bethlehem is that Jacob’s wife Rachel was buried there, as we read in Genesis 35. She died giving birth to Benjamin, Joseph’s favorite brother.

The story of Ruth and Naomi also took place in Bethlehem. Boaz, who married Ruth was the great grandfather of King David.

In 1 Samuel 16, the prophet Samuel, anointing a young shepherd boy by the name of David, who became Israel’s greatest King. That is why Luke in his Gospel calls Bethlehem the town of David, in chapter 2. The name Bethlehem means “House of Bread”. Jesus was well aware of that when in John 6:48, he says; “I am the Bread of Life”.

We see a thread running through the Old Testament, that ties Israel to this little town. There was a preparedness and a readiness about Bethlehem at that time. It was the culmination of History.

For Christ to be born in Bethlehem at that time in history was not an accident. All the pieces were in place, Bethlehem was ready, History was ready. The fullness of time had come for the arrival of God’s Son.

So, we come to our last question today, why are you and I here at this time in History?

Time is one of the most precious commodities that we possess. But the truth is that we don’t possess time, we are given time with the purpose of stewarding it. Each of us is given a certain amount of time, that has been entrusted to us by God. He places it before us, we can choose to use it wisely, or we can simply sit back and let it run by like water running down a hillside stream. The Psalmist David writes that God gives us a certain number of days, and even writes them down before we are born as we read in Psalm 139:16.

So why are we here today; December 13, 2021? Paul writing to the church in Ephesus writes; “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10). If you have made Jesus Christ Lord of your life, you are a son and daughter of the King, you were created in Christ to do good works, that He prepared in advance for us to DO!

This specific day in December in 2021, is only here for a moment in history, God placed you in this moment, with a purpose, with a mission. A mission that only you can fulfill. Do you know your mission?

But there is another component to this line of questioning, why am I here? Why am I here in Kansas City? I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that I am in Kansas City, because God has called me to serve Him in this city. Along my life’s journey, I have often asked the Lord, why am I here? I believe that this is essential for us as Christians, we need to know our purpose, and know why God has called us to serve him in a particular place at a particular time.

Jesus was born at a specific time in history, at a specific place on the earth, for a specific purpose, you have been born at a specific time in history, you have been placed at a specific place on the earth, and you have a specific purpose.

Do you know the call of God on your life?

Sermon Sunday June 20 2021 – Are you a Follower or and Observer?

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Mountain top experiences part 9
Luke 23:21-49

Calvary is the mountain top encounter that all the others point to. This little hill just outside Jerusalem, is the peak on which all of human history pivots. During the Roman empire, this was the place where criminals were executed by the most inhumane method of crucifixion.

As we look at the various people who witnessed the death of Jesus, I want to challenge you by saying that on that day, Jesus had only one follower. There were many observers but only one follower. Looking at your life today, are you a follower or are you an observer?

As we read the account of the crucifixion, we subconsciously categorize people as guilty or innocent. The women were innocent, the soldiers were guilty, Pilate was confused and guilty, Simon of Cyrene was innocent, and the two criminals were both guilty, but one was saved.  

But the reality is that there was only one person innocent in the entire world, and that was Jesus. Luke does well to point this out in Luke 23 verses 22, 41 and 47.

Jesus was the only one who was sinless, and he died for all sinners (see Romans 3:22-23).

Everyone was impacted that day by the decisions they made and what they saw.

Pilate saw that Jesus was innocent and he tried to recuse himself (see Matthew 27:24).
He was a politician and a people pleaser. He did not have the character to stand by his convictions. But I wonder if I would have the courage to stand against the angry crowd on that day. He gave in to the pressure of the fear of man, and as a result he was guilty.

Simon of Cyrene was not involved in the crucifixion but was drawn in (Luke 23:26).He was a religious man from Libya who had travelled eight hundred miles to celebrate the Passover. Jesus was understandably exhausted and weakened by the beatings and interrogations, and could not carry the cross, so the crowd had this foreigner carry the cross.

There is a significant picture here, to carry your cross was a sign of guilt, it was perfectly ordained by God the Father that Jesus was not to carry his cross to the hill.I want to come back to Simon later in this article.

The rulers, soldiers and one of the criminals mocked Jesus. These religious leaders were the men who had studied the law and the prophets, the Old Testament, but they were blind to what they were doing. In verse 36, we read that the soldiers mocked him, getting drawn along by the crowd, they seemed to be enjoying the moment and teased Jesus. Even the dying criminal next to Jesus had energy left to mock and jeer at Jesus.

But then we come to the repentant criminal. His dialogue with Jesus is often used to explain the fact that we are saved by grace and not by works. There is nothing this criminal could do to earn his salvation, he simply asked Jesus to save him. But we can easily miss the tremendous faith that it took for him to ask Jesus to save him. He possibly had never seen Jesus before, we don’t know. But here in front of all the people, as he was dying, he declared that Jesus was the King of Kings. If you were drowning, would you ask a drowning man for help?

Here was a dying man, asking a dying man for help. A crazy idea, unless he really believed that Jesus was the son of God.

As Jesus died, we have a snapshot of a centurion. He was a hardened Roman soldier who had probably witnessed hundreds of crucifixions, but he had never seen anyone die like Jesus did. He knew that Jesus was innocent, and he gave glory to God.  He knew that he had just witnessed God in the flesh, and he was forever changed.

The people who were cheering the crucifixion were changed (Luke 23:48). They came to see a spectacle and to mock but left in fear and remorse. As they witnessed the spotless son of God dying, they became aware of their own sins and began grieving. How terrible and hopeless that must have felt for them.

Coming back to Simon, the man recruited to carry the cross. It is likely that what he saw that day, led him to be a Christian. In Mark 15:21 and Romans 16:13 we see that his sons were a part of the early church.

Carrying the cross changed Simon and, on that day, he was the only true follower of Jesus. He was walking out a prophetic picture of what it means to be a Christian. Jesus said in Matthew 16:24, Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

Before Simon met Jesus, he was a religious Jew, going about his devotion. But to come to know Jesus, he had to leave behind his plans and his religion. He had to die to his plans and his ideas of what he wanted to do, and then he had to take up the cross of Jesus. Do you see the picture?

Matthew 16:24 is often misinterpreted. People often talk about a “cross” as a burden to carry, something like a chronic sickness or a thankless job, and we say, “it is my cross to bear”

But this is not what Jesus meant. In the 1st century, to carry your cross, was to walk to your death. It was a cruel and humiliating form of capital punishment. It wasn’t a temporary inconvenience.

Today we celebrate the cross as a symbol of our salvation and the love of God, but when Jesus said these words, it would have sounded a whole lot different.
To take up your cross is to completely abandon our plans and goals and submitting to the perfect will of God. This is the first step in being a follower of Jesus (see Luke 14:27).

Are you a follower of Jesus? Have you seen that radical change in your life? Or are you still the master of your own plan.

I can assure you that the only way to live in peace and have eternal salvation, is to be a follower of Jesus and not an observer.

Sermon, Sunday March 14, 2021 – Do You See Jesus?

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Mark 8:1-10

Do you ever look at something and not see what’s really there?

There is a phenomenon in the world of art called a stereogram. You can often find them in museums, shopping malls, or art stores. These are three-dimensional pictures hidden inside a two-dimensional picture with a repeating pattern. But a lot of people, like me, cannot see the hidden image.

Not seeing what’s there not only happens in the art world, it also happens in the spiritual world. It happens with Jesus. At first glance when we look at Jesus, we don’t see all that’s there. And if we don’t look long enough, if we don’t look at him in a different way, we’ll have a limited view that will prevent us from seeing how incredible, how powerful, how compassionate, how glorious he is, and will miss out on experiencing the life he offers us. What image do you have of Jesus?

As we skim through Marks Gospel, we are looking at Mark 6:30 to 9:32.Up to this point in the ministry of Jesus, he’s been extremely popular. The things he’s said and done have impacted the entire region. However, this is about to change as he begins to reveal his true mission, one that will culminate on a cruel Roman cross.

Throughout this Gospel, you may have noticed that Jesus uses every moment to reveal himself more fully to his disciples, because like us, they don’t always see things clearly.

One of these moments is found in Mark 8:1-10 as Jesus miraculously feeds four-thousand people with a few loaves and fish.

Jesus isn’t just a powerful teacher and miracle worker; he is a shepherd. He cares about people. His emotion moves him to action, and he wants to feed the people. Jesus has the crowd sit down and blesses the food as he begins to perform a miracle of multiplication that fed the multitude. The disciples saw a crowd that needed to be sent away because the task was impossible. Jesus saw people who needed to be fed and an opportunity to teach.

We might see someone who has made a wreck of their lives and someone who takes up our time, when Jesus sees them as a person who deserves a second chance. Jesus sees the person whom he created in the image of God.

Later, when Jesus is alone with his disciples, he knows that they are struggling to grasp who he really is (Mark 8:18). They were looking at him with the wrong expectation and focus.

We aren’t much different. No matter how many times the Lord has answered our prayers in the past, we still struggle to grasp his power and trust him fully in the present. When we are going through various trials, we need Jesus to help us to see him, see him for who he really is.

In Mark 8:27-30, Jesus reveals who he really is. Jesus wanted his disciples to see his true identity. Jesus posed this question, “Who do people say that I am?” (Mark 8:27)

This is the essential question that we all must answer. What image do you have of Jesus?

If we’re unclear about Jesus, if we have a view of him that comes from our culture, books, or movies, then we could be going in a direction that leads us away from God.

Peter answered with a clear declaration of Jesus’ true identity. “You are the Christ.” (Mark 8:29b). Jesus affirms Peter’s declaration but instructs them not to tell anyone. But then he begins to tell them about the suffering he is about to undergo (Mark 8:31-38). This idea of suffering and death was not the picture they had of their messiah.

Peter boldly takes Jesus aside and begins to rebuke him, getting Jesus back in line with Peter’s vision. But Jesus seizes the moment and in the presence of all the disciples, rebukes Peter (Mark 8:33). Satan didn’t want Jesus to go to the cross and he tried to use a friend of Jesus to derail his mission plan.  Satan has, and always will try to obscure and lie about the true identity of Jesus. He doesn’t want us to see Jesus for who he really is.

Satan is okay with us believing that Jesus was a good man, a moral teacher, a prophet, or a miracle worker. But he is more!  He is the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God who came to seek and save the lost, to set people free. Jesus suffered and died to pay for our sins and rose from the grave to authenticate that his death was a sufficient payment. And now he is alive and inviting whoever will see him for who he is, to accept his offer of eternal life!

Ever since the time of Jesus, men have argued about who this man named Jesus from Galilee really was.  The Pharisees and Sadducees were very curious about Jesus and often followed him around to catch him in a lie, or they simply rejected him.  Two thousand years later, many people continue to trivialize the life and teaching of Jesus. Some will even go as far as calling Jesus a great moral teacher but not the Lord over all creation.

Jesus Christ was the most influential person to ever walk this planet!  He changed the timeline of history forever. 

Colossians 3:4 says, “When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Is he your life? Or an add on?

The Bible is clear that the only way to avoid spending an eternity in Hell is through a personal relationship with this Jesus Christ. And that happens by making him Lord of your life. We can never make a true decision about Jesus by taking a poll of what other people think. You need to encounter him and see him in a personal way.  

What is your image of Jesus? What obstacle is keeping you from seeing Jesus clearly?

Sermon – April 21, 2019 Resurrection Sunday

He is Risen!

We were all struck by the spectacle of the fire that destroyed the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.

As I was watching the coverage, somthing struck me, I began thinking about why this burning building caused so much grief and angst. One of the reasons was that we as God’s created beings, desire transcendence, we have a desire for something that endures beyond our lives. We desperately want to know that eternity is real and achievable. The thought that everything around us that we see will one day fall to decay is simply too hard for us to face (see Ecclesiastes 3:11).

We were made for so much more than the accumulation of wealth, knowledge and the pursuit of comfort and happiness, we were made for eternal glory with Jesus.

On Easter Sunday, we celebrate the fact that Jesus rose from the dead and that he paid the price for our eternal salvation. Isaiah 53 is one of the clearest Old Testament prophetic Scriptures that points to the death and resurrection of Jesus. These words also remind us that Jesus was not a victim of a terribly botched trial, or mistaken identity. Jesus was the creator God, who took on flesh, was born and lived at a specific time in history to die on a Roman cross and then to be raised to life. Only Jesus could do what He did, only Jesus who was fully God and fully man, was the one who could pay the price for the sins of man.

In Isaiah 53:10-12 we see five key attributes of Jesus, starting at verse 10a, “Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt,”
Jesus is – the Perfect Sacrifice.

Under the Law of Moses, there were multiple different offerings, the prophet Isaiah wrote that Jesus was a guilt offering. The guilt offering was to provide a way to be cleansed from unintentional sin, or a way to provide restitution when someone has been personally wronged because of a sinner’s actions. Jesus knows what sins we have committed in the past, but the guilt offering was for unintentional or yet unknown sin. On the cross, Jesus paid the price for our sins and for the sins we are yet to commit even our unintentional sins. Does this mean I sin without consequence? Absolutely not, it was our sin that drove Jesus to the cross, past present and future. Jesus is the perfect sacrifice, the only pure spotless lamb of God (see Hebrews 10:11-14).

Jesus is – the Risen Lord.

Jesus is alive! Isaiah 53:10b-11a says, “he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. 11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;”

Only living people see their offspring, only living people have extended days and prosper.

This is the line in the sand that differentiates Christianity from any other world religion. Our God is alive, the tomb where he was buried was only occupied for a few days. Paul clearly stated this in 1 Corinthians 15:3-6, this is the Good News, he is risen!

Not only that, Jesus was raised with a body that will never decay, the same kind that we will also get one day if we believe in Jesus as Lord. The resurrection of Jesus is our glorious hope of a certain eternal future.

Jesus is – our Righteousness.

Isaiah 53:11b, “by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.”

The word righteous means that there is no longer a need for justice or punishment. For the Christian, to be righteous means to be in right standing before God. This is the privilege that we have as those covered by the perfect sacrifice of Jesus. We cannot stand before the all-holy God without the righteousness of Christ.

Without the righteousness of Christ, we have no hope of any sin being forgiven, but because of what he had done, no sin is too great for his forgiveness.

In Isaiah 64, we read that those who trust in their own righteousness or good works, are described as filthy rags in God’s sight. There is no good work that we could do that would make us righteous.  Nothing we can do will make us righteous before God, only through Jesus can we stand righteous before the all-holy God

In Jeremiah 23:6 we read that Jesus is Jehovah Tsidkenu, meaning Jehovah is our righteousness.

Our being in right standing with God is only because of us placing our faith in the completed work of Jesus on the cross. Righteousness comes through faith.

Jesus is our Inheritance

Isaiah 53:12a, “Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,

The Bible is full of references to the inheritance believers have in Christ (see Ephesians 1:11).

Our inheritance is the sum of all God has promised us in salvation. Our inheritance is not dependent on our works, our inheritance is based on our family, being part of the family of God, being a Christian makes us heirs along with Christ (See Romans 8:16-17).

When we understand and value the glory that awaits us, we are better able to endure whatever comes our way in this life. With an eternal perspective, we realize that this life is gone in a flash and eternity awaits us all. We can praise God during trials because we have His guarantee that we will receive all He has promised (see 2 Corinthians 4:17).

Jesus is our Advocate.

Isaiah 53:12 closes, “because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many and makes intercession for the transgressors.”

An advocate is someone who pleads the cause of another before a court or tribunal, Jesus is our advocate (see 1 John 2:1).

Jesus, the creator of the universe, gave his life for you, and now he is seated next to God the father and he is pleading and advocating for us (see Hebrews 7:23-25).

In addition to this, Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

Do you know Jesus?

Philippians – Paul’s letter of Joy – Philippians 2:5-11 – Sermon December 9, 2018

Philippians 2:5-11

As we come to this Christmas season, I want to ask two questions. Firstly, who is Jesus? And secondly, who is Jesus to you?

Both may seem easy to answer, but that is simply because we don’t grasp the depth of the questions.

In the first four verses of Philippians chapter 2, Paul writes that the key to unity in the church is putting others first. In the next few verses, Paul turns our attention away from ourselves and gives us the perfect example of sacrificial humility, the example set by Jesus. Jesus gave up his royal throne in heaven and came to a humble stable preferring us over his glory.

Verse 5 begins, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,” Paul writes essentially that we should have the mindset of Christ, which is humility and submission to the will of the Father. Jesus did not think of himself, he thought of you and me, this is the mind of Christ. We exhibit the mind of Christ when we think of others and prefer others.

Question 1: Who is Jesus?

Philippians 2:6, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,”

Jesus is God, Jesus always was God and will always be God. Christmas, the birth of Jesus, was not the beginning of the second person of the trinity. Rather it was the revelation of God to man, but it was not the beginning, and even though Jesus became a human being, he did not cease to be the eternal God. Jesus identified himself as God (John 10:30 and John 14:9).

The attitude of Jesus was that even though he had every right to the honor and privileges of being God, he gave up these privilege for a season. Jesus counted the cost for our salvation, he was willing to lay aside privilege for the benefit of all who would trust in him.

Not only did Jesus give up his privilege, but in Philippians 2:7-8 we read the extraordinary level that Jesus went to. Jesus humbled himself willingly, becoming a servant in order to save us.

Now when the Bible says that Jesus emptied himself, it does not mean that he ceased to be God. He did not empty himself of his divine nature or attributes, rather he emptied himself of the outward and visible manifestation of the Godhead. Jesus took on the nature of a servant, being made in human form, he added servanthood to his deity.

We can talk about this all day and still come no closer to fully understanding the depths of this statement. The King of Kings became a servant, lowering himself more than any being has ever done. Not only did he become a servant, he became obedient even to the point of submitting himself to dying on a cross. Jesus took on the curse of the cross so that we didn’t have to die and be eternally separated from God.

But Jesus didn’t just come as a baby to die a cruel death on the cross. We are not saved because of the nativity, we aren’t saved simply because God, the creator came and lived with his creation. We are saved because after he was crucified, he was buried but on the third day he rose again. God the Father reached down and restored Jesus back to life. And we believe that this same Jesus is coming again in glory and power the likes of which this world has never seen. Jesus came as a baby, humble and poor in a manger, but when he comes again, it will be so glorious and majestic that every person on the face of the earth will instantly know about it.

Verse 9 of Philippians 2 continues, Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.” Because of the obedience and humility that Jesus displayed, God the Father exalted him and gave him the name that is above every other name.

Jesus, the name given by the angel to Joseph, the name that was ridiculed, mocked, shamed, belittled and rejected by man, has become the most powerful and exalted name above all. The Apostle Peter taught this to the Sadducees when explaining the healing of the cripple beggar outside the temple in Acts 4:10-12.

The name of Jesus is the only name with the power to give eternal life, to heal the sick, to overcome demonic forces, to set people free from addictions, to restore broken marriages and relationships. Without the name of Jesus, we have no hope in this world. There is power in the name of Jesus, he has been exalted above every other name.

Philippians 2:10-11 continues to teach that whether people worship or reject the name of Jesus, there will come a day when every person who has ever walked this earth will get on their knees and confess that Jesus is Lord.

Question 2: Who is Jesus to you?

For most people in the world, Christmas is simply another celebration of music, gifts and parties. The world recognizes Christmas, but does not recognize Christ, the Lord over all.

If you know Jesus, Christmas takes on a far deeper meaning. Jesus is a real person who walked the earth, the world acknowledges that much, but what Jesus offers is a personal relationship, which is much more than simply knowing about another person in history.

One can know the facts of history and the Bible cover to cover, but if you don’t know him personally, you are not saved and will spend eternity separated from God.

Salvation is about a personal relationship with the creator God who humbled himself and died on the cross for you. There is power in the name of Jesus because of the personal relationship that we have with our maker and our savior. Do you know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?

Christmas sermon series part 2 – December 11 2016

christmas-pt-2As we study the Old Testament we see that it all points to the coming Messiah, it is as if the Old Testament is a road that leads to the little town of Bethlehem, and to a seemingly insignificant event on a global scale, a child being born who will be the savior of the world.

The Old Testament has over 300 prophecies by multiple authors and prophets pointing towards Jesus, most of these were completely fulfilled in the life of Jesus while he was here on the earth, some of them refer to the second coming of Jesus that we are waiting for.

Micah was a prophet of God in the eighth century BC. He was a contemporary of the prophet Isaiah who lived at the same time. This time of the year we will often year read Micah 5 verse 2, but the verses that surround this verse seem to be disconnected and hardly seem to fit the Christmas narrative. As we look at the first 6 verses of Micah chapter 5, we see that the prophet is taking a wide, sweeping view of history.

Chapter 5 begins with a call to arms. The first verse mentions the city of troops; this is probably Jerusalem as the seat of power where most of the military were staying at the time. Micah writes that the city is under siege. Micah prophesy’s that this attack will succeed and that the enemy will strike the king of Israel on the cheek with a rod, a sign of humiliation.  Most scholars believe that this was foretelling the attack on Jerusalem by the Babylonians and the capture and torture of King Zedekiah. So the first verse is a prophecy of the impending destruction Jerusalem and the exile of the tribe of Judah which took place around 586BC, an event that would take place around 100 years after Micah.

Then we have the very familiar second verse of Micah chapter 5, we know this verse refers to Jesus, the promised Messiah who will be born in Bethlehem. The name Bethlehem means “house of bread”, again we see a prophetic glimpse. Jesus called himself the Bread of Life, it is no mistake that he was born in a town called the “house of bread”.

But then Micah mentions that this ruler’s origins will be from of old, from ancient times. The literal translation means, “days of antiquity”. The origins of this ruler will be before the beginning of time, one who transcends time, only God can do that.

So, verse 1 points to a time about 100 years in advance of Micah’s life, verse 2 points to the birth of Jesus, almost 700 years after Micah’s writings.

Then at first glance verse three refers to Mary and the birth of Jesus, however if we read carefully the phrase, “Israel will be abandoned until….”.  Israel ceased to be a nation until 1948, when the Jewish nation was restored. And the last part of the verse; “and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites”, is something that we have seen taking place within the last 68 years.

Many scholars feel that this birth that is predicted is actually the birth of the nation of Israel that we witnessed in the 20th century.

The progression follows; verse 1 points 100 years down the road, verse 2 points 700 years down the road, and verse three points almost 2700 years down the road of history.

But then we come to verse 4. This promised ruler who is to come will stand, this means that he will be established and unmovable as the King, there will be no challenge to his authority and he will shepherd his flock. And not only that, but his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.

Micah is not talking about the first time Jesus came to the earth, he is talking here about the second coming of Jesus. When Jesus will establish his throne on the earth and he will reign over all the earth, there will be no doubt of his majesty and authority. So in verse 4 we see a glimpse not only into the future of the prophet Micah, but also into our own future as we await the second coming of our Lord.

So this prophet who lived around 2800 years ago, was led under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to write these words that we have translated for us today. These are the words of God to us, as they were to the people of the tribe of Judah, who were about to be invaded by the Babylonians, and to the remnant looking for and awaiting the Messiah who came in the form of a little baby born in a stable in Bethlehem. These were the words of God that confirmed the re-establishment of the nation of Israel. And these are the words of God to us as believers all over the world. Words to encourage us to keep looking ahead, keep looking down the road because Jesus is coming back again. And when he does come back again, as Paul wrote in the letter to the Philippians chapter 2:10; “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,”

As we see with the prophetic writing of the past, people missed it. When Jesus came to the earth even the most respected scholars of the day completely missed it. Those who studied the prophetic writings did not recognize the Messiah when he came in the form of a Baby in Bethlehem.

But I can assure you that when Jesus comes back again, there will be no doubt as to who he is, there will be no doubt about his power and authority.

The Lion of the tribe of Judah is coming back to rule and reign in glory. The only question will be whether or not you are ready.

Why Jesus was not a martyr – March 20 2016

 

Palm Sunday

Jesus was not a martyr

Luke 19:28-44

Not a Martyr newsletter

This past Sunday we celebrated what is known as Palm Sunday, the Sunday before resurrection Sunday. The day when Jesus completed his final journey to Jerusalem. And through all this journey we have seen one thing in common, Jesus had his eyes fixed on eternity. Jerusalem was not his destination, it was a stop on the journey, the journey that led to him being seated at the right hand of the Father.

In Luke 19:28 we see Jesus walking on ahead once again, he was walking on ahead and focused on the prize, he was not being distracted. As the crowd around him sees what is happening, their excitement begins to boil over, some of them probably have memorized the prophet Zechariah, and they would immediately see what is going on as Jesus begins to ride on the colt into Jerusalem. 500 years before these were the words of the Lord given to the prophet Zechariah 9:9:

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
    Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
    righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Can you imagine the excitement, here they were seeing prophecy fulfilled, Jesus was coming to establish his kingdom in Jerusalem, the promised messiah was here and he was going to throw off the oppressive Roman rulers. They spread their cloaks on the roadway as a sign of homage and respect. We must remember the context here, this was the beginning of Passover week, the time when the ancient Israelites were liberated from the slavery of the Egyptians. The beginning of the Exodus. For them the enemy was Rome, but Jesus was focused on defeating Satan, sin and death. Their vision was too small, Jesus had a much bigger mission in mind.

As Jesus was riding into Jerusalem he knew what lay ahead, he knew that within a few short days, these same people would be part of a crowd that would be screaming for him to be crucified. But how could they possible understand that the messiah of Zachariah 9:9 was the same person as the suffering servant that the Lord spoke to the prophet Isaiah about in Isaiah 53.

Many unbelievers look at the death of Jesus as an awful tragedy, as a terrible mistake that a great man made. Those who don’t know Jesus as the messiah, will see the death of Jesus as a result of the betrayal of one of his close followers, or maybe the envy of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish religious leaders. Maybe Jesus’ death was a result of the weak leadership of Pilate. It all seems such a terrible mistake, a tragedy.

But look back at Luke 9:51; Jesus was not caught up as a victim of a web of deceit. This was not some kind of an afterthought by God. God planned this out from before time began, because of his love for sinners like me and you. Jesus knew what was about to take place, he kept silent as they cheered him and worshipped him.

Jesus willingly entered Jerusalem, and endured the cross without resistance, he willingly allowed himself to be nailed to the cross, not because of some cause he was trying to defend. (read John 10:18)

The definition of a martyr is someone who is killed for their religious beliefs, they become victims

But Jesus died as the sacrificial lamb. He died on purpose in order to atone for our sins as an offering to God the Father, so that we can be made right with God (see 1 John 1:9).

This past Sunday we witnessed four people being baptized, it is always a wonderful celebration as we see people giving a public witness and a testimony of what God has done in their lives. Each of these four candidates for Baptism have shared their testimony of how God the Holy Spirit worked in their lives to firstly convict them of sin, and then to lead them to repentance and finally to give their lives to Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and savior.

The reality is that Jesus is not an add-on to our lives. He is not simply a check box on a list that we need to get done in order to get into heaven. The Bible makes it clear that when you become a Christian, it is all or nothing. Unfortunately in our western culture of ease and convenience, we have removed the deep significance of what it means to become a follower of Jesus.

Baptism is a beautiful symbol of what happens when we become a Christian. When the person goes under the water, they are saying; “I am identifying with Christ, I am dying and being buried to my old life” It is a symbol of dying and giving up the past. Then as the person comes up out of the water, it is symbolizing that they are being raised to a new life in Christ.

Just as Jesus went to Jerusalem, to die on purpose, not as a victim or a martyr, he calls us to die as well.

Dying to our old way of life, dying to our selfish desires and beginning to live a new life, a life that is committed to living for Jesus Christ.

Only by Dying can you truly live.

Only by dying can you begin to bring life to those around you.

See what Jesus said in Matthew 16:24-26. That raises the bar a bit doesn’t it? Jesus is saying that this is the norm. This is the only way to become his disciple.

Today as you look at your life, do you qualify as a disciple of Jesus? You may have been baptized many years ago, you may have prayed the prayer of salvation many years ago, but are you truly living a new life in Christ.

Does your life reflect the life of Jesus, not the life of a martyr, but the life of a person who is dying on purpose?