Seeing, Believing and Finally Awoke!

One of the biggest social movements in our culture lately has been the movement that seeks to “awaken” people about different offenses that have been going unnoticed, or agreed to by our society. Some of these wrongdoings have been the constant mistreatment of women by men, the culture of violence that pervades many inner cities, the deaths of African-American men by the hand of Law-Enforcement. These are but a few of the different issues that this social movement has attempted to change, the call to people in America today by these different groups is for America to become “awoke”, to wake up to the things that have been going on and address them. For Christians, folks who have been radically changed in heart and spirit, becoming “awoke” was how their eyes were finally open; not just to these issues, but to the wider broader issue of sin in the world. The world became “awoke” on a Sunday morning over 2000 years ago, the Sun rose over Palestine on that day and a woman, walked to the tomb of her friend and Rabbi wanting to anoint him with spices. She found the tomb empty, she found Jesus alive and awake! Later hearing about this, two of Jesus’ disciples run to the tomb in disbelief, they were “awoke” by a woman to go there. Each ran to the tomb, but John arrives first, the young John outran older Peter. John looks inside, the linen is folded neatly, it is as if Jesus went through the burial cloths to become alive! Simon Peter sees the same, and he is “awoke” he believes! John sees the empty tomb and believes, he is Awakened!

The time before the resurrection had been depressing for the disciples, they had lost their leader in the ultimate shame, death on a Roman cross. Hiding from the authorities was the only answer, they were sleeping, unaware or not thinking about what Jesus had told them, that He would return. Becoming awake on Sunday morning, everything seemed to change. The world would never be the same, it had been awakened, the tombs in Jerusalem opened and people recently resurrected walked the streets (Matt. 27:52-53). The awakening had begun, and the world was “awoke”. Today the world is sleeping still, dead men and women walk the earth raising their hands in defiance against society, but the answers they seek can’t be  found. The answer was given a long time ago, in a brand-new tomb that had been given to a penniless leader of a small band of men and women. The answer startled the world, it jolted the world, so much so that a hardened Roman Centurion declared for all the world to hear, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39) The world became “awoke” when Jesus Christ defied the world’s culture and societies, when Jesus refused to accept the way things were, and when Jesus willingly accepted the Cross. His death was payment for my sin, your sin, he took it willingly without hesitation. Three days later the world awakes to the most wonderful, unbelievable awakening it had ever witnessed. Jesus is Alive! You are awoken, lift your dead eyes to Christ and see for the first time. All the issues that we face in society today must be changed, but the first thing that must be done is a change in our own hearts and souls; that can only come through the mercy and grace of the Savior who shook the world awake on a Sunday morning. Awaken and believe, look into the Tomb and open your eyes for the first time and see the life that God has for you!

May you all be blessed with the grace and peace of the one who brought us out of death to life, Happy Easter! Jesus is Alive!!

Focusing on Jesus and Loving the Wrath of God

Focusing on Jesus and Loving the Wrath of God

Habakkuk 2:6-20

Habakkuk is a book that has given many people down through the years different thoughts on God. Last week we went through just 3 verses from Habakkuk (2-5) and we spoke about living out the faith that God has given to us in Jesus Christ; this week we are hearing God speak to Habakkuk and answer some of his complaints, but as we find out, God’s answer to the prophet is terrifying and awesome at the same time. God answers the prophet specifically in his complaint about the Chaldeans, those warriors who have no conscious, and go about stealing, murdering and building cities on the blood of those whom they have slaughtered. In our text for today, the LORD outlines five specific mocking taunts against not only these Chaldeans (Babylonians) but also any of the prophet’s people in Israel, no one is exempt from the LORD’s judgement, as we have read before, his judgement will come, just wait for it.

Judgement by the LORD against these people are set in five different ways of evildoers:

1-Extortion-Punishing people if they didn’t pay

2-Theft-Stealing what wasn’t theirs and using it for themselves

3-Slavery-Using bloodshed and slaves to build their cities

4-Drunkiness- Making people intoxicated causing great shame

5-Idolatry-Putting God out of the world and replacing him with idols

All this evil is put on display by the LORD, and he takes each evil act and promises his wrath, his judgement against every worker of evil. Habakkuk is hearing the judgement of the LORD and I’m sure he is stunned by his righteousness and complete command of everything upon this earth. Judgement is finally completed as the whole world sits in silence their mouths shut as the LORD sits in his Holy Temple (v.20).

The world tends to confuse Judgement with Justice today; God’s judgement is perfect and is perfect justice; our judgement leads to imperfect justice. When we see injustice in this world we must right it using God’s Word and the example of our Lord Jesus Christ. Always, we must see the judgement that we were under and look to the one who provided a way out. Listen to the LORD today, see the hope that we have in Christ Jesus, if it were not for the love of the LORD, we too would be under the terrible wrath of the LORD. Jesus took that wrath, he absorbed the tremendous punishment so that you could be judged righteous and enter into his glory. It is because of Jesus’ command to us (Matt. 28:19) and his wonderful love, that we must bring this GOOD NEWS to the entire world under God’s wrath and judgement (Rom. 1:18-20). Focus on the one who gave you life and let God be God.

No Eyes To See Nor Ears To Hear

January 7, 2018

No Eyes To See Nor Ears To Hear

Habakkuk 1:1-4

Today we begin the Book of the Prophet Habakkuk, a prophet who lived around 625 B.C. Habakkuk is considered one of the Minor Prophets in the Old Testament, that is not because the book is unimportant, but because of the length of the book. It is a powerful teaching about the faithfulness of God and how when we live before a faithful God, our faith can withstand any disaster that may strike us. This book is a great opportunity for us to learn and grow in the Word of God at the beginning of a new year.

Habakkuk is living in an unfaithful country (Judah), and the northern part of Israel had been taken into captivity years before, now, Habakkuk sees the same pain and captivity coming to Judah. Habakkuk is crying out to God, he is frustrated by what he sees in his country, nothing is as it should be; God is not being worshipped, and he says, God is not hearing, God is not seeing and finally God is not caring. It seems to Habakkuk that God has left the building, closed the doors and won’t be returning.

Habakkuk is not so different from us, even though we are removed from where he is by over twenty-six hundred years. The world is self-destructing around us; Christianity is under assault in most of the world. More Christians have been martyred in the past hundred years than in all of Christianity. Unimaginable things in marriage and sexuality have now become commonplace and accepted, even our churches have become places that have given in to the demands of this new society, a society beyond post-modernism, a society that has turned their unbelief into doing whatever “works for you”. What do we see as we look out onto this bleak landscape? Do we sometimes think that maybe God has left the building? Left us on our own?

Our answer to this question should be rooted in what Christ has done for us, our answers are focused clearly upon the Cross, two thousand years ago, where a terrible thing was done, the Lamb of God was put to death on a Roman Cross.

In all the evil that was done that day, God used it for our good and His glory. He planned the Cross, He made a way for the filthy to become clean, for the dead to become alive and the rebel to become righteous. So, here we are listening to Habakkuk, are we hearing hope, or despair? Are we hearing life or death? It depends on who your King is.

The Good News Of The Son Of God

November 19, 2017

The Good News of The Son Of God

Mark 16:1-8

Our final message in Mark this morning doesn’t have any of the despair that was found in all the disciples and people who left Jesus during his crucifixion. This message in Mark’s short ending stands as our bedrock hope in life eternal. Jesus has risen! He is Alive! There is no doubt about this great news, Jesus who was crucified, dead and buried has been raised from the dead. An Angel speaks to Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome, he tells them the wonderful news, the tomb is empty.

Nothing in the history of the world carries more hope and love than this message of resurrection. Death has always been the ultimate scare, the one thing that we all must go through by ourselves, but here Jesus has gone before us, He has taken all the pain and suffered all the mistreatment, and has gone to the cross for us, He has defeated death, there is no more fear for those of us who call Christ King!

We have all been given this great gift because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have died with Christ and now we are also raised with Him. Since we are together with Christ then we must seek the same things that Christ seeks, keeping our minds upon things that are above and not on things here on this earth.

“Keep your mind on things that are above, not on those things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:2)

Because of Christ our fear of death has been swallowed up in victory.

“O death, where is your victory; O death, where is your sting? Now the sting of death is sin, and what gives sin it’s power is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).

Our faith in Christ is forever linked to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, because of Jesus our sins have been forgiven and we live in the light of that freedom. The Apostle Paul talks about this:

(1 Corinthians 15:17)

“ And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” The church in Paul’s day had denied the resurrection and the same denial is happening today. The Angel tells the women that Jesus has risen, He is alive, what wonderful news for those women and what wonderful news for us this morning!

The message of Mark’s gospel started out with Good News, (Mark 1:1) and now we finish Mark’s gospel with great news, HE IS RISEN, THE SON OF GOD IS ALIVE! Believe and repent of your sins and eternal life is yours.

Don’t Look Away From the Son of God Part 4

November 12, 2017

Don’t Look Away From the Son Of God Part 4

Mark 15:42-27

This is the final part of the series “Don’t look away from the Son of God”, we are ending chapter15 and are seeing the lifeless bloody body of our Lord being taken down from the cross and placed into a newly built tomb. All of the messages in our series have asked us not to look away from what has been happening in the gospel of Mark, every message has been filled with the unbelievable love of Jesus Christ from the initial arrest in the garden to the interrogation of the High Priests; from Pilate’s questions, to the soldier’s whips, from the actions of Simon of Cyrene to the final nails into flesh, love has flowed above and beyond the torrent of blood that ran from our Lord’s side. Love has been the constant current that has never wavered or lessened. Love is what has held our eyes transfixed upon that glorious message that has told us, not to look away but to absorb this amazing gift of life, the wonderful undeserved redemption from eternal blackness and despair. Now our Lord is laid in a tomb that has been carved out from the rock that surrounds Jerusalem, the Lord of lords is laid in a borrowed tomb, just as when he came into this world there was no room for him, and a space was donated. Don’t look away from this fact today, that Jesus had nothing of his own, even his clothes were ripped from him and gambled away.

My prayer as we end this series of messages is that we all see the life, death and burial of Jesus Christ in a way that we have never seen before. Every one of these messages has been a place where we have seen the sacrifice of Jesus anew, like we have never seen it before, that’s the reason for the title, “Don’t look away”. The burial of our Lord today in the text doesn’t signal the end for us, it is only the beginning. Don’t look away from this burial today, don’t look away from the surprise of Pilate as he is told that Jesus is dead. Don’t look away from Joseph of Arimathea or the women who saw where Jesus was laid. Don’t look away from this great truth this morning: truth and hope is not dead, but lives forever! Friday is just about over, but Sunday is coming, Sunday is coming for the disciples, and also for us our hope has not been extinguished by the grave, as a matter of fact we have been given victory over the grave because of Christ!

Don’t Look Away From the Son Of God Part 3

November 5, 2017

Don’t Look Away From the Son of God Part 3

Mark 15:33-41

This is the unbelievable act of salvation in the Lord Jesus, here is the moment where He takes the entire sin of the world upon himself. Everything is now poured out upon Jesus, every wicked thought, every wicked deed put upon Jesus Christ, and we are in front row seats this morning to observe this act of love that we don’t have any words for. Don’t look away this morning don’t look away from this divine gift that has been given to us.

Don’t look away from the way that God brings everything to pass, Don’t look away from the way that God has planned this salvation from the beginning of the world.

Don’t look away from God today, look towards Him as you hear these Words of Scripture. See the mocking, and hear Jesus cry out to God, asking why He has been forsaken. The sin of the world has been placed upon the Son, the judgement of the world has been put upon Jesus, and the ridicule of the world has landed on the Lord.

Don’t look away today from the freedom that Jesus’ pain and suffering gives to us when our hearts are changed.

Don’t look away today from the Words of the Old Testament that prophecy about Jesus on the cross. Today these words resonate loudly with us as they give us the ultimate picture of love. Listen to the words of God, speaking to us today from the Psalms:

Hide not your face from me.

Turn not your servant away in anger,

O you who have been my help.

Cast me not off; forsake me not,

O God of my salvation! (Ps. 27:9)

The earth trembles as Jesus breathes His last breath, the curtain of the Temple is torn in two from top to bottom, now the separation between us and God has been removed because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Now the darkness spreads throughout Israel, darkness has always meant separation from God and now the people of Israel experience this up close and personal. At 3 in the afternoon the priests in the Temple begin to slaughter the lambs that have been made ready for sacrifice, to atone for the sins of the nation on Passover, but the better spotless lamb has already sacrificed His life on a hill outside Jerusalem, crucified between two thieves! Jesus the Lamb of God has given his life for you, don’t look away from that fact this morning, keep staring at this wonderful gift of love and mercy!

Don’t Look Away From the Son of God Part 2

October 29, 2017

Don’t Look Away From the Son of God Part 2

Mark 15:21-32

We are in the middle of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in our messages in the Gospel of Mark. Jesus’ “passion” is the Bible’s story of how he was arrested, tried and then crucified, this is the “Passion of the Christ”. Last week we started this series in Mark only because we need to be focused upon what Jesus is doing and why He is doing this. When we are aware of the sacrifice of Christ for us, then we are more acutely aware of our own sin. We talked about that last week, how when we are focused upon Jesus our own sin is magnified in our consciousness, we are convicted because of Christ.

I wanted to make clear something this week that I didn’t say last week, and that is that knowing the sacrifice of Christ, really seeing it is central to your sanctification (how Christians go through life after being converted); but it is not the entire makeup of how we walk through life honoring Christ and knowing our sins. Understanding the suffering of Jesus, knowing the pain, being fully aware of the separation that Jesus had from the Father is important to know, but it is not everything to know. We begin our journey of faith from the knowledge of the passion of the Christ, but we continue to walk with Christ as we learn more and more about who Jesus is, and who is Christ in me.

The Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are our schoolwork, that is where we hear the parables of Jesus, that is where we listen to the words of Jesus explaining what the Kingdom of God is like, that is where we continue to see Christ and that is where our sanctification continues to grow.

If you haven’t started on the road to sanctification yet, if the passion of the Christ has not jump started your faith, then today is the day you should start your journey. Allow Jesus to show you the way forward even as He stumbles under the weight of the heavy piece of wood that He will die on. Allow Jesus to introduce you to Simon of Cyrene, the Jew who was radically changed by The Son of God. Allow Jesus to put you on Golgotha (skull hill) as He drags his bloody beaten body to His place of death and His place of Victory!

Don’t look away this morning, keep your focus on The King! Don’t look away today, stay on Jesus and then walk in His light!

Don’t Look Away From the Son of God Part 1

October 22, 2017

Don’t Look Away From the Son of God Part 1

Mark 15:16-20

Don’t look away is a strange title for this message but it’s something that must be talked about. We are in the midst of Jesus’ passion (His suffering, death and crucifixion) and we are reading about the details of everything that He went through for us. This is difficult, and painful to hear, especially when we know the details of the scourging (whipping) and the mocking that our Lord went through for us. We are inclined to look away from something that is so painful, we don’t want to look at scenes like these; there is something so terrible, so frightening that we don’t want to look at Jesus during this time, it is the price, the high price paid for our own sins that really disturbs us.

Mark’s gospel gives us a “matter of fact” reading of the passion of Jesus, there are no gory details, there is no visuals like the “Passion” movie by Mel Gibson, there is just a narrative of Jesus going through what had to be horrific to watch. What is more important here is the way that Jesus goes through each stage of suffering, each stage of his suffering becomes more and more intense, and each stage has to deal with a different people group. There are the Jewish leaders who spit and condemn him in a mock trial at night, there is the Roman Governor Pilate, who doesn’t quite understand Jesus, but understands fully how his needs are to survive long enough to get out of this horrible country; and finally, there are the Roman soldiers executing what is for them just another Jew who is to be killed. The Roman soldiers have all been through this before, they are used to death on a daily, often hourly basis, life is cheap here in ancient Palestine and these soldiers won’t look away today, they will see this execution through to its logical end, but in the end, they will know that this was no ordinary Jew, “Truly this was the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54c).

We cannot look away from this God-man Jesus Christ. We must see the streams of blood we have to feel the agony and we must see and feel something much more important this morning, we have to see ourselves saved through this amazing sacrificial act which has never been done before for us and never will be done again. Jesus Christ, the Son of God is going to pay the debt of sin this morning, He will be separated from His Father, communication will cease with God for you. For you, For me, For us. Don’t look away this morning, look deeper than you ever have before, see the awesome grace of God given to you because of nothing you have done, unmerited grace because of an undying love for you, for me, for us.

The World vs the Son of God

October 8, 2017

The World vs. The Son of God

Mark 15:1-5

In our text last week, we saw Peter denying Jesus at the same time that Jesus was being beaten by the Jewish leaders. Peter was denying the Lord after getting questioned by a “servant girl”. Jesus was being mocked and beaten by Jewish Men who led the illegal trial of Jesus in the dark of the night. In today’s reading, Jesus has been brought to the Roman rulers by the Jewish leaders who previously were spitting and beating him. When we look at the three weeks where we have been in Chapter fourteen and today Chapter fifteen; we see something incredible! We see the leaders of God’s chosen people (the Jews) refusing to acknowledge Jesus as God’s Son, we see next common people (servant girl) refusing to acknowledge Jesus and seek to have Peter arrested, and finally today we see the Conquerors of Israel (the Romans) unable to see Jesus as God. The Roman, Pilate, actually says he is amazed at Jesus’ answer to him.

So, the entire world, the Jews, the Jewish poor (Peter and the rest of the disciples) slaves and servants, and the Romans (world conquerors) all reject Jesus. The Lord Jesus is rejected by all different types of people in the entire world. The Psalmist speaks of this-Psalm 2:2-3

“ The kings of the earth set themselves,

and the rulers take counsel together,

against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,

“Let us burst their bonds apart

and cast away their cords from us.”

The world is against Jesus in the first century A.D.; the world is against Jesus in 2017. Nothing has changed, there are people who say they are in Christ today but reject God’s Word, billions of poor people around the world cry out for righteousness but reject the Lord of righteousness, the powerful of the world reject Jesus but love their money and power. This week evil came through a Hotel in Las Vegas Nevada. The world is stunned by the terrible deaths of so many people, the world seems surprised about this evil, but we know that this world has been, and will be, against God until our Lord Jesus comes again. We await that day, and we say Maranatha Lord Jesus! Come quickly!