A Chosen Lamb for the Ultimate Sacrifice

11a 3 lamb           As Jesus approaches, John the Baptist boldly proclaims to all those that were around, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” For all of those that heard this statement whether fully or in part understood the ramification and significance of what John was saying.

When my girls were younger we were picked or maybe you could say, “punished” to be the foster parents of a small yearling lamb that we were to go and pick up from a local rancher. Then it would become our responsibility to bring it home and get it ready for the Easter program; which would entail scrubbing and washing, then drying and fluffing its beautiful wool. My young girls were so excited that they could hardly wait to get started on this adventure. I have to admit in the beginning I was looking forward to showing off my country boy upbringing as well. Once we arrived at the ranch, the gracious rancher took us out to a small pen where he was holding some orphan lambs so he could bottle-feed them. After the girls had a time of playing with each of them and falling in love with all of the lambs it was the moment of truth. My sweet young daughters had to pick just one, the right one! As they thought and talked and discussed and looked each one over and over they finally came to a mutual decision.

After thanking the amused rancher, who had a mysterious twinkle in his eyes making me question whether he knew something that maybe we were missing, we headed home. Well, that was only too soon confirmed when hours later this poor little cute innocent lamb was crying out for help from all the pampering and lavish love my girls were giving it. A bath with foaming suds and layers of soap, then hair dryers blowing from every angle with non-stop kisses from each of the girls.

What seemed to be a glorious memory making and life long lesson for my children seemed to come crashing down, when it became time to turn out the lights and go to bed with a sigh of accomplishment.

If only it would have ended with that fairytale ending. It was only moments after putting the lamb in our enclosed back suburban yard with lights turned off with a prayer and a kiss. That this little lamb must have finally came to the realization that something was drastically wrong and began to cry out for the normalcy of the stable. It was during this continual bleating and every home’s light coming on in our sweet quiet and quaint neighborhood, that I had the revelation of the Passover lamb, which was anything but a sweet child’s pet!

The sound must have been deafening in Goshen that night many years ago when God instituted the Passover and the sacrifice of the unblemished lamb in every home. (Ex 12:3-13) Things had been tense anyway as the show down between Pharaoh and God’s servant Moses came to and end. To the Egyptians it was nothing less than a nightmare and to God’s children it was a magnificent beginning to a journey of God unfolding His love for His people as well as continuing to reveal Jesus Christ as the coming redeemer and the Lamb of God.

That night with what started to be a cute cuddly memory for my daughters had turned into a agony of a bleating lamb in my back yard. It seemed to bring another side to this story more than ever; I now understood the ramification and significance of what John had declared more than two thousand years ago. Jesus came to earth to be our Passover lamb. That through receiving Jesus’ agonizing and horrific sacrifice on the cross we might be redeemed from death and walk in a journey of victory as His children. (Luke 22:14-20)

Advertisements

Don’t be a Grinch trying to Steal the Hope of Christmas?

a- grinch      Most of us are acquainted with Dr. Seuss’s Grinch, the Green grumpy creature, which is intent on ruining Christmas for the village of Whoville. Theodor (Dr. Seuss) Geisel’s written rhyme in 1957 has over the years been made into various movies. The green self-seeking creature is embedded in most of our memory as the one that would do anything to steal the joy, hope and blessing of Christmas. Though it is just a story full of humor and fun it brings out a message that we are faced with each and every year. There are always those who want to steal the message of hope during this incredible season.

Interestingly enough we read a very similar story in the gospel of Mathew. Even though there are no green monsters and the setting is not Whoville but Jerusalem. We read in Matt 2:1-3, “…in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? …When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled”. Jesus had been born a couple years earlier and now the wise men of the east had come to Jerusalem looking for the child King, to worship Him. King Herod was agitated and was shaken to his core at the Wise men’s report. Keep in mind every since the angels had announced Jesus was born King of the Jews to the Sheppard’s years earlier, the news had spread throughout the social media of the day becoming common rumors in the region. (Lk 2:8-20)

For an insecure King this new development only threatened him the more. He had worked and managed to become the representing King over the Jewish people for the Roman Empire and now the reality of the Jewish prophecies, the talk of the city and now the Wise men’s intentions have come to haunt his self-ambitions. The news that the “King of the Jews” had been growing up amongst them is more than he could grasp.

This troubled Herod turned into a raging maniac that wanted to get rid of any threat to his kingship. It was after he deceived and lied to the wise men that he ordered every male child two years and younger to be killed around Bethlehem and the region in hopes of doing away with any future threat. (v.16) Herod was so self-adsorbed and fixed on doing whatever he wanted to do that he became obsessed in not allowing any other King to threaten his kingdom and therefore tried to destroy any hope for the people and the nation. He was the real life “Grinch” of the ages!

How often have you allowed your insecurities or selfishness to steal the hope of this season? Have you been troubled or threatened by the Lordship of Christ? The scripture says in Matt 6:24, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other”. We can’t serve King Jesus if we are living to our own pleasures. The “Rich Young Ruler” went away sad because he was unwilling to bow his knee to King Jesus. We are only troubled and agitated by the presence of the King when we refuse to live a surrendered life before Him. Jesus said, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me”. (Mk 8:34) It’s time to stop being the Grinch who is stealing others Christmas’s hope and surrender to Jesus’ Kingship and bow down and worship Him.

 

Let us not wait till it’s too late to do something

IMG_1150The Scripture says whoever will come after Christ, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow Christ. (Mk. 8:34) It doesn’t come easy or cheap, but the effects are life changing. Leonard Ravenhill declares, “Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, GIVE ME REVIVAL in my soul and in my church and in my nation—or GIVE ME DEATH!”

Have you gotten to the place that ordinary routine is nauseating? I believe just religiously going to church, receiving nothing more than entertainment causes decay and a slow spiritual decline. If we are not going to obtain the best God has for us, then we might as well just go home to heaven. The choice is easy—either it is life or death! We must press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God!(Phil 3:14)

In the story of Esther, we see the divine orchestration of God. The Jews were in a desperate situation, with death lurking at the door of their comfort zone. It looked hopeless for they needed a miracle to get themselves out of this tight spot. They didn’t go looking for the hottest and most fiery Jewish evangelist to bring in a change. No! They got on their faces and began to fast and pray. They began to beseech God with fasting and prayer for his intervention and deliverance. In the end the stamp of approval on what she had done was God’s great deliverance for the Jewish people.

Anywhere you look in our society, you can see the destroyer at the door. The thief comes not but to steal, kill, and destroy. (Jn 10:10) Whatever we have, whether it is our life, our family, or our nation, it is his aim to destroy it. America, the great unsinkable land of opportunity, is on a course headed for destruction. The signs are in the sky. The evidence is clear. It is now the time to lay hold of the reason for which Christ has laid hold of us! Let us seek the Lord while he may still be found. I cringe at the thought of ever having the Lord speak about me as he did about Jerusalem. In Luke 19:44 Jesus says, “Because you did not know the time of your visitation,” there would be no peace, and Jerusalem would have destruction. Now is the season of our visitation. It says in Joel 2:28, “I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh.”

The church must awake out of its slumber and receive God’s visitation on his people. Then the church will reap in righteousness and see revival. Let us not wait till it’s too late to do something. The night is far spent; the hour is at hand. Using the words of the Psalmist, let us cry out to the Lord, “Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You.” The church must humble itself and repent from its arrogance and haughty attitudes. Peter speaks to the men of Israel in Acts 3:19. He tells them to, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” Only through our brokenness and turning away from sin will we truly see the refreshing of the Lord. The time is now for us to sow in prayer and fasting. Instead of decreasing our prayer time, we need to increase in prayer power. We must search the very intent of our heart and get , getting rid of every hindrance that would stand in the way of revival. Then ask the Lord right now to begin to stoke the fires and passion for revival in your hearts.

Let God turn your Mess Ups into His Set Ups

images-65One of my fond memories as a young boy was on the coast of Oregon in the shadows of the sand cliffs as the Sun set on the ocean in the cool of the evening. My parents had started a campfire and we were cooking hotdogs on the beach. It was such a soothing and refreshing moment that I imagine each time I read the story that we find in John 21:6-15.

The passage is of Peter and some of the disciples fishing after Jesus had been crucified. They were devastated and beyond discouraged which drove them back to their old profession of commercial fishing. And to add salt to their emotional wounds, they were catching no fish.

Out of their hopelessness they obey a person they don’t recognize, who tells them to throw their nets on the other side of the boat. That’s as audacious as if a quarter back in the NFL would take instructions from a fan in the second tier of the stands. Yet they obeyed and caught a net breaking catch of fish. John cries out it is the Lord and the radically spontaneously actions of Peter confirms his agreement. He grabs his cloak puts


Peter was pushed to the point of quitting and going back to his old life style of fishing after the shame of feeling like a failure. –  Tweet  


it on and jumps overboard to be the first one to the shore where the resurrected Jesus has a fire prepared for them. As they all get there with their catch of fish, Jesus begins to cook breakfast for them and pointedly asks Peter three times if he loved Him. Once Jesus gets Peter to confess his brotherly love for Him, Jesus confirms the commission that was on his life, to feed the followers of Jesus.

This story all by itself stirs me, but when we understand the past events in Peter’s life it comes alive with the very mercies and love of God. You see Peter had just royally blown it! In John 18:16-28 we read in the midst of Jesus being falsely accused and on trial, instead of defending Jesus, Peter denies Him three times as he warms himself by a fire outside.

I believe it was this event and a whole list of other mess-ups that finally tipped Peters emotional wagon. He was the one who had gotten his eyes off of Jesus and on the waves beginning to sink. (Matt 14:23-32) Remember he also was the one who cut the ear off the High Priest’s servant (Jn 18:10-11) and at the mount of Transfiguration put his foot in his mouth. (Matt 17:2-7) We can’t deny the blooper when he rebuked Jesus for talking about His death. (Mark 8:31-33) Then who can forget about Peter and the disciples sleeping through the prayer meeting even after Jesus woke them up three times in this most crucial time. (Matt 26:41-46)

So you can definitely understand how Peter once he saw the evidence that Jesus was raised from the grave (John 20:6-8) could have become overwhelmed thinking he was a failure! Pushing him to the point of quitting and going back to his old life style of fishing. (John 21:3-4) That brings back to where we started, on the beach with Jesus cooking breakfast. Peter was devastated and convinced he was the all time failure. Yet Jesus was setting Peter up, wanting to take his mess-up and use them as a set-up for his come back. There on the beach was a fire and then three times Jesus had him say that he loved Him to replace the three denials and commissioning him to feed God’s sheep. In Acts we see Peter was then used to preach the Gospel message where three thousand came to believe in Jesus! (Acts 2:14-15)

He Still Loves Me even when I Blow It

637685246Peter in his zeal blurts out “I will never be made to stumble”. Again moments later, in rebuttal to Jesus’ prophetic word in Matt 26:34-35, revealing that he would deny Him three times; Peter emphatically declares, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” Strong words that came from love and a life that was transformed by the Master. As well, the other disciples followed in voicing their commitment and devotion to Jesus that historic night on the Mount of Olives not knowing exactly what would shortly transpire.

The city was doing construction on the sewer lines in front of my Aunt and Uncles house many years ago while they were keeping my siblings and me for a summer. My brother and I were at the young age where curiosity can make you do things you shouldn’t. I remember so vividly my uncle sternly saying, before he went to work that day, “Do not play around or get down into that construction hole”.   Well… even though we had made a oath and commitment that we would never do that we were overtaken and enticed with adventure. Being able to resist no longer, my brother lowered me into the hole later that day for a harmless look. Then at the sight of my uncle coming around the corner he ran and left me in the


Jesus still loves us even after we have made great commitments to Jesus and then failing Him and totally blowing it.     (tweet)


hole. The willow tree that conveniently hung over in my sight was a perfect place for my uncle to get a branch and proceed with one hand to help me out and wimped me all in the same motion.

More than the sting of the whooping was the pain of knowing I had failed in my oath and commitment that I had made to my uncle. The thought of disappointing him and possible losing his love was worse than any other pain I was feeling. It wasn’t until later that a valuable lesson was learned.

In comparison I can vaguely imagine the feeling of disappointment that Peter Continue reading

Praising God In the Midst of Chaos!

108176885Being beaten, mistreated and unjustly thrown in the inner prison. Paul and Silas began to hold a praise and worship service in the midst of their dirty depressing accommodations. I am not sure that’s the response most people would have in these chaotic circumstances. Being wrongly accused and treated in such a despicable manner, I think most people would be crying with anguish, threaten to sue somebody or even change their occupation. But to have a devoted worship set in the midst of such trouble blows my mind! When things are crashing around us its usually not the time for worshipping our Lord, or is it?

In this story of Paul and Silas in Acts 16:23-35, we are given some real insight for how we should respond in seasons of turmoil and trouble in our lives. They had all the elements for a good blues song or even country song. But chose to focus on their


Responding in seasons of turmoil and trouble with Praise to God!     (tweet)


“Lover of their Soul” their savior Jesus! That very act shows that they were completely confident in Jesus’ leadership in their lives. Now remember that they had been divinely directed to come where they were at in a night visitation. They ministered the Gospel to Lydia and her household who received them and the message open armed.

Anytime we are willing to be lead and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit the enemy will bring distraction and opposition, as we see in this story. Not all individuals want the message of the Gospel to interfere with their agendas. Some people are being directed and even for a time seem successful doing things completely contrary to the Continue reading

Hang On Help is on the Way

a0048-000162Most people would agree that the Welsh Revival was a revival of prayer. Often the meetings would go for hours without any type of teaching or singing, only with prayer and travail. God used a young man named Evan Roberts as His instrument, who was a true intercessor and a man of prayer.

The goal for his first meetings was to train and raise up intercessors for the coming revival. In his book, Revival, Winkie Pratney says, “A prominent member of a Newport Baptist Church declared that Evan Roberts had been praying for thirteen months for that wave of revival to come. He related how the young man was turned out of his lodgings by the landlady who thought that, in his enthusiasm, he was possessed or somewhat mad. He spent hours preaching and praying in his room until the lady became afraid of him and asked him to leave.”

God is not a respecter of persons, but is looking for anyone who will yield to a life of persistent prayer. (tweet)

Evan was persistent in prayer, knowing the key to revival was through a life totally surrendered to the Holy Spirit. At times it would seem his passion and persistence in prayer was unnatural. Yet, when you look at the results of one hundred thousand souls saved in six months, you can only rejoice for his obedience. God is not a respecter of persons, but is looking for anyone who will yield to a life of persistent prayer.

As we read the parable in Luke 18:1–8, we see Jesus teaching that we should always pray and not lose heart. He uses the illustration of a widow going before the judge to get justice from her adversary. Due to the widow’s continual persistence, the judge chose to grant her plea. For she was wearing him down through her persistent pleading. In verse 7, the Lord said, “Shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily.” God wants us to understand that He will answer the righteous who cry out to him continually and persistently! That’s a promise! There is a blessing to those who will not lose heart! Continue reading