Easter - 2018

Monday, April 30, 2012

To Be Far More...You must be will to confess and purify!

2 Corinthians 8:1-9
"And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich"
To be Far More than you can imagine 
A Christ-Follower must be willing to confess your sin and purify your heart.

The chapter just prior to our text states in 2 Cor. 7:1, “Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”

In the first part of 2 Corinthians, Paul establishes the benefits and promises that living for Christ are: The benefits and promises are that believers as ambassadors for God's Kingdom, are recipients of Christ eternal life, and are a forgiven people. It is through these promised benefits that we are encouraged to be far more than we can possibly achieve on our own by confessing our sin, sacrificing our flesh and purifying our hearts to the Glory of God.

How do I do this you may be asking: By daily work in the economy of Mercy! Mercy is a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion....when we are living in the knowledge of mercy in our lives, we are willing to confess our short comings, we are willing to strive to help others in distress and we are willing to sacrifice for the benefit of others just as Christ did for us... Here is a news flash...you are guilty! It is through our uniting with Jesus that we are forgiven and through His Spirit and dedication to His word that we gain purity. Romans 3:22-24, “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

We run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3). 

It is “IN” the focus on Jesus and his mercy on the cross, we acknowledge our in ability to overcome sin and we strive for purification through His death burial and resurrection. We are far more than our abilities because He offers far more than we can imagine!

Seeking to be Far More....You know I Love ya, Don

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Far More than can be imagined!!!

"I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich." 2 Corinthians 8:8-9

These early Christians were so terrorized that they had to hide and as their anointing become stronger their persecution grew and grew....people will hate you because of your blessing and they will never realize the hell you went through to get there. Look at these Christians in Corinth. The Corinthian church of Paul's day struggled with worldliness and sexual sin, both of which were typical of this cosmopolitan city. They also struggled with material wealth and had large market places. Paul was a tentmaker (or leather worker) and may have had his place of business in the city's commercial marketplace (agora). This would have afforded Paul numerous occasions to speak with customers and passers-by of the resurrection of Christ.

The Christians had upset the economy of the entire city and eventually the entire empire. The Christ-followers shared their wealth with each other and grew to help each other. There was also a large business of selling idols and things to sacrifice to idols throughout the market place. When you lay allegiance to the One True God, you no longer buy and purchase these high market products. As the church began to grow in population, the secular economy went down. Thus, those selling in the market place were not happy with the church and its competition. The Christians are trouble and they were being treated as trouble...

Paul reminds the Corinthians they are not alone in this trouble and their brother and sisters in the Macedonian church had experienced the same things....look at the text again; “grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” Yes, it is hard to be bold and to take a stand, especially when the world around us does not support the efforts. Yes, it is hard to be bold when the people at work are not believers and shun you when you take a stand for the what is right. Yes, it is hard to be firm in the faith when your neighbors are out drinking and carousing, or the ball team is compromising on the integrity of the numbers or the checker in your line miss calculated your ticket and you know she gave you to much in return....IT IS NOT MEANT TO BE EASY! In fact, if it were easy, anyone could do it.

I am not talking about the “casual hard.” Such as, “Oh, it has been a rough year, we didn't get to go to Florida this year....or its tough they cut my premium cable channels off... or things are hard, I was not able to upgrade my Lincoln town car this year and will probably have to wait until next year.” To be a Christian is not intended to be “casually hard.” It is not easy! You will have to make sacrifices in friendships, in ethical choices, in reach out to others you do not like, in praying and supporting your competition, and in the daily routine of serving the people you live with.

The church has become so phony that we can't handle hearing the truth....the early Christians had struggles and temptation the same as we do and it will exist until the Lord return. Temptation to fornicate is the same as to cuss someone out. The temptation to run a red light is the same as it to neglect your neighbor. The temptation to cheat on your wife is the same as to cheat at work or school....temptation is temptation.

Your job is to be strong and establish before that temptation come that you and your house will follow the Lord. You must do as the Macedonian church did, “ They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.” In order for us to be far more....We must be Bold for God's purpose in your life.

Is it becoming clear?...The true test of mercy is our eagerness to give. If we are to be FAR MORE then we will confess our sins and we will be bold for God. Then, we will be passionate in our faith.

Looking to be far more....you know I love ya, Don

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

One Choice.......

One tree can start a forest,
One smile can begin a friendship,
One hand can lift a soul,
One word can frame the goal,
One candle can wipe out darkness,
One laugh can conquer gloom,
One hope can raise our spirits,

And...one choice can change your life.

Think about that. One choice, just one, can change your life forever. Simply put, your life today is what your choices have made it, but with new choices, you can change directions this very moment.

We make choices everyday. It is the choices that are made that define us as a people, as a Christ-Follower, and as a person. Proverbs 8:9-11 tells us:
To the discerning all of them are right;
   they are upright to those who have found knowledge.
Choose my instruction instead of silver,
   knowledge rather than choice gold,
for wisdom is more precious than rubies,
   and nothing you desire can compare with her.  

Praying, listening, and seeking His guidance in making good choice is a daily goal and passion. Check out the inspirational book, One Choice book and One Choice Movie for more on this thought. You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

When is it time for us to do a beautiful thing....?

Dr. Robert F. Browning preached a sermon a few years ago on the passage of Matthew 26:6-13. It is the passage where in Matthew she is unknown, but in other Gospels it is revealed as Mary, pours a very expensive bottle of perfume on Jesus in preparation for his death. It is a beautiful scene and for a description you can see my last post at A Beautiful Thing...

In Dr. Browning's sermon he lays out four great points for us today to apply to this text:

The Woman had to decide what to do with the perfume she was saving. Was it time to sell it and use the money to feed the poor or use it to express love and appreciation for this honored guest?

This is the kind of decision that keeps me up at night, a choice between good and good. Decisions between good and bad are relatively easy to make, not that I always do what is right. A choice between two good opportunities can be agonizing, though, and I think Mary would agree.
This expensive perfume could have been used in a variety of ways, all of them good. She could have sold it as the disciples recommended and used the proceeds to feed the poor. It could have been saved as a hedge against an emergency. Or, it could have been used sparingly to make special occasions even more special. There were many good ways to use this perfume. She chose, however, to use it, all of it, to anoint the head of Jesus that evening and she had a room full of angry preachers that disagreed with her.

Can you imagine how this woman felt when she heard this? She had to second guess herself and wonder if she had made a big mistake. After all, how could twelve preachers be wrong and one obscure woman be right? There was certainly no precedence for this.

What relief she must have felt when she heard Jesus rebuke them and compliment her. Can you imagine what this did for her self-esteem? Now she had another reason to love him even more.
By the way, let me caution you about judging other people’s actions. You may be condemning the very thing that pleases God the most. Just because someone doessomething that you see no rationale for does not mean it is foolish. The fact that something could be used differently to help many people doesn’t make it wasteful. Everything we have can be used in a variety of productive ways. Allow people to use what they have in ways they think are best under their circumstances. If you need help understanding this, seek the counsel of the disciples that were with Jesus that night.

This woman had to decide when to use this perfume on Jesus, while he was alive or after he was dead. If she had waited to use this perfume as a portion of the burial spices after the crucifixion, I doubt that anyone would have criticized her. She would have been praised for her generosity.

However, she chose not to wait until Jesus died to pour it on him. She decided to do it while he was alive and could receive the full benefit from it. She poured it on his head as an act of love and gratitude. Somehow she had to let him know her feelings for him and this seemed to be the best way.

Was it extravagant? Sure and it was meant to be. She refused to calculate to see how little she could use to express her gratitude, but poured the entire contents of the bottle over his head as a demonstration of her deepest feelings.

I don’t know what you intend to spend on the funeral of your loved ones, but whatever it is, cut it in half if at all possible and spend that money on them before they die. This will be one of the best decisions you ever made. Ask Jesus. I can only imagine how grateful he was that this woman used this perfume on him while he was alive. Encouragement and support were exactly what he needed at this time in his life. He was days away from being tortured and crucified. Could he go through with this mission and be faithful all the way to the cross? Would his death really make a difference in the lives of people? Did anyone appreciate the sacrifices that he was making? Obviously one person did and showed it that night.

This woman had to decide when was the best time to pour this perfume over his head. Should she do this while he was eating or wait until another time? She would run the risk of being misunderstood and condemned if she did it in public and would certainly interfere with his meal. Perhaps it would be best to do it another time in another place. However, she chose not to wait. Why?

Call it instinct if you want or divine providence. I think this woman knew that Jesus was in great danger and that something could happen to him at any time. In her heart, she knew that she might not have another opportunity to express her love for him and encourage him to continue on his mission. The feelings in her heart had to be expressed and the time to do this was during that meal in Simon’s home. Taking this risk would be part of her gift to him, too.
Did Jesus appreciate what she did? Without a doubt. He told the disciples that “she has done a beautiful thing to me and wherever this gospel is preached throughout this world, what she has done will be told in memory of her” Matthew 26:10,13.

This woman is still speaking to us today. She is speaking of timing, what is it time for you to do? What do you need to do this morning to let Jesus know that you love him? Is it time for you to accept him as Lord and follow him in baptism and discipleship?What could you do to demonstrate your gratitude for him that he would label “beautiful?”

What about the other people in your life? Do they know how you feel about them? Who do you know that is struggling and needs encouragement? What beautiful thing could you do for them in Jesus’ name that would lift their spirits and give them hope?

I hope you will do it because I have a feeling when you do it will cause Jesus to smile and say, “That’s another beautiful thing done to me.”

I could not agree more. Thank you, Dr. Browning. May each of us seek to do more beautiful things for Jesus. You know I love ya, Don

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Beautiful Thing.....

This is a great blog post by A.I. Tyke on his blog/commentary at Atone. Praying it touches you as it has me.
While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.

When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”

Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” - Matthew 26:6-13

It was a beautiful thing. An unknown woman brings a jar of very expensive perfume and breaks it over Jesus’ head. The Lord of the Universe, now dripping with perfume commends her, and the woman is praised in the presence of Jesus and his disciples.

Though the matter simply could have ended there, Jesus went on. He wanted to teach us something about the deeper beauties of what this woman did. She had prepared Jesus for his baptism. She had anointed him for the death-shattering task he would face in just three days. In her gift of love, this woman prepared the Godman, the Son of the Living God, for the tomb. A tomb that would try to hold him, but wouldn’t. A tomb that would try to claim him, but couldn’t.

This lowly woman was a second-class citizen in a forgotten Roman occupied territory. There was no earthly reason for anyone to commend her, let alone listen to her. And yet this woman stood in the gap for the prophets of old. It wasn’t Samuel who came with his oil to anoint this King of Kings. It wasn’t the chief priests or the wisest of the pharisees who came to anoint the Messiah. Instead, a humble woman came in her love for Jesus and broke over his head what was probably her most precious earthly possession.

The woman did what couldn’t have been done later. After his death, Jesus’ body would be spirited from the cross and prepared for a hasty burial. There was no time for the purchase and preparation of the spices that were customary before burial – that would have to wait for another two days on account of Jesus dying on the verge of the Sabbath. But there was time now to prepare him now, and whether or not she fully realized what she was doing for him, the generous woman drenched Jesus in perfume out of the joy of her heart and the gratefulness of her soul.

The disciples became angry. Surprised by the selfless act, their first concern was over the purchase price of what was sacrificed, rather than the act itself. This woman had freely poured out her treasure on Jesus. From a heart of faith she anointed his head with oil. Yet the disciples judged her with a critical eye. Using the poor as cover, they hid what really offended them. What they were really angry about was the excess of her sacrifice and that she had emptied all of it on Jesus. Was it really necessary to break the whole flask over him? Wouldn’t a few drops have filled the room with the fragrance just as well? Wouldn’t it have been better to sell the perfume and wouldn’t they have done a better job in distributing all the money this woman’s gift could have brought them?

It is true that a few drops could have accomplished the same goal. But how often was it that Christ’s disciples were accused of such excesses? And how often are Christians scoffed at for doing too much rather than too little? What was done to Jesus by this woman will stand as an eternal example for us. We too should pour out everything we own over Jesus. We too should be inspired to exercise our faith generously, even embarrassingly so. And all because what of Jesus has done for us on the cross – and the salvation it brings that is worth far more than any bottle of perfume.

May each of us seek to do a beautiful thing for God in our lives. You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I Can't See From Here!!!

1 Corinthians 13:12, “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

Although one’s personal horizon is limited, Jesus is higher than us. Having already experienced death and having risen again, Jesus’ vision extends beyond what any one person can see.

The spiritual principle is very simple. The higher a man goes, the farther a man can see. Jesus has ascended above highest heaven. He sees further than us all. He sees the abundance of God’s blessing that lies waiting for us, just beyond our personal horizon. He calls us to sail beyond our horizon so we may experience the fullness of God’s promises.

What prevents a person from responding to Jesus’ call to follow him beyond the horizon of what we can see? One thing is fear, of course. But another hindrance can be complacency.

We do not sail beyond the horizon of our own experience because we are too easily satisfied by what we have. Jesus's horizon states:

“Blessed are you who are poor,” Jesus says. “But woe to you who are rich.”

“Blessed are you who are hungry,” Jesus says. “But woe to you who are full now.”

“Blessed are you who weep now,” Jesus says. “But woe to you who are laughing now.”

This is startling and unsettling. What is blessed about poverty, hunger, and weeping? And what is so bad about wealth, being well-fed and happy? Is Jesus just threatening those of us who live with great abundance? How can this be when our very abundance is a gift from God, a very expression of God’s blessing?

Perhaps Jesus is giving us a warning. “Watch out! Don’t become complacent in the abundance this world has to offer.” Jesus may be saying. “Don’t let material blessing keep you from sailing over the horizon of your personal experience to discover the even greater blessing God has prepared for you from before the foundation of the world.”

What greater blessing can there be than a warm house, a refrigerator full of food, and a good hearty laugh? What greater blessing can there be than personal material abundance?

Who knows? Jesus knows. Jesus knows because he sees beyond the horizon of our personal experience. The risk is that “you who are rich,” and “you who are full,” and “you who are laughing now” may grow complacent.

What a shame if we who have grown complacent spend our lives sailing in a small little narrow circle within the limits of what we know. What if we ignore Jesus’ call to us to sail beyond our horizon? What if we never sail beyond the horizon of what we know, to discover the spiritual abundance of which we could never dream?

Jesus calls us to dream beyond our limited vision and horizon...He call us to care, to give, and to love. So, let us seek to see beyond our limited view.

You know I love ya, Don

Monday, April 9, 2012

God sees beyond the Horizon!

The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed fervently for God to rescue him. Every day he scanned the horizon for help, but no hope in sight. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements, and to store his few possessions.

One day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened everything was lost. He was stunned with grief and anger. God, how could you do this to me? He cried. Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. “How did you know I was here?” Questioned the weary man of his rescuers. “We saw your smoke signal,” they replied.

It is easy to get discouraged when things are going badly. But we should not lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain and suffering. Remember, next time your little hut is burning to the ground; it just may be a smoke signal that summons the grace of God. For all the negative things we have to say to ourselves, God has a positive answer for it:

We say: It is impossible.
God says: (Luke 18:27 KJV) “And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”

We say: I am too tired.
God says: I will give you rest. (Mat 11:28 KJV) “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” 11:29 “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” 11:30 “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

We say: Nobody really loves me.
God says: I love you. ((John 3:16 KJV) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” 13:34 “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”

Thank you Tony at Abundant Life Crusades for this devotion.

Stand firm and look at the smoke when your hut is burning to the ground. It is going to lead you to a new existence. You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Passion: intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction!

Sunday: Triumphal entrance at the eastern gate of the temple.

Monday: Fig Tree cursed; Temple cleansing

Tuesday: Jesus authority questioned; Intense teaching of the next temple and the future.

Wednesday: Quiet.

Thursday: Passover Preparation, Passover Meal, Disciples argue about "greatness", Washing the disciples feet, Judas' early exit, Communion/Lord's Supper commissioned, Jesus' teaching in John 15-17, & The Garden of Gethsemane Prayers.

Friday: The arrest int he Garden, the trials before the Jewish authorities, King Herod and then to Pilate, the flogging and beatings, Suicide of Judas, Crucifixion around 9 AM, Jesus' death around 3 PM, Nicodemus & Joseph of Arimethia take down the body and place it in entombment before 6 PM

Saturday: A day of rest...no events.

Sunday: Jesus defeats death and RISES FROM THE DEAD!

50 days later: Returns through the Holy Spirit

Today: Working among His people and changing lives for Powerful living!

Thank you Dave Woods for this great summary of Jesus' passion week. Have a great Easter!

You know I love ya, Don

Monday, April 2, 2012

NOT Right - "Why Easter?" defined

This is a post from a past Easter, but it still stands strong today.

God made [Christ] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. -2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV)

I remember one Sunday when I was a in my teens. There was a wall in my Sunday school classroom covered with newspaper clippings bearing disturbing words and images. Then I noticed a large piece of paper spread on top of them. It bore one word: Sin. And there was something even larger layered on top of it all - the shape of a large cross.

I know Jesus took my sins away by giving his life on the cross. But seeing that cross covering those images helped me to better understand what Christ did when he took the sin of the world upon his shoulders. I began to ponder the words in 2 Corinthians 5:21.

I am a firm believer in justice, but I am tremendously thankful that our God is a God of mercy. Because of this mercy, the moment we accept God's sacrifice, acknowledge our sin, and proclaim Christ as our savior, we are free - free to live life as God intends it to be and to welcome death as a portal into God's presence.

Thankful for you this Easter...you know I love ya, Don