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Showing posts from October, 2018

“The Damage of Divorce”

BIBLE READING: Matthew 19, Mark 10 DISCUSSION                 Divorce is one of the most difficult issues that plagues our society.  No matter what the situation, God hates divorce (Malachi 2.16).  The reason for that hatred, is because divorce never just affects the man and the woman.  The ripples of divorce affect the children, the extended family of both sides, not to mention the friends of the couple as well.  The world wants us to believe that the lines between divorce have been blurred so much, that is it more of a gray issue.  However, for God the issue seems to be black and white.  Marriage is meant to be a commitment between a man and a woman and God.  Those vows that we made to each other on our wedding day were meant to be kept until death do us part.  Now, that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t place an opportunity for divorce; In fact, that is what we have within our reading this morning in Matthew 19.9; However, divorce is to be the last resort in all circumstances.  The issue…

“Don’t Give Up!”

BIBLE READING: Luke 17. 11-37, 18.1-14 DISCUSSION In 1993 at the ESPN Awards show, former North Carolina State Basketball Coach Jimmy Valvano was awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.  Jimmy V (as he was affectionately known in the sports world) was losing his battle with cancer.  As he closed out his acceptance speech, in what would become one off the most famous inspirational quotes of sports history, “Don’t give up…don’t ever give up!”  Although I don’t want to take anything away from Coach Valvano’s speech, those sentiments were expressed in Scripture many, many years before.   In today’s reading we find a parable from Jesus concerning a persistent widow.  In the parable a widow was being defrauded by her adversary and had on several occasions, sought to find justice from the legal system of the day.  Every time this woman sought justice the judge of the day would continue to refuse her.  However, this persistent widow was not going to just fade off into the sunset.  She continued …

“Conflict Resolution By Jesus”

BIBLE READING: Matthew 18 DISCUSSION                 So many of the worlds problem would be solved if everyone simply followed the pattern that Jesus presents here in John 18. Why is it when we find out someone has been overtaken in a sin, we feel the need to make sure we let everyone else know what they have done?  It has happened to all us in some way, whether we be the offended or the offender.  Then, after we broadcast the news to our close contacts, they feel the need to broadcast the news to their contacts and so on and so on.  Before you know it everyone in town is familiar with “the incident” and your chances of reaching that person has just dropped to the eye of the needle status.  There is much wisdom in the words of Christ here, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the …

Sunday

Bible Reading: Luke 16, 17. 1-10

“Counting The Cost”

BIBLE READING: Luke 14-15 DISCUSSION                 Before you obeyed the Gospel, did you ever really stop and think how much it would cost you to become as follower of Jesus? You should have!  Now don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe that becoming a Christian was the greatest decision I will ever make.  I also believe that no matter what the cost that I must pay, it will definitely be worth it, not only in the life to come, but the here and now as well.  But, when people don’t count the cost, they are quick to fall away and reluctant to come back because they did not understand the magnitude of the commitment.  Jesus compares these people to a person who sets out to build a tower, yet in the excitement of building, they neglect to first lay out a plan of how it will be paid for.  Then, after the foundation is laid, the tower must be abandoned because they do not have the funds to cover it. Jesus wants us to fully understand how much it will cost for us to truly be His disciple.  Liste…

“Haunting Words”

BIBLE READING: Luke 12-13 DISCUSSION "And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God.” (Luke 12:8-9).  We all have words or phrases that when we hear them, they pierce our soul to its core.   I wonder if that is what these words were for the Apostle Peter.  We all have our weak moments and we may all deny that we know Jesus by our actions, but few openly deny the Son of God to the extent that Peter did.   I bet these words of Jesus just haunted Peter for those three days while Jesus was still in the tomb.   Just imagine how you would have felt if the last words you ever said in the presence of Jesus were open denials that you even knew Him.  For those three days, time must have stood still for Peter as he kept remembering these words of Jesus “… but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God”. Although Pe…

“True Blessedness”

BIBLE READING: Luke 10-11, John 10. 22-42 DISCUSSION
                After Jesus had cast the demon out of the mute, some of the people were suggesting that Jesus was using the power of Beelzebul (the prince of the demons) to cast them.  Noting the irrational thinking that suggested that idea, Jesus reminds them that a divided household would fall.  Noticing not only the power but the wisdom of Jesus, a woman from the crowd shouted, "Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!" (Luke 11:27). Although I am sure that Jesus appreciated her sentiment, His reply reveals to us where the true blessedness rests.  "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!" (Luke 11:28).  The word “keep” was understood by those that heard it as “Keeping it guarded, preserved or obeyed”.  Yes, Mary was blessed to have been chosen to give birth and raise the Christ Child.  However, the truest blessing comes when we hear the good news of Jesus and…

“SARCASM AND THE BLIND MAN”

BIBLE READING: John 9, 10. 1-21 DISCUSSION I must confess something to you…I am a fan of sarcasm.Now don’t get me wrong, I would never endorse “back talk” as my parents referred to it.However, at times sarcasm can be just the thing needed for people to really understand a situation.For instance, I read this quote the other day “When people ask me stupid questions, it is my legal obligation to give a sarcastic remark.”I almost feel that is the sentiment the blind man has as he if facing the Pharisees.Jesus has just given sight to a man that was born blind.Imagine, never being able to see anything your whole life and now you can see everything (Even the absurdity of the Pharisees).They bring this man before the Council and ask him the following questions: Are you the man that was born blind? Yes! How is it that you now see? A man placed mud on my eyes and told me to wash it off and now I see!They did not believe him, so they asked him again. They even resorted to bringing the man’s parent…

“The Fulfillment”

BIBLE READING: John 7-8 DISCUSSION One of the aspects of Jesus that the Jews found very difficult to accept was the pre-existence of Christ.In the beginning of his gospel, John tries to help us come to a clearer understanding in the first few verses.“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God…and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” (John 1:1-2, 14).As we read this today it is easier for us to understand and accept because we have the Will of God in its entirety laid out for us with the Scriptures.However, for the first century participant, Jesus had to fuller clarify so that they would fully understand it.He takes an opportunity to do that within the reading for the day.In John 8, the Jews are expressing doubt in Jesus, to the point of claiming He is possessed by a demon.Jesus replies that He doesn’t have a demon, but rather He is just honoring His Father.If they wish to do the same, they can keep His word and …

“The Greatest”

BIBLE READING: Matthew 18 DISCUSSION                 In February of 1964 before his famous defeat of Sonny Liston, Muhammad Ali said “I am the Greatest”.  It isn’t that I want to just simply disagree with ‘The Champ”, but I do believe he was mistaken in his assessment.  In Matthew 18, the disciples had been having some banter back and forth concerning the idea of being the greatest of Jesus’ disciples.  Obviously, the disciples misunderstood the entire concept of what it meant to be great.  By the world’s standards, greatness is measured by achievements, accomplishments and status.  However, that is not the way that Jesus describes greatness to them. “And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:2-4).  Greatness, by Christ’s standards, involves having a cert…

Sunday

Bible Reading: Matthew 17, Mark 9, Luke 9. 28-62

“Are You Just Looking For a Reason”

BIBLE READING: Matthew 16, Luke 9. 18-27, Mark 8 DISCUSSION “They were just looking for a reason to leave.”That is a quote from a man I love and respect concerning people that leave the church because of something petty.It is his belief (and I cannot disagree with him), that people that stop coming to worship because of something other than a doctrinal reason, are just really looking for an excuse to stop coming.They give reasons such as personality conflicts, the minister/youth minister, or even the eldership for their lack of participation in church work.Even if those issues may be a problem or even a distraction, they are not the root cause of their unfaithfulness, but a symptom of their unfaithfulness.They were already looking for an excuse to not come!Jesus encounters a similar situation with the Pharisees in Mark 8.The Pharisees are demanding that Jesus produce some sort of sign that proves He has come from God.Now take note, that up until this point Jesus has already healed a dea…

“Our Own Worst Enemy”

BIBLE READING: Matthew 15, Mark 7 DISCUSSION Every since I was a child, I remember being taught that the Devil was our enemy.After all, the Devil is the antithesis of everything that is good.However, there is another enemy that we as Christians should be aware of in this world.This enemy may not have the power that the Devil has against us, but it does have the opportunity.In fact, this enemy is always closer than you might want to think.In Mark 7, Jesus wants to clarify to the people what it is that defiles a person.Contrary to what they might have thought, it isn’t what goes into the body that defiles it, but that which comes out of the body. Notice what Jesus said, "What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person." (Mark 7:20-23).

“Bread of Life”

BIBLE READING: John 6 DISCUSSION The early Christians faced a great deal of criticism and persecution, but did you know that in the second century, Christians were despised because people thought they were cannibals or even vampires.In fact, those rumors spread throughout the Roman world as they were facing persecution.Perhaps the reason for these accusations is a misunderstanding of Jesus’ teaching in John 6.In this passage, Jesus has described himself as the Bread of Life that has been given to the world.The context of this discussion is centered on those that had received the bread and fish from the feeding of the 5000.They had followed Jesus in hopes of receiving another free meal.To counteract their desires, Jesus tells that “I am the bread of Life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6.35).Of course, they do not understand that Jesus is being figurative, and they began to grumble about how this can be possible.Jesus continues…

“We Can’t Afford To Stop”

BIBLE READING: Matthew 14, Mark 6, Luke 9. 1-17 DISCUSSION Rejection… we will all face it in some capacity in this life.As Christians, we know the rejection that Jesus faced was great. The things that He endured on His journey to the cross make any rejection we might feel seem small.Although the pain He endured on the cross was great, He was also faced with rejection very early on in His ministry from a very unlikely source.Mark 6 reveals to us that Jesus was rejected by the members of His family and neighborhood.Try to imagine what it would have been like for Jesus as He sought to heal the sick and spread His message of love and salvation to those that knew Him best.It must have been so disheartening for Him to want to save those who were closest to Him, for them to only run Him out of town.Many people today face a similar rejection from those that they love as they seek to be that Christ-like example to their friends and family; only to be rejected.It is so depressing for us to have a…

“No Fear”

BIBLE READING: Matthew 9-10 DISCUSSION As the disciples are sent out to the “lost sheep of the House of Israel” in Matthew 10, Jesus gives them a few valuable instructions.He begins with a warning, concerning what type of people they will face.Then He reminds them that they will face some type of persecution, whether it is emotional or physical.However, even during all of these warnings we find this word of encouragement “Have no fear of them… do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28).Jesus wants to remind them the only person they should fear is Him!When we stand before the judgment seat of Christ, it is He that will pronounce to us our justification or our condemnation.He is the one that we should be afraid of.The word “fear” means to “be in awe of”, “respect” or “revere”.It is He that created us and it is He that can destroy us, therefore we must have caution of Him, not what man can do t…

“Hide it Under a Bushel…”

BIBLE READING: Matthew 8. 14-34, Mark 4-5 DISCUSSION Every week I get the privilege of leading elementary chapel at Mars Hill Bible School.It is so invigorating to see and to feel the passion in the hearts of these students as they sing those songs and follow along in their Bibles to the day’s lesson.One of the crowd favorites with the younger ages is the old classic “This Little Light of Mine”.As you might recall, one of the verses in the songs deals with today’s reading. “And he said to them, "Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? “For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light.” (Mark 4:21-22).The question that Jesus is asking is a rhetorical one; no one buys a lamp only to cover it up.The lamp is purchased to be used and seen as it brings light into a dark room.Thus, the analogy the song makes with the “Light” that is shining within us demands to be seen.If we have the “Light” within …

Sunday

Bible Reading: Matthew 13, Luke 8

“The Christian’s Confirmation Process”

BIBLE READING: Matthew 12. 22-50, Luke 11 DISCUSSION                 Regardless of your political affiliation, you can’t help but be intrigued by what is going on in Washington today. The confirmation process of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has been captivating and polarizing the nation for about 3 weeks.  It seems rather strange that Kavanaugh has been facing scrutiny over things that happened in his life over thirty years ago.  Items of evidence that have been submitted includes: yearbook signings, pictures, and even notes that were passed while in high school.    Kavanaugh has faced extreme criticism of the things he said, the places he went and the things he did over thirty years ago.  I for one, would not want to be subjected to that high level of criticism of things I did or said while I was a child. Who among us has not done things and said things in our past that we are ashamed of? It must be embarrassing for him and his family.  Although according to the words of Jesus…

“Are You Tired?”

BIBLE READING: Matthew 11 DISCUSSION No one said that living the life of a Christian would be easy.  In fact, it is just downright hard to live a life for Jesus.  Luke, in Luke 9, explains it as a cross that we must pick up and carry daily.  Imagine what that cross must have been like for Jesus as He carried it down the street to the place of the Skull.  I am confident that His cross was heavy and cumbersome, not to mention the fact that He was physically exhausted even before the journey began.   Imagine how much a relief it was for one of those soldiers to grab Simon of Cyrene to help Christ carry that cross the rest of the way.  Even though it was still difficult, it became easier when there was someone else to help Him carry it.  The lesson in the text today is simple.  Jesus encourages us to come to Him when we are burdened down and tired. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in…

“The Wonderful City of Nain”

BIBLE READING: Matthew 8. 1-13, Luke 7 DISCUSSION                 About twenty-five miles southwest of the city of Capernaum lies the lovely city of Nain.  In most cases in those days’ cities received their name based on what the land looked like. If that is the case here, then the city of Nain must have been a very peaceful city because the word “Nain” means “green pastures”.  Just the thought of that imagine brings to mind David’s 23 psalm “The Lord is my Shepherd…”, doesn’t it?  Surprisingly, there isn’t much said in Scripture about the city.  In fact, the only time it is mentioned is in Luke 7.11.  This passage tells the story of how Jesus was passing through the city and is met by some sort of funeral processional.   This must have been a well-known man from the Nain community because the Bible records that a considerable crowd from the town was following this processional.  As they pass Jesus carrying the body of the man that had died, Jesus notices his mother.  Jesus immediately …

“A Sermon By Jesus”

BIBLE READING: Matthew 5-7 DISCUSSION                 Matthew 5-7 is what we affectionately refer to the as the “Sermon on the Mount”.  This is really the first “sermon” that Christ preaches to a crowd of people.  Imagine what it would have been like to sit on that hill side near Jesus as He began to teach.  Would He have your undivided attention?  Would you be likely to day dream about the rest of your day?  Do you think you would complain about the conditions, like the heat, or the itchy grass or even your spot within the crowd?  Is it possible that you may doze off because you were tired? I guess all these things are possible, but most of us believe that if Jesus was teaching we would be hanging on His every word.  Think about it though, as we read this or hear it taught is it not still the words of Jesus?  Just because someone else may verbalize the syllables, doesn’t negate the fact that these are His words, His thoughts, His message.  But it isn’t just this sermon?  Paul tells Tim…

“Love Your Enemies”

BIBLE READING: Matthew 12. 1-21,Luke 6, Mark 3 DISCUSSION The reading in Luke 6.27-36, may just be the most difficult of Christ’s teachings to put into practice.  If we could sum up the teachings of Jesus in one word, it would probably be the word “love”.  He taught us to love Him, to love the Father, to love ourselves, to love or friends, to love our families, to love our neighbors, but the most difficult person to love is our enemies.  Why would Jesus teach such a thing?  Why is it so important for us to love our enemies?  The answers to those questions are found within these verses.  As for the answer to why we should love our enemies, Jesus gives us a few reasons.  First, He holds His children to a higher standard.  Jesus wants us to be unique, different, set apart from everyone else in the world.  If we just love those who love us, are we not doing just what everyone else does?  Instead, the higher standard is to love those who don’t love you; in doing so, you are making a statemen…

“Do You Wish To Be Healed?”

BIBLE READING: John 5 DISCUSSION                 Do you want a better life?  That question may sound rather silly, but I want you to really think about the question.  Do you want a better life?  Essentially that is what Jesus asked the lame man in John 5.  This lame man had been an invalid for thirty-eight years and had been coming to a local spot in hopes of receiving some healing from God. As he lay there waiting to receive the healing, Jesus asked him a very simple question. “Do you want to be healed?”  One might think that the answer would be a rather simple answer of “Yes, of course I want to be healed”.  However, that isn’t his answer.  Instead, the man answers something to the effect of “Sir, how can I when there is no one to help me?”.  It seems rather unlikely that this man would have known who Jesus was, but still why not answer a simple question with a simple answer.  Let’s look at this from a different direction, “do you want to live a life like Jesus?”  Now, you may have an…