Every Last Word
Lament for a Ministry 08/14/11
We hear people claiming to speak the will of God all the time. But do you know how to identify a false prophet?
We hear people claiming to speak the will of God all the time. But do you know how to identify a false prophet?
The demands of Christ may be more than we think. We want to pencil Jesus into our schedules. But Jesus refuses to be squeezed in. He wants to have our whole lives. Today we’ll wrestle with what it means to follow Christ – and not look back.
One of our primary jobs as Christians is to represent Christ. But instead of showing people who he is, we often get in the way. Today we will examine our own lives and see how well we represent our Savior.
Sometimes we envy the disciples who actually walked and talked with Jesus. We think if we could just touch him, we’d have a greater faith. Or if we could only see Jesus face to face, following him would be a lot easier.
Do you feel comfortable with your life right now? Are all your ducks in a row? Is your life running smoothly and comfortably? Today we’ll look at what it means to follow Christ. The way we live now has huge eternal implications.
Peter has a reputation as being the loudmouth of the disciples. When asked who Jesus is, he blurts out that he is the Christ of God. This confession has a lot of implications for who Christ is and what he does. Are you able to make this same confession? Do you know Jesus as your Christ?
What is impossible for man is easy for God. The disciples learned this first hand when Jesus commanded them to feed five thousand hungry men. After insisting that they couldn’t possibly achieve such a feat, they watched Jesus simply break bread and have it multiply in his hands. But Jesus did much more that, He taught his disciples some extremely valuable lessons.
Doing something is often the best way to learn it. That’s why Jesus sent his apostles out on an internship. He told them to spread the gospel with their words and their actions – healing the sick and casting out demons. From their trip, the apostles learned valuable lessons of what it means to trust God. These lessons still apply to us today.
When people come to Jesus in extreme situations, he offers them extreme solutions. A man’s daughter dies while he is begging Jesus for help. He speaks to the girl and she comes to life again. A woman has been bleeding for years, and no doctor can help. Jesus heals her and brings her back into the relationships she’s not had for years. Let’s see how Jesus responds to those who have faith in him.
Do you remember the story of Jesus allowing a bunch of demons to enter a herd of pigs? We find if funny but it is no laughing matter. Today we’ll be looking at how Jesus responded to a demon possessed man. And how the community reacts when that man is given a new life at the cost of a herd of pigs?
Do you feel like a storm has taken over your life? Have you recently been faced with unemployment, a sudden illness, or some other painful event? Jesus’ and His disciples were sailing across a lake when an unexpected storm blew in. The Storm was so strong that even these experienced sailors feared for their lives. They frantically came to Jesus, who was asleep in the boat. Sometimes we feel Jesus doesn’t care about the danger in our lives. But He does care. Jesus is able to calm our storms just as he calmed the disciples’ storm at sea.
Have you ever been told that you look just like one of your parents? Or maybe you have the same mannerisms as a brother or sister. What about your spiritual family? Do you live in such a way that others will be able to see the family resemblance? Is it easy to see from your actions that you are a child of God?
Jesus gives His followers a parable to teach them how people respond to the good news of the Gospel. Some people embrace it enthusiastically, but quickly fall away because it wasn’t rooted deep within them. Others have it snatched from them before it even enters their consciousness. Still others believe, but when they tested, the truth gets strangled inside of them. There are some people, however, in whom the Word of God firmly takes root and produces wonderful fruit in their lives and the lives of others. What kind of person are you?
A prostitute walks into the dinner party of a prominent religious leader. She cries over Jesus’ feet, then uses her hair to dry the tears. She then pours very expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet. The religious leader is indignant. Surely Jesus can’t be a prophet if he’s letting this woman touch him! The Pharisee is in for a powerful lesson today concerning his own sinfulness and lack of love.
Are you disillusioned with God? Are you disappointed because your expectations haven’t been met? Maybe God didn’t heal you or provide certain finances? John the Baptist dealt with these same struggles. The very man who proclaimed Christ as the Messiah was now doubting that himself. John dealt with his doubts in a way that sets an example for each of us.
Have you ever been faced with someone who is mourning a death, and not known how to respond? It’s easy to turn away and not comfort them, because we don’t know what to say or how to handle their grief. Jesus meets grief head on. When faced with a widow who was burying her only son, He doesn’t shy away from the uncertainty of what to do. How does Jesus Christ confront death?
Most of us would like to have more authority. We would like people to do what we want, when we want it. The centurion in Luke actually did have this kind of influence. When he said something, it was done. But when this powerful man came across Jesus, the centurion was the only one who recognized that his authority amounted to nothing in comparison to that of Jesus’.
Everyone is in a way like a tree. We can each bear a certain kind of fruit. A friend might bear bad fruit because of his thoughtless actions. While a coworker bear good fruit, which is seen in her work habits. How does a person produce good or bad fruit, and how can you change the fruit of your own life?
We all love to point out the faults of others. It’s difficult to see anything wrong with ourselves. Other people’s sins always seem much bigger than our own. How do we live that we hold others accountable for their actions, while not being hypocrites ourselves? How do we take the speck out of our friend’s eye when we have a log in our own?
You know some times it’s hard to love the people we like. If our friends and family can drive us crazy, how can we expect to love people with we don’t want to be around? We all know many people who have this problem. Jesus commands us though to love in this seemingly impossible way. How can we follow Jesus Christ’s example of loving our enemies?
Most leaders want a stellar group of followers to represent them and do their bidding. Some gather a group of intellectuals. Others surround themselves with people who are wealthy. Still others find followers with social influence. But who is it that Jesus chose as his apostles?
Do you feel like your life is always in the fast lane? Are you worn out juggling your job, your family, and your other relationships? Do you wish you could help others, but are too burnt out or simply don’t have time? Do you find yourself yearning for a space in life where you can rest? Jesus offers a rhythm of life that provides new joy and rest.
Have you ever warned your kids not to hang out with the wrong crowd? The ones who cheated and did drugs, and didn’t have good character? We Always tell our kids to choose their friends wisely. But did Jesus himself follow these rules when picking out his disciples and friends? Who did he hang out with and why?
Sin makes us like first century lepers: disfigured, unacceptable both to God and other people, and unable to help even ourselves. The leper in Luke was an outcast. He was considered as good as dead by his society, but he still ran to Jesus and cried out for healing. How did Jesus respond to him? How does he respond to us when we turn to him for new life?
Have you ever been doing something that you love. But then something else so important came up that you gladly dropped everything for it? Well Peter found himself in this exact spot when Jesus came along. He was faced with a decision that could change his entire life forever. How did he respond to the call of the Lord Jesus Christ?
Different people exercise their authority in different ways. A general does it by barking out orders and enforcing strict military discipline. The traffic officer does it by blowing his whistle and by handing out citations. The tax man does it by conducting an audit and assessing penalties. But how is it that the Lord Jesus Christ exercised his authority?
Who is Jesus? And what does he want with me? We have heard the news of his virgin birth. We have witnessed his baptism as the beloved Son. We have seen his struggle with Satan and listened to his preaching of the gospel. And as we look and as we listen, we are confronted again and again with his claims.
Of all the great sermons that have ever been preached since the beginning of the world, there’s no greater sermon than the sermon that Jesus preached in his home town of Nazareth. It was a sermon for bringing people to saving faith, for giving them hope in trouble, for helping them to see the glory of the Son of God.
Jesus had come to destroy the devil, to liberate people who were enslaved to Satan by sin, and rather than waging a secret war or launching some kind of sneak attack, Jesus took the fight directly to Satan.
We are passing away and shall soon be gone. This is what it means to be a human being, and we need to face it. We are born. We live a short time during which we sin and then we die. From the very beginning, God had promised to send a Savior to a long and fallen line of sinners.
It is regularly tempting to think of the one who baptizes as more spiritual, than the one being baptized. We may even be tempted to think of the baptizer as being even greater in value because of his position. But Jesus turned this temptation upside down when He was baptized by John the Baptist.
We hear of the importance of preparation everywhere. People need to prepare for all kinds of things, exams, interviews, visitors, children, marriage, deadlines, taxes and even death. Now God did not need to prepare the way for Jesus to bring salvation to the world, but he did.
In the early 1970s the good people at the TOPS chewing gum company produced a series of baseball cards that featured boyhood photos of the stars. Each card featured a black and white photograph of some baseball all-star when he was a young boy. And then in the corner there was a contemporary picture of him for the purpose of comparison.
There is no salvation without the cross and the empty tomb. And yet what Simeon said is really true when he saw baby Jesus, saying, “I have seen salvation. I’ve really seen the whole thing... because seeing Jesus is all that anyone needs to be saved.”
Angels came with a message of joyful praise; they revealed the identity of the newborn baby Jesus to the shepherds. The shepherds took the angels by their word and went to see Jesus. The result was worship and sharing the good news of the coming of the Savior of the world.
One of the great mysteries of the universe is the fact that when God the Son became a man he spent his first night in a barn. Now why was Jesus born like this? What does the crude and unwelcome poverty of his birth tell us about the way of salvation?
After long months of pregnancy, and hard hours of labor, old Elizabeth had her baby, and the whole town came over to celebrate. In a small village, any birth is a public event, but under these circumst
John the Baptist and Jesus Christ met while their mothers were still carrying them in their wombs. Elizabeth acknowledged the young One in Mary’s womb as Lord, and John leapt in excitement. It was an i
An angel visits a young girl, telling her that she would conceive and bear a son. His name was to be God saves, and He was to be son of the Most High. He would be given the throne of David, His father.
As the early Christians looked back at Jesus’ ministry, they recognized what God had done through Him. They also realized that God’s work had actually been started through John the Baptist. John was the forerunner, the herald, sent ahead to announce the coming of Christ.
Doubt. Little by little it gnaws away at the soul. Now to be sure, there are times when Christianity seems to make all the sense in the world - when the mysteries of the faith appear so certain that it would be foolish even to call them into question, and yet there are also times when we have our doubts.
Have you ever looked at a work of modern art and been puzzled as to its message or purpose? So much of the art in the world today seems to be odd that we find it hard to fit it into our Christian world-view. But what’s the bigger question … what role do the arts play in the church today? What does God say about the arts? And what kind of art glorifies God?
“You belong to me.” Did you know that there are over 50 songs that have been written about those four simple words? Jazz, pop, country -- artists of all kinds of music have written lyrics about this concept that conveys such strong feelings. But these feelings didn’t start with us.
Is your prayer life where you want it to be? Do you ever feel like the words you’re trying to lift up to God’s ear just fall to the floor the minute they leave your lips? We all feel like that at times.
Have you ever wondered what your purpose in life is? It’s easy to wonder -- we don’t always feel like our lives are achieving any greatness. Well, there is a purpose...but with all the difficulties and distractions of daily life, it is easy for us to get lost in the details.
We often describe our Christian communities as a “body of believers” or “God’s church family.” You might call yourself a “believer” or a “follower of Christ.” But do you ever think of yourself as a priest, or as part of a royal priesthood?
Most of us wear our “Sunday best” for church. We try to look a little nicer than normal, as it’s after all for worship. So too the priests of Israel had fine garments they had to wear when entering into God’s presence. But one Priest didn’t wear them when he made His sacrifice. He didn’t need outward splendor -- he had a splendor all his own.
Have you ever wanted to know exactly what God wanted you to do? Decision-making can be difficult, and when it’s time to make an important life choice, people often wish that God would write his will for them in the sky. What they fail to see is that God has revealed his will for them. He has even given us an instruction manual on how his children should go about learning just what his will is.
The priests of the Old Testament were holy men with a holy calling. They were servants of God, offering sacrifices to Him for the entire nation of Israel day and night. They had the high privilege of entering into the Holy Place were God was. They wore sacred and beautiful garments. But they weren’t perfect. They were still sinners -- except for One. And this Priest has offered the perfect and final sacrifice.
Many people today say that they want to know God. However, what they're really interested in is what God can do for them. They’ve got a lot of questions they’d like him to answer, problems they’d like him to solve, and blessing they’d like him to give. But this is not how God operates. God is holy, we’re not, and before anything else happens, something has to be done about our sin.
When the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986, President Ronald Reagan spoke of the astronauts as having “slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.” This phrase expresses one of our deepest longings. We want to meet with God. We want to see him -- the only problem is, we’re sinners. We stretch the truth. We use our money selfishly...these sins keep us from God. And that’s why we need Jesus.