Monthly Archives: August 2010

Tiger, Lyin’ and Behr Oh My! – Jesus Meets the Demons

Tiger Woods has had his share of problems. He turned to adultery, filled the first nine, uh spots on his scorecard and started filling out his scorecard for the back nine.

For those of you who don’t understand golf, like me, it is usually 18 holes (except for miniature golf which usually has 19 holes) and you call the first nine the front nine and the last nine as the back nine. Your scorecard is totaled for the first nine holes and then totaled for the back nine. Those two numbers are then added together. Continue reading Tiger, Lyin’ and Behr Oh My! – Jesus Meets the Demons

So You Want To Be A Disciple?

So You Want To Be A Disciple? – What Does It Cost? What are the benefits?

 

I have a friend that loves to run. He loves the 10K races. He jumps at just about every chance he gets to run a marathon. He has even run a few 50K races,

 

He spent several hundred dollars on each pair of specialized running shoes, and he has three pair. His socks are even special and the socks themselves are both expensive and they will only fit on one foot because there is a right-sock and a left sock.

 

He has a gym membership that includes a personal trainer. Plus, He pays by the hour in addition to the yearly fee.

 

He pays for gas to travel to some of the races. Sometimes he has to buy airline tickets and pay for hotel rooms.

 

Luckily he has a real good job, because his running certainly costs a lot.

 

It is also a good thing He is single because whenever he would have free time after work, he was either running or exercising. Weekends are taken up with long runs.

 

Every moment seems to be consumed by my friend’s desire to run and succeed.

 

I asked him if he knew what being good at running would cost. He didn’t know what the cost was going to be when he started to want to be a great runner. He said if he knew the total cost at the beginning, he probably would not have started.

 

Now let’s look at what Nehemiah did.

 

Nehemiah wanted to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls. He went and saw for himself the damaged walls and gates. He assessed the damage and determined all the costs, materials, time, labor, and who was willing to perform the labor.

 

Nehemiah went to the King and got letters giving him access to the royal forests, quarries and everything else he world need. He got letters providing safe passage through hostile land.

 

Nehemiah determined all the costs before he started. Not only that, he prepared and gathered whatever was necessary to provide the funds and materials to complete the wall.

 

Nehemiah was really smart in looking at all the costs and also devising a plan to pay for them. He also knew the benefits: a secure and strong Jerusalem.

 

Matthew 8:18-22 (NASB)
18 Now when Jesus saw a crowd around Him, He gave orders to depart to the other side of the sea.
19 Then a scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.”
20 Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
21 Another of the disciples said to Him, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.”
22 But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.”

 

Have you noticed that Jesus often had a crowd around him? He had healed thousands of people.

 

The apostle John supports this: “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:30-31).

 

The scribe had probably been mesmerized with Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. He was probably caught up in the moment and he blurted out his request to follow Jesus no matter where he went.

 

Jesus was telling the scribe to be sure he knew what he was getting into. After all, Jesus and his apostles had no home or even a place to sleep.

 

Unlike the fox and the birds, they just traveled sleeping wherever they could find someone who was willing to host them and feed them. Other times, they would sleep out in the open and go to a town nearby and buy food.

 

Jesus wanted the scribe to make sure he was willing to live this type of life. Matthew does not say whether or not the scribe followed Jesus. I believe he would have since he was definitely impressed with Jesus’ teachings.

 

Jesus also said that the Son of Man had no place to rest his head. Jesus is point out that He is also

It also appears that Jesus was unusually hard and uncaring when He told a man he could not bury his father. This is not true.

 

A man requested that he delay following Jesus until it was convenient for him.

 

It was the custom at that time for the eldest son to care for their parents when they became old. When the man requested of Jesus to be able to bury his father, he wanted to care for him until he died and then join Jesus.

 

Jesus was suggesting that either the father take care of himself or possible one of his brothers to take on that responsibility.

 

Another possibility was he was the elder son and wanted to receive his inheritance before following Jesus.

 

Whatever the reason, for the delay, Jesus did not want to be the second choice for anyone. If you decided to follow Jesus, He hast to be your first choice.

 

We should never let other thinks be more important than Jesus. A lot of things and situations compete for our attention.

 

We have to make sure our priorities are in the right order. We need to be loyal to Jesus first. In fact, Jesus demands complete loyalty.

 

 

 

Also when Jesus refers to himself as the Son of Man, He is referring to His human side. The beginning of Matthew starts out by tracing Jesus’ roots from Abraham, who was descended from Adam to establish this link.

 

It is not easy to follow Jesus.

There are many sacrifices and costs that you might not initially see.

Following Jesus may cost you friendships.

A schoolmate of mine attended Bible school right out of High School and became a pastor. At his 10-year reunion everyone was fine until he answered “So what do you do?” with “I’m a Pastor.” Some friends that were close suddenly drifted away.

 

Following Jesus may cost you popularity.

I know a family that I have been close with. The unfortunate thing is that the mother is an atheist and even circulated petitions to totally ban prayers and even silent prayer in schools. I recently ran into one of the children working at a store I frequent and asked how they were. They were doing fine, going to college and doing well in classes. When I mentioned I was preaching at Worship Jam, they turned cold and not a word after that final “Oh…” The mom had convinced them there was no God and they shut out anyone who says they believe.

 

Following Jesus may cost you habits.

I used to smoke and drink on weekends and sleep in on Sundays. The smoking habit went away after I stopped breathing one day with a lung infection and I prayed and promised God and Jesus I would give up smoking if I could breathe again. The drinking on weekends and sleeping in on Sundays ended when I became re-involved with Jesus and His Father.

 

Following Jesus may use up some of your relaxation time.

A lot of the time when I used to relax or nap is now spent studying the Bible and also spent with TAG time (Time Alone with God).

 

Following Jesus may cost you your home.

Some of the apostles gave up their jobs and left their homes to follows Jesus. Peter was married and had a home he used as a base to come back to when he could. He also had his mother-in law living with his wife and himself.

 

Following Jesus may cost you your life here on earth.

Many Christians around the world are persecuted and even killed for worshiping Jesus.

 

With all of these costs that we may incur by following Jesus, why would we want to? What are the benefits?

 

That answer has several parts:

Jesus requires us to follow Him.

That should be enough of a reason.

Jesus told us to teach the world:

Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

As we teach people, we also build up our spiritual knowledge and strength.

We can gain many other friends.

Think about this. All of these new friends started appearing when I made the decision to follow Jesus. When I first started to think about attending church again, God sent the president of my company to me to join a Bible study. Like a fool, I told him there was much work to do for the company and I worked long hours.

The president planted the seed and kept checking on it until it sprouted and then we actually got together at his house and prayed together. That started the snowball of Christian friends rolling.

As soon as I made a decision to follow Jesus and then later to preach, I started getting contacted by old school friends. As I’d mentioned my decision to preach so late in life, I was surprised that a lot of my former school buddies were already pastors – six of them – most of them went to Bible college right after high school.

I never knew! You see, God will bring other Christians to you!

I have a FaceBook account. I started getting a few requests to be friends and found out that they were other Christians with a lot of them being pastors.

I have a pastor that owns a coffee shop and holds worship and church right there.

I now have over 350 Christian FaceBook friends in addition to my other musician and work friends. The Christian friends stand out because they offer God’s words as solutions to all our problems.

Remember last week when we covered the leper being healed by Jesus? The leper understood that he would be healed only if the will of Jesus desired it.

Jesus made His Will known to me by bring Christians from all over the world to me. Jesus led me to the band I play trumpet with. I know this because several Christians in the band have supported me in my Christian walk.

Jesus brought friends to me from many different churches. He introduced you to me and made us friends.

All of this is God’s will.

I have left the biggest benefit until last:

The biggest reward for following Jesus: everlasting life with Him and Our Father in heaven!

Three Miracles

Matthew 8:1-17 (NIV)
1 When he came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him.
2 A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cured of his leprosy.
4 Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help.
6 “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.”
7 Jesus said to him, “I will go and heal him.”
8 The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.
9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
10 When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.
11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.
12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that very hour.
14 When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever.
15 He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.
16 When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick.
17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.”

Leprosy in Jesus’ time was the most feared disease. It was actually a group of diseases for which there was no known cure. Some were contagious, some were not. Some cleared up by themselves. Others killed you. Continue reading Three Miracles

The Proper Authority

“By the authority vested in me by the state of [insert your state here] I now pronounce you man and wife.” You have heard that sentence many times.

It used to be only judges and preachers could utter that statement. Preachers also invoked “by the power of God” before the state name They were the only people who had the authority to marry.

Now, anyone can do it – just send in a check for $25 to a Post Office box and become a mail-order minister with the permission from the State to marry. You can even buy a one-time permission slip that the State honors.

Times have really changed from a time where only pastors and judges had authority, to where $25 can buy you the authority that the government accepts. I doubt that piece of paper would impress God, but it may give him a chuckle. Continue reading The Proper Authority