Seamless, continuous live worship at Redeemer Fellowship Church tonight from 9 PM to 1 AM.
Snacks after midnight.
I invite you to come join us and worship in the new year!
Redeemer Fellowship Church
Snacks after midnight.
I invite you to come join us and worship in the new year!
Redeemer Fellowship Church
On Sunday, December 28, I preached out of John 12, which is the story of a dinner given in honor of Jesus. The dinner takes place at the home of a man called Simon the Leper. Probably, Simon is not a leper anymore. If he was, then he wouldn’t have a house. His leprosy has been cured. Arguably, it was Jesus who cured him, since there weren’t any other cures available.
Also at the dinner is Lazarus, the man Jesus raised from the idea in the village of Bethany. The name of that village today, in Israel, is El-Eizarya, which means “the place of Lazarus.” Ancient Bethany is famous because of Lazarus, who was brought back to life by Jesus.
Martha and Mary, sisters of Lazarus are at the dinner. So are Jesus’ disciples, to include Judas.
Martha, as usual, is serving – cooking, cleaning, making sure everyone’s needs are being taken care of. Imagine how grateful Martha and Mary must have been, to be sitting there with their once-dead brother Lazarus, in the home of ex-leper Simon?
Mary’s heart cannot be contained. She has brought with her a special gift for this occasion, a pint of a perfume called nard. This was worth, at that time, a year’s salary for an average worker. New Testament scholar Ben Witherington suggests this pint of expensive nard would have been an inheritance Mary had. It would be like your retirement savings, your 401K (if you have one), your entire Social Security pension.
Mary pours her entire 401K on the feet of Jesus, in a lavish, extravagant act of humility and love. She gives everything she has to him. Why? Because he has brought her brother back to life. If someone did that for you, how much would it be worth? Jesus tells the people that in doing this Mary has done “a beautiful thing.”
It’s at this point that we hear the voice of Judas, for the very first time in the gospels. Judas says, “I object! It’s a total waste of money! We could have sold this perfume and given it to the poor!” John 12 tells us Judas could have cared less about the poor. He did care, a lot, about money. He was the “treasurer” of the disciples, the “keeper of the money bag.” He would have liked the perfume to be sold, and the money placed into the bag he carried, because he often took out of the bag money to spend on himself.
The life of Judas is tragic. Because he has just spent almost three years walking and living and eating with Jesus. He had seen Jesus calm a storm, heal sick people, deliver people from demons, give to the poor, reach out to prostitutes and tax collectors, and even raise a dead person. In the midst of the most lavish act of love so far seen in the gospels, Judas says “what a waste.”
I’m now thinking about these two responses. I do not want to be Judas-like and quench extravagant acts of love to Jesus. I do want to be like Mary, whose love knows no bounds, being a sacrificial love that gives all to her Savior. Why would anyone do this? Why would I do this? Because I would not have a life if it were not for what Jesus did for me years ago when I finally called out to him. He rescued me out of a very dark place, and gave me much, much more than I ever deserved. How much “money” is that worth to me? If he’s done this to you, how much “money” is that worth to you?
I am sure the answer is: it’s worth giving everything we have to him and in service to him and to the cause of his beautiful kingdom, the purpose of which is to release captives from bondage and darkness.
In 2009 spend your entire life, your whole being, on Jesus and his Kingdom. Love him extravagantly.
Benjamin Button's life is weird, but only in one way. Otherwise, it's sadly normal. I've met 80-year-old people who still act like middle-schoolers, and Button reminds me of them, the difference being that he ages into looking more and more like them. I'm not curious about what makes him tick because I suspect there's not much there except a second hand moving backwards.
"One safe generalization seems to be that humans are real suckers... We're desperate to believe that what our loved ones say is true."
1. Humans lie chronically and with aplomb.
2. Humans are blind to lying, preferring stylish fables to naked truth.
3. Humans are real suckers, desperate to believe our loved ones are telling the truth.
But if these things are true, then why believe this? What is "naked truth," and how could we possibly get at it? If humans have a "propensity" to lie and to want to be lied to, by what means do we adjudicate between a lie and a truth? How have the proponents of this theory themselves avoided chronic deceitfulness, and are we suckers for believing them?
Interesting, isn't it, that these have been found in Magdala?
Sunday evening, 6 PM - “The Relation of the Old Testament to the New Testament”
Monday morning, 10 AM - “Archaeology and the Bible”
Monday evening, 6:30 PM - “The Jewish Background of the New Testament”
No charge - a love offering will be taken as a gift to Hal.
The Home for Bible Translators and Scholars, Inc. (HBT) is a nonprofit ministry supporting translators and scholars from around the world to deepen their knowledge of the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament. The Home offers a six-month study program especially designed for Bible translators and consultants. The program is offered in partnership with the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The Hebrew University is fully accredited with about 25,000 students.
Since 1995, the Home for Bible Translators has trained over 80 Bible translators and scholars from 29 countries representing 53 languages. Through God’s strength, these translators, and their teams, will make it possible for over 45 million people to read the Old Testament in their own language.
BE THANKFUL FOR A KINGDOM THAT CANNOT BE SHAKEN
- Hebrews 2:18
We’re not in control. Agreed? Things we don’t control include: the global economy, what’s happening in India today, what’s happening in Bangkok today, other people, our own addictions, the weather, the common cold, gas prices, nations, the past, the future, most of what’s happening now, and death. Because these things are fundamentally out of our control or anyone’s control, attempts to control them sometimes get ugly, such as when we try to control other people.
All these uncontrollable things shift and move beneath our feet and before our eyes and make life uncertain. Sometimes the very foundations of our life get shaken and we get fearful. This has happened to me and will happen again, I am certain.
Many years ago my life was shaken. “I” was out of control. My choices and their results left me in a fearful condition. It was then that I looked to Christ. And something inside me shifted. The shift was from a heart that trusted in fundamentally uncontrollable things to life in a “kingdom that cannot be shaken.” This shift has been, for me, THE event of my entire life. Now I spend most of my time seeking the kingdom of God, and studying the things of the kingdom, and looking to God for strength to live these things out. I’m not the perfect kingdom citizen. But, like others I know, I’m the recipient of God’s kingdom. The result is that I am thankful. And it causes me to “worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.”
PRAY, WATCH, BE THANKFUL
- Colossians 4:2-3
I think there are a lot more people who call themselves “Christians” who are not devoted to prayer then there are those who are devoted to prayer. I don’t mean to judge people re. this, but for years I’ve led conferences and taught on prayer throughout the United States and around the world. “Devotion to prayer” is lower in America and Europe than in Third World countries. I have found that the more one enters into the Third World the more devotion to prayer there is. Why?
Because the more stuff one has creates the illusion of un-neediness. And, a person has to be very, very busy to acquire all the stuff, so “there’s no time to pray.” In reality we’re all very needy. In America, mostly, we just don’t realize it.
The same, I think, is true for “watchfulness.” The American way of watching is passive, unengaged media-gazing. Media-deprived people know what it is to be watchful, like the farmer standing in his field gazing deep into the horizon searching for rain. True watchfulness follows from true neediness.
Paul instructs us to be devoted to prayer and to watchfulness. Real watchfulness contains an element of mystery. The media-illusion casts a spell of “knowledge” on people, masking the truth that this world we live in, to include our own selves, remains fundamentally a great mystery. The more mystery, the less we know we’re not in control, the more watchfulness emerges.
I find it interesting that Paul next instructs us to devote ourselves to being thankful. Thankfulness follows from prayerfulness and watchfulness. This is because a person who is devoted to prayer and watching has a great sense of need and dependency. When one is needy, then provision is not so taken for granted. Hence, thankfulness emerges. Gratitude happens.
Give your life to being thankful. Focus on thankfulness. Love being thankful. Make thankfulness a priority. Dedicate to thankfulness. Get a prayer life. Get a watchful life. Get a thankful life.
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
- Colossians 2:6-7
At age 21 I received Christ Jesus as Lord. I welcomed Jesus. The result is that for the past 38 ½ years I have lived in him. Not perfectly. Jesus is God, I am not. But my receptiveness to Jesus has so changed my life that I wonder if I’d even be alive today were it not for him. I have sunk my roots into the deep, rich, life-giving soil of God’s kingdom and never left. If anything good has come into me and through me to others it’s Jesus, flowing through me.
And I am thankful. I feel thankful today. I don’t always feel that way, and when that happens I’ve lost the forest for the trees. I see the darkness and miss the light. I rarely feel ungrateful. Sometimes, I’m just in neutral – not ungrateful, but definitely not overflowing with thankfulness.
To “overflow,” literally, means to have more than a full cup. When a cup of water is full it overflows. Overflowing is the indicator of fullness. Therefore to be filled with God’s Spirit is to necessarily overflow. Part of this overflow is a thanks-shaped heart. It’s a wonderful way to live this life. It’s life sans bitterness. It’s for every day, every week. It’s even for Thanksgiving week.
Receive Christ Jesus as Lord.
Continue to live in him.
Sink your roots deep into life in his Kingdom.
Be built up in him. Construct your life in him.
Find yourself being strengthened in faith.Let the overflow of thankfulness pour forth.