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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A song I like

Posted by Gary on August 1, 2008

John 15:18 "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.”

Let us gladly be reviled for following Jesus Christ. Let us be glad to no longer adore what is false, to have been saved from superstition and freed from the dominion of the king the unsaved serve. May God grant that we can truly be called the property of Jesus.

Lord, make us Yours, give us grace to live with You and for You. Let it mean what it means in this world. Bring our hearts to You, keep us, bring us to your heavenly kingdom and use us to lead many others to You.

Property of Jesus

Go ahead and talk about him because he makes you doubt,
Because he has denied himself the things that you can’t live without.
Laugh at him behind his back just like the others do,
Remind him of what he used to be when he comes walkin’ through.

He’s the property of Jesus
Resent him to the bone
You got something better
You’ve got a heart of stone

Stop your conversation when he passes on the street,
Hope he falls upon himself, oh, won’t that be sweet
Because he can’t be exploited by superstition anymore
Because he can’t be bribed or bought by the things that you adore.

He’s the property of Jesus
Resent him to the bone
You got something better
You’ve got a heart of stone

When the whip that’s keeping you in line doesn’t make him jump,
Say he’s hard-of-hearin’, say that he’s a chump.
Say he’s out of step with reality as you try to test his nerve
Because he doesn’t pay no tribute to the king that you serve.

He’s the property of Jesus
Resent him to the bone
You got something better
You’ve got a heart of stone

Say that he’s a loser ’cause he got no common sense
Because he don’t increase his worth at someone else’s expense.
Because he’s not afraid of trying, ’cause he don’t look at you and smile,
‘Cause he doesn’t tell you jokes or fairy tales, say he’s got no style.

He’s the property of Jesus
Resent him to the bone
You got something better
You’ve got a heart of stone

You can laugh at salvation, you can play Olympic games,
You think that when you rest at last you’ll go back from where you came.
But you’ve picked up quite a story and you’ve changed since the womb.
What happened to the real you, you’ve been captured but by whom?

He’s the property of Jesus
Resent him to the bone
You got something better
You’ve got a heart of stone

Bob Dylan (Copyright ©1981 Special Rider Music)

WJDD-What Jesus Did Do

Posted by Gary on May 28, 2008

Luke 4:16-30 “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down.

And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”  And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.”

And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”

When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away.”

As I read this passage recently I was taken by the way of the Savior Jesus and how intent He was (and is) to do the will of God which always includes exalting God and humbling sinful man by speaking the truth.

Up until this point in Jesus’ public life all is well, could not be better. Jesus has performed miracles, the people are following and then this amazing set of circumstances.

The setting is the synagogue and Jesus is handed a role of Scripture. He reads from Isaiah a section of Scripture that is prophetic concerning the Messiah. Now understand what is happening, Jesus reads the passage, sits down and tells the people that the prophecy has been fulfilled in their hearing. We might think at this point they would say, “You’ve gone too far Jesus, you may be doing some amazing things but we are not going to tolerate this claim to be the Messiah.”

Instead we are told that after Jesus claims the fulfillment of prophecy in Himself the eyes of everyone are fixed on Him and they are all speaking well of Him and marveling at the gracious words that are coming out of His mouth. We would say that Jesus “has them”. In the realm of oration Jesus has them eating out of His hand, He is well thought of and has the favor of the people.

Now watch carefully…Does Jesus revel in the adoration and approval of the people? What a temptation this is for God’s servants. We are sinful and want to be well thought of, we want the people speaking well of us and eating out of our hands. We are loathe to do or say anything that will cause us to fall out of the people’s favor.

Bring yourself to this point in the scene: they eyes of all on Him, His praises in the mouths of all, “What a preacher”! What does Jesus do next? He goes for the jugular, He forsakes the approval of sinful man and instead proclaims to man his sin: “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.” Jesus looks into the hearts of the people and sees their sin, they are not interested in God or righteousness, they want to see miracles.

If this were not enough Jesus calls them to the time of Elijah and reminds them that there were many Hebrew widows during that time who received no miracle from God but instead it was the gentile, heathen woman from Zarephath whom God favored. Likewise there were many Hebrew lepers but it was the Syrian Naaman whom God healed.

Jesus knows full well what He is doing. He is showing the people their sinfulness, He is convicting them and in so doing He is forsaking all the favor and adoration that were His a few moments before. In a few moments Jesus is going to be hustled out of the synagogue and to the brow of a cliff to be thrown down all by His deliberate choice to speak the truth.

Are we as Christians (especially elders and pastors) willing to forsake the approval of man so that we may have the favor of God? If we are not careful we will have the favor of the people now only to have them curse us later when they face the truth in eternity. Better to have them hate us now and love us later. Better yet to have God pleased with us at all times.

John 5:44 “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?”

Lord give us the grace to love you more than ourselves and the favor of man. Give us the faithfulness that we always see in Your Son Jesus.

You never know

Posted by Gary on April 16, 2008

This past Sunday evening I decided to get some food for my own soul and read a sermon by Charles Spurgeon entitled, "Jacob and Doubting Souls-a Parallel" (you should read it). Spurgeon preached this sermon on June 20th, 1886. As I read I came to a portion where Spurgeon relates having received a letter from a young man who refers to Spurgeon’s "advanced years" though Spurgeon had just turned 52. Here is the section:

Yesterday, I had many kind letters congratulating me on completing my fifty-second year, but there was one that did a little surprise and amuse me. One brother writes that he has read my sermons for many years, and that, at my advanced age, he cannot pray that I may have many returns of the day; but he does trust that God may spare me at least two or three years longer for the good of the church. Well, as I read the letter, I could not help smiling, as you do, for I do not feel that I am quite as advanced in age as that; but still, I thought that, perhaps, this brother’s letter might be prophetic. We may be older than we think we are, and two or three years may be all the time we are to have here. At any rate, I will try to work for Christ as earnestly as if I had only two or three years to live, and then it may be that he will add to us yet more; and, if not, what matters it? We shall go home to him who sent us, and be gathered to our Father in peace.

Immediately I started to calculate in my mind knowing that Spurgeon did die in his fifties and found that he died on January 31, 1892, Spurgeon lived 5 1/2 years after the reception of that letter, more than hoped by the letter writer but should not the point be taken? How long do we have to live? Presumption is never wise or God honoring. When are we going to become whole hearted in our living for God? When are some of us going to submit and acknowledge our need of the Savior Jesus?

"Some day" is the excuse we all keep making. When will we become the husbands, wives, parents, children, servants of God we should be? Some day? Who told you you have another day? In case you’re apt to think that God can’t get by without you here consider that there are few people that God would have more reason to give many years to than Charles Spurgeon. If God chose to take Spurgeon (who won countless souls for Christ) in the midst of his years what makes us think that God needs us here?

May God help us to live and work for Him as if our time is short, it is.

James 4:14  "Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away."

The martyrdom of Polycarp

Posted by Gary on February 12, 2008

Revelation 12:11  “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.”

My sermon preparation for this past Sunday led me to the account of Polycarp’s martyrdom. If you belong to the Lord Jesus Christ, take a moment to read this and may He grant us the same love for Him and faith. If you do not belong to Christ, consider what a wonderful Savior Christ must be that men would rather lose their lives than turn away from Him:

8:2 And he was met by Herod the captain of police and his father Nicetes, who also removed him to their carriage and tried to prevail upon him, seating themselves by his side and saying, “Why, what harm is there in saying, Caesar is Lord, and offering incense,” with more to this effect, “and saving yourself?” But he at first gave them no answer. When however they persisted, he said, “I am not going to do what you counsel me.”

9:2 When then he was brought before him, the proconsul asked whether he were the man. And on his confessing that he was, he tried to persuade him to a denial saying, “Have respect to your age,” and other things in accordance therewith, as it is their habit to say, “Swear by the genius of Caesar; repent and say, ‘Away with the atheists.'” Then Polycarp with solemn countenance looked upon the whole multitude of lawless heathen that were in the stadium, and waved his hand to them; and groaning and looking up to heaven he said, “Away with the atheists.”

9:3 But when the magistrate pressed him hard and said, “Swear the oath, and I will release you; revile the Christ,” Polycarp said, “Eighty-six years have I been His servant, and He has done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King who saved me?”

10:1 But on his persisting again and saying, “Swear by the genius of Caesar,” he answered, “If you suppose vainly that I will swear by the genius of Caesar, as you say, and feign that you are ignorant who I am, hear you plainly: I am a Christian.

11:1 Whereupon the proconsul said: “I have wild beasts here and I will throw you to them, except you repent.” But he said, “Call for them, for the repentance from better to worse is a change not permitted to us; but it is a noble thing to change from that which is improper to righteousness.”

11:2 Then he said to him again, “If you despise the wild beasts, I will cause you to be consumed by fire, unless you repent.” But Polycarp said: “You threaten that fire which burns for a season and after a little while is quenched: for you are ignorant of the fire of the future judgment and eternal punishment, which is reserved for the ungodly. But why do you delay? Come, do what you will.”

12:1 Saying these things and more besides, he was inspired with courage and joy, and his countenance was filled with grace, so that not only did it not drop in dismay at the things which were said to him, but on the contrary the proconsul was astounded and sent his own herald to proclaim three times in the midst of the stadium, “Polycarp has confessed himself to be a Christian.”

13:3 Immediately then the instruments that were prepared for the pile were placed about him. As they were going likewise to nail him to the stake, he said: “Leave me as I am; for He that has granted me to endure the fire will grant me also to remain at the pyre unmoved, even without the security which you seek from the nails.”

14:1 So they did not nail him, but tied him. Then he, placing his hands behind him and being bound to the stake, like a noble ram out of a great flock for an offering, a burnt sacrifice made ready and acceptable to God, looking up to heaven said: “O Lord God Almighty, the Father of Your beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have received the knowledge of You, the God of angels and powers and of all creation and of the whole race of the righteous, who live in Your presence;

14:2 I bless You because You have granted me this day and hour, that I might receive a portion amongst the number of martyrs in the cup of Your Christ unto resurrection of eternal life, both of soul and of body, in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit. May I be received among these in Your presence this day, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice, as You did prepare and reveal it beforehand, and have accomplished it, You that art the faithful and true God.

14:3 For this cause, yea and for all things, I praise You, I bless You, I glorify You, through the eternal and heavenly High-priest, Jesus Christ, Your beloved Son, through Whom, with Him and the Holy Spirit, be glory both now and ever and for the ages to come. Amen.”

15:1 When he had offered up the Amen and finished his prayer, the firemen lighted the fire.

(Excerpted from: The letter of the Smyrnaeans or the Martyrdom of Polycarp)

A hymn, a prayer

Posted by Gary on October 22, 2005

I came across this Charles Wesley hymn while reading in preparation for my sermon this weekend, how inspiring, what a challenge! I never knew of it before this morning, it is entitled, "Give Me the Faith Which Can Remove" (obviously a market driven title). Reading this caused me to think about what I’m living for and seemed to bring my seemingly earth shattering problems back into proper perspective. Further comment would only detract from the hymn itself. My prescription: Read it, pray it and if you’d like to sing it you can hear the tune along with the printed words here:

Give me the faith which can remove
And sink the mountain to a plain;
Give me the childlike praying love,
Which longs to build Thy house again;
Thy love, let it my heart overpower,
And all my simple soul devour.

I want an even strong desire,
I want a calmly fervent zeal,
To save poor souls out of the fire,
To snatch them from the verge of hell,
And turn them to a pardoning God,
And quench the brands in Jesus’ blood.

I would the precious time redeem,
And longer live for this alone,
To spend and to be spent for them
Who have not yet my Savior known;
Fully on these my mission prove,
And only breathe, to breathe Thy love.

My talents, gifts, and graces, Lord,
Into Thy blessed hands receive;
And let me live to preach Thy Word,
And let me to Thy glory live;
My every sacred moment spend
In publishing the sinner’s Friend.

Enlarge, inflame, and fill my heart
With boundless charity divine,
So shall I all strength exert,
And love them with a zeal like Thine,
And lead them to Thy open side,
The sheep for whom the Shepherd died.