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Thursday, February 24, 2011

“Sore Amazed!”

(part 1)

“And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them. But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out: For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.
And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.”
Mark 6:48-52

Only in Mark is there a connection made between Jesus’ walking on water and His feeding of the five thousand. Mark makes a telling statement is verses 51-52 when he indicates that their “amazement” at seeing Jesus walking on the water was due to a hardening of their hearts. Most of the time, when we think of a person with a hard heart, we think of someone like Pharaoh or King Nebuchadnezzar. Someone in complete rebellion towards God! However, Mark is using it describe Jesus’ disciples. The men who loved him, followed him and served him. So we need to take a moment to examine the meaning of the word “hardened”.

Hardened can be defined several ways, but it is best understood as “becoming set” like as in concrete, to be made calloused, or to become insensitive to. Just hours before the disciples found themselves being tossed about at sea, they were all on a mountainside, on the other side of the lake, participating in an amazing miracle. Jesus had fed 5,000 men (not counting women and children) with two fish and five loaves. He did the impossible before their very eyes. Immediately after this Jesus constrained His disciples to get in the boat and leave for Bethsaida.

For hours they struggled against the wind and the pounding waves. Again, they found themselves in the middle of an impossible situation. However, their hearts began to fill with fear because although they had experienced the miracle of the loaves earlier in the day…they had failed to learn the lesson.

Large crowds had followed them that day and Jesus had compassion on them. So He began teaching them many things. As the day drew on, the disciples realized that there was no way to care for that many people in such a remote location, so they approached Him:

“By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”

Mark 6:35-36
It is at that moment the “lesson” began as Jesus turned to them and said:
“You give them something to eat.” Immediately the disciples go into panic mode. They whip out their calculators and start trying to do the math. They went to work trying to figure out how much food they will need to feed that many people, then how much money they need to buy that much food, and then how long it will take to raise that kind of money! They were consumed only with what they could see!

It was in, that moment, that Jesus taught them that there is not always a “natural” answer to our impossible situations. In fact, if it is an impossible situation that appears to have no natural answer…then we need to start looking for a supernatural response.

Pastor Scott Burr http://faithandworshipseries.blogspot.com

“Drawing from the Wells of Salvation”

(part 2)

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?”
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
John 4:11-14

Just outside the town of Sychar, Jesus has an encounter with a Samaritan woman by a place known as Jacob’s Well. In one of the most compelling passages of Scripture in the Book of John, Jesus reveals Himself to this woman as the Messiah. Moved by her encounter with Christ the woman left her water jar and immediately rushed back to town and began to tell everyone what had happened to her and urged them to come see him. Many believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony.

I am convinced that God desires to see great outpourings like this still today! However, witnessing today looks markedly different than it did throughout Scripture. Witnessing for Christ, throughout Scripture, was a natural outflow of an abundance of joy experienced by a person being saved. In contrast, our witnessing has become perfunctory and rooted in obligation rather than an outflow of our joy! When this happens we find ourselves in a dangerous place, because when we lose our joy…we lose our witness!

Witnessing is “joyfully drawing water out of the wells of salvation.” When we lose the joy of our own salvation we become ineffective. King David was a man after God’s own heart, but he too recognized the need to keep the waters stirred. Psalm 51 is the Psalm written by David after he was confronted by Nathan the prophet for committing adultery with Bathsheba. David had fallen into sin. He had lost the joy of his salvation that resulted in his witness being weakened. He cries out to God:

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you.”

Psalm 51:12-13

I find it interesting that once David’s witness had been jeopardized, He didn’t ask for more power to witness, more wisdom, better speaking skills, or more opportunities. He said… “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation.” David recognized that it was out of the abundance of this joy he was the most effective in turning sinners back to God. As individuals and churches when we lose the joy of God’s salvation…we lose our witness.

When we believed in Christ we were filled with inexpressible and glorious joy over the salvation of our souls:

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
1 Peter 1:8

Some of you have lost that joy. This happens when our wells stagnate from a lack of drawing out. The only way to keep your well stirred up is to draw from it! TO WITNESS! In the Old Testament the quickest way to stop a people form flourishing was to “stop up their wells.” Just like then, our enemy today knows this! As with King David, if he can distract you from drawing from your well…keeping it stirred…soon it will stagnate.

God wants to restore to you, today, the joy of your salvation, but you are going to have to keep those waters stirred by drawing on them!

Pastor Scott Burr http://faithandworshipseries.blogspot.com

Thursday, February 17, 2011

“Drawing from the Wells of Salvation”

Part 1

“When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord had done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.”
Psalm 126:1-3

Psalm 126 is about as clear a picture of salvation as you will find in the scriptures. A song depicting the children of Israel, after being held in captivity, being set free and brought back to the land of Zion! Like men who dreamed they were filled with laughter and songs of praise. They rejoiced in the great things God had done for them and they were filled with joy! Isaiah, the prophet, described it this way:

“And the ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” Isaiah 35:10

The imagery that emerges is “a ransomed and redeemed people returning to God, overflowing with joy over their salvation.” It is out of this abundance of joy that the people begin to cry out to God:

“Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.”

Psalm 126:4-6

This phrase “restore our fortunes” is better translated… “bring back our captives.” Moved by the joy of their salvation, they begin to cry out for their brothers…believing God for a harvest of souls. Drawing from the wells of their salvation they longed for their brothers to enjoy the same taste of salvation they had received:

“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. In that day you will say: “Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done and proclaim that his name is exalted.”
Isaiah 12:2-4

Witnessing for Christ, throughout Scripture was a natural outflow of an abundance of joy experienced by a person being saved. The person being saved with great joy would draw from the wells of salvation and share the Good News with others around them. Isn’t it interesting that one of the most vivid “soul winning” encounters in the Bible took place by a well in John chapter 4?

Pastor Scott Burr http://faithandworshipseries.blogspot.com

Thursday, February 10, 2011

“Full Rights as Sons”

(part 2)

“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become MATURE, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.”
Ephesians 4:11-14

Ephesians 4 tells us that God gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers to prepare God’s people for works of service, foster unity and to mature the Body. It appears, however, that there was a tendency in the early church to stagnate. People either through ignorance or choice were not “progressing spiritually” neither individually or as a body. After what was considered a reasonable amount of time, many believers had not progressed beyond the elementary teachings:

“We have so much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
Hebrews 5:11-14

Upon reading Hebrews 5, we are left with the impression, that the early church was simply re-hashing the same foundational teachings concerning repentance from acts that lead to death, faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.

They were living on milk (like an infant) and not acquainting themselves with the meat of God’s Word. It is the meat of God’s Word that keeps us from being tossed about by every wind of teaching. It is the meat of God’s Word that teaches us to distinguish between good and evil. It is the meat of God’s Word that enables us to escape the corruption in world caused by evil desires:

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our KNOWLEDGE of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises , so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”
1 Peter 1:3-4
In order to attain life and godliness we must learn to possess “knowledge” of Christ in increasing measure. By maturing in our knowledge of Christ we can avoid becoming ineffective and unproductive:

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith, goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
2 Peter 1:5-8

By maturing in our faith, growing in our knowledge of Christ, and possessing godliness we demonstrate our commitment to spiritual growth and position ourselves to enjoy “full rights as sons.”

Pastor Scott Burr http://faithandworshipseries.blogspot.com

Thursday, February 3, 2011

“Full Rights as Sons”

(part 1)

“You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father.”
Galatians 3:26-4:2

A slave in ancient times had no rights or claims to his master’s inheritance. The inheritance was reserved for the sons. Likewise, when we were steeped in sin (slaves to sin), we had no claim or rights to the promises of God. However, when we put our faith in Jesus Christ, we became sons and heirs.

Paul recognized that the believers in Galatia were not exercising their “full rights as sons.” They were heirs, but they were like children. They owned the whole estate, but were not benefiting, because they lacked the maturity to operate in it.

A child, that is heir to an estate, is likened to a slave, in that he cannot operate without the aid and consent of a guardian or trustee. He is bound by his own immaturity. In light of this, Paul is encouraging the Galatians to move beyond just thinking like heirs and to see themselves as sons. An heir has rights to what is promised, but it is only available to them at a “time set by the father.” A son, however, in ancient times, had access and rights to the promises at any time. Remember the story of the prodigal son. He went to his father and said “Father, give me my share of the estate.” His father didn’t argue with him, he simply divided the estate between them. The young man was more than just an heir…he was a son!

Nevertheless, we cannot attain, to the place of “full rights” as sons as long as we are still acting like children. Paul makes a clear connection between the need for spiritual maturity and receiving full rights as sons. He told the Corinthian Church in 1 Corinthians 3:1-2:

“Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual, but as worldly- mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly?”

Notice how he equates being worldly and being mere infants in Christ. As a “mere infant” we are just as constrained by others as a slave is to his master. As “mere infants” we are constrained by the teaching, leading and direction of others. We can be easily “blown around” by every wind of doctrine:

“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become MATURE, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.”
Ephesians 4:11-14

Again, Paul is calling the church to “maturity”…so that we may attain to the full rights as sons.

Pastor Scott Burr http://faithandworshipseries.blogspot.com