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Thursday, April 28, 2011

“Dying to Live”

(part 1 of 3)

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
Galatians 6:14

As the Body of Christ, Christians all over the world will be recognizing two major events in the life of Jesus Christ this week: His crucifixion and His resurrection. These two events though individually rich with meaning are also intimately tied together. For without the crucifixion there would be no resurrection. And without the resurrection there would be no hope! However, this connection between the two must be balanced.

A church that focuses solely on the crucifixion and Christ’s atoning for our sins will be devoid of hope as it grieves and agonizes over the price that was paid. Overcoming our flesh, rejecting worldliness, and exposing sin become the order of the day. With so much focus on sin, it is not long before they would drift into legalism.

A church, however, that focuses solely on the resurrection and the hope of eternal life would be devoid of conviction as it addresses the abundant life, the love of God, and our glorious future. Sin isn’t seriously addressed. It isn’t long before a congregation, like this, would become morally lax.

It takes both of these events to give a clear presentation of the Gospel message. The message of Christ is powerful because of the relationship between the cross and the empty tomb. To separate them cripples the effectiveness of our message. The Apostle Paul saw just how powerful each of these events were in the life of Christ. For in one breath he declares:

“For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
1 Corinthians 2:2

By simply subscribing to this passage of Scripture, some may believe that Paul saw this event as being “more significant” in the life of Christ than any other event. However, later in the same book Paul penned these words:

“For is the dead are not raised then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.”
1 Corinthians 15:16-18

Understanding the power and intimate relationship of these two events is significant in the life of a believer. The New Testament is peppered with passages proclaiming that we are to “die daily”, “take up our cross” and “crucify the flesh.” While at the same time saying… “I have come to give you life more abundantly”, “We’ve been made alive with Christ”, and “We are a new creation.”

The question then becomes… “How do we die and live at the same time?”

Pastor Scott Burr

Thursday, April 21, 2011

“Separating the Holy from the Common”

“So he measured the area on all four sides. It had a wall around it, five hundred cubits long and five hundred cubits wide, to separate the holy from the common.”

Ezekiel 42:20

At the writing of this passage, Israel had been in Babylonian captivity for 25 years. In a vision, God showed the prophet Ezekiel the dimensions of the new temple that would one day be rebuilt in Jerusalem. He showed Ezekiel the outer courts and its gates, the inner courts and its gates, the rooms to prepare sacrifices, rooms for the priests and the Temple. After describing what was inside the Temple area an angel of the Lord led Ezekiel out through the east gate and showed him the wall that surrounded it. The angel told Ezekiel that this wall is to separate the holy from the common.

Immediately after this, the glory of God came and filled the Temple. Before God filled the Temple, He made certain that the wall between the holy and the common was in place! This is a Word from the Lord to you! You are God’s Temple according to 1 Corinthians 3:16:

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?

God desires to fill us with His Glory, but the wall between the holy and the common must be in place. God would not allow that which was unclean into the “inner place”. Before the Israelites were taken into captivity, the priests of Israel had forsaken this wall:

“Her priests do violence to my law and profane my holy things; they do not distinguish between the holy and the common; they teach that there is no difference between the unclean and the clean; and they shut their eyes to the keeping of my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them.”
Ezekiel 22:26

If we are going to live holy and righteous before the Lord we must maintain a wall of holiness that distinguishes between clean and unclean; the common and the holy. God would have me tell you that many of you are profaning what is holy inside of you by what you are allowing in!

Israel’s priests had forsaken the wall, they had profaned the inner courts by allowing that which was unclean and unholy inside. This grieved the heart of God and He looked for someone who would bear a burden for holiness:

“I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.”

Ezekiel 22:30

Our God is still looking! He is looking for a people who will once again become concerned about what is holy, build up the wall, and guard the gates. We are God’s Temple and must distinguish between the clean and the unclean, the holy and the common, if we are going to maintain our inner holiness.

Pastor Scott Burr

Thursday, April 14, 2011

"The Sign of Jonah”

“The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested Him by asking Him to show them a sign from heaven. He replied, “When evening comes you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away.” Matthew 16:1-4 Jesus had scarcely left the place where 4,000 people had been miraculously fed, when He is approached by the religious leaders of His day. These men prided themselves on being knowledgeable and made certain to express their abilities among the people. However, the one thing they could not understand and, in fact, were blinded to, was the coming of Jesus Christ. Although He came precisely as was foretold in Scripture, they did not see it. Although He did miraculous signs and wonders…healing the sick, lame, blind and deaf…they would not believe it. It did not matter how may were saved, healed, delivered or fed! They were truly not interested in the people or their needs. Even if Jesus had opened heaven itself, no sign was going to make them believe. Jesus understood this and told them that “No sign will be given you, except the sign of Jonah.” This statement should cause us to stop and think! What sign is so significant that Jesus Himself would take time to point it out? The sign of Jonah is better explained to us in Matthew 12:40: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Jonah’s time spent in the belly of a huge fish was a foreshadow of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. Jesus is telling them that if they are going to believe a sign, the only one that matters is that one! Believing it is critical to our salvation! Romans 10:9 declares: “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” If we do not believe that Jesus Christ was raised to life…WE ARE NOT SAVED! Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of the fish, was vomited out, and brought salvation to Nineveh. In like manner, Jesus spent three days and three nights in the heart of the earth, came out, and brought salvation to all mankind. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most significant miracle that ever happened. It is THE sign for all generations. In fact, Jesus said it is this sign that generations will stand in judgment over: “The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.” Matthew 12:41 We will not be condemned over whether we believed Noah built an arc, Moses parted the Red Sea, or David slayed Goliath. We will, however, have to answer the question… “Do you believe that Jesus Christ died, was buried and after three days rose again!” Pastor Scott Burr http://faithandworshipseries.blogspot.com

Thursday, April 7, 2011

“Bringing Men to Jesus”

“Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon down to the sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. There some people brought to Him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Him to place His hand on the man.”

Mark 7:31-32

In a parallel passage Matthew (15:30) described what was happening like this:

“Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at His feet and He healed them.”

As Jesus laid hands on them, the people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the cripple made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. With every miracle came a growing confidence in Him. As their confidence grew so did the crowds and soon they were bringing the sick, crippled and hurting with them.

They recognized from following Jesus two important truths:

1. An encounter with Jesus was a life-changing experience.

2. Everything He touched was made whole.

This motivated people! They took time to look around and find hurting people. They looked for those who truly needed a miracle in their lives and then they brought them to Jesus. They did not simply “identify them” as someone who needed Jesus, but they made the effort to lead them to Him. This takes a tremendous amount of faith! Why? Because it exposes what we believe?

I often wonder… “If we have enough faith in Him to follow Him, then why have we stopped bringing men to Jesus?” Are we afraid of having our faith exposed? Are we afraid that He will not do for them what they need? Are we concerned that it will reflect poorly on us if they do not receive? Or are we more concerned about our reputation than their wholeness? We do not see the miracles today, not because God is unwilling to heal, but we are unwilling to “bring men to Jesus”.

These people whom Jesus healed did not show up “two by two” like animals to Noah’s ark. They were found and led there by PEOPLE! In fact, Jesus commanded us to bring them to Him. In Luke 14:21-23, the Parable of the Great Banquet, His servants are instructed to: “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.” Once this was done the servants replied… “Sir, what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.” So Jesus ordered them: “Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.”
Have we, as the church, lost our confidence in Christ’s ability to save, heal and deliver? If we, too, believe that an encounter with Jesus is a life-changing experience and that everything He touches is made whole…shouldn’t we be the first to “bring men to Jesus?”

Pastor Scott Burr