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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Possessed by Our Possessions

(Part 1 in series)

“Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men who were not opposing you.”

                                                                                                            James 5:1-6

 The underlying theme of James, which we see throughout the book, is humility. Today we want to discuss one of the dangers that believers and unbelievers alike can fall into and that is materialism. Materialism is an enemy of humility. It causes us to place our trust in something other than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Materialism is a form of idolatry. It is a spiritual issue that has caused many today to be enslaved by the very things they “had to have.” Their lives are dictated and centered on the need to make money in order to pay for the things that they possess. Money has become their master:

No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money (mammon)!”

                                                                                                            Matthew 6:24

How do we fall into the trap of serving money? It begins when we believe that attaining wealth is the only path to prosperity. By doing this we to put a “high value” on money and possessions. We begin to trust in it. We deceive ourselves into believing that not only can it (wealth) purchase me tangible items, but we start to believe it can secure the intangible too. We begin to believe things like wealth can give me happiness; wealth will bring me peace; wealth will bring me security; wealth will give me confidence; or even wealth will secure my salvation.

Possessing wealth was a huge concern for Jesus! He spoke often about it, because He understood its potential dangers. He told his disciples in Matthew 19:23:

I tell you the truth; it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

This astonished His disciples because they had been taught in their culture that prosperity was a sign of God’s blessing and poverty a sign of His displeasure. It caused the rich young ruler, Jesus was speaking to, to walk away sad, because he possessed great wealth. Wealth that he was unwilling to let go of…making me wonder “Who possessed who?”

 Pastor Scott Burr


"Beyond Saving"

(Part 3 of 3)

“Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.”

                                                                                                              Mark 16:14

After Jesus’ death, the disciples’ faith began to wane. Even though, there were several eye witness accounts of Jesus’ resurrection, they refused to believe that He was alive. It made me think, at what point did they consider Jesus…”beyond saving”?

Was it at Gethsemane when they came and took him by force?

Was it in the courts of the High Priest where they accused Him of blasphemy?

Was it in the Roman Court when Pilate sentenced Him to death?

Was it at the whipping post where He was beaten to barely recognizable?

Was it along the path to Calvary where He suffered under the weight of the cross?

Was it on Calvary’s Hill where they put nails in his hands and feet?

Was it when He cried, “It is finished!” and gave up His spirit?  Or was it when they laid him in the tomb? Perhaps, it was over one of the three agonizing days they hid themselves away?

In Mark 16 we read how Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body:

“When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance to the tomb?”
                                                                                                    Mark 16:1-3

These women were not going to the tomb to see a resurrected Lord. They were heading to the tomb to see the dead body of Jesus! Upon arriving at the tomb, the angel of the Lord told them that if they had come to see a dead body, they were out of luck. You can look at where the dead man was, but He is not there!

Jesus triumphed over death so that you and I would understand that regardless of how hopeless, someone or something may appear…it is not beyond saving!

Wherever you may be physically or spiritually…you are NOT beyond saving!

Whoever you have been trying to reach for years although they have rejected you time and time again...they are NOT beyond saving!

Even if things have gone from bad to worse….they are NOT beyond saving!

Take courage today and place your faith in Jesus Christ! He is the Resurrection and the Life!                  

 Pastor Scott Burr


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"Beyond Saving"

(Part 2 of 3)

“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

                                                                                                                                John 11:21

I know this will sound strange when I say it, but isn’t it true that the longer someone is “dead” the more difficult they are to reach. In our stories from last week the widow of Nain’s son had just recently died when Jesus stopped the procession heading out of town. No one questioned Him or tried to dissuade Him from praying for the man. However, when Jesus got to Lazarus the atmosphere was very different. Upon Jesus’ arrival, Mary and Martha, both, had already conceded to Lazarus’s death. They told Jesus, that it was too late. If only He had arrived a few days earlier, when there was still hope, maybe Lazarus would still be alive:

When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

                                                                                                                                John 11:32

 Jesus, however, was not deterred. He asked to be taken to the tomb and even as He was commanding the stone be rolled away, they were still trying to convince Him that there was no use:

But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

                                                                                                                                John 11:39

Notice that Martha is not described here as Lazarus’s sister, but rather she is described as the sister of the dead man! Why? Because that is how she saw him! Beyond saving! However, Martha and Mary were not alone in their unbelief.

The crowds that followed Mary, Martha and Jesus to the tomb also chimed in saying:

“Could not He who opened the eyes of the blind, have kept this man from dying?”

                                                                                                                                John 11:37

It makes you wonder at what point they determined that Lazarus was beyond saving. Was it when Jesus delayed His coming? Was it when Lazarus breathed his last breath? Was it when the stone was rolled in place? Was it four days later when, as they believed, the soul left the body?  The answer is probably…Yes! Yes! Yes! And Yes! Most likely all along the way people began giving up on Lazarus.

 Jesus, however, unmoved by any of these things, stepped upon the scene and declared:

Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

                                                                                                                                John 11:40

With a short command, Jesus called Lazarus out of the tomb just as He did the widow’s son. It was no harder for Jesus to raise a man who had been dead four days as it was to raise a man who had been dead just a few hours!  However, the real test of His resurrection power was about to be displayed!

 Pastor Scott Burr


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Beyond Saving

(Part 1 of 2)

Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out-the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her.”

                                                                                                                                                Luke 7:11-12

Have you ever been in what seemed like a hopeless situation? As I read this story I thought about this poor woman, who being a widow, at some point had went through the agonizing process of losing a husband and now she must relive the heartache with the passing of her son. This, without, taking into consideration the impact this would have on her very livelihood. As I was sympathizing for her and how difficult her situation was, the Lord quickened my spirit and said… “What about him?”

As I sympathized with the plight of this woman I had never stopped to consider the dead man. Is he beyond saving? It got me thinking…Are there people who are just so hopeless that they are beyond saving?  Are there people whose situations, health or spiritual condition is just so bad that the only thing left to do is “carry the body out?” Do we only have hope for an individual if we can “see” how they can be helped in their condition?

In this story, the focus is primarily on the grieving mother and as awful as her situation is there is reason to believe that she can be helped because she is still living! The son, however, had passed a point that everyone assumed put him beyond saving. That is until Jesus came!

Then He went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you get up!” The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.”

                                                                                                                                                Luke 7:14-15

The first thing I noticed was that those carrying the coffin stood still. Sometimes we are too quick to give up and bury those who we feel are beyond saving! Have you ever stopped to consider that maybe God allowed them get to this point for a reason? What you and I consider to be “beyond saving” is often the opportunity God is looking for to demonstrate His Glory:

Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. This, Mary whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. So the sisters sent word to Jesus. “Lord the one you love is sick.” When he heard this Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.”

                                                                                                                                John 11:1-6

During those two days Lazarus went from bad to worse. He went from sick to being dead! Have you ever known anyone who has gone from bad to worse?

On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.”

                                                                                                                                John 11:17

Unlike the widow’s son, they had already carried him out, wrapped the body, placed him in the tomb and began the days of mourning. The funeral had been over for days by the time Jesus showed up. If there was anyone in their minds that was “beyond saving” it was Lazarus!

Pastor Scott Burr


Thursday, May 3, 2012

“Resurrecting the Great Commission”

(Part 2)

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

                                                                                                                                1 Corinthians 1:18

We learned, last week, that God’s chosen method for spreading the Gospel is through preaching. However, before we can take the Good News of Jesus Christ to the four corners of the earth, we have to know what the message is! What is the Gospel message?

On one occasion, after His resurrection, Jesus told His disciples:

This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.

The core of the gospel message is centered on Christ! The gospel message includes proclaiming that Jesus suffered and died on Calvary’s cross, explaining that He died a sinner’s death in our place so that we might be forgiven. The Apostle Paul believed in this message so strongly that he wrote in                      1 Corinthians 1:23-24:

But we preach Christ crucified; a stumbling block to Jews and a stumbling block to Gentiles, but to those who God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

 The gospel message includes proclaiming that after three days He conquered death, hell and the grave when He victoriously came out of the tomb to give us eternal life. The gospel message includes proclaiming the need for repentance as we were all born into sin, and because of our sinfulness we deserve death. We must repent and turn from our sins. The gospel message, also, includes forgiveness. We must turn to the Lord Jesus Christ confessing our sinfulness and ask Him to forgive us of our sins.

Jesus left His disciples with a very concise message! It is a message that is still desperately needed today. A message that you and I have been called to carry to a world that desperately needs salvation. A message, we have not only heard, but witnessed in our own lives.  I challenge you and leave you with this departing passage of Scripture from Romans 10:14-15:

How, then can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Jesus concludes His ministry on this earth with this statement in Matthew 28:18-20:

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”


Pastor Scott Burr