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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

I am the way, the truth, and the life (Pt. 1)


“Jesus said to them, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”-John 14:6

In John 14, Jesus announces to His disciples that He would soon be going away. He went on to say that when everything had been made ready, He would return for them. Although Jesus’ promise to return for them was intended to comfort and encourage, it is obvious that the news of His departure created some anxiety in the disciples who remained uncertain regarding where He was going and how they would be able to follow Him there.

It is in this context that Jesus announces that He is the way, the truth, and the life; stating that no one can come to the Father except through Him. When we studied Jesus as the Door, we discussed primarily how Jesus is our access to the family of God and eternal salvation; however here Jesus is declaring that through Him we have direct access to God, Himself!

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body.”-Hebrews 10:19-20.

So what is the meaning behind Jesus’ peculiar statement: “I am the way, the truth and the life”?

Jesus is the way!. Jesus used this declaration to distinguish Himself as the only way to the Father. A way can be properly defined as a path or route. Jesus’ statement conveys to us that there is no other path to heaven, no other way to the Father; except through Him. The Apostle Peter reaffirmed this same truth to the rulers in Jerusalem when he declared:

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”-Acts 4:12.

This acclamation rules out all other world religions, those that maintain you can rely on good works to attain heaven, or any other approach to eternity that circumvents Jesus Christ.

In a culture today that promotes and embraces multiple ways to God, this statement by Christ seems very restrictive and exclusive (rather than inclusive). However, it is consistent with other scripture taught by Jesus:

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”-Matthew 7:13-14.

We can be certain that we are on the right path simply by making sure we are following Jesus!

Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

This is your cross!

“Now as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. Him they compelled to bear His cross.”-Matthew 27:32

Not much is known about Simon the Cyrene, but his name has become synonymous with one of the most horrific events of Jesus’ life. The book of Mark tells us that he was coming in from the country with his two sons, Rufus and Alexander, most likely to celebrate the Passover; when he was seized and made to carry the cross that Jesus would ultimately be crucified upon.

Simon had come to Jerusalem to celebrate God’s deliverance of Israel from the bondages of Egypt, not to participate in death of this man Jesus! Scripture tells us that Simon had to be compelled or forced to carry the cross. Simon had stopped as a simple onlooker that day and had no intention of being thrust into history, but soon enough he found himself shoulder to shoulder with the Savior of the world. Jesus’ blood likely staining Simon’s garments as he mounted up under the weight of the cross.

Simon was obviously a religious man, however he was completely unaware that the blood that dripped upon his cloak was the very blood that would save us from our sins!

I contend that if Simon had not been compelled to take up that cross, he would have quietly waited for the crowds to pass by and then proceeded to the Temple to present his offering to the the high priest; worshipping God in a way that was familiar to him, certainly not burdened under the weight of a blood stained cross.

Unlike Simon, however, scripture tells us that Jesus bore the cross but it is never mentioned that they had to force Him to carry it:

“And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of the Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgatha, where they crucified Him.”-John 19:17.

If fact, Philippians 2:8 tells us that Jesus willfully took the burden of the cross upon Himself:

“He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”

However, the burden of carrying the cross didn’t begin when the Roman soldiers placed it on Jesus’ back. The burden of the cross began in Gethsemane:

“O, My father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will but as You will.”-Matthew 26:39

Gethsemane is where Jesus wrestled in prayer concerning His approaching crucifixion. It is where Jesus laid down His will for the will of the Father; setting an example for us by demonstrating that you will never lay down your life, until you first lay down your will.

“For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us. Leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps.”-1 Peter 2:21

When Jesus stopped and dropped the cross, Simon was tasked with carrying it. What makes this story so impactful is that Jesus was carrying a cross that was not His to bear. The Bible tells us that the wages of sin is death, however Jesus lived a sinless life. The sin debt Jesus was paying was yours, mine, and Simon’s!

“He bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness.”-1 Peter 2:24

The cross that Simon dragged to Calvary that day was his own! That’s what makes the story so significant. Simon was never asked to die on it, he was just asked to carry it:

“If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.”-Matthew 16:24

That is the message of Jesus Christ still today, you carry the cross and Jesus will die on it. You and I were the one’s whose lives deserved death. Yet, despite this, many people complain that living for Christ is too demanding or that they have to give up too much to follow Him. It is as if they are saying, “I want Jesus to carry my cross AND die on it for me!” They don’t want to deny themselves and take responsibility for their own sinfulness. He mercifully took our penalty, but we must take responsibility for our sinfulness.

We must lay down our will. We must deny ourselves before we can take up our cross. The compelling difference between Jesus and Simon is that Simon was forced to carry the cross against his will where Jesus had laid down His will before He ever reached the cross.

You will never take up your cross and follow Jesus, until you first lay down your will. As you consider the Cross of Calvary today, begin by repenting of your sins, deny yourself, and remember that this is your cross!

Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

I am the light of the world

“Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “ I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”-John 8:12

One day the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman, who had been caught in adultery, and threw her down at the feet of Jesus. They rehearsed before Jesus the law of Moses and how the punishment for such activity was death by stoning. Then they turned to Jesus and asked, “But what do You say?”

“So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw the a stone at her first.”-John 8:7

Upon hearing this, her accusers being convicted by their consciences left one by one until only the woman was left with Jesus. Jesus then turned to the woman and said:

“Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you? She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”-John 8:10-11. 

Then Jesus turned to the Pharisees and the scribes and declared that He is the light of the world. In just a matter of moments Jesus exposed the duplicity of these men’s hearts. They had come to trap Jesus and pass judgement upon this woman; however they became conscience stricken when their own sinfulness was exposed.  Light has a way of exposing things hidden in the darkness. From the very beginning God has been distinguishing between light and darkness:

“Then God said, “Let there be light”’ and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.”-Genesis 1:3-4

God declared the light was good and throughout the scriptures light has been associated with God:

“This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.”-1 John 1:5

Light is mentioned 23 times in the Gospel of John, more than any other New Testament book. Each time it is associated with the life of Christ:

“In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”-John 1: 4-5

Jesus’ life was the light for all men. His life revealed the true nature of the Father; exposing God’s will and the path of reconciliation. Each passage describing the various ways that Jesus guides our path and keeps us out of darkness. Left to their own devices, men would wander in darkness; however the introduction of light announced that their was another way to live and another path to follow:

“If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice truth But if we walk in the light as He is in the light we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”-1 John 1:6-7

When we walk in darkness, we are walking outside of the influence of God. We are choosing a life of rebellion, disobedience and rejection of God's standards to pursue our own selfish desires. When we walk in the light it means we have accepted God's truth, as revealed in His Word, and have purposed to live by that truth and standard. In order to walk in the light we must allow the life of Christ to guide our lives.

Pastor Scott Burr & Pastor Jon Gaines
Dayspring Community Church

Monday, March 14, 2016

I am the resurrection and the life

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.”-John 11:25

When discussing the I AM statements made by Jesus, it is important to investigate the context surrounding each of His claims. When Jesus makes this declaration in John 11, He is in the midst of a disheartening situation. 

Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, had become deathly ill. His sister’s, concerned for his life, sent for Jesus. However, by the time Jesus arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had died and was now slowly decomposing in a tomb just outside the village. 

When Martha heard that Jesus had arrived she ran to meet Him and upon seeing Him said:

“Lord, if You had been here my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”-John 11:21-22

Jesus responded: “Your brother will rise again”; however Martha believed that He was speaking of the resurrection to happen in the last days. This crisis of faith, however, not isolated to Martha; Mary too questioned whether Lazarus would have lived if Jesus had arrived sooner (John 11:32). 

Each of these ladies had hope in Christ; but neither had hope in their current situation. Each of them believed that Jesus had the ability to heal; stating that if Jesus had arrived sooner, Lazarus would not have died. Martha even expressed her hope in a future resurrection that would take place in the last days; firmly believing that Lazarus would be resurrected at that time.

However, neither of these ladies had any hope that Lazarus would recover at this time. It is obvious, from their statements that they felt the time for Lazarus’s healing had passed and death had sealed his fate. This is why it came as such a shock to them when Jesus, upon reaching the tomb, asked that the stone sealing the cave be removed:

“Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”-John 11:39

Jesus was about to prove neither time nor death were an obstacle to Him. After praying to the Father, Jesus commanded Lazarus to come forth and the scripture tells us:

“And he who had died come out bound had and footpath grave clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”-John 11:44

It’s one thing to claim to be the resurrection and the life, but Jesus proved it by raising Lazarus from the dead.Resurrection and life are not simply things that Jesus doles out to those who believe in Him. They are not prizes or awards for our obedience. They are expressions of Christ’s nature; of which we benefit by being united with Him. 

Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church

Thursday, March 3, 2016

I am the Good Shepherd

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd scarifies his life for the sheep.”-John 10:11 (NLT)

Here in the book of John, Chapter 11, Jesus makes a distinction between two types of individuals tasked with caring for the flock: shepherds and hired hands. Hired hands, according to the passage, have little to no concern for the sheep. They will abandon the sheep at the first sign of trouble because they feel no obligation to protect them. They feel no responsibility towards the sheep for their care or safety. They are simply after a paycheck! 

Shepherds, however, care deeply about the sheep. They know the sheep, and the sheep now them. They make provision for the sheep and work diligently to ensure their protection. King David, a shepherd himself, recognized the parallel between shepherds and sheep and the Lord and His children:

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful stream. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.”-Psalm 23:1-4 (NLT)

David recognized that just as shepherds lead their sheep to greener pastures and peaceful waters; the Lord, too, leads His people into sustenance and life through the provision and refreshing of the Holy Spirit. 

He acknowledged the similarity between a gentle shepherd guiding his sheep down right paths and how the Lord guides His people towards righteousness. He showed an appreciation for the rod and the staff; praising God for His unique ability to bring comfort to a man’s soul through a balance of protection and correction.  

King David was not the only person who saw the similarities between shepherds and the Lord. Isaiah the prophet recorded these words:

He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.”-Isaiah 40:11

The Prophet Ezekiel takes it even further:

“For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search and find my sheep. I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find my sheep and rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on that dark and cloudy day. I will bring them back home to their own land of Israel from among the peoples and nations. I will feed them on the mountains of Israel and by the rivers and in all the places where people live. Yes, I will give them good pastureland on the high hills of Israel. There they will lie down in pleasant places and feed in the lush pastures of the hills. I myself will tend my sheep and give them a place to lie down in peace, says the Sovereign Lord.-Ezekiel 34:11-15

The Lord, Himself, has declared it! He is the Good Shepherd and we are the sheep of His pasture. When it comes to you and I; He is no hired hand. He knows us better than we know ourselves, and He is continually looking out for our best interest. 

Pastor Scott Burr & Pastor Jon Gaines

Dayspring Community Church