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Expensive Perfume

Did you ever hear about the time that Jesus got doused in perfume from head to toe? It was a big deal. A very big deal. There was a purpose behind it, although maybe not obvious at first. Some people thought it was a waste of costly perfume. But it wasn’t. Jesus thought it was so significant that the woman who did it should have her story told all over the world.

Here’s the story:

6 While Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon, a man who had a serious skin disease, 7 a woman approached Him with an alabaster jar of very expensive fragrant oil. She poured it on His head as He was reclining at the table. 8 When the disciples saw it, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. 9 “This might have been sold for a great deal and given to the poor.”

10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a noble thing for Me. 11 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me. 12 By pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she has prepared Me for burial. 13 I assure you: Wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told in memory of her.” (Matthew 26:6-13)

The setting for this story is pretty amazing. Jesus and his followers are at the home of a man with a serious skin disease, a man who would have been avoided by most people, an outcast to society. But Jesus didn’t avoid him. All of a sudden, a woman who was a follower of Jesus came into the room, took out an alabaster jar of perfume and broke it open. That was the normal way to open bottles of perfume. The cost of this perfume was equivalent to one-year’s salary. Very expensive perfume.

The woman poured the perfume on Jesus’ head, reminiscent of the way kings were anointed with oil. This King of kings was soon going to wear a crown of thorns and be placed on a wooden cross. The reason for the anointing with perfume was actually to prepare Jesus’ body for burial. He knew that his death and burial were coming soon. And this woman did too. She had heard him teach. She and her family were close friends with Jesus. She knew that he came to earth to die for our sins. She was properly preparing his body for burial. The most surprising thing about the timing of this event was that she did it before he died!

This woman knew Jesus. And she knew about the cross. She knew what the cross meant. And just like her, when you know what the cross means…

  • You’re not afraid to approach Jesus
  • You are broken before him
  • You think of ways to honor him
  • You give your very best to him

Will you follow the example of this woman? She had a life changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ and she responded with brokenness, sacrifice and love.

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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On God’s Timetable — Five (5) Things We Learn From the Example of Christ

Christ followers want to do exactly what God wants them to do, exactly when God wants them to do it. They want to be in sync with God’s timetable.

Jesus set the perfect example for us to follow. The most important reason Jesus came earth was to give his life as an atoning sacrifice for our sins by dying on the cross. From a human level, he could have done that at any point during his life. But he had much work to do before that – teaching, healing, training disciples, more – so he resisted the temptation to go to the cross before the time was right.

One of the most amazing miracles he performed (a foreshadowing of his resurrection) was raising Lazarus from the dead. That miracle was a sign indicating that he is the Resurrection and the Life. Lazarus’s sister Mary was one of the eyewitnesses to the miraculous sign. After that miracle, many people trusted in him as their Savior and Lord, but many others rejected him and sought to get rid of him. John 11:45-57 describes it this way:

45 Therefore, many of the Jews who came to Mary and saw what He did believed in Him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.

47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees convened the Sanhedrin and said, “What are we going to do since this man does many signs? 48 If we let Him continue in this way, everyone will believe in Him! Then the Romans will come and remove both our place and our nation.” 49 One of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all! 50 You’re not considering that it is to your advantage that one man should die for the people rather than the whole nation perish.” 51 He did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to unite the scattered children of God. 53 So from that day on they plotted to kill Him. 54 Therefore Jesus no longer walked openly among the Jews but departed from there to the countryside near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim. And He stayed there with the disciples.

55 The Jewish Passover was near, and many went up to Jerusalem from the country to purify themselves before the Passover. 56 They were looking for Jesus and asking one another as they stood in the temple complex: “What do you think? He won’t come to the festival, will He? ” 57 The chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where He was, he should report it so they could arrest Him.

Notice verse 54. The Bible says that at a certain point Jesus decided to take his disciples to the countryside, to a town called Ephraim, to stay there rather than to be in Jerusalem. Verse 53 tells us why: there were people in Jerusalem who were plotting to kill him. And although Jesus knew that he was headed to the cross soon, it wasn’t quite time yet.

Here are five things we learn from Jesus’ example:

1. Jesus had vision. He was crystal clear on the Lord’s will. To be on God’s timetable, you must seek the Lord through prayer and Bible study, to know exactly what it is the Lord wants you to do.

2. Jesus had wisdom. He was aware of contemporary events. Jesus knew that going to Jerusalem at that particular time meant certain death, which would have taken him off of God’s timetable. It wasn’t time for him to die yet. He had more work to do. He was aware of the hostility that certain leaders had toward him. We make ourselves aware of contemporary events and how they relate to God’s timetable by listening, reading, observing, praying and thinking deeply.

3. Jesus was fearless. He was unafraid in the face of opposition. Jesus didn’t go to the town of Ephraim because he was afraid. He went away to wait on the Lord’s timing. When the time was right, he went right into Jerusalem during the days of the Passover festival, riding on a donkey while the people lined the street with palm branches shouting, “Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” That entrance into Jerusalem was one example of Jesus fearlessly declaring that was the Messiah, the king who came to save us.

4. Jesus was patient. He waited patiently without wasting a minute. While he was in Ephraim, he continued to teach his disciples. He continually poured into them so they would be ready to lead after he left the earth. While Jesus was waiting on the perfect time for him to head back into Jerusalem, he was teaching his disciples a few more things. When we are patiently waiting on God’s perfect timing for whatever it is the Lord wants us to do, we should continue to walk with the Lord, continue to serve where we are serving, continue to disciple others, and be ready for the timing to be right for our next step of faith & obedience.

5. Jesus was ready. He was ready to act when the timing was right. Jesus was sitting “on ready.” We must be too. When God reveals our next step, we must be ready to respond with faith & obedience. Our next step may be a big step or a small step, but when God reveals what our next step should be we must be ready to take that step. (For more on this, I highly recommend the Bible study Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God by Henry Blackaby and Claude King.)

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Legacy of a Warrior: Breastplate of Righteousness

For a soldier, the breastplate covers your heart and other vital organs. The strength of the breastplate is vital to the mission. For a Christian, as we face spiritual battles, we must put on the breastplate of righteousness to be successful.

Here’s a definition for righteousness: “pure in heart and life; being right and doing right.”

Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest. (Ephesians 6:14)

1. The Lord is righteous.

Hallelujah! I will praise the Lord with all my heart in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation. The Lord ’s works are great, studied by all who delight in them. All that He does is splendid and majestic; His righteousness endures forever. (Ps 111:1-3)

2. Apart from Christ, you will never be righteous.

There is no one righteous, not even one. (Rom 3:10)

All of us have become like something unclean, and all our righteous acts are like a polluted garment… (Is 64:6)

3. Through faith in Christ, you become righteous in God’s sight.

Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 5:1)

He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Cor 5:21)

4. In Christ and through Christ, you can live righteously.

You took off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires; you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; you put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth. (Eph 4:22-24)

All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3:16-17)

Ready for battle?

You initially put on righteousness by trusting in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. You daily put on righteousness as armor on your chest by depending on him to live righteously. This is the best way. This is the way of Christ. Be a warrior.

So when you put on your shirt tomorrow, imagine yourself putting on a breastplate of righteousness, ready to live a holy life in thought, word and deed, ready for the spiritual battles of the day.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Driving Tip #48

Driving Tip #48: Slower traffic keep right

On highways with multiple lanes, navigating these busy roads safely can be a bit tricky at times. You see people weaving in and out of lanes like the stuntmen driving sports cars in the high speed chases in the movies. Granted, some of those drivers need to drive a lot slower and be a bit more patient. But sometimes it’s not entirely their fault. Sometimes the fault lies with the slow drivers who stubbornly drive in the left lanes.

So if you have a practice of driving in the left lanes and you continually notice that people are having to pass you on the right side, it’s probably time for you to begin driving a little bit more to the right. Find one of the right lanes where you can drive safely and leave the left lanes for the faster drivers.

Now if you’re thinking that the reason you drive in the left lane is to try to slow down all the speeders, let me un-burden you with that responsibility. There are highly trained and very capable state troopers and local police officers who will watch out for those who are speeding. Let them do that job. You can just drive in the right hand lanes and not worry about a thing except getting to your destination safely and peacefully.

Remember driving tip #48: slower traffic keep right. It’s in the driver’s handbook and on signs all around the city.

Happy driving everyone!

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Legacy of a Warrior: Put on the Belt of Truth

Warriors must be properly equipped for battle. Christians must be properly equipped for spiritual battles they will face each day. There are battles against invisible but real forces such as greed, lies, fear, lust, wrath, laziness, unfriendliness, confusion, selfishness and more. 

How do we combat these forces? Let’s start by putting on the belt of truth. As a visual, when you put your belt on in the morning, imagine yourself putting on a belt with a big buckle TRUTH right on the front of it. The Bible says, “Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist” (Ephesians 6:14). What does it practically look like to “put on the belt of truth”?

First, make sure that you believe the truth. I mean, really believe it with your head and your heart. 

The Bible is truth. Read it and believe it. The entirety of Your word is truth, and all Your righteous judgments endure forever (Psalm119:160). Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth (John 17:17).

Truth is a Person. Jesus is the truth. Trust in him and follow him. Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me (John 14:6).

Believe the truth because the devil will lie to you. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the devil (Ephesians 6:11). For example, the devil will tell you that you are hopeless. The truth is that you have hope for today, hope for tomorrow, and hope for eternity – in Christ and through Christ!

Second, speak the truth in love. But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head — Christ (Ephesians 4:15). Since you put away lying, Speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another (Ephesians 4:25). These are the things you must do: Speak truth to one another; make true and sound decisions within your gates (Zechariah 8:16). 

If you don’t, someone will get hurt. You must not go about spreading slander among your people; you must not jeopardize your neighbor’s life; I am the Lord (Leviticus 19:16). 

If you don’t, you will experience God’s discipline. It’s loving discipline, but it’s discipline nonetheless. You live in a world of deception. In their deception they refuse to know Me. This is the Lord’s declaration. Therefore, this is what the Lord of Hosts says: I am about to refine them and test them, for what else can I do because of My dear people? (Jeremiah 9:6-7)

Show maturity – don’t gossip or slander. Without wood, fire goes out; without a gossip, conflict dies down (Proverbs 26:20). But now you must also put away all the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth (Colossians 3:8). 

Follow the Holy Spirit’s lead – every word that you speak should glorify Jesus. When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you (John 16:13-14). 

Third, walk in truth & love. By obedience to the truth, having purified yourselves for sincere love of the brothers, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again — not of perishable seed but of imperishable — through the living and enduring word of God (1 Peter 1:22-23). I was very glad to find some of your children walking in the truth, in keeping with a command we have received from the Father. So now I urge you, dear lady — not as if I were writing you a new command, but one we have had from the beginning — that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk according to His commands. This is the command as you have heard it from the beginning: you must walk in love (2 John 1:4-6).

Try it tomorrow: as you’re getting dressed, imagine that you are putting on a big belt with the buckle TRUTH on it. Then, throughout the day, make sure that you believe the truth, speak the truth, and walk in truth. Be a warrior for Jesus Christ against the forces of evil. You are a victorious warrior in Christ. Stand, speak and walk in his victory today. And he will use you to point other people to his salvation and love. 

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Legacy of a Warrior: The Way a Warrior Stands

Spiritual battles. Whether you realize it or not, you have them every day. For example, you may think that when you and your spouse are having a conflict that it is just a difference of opinions, ideas or personalities, or perhaps that one or both of you are having a bad day. But in reality there is a battle going on behind the scenes. You and your spouse together are battling against your enemy, the devil. (And, no, your spouse is not the devil!)
 
So how do we stand strong in our faith so that we are… 
    • living a life of honesty, integrity and honor
    • showing love and serving others
    • overcoming the temptations of the devil
    • encouraging people through our words
    • sharing the good news of Jesus Christ

Many people think we need to just “try better” or “try harder” as a Christian, but just trying harder will wear you out. We must realize that because of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the victory has already been won! That means that when we accept by faith the death, burial & resurrection of Christ, and we surrender our lives to him as our Lord, then we have the strength for victorious, Christ-honoring living every moment of every day. A few years ago I read a little book that helped me clearly understand this spiritual reality. 

In his book Sit, Walk, Stand, Pastor Watchman Nee from China powerfully teaches about our relationship with Christ and what it means to grow as a disciple of Jesus Christ. As one reviewer of the book says: 
 
Nee shows that in Ephesians Paul presents the basis for our Christian life is for us simply to accept that through Jesus, God has already “seated us with Christ in the heavenlies.” Nee shares this radical understanding: once we have accepted that God has already given us our identity, we are released from the need to strive to be “better” Christians: our Christianity flows naturally from our new identity with Christ. Nee goes on to say that once we accept that we “sit” with Christ, our life (the “walk”) in the world will be the Christian life. Then, Nee shows from Ephesians, we will be prepared to “stand” — that is to resist Satan. 
 
You see, the point is that we do not have to win the battle. Jesus has already done that! We in fact simply stand with confidence in his victory and with his help we overcome the enemy, one battle at a time. And remember the temptation is not always to participate in some destructive, unholy activity. Sometimes the temptation is to not obey the Lord when he wants us to serve someone, or encourage them, or share the good news of Jesus with them. 
 
Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. (Ephesians 6:10-13) 
 

These verses from Ephesians 6 teach us that… 

    • You are in a spiritual battle
      • Your enemy is the devil (slanderer, accuser, liar)
      • Your enemy is invisible 
    • Your objective is to stand
      • Stand against the devil’s schemes
      • Wear the armor of God (see Ephesians 6:14-17
      • Resist temptation 
      • Stand in the victory of Christ
    • You have one source of power (and it’s not you!)
      • Be continually strengthened by the Lord
      • The Lord’s strength is unlimited

What kind of legacy of faith are you leaving for those who come behind you? Leave a legacy of a warrior, one who knows how to stand. 

 
 
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Posted by on March 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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The Answers: 30 Similarities between Abraham offering Isaac on Mt. Moriah and GOD offering Jesus on Mt. Calvary

In an earlier post that you can read HERE, I suggested that if you study the story of Abraham offering Isaac on Mt Moriah carefully, you could find as many as 30 similarities between that story and the story of God offering Jesus as a sacrifice on Mt Calvary. I posed this question to our Connect Group at Hebron Church on Sunday, and here are the 30 similarities that we found.

In both stories…

  1. The father leads his son to be sacrificed.
  2. A donkey is involved on the road to the sacrifice.
  3. They leave their “homeland” to go to the place of sacrifice (Abraham & Isaac travel to the mountain, Jesus leaves heaven to come to earth).
  4. To get from where they are to the place of sacrifice requires a journey.
  5. Each son is the “one and only son” of his father.
  6. The son is a descendant of Abraham.
  7. The son had been born with divine intervention.
  8. The sacrifices take place on the same mountain (called Mt. Moriah in the Old Testament, called Mt. Calvary in the New Testament — also known as Mt. Zion, by the way)
  9. The companions that were with them stayed behind (most likely on the hill across the valley, called the Mt. of Olives) when the son went with the father for the sacrifice.
  10. The son carried the wood/cross to the place of sacrifice.
  11. The son asked questions of the father.
  12. The father knew what he was called to do.
  13. The son was submissive to the will of the father.
  14. The father was willing to sacrifice his son, if necessary.
  15. The father believed in resurrection.
  16. The father loved the son.
  17. A resurrection was prophesied (Abraham said, “we’ll come back to you.” Jesus said, “I will rise on the third day.”)
  18. The son was laid upon the wood/cross.
  19. The son was bound to the wood/cross.
  20. Abraham had a knife to pierce his son, Jesus’ skin was pierced by whips laced with bones, glass and rocks.
  21. The Lord Himself provided the sacrifice (the ram, Jesus). [Note, the word order in the Hebrew text of Genesis 22:8 could read, "The Lord will provide Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." A foreshadowing of Jesus]
  22. Blood was shed.
  23. The sacrifice was a substitute (ram a substitute for Isaac, Jesus a substitute for us).
  24. The sacrifice was a demonstration of love for God.
  25. Men of great faith in God who were committed obediently to the will of God.
  26. The ram was caught in the thorns, and Jesus had a crown of thorns on his head.
  27. Abundant blessings flow because of the sacrifice (abundant life).
  28. Abraham was tested, Jesus was tested.
  29. The son ultimately survived the sacrifice.
  30. The son was resurrected on the third day.

Number 30 requires a little explanation. Jesus was literally resurrected on the third day. As for Isaac: Abraham heard from the Lord that he was to sacrifice his son. As far as he was concerned, Isaac was as good as dead at that point. The journey from their home to the place of sacrifice took three days. On the third day, God provided the ram so that Isaac was spared his life, i.e., he was “resurrected” on the third day. The Bible tells us that Abraham had great faith all along, believing that even if God did call him to slay his son that God would bring his son back to life!

Not sure if we got all 30 of them right? Maybe you found other similarities? Let me know.

Keep studying, and keep trusting in the will of God, the ways of God, and the Word of God.

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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