Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A new book review and recommendation

If you haven't yet viewed my latest book review and recommendation, please click here.  Enjoy, and read on!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Mark 8:14-21 - Discipleship 101

14 Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf.
15 And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.
16 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread.
17 And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened?
18 Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember?
19 When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve.
20 And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven.
21 And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?

     The disciples at this point in time were not effective followers and we see that in v.14. They forgot to take bread and only had one loaf of bread with them.  This account also demonstrated that they were not thinking on the same level with the Lord Jesus.  Because of the lack of preparation they missed out on a vital spiritual truth that the Lord wanted to teach His disciples.  They were thinking on a physical level but the Lord’s warning was concerning spiritual things.  He was teaching them on a spiritual level.  Past experiences with the feeding of the five thousand and then the four thousand should have taught them that the Lord could have easily made provisions for their food and thus they have known that He was not interested in physical bread.  Not only did they forget to prepare for their physical journey, they also and more importantly forgot past victories and His miraculous provisions.  How many Christians today are rendered ineffective for service due to negligence both in practical and providential matters?  The warning refers to doctrinal matters.  This account correlates to Matthew’s story in Matt. 16:12.  The leaven is spoken of here in a negative way, no doubt highlighting its corrupting element.  The Pharisees had a doctrine of legalism (an outward form of godliness but denying true inward godliness).  The Sadducees promoted liberalism, particularly a denial of God’s supernatural ability to resurrect the dead. The Herodians would have no king but Herod.  Bad doctrines will corrupt.  The warning is valid today as in the days of our Lord.  Many professing Christians seem to pride themselves in novelty of doctrines.  Entire religious movements today are corrupted with ecumenism or a broader call to unity despite clear violations of Biblical teachings and standards.  Some pride themselves on standing for certain core essential doctrines but forgetting that doctrinal truths must be applied.  As a result we have men who can expound dogmatically about the Trinity and from the same mouth use filth talk.  In their imagination the Trisagion has no teeth.  Many insist on the sovereignty of God, but their Bibliology is anthropocentric.  Disciples today heap upon themselves academic degree upon degree when they should have been concerned with piety and zeal.  Doctrinal leaven is with us today, but so is God’s Holy Word.  Let us not disappoint the Lord Jesus by ineffective service for Him, and forgetting our past spiritual victories and His providential care towards us.  Certainly the Lord Jesus was disappointed with the disciples, but thankfully, He is gracious and patient with them, and with us, too.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Jehovah-Jireh (the LORD will provide)

This divine title or name is found in Genesis 22:1-14 - the story of Abraham's testing whereupon God told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac as a burnt offering.  Old Testament sacrifices were a representation of the perfect sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.  No doubt, God revealed to Abraham on this particular day His plan for the redemption of mankind.  I believe it was on that day that Abraham rejoiced to see the day of the Lord Jesus (Jn. 8:56).  And just before Abraham was about to slay his son in v.10, the angel of the LORD called out unto him and restrained him from slaying his beloved son in v. 11.  Afterwards we read in verses 13-14:
"[13] And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. [14] And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen."
In v.14 we find that Abraham recognized God as "Jehovah-jireh."  This name means "the LORD will see or provide." Centuries later on that same spot the "land of Moriah" God was going to provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering (v.8).  Abraham rejoiced because he was able to prove to himself and to all that God was the supreme ruler or his life.  He also rejoiced because he was able to keep and further nurture his beloved son Isaac (whose name means laughter - what a joy children are to their parents, if they are brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord).  He rejoiced because on that day, God revealed to him that He was going to send His only begotten Son to die on the cross for our redemption, pardon and vicarious atonement.  Abraham rejoiced to see that God Himself was going to come down from Heaven, and take upon Him the form of a servant to be offered up as a sacrifice that could satisfy the just demands of a Holy God.  In the gospel there is so much to rejoice about.

But what exactly did God provide?  The Bible says, God will provide Himself a lamb (v.8).  In v.13 Abraham looked and found behind him a ram (a male sheep).  It was that ram that he sacrificed in Isaac's stead.  Isn't wonderful that when the Lord Jesus came on the scene to begin His public ministry He was identified as "The Lamb of God" (Jn. 1:29).  When the Lord Jesus died on the cross, He was the sacrificial lamb.  Interestingly, the Lord died on the same day the paschal lambs were sacrificed (read Luke 22).  The future is bright for us who have repented of sin and self, and trusted in Christ as Savior.  It is because of His blood that we have the forgiveness of sins and enjoy the future glory of eternal life with God (see Eph. 1:7).  Because in eternity future it is the Lamb that will sustain us, and wipe away our tears (Rev. 7:17), it is the Lamb who will make war and win (Rev. 17:14), it is the Lamb to whom the bride of Christ will be forever united to (Rev. 19:9), the temple will be no more for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it (Rev. 21:22), in eternity future there will be no need of the sun, for the glory of Heaven is the Lamb Himself who is the light (Rev. 21:23) and no one is admitted there whose name is not written in the Lamb's book of life (Rev. 13:8,  21:27).

Amazing, that God is Jehovah-jireh, the LORD will provide.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Elite Traveler Status (MZBC Camp 2012)

Pastor Chris, Ms. Connie, Ms. Andrea, and myself had way too much fun releasing balloons yesterday.  Each balloon contains a camper card (early registration cards).  The camper cards which are returned will translate to special prizes and surprises, including the opportunity to become a GOLD Elite Member.  We are excited about this year's summer youth camp theme: The Great World Expedition.  Our Scripture verse comes from Ecclesiastes 3:11 "...also he hath set the world in their heart,..."  A lot more information can be seen at our Camp ministry page here.  I look forward to hearing good preaching from Pastor Courtney Lewis (Chicago, IL) who will be addressing the Teens, and Pastor Mark Montgomery (Pittsburgh, PA) will be speaking to the Juniors.  My heart's prayer is that God would be glorified in the hearts and lives of every single camper and worker, and that they would make decisions that will last long after the week of Camp is over.