Saturday, August 31, 2013

Hand in the Coconut

Mark 14:1-11 Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. “But not during the festival,” they said, “or the people may riot.” While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume?  It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly. “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

Pastor JJ, continuing in his Sunday Sermon series through the book of Mark focused on the parallel of this passage in the fourteenth chapter and the two different Followers of Jesus today. There are those who believe that there was nothing so precious to them that they cannot lay it at Jesus’ feet. They actively anoint their king with the perfume of “Worship”. Then there are those who see that perfume as a means to personal gain. Those who are not will to let go of the “goods” of this world. He told the story of how native tribes used to catch monkeys by hollowing out a coconut and filling it with rice or other delicacies, then leaving it tethered to a tree for a monkey to find. A monkey would reach in and grab the desired delicacy and be trapped because the hole had been deliberately made just big enough for a flexible hand to enter but not for a closed fist to leave. Clearly it was not the coconut that was trapping the monkey. Rather the true trap was in the monkey’s own mind, the monkey’s greed, the monkey’s attachment to his physical possessions, and the monkey’s unwillingness to “Let Go.”

Ephesians 2:8-10 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

But do not be caught up in “doing good’, because there is something greater. As a word points to the subject of the word (as the word “Jesus” point to the person of Jesus Christ), works point to the “gift of God”, for which the “good works" are performed. We do not do “good works” to earn salvation, but because God (by His grace, through our faith in the Savior) gave us salvation as a free gift. So in gratitude, we worship God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). Our goodness cannot replace our worship of the Lord. Do not let the opportunities pass for praise, worship and a life of gratitude in thought, word and action. We need to stop and examine our lives, that we do not allow a negative spirit to dwell in our hearts and master us with a “what’s in it for me?” attitude; it’s not about “feeling better about ourselves.” Are we willing to give what is most precious to us to the gospel of Jesus Christ for the advancement of the kingdom of God? Have we stopped and thought of how much God has done for us? Do we have our hand in the coconuts of this world and too busy holding onto the things of this life; allowing them to capture us … trapped and keeping us in bondage, because we won’t let go of them?

In gratitude, will we worship and honor the Lord and lay the distractions of this world at His feet, while showing grace to others as we have been shown grace by God? Or continue to live distracted and hardened, greedily focused of the proverbial “rice” in the coconut that we will not let go of. Let Go. Let God. Live.

In Christ, Brian 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Living Water: The Pause That Refreshes

Psalm 63:1 O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.

I had to go back to the well (so to speak) one more time, to finish the message from our church’s Wednesday Summer Session and the video teaching series from the Holy land with Ray Vander Laan’s That the World May Know presentations. Vander Laan concludes this idea of “Living Water” as refreshing our soul in the presence of the Lord in intimate communion ,with life application by explaining that sometimes, our culture can be so attractive, so pleasant, and so pleasurable that we fail to realize that even things that are comfortable and enjoyable can be like a desert, if you leave God out. Because, if God is like life-giving water, than what makes something a desert is that there is no water. So you can take the most wonderful thing that our culture has to offer (wealth, power, luxury, leisure, exotic vacations and all those good kind of things, but if you leave God out, then you got a desert.

Jeremiah 17:13 Lord, you are the hope of Israel; all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the Lord, the spring of living water.

I wonder whether we really realize just how incredibly “dry and barren” our secular culture is today and see that they are lost in the desert. I can come here to this “steam of living water” of the presence of the Lord and I can drink whole buckets full of water to refresh my soul, but unless I realize that there are people out there dying of thirst because God (Father, Son & Holy Spirit) is not a part of their life, God is not part of their existence, and God is not a part of their “everyday’ experience, then I’ll have no reason to bring “the water of life” in the gospel of Jesus Christ to anyone else. We are all tempted to visit the Oasis of God’s “Living Water”, sit in an lounge chair and stay right there. We don’t what to go back to the desert, but it is the Lord’s desire that when you taste the life-giving and  light-giving “living water” of Christ, now you go out and face the world that so desperately needs the water that we have to offer. Let it flow.

John 7:37-39 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” 

It seems to me that what this “Oasis of En Gedi” says is that “life”, in a lot of ways, is like the wilderness. We are called to be there and we have a job to do. We have people that we have to interact with and we have a Godless culture that we need to impact, but also recognize that it can be a dry and tiring thing on us. I’m sure that many of you have felt the tiredness of trying to serve the Lord, giving of yourself to God and to other people until it hurts. And it is at times like that a place like “En Gedi” says: “You've got to have a place like this in your life.” We all need somewhere that we can get away from the heat of daily life in this dry and barren land; away from the “giving”, away from the dryness of just “being emptied”, after awhile of being a parent, of being a student, of being a professional or any person of responsibility and being able to come to the oasis of "living water". And in the quiet … taste God.

Psalm 42:1 As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God.

If we are going to make a real impact on the culture and really make a difference in our society, then we are going to have to devote ourselves to spend some time at our personal “En Gedi” with God on a regular basis, whether that is daily prayer, time spent alone with the Lord, or in the reading of His Holy Word. But just that time where, in the middle of feeling dry and weary, instead of sitting exhausted under the broom tree (like Elijah in 1 Kings 19:4-5) to come to the “living water”. And I think that without that, it would be very difficult to go on. Added to that, it seems to me, the symbolism that I see when I come to this place of “living water” is that I can drink and drink till I’m full and refreshed. I lay in the cool water and I feel alive again. Then God becomes the same within me for you, and for each of you for each other. So I think that we need to encourage ourselves today, that the place where we are going to get this strength is the source of the “living water”, God (Father Son and Holy Spirit.

Isaiah 58:11 The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

In Christ, Brian

Monday, August 26, 2013

What Theology is Really About

John 6:68  Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.

Next Wednesday evening, Pastor JJ begins a teaching series on Theology at our church. Theology (from Greek Θεός meaning "God" and λογία, -logy, meaning "study of") is the systematic and rational study of concepts of God and their influences and of the nature of religious truths; a discipline of Christian theology that formulates an orderly, rational, and coherent account of the Christian faith and beliefs. Why is it important to have a sound theology? Why should we carefully and diligently study it? We hear people say: “I don’t need to know any theology; just know Jesus!”, but the moment that they tell you anything about Jesus, that is “theology”. The question isn’t if we are going to have a theology, but if we are going to have a sound theology (true or a distortion of the truth)? And what are the consequences of bad theology. We need to seek diligently to master “Theology”, because we want to master the truth about God, and if our understanding of God is incorrect, then that is going to have an impact on our life and our personal relationship with God. But it is not about Theology.  

1 Corinthians 1:20-24 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

Theology involves the systematic understanding of the ideas and concepts that describe the character, nature and activity of God, but those concepts and ideas are not God’s. And the reason that we pursue the concept is not the end, but merely the means to the end, discovering HIM. What we need is God. What we want is God. What we are searching for is God. The word “God” points to something beyond the word. A picture of Jesus is not Jesus. The word “God” is not a god. The word points beyond the sounding out of the word or the written letters because the symbol of the language is something that is far greater than any concept or any doctrine can ever capture. The finite cannot grasp or contain the infinite. Nothing can capture the greatness of who He is. So let us always remember the in the study of Theology is really about: “We want Him.”  

John 17:3 Now this is eternal life—that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent.

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Cistern Digging

Galatians 4:3-9 We, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage?

Last week, we finished up our Wednesday Family Summer nights at church that featured a study of Jesus, based upon the video series “That the World May Know” with ordained minister, teacher & Historian Ray Vander Laan. The final lesson was at the spring fed Oasis, adjacent to the Dead Sea in the Judean Wilderness, called En Gedi, where David hid from King Saul. The faith lessons based upon the symbolic metaphor of water in taking that which is physical to illiterate the spiritual and teaches of what our Lord God would want us to know, for application in our daily lives and soul growth. I’d like to share a portion of that study with you today. It is my pray that you be as blesses as I was by it.

Jeremiah 2:13 “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.

Vander Laan tells us that in the Bible, there are a number of different kinds of water that the Word of God refers to. Flowing, running, moving water (like at the oasis of En Gedi) is called “Living Water”. It is “living water”, not so much as it gives life, but “living” in the sense that it is “fresh”, it’s “clean”, and it’s always “pure”. Living water doesn't get stagnant or stale. It’s “live-giving”, and in that sense it is called “Living Water”, whereas, the water captured and kept in “cisterns” (that we've seen in the Holy Land) is referred to as “Cistern” or “Dead” water, and that water can get stagnant, have impurities and is just not always fresh. When we think about this kind of water, in light of Jeremiah 2:13, we see the contrast between “living water” (so cool, fresh and so pure) and “cistern/dead water” (stagnant & room temperature with dust & dirt in it. It’s like as if we are refreshed, like King David, at the oasis of En Gedi, but then turn our backs, walk away and forsake it. Then we dig our own broken cisterns that cannot hold the dead water. A cistern would represent what you and I make with our own hands verses God’s living water out of the rock. The symbolism of “have dug their own cisterns” is God’s people worshiping idols, which is “spiritual adultery”. They have left God (who is symbolized as “an Oasis of Living Water” in a dry & tired wilderness land). They've gone and dug these broken cisterns that won’t hold water, even dead water and they are trying to satisfy their “thirst” with an idol.

2 Peter 2:20-22 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “A dog returns to its own vomit,” and, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.”

Vander Laan goes on to realize what a big job that God gives to people. What an enormous responsibility being a Christian in our culture really is. But the source of our strength comes from the “living water” God. The reverse side of the coin is this: when you get involved in this task, there is a tendency to trust in our own strength. I know that it is true for me. It’s what is called “cistern digging”. Cistern digging is saying: “I’m going to go out into life and finding the life that I need; the energy I need, the desires I need, the courage I need, whatever I need and I’m going to do it myself.  I’m going to find it in my talents, in my hard work, in my successes or even in my friends.” But God says: “Idols and cisterns fail … always. And if we trust our own strength, we will never be “living water” to anyone else. But this wellspring of God never fails. Imagine this oasis of En Gedi with “living water” running 3000+ years ago, when King David came here. This doesn't fail. It’s always there. It seems to me that the source of our strength is “the water of life” - God, so we come here and are filled. And now, we have something for others, then we come back and we become effective. We don’t dig cisterns. 

John 4:10-15 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water?  Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

In Christ, Brian

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Life-Giving Water

Ecclesiastes 1:7 “Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea.”  

Some Essential Facts about “Water”

  1. Life is possible because of water. Water is “life-giving”.
  2. Water is colorless, odorless & tasteless and can be a solid, a liquid or a gas.
  3. 70.8% of the Earth's surface is covered by water.
  4. Liquid water is one of the basic elements for “Life” on earth.
  5. 94 percent of life on Earth is aquatic.
  6. 97% of the water on Earth is in the ocean, or saltwater. ONLY 3% is freshwater.
  7. The globally averaged annual precipitation over land is 715 millimeters (28.1 in), but over the whole Earth it is much higher at 990 millimeters (39 in).
  8. The average percent of the human body that is water... Infants: 78%, One year of age: 65%, Adult Men: 60%, Adult Women: 55%.
  9. The average person can live about 4 to 6 weeks without food, but only a week is a miracle without water. 
  10.  If the earths land were evenly placed the water would rise to 2.7 km (1.6 miles) above the earth's surface, all the way around.
  11. God created “Water” Genesis 1:1-2  “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
  12. The Lord God Almighty is as a wellspring of life – the source of life - “Living Water”.
When there is a drought and plants start to turn brown, wither, and die, what happens to people? What happens when there is a “spiritual” drought?

Suppose you live in a dry region and someone offers you and everyone else in the area all the pure running water you need if you just ask for it.  So you ask every day and receive an abundance of water.  But some people won’t ask for the water, and some don’t seem to know that they have access to an abundant supply.  So they struggle to dig wells in the sun baked ground in hopes of finding enough water to keep themselves alive.  What would be you response to those people? Jesus offers “Living Water”.

Mark 9:41 For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I say to you, he will not lose his reward. (NASB)

Thoughts from our church’s Wednesday Summer Night Service.

In Christ, Brian

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

To Know by Experience

1 John 2:13-14 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

As our home Bible Study came across this passage of Holy Scripture in our lesson on “Spiritual Warfare”, repeated phrases caught our attention.

(1)   “you have overcome the evil one” – Looking up the word “overcome” in the Greek, we found that νικάω / nikaō  means to subdue and conquer the enemy and is in the perfect present tense because the phrase uses the appropriate tense of the verb “to have” plus the past participle of the verb and is in the “active” voice. So, we have and continue to conquer the devil - πονηρός / ponēros, in Christ, who equips us by His power, and strength.
(2)   “the Word of God abides in you” – the word abides in the Greek is μένω / menō and means to dwell, to Tabernacle, to stay or remain. Abide is in the present tense & active voice So we continuous dwell and remain in the Word of God in His holy presence and sanctified communion. We live there.
(3)   “you know Him” – The word “know” in the Greek is γινώσκω / ginōskō and means to know experientially. To “know” is also in the perfect present tense and in the active voice. So, we know God by experience and continue to know Him personally, walking in the Spirit with entreaty. It is to know by experience, and to know Him, is to love Him.

Now, with these definitions in mind, read back through the 1 John 2:13-414 passage, as we did, and be blessed, as we were. Praise be to God, and to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – our strength and our Redeemer.

Grace and peace, Brian

Saturday, August 17, 2013

That the Eyes of Your Heart may be Enlightened

Ephesians 1:18-23 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”

As our Small Group Home Bible Study finishes up with the last lesson in the examination into “Spiritual Warfare and overcoming the Enemy”, we learned that as important as it is to be aware of the devil’s battle tactics, the most vital truth to remember is that in the end, we win! Revelation 20:10And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

Or more accurately, Christ has already won, and we get to live in His victory. 
1 Corinthians 15:53-57For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. Now when this perishable puts on the imperishable, and this mortal puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will happen, “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”  “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

But do we see with an inner awareness by the Spirit, understand and live in Christ’s victory, in a personal relationship, in the presence of Almighty God? It was the Lord Jesus Himself that explained in John 3:3 “I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” And what’s to see and know is the hope, with certainty, of His calling, the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints (those who have received “Salvation”), and what is the surpassing greatness of His power towards us who believe. Don’t miss the “eternal perspective”; the assurance of eternal life guaranteed by the presence of the Holy Spirit. Life cannot be seen; only the “vital signs” show that life exists. In the same way, spiritual life can only be perceptible by the manifestation (the signs) of the Spirit of God; not works, but “life”. The word “devil” (the father of lies – John 8:44) literally means “deceiver” and he always tries to sow a seed of “doubt” about the power and faithfulness of God, and attempts to make His Holy Word ineffective. Instead of “blessed assurance” of the King and His kingdom, Satan offers distractions and disillusions that ultimately derail us in Sin. But with the eyes of our heart enlighten and our focus fixed upon our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we see the “working of the strength of God’s might which He brought about in Christ, when He  raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

Let us see, recognize, understand and know with certainty that through our salvation, our Heavenly Father has put all things in subjection under Jesus’ feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” The enemy is dangerous, but Christ is victorious. May we live out that truth daily.

In Christ, Brian

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Teaching, Rebuking, Correcting and Training

2 Timothy 3:16-17All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

I sure am being blessed by Pastor JJ’s Sunday Sermon series on the gospel of Mark. The spiritual truths, clarity of issues and life applications presented develop a greater understanding of our position and purpose for such a time as this. We left off with the religious leaders plotting to have Jesus arrested, so now they attempt to trick the Lord, but it’s them that learn a lesson in righteousness.

Mark 12:13-17 Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren't swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn't we?” But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” And they were amazed at him.

Intentionally going out to deceive people in order to achieve your own purposes is
an attitude and offensive display of superiority in self-worth or self-importance manifested in an overbearing prideful manner, called arrogance. The Pharisees and Herodians proven by their actions that they believed it was more important to follow God’s rules, but not God Himself or His “intent of the law”. They’d make extra laws that burden the people in order to protect their political structure and power. They worshipped the law, but not the Law-giver or His purposes. It was critical to be religious on the outside, while planning to kill the Son of God on the inside. They came with the evil intent to deceive, so Jesus rebuked them, showing the deceivers that it was them who were deceived, while trained the deceived in righteousness.

Mark 12:18-27 Then the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first one married and died without leaving any children. The second one married the widow, but he also died, leaving no child. It was the same with the third. In fact, none of the seven left any children. Last of all, the woman died too. At the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?” Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?  When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!”

The group of religious leaders who didn't believe in an after-life, bring a loaded question about resurrection? Sadducees were very religious (man’s conscientious devotion to a principle or ideal in a system of faith), but wrapped their theology and doctrine around “wrong” teachings. Our experiences shape our thinking, but sometimes, though sincere, are just “flat wrong” and affect our lives negatively. Misguided, The Lord corrected their error. Believe what is true.

Mark 12:28-34 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

Confused by conflicting counsel of “This is what it means.”, the teacher of the law asks: “which one should I focus on?” There was no clarity on the “real” truth. Are we seeking God everywhere? We desire a clearly defined path and direction, but nobody takes the time to make it clear how to get to Jesus. What can we hang our life on? Like the teacher, we desire a simplified message. Does Jesus hold everything together and how? Is Jesus Christ the cornerstone that we build our lives upon and the keystone that holds the arc of our being in place? If there is anything else, other than Jesus, it will falls, but if it is Jesus alone, it will stand. It has to go back to what the Word of God says and obeying it. Jesus is in the business of teaching of the confused, the rebuking of the deceived, the correcting of the errant and training of everyone in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work because our restoration is His goal.
 In Christ, Brian

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Cornerstone of Life

Mark 12:10 Haven’t you read this passage of Scripture: “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes?”

Pastor JJ picked up where he left off in his Sunday Sermon series of going through the gospel of Mark. In the Parable of the Tenants of Mark 12:1-12, the Lord Jesus told a short allegorical story designed to illustrate and teach a truth, a religious principle, and moral lesson. The man who planted the vineyard was God, The vineyard was the nation Israel, the tenants were the Sanhedrin (the governing body of the Israelites, the servants were the Prophets sent by God, and the Son was Christ – the Cornerstone. Verse 12 tells us that after hearing this story, then the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away.

We sure don’t hear about cornerstones in structures much these days. The cornerstone concept is derived from the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation, important since all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure. It is a "foundation-stone", and is symbolic of Christ, whom the Apostle Paul referred to as the "head of the corner" and is the "Chief Cornerstone of the Church". Cornerstone is cited six times in the New Testament (Matthew 21:42, Mark 12:10, Luke 20:17, Acts 4:11, Ephesians 2:20, and 1 Peter 2:7). But if we think about the Lord Jesus Christ as the head of the church body, as the cornerstone of the church, then “all other stones (the body of Believers) will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure (the church)” the symbolism makes sense. But, Jesus is “the stone the builders rejected”. The people of Israel were entrusting to the care of these leaders, but instead of aligning with God’s Word, Will and Ways, they persecuted them. They missed the point in order to keep everything for themselves. They thought that they were building God’s structure of live, but not resting upon the “right” thing … the cornerstone was rejected.

Mark 12:9 “What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.

God’s holy Word defines life and Jesus is the only cornerstone to build our life upon.

In Christ, Brian