“What Can I Order?”

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My husband and I have lots of opportunity to go to lunch and dinner and to invite others out to eat.

Since, I notice patterns of behavior, I have over the years noticed that when we invite people out to eat and agree that we will pay for the meal there are certain questions and reactions that occur by the invitees. When we arrive at the agreed upon restaurant these questions and behavioral patterns occur.

The behaviors are that all of the invitees take the menu and then questioning or reactions begin. The invitees seem to follow three patterns of questions or reactions. The questions are:

  1. An invitee takes the menu and then asks, “What Can I Order?”
  2. An invitee takes the menu and immediately searches out the most expensive items on the menu and says, “I’ll Have The…. (most expensive meal item)”
  3. An invitee takes the menu and asks, “Have you eaten here before? … What’s good on the Menu?”

I wondered what those questions or reactions meant. So, no better place to get questions of life answered then the Bible. Let’s take a look at “What Can I Order?”

 

Theme: “What Can I Order?”

Read Scripture: Luke 22:14-23 NIV

14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. 21 But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. 22 The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!”23 They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.”

 

If we think about the meal invitations I mentioned in reference and comparison to “An Invitation to God’s Great Banquet” and the “Last Supper” there is comparisons that can be made.

Prior to eating at the “Last Supper” Jesus took the opportunity to teach the Disciples about the manifestation or the outward expression of a humble heart.  Jesus was telling the Disciples that they were too proud.  They needed to humble themselves if they ever wanted to end up at the resurrection of the righteous enjoying God’s Great Banquet”.

So, the patterns I observed in the invitee three responses to reviewing the meal menu seem to infer the motives of the invitee’s heart. Let’s ponder the following:

#1 Invitee question scenario: An invitee takes the menu and then asks, “What Can I Order?”

What is inferred from the invitee question: “I am thankful for the invitation and for your graciousness in paying, so I don’t want to go over your budget – “HUMILITY””

#2 Invitee question scenario: An invitee takes the menu and immediately searches out the most expensive items on the menu and says, “I’ll Have The…. (most expensive meal item)”

What is inferred from the invitee behavior: “I got over on you because you are paying and not me… anyway you shouldn’t have agreed to pay if you couldn’t afford it. Only the best of everything for me –“PRIDE – the predecessor of GREED””

#3 Invitee question scenario: An invitee takes the menu and asks, “Have you eaten here before? … What’s good on the Menu?”

What is inferred from the invitee question: “I’m honored at the invitation. I trust your leadership and am willing to follow your wisdom – “RESPECT and HONOR””

What question will you ask the Host -Jesus?; How will you behave? Something to think about, when you reach the “Agapao – Love Feast; the Banquet Feast in Heaven”.

Amen.

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“Don’t Hesitate”

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I recently preached a sermon on the story of Zacchaeus found in Luke. The story of Zacchaeus teaches you that no one is beyond the saving grace of God the Son, Jesus Christ.

The story of Zacchaeus reminds us that obedience is preferred to sacrifice. When Jesus made a request, Zacchaeus acted immediately. Zacchaeus did not hesitate.

If you have children, you probably at some point have asked them to wash the dishes, take out the trash, clean their rooms, pick up toys, or some other chore request. Have your children reacted by saying, “OK, I’ll get to it” and then did nothing; or said under their breath and out of your earshot, “I’ll do it when I’m ready”; or perhaps the child began to debate you and give you excuses why he or she could not or should not do the chore at all.

Well we are God’s children and He hears those same comments from us or gets the same reactions from us when God makes a request. Let’s take a look at “Don’t Hesitate”.

Theme: “Don’t Hesitate”

Read Scripture: Luke 19:1-10 NIV; focus verse: 5-6

“5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.”

Upon hearing Jesus’ request for Zacchaeus to come down immediately, Zacchaeus did not hesitate. Zacchaeus immediately obeyed Jesus’ request.

How many times does Jesus tell you to do something and you debate Him about it? Or, you are slow in doing it. Or, you do it when you are ready to do it. Or, you don’t do it at all.

Some of you have been called by Jesus into the ministry of preaching, teaching, missions, evangelism, or some other form of ministry. But, you ignore, debate, or take your time when God makes a request of you.

But then, you expect God to act immediately when you call on Him to take action.

When Zacchaeus acted immediately in obedience to Jesus, his obedience was rewarded. Are you missing a blessing because of your reluctance to act immediately on Jesus’ request? Next time you hear the voice of God speaking to you, get moving…

Amen.

Intent versus Impact

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I recently attended a workshop on “Micro-aggression”. The workshop highlighted that small (micro), seemingly innocent comments and actions can be interpreted to be aggressive and intimidating. The micro-aggressions generally go unnoticed by those that commit them. But, can be very hurtful, harmful, and alarming to those that are the recipients.

Micro-aggression can take on many forms and contexts to include actions and comments made in private situations to actions and comments that in public situations are embarrassing spectacles. The workshop reminded me that there is a difference between “intent and impact”. The “intent” of a micro-aggression can be innocent, but that does not mean that its “impact” isn’t inappropriate and viewed as hostile. The micro-aggressions rob its recipients of self-esteem, respect, and confidence

Let’s examine intent of a word or action versus the strong effect or impact that result.

Theme: “Intent versus Impact”

Read Scriptures:

Proverbs 18:21(a), “The tongue has the power of life and death…”

James 3:6, “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”

The first micro-aggression occurred in the “Garden of Eden”. There the serpent spoke to Adam and Eve with a micro-aggressive comment when the serpent said in Genesis 3:1 “Did God really say…” This statement was meant to cast doubt in the minds of Adam and Eve about God’s character and intentions. The serpent’s comments were meant to rob Adam and Eve of their confidence in Christ. The serpent’s covert implication of God’s untrustworthiness was now in the minds and thoughts of Adam and Eve. It was the serpent’s micro-aggressive comment that had a false implied intent of being helpful to Adam and Eve, but it had a devastating impact to all mankind.

In the serpent’s attempt to intentionally deceive Adam and Eve by stating something that was in contrast to what God had stated, the intent of the statement had an impact that led to the death of relationship with God. That exchange between the serpent, and Adam and Eve has had a strong effect or impact that is still being suffered today. So, be careful of what you say and what comments you accept because the tongue, as stated in Proverbs 18:21(a) can indeed bring life and death.

Amen.

For further reflection read scripture Genesis 3:1-4, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman

“Give Us Some of Your Oil”

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I was asked to participate in a worship service that would include prayer and anointing with oil for healing. The service would occur the following Sunday. In preparation, the ministers were asked to assist the Pastor in case there were a large number of congregants that wanted prayer and anointing with oil for healing. The request brought to mind the scripture found in James 5:14 – 16 (NIV) that reads:

14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

I was glad to help and knew that I should check to make sure I had my anointing oil in good supply. My thoughts were then quickly shifted when I was asked by another person if I could lend them some oil. The question of borrowing my oil brought another Biblical story and scripture to mind.

Let’s take a look at where my thoughts were riveted. Of course you guessed it; the “Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids” and preparation for service until Christ returns.

Theme: “Give us some of your Oil…”

Scripture: Matthew 25:1-13 (NIRV)

The scripture reads as follows with a short story (parable) to illustrate and teach a moral, spiritual lesson, or religious principle.

The Story of Ten Bridesmaids

25 “Here is what the kingdom of heaven will be like at that time. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went out to meet the groom. Five of them were foolish. Five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but didn’t take any olive oil with them. The wise ones took oil in jars along with their lamps. The groom did not come for a long time. So the bridesmaids all grew tired and fell asleep.“At midnight someone cried out, ‘Here’s the groom! Come out to meet him!’ “Then all the bridesmaids woke up and got their lamps ready. The foolish ones said to the wise ones, ‘Give us some of your oil. Our lamps are going out.’“‘No,’ they replied. ‘There may not be enough for all of us. Instead, go to those who sell oil. Buy some for yourselves.’ 10 “So they went to buy the oil. But while they were on their way, the groom arrived. The bridesmaids who were ready went in with him to the wedding dinner. Then the door was shut. 11 “Later, the other bridesmaids also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’ 12 “But he replied, ‘What I’m about to tell you is true. I don’t know you.’13 “So keep watch. You do not know the day or the hour that the groom will come. 

I believe a great interpretation of the Matthew 23:1-13 scripture is as follows and referenced below. A portion of that interpretation reads as follows:

The five bridesmaids who have the extra oil represent the truly born again who are looking with eagerness to the coming of Christ. They have saving faith and have determined that, whatever occurs, be it lengthy time or adverse circumstances, when Jesus returns, they will be looking with eagerness. The five virgins without the oil represent false believers who enjoy the benefits of the Christian community without true love for Christ. They are more concerned about the party than about longing to see the bridegroom. Their hope is that their association with true believers (“give us some of your oil” of verse 8) will bring them into the kingdom at the end. This, of course, is never the case. One person’s faith in Jesus cannot save another.

So, I am certainly not saying that the person who asked to borrow anointing oil from me is not a true believer, but their question to me was an excellent lesson for me. Everyone should be prepared to serve God in the capacity for which they have been called into service.

Amen.

*Ref: http://www.gotquestions.org/parable-ten-virgins.html

“I’m Just Saying…”

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Listening to the news media is just one shock after another. It is a shock for two reasons. One reason is that what is being communicated is unbelievable and the second reason is that what is being communicated is validated in the Holy Bible, book of Luke and Revelations.

Many people say, “We are in the Last Days”. But, when you think about it, we have been in the last days since Jesus ascended to Heaven. Each day since Jesus’ life on planet Earth and His departure to Heaven occurred, we have been living in the last days and in the dispensation of grace. So, why am I bothered by the news media when the Bible has already described what will happen?

Let’s take a look at the news media reporting of happening events and the book of Luke and Revelations reporting of events that would happen, because “I’m Just Saying…”.

Theme: “I’m Just Saying…”

Read Scripture: Luke 21 whole chapter with focus on verses 10 – 11:

and as listed below in Revelations chapter 6

Luke 21:10-11 says, “Then He [Jesus] continued by saying to them, “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.

The Apostle Luke is the author of Luke (and Acts). Luke was a physician. He met Paul and joined Paul and Silas in their missionary journeys and chronicled the early church and travels of Paul in the book of Acts. He was not one of the Apostles of Christ, but a Gentile Christian from Macedonia. The book was written around AD 60.

The Apostle John is the author of the Book of Revelation. He wrote it when he was about 92 years old, while a prisoner of Rome on the remote desert penal colony of Patmos, an island in the Aegean Sea. Patmos was a quarry mine for the Roman Empire, and was home to many political and religious prisoners or slaves. John, the beloved apostle of Jesus, was being held as a prisoner of Rome on this island for his incessant preaching about Jesus. Rome believed that banishing the old man John to the remote and forsaken island of Patmos, that his voice would be quieted. John was aged in years, and close to the end of his life, probably sent to Patmos in the year 95 by the Roman emperor Domitian, who was reportedly angry at the fact that John was not killed when he was dipped in boiling oil.*

Since John was a contemporary of Jesus, John would have been by that time, well over 90 years old – making him very likely the only apostle to survive to such an old age. The rest of Jesus apostles and disciples were martyred decades earlier. It was as if God supernaturally preserved John to bare record of The Revelation!*

Luke 21:10-11 combined with John’s revelation or better said, God’s revelation to John detailed in Revelations chapter 6, along with the news media reports give us a shocking realization.

Luke 21:10-11: Jesus speaking to the Disciples says:

10… “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, 11and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.”

Revelation 6: Apostle John writes of his vision of the End Times or Last Days saying there will be:

Wars: verses 1 and 2

International Strife: verse 3 and 4

Famine: verses 5 and 6

Pestilence: verses 7 and 8

Persecution: verses 9 and 10

Earthquakes: verses 12 – 17

Judgement and Destruction: verses 12 – 17

So, just watch the news and you connect the dots. Are we in the Last Days? I’m just saying…

Amen.

*Ref: http://www.bibleprobe.com/revelation.htm

“When God Asks A Question”

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I am always amazed, cautious, and curious when reading the Holy Bible and God asks a question. God is omniscient, all-knowing! So, when God asks a question it is not to obtain knowledge, information, or an answer that He doesn’t already know. The question is rhetorical for God, but it is instructive for the person being questioned.

God’s questions bring deep reflective thought, conviction about a truth, an opportunity to confess, and/or submit to God’s Sovereignty. God’s questions generally begin with “Who? Where? When? Have you? Can you? Do you know?”

What are some of the Old Testament questions God asked? Let’s take a look at the importance of “When God Asks A Question”.

Theme: “When God Asks A Question”

Read Scripture: as listed…

In the Old Testament:

The first question God asks in the Bible is “Where are you?”

Adam and Eve had just sinned, and in their fear and confusion they ran away from God. In Genesis 3:9, we read that “The Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?”

In response to God’s question, Adam said, “I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself” (Genesis 3:10). Then God asked, “Who told you that you were naked?”

After that first act of disobedience in the garden of Eden, God asked Eve, “What is this you have done?” (Genesis 3:13, NKJV).

Adam is not the only runaway mentioned in the Bible. God always seems to ask the runaways why they are running. He said to Hagar, Sarah’s maid, “From where have you come, and where are you going?” (Genesis 16:8)

God spoke to Abraham after Sarah laughed about the pronouncement that she would have a baby. God said, “Is anything too difficult for the Lord? (Genesis 18:14a)

A man (God in angelic or human form) wrestled with Jacob. After the wrestling match the question was asked to Jacob, “What is your name?” (Genesis 32:27a)

Another Bible hero who was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time was the prophet Elijah. He was hiding in a cave on Mt. Horeb when the word of the Lord came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9).

God asked Job several questions in Job 38:1-8, but the most memorable is “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” (Job 38:4a).

These eight questions indicate your self-identification; they reveal your relationship with God; and whether you trust, believe and submit to God’s authority. How would you have answered in each of the eight circumstances?

In the New Testament, the one key question God the Son, Jesus, asks that we must ponder is found in Luke 9:20. Jesus was talking with his disciples. Jesus asked the disciples, “who do people say I am”. Then Jesus asked his disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.”

Peter answered correctly. Jesus is the anointed Son of God. Each of us must answer that question for ourselves. What is your answer to Jesus’ question?

Amen.

Ref: http://www.biblehub.com; http://www.beliefnet.com; http://www.amazingfacts.org

“The Baby Dedication”

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I recently participated in a Baby Dedication. The dedication of babies to the Lord is not a new trend but has origins in the Bible. The idea of dedicating a child to the Lord can certainly be found in the Bible with Hannah, mother of Samuel; Manoah and his wife, who were parents of Samson, and Mary and Joseph, wherein Mary was the mother of Jesus.

Hannah was a barren wife who promised to dedicate her child to God if He would give her a son. When her son Samuel was born, after he was weaned, she took Samuel to the temple for dedication to the Lord (see 1 Samuel 1:11, 27-28).

Manoah and his wife in the book of Judges (chapter 13) were visited by an angel and given instructions to dedicate their son to be a Nazarite (an Israelite consecrated/dedicated to the service of God). Their son, Samson, was dedicated to the Lord while he was still in the womb.

Luke 2:22 begins the account of Mary and Joseph taking Jesus to the temple after forty days in order to dedicate Him to the Lord. At the dedication of Jesus in the temple, Simeon and Anna, through the leading of the Holy Spirit proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah. This indicates that even babies have a purpose and plan in God. This purpose and plan is identified through dedication of a baby to the Lord and confirmation through God’s providence.

So, let’s take a look at the importance of “The Baby Dedication”.

Theme: “The Baby Dedication”

Read Scripture: Matthew 19: 13-15 NIV reads,

13 Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.”

The Bible records that Jesus interacted with children. Jesus treated the children with kindness and love, therefore showing how much He values them.

The account of Jesus interacting with children is found in Mathew 19:13-15 and Mark 10: 13-16 as it reads, “People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’ . . . And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them” (Mark 10: 13–14, 16). Here Jesus not only welcomes the children into His presence but also blesses each one individually.

Jesus loved children and spent time with them. Jesus was concerned about their well-being and salvation. He didn’t restrict belief in Him to adults. Jesus knew that children had a faith that was not complicated and laden with analysis, rationale, and excuses. Their faith was pure and unencumbered. For this reason Jesus rebuked the disciples that tried to deny the little children from the presence and blessings of Jesus.

So, don’t neglect taking your children into the presence of Jesus. Don’t deny them opportunities for blessings and salvation. God’s Word in Proverbs 22:6 say, “Bring up a child by teaching him the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn away from it.” Matthew 18:6, then goes on to give a warning that once a child believes in the Lord, whoever causes one of these children who believe in Jesus to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. So, we can see that the blessing and salvation of children was a serious matter in the past, in the present, and will be in the future.

It is a blessing to begin a baby’s life by dedicating him or her to the Lord!

Dedicating a baby to the Lord puts him or her in good standing in Christ along with Samuel, a priest and ruler over the affairs of God’s people; Samson, a man of faith empowered with supernatural strength to deliver God’s people from their enemies; and lastly, Jesus the Christ, the Savior of the world.

Amen.