John Baptizes Jesus

Jesus was about to begin His public ministry, transitioning from being a carpenter to being an itinerant Rabbi, but were a couple of important things He had to do first. He couldn’t begin until He was “initiated” and had completed His “testing-period“.

No account of the life of Christ would be complete without His baptism by John the Baptist. As we saw last week, John the Baptist alluded to this event in John 1:31-34, so we are going to take a wee side-trip into Matthew 3 to pick up that narrative. We will follow that next week with Jesus’ temptation by Satan from Luke 4:1-13, before resuming our progress through John’s Gospel.

John the Baptist’s ministry…
Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 3 For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
‘Make ready the way of the Lord,
Make His paths straight!’”

4 Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan; 6 and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins. (Matthew 3:1-5)

John’s baptism was unique because he was calling for Jews to be baptized, not for ritual-purification, but as a symbol of spiritual-renewal. Jews used a ritual known as the “mikvah” whenever they were ceremonially-unclean. Gentiles also went through the mikvah when they converted to the Jewish faith.

Would John the Baptist be welcome in your church?

John baptizes Jesus
13 Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” 15 But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him. 16 After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, 17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” (Matthew 3:13-17)

John was reluctant to baptize Jesus because he recognized that Jesus was the one person who had no need for repentance. but in order to “fulfill all righteousness“, Jesus had to be identified with His people as the bearer of their sins (2 Corin. 5:21). Ultimately John’s baptism pointed to Jesus, for only Jesus’ death on the cross, which He called a “baptism” (Luke 12:50), could take away sins. Jesus’ identification with His people included His baptism and death, His anointment with the Spirit, and His victory over temptation.

God’s kingdom (His sovereign rule in salvation and judgment) is defined by His righteousness. Jesus teaches the perfect righteousness that God requires (Matt. 5:20, 48); He also secures God’s righteousness for sinners. His baptism points to His death as “a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28) and shows the perfect obedience in which He fulfills all righteousness (Jer. 23:5, 6). Remission of sins and the gift of righteousness are received through faith in Jesus Christ (8:10; 23:23; cf. 21:32). Those who lack God’s righteousness, but hunger and thirst for it, will be filled (5:6; 6:23). Jesus calls those burdened with a load of self-righteousness to find their rest in Him (11:28-12:8).

To Fulfill All Righteousness?
That statement, which came from the lips of Jesus, would seem almost like an oxymoron, and yet that was the reason He gave to John the Baptist for requesting baptism. The sinless Son of God was “fulfilling all righteousness” by being baptized? How could that be?

Sit back, relax and buckle up for the tour, as we try to discover what He needed to be done with that act. The journey begins back in the Old Testament, where God gave Moses the instructions for consecrating priests. I also want to touch on why our own baptism should be such a wonderful, deeply-spiritual event.

As 21st century Christians, most of us haven’t been schooled in the Law of Moses. We know and understand the moral law – the Ten Commandments, but those are but the tip of the iceberg for a 1st century Jew. They were also schooled in and bound by the ceremonial law, which impacted virtually all facets of life. In a previous lesson, I mentioned circumcision and its importance and impact. Besides keeping the moral law perfectly, Jesus also kept the ceremonial law to the letter. I encourage you, if you haven’t done so already, to read the Pentateuch, because in my teaching and writings, I try to keep and portray a holistic view of the Bible without imposing 21st century culture on my interpretations.

Something that fails our understanding of worship in the Old Testament is how intimately-tied the Ceremonial Law was to their worship. God had called the children of Israel to be “set-apart“, a people who were markedly-different than their neighbors, and that included in their worship. We don’t quite “get” the difference between someone being “ceremonially-unclean” and something being “bad” or “wrong“, so it is quite easy for us to conclude that something which made a person “ceremonially-unclean” was “wrong”. Was it “bad” or “wrong” for a woman to have her monthly-period, or for a couple to have sex? Of course not, but both made them “ceremonially-unclean“, as did child-birth, which meant that they couldn’t participate in tabernacle or temple worship until they had gone through the necessary “purification“. (Leviticus 15:16-24) The Moral Law and the Ceremonial Law were known collectively as the Law of Moses.

Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or one tittle will pass from the Law until it is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:17-18)

Jesus came to fulfill and keep both the Moral Law AND the entirety of the Ceremonial Law. The Law Giver came to be the perfect Law Keeper

According to the law…
And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived. And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” (Luke 22:21-24)

There were no shortcuts in fulfilling the whole Law. Everything was done how and when it was supposed to be done, because Jesus was a “complete” Jew. In spite of being “hick-town” Jews, Galileans, Mary and Joseph were very conversant with the Law and kept it meticulously.

Circumcision is just another “medical procedure” to us, but it was the Rite of Passage to a Jewish boy. It visually-symbolized his inclusion in God’s covenant people, Israel. Jesus could not have been proclaimed to be “The King of the Jews” while He hung on the cross if He had not been circumcised.

Thirty years old…
Why did Jesus wait until he was thirty years old before he began his public ministry? (Luke 3:23) Priests and Levites were not allowed to enter temple-service until they were thirty years old. (Numbers 4:34-37)

Priestly consecration…
God gave very specific instructions to Moses regarding the consecration and installation of priests:

“Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance of the tent of meeting and shall wash them with water and put on Aaron the holy garments. And you shall anoint him and consecrate him, that he may serve Me as priest.” (Exodus 40:12-13)

His baptism…
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so for now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:13-17)

Even though Jesus was not anointed with oil after His baptism, He was anointed with the Holy Spirit, which the oil symbolizes. Jesus, in His baptism, fully identified with His people, and willingly took on His role as our High Priest. As the water of baptism symbolically cleanses away sin, so Jesus, in entering the water of baptism, symbolically took upon Himself our sin and pollution.

Jesus – our High Priest…
Jesus was not descended from the priestly line of Aaron, the traditional Jewish priestly line. He was from the tribe of Judah, so He became a priest by special decree. “For it evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. For it is witnessed of him, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 7:14-17)

To fulfill all righteousness?
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men, and being found in human form, he humbled himself by being obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-11)

Jesus, who is the eternal Word, laid-aside His divine glory and divine prerogatives, and became a human-being, a man, so that He could live the life we can not live, one of perfect obedience to His Father, and died the death that is rightfully ours, so that we may be clothed in His righteousness. He fulfilled ALL righteousness, because we can not do it for ourselves.

Why does it matter?
To come into the presence of God, we must be perfectly-holy, and a “clean-slate” isn’t good enough. Had Jesus only died for our sins, we would, at the moment of our salvation, be restored to a “pre-fall” condition, but the rest would be up to us. We must be righteous before God, which means that we must live a perfectly-holy life, but we can’t muster that for even one minute. Only by Jesus’ perfectly-holy life can His perfect-record become ours. When Jesus “fulfilled all righteousness“, He did for us what we cannot do for ourselves, make us righteous before God.

The Priesthood of all believers…
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:9-10)

Baptism – our priestly consecration…
The 21st century church has forsaken the rich symbolism of baptism in the early church, and most people would be incensed if they had to strip naked in public and be baptized nude. Believers in the early church had no such cultural hangups, because they were thoroughly versed in the ceremonial practices of the Jewish faith and didn’t have the conveniences which we take for granted.. We miss out on the richness of the baptism rite, which was meant to symbolize, or reproduce, the consecration and anointing of priests in the Old Testament.

The putting off of the old garment symbolizes putting off the old man, our old, pre-believer self. The washing with water (baptism) symbolizes being cleansed, purified for holy service. The anointing with oil symbolizes the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Putting on a new, clean garment symbolizes being covered with the righteousness of Christ. It symbolizes a complete transformation, because once a priest, always a priest…a perpetual priesthood, under our great High Priest, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Even if we haven’t gone through the whole baptism rite, we must understand what our baptism symbolizes – becoming a kingdom of priests to our God and Father.

Have you been consecrated for holy service?

Sola Deo Gloria!
Steve

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“HATE” Is NOT An Option!

We live in tumultuous-times and we are facing an election which may “make” or “break” America, so it is no wonder that emotions are running very-high about this election and its candidates. Many people have already chosen “their” candidate, and if it looks like “their” candidate is losing…well, there is plenty of blame to go around. While vitriolic and hateful speech from unbelievers doesn’t really surprise me, it REALLY distresses me when it comes from professing-Christians. Christians are supposed to be “new-creations“, not “religionized-heathens“. We are supposed to be “different“…

The way we were…
Before the grace of God got a hold of us and released us from our bondage, we were enslaved by “the ruler of this world“, the “father of lies“, the being that hates even God’s image, the most evil being in the universe, Satan. We acted like that “master” acts, we talked like that “master” talks, and we had that “master’s” values. We were like our “master“, Satan, because we were in bondage to him. It should come as no surprise to us that our world and society are in shambles, because all Satan can do is destroy, and he is VERY-GOOD at destroying. He destroys everything he touches. We see his destructive “handiwork” all around us.

We were born into the kingdom of Satan, and unless God intervenes in our lives, we will remain citizens of Satan’s kingdom for all eternity. Unlike national-citizenship, which a person can renounce if they leave that country permanently, we are NOT free to renounce our citizenship in Satan’s kingdom. We are “stuck“. Some people are simply “stuck“, while others are citizens by choice because they have chosen to serve Satan and his interests.

We have a different “Master”…
When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we are set-free from the bondage to Satan. We not only get a new “address“, we get a new “identity“. We have renounced our “citizenship” in Satan’s kingdom and we have been made part of a different kingdom, the kingdom of God, and not unlike a person renouncing their US citizenship and taking up citizenship in another country, we have a new “leader“, new customs to learn and even a new language to learn. Part of learning that new language is learning which words we used to say are no longer appropriate. The Apostle Paul reminds us, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29) We can’t continue to talk like the world while we are claiming to be Christians.

Along with learning a new language, we have new customs and new values to learn also. Make no mistake, God can “save” us from anything, but unless we leave the old way of life behind with its values and customs, we are little more that “religionized-heathens“. We may “look-good” and “smell-good“, but we are still rotten to the core. We can’t have one foot in each kingdom. Following Christ is an “all-or-nothing” lifestyle-change.

A person may think that they can be a “Christian swinger” or a “Christian homosexual“, but “Christian” and swinger or homosexual are mutually-exclusive. They are trying to keep a foot in each “kingdom“, and that doesn’t work. Yes, sanctification IS progressive, but progress in sanctification is stunted and held-back if a person refuses to let go of their old habits and customs.

Hate” is another “custom” we must let-go of, because we have a new Master with a new set of standards. Jesus not only said “Love your neighbor as yourself“, He also said;
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)

We see two distinct commands; “love your enemies“, and “pray for those who persecute you“. They are NOToptional“, because ignoring them has consequences, while following them brings blessings; “so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven“. Jesus also gave us a reason; “for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” If God gives grace even to those who don’t “deserve” it, how much more, as those who have been given grace, even though we don’t “deserve” it either, are we to extend grace, even to our enemies. As such, “hate” is NOT an option.

A world at war…
Yes, this world IS at war, but it isn’t just on the ground, it is a cosmic-battle, a spiritual-battle, a battle which has been raging since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. It is a war of “evil” versus “good“, of Satan versus God. Satan has been trying to dethrone God since before he was cast out of Heaven. What is going on, on the ground, is a “symptom” of this cosmic-battle.

We are to wage spiritual-warfare also, and one way we do this is by NOT acting and talking like unbelievers do. This is where “the rubber meets the road“; because it should affect everything we do, including what we say and what we post on Facebook and other social-media sites.

Tall orders…
Maybe we need a refresher on God’s “tall-orders“;

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly before your God? (Micah 6:8)

In Christ,
Steve

The Biblical Model For Ministry

I have been thinking about how I can best serve my little flock at Cypress Cove, both now and in the future, because as a servant-leader, I am doing kingdom-work. Since my dad was a pastor for several years, I am quite familiar with the responsibilities of a pastor, which include preaching the Word, baptizing new Believers, and serving Communion. Does the Bible have anything to say that will shed light on my responsibilities and the authority to carry them out?

Fulfill the Great Commission…
18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. (Mark 16:15)

21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” (John 20:21)

8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

The Great Commission is so important that God saw fit to have it included in all four Gospels and Acts. Extending His kingdom in this world is very important to God, and He has given us a way for that mission to be accomplished. There are four mandates in the Great Commission, go to all of the nations, make disciples, baptize them and teach them. Jesus Christ is the head of the church, and He is the commissioning and sending authority, and He promised to be by our side as we do His work in the world.

There is no exclusion-clause in “all of the nations“. There is also no evidence in the Bible that this Commission was only given to a “chosen-few“. No, it was given to ALL Believers. That includes ME, and that includes YOU.

The Great Commission is also found in Luke 24:44-49.

Disciple-making takes ministers…
13 “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!”

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 10:13-15, 17)

Radio, television and written-word ministries are wonderful, as far as they go, but they can’t replace a “boots-on-the-ground” minister who is serving God in a specific community.

Commissioned by a local church…
Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the Tetrarch, and Saul. 2 While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. (Acts 13:1-3)

After some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brethren in every city in which we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, called Mark, along with them also. 38 But Paul kept insisting that they should not take him along who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39 And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. 40 But Paul chose Silas and left, being committed by the brethren to the grace of the Lord. 41 And he was traveling through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches. (Acts 15:36-41)

Here we see, in Acts 13, that Paul and Barnabas were commissioned and sent by a local church to do ministry. In Acts 15, Paul and Silas were commissioned by a local church for what became Paul’s 2nd missionary journey. Do you see a pattern here?

Why aren’t more churches sending more of their members out on missions? I read recently that the measure of a church’s success should be its “sending-capacity“, not its “seating-capacity“. Too many churches are filled with “pew-warmers” every Sunday who have forgotten that their “mission-field” is outside the doors of the church. We should be seeking opportunities for ministry where we live, where we work, and where we play.

We should also note that Jesus ministered in Sychar to “unclean” Samaritans (John 4:1-42), and also in a couple of Gentile cities (Mark 7:24-37). He later commissioned Paul, a Pharisee, to be the Apostle and missionary to the Gentiles (acts 9:1-19). Paul went to the far-reaches of the Roman world, and also he wrote the majority of what we call the New Testament.

Where are YOU sharing the love of Christ and helping to spread His kingdom? You have already been commissioned and you have all the authority you need to minister in His name.

In Christ,
Steve

Bible Study – Ministry in Samaria

We are picking up where we left off last week, and to recap that study, Jesus, in traveling from Judea to Galilee, went the western-route through Samaria. He and His disciple had come into Sychar, where they stopped for a bite to eat and to rest awhile. It was there, at Jacob’s well, that He encountered a woman coming out to get some water. She had been married several times and was living with a man she wasn’t married to. She had met her long-awaited Messiah.

”28 So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city and said to the men, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?” 30 They went out of the city, and were coming to Him.

31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples were saying to one another, “No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. 36 Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. 37 For in this case the saying is true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored and you have entered into their labor.”

39 From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 Many more believed because of His word; 42 and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.”

43 After the two days He went forth from there into Galilee. 44 For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. 45 So when He came to Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things that He did in Jerusalem at the feast; for they themselves also went to the feast. (John 4:28-45)

28 So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city and said to the men, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?” 30 They went out of the city, and were coming to Him. Why did she leave her waterpot behind? Had she forgotten why she went to the well? What if her message was more important than the water she went to get?

I can imagine her going into the city and excitedly telling everyone who would listen about her encounter with Jesus, and even though Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, she wasn’t quite sure. She may have not expected the Christ to show her her sin, but He did. I think that she, like many others, was expecting the Messiah to come as the ultimate “conquering-king” who would reunite all of Israel, but He was revealing a very different kind of kingdom, a spiritual kingdom. I doubt that we would be very comfortable either if Christ showed us our sin during a face-to-face encounter, and our reaction would probably be similar to Peter’s, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8), but until we truly-understand our sin, we will never understand our desperate need for a Savior.

Based on her testimony, many people dropped what they were doing and headed out to meet Jesus. Would we?

31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples were saying to one another, “No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work. His disciples had brought food from town, but Jesus put kingdom-work ahead of physical-sustenance. When it came to the kingdom of God, Jesus had tunnel-vision. He knew His mission, and as we saw last week, nothing was going to get in His way.

34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. 36 Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. 37 For in this case the saying is true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored and you have entered into their labor.”

Jesus took that opportunity to give His disciples more instruction in kingdom-work. They would become “sowers” and “reapers“. Some would do more “sowing“, and some would do more “reaping“, but both are equally-important. Thus it is with all kngdom-work. We may see some of the fruits of our labors, but not always, and another laborer may get to enjoy the fruits of our labors. We have entered into the labors which Jesus and His disciples began two-thousand years ago, and even though they aren’t here to see it, the disciples would be blown-away by how fruitful their ministry was. Those labors had, and continue to have eternal-significance.

39 From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 Many more believed because of His word; 42 and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.”

As mind-blowing as her testimony was, those who saw and heard Jesus for themselves became even more convinced that Jesus was the Christ, the Savior of the world.

Had Jesus been a typical Jewish Rabbi, He wouldn’t have gone through Samaria, let alone spend a couple of days there, but Jesus was anything BUT typical. I can imagine that His disciples got a bit antsy when He stayed because they would have been eager to get back into “Jewish” territory. Rubbing shoulders with Samaritans wasn’t comfortable, let alone eating and staying with them, but there may be a lesson for us also.

43 After the two days He went forth from there into Galilee. 44 For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. 45 So when He came to Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things that He did in Jerusalem at the feast; for they themselves also went to the feast.

Even though Jesus and His disciples were “delayed” in getting to Galilee, His stay in Samaria was just another part of His kingdom-ministry. Jesus hadn’t been well-received in Jerusalem, and as a “local-boy“, He wasn’t well-received in Judea either, but that wasn’t the case in Galilee. Many of the Galileans had gone to Jerusalem for Passover and had heard His teaching and seen His miracles, so their hearts were already prepared to hear and receive His message when He got to Galilee. We need to note also that Galileans weren’t well thought-of by Judeans either, particularly by the religious-elite.

Is there any group of people you would be uncomfortable associating with? We are “Samaritans” to the vast-majority of the church because we live a lifestyle that they can’t understand, and they don’t have a clue how to ministry to us in our environment. That is why I, as a fellow-“Samaritan“, am ministering to you.

In Christ,
Steve

Bible Study – Wedding In Cana

As our next scene opens, Jesus and His disciples have been invited to a wedding. Wedding-celebrations lasted up to a week, depending on the resources of the family, and they were a time of feasting and drinking.

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; 2 and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” 6 Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” So they filled them up to the brim. 8 And He said to them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it to him. 9 When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, 10 and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.

12 After this He went down to Capernaum, He and His mother and His brothers and His disciples; and they stayed there a few days. (John 2:1-12)

Running out of wine was serious-business, because either the guests had drank more than anticipated or those responsible for the feast hadn’t planned properly. Either way, there wasn’t a liquor-store in the neighborhood where they could buy more wine. They had a problem…

Mary knew what to do – ask Jesus to take care of their problem, but…

While we might recoil in horror that Jesus called His mother “woman“, in that culture, it wasn’t disrespectful, demeaning or dishonoring to His mother. Women didn’t have the status they have today. They were raised to be wives and mothers – period.

The next part of His response might also surprise us by its bluntness. “What does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” Jesus and His disciples were guests at this party, so the logistics of the party was not His concern. Jesus was also fully-aware of His mission on earth, and being the “divine-caterer” wasn’t part of the package. Yes, He did feed large crowds on a least two occasions, but that was out of compassion, not obligation. Jesus did NOT perform miracles “on-demand“, and His mother didn’t have any more say in His mission than anyone else. Even though Jesus told His mother that taking care of their host’s wine-problem wasn’t in His “job-description“, I don’t believe that it was a hard-edge rebuke either, as do some Bible-scholars.

Was Mary forcing the issue when she said, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”, or was she expressing full-confidence that Jesus would provide what was needed? I believe that she thought that Jesus would do something, and that what He would do would be good.

The need for the stone water-pots takes us back into the Old Testament, specifically the Ceremonial Law. The Ceremonial Law, which is detailed in Leviticus 12-15, touched virtually ever facet of their daily-lives. Something as simple AND normal as a woman’s monthly-period, or a couple having sex, made them ceremonially-unclean, which required that they go through a purification-ritual before they could enter any place of worship. They also didn’t have indoor-plumbing or any of the other conveniences that we take for granted. Some people kept water on hand to take care of their purification needs, as did this family. Others had to go to the public bathhouse or other body of water to bathe and wash their clothes.

We need to pause a moment and understand the difference between something which made a person ceremonially-unclean and something which was sinful. They were not the same, even though some things which made a person ceremonially-unclean required offering a sacrifice in addition to the purification-ritual. Even though the Law of Moses required certain sacrifices when a couple had a baby, that didn’t make conceiving and having a baby “sinful“. Some ancient church leaders used the ceremonial law to “prove” that sex was “sinful” but “tolerable” if a couple was try to conceive.

This “anti-body” dogma grew out of a blending of Gnosticism (spirit=good, body=evil) and Asceticism (all pleasure is evil), two ancient Greek philosophies. Some early church leaders denied that Jesus had a real, human body, something the Apostle John went to great lengths to refute in all of his writings. Even though we don’t see much hard-core Gnosticism today, it is still present in a lesser but more insidious form, such as denying that our physical-bodies are part of God’s image in us. I have run into this latter form of Gnosticism among some members of my own church.

It may have taken many trips to the well to fill up those waterpots, but at Jesus’s command, they did. If they averaged twenty-five gallons each, that was one-hundred and fifty gallons of water, which was soon to become wine. That must have been some very good wine, because the headwaiter wondered why they had saved the best wine for last. We don’t know how far along in the feast that this event took place.

While Jesus always performed His miracles for the benefit of others, His primary purposes in performing miracles were to show His glory and to lend credibility to His message, to further-convince His disciples that He was who He said He was, the Messiah.

It appears that Mary was already a widow by this time with several kids still living at home because there is no mention of Joseph in this scene, and Mary will reappear several more times throughout Jesus’s ministry. His sisters may have already been married-off by then, because girls got married much younger than boys in that culture. Whatever the case was, the family was together during the wedding and for a short time afterwards.

Jesus had already made Capernaum His “headquarters“, maybe at the home of Peter and Andrew, so that was His next stop. By this time, His entourage already included at least four disciples plus His family, and there was no “Motel-6” or “Days-Inn” to stay in. Other Gospels record Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law at his home in Capernaum.

One very important thing to note is that this miracle symbolized a new kingdom-order. The old ceremonial and sacrificial system was being done away with, symbolized by the water for purification, and Jesus was establishing a new kingdom-order, symbolized by wine, a symbol of the coming Holy Spirit. Jesus came both to fulfill the old law and to nullify it, which He did by His sinless life and atoning-sacrifice on the cross. We are beneficiaries of both His finished work and promised Holy Spirit.

We should also see that Jesus was God over all of creation, which meant that He could create something from nothing or turn something into something else, water into wine. He will demonstrate His lordship over creation in many other ways as we progress through John’s gospel and His ministry.

In Christ,
Steve

Trusting God In The “Rest-Areas”…

God’s plan for our lives is like a road-map, but He doesn’t show it all to us at once. He will only show us our next step when He is ready, not when we are. Like all good road-maps, ours includes turns, intersections, and even “rest-areas“. I LOVE rest-areas when I am traveling because I can’t drive for over two hours at a time and need to stop and stretch my legs periodically, but I don’t always like it when God places me in a “rest-area“. Maybe some examples will help illustrate what I am referring to.

A missionary couple comes home on furlough, and when they prepare to return to the country they were serving in, their way is blocked by the political situation in that country. Are they no longer missionaries? Of course they are, but their area of ministry may change dramatically.

A pastor I used to know, while he was without a church to pastor, took a job as the mail-clerk and telephone switchboard operator for his brother-in-law’s business. My mom was the owner’s executive-assistant, and she introduced me to Pastor John. I got to know Pastor John, and he was very instrumental in helping me through my wife’s suicide and the subsequent destruction of my family. He was also by my side during her funeral service, as was another Pastor, a Catholic Priest I had also gotten to know. Pastor John may have been in a “rest-area“, but God used his pastoral skills and loving heart to help me through a very-difficult time in my life. He also performed the wedding when my second wife and I got married. Just a few weeks later, he received a call to a church in another part of the country, and I haven’t seen him or heard from him since.

Another pastor I met a few years ago, while he was between churches, was the “substitute-preacher” when the church’s pastor was out of town, and he also taught at a private Christian school. When he was called to another church, he and his wife moved on.

From about 1981 til about 1991, I served in several different capacities in three different churches. I was on the building-committee of the first church. I taught Sunday School, sang in the choir and was a deacon in the second church, and I was in the band/orchestra in the third church. When we moved to a different part of the country in 1993, there was a brief “rest-area” period.

In 1994, I was elected, ordained and installed as an Elder in a small church. After I left that church in 1997, I went to another church where I was invited to sing in the choir. That only lasted for a few months until I remarried and we went to a different church. Our roles may change, but that doesn’t mean that our new role isn’t ministry.

After my second wife and I moved to Florida in 2000, I became involved in the music ministry of yet another church, and eventually became the Music Director. That lasted until I got cross-ways with the pastor’s mother-in-law who had very different ideas about what and how we should sing. Rather than fighting it, we moved on to another church.

Thanks to an invitation to participate in the church’s ground-breaking celebration, we immediately found our new church-home. I joined the choir, even though I decided to keep a low-profile otherwise. I also participated when we dedicated the new sanctuary. That lasted for about two years until we decided to move to another state in late 2006.

I have managed to keep a low-profile in every church I have been in since 2006, and I haven’t even joined the praise-team in the church I belong to now. I did offer to help out with the sound-system, but they haven’t even taken my up on that offer. The musical talent runs very deep in that church, so I enjoy just being there. When it comes to music-ministry, I am in a “rest-area“. That doesn’t mean that I don’t still enjoy singing, and He may yet use me in the music-ministry, but all in His good time.

God has kept me in a public-ministry “rest-area” for almost ten years, but has He? I felt led to start this blog on December 31, 2013, and I have been writing and posting regularly since then. With regular readers as far away as South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, this ministry is pretty “public“.

A few months ago, I received the “call” to begin a ministry at Cypress Cove. This may be the most ambitious “project” I have ever taken on, but God is still in control. This isn’t about me. It is about spreading God’s kingdom into a part of His world where it hasn’t been before. I am simply His servant, and God calls the shots. If this ministry thrives, it won’t be because I am so great. It will be because God is great and awesome and doing His work through me.

While I have been in a “rest-area” from teaching and church-leadership since 1997, God hasn’t left me idle. He has directed me into other avenues for ministry. For those who are lamenting that God doesn’t seem to be using you for an obvious ministry, all I can say is “Trust Him” and see what else He may have for you to do. God alone knows His plans for you, and He is working everything out for your good and His glory. Oh, and by-the-way, loving your neighbor in tangible ways IS ministry, and you ARE serving God by showing His love to that person.

In Christ,
Steve

We’ve A Story To Tell To The Nations…

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Our commission is unambiguous and our field of operations is all-inclusive. Our Supreme-Commander has not only been given the authority to carry out this mission, but has given us that authority as well. We have been given the responsibility to go deep into enemy-held territory and liberate captives and bring them back to Headquarters, and then to recruit them to join this mission also. Whether your specific mission is next door or on the other side of the world, all missions are equally-important.

We will face opposition, because the enemy will not give up his captives without a fight. The enemy will do everything in his power to dissuade us from our mission, including turning friends and family against us. The enemy will even try to convince us to join his side instead, but we must not be dissuaded from advancing towards our goal. Our mission is that important.

Do you feel inadequate for the task? You are not alone, because this mission wasn’t intended to be accomplished by “lone-rangers“. This mission requires teamwork, partnerships of like-minded individuals committed to working together. We have the sure-promise that our Commander will accompany us on this mission, and we have another Helper who is pledged to us also, the Holy Spirit.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

I have been blown-away by how God has provided ministry-partners for the Cypress Cove ministry, godly men who have come alongside me to help and encourage me in this ministry. They “get-it“, and they understand how vitally-important it is for us to carry-out the tasks God has given us to do for His kingdom and glory.

We’ve a story to tell to the nations…
1 We’ve a story to tell to the nations,
that shall turn their hearts to the right,
a story of truth and mercy,
a story of peace and light,
a story of peace and light.

Refrain:
For the darkness shall turn to dawning,
and the dawning to noonday bright,
and Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth,
the kingdom of love and light.

2 We’ve a song to be sung to the nations,
that shall lift their hearts to the Lord,
a song that shall conquer evil
and shatter the spear and sword,
and shatter the spear and sword. [Refrain]

3 We’ve a message to give to the nations,
that the Lord who reigneth above
has sent us His Son to save us,
and show us that God is love,
and show us that God is love. [Refrain]

4 We’ve a Savior to show to the nations,
who the path of sorrow has trod,
that all of the world’s great peoples
may come to the truth of God,
may come to the truth of God. [Refrain]

I invite you to prayerfully ask God where and how He can use you for the furtherance of His kingdom, and while you are at it, ask Him to provide faithful companions and fellow-laborers for your mission. We bring Good News, because the Gospel IS Good News!

In Christ,
Steve

Shattered Dreams…

Everything seemed to be looking up, all the pieces seemed to be in place, when suddenly all their hopes and dreams came crashing down around their ears. Their dream had become a nightmare. Dead. Crucified. Buried. Gone.

Had they misread the signs? Were all the prophesies wrong? What had happened? How could everything have gone to hell so quickly, so abruptly? Why???

Who can’t relate to this story? We have all been there, done that, and gotten the T-shirt. We have all been in times and situations which seemed to be so full of hope and promise that we were dreaming of a rosy future, when our dreams turned into nightmares and our hopes were extinguished.

A highly-anticipated pregnancy turns into a miscarriage, or worse yet, the baby is born with horrible birth-defects and only lives a few hours. A cancer surgery, which was hoped to be life-saving, turns into a closed-up incision with the verdict of “The cancer has spread too far, so it was impossible to get it all.“. A man goes in for open-heart surgery which will give him a new lease on life but dies on the table before surgery even begins. A person with cancer is given six months to live and dies less than six weeks later. Grieving parents, a grieving widow, and grieving family and friends are left behind to pick up the pieces of their dream-shattered lives.

A new relationship seems to be going well, but ends abruptly a few weeks later. “Til death do us part” turns into “Til death or disconvenience do us part“. “Happily-ever-after” turns into “Nightmare on Rainbow Chase Place“. What happened? How could everything that seemed to be going so right abruptly go so wrong? Why???

Were we all wrong to get our hopes and dreams up? Another question might be “Were we hoping for all the wrong things?“. Is there something better in store for us that we could never dream of or anticipate? Did the “good” get sacrificed to make way for the “best“?

Two thousand years ago, two men trudged along a dusty road, disappointed that their dreams and hopes had died, talking about what had brought those dreams and hopes to naught. They had witnessed their dream, their hope of a new and better future, being crucified on a Roman cross. Maybe they had even helped prepare His body for burial. The only thing that they knew for certain was that Jesus of Nazareth was dead, buried, and with His death and burial was buried their dreams and hopes. Grieving family and friends were left behind to pick up the pieces of their dream-shattered lives. Luke recorded this scene for us in detail.

On the Road to Emmaus
Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

“What things?” He asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed Him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified Him; but we had hoped that He was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find His body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said He was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged Him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So He went in to stay with them.

When He was at the table with them, He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, and He disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when He broke the bread. (Luke 24:13-35)

They had heard Jesus teach, they had witnessed His miracles, they had been part of the adoring crowd as He rode into Jerusalem, but they were totally-baffled by His crucifixion. We certainly can’t blame them for being despondent, because had He become their King, Jerusalem would have become His capitol and they would be in training as Ambassadors. They were dreaming of an earthly-kingdom, not realizing that Jesus was establishing a heavenly-kingdom.

Their despondency turned into amazement and jubilation when their risen Savior broke bread with them, and just a few weeks later, they were given their new assignments and received the Holy Spirit to enable them to carry them out. He WAS their King and they became His Ambassadors, but in a very-different way. The “good” had been displaced by the “BEST“.

Final thoughts…
We DO lose loved-ones to death and are left to pick up the pieces of our dream-shattered lives, but did their death spare them future or further suffering? Relationships DO go awry, but sometimes the opportunities we gain outweigh the loss of that relationship. That is certainly the case with my most recent debacle, because I have gained ministry-opportunities which wouldn’t have been possible had everything gone as “planned“. I am NOT saying that everything has turned-out peachy, but in spite of the pain, it has turned out well. One dream has been replaced by a far-better dream, so stay tuned.

In Christ,
Steve

Little Is Much…

Little is much” is counter-intuitive in American society. We have succumbed to the “Tower of Babel” mentality and a lust for more…MORE…MORE. We want to “make a name for ourselves“. We want more success, more wealth, more influence, more prestige, more power, more control…bigger cars, bigger homes, a more prestigious address, more stuff, more, MORE, MORE. We have succumbed to Satan’s first lie “You shall be as gods“, and we are willing to sacrifice everything on the altar of our success. This, however, is meager fare in God’s economy.

You may not think that you have much to offer to God in the way of resources or talents, but God has a way of using the most unlikely people to do great things in His kingdom. Twelve men, who would never have been awarded “Most likely to succeed“, were chosen by our Lord as His first disciples. Four of them were fishermen, and none of those even had a high-school education, and yet we have the New Testament Scriptures because of those men. Peter, the impetuous, self-reliant and sometimes mouthy disciple who denied even knowing Jesus, became the spokesman for the Apostles after Pentecost. On the cross, Jesus passed over his own half-brothers when fulfilling his first-born obligation to care for His mother and passed that mantle to John.

Human assessment might have dubbed them the “Least likely to succeed“, but God had great plans for them, and gave them the power to carry out those plans.

They were ordinary men, but they were empowered by the Holy Spirit to spread the Good News of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have the New Testament because of their writings.

Matthew was a tax-collector.

Mark fled the scene of Jesus’ arrest naked.

Luke was described by Paul as the “Beloved Physician”. He penned Luke and Acts.

John was a fisherman, and the disciple whom Jesus loved. He penned the Gospel of John, 1st, 2nd and 3rd John and the book of the Revelation.

Peter denied his Lord, and then became one of the pillars of the church. He penned 1st and 2nd Peter.

Paul persecuted the church until the Lord got hold of him. He became a missionary to the Gentiles, and penned most of the rest of the New Testament.

James was the half-brother of Jesus, and until after the resurrection, a scoffer and unbeliever. He gave us the book of James.

John Newton, a slave trader who had come to faith in Jesus Christ, penned the marvelous hymn “Amazing Grace” as his personal testimony. It is one of the most loved hymns in all of Christendom.

Martin Luther, a Catholic monk, fed up with the rampant abuses he saw in the Catholic Church, nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Chapel, and in doing so, he fired “the shot heard around the world” and sparked the Protestant Reformation.

A small group of Believers in Crystal River, Florida, had a vision of building a Christian School. They believed that a church would grow along with the school. They committed their way to the Lord and built a school building. Within a few short years, they were bursting the seams of the school building and the multi-purpose room where they held services, so they started planning for and raising funds for a new sanctuary. I was privileged to be part of both the ground-breaking and the dedication of their new thousand-seat sanctuary. Seven Rivers Presbyterian Church has grown beyond anyone’s wildest imagination. Little became much!

Little is much…
Penned in 1924 by Kittie L. Suffield, this beautiful hymn describes God’s kingdom-economy.

Little is much when God is in it!

In the harvest field now ripened
There’s a work for all to do;
Hark! the voice of God is calling
To the harvest calling you.

Little is much when God is in it!
Labor not for wealth or fame.
There’s a crown—and you can win it,
If you go in Jesus’ Name.

In the mad rush of the broad way,
In the hurry and the strife,
Tell of Jesus’ love and mercy,
Give to them the Word of Life.

Little is much when God is in it!
Labor not for wealth or fame.
There’s a crown—and you can win it,
If you go in Jesus’ Name.

Does the place you’re called to labor
Seem too small and little known?
It is great if God is in it,
And He’ll not forget His own.

Little is much when God is in it!
Labor not for wealth or fame.
There’s a crown—and you can win it,
If you go in Jesus’ Name.

Are you laid aside from service,
Body worn from toil and care?
You can still be in the battle,
In the sacred place of prayer.

Little is much when God is in it!
Labor not for wealth or fame.
There’s a crown—and you can win it,
If you go in Jesus’ Name.

When the conflict here is ended
And our race on earth is run,
He will say, if we are faithful,
“Welcome home, My child—well done!”

Little is much when God is in it!
Labor not for wealth or fame.
There’s a crown—and you can win it,
If you go in Jesus’ Name.

Even if you think that you don’t have much to offer to God, all He wants is your willingness. He can and will supply the rest, because His resources are limitless.

In Christ,
Steve

Even Me…

Who can God use for the furtherance of His kingdom? We have plenty of examples throughout the Bible of people whom God called to some specific task, who said “Here I am Lord, send someone else.” One of the most infamous was Moses. Another one was Gideon. Why did these men, who became heros of the faith, believe that they weren’t up to the task? Because they weren’t, in their own strength.

Billy Graham, who was probably the greatest evangelist of our time, never felt like he was capable of fulfilling the mission God gave him, and yet he led huge crusades all over the world. He may have not been capable, but God is more than able.

We are reminded that “God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called“.

If we look at the lives of the Apostles, they didn’t look like they would ever get past first-base, but they carried the Good News of the Gospel to nearly all of the known world. That was because they acted with a power that was not their own. They acted by the power of the Holy Spirit.

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:35-38)

Who is the “Lord of the harvest”?
Jesus said “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)

Jesus is the “Lord of the harvest” because the church belongs to Him.

Who sends out laborers?
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Even me…
This past weekend, I was at the Christian Naturist Festival at Lake Como Resort. The Festival was hosted by the Garden of Eden Church, which began a few years ago as a mission of the Christian Nudist Convocation(CNC). Garden Of Eden has been instrumental in planting another mission at Caliente Resort. There is also a lot of interest in starting a mission at Cypress Cove, which is close to where I live.

Who do think brought up the idea of starting a mission at Cypress Cove? Yours truly… Open mouth and insert foot… I thought “Here I am Lord, send someone else“, but that isn’t how God works. Why did I open my big mouth? There are times when I can’t even lead myself in silent prayer.

Somebody, or a group of somebodies, has been praying the Lord of the harvest to send a laborer into that harvest-field. Cypress Cove is better-known for its sometimes-wild parties than it is as a place where the Holy Spirit is at work, but it is family-friendly, unlike Caliente.

I don’t even know where to start, but God does, and if He wants a mission started at Cypress Cove, He will have to lead the way. The only thing I can hang my hat on is:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

I am not sending-authority. Jesus is, and if He sends me, I have all the authority I need. Yes, He can use even me, weak-knees, trembling-voice and all. I am not capable, but He is more than capable.

In Christ,
Steve