Posts Tagged ‘cross’

Over the weekend, a small group of guys and a staff member had gone to Guymon, OK to do a couple of storefronts for fund raising purposes. While they were there they met up with a gentleman that had come through the Teen Challenge center that I work at. Jack (not his real name) didn’t graduate as he decided to leave early.

Jack invited them to go out to dinner. While there, he told them some of the things that had happened to him after he left the program. Jack told them that he had to go jail for 30 days for not completing the program. While he was there, he had the opportunity to witness to a gentleman. This gentleman that he was witnessing to had come to the Lord. They both read the Bible everyday.

Jack was also able to go to his mother’s grave and forgive her for what she had done to him. Jack was also for the first time in a long time, able to call her MOM. That is the power of God in Jack’s life.

I don’t often hear stories like this. It is good to hear that while a student leaves early it doesn’t mean that they didn’t get anything. Sometimes, God puts a person only for short time and not for the full time that they agreed with when they enter the program. The successes are less if they don’t go through the whole program. But every once in a while stories like this do happen.

When I was at Cape Girardeau, MO a similar thing happened. During the apple picking season the police showed up to pick up one of the other guys. Before I go on let me relate to you how this came about.

The students that come into Teen Challenge are usually here for one of three things. Bear in mind that it is not a program for just teenagers. Men and Women also need help. Anyway, the students come in for one of three different reasons. They are family ordered, court ordered (which is not our program), or they are wife ordered.

This guy had come in due to court related issues. So to make sure that his PO knew where he was at, he wrote him a letter saying that he was in the Misssouri Teen Challenge. Which, then meant that his PO sent the police for violation of his parole by leaving the state he was supposed to be in.

Anyway, Dave (not real name) was picked up by the police while he was out picking apples. The whole time he had a peace about having to go to jail. While he was there, Dave witnessed to every person that they put in the cell with him.

He had a “revolving door” for the cell that he was in. Every day he had a cell mate. Every day that person was gotten and another person was brought in. The last guy that was brought to that cell, came to the saving knowledge of Christ.  Dave had to go to jail in order to witness to this guy. God had tested him to make sure that he would do so with others that came in before the “main event”.

Dave was brought back after that. He said that the whole time he was feeling peaceful about where he was at. He also knew when he was going to return to the center. He knew that he had to go jail for a week for just that one moment.

What is the moral of both of these incidents. It doesn’t matter what happens. If you are in God’s will, He will cause good things to happen when it seems that things are going south.

Both of these men followed this command of Jesus:

Mark 16:15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

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Come to the cross that still stands

And look at the gift given to you

He died with a back covered in bands

Through heaven’s gate he will allow you

Come all to the standing cross

A symbol of sin that is broken

He gave us all a bridge to cross

All this in the past was spoken

Now come to an empty grave

To see His power even over death

He gave to all who are depraved

And gave freedom to the oppressed

Come look at this empty grave

Death could not keep Him down

That death we all can brave

And soon He will wear a crown

Come and look at the standing cross

For He was a gift given to us

That when we die we’ll cross

The chasm to our eternal bliss

Come and look in His empty grave

Only then will you truly believe

Only then your life He’ll save

Then one day your grave you’ll leave

Hate and Death

Posted: 02/27/2011 in Message
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Matthew 5:21-24

“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, You shall not kill: and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without just cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, You fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if you bring the gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you; Leave your gift at the altar and go your way; first to be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

Anger is very dangerous to a Christian. Anger can destroy your testimony in front of others. Especially when you think of all the things that can get you angry. Needing to be somewhere ten minutes ago and finding your tire flat. Driving down the road behind someone driving slow and you are in a hurry. Saving up money for something that you want and having to buy something to replace what just broke. In today’s world there are many things that can make us go off.

There are times when anger is appropiate and when it is not. Being angry in the middle of a dangerous situation can cause you to save someones life, yours or someone elses. Anger is able to give you just what you need to make a dangerous situation not so dangerous. But being angry at a person is not appropiate no matter what. Even if that person allowed or caused that dangerous situation you are in. Verse 22 of this passage says, “But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without just cause shall be in danger of the judgment…”

Jesus bore this out near the end of his life. He could have been angry at Judas for betraying him to the religious leaders and authorities. He could have been angry at Peter for betraying him three times. He could have been angry those that whipped him and mocked. Even the guy on the cross beside him did this. He could have angry, but he was not. He still loved each of these men.

He showed the very love he wants us all to show. He showed the love that he taught his followers to show. “But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, do good to them which hate, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.” (Luke 6:27-28) He told his followers to love those that hate them. As a follower of Christ that is a lot of people, especially today.

Many times when we get angry at someone, we say that we hate them. Is this alright? Of course not. 1 John 2:9,11 says this about hate. “He that says he is in the light and hates his brother, is in darkness even until now…. But he that hates his brother is in darkness, and walks in darkness, and knows not where he goes, because that darkness has blinded his eyes.” This seems to be pretty clear cut. Those that profess to God are really in darkness if they hate their fellow brother. It also says that they are blind. Verse 10 of this passage says this, “He that loves his brother abides in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in them.” Why? Because they are not blind. They can see.

The Bible gives other clear cut warnings about hate. 1 John 4:20 says, “If a man say , I love God, and hates his brother, is a liar: for he that loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he hasn’t seen?” The answer is he can’t. And if he says he can the scripture calls him a liar.

The Bible also says that “We know we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loves not his brother abides in death. Whosoever hates his brother is a murdurer: and you know that no murdurer has eternal life abiding in him.” (1 John 3:14-15)

But didn’t Jesus kick out all those people selling goods in the temple? He was angry when he did that, wasn’t he? Yes, he was angry. But would it not be more accurate to say that he was angry at what was going on and not angry at the people?

What about the verse that says that “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, and yes even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” ? Well when we get married we still love our parents. Our love for them does not change. But, we love someone more than them, but our love for our parents does not lessen. In this case, we love our spouse more than our parents. So hate in this context means that we are to love Christ more than anyone or anything.

We are also allowed to hate sin. Hating sin is ok. God hates sin and cannot even be around it. He even expects his followers to be the same way. The problem is when we hate the person that is sinning because we equate the sin with the person. We have to be able to look beyond the sin and look at just the person. This is what Christ did. If we were to hate the sin as well as the person then what Jesus did on the cross was useless. It does not amount to anything.

He came here to reconcile us to himself. He didn’t come here to hate us. Romans 5:8 says, “But God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” He hated no one. He showed his love to his friends. Who are his friends? All those that love him.

We must, as Christians, begin to see people the way God does. We need to be able to separate the person from the sin. We can only do that by looking with eyes that God gives us. A different pair of eyes. Ones that are spiritual. We need to allow God to begin to work through us. We have to pass from death to life. Are you able to love others as Christ loves you? Or are you wanting to stay a blind, lying, murderer? Allow Jesus to change your heart and mind. He is holding out his hand as a gift. Accept his gift and allow him to bring you into the land of the living.

Last night, I had a pretty good time at a fund raising event. It was the first actual one that I did not have to work through. Which is amazing enoughing. But to see the people there that wanted to help out the two centers that I am associated with for Teen Challenge took that to a different level.

Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy working at events as well. We had a silent auction, live auction, a video of a missions trip that we had done and dinner. There was such an outpouring of support that I was on the verge of being choked up. It was just such an awesome thing to see.

For those that don’t know what Teen Challenge is, let me explain. Teen Challenge is a faith based “cure” for the drug epidemic. I say cure, but we don’t cure anybody. We allow God to work in those that have come to us for help.

Though drugs are not the only problem we deal with. We deal with anger, pornography, alcohol, etc. In other words life controlling problems that are overcoming people who can’t seem to shake them or are unwilling. Teen Challenge is also not subsidised by the government which means we work off of donations. Click here to go to the Teen Challenge USA website to find out more about us.

But I digress. Just to see the people there to do one thing, to have a hand in what God is doing, is something you don’t see everyday. At least I never did. But now that I work for one of these programs, I see it all the time. I see the change in young mens lives while they are with us. But the men and women that were there at the dinner were there in support and believe that God changes lives.

We have also started up another way of getting the support that we need. We have been doing storefronts. That is we have been taking items that we have made (crosses and checker boards) and selling them in front of Walmart for the past couple of months. Recently we have started up another way of getting support.

We now have a store that sells cross items and the checkerboards mentioned above. But we also sell items that have been donated to us. To check out our items click here. We also take donations at here as well.

Don’t take this as a bid for money. We also can use prayer, supplies or what ever. We covet the prayers more. But as with anything that is worthwhile we can’t just work on prayer. If you can help in anyway, it will be greatly appreciated. If you need help and nothing else has worked, we come to the Teen Challenge website.

Do you need a gift? Want to help out with a worthy cause? At this site you can do both.  Brush Creek and New Life House Store 

 

November 03

Go For The Gold

2 Kings 18:4 (KJV)

4 He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn to it: and he called Nehushtan.

Nehushtan=”a thing of brass” or “brass object”

This was the very serpent that Moses had built on God’s command when the children of Israel were under judgment for complaining once again. They were complaining about the direction they were traveling, Moses as leader, and lack of water. They were also complaining about the food, the manna, God supplied them each day. As a result, God caused serpents to chastise his people.

When enough people were bitten and had died they realized that they had messed up once again. They went to Moses to tell him of their sin of complaining against him and God. They asked if he would go to God and ask for the judgment for their sin to be removed. Moses did as the people asked. God then gave him instructions on what to do. Moses was to have a serpent of brass made and placed on a pole. Then this pole with the serpent on it was to be placed in the middle of camp where everyone could see it. Then when anyone who was bitten looked upon the brass serpent they were healed. (Numbers 21:4-9)

This in itself is not a problem. The people sinned. They turned from their ways. God supplied the relief. But the text from 2 Kings gives the idea that as the years went on, something went wrong. The people had begun to worship the brass serpent. They began to burn incense to it in worship as a god. It had to go.

The people had forgotten why the brass serpent was made to begin with. It was made as a way of keeping the punishment of death from taking place because of the peoples sin. The people took their eyes off the creator on to something that was created. Doing that can cause problems that we are or may not be able to see.

This is what happens to many of us throughout the week. We go to church on Sundays, Wednesdays, or whenever church is and give God everything we have. Then as we live out our lives the rest of the time we give God far less than we should. I am not saying we try to do this. But as a fallen creation we tend to let things get in the way of our relationship with God. The sad thing is we don’t have to do this.

We promise that we are going to get up early and do a devotion in the morning or just read the Bible. Or we promise that we will do this before going to bed. The next morning comes around, we hit the snooze alarm. We read the paper. We turn the TV on. We forget about that meeting we promised we would have. We forget to read the Bible. Or the day is stressful we put God on the back burner or we push him to the side. But hey, we will get up early in the morning to have that time with God. And if we do this, we only give him a couple of minutes because we are in a hurry. Or we get overwhelmed by trying to catch up and read as much as we can.

Peter had a similar problem. Read with me Matthew 14:22-33,

22 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. 23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. 24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, it is a spirit; and they cried out in fear. 27 But straightway Jesus spoke unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. 28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. 29 And He said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. 31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? 32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. 33 Then they that were in the ship, came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

Peter was able to walk on the water when his eyes were on Jesus. We are able to make it through the day, no matter how bad it can get if we keep our eyes on Jesus. When we take our eyes off of him is when the day gets worst. That is when we begin to sink. That is the point that Peter began to sink. When his eyes started to look at the circumstances around him. For us that means we did keep our focus on him through a time of quietness with him through devotion or just reading his word and praying.

I had a Sunday School teacher ask us this question, “What is your NEHUSHTAN?” What he was really asking was this: “What have you or are you placing in front of your relationship with God?”

We all tend to have them. Maybe it is just a small thing. It is a show that comes on once a week. Or your friend calls at the time you set aside for you and God. Or a song, girl/boyfriend sports and so on. But to God that does not matter. Anything that comes before constantly or consistently is an idol.

Now are any of these things wrong in and of themselves? No, of course not. The friend may need help. You may be looking for something online for church and so. But when these begin to take the place God, then there is a problem.

What about the movie you have been waiting to see. But it starts when you are supposed to be in church? What about that concert you heard about on the radio? Or you can’t go to church because your favorite magazine came in the mail and you have to read it before doing anything else. It is sad to think about, but there are Christians that would do just that. They put God in second place. The thing is God does not play second fiddle to anyone. The Bible has many examples of what happens when His people put him second. He gave and still does give warnings today. Check out Exodus 20:5 (KJV).

5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.

But that is because of what he said in the verses before this.

Exodus 20:3-4

3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

We are not to make idols to worship. We are not to make a likeness of anything God created to worship. It seems like more and more we worship a tree, rabbit, fish, hawk, worm or what have. We worship things we are not supposed to worship.

We begin to settle for things that are inferior. In effect we settle for things that are made of brass. Brass has one thing going for it. When it is cleaned and polished, it will shine just like gold. But the truth is, it is not gold. It is brass. We tend to go for the shiny thing that looks like gold. When we get it we can tell that it is not gold. But we keep and hang on to it like it was gold. This is what we do in our relation with God. He is the better thing. He is the gold. We settle for things far, far less.

Romans 1:25

25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the creator, who is blessed for ever amen.

We see this everywhere. Churches don’t have an evening service on Super Bowl Sunday due to many people staying home or going to friends houses to watch the game. Churches have given up Wednesday services due to lack of attendance. I am too tired to go to church tonight. I have to work on my vehicle. And it goes on and on. We allow too many things to come before God. We remove Him from His throne and place ourselves or something or someone else there. Is this thought new? No. Satan started this at some point in an unknown past.

Isaiah 14:11-15

11 Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee. 12 How thou art fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne about the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. 15 yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

Ezekiel 28:12-15

12 Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. 13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of they tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou was created. 14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. 15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.

He even used the same kind of thinking in the Garden of Eden.

Genesis 3:1-5

1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2 And the women said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

Satan does not really care what we put on God’s throne as long as it is not God Himself. He wants us to settle for the brass object. He wants us to stay home and not go to church. He wants us to follow a preacher instead of God. He wants us to stay home and watch the ball game on Sunday. He whispers in our ear that it is ok, God will not mind.

But God is trying to give us the better things. He is trying to give us the things made of gold. But we throw these things away. We put our hands up saying, “No thanks. I want this instead”. He tries to give us Himself and we say we are not interested. We don’t want you. We would rather have that guy or that girl. He frees us from “Egypt” and we want to return because it was easier and better there. He says, “How about that land?” And we say, “This piece of junk? No thank you.”

We need to get our priorities right. We need to get ourselves and those things we placed onto God’s throne off of it. We need to put Him back on His throne. We need to be like Peter and say, “Let me come to You.” We need to be willing to go and receive when He says OK.

We need to let go of the things made of brass like Paul did and reach for the gold. The things that matter.

Philippians 3:12-14

12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which I also am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

We need to take our eyes off of the things of this world. We have to place our eyes on Jesus Christ. Otherwise we will sink and the cares of this world will bury us. The throne belongs to God and God alone. We have no business sitting in it or placing things on it. We have to “forget” about all the other things that we allow to grab our attention. We have to reach with everything we have to those things that God has for us. We have to drop the Nehushtans, the brass objects, in order to reach for the gold. We must be willing to press towards and reach for the more excellent prize

John 3:14-17  (KJV)

14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 16 For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

 

This passage contains one of the best known verse from the Bible. But I am going, instead, to center on verse 14. When I read this verse I had one question come to mind. Why would Jesus compare himself with a serpent? Some other questions I had were these. Why not something or someone else? Instead Jesus chose a serpent. And a serpent that is mentioned only three times in the Bible, that I know of. Here is the third and final time it is mentioned.

But now the question becomes, “What about this serpent that Moses lifted up in the wilderness? What is so special about this serpent?”

 

The beginning of the answer begins in Numbers 21:8,9.

8 And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. 9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

 

But let’s go back a few verses to see why this brass serpent had to be made. Israel had just got done defeating an army a short time before this. God was taking them in a way that they did not want to go because of the people along the route. So they started to do what they always do. They complained. They complained about everything they complained about before. No water and/food. Their leaders. God. And so on.

God in order to chastise them, sent in fiery or copper colored serpents. After people started to die from poisonous bites, they went to Moses and confessed their guilt. They asked Moses to go to God and ask for the removal of the judgment, the serpents. God instead told Moses to have a brass serpent made and place it on a pole in the middle of camp. He told Moses what to tell the people if they got bit. Anyone who followed the directions would live. Read Numbers 21:1-9

This is the first time that this serpent is mentioned. The third time as stated previously was in a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. The second time is mentioned in 2 Kings 18:4.

 

4 He (King Hezekiah) removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and called it Nehushtan (thing made of brass).

 

The second this serpent is mentioned is when Hezekiah was cleaning house. He destroyed the “brasen serpent that Moses had made”. Now we have some of the background of this serpent. But the question still remains, “Why did Jesus compare himself with a serpent”?

This question becomes more important when you see that in scripture many times it is seen as something evil or has an evil connotation to it. Even more puzzling when you realize the serpent is usually mentioned when talking about Satan. (Gen 3:1, 2 Cor 11:3, Rev 12:9, Rev 20:2) The serpent is called crooked. (Job 26:13, Isa. 27:1) All the way at the beginning, we see the serpent as the first creature of creation cursed. (Gen 3:14) There are many more examples of where the serpent is clearly identified with evil.

And why did God have it made of brass? Brass is associated with judgment. Look at the altar, the bronze sea, and all of the tools used in the order of sacrifices. The altar was made of brass. The bronze sea was a huge basin made of brass. All the utensils were made of brass. Jesus feet in Revelation were like brass. Brass has something to do with judgment of sin.

While I was thinking of the question of why Jesus was comparing himself to the brass serpent Moses had made, the word curse came to mind. The serpent was the first of all creation that was cursed as seen in the Bible. (Gen 3:14,15) God used a picture or representation of the result of their sin to cure them. (Numbers 21:8,9) The people sinned, judgment came, and God provided a way out of judgment.

When man sinned, he became his own judgment for that sin. Therefore God had to use a likeness of this judgment as he did in Numbers 21. In the instructions that God gave to Moses to give the people as laws, rules and regulations, God also said something about hangings in Deuteronomy 21:23.

 

23 His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

 

God said the same thing in the New Testament as well.

 

Galatians 3:13 (KJV)

13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

 

God said, in Deut 21:23, that the “body was not to remain upon the tree”, but shall be buried the same day it was hung. Why? For he that is hanged is accursed of God. Was Christ cursed? By no means. The Bible gives warnings about calling Christ accursed or being a curse. But the one who knew no sin had to be like one that had sinned. God had to come in the likeness of man in order to save man. He had to appear to be under a curse to free us from the curse. That is he had to take the curse of sin upon himself.

So the answer to the question is this. To free us from the spiritual poison placed in us by the serpent who beguiled Eve in the garden. So we can live in the relationship that God had intended from the beginning. But the best answer can be found in the text at the beginning.

 

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.