Christian Training Center InternationalPosts

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How wise does Jesus expect us to be?

Image result for wise as serpents harmless as doves

It is helpful to know that some people really don’t care for me. In fact, they care nothing at all. They don’t have my best interest at heart and are hard-hearted. I need to be wise to discern that reality. I have opened myself up to it before. It is no fun, as we all know.

God has a goal and some wisdom for me. I need to listen carefully and closely. Jesus said “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.”

What does Jesus think about marriage? Is it really just between a man and woman?

Jesus is put out with the Pharisees. Jesus points them and us to the Bible. I’m afraid our church leaders are not serving us well and are deceiving God’s people by pretending something that God did (make us male and female) isn’t true. There is a lot to unpack here considering what is going on in our society and culture.

One day the Pharisees were badgering him: “Is it legal for a man to divorce his wife for any reason?” Jesus answered, “Haven’t you read in your Bible that the Creator originally made man and woman for each other, male and female? And because of this, a man leaves father and mother and is firmly bonded to his wife, becoming one flesh—no longer two bodies but one. Because God created this organic union of the two sexes, no one should desecrate his art by cutting them apart.”

Source: Matthew 19:1-6 (The Message)

Are we willing to die for Jesus today?

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Jesus tells us of a principle of how his Kingdom works. Persecution will be real because of our following Jesus. It might even be deadly. That is true even to today. Today someone died for Jesus and His mission.

You’ll even be turned in by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends. Some of you will be killed. There’s no telling who will hate you because of me. Even so, every detail of your body and soul—even the hairs of your head!—is in my care; nothing of you will be lost. Staying with it—that’s what is required. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry; you’ll be saved.” ~Jesus

Source: Luke 21:16-19 (The Message)

Who will hate me? Jesus warns me that it could be anyone. It could be the closest member of my family. It could be everyone. If I don’t have any enemies, I am probably not living out the mission of Jesus. The clarity of the good news of Jesus brings out the anger in the Evil One.

Will I live to tell the story? In fact, I may be killed. It is happening today all over the world. Persecution of the followers of Jesus is very real. If I am living out the mission of Jesus, it could happen to me. I must be prepared for this.

Who will look out for me? Jesus will look out for me. Everything is in the care of Jesus. That, my friends, is good news.

What is required of me? I must persevere. I must stick with Jesus. Jesus will save me no matter what. That is the real deal. I can’t get discouraged. No matter what, I will get eternal live. Trillions and trillions of years is a might long time.

Consider this about what is happening today. “215 million Christians experience high levels of persecution” around the world, according to Open Doors, a human rights organization. On its recently released World Watch List 2018, which ranks the world’s 50 worst nations wherein to be Christian, 3,066 Christians were killed, 1,252 abducted, and 1,020 raped or sexually harassed on account of their faith; and 793 churches were attacked or destroyed.” Search the news here on any given day to see the latest.

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Susan Pons Book – “And There Was Evening and There Was Morning…”

There is power in prayer. We see it every day. Let us join with you in tapping into the Power of God. Click here to make a request.

Have you read Susan Corbett Pons book “And There was Evening and There was Morning”? It will make you laugh, and it will make you cry. Check out Susan’s book here.

Susan Pons grew up in Valdese, North Carolina. Prior to her marriage, she performed professionally on stage and dinner theaters. The mother of four and grandmother of six, she and her husband, Larry, direct Christian Training Center, International, a ministry dedicated to the restoration of families. She has loved her life.

Check out Susan’s book here.

Our programs are like an immersion into a new language – the language of living in Jesus.  The goal is fluency in the language of relationships.  Programs share a sequential vision, building an understanding of relationships and family culture.  The foundation is an encounter with Jesus.  This encounter is the means for both insight and vision.  Encountering Jesus leads a radical change in living and relationships.

Learn more about our programs here.

If you would like to donate to the Christian Training Center, please click here.

What did Jesus do while He was in the tomb?

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There is a break from the horror of day Jesus is crucified! Jesus is carrying out the plan of His Father. His disciples are huddled up trying to figure it all out. No matter how many times Jesus had told them, they didn’t get it.

I don’t either many days. Jesus is talking to me. Jesus has things He wants me to do. I am scared and I am hiding. Yikes!

Master Jesus the Messiah, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

It is Saturday. Some theories exist about what is going on from the time of the death of Jesus to His resurrection on Sunday morning. Some have a good case for Jesus visiting Hell or Sheol (the place of the dead). Here is one.

From the scriptures, it is clear Jesus did visit Sheol. After His crucifixion, Jesus was laid in a nearby tomb, and His body remained there the entirety of Holy Saturday (Matthew 27:59-60; Mark 15:46; Luke 23:53-54; John 19:39-42). Saturday turned into Sunday!“‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this he breathed his last” (Luke 23:46)

  • Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. (Mark 15:46)
  • Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. And so, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay. (Acts 2:29-31)

Without the resurrection of the Messiah, we would be in dire straits. If Christ had never been raised, “your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). The disciples had scattered when Jesus was arrested (Mark 14:50), and they spent the first Holy Saturday hiding for fear of also being arrested (John 20:19). The day between Christ’s crucifixion and His resurrection would have been a time of grief and shock as the stunned disciples tried to understand the murder of Jesus, the betrayal of Judas, and the dashing of their hopes. “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”  (John 20:19)

The only reference to what happened on Saturday is found in Matthew 27:62-66. After sundown on Friday—the day of Preparation—the chief priests and Pharisees visited Pontius Pilate. This visit was on the Sabbath, since the Jews reckoned a day as starting at sundown. They asked Pilate for a guard for Jesus’ tomb.

They remembered Jesus saying that He would rise again in three days (John 2:19-21) and wanted to do everything they could to prevent that. As we know, the Roman guards were inadequate to prevent the resurrection, and the women who returned to the tomb Sunday morning found it empty.

The Lord is risen.

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There is power in prayer. We see it every day. Let us join with you in tapping into the Power of God. Click here to make a request.

Check out our upcoming ministry programs for young adults and families. Please click here.

Our programs are like an immersion into a new language – the language of living in Jesus.  The goal is fluency in the language of relationships. The foundation is an encounter with Jesus that leads to a radical change in living and relationships.

Heroes Semester is a 10-week residential, “family style” living experience like no other! | Participants ages 18-26 come with one purpose – to go deeper with the Lord. Learn more about our programs here.

Strengthening & Restoring Family Relationships — Train to Reign Program | Family is the most vital relationship and the one under the most pressure and attack. Come strengthen your family in a strong relationship with God. Learn more here.

If you would like to donate to the Christian Training Center, please click here.

What does it mean to follow Jesus?

Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?

Source: Mark 8:34-37 (The Message)

Jesus ushers in the Kingdom of God, explaining to the crowds, not just the disciples, how it works. I don’t think there was an “alter call” afterward. Jesus delivered the message and moved on. Chapters, in the New Testament, can be tricky.

What is the promise of the Spirit of God?

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If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you. I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you!

Source: John 14:15-17 (The Message)

Jesus was ushering in the new covenant (aka testament, agreement or contract). His death, resurrection and ascension was right around the corner. One final piece of the puzzle is also about to be revealed. After his ascension, Jesus will send the Holy Spirit to be with us in the place of the physical Jesus. Without the Spirit we can’t enter the Kingdom of God.

What is the main thing Jesus wants? Jesus wants me to love Him by being obedient to what he has said. That is the big deal. Love is not in isolation from obedience. Love is obedience. Jesus is God and Jesus is in control. God has given Jesus all authority, both in heaven and here on earth. Jesus makes it clear his goal for me is to love.

What is the promise of God? Jesus promised me the Spirit of God. The Spirit is a friend, helper, comforter, and advocate for me to God. Jesus also said (John 3:5) “I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” The Spirit is essential to living in God’s country. I can’t enter with out the Spirit.

How will I know the Spirit of God? The Spirit of God has been with me. The Spirit of God is not a stranger. The Spirit of God is my helper and that is how I will know him. The Spirit of God is the Spirit of Truth. If what is sense is a lie and attempts to deceive me, it is not the Spirit of God.

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There is power in prayer. We see it every day. Let us join with you in tapping into the Power of God. Click here to make a request.

Check out our upcoming ministry programs for young adults and families. Please click here.

Our programs are like an immersion into a new language – the language of living in Jesus.  The goal is fluency in the language of relationships. The foundation is an encounter with Jesus that leads to a radical change in living and relationships.

Heroes Semester is a 10-week residential, “family style” living experience like no other! | Participants ages 18-26 come with one purpose – to go deeper with the Lord. Learn more about our programs here.

Strengthening & Restoring Family Relationships — Train to Reign Program | Family is the most vital relationship and the one under the most pressure and attack. Come strengthen your family in a strong relationship with God. Learn more here.

If you would like to donate to the Christian Training Center, please click here.

What can I do about my bitterness?

Great message (and short) from John Piper on bitterness. When I harbor feelings of vengeance I show that I don’t have faith in what God has promised.

Vengeance belongs to the Lord. He will repay.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord. | Romans 12:18-20 (NASB)

Κύριε Ἰησοῦ Χριστέ, Υἱέ τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἐλέησόν με τὸν ἁμαρτωλόν

Translated: “Master Jesus the Messiah, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”

Our Messiah humbled himself and died for all of us, I pray the Jesus Prayer. God is in a good mood. God’s plan through Jesus has redeemed, restored me and healed me.

I have missed God’s goal for my life (aka sin). This is a big deal. It is not to be ignored.

And so … mercy is required. I need forgiveness.

I thankful that Jesus died for me. I am thankful that God loved me so much He sent His only Son to die for me. I am thankful that God did not want to condemn us but wanted to save us. And save us He did.

What is a wrong with a half-way job?

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What is my role in all this? God doesn’t invade my body and make me change my mind. That isn’t how it works. I have to change my mind (aka repent).

I have to give up and give him all the pieces. I have humble myself and admit that I have missed God’s goal (aka sinned). Many days I am reluctant. God is patient.

God made my life complete
    when I placed all the pieces before him.
When I got my act together,
    he gave me a fresh start.

Source: Psalm 18:20-24 (The Message)

What is more important, Theology or what Jesus says?

Am I clever? I like to think I am some days. So did the Sadducess (Religious Leaders). They thought they had Jesus in a conundrum. Of course they didn’t. I don’t either although some days I try.

I like to infer some great logic or theology from the Bible that just isn’t true. Jesus didn’t come to earth to establish a theology. Jesus came to usher in the new covenant and the Kingdom (aka country) of God. His death, resurrection and ascension accomplished what God’s goal was for Jesus.

Do I know the Bible (Scripture)? Not as well as I should or want to that is clear. Also, the more I immerse myself in what Jesus said, the more spiritual relativism I see. Is it okay to like what the Bible says until it says something I don’t like? Can I then manipulate what it says to my own satisfaction? Or worse, perhaps I should just disagree and move on with what I want it to do regardless. Yikes! This is dangerous.

What is more important, Theology or what Jesus says? In this case, the Sadducees were focused on the theology of the resurrection, which they didn’t believe in. Jesus knows the truth because he is the truth and he knows what it is like in heaven. Jesus also knew the Old Testament. So when you are the Son of God and you know the scripture, that is known as the trump card.

Do I know how God works? Not well enough. Several things have become clearer about how God works. I am focusing more and more on:

  • God is God – God is in control. I am not.
  • God is Good – God is in a good mood. God sent Jesus because he loves me.
  • God is Great – Nothing is impossible with God.
  • God has a goal for me – I need to focus, exclusively, on what God wants me to do.

Some Sadducees, the party that denies any possibility of resurrection, came up and asked, “Teacher, Moses wrote that if a man dies and leaves a wife but no child, his brother is obligated to marry the widow and have children. Well, there once were seven brothers. The first took a wife. He died childless. The second married her. He died, and still no child. The same with the third. All seven took their turn, but no child. Finally the wife died. When they are raised at the resurrection, whose wife is she? All seven were her husband.”

Jesus said, “You’re way off base, and here’s why: One, you don’t know your Bibles; two, you don’t know how God works. After the dead are raised up, we’re past the marriage business. As it is with angels now, all our ecstasies and intimacies then will be with God. And regarding the dead, whether or not they are raised, don’t you ever read the Bible? How God at the bush said to Moses, ‘I am—not was—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? The living God is God of the living, not the dead. You’re way, way off base.” Source: Mark 12:18-27 (The Message)

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About the Christian Training Center

There is power in prayer. We see it every day. Let us join with you in tapping into the Power of God. Click here to make a request.

The Christian Training Center International was founded in the early 1970’s as The Inn of the Last Resort. It is now known throughout the world for its outreach to families, Christian leaders, and young people. Our focus is to enable individuals – especially young men and women – to face and overcome the mounting issues and pressures in their daily lives. Learn more here.

Our programs are like an immersion into a new language – the language of living in Jesus.  The goal is fluency in the language of relationships. The foundation is an encounter with Jesus that leads to a radical change in living and relationships. Learn more here.

If you would like to donate to the Christian Training Center, please click here.

What does Jesus have to say about taking oaths and swearing?

Radical Sayings of Jesus

The Jesus manifesto continues. Jesus takes on oaths and swearing.

Jesus is clear on this. I am to say yes or no. That is it. No “I swear to God” or any variation. Yes or no. No maybes. Anything else is evil.

“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Master what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. ~Jesus | Matthew 5:33-37 (ESV)

This is not the sin of “cursing,” but the sin of using oaths to affirm that what is said is true. The religious elites used all kinds of tricks to sidestep the truth, and oaths were among them. They would avoid using the holy name of God, but they would come close by using the city of Jerusalem, heaven, earth, or some part of the body.

What does the will of God mean?

God’s new plan

I need to get on board with what God wants. It is never about me. It is always about God. God has a country (kingdom). In that country, God gets to decide what goes on.

God has put Jesus in charge of His country. Clearly God’s way is supreme in heaven. I am to pray for that to happen here on earth. That is the way to pray. It is laid our clearly in the Jesus Manifesto.

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” | Matthew 6:9-13

What is the atoning purpose of Jesus death?

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It is the Friday immediately preceding Resurrection Sunday. It is celebrated traditionally as the day on which Jesus was crucified.  The Bible instructs us to remember Christ’s death by observing the Lord’s Supper. First Corinthians 11:24-26 declares,

What is healthy fruit? Are we producing it?

Jesus warns us in the Jesus Manifesto (Matthew 5 – 7) where we hear Him say Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing”.

Jesus is serious. There won’t be just a few. There are many of them. Their goal is to mislead us. And they are. It is sad.

The issue here is fruit. Am I producing fruit? I can’t recognize what bad fruit is first I don’t produce good fruit.

Will we disown Jesus? Could it happen?

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Judas betrays Jesus. Peter and the others deny they know Jesus. Nobody is with Jesus at the end.

I am not either. I would have been no different. I have to ask would it have been by betrayal or denial. Master Jesus the Messiah, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: ‘‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”

But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same. | Source: Matthew 26:31-35

How does Jesus want us to pray?

God is God

I have a Father in heaven. That is some very good news. I am ecstatic over that. I need to get that in my heart and soul. I need to let that seep into my very existence. Staying focused on that makes a difference every minute of the day.

Jesus teaches us how to pray in the Jesus Manifesto. Prayer is to begin with worship. God is addressed as Our Father in heaven. Worship is the essence of all prayer. (In vv. 1–18) Jesus used the word “Father” 10 times! Only those who have true inner righteousness can address God in that way in worship. Reverence is a second element of prayer, for God’s name is to be hallowed, that is, revered and honored (hagiasthētō).

Is there only one God? Can we go god shopping?

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God is God. There is only one God. That God is Yahweh, the heavenly Father of Jesus, our Messiah.

Consider this. In Psalm 100:3 David says “Know this: God is God, and God, God. He made us; we didn’t make him. We’re his people, his well-tended sheep.” This is a big deal and one of the major themes of our life with Jesus. It all starts with “Our Father, who is in Heaven, Holy is your name”. It continues with “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Don’t just go shopping for a god.
Gods are not for sale.
I swear I’ll never treat god-names
like brand-names.

Source: Psalm 16:4 (The Message)

What is the Last Supper all about?

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Maundy Thursday

Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with His disciples and instituted the Lord’s Supper, also called Communion. Some Christian churches observe a special Communion service on Maundy Thursday in memory of Jesus’ Last Supper with His disciples.

Jesus the Messiah, the mediator of the new covenant – The fulfilment of God’s purposes of salvation expressed in the covenants of the OT, mediated by Jesus the Messiah and sealed in his blood. It is a covenant of grace, the benefits of which include forgiveness, a renewed relationship with God and, through the Holy Spirit, an inward transformation that enables obedience to its demands and so ensures that it will not again be broken. The Greek word is διαθήκη (diathḗkē)  properly, a disposition, i.e. specially a contract especially a devisory will:–covenant, testament.

The Last Supper comes out of Maundy Thursday, also known as “Holy Thursday”. It is the Thursday of Passion Week, one day before Good Friday (the Friday before Easter). Maundy Thursday is the name given to the day on which Jesus celebrated the Passover with His disciples, known as the Last Supper. Two important events are the focus of Maundy Thursday. The overlying principle is that Jesus establishes a New Covenant with us.

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

What does Jesus think about marriage and divorce?

Jesus has some very clear instructions on marriage and divorce. This is the short version in the Jesus Manifesto (Matthew 5-7). Matthew gives more detail in Matthew 19. It might be useful to consider them both together.

“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. | Matthew 5:31-32

So here is the longer version from Matthew 19. It seems to me that the religious elites were preoccupied with the grounds for divorce; Jesus with the institution of marriage.

What is betrayal? How was Jesus betrayed?

Image result for judas betrays jesus with a kiss

What a horrible thing to do. Judas betrayed Jesus. The very Jesus who choose him to be an Apostle. Betrayal is the treacherous exposing or deceiving of people by those they formerly trusted. It is usually associated with an enemy masquerading as a friend, or with a broken or abused relationship. Betrayal was suffered by Jesus the Messiah and can be expected by his followers.

Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Jesus over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over. On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’”So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover. | Matthew 26:14-19

“Rats and roaches live by competition under the laws of supply and demand; it is the privilege of human beings to live under the laws of justice and mercy.” –~Wendell Berry

Jesus challenges us to live a life of mercy and to work for justice and mercy. Jesus uses harsh language calling out the religious leaders as hypocrites.

Jesus is not happy at all. Jesus is clear.

Justice and mercy are not to be ignored under any circumstance.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.” (Matthew 23:23)

What should we do about our anger?

Anger

I get angry. I say things I shouldn’t and clearly regret later on. I say them though. It isn’t pretty. I have insulted others. I have called others names.

Jesus knows this. Jesus challenges me “to deal with” my anger. Jesus is clear there will consequences (judgement) for my anger. Jesus knows it is a matter of my heart. It starts in my heart, then moves to my lips, then gets manifested in my actions.

Jesus shows me the way to reconciliation. Now that is good news. I can give up the way of anger. I need to “get right” with people and not just pray it goes away. I need to ask people for forgiveness not God. The big thing is to get reconciled and do whatever it takes.

How does God turn big things into small things?

This video is about 50 years of programs at the Christian Training Center International.

Image result for big things into small things

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There is power in prayer. We see it every day. Let us join with you in tapping into the Power of God. Click here to make a request.

Check out our upcoming ministry programs for young adults and families. Please click here.

Our programs are like an immersion into a new language – the language of living in Jesus.  The goal is fluency in the language of relationships. The foundation is an encounter with Jesus that leads to a radical change in living and relationships.

Heroes Semester is a 10-week residential, “family style” living experience like no other! | Participants ages 18-26 come with one purpose – to go deeper with the Lord. Learn more about our programs here.

Strengthening & Restoring Family Relationships — Train to Reign Program | Family is the most vital relationship and the one under the most pressure and attack. Come strengthen your family in a strong relationship with God. Learn more here.

If you would like to donate to the Christian Training Center, please click here.

“Precious Lord, Take My Hand” ~Rev. James Cleveland

This seemed like a good day for some music from the Reverend James Cleveland. Let’s all sing now, precious Lord, take my hand!

Rev. Cleveland, in my opinion, is the greatest gospel singer ever! On February 9, 1991 Rev. Cleveland passed on to be with Jesus.

What is the new covenant that Jesus established?

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Jesus did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant written in my blood, blood poured out for you.

Source: Luke 22:20 (The Message)

Jesus ushered in a new covenant (aka testament, agreement or contract). Jesus did it through the blood he shed for us on the cross. It completely blew out of the water the old covenant (aka testament, agreement or contract). This is a big deal and 2,000 years later we probably miss what this meant. The Jewish people and the disciples of Jesus knew what it meant.

Why did the Greeks want to see Jesus?

Jesus on the Cross

The Greeks want to see Jesus. They go to some effort to make it happen. The disciples help.

It is my desire to see Jesus. That is the huge point of the holy week. It seems to me, I have missed the importance of this story about the Greeks request.

Now there were some Greeks among those who were going up to worship at the feast; these then came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and began to ask him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip came and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip came and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him. | John 12:20-26

How does Jesus want us to pray?

Pray

The Jesus Manifesto continues as Jesus teaches me how to pray. It is not about how much I say. It is about the quality of what I pray. Jesus gave us a model that is succinct. It is short, sweet and to the point.

Jesus challenges me not to be someone who babbles on and on and on. God knows what I need. I’m not telling him something that He hasn’t already thought of. God wants to give great gifts because He cares.

What does Jesus mean by ‘Judge not’?

Repent

I am clear on the first part of this in the Jesus Manifesto. I’ve written on it. We’ve all heard sermons on it. If you’re like me, someone may have even quoted it to you to tell you not to judge them when you were being critical of someone.

My first obligation is to “fix” myself. I have to see my own issues with missing God’s goal for my life (aka sin). I have to radically change my way of thinking (aka repent) and do something about it. I need to get right with Jesus.

Okay, then. What about the last sentence?

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. ~Jesus | Matthew 7:1-5

Should we just mind our own business?

Some people suppose that in the parable of the foreign bodies Jesus was forbidding us to act as moral or spiritual oculists and meddle with other people’s eyes and telling us instead to mind our own business. This is not so.

The fact that censoriousness and hypocrisy are forbidden us does not relieve us of brotherly responsibility towards one another. The opposite is true. Jesus wants us to love and help. Ignoring something isn’t useful. Jesus doesn’t want us to be turtles and pull our heads into our shell.

On the contrary, Jesus was later to teach that if our brother sins against us, our first duty (though usually neglected) is ‘go and tell him his fault between you and him alone’. The same obligation is laid upon us here. To be sure, in certain circumstances we are forbidden to interfere, namely when there is an even bigger foreign body in our own eye which we have not removed.

Jesus commands us to reprove and correct our brother.

Once we have dealt with our own eye trouble, then we shall see clearly to deal with his. A bit of dirt in his eye is, after all, rightly called a ‘foreign’ body. It doesn’t belong there. It is always alien, usually painful and sometimes dangerous. To leave it there, and make no attempt to remove it, would hardly be consistent with brotherly love.

Our duty, then, is not to see the speck in our brother’s eye while at the same time we do not notice the log in our own; still less to say to our brother ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’ while we have not yet taken the log from our own; but rather this:

  • First to take the log out of our own eye, so that then with the resulting clarity of vision we shall be able to take the speck out of our brother’s eye.
  • It is evident that Jesus is not condemning criticism as such, but rather the criticism of others when we exercise no comparable self-criticism.
  • Nor is Jesus condemning correction as such, but rather the correction of others when we have not first corrected ourselves.

The standard of Jesus for relationships in the discipleship counter-culture is high and healthy. In all our attitudes and behavior towards others we are to play neither the judge (becoming harsh, censorious and condemning), nor the hypocrite (blaming others while excusing ourselves).

We are the brother, caring for others so much that we first blame and correct ourselves and then seek to be constructive in the help we give them.

‘Correct him,’ said Chrysostom, alluding to someone who has sinned, ‘but not as a foe, nor as an adversary exacting a penalty, but as a physician providing medicines.’

Yes, and — even more — as a loving brother anxious to rescue and to restore. We need to be as critical of ourselves as we often are of others, and as generous to others as we always are to ourselves. Then we shall anticipate the Golden Rule to which Jesus brings us in verse 12 and act towards others as we would like them to act towards us.

Can we dig deeper?

Let’s look at our Master’s illustration of this point. Jesus chose the symbol of the eye because this is one of the most sensitive areas of the human body. The picture of a man with a two-by-four stuck in his eye, trying to remove a speck of dust from another man’s eye, is ridiculous indeed! If we do not honestly face up to our own sins, and confess them, we blind ourselves to ourselves; and then we cannot see clearly enough to help others. The Pharisees saw the sins of other people, but they would not look at their own sins.

Jesus used the illustration of the eye to teach us how to have a spiritual outlook on life. We must not pass judgment on others’ motives. We should examine their actions and attitudes, but we cannot judge their motives — for only God can see their hearts. It is possible for a person to do a good work with a bad motive. It is also possible to fail in a task and yet be very sincerely motivated. When we stand before the Messiah at the Judgment Seat, He will examine the secrets of the heart and reward us accordingly.

The image of the eye teaches us another truth: We must exercise love and tenderness when we seek to help others. If you’ve had extensive eye examinations, and had surgery to an imbedded object then you can appreciate the tenderness of the physicians. Like eye doctors, we should minister to people we want to help with tender loving care. We can do more damage than a speck of dirt in the eye if we approach others with impatience and insensitivity.

Two extremes must be avoided in this matter of spiritual self-examination. The first is the deception of a shallow examination. Sometimes we are so sure of ourselves that we fail to examine our hearts honestly and thoroughly. A quick glance into the mirror of the Word will never reveal the true situation (James 1:22–25).

The second extreme is a “perpetual autopsy.” Sometimes we get so wrapped up in self-examination that we become unbalanced. But we should not look only at ourselves, or we will become discouraged and defeated. We should look by faith to Jesus the Messiah and let Him forgive and restore us. Satan is the accuser (Rev. 12:10), and he enjoys it when we accuse and condemn ourselves!

After we have judged ourselves honestly before God, and have removed those things that blind us, then we can help others and properly judge their works. But if we know there are sins in our lives, and we try to help others, we are hypocrites. In fact, it is possible for ministry to be a device to cover up sin! The Pharisees were guilty of this, and Jesus denounced them for it.

What are the other scriptures on this?

  • Mark 4:24 And He was saying to them, “Take care what you listen to. By your standard of measure, it will be measured to you; and more will be given you besides.
  • Luke 6:38 “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”
  • Romans 2:1 Therefore you have no excuse, every one of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.
  • Luke 6:42 “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.

It’s Greek to me!

The Greek word for judge is κρίνω krinō, kree´-no; to distinguish, i.e. decide (mentally or judicially); by implication to try, condemn, punish: —  avenge, conclude, condemn, damn, decree, determine, esteem, judge, go to (sue at the) law, ordain, call in question, sentence to, think.

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There is power in prayer. We see it every day. Let us join with you in tapping into the Power of God. Click here to make a request.

Check out our upcoming ministry programs for young adults and families. Please click here.

Our programs are like an immersion into a new language – the language of living in Jesus.  The goal is fluency in the language of relationships. The foundation is an encounter with Jesus that leads to a radical change in living and relationships.

Heroes Semester is a 10-week residential, “family style” living experience like no other! | Participants ages 18-26 come with one purpose – to go deeper with the Lord. Learn more about our programs here.

Strengthening & Restoring Family Relationships — Train to Reign Program | Family is the most vital relationship and the one under the most pressure and attack. Come strengthen your family in a strong relationship with God. Learn more here.

If you would like to donate to the Christian Training Center, please click here.

What should followers of Jesus think about justice and the social justice movement?

What should followers of Jesus think about justice and the social justice movement?

“If we take the Bible seriously then justice should be a big deal for us. God does not suggest, He commands that we “Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed” (Jer. 22:3). Jesus declared his mission to “proclaim good news to the poor… liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18, quoting Isa. 61:1, 2). “Seek justice” (Isa. 1:17) is a clarion call of Scripture, and those who block their ears to that call are simply not living by the Book.” | Thaddeus Williams Source: How Should Christians Think About Social Justice? | The Stream

So what does God say?

“Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” | Isaiah 1:17

Why are palm branches used to declare Jesus is the Messiah?

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Jesus is the Messiah, the anointed one. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt, royally yet humbly, to the rejoicing of his followers, but provoking opposition from the Jewish religious leaders.

Some of the religious leaders [Pharisees] in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” | Luke 19:39–40

This is the stunning entry of the King to the holy city Jerusalem. Jesus doesn’t ride in on a horse with an army. The entry of Jesus is in victory, yet humility. There was no stopping Jesus and His march to the cross. God is going to glorify Him in the beauty of his obedience. For the joy that is before Him, Jesus enters triumphantly.

Palm branches were used in celebration of victory.

  • John 12:13 (NASB) — 13 took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, “Hosanna! Happy [blessed] is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.”
  • Leviticus 23:40 (NASB) — 40 ‘Now on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days.
  • Psalm 118:27 (NASB) — 27 The Lord is God, and He has given us light; Bind the festival sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.
  • Revelation 7:9 (NASB) — 9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands;

Palm Sunday (as we call it historically) began with Jesus and His disciples traveling over the Mount of Olives. The Master Jesus sent two disciples ahead into the village of Bethphage to find an animal to ride. They found the unbroken colt of a donkey, just as Jesus had said they would (Luke 19:29–30). When they untied the colt, the owners began to question them. The disciples responded with the answer Jesus had provided: “The Master needs it” (Luke 19:31–34). Amazingly, the owners were satisfied with that answer and let the disciples go. “They brought [the donkey] to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it” (Luke 19:35).

As Jesus ascended toward Jerusalem, a large multitude gathered around Him. This crowd understood that Jesus was the Messiah; what they did not understand was that it wasn’t time to set up the kingdom yet—although Jesus had tried to tell them so (Luke 19:11–12). The crowd’s actions along the road give rise to the name “Palm Sunday”: “A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road” (Matthew 21:8). In strewing their cloaks on the road, the people were giving Jesus the royal treatment—King Jehu was given similar honor at his coronation (2 Kings 9:13). John records the detail that the branches they cut were from palm trees (John 12:13).

On that first Palm Sunday, the people also honored Jesus verbally: “The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ / ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ / ‘Hosanna in the highest heaven!’” (Matthew 21:9). In their praise of Jesus, the Jewish crowds were quoting Psalm 118:25–26, an acknowledged prophecy of the Christ. The allusion to a Messianic psalm drew resentment from the religious leaders present: “Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’” (Luke 19:39). However, Jesus saw no need to rebuke those who told the truth. He replied, “I tell you . . . if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out” (Luke 19:40).

Even as the coatless multitudes waved the palm branches and shouted for joy, they missed the true reason for Jesus’ presence. They could neither see nor understand the cross. That’s why, “as [Jesus] approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies . . . will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you” (Luke 19:41–47). It is a tragic thing to see the Savior but not recognize Him for who He is. The crowds who were crying out “Hosanna!” on Palm Sunday were crying out “Crucify Him!” later that week (Matthew 27:22–23).

There is coming a day when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus the Messiah is Lord (Philippians 2:10–11). The worship will be real then. Also, John records a scene in heaven that features the eternal celebration of the risen Lord: “There before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.” (Revelation 7:9). These palm-bearing saints will shout, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (verse 10), and who can measure sum of their joy?

The colt used in Jesus Christ’s entry into Jerusalem

Jesus Christ’s instructions to his disciples

  • Luke 19:29–31 (NASB) — 29 When He approached Bethphage and Bethany, near the mount that is called Olivet, He sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village ahead of you; there, as you enter, you will find a colt tied on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here. 31 “If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of it.’ ”

The obedience of the disciples

  • Matthew 21:6 (NASB) — 6 The disciples went and did just as Jesus had instructed them,

Jesus Christ’s entry into Jerusalem

  • John 12:14–15 (NASB) — 14 Jesus, finding a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written, 15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your King is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.”
  • Isaiah 62:11 (NASB) — 11 Behold, the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth, Say to the daughter of Zion, “Lo, your salvation comes; Behold His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him.”
  • Zechariah 9:9 (NASB) — 9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

The response of the crowd to Jesus Christ’s entry into Jerusalem

Proclamation of Jesus Christ’s kingship – Spreading cloaks on the road was an act of royal homage.

  • Matthew 21:8 (NASB) — 8 Most of the crowd spread their coats in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in the road.
  • 2 Kings 9:13 (NASB) — 13 Then they hurried and each man took his garment and placed it under him on the bare steps, and blew the trumpet, saying, “Jehu is king!”

Proclamation of Jesus’ messiahship

  • Matthew 21:9 (NASB) — 9 The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest!”
  • Psalm 118:26 (NASB) — 26 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord; We have blessed you from the house of the Lord.

Proclamation of Jesus the Messiah’s victory 

Palm branches were used in celebration of victory.

  • John 12:13 (NASB) — 13 took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.”
  • Leviticus 23:40 (NASB) — 40 ‘Now on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days.
  • Psalm 118:27 (NASB) — 27 The Lord is God, and He has given us light; Bind the festival sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.
  • Revelation 7:9 (NASB) — 9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands;

The response of the Pharisees to Jesus the Messiah’s entry into Jerusalem

  • Luke 19:39–40 (NASB) — 39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” 40 But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”

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There is power in prayer. We see it every day. Let us join with you in tapping into the Power of God. Click here to make a request.

Check out our upcoming ministry programs for young adults and families. Please click here.

Our programs are like an immersion into a new language – the language of living in Jesus.  The goal is fluency in the language of relationships. The foundation is an encounter with Jesus that leads to a radical change in living and relationships.

Heroes Semester is a 10-week residential, “family style” living experience like no other! | Participants ages 18-26 come with one purpose – to go deeper with the Lord. Learn more about our programs here.

Strengthening & Restoring Family Relationships — Train to Reign Program | Family is the most vital relationship and the one under the most pressure and attack. Come strengthen your family in a strong relationship with God. Learn more here.

If you would like to donate to the Christian Training Center, please click here.

Are You Exhausted Spiritually? 

Are You Exhausted Spiritually?

The everlasting God…neither faints nor is weary. —Isaiah 40:28

Exhaustion means that our vital energies are completely worn out and spent. Spiritual exhaustion is never the result of sin, but of service. Whether or not you experience exhaustion will depend on where you get your supplies. Jesus said to Peter, “Feed My sheep,” but He gave him nothing with which to feed them (John 21:17). The process of being made broken bread and poured-out wine means that you have to be the nourishment for other people’s souls until they learn to feed on God. They must drain you completely— to the very last drop. But be careful to replenish your supply, or you will quickly be utterly exhausted. Until others learn to draw on the life of the Lord Jesus directly, they will have to draw on His life through you. You must literally be their source of supply, until they learn to take their nourishment from God. We owe it to God to be our best for His lambs and sheep, as well as for Him.

Have you delivered yourself over to exhaustion because of the way you have been serving God? If so, then renew and rekindle your desires and affections. Examine your reasons for service. Is your source based on your own understanding or is it grounded on the redemption of Jesus Christ? Continually look back to the foundation of your love and affection and remember where your Source of power lies. You have no right to complain, “O Lord, I am so exhausted.” He saved and sanctified you to exhaust you. Be exhausted for God, but remember that He is your supply. “All my springs are in you” (Psalm 87:7).

Source: Are You Exhausted Spiritually? | My Utmost For His Highest

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There is power in prayer. We see it every day. Let us join with you in tapping into the Power of God. Click here to make a request.

The lessons taught at CTCI are not designed to be learned just in the classroom. They are not simply taught in a week or a month program. Rather, they come through the furnace of daily living and are hammered into useful form on the anvil of unrelenting daily life and common struggles. The hammer must fall repetitively over and over before the shape takes form. This type of experiential learning is formative.

Learning is driven by an insatiable curiosity in God’s ways. The value of hard work and the merits of creative problem-solving are by-products of “fleshing out” Biblical principles and watching them come to life through God’s creative power. Families are transformed and young people are reformed.

When given the right conditions of sunlight and good soil, an acorn grows into a mighty oak. When the same acorn is crowded out by larger trees and the elements for health are lacking, the tree grows crooked and deformed.

When a family arrives tattered and worn, we provide the sunshine and nourishment of God’s word in daily life experiences – and the transformation is nothing short of remarkable.

When a young person arrives soiled in the mud and mire of worldly ways, we provide the nutrients which build character and integrity for future leaders – and the reformation is nothing short of miraculous.

This is what we do: Transformation and Reformation. Learn more here.

If you would like to donate to the Christian Training Center, please click here.

What does it mean that Jesus was anointed?

Jesus came to Bethany the day before Palm Sunday. This actually starts our most holy week! In the Orthodox church, this is known as “Lazarus Saturday”. As a church, we ought to recognize and celebrate this more! The week kicks off with the anointing of Jesus by Mary. What an honor.

Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him. Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?” Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it. Therefore Jesus said, “Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial. For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.”

The large crowd of the Jews then learned that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He raised from the dead. But the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death also; because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and were believing in Jesus. | John 12:1-11 NASB 

Are we viewing others with contempt?

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As background, the Greek word for contempt is ἐξουθενέω exouthenéō, (ex-oo-then-eh’-o). It means contemptible, despise, least esteemed or set at naught. The first principle of Jesus is to love. Contempt is hate but it is insidious in that I don’t see it in my life.

Jesus told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Source: Luke 18:9-14 (NASB)

Do religious leaders talk a good line, but don’t live it?

Image result for all talk no action

Jesus has a real thing about hypocrisy. His frequent target are the religious leaders. In Matthew 23 he goes on a real rant about the frauds. He introduces 8 “woes” on them. “Woe to you!” Jesus says over and over. Even more, “Your lives are roadblocks to God’s kingdom. You refuse to enter, and won’t let anyone else in either.

Now Jesus turned to address his disciples, along with the crowd that had gathered with them. “The religion scholars [Scribes and Pharisees] are competent teachers in God’s Law. You won’t go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It’s all spit-and-polish veneer.” ~Jesus | Matthew 23:1-3 (The Message)

What does it mean to move from the sword to the scepter?

The Mordecai Mandate: Moving From the Sword to the Scepter.

In this session, Dave Kubal, president of Intercessors for America, speaks out of the book of Esther and talks about the important shift taking place in how we are to pray and intercede for our nation – we are in a season of moving from defensive prayer (the sword) into praying with favor extended (the scepter).

Is it fun to slop hogs? What does Jesus think?

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“If you reason with an arrogant cynic, you’ll get slapped in the face; confront bad behavior and get a kick in the shins. So don’t waste your time on a scoffer; all you’ll get for your pains is abuse. But if you correct those who care about life, that’s different—they’ll love you for it!” ~King Solomon | Proverbs 9:7-12 (The Message)

News flash! The wise will love us. God is in a good mood.

Jesus challenges us all. 

“Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” 

King Solomon and Jesus know more than a thing or two.

Did Jesus fulfill the Law and the Prophets?

Complete the law and prophets

Jesus continues His manifesto. I have a lot to learn here. Jesus is being clear, as He always is. This isn’t what I was thinking He would say.

Jesus begins this section by telling the disciples not for one moment to imagine that he had come to abolish the law and the prophets, i.e. the whole Old Testament or any part of it. The way in which Jesus phrases this negative statement suggests that some had indeed been thinking the very thought which he now contradicts.

Does Jesus have secrets?

“No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a washtub or shoves it under the bed. No, you set it up on a lamp stand so those who enter the room can see their way. We’re not keeping secrets; we’re telling them. We’re not hiding things; we’re bringing everything out into the open. So be careful that you don’t become misers of what you hear. Generosity begets generosity. Stinginess impoverishes.” | Luke 8:16-18 (The Message)

Jesus sets up a principle of the Kingdom of God. We live in a Kingdom (aka country) that has complete transparency. There is no hiding. There are no secrets. Everything is out in the open. Jesus is not on a mission to make you feel good about yourself. When I read what Jesus says I often say “Yikes”, “Uh Oh”, “Oh No”, “Really?” and a few things I can’t repeat in polite company.

Jesus isn’t hiding anything. Jesus is telling the truth and He is saying it with the full authority of God. That is good news. We can count on Jesus.

What is the Kingdom of God? Who is the King?

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Pilate said, “Do I look like a Jew? Your people and your high priests turned you over to me. What did you do?” My kingdom,” said Jesus, “doesn’t consist of what you see around you. If it did, my followers would fight so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. But I’m not that kind of king, not the world’s kind of king.” | Source: John 18:35-36 (The Message)

Breaking news!

Jesus is in charge of God’s Kingdom.

God is in a good mood.

I’m looking out my window. I see lots of stuff. The yard, the house across the street, a tree in the front yard, our daughter’s car …. Lots of stuff for sure. If I turn around, more stuff. Computers, books, clocks, desk and much more. More stuff.

Is Jesus the King of the Jews?

God’s plan was moving along on schedule. Jesus had been arrested and was now on trial. It was a little confusing. First to Pilate, then to Herod and then back to Pilate. Jesus was going to die and shed his blood for us. That was God’s plan and it was going to happen. Nothing could stop it.

Then they all took Jesus to Pilate and began to bring up charges against him. They said, “We found this man undermining our law and order, forbidding taxes to be paid to Caesar, setting himself up as Messiah-King.” Pilate asked him, “Is this true that you’re ‘King of the Jews’?” “Those are your words, not mine,” Jesus replied. | Source: Luke 23:1-2 (The Message)

Are our souls for sale?

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Jesus is building his Father’s Kingdom and lays out for us the core requirements. Jesus is the leader. I have to sacrifice what I want and let Him lead. That is it. The is the core.

“Calling the crowd to join his disciples, Jesus said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?” ~Jesus  | Mark 8:34-37 (The Message)

What could you ever trade your soul for? The answer is I could trade it for a lot of different things. There are lots of “gods” to choose from. There is materialism, secularism, politics, myself, and on and on the goes the list. I have a choice.

What does it mean to trust in God? How does that work in the “bad times”?

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“Here’s the story I’ll tell my friends when they come to worship, and punctuate it with Hallelujahs: God has never let you down, never looked the other way when we were being kicked around. God has never wandered off to do his own thing; he has been right there, listening.” ~King David | Source: Psalm 22:22-24 (The Message)

David has just spent 20 verses talking about how he feels abandoned by God. Seriously, he goes on and on about it. David is depressed and in despair. It is worth reading to put this in context. He starts out by saying “God, God . . . my God! Why did you dump me miles from nowhere? Doubled up with pain, I call to God all the day long. No answer. Nothing. I keep at it all night, tossing and turning.” Not only is he depressed, he is whining about it to God.

Are we listening to Jesus? Are we really listening?

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“Are you listening to this? Really listening?”

When they were off by themselves, those who were close to him, along with the Twelve, asked about the stories. He told them, “You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom—you know how it works. But to those who can’t see it yet, everything comes in stories, creating readiness, nudging them toward receptive insight.”

Source: Mark 4:9-12 (The Message)

Jesus asks really loaded questions. They get to the heart of the issue. Jesus isn’t going to ignore what we are up to. Jesus is going to confront us. Jesus is going to let us in on the Kingdom. Now that is a big deal.

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