This evening, we will focus on knowing “God Through our Senses”: A Five Part Series of Lenten Reflections on Sensing the Gospel.
NEUROSCIENCE OF OLFACTION The neuroscience of olfaction (the sense of smell), is fascinating. Yet, when we consider how this is parsed throughout the Bible, there are only about 26 combined references relating to smell, smelled, nostrils and odor combined.
However, despite its meager number of occurrences in Scripture, the way biblical authors employ the sense of smell is truly remarkable.
As we approach John 12:1-3 (p.106) we view the beautiful scene of Mary anointing Jesus, which reads:
1Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2 There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3 Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
Further, things smelled horrible just a few verses ago, when Jesus had people open Lazarus’s tomb (John 11:39).
• The scent does not mask the death that is coming in just a few chapters but declares the inevitability of Jesus’ demise.
▪ (((( Mary pre-anoints a corpse, unleashing a fragrance that is just as wild as her lavish act of devotion. The smell confirms her untamed love for Jesus, a love that brings her so close to him that she massages it into his pores. Soon, on Golgotha and as he is placed in his garden tomb, Jesus’ lifeless body reeking of both trauma and embalming perfumes, will make a statement of its own in declaring God’s resolute love for Mary and the rest of the world. ))))
• A) What are we to make of Marys’ actions? • B) Why is it important?
o The associated value makes the issue one of importance. o A pound of ointment, is equal in value to a laborer’s annual salary making the worth of the act important.
• What is the significance of smell?
Smell has a spiritual significance recognized by God. In this case the smell spread throughout the house and the aroma of the ointmeual spreads its aroma throughout the house. Worship is tied to smell as a pleasant odor. Hear the following:
18 So Noah went out with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. 19 And every animal, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out of the ark by families. 20 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And when the LORD smelled (ruwach) the pleasing odor (savor, reyach), the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of humankind, for the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth; nor will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done. Genesis 8:18-21(p. 7)
I call upon you, O LORD; come quickly to me; give ear to my voice when I call to you. 2 Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice. Psalm 141:1-2 (p. 579)
Our brains process scents in close proximity to our emotion and memory centers, meaning that smells can participate in how we catalog our experiences and respond to what affects us.
It seems that the same is similar with God as well.
14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing him. 15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16 to the one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 (p. 180)
Paul declares that knowledge of God radiates from Christians like sweet-smelling incense. What we get here is the wisdom of Paul in connecting the natural stench of death, decay and defeat, that is transformed by Christ to produce the fragrance of life and new creation.
SMELL IS CLOSELY ASSOCIATED WITH PURITY LAWS Lastly smell is closely related to the purity laws.
The connection between olfaction and ancient Jewish concepts of purity may not be immediately obvious to our modern minds. And in many ways, our perceptions about what smells “holy” and “unholy” may be heavily influenced by cultural standards of “clean” and “unclean”.
In light of Levitical purity laws being seen through categorizations of “life” and “healthy” against “death” and “decay”, seems to speak to Martha’s warning to Jesus in John 11:39 not to roll away the stone covering her dead brother’s tomb is understandable:
39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.”
– John 11:39 (NRSV) (p. 105)
In Martha’s eyes, Jesus was taking a huge risk in uncovering a decaying corpse, lest they all become unclean from the very odor of putrefying flesh.
As it turns out, odors released during putrefaction (aptly named cadaverine and putrescine) are universally repulsive to humans, indicating the presence of nasal olfactory neurons specially tuned to detect these odorants.
Surprisingly, these odorants are also detected by rodents, and elicits aversion even in fish; an evolutionary solution, meant to deter animals from contracting infection from carrion (flesh, tissue, muscle, meat, sinew.
SMELL ALSO IS ASSOCIATED WITH WORSHIP As stated, the Word of God seems to corelate our worship to that of a beautiful smell that is pleasing to God. Hence, in our NOT worshiping God or worshiping in a matter to which our bodies are deemed defiled by God, the act becomes a smell that is NOT pleasing and an odor that God refuses to acknowledge.
We read in the Word of God:
27 But if, despite this, you disobey me, and continue hostile to me, 28 I will continue hostile to you in fury; I in turn will punish you myself sevenfold for your sins. 29 You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters. 30 I will destroy your high places and cut down your incense altars; I will heap your carcasses on the carcasses of your idols. I will abhor you. 31 I will lay your cities waste, will make your sanctuaries desolate, and I will not smell your pleasing odors. Leviticus 26:27-31
7then the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground,[b] and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. Genesis 2:7
SMELL CONNECTED TO OUR BEING SPIRITUALLY CREATED Smell also seems to be directly correlated to the very essence of whom we are as created beings:
Interesting, in the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for spirit, and smell are etymologically connected in the name of “Ruwach”
Is it any surprise then, that when a sincere heart offers anything to God, Scripture always mentions that it is accepted as a “pleasing aroma” to Him?
So during this Lenten season, let’s be mindful we as beings created in the image of God are capable to emitting smells which are acceptable and please unto God.
Let us focus on living our lives so that the smell of our existence is a savory smell to God.
Lenten Series Week 2
- John 2: 1-11 - Exodus 12: 8 - Exodus 1: 13,14 - Peter 2: 1-3 -
- 2 Peter 2: 19-22 - Revelations 3: 14-16 - Luke 14: 15-24 -
Lenten Series Week 2: March 11,2020
John 2: 1-11
The Wedding at Cana 2 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” 5His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7
Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. 9When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
• The first thing we begin to discern about taste as it relates to Jesus is that it tested and compared. • We also know that there is a standard that taste must obtain.
Our reading clearly tells us this, when Jesus tells them to take the water made wine to the chief steward and have him to verify the quality of that which it is supposed to be. “But you have kept the good wine until now, v.10.”
Our tasting of God and his goodness should provide us sensor overload of flavors that were previously unrealized. More so, the flavor of Jesus is supposed to be a taste that is irresistible. This miracle of Jesus, is a sign announcing that his time indeed has begun. A time bursting with the flavors of fulfillment and abundance. It says the Messianic feast is now open for seating. But for that to happen, the initial sip has to satisfy the desperate steward’s discriminating palate.
WE NEED TO SIP THEN DRINK This is significant and is applicable to us as we are able to get more clarity from this if we consider other instances of taste throughout the Bible.
In the First Passover Instituted, taste become a prominent feature of the event:
Exodus 12:8 states:
8 They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.
BITTER HERBS Maror and Chazeret — Are Bitter herbs symbolizing the bitterness and harshness of the slavery the Hebrews endured in Egypt.
13 The Egyptians became ruthless in imposing tasks on the Israelites, 14 and made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick and in every kind of field labor. They were ruthless in all the tasks that they imposed on them. The children of Israel then become “types” analogues to our needing to be freed from our bondages as well.
TASTE AND SMELL LINKED Taste, like its close friend we discussed last week - smell, awakens vivid memories of familiar foods, settings, and friendships.
1 Peter 2:1-3
The Living Stone and a Chosen People 2 Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
4I sought the LORD, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. 5 Look to him, and be radiant; so your[a] faces shall never be ashamed. 6 This poor soul cried, and was heard by the LORD, and was saved from every trouble. 7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.
8 O taste and see that the LORD is good; happy are those who take refuge in him.
TASTE AND LONGING The thing about tasting, as 1 Peter 2:1-3 notes when it echoes Psalm 34:8, is that it can lead to longing. Having received tastes of God’s goodness, how can we not hunger for more?
Life’s joys and pains both can fuel intense cravings for the thing that fully quenches our thirst: the fullness of salvation.
So, to taste of God is in our realizing where we were and where we are not, ESPECIALLY as we experience the goodness of God.
Again... Psalm 34:8a:
8O taste and see that the LORD is good.”
TASTE IS TO TEST As stated previously, to taste something is to test it by comparing it to what we remember from the past, judging whether it is safe to ingest in the present, and determining whether we want more in the future.
YOU ARE THE TASTE TEST
Yet the taste of who we are is supposed to be so much that we are to add flavor to the world around us.
Salt and Light 13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
Chemically speaking, sodium and chloride is an extremely stable substance. Christ seems to be saying that there is NOTHING that can remove you from God.
Yet, Christ also confirms that if we lose our ability flavor the world around us. Said another way, if we are unable to “give” taste to our world, then we are nothing!
So, if we have lost the effectiveness of flavoring the world around us, then, Christ said what good are? Actually, Christ says we are worthless and as such, we are to be thrown out.
HAVEN TASTED THE GOODNESS OF GOD Therefore, in our having tasted the goodness of God, the natural implications is that it is so good that you would have to be out of our minds to want to go tasting anything else afterward.
Yet is is a fact that some have “tasted” the goodness of God and have sought to return to their former lives. For those persons, the Scripture has a hard rebuke.
11 Like a dog that returns to its vomit is a fool who reverts to his folly.
Without context, we may not fully understand what this means, but contextually, we turn to 2 Peter 2:19-22, we read:
Conversely, the 2 Peter 2:19-22
19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption; for people are slaves to whatever masters them. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overpowered, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment that was passed on to them. 22 It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “The dog turns back to its own vomit,” and, “The sow is washed only to wallow in the mud.” 2 Peter2:19-22.
This is why taste is on both parts, our tasting God and our being tasted by God.
The Message to Laodicea 14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the origin[a] of God’s creation: 15 “I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
The implications is that there is something about being the other that is NOT pleasing to God, so much He is repulsed and does not want you and you are spit out.
It would seem that the person who has turned back to their vomit would be classified as neither cold nor hot!
SALVATION IN TASTE There seems to be an indication in scripture of taste is also part of the message of in salvation.
The Parable of the Great Dinner 15One of the dinner guests, on hearing this, said to him, “Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” 16 Then Jesus[d] said to him, “Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. 17At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets.’ 19Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.’ 20Another said, ‘I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ 22And the slave said, ‘Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.’ 23 Then the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you,[e] none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.’”
TASTE EQUALING DEDICATED TO OR TRAINED And Lastly, taste also seems to reflect that we are dedicate to God or we are trained in wanting more of God.
This definition is nuanced by way of considering the Hebrew and Aramaic of the bible.
The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT) deals with the Hebrew/Aramaic words in the Old Testament that have a theological significance. It gives a short definition to every Old Testament word, but goes theologically in depth on the words that would be necessary.
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, a dictionary of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek language is also a reference.
The reason these resources are used at times is that words of the bible are translated and/or transliterated. However, in the process, sometimes, the fuller meaning is not realized.
Why, because, the typical English Bible translation contains around 6000 words, but the bible, written in Aramaic/Hebrew and Greek has roughly the equivalent of 11,280 words. Reasoning then that if we are simply utilizing only the English language in our attempts to understand the Bible, we are bound to miss the nuances of many of things being conveyed to us.
LOVE As a quick example, let’s look at the word “Love.” The English rendering of this word is far too simplistic. E.g., I “love” my wife and I “love” trader joes cookies. Are not the same!
Clearly there is a hierarchy as to me of loving wife boundlessly exceeds my love of trader joes cookies.
So, the word “Love” in the Greek for example presents love in 6 distinct functions, such as Eros, Philia, Agape, etc...
The Ancient Greeks’ 6 Words for Love (And Why Knowing Them Can Change Your Life) 1. Eros, or sexual passion 2. Philia, or deep friendship 3. Ludus, or playful love 4. Agape, or love for everyone 5. Pragma, or longstanding love 6. Philautia[phil-lau-tia], or love of the self (self-conceit)
In future Bible studies, we will delve into this deeper, but for now, our subject of “TASTE!”
TASTE RELATIONAL TO: CHEK AND CHANAK The word taste in the Hebrew is masculine noun, chek. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the bible affirms that The word chek is believed to comes from the Hebrew verb chanak, which means to dedicate or train-up.
CONCLUSION As we are in the Lenten season: • Let us desire be a pleasing taste to God. • Let our lives be one that can add flavor to others and, • Let us deeply desire to continue to TASTE the goodness of our God. • Let us remember that that TASTE is also equal to our TESTING God. The implication is that once we taste God, there is NOTHING that can ever taste better.
March 15, 2020 Sermon
"Faith Will Always Defeat Fear"
- Mark 4:35 - 41 -
March 15, 2020 Sermon
35 And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.36 And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. 37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. 38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? 39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 And he said unto them, Why are you so fearful? how is it that you have no faith? 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him? Mark 4:35-41
Diane was the captain of her high school soccer team and an excellent student. However, she had great difficulty accepting her abilities. If her team lost, she would quickly point out the goal she missed or the pass she failed to make. If she made an "A" on an examination, Diane would focus only on the point or two that she failed to answer perfectly. After each "failure," Diane would arrive home in tears. She would run into her room, shut the door, close the blinds, and turn off all the lights, sitting alone for hours in what her parents labeled "Diane's gloom room."
Yes, we are experiencing a pandemic, and from all indications, it’s just getting started, so what do we do? What should we do? How should we live our lives?
Only you can answer this question, and how you answer the question can and will determine the course of your life forever.
Anyone that knows me know that I am known to be fearless in doing what I believe God has called me to do. Now it’s not so much because I am so great, and others are not. My strength, and secret which I will share with you today, is that that I am fearless, not in my power, but the power of God. I’m silly enough to believe in the power of God, and believe we are who He says we are, and believe we should live according to His word. So, when I read in the Bible, and it says, “let the weak say they are strong” Joel 3:10, I say I am strong and set my mind and heart to walk by faith and not by sight, DESPITE THE CIRCUMSTANCES I MAY BE GOING THROUGH.
This thinking has come from a simple child-like faith of trusting God and observing how faithful He is 100% of the time, and I have become confident to trust God, even in the unknown.
The good news today is this, you too can have the same, and you can start today.
Hear me. As you trust God, you will find that God delights in your trusting Him and you will start to see a change in your life that will center you, and give you peace, and encouragement that will allow you to face life challenges.
I am sold out on the power of God. I believe that nothing in this universe can harm, hurt, or even kill me less God permits it. And should things fall me, I ask God for the strength to endure the adversities as I have seen many other faithful brothers and sisters do in our faith. I also look to all the Apostles and see how they lived and faced the challenges of life as followers of Jesus, our Lord. It will encourage you as you study how God used and strengthen them though they were not perfect persons.
So, if God can do it for me, He can do it for you too if you will only believe He can and walk in your faith as you trust our God.
Jesus in our lesson today was attempting to teach the disciples something, but if we read deeply, we will see that not only was he trying to explain it to the disciples, He was trying to show EVERYONE who heard Him. When we understand our text carefully, something is revealed that we seldom realized. Note in verse 36 it says:
And there were also with him other little ships. Mark 4:36
This means that what he told the disciple’s, other heard or followed those who were following Jesus, and they too were caught in the same storm.
So, I ask you today, are you Diane? Where is your "gloom room"? What is it like in there? What do you think about in your gloom room? Are your thoughts filled with fearfulness because of all the news we hear about COVID-19? Do we retreat from life because of the virus? Or, do we use wisdom in what we do and continue to live our Christian faith?
I say we should trust God, live boldly, and know God is with us and watches over us. I say that we use wisdom, and live our lives not recklessly, but faithfully knowing that our God can keep and preserve us!
When he lost the election for prime minister after leading Great Britain to victory during World War II, it is said that Winston Churchill's wife attempted to comfort him by remarking, "Maybe this was a blessing in disguise."
Churchill gruffly responded, "If so, it's a pretty good disguise."
Living in the gloom room is living without hope, without promise, without light, and more, without faith, is not living. Living with heavy burdens makes us feel helpless and alone. Yet, in Christ, we are never alone.
Once again focusing on the Good News, we should pay careful attention and notice what Jesus says in Mark 4:35:
35 And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.
This is why Jesus was able to sleep while others were panicked and afraid. Why? Because Jesus trusted God and had faith in the word of God. He already said they were going to pass over to the other side, and there was NOTHING that would have been able to stop that from occurring – this is what faith is! Hearing God’s word, living God’s word, and trusting God can perform His word.
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?" Psalm 27:1.
God's glorious light in Christ shines for all the Diane’s who sit in the darkness of self-loathing and fear. God's glorious light breaks through every disguise of shame and humiliation. God's glorious light can empower us to do things that we in our power could not do.
And here is another lesson.
Though the Disciples were the ones who were with Jesus, others who were following Jesus in the little boats also received the blessing of having the storms in their lives calmed.
This is what many of us do not understand. Your standing and trusting God has benefits beyond you. It has the potential of touching and helping others. Sometimes, it is just one person – a mom, a dad, a close friend who is standing that makes the difference for others to be blessed.
Time will not allow me to develop this thought more fully; just know that there is power in faithfulness that can impact others as well. This is why we must exercise our faith by attaching it to the absolute power of God who anchors us in faith. There is power in faith, even as Jesus taught the disciples, who were so terrified they were going to die because of the storm. Jesus sensing their fear just spoke and calmed the problem, leaving only the recourse of a rhetorical question to the Disciples in Mark 4:40:
40...Why are you so fearful? how is it that you have no faith?
So, I pose the same question because I trust in the power of God. Why are you so fearful? how is it that you have no faith? Baseball Hall of Fame catcher, Lawrence "Yogi" Berra, once remarked, "The future ain't what it used to be."
Ain’t that the truth.
Your life does not have to stay on the trajectory of a future dominated by fear. Your future can be one built upon faith, a faith that can defeat fear.
Let us trust that our God can keep us as we stay the course of walking with God by faith and not by sight. This is how the faithful Christians should live as we trust God and know without a doubt that we are secure in the power of His might.
If we follow Jesus, we are deeply “touched” because Jesus’ first invitation to his disciples after the resurrection was to touch him. Touch his wounds. Touch his weakness. Touch his body.
We who have been touched from on high who have “touched” and been “touched” by our Savior know what an honor this is.
Christians do not need to fret over whether we are “perfect” or “imperfect.” Whether we are “sanctified” or “unsanctified.” We just know that we need to touch and to be touched by Jesus is accessible for all who desire.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines touch as:
: to bring a bodily part into contact with especially so as to perceive through the tactile sense: handle or feel gently usually with the intent to understand or appreciate.
What an apt description as we consider all that has been done for in Jesus Christ.
The truth is: “In Jesus,” we are all “touched…
We are touched by circumstances. We are touched by our limitations. We are touched by our gifts. We are touched by abilities and disabilities.
When we read any of the four gospels, you can’t help but notice how frequently Jesus touched people physically.
I wonder what his hands looked like. As a former carpenter, they must have been strong, callused, and scarred. But through them ran divine currents of love and healing. Everybody he touched was helped.
This night, let us look at some of the ways that the touch of Jesus helped others and how we, too can be helped by the touch of Jesus.
FIRST, JESUS TOUCHED THE UNTOUCHABLES.
"Jesus reached out his hand and touched the (leper)." (Luke 5:12-15(13)) When other people say that you are worthless, and you feel that way about yourself, Jesus says that you are priceless!
12 Once, when he was in one of the cities, there was a man covered with Leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.” 13 Then Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do choose. Be made clean.” Immediately the Leprosy left him. (Luke 5:12-13(13))
Luke 5, verse 12… "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean."
Leprosy was a slow, agonizing, terminal illness.
The other gospel writers just note that the man was a leper. But Luke, being a physician, tells us that he was covered with Leprosy; he had a severe case. Perhaps he was missing several fingers or a nose.
Because of Leprosy, this man was not allowed to enter towns. In fact, they had to stay at least twenty paces from a healthy person.
Sounds like people today: Not wanting to touch AIDS patient, a drug addict, a prison inmate, a homeless person, etc.
Further, many, including church folk, too often treated persons of the LGBTQ communities as untouchable. Shame on us if we do. We all are children of God.
SECOND CATEGORY OF PERSONS WHOM JESUS TOUCHED—THE SICK.
All kinds of sick people. One woman was healed of internal bleeding when she acted on this thought, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed." (Mark 5:24-34(28))
THIRD CATEGORY OF PERSONS—THE TERRIFIED.
One day Jesus took Peter, James and John up on a mountain. There they saw Moses and Elijah, returned from the dead, and they heard God’s voice. They fell facedown to the ground, terrified! "But Jesus came and touched them. ‘Get up,’ he said. ‘Don’t be afraid.’" (Matthew 17:1-8 (7))
Let’s be mindful of those who suffer from panic attacks, delusional disorders, and intense anxieties. Often his touch is indeed the touch of Christ.
FOURTH CATEGORY OF PERSONS TOUCHED BY JESUS WERE THE DYING AND GRIEVING.
Passing through the little village of Nain, Jesus saw the saddest funeral procession imaginable. The only son of a widow had died, leaving her heartbroken and destitute. Jesus, moved with compassion stopped that procession in its tracks.
"He went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, get up!’" (Luke 7:11-17(14))
And he did! Christ is still reaching out to the dying and grieving.
FIFTH CATEGORY OF PERSONS TOUCHED BY JESUS WERE THE CHILDREN.
How Jesus loved children! "People were always bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them." Not everybody delights in little children as much as Jesus did.
15 People were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they sternly ordered them not to do it. 16 But Jesus called for them and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 17 Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” (Luke 18:15-17(15))
SIXTH CATEGORY OF A HIGH PRIEST WHO KNOWS OUR INFIRMITIES AND WEAKNESSES
14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16 (KJV)
14 Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested[d] as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16 (NRSV)
SEVENTH CATEGORY IS OUR KING WHO WAS TOUCHED FOR OUR REDEMPTION
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-5
EIGHTH AND FINAL CATEGORY IS A FUTURE DEVOID OF GRIEF AND SUFFERING
1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; 4 he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” (Revelations 21:1-4(4))
Revelation 21:1-4, referencing Isaiah 25:8 (wipe every tear), Several biblical texts speak of a future devoid of grief and suffering. One of the final visions in Revelation picks up on a particular detail found in Isaiah 25:8: God wiping tears from mourning faces. Such a caring action requires a delicate touch to prevent it from inflicting greater damage to a mourner. A God who dabs the tears from our eyes is a God of Love. A God who will wipe the tears from our eyes to comfort us. A God who will wipe our tears, letting us know that all is well, and we need not have to worry every again. That we will never have to worry about pain again. That we will never have to worry about sorry. That we will never again ever be broken or hurt again, all because we are finally with our God.
All because of Touch.
Here is my main message of this evening: Jesus is still touching people, sometimes through the Holy Spirit, but more through us, as we are the hands, feet, and spokespersons for Christ.
Blessings with Peace,
March 22, 2020 Sermon
"No Reason to Worry"
- Matthew 6: 25-34 -
March 22, 2020 Sermon
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
Matthew 6:25-34 (NRSV)
A lady one year decided to give up worry for Lent. Other years she had tried giving up chocolate or coffee, but instead of focusing on a physical habit, she decided to tackle her habit of being anxious. Instead of worrying about her family, she would pray. Instead of taking her work problems home with her, she would shut them up in her office and refuse to worry about them. Instead of being anxious about her own life, she would try putting everything into perspective by focusing on the life and suffering of Jesus.
Giving up worry for Lent was a good idea, but it was also a lot harder than giving up chocolate or coffee. Most days she found her thoughts turning to worry, so her Lenten practice became more about stopping worry than being able to give it up altogether. Still it was a good exercise that helped her to examine her life and to turn her thoughts toward Jesus.
In our reading today, Jesus' main point is simple. What to do about worry? Don't do it! His words apply not only to his own day but to ours as well. Don’t worry about your life – how God can keep you healthy in this pandemic. Don't worry about food -- what you're going to eat on any given day. Don't worry about clothing. Don't worry about anything that you need.
To Jesus' first hearers, this must-have sounded both strange and impossible! Most were poor and struggling to survive. Between subsistence farming and the oppressive Roman taxes, they were hardly getting by. A minority might be middle class or even wealthy like the rich young man described in Mark 10, but the rest were understandably worried about how to feed and clothe their families.
We must come to grips with something that we give little thought to, and that is the truth of worrying is a sin.
Now you may not think of worry as a sin, but it most definitely is. Sin is disobeying any commandment of the Lord. Three times in this passage, Jesus gives a command. He says in v.25, "Do not worry." He says in v.31, "Do not worry." Then he says in v.34, "Do not worry."
Now the Greek word for worry is a combination of two smaller words; one word meaning "to divide" and the other word meaning "the mind." In other words, a worrier has a divided mind. The English word worry comes from the German worgen which means "to strangle." Do you know what worry does? It strangles faith and it suffocates trust.
Worry is one of those "acceptable" sins in the Christian life. I could ask how many of you worry, and practically everyone would raise their hand because we are not ashamed to admit it. Now if I were to ask how many of you have stolen things from their neighbor. Or, how many of you have falsified their income taxes. Or, how many of you have been cruel to animals. Or, how many of you take pleasure in deceiving others, nobody would want to raise their hand. Yet, we see worry as one of those "respectable" sins. But in the eyes of God, there is no respectable sin. In the eyes of God, worrying is a sin.
The tense of the verb for worry in Matthew 6:25, correctly translated, means "stop worrying." And the tense worry in Matthew 6:31 is different and means "don't start worrying."
So what Jesus is saying is this: If you are worrying, stop it, and if you're not worrying don't start. If you are worrying get out of sin, and if you're not worrying stay out of sin.
In acknowledging the senselessness of worry we read:
"Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?"
To overcome worrying, Jesus gives us a great example: Become a birdwatcher.
Consider that there are millions and millions of birds in this world, and I believe that by and large, they are healthy and they are happy. Did you know that there has never been a bird in the history of the world to my understanding that was ever treated for hypertension, high blood pressure, or stress?
When you worry, it puts you even lower than the birds. Because when you worry, you do something that even birds do not do. Birds, don't worry. They sing, they chirp, they fly, they build nests, but they don't worry.
But Jesus is teaching us a lesson from nature, and here is the lesson: If God takes care of the birds in the air, don't you think He will take care of you?
Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great poet, said, "All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen."
What farmer would feed his chickens but not feed his children? Would God dare to feed the birds, but not feed his beloved?
God loves us so much, and do you believe that God would redeem you from darkness, brake the shackles of Satan, forgive you of your sin, take you from hell to heaven, put you into His kingdom, give you eternal life, and then not get you through today or tomorrow? Well, of course not. That's why worry is foolish.
I am reminded of what Mark Twain once said: "I have been through some terrible things in my life; some of which actually happened."
That is why worry is wasting today's time to clutter up tomorrow's opportunities with yesterday's troubles.
I read a statement from the U. S. Bureau of Standards saying that a dense fog extensive enough to cover seven city blocks, 100 feet deep, is composed of one 8-ounce glass of water, divided into 60,000 million droplets.
Now think about that. One 8-ounce glass of water, spread out, can stop an airport in its tracks. Worry is just like fog. Just a little bit can stop you dead in your tracks. That's why worrying is so fruitless.
Here is the key to not worrying:
Always keep looking forward trusting God.
When you seek God's kingdom and God's righteousness, you're seeking God. When you're seeking God, you're learning about God. When you're learning about God, you're growing in God, and when you're growing in God, you're trusting in God, and when you're trusting in God, you should not worry.
As long as you try to run your own life, steer your own car, fly your own plane, push your own buttons, make your own decisions, you're going to worry. It is only when you make your only concern God’s concern; when you want your will to be God’s will that worry ends and joy begins.
The prayer today is Lord, let me trust You to lead and give me the strength to follow!
Trusting God is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength. It’s a sign of wisdom, and more, it’s a sign of faith.
I heard about a cowboy that went into a store and asked the clerk, "How much are your spurs?" He said, "$10 a pair." The cowboy said, "Here's $5; give me one." The clerk said, "What can you do with one spur?" The cowboy said, "Well, I reckon if I get one side of the horse going, the other side will keep up."
If you will trust God for today, He has promised to take care of tomorrow. So, always keep moving forward trusting God. Live one day at a time, but trust God all the time!
Abraham Lincoln once said, "The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time."
The only day that you ought to be concerned about is living by faith today. Yesterday is gone; you can't change it. Tomorrow is not here; you can't touch it. All you can do is live in the present. Jesus has already told us that most important period of time is always "the now." He knows that your "now’s" will soon become your yesterdays. If you will live each "now" well you will have no regrets. Your "now’s" will determine your future, and when the future becomes "now" it will be good if you have lived each past moment well.
So the Good News for us today is, there is “No Reason to Worry,” for Jesus says…
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life… Matthew 6:25
- Deuteronomy 12: 28(KJV) - Mark 7: 31-37(36) - John 3: 1-16 -
- Mark 4: 1-33(9,15,16,20,23,24,33) -
Lenten Series Week 4: March 25,2020
Deuteronomy 12:28 28 Be careful to obey all these words that I command you today, so that it may go well with you and with your children after you forever, because you will be doing what is good and right in the sight of the Lord your God. NRSV
28 Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of the Lord thy God. KJV
[The command then is to “Hear” all that God is telling us and there are blessings attached to our hearing.]
John 3:1-16 3 Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 2 He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above,.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6 What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.[c] 7 Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’[e] 8 The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” 9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you a
teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? 11 “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you[g] do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.[h] 14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must
the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
[The “wind” here is the Holy Spirit that we hear, but it seems that we are at times unable to fully understand that which God is speaking to us. I’ll not npack this for now. Continuing... “Hearing” from God implies an invitation to be with God for Heavenly Fellowship and Eternal Life.]
Mark 7:31-37 31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. 34 Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”
[The thought here is that though deaf “if” you desire to hear from God, Christ will make a way for you to be able to hear that which God would have for you to hear.]
Mark 4:1-34 4 Again he began to teach beside the sea. Such a very large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat on the sea and sat there, while the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. 2 He began to teach them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: 3 “Listen!” A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. 6 And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8 Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” 9 And he said, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”
[“Listen” is to hear. Further stated that if you have ears to hear, then hear. Or, if you have the will and desire to hear, then listen with the intent to hear what God is attempting to say to you. Continuing...]
The Purpose of the Parables
10 When he was alone, those who were around him along with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; 12 in order that ‘they may indeed look, but not perceive, and may indeed listen, but not understand; so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.’” 13 And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 These are the ones on the path where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, they immediately receive it with joy. 17 But they have no root, and endure only for a while; then, when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.[b] 18 And others are those sown among the thorns: these are the ones who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it yields nothing. 20 And these are the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”
[“Too much to unpack here. Just note that when the “Word that is heard” falls on Good Soil, it is accepted. It grows and it is multiplied.]
A Lamp under a Bushel Basket
21 He said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand? 22 For there is nothing hidden, except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret, except to come to light. 23 Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” 24 And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. 25 For to those who have, more will be given; and from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.”
[“Pay attention to what you hear.” Garbage in Garbage out! Further, what you hear multiplies in you and it keeps growing, etc... ]
The Parable of the Growing Seed
26 He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27 and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28 The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”
The Parable of the Mustard Seed
30 He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest
of all the seeds on earth; 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”
The Use of Parables
33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; 34 he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.
[“He also said is for you to hear... But more, Jesus is speaking, but the implications is that “some” people, even when they hear what Jesus says, they did not hear or refuse to hear.]
Jesus Stills a Storm
35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
[“Too much here to unpack, just know that if Jesus tells you something, then we should be able to be as Jesus was. He’s asleep and they are scared so much that they fear they are about to die!]
Faith Comes By
17 So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ. NRSV
17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. NKJV Romans 10:17
Conclusion If Faith comes by hearing does it not then imply that we have to have faith in what is being heard?
This is why I preach and teach as I do. So that as you hear you can check the word o God yourself and in the process of your checking what you have heard, you can have faith in that which I proclaim form the word of God. And as you believe and receive the Word of God, it continues to grow in you.
Therefore, during this Lenten season, let’s have faith when we hear the Word of God!
March 29, 2020 Sermon
"Standing When F.E.A.R. -
False Evidence Appear Real"
- Numbers 13: 1-3, 25-33 -
- Numbers 14: 5-10 -
March 29, 2020 Sermon
Each of you could come up with your list of fears experienced. None of us is immune to the experience. It comes with the territory.
The magnificent story we read today is that followers of God can face things even when others choose to live in fear. Caleb and Joshua are our examples. They saw victory, where others saw defeat and feared.
My purpose today is to explain the cause and the cure for fear. In addition, I want to arm you with a practical strategy for coping with fear.
The first thing I need to say is that for rational or reasonable folks, fear is a good thing, a gift from God. Otherwise, when I'm visiting Beardsley Zoo I might be tempted to jump over the fence and pet the Bengal tiger on the head.
Fear holds me back.
The point I'm making is that rational or healthy fear protects us from danger. On the other hand, abnormal or excessive fear is a boogeyman that can paralyze and destroy. Panic is fear out of control.
Excessive fear is caused when our source of security is not strong enough to sustain us—the most common fears relate to matters we cannot control. Our most common fears occur when even our best efforts cannot guarantee that we will not face situations that can endanger us.
Our story today reflects this reality.
God showed His hand as being all-powerful when he delivered the Hebrews from the bondage of the Egyptians. For clarity on how significant this is, make a comparison of a little country like Haiti, defeating a superpower like Russia. Having lived and seen this occur first hand, you would think that anything that God would tell you to do, you would do it without question. Yet somewhere along the way, hope gave way to despair. Courage surrendered to fear, and it rendered God ineffective. This bout of fear cost the Hebrews dearly, for the trip into the promise land which should have taken 40 days to took 40 years.
I am a martial artist, and yes, we all fear, but we train not to let fear cripple us. A quote that I have buried in my soul, which helps me to refocus and realize that God can help me, even in the face of fear is the following:
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” ― Frank Herbert, Dune
This is how God would have all who trust Him to be. For our sermon, today, standing when F.E.A.R. is more accurately stated, “Standing when False Evidence Appear Real – FEAR!
Christians are called to stand, not in our power, but by the power of God.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
Fear robs you of your God granted privileges of being able to stand in the face of adversity. Fear diminishes your ability to fully experience how powerful God is and the victories He wants to give you.
Black Bart was a professional thief whose very name struck fear as he terrorized the Wells Fargo stage line. From San Francisco to New York, his name became synonymous with the danger of the frontier. Between 1875 and 1883 he robbed 29 different stagecoach crews. Amazingly, Bart did it all without firing a shot. Because of the hood he wore, no victim ever saw his face. He never took a hostage and was never trailed by a sheriff. Instead, Black Bart used fear to paralyze his victims. His sinister presence was enough to overwhelm the toughest stagecoach guard. Black Bart’s intimidating impact on others reminds me of a story about two little boys whose mother asked them to chase a chicken snake out of the henhouse. They looked everywhere for that snake, but couldn’t find it. The more they looked, the more afraid they got. Until finally, they did find it. When that happened, they fell all over themselves, running out of the chicken house. “Don’t you know a chicken snake won’t hurt you?” their mother asked. “Yes, ma’am,” one of the boys answered, “but there are some things that will scare you so bad you’ll hurt yourself.”
Fear is a terrible thing.
30 But Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” 31 Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against this people, for they are stronger than we.” 32 So they brought to the Israelites an unfavorable report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land that we have gone through as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people that we saw in it are of great size. 33 There we saw the Nephilim (the Anakites come from the Nephilim); and to ourselves we seemed like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” Numbers 13:30 – 33 (emphasis mine)
Fear is a terrible thing.
Because of the overwhelming unfavorable reports, the people received from those who feared, the people refused to accept the truth that God was with them, and they should not fear. They forgot all about the All-Powerful God Yahweh, The Most High Supreme Creator, who promised that he would protect them. That God would deliver the enemy into their hand and give them victory.
Moses and Arron, the spiritual leaders, humbled themselves by bowing before the people as a sign of obstinance before God and as a sign of pleading with the people to trust God and not fear. The people refused to have faith and believe!
Joshua and Caleb, the warriors, trusting God, begged the people to believe, being in physical and mental pain, rips their clothing in agony to have the people to trust in the power of God and not fear. The people again refused to have faith and believe!
5 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the Israelites. 6 And Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes 7 and said to all the congregation of the Israelites, “The land that we went through as spies is an exceedingly good land. 8 If the LORD is pleased with us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. 9Only, do not rebel against the LORD; and do not fear the people of the land, for they are no more than bread for us; their protection is removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them.” 10 But the whole congregation threatened to stone them. Numbers 14:5-10 (emphasis mine)
Joshua and Caleb are saying, if you put the enemy before us, we will eat them up like bread!
The people responded, if you don’t stop talking about us trusting God and our not fearing these giants, we’re going to kill you.
I’ll let you all think about that!
Dr. James R. Driscoll tells about a middle-aged woman some years back, living in a small southern town who became desperately frightened. She was morbidly afraid that burglars would break into her home. Maybe she saw too much violence on TV, or too many local news reports. Maybe there were rumors of break-ins around town, or maybe a home on her street had been burglarized.
In any case, her fear mushroomed . . . to the point of paranoia. She pleaded with her husband until he gave in and, hoping to ease her mind, agreed to putting heavy bars on all of the windows and doors.
She was still frightened, so she talked her husband into adding additional strands of steel across the window bars . . . thus making it almost impossible for anyone to gain entry into the house. Only now, when she was virtually sealed off from the outside world, did she feel safer and more secure.
But, one afternoon, tragedy struck. As she was taking a nap, her house caught fire. When she awoke, she discovered that she was trapped. Her husband, the fire department, the police, the neighbors, the rescue squad . . . everyone worked frantically to get into the house to get her out . . . but to no avail. They could not remove the heavy bars in time. And, tragically, the woman lost her life. A terrible, terrible tragedy.
Her fears were so great that they led to her death. Fear can do that. Fear can lead to death. Fear can lead to inaction. Fear can paralyze. Fear can cause us to rebel against God.
Why? Because fear is the opposite of faith!
What we need to understand is that when we fear to trust God, we are sinning. And when we sin in one area, it will usually lead us to disobey God in other areas. And as predicted, because they feared and refused to hear, and heed God, it all came to ahead.
10 The LORD’s anger was kindled on that day and he swore, saying, 11 ‘Surely none of the people who came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, because they have not unreservedly followed me— 12 none except Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua son of Nun, for they have unreservedly followed the LORD.’ 13 And the LORD’s anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness for forty years, until all the generation that had done evil in the sight of the LORD had disappeared. Numbers 32:10-13
Because they refused to fear, none but the families of Caleb & Joshua received the blessing of God.
Now that we know the cause of fear let's look at the cure for fear.
I want to give you a practical strategy for repelling and warding off fear attacks.
(1) The main secret to overcoming fear is to realize how much God loves you. Cultivate a friendship with God. This requires regular prayer, Bible study, and Christian fellowship (we are using fellowship in place of personal group attendance based upon our current circumstances.) Note: There is a direct correlation between your fear level and your distance from Christ. To build a friendship, you have to spend time with the friend.
(2) When or if fear begins to creep up in your life, talk it out with a trusted friend, a person of faith. A fear shared is a fear reduced. Speak your faith despite your circumstances. Call those things to be as though they are.
Say Aloud: I will not fear. I will trust in God and His promises to me in Christ Jesus.
(3) Read daily the 91st Psalm and the 23rd Psalm and ponder the promises made to all of us sincerely.
Then the LORD said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.” Jeremiah 1:12
People of God, let us continue to trust God. Let us continue to know that we need not fear. Just as Joshua and Caleb were blessed as they trusted God and did not fear. God will continue to bless us with health, healing, and give us the victory as we stand in faith and not fear.
- Luke 24: 44-49 - Matthew 6: 22-23 - Numbers 21: 4-9 -
- John 3: 13-21 - John 8: 12 - Ephesians 1: 18 -
Lenten Series Week 5: April 1,2020
The word see in the Bible is used similarly to the way in which we use the word today. For example, when we say, “see”, we are often referring to more than just visually seeing an object.
Consider the slang, “see what I’m saying?”
44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46 and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah[n] is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47 andthat repentance and forgiveness
of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses[o] of these things. 49 And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
See is simply another way in conveying the thought to understand. V.45 says that “he opened their minds to understand...
v. 49 And see, (or with the eyes of the mind, know) that I am seeing you...
So, seeing then seems to also be able to apply abilities for us to comprehend “spiritually” that which God is attempting to tell us.
BEYOND THE PHYSICAL ORGAN Further, beyond the eye as a physical organ, eye as used in scripture is also captured as being:
• Metaphorical • Ethical • Spiritual • Analogical
And in the majority of times they are referenced an array of benefits are attached to seeing, such as Salvation, Healing and Knowledge.
Eye: Darkness vs Light (The light of the body is the eye)
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye ishealthy, your whole body will be full of light; 23 but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
Fiery Serpents See and Live
4 From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea,[b] to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way.
5 The people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.” 6Then the Lord sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. 7 The people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. 8 And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.” 9 So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.
This becomes very important for us to understand and it will make more sense in as we continue.
See Jesus and Live John 3:13-21
13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. 20 For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. 21 But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”
What we begin to notice is that “sin” was bringing death. The serpent was biting the people. Christ then makes the analogy of Himself who has been directed to all human beings through the direction of God the Father, to heal people from the bites of serpents (which were a type for Satan.)
This is being contrasted to Christ for all to see and who is the ONLY ONE who can bring healing/salvation to for a world that is bound by sin.
Jesus the Light of the World John 8:12
12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”
Conclusion During this final Lenten message, let us see Christ as He intends us to see Him – as the Savior of the World. Let us repent of those things which God shows us as we measure our lives to the life of Jesus. Let us ask for forgiveness so that we can walk in harmony with our God as we see Christ as we should.
18 so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints,