Monday, December 11, 2017

The Advent Candle of Miracles


In Jesus Christ we may have the miracles of deliverance from sin and development in our spiritual lives if we have the determination to follow our Lord wherever and whatever he calls us to go, do and be.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Advent Candle of Response


Your life is a series of decisions, of responses to things that are posed to you. How do you respond to Jesus?

8 Don't Show Favoritism


Whom would the early first century Church be tempted to cater to and why? Who are we tempted to cater to?

Thursday, November 16, 2017

7 Don't Substitute Doing with Hearing the Word




It's far easier to substitute listening to the Word of God (or even preaching it) than it is to put it into action. James is blunt: Obey it.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

6 Because of the Promises You Can Obey the Commands



Christians must learn that they can obey the Bible's commands because of what is already objectively true of them based on their union with Christ.

Answering the Call (Veterans Day 2017)



We asked our veterans to sacrifice everything for us. And they did. Words cannot express our gratitude.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

99 The King on the Parable of the Net


Many in our dear Christian family believe in a secret rapture of the church before things start to get REALLY bad. They are as saved as I am but I have a loving disagreement with them. I believe Jesus strongly taught that everyone, saved and lost, are on this planet at his Second Coming.

***NOTE*** It's come to my attention that the audio level output on cell phones is really low, even when turned all the way up. It's a mystery to me as to why that occurs. It works well on desktops. Maybe I can find the problem. I truly apologize for the inconvenience.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

98 The King on the Most Important Thing in the World


If you could only pick on thing in the world, what, to you, would be the most important? If you could only have one prayer, what would you pray?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

5 Tone Down the Rhetoric


Pastor James spoke to his flock in Jerusalem and the Roman Empire: keep it under control. The very same situation faces America today.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

97 The King on the Expanding Influence of His Reign


Even Jesus, himself, knew that the message of his reign would begin in obscurity in his lifetime. However, he prophesied that his kingdom would outlast all others and would grow exponentially. Do not despise the day of small things and beginnings.

4 God ONLY Gives Good and Perfect Gifts


James, the half-brother of Jesus, is clear: God only gives gifts worth receiving

Sunday, October 8, 2017

96 The King on the Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds


Jesus never promised his followers that the Reign of God would be universally accepted in this life. Up until the end, Satan will have his followers. Life won't be easy for Christians. Jesus did promise, however, that his disciples wouldn't have to suffer at the hands of sinners forever. The Second Coming will take care of that.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

95 The King Selects Those To Learn His Secrets


After Galilee and the religious authorities rejected his messiahship King Jesus began speaking in riddles to the crowd while explaining his parables to his disciples. Why?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

2 How to Think as a Poor or Rich Christian


James, the half-brother of Jesus, taught a Roman world teetering on violence to take a step back and gain some perspective.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

94 The King Explains the Four Conditions of the Heart


In the Parable of the Sower Jesus explains why many reject his discipleship. The problem isn't with the message of Christianity but with the human heart. Which of four conditions is your heart?

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

1 Pure Joy by Wisdom


In our first lesson through the Epistle of James (Jacob) we learned that he was a younger half-brother of Jesus who became a leader of the Jerusalem Church. We examined how to have pure joy in the middle of testing.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

93 The King Describes His True Disciples


Jesus was all about his Heavenly Father's business; his first priority was to his Father's will. When his earthly family came once to take him home he used an analogy to describe his true disciples.

8 Defeating Demons (Prayer)


Prayer is an always powerful but sorely underutilized weapon in spiritual warfare.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Now Hiring an Associate Pastor!

Last night First Church overwhelmingly voted to create a new full-time staff position of Children & Families Pastor; I am so proud we launched out in faith!  Now comes the sifting through resumes and finding the candidate the Holy Spirit has for us.  Pray for us.  It's exciting!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

92 The King on the Sign of Jonah and Judgment


For Christ's generation who saw his miracles and still were too hard-hearted to repent, the Sign of Jonah was a sign of their doom.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

7 Defeating Demons (The Sword of the Spirit)


The Word of God defeats demons because it is truth in a world of lies and light in a world of darkness. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

6 Defeating Demons (The Helmet of Salvation)



The batteries in my wireless mic went dead so we lost the last 10 minutes of the lesson. C'est la vie. "It's all good on Mahood!"

91 The King Explains that Words Reveal the Soul


Think words are meaningless things spoken without consequence? Think again. Words reveal the spiritual condition of the one saying them.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Jesus Wants What He Paid For


We celebrated the life of a dear saint in our church who is now with Jesus. I changed my sermon to reflect the beautiful tribute that her family gave. NOTE: I learned the phrase, "Jesus wants what he paid for," at a Promise Keepers convention several years ago. In his presentation Joe White used it and it has stuck with me ever since.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

5 Defeating Demons (The Shield of Faith)


Faith protects our beliefs when life get rough by trusting in the loving heart of God.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

"Give Me Your Paw"


I concluded the children and youth service with a short message about the kind of people who enter God's kingdom.

A Vision About the Covenant-Keeping God

I believe in visions from heaven.  Years ago my father, then pastoring Meade Station Church of God in Cannonsburg, Kentucky and a fellow Ashland pastor, Gary Ausbun of First Church, visited Pastor Orville Easterling who was close to death.  As memory serves Orville was aware of two ministers praying for him but he didn't know who they were.  Back at Meade Station Church several were praying as Dad and Gary were at the hospital.  

Orville eventually recovered and shared a vision he had while Dad and Gary prayed.  In his vision Orville walked down a flight of stairs and picked up two bricks on the ground.  Each stone had two Hebrew letters.

Read together they spelled the Hebrew name Yahweh, the covenant name of God.  

God still gives visions today.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

What Does Holy Communion Mean?


During our Christmas in July celebration we took Holy Communion.  I explained our understanding of this rite and ordinance in the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana).

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Christmas in July!


This short 17.05 minute sermon contrasts two kings—Octavian Augustus Caesar and Jesus Christ—and explains why Jesus had to be born.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

4 Defeating Demons (The Combat Boots of the Gospel)


The Gospel message both protects believers in spiritual battle and advances the Christian army against Satan's kingdom.

Friday, July 14, 2017

3 Defeating Demons (The Breastplate of Righteousness)


In his exposition in Ephesians 6 Paul explains that spiritual warfare is accomplished, in part, simply by godly living.

(Due to technical difficulties the lesson had to be recovered from the SD card; apologies for the sub-par audio.)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Three Titles of What We Call "Pastor"

In the Church of God (Anderson) we latched on to the title "pastor."  Strangely, we who desired to return to primitive Christianity neglected (for the most part) the other two titles that the New Testament gives to the same group of leaders.  I believe this creates an imbalanced view of the responsibility (and authority) that this God-ordained group holds.

Pastor (ποιμήν)—shepherd

In his Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament William Mounce defines pastor as
one who tends flocks or herds, a shepherd, herdsman, Mat 9:36; Mat 25:32; met. a pastor, superintendent, guardian, Joh 10:11; Joh 10:14; Joh 10:16 pastor; shepherd.

When we think of pastors/shepherds we think of gentle-souled men holding lambs to their chests.  Put bluntly, many churches mistake a pastor with a chaplain—someone hired to marry 'em, bury 'em, visit 'em and make 'em happy by obeying their wishes.  However, a pastor was understood in biblical times as a leader.  He led his flock.  Read David's 23rd song.  Pastors told sheep when to eat, when to sleep and when to move.  They protected their flocks, yes, but they commanded them.

Elder (πρεσβύτερος)—elder, presbyter 

The New Testament word gets its origin in Judaism and Christianity from all the way back in Israelite history to the time of Moses.  It is a fascinating story:
The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, "What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?" Moses answered him, "Because the people come to me to seek God's will. Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God's decrees and instructions." Moses' father-in-law replied, "What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people's representative before God and bring their disputes to him. Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied." Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves. Then Moses sent his father-in-law on his way, and Jethro returned to his own country.(Exo 18:13-27 NIV)
To summarize, elders rule.  They judge.  They adjudicate cases.  They hand down decrees and judgments.  

Bishop (ἐπίσκοπος)—overseer, guardain, supervisor 

A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, shortened in academia to BDAG, gives us fascinating definitions for bishop:
one who has the responsibility of safeguarding or seeing to it that someth. is done in the correct way, guardian...
The term was taken over in Christian communities in ref. to one who served as overseer or supervisor, with special interest in guarding the apostolic tradition... (279)

Not to put too fine a point to it but a modern day equivalent is boss.  Why?  Because the only other office in the New Testament church, the deacon (διάκονος), holds an intriguing definition from BDAG:
one who gets someth. done, at the behest of a superior, assistant to someone (230)
A deacon gets something done; a bishop tells him what to get done.

The bishop is concerned that the doctrine that has once and for all time been delivered to the saints is (a) known and (b) obeyed.  He is to [e]ncourage and rebuke with all authority" (Titus 2.15b NIV).  He is "not to let anyone despise [him]"(Titus 2.15c NIV).

Many church problems occur when people become offended and demand their way.  A congregation may bend over backwards to prevent that from happening.  However, does anyone become offended when God's glory is offended?  This is the role of the bishop.  He gets offended when God's glory and holiness are defamed.

Being a pastor, elder and bishop can be a lonely job—when those terms are rightly understood.  Sadly, the modern evangelical church often doesn't understand these definitions.

The Day My College's Founder, Max Gaulke, Wrote to Me

As a young Pastoral Ministries & Bible major at what is now Mid-America Christian University I was fairly shocked with Max Gaulke, the founder of my Alma Mater, sent this handwritten note to me in response to a small article I published in the Reformation Witness. I still have this cherished letter. My favorite part of the letter reads, "Keep the right Doctrinal Perspectives, & never flinch from All the truth. Those with half-Truth Gospels, have usually the wrong half."



Sunday, July 9, 2017

89 The King Chooses the Weak and Vulnerable


In contrast to his often noisy and disbelieving critics, Jesus was a messiah they didn't expect: not seeking a human throne by insurrection and not boldly proclaiming an earthly kingdom by riot. Instead, he avoided conflict until it was his time to die. And he was insistent that his disciples would come from the ranks of the desperate and despised.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

2 Defeating Demons (The Belt of Truth)


Satan's primary method of operation is getting people to believe a lie and then to suffer the consequences of believing it.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

88 The King Offers Freedom to Legalists


Religious figures hated Jesus so much (because he didn't obey their unwritten rules) that they wanted him dead. Do we love Jesus and his Bible or only our conception of him with our own made-up rules?

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

1 Defeating Demons (Introduction)


We began our study of Ephesians 6 to learn the methodical ways the demonic realm attacks believers.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Why I Preach from the NIV

For fifteen years or so my pulpit Bible happily has been the English Standard Version.  The ESV is a fine translation from evangelical scholars.  Like the New American Standard Bible it is (and should be) trusted and celebrated by the conservative evangelical community.

However, I have slowly changed my opinion on biblical translation—kicking and screaming all the way, to be downright honest—and I have opted to use the New International Version.  I needed to use something else.  Consider this chart that compares the reading grade levels of different translations from Christianbook.com:

  • KJV — 12
  • RSV — 12
  • NRSV — 11
  • NASB — 11
  • ESV — 10
  • HCSB — 7-8
  • NIV — 7-8
  • CEB — 7
  • CSB — 7
  • NKJV — 7
  • NLT — 6
  • GW — 5
  • Message — 4-5
  • NCV — 3
  • NIrV — 3
My beloved ESV is at a 10th grade reading level.  What's wrong with that?  Bible translator Dr. Douglas Moo explains, 
First, our translation choices must reckon with our audience’s ability to understand English. I tell you nothing you don’t already know when I say that fewer and fewer American adults can read effectively. A 2013 study concluded that 35 percent of adults in the US can’t read at all or read below a fifth grade level. Even college-educated and fully acculturated adults, who spend their time on Facebook and Candy Crush rather than reading books, have difficulty handling English at any level of complexity...[A]nd if, as surveys reveal, the average American is reading at a seventh to eighth grade level, translations cannot necessarily be faulted for trying to hit that target.
Ouch.


Boyce W. Blackwelder
The writings of the late Reverend Doctor Boyce Watson Blackwelder (February 3, 1913—August 22, 1976) have helped me become more comfortable with my shift in view.  He received his Th.D. while under the supervision of the 20th century Greek grammarian giant, J. R. Mantey, of the Northern Baptist Theological Seminary.  Blackwelder taught at Anderson University School of Theology and was one of our most well-known scholars in the Church of God (Anderson).  His specialty was New Testament Greek and he published exegetical translations of the four gospels and Paul's letters.  He titled them, simply, The Four Gospels: An Exegetical Translation and Letters from Paul.  Blackwelder also wrote the immensely popular Light from the Greek New Testament.

Dr. Blackwelder believed that accurate translation didn't require a strict word-for-word method of translating but, rather, to express the thoughts/idioms of the Greek (donor language) in an accurate English expression (receptor language). 

As he explains in Gospels:
This is an exegetical translation—not a paraphrase.  The aim of biblical exegetics is to make as clear as possible the means of the scriptural text...[t]hus an interpreter tries to discover what each statement meant to the original writer and render it accurately into the language at hand. 
It is impossible in every instance, to translate the same Greek word by the same English word.  Translation is more than a mere word-for-word rendering of one language into another language.  Transferring the idiom characteristic of the Greek into the corresponding idiom characteristic of contemporary English becomes a challenging task. (pg. 8)
Consider a traditional rendering in a portion of The Lord's Prayer:

Our Father which art in heaven, 
Hallowed be thy name.   (Mat 6.9b)

Contrast it with Blackwelder's rendering:

Our Father who art in heaven,
May Thy name be held in reverence.  (Mat 6.9b)


To seek that God's name be hallowed is to seek that his name be held in reverence.  Which rendering is 
clearer for a 21st century audience?  I believe it's Blackwelder's.  All one has to do is read Blackwelder's translations of the gospels and letters of Paul to see the latitude the Church of God scholar allowed himself in expressing the New Testament language in crisp contemporary English of his day.  (For those who might think Blackwelder didn't stick to the text closely enough, the same charge could be leveled against the Septuagint [LXX], the Greek translation of the Old Testament produced by Jewish scholars shortly before the birth of Christ.  This was the common Bible of the early church and, in fact, heavily quoted by the New Testament writers, themselves. If it was good enough for them then such translational philosophy can be good enough for us.)

The New Testament Greek employed by the biblical writers was Hellenistic koinē (i.e. "common") Greek.  That is to say, it wasn't the literary Attic Greek of earlier writers.  And, in fact, vernacular [spoken] biblical Greek is simpler than a literary [written] Koine of the era.  As Blackwelder explains in Light:

Another category of material of the Graeco-Roman world which is an important source of light for New Testament studies is the literary Koine.  There are two types of Koine, the literary Koine which is represented by extrabiblical literature, by most of the inscriptions, and by a few papyri; and the vernacular Koine which is represented by most of the papyri and ostraca, by a few inscriptions, and by nearly all biblical Greek. 
It is not difficult to understand why there were two basic varieties within the Koine.  Though no literary speech develops independently from the vernacular, yet spoken language is never identical with the literary style.  The old Attic of Athens had a vernacular and a literary style that differed from each other, and such a distinction characterized the Koine from its beginning. 
"There was formal literary effort of considerable extent during the Koine period."  The forms of the literary Koine more nearly approached the classical nature of the Attic than do those of the New Testament.  The Koine literati sought elegance of expression while trying to avoid pedantry.  The literary Koine occupies an intermediate position between the vernacular Koine and the older classical form of the language.  (pgs. 24-25)
The Bible's Greek was written in the easy-to-understand everyday Greek that people spoke in day to day life.  Why did the Koine emerge from the formal Attic Greek vernacular dialect?  It had to do with war.  Blackwelder helps us understand in Light:
In the latter part of the fourth century B.C., the forces of Alexander the Great conquered the Medo-Persian Empire, bringing the language of the victors into the ascendancy throughout the then-known world.  "Remaining as armies of occupation, and settling amongst the conquered peoples, they popularized the language, simplifying its grammatical and syntactical structure." (pgs. 18-19)
The New Testament is beautiful but doesn't try to sound artificial.  But neither was it sloppy speech.  In Light:
Although the new Testament writers were not Atticists, neither were they "mere purveyors of slang and vulgarisms."  [A. T.] Robertson reminds us that Paul was a man of culture as well as a man of the people, and says, "The New Testament uses the language of the people, but with a dignity, restraint and pathos far beyond the trivial nonentities in much of the papyri remains."  "The New Testament is mainly in the vernacular Koine, but it is the vernacular of men of great ability" and reflects definite literary elements especially in the writings of Luke, the letters of Paul, and the Epistle to the Hebrews.  But above all, the New Testament is the language of spirit and life.  (pg. 25)
This, I think, makes a persuasive case for the NIV.  It is accessible yet dignified.  

***Many people have an NIV that was copyrighted in 1984.  My pulpit Bible is a revision of this text that was copyrighted in 2011.  ALL of the NIV Bibles sold today are the 2011 edition.***


Why change?  Blackwelder put it well in Light:

There is a need, from time to time, for new translations of the Scriptures because all languages change and every generation needs a clear, accurate rendition of the Book of books.  Certain English words do not mean what they did a few hundred years ago; hence the proper ones must be substituted in order to express in contemporary thought the meaning of the original text."  (pgs. 16-17)
Some words don't need hundreds of years but merely years, perhaps a decade or two.  For example, people today use "them" instead of the third person singular "him."  While I find it ugly English I have to work with the English that is rather than the English I wish were in usage.  As the videos below demonstrate, the general public—already barely literate—don't see "him" as a generic that means "him or her."  They see it as a masculine pronoun for, well, a male.  [For more information, start David Whiting's video at the 31:15 minute mark and Dr. Moo's video at the 21:45 minute mark.]

Notice carefully Blackwelder's words, "every generation needs a clear, accurate rendition of the Book of books."  Every generation.  The daunting task of translating the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek of the Bible into clear English is neverending.  We must not ask ourselves merely, "What version do I prefer?" but, also, "What speaks accurately and clearly to this generation?"


The NIV 2011 is written on the 7th-8th grade level; it is fresh yet restrained compared to the NLT or other translations and/or paraphrases on the market.  It uses contemporary English that people currently are speaking.  No translation is perfect but, overall, if one is going to go this route and listen to Blackwelder then the NIV seems to me to be a sane choice.  If I want to win the lost I don't want my pulpit Bible to be an unnecessary hurdle they need to jump to understand.  The gospel and cross of our Lord Jesus Christ is "foolishness to the Greek" and a "stumbling-block to the Jew" enough.


Consider these videos which drive home the arguments that helped persuade me to turn to the NIV.  

 The first easy-to-understand and very helpful video is by Pastor David Whiting of Northridge Church. He explains why they changed from the 1984 version to the NIV to the 2011 text:





The second video is by Dr. Douglas Moo, a world-class evangelical scholar who sits on the NIV's Committee on Bible Translation.  (Dr. Moo wrote two standard commentaries on Romans and Galatians that I have in my office):  




Here is a direct link .pdf download of Dr. Moo's written lecture.  Click here.

No Sunday Sermon

I have no Sunday sermon to upload because we had a special speaker this Lord's Day.  Monica Carrier came and spoke to us about Children of Promise, a Church of God ministry in over 20 countries that feeds, clothes and educates children in poor nations.

Here is link to their website:

Children of Promise

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

How to Plead with God


In the Psalms King David teaches us how to "argue" with God when we need deliverance from enemies.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

87 The King Contrasts Truth with Tradition


Why did religious people want Jesus dead? (Note: Due to technical difficulties at the midpoint of the sermon the screen changes as an SD card needed to have memory deleted. It lasts a few minutes but the entire sermon is there.)

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Next Online Sermon

I don't have online messages for Sunday and Wednesday.  Sunday we had Chosen Road in concert.  This week we are hosting a Vacation Bible School with Landmark First Church of God.  On June 11th we get back into Matthew; we examine King Jesus facing growing opposition from the religious powers that be because he followed Torah but did not feel obligated to follow their oral scribal law.  We can reject Christ today in the same way when we allow human traditions to override the Word of God.  Matthew's gospel constantly challenges us: Do you really love the real Christ or only the imaginary one you've invented who approves of the things you do and think?

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

16 The Restoration of Israel


After the destruction of the Northern Kingdom of Israel by Assyria in 721 BC Yahweh still had a plan. The Messiah, of the dynasty of King David, would restore a perfect Israel. This Israel includes both Jew and Gentile who are spiritual sons and daughters of Abraham by faith in Jesus Christ.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Secret to Courage


This is the David and Goliath story in a way you may not have heard before.  CORRECTION:  I accidentally identified my translation as the "Contemporary English Bible" when, in fact, it is called the Christian Standard Bible (CSB). 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

15 The Destruction of Israel


Amos warned; the Northern Kingdom of Israel refused to repent. There was nothing left now but to wait for the destruction of Samaria/Israel in 721 BC by the Assyrians. There is no escaping the presence of God.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

86 The King Offers His Disciples An Easy Yoke and a Light Burden


On this Graduation Sunday I exhorted the graduates and church to accept Christ's yoke of discipleship and live for him all of their lives.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Saturday, May 6, 2017

13 Is God Just Plain Inconvenient For You?


The Israelites couldn't wait for their religious days to be over so they could return to cheating people in business. Does God get in the way of your life?

Sunday, April 30, 2017

85 The Kind of People the King Provides Revelation


King Jesus chooses some people to reveal his Father to them while he refuses to choose others for this knowledge.  What is the difference between the chosen and the rejected?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

12 The Call of a Prophet


Amos was told to go away and preach in Judah. He retorted that he was being faithful to God's call. God's will overrides everything.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

84 The King Damns Galilean Cities That Didn't Repent.


Did you know there are degrees of punishment in Hell?  The determining factor is the amount of understanding that a person had about God in Christ that he rejected.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

11 A Prophet Intercedes For the Nation


Why does God involve praying people to accomplish his will when he—knowing the ending from the beginning—already know what he is going to do?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The King Rises From the Dead (Resurrection Sunday 2017)


Christianity demands a response; even unbelieving scholars believed that Jesus of Nazareth lived and died on a cross.  However, they do no believe he was raised physically and bodily from death.

If you acknowledge that Jesus, the God-Man, rose from the dead then you must deal with him.  There is no riding of the fence on this issue.  Do you believe?

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The King Enters Jerusalem (Palm Sunday 2017)


Palm Sunday is bittersweet.  The Galilean pilgrims thronging with him to Passover shout his kingship over Israel as their Messiah.  The Judean crowds were perplexed over the commotion.  The Judean civil and religious authorities were angered or worried over his claim to the throne.  Yet Jesus didn't come to conquer Jerusalem with forces; he came to conquer it with his sacrifice on the cross.  And of the 180,000 crowding Jerusalem at that time he was the only one to understand his role.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

10 Yahweh Warned but the People Didn't Believe Him



People don't believe God's warnings until it's too late.  Then they look at the smouldering heaps of their lives and blame God.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

83 People Reject Jesus' and John's Styles of Ministry



No matter what kind of ministry God gives you or style you display in presenting it sinners will reject it.  Only a remnant of the world will accept it.  The world's criticisms or critiques are only the symptoms of the root cause: sinners hate God's message.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

9 The Day of the LORD


The Day of the LORD, or The Day of Yahweh, was a time when ancient Israelites expected God to break into human history, pay back the enemies of his covenant people with judgment, and perhaps make them rulers over the earth.  Sadly, disobedient Israel didn't see her sins as a hindrance to God's blessing.  They learned the hard way that the Day of Yahweh only rewards the righteous but judges the wicked.  And it will do so again.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

82 The King Declares His Disciples Greater Than John



Enoch.  Abraham and the Patriarchs.  Moses.  King David.  The Hebrew Prophets.  We Christians rightfully admire them.  Yet Jesus declared his disciples (hence, all Christians) as greater than all of them and, specifically, greater than John the Baptist.  Why?  

Sunday, March 12, 2017

81 John the Baptist Doubts the King


You may believe in King Jesus, or rather, you may believe in your understanding of Christ.  What if he is different than what you thought?  Are you loyal to him or only to your distorted view of him?  Do you love the truth, wherever that may lead?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

7 Seek Yahweh and Live!


The northern kingdom of Israel was doomed; Assyria was going to destroy her.  However, God still gave individual Israelites time to repent.  The world is doomed; King Jesus at the Day of Judgment will destroy her.  However, God is still giving individual people time to repent.  Please do.

Monday, March 6, 2017

80 The King on Gaining Kingdom Rewards


What did it mean when King Jesus said if a person receives a prophet he will receive a prophet's reward?

Monday, February 27, 2017

79 The King Demands Absolute Obedience and Priority


Many "professing Christians" don't live for King Jesus, yet he demands not only that but the willingness to die for him, too.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

An Open Letter on Tithing

Every church experiences the ebb and flow of giving. Today I want to share with you the joy of tithing.

Tithing (which means “one tenth”) is the practice of dedicating 10% of one's paychecks to the Lord by way of one's local congregation. Every month I do this and, in fact, the bylaws state that every Board of Trustees member in my congregation is required to do so, too.

The concept of the tithe is ancient. Abraham tithed in Genesis:

After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley). And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” And Abram gave him a tenth of everything. (14:17-20 ESV)

Even the writer to the Hebrews, while speaking to another issue, mentioned it:

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever. See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils! And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers, though these also are descended from Abraham. But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. In the one case tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him. (7:1-10 ESV)

Abraham is a spiritual father to us in that he is a supreme example of salvation by faith:

Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. (Gal 3:7-9 ESV)

It seems good to me that we, spiritual children of Abraham, emulate the practice of Abraham to Melchizedek.

Why?

Because it is easy and fair. Whether you earn $10 or $10,000,000 the principle is the same. Ten percent is ten percent. Some people advocate a flat tax. Well, this is flat giving.

Let's look at it from a practical perspective. Ministry costs money, simple as that. Every utility bill must be paid. Every insurance premium must be covered. Every salary or hourly rate must be taken care of. All office supplies, VBS supplies, Sunday School supplies, church dinner supplies must be bought. Everything—down to each light bulb or toilet paper roll—must be purchased! God has not chosen to send us money by a raven's beak down by Elijah's brook Kerith so saints give to fund the mission and ministries of the church.

If every saint tithed there would be no need for fundraisers of any sort. There would be no need to downsize a budget to cut ministry events. Finances would become a non-issue overnight.

Many people tip (offerings) the Lord by throwing some money in the passing plates when they would do well to tithe to the Lord. Tips, while nice, never will meet the financial needs of the church. Never. Tithes will.

Let me be direct, as I typically am in my sermons. If a Christian refuses systematically to give in a substantial quantity he is, in essence, saying, “I won't support the mission and ministries of the church. If it were up to me the doors of this church would close because I'm not going to part with my money. I'm depending on other people sacrificially to give instead of me and, if they won't, either, then we're voting with our finances to close the church.”

Have you ever taken a vacation to Disney World or Pigeon Forge or Myrtle Beach with a tithe never offered to the Lord? Do you drive a nicer vehicle(s) because you are paying a dealership with funds that should be given to God? Do you pay on a larger mortgage for a bigger home with the money that would be better invested in the spiritual dimension of the Kingdom of God?

Some dispute tithing because they believe it is legalistic. They say, “Why only ten percent? God owns all of our money!” True enough, but I honestly wonder how many people of that persuasion actually give God anything close to 10% of their paychecks?  See what I mean?

If you tithe what can you expect? Well, obedience always brings blessing as determined by God. I can't promise you that you will get rich, get healed, get promoted or get famous. I just know God takes care of his people who obey.

And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Php 4:15-19 ESV)


Sunday, February 19, 2017

78 The King Commands His Apostles Not to Fear People


A Christian has a choice in life; he can either fear God (and thus lose fear of people) or fear people (and thus lose fear of God).  Which object of his fear he chooses determines his eternal destiny.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

God's Love (St. Valentine's 2017)


The world's definition of love is really lust. It is God who loves us.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

5 The Day Amos Called Women "Cows"


Hebrew poetry/prophecy was colorful, even direct.  The Hebrew Prophet Amos turned with holy disgust toward self-indulgent people who were very religious but treated their fellow Israelites with contempt.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

77 The King Prepares His Apostles for Hatred


What did King Jesus mean when he told his apostles, "[Y]ou will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes" (Mat 10:23b ESV)?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

4 Wholehearted Service


If Israel had remained true to Yahweh then they never would have been destroyed by Assyria.  Making spiritual shipwreck of one's faith is the same today.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

76 The King Prepares His Apostles for Persecution


Before he sends the Twelve to preach and demonstrate the Kingdom with miracles King Jesus warns them—and the Church that will grow—to expect persecution from the world who hates them because the world hates him.  It is he who endures to the very end who will be saved.  (Apologies for the fan hitting the pulpit mic and causing background noise; that will be corrected.)

3 Judgment and Preaching


The greater the privilege of knowing God, the greater the judgment for those who reject him.  Israel was no different.  God warned them through his prophets; whether they responded or rejected was on them.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

75 The King Sends His Apostles on Mission


Every minister has two kinds of education: intellectual and practical.  King Jesus is sending our his royal representatives on a mission through villages on their own but with his delegated authority.  They were to preach and demonstrate the power of the in-breaking Kingdom [reign of God in Christ].  If anyone resisted them then that person was resisting Christ, himself, and would be judged for it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

2 When a Nation Destroys Conscience



Yahweh will judge any nation that destroys those who serve as its conscience.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

74 The King Commissions His Apostles


Christ chose what John MacArthur called, "Twelve Ordinary Men" to proclaim and demonstrate his Kingdom.  The order is important—Christ chose them first; they didn't first choose him.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

1 Yahweh Judges Nations


God took Amos, a man minding his own business in the southern kingdom of Judah, and commissioned him to preach against the sin of Israel.  Would the northern kingdom heed his word or must Yahweh judge her?

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Drummer Boy: A Christmas Tale by Ted Dekker


I read the outstanding modern classic, The Drummer Boy: A Christmas Tale by Ted Dekker, to First Church.  It is a wonderful short story of a boy who learns the true meaning of "Holiday."

60 Paul's Conclusion to the Romans


How did Paul conclude his majestic letter?

59 The Murder of the Apostle Paul


Paul prayed to be delivered from the unbelievers.  God in his sovereignty had other plans.  Jesus never promised an easy life.

Sunday, January 1, 2017