RECENTLY UPDATED SERMONS ....WITH ART
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Posted May 26, 2023
THIS IS THE GATE OF HEAVEN
Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of Heaven.” So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called the name of that place Bethel…
This was the turning point in Jacob’s life. This was his first encounter with God. And it was from this point on that Jacob began to change from Jacob the supplanter, the cheat ….. into Israel, the man who strives with God.
Jacob called the name of the place Bethel. Beth Elohim – house of God.
And it was here at Bethel, sleeping with this stone for his pillow that Jacob learned the three basic lessons of the Kingdom of God that absolutely must get through to our hearts if it’s going to make any sense to us at all, or ever be real in our lives.
That he is living his life under a holy eye.
One, he is living his life under the holy eye of God. How awesome is this place? This is none other than the house of God. This is the gate of Heaven. It was like a window through which he now sees the holy. This is his first vision of the living God.
God is with him.
The second lesson Jacob learned that night was that God is with him. That he’s not alone. Now he’s on this journey because he’s scared to death, his brother Esau’s going to kill him. So now he has set out all by himself and he’s lonely and he’s frightened and he’s homesick. But now he sees that he’s not alone, that God is in fact, right there with him.
He has a purpose on this earth beyond himself.
The third lesson Jacob learns. Is that he has a purpose on this Earth beyond himself. That this land on which he’s been sleeping is to be given to him and to his children, and children’s children, his descendants. And that in a mysterious way, all the families of the earth are to be blessed through him and through them.
So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it.
He called the name of that place Bethel.
Bethel, Beth Elohim, house of God.
Every man or woman or child, whoever comes into the Kingdom of God starts at Bethel, begins by learning these three lessons with Jacob.
- That you are living your life under the eye of a holy God.
He’s not just your buddy. He’s not out to get you and throw you into hell, but he watches, observes, remembers and to that eye, each of us has to answer.
- That God is with you.
This awesome and wonderful God is right here with you to help and to bless you.
- That you are on this earth for a purpose beyond satisfying your own needs.
You are on this earth to fulfill a purpose beyond yourself. Since the birth, life, death, resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, since he poured out his Spirit upon the assembled believers on the day of Pentecost…. Bethel, the house of God, the gate of Heaven on this earth, the place where people meet God, where they encounter the holy…. is where these followers of Jesus are functioning as his body.
Whenever and wherever believers are truly functioning as his body…
…. is the House of God.
…. is the gate of Heaven.
Wherever this is the case on earth today, this miracle reoccurs. You could say that today, in a mystery, in ways beyond our comprehension…..a thousand Jacobs are stumbling into a thousand Bethels and meeting God.
But the thing we need to get clear…. very, very clear in our minds is that we have been ordained to be one of these Bethels. We gather together in our fellowships in exact spots on earth to be meeting places with God for the wandering Jacobs, the travelers who come our way. The only reason we’re on this earth and the only reason we’ve been gathered together into fellowships and we go forth from them, and gather again and go forth from them again is so that these Jacobs, male and female, who are wandering the earth and looking for something…. can stumble into their midst and learn these same three lessons;
That they are living their life under a holy eye;
That God is with them;
It’s now time for them to give themselves to a purpose beyond themselves.
That’s why we’re here.
We’re here to be a Bethel.
The model we have in the New Testament for this Bethel is not the temple. It begins not with the temple, not with the synagogue, but with a private home, an ordinary private home, where two sisters and a brother are living.
And this home is a wonderful Bethel.
We find that this home doesn’t have any spotlights on it, no heavenly music hovering above it. This is an ordinary private home with all the problems of any private home. But the thing that makes it a Bethel is that Jesus is totally welcomed into this home. And he’s received into this home as a friend. And he’s especially received into this home with high, high honor.
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”
But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Now both Martha and Mary want to make Jesus welcome. Martha does it by feeding him. That’s a wonderful thing, that’s a good thing she’s doing here.
But Mary does it by sitting at his feet, drinking in every word, listening. and this is a better thing, better.
Bethel began for Jacob when Jacob listened carefully to every word God spoke to him that night.
That’s what made it Bethel for him, he’s listening, carefully listening.
And Bethel began in this house…..when Mary sits at Jesus feet, listens, listens, drinks in every word, takes it in. Again and again, the word of the Lord to his sheep…
Be still and listen.
Draw near and listen.
This means more than just going to church, listening to sermons and reading Christian literature.
It means listening for His voice….. as it’s coming forth…. from whatever the mouthpiece.
“Listen as I speak in a thousand different ways to you”. The word comes from many a mouth, and through many a life. And the Lord is saying to us, “Draw near and listen.”
Don’t Lose what He’s trying to show you and tell you by bustling around in that kitchen, whatever your kitchen happens to be.
Don’t lose what He’s trying to get across to you by fussing over your personal ministry, whatever your personal ministry happens to be.
Don’t lose what He’s trying to say to you by chasing all over the place, serving God on your terms.
Don’t lose what He’s trying to say to you…. by fuming over Mary who’s sitting at His feet, listening like she should be.
Settle down, draw near, quiet down, simplify and listen.
Even if it means dropping 90% of the things you think you have to do. Because nothing will happen, and nothing will work until you get the message that He’s giving you, the message He’s giving to all of us corporately and individually.
A little farther on in the New Testament, we come across this Bethel again. Some time has elapsed. Jesus’ ministry of flesh and blood is nearing its close, but this Bethel is brighter than ever.
Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair.
The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
Now, this time, Lazarus, who has been raised from the dead by Jesus, is sitting at the table and he’s listening. Martha, bless her heart, goes right on serving. God bless her.
But Mary, this Mary who has been sitting at Jesus feet, drinking in, and drinking in, is now ready to pour out. And so she takes a pound of nard, pure nard…. a year’s wages ….and lavishes the whole thing on those feet of Jesus, where she’s been sitting and listening.
She’s doing the same thing that Jacob did. Jacob took the stone which had been his pillow, makes it a pillar and pours oil on top of it and anoints the stone.
“How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called the name of that place Bethel…
Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.”
Jacob makes a commitment to God, placing the pillar as a sign that “Everything I have is yours. I’m giving my life. I’m committing it to you.” He’s pouring the oil on the stone as a sign of an offering of himself up to God.
Mary does the same thing. She takes this very, very expensive treasure that she has, she takes the whole thing, and she anoints his feet. And this is a sign in the same way, that she’s giving herself to Jesus, just turning herself over, abandoning herself to him.
And as she does this, the house is filled with the fragrance of the ointment. And the fragrance of the ointment is a symbol of the presence of God. Now it’s Bethel for sure!
And anybody who walks into that house, with any sense at all, any integrity at all…. can smell the presence of God.
Now for us wherever we gather should be Bethel;
….Should be the house of God; the gate of Heaven.
God brings us together from many places and backgrounds and makes us one in his son. He has broken down the wall of partition between us. And if we haven’t gone through the hole he made in that wall, it’s our fault, not his.
He made us one so that…. lonely, troubled, frightened… Jacobs, male and female, can come among us and find God.
He made us one so that…. fussing, fretting, fuming, anxious, worried Marthas, male and female, can find peace.
He made us one so that…. Lazarus’s can get up out of his tomb…. and live.
Our gatherings are the house of God, Bethel, the gate of Heaven.
And for our gatherings to be such a thing, we need to do only two things on our part.
We drink in.
We pour out.
We drink in, we pour out.
That’s what Jacob did. He drank in, poured out. He drank in the words that the Lord gave him in his vision. Then immediately he begins to pour himself out, starting with the oil he pours on the rock.
That’s what Mary did. She drank in, poured out. She drinks in these words that Jesus speaks and she takes them as treasure. Other people are walking through the house and fussing and fuming, and they don’t even know they’re missing priceless treasure that could change their lives. But here’s this woman drinking it in. And then she pours out, keeps pouring it out. Pours out the ointment, the nard, anoints his feet, wipes them with her hair, fills the house with the fragrance.
And that’s all we have to do ….drink in and pour out.
First, we need to drink in. God help us to do what Jacob did, to do what Mary did.
We need to drink in and to listen carefully. Listen.
Nothing, nothing is more important in any of our lives than to hear what the Lord is trying to tell us, than to receive the word the Lord is giving us.
We need to settle down, simplify, listen, concentrate.
We need to ask ourselves, “Am I listening to what he is saying to me? Or am I distracted? Am I so distracted by my own anger, or my own vanity, or my own fears, or my own greed, or my own insistence that I’m right…. that I cannot hear what he’s trying to tell me?”
We need to listen to what he’s trying to tell us,
“Martha, Martha you’re anxious and troubled about many things”.
And here’s this woman trying to do her best in a way, but it wasn’t her best. She says it’s her best, but God says something else is her best. There she is running around the kitchen, anxious and troubled about many things. That’s what he’s saying to us, “One thing is needful, get the word I’m giving to you, drop everything, let them starve, give them peanut butter sandwiches. It doesn’t make any difference. Take in this word, listen; ‘One thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good part, which will not be taken away from her.’ And if you choose the word that I’m giving you, it won’t be taken from you either. It will never be stolen.”
And secondly we need to pour out.
We need to pour out.
We need to take the oil like Jacob did, and pour it on the rock.
We need to take the best that we have, the pure nard that Mary has and put it on his feet.
We need to offer up our bodies as a living sacrifice.
We need to present to him the very best that we have.
We need to ask ourselves; “Am I giving him the best that I have?” Am I really?
“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs”.
And give it your best.
A pure heart, a whole heart offered up to him.
When we take the pure nard, the treasure, the best that we have, and we break that open and we start anointing the feet of the Lord with that; Wherever we are is filled with the fragrance of the offering, the fragrance, which is the presence of God. The fragrance that draws the Jacobs from all over the place so that they can find God, brings the Marthas from all over the place so they can find peace, and the fragrance that raises Lazarus’s from the dead.
And wherever we are will be the house of God, the gate of Heaven….
.… if we will we sit at those feet and listen
….and then anoint those feet with the best that we have.
Prayer: Lord, help us to see the gate of Heaven, the wonder of your very presence in our lives. May we know that we are living under your holy eye, that you are always with us, and that we have a purpose on this earth to be the Bethel which brings your very presence to others, where others encounter the holy. Lord, help us to quiet down, settle down, draw near, and listen so we can adoringly drink in your wonderful presence. And as we abandon ourselves to you, as we anoint your feet with our love and adoration, may such a fragrance rise up and fill the atmosphere that no matter where we are…our homes…our churches…our cars…our phones…standing in lines…that we are pouring out your heavenly love….that we are the Bethels that draw others to your presence…to the very gate of Heaven. Amen.
Message: 1986 Edited by Maranatha Mirror Shareable/Printable Copy
Featured Artists: Courtesy and permission of Thelma Mudugu at linktr.ee/Alabaster.Arts and Jacob worshipping God image via Good Salt license.
Posted May 12, 2023
Let’s suppose you had an Uncle George who just died and a brother named Bill. Uncle George had an estate of $600,000.00. He willed it to you and your brother to be divided equally. But he made one mistake. He appointed Bill as executor of his will. So when Uncle George died, Bill got busy settling the estate. He settled it all right. Settled it all on himself. He hired a crafty lawyer who, for a fat fee, showed him how to funnel it all into his own pocket, except for the lawyer’s fee and a puny $500.00 for you.
“Come on, Bill,” you say to your brother, “you know that half Uncle George’s estate belongs to me.” “That’s your opinion”, says Bill, “I know that George intended that I should have it all. He just didn’t get around to changing his will. So I worked things out. And I did it within the law. Even if you take me to court, you’ll never win. Be thankful for your $500.00.”
Now it just so happens that you and your brother belong to the same church. And you’re saying to yourself, “If Bill is the big Christian everybody thinks he is, how can he do this?” You go to the preacher and explain what’s going on. “How about meeting with the two of us and helping us to sort it out?” But your brother is a heavy giver and the preacher doesn’t want to offend any goose in his flock that lays golden eggs.
You’re upset.Who wouldn’t be upset, to be cheated out of more than a quarter of a million? It’s not right and it’s not fair. The whole mess is keeping you awake at night. The preacher won’t do anything for you.
So you decide to take the whole thing straight to the Lord.
“Lord, you know that Uncle George meant for me to have half of that money. But my greedy brother wrangled it all for himself”. You pray, but you don’t seem to be getting any peace. “Lord, fair is fair. You know my brother is cheating me. I could use that money more than he could. He already has plenty.”
Still no peace.
Not only that, your crafty brother has just made a big gift to the organ fund at the church and everybody’s talking about what a wonderful Christian he is. “Wonderful Christian my foot! He’s a hypocrite! Come on, Lord! Do something! This isn’t right! $300,000.00. What I couldn’t do with $300,000.00! And Bill sits up there in the front pew like a saint!”
Still no peace….. No answer from the Lord.,
What’s going on?
So you decide to play a little Bible Roulette. You know. You shut your eyes, flip the Bible open, put your finger on a page – and hope for guidance. Now I’m not so sure God ever ordained Bible Roulette as a form of guidance and most people who try it cheat a little. They keep flipping and pointing until they come up with something good and then they call it divine guidance.
But God does work in mysterious ways. And sometimes he corners us even when we try to manipulate him into the guidance we want. “So, here it goes.” Down comes your finger. You open your eyes, and wouldn’t you know? Your finger is glued to Luke 12:13
One of the multitude said to him, “Teacher, bid my brother divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or divider over you?” And he said to them, “Take heed, and beware of all covetousness; for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. (Luke 12:13-15)
“Who made me judge or divider over you?” Jesus refuses to let himself be used in this way. “Yes, your brother is a cheat. But something is happening to you in this business that is going to rob you of more than $300,000.00”
There are two ways to be rich.
You can be rich toward man
you can be rich toward God.
When you’re rich toward man, it means you have a lot of stuff, a lot of money, a lot of power.
But if you’re only rich toward man, all that stuff that you have, and all that money, and all that power, still leaves you with an empty soul.
On the other hand, when you’re rich toward God, it means that your soul is full, your spirit is alive, because your heart has found its focus.
Not in what you possess, but in who you know.
Who you know not being celebrities, the wealthy, the accomplished, the respected….
…. but the God of the Universe.
If you know God, you’re rich.
If you don’t know God, you may own half of the world and still have an empty soul.
When you’re rich toward God, money and things can come or they can go. They are important, but they are not your life. Your life is God.
When you’re rich toward God, and you have money; you know God put that money into your hands for reasons he will make clear.
It came from him.
It belongs to him.
You answer to him.
When you’re rich toward God, and you have no money; you still know that God will provide for you as you seek his kingdom first.
When you’re rich toward God, and your brother cheats you out of half the estate, you’re still better off in your own shoes than in his.
And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns, and build larger ones; and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ ” (Luke 12:16-20)
So, how do you get to be rich toward God?
By putting God first in your life.
And getting rid of everything that gets in the way of putting God first.
If money is getting in the way, get rid of it,
If some habit is getting in the way, change it.
If some secret lust or some weird ambition is getting in the way, repent of it, die to it.
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms; provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:32-34)
Does that mean I’m supposed to sell my house, get rid of my cars, and empty out my bank account? It means that God wants to make me a spiritual millionaire, not after I die, but now. Lavish upon me the riches of heaven now and anything in my life that stands in the way of my enjoying God’s gift is not worth having.
Anything that lures my heart away from God’s riches, is a liability.
Get rid of it
“The treasure in the heavens that doesn’t fail” is not some gold waiting for me in heaven when I die.
That treasure in the heavens is mine now.
No thief can take it.
No rust can destroy it.
No cunning brother can touch it.
It’s the power and the wisdom and the joy of God’s Spirit making me a million times richer than the wealthiest human, enabling me to give away far more than the most generous philanthropist ever dreamed of giving.
All I have to do, All you have to do…Is open our hearts and receive this heavenly treasure into the earthen vessels of our bodies.
Let God give us His Kingdom, His Spirit afresh today.
And then get rid of anything in our lives that competes with this treasure and we will be numbered among the richest people of this earth.
“Fear not, little flock, for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
Your Father wants to make you really, really rich.
Delights to give you ….
Everything He has – “all that is mine is yours”.
Get rid of the clutter so you can have this.
Get rid of anything that steals your heart from God.
“Sell your possessions and give alms; provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:33-34)
We’re not talking about “pie in the sky by and by” when you die.
We’re talking about pie a la mode. Sitting in front of us right now.
Clear away the peanut shells so you can have the pie.
God will show us how this applies in each of our lives and He will help us make whatever changes we have to make so that our hearts are fixed on the true treasure instead of the peanut shells.
Prayer: Yes Lord, fix our hearts on the true treasure. Help us to know you, the God of the Universe…You who was, is, and will ever be…and who lovingly, mercifully cares for us and offers us such treasures. Help us to open our hearts to all you have for us. Help us to stop grasping for, and clinging to worldly riches and recognition. Help us not to be lured away from you by these things and yes, help us to get rid of them. Bring us to the point where we truly are rich, really rich with what you have for us now.…your presence, your power, your glory, your life and your joy. Amen.
Message: 2001 Edited by Maranatha Mirror Shareable/Printable Copy
Featured Artists: Courtesy and permission of Jen Norton at… Jennortonartstudio.com …Other pieces by Eugene Bernand and James Tissot are in the public domain
Posted May 5, 2023
Volunteers or a Living Call?
Think about the meaning of the word “church”.
“Are you going to church today?”
“What time is church?”
“What kind of church do you belong to?”
“You mean you still go to church?”
In our culture the word church means a volunteer organization of people who believe in Jesus Christ to a greater or lesser degree.
They have a preacher or a priest.
They get together and eat.
Maybe they reach out into the community with acts of mercy.
But apart from the preacher who gets paid and perhaps a small staff, it’s all volunteer — meaning you’re free to come when you want to and go when you want to.
Nobody can make you go to church.
Nobody can make you tithe your income.
Nobody can make you serve.
And if the preacher gets too high-handed, and starts putting pressure on you to do this or that, all you have to do is quit and go somewhere else. It’s all volunteer.
It’s a concept that everyone seems to accept these days whether you’re inside the church or outside looking in. But this vision of the church is totally foreign to what the word “church” means in the Bible.
When Jesus says, “On this rock I will build my church”,
Or when Paul says, “To the church of God in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus”…
They’re not talking about a bunch of people who volunteered.
In the real church — God’s church….
….there are no volunteers.
In Christ’s church you don’t volunteer to be a member and you don’t volunteer to serve.
You are a member and you serve, because you were called into this thing by God.
God put his hand on you and said,
“You’re mine, and these people are your family for now.
Get in there and serve with them.”
Or as Jesus puts it:
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear much fruit and that your fruit should abide; so whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. This I command you, to love one another.” (John 15:16-17)
That’s the church.
Now, if you’ve been chosen and ordained by Christ himself, it’s not as easy to back out when things don’t suit or when your feelings get hurt. And if the King commands us to love one another, what choice do we have?
Andrew and Peter didn’t know it yet, but that day when Andrew brought Peter to meet Jesus they were walking right into a trap. “So you’re Simon, the son of John, I’m going to call you the Rock”, says Jesus. It was days, maybe weeks before they realized it, but Jesus put his call on those men that day. Their lives were not their own any more.
Paul didn’t believe in a volunteer church either. Listen again to how he starts out his letter to the Corinthians:
“Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours…” (1 Corinthians 1:1-2)
Paul didn’t volunteer to be a part of the Body of Christ. He was yanked into it. And those Corinthian believers, every one of them was called into it by the Spirit of God.
Here’s the point –
As long as any church thinks of itself and functions as a church of volunteers, it’s not going to go very far. Even if it grows in numbers, as long as we’re a bunch of volunteers, the Spirit of God has very little to work with. Before the Spirit of God can move with power, we have to see ourselves as a church on God’s terms. To be the kind of church Jesus means when he says, “On this rock I will build my church”…A change has to take place both in our personal faith and in our life together as a body of believers.
So that in our personal faith we are no longer volunteers for God but people who are living under a call from God.
We didn’t choose Jesus to be Lord. He chose us to be his disciples.
And in our life together we have to see that we have come into the flock…
Not because we chose to come together
But because God chose to put us together.
We have to see this thing as a work of God that we’ve been called to fit into.
Not only that. Each one of us here has been called into a ministry.
You’re not a volunteer.
You’re a minister called by God.
You were brought here to be given strength for your ministry.
And your ministry and my ministry takes place, not in church, but out there.
We get renewed and empowered as we worship together, and pray together, and break bread together.
We bring the power of Christ to bear on hurting lives.
We speak words of life from the mouth of God.
We bring back the lost.
We bind up the wounded ones.
And we do these things not for pay or for ego satisfaction, But simply because this is our calling, our vocation.
Sometimes when you’re at the supermarket you push the cart around and pick up what you need and you don’t see a soul you know. Fine, get your groceries and go home. But sometimes you see someone who wants to talk. Sometimes a perfect stranger asks you where the “Jell-o” is, you tell them aisle 6 and silently pray a blessing over them after they head for aisle 6.
It’s a ministry that goes on all the time….
in the neighborhood,
in Tim Horton’s,
at your kitchen table.
You’re God’s servant.
You’re under a call.
The concept of “a call” has commonly been reserved for preachers and missionaries.
“Frank was called to the ministry.”
“After seven years of fighting it, Michael gave in to the call. He’s entering the priesthood.”
Whereas the only significant call that Frank got or Michael got was the call to follow Jesus and fit into his body on earth. Without that, “the ministry” or “the priesthood” is just another man-made career.
Of course, most of us start out as volunteers. Whether we volunteered to go to church or go to seminary. But there comes a point where our volunteer days come to an end.
We discover we have nothing to volunteer.
We’ve been taken over by the call of God.
When Peter came with Andrew that day to meet Jesus he thought he was volunteering to go along, “Yeah, I’ll come and get to meet the guy. I’ll look him over and decide whether I want to find out more.”
But from the moment he met Jesus, Peter was no longer a volunteer. It took him a while to figure it out — but he didn’t belong to himself anymore.
And most of us didn’t hear a voice in the middle of the night saying, “I’m Jesus, follow me.” We didn’t meet an angel downtown, “Go over there to Grace Church.”
We began as volunteers — we chose to come.
But then one day we woke up and realized that God had been at work in this process all along. This was his idea not ours. It begins to dawn on us as it dawned on Peter that we walked into a trap. And Jesus says to us,
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear much fruit and that your fruit should abide; so whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. This I command you, to love one another.”
The church is not Lutheran, or Baptist, or Catholic, or Pentecostal.
And it’s not volunteer.
It’s followers of Jesus who know they have been called.
Their lives belong no longer to themselves, but to him.
They’re out there serving.
They’re out there praising God
They know that Jesus’ command to love one another is not an option but a command.
God help us to see the difference between a church of volunteers ….
….and a church of the called.
God help us to be clear about who we are under his call and where we fit.
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear much fruit and that your fruit should abide; so whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. This I command you, to love one another.”
Prayer: Yes Lord, help us to know with everything we have that you have called us. That we aren’t just volunteers, church goers, and do-gooders. Help us to hear your sacred call, to be your devoted servants, to rise up to the appointment you have given us to bring your redemption to the hurting lives around us, to bring them healing, to love them and to love one another. Oh may we wake each morning knowing we belong to you and are ready to heed your calling in whatever form it takes. Amen. Maranatha Mirror
Message: 2002 Originally “Who Says You’re A Volunteer”. Edited by Maranatha Mirror
Featured Art: Ally Barret © Ally Barrett (www.reverendally. org) and used by permission. Most pieces are untitled.
Posted April 28, 2023
A stranger comes to your fellowship trying to find out whether Jesus Christ actually exists.
”I’ve heard about Jesus Christ, and I’ve read about him, but I want to find out whether he is real. So I’ve come to you folks who claim to know him.”
He sits and listens to us sing our praises to Christ.
“That’s very nice,” he says to himself, “but how do these people know that they’re not imagining these things?”
He hears us pray in the name of Jesus. “What a wonderful thing!—if it’s true,” he sighs.
The teaching describes to him what Jesus Christ will do. And again he is moved. “But how can I be sure that all these things are really so?”
There is only one thing that will prove to this stranger or anybody that Jesus Christ really exists.
It is not the way we pray — it is not the way we sing — it is not the way we preach.
IT IS THE WAY WE LIVE.
Suppose somebody came up to you and said, “I’ve got a big brother who’s a giant twelve feet tall. My big brother can pull up trees by the roots. He can hold an automobile in one hand.” Would you believe this person if he himself were only four feet tall? But if this enthusiastic stranger were himself eight feet tall, then you’d say, “Show me your brother!”
The only way you can prove to anybody that you are the little brother, the follower, the disciple of Jesus, the Messiah….
…. is to carry his nature, to live the way he does.
The reason Christianity has so little authority in the world these days is because in too many places Christianity is nothing but talk.
– They talk brotherly love … but to taste some of their brotherly love, you’ve got to belong to the right social level, have the right income, and the right shade of skin.
– They talk faith…”Faith will do anything”…. but their lives are saturated with worry. They worry about losing their job, getting sick, about the impression they’re making in the eyes of other people.
– They talk forgiveness … but their churches are torn by strife, envy, jealousy, resentment.
People out in the world are sick and tired of religious talk.
They want to see the real thing.
– They want to see evidence of the nature of Jesus Christ in you.
– They want to see brotherly love in your living.
– They want to see your faith in action.
– They want to see a forgiving heart.
I don’t care when you say you were saved.
I don’t care how many visions you’ve had or how many times God has spoken to you …
…. They won’t believe your testimony until you live like Jesus Christ.
Martin Luther says that when a man or woman becomes a follower of Jesus, that person is a ”little Christ” … a miniature of his Master.
They may not be perfect as the Lord, but they bear a family likeness. There is something about them that tells you that they are really related to Jesus Christ.
Now the secret of becoming a “little Christ” is wrapped up in a single word:
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” (1 John 3:16)
”Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8)
“Isn’t it enough that I’m living a moral life?”
– The person who is looking for Jesus Christ doesn’t have to come among us to find people who live moral lives. There are thousands of people outside the Body who are living moral lives.
“Isn’t it enough that I give to charity and help in the community?”
– Fine! But this doesn’t prove to the stranger that Jesus Christ is alive. Thousands outside the Body give to charity and help in the community.
“How about the fact that I read my Bible and say my prayers?”
– Keep it up! But remember that there are thousands of people who read their Bible and say their prayers but fail to manifest the life of Jesus Christ.
Here’s the question, and we must be very honest:
Can someone who is looking for Jesus Christ find that love in our fellowships?
The love of Jesus Christ is different from natural human love in three ways:
- It is a love that goes out of its way and never looks for something in return.
- It is a love that is sensitive to the broken-hearted.
- It is a love that thrives on the impossible.
ANY STRANGER WHO COMES INTO A FELLOWSHIP AND FINDS THESE THREE THINGS PRESENT WILL FIND JESUS CHRIST.
It is a love that goes out of its way and looks for nothing in return.
The Samaritan was on his way to Jericho. He was trying to get there early so he could sell his wares in the market. He had a family to support and obligations to meet. But when he sees this wounded Jew by the side of the road, he changes his plans completely. He forgets about all the things he had planned to do and devotes himself entirely to this half-dead soul. Not only does the Samaritan lose a night’s sleep and a day’s work, he reaches into his pocket and pays the bill for the afflicted man who belongs to a race that despises Samaritans.
Notice, too, that when the Samaritan goes on his way, he doesn’t leave a note saying, ”Here’s where I live. When you get well, if you want to reward me just send it here.” ….”Here’s my phone number. Some day you can do something for me.” When the wounded man woke up, he didn’t even know who saved his life. And it didn’t matter.
– That’s the kind of love that Jesus Christ has for us.
We’ll go out of our way too if it looks like there may be a reward, or if he may be in a position to pay me back some day, or at least if he’ll show some appreciation. Oh but how difficult to go out of your way to help a person who won’t even say, ”Thank you.”
Yet this is the love that will convict hearts and reveal Jesus as Lord..
It is a love that is sensitive to the broken-hearted.
Every day of your life is like a trip on the freeway. There are hundreds of cars ahead of you and behind you moving along at maximum speed. Every so often you see a car by the side of the road, disabled, left behind. Who cares?
On the freeway it may not be legal to stop every time you see a stalled vehicle. But in life, this is exactly what we are commanded to do. We are to turn aside from our own way and minister to the broken-hearted consistently.
“I have come to heal the broken-hearted,” said our Lord at the outset of his ministry.
This is what he did. And if we are his disciples, we will do the same.
That lady down the street from where you live whom nobody likes. She walks to the grocery store with her nose in the air and people say she’s a snob. But if you have the love of Jesus Christ in you, you will immediately recognize that beneath her aloof exterior she is hiding a broken heart.
– You will not despise her.
There’s a man where you work who’s forever bragging. Nobody likes him. If you have the love of Jesus in you, you will recognize that his bragging is simply a means of concealing a broken heart….
– And your attitude will be different.
There’s a kid at school who’s really weird. Everybody laughs. If you have the love of Christ in you, You will weep with him in your heart because you know the anguish that he experiences behind that expressionless face.
– You will not laugh. You will weep with him.
It is a love that thrives on the impossible.
Notice how often the word “compassion” in the Bible is connected with an impossible situation.
“I have compassion on the multitude because they have now been with me three days and have nothing to eat.”
What’s the sense of having compassion when the people are hungry?
What can you do for them?
….Then he takes five loaves and two fish.
A woman is bringing the corpse of her only son to burial and she is weeping. Jesus had compassion on her and went to her and said, “Weep not.” What good is compassion in a situation like this? “Young man, I say to you, arise!“
A leper cries to Jesus, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.” And Jesus, moved with compassion, reaches out and touches him…“I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And the man is healed.
When we are faced with an impossible situation…..
…. We ”conserve” our love, we hold it back.
Why waste it?
That guy’s hopeless!
She’ll never change!
He’s too far gone!
The love of Jesus Christ is at its best when things look impossible.
The more hopeless a person appears, the more you love him.
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. …..
Let your love be genuine…..
Let your love be like Christ’s.”
You don’t have to make it … just let your love be like your Lord’s. Your love will be like his, if you want it to be, because Jesus Christ is alive and at work in you.
And he is in our midst, as we serve together in his name.
– To help us to think like he thinks.
– To form us into his very likeness.
– To send us back into the world as “little Christs.”
Tell him in your heart right now that you want to be transformed into his likeness.
“Lord, I confess to you that I have been calculating and cold in my love. I’ve been selfish. I’ve held my love back from others. I’ve given it only to certain select people. But I want to be like you. I want to be able to go out of my way and look for nothing in return, to be conscious of the brokenhearted people I brush by every day. And to be able to love those who seem so helpless to me.”
If you are willing to let his compassion rule your heart, the Spirit of the living Jesus, who loved you and gave himself for you, will transform you indeed into a “little Christ.” Your heart will burn with a love which does not come from you.
And people simply by dealing with you in daily life, will know that Jesus Christ is real, and that he is alive in you.
Message: Richard Bieber 2015 Shareable/Printable Copy
Featured Art: Courtesy and Kindness of Rex Deloney at rexdeloney.com
Posted April 9, 2023
A DEAD IDOL OR A LIVING GOD
It’s another Easter and all over the country people are going to church. It’s the day of the biggest crowds of the year. And that’s very appropriate. Because this is the day when we come together to sing about, and think about, and talk about, and praise God for the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
The test, however, comes when church is over. Did we go to a museum? Or did we in some way meet Jesus alive from the dead? If we went to a museum to pay our respects to a dead idol of a dead tradition, then next week it’ll be back to normal.
But if somehow in our churches, in our gatherings…we encounter Jesus alive from the dead. We will be so changed by this encounter and so refreshed and renewed by it… that Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and so forth we’ll be different.
Next week, we’ll all be back. And not only will we all be back, but we’ll have half the town with us, and they won’t be able to get in the door, and this is for sure.
People might be very skeptical about this, but if something genuine happens, it will become obvious.
Because when we meet Jesus alive from the dead, we don’t just go away with happy memories.
We go away changed.
How are we changed?
I’ll try to describe something spiritual in physical terms.
In the center of the heart of each of us there is a room. And in that room, there is a throne. We ourselves never occupy that throne. It’s impossible. But we do determine who or what sits on that throne inside us.
Whatever sits on the throne inside, in that room, rules our life.
If fear sits on the throne, we’re ruled by fear.
If lust, or greed, or ambition, sit on that throne those are the things which dominate our lives.
If a golden calf or a silver Cadillac sits on that throne, then the spirit behind that idol controls us.
In the beginning that throne was occupied by God.
When Adam and Eve walked in Paradise, there was a flame burning on that throne in their inmost heart, which was the presence of the Spirit of God himself. And by that flame they were able to walk and talk with God, they knew him, they rejoiced in him. But when they chose to trust the deceiver and turned away from God…. that flame went out, the throne became empty, and the room became like a vacuum.
And ever since that, the throne has been up for grabs, it’s been the scene of a battle.
And the whole history of the human race since then …. has been one thing after another, getting hold of the throne inside the heart, men and women all the time, striving with each other lust, greed, envy, vanity, murder, bloodshed, war.
Jesus came in order to make it possible for the throne inside the heart of man, once again, to be occupied by the presence of God.
In him was life and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:4-5)
And that light is intended to come from him to the inmost part of each of us.
He came that they may have life and have it more abundantly.
Jesus began to gather around himself some disciples, followers. And the amazing thing that happened to these men and women as they came around Jesus was that the other things which occupied the throne in their heart began to fall away. All the lust, and the ambition, and the greed, and the ego, and the fear, and the death, that ruled these men and women before disappeared.
And in a wonderful way, even while Jesus was with them in the flesh and blood, He was on the throne of their hearts.
This presence of Jesus on the throne of the hearts of these disciples was a reflected light.
It was as if behind the throne there is this giant mirror and in front of the throne is this huge window and as long as the window opens on Jesus, the light of his word, and the light of his countenance shines through… that light, bounces off the mirror and in a wonderful way the image of the Lord himself sits on the throne.
When the disciples became offended by things that Jesus said or did and turned from him, of course the light went out. But for those who continued to walk with Jesus, the light of his presence on the throne in their hearts was not an illusion, it was real.
By the light of the presence of the Lord sitting on the throne in Peter’s heart, he proclaimed the Kingdom with power. By the light of his presence, John healed the sick, Andrew cast out demons. There was life there.
Then came Good Friday. And as these men and women watch Jesus hang on that cross and die, that flame, that presence, that light burning in there, in the throne in their inmost hearts went out too.
And that inmost room became shrouded in darkness, and as they watched Jesus die, even the mirror behind the throne smashed into a million pieces. The Sabbath, which followed was the most desolate day of their lives.
Then Jesus rose from the dead.
Before any of these disciples knew what was going on, Jesus stepped forth from his tomb, alive, never to die again. In a body as different from the body that had died on Good Friday as day differs from night.
He was sown in corruption; he was raised in incorruption.
He was sown in weakness; he was raised in power.
And whenever Jesus would come among the disciples alive from the dead and speak to them, as they heard him speak, even before they recognized him, a flame began to burn on that throne in their hearts, which was not reflected but which was there, if they were willing, forever.
Luke describes to us how this worked.
That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened.
While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
And he said to them, “What things?”
And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel…
And now our hope is gone.
That throne inside us is empty.
Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”
And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:13-27)
Oh, foolish ones, slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.
Now Jesus is alive from the dead, he’s on his way, he’s entering into his glory… and we think of this, and rightly so, that he’s on his way back to the headquarters of the universe to sit on the throne of power.
“All authority is given to me in heaven and on Earth”.
And that’s true.
But it’s also true that Jesus enters into his glory, even at that moment, as he speaks to these two men.
For as Jesus speaks to these two men….
The flame of his light ignites and burns inside them.
And Jesus is entering into his glory… in their hearts.
So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them.
And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (Luke 24:28-32)
And indeed, their hearts burned within them, as he talked with them. Because as he spoke with them and opened the Scriptures, he began to live inside, on that throne… of those these two men.
And he did this every time he appeared.
He ignited that life inside…of these men, these women. And then for 40 days he nurtured this life which he put within them, and watched over it, and taught them the things they needed to know. Then he left and commanded them to stay in Jerusalem until they receive power from on high. And then on the day of Pentecost, when the Spirit fell, this little flame burning inside their hearts became an immense blaze in them that shook the city….and as they went forth into the world, it shook the whole world.
“Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road”
And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God, does not have life. (John 5:11-12)
To have the son is not to have doctrines in your head.
To have the Son is to have the life of Jesus burning in your heart.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead… (1 Peter 1:3)
A living hope!
And that living hope is a flame…is a light…burning on that throne.
The mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:26-27)
Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Jesus entering into his glory, by occupying the throne in your own heart.
How do you know when somebody has met Jesus alive from the dead?
When someone has met Jesus alive from the dead, there is a burning flame inside them that manifests itself as a life lived in his nature, his mercy, his joy in God, his continuous forbearance with other people.
If these things aren’t shining forth from that inner flame, something is wrong.
And this flame that burns within us when we meet Jesus alive from the dead is not a reflected light like so many of us experience. When we are among believers, we feel strong in faith…but then when we are back on our jobs, or at home with our families, or in the midst of all life’s problems, our faith leaves, it evaporates. When you have the presence of the Lord burning on the throne in your heart, it’s there all the time.
It’s a wonderful thing to gather together, to celebrate and rejoice at the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. And as we come together in his name, he comes into our midst, as he does in countless other places across the earth. He’s with us.
But now we’re very much like those two disciples on the way to Emmaus. He was walking with them and they didn’t know who he was. And it wasn’t doing them any good until somehow he ignites the flame within them.
And what we need is not only to have Jesus standing in our midst, alive from the dead.
We need to have the flame of his burning light occupying the throne of our inmost hearts.
And we can have this. Now God knows our hearts. He alone really knows.
But we all too often succumb to the temptation to analyze our brother or our sister’s heart. Let’s not do that now.
Let’s leave our brother’s heart alone.
Let’s not psychoanalyze our sister’s spirit.
Let’s just worry about our own.
And thinking about our own condition, our own flame, there’s every variety possible.
Some of us have little teeny tiny flames. It’s hard to see, but it’s really there.
Some have flames that shoot up every six months for about 3 days, then flickers down again.
Some of us, have a little bit of smoke left, we remember the flame that was once there.
Some of us perhaps have never experienced this at all.
But the good news is that for all of us, whether we have a bitty flame or a big flame, or a fat, or a thin flame or no flame….
…. The Lord wants to come and occupy that throne inside us today.
And all we have to do is exactly what these disciples did on the road to Emmaus. They did three things that allowed him to occupy the throne of their hearts.
They acknowledge their need.
They listened as Jesus spoke to them and drank it in.
They welcomed him into their hearts.
They Admitted Their Need
They frankly and openly admitted their need.
But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel
Now our hope is gone. That room inside our hearts is dark and empty and cold, something is missing. We need to do this too, to admit we have lost our hope.
Far better to admit this than to pretend to ourselves, and to other believers what we aren’t.
Far better to admit there’s a terrible need in each of our hearts.
When I see the needs around me, when I understand the things, I am now called upon to live through and do… I simply don’t have enough.
“A friend of mine has come on a journey and I have nothing to set before him.”
“I don’t have the strength and the life. God fill me with the presence of your Son, renew this in me today.”
Get on your knees. Do whatever you have to do to cry out to God in your need.
If you ask, you receive. If you knock, the door opens. If you seek, you find.
Nothing happens, all too often, because we don’t do any knocking or asking.
So cry out…. ask, knock, seek
They listened when Jesus spoke to them.
They still didn’t know this was Jesus, but they drank it in.
O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?
And they drink this in. They listen as he speaks, and even as he’s speaking, the flame begins to burn.
And He speaks to us. He opens the Scriptures to us. And He speaks to us not only through sermons, through Scriptures, through hymns and worship, through devotions but he also speaks to us as we sit in silence…
…. as we think…. He Speaks.
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all.
The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
They will ignite you…. if you listen.
God help us to listen with teachable, broken spirits like children.
God help us to lay aside the attitudes that hinder the flow of his word getting into our hearts.
All too often we know all the answers, so it only gets so far and bounces off until we need to stop knowing all the answers and approach him with poverty of spirit. Then he comes in and we begin to live.
They welcomed him into their hearts. They Invited him in.
So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. (Luke 24:28-32)
And those words which they spoke to Jesus are the precise words we need to speak…
“Stay with us”.
“Stay with us, it’s late, the day is far spent”.
It doesn’t matter your age… the day of our life on this earth is limited…whether you are 15, 21, 35, or 79….it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.
“Lord Jesus, come into my life and transform these few remaining hours of the day that I have in this world of flesh and blood…. into something meaningful…. into life”.
“Please Lord, come in and stay with me”.
“Stay with us, for it is indeed nearly evening; the day is far, far, far spent.”
When you leave your gatherings, your services, will you have been to the museum to pay homage to a dead idol of a dead tradition?
Or will you have in fact somehow, somewhere met Jesus alive from the dead?
When you do meet Jesus alive from the dead, you will be different. The flame within you, if you had any at all, will be much larger, much steadier, much stronger.
And by that flame you will be able to go out into the world and proclaim the Kingdom of God.
You will manifest the mercy of God and show the forbearance of God to your families, to your neighbors, to your fellow workers, and to the people who give you a hard time…even that supervisor on the job who makes your life miserable. Whatever the situation, you will be able to live in a totally different atmosphere.
You will be living by the atmosphere of heaven which now dwells in you and is aflame inside.
Fall before God and do these three things…and he will go from a dead idol to a Living God burning with light and life inside you.
Admit your deep need of his resurrection life…confess it, acknowledge it.
Listen as he speaks, and he will speak to your heart according to your own need.
And invite him in.
Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.”
Prayer: Jesus more than ever, we need to experience you alive from the dead. Forgive us for making you a dead idol. Lord, we ask you once again to become the living God on the throne of our hearts. We’ve allowed the thrones to become occupied by meaningless things. We don’t have what we need to face the work in front of us. Lord, take this time we have left and ignite our hearts again, making our hearts burn within us as we hear you speak. Renew us, reignite us. And oh Lord come in, we welcome you, please, please stay with us. And yes, we want to live in the atmosphere of heaven now, to be filled with your light burning so strongly inside of us that we can’t help but ignite and change the lives of those whom you bring to us. Yes, stay with us now, stay with us, stay with many, many before the day is over. Amen. Maranatha Mirror
Message: Richard Bieber 1983 Shareable/Printable Copy
Featured Art: Daniel Bonnell at bonnellart.com and Kate Austin at christart.co.uk
Posted March 31, 2023
BUT LET’S NOT GO UP TO JERUSALEM
Jesus has taken the disciples way up north to Caesarea Philippi (way up on the edge of Israel near the Gentile country) … to get away from the hassle for a while. They’ve been feeding the 5000, and the 4000, dealing with multitudes, and all kinds of problems. And so, it’s like he takes them out of Detroit and leads them up to the Upper Peninsula for a little peace and quiet to think.
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:13-19)
What wonderful words Jesus speaks to Peter. Now Peter wants to keep those words and stay up in the Upper Peninsula and just enjoy them.
“Let the Lord fill his church up here away from the noise and the rush and the confusion. Lord, now we have the vision we, know who you are. So how about if we stay up here and just worship God and you can build your church up here”.
But the Lord isn’t going to build this church up in the Upper Peninsula. If you understand what I mean, I have nothing against the UP at all. It’s wonderful country.
He’s not going to build his church up near Caesarea Philippi… away from the hassles, away from all the problems, and have some kind of nice sanitary, cozy, Christian Disneyland.
He’s going to build his church right in the middle of the war zone, where the problems are.
He’s going to do it by going to Jerusalem to suffer and die and rise in that city of trouble, that city which has been killing prophets for hundreds of years. That’s where he’s going to do it.
And so the very next verses in this passage, you really have to take as a unit… you just can’t stop there…go like this…
From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Matthew 16:21-23)
If this vision, which Peter has, is going to take on any substance for Peter, Jesus is going to have to go to Jerusalem and suffer. And Peter is going to have to go too.
As the passage continues…
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26)
If you confess that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the Living God. And you see it, and you know it. But refuse to go with him to Jerusalem. What do you have?
You have empty words.
You have hypocrisy.
You have a church, which is nothing but a Christian Disneyland.
If you believe that Jesus is the Messiah and if you confess that Jesus is the Messiah. The proof that he is your Messiah is that you follow him to Jerusalem.
You don’t stay up there and live in a Christian dream world on Mackinac Island. You come to Detroit.
You don’t hide behind the walls of a church. You don’t insulate yourself in the Christian world reading nothing but Christian books, Christian TV, Christian Radio, Christian friends, Christian diet, Christian everything. Take whatever you can out of all the Christian stuff, but for goodness sake, follow Jesus to Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is the real world,
with real people, real problems, real danger, and ultimately a real battle.
And we’re all like Peter when we get the vision. It’s wonderful … “you’re the Christ, the son of the Living God.” It’s marvelous. And then the Lord says, “well, now that you know who I am let me show you my program”.
“It’s Jerusalem”. “It’s a Cross”.
And immediately we’re all bent out of shape. “No Lord, you can’t do that. There must be a mistake”. Then he has to shock us into reality by saying to us what he said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!” You are not on the side of God, but of men. I am going to Jerusalem. And if you’re with me, you’re going too.”
So the issue before us is very simple. Jesus says to every believer who calls on his name…“You see that I am the Messiah. You confess that I am the Christ. But are you willing to follow me to Jerusalem?”
Jerusalem means four things, Jerusalem gives four simple lessons for every follower of Jesus.
Jerusalem means risk.
Jerusalem means oblivion.
Jerusalem means a cross.
Jerusalem means God’s way instead of our way.
Jerusalem means risk.
Up there by Caesarea Philippi, life is fairly safe and fairly predictable. But now we’re going to Jerusalem where it’s going to be full of surprises. Changes are going to happen that we never went through before. In many respects, for the followers of Jesus…. life up to now has been relatively within our control. But now control is going to move from our hands into the hands of the One, the God, whose judgments are unsearchable, and whose ways are past finding out.
When Peter left his fishing to follow Jesus, that was a risk.
When Matthew gave up his lucrative tax collecting job to follow Jesus, that was a risk.
But now Jesus, is going to take these people further into the uncertain and into the unknown, bringing them to the place where the only thing they’re going to have to hang on to for security, will be his word of promise.
And that’s exactly what Jesus desires to do with us.
And what he’s inviting us to follow him into. Taking us deeper into the unknown, he’s taking us to Jerusalem, where the only thing that will be solid, the only thing that will be sure, will be his word to us.
Particularly this word….
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep”…
Notice that he says “ I am sending you out” Don’t be hiding inside the walls. Come on, let’s go.
“I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour”.
God will give you his word that you can be sure of.
“For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 10:16-22)
Now, none of us has been flogged in churches yet. And we haven’t been dragged before governors. And not many of us have been rejected by family or hated by all. But now as we begin to bear testimony to Jesus in Jerusalem …. this Jerusalem….with our mouth and with our life we will begin to experience some suffering, storms will come that will shake us. So that the only rock that will not be washed away from beneath us will be the rock of his word
And we will learn to trust that word as the only solid foundation we have.
Jerusalem means oblivion.
It’s like being swallowed up by a black hole and we disappear from sight. And nobody knows us anymore.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Now the first way we lose our life is not through death, but through oblivion.
Which means that we become so unimportant, and so inconsequential in the eyes of other people, that it’s like we cease to exist.
When Zacchaeus was a wealthy man, he had lots of friends. His telephone was ringing all the time. People were all the time after him. Then Zacchaeus gave away his wealth. And very quickly he became unimportant, even to the tax collectors. Nobody called him on the phone anymore. Nobody came to see him. The man shrank down to the size of a cockroach. But in the eyes of God, Zacchaeus now is drenched in glory. In the eyes of God, and the eyes of the angels in heaven, and in the eyes of those who have the eyes to see in the Body of Christ, this man is dwelling and walking under the Spirit of glory and of God.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. (1 Peter 4:12-14)
When we leave the comfort of our friends and admirers and follow Jesus to Jerusalem. When we become followers of Jesus to the point where we are now men and women who serve him in such a way that even our names are lost in his… the Spirit of glory and of God comes to rest upon us.
In the eyes of people we look like a dismal failure, spiritual nonentity, a cockroach.
But in the eyes of God and in the eyes of his angels, and for those Saints who have eyes to see… we are burning and shining lights.
The Spirit of glory and of God has come to rest upon us.
What else do we need?
Jerusalem is a Cross.
We talk about a cross because Jesus did.
From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.
That was hard enough to take but listen to this one.
Then Jesus told his disciples “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
The Gospel of Jesus is not only Jesus’ cross. It’s your cross.
Jesus died on that cross to wash away your sins.
Jesus died on that cross to give you new life.
But you will only comprehend that forgiveness, and enter into that new life….
…. when you deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow him.
We’re talking about the death of our old self, the death of our ego, the death of this desire in every single one of us to be the center of the universe. The death of this constant search for a life without disruption, a Christianity with no pain at all, everything is just so nice.
God in his mercy brings us to a place where we are among people who can disrupt us without even trying….
Who hurt our feelings.
Who show us no respect.
Who have so many problems of their own they could care less about our problems.
And among such people, we are being taught how to lay down our lives, how to lay aside our garments, how to wrap ourselves in a towel and wash feet.
Do you sometimes envy your friends who are led by God to serve him in a sanitary church? Do you sometimes wish God would let you serve him in a setting that’s more orderly, peaceful, and prosperous?
Thank God. Thank God for his mercy.
In his mercy he brings us to a place where we get some exercise at learning how to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him.
What a privilege! May God give us eyes to see that and hearts to take hold of it.
Jerusalem means God’s way instead of our way.
And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
Man’s Way- Is to Stay up there by Caesarea Philippi, just worshiping God without disruption and enjoying the vision in peace.
God’s Way- Is to go to Jerusalem… and die…. and rise…. so that we can bear some fruit.
Every single one of us has to deal with that temptation to go man’s way, every single day of our lives.
We all want to go that way.
We just want to …. and we have to deal with that temptation, every single day.
We have to reject that tendency to go the easy way… and repent of our cowardice.
And learn to say with Jesus.
“Father not my will your will. Not my way, your way”.
“You want me to drink your cup? I’ll drink it”.
“You want me to go to Jerusalem? I’ll go”.
When we do this, then the Father visits us in the authentic, genuine power of the Holy Spirit
He does it in Jerusalem, among real people, with real problems, and real danger, and sooner or later a real death.
Here in Jerusalem we bear fruit, much fruit, fruit that will abide.
Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
The same God who has revealed to us that Jesus is the Messiah,
is also revealing to us that we are to follow him to Jerusalem.
If we believe that Jesus is the Messiah. If we have the vision that he is the Messiah. How can we do anything but follow him to that place where his cross and our cross will make the vision real?
If you don’t understand this… The Spirit will show you.
Think about it, pray about it. It’ll become clear.
Prayer: Yes, Lord show us, help us to understand what it means to follow you to Jerusalem. May we willingly follow you into uncertainty….into our Jerusalems…..coming out of our places of safety and comfort….. Lead us so we willingly put ourselves at risk for your name’s sake, for your Kingdom’s sake. Lead us to our Jerusalem where we willingly accept and embrace oblivion until who we are is lost in your name. Lead us to the place where we must take up the crosses you have for us, where we put on towels and willingly, lovingly wash feet in these Jerusalems we have tried to escape from. Lord, help us to follow you there and yes, to cry out “not my way, your way, I’ll go to Jerusalem, I’ll go.” Amen. Maranatha Mirror
Message: Richard Bieber 1988 Shareable/Printable Copy
Featured Art: Mino Cerezo Barredo …Mino paints widely used lectionaries and has painted many murals in Latin America. He doesn’t have a website but there are many websites that have short biographies and share his artwork. flickr . com/photos/religiondigital/albums/ 72157631803766637 and worshipwords. co .uk/artwork-for-each-week-years-abc-maximino-cerezo-barredo/
Posted March 21, 2023
The Starting Point Of The Last Harvest
The events that are taking place on the earth at this time and the witness of the Spirit of God among believers everywhere point to the fact that the hour of judgment is all but here. The earth is on the verge of things it has never seen. There has never been a war like the war that will break out on this planet when the Lamb begins to open those seven seals.
But before God’s judgment falls, this earth is going to see the love of God as it has never seen the love of God before. Jesus is going to cover this planet with such wonderful manifestations of God’s grace that one will be puzzled to understand why the whole world doesn’t fall to its knees and repent in dust and ashes. The gospel of Jesus Christ is going to go forth so mightily and is going to be attended by such magnificent signs of God’s love that you’d think everyone would surrender his life into the hands of the Messiah.
This gospel of the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)
In fact, this last visitation of Jesus to the earth has already begun. And in many ways it is like Jesus’ visit to the country of the Gerasenes in Mark 5. Jesus’ landing point on the earth at this hour is where it was that day….
…. He always begins in the most desolate place there is.
If He cares about this place, and if He cares about this man who came to Him out of those tombs, you know He cares about each of us struggling souls on this planet…
Those tombs are not like your local cemetery with fountains and statues and neatly-cut grass. They are caves in a bleak, wild, sad countryside. There are swine feeding on the hill – unclean beasts. Here comes this man with an unclean spirit who lives among the tombs. No one could restrain him. Time and again they chained him to keep him from running wild but he always broke away. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying and bruising himself with stones. Don’t ever think that when a man is possessed by an unclean spirit his own mind is dormant.
– There is no rest for his mind.
– He lives through Hell – the nearest thing to Hell there is on earth.
– He knows what it is to weep and gnash his teeth.
– He knows what it is to sit in the outer darkness where there is no hope.
Jesus starts with such a man.
How many people on the earth right now are living in just such a state here,
– nobody seems to be able to help them,
– nothing can restrain them any longer.
They roam in a desolate world of their own. They live among the tombs of a dead past. And on the mountains of despair, they keep trying to hurt themselves, maybe not with stones, maybe just by forever getting themselves in trouble or getting sick all the time.
These people are on every block in our neighborhood and every neighborhood across your town. They’re on the street where you live. They may be under the same roof with you. Some of these tormented souls could be reading these words –
…. and it is to these tormented souls that Jesus comes first.
And it is these people who recognize Jesus before anyone else does.
And when he saw Jesus from afar he ran and worshipped Him; and crying with a loud voice he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus Son of the most high God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he had said to him, “Come out of the man you unclean spirit!” And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” And he begged him eagerly not to send them out of the country. Now a great herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside; and they begged Him, ”Send us into the swine, let us enter them.” So He gave them leave. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about 2000, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and were drowned in the sea. (Mark 5:6-13)
The visit of Jesus to the earth at this eleventh-hour is making its impact by healing the demon-possessed people who, like that man, have been living through all the agonies of Hell.
Maybe it’s drugs.
Maybe it’s alcohol.
Maybe it’s some morbid fear or some guilt that just won’t leave.
They see Jesus from afar – they run and worship Him. Suddenly the demons are gone and they are sitting at Jesus’ feet clothed and in their right mind. We’re seeing this. Many of us see this because this has happened to us. And we are going to see much more.
It only took one such sign in that desolate place to rouse the whole country. Jesus didn’t have to go into town to proclaim the Kingdom of God. The men who had been herding those swine took care of it. The herdsman fled and told it in the city and in the country. And the people came to see what it was that happened (and they’ll do it again).
And they came to Jesus, and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the man who had had Legion; and they were afraid.
If only those people had been afraid with the fear of God!
If only they had fallen on their faces and worshiped as that man had done!
If only they had turned, what blessings would have come to their land!
God the Son was standing in their midst with life for every one of those people – standing among them to spare them forever the agonies that poor tormented man had gone through. Never had the love of God been so clearly revealed among them. So what do they do? They say, “Please go away. You’re disturbing our way of life. You’re disrupting our economy.”
And that, my friends, is exactly what this world will continue to be doing right up to the last second of this age of grace.
“Please go away Jesus. We don’t want you around here.”
You’d think that parents would rejoice to see their kids set free from the junk they were strung out on and following Jesus. But again and again these parents were ten times more upset by Jesus than they were ever upset by the drugs. “Where have I gone wrong! My kid’s a fanatic!” What were you saying when your kid was an addict?
They want Jesus to leave, so Jesus gets into the boat and leaves. He will not force His love on anyone.
After He has covered this earth with the good news and the earth says, “Leave”, He will leave. And there will be such a famine of the Word of God as earth has never seen.
But even in the midst of the famine Jesus will still have a witness: the man who was healed.
And as He was getting into the boat the man who had been possessed with demons begged Him that he might be with Him. But He refused and said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you. (They won’t let me tell them about God’s love – so you tell them)”. And he went away and began to proclaim in Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and all men marveled.
Now there is one difference between Jesus’ visit to the country of the Gerasenes and His visit to this lost generation of the sons of Adam. In that day, He came as a man in a single body of flesh-and-blood. Today, Jesus is visiting the earth in the Spirit… inhabiting a Body made up of countless flesh-and-blood people from every nation, race, and tongue under Heaven.
The people who comprise this Body are not those who merely profess Jesus with their lips or who are tied up with some fellowship or some church.
The people who comprise the Body of Christ which is now visiting the earth with real healing are not like the so-called Christians who have cluttered the earth and jammed up the churches for centuries.
The people who are getting the job done are people who are like Jesus – really like Jesus.
They don’t have a “Jesus front.” They have a “Jesus heart.”
They are like Jesus inside because Jesus, in fact, lives in them and rules their lives. If you want to know what these people are like, read II Corinthians 6. This is not just a description of the apostle Paul – it better be a description of you and me!
The people who are carrying the gospel to this last generation are like Jesus in that they put no obstacle in anyone’s way.
“We put no obstacle in anyone’s way”
2 Corinthians 6:3
The Pharisees put their self-righteousness in the way of other men finding God.
The great theologians put their great learning in the way of other men finding God – they make you think you have to be a genius to find God.
Respectable Christians put their respectability in the way of other people finding God – they give the impression that you have to be respectable like they are to find God.
The institutional people put the institution in the way of people finding God.
The non-institutional people put their institutional hang-up in the way of people finding God.
The high pressure evangelist puts his very methods in the way of other people really finding God.
And beautiful gifted believers often put their egos in the way.
If you want to be used by Jesus at this hour, you’d better be sure that there is nothing in your heart or in your living that stands in the way of other men finding God.
Don’t make men see your righteousness or your knowledge or your hypocrisy.
Make them see Jesus! Give them hope!
Those who are being lifted into this eleventh-hour Body ministry are like Jesus in that they are servants of God.
“As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way”,
…. not to the high and mighty –
…. not to the important people –
….but to this demon-possessed man –
so that he knows that we come to him as God’s servant, that he has nothing to fear.
The big-time Christian celebrities are useless in this area – their big egos frighten that demon-possessed man right back into the tombs.
We need servants!
– men and women who have given up all rights to themselves and live only to serve God in God’s way – in whatever crummy little place God chooses to put them,
…. so that when this man comes out of the tombs he can really see Jesus and not our stinking flesh.
Those who are being lifted up into this eleventh-hour Body ministry are like Jesus in that they practice great endurance.
”Through great endurance in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beating, imprisonments, tumults, labors…..”
Day-in-and-day-out to deal with these demon-harassed souls in one form or another, and with swineherds who get uptight when their pigs run down the hill and drown, and with the people who show no awe, no gratitude, no faith, and to keep right on going even though they begin treating you as an imposter – even when they start trying to kill you,
– you can’t give up because you’re tired,
– you can’t give up because someone hurt your feelings.
In honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute, as imposters and yet true, as unknown yet well-known, as dying and behold we live, as punished and not killed. As sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich. As having nothing yet possessing all things.
To keep right on going no matter what they think you are or what they do to you.
The Spirit of the Lord is gathering people for this eleventh-hour ministry. People who will go with Him to those desolate tombs and bring healing to those desolate souls – and be hated and rejected by the very ones to whom they announce good news.
If you hear Jesus calling you today, answer Him with all your heart, and He will make you ready for work that you never dreamed you would ever be able to do.
One more thing;
If there should be someone reading these words whose heart is crying out for deliverance and peace, just open your heart to God now. Our prayers were said for you, and God will answer them. The crucified and risen Lord Jesus will set you free, beginning now.
Prayer: Yes, Lord, we want to answer your call. Oh, how we want to see your love poured out on this planet, like never before. Oh, how we want to go forth bringing your magnificent signs like never before. And oh, how we want to be servants that bring your healing and hope when it looks the worst and despair and darkness is at its highest. We cannot do this without you. Make us ready, give us the open hearts we need to go to the desolate places, to bring healing to desolate souls. Show us how not to put obstacles in the way. Give us the endurance not to give up. Help us to keep serving with joy…wherever you have put us….with your heart, your heart dear, wonderful Lord. Amen. Maranatha Mirror
Message: Richard Bieber 2011 or so Shareable/Printable Copy
Featured Art: From the collection of Eularia Clarke 1914-1970 eulariaclarke.co.uk/
Posted March 10, 2023
I SEE MEN, BUT THEY LOOK LIKE TREES WALKING
During the Great Awakening of the early 1800’s, this land was hit with an outbreak of unusual signs following the preaching of the gospel of the Lord Jesus. Healings and outpourings of the Spirit followed the proclaiming of the Word in many places. The movement spread until it has touched every denomination of the Christian world.
Again a little over fifty years ago, a movement of the Holy Spirit spread among disaffected young people, the Jesus freaks,….sparked new life, release from captivity and Kingdom pursuing hearts across North America, Central America, Europe, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. Today, our churches, world, and culture are still feeling the effects of that Jesus revolution.
And now it seems to be happening again, causing joy in some places and controversy in others. Most of us cannot afford to approach this gospel movement, this revival… as critics, since our lives were in shambles, our bodies were sick, and our minds were flying apart at one time. We ourselves have experienced the supernatural touch of God in some way. The Jesus of the New Testament has brought healing into our lives.
Many of us have experienced inner quickening of the same order as the believers at Pentecost.
At some point in our lives the Holy Spirit
– visited us,
– opened our minds to the reality of Jesus,
– caused the Scriptures to come alive,
– inspired prayer unlike any prayer we had ever known before,
– freed our tongues, enabling us to proclaim Jesus to the world.
But now that a certain amount of time has elapsed since our first encounter with the risen Jesus, we have begun to realize that a supernatural touch from God – wonderful as it is – will not by itself hold us close to God for the rest of our lives and eternity.
It is possible, as it says in Hebrews 6, to see the Kingdom, taste the Kingdom, and yet drift from the Kingdom.
It is possible…
to experience the power of the Holy Ghost,
to speak in tongues,
to break bars of iron and gates of brass with sheer faith,
…. and still drift into complacency and lose touch with the Source.
The book of First Corinthians addresses this problem. It was a powerful church, that church in Corinth. They had healings, prophecies—and yet they were a carnal people torn with strife, because they lacked the essential ingredient of the Kingdom of God in their living.
When Jesus healed the ten lepers, every one of those ten lepers was touched by the power of heaven. Heaven came down into their wasted bodies and yet only one of those ten whose bodies had been touched by heaven turned around and entered the atmosphere of Heaven.
The other nine lepers had a wonderful blessing, but that wonderful blessing – even though it was supernatural – was not able to quicken them to eternal life.
And so many of us who have been wonderfully touched by the hand. of God are still living lives that mark us as carnal—as children of the world, lacking the essential ingredient of the Kingdom of God.
What is the essential ingredient of the Kingdom of God?
And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man, and begged him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the village; and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands upon him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see men; but they look like trees, walking.” (Mark 8:22-24)
Isn’t it interesting that the one instance in which Jesus touches someone for healing and the healing is incomplete, the incompleteness of the man’s healing manifests itself as his inability to see the people immediately around him as they really are.
“I see men; but they look like trees, walking.”
This man knew that if he couldn’t see men as they really were he was still, for all practical purposes, blind.
– No touch from God is complete,
– No vision from God is clear,
– No miracle from God has accomplished its purpose…
…if our vision of those around us is distorted and blurred.
This essential ingredient of the Kingdom of God is that God has so taken possession of our hearts ….that when we look at other men and women….
We see them with the eye of divine mercy.
How often we Spirit-touched supernatural dynamos, who are so full of enthusiasm for pursuing divine blessing, but when it comes to the people around us in daily life, see only trees walking, moving blurs.
For all our insight into spiritual things we stroll right by the wounded ones.
– We see trees walking.
We fail to see….
– the hurt,
– the pain,
– the torment of guilt,
– the pleading eyes,
– the outstretched hands.
We don’t see these people as God sees them.
– We see obstacles standing in our way.
– We see heads that are stepping stones for our climb to “success.”
– We see objects of lust.
– We see human cockroaches, vermin.
– We see trees walking.
That’s how it was in Corinth for all the supernatural fireworks.
But I, brethren, could not address you as spiritual men, but as men of the flesh, as babes in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food; for you were not ready for it; and even yet you are not ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving like ordinary men? (I Corinthians 3:1-3)
They were obsessed over who had what gift.
They were jealous, disorderly.
What they needed, Paul explained, was the eye of love.
Love that suffers long and is kind, envies not, vaunts not itself, is not puffed up, and so sees and cares about people as they really are.
And should a brother or sister from the social justice camp be reading this, feeling especially clean because “at least we aren’t flaky holy rollers, at least we really care about the down trodden and the oppressed”… it often happens that people who are willing to give their bodies to be burned in the cause of peace, disarmament, human rights, racial justice, gender equality… when it comes to the flesh-and-blood human beings they touch every day… see only trees walking.
How do you see your mate? As a person given to you to love and serve and help and comfort … just the way they are with all their faults? … or as a walking tree?
How do you see? ….
the delivery man,
the telephone receptionist,
the ‘woke’ people, the ‘Trumpsters’,
the ‘vaxxers’, the ‘anti-vaxxers’,
the reckless drivers, the slow drivers,
the grouchy cashier,
the people who chew with their mouth open…
Those people around you right now, who oppose you, who irk you, who get in your way.
Do you see people, made in the image of God, for whom the Lamb shed His blood,
or do you see trees walking?
Some of us complain that we can’t find our ministry. Is it because the ministry isn’t there? God hasn’t given us anything to do? Or, is it because God sends us into the streets and lanes of the city to bring guests to His banquet and we can’t even see them?
All we see are walking trees.
So the man lifted up his face for Jesus to touch him a second time.
…and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands upon him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see men; but they look like trees, walking.” Then again he laid his hands upon his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and saw everything clearly.
Two things happened here:
- Jesus laid His hands on the man’s eyes again.
- The man looked intently – made an effort – to see men as they really were.
– Then he was restored and saw everything clearly.
Surely if we don’t have that compassion which gives us true vision we’ll never muster it up from within ourselves. We need to turn to Jesus for a second touch.
“Lord, I know you touched me and I know my life was changed, but I also know that my vision of my fellow man is badly distorted. I’m not seeing what I should be seeing.
I see men but they look like trees, walking. Lord, touch me again. Open my eyes!”
After we have prayed such a prayer, as the power of the Holy Spirit causes the love of God to be shed abroad in our hearts afresh, we then need to look intently,
…. to strive to see….
– our neighbor,
– our friend,
– our enemy,
– our parent,
– our child,
– our mate,
– our brother in the Body;
– Lazarus who sits at our gate,
– with the new eyes God is giving us.
At first they will still look like trees walking, perhaps.
But as we look intently a miracle will happen.
A miracle which will not only affect our vision of men but directly our vision of God.
For he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. (I John 4:20)
We will begin to see people as God sees them. And when we begin to see people as God sees them…
We will begin to see everything clearly, including and especially God.
Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.
We have come to a time when it will no longer be possible for us to stumble along in strife and envy and lovelessness.
To survive the days which have already come upon us….
– We will have to see with the eye of God.
– We will have to be moved by a love which suffers long and is kind.
– We will need a humility to see us and others as we really are,
– We will have to seek a love that endures all things,
…. even if it means going to Jesus for a second touch,
…. even if it means straining our spiritual eyes….
…. Until we see what God wants us to see in the faces of those to whom He sends us.
Prayer: Lord, we admit our blindness. Despite being touched by your healing, by you looking intently at us and seeing our wounds, our weakness and having compassion on us, we haven’t opened our eyes to see what you see, to see people with your eyes. We get so busy in our own pursuits, our own opinions, achieving our own desires that people have become like trees walking to us. They are blurred, out of focus. They get in our way, slow us down, irritate us, annoy us. Forgive us for our cold hearts, for our narrow focus, for walking past and ignoring their wounds. Touch our eyes again Lord…help us to look intently at each human, flood us with love for them, give us the compassion to see others clearly… the way you call us to see them. Move us Lord, move us. Amen. Maranatha Mirror
Message: Richard Bieber 1978 edited to suit the times 2023 by Maranatha Mirror with the encouragement of the author. Shareable/Printable Copy
Featured Art: Courtesy and kindness of Corinne Vonaesch at c-vonaesch.ch
Posted February 26, 2023
Don’t Chicken Out
“Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.” (Luke 6:22-23)
How many of us are ready for that one?
“Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you”
“Oh, but that would never happen here! Who’s going to give me a hard time for being a Christian? Isn’t this a Christian country? Maybe in Turkey, for sure in Pakistan. But not here.”
First of all, there is no such thing as a Christian country here or anywhere else on earth.
Never has been.
Never will be until the Messiah returns.
You can get away with more here than you can in Turkey. Nobody will lock you up if you go down to the town square and start talking to people about Jesus. But the real reason we haven’t been hated, excluded, and reviled on account of the Son of man is…
Because we’re chicken.
We’re afraid to stick our necks out.
Even when your best friend gives you the perfect opening to simply tell what the Lord has done for you, you clam up. We all do.
That’s why nobody hates us, excludes us, reviles us.
And that’s why people we know who are looking for help from above, who are lonely and discouraged, and confused … are still stumbling around in a spiritual twilight zone.
Because we don’t want to risk losing their respect by offering them a miracle.
What if the miracle doesn’t happen?
What if I tell them what Jesus will do for them and Jesus lets me down?
One Sunday night many years ago – when we still had evening services down at the Church of Our Saviour- something made me announce to the congregation during the sermon that one of us would soon be proclaiming the gospel somewhere overseas. After the service Bill, who was the principal at a local school, came up to me and said, “I’m the one.” And sure enough, shortly after we went to Detroit, Bill went to Chicago Mission School and then off to East Africa working as a teacher among the Massai Tribes.
One day after the land had been suffering months and months of drought and the herds of the Massai people were in danger, some of the tribesmen came up to Bill and said, “If your God is so good and so powerful, why don’t you ask him to send us rain?” Bill was scared to death. They’d put him on the spot. What else could he do but say, “Yes” “Sure, I’ll pray right now.” So there in the presence of these tribesmen, Bill lifted his eyes to heaven and asked God to show his mercy as a sign of his love for these people and send rain in Jesus’ name. Within 30 minutes the sky grew dark, thunder and lightning began flashing and crashing, and down came a deluge.
Bill almost fainted. The Tribesmen were struck with fear. Bill wrote to us and told us about it. What a wonderful sign of God’s love for these people and for Bill.
Years later, while I’m painting our garage door. Jean comes out and says, “Guess who’s on the phone – Bill. He’s in Halifax and wants to get together.” We hadn’t seen Bill in years. We picked Bill up at the Lord Nelson, and on the way to the restaurant, I reminded him about his prayer for rain. “That’s only half the story”, said Bill. “The other half wasn’t as good.”
When we were seated in the restaurant, he explained the other half. The Massai people were so moved by this miracle, they brought him all their sick children and begged him to heal them. “What if I pray for these kids and nothing happens? I’m not sticking my neck out on this one!” So, he sent them away. He refused. Then Bill looked me in the eye and said, “What would you have done?”
Here’s a guy who’s spent his life all over the world helping people. I stand in awe of this man. I don’t know what I would have done if I’d been in his shoes with all those mothers bringing their children and asking me to pray for them.
But I know what I should have done.
And I know what I should have done in dozens of situations when I chickened out.
It may cost us. It may cause people to exclude us and revile us and cast out our name as evil. But who are we trying to please? Go ahead and pray for those kids and leave the consequences to God!
Don’t chicken out!
Of course, none of this is an issue as long as you think Christianity is simply a matter of belonging to a church and staying respectable.
But once you understand that Christianity is discipleship—
It’s more than praying the “sinner’s prayer” and getting saved.
It’s answering the call that Christ puts on your life.
It’s realizing that you are being sent to touch other lives with the redemptive power of God.
Even if you’re shy, you’re going to have to speak up.
Even if you keep a low profile, you’re going to be put on the spot.
Just like those Massai tribesmen put Bill on the spot, sometimes the Spirit of God puts you on the spot.
You’re visiting a neighbor at the general store, a big, burly truck driver who hasn’t been inside a church since he was 10 years old. Something inside tells you that you should offer to pray for this guy. “This is crazy. I’ve never prayed out loud for anybody in my life.” “Too bad”, says this voice inside you, “Do it!” “What if he chases me out of the room?” “Do it!” “Ed, would you let me pray for you?” He sighs, “Please do.” So you take hold of his hand and pray. You don’t even know what’s going to come out of your mouth. You don’t know how to pray for people. But you know the Spirit of God is nudging you this way, so you trust him to give you the words and he does. When it’s over, your neighbor’s face is soaking wet and he thanks you.
Don’t worry about the consequences – the consequences belong to God.
All you have to worry about is to do what God is showing you to do.
Once I was attending a death bed. The wife of the dying man took me aside and asked, “Do you give the last rites?” What am I going to say? Am I going to confess to her that I haven’t a clue how to give the last rites? What answer could I give her but yes? We do the best we can – we said some psalms, anointed him with oil, prayed. The Spirit came into that room. We felt the peace of God. Never have I experienced the presence of God at a death bed as we did that evening.
God always sees you through.
The more inadequate you feel, the better it is.
“God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness.”
When God puts you into a situation where somebody needs a word, a prayer, a touch in his name, the helping hand of the Lord….
Do what your heart tells you…. what God’s Spirit tells you to do…
…. and leave the consequences with God.
The big drawback in these special moments which God sends to each of us – the thing that causes us to chicken out – is fear.
Fear that people will hate us, exclude us, revile us, cast out our name as evil.
They might even laugh at us.
How do you get over this fear?
By accepting the fact that there will be people who will hate us, exclude us, revile us, and cast out our names as evil on account of the Son of Man.
But when this happens to us, it’s okay. It’s time to rejoice!
That’s what they did to the prophets.
That’s what they did to Jesus.
Why not us?
If you want to win friends and influence people, go to a Dale Carnegie course.
If you want to make it big, follow Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, or Jeff Bezos.
But if you want to be of use to the redeeming purpose of God in this crazy world…..
Expecting the same treatment from the world that he got – and when you get that treatment….
Don’t cry about it – rejoice!
Now you’re free – free to talk to people about the things that count because you’re not worried about how you look to them.
You’re free to reach out to that grouchy neighbor.
You’re free to say “yes” when they ask you to pray for the impossible.
It’s called boldness.
It’s the freedom from the fear of man…. and it’s yours and mine for the asking once we get over this one hump….
“Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.”
Prayer: Lord, give us the courage, the insight, and the motivation to reach out and speak to the people we interact with. Forgive us for the many, many times we chickened out. May we take and make openings in which we can listen well to others, we can pray with them for their needs and sorrows, and we can speak to them of your tender mercy. Give us such vision, such love, such faith that we will not fear our prayers will go unanswered, that we will not fear rejection, that we will not fear being reviled or persecuted. Give us a deep trust in you Lord that you will answer prayers and meet needs in your perfect way. Give us a wonderful sense of freedom and joy because you, you are with us in this and it is our honor and joy to be the vessels that pour out your holy redemptive power to any we interact with in our daily lives. Amen. Maranatha Mirror
Message: Richard Bieber 2001 Shareable/Printable Copy
Featured Art: All photos from Pixabay. “Breastplate” is by Signe Flink (Norrland in Sweden) konst/signe
Posted February 12, 2023
CONSIDER YOUR CALL-
HARVEST RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE
One day a farmer was working in his fields when he heard a voice speaking to him. Now he couldn’t tell whether this voice was being heard by his ears or by his heart, but he knew that it was the voice of God.
The voice said…
“I’m calling you into the harvest”.
That night before the farmer went to bed, he shut himself into a room and opened his Bible. It was if the very pages of his Bible caught fire. Never had the Scriptures spoken to this man as they now did. And everywhere he turned, the same message came to him.
“I’m calling you into the harvest”.
For days there was a glow within him.
His wife never saw him in a better mood.
His children never found him more patient.
He kept working his fields, but he knew deep within him that there was to be a change, there was a new life waiting for him, that he had been called into the harvest. The months went by and wherever this door was which was supposed to open him into this new and fruitful life he couldn’t seem to find it. Then the pastor of his church was transferred to Alaska, and he was asked to preach every Sunday. “At last,” he said to himself…
“This must be my chance to get into the harvest”.
He had visions of a spellbound audience, growing crowds of people, healings, and a spreading revival. But the reality was that the same sleepy congregation came week after week and went on their way, obviously unchanged.
This couldn’t be the harvest, so the farmer sold 50 acres of his land, bought a revival tent, some sound equipment, a semi-truck and hit the road as an evangelist….
“Evangelism must be what the Lord has in mind”.
He went from city to city and occasionally really got some good crowds together. Sometimes people answered his altar call. There were even a few healings. But after two years of this, he knew that this was not where he belonged… He asked himself…
“Where is this harvest Lord”?
Then he heard of desperate needs and tremendous spiritual opportunities in southern Brazil. So, he sold another 50 acres of his land, studied Portuguese, and took his family to Brazil. The reception in Brazil was like everywhere else, lukewarm. After three years of urgent labor among the people of Brazil, in spite of the hopeful things he sent back in his mission letters, he was driven to the very edge of despair.
The farmer came home with his family, holed himself up in a room with a typewriter and for six months worked on a book which he hoped would start a Christian world and bring in a harvest. But the book didn’t even sell 1000 copies. He said…
“I’m going back to farming”.
And so he set about trying to restore his overgrown fields, what was left of them, and mending the broken down fences. One spring morning as he was plowing with his rusty old tractor, the voice spoke to him again….
“I’m calling you into my harvest”.
But this time he was angry. “Oh yeah, I believed you the last time you told me that and you can’t say I didn’t try, but everything I put my hand to failed, so please don’t mess up my life anymore”.
Just then the engine of his tractor sputtered and died. It was out of gas. So, he picks up the gas can that’s hanging behind the seat and heads for an old broken-down shack that lies just across the property line that had been there a long time. He says, “well, surely they’ll had some gas and it will save me having to walk back all the way to the barn”. “Gas”, says the old lady at the door, “I don’t have any gas, I don’t have a car, I don’t have a tractor, I have no truck”.
Looking through the door the farmer could see poverty … a bare table with part of a loaf of bread and a teapot. The woman was shivering. “The only thing I can offer you” she said to him, “is a cup of tea”. And sitting there at the table of this poor, lonely, sickly old soul… this woman who had been his neighbor since childhood… whose husband’s death never even left an impression on his mind…the voice came to him, for the third and final time.
“I’m calling you into the harvest”.
Now suddenly he understands.
This is the harvest!
And this was the beginning of a new life for him, for the elderly lady, and for numberless other people.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity. He called to him the twelve. (Matthew 9:35-10:1)
Now there is call on the life of every single one of us who is at all serious about following Jesus.
When Jesus calls us to follow him, he always calls us to a work. To each of us, he says.
“I’m calling you into the harvest”.
When Peter fell to his knees in the boat, after the net came up loaded with fish, he said “depart from me for I am a sinful man, oh Lord”.
Jesus did not say “you must be born again, you got to repent and become a Christian Peter”. The only thing Jesus said to him was….
“Don’t be afraid, from now on you’re going to be catching men”.
Which was the same as to say…
“I’m sending you into the harvest”.
But it’s so easy to accept the fact that we’ve been called into the harvest of God and to rejoice in the knowledge that there is a call on us….and yet to spend or to wait half our lives going all over the place and racking our brains trying to figure out where the harvest is.
The harvest of God is a glorious thing… but… when we get up close to it, it looks so ordinary and often so repulsive…. that we miss it, we pass it right by.
Because all the harvest is… is people.
People who hurt.
People who are lost in the shuffle.
People who don’t even know how to say “thank you”.
People who hide their wounds and their hurt behind anger, boredom, bad habits, cynicism.
And the ones who are sent to do the harvesting are also people…
…..almost exactly the same kind of people.
People like you and me.
For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)
So, God takes the earthen vessel of our lives… weak and faltering as they are… fills them with the Heavenly treasure, the transcendent power of his spirit…. and sends us forth.
See the people (the Harvest) in the place where we are…. with the eyes of God
And if we will begin with the people who are right where we are…
There will be a harvest.
Specifically, Jesus is calling us to see the people in the place where we now are… with the eyes of God.
The farmer went over half the world trying to find his calling because he failed to see his nearest neighbor with the eyes of God.
And we do the same thing, we miss the needs that are right under our faces because we don’t see these people with the eyes of God.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Jesus saw these people, saw beneath their masks, saw how weak, how troubled, how helpless, how needy, and how wounded they were… and his heart went out to them with a compassion that bore their iniquities and carried their sorrows…
…. and he commands us to do the same.
Do you not say, “Four months more, then comes the harvest”? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. (John 4:35)
And as Jesus said that to his disciples in Samaria, out comes the woman he had met at the well, who was now coming with people from the town. “Look at them”.
And Jesus says the same to us right now…
“Look at them” …
“Look at these people, see how ripe they are for the Kingdom” …
“Where else can they turn?” …
“If you will only look at them with my eyes” …
“You’ll soon be pouring out your life for them in my name”.
Jesus calls us to draw nearer to the people, in the place where we are …
…with the heart of God.
This man, the farmer, had visions of setting the world on fire for the Kingdom, yet ignored his nearest neighbor. Now how in the world is he going to have any kind of compassion for people in Brazil, if he doesn’t even see the work before him and draw near with mercy to this woman.
Draw near to the people in the place where we are…. with the heart of God
And as he sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:10-13)
Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?
He eats with them.
In other words, he doesn’t draw near to them as a professional approaching a client, but he comes to them as a peer.
The physician comes down and dwells in the world of the sick… with mercy.
And if we would but draw near the people in the place wherever we are, with the heart of God, we will soon find ourselves surrounded with human anguish and human need.
You don’t have to do something dramatic to develop a ministry. All you have to do is to eat with tax collectors and sinners, and before you know it, your hands are going to be fuller than you can handle.
And you’ll have to cry out to God for help.
Serve the people in the place where we are … with the patience of God.
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)
… That’s what Jesus did, he ministered… he served.
He served day after day after day … when they appreciated it and when they maligned him and despised him and rejected him. The nine others who never said thank you were still healed. Jerusalem… over which Jesus wept because of its hardness of heart was still the object of his love, it was his goal, it was going to be the place where he would lay down his life.
…good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest. (see Luke 8:15b)
How else do we patiently produce a huge harvest …. but by serving people right where we are!
We serve whether they like us, whether they dislike us, whether they malign us, and whether they misunderstand us. Our joy is not that people appreciate us. If we seek that for our joy, we’re going to be upset all our lives.
Our joy is that God has given us something to do.
Lift the people, by name, in the place where we are … into the Kingdom of God.
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:17-19)
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me”, Jesus said…
Now the Spirit that was upon him during his days of flesh and blood … is upon us. And when we…in him, preach good news to the poor, there will be a response. When we proclaim release to the captives, they receive freedom… eyes open…oppression lifts.
And the scene of the most awesome aspect of this lifting people up into the Kingdom of God, from their bondage into God’s freedom, is a room where there are no crowds. In fact, where there is nobody but just you…
…. and faithfully by name, we lift these people up before God’s throne.
And we do that every day. You say that’s a ritual, sure, so is eating, so is sleeping. And this is a more important ritual than eating and sleeping.
No ministry will ever get to first base without it … nor any calling God has put upon our lives… until we start to do this, until we start to intercede for people, by name. That’s not just for Saint Francis of Assisi. That’s for you and me.
Then when we do that, we then can go out into the world and proclaim the word God gives us to the people in the place where we are…knowing that that word will not come back empty.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity.
He called to him the twelve, then he called to him countless other people down through the centuries, and now he calls to us.
Why should he call us? Surely, not because we have the greatest potential. On the contrary, he calls us to him, to show that the heavenly treasure can do marvelous things even in such piddly earthen vessels as you and me.
For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
What awesome things God will do through us….
If we will but open our eyes to the harvest right where we are.
Prayer: Dear Lord, open our eyes to the harvest right where we are. Help us to hear your voice speaking to us “I’m calling you into the harvest”. Lord at this point, even if we’ve misunderstood your call into the harvest, help us to see it very clearly now. Help us to look around and really see the people who need us, who have been waiting for your hand. Help us to see with your eyes, light our hearts with compassion. Help us to draw nearer and sit down and eat with them, to truly be a part of their lives. And as we face their needs, some of them that are beyond us, we cry to you for help, for intervention, for mercy, for answers, for change, for release, for peace in the lives of these people who are beloved by you. And yes, help us to serve patiently, joyfully….no matter what….because serving in joy is where we find you. Lord, take these weak, earthen vessels and turn them into heavenly treasure filled with the life, the light, the healing of your Spirit so that we can pour it out into the fields in front of us and harvest right where we are. Amen. Maranatha Mirror
Message: Richard Bieber 1980 Audio link to this sermon Shareable/Printable Copy
Featured Artist: Courtesy of James Janknegt at bcartfarm.com