RED SKY – SAILOR TAKE WARNING

Matt.16:2,3 – He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.

Recently I was preparing to play golf with some friends and we were noticing the beautiful red sunrise in the east. One of my friends said, “red sky in the morning, sailor take warning” and then made reference to this scripture. I began to ask some questions (seeing my friend is a fisherman) and he said that red sunrises speak of a rainy day later and a red sunset usually predicts a coming beautiful day. I have been thinking about what the Lord was saying in this passage all day today. Obviously He was rebuking the religious leaders He was speaking to. He said that could recognize signs in nature and miss the prophetic signs of the coming of the Lord all around them. Here are some comments from Spurgeon on this passage.

“They were able to draw nice distinctions on the variable condition of “the face of the sky: ” why could they not “discern the signs of the times? ” They could have seen, if they had chosen to do so, that all the prophecies were one in declaring that the date of Messiah’s appearing had arrived; and they could also have observed that every event was fulfilling those prophecies; but they were false at heart, and would not see, and yet cried out for a sign. Signs were all around them, and yet they repeated the parrot cry “Show us a sign.” Most justly our Lord was indignant with them, and upbraided them, using the justly severe words, “O ye hypocrites! ”… Lord, do not allow any of us to be blind to the heavenly signs, — thy cross, thy resurrection, thy Word, thy Spirit, and thy work of grace, Teach us carefully to discern ” these things as being in very deed the abidingsigns of the times.

Just as there were signs of the first appearance of the Lord (the magi recognized a star proclaiming the Lord’s birth) there are signs all around us proclaiming the end of the age and the Second coming of the Lord. There are spiritual signs; the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. There are signs in the political and economic world; the alignment of the nations against Israel for one. There are also signs in creation; earthquakes and natural disasters have multiplied in the last century. Look at the signs; red sky – sailor take warning.

SAVIOR OF THE WORLD

Jn.4:42 – Then the Samaritans said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you told us, but now we’ve heard him ourselves and are convinced that he really is the true Savior of the world!”

This passage is one of the first indications that Christ was coming for the whole world, not just the jews. The conversation by Jesus with the Samaritan woman was borderline scandalous and was not at all what His disciples had expected. The Lord was expanding their vision to embrace Him as the Savior of the world. The picture is a Leonardo da Vinci painting entitled Savior of the World. It was sold recently as the most expensive painting of all time to a prince in Saudi Arabia. He truly is the Savior of the world. In this particular story the Samaritan village had begun to believe on Christ. At first it was just the testimony of the woman at the well; after hearing Christ for themselves they believed on Him because of His words. Just as Jesus had given the woman at the well life, the rest of the village were also tasting of Christ’s life giving water as they drank from His words themselves. The Aramaic word for Savior in this passage literally means life giver. He gives life to all who receive His word. Here is how Matthew Henry describes the power of meeting Christ for yourself.

“Faith comes to its growth, strength, and maturity, by hearing the testimony of Christ himself; and this goes further, and recommends his doctrine to our acceptance, and obliges us to believe it as undoubtedly certain. We were induced to look into the scriptures by the saying of those who told us that in them they had found eternal life; but when we ourselves have found it in them too, have experienced the enlightening, convincing, regenerating, sanctifying, comforting, power of the word, now we believe, not for their saying, but because we have searched them ourselves: and our faith stands not in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”

All of us have developed preconceived ideas about the Lord and spirituality from our past influences. The woman at the well, as the rest of this Samaritan village, was trapped in a religious world without life until they heard for themselves. If we are honest with ourselves maybe much of what we believe comes from what others say. Listen to His word for yourself and you too will say, “he really is the true Savior of the world!”

DORCAS AND HER VOICE

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS –

Acts 9:36 “Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity.  In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.”  So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them.  But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up.  And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then, calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive.”

The word ‘ministry’ to many sounds intimidating and or totally unappealing. We make so much of a word that we push it right out of our minds. Surely ministry doesn’t include me, it goes to the folks that are holy, and holds a bible 24/7. But in reality ministry involves everyone till we see the return of Christ. What treasure do you find in your hand my friend? Most probably your ministry is right in front of you.

Dorcas found her rhythm in life “doing good deeds and serving others”. No, it wasn’t preaching nor signs and wonders but in clothing others and serving the poor. Dorcas grabbed material, needle and thread, some knitting tools and went to work. We are not talking about what she wore to church being the stylist she was, but having joy seeing others clothed. At some point Dorcas faced loss (we know she was a widow) and rather sitting around in some dark room, she found her voice once again. Whats so astounding is that when I look back at my life, I see the many Dorcas’s that stepped in and gave me their voice. I can still see my 2nd grade teacher (Mrs Cornell), or the women that knocked at my door when I came home from the hospital with our firstborn at the age of 17. My memories are full of women (my mother included) that encouraged me, gave me clothes, cleaned my house, and stayed up late thru the night to pray for me. Their sewing machine of grace hummed with his favor, love and support. They didn’t have big ministries or write books but they used their voice for his glory. My life is embedded with their voices.

Then came the day Dorcas fell sick and died. Dorcas’s voice and her hands fell silent but the people around her didn’t. They did what she would do, find the miracle worker. They placed her in the upper room where the fire falls and prayers become incense. They found Peter and wouldn’t take no for an answer. He heard about her voice, got everyone out of the room and Dorcas became the first person to be raised from the dead by the apostles.

So go look around for the material God has given you for his kingdom and use your voice!

KINGDOM COME

Mk.9:2 – After six days, Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, Jacob and John, and hiked up a high mountain to be alone. And Jesus’ appearance was dramatically altered, for he was transfigured before their very eyes!

Jesus taught His disciples to focus on the kingdom of God for their prayers. I guess to focus on the kingdom we must understand what it is. Paul said the kingdom of God was, not physical but “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit”. The kingdom both Jesus and Paul were speaking of is a spiritual kingdom. It is not apparent to our natural senses, our spiritual perception has to be awakened to glimpse this hidden kingdom. The Transfiguration pointed the disciples in that direction. Here are some comments from the notes in the Passion Translation pointing us toward that secret kingdom.

“This manifestation of the power of God’s kingdom realm could be seen in three dimensions. (1) Beginning with v. 2, the kingdom power of God was seen in Jesus’ transfiguration and the appearing of Moses and Elijah on the mountain. (2) Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into glory inaugurated a new era of God’s kingdom power. (3) The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, which brought to birth the church of Jesus Christ, and extended God’s kingdom realm to all the earth.”

These notes point out three aspects of the kingdom shown by the Transfiguration. The kingdom of God consists not only in wisdom but in power. The power of God is evident as we see the glory of Christ in this passage. The veil blocking His glory is lifted momentarily that the power of God might be displayed. This passage also points to the resurrection and the glorification of Christ. The glorification of Jesus as a man marks the beginning of this new kingdom age. The final observation is that all of this made Pentecost possible. Because of the cross, resurrection, and glorification of Christ the Holy Spirit is now poured out on all mankind. This is the kingdom that Jesus came to establish and we are enjoying today. We now taste the edge of it as we are filled with the power of His presence. The day is coming when Christ will return and the whole earth will be filled with the Spirit of God. All I can say is; Lord let your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

TRANSFORMED BY GLORY

Matt.17:2 – And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.

2 Cor.3:18 – We can all draw close to him with the veil removed from our faces. And with no veil we all become like mirrors who brightly reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus. We are being transfigured into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another. And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Rom.12:2 – Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.

There are all sorts of spiritual implications that are displayed by the amazing transformation of Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration. One that stands out to me is the image of Christians being transformed by the work of God in this life. Jesus is transfigured, the word metamorphoo is used, by the power of the Spirit on and in His life. Take a look at this word, metamorphoo, from the New Testament Word Book.

“Metamorphoo – Used of the Lord’s transfiguration on the mount (Matt. 17:2; Mark 9:2) involving the miracle of transformation from an earthly form into a supernatural form which was externally denoted by the radiance of His garments and countenance. This suggests what the bodies of the righteous may be like as a result of the resurrection of our bodies (1 Cor. 15:51f.). In Rom. 12:2 and 2 Cor. 3:18, the idea of transformation refers to an invisible process in Christians which takes place or begins to take place during their life in this age.”

The anointing of the Holy Spirit has a distinct impact on our lives. According to 2 Cor.3:18 we are changed from one degree or level of glory to the next. In other words, salvation is a work that will continue in us throughout our entire lives. We are metamorphosized or changed continually by the power of the Spirit working in and upon our lives. In Roman 12, Paul speaks about the challenge of being impacted by the world. Paul’s answer? Be transformed by the work of the Spirit.

UNDER HIS SHADOW

Mk.9:1 – Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, there are some standing here now who won’t experience death until they see God’s kingdom realm manifest with power!”

Matt.17:5 – But while Peter was still speaking, a radiant cloud composed of light spread over them, enveloping them all. And God’s voice suddenly spoke from the cloud, saying, “This is my dearly loved Son, the constant focus of my delight. Listen to him!

I love the description of the cloud in the Passion Translation. It describes the cloud as radiant. This is why the cloud of glory is often described as shekinah, the shining cloud of glory. This cloud led the children of Israel for forty years through the desert. It was also the cloud that filled the temple at Solomon’s dedication service. In today’s passage we see the manifestation of the Holy Spirit as a cloud working together with the Father who said “this is my beloved Son, listen to Him”. What an amazing picture of the trinity working together, heading toward their ultimate triumph at Calvary. The Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit always work together in perfect harmony. The Passion Translation notes point out the powerful description of the cloud in the original text. Check this out.

“The Greek word translated “overshadow” is episkiazo, which is used exclusively for the power of the Almighty “overshadowing,” such as Mary, who conceived a child supernaturally by God…. This was not a natural shadow created by the light of the sun, but the supernatural overshadowing of God’s power. Jesus will appear again in these clouds of glory.”

This word, episkiazo, is used by Luke when he describes Mary as being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit when she conceived Christ in her womb. The cloud of glory came upon her and she became pregnant with God’s only begotten Son. This phrase is also used in an amazing way in the book of Acts. There was a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit described in Acts 5 in the streets of Jerusalem. Sick people were lining the streets and when Peter’s shadow passed over them they were healed. Actually, Luke used that word, espiskiazo to describe Peter’s shadow. It was actually the shining cloud of glory, the anointing, that was on Peter healing the sick.

At the risk of sounding weird, I often ‘see’ a haze in our services at Victory. I don’t think the cloud is physically visible but it is there none the less. His presence is often manifested in corporate worship services but not everyone is aware of His presence. Draw near today, you may find yourself under His shadow.

TRANSFIGURED

Lk.9:34,35 – While Peter was still speaking, a radiant cloud of glory formed above them and overshadowed them. As the glory cloud enveloped them, they were struck with fear. Then the voice of God thundered from within the cloud, “This is my Son, my Beloved One. Listen carefully to all he has to say.”

The Transfiguration was a foretaste of the coming kingdom. Think about it, the Son of God has existed and enjoyed intimacy with the Father from eternity. The Son of God became the Son of Man when He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin, Mary. He was named Jesus and raised as the son of Joseph the carpenter. He began His ministry at thirty and was preparing for His death. After His death and resurrection Christ would take His place at the Father’s right hand, as a glorified man. The transfiguration is a foretaste of the coming kingdom. The disciples glimpsed the coming glory of Jesus on the mountain that day. Soon, Jesus would enter that glory. Soon we would enter that glorious state as well. Here are some thoughts from Martin Luther on today’s passage.

“Three persons and one God—they appeared as distinguishable. The figures are different from one another: there is the Father who speaks, the Son about whom the Father speaks and the Holy Spirit . . . in the shining cloud. This we confess in the Apostle’s Creed. Since the gospel has been revealed, we should believe this…..Among us simple people we do not speculate but are taught. True faith is that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are the one God. The Son became human, and he died and gave us the Holy Spirit who gives us the sacrament, consolation, strengthens us and leads us into eternal life. Otherwise no one’s faith—not any single person’s`—has endured for long.”

Peter, James, and John saw the edge of Who Jesus is and how He would appear in eternity. Years later I’m sure John remembered this day when he was caught up into heaven by the Spirit. His first vision was seeing Jesus in that place of glory. He saw Him as a lion and as a sacrificed lamb. He saw Him in His glory on the throne and saw all creation bowing in worship before the Lord. This is what we are praying for when we pray ‘Let your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven’. Lord, let Your kingdom come, let the whole earth be filled with Your glory.

MY BELOVED

Matt.17:5 – While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!”

Christ is the very image of the Father. He is absolutely perfect and is the display of the Father in every way. The Father loves the Son, the Father has always loved the Son, the transfiguration just gives us a glimpse into this heavenly intimacy. The disciples had not tasted this life at this point in the gospel narrative. This was just a glimpse into the fellowship they would soon enjoy. They were privileged to observe this intimacy. After Pentecost they too would begin to taste it. Paul said that we are seated together in heavenly places in Christ. The transfiguration gives us a taste of what we now have. Here is a quote from Matthew Henry on this passage.

“The great gospel mystery revealed; This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. This was the very same that was spoken from heaven at his baptism; and it was the best news that ever came from heaven to earth since man sinned. It is to the same purport with that great doctrine, That God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself. Moses and Elias were great men, and favorites of Heaven, yet they were but servants, and servants that God was not always well pleased in; for Moses spoke unadvisedly, and Elias was a man subject to passions; but Christ is a Son, and in him God was always well pleased. Moses and Elias were sometimes instruments of reconciliation between God and Israel; Moses was a great intercessor, and Elias a great reformer; but in Christ God is reconciling the world; his intercession is more prevalent than that of Moses, and his reformation more effectual than that of Elias.”

Today, the Son of God has entered into this glory that was glimpsed that day on the Mount of Transfiguration. He reigns on the throne with His Father, ruling the universe as the Son of God. The good news is that He sits in heaven representing me and interceding for me before the Father. Moses and Elijah were voices pointing us to Him. Today, God is speaking to us through His very own Son. He is calling us into this mystery of heavenly fellowship so that we too can be transformed and radiate His glory.

I HAVE TO SING

Ps.92:3,4 – Melodies of praise will fill the air as every musical instrument,

joined with every heart, overflows with worship.

No wonder I’m so glad; I can’t keep it in!

Lord, I’m shouting with glee over all you’ve done,

for all you’ve done for me!

Music and singing are our response to the Lord. To those who live with eyes wide open singing is not optional. When we see His glory in the sunrise, we hear His joy in the songbirds, we feel His power in the crashing thunder, our response is to glorify Him with a song. When we see the rays of revelation in the scripture; redemption, adoption, election, sovereignty, our hearts break out in His songs of joy and celebration. When we think of our testimony; how He knew us from our mother’s womb, He kept us safe in our years of rebellion, He provided for us from our first breath, and He revealed Himself to us on the day of our new birth, we can’t hold in the sounds of joy that erupt from deep inside of us. Here is how Spurgeon describes this phenomenon.

“It was natural for the psalmist to sing, because he was glad, and to sing unto the Lord, because his gladness was caused by a contemplation of the divine work. If we consider either creation or providence, we shall find overflowing reasons for joy; but when we come to review the work of redemption, gladness knows no bounds, but feels that she must praise the Lord with all her might. There are times when in the contemplation of redeeming love we feel that if we did not sing we must die; silence would be as horrible to us as if we were gagged by inquisitors, or stifled by murderers. I will triumph in the works of thy hands. I cannot help it, I must and I will rejoice in the Lord, even as one who has won the victory and has divided great spoil….When God reveals his work to a man, and performs a work in his soul, he makes his heart glad most effectually, and then the natural consequence is continual praise.”

So take a look around as you begin the new day. Listen for His songs outside as creation displays His glory, search for His grace as you open up the scriptures, bask in His love as you sing your songs of joy to the Lord. Yep, I think its going to be a great new day.

BLIND BEGGARS

Mk.10:47 – When he heard that Jesus from Nazareth was passing by, he began to shout “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me now in my affliction. Heal me!”

I love Mark’s account of the healing of Blind Bartimaeus. You can feel the pain and the suffering in this blind beggar’s desperate pleas. Bartimaeus had obviously heard the stories of the miracles of Jesus; after three years and hundreds (possibly thousands) of healings everyone had heard about the miracles and most had drawn their conclusions. When you are hurting like this blind man you don’t have time for religious discussions, you just want to get well. That’s why Bartimaeus was shouting, “Son of David, have mercy on me”. What a bold public declaration, Son of David, the Messianic title. People were thrown out of their synagogues for less than that, but Bartimaeus had nothing to lose. Mark described the blind man’s shouting with a word used for animals screeching. The blind man was not going to be ignored, he was demanding some kind of response, he knew this was his one time shot at life.

The crowds tried to shush him but Jesus called for him, “Bring that blind man to Me”.

Bartimaeus threw away his mendicant coat and made his way to Jesus. He wouldn’t be needing that coat anymore, his life was about to begin. Why did Mark mention that coat anyway? Why was that so important? That coat was Bartimaeus’s way of supporting himself. He was a beggar, this coat was his ticket for provision, issued to guarantee his right to beg. He wouldn’t be needing help from any man anymore he was about to get a real life.

“What do you want Me to do for you?” Jesus seemed to be asking the obvious. “I want to see”, Bartimaeus boldly declared. “Your faith has made you whole. Go in peace”. Instantly the former blind man saw the face of Jesus, a smile bright enough to light the whole world. “Go in peace?” You’ve got to be kidding. Bartimaeus wasn’t going anywhere. He began to follow Jesus down the road.

I love the end of this story the best. Too many times answered prayers are squandered on people who just return to their old way of life after they get their miracle. Not Bartimaeus, He was going to follow Jesus. He had gotten more than physical eyesight that day, He had his spiritual eyes opened. When he saw Jesus, he realized this was what he was born for; to know Jesus and live for him the rest of his life.