DEVOTIONS

The seder meal

Saturday

April 4, 2020

Exodus 6:6-7 “So tell the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord. I will throw off the heavy load the Egyptians have put on your shoulders. I will set you free from being slaves to them. I will reach out my arm and save you with mighty acts when I judge Egypt.  “ ‘I will take you to be my own people. I will be your God. You will know that I am the Lord your God when I throw off the load the Egyptians have put on your shoulders.” [1]

This past week we have investigated the historical as well as the spiritual meaning of each of the traditions that make up the Feast of Passover.  Today, I want to share one more meaningful aspect of the Feast of Passover, the Seder meal.  Not only does it have a present spiritual meaning but a prophetic one as well.

 

We are reminded in Exodus 6:6-7 that God made four promises to His people represented by each of the four cups that are a part of the Seder meal.  Each cup had its own name in order to designate its significance in remembering the key phrase it represented in the promises of Exodus. 

 

  1. The first cup that is to be taken at the start of the Seder meal was the “Cup of Blessing or Sanctification” referring to the phrase in Exodus: “I will bring you out.”   God’s promise to separate His people from Egypt was a picture of sanctification as well as a picture of our own sanctification in being ‘separated from our sins.’”

  2. The second cup also taken just before the start of the meal is the “Cup of Praise.”  It was for giving praise to God for His promise in Exodus which says, “I will deliver you from bondage.”  Another picture of how God takes away the bondage of our sin.

  3. The third cup was taken at the end of the meal by all participants of the Seder.  This third cup was called the “Cup of Redemption.”  This is the cup represented when we take the Lord’s Supper each week in service.  It is the cup Jesus referred to in Matthew 26:28: “this is my blood of the covenant, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”  We have been partaking in the “Cup of Redemption” by drinking from this third cup every week!

  4. With the fourth cup comes a prophetic foreshadowing of a future event.  It is going to be an exciting, wonderful event!  This fourth and final cup of the Seder is commonly called the “Cup of the Kingdom.”  Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 26:29: “Here is what I tell you. From now on, I won’t drink wine with you again until the day I drink it with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

  • Jesus said this because he came to fulfill the prophecies.  He has not yet fulfilled the earthly establishment of His Kingdom thus he skipped this last cup of the Seder.

  • The other reason Jesus didn’t drink of the fourth cup has to do with the Jewish wedding tradition we have talked about before in our study of end things.

  • As you may recall when the Jewish man would purpose to a potential bride, he would offer her a cup of wine.  If she drank it, she was accepting the betrothal.  He would then tell her that he was going to his father’s house to prepare a place for her.  She would ask “when are you coming back?” to which the man would respond “Only my father knows!”

  • This is the very same discussion Jesus had with his disciples the night of the Last Supper! After Jesus drank the third cup of wine with his disciples, he told them this: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God. Trust in me also. “There are many rooms in my Father’s house. If this were not true, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.  If I go and do that, I will come back. And I will take you to be with me. Then you will also be where I am.”

  • The wedding tradition teaches us that when the father feels the son has completed the room to his satisfaction, he will tell him to go and retrieve his bride. (Rapture)

  • The bride and groom then celebrate their togetherness for seven days (which takes place during the seven years of tribulation on earth).  When they come out of the bridal chamber on the seventh day a wedding feast is given in their honor! 

  • At the start of the feast, the bride and groom would drink together from the “Cup of Consummation” the same as the fourth cup of the Seder!  They drink from the “Cup of the Kingdom!” 

 

When we partake in the Lord’s Supper each week, we are drinking the “Cup of Redemption” accepting our betrothal to the Lord.  Eventually, we will drink the “Cup of Consummation” with our Lord Jesus at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.  The Last Supper is unfinished until we all drink the “Cup of Consummation” with Christ in Heaven at the marriage celebration supper! 

 

I hope this week has been insightful and inspirational to you in your understanding of the Passover feast.  May God bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you as you contemplate what this all means for us who believe in the soon coming of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, our groom!

 

Have a great weekend.  Next week watch for a daily video with a study guide to walk you through each day of Holy Week!  It will be awesome! 

 

Love you all,

Pastor Randy 

The Significance of the Feast of Passover, Part 4

- Read John 19:14-22

Thursday

April 2, 2020

Key verse: “Pilate had a notice prepared. It was fastened to the cross. It read, Jesus of Nazareth, The King of the Jews." 

 

Earlier this week we discussed how each family would go and choose a family lamb for Passover.   This was done on the 10th day of Nisan and for the next four days, the lamb would become like one of the family.   So far this week we have seen many remarkable parallels between the preparation for this festival and the preparation Jesus went through making himself the sacrificial Lamb of God on his way to the cross. 

 

As we dig a little deeper into the historical insights of Passover, we find yet another amazing fact.  Each year when the family would pick their lamb, they would put a name tag around the lamb’s neck with the family name.  This was done so that on the 14th day of Nisan when they would present their family lamb for sacrifice at the Temple, they would receive their own lamb back to be prepared for the Passover meal.  For example, the Kiger family would choose their lamb, place a name tag around our lamb that would say “Kiger Family” and after we would present our lamb to the priests at the Temple for the sacrifice they would slaughter the lamb and return it to us to take back home to prepare it for the Passover dinner.  Without the family tag around the neck of our lamb, it would be near impossible to know whether or not we got “our” family lamb back. 

 

You are probably thinking that’s neat, “so what.”   Well, I am glad you asked.  When you look at most paintings of Christ on the cross what do you see?  Most people probably miss it, what about you?  Do you give up?  Find a painting or a picture of the crucifixion scene and look at the top of each cross.  What do you see?  You won’t see anything above either criminal’s cross.  At the top of Jesus’ cross, you will see a small sign with what look to be four letters: “INRI.” (Norton).  When you dig into it you will find that this was an abbreviation of the sign that Pontius Pilate placed on the cross as seen in today’s key verse- “Pilate had a notice prepared. It was fastened to the cross. It read, Jesus of Nazareth, The King of the Jews.”

 

As I researched this, I learned that the letters (INRI) were the first letters of each of the nouns in the Latin inscription on the sign prepared by Pilate.  In the Latin Vulgate, the inscription for “INRI” would read “Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum.”  David Schiller, a Jewish teacher shares an even more incredible observation. He writes, “Since the inscription had been in three languages—Latin, Greek, and Hebrew—he transliterated it from Hebrew to English.  What I saw was these words: “Y’Shua, HaNatzri, V’Melech, HaYehudim.”  When you take the first letters of each of these Hebrew letters it spelled “YHVH,” the name of God!  When this technique of abbreviating is used, the title on the cross in the actual Hebraic script undeniably reveals to us the name of God.  In English, the name is pronounced “Yahweh.” (Norton)   

 

Here’s the “Ah-Hah” moment, just like the Jews put their family name on their lamb for sacrifice at the Temple, God put His name on His Lamb for His family, which includes you and me!  God has given us all these amazing pictures and parallels in order that we could understand the magnitude of His loving grace! (Norton)

 

I am amazed at the incredible detail and expense God, the Father, went to, to provide His Son as a sacrifice for me and my sins, which reminds me of this very familiar set of verses:

 

“God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son. Anyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life. “God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world. He sent his Son to save the world through him.” 

 

As we prepare our own hearts for the week of Passover let us remember these words and thank our heavenly Father for what He did for us, when He sent His Lamb, for His family (us), to the cross. 

 

Blessings to you,

Pastor Randy

The Significance of the Feast of Passover, Part 3

- Read luke 2:8-12

Wednesday

April 1, 2020

Key verse: “Here is how you will know I am telling you the truth. You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.” 

 

I know, you are already thinking this is a Christmas verse foretelling the birth of Jesus not about his fast-approaching death on the cross. I get that but hang with me.  It will all make sense and hopefully, give you an even bigger and more amazing picture of the significance of the Passover lamb. 

 

Passover was a very busy time in Jerusalem. Even the temple offered a strange sight during this season. Parts of the outer courts provided a wide space covered with pens for sheep, goats, and cattle to be used for offerings.  Sellers would shout the merits of their beasts, sheep bleated, oxen lowed.  Sellers of doves also had a place set apart for them.  Potters set up their wears and offered a choice from huge stacks of clay dishes and ovens for roasting and eating the Passover lamb.  Booths for wine, oil, salt, and all else needed for sacrifices invited customers to stop and buy.  All the people going to and from the city shortened their journey by crossing the temple grounds, often carrying burdens … but as they entered they found it filled with stalls to change foreign money into the shekel of the temple, along with all the other merchants and it was more a place of great noise and confusion than a house of prayer.

 

Let’s get back to the history of our lamb.  Today’s scripture text is one we typically read during the Advent season, not the Passover.  I want us to focus our attention on these words: “you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  Have you ever wondered why this was a sign?  To find the answer we need to turn back to the book of Micah.  We are all familiar with Micah 5:2-8 which prophesied the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem but how many of us are familiar with what Micah says in chapter four verse eight?  Micah writes: “Jerusalem, you used to be like a guard tower for my flock. City of Zion, you used to be a place of safety for my people. The glorious kingdom you had before will be given back to you. Once again a king will rule over your people.”  

 

Micah prophesied that the birth of the Messiah would be announced at the tower of the flock called the Tower of Eder.  The Tower of Eder was the place where Jacob set up his camp after the death of Rachel.  It was just a few years ago that the remains of a two-story tower were discovered in a pasture just outside Bethlehem.  Dr. Jimmy DeYoung, a teacher, and author on prophetic things explains, “that the shepherds in the field near this tower had not all been the lowly shepherds that we had always assumed.  They were actually priests from the temple who were doing shepherding work to assist in the birthing of the sacrificial lambs so that they would be unblemished for sacrifice.  While the shepherds were keeping watch over the flock from the top of the tower, the shepherd-priests would bring the pregnant sheep in from the field to the tower’s bottom floor, where the sheep would give birth.  As soon as a lamb was born, the priests would wrap it with strips of cloth made from old priestly undergarments.  This was done to keep the lamb from getting blemished.  The priests would then place the lamb onto a manger to make sure it would not get trampled.” 

 

This is incredible news! I mean think about it. When these priest-shepherds went into Bethlehem and saw a baby, the baby Jesus, wrapped in cloths and lying in one of the stone feeding troughs, they must have immediately recognized that this was “the Lamb of God” prepared for sacrifice, unblemished and lying in a manger!  They had to have been excited beyond belief for they were the only ones who could have understood the sign that Micah was prophesying about.  It was for them from God, a personal sign!

 

When Jesus was born in the cave that night in Bethlehem it was highly probable that he too would have been wrapped in the clothes of a priest.  Talk about a sign!  These historical observations and parallels have been confirmed many times over by messianic rabbis and historians like writer Alfred Edersheim and archaeologist Bob Ibach, who found the written account and pictures of the discovery of “the tower of the flock,” Migdal Eder.  

 

As we ponder the miraculous birth of Christ and the amazing parallels to the birthing of the sacrificial lambs we begin to understand that Jesus’ mission right from the womb was to be the Lamb of God, the sacrificial lamb of Passover.  Jesus was born a gift to give us the gift of salvation and eternal life by becoming our sacrificial lamb on the cross.     

 

How is the Holy Spirit directing you to pray today? 

 

Have a blessed day!

Pastor Randy

The Significance of the Feast of Passover, Part 2

- Read Exodus 12:6-11

Tuesday

March 31, 2020

Yesterday we learned that Passover is a feast and festival that is still diligently observed by Jews today. Its significance is recognized by Christians as well, for Jesus, Himself became our “Passover lamb.”  The Passover was a reminder and a celebration of the creation of the nation of Israel when the Lord freed them from Egypt.  It served as a reminder of how God had delivered them through the perils of the Red Sea and the desert before He delivered them into their new homeland, the land of Canaan. This great festival and feast will continue forever and throughout history, as God’s people do this in remembrance of this salvation event (Ex.12:11-48). 

 

Today, we turn our focus to the preparation of the lamb to be sacrificed.  David Schiller, a teacher of the Torah at a messianic congregation, Eitz Chaim, in Richardson, Texas shares this about the preparation of the lamb from a Jewish understanding: “There is historical evidence that the lamb was roasted upright on a pomegranate pole with a crossbar through its shoulders.  This obviously would bring to mind the cross. The pomegranate pole was used because as a dry wood it would not boil.  Boiling was prohibited in preparing the lamb.”   Schiller mentions another observation from Jewish tradition concerning the pomegranate: “the pomegranate is symbolic of royalty and the priesthood.” 

 

During the process of preparing the lamb another notable point to ponder on - was how they would take the entrails of the lamb and wrap them around the head and tie them so that every part of the lamb could be roasted evenly without being boiled.  The entrails wrapped around the head of the lamb resembled the crown of thorns that were placed on the head of Jesus.  What a picture, a foreshadowing of the suffering servant, the Lamb of God, who would come and die for the sins of the world!

 

We must remember that the feasts not only provide historical teachings and spiritual implications for us but they also provide prophetic applications as well (Norton).  When a Jewish family was choosing their lamb on the 10th day of Nissan for Passover, God was revealing His Lamb in Jerusalem at the triumphant entry of Jesus, the exact fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9 “City of Zion, be full of joy! People of Jerusalem, shout! See, your king comes to you. He always does what is right. He has the power to save. He is gentle and riding on a donkey. He is sitting on a donkey’s colt."  Even more amazing is the historical evidence we have that puts Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem exactly on the 10th day of Nisan or March 30, AD 33!

 

Furthermore, along with this interesting observation, we must also mention that on the 14th day of Nisan, at the same hour the families were sacrificing their lamb at the Temple, Jesus, the Lamb of God, was also being crucified on the cross just outside the city walls.  Norton writes, “This is why the historical significance of the lamb sacrificed upright on a pole, as Christ was sacrificed upright on a cross, paints for us such a meaningful picture.”

 

As you think about and meditate on the truth of God’s Word today and what we have learned regarding the preparation of the lamb for the sacrifice, read the following from Deuteronomy 16:1-8 –

 

“Celebrate the Passover Feast of the Lord your God in the month of Abib. In that month he brought you out of Egypt at night. Sacrifice an animal from your flock or herd. It is the Passover sacrifice in honor of the Lord your God. Sacrifice it at the special place the Lord will choose. He will put his Name there. Don’t eat the animal along with bread that is made with yeast. Instead, for seven days eat bread that is made without yeast. It’s the bread that reminds you of how much you suffered. Remember that you left Egypt in a hurry. Remember it all the days of your life. Don’t forget the day you left Egypt.  Don’t keep any yeast anywhere in your land for seven days. Don’t let any of the meat you sacrifice on the evening of the first day be left over until the next morning.  You must not sacrifice the Passover animal in any town the Lord your God is giving you.  Sacrifice it only in the special place he will choose for his Name. Sacrifice it there in the evening when the sun goes down. Do it on the same day every year. Be sure it’s the day you left Egypt.  Cook it and eat it. Do it at the place the Lord your God will choose. Then in the morning return to your tents.  For six days eat bread that is made without yeast. On the seventh day come together for a service in honor of the Lord your God.”

 

Pray: Thank God for the Lamb that was slain for the forgiveness of our sins. 

 

May God bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you and give you peace this day.

 

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Randy

The Significance of the Feast of Passover, Part 1

- Read mark 14

Monday

March 30, 2020

Passover— is the name given to the chief of the three great historical annual festivals observed or celebrated by the Jews.  It was observed to remember the Lord’s passing over the houses of the Israelites (Ex. 12:13) while the death angel killed each of the Egyptian’s first born.   This observance is also called the “feast of unleavened bread” (Ex. 23:15; Mark 14:1; Acts 12:3), because during its celebration no leavened bread was to be eaten or even kept in the household (Ex. 12:15).  In fact, all the yeast had to be removed from every home.  The word “passover” later came to denote the lamb that was slain at the feast (Mark 14:12–14; 1 Cor. 5:7).

 

We observe the Passover each weekend in our services through our celebration of the Lord’s Supper.  We use the symbol of bread for His broken body and the juice as a symbol of Christ’s blood that was poured out for the forgiveness of our sins.  Jesus teaches us that we should do this often as a constant reminder of what he did for us on the cross.  But is there more to it?  What is the historical as well as the spiritual significance behind this feast?  

 

In Exodus 12:2-3 we read, “He said, “From now on, this month will be your first month. Each of your years will begin with it. “Speak to the whole community of Israel. Tell them that on the tenth day of this month each man must get a lamb from his flock. A lamb should be chosen for each family and home.“

 

The lamb was chosen in the first month of their year, Abib, which is our March-April; some scholars think that the Passover was originally a spring New Year festival, similar to the autumn observance of the Feast of Tabernacles.  Each year on the 10th day of the first month each family was to choose a lamb that would be slaughtered at twilight on the 14th day of the month.  The blood was to be smeared on the doorposts and lintel of the house, God would see the blood and then spare those inside the home from the destruction of the Egyptian firstborn.

 

The Egyptians were ‘very offended’ by the use of a lamb for their sacrifices. This was because “the lamb was an attack on the Egyptian god Amon, the head of all their gods.  He was presented in human form, but his animal form was a ram.  The month of the Passover was also in the month of Nisan, the month when the Egyptians celebrated the deity of Amon.” (Norton, page 24).

 

What was the significance of taking a perfect lamb into the household on the 10th day? 

We look to Ex.12:5-6 for answers: “The animals you choose must be males that are a year old. They must not have any flaws. You may choose either sheep or goats. Take care of them until the 14th day of the month. Then the whole community of Israel must kill them when the sun goes down.”

 

Check this out. There are two very interesting answers to our question:

  1. Each day that the lamb was in captivity with the family served as a reminder and represented 100 years of the captivity in Egypt for a total of 4 days or 400 years;

  2. For four days the lamb would become a family pet, so that when it was sacrificed, they would know and feel the gravity of the penalty of their sins.

 

It is also important to note that the 14th day of the month was also the full moon which the Egyptians considered the pinnacle of Amon’s power (Norton).

 

Maybe you have wondered why they were only to put the blood of the lamb on their doorposts and lintel, not all the way around the door or on the threshold.  The writer of Hebrews 10:29 gives us a very clear answer: “What should be done to anyone who has hated the Son of God or has said no to him? What should be done to a person who treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that makes him holy? What should be done to someone who has made fun of the Holy Spirit who brings God’s grace? Don’t you think people like that should be punished more than anyone else?”

 

As you think about the feast of Passover today in light of what we have learned through Pastor’s sermon this week and what we have learned here contemplate the deeper meaning of partaking in the feast of the Lord’s Supper.   The lamb was like a family pet.  In those four days it would become a part of the family.  We have all had very special animal friends that we have gotten very attached to.  Try to imagine the pain and sorrow you might feel if you had to sacrifice that pet to get a grasp of the penalty that Christ, as represented by their lamb or our pet for the penalty of our sin.  

 

As you meditate on Mark 14 and Exodus 12:2-6 ask God to help you better grasp the deeper meaning of the Lord’s Supper with a focus on the lamb and as we pray today let’s ask Jesus to forgive us for when we just go through the motions and make these symbols (bread/cup) more of a ritual than an act of remembrance, reverence and worship and thank Him for what He went through for the forgiveness of our sins. 

 

Tomorrow, Part 2 of the Significance of the Feast of Passover.

 

God Bless and have a great day!

Pastor Randy

Have no fear

- Read matthew 10:26-33

Friday

March 27, 2020

Growing up one of my favorite cartoon superheroes was Underdog.  A quiet, mild-mannered shoeshine boy (pup) by vocation but underneath that meek and mild temperament was a superhero of unlimited power! The whole cartoon was built on the premise of this famous line “Have no fear, Underdog is here!”  It never mattered how great the tragedy or how evil the villain you always knew that Underdog was going to be there just in the nick of time to save the day or Miss Polly.  The current villain we face is the Wuhan Covid-19 Virus.  If only it were as simple as calling out for Underdog to save us all from this dreadful disease.

 

In times like this, that fear can set in and cripple us if we are not careful.  Fear of the disease. Fear for our jobs, our bills, our family.  Fear for our Country.  Fear for our freedoms.  And then there is just plain fear of the unknown.  How long will this last? How long will businesses be closed? How long must we live in isolation?  God created us for gathering in a community that is why we have corporate worship in church every weekend all across the country and around the world.  We are social beings and we long for companionship with God and each other.  

 

In Matthew 10:26-33 Jesus is teaching us to have no fear.  Do not be anxious about anything.  Why? Because our Father in heaven already knows what we are going through and what we need.  Once again, Jesus is saying to his disciples (and us) we do not have to be afraid nor should we be (v. 26).  

 

From his book, Opening Up Matthew, I.D. Campbell writes, there are several reasons for us not to be anxious for anything:

  1. First, as God’s servants we will be publicly vindicated. Here we may be subjected to lots of persecution as plans against us are forged in secret under the cover of darkness and then translated into action.  Such plans can go far; and as Christ’s disciples we may be killed as a result.  However, we must remember that our souls are immortal, and Jesus encourages us to remember that God will bring everything at last to the light of his judgement and his justice and that there is no ultimate danger for his people.

  2. Second, as God’s servants, we are highly valued.  Sparrows are valuable. They are valuable to people, but supremely they are valuable to God.  If God looks after his creatures to the extent that not one of them can fall to the ground unnoticed, how much more will he look after his servants? He even knows the number of hairs on our heads.

  3. Third, as God’s servants, we will be openly acknowledged. The apostles were being sent to testify to the greatness of Jesus. And as His disciples today, so are we.  Our work in the world is to confess to him.  But Jesus’ promise is that before his Father he will confess his people (v. 32).

Remember, when you have those feelings of fear creep in just shout “I Have no fear, Jesus is here!”  And that’s way better than Underdog.  Stay strong in the faith.  Jesus Christ has our back. 

 

Your Friend in Christ,

Pastor Randy

The Woman who washed jesus' feet

- Read Luke 7:36-50

Thursday

March 26, 2020

Jesus was having dinner at a man’s house whose name was Simon, a Pharisee.  As you may recall Pharisees were noted for their self-righteousness and blatant pride.  Throughout the New Testament, we read of the many times Jesus openly rebuked them for this.  None the less, Jesus was at his house reclining and hanging out around the table with them when they are interrupted by an uninvited prostitute.  This woman was a ‘sinner’ and was well-known for her sinful lifestyle.  Seems that everyone there knew her or at least about her.   Why had she come?

 

The custom of the day was that when one had a dinner party you were to provide for your guest’s feet to be washed and cleaned before the meal was to be served.  Most all of the roads they would have walked to get to the party were dusty and unpaved.  Since they didn’t have (insert your favorite brand of gym shoes) walking shoes that covered their feet and wore open sandals, their feet would be dusty and dirty, to say the least.  For some reason, Simon had not provided for Jesus’ feet to be cleaned prior to reclining for dinner.   

 

We have Jesus sitting inside the home of a Pharisee when a well-known prostitute slips in and begins to weep, washing Jesus’ feet with her tears.  Instantly, the self-righteousness of Simon the Pharisee is revealed.  He thought, “If this Jesus were a prophet, He would know who is touching Him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”  And a true prophet would pull back not to be touched! We see in these two propositions the basic foundation on which the Pharisee’s religion was based.

  1. Everybody else may need cleansing or punishment. But…

  2. I’m different. I have no need.

 

By tradition, we are told this woman is probably Mary Magdalene a very well-known sinner. Notice how she enters into our story, “She came in tears, and humbly bowed down to kiss the feet of Jesus.”  How did she have the confidence to come into the home of a Pharisee? She surely knew the attitude of the Pharisee; an attitude of contempt and hatred.  But I believe she also must have known the attitude of Jesus.  Somehow, she had the faith that Jesus would not reject her, even in the home of a Pharisee.

 

At this point as Jesus is reclining at the table and taking it all in, He looks into the heart of each of the people involved.   What did Jesus see?  He saw in the heart of this woman faith and love.  In the heart of the Pharisee, He saw nothing but criticism and unconcern.  So, Jesus asked the Pharisee, “Who loves more?  One who is forgiven much, or little?” Simon’s answer showed that even he supposed that forgiveness and love were linked.  The one who is forgiven much loves much. But the one who will not accept forgiveness will never learn to love!  

 

Of all the figures in the New Testament, the Pharisee is the most tragic. Here Simon finds himself totally cut off from Jesus’ love.  He alone refused to respond. And why? Because he kept on insisting, “I have no need.”  I am sure that there are things inside each of us that we’re ashamed to even think of; that we cringe to imagine another person knowing.   Yet Jesus knows.  In every detail. And Jesus still loves me and He still loves you.  Because of that love, He reaches out to forgive us.  Jesus looks for ways to forgive us that’s how much He loves us!

His forgiveness unlocked a new life for this woman who recognized her need and came to Jesus.  But when we refuse to admit our own need and we hesitate to take our places humbly before Jesus as sinners, it cuts us off from His forgiveness as surely as it cut off the Pharisee.

 

When men hesitated, they found it hard to decide about Jesus for three reasons that Luke unveiled:

  1. This Jesus isn’t what I expected from God.

  2. Jesus doesn’t play by my rules.

  3. I have no need: I want no forgiveness.

 

What reasons do we give today? Are our reasons as poor as these three?  These were poor because each one fails to reckon with the reality that Jesus Christ is God; that He makes the rules, and that each one of us DOES need the forgiveness that ushers in new life. His forgiveness.

 

Have you found new life in Jesus?  If not, no more excuses.  Why not today?

 

Blessings,

 

Pastor Randy

The Stories of Things Lost but that must be Found

- Read Luke 15

Wednesday

March 25, 2020

The three parables which we find here in Luke 15 Jesus taught all in one sitting to the people.  You probably noticed a common theme within each story: something has been lost and must be found.  Jesus used the simple story of a lost sheep, a lost coin and a lost son.  Notice that there were 100 sheep, 10 coins, and two sons.  Metaphorically, Jesus was painting a picture of ‘the Church’ with the 100 sheep illustrating the spiritual significance of losing just one sheep; in His second story we get a picture of what it is like to lose our personal finances or income with the loss of just one coin; and finally, in His third story, Jesus shares the pain of a parent who has a lost child who is experiencing spiritual blindness or difficulty. (Stone)

 

What do you notice as you read through all three of these stories?  All three of the areas Jesus mentioned are commonly attacked by our enemy, Satan.  He attacks individuals in the church.  He attacks our livelihood, our health, our jobs, our finances, and our freedom.  He even attacks us by attacking our kids just like in the focus of our study today. 

 

One sheep went astray, one coin fell from a coin necklace that a woman of that time would have worn and a son left home in rebellion.  In each case, a certain, specific persistence was required to find that which was lost.  In the first story, we see the Shepherd leaving the 99 other sheep to pursue the one that was missing.  How did he know one was missing?  Why leave the 99 for just one lost sheep? Why the risk?  That is how much the Shepherd loves us.  The woman had ten coins but only one had been lost.  Why the extensive search? Why the worry? Because each coin represented an entire day’s wages.  No wonder she was filled with such joy when she found it.  The Father celebrates like that when we are found.

 

This final example of loss and restoration is perhaps the most poignant. Here Jesus expressed most vividly the foolishness of sin and the faithfulness of God.  We are all familiar with the story.  Younger son asks for his inheritance, leaves home for a rebellious and riotous lifestyle in a far-away land.  However, the party doesn’t last much longer than the money lasts.  The son finds himself at rock bottom having lost all that he had.  He is now slopping pigs one of the lowest things a Jewish man could ever do.  The scriptures say that finally, “he came to his senses” or in other words, he realized his need for help. 

 

After concluding that he had reached his lowest point, the son began to remember how good his life was back at his father’s house.  He longed to go home and just be one of his father’s servants.  With a repentant heart, the son returned home to find his father anxiously awaiting his return.  In fact, the father was watching for him every day he was gone.  Upon the return of his son, the father rejoiced and returned to his son a full blessing. 

 

I love how Perry Stone sums up this story in his notes on Luke 15 where he writes: “The lesson here is that when our children rebel against family and godly authority, at times they must reach the bottom before they will look up for God’s help.  Among some, if a person is prospering, with a full stomach and plenty of friends, they see no need to serve God.  However, when the money is gone, the friends have left, and the provision barrel is empty, prodigals often come to themselves (v.17) and realize the love of their family and the goodness of God.”

 

Do you have a lost sheep, coin or family member you are watching and praying for?

Does one of these stories represent where you find yourself spiritually right now?

 

Our Heavenly Father knows who you are and where you are and He is waiting with His arms outstretched to welcome you home.  Are you ready?  Return home to Him today.  He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins when we confess with a repentant heart.   Don’t wait until tomorrow. 

 

Welcome home!

 

Pastor Randy

The Story of Zacchaeus
– Read Luke 19:1-10

Tuesday

March 24, 2020

Ah, Zacchaeus.  What do we really know about this man?  We know by his name that he was Jewish and that he worked as a dreaded “tax collector” for the Romans.  This caused him to be despised all the more by the Jews. We know that he was a “wee little man, a wee little man was he” as some mentioned in our chats from Sunday.  He was physically short, probably not very intimidating but none the less, he was a powerful little man due to the backing of the Roman government.  He had the power by written decree to collect tolls from the merchants who would pass through Jericho.  As most tax collectors knew all the Romans wanted was the expected toll so anything and everything, they could extort from merchant travelers they were permitted to keep.  This is how Zacchaeus got so rich!

 

I get the idea from the story that Zacchaeus was probably not much of a religious man.  If he was it’s not mentioned in our text.  Regardless, there seems something curious about why Zacchaeus would want to see this man called “Jesus” who was passing through his jurisdiction.   Apparently, it was just simple curiosity.   Whatever it was it was enough to cause him to completely sacrifice his personal dignity even to the point of climbing a tree to just get a glimpse of this man they called Jesus.  Maybe Luke is reminding us through the actions of Zacchaeus that becoming “childlike” is the way we enter into the kingdom of God (see Monday Devotion).

 

Are you not amazed by what we see and learn in verses five and six?  Jesus reaches the point of the Sycamore tree, looks up and calls Zacchaeus by name!  Jesus already knew where he was and who he was!  Even more astonishing is that Zacchaeus instantaneously responded positively to Jesus’ request to come into his house.  The text says he “gladly” welcomed Jesus into his home.  In the Greek, the word ‘gladly’ literally means ‘rejoicing.’  Zacchaeus, a heathen, tax-collector for the Jewish enemy Rome was rejoicing that Jesus, the Jewish teacher was coming to his house.  This is big news!   

 

We see so many similarities to our own spiritual journey in the story of Zacchaeus.  What do we learn?

  1. Just like Zacchaeus we are sinners, lost and in need of a Savior;

  2. When Jesus called out to Zacchaeus he answered in humility because he knew he was a sinner.  His response was the exact opposite of the Rich Young Ruler from the previous chapter. 

  3. Jesus is calling us by name.  How will we respond?

  4. Zacchaeus’ response was a response of repentance.  Jesus received him and accepted him! When we repent and turn from our sinful ways Jesus does the same for you and me.

  5. How do we know that Zacchaeus was a changed man due to his coming into contact with Jesus? Because we see that the inward change affected by his relationship with Christ caused him to outwardly express his change of heart by voluntarily promising to rid himself of much of his wealth and giving it to those who would benefit from it and to whom some of it rightfully belonged.

  6. Zacchaeus wanted all the people to know that his time with Jesus had changed his life! He was now in right relationship with God through Jesus and it changed him from the inside out.  This is the same thing that happens in us when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior!

  7. Jesus’ mission was to seek and save the lost – when we accept Him as Lord and become adopted into his family, it then becomes our mission as well, to seek and share the gospel of Jesus with those who are lost.

 

For many today, trust in Jesus is simply about wiping the slate clean and being forgiven—yet it is also about restitution. We must restore all we have stolen and make peace with those we have hurt.  As the Holy Spirit convicts us. Jesus taught that we are known by our fruit.  Zacchaeus showed, not just by words but also deeds, that he trusted in the Messiah, and was a new person.

 

Have you been made a new person in Jesus like Zacchaeus?  If not, why not ask Jesus today to forgive you of your sins and to become the Lord of your life.  He knows where you are.  He knows your name and He died for you.  He wants to be your Savior just like he wanted to be Zacchaeus’ savior.  Why not do it today?  Pray and ask him just like you’re talking to a friend.

 

If you made the decision to ask Christ to forgive you and become your savior today write me or someone close to you and let them know of your new life in Christ.  It will make their day.

 

God Bless, have a great day!

Pastor Randy

Jesus the friend of children
– Read Matthew 18 - 19

Monday

March 23, 2020

Matthew 19:13-15:

Some people brought little children to Jesus. They wanted him to place his hands on the children and pray for them. But the disciples told the people to stop. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me. Don’t keep them away. The kingdom of heaven belongs to people like them.” Jesus placed his hands on them. Then he went on from there.

 

We know without a doubt people crowded around Jesus all the time hoping for just a glimpse or touch from the Rabbi.  They longed to have his blessing.   The disciples, thinking they were doing Jesus a favor, worked to block and keep people from getting close to him. Even the little children.  I think what Matthew’s words really tell us is that the disciples just didn’t understand children, nor did they understand Jesus’ mission.

 

It’s a shame to think that people would try to keep children from Jesus.  It’s hard to think that any child would be made to feel that way at home or especially at church.  Unfortunately, I grew up in a church that at times seemed to think this way.  Kids put fingerprints on windows and walls, they spill and make things dirty.  What a tragedy.  These twelve men even though they had been with Jesus day and night had yet to see the true vision Christ had for little children. 

 

Jesus seeing what’s happening rebukes the disciples.  I can just hear him saying “Leave them alone,” “Don’t keep them away from me.”   What a picture of Jesus showing us how we are to recklessly pursue him.  Just like the little children need their father and are dependent on him so we too, are to be dependent upon our heavenly father.  Humble and childlike before a holy God. Back up in chapter 18, verses, 3-4 Jesus states: “What I’m about to tell you is true. You need to change and become like little children. If you don’t, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Anyone who becomes as free of pride as this child is the most important in the kingdom of heaven.”

 

·  How is God asking you to become more childlike before Him today?

 

Pray and ask for Jesus' help and guidance.

 

Have a great day!

Pastor Randy

central christian church
beloit

2460 Milwaukee Road

Beloit, Wisconsin  53511

608.362.7663

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