Mary, Example of True Submission

Luke 1:26-38

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”  But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”  Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”  And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.”  Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Gabriel sent to Mary at Nazareth – God is no respecter of persons.

Messenger sent to Nazareth as well as Jerusalem.  Jerusalem was the site of the Temple, the place where God’s presence dwelled, the religious center.  Nazareth was far to the north, near the influence of the Gentiles.  In fact, Galilee was often referred to as “Galilee of the Gentiles” by the religious leaders.  Two of the major roads of the world passed within eyesight of the surrounding hills near Nazareth.  The north/south road which stretched between Rome and northern Africa and the east/west road that stretched between Babylonia and the western cities of the Roman Empire both crossed near Nazareth.  Some Bible scholars believe there was a Roman outpost at Nazareth.

Messenger sent to a young girl as well as a priest.

Gabriel sent to a virgin engaged to be married.

The birth of God’s Son required both a divine nature and a human nature.  If He had been born in the natural way, He would have been no more than other men.  Jesus already existed with God the Father.  He just needed a body.  Hebrews 10:5 – ….a body you have prepared (set in order, equip, make fully ready, fitted) for me…

The birth of God’s Son required that He come through a woman.  That was the only way He could share with the man nature.  Genesis 3:15 – And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head and you shall bruise His heel.

The birth of God’s Son required both a divine nature and a human nature.  Today we see all the “miracles” of modern science – the test tube babies and other means of fertilization of female eggs.  If man can do such “miracles” certainly God can.  If God could create all the universe by His Word, could He not create a body for His Son by His Word?  Even our “new birth” spiritually comes about because of faith in His Word.  I Peter 1:23 -“Having been born again, not of corruptible (perishable) seed but incorruptible (unperishable) through the word of God which lives and abides forever.

Mary received great pronouncements of blessing

  • She was highly favored. 
  • The Lord was with her.
  • She would be called blessed (granted favor with God) among women.

Note:  We look at Mary from the benefit of 2,000 years later.  We recognize the honor that was given to her to be chosen to be the mother of Jesus.  We know that God was truly with her in a closer, physical sense than any of us can ever claim.  Yet, we need to look at Mary with a fresh look. 

Imagine yourself a young girl (probably no more than 15 or 16) engaged to be married when you suddenly find yourself pregnant.  This was in a society where pregnancy outside of marriage was almost unheard of, where such events led to both the young woman and the child being considered “outcasts” of society, where fornication was a terrible sin punishable by death by stoning. Engagement in that society was as binding as marriage.  The only way to break an engagement was by a divorce. 

Matthew’s story of Joseph’s response indicates that he did not believe Mary at first.  In Matthew 1:20, we are told that “he thought about these things.”  It was only after an angel appeared to him to reassure him that Mary was telling him the truth when she said she was still a virgin that he believed her. 

All of Mary’s life they probably gossiped about her in the village.  Jesus was probably looked upon with scorn as an illegitimate child.  Their opinion of Joseph is not known.  They may have viewed him as a noble man willing to marry Mary and raise Jesus even though he belonged to another man, or they may have scorned Joseph also thinking he was guilty of committing fornication with Mary before their marriage was finalized.  Either way, Mary’s lot could not have been an easy one walking living among the people of Nazareth with the gossip and scorn they would have heaped upon her and Jesus.  Even her family probably laughed about her, or secretly grieved for the shame she had brought on them and on herself. 

Then, look at the hardship imposed upon her while carrying Jesus.  Because prophecy had to be fulfilled, she had to travel to Bethlehem on a donkey’s back while nine months pregnant.  She had to give birth to Jesus far from home in a stable with only the animals and lowly shepherds to celebrate with her and Joseph.  No mother or sisters to help her with the birth, no family to rejoice with her. 

It appears that being His mother brought her no special position during Jesus’ earthly ministry.  Matthew 12:46-50 – While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.”  But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”

She is mentioned only in passing in the story of the Early Church.  Acts 1:14 – These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.

Finally, look at the ultimate pain of seeing her son die such a cruel, painful death with the shame of the cross. 

Maybe we need to take a new look at what it means to be highly favored and blessed by God.  In America, we think it means material blessings (new homes, cars, clothes, good jobs) and great happiness (fame, success, lots of friends).  WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE FAVORED AND BLESSED BY GOD?

Mary Submitted to God’s Will

  • She was troubled by the angel’s greeting.
  • She had questions about the message:  “How shall this be?”
  • She submitted to the message:  “Let it be to me according to your word.”  She called herself a “maid servant” which literally meant “slave girl.”  She was saying that she was willing to completely surrender to God.  She would no longer control herself and her destiny.  It was all in God’s hands.

We can learn from this:

  • God expects us to believe Him and His ability to do what He says.
  • God expects us to obey Him – without knowing what lies ahead, without knowing where that obedience will take us.
  • God expects us to surrender to Him and allow Him to have control of our lives. 

Psalm 115:3 – But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.

Proverbs 23:4-5 – Do not overwork to be rich; because of your own understanding, cease!  Will you set your eyes on that which is not?  For riches certainly make themselves wings, they fly away like an eagle toward heaven.

Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct (straighten out, be right, pleasing, good) your paths.

1 Samuel 15:22 -. . . to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.

Luke 6:46 – But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do the things which I say?

John 15:15 – If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

John 15:21 – He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.  And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest (reveal, exhibit, make visible, present oneself to the sight of another, be conspicuous) Myself to him.

Being favored and blessed by God does not mean that our lives will be one success after another, one moment of happiness followed by another.  It does not mean that we will receive the recognition and praise of men.  It does not mean that we will get all our wants met, that life will be easy.  It does mean that God will use us for His glory, for His purpose.

Luke 9:23 -“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

Luke 14:26-27,33 – If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.

Of course, in the long run, we will see that success, happiness and even recognition does come.  Today Mary is honored all over the world.  She has been remembered and honored more than Herod, Pilate, Caesar and the other great men of that time.  She is rejoicing in heaven for all eternity.  In the long run, we will find that believing God and obeying Him is the ultimate success.  But, in the short run, we must, like Mary, believe and obey – regardless of the circumstances.

1 John 2:17 – And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

Grateful for A Miracle!

Recently a local business in our community held a Arts Explosion. From November through the month of February local artists were invited to display their work. The business is involved with educating the public about agriculture and has a lot of public events at its facility. During this time people were asked to look at the paintings and vote for their favorite artist.

I entered one of my paintings. A very pleasant surprise when I won runner-up in the contest.

While I am grateful to have won this honor, what really makes it special is that this is the first painting I did after returning home from emergency surgery for a brain bleed. On a Thursday I had fallen in my art gallery in the basement of my condo. I hit my head on the concrete floor. Covid-19 had just started and I was reluctant to go to the hospital. By Sunday I was having a terrible headache and realized I should seek medical help.

After a CT scan at the local hospital they rushed me by ambulance to the hospital in our state capital about 20 miles away. Emergency surgery was required and I was in ICU for several days.

The doctor told my wife that I would need long-term rehabilitation. He listed several problems I might face including difficulty in communication, in swallowing, in walking.

But God had other plans. Within a matter of a few weeks I was walking without a walker and my communication improved almost immediately.

My wife and I are Scrabble addicts and she was worried that I might not be competitive with her any more. But I’m still able to beat her butt in the game. 🙂

Just a couple of weeks after coming home my son-in-love brought my art supplies up to the dining room table as I was still a little unsure about using the stairs to my art studio. I sat down at the table and painted this picture. I was inspired for this painting by a trip my wife and I had made a few years ago to Maine.

So – while I am thankful for winning second place out of over 40 artists who competed, I am even more thankful that I am alive and in good health.

Truly, God has been good to me.

Obedience in Action

Matthew 28:16-20

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them.  When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.  And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen

Acts 16:25-45

But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.  Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.  And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself.  But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.”  Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.  And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”  Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.  And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized.  Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.

The Great Commission  – The followers of Jesus were given a task to do

  • Go
  • Make disciples
  • Baptize
  • Teach others to do what Jesus had taught them

Mark 16:15-18

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.  He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.  And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

Signs will follow those who believe

Power was given

Luke 24:46-49 – Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  And you are witnesses of these things.  Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”

Promise of Holy Spirit was given to those who believe

Acts 1:8 – But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Acts 2:4 – And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Throughout the remainder of the Book of Acts and the rest of the New Testament we see that power was manifested through the disciples and the followers of Jesus.  There were several things common to almost everywhere the followers of Jesus went.

  • Boldness
  • Power
  • Holiness
  • Integrity
  • Faithfulness
  • Dependence on God’s Word
  • Uncompromising
  • Love
  • Trust in God
  • No fear
  • Obedience
  • Total commitment

Questions we need to ask ourselves as proclaimed followers of Jesus Christ

  • How is your boldness?  Do you speak of Christ when you have an opportunity? 
  • How is your power?  Have you prayed lately?
  • How is your holiness?  Are you living for Jesus like Jesus would have you to live?
  • How is your integrity?  Are you honest and forthright?
  • How is your faithfulness?  Are you faithful in every walk of life?
  • How is your dependency on the Word?  Do you hide God’s Word in your heart?
  • How is your uncompromising?  Do you bend and twist with what others think or are you true to your convictions?
  • How is your love?  Do you love others as you do yourself?
  • How is your trust in God?  Do you rely on God or on yourself or others?
  • How is your no fear?  When Christ comes in, fear must flee.
  • How is your obedience?  Do you do what is right and what God directs you to do?
  • How is your total commitment?  Is serving God the number one focus in your life?

Denying Jesus

Matthew 26:69-75

Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.”  But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are saying.”  And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.”  But again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the Man!”  And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.”  Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!”  Immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.

Peter’s denial would be what we refer to in theological terms as “Apostasy.”  By definition it simply means “a turning away”. Denying Christ is serious.  It is a tragic and terrible sin, yet Christ forgives each sin, no matter how terrible it might be.  Christ forgave Peter, and in forgiving Peter He has demonstrated to us, you and me, His love and compassion. 

The cause of Peter’s denial was “apostasy.” He “sat without in the palace.”  He sat down with the crowd which represented the world of rejecters.  Peter was failing Christ and failing Him miserably.  Sitting down with the crowd was the last place he should have been.   Of course, he should have never forsaken Christ.  But having done so he should have been off some place seeking God in prayer, seeking answers and understanding from God.  Or, he should have been with the other followers of Jesus seeking answers from God so that they might understand and have direction in their lives. 

Three things that cause us to deny Christ.  All three things are seen in Peter’s experience.

He turned away, deserted and fled from Him.

Matthew. 26:56 – But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.  “Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.”

He “followed Christ afar off”: not walking close to Him, not standing or being identified with Him.

Matthew. 26:58 – But Peter followed Him at a distance to the high priest’s courtyard. And he went in and sat with the servants to see the end.

2 Timothy 1:7-8 – For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God,

He was “sitting without” or sitting with the crowd, not being where one should be.

2 Corinthians 6:17-18 – Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate”, says the Lord. “Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.  I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters,” says the Lord Almighty.”

2 Thessalonians 3:6 – But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.

Peter’s Denial was also by Pretension

Peter pretended to have nothing to do with Jesus, and even pretended to not even knowing him.  

Mark 8:38 – For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.

I Peter 3:15 – But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear

Pretending is one of the constant sins of men.

  • We are asked if we think something.  We do and deny it.
  • We are asked if we feel something.  We do and deny it.
  • We are asked if we fear something.  We do and deny it.
  • We are asked if we did something.  We did and deny it.
  • We are asked if we know something.  We do and deny it.

Too many believers deny Christ by pretension.  Very simply, they pretend not to know Christ when out in the world…

  • at their place of employment
  • at their school
  • at their social functions
  • among their neighbors
  • among their friends
  • among strangers

Pretension is two things: 

Pretension is hypocrisy.  It is pretending to be something we are not.

Pretension is denial of Christ.  It is a shying away from or lying about one’s confession of Christ.  Even in our silence we condemn ourselves because by our silence we are denying Christ.

Peter’s Denial was with an Oath

His denial by oath was strong and emphatic and strong.  He said: “I swear by God, I do not know the man.  I know nothing about Him.”  The denial that uses an oath downgrades Christ.  Here he says I never knew “the man.”  Earlier Peter had stated loud and clear “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Matthew. 16:16

Peter had sworn loyalty to Christ even if it meant death. 

Matthew. 26:33-35 – Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.”  Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”  Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!”  And so said all the disciples.

Matthew 10:33 – But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.

2 Timothy 1:8 – Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God.

In the first denial he was charged by only one person and he denied knowing Christ.  In the second denial he was charged by the crowd.  He felt more threatened; therefore his denial was stronger and more emphatic.  He used an oath.  The lesson for us is very clear.  The more we are among the crowds of the world, the more we are threatened with ridicule, embarrassment, abuse, and persecution for our profession in Christ.  And the more we are threatened, the more likely we are to deny Christ.

Romans 12:1-2 – I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

2 Corinthians 6:17-18 – Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate,” says the Lord.  “Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.  I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters,” says the Lord Almighty.”

I John 2:15-16 – Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.

There is a strong warning for us in Peter’s denial:

  • Peter was a strong disciple
  • Peter knew and had trusted Christ as the Messiah, the Son of God.
  • Peter had a strong profession of loyalty to Christ.
  • Peter had just partaken of the Lord’s Supper, the very first.
  • Peter had left all to follow Christ.
  • Peter had been taught about God, taught by Christ himself.
  • Peter had even been forewarned that the flesh was weak and that he would fail.
  • Peter’s Denial was with Cursing and Swearing

Peter’s denial were progressively worse:

  • In the first denial, he simply responded that he did not know the Christ.  He just evaded the issue.  He sinned. 
  • In the second denial, he used a socially acceptable oath (although it too was wrong and sinful).  He committed apostasy, and infidelity.  He sinned.
  • In the third denial, he declines swiftly into depraved cursing, totally unacceptable to righteous hearts and pure minds and clean lips.  He committed perjury and blasphemy.  He sinned.

Ephesians 5:11 – And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.

Titus 1:16 – They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.

2 Peter 3:17 – You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked.

Proverbs 4:14 – Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil.

The Answer to Denial – Repentance

He remembered the words of the Lord, for when he heard the rooster crowing, and eye to eye with the Lord he realized what he had done.

Luke 22:31-32 – And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren

Getting alone he left the porch or courtyard as fast as he safely could.  He rushed out through the gate into the night to get alone with God, and there he was broken and full of shame, pain and anguish, and he wept bitterly.

He repented and experienced godly sorrow.

2 Corinthians 7:10 – For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.         

I John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Acts 8:22 – Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.

Proverbs 28:13 – He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy

When is Revival Needed?

We often hear that the great need of the church is revival!  The history of the church in the USA records times of religious movements.

What is called “The Great Awakening” was a revival that had a big influence on the English colonies during the 1730’s and 1740’s. Secular rationalism was being widely accepted and faith in God was at a low point. Christian leaders began going from town to town preaching on the need of salvation and faith in Jesus Christ. A renewed interest in God and the church spread through the colonies. Historians believe it had a lasting impact on some current Christian denominations and society at large.

The main emphasis on the preaching of that time was that all men/women were sinners in need of a savior. People can be saved by God’s grace if they simply confess their sin and follow Christ. The churches by that time had become very formal and this revival encouraged a more personal and less formal approach to God and to church services.

This idea of a more personal connection with God rather than relying on a minister led to great growth in the Methodists and Baptists denominations. Princeton and Dartmouth were founded during this revival.

Sadly, as time passed people once again became more complacent in their commitment to the church.

The second “Great Awakening” was in the early 1800’s. Meetings were held throughout the country and the “camp meeting” began. The Calvinism of the earlier churches in the USA began to move toward the Arminianism belief that man could choose to serve God or reject Him, that he was not predestined to be chosen by God for salvation or not chosen.

One great move of revival that has always inspired me is what is called the “Businessman’s Revival” or the “Prayer Meeting Revival.” In 1857 a businessman, Jeremiah Lanphier, began to feel a great burden for those who did not know Jesus Christ.

Praying for direction from God, he decided to organize a prayer meeting for businessmen. It would be on a Wednesday from 12:00 to 1:00 pm. He encouraged them to come whether they could pray for 5 minutes, 10 minutes or the entire hour.

The date was set for his first businessmen’s prayer meeting to be at noon on September 23, 1857. When the day came, he was ready to welcome the other businessmen for a time of prayer. At noon, no one showed up. He continued in prayer, refusing to give up. Finally, at 12:30 one man came for prayer. Before 1:00 came, there were five more men who joined him. Slowly from there the prayer meeting began to grow in number.

About a month after the meetings began, the stock market crashed. Attendance began to really grow as people were desperate This “prayer revival” was not organized or run by any particular church or minister. Lay people from different denominations took part. It is estimated that over 1 million people made a commitment to Jesus Christ in the next year.

The Pentecostal and Charismatic movements were born from a revival in Los Angeles that ran from 1906 until 1915. The black minister William J. Seymour led the movement and it was an interracial group that included both black and white and women in leadership roles.

There have been other times of revival since then like the “Jesus Movement” and the Billy Graham crusades to mention only a couple.

So What is Revival?

The dictionary tells us that revival is:

  • an improvement in the condition or strength of something.
  • an instance of something becoming popular, active, or important again.
  • a restoration

So – Do We Need a Revival Today?

  • Coming out of the past two years when Covid 19 caused many of our churches to close their doors or people just afraid to come to church, we truly need a revival.
  • Looking at our nation and all the division and anger, we truly need a revival.
  • Sensing all the stress people have had – still have, we truly need a revival.

What Will Bring Revival

Joel 2:12-17 – “Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”  So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm.  Who knows if He will turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him—A grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord your God?

Blow the trumpet in Zion, consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly; gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children and nursing babes; let the bridegroom go out from his chamber, and the bride from her dressing room.  Let the priests, who minister to the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar; let them say, “Spare Your people, O Lord, and do not give Your heritage to reproach, that the nations should rule over them.  Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’”

One scripture that is often quoted when calling for prayer is:

2 Chronicles 7:14 – if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Sadly most of the time it is just suggesting if we pray, God will heal. But there is more than praying required here. The verse says:

  • Humble ourselves
  • Not just pray, but pray and seek His face (no 10 cents prayers here)
  • Turn from our wicked ways.

May we began to hunger and thirst for a revival in our land.

Liar, Lunatic, Lord – Which is It?

Matthew 21:1-11

Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples,saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.”  All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying:  “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”  So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:  “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’  Hosanna in the highest!”  And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?”  So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.”

Jesus Deliberately Fulfilled Prophecy

  • Special Mission – secure a donkey and her colt
  • Special Point – deliberate fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9
  • A warning to Jerusalem – The King comes – He comes meekly – He comes upon a colt

Jesus Deliberately Received Worship from His Disciples

  • They obeyed his instructions without question
  • They used their own clothes for a saddle

Jesus Deliberately Received Worship from the People

  • They received Him as King
  • They received Him as Messiah
  • Son of David
  • Lord
  • The Highest

Jesus Deliberately Aroused Questions About Himself

  • Question:  Who is this?
  • Answer:  Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee

Jesus Deliberately Demands Our Acceptance or Rejection

  • Liar
  • Lunatic
  • Lord

Lord, Liar or Lunatic

Jesus claimed to be the Messiah.  He called men to forsake all they had and followed Him.  He claimed that if they would do so, He would grant them eternal life.  We have two alternatives here:

  • His claims are false – or
  • His claims are true

If His claims are false –

  • He knew these claims were false = LIAR
  • He did not know these claims were false = LUNATIC

If His claims are true = LORD

“I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.”  That is the one thing we must not say.  A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.  He would either be a lunatic–on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell.  You must make your choice.  Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse.  You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God.  But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher.  He has not left that open to us.  He did not intend to.

C. S. Lewis from his book, Mere Christianity

Greatness in Serving

Matthew 20:20-28

Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him.  And He said to her, “What do you wish?”  She said to Him, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.”  But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”  They said to Him, “We are able.”  So He said to them, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.”  And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Greatness Defined

  • Greatness is not being someone in a high position such as Chairman of the Board, President, Ambassador, the boss, etc.
  • Greatness is not one who has money, property, jewelry, education, position, or possessions of any kind.
  • Greatness is not being born to the position of greatness.  You do not inherit greatness. 
  • Greatness is not bestowed upon you by anyone or any act of your own doing except obedience to God’s Word, a Godly heart, and a humble and contrite spirit, and a yielded God-given peaceful attitude and disposition. 

Luke 9:23-25 – Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.  For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?”

Luke 14:26-27 – If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.

Galatians 5:24 – And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Philippians 3:8 – Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.

  • Greatness is of God.  There is no greatness other than that of God.

John 12:26 – If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.

I Corinthians 6:20 – For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

I Corinthians 7:22 – For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave.

  • Greatness conceived by men is superficial; it fades away.  Remember the old proverb or poem that someone wrote:  “Only one life, it will soon be past.  Only what’s done for Christ will last.”  This little poem on a wooden plaque had been my mother’s. I passed it along to Will, my son and her grandson.  It was the only thing that survived in the kitchen of his home when it burned.  Is that a coincidence or accident, or was God trying to say something?
  • Greatness is not dominion over people.  Note:  the disciples in this passage still thought the Messiah’s kingdom would be restored and it would be as an earthly nation and power.  The ten other disciples were indignant because they desired the highest positions themselves. They would have been worried, not angered, by such evil and selfish behavior if they had not had the same feelings.  Sound like anybody you know?  Maybe you at some point in your life…you were the one who deserved the promotion, etc.
  • The external view of the way we look at things:  our measuring stick is usually about power, fame, recognition, influence, authority, dominion, and/or position.
  • The internal view of the way we look at things is measured by wealth, buildings, vehicles, machines, and the ability to work and achieve goals.  The world seeks after these things.

I John 2: 15 – Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.

Matthew 6:33 – Seek ye first the kingdom of God.

Colossians 3:1 – Seek those things which are above. 

  • Greatness is serving others.  The great are those who minister to others. 

Matthew 10:42 – And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.

Matthew 20:27 – And whoever desires to be great among you, let him be your servant. 

Hebrews 12:28 – Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.

Prov. 22:4 – By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life.

Ephesians 6:7 – with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men,

What price – greatness?

Jesus pulls no punches.  If we desire greatness, there is a price to pay.  A tremendous price.  If we wish to have the crown He gives, there is a bitter cup to be drunk and a baptism in which to be immersed. 

The cup of suffering refers more to what a person takes into himself and bears within himself.  It is more internal suffering and agony.  The cup means drinking the bitterness and agony of trials, pain, hurt, sorrow, heartbreak, suffering, disappointment, and tears.  Christ did this in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Matthew 26:36-46 -Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”  He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”  Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy.  So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”

The baptism refers more to what is put upon a person from the outside.  It is more external sufferings.  The baptism of suffering means being immersed in the rapids of affliction, rejection, abuse, ridicule, opposition, persecution, and martyrdom.  Jesus did this in the judgement hall, at the whipping post, in the denial of his disciples and the angry mob, and especially on the cross.

That is the reason Christ and the apostles met with so much opposition so often.  They gave all they were and had and lived so differently.  They lived for God instead of living for self and the world.  The world could not understand them.  Some ignored them.  Others ridiculed them, abused them, persecuted them, and even killed them. 

Micah 6:8 – He has showed you O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Can You Drink of the Cup?

Matthew 20:20-28

Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him.  And He said to her, “What do you wish?”  She said to Him, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.”  But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”  They said to Him, “We are able.”  So He said to them, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.”  And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers.  But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.  Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.  And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—  just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

On January 8, 1956, 28-year-old American missionary Jim Elliot was martyred, along with four missionary partners and friends. He was survived by his wife, Elisabeth, and their 10-month-old daughter Valerie. He was killed by the people he was trying to reach with the Gospel. In his journal were found these words:

He is no fool who gives up that which he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.

“I have come to see clearly that life is more than self. It is more than doing what I want, striving for what will benefit me, dreaming of all I can be. Life is all about my relationship with God. There is no higher calling, no loftier dream, and no greater goal than to live, breathe, and be poured out for Jesus Christ.”
–Jamie in Brother Andrew’s “The Calling”
― Brother Andrew, The Narrow Road: Stories of Those Who Walk This Road Together

“Radical obedience to Christ is not easy… It’s not comfort, not health, not wealth, and not prosperity in this world. Radical obedience to Christ risks losing all these things. But in the end, such risk finds its reward in Christ. And he is more than enough for us.”
― David Platt, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream

We should live each day realizing it could be our last. Are we truly living to further the Gospel – or just for our self?

Live life as if any moment might be your last. Dead dead to sin – alive to God.

Romans 6:12-14 – Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.  And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.  For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

On Being An Example

Matthew 18:1-10

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”  Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.  “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!  “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.  “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.

When our grandson, Robert Thomas, was 3 years old he had been sick and was running a high fever.  At one point it had reached 105.5 F.  Needless to say, he was a very sick little boy.  His mother took him to the doctor.  When they returned home, he saw my car in the parking lot next to their apartment.  He told his mother, “Papa will pray for me and I will be all better.” 

We have an awesome responsibility, especially to these little ones. Especially to the new Christians. Especially to those we come in contact with that do not know Jesus Christ whether it is on the job, at school, in our neighborhood, or at the store. We have a responsibility and will be held accountable.

Jesus’ parting words told us to be witnesses.  But, are we the example we should be?  We cannot be a witness for Jesus Christ unless first we are an example.

This passage tells us to be humble…to receive a little child in His name…and the result of being an offense to one of these little ones.  I do not believe Jesus was just referring to the little children here, but these examples and the resulting punishment for being an offense apply to both little children and to those who are little in knowledge of the Word of God.

What does the Lord require of us?

Micah 6:6-8 – With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the High God?  Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?  Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of oil?  Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?  He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?

Micah’s statement sounds somewhat like the prophet Samuel speaking to King Saul.

1 Samuel 15:17 and 22 – So Samuel said, “When you were little in your own eyes, were you not head of the tribes of Israel? And did not the Lord anoint you king over Israel.  So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.

Paul the Apostle had some advice for young Timothy.

1 Timothy 4:11-16 – These things command and teach.  Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

To be an example, we must follow Paul’s exhortation to Timothy.

2 Timothy 2:15 – Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

We have a requirement to be good stewards of that which has been imparted to us by the Word of God, the preaching, our studying.  All of these things will help us to be a good example.

Matthew 5:16 – Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

John 15: 8 – By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

This scripture in the Living Bible reads:  My true disciples produce bountiful harvests. This brings great glory to my Father.

What about love?

John 15:12 – This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you

John 13:35 – Your strong love for each other will prove to the world that you are my disciples.  (The Living Bible)

1 Peter 2:11-12 – Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.

When the prophet Isaiah had an encounter with God, he spoke of that vision and taught us how we should be both an example and a witness and what our response should be when we have a real meeting with Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 6:3-8 – And one cried to another and said:  “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!”  And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.  So I said:  “Woe is me, for I am undone!  Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.”  Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said:  “Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.”  Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying:  “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?”  Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”

Don’t Worry About the Storm

Matthew 14:22-33

Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away.  And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.  But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.  Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.  And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.  But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”  And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”  So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.  But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”  And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.  Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”

This story is also told in Mark 6:45-51 and John 6:16-21

Jesus “made” His disciples get into the boat – this indicates it was at His direction that they left in the boat.

There are other Bible stories that tell about the safety of being in a boat.

  • Noah and the ark
  • Baby Moses in the basket set in the River Nile
  • Paul and those with him in a great storm

When you are alone in a boat in the middle of a storm.

  • There are no multitudes to impress
  • It appears that Jesus is not with you
  • Fear and doubt can quickly arise

Question:  Why did Jesus not stop the storm earlier?  Could it be that in the storm our faith is made stronger as we learn to totally put our trust in Him? It was as Jesus calmed the storm that the disciples realized who he really was. Many times it is in the storms of life that we learn more about the power and the love of Jesus.

As I think back over my life and the storms I have weathered – death of a grandson and a son; heart attack; brain bleed and my wife’s battle with cancer – I see how God was with us and how He kept us. I have truly learned the true meaning of this verse in Proverbs.

Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.