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Archive for April, 2004

Will the Real Hero Please Stand?

18 Apr

Will The Real Hero Please Stand Up?

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The town’s folk cursed the sun as it shone hot upon the dry parched earth. There was not a cloud in the sky—hadn’t been for months.

Foremost in every mind in Meadville was the drought and their desperate need for rain.

On every lip was the murmur, “I’ve never seen it so dry.”

Then, one day, a stranger rode into town. Every eye turned to look at this impressive man. He rode a beautiful Black Stallion. He had a black suit, black boots, black hat, and his pristinely white shirt was accented with a stately black bow-tie.

“Hello, good citizens of Meadville!” He called in a friendly but deep boomy voice. The town’s folk somehow felt good about this man as his powerful voice vibrated their tired, parched bodies.

“I bring glad tidings of great joy. The Lord has given me an anointing to bring rain. Wherever I go, I pray for rain and the rain comes in proportion to the town’s faith. Why I just came from Lac Oregon. There I prayed for rain and that night it rained so hard that I thought my horse wouldn’t be able to traverse the muddy roads. But Here I am and God will send rain to you too. The message I have is, ‘Give and it will be given to you. God will send rain in proportion to your giving.’”

A joyful murmur rumbled through the crowd of listeners as the Rain Hero continued to tell stories of villages he’s visited and how the towns who had given a lot had received an abundance of rain. Those who gave a little got a little rain and those who didn’t believe and gave nothing received the wrath of God and what little water they had was dried up.

The Rain Hero finished by saying, “tonight, Good people of Meadville, tonight as the sun goes down we will meet here in the Town Square. Spread the word everyone should be present. Bring your gifts for the Lord and I will pray for rain. The windows of Heaven will open up and the rain will come. Remember the rain will come in proportion to your giving. So long”

And with that he was off. The villagers watched him disappear into the dust cloud kicked up by the hooves of His horse.

Then the town began to buzz. Men told their work associates. Women spread the news to everyone who they saw. Kids ran to tell their playmates about the meeting that evening everyone was telling everyone how this Impressive Rain Hero was going to save their town by bringing rain.

The city counsel levied a tax to assure that enough money would be given. But that was not necessary for men and women were gathering their money by the bag full. Those who didn’t have much money sold valuable possessions so that they could get in on the blessing as well. Even the children gathered their money out of their banks.

As the sun began to slip over the horizon everyone in town was in the square. They waited breathlessly. “Where’s the Rain Hero?” people began to question.

Then someone shouted, “There he is!”

Sure enough, it was the Rain Hero. His horse came galloping in just as the sun disappeared behind the horizon.

“Good Citizens of Meadville, I have returned as I promised. Now present your gift to me and I will pray for rain.”

The towns folk eagerly gave their money to the Rain Hero, who placed it in his rather large saddle bags. Everyone in town had something to give, even the children gave.

Once everyone had given, the Rain Hero praised them for their generosity then prayed.

As he prayed, his booming voice gave them confidence that rain would surely come.

The prayer ended, he announced “You folks better head for home before you can’t on account of the rain. Clouds will roll in tonight and in the morning you will have much rain. I must be off. So long.”

And off the Rain Hero rode.

The town’s folk dispersed rather quickly and headed to their homes. But none could sleep. They all kept looking into the sky. Waiting, watching. But by morning light not one cloud had come. And not one drop of rain had fallen from the sky. The only thing they got was defrauded.

The Rain Hero was no Hero at all. The town’s folk stopped calling him the “Rain Hero” and renamed him the “Rain swindler”

Now this story is a parable. It didn’t really happen.

But there are many people who ride into this world claiming to be something great—a hero—who aren’t what they say they are.

Just like the people of Meadville we are in desperate need of a Hero to save us.

But I’m not talking about someone to bring rain, but someone to save us from impending death.

Romans 3:23 says “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”

This comes as no surprise to most of us. We can all probably come up with quite a list of sins that we have been involved in our lifetime.

In fact, we know this fact so well that often it ceases to bother us.

But in reality that fact puts us in a very desperate position.

Throughout the Bible we find evidence that sin brings death.

And Paul sums it up nicely in

Romans 6:23 when he tells us that the wages of sin is death.

We need someone to rescue us from the death penalty.

Many men have come to this earth, claimed to be something great and started their own religion. But none have actually succeeded in rescuing us from death.

That’s where God the Son, Jesus, comes into this equation.

Jesus came to this earth as a man and died in our place—to pay the penalty. And as a result He offers us forgiveness and eternal life.

And one thing that is totally unique to Jesus is that after He died for us He also rose again and lives forever more.

But is Jesus really the right hero?

Can He really save the day or is He just a swindler like the Rain Hero who takes your tithes and offerings, makes a bunch of promises and leaves without making good on His promises?

Let’s take a quick look.

We need to know who we put our trust in.

  • Did He claim to be God

John 8:58, 59 “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.”

Matthew 26:62-66 And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what [is it which] these witness against thee?

26:63 But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.

26:64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

26:65 Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.

26:66 What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.

What is blasphemy?

John 10:33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.”

Jesus is not just a good teacher. Equal to Mohamed, Confucius.

He is either an evil imposter or, what He said He is, God.

One way we find out if Jesus is the real Hero is by looking in the prophecies.

It has been estimated that there are over 125 prophecies about the Messiah—the redeemer. Jesus fit them all. We don’t have time to look at all of them but here are three.

  1. Genesis 3:15 Jesus would be born as a human. Do battle with Satan, get injured but win.
  2. Isaiah 53
  3. 53:3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were [our] faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

    53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

    53:9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither [was any] deceit in his mouth.

    53:10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put [him] to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see [his] seed, he shall prolong [his] days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

    53:11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, [and] shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

  4. Daniel 9—Date of His baptism. Luke 3:1, 2, 21, 22

Dr. Peter Stoner, former chairman of the departments of mathematics, astronomy, and engineering at Pasadena College (California), worked with 600 students for several years applying the “principle of probability” to the prophecies of the Messiah’s coming. They chose just eight from the many available and finally decided the chances of all eight being fulfilled in one man in a lifetime are one in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. (1 with 33 zeros after it) What would be the odds on the more than 125 prophecies of the Messiah? It couldn’t just happen!

What qualifies Jesus to be the Hero?

  1. He is God therefore all powerful. John 1:1
  2. He humbled himself and became like one of us—a servant. Philippians 2:5-7
  3. He never sinned therefore He didn’t have to die for His own sins. Hebrews 4:15
  4. He died to pay the penalty that we deserve. 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4a For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 15:4 And that he was buried,”
  5. He rose again 1 Corinthians 15:4b-8 and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
  6. 15:5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

    15:6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

    15:7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

    15:8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.”

  7. He’s gone to heaven where He is preparing to come back and bring us to be with Him. John 14:1-3

  • Song: He paid a debt He did not owe. I owed a debt I could not pay. I needed someone to take my sins away. And now I sing a brand new song, “Amazing Grace” for Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay.

This song is not entirely accurate. We can pay the debt. We just can’t pay it and live with God.

But it does nicely sum up what Jesus did. He paid the debt that He didn’t owe and now He offers us a full pardon.

    Story: Abe Lincoln pardoning the young man who fell asleep.

  • Didn’t recognize his savior. the story has a happy ending for this young man had built up a relationship with the president. the president gave the pardon. then told the young man, “I’ve given you a second chance. Be a faithful soldier. Will you be a faithful soldier? He has asked us to seek and save others.

Please don’t wait till it’s too late to find who the Hero is and commit to Him.

Yes, Jesus is the true Hero. He won’t just take everything you’ve got and leave you high and dry. He’s already God that pardon. All you have to do is accept it.


Next Steps:

  1. Discover for yourself if Jesus really is the real Hero.
  2. Commit yourself totally to the Real Hero, Jesus and accept His pardon.
  3. Resolve to be a valiant soldier for Him.
  4. Read Isaiah 53 thinking of how Jesus fulfilled the whole chapter.

 
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The Father’s Self-Portrait

03 Apr

The Father’s Self-Portrait

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A young man was to be sentenced to the penitentiary. The judge had known him from childhood, for he was well acquainted with his father–a famous legal scholar and the author of an exhaustive study entitled, “The Law of Trusts.”

“Do you remember your father?” asked the magistrate.

“I remember him well, your honor,” came the reply.

Then trying to probe the offender’s conscience, the judge said,

“As you are about to be sentenced and as you think of your wonderful dad, what do you remember most clearly about him?”

There was a pause. Then the judge received an answer he had not expected.

“I remember when I went to him for advice. He looked up at me from the book he was writing and said,‘Run along, boy; I’m busy!’ When I went to him for companionship, he turned me away, saying “Run along, son; this book must be finished!’

Your honor, you remember him as a great lawyer. I remember him as a lost friend.”

God the Father is often misunderstood.

  • Often misunderstood because of our own picture of a father.
  • Distant/Not really caring about us.
  • Angry
  • Exacting
  • Required appeasement from Jesus.
  • Another reason that the Father is so misunderstood is because there is so little information directly relating to Him in the Bible.

What is God the Father really like?

One of Jesus’ Disciples wrestled with this question in John 14:8-10

“4:8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.

14:9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou [then], Show us the Father?

14:10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.”

The key to understanding the Father is found in this statement from Jesus.

Jesus and the Father are so much the same that what Jesus does the Father does. They are in total agreement. So when you look at Jesus you see what The Father is like.

Hebrews tells us that the Father and Jesus were both involved in creating the world and us.

Hebrews 1:1, 2 “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

1:2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

God cares deeply about What He has made especially Mankind.

The Old Testament doesn’t often specify between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But since “If you’ve seen Jesus you’ve seen the Father” We can understand the Father by looking at the Stories about God in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament where it does specify.

God created us for Love. But after Adam and eve sinned, because of His love, He had to create a separation between Himself and us. Exodus 33:20

Sin and disobedience causes a natural separation between God and us.

{Match and paper soaked in fuel} Fire naturally consumes paper.

God’s pure Holiness naturally consumes Sin.

But He still longed to have a relationship with mankind. So He began to speak to, and reveal His character to chosen people such as Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Then after He had rescued Abraham’s descendants, the Israelites from slavery He brought them out into the wilderness where they would be totally reliant on God.

There were 3 or 3 1/2 million people among the Israelites. This many people are going to require a lot of food.
According to the Quartermaster General of the Army, it is reported that
Israelites would have to have

  • 1,500 tons of food each day.
  • Did you know that to
    bring that amount of food each day, two freight trains, each a mile long,
  • They would need 4,000 tons of wood to cook the food in the wilderness.
  • Requiring a few more freight trains, each a mile long, for one day.
  • It would take 11,000,000 gallons each day, if they only had enough to drink and wash a few dishes,
  • and a freight train with tank cars 11.8 miles long, just to bring water.
  • Every time they camped at the end of the
    day, a campground 2/3′s the size of Rhode Island, or a total of 750 square miles, was needed.

    • That comprises an area 25 miles wide and 30 miles long.

There is no way they could have provided for themselves out there. So everyday they had to rely on God to supply their needs.

This should have helped them to know God and enter into that relationship with Him and to realize that God really does care for us, but they didn’t seem to get it.

Once when God was talking to Moses He said, “And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.” Exodus 25:8

God wanted to live right with His people.

As we just read in Exodus 33:20 God couldn’t actually be there face to face with his people for their protection so He chose this sanctuary to symbolize His constant presence. Overshadowing the Sanctuary was a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire at night.

Within this Sanctuary God illustrated His plan of salvation that would eventually bring us into full communion with Him.

Another way of helping us to know and understand Himself and help us to know Him was through the Holy inspired writings, which we now call the Holy Bible, that God inspired His chosen people to write. Within these pages God’s true character becomes clear.

God of Mercy,

  • Each of us has done many things that could invoke God’s wrath. But God created us for Love and He has too much love to go around. So He takes pleasure in showing mercy to those who accept it and even to many who reject it.
    • When Moses asked God to show him His glory God began his self-description in this way.
    • Exodus 34:6, 7 “And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,
    • 34:7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear [the guilty]; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth [generation].
    • In Luke 6:35, 36 Jesus told us something about how we can emulate His Father. “But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and [to] the evil. 6:36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.”

King David was known as a man after God’s own Heart (See 1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22) He had a very real relationship with God. let us notice some things He and the other Psalmists found about God.

  • God Is eager to establish relationships with individuals

  • Psalm 8:3, 4 NIV “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?”

The Apostle Peter wrote, 1 Peter 5:6, 7 NKJV “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

  • A refuge
  • Psalm 18:1, 2 NIV “I love you, O LORD, my strength. 2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

  • Psalm 27:5 NIV “For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.”

  • Psalm 46:1 NKJV “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.

  • Sustainer

  • Psalm 55:22 “Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.”

  • God told Isaiah the Prophet, Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’”

  • An understanding and Forgiving God.

Ps 103:11-14 “For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; 12As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.13As a father pities his children, So the LORD pities those who fear Him. 14For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.”

  • Protective God

Ps 146:7-9 “Who executes justice for the oppressed,
Who gives food to the hungry. The LORD gives freedom to the prisoners. 8 The LORD opens the eyes of the blind; The LORD raises those who are bowed down; The LORD loves the righteous. 9 The LORD watches over the strangers; He relieves the fatherless and widow; But the way of the wicked He turns upside down.”

  • God’s main trait is Love.

We see this in His desire to have a relationship with us.

God didn’t have to be Appeased with Jesus’ Sacrifice rather we find that this was as much a sacrifice of Love for the Father as it was for Jesus. John 3:16

Yes, God the Father desires a close Relationship with us. He wants to live with us and Us with Him. So, very soon Jesus will come back to take us to live with Him. Then He will recreate the earth, perfectly this time and We will be reconciled with Him and we will be able to be in His presence.

Notice the loud Victory shout ringing through Heaven at that time

Revelation 21:3 “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”

There’s a Spanish story of a father and son who had become estranged.

The son ran away, and the father set off to find him.

He searched for months to no avail.

Finally, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in a Madrid newspaper.

The ad read: Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father.

On Saturday 800 Pacos showed up, looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers.

God has Placed an add in the Bible:

“Dear Son or daughter,

Meet me anywhere at any time in prayer and through My Word. Jesus has made it possible for all of your sins to be forgiven, I Love you. I’ll be coming back soon and I want you to be ready so We can hang out and catch up.

Love, Your Heavenly Father.”

There’s no limit to this invitation.

NEXT STEPS:

  1. Reply to the Father’s invitation of fellowship by setting aside a special time this week to talk to God in a personal way. Remember He cares personally for you.
  2. Identify a large problem in your life and ask your Heavenly Father to take care of it. Claim the promise in 1 Peter 5:6, 7
  3. If you are a Christian, ask yourself if you are doing a good job of reflecting God’s character to those who look up to you. Then ask God to help you improve where needed.
  4. Write a response letter back to God the Father expressing your feelings for Him.

Scripture Reading: John 16:26, 27

 
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