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Friday, March 31, 2017

Conan the Barbarian

There is an old movie from the 1980's, Conan the Barbarian. At one point in the movie Conan and his group of warriors are fighting and as they face battle with overwhelming odds one asks the other, "What's the matter, do you want to live forever". The thought expressed, being that there in no better way to die than in battle or that life is not worth living without facing a challenge. A great inspiring thought, but how close to reality?

 

While I was in the hospital for tests a while back and I was asked a question I had never been asked

 

before. The doctor came in and talked about the procedure I was going to have and asked, "Do you have a living will?" I told him, "Yes, I do." He said, well I have to ask this, "If something happens and your heart stops during this procedure, do you want us to try and bring you back?" Now that will make you sit up and take notice! I had to stop and think and ask a couple of questions to make sure I understood. I then told him, "Yes, bring me back."

 

What is it you want, what is really important to you? I'm reminded of a incident in the life of Jesus as he left the city of Jericho recorded in Mark 10:46 and following. Notice what happened: "And so they reached Jericho. Later, as Jesus and his disciples left town, a great crowd was following. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting beside the road as Jesus was going by. When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus from Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" "Be quiet!" some of the people yelled at him. But he only shouted louder, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" When Jesus heard him, he stopped and said, "Tell him to come here." So they called the blind man. "Cheer up," they said. "Come on, he’s calling you!" Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus.  "What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked. "Teacher," the blind man said, "I want to see!"

 

The man, Bartimaeus, didn't have to ask questions for clarification, he didn't have to stop and think about it, he knew exactly what he wanted and Jesus granted his request.

 

What is it YOU want more than anything? Most folks, when given time to think about it would like to avoid death, they would say, "I want to live and if possible, to live forever". Paul wrote in Romans 6:23. "For the wages of sin isdeath; but the gift of God iseternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

 

I want to live and I know I have eternal life because of God's promises! John wrote fabulous words of encouragement in 1 John 5:13. Notice what he says: "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life."

 

There's an old gospel song that says, "I know, I know, there's no doubt about it, he's real in my heart and I'm going to shout it". That's the feeling you have when you understand that you have life with Christ! Do you want to live? Yes! Then go to the book and see what he tells you that you must do! In fact read the whole chapter of Romans 6 for a starter.

 

May our God bless you with success in your attempt to live forever!

 

--Russ Lawson

Neither Complacency nor Gullibility is a Virtue!

 

 

And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But you be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand. Mark 13:21-23

 

“Gullibility is no mark of a saint or of piety. Note emphatic position of you …. Credulity ranks no higher than scepticism. God gave us our wits for self-protection. Christ has warned us beforehand.” Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament, discussing verse 23 of Mark 13.

 

“You be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.” That also applies to you and me. Jesus warned time and time again of false teachers. Matthew 7:13-23; 15:1-14; 23:13,15.

 

Apostles such as Paul and Peter did likewise. Romans 16:17-18; Colossians 2:4,8; 2 Peter 3:14-18

 

But some believers don’t think false teachers can ever be influencing them. They believe anything that’s taught them, no matter who the teacher is. “Well, they claim to be Christian and preach in a church, don’t they?”

 

Look at some examples of false teaching in churches in the New Testament:

 

Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. But God's firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” 2 Timothy 2:14-19

 

I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. Acts 20:29-31

 

In Acts 20:20,27,31, Paul is recorded as saying the same thing Jesus said in Mark 13:23, “I have told you all things beforehand.” In other words, be on the lookout; they’re coming! Some checked even the apostles! Acts 17:11

 

And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. 2 Corinthians 11:12-15

 

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 Peter 2:1

 

“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.” Revelation 2:2

 

But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. Revelation 2:14-16

 

The last two from Revelation are actually Jesus’ words again, though the apostle John has written those words:

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place.

He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Revelation 1:1-2

 

We can never say we weren’t warned! The different teachings in the thousand denominations – teachings that create the differences in the denominations – certainly cannot all be true to the New Testament. Read in full Matthew 15:1-14; Acts 20:17-32; 1 Timothy 3:15; 2 Timothy 1:12-14; 3:6-4:4; 1 John 4:1-6; 2 John 6-11.

 

David Carr

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Finally my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might (Ephesians 6:10).

There is not a day of our lives in which we do not need to be encouraged to be strong in the Lord. We need to know that he is the source of the strength and courage that will sustain us through whatever is taking place in our lives (Psalms 23). We need to know that we can depend upon him and his promises (Heb. 7:8-9, 13:7; 2 Peter 1:3-4). Before us lies many battles as we fight the good fight of faith (1 Tim. 6:12). Battles with temptations brought into our lives through the lure of the world around us (1 John2:15-17. There will be fierce battles as we encounter adversities that cause our hearts to become heavy making tears flow unbidden from our eyes. As a faithful child of God, we know that we know that our Lord stands by us not only in times of prosperity but in times when our way is dark and dreary as well and he stands ready at all times to put his shoulder under any burden we may have (Heb. 4:13-16).

 

With each passing day I become more convinced that our God will take care of and direct the heart of all who will trust and obey him (Proverbs 3:5-6). I believe that the God we serve can turn the worst day into a beautiful experience. He can make the light to shine through the darkest night.  I believe that one of our grand old hymns says it best: "Be not dismayed what-e'er betide, God will take care of you; Beneath his wings of love abide, God will take care of you .Thro' every day, O'er all the way, He will take care of you".  There is no doubt in my mind as to what God can and will do for us when we totally commit ourselves to him (2 Tim. 1:12; Gal. 2:20; Rom. 8:28-39). The difficulties of this life may be a burden but they are never a hindrance to the faithful child of God for you see, through the eye of faith we can see that land on a far away a strand where we will never grow old and one day we will fly away to that land where joy will never end. Take courage my friends, for even though  this journey may often become difficult causing us to groan, our Lord loves us and he will take care of us  as we press onward each day in anticipation of one day going to that home not made with human hands that is eternal ( 2 Cor.5:1-8; 1 Pet. 5:6-7; Phil.4:10).

 

 I pray that God's love will surround each of us and that he will bless us with the strength and courage we need to sustain us for each day of the rest of our lives on this side of eternity.

 

Charles Hicks

 

Arrogance of Those Who Change

Sadly, most of us have known those who once preached the truth who have now turned from that truth and are either preaching error or upholding such. It is not my intent in this article to examine any particular doctrine they may now be teaching but to note an attitude that is all too common among these individuals.

Very often, if you dare question their change or what they are now teaching, you get a response something like this: “I know where you are coming from; I once was there” or “I once believed what you believe.” The implication of such statements is that they have now attained such superior knowledge and when you reach that level you will agree with them. This arrogance on their part says that those who disagree with them just lack the intelligence that they have. If you disagree with them it is due to your lack of study or your ignorance.  It never occurs to these individuals that those who disagree with them may have studied just as much as they have and that their disagreement with them is not due to lack of knowledge but to a desire to respect the authority of God’s word and a desire to stand for truth.

Friend, don’t be deceived or intimidated by these false teachers. As Paul said, “not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called” (1 Corinthians 1:26). Paul also declared, “my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:4,5). The faithful teacher will have a show of humility; not arrogance.

- by James Hahn

 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The broad way that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13)

Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and run with patience the race that is set before us--Hebrews 12:1

 

There is an ongoing struggle waging within each of us between good and evil (Rom. 7:18-24). The world around us is constantly tugging at our heartstrings beckoning us with its glitter and false promises to enter that broad way that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13). We would do well to begin each day enlisting the aid of God to help us rid ourselves of all things that would interfere with our loyalty and commitment to him. Pray that he will grant to us a measure of strength and courage that will enable us to withstand the pull of the world. Our God is not cold or indifferent to our afflictions. He is tenderly touched by what is happening to us (Hebrews 2:16-18; Hebrews 4:13-16). If we are willing to submit ourselves to him, trusting him to watch over us and keep us safe, he will hear our cry and he will answer that cry (James 4:7; Psalms 62:7-8; 1 Peter 3:12; Philippians 4:6-7).

 

The path we walk will not always be smooth and easy. There will be a lot of rough places over which we must travel and there will be mountains we will have to conquer. As we journey down the pathway of life, afflictions may increase, burdens may become harsher, pain and sorrow may often be our companion. But if we stand fast in the faith, if we do not lose our confidence in God, if our trust in him fills our hearts, we will one day gain the greatest victory imaginable ( Hebrews 10:23; 2 Timothy 1:12; Proverbs 3:5; Hebrews 2:13; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57). With each passing day we are but a step closer to the moment in which we will take that final earthly step and leave behind all that we have, taking with us only what we are. What a journey this will be. Live each day as if you know it is your last one on planet earth. Live every moment of your life in a manner that you can say, "I am ready" (2 Timothy 4:6-8). 

 

Charles Hicks

 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

#Grammy Awards

Grammy Awards are considered some of the most prestigious and sought after in the music industry. In 2005, R&B artist John Legend had the privilege of winning one for the "Best R&B Album." To date, John Legend has received 10 Grammy's and 28 Grammy nominations.

 

As you might imagine, these awards are something to be proud of. In his apparent, Legend had this displaying for all who visited his home. However, on one particular visit, some family came over. John's nephew accidentally broke his 2005 Grammy Award.

 

It's ironic that an item so seldom achieved and given out could be broken so easily. Sure, maybe the nephew was being extremely rough with the awards, but the bottom line is, it was breakable. It wasn't going to last. When we boil it down, the award is really just a chunk of metal and plastic staying, "you did a good job." What true value does it bring? What real, long lasting worth does it symbolize?

 

This is the type of mindset that's important for us to adopt as Christians. Sure, we may be skilled in certain areas. We might even receive awards and recognition. But if our time and energy don't have an eternal impact, then it is of little value. Matthew 6:19-21 says, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

 

Even though a Grammy is a very treasured reward, it is just a temporary object. There is really no deep seeded value. What would it matter if we won 20 Grammy Awards, or a Nobel Prize, or created an incredible business, or made billions of dollars, or even gained the entire world if, in the end, we lose our souls (Mark 8:36). All of our "achievements" would be for nothing.

 

True treasure is in heaven, not on earth. In heaven, those pesky nephews can't break our treasures. In heaven, not even Satan himself could touch them. Let's make sure our hearts are set on heavenly treasures far more than any earthly treasures.

 

Brett Petrillo

 

Distractions on the Road

Surely you've seen them - those drivers who are so busy talking on their cellular phones that they sit through a green light or ignore some other important traffic situation.  The ‘topper’ to this is when you see a driver talking on the cell phone AND eating a sandwich - all while driving a car.

Driving is a serious activity that demands our devoted attention.  Things like cell phones and sandwiches tend to distract us, making driving even more dangerous.  When two or more such distractions are added together watch out!  The likelihood of an accident is significantly multiplied.

Now, make a spiritual application.  Living life in this world is a very serious activity.  It demands our undivided attention.  The problem is that we too often allow ourselves to be distracted by the things of this world.  When that happens, a spiritual accident is sure to follow.

And, we're not just talking about the sinful things that can distract us.  Certainly, there are plenty of those.  Wickedness abounds in our society and we are confronted with multiple temptations everyday.  Constant vigilance is necessary.  But, more than this, there is the danger that we will get so busy with our day-to-day affairs that we might forget what our main pursuit is supposed to be.  Our jobs, our families, our recreation and a host of other things – not sinful in and of themselves - can crowd God out of our lives.

Add two or three such distractions together and you are simply a spiritual accident looking for a place to happen.  Be careful!  Stay focused.  "Reach forth unto those things which are before" and "press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus"(Phil. 3:13,14).

- by Greg Gwin

 

Modern idols

Stuck On Self

Peruse the catalog of almost any religious publisher or walk down the aisle of the Christian Booksellers Association convention and you will quickly discover what's hot and what's not: what's hot is the counsel of psychologists about anxiety and addiction, depression and dependency, self-esteem and sexuality, parenting and personality disorders; what's not is the call of Jesus to deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Him in the way of servanthood.  Our obsession with self has led us astray into the temple of idols.

- by Donald McCullough

 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

reaganlibrary.archives.gov

What’s Needed Today

 

On February 2, 1984, President Ronald Reagan spoke at the Annual National Prayer Breakfast in the International Ballroom at the Washington Hilton Hotel.

 

After greeting the assembly which included many U.S. Senators and Representatives, President Reagan said: “In a world today that is so torn with strife where the divisions seem to be increasing, not people coming together, within countries, divisions within the people, themselves and all, I wonder if we have ever thought about the greatest tool that we have -- that power of prayer and God's help.”

 

“This power of prayer,” continued President Reagan, “can be illustrated by a story that goes back to the fourth century…”  Then he told about a monk that lived during the 4th century by the name of Telemachus.  Telemachus had been living “in a little remote village, spending most of his time in prayer or tending the garden from which he obtained his sustenance,” when he, because he believed it to be God’s will, went to Rome.

 

When Telemachus arrived in Rome, President Reagan explained:

 

It was at a time of a festival in Rome.  They were celebrating a triumph over the Goths.  And he followed a crowd into the Coliseum, and then there in the midst of this great crowd, he saw the gladiators come forth, stand before the Emperor, and say, “We who are about to die salute you.''  And he realized they were going to fight to the death for the entertainment of the crowds.  And he cried out, “In the name of Christ, stop!”  And his voice was lost in the tumult there in the great Coliseum.

 

And as the games began, he made his way down through the crowd and climbed over the wall and dropped to the floor of the arena.  Suddenly the crowds saw this scrawny little figure making his way out to the gladiators and saying, over and over again, “In the name of Christ, stop.”  And they thought it was part of the entertainment, and at first they were amused.  But then, when they realized it wasn't, they grew belligerent and angry.  And as he was pleading with the gladiators, “In the name of Christ, stop,” one of them plunged his sword into his body.  And as he fell to the sand of the arena in death, his last words were, “In the name of Christ, stop.”

 

And suddenly, a strange thing happened.  The gladiators stood looking at this tiny form lying in the sand.  A silence fell over the Coliseum.  And then, someplace up in the upper tiers, an individual made his way to an exit and left, and others began to follow.  And in the dead silence, everyone left the Coliseum.  That was the last battle to the death between gladiators in the Roman Coliseum.  Never again did anyone kill or did men kill each other for the entertainment of the crowd.

 

One tiny voice that could hardly be heard above the tumult: “In the name of Christ, stop.”  It is something we could be saying to each other throughout the world today. *

 

Peace.  That’s what we need in the world today.  Peace between countries, peace within countries, peace in our homes, peace within each of us, and even peace with God.

 

That’s why God sent His Son into the world: that we may have peace with God (Romans 5:1-2), peace with others (cf. Ephesians 2:13-22) , and peace within ourselves (Philippians 4:6-7).

 

It all begins with having peace with God.  It is our sin that separates us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2), but Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for our sins so that we can be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).

 

God will forgive and give eternal life to those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38).  He will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).

 

“In the name of Christ, stop!”  Stop fighting against God and one another.  Surrender and submit to the will of God, and then share His grace with everyone around you.

 

Won’t YOU?

 

-- David A. Sargent

 

* “Remarks at the Annual National Prayer Breakfast” made by President Ronald Reagan on February 2, 1984.  https://reaganlibrary.archives.gov/archives/speeches/1984/20284a.htm

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Kim Lineham

In the late 1970's, Kim Lineham, an 18-year-old young lady, was putting an enormous amount of work into her swimming career. On August 19, 1979, at the AAU Nationals, Kim broke the world record for the women's 1500-meter freestyle. How did she achieve this success? Her coach, Paul Bergen, stated that Lineham did endless exercises and swam 7 to 12 miles per day. In an attempt to gain a better understanding of the rigors of such training, Kim Lineham was asked what was the hardest part of her regimen. Her response, "Getting in the water" (Texas Monthly, quoted in Reader's Digest, June 1981).

 

It's amazing that even for people who achieve great success, the hardest part is often just getting started. We want to lose weight. It's hard to just go to the gym. We want to eat right. It's tough to make a healthy meal instead of eating out. We want to save money. Yet that newest gadget or clothing seems so desirable and keeps us from saving.

 

It's not so different on a spiritual level. We want to pray more. But then we allow the busyness of the day take hold and don't specifically set up a time. We want to read and study the Bible more. Unfortunately, we tell ourselves a thousand different excuses to keep us from getting started on a consistent basis. We want to talk to someone about the gospel. But then we don't even take that first step forward and speak to them.

 

Sometimes I wonder if the reason these things are hard is because they are easy. Let me explain. If God had required that we climb some enormous mountain and proclaim extravagant words at the top, we would do it. If God had asked for us to travel a great distance to obtain and item and bring it back home and dedicate to Him, we would do it. And yet, all God has asked of us is to love Him, obey Him, and continue to pursue a relationship with Him (Luke 10:27). It should be easy, yet in some respects, this is much more difficult to do.

 

In 2 Kings 5, Naaman was faced with a similar dilemma. He came down with leprosy and was desperate to be healed. The prophet Elisha instructed Naaman to dip himself in the Jordan River seven times to be cleansed (vs. 10). Because of its simplicity, Naaman was very resistant and even angry with this requirement (vs. 11). His servants encouraged him, though, saying, "My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it?" (vs. 13). So Naaman went to the Jordan as instructed and was healed (vs. 14).

 

Let's not let the simplicity of God's commands deter us from obedience. Just because the request is easy doesn't mean it's simply to do on on a consistent basis. Like Lineham, let's tackle the hardest part and just "get in the water"! Set a plan. Carve out the time. Let's do whatever it takes to build and keep our relationship with God going.

 

Brett Petrillo

 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Simple sermon ideas

Sermon:  “Lord, Help Us To See”

 

Let me begin by asking this question, “Do you see Jesus in the ordinary?”

 

• Is he in your every day surroundings?

• Do you see him in others as opportunities to do good?

• Are you moved with compassion to serve them, as Jesus was, when he walked upon this earth?

 

We are going to spend most of our time together in the latter verses of Matt. 25, but let’s begin in Matt. 20:29-34.

 

It was an “ordinary day” as Jesus and his companions were leaving Jericho…

 

”…A large crowd followed Him. 30 And two blind men sitting by the road, hearing that Jesus was passing by, cried out, ‘Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!’

31 The crowd sternly told them to be quiet, but they cried out all the more, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!’ 32 And Jesus stopped and called them, and said, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’ 33 They said to Him, ‘Lord, we want our eyes to be opened.’ 34 Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him.”

 

“What do you want me to do for you?” – That was Jesus’ question to these two who were blind and helpless. Their response, “Lord, we want to have our eyes opened.”

 

That is a good place for us to begin: Do we want/need to have our eyes opened? 

 

• Are they opened to the truth of who Jesus is, and what he wants and expects of us as his followers?

• Are our eyes opened to the opportunities around us to do good and serve others?

• Do we see Jesus in the midst of our ordinary daily routines?

 

And, if we are living to be like Jesus, then are we asking, “What do you want me to do for you” to those around us who are spiritually blind and in need?

 

Jesus, on this occasion (and many others) was moved with compassion. He saw the needs of others and felt compelled to respond and offer help.

 

How do we answer the call to ministry and respond to those around us?

 

Are we asking, What do you want me to do for you?”

 

• The question causes us to focus outwardly on others.

• It gets our minds off of ourselves.

• Are we concerned with the spiritual blindness that is all around us?

• Are we moved with compassion because we live in a darkened world of sin?

 

If you don’t know how to answer in response to the question, Jesus offers one of the most sobering answers in all of scripture in Matt. 25 – and it reveals what he wants us “to see” - and what he expects from us…It is also rather eye opening! – Because it is where we find Jesus in the ordinary…

 

He is describing the judgment scene to take place, and that we will each, one day, stand before God and give an account of the deeds we have done with the time we have been granted on this earth…

 

And in that – it answers the question of what Jesus wants us to do for him – and for others. It reveals how we truly “see” life as we view those around us in need.

 

V. 31 begins, “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 "All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.”

 

1. First, BE ALERT (to his coming)

 

Expect Jesus to return. Live with that expectation. It will change how you view life.

 

Scripture teaches Christ is coming again – He is coming in glory…and we better be prepared and be ready, because it will come at a time when we least expect it.

 

Jesus earlier in Matt. 25 tells the Parable of the Ten Virgins – and the point being, some will be prepared for his coming and some will not be ready.

 

In chapter 24 he speaks of the days of Noah, (v.37ff) when all were eating and drinking, marrying and being given in marriage, and the flood came upon them unexpectedly – only Noah and his family had listened to God, made preparations, and looked ahead. Their lives were spared because they saw what was coming.

 

1 Thess. 5:2-4 warns, “For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. 3 While they are saying, "Peace and safety!" then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief;”

 

It will be an ordinary day. It will be like any other day when Jesus comes…

 

Did the two blind men Jesus passed by leaving Jericho wake up that morning with the anticipation of “seeing” – literally seeing – Jesus that day?

 

We aren’t told, but the two blind men sitting by the road, hearing that Jesus was passing by, cried out, "Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!"

 

They apparently made some preparation to see him. May we stay ever vigilant and ever alert as to who Jesus is, and that he is coming when we may least expect it…

 

And when he does, he will open our eyes to Eternity. We will see as we have never seen before! Be alert.

 

2. Secondly, BE AWARE (of the needs of others around you)

 

With Jesus, learn to expect the unexpected.

 

Jesus, in Matt. 25, offers the response to those who had been willing to recognize the needs of those around them and who were ready with a willingness to help…

 

…And to “see” that in serving others, in ordinary ways, they were serving him.

 

 34 "Then the King will say to those on His right, `Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

 35 `For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.'” Then the righteous will answer Him, `Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?  38 `And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 `When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' 40 "The King will answer and say to them, `Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.' 

 

The response in these verses, asked three times: “Lord, when did we SEE you…”

 

The two blind men of Matt. 20 “recognized” Jesus more quickly than many of those there who had their physical sight… “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!"

 

They had a spiritual insight and “saw” him for who he was… Lord. Son of David.

 

Jesus left the throne room of Heaven to come and dwell among us.  (John 1:14)

 

Eph. 2 tells us, “Have this attitude (mind) in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

 

Joseph was told, “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which translated means, ‘God with us’” Matt. 1:23.

 

Jesus chose to come to this earth and it wasn’t with fanfare, or in the form of an earthly kingdom or as a military leader, or someone with wealth, fame, and notoriety…and that isn’t where you will find him today.

 

That is why many do not “see” him today. They are looking in the wrong places.

 

Jesus is found among the homeless and the helpless, the imprisoned and the infirmed. Look in the hospital room or the nursing home, and you will come nearer finding him there, among the ordinary, than among the elegant and exquisite, or the political and the powerful.

 

He left the halls of Heaven to walk among the weak and the sinful.

 

Jesus “saw” people for who they were and what they needed.

 

But, many failed to see him for who he was… the son of God. The son of David.

 

God was in their midst, but they didn’t recognize him and accept him…

 

Jesus told the Pharisees in John 9 (after the healing of another blind man):

 

"For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind." 40 Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, "We are not blind too, are we?" 41 Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, `We see,' your sin remains.”

 

The old saying, “No man is as blind is he who will not see” certainly applies to how we approach Jesus, and see (or maybe don’t see) the needs of those around us.

 

And, those needs are seen among the ordinary and in ordinary ways of serving – offering food and clothing, taking the time to visit and listen to another in need.

 

With Jesus, learn to expect the unexpected. Learn to see the unseen as you live by faith (and not be sight). 

 

Be alert to his coming... Be aware of the needs of those around you...

 

3. Lastly, BE AVAILABLE (to serve others – Do you see him in others?)

 

“Then He will also say to those on His left, `Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.' 44 "Then they themselves also will answer, `Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?' 45 "Then He will answer them, `Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' 46"These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

 

Expect to be inconvenienced and interrupted along the way if you are going to be Jesus to those around you.

 

As Jesus was leaving Jericho, the two blind men interrupted his travel itinerary.

 

The crowds sternly rebuked them and tried to push them away. But, Jesus stopped and took the time to acknowledge their needs.

 

Even those who responded to the needs of those around them in Matt. 25 did not fully comprehend and appreciate how they had been serving Christ through serving others…but, they made themselves available when there was a need.

 

The latter ones that Jesus describes in these verses were perhaps too busy and too caught up with their own agendas and interest to notice those around them. That is one of the great dangers we face while going through our day-to-day routines… and it can have eternal consequences.

 

If we are not careful, we can miss seeing Jesus. We can fail to see him in ordinary service to others, and in the lives of those around us who are in need.

 

In Mark 14:7 Jesus states, For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish, you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me.” 

 

Jesus was telling them I will not always be available to you… (You find the same statement in John 12:8 after Mary had anointed his feet.)

 

Yet, in a sense, we always have Jesus with us because there will always be those who are in need and Jesus says, “to the extent that you did it (or did it not) to one of the least of these, you did it (or did it not) to Me.”

 

Do we even notice…Do we truly SEE the needs around us?

 

1 John 4 tells us we need to recognize Jesus is in our midst, he is among us – and it may be in the most obscure and unusual ways that we find him…

John begins in v. 14, “We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.  19 We love, because He first loved us. 20 If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.”

• Do we love others? Do we “see” their needs?

• Do we make ourselves available to them?

• Do others see Christ living in us?

 

As he is, so also are we. He came and walked among men and, for the most part, they didn’t realize who he was. They refused to see him for who he was, – so they crucified him.

 

“What do you want me to do for you?” – That is the question we need to be asking ourselves in regard to Jesus and how we respond to him –

 

Are we responding to the needs of our brothers (whom we have seen) and those in the world who are spiritually blind and stumbling in the darkness of sin?

 

May we constantly, prayerfully, be asking, “Lord, we want to have our eyes opened…” to be alert to his coming, to be aware of the needs around us, and to be available to serve others when the opportunities arise.

 

In closing, Jesus in Matt. 9:35, was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. 36 Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. 38 "Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest."

 

Jesus – seeing the people – was moved by compassion.

 

He recognized their condition. He saw their real needs.

 

They were distressed and dispirited… Has anything changed?

 

I want to challenge you this week to find those who are distressed and dispirited, blind and beaten down… and BE Christ to them… Let them SEE Christ in you…

 

• When are we going to “see” and take notice of those around us?

• Do we realize Jesus is coming soon to separate the sheep from the goats?

 

But, it is the sheep as well who need a shepherd.

 

It is our duty, as Christians, to be like Jesus and bring sight – knowledge of the word of God – to a world that is blind and lost in the darkness of sin.

 

The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.

 

Do you see the need for others to know Jesus, and to show them kindness and compassion, as you share the truth of his word in your ordinary, daily, routine?

 

Be alert.

Be aware.

Be available.

 

Expect him to return.

Expect the unexpected.

Expect to be inconvenienced when following Christ.

 

But, if you do those things, you can also expect to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of thy rest.

 

Jesus is asking, “What do you want me to do for you?” And he wants us to ask the same question to those around us who are spiritually blind.

 

Lord, we want to have our eyes opened.” Help us to see.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scriptures quoted from the New American Standard Version (Biblemaster.com)

 

David Robison

Kensett, Arkansas

 

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