Sunday, August 14, 2011

August 15, 2011

What a Savior we have!

In John Chapter 6 we see Him as the Bread of Life! He bids us to feed on Him.

In John 8 He identifies Himself as great than Abraham.

In Chapter 9 he presents Himself as the Light of the World and illustrates it by healing a blind man!

Wow! What a Savior!

Moving on to Chapter 10 he refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd. His description sounds a lot like Psalm 23!

As a pastor friend of mine once declared, "When the Lord is your Shepherd - the future is your friend!" Here's why:

He Leads Us!

A hireling or a sheep rustler drives the sheep, but the Good Shepherd leads us. He leads us into the safety of His presence! He leads us into the security of His pasture! He leads us into the abundance of His truth. He speaks gently to us and calls us by name as He leads us. Think of that, the Good Shepherd knows your name!

He Loves Us!

A hireling or a rustler has no regard for the sheep. They mean nothing to them. To them the sheep are a necessary inconvenience. They lead the flock only for their own personal benfit. So when the sheep are threatened, they will flee to protect themselves. But the Good Shepherd loves His sheep. He provides for them. He protects them. He prays for them. He will give His life to save them. Think about that! You are loved by the Good Shepherd!

He leads us. He loves us. And:

He Laid Down His Life for Us.

Verse 10 sums up the desire of the Good Shepherd and the destiny of His sheep:

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full!"

To quote my friend - "When the Lord is your Shepherd, the future is your friend!"

August 14, 2011

The word for today is "preparation". Are you preparing? Are you prepared?
Reading this morning in II Chronicles and in John 10 the importance of preparation became obvious. Preparation for what? Preparation for the presence of God.
Solomon is fulfilling his destiny and the dream of his father, David, by building the Temple of the Lord. The first five chapters of this book go into great detail - painstaking detail of all the people, the plans, the contributions, the materials, and the procedures that went into preparing for the building of God's Temple. Why all the attention to detail? Because they were preparing for the presence of God!
When the building was done and the details completed, the significant moment arrived when the Ark of the Covenant was carried into the beautiful new Temple. With great joy and ceremony it was placed in it's specially prepared place. Here is the dramatic moment:
"The priests then brought the ark of the LORD's covenant to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place, and put it beneath the wings of the cherubim. The cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark and covered the ark and its carrying poles. These poles were so long that their ends, extending from the ark, could be seen from in front of the inner sanctuary, but not from outside the Holy Place; and they are still there today. There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb, where the LORD made a covenant with the Israelites after they came out of Egypt. The priests then withdrew from the Holy Place. All the priests who were there had consecrated themselves, regardless of their divisions. All the Levites who were musicians—Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun and their sons and relatives—stood on the east side of the altar, dressed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps and lyres. They were accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets. The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang: "He is good; his love endures forever." Then the temple of the LORD was filled with a cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the temple of God. II Chronicles 5:7-14
Wow! What a moment! How would you have liked to been there for that! All the hard work and planning paid off! It was well worth it!
In the second half of John 10, Jesus is being hassled by the religious elite questioning His miracles and his claims of being the Son of God. Despite ample evidence to the claims He was making, they refused to believe and continually challenged Him. Once they picked up stones to stone Him but He avoided them and later they tried to seize Him but He slipped away and got out of town.
The change of scenary made a significant difference. Here's the story:
"Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. Here he stayed and many people came to him. They said, "Though John never performed a miraculous sign, all that John said about this man was true." And in that place many believed in Jesus." John 10:40-42
In one place Jesus had nothing but resistance, but in this place He had nothing but results. What was that about?
Simple, it's that "P" word again - "preparation" ! John the Baptist had preached and taught and ministered in that area and prepared the way for Jesus.
It seems obvious to me that God honors prepartion.
We crave the presence of God but we don't like the hard work involved in the preparation. We show up at worship or LIFE group and expect the leaders to produce the presence of God. While it is their responsibility to adequately prepare, it is incumbant on each of us to show up prepared.
Preparation is hard and tedious - but the payoff is well worth it! What are you doing to prepare for God's presence?