Pastor Keith’s Blog

No Threat

We can value many different things in life; riches, fame, education, security, love,  possession, athletic ability, etc.  In the face of all that could captivate our heart, Jesus speaks and says in Mark 8:36 ” For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”  Jesus is comparing what we value on earth in the light of our soul and its eternity.
   Recently we have experienced terrorist threats, activities and murder in our country.  In this context, fear can easily grip the hearts of people.  The security of our nation and ourselves, as individuals, can seem to be shattered.  The looming of death and global threat can cause us to feel undermined and vulnerable.  It is understandable how the threat of death puts fear and insecurity into the hearts of people.
   Looking at the corollary of the above scripture we would see, “what would a man loose if he keeps his soul in eternity and loses the whole world?”   The fear of death can easily grip our hearts, if we feel that life here on earth is the most important thing.  However, when we focus upon the life that we are moving into, that of eternity, then the prospect of death need not be a fearful thing.  That is why Paul can say in 1 Cor. 15:55  “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
  May your confidence in having eternal life through Christ Jesus, remove the fear of death from your heart.  May the peace of Christ prevail in all that comes before you.

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What Would It Take?

In Matthew 11, John the Baptist is in prison and is questioning whether Jesus was the Messiah or if there is another one who should be looked to, (vs. 1-3).  Jesus then affirms that, yes, He is the Messiah, by talking about the miracles and works that He is doing.  These attribute to Jesus being the chosen one, (vs.5).  John the Baptist seems content, his questions and concerns are answered.
   In Luke 16:19-31 we have the story of the rich man and Lazarus.  The rich man is pleading that some sign, or perhaps even someone who has come back to life would talk to his family members so that they might repent and believe.  In this situation Jesus says that, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.”
  One would think that actually talking to someone who has been raised from the dead would convince them that there was a God and that there is a heaven and a hell. But Jesus said that this would not be the case.  John the Baptist was comforted just by hearing about what God was doing in others, even though he personally was not delivered from prison nor did he escape being beheaded.  What made the difference between whether  the miracle or resurrection positively affected the person?  It was the individual themselves.
   What type of person are you?  What type of confirmation would you need from God? If God sent some form of affirmation about Himself, would you receive it if it wasn’t the type of affirmation that you were wanting?

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The Blessing

What would it take to convince you that Jesus is alive, that He is concerned about you and that He is fulfilling His promises?  In Matthew 11 we see that John the Baptist is in prison.  Prior to this he had boldly declared that there was coming someone who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.  He baptized Jesus and heard a voice from heaven saying that this was God’s beloved Son in Whom He was well pleased, he saw the Spirit of God alighting upon Jesus, Matt. 3:13-17. 

   There would have been some excitement and anticipation that Jesus was going to help change the situations of life.  However, when in prison John the Baptist is having second thoughts.   Life was not “playing out” as he had anticipated that it would, Jesus had not produced the desired changes, and life had actually gotten harder for John the Baptist since Jesus came around.  John was about to be beheaded.  A question is sent to Jesus, “Are  You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”
   Many times we too can get discouraged because it does not seem as though we are obtaining the results that we thought we should be getting as a follower of Christ.  We might think that, “As a believer in Jesus, life should be getting easier, there should be less problems and difficulties, and there should be blessings in every area of my life.”  Then when these expectations are not fulfilled we may question God with the, “How come?”, “Where were You?”, and “Why?” questions.  This was how John the Baptist was feeling.
   Jesus sends a message back to John saying, “The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the poor have the gospel is preached to them”, (vs. 5).  These statements were all true but they did not address the area of need that John had, John was in prison and was about to die.  This was what John was concerned about.  Jesus then says, “Blessed is he who is not offended because of me.” (vs. 6)  Jesus is challenging John with the thought that, ” Yes, there are times when life doesn’t seem to line up with what we think that it should, but don’t be offended.”  The blessing comes by realizing that God is still working even though He might not seem to be working in our life or in our area of need.
  The above comments from Jesus seemed sufficient to remove the doubts from the heart and mind of John the Baptist.
   Could you be content to see God work in the hearts and lives of others even when the things that you would want and desire for yourself do not seem to come to pass?  Would you be offended because Jesus doesn’t seem to be there for you, when your “prison” situation or your situation of “death” is not removed?  Or, could you rejoice because you see the hand of God at work, and could you rest knowing that if God is working in the situation of others, then He is also working in your situation, even when you don’t seem to see anything happening? 

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What Will I Say?

One of the greatest fears that we can have in trying to share our faith is that we would not have the right words to say.  We fear saying the wrong things and we fear that we would not have answers to the difficult questions.  As Jesus is sending out His disciples in Matthew 10:19, He says, ” Do not worry about how or what you should speak,  For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak.”
   Some people have taken this verse to mean that when preaching or teaching one can just start talking without any preparation or planning and God will miraculously give the words to the speaker.  But that thought is not consistent with the scriptures that tell us to study to make ourselves approved, to be prepared to answer everyone for the hope that lies within us, (2 Tim. 2:15; 1 Pt. 3:15).
   If you were to read the previous verses in this chapter in Matthew chapter 10:1 you would notice  that the disciples were called to be with Jesus (See also Mk. 3:14).  It is as we spend time with Jesus that we are able to start to understand His perspective, His heart for people, and His manner of dealing with situations.  Then knowing what Jesus would do and how He would speak, we too can minister with confidence.  It is the time spent with Jesus that gives the confidence that is necessary to help us to speak forth what God’s Spirit would be prompting us to share.  Peter and John walked in this confidence of being with Jesus, and others noticed it (read Acts 4:13).
   Spend more time with our Lord, then He will remove our fear and He will give us something to say.

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