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Posts tagged ‘Pharisee’

NICODEMUS QUESTION JESUS ON HOW A PERSON CAN BE BORN AGAIN

Jesus and Nicodemus, Crijn Hendricksz, 1616–1645.

Jesus and Nicodemus, Crijn Hendricksz, 1616–1645. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NICODEMUS QUESTION JESUS ON HOW A PERSON CAN BE BORN AGAIN

Good Morning my brothers and sisters, today we continue our teaching on Nicodemus visit with Jesus in the cover of dark and as a teacher finds himself being taught by the Master Teacher. I love this story and I hope you do also.  Now listen up as the truth speaks to your soul.

Nicodemus as a teacher in his own right found himself in an odd position of being taught when he asked Jesus this question: “How can anyone,” said Nicodemus, “Be born who has already been born and grown up? You can’t re-enter your mother’s womb and be born again. What are you saying with this ‘born-from-above’ talk?”  By his own lack of knowledge, Nicodemus was now in for a rude awaken, and Jesus was about to teach him and all of us a lesson in how to be born again that neither he nor we would ever soon forget.

Now as we have studied the scriptures and heard many sermons preached that Jesus was known for his skills as a Master Teacher, and of course Nicodemus was a respected teacher of IsraelNicodemus was part of a group whose prestige had suffered the most because of Jesus popularity.  The Pharisees were the conservatives in Israel.  They held all the Scriptures in high regard.  They believed in eternal life.  They were the ones most people thought would be able to identify the long-awaited Messiah and announce Him to the people.

Unfortunately, the Pharisees had begun to think of the coming Messiah as one who would elevate and honor them when He came.  But Jesus showed no inclination to do this.  Instead, He called all to repentance, even the Pharisees.  He made it painfully clear to the Pharisees that their devotion to Scripture was undermined by their tendency to apply it wrongly and to exalt themselves over others.  Although they had diligently studied the Scriptures, they had not learned the central truths of Scripture: Justice, mercy, and faith (Matt. 23:23).

In this lesson, we understand that Jesus and Nicodemus had a private conversation late one night.  We do not know whether Nicodemus had an appointment.  We do not know what he wanted to say.  Nicodemus came to Jesus, but Jesus guided the conversation from the start.  In effect, Nicodemus took a step in the right direction, and Jesus met him more than halfway.

Nicodemus said to Jesus, “Rabbi, we all know you’re a teacher straight from God. No one could do all the God-pointing, God-revealing acts you do if God weren’t in on it.”

Jesus said, “You’re absolutely right. Take it from me: Unless a person is born from above, it’s not possible to see what I’m pointing to—to God’s kingdom.”  If Nicodemus purpose was to find out for himself whether Jesus was really a teacher from God, he did not have to wait long.  Instead of defending His own credentials, Jesus offered Nicodemus an eternal lesson.

How can anyone,” said Nicodemus, “be born who has already been born and grown up? You can’t re-enter your mother’s womb and be born again. What are you saying with this ‘born-from-above’ talk?”

Jesus said, “You’re not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation—the ‘wind-hovering-over-the-water’ creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. When you look at a baby, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch. “But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can’t see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit.”

Jesus take no prisoner’s way of teaching had to one of the toughest teachers Nicodemus had ever had to encounter. He allowed Jesus to challenge his understanding.  He did not shrink from revealing his ignorance about the second birth.  He listened.  In spite of the fact that he was a teacher, he was willing to be taught.  Jesus did not disappoint.

Now I ask of you, to join Nicodemus here this night and listen to how a Master Teacher teaches the lesson of our New Birth.  He says, “So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.”

Nicodemus asked, “What do you mean by this? How does this happen?”

Jesus said, “You’re a respected teacher of Israel and you don’t know these basics? Listen carefully. I’m speaking sober truth to you. I speak only of what I know by experience; I give witness only to what I have seen with my own eyes. There is nothing secondhand here, no hearsay. Yet instead of facing the evidence and accepting it, you procrastinate with questions. If I tell you things that are plain as the hand before your face and you don’t believe me, what use is there in telling you of things you can’t see, the things of God?

“No one has ever gone up into the presence of God except the One who came down from that Presence, the Son of Man. In the same way that Moses lifted the serpent in the desert so people could have something to see and then believe, it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up—and everyone who looks up to him, trusting and expectant, will gain a real life, eternal life.

When we know the truth, the truth will set us free, and here we can see clearly that Jesus provided Nicodemus with the gospel truth, and Nicodemus was able to see the light that night and experience God’s love from the Master Teacher because Nicodemus character was changed that very night.  What about you, have you seen the light and excepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior?

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NICODEMUS VISITS JESUS UNDER THE COVER OF DARK

 NICODEMUS VISITS JESUS UNDER THE COVER OF DARK 

THE MOON SHINES BRIGHT IN THE BLACK TIMELESS NIGHT (PHOTO BY PASTOR DAVIS)

THE MOON SHINES BRIGHT IN THE BLACK TIMELESS NIGHT (PHOTO BY PASTOR DAVIS)

Why did Nicodemus wait until the cover of dark to visit with Jesus?  This is a question that has been debated by scholars for centuries, and unfortunately the scriptures do not give us a crystal clear and compelling answer.  However, what we do know is this, “Nicodemus is a Pharisee at the top of his field. Not only is he a member of the Sanhedrin, he is the most renowned Bible teacher of his day.  We also know that the Jewish religious leaders were divided into several groups.  Two of the most prominent groups were the Pharisees and the Sadducees.  The Pharisees separated themselves from anything non-Jewish and carefully followed both the Old Testament laws and the oral traditions handed down through the centuries.  As a “leader,” he was a member of the Jewish ruling council.  Although the Romans controlled Israel politically, the Jews were given some authority over religious and minor civil disputes.  The Jewish ruling body was the council made up of seventy-one of Israel’s religious leaders.

The question before us is still, “why did Nicodemus wait until the cover of dark to visit Jesus and

Jesus and Nicodemus, Crijn Hendricksz, 1616–1645.

Jesus and Nicodemus, Crijn Hendricksz, 1616–1645. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

what motivated him to come in the first place?”  Under the cover of darkness, this well respected and influential religious man, this prominent national leader of noble decent and inherited wealth, this intellectual man who wielded great religious authority, this designated secret spokesman who represented some of his colleagues from the Jewish ruling council, waits until the cover of darkness to sneak in for a visit with Jesus.  This remains me of the way some of us prefer to do things [under the cover of darkness].

However, this question still rattles our brain, but from what we understand from scripture, we can try and fill in some of the blanks.  First, we know that Nicodemus was both impressed and curious about Jesus and chose to form his opinions about him from firsthand conversation.  Second, it is possible that he did not want to be seen with Jesus in broad daylight because he feared reproach from his fellow Pharisees (who did not believe in Jesus as the Messiah).  Finally, it might not have been fear that brought Nicodemus in the cover of dark; but it is possible that he chose a time when he could talk alone and at length with the popular teacher who was often surrounded by people.

Living in the Darkness of the Night (Photo by Pastor Davis)

Living in the Darkness of the Night (Photo by Pastor Davis)

No matter how we look at this question, how we think about it as it might relate to us, it still remains that Nicodemus chose the cover of dark to visit with Jesus.  However, what Nicodemus did not know are understand was that his own night was blacker than he knew.  He was living in complete darkness and he did not know that truth, was about to be revealed to him.

Now as he sit before the Master Teacher, this is what Jesus tells him, “So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.”

Nicodemus asked, “What do you mean by this? How does this happen?”

Jesus said, “You’re a respected teacher of Israel and you don’t know these basics? Listen carefully. I’m speaking sober truth to you. I speak only of what I know by experience; I give witness only to what I have seen with my own eyes. There is nothing secondhand here, no hearsay. Yet instead of facing the evidence and accepting it, you procrastinate with questions. If I tell you things that are plain as the hand before your face and you don’t believe me, what use is there in telling you of things you can’t see, the things of God?

“This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.”

What a tragedy that people have turned away from God’s offer, embracing instead the darkness in hopes of covering up evil actions.  There is probably no more painful moment than when we honestly confront our tendency to love darkness, to twist or withhold the truth.  The Son did not come to judge, but in the light of his character the sharp shadows of our sinfulness stand out.  The people who hate the light are those who want to sin in the darkness.  Evil deeds are revealed by the light, so people who want to do evil must do it in the dark so they cannot be exposed and caught in the act.

According to the context, to do what is right is to come to Christ, the light; the result of coming to the light and living in the light will be clearly seen in believer’s lives.  Christ’s life in us will make our lives able to stand exposure to bright light, for our deeds will be honest, pure, and truthful.  Now we can truly see that Nicodemus was able to see the light that night and experience God love from the Master Teacher because Nicodemus character was changed that very night under the cover of darkness with a meeting with the Master Teacher.

In closing, I leave you with this question, “Are you a modern day Nicodemus, living in the darkness, and seeking answers?”  Know that it is time to open yourself up and be exposed to God’s shining light.  Know the truth and the truth will set you FREE.

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LOVE AND HATE CANNOT COEXIST

LOVE AND HATE CANNOT COEXIST

GOD'S AWESOME BEAUTY OF LOVE IS EXPRESSED IN FLOWERS WE SEE (PHOTO BY SHIRLEY RHODES)

GOD’S AWESOME BEAUTY OF LOVE IS EXPRESSED IN FLOWERS WE SEE (PHOTO BY SHIRLEY RHODES)

If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.  1 John 4:20 MSG

The world as it exists today is filled with evil doers and hate mongers.  Everywhere we turn, weather in our families, our neighborhoods or the world body, there are people hating on each other.  With this extreme hate comes violence and chaos, innocent people and especially our children are being gunned down in the streets of America and the world like wild animals.  This is unacceptable today; we are called by God to love one another, and how can we claim we are Christians and love God when we want even speak to our neighbor, but carry hate in our hearts for them?

John tells us that a real measure of a Christians boasting of how much they love God can be tested by the person’s love of the community of God, if that person hates another Christian, then that person love for God should be questioned.  In fact, John says, “such a person is a liar”.  John explains, very logically, that if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we have not seen?  If a believer does not love his or her /Christian brothers and sisters, who are God’s visible representatives, how can that person possibly love the invisible God?  It is easy to claim to love God, when that love doesn’t cost anything more than weekly attendance at your Church religious services.  But the real test of a person’s love for God is their attitude or behavior towards their family and /or, fellow believers.  We as individuals cannot truly say that we love God, while neglecting to love our Christian brothers and sisters.

We are commanded, “To love one another” and we should exhibit “real, unconditional love” day in and day out, not just when it’s convent or suit our own needs.  Listen to how Jesus teaches us about loving each other; when a lawyer from the Pharisees asked Him this question, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your entire mind.  This is the great and first commandment, And a second is like it; you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40 ESV)

Where there is love, hate cannot exist; either you have real love in your heart, or you are a liar about your Christianity and Spirituality.  Your real life is on display in your daily actions, words and deeds; just telling someone you are a Christian does not make you a Christian

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, butrejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 ESV)

But real love will always be and never fade away. God is love, and he loves us unconditionally, and He wants us to do the same with each other.  Let us learn to overcome hate with love.  Put away hate for our brothers and sisters and put on the garment of love.  It is time to rejoice in the glory of God.  Make each day a day of joy, peace and happiness.  Awaken to the newness of the glory that God has given to us.  Rise up and take a stand against hate and violence and let our love over rule and take control of what otherwise would become chaos.

Finally my brothers and sisters, John speaks to us with these words of truth as he says, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18 ESV)  Let us be of one mind, as we are of one body in Christ, and when our hearts are filled with love for the one who created us, there will be no doubt that LOVE AND HATE CANNOT COEXIST!

 

NICODEMUS QUESTION JESUS ON HOW A PERSON CAN BE BORN AGAIN

Jesus and Nicodemus, Crijn Hendricksz, 1616–1645.

Jesus and Nicodemus, Crijn Hendricksz, 1616–1645. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NICODEMUS QUESTION JESUS ON HOW A PERSON CAN BE BORN AGAIN

Nicodemus as a teacher in his own right found himself in an odd position of being taught when he asked Jesus this question: “How can anyone,” said Nicodemus, “Be born who has already been born and grown up? You can’t re-enter your mother’s womb and be born again. What are you saying with this ‘born-from-above’ talk?”  By his own lack of knowledge, Nicodemus was now in for a rude awaken, and Jesus was about to teach him and all of us a lesson in how to be born again that neither he nor we would ever soon forget.

Now as we have studied the scriptures and heard many sermons preached that Jesus was known for his skills as a Master Teacher, and of course Nicodemus was a respected teacher of IsraelNicodemus was part of a group whose prestige had suffered the most because of Jesus popularity.  The Pharisees were the conservatives in Israel.  They held all the Scriptures in high regard.  They believed in eternal life.  They were the ones most people thought would be able to identify the long-awaited Messiah and announce Him to the people.

Unfortunately, the Pharisees had begun to think of the coming Messiah as one who would elevate and honor them when He came.  But Jesus showed no inclination to do this.  Instead, He called all to repentance, even the Pharisees.  He made it painfully clear to the Pharisees that their devotion to Scripture was undermined by their tendency to apply it wrongly and to exalt themselves over others.  Although they had diligently studied the Scriptures, they had not learned the central truths of Scripture: Justice, mercy, and faith (Matt. 23:23).

In this lesson, we understand that Jesus and Nicodemus had a private conversation late one night.  We do not know whether Nicodemus had an appointment.  We do not know what he wanted to say.  Nicodemus came to Jesus, but Jesus guided the conversation from the start.  In effect, Nicodemus took a step in the right direction, and Jesus met him more than halfway.

Nicodemus said to Jesus, “Rabbi, we all know you’re a teacher straight from God. No one could do all the God-pointing, God-revealing acts you do if God weren’t in on it.”

Jesus said, “You’re absolutely right. Take it from me: Unless a person is born from above, it’s not possible to see what I’m pointing to—to God’s kingdom.”  If Nicodemus purpose was to find out for himself whether Jesus was really a teacher from God, he did not have to wait long.  Instead of defending His own credentials, Jesus offered Nicodemus an eternal lesson.

How can anyone,” said Nicodemus, “be born who has already been born and grown up? You can’t re-enter your mother’s womb and be born again. What are you saying with this ‘born-from-above’ talk?”

Jesus said, “You’re not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation—the ‘wind-hovering-over-the-water’ creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. When you look at a baby, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch. “But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can’t see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit.”

Jesus take no prisoner’s way of teaching had to one of the toughest teachers Nicodemus had ever had to encounter. He allowed Jesus to challenge his understanding.  He did not shrink from revealing his ignorance about the second birth.  He listened.  In spite of the fact that he was a teacher, he was willing to be taught.  Jesus did not disappoint.

Now I ask of you, to join Nicodemus here this night and listen to how a Master Teacher teaches the lesson of our New Birth.  He says, “So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.”

Nicodemus asked, “What do you mean by this? How does this happen?”

Jesus said, “You’re a respected teacher of Israel and you don’t know these basics? Listen carefully. I’m speaking sober truth to you. I speak only of what I know by experience; I give witness only to what I have seen with my own eyes. There is nothing secondhand here, no hearsay. Yet instead of facing the evidence and accepting it, you procrastinate with questions. If I tell you things that are plain as the hand before your face and you don’t believe me, what use is there in telling you of things you can’t see, the things of God?

“No one has ever gone up into the presence of God except the One who came down from that Presence, the Son of Man. In the same way that Moses lifted the serpent in the desert so people could have something to see and then believe, it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up—and everyone who looks up to him, trusting and expectant, will gain a real life, eternal life.

When we know the truth, the truth will set us free, and here we can see clearly that Jesus provided Nicodemus with the gospel truth, and Nicodemus was able to see the light that night and experience God’s love from the Master Teacher because Nicodemus character was changed that very night.

WHY DID NICODEMUS WAIT UNTIL THE COVER OF DARK TO VISIT JESUS?

WHY DID NICODEMUS WAIT UNTIL THE COVER OF DARK TO VISIT JESUS?

THE MOON SHINES BRIGHT IN THE BLACK TIMELESS NIGHT (PHOTO BY PASTOR DAVIS)

THE MOON SHINES BRIGHT IN THE BLACK TIMELESS NIGHT (PHOTO BY PASTOR DAVIS)

This is a question that has been debated by scholars for centuries, and unfortunately the scriptures do not give us a clear and compelling answer.  However, what we do know is this, “Nicodemus is a Pharisee at the top of his field. Not only is he a member of the Sanhedrin, he is the most renowned Bible teacher of his day.  We also know that the Jewish religious leaders were divided into several groups.  Two of the most prominent groups were the Pharisees and the Sadducees.  The Pharisees separated themselves from anything non-Jewish and carefully followed both the Old Testament laws and the oral traditions handed down through the centuries.  As a “leader,” he was a member of the Jewish ruling council.  Although the Romans controlled Israel politically, the Jews were given some authority over religious and minor civil disputes.  The Jewish ruling body was the council made up of seventy-one of Israel’s religious leaders.

The question before us is still, “why did Nicodemus wait until the cover of dark to visit Jesus and

Jesus and Nicodemus, Crijn Hendricksz, 1616–1645.

Jesus and Nicodemus, Crijn Hendricksz, 1616–1645. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

what motivated him to come in the first place?”  Under the cover of darkness, this well respected and influential religious man, this prominent national leader of noble decent and inherited wealth, this intellectual man who wielded great religious authority, this designated secret spokesman who represented some of his colleagues from the Jewish ruling council, waits until the cover of darkness to sneak in for a visit with Jesus.  This remains me of the way some of us prefer to do things [under the cover of darkness].

However, this question still rattles our brain, but from what we understand from scripture, we can try and fill in some of the blanks.  First, we know that Nicodemus was both impressed and curious about Jesus and chose to form his opinions about him from firsthand conversation.  Second, it is possible that he did not want to be seen with Jesus in broad daylight because he feared reproach from his fellow Pharisees (who did not believe in Jesus as the Messiah).  Finally, it might not have been fear that brought Nicodemus in the cover of dark; but it is possible that he chose a time when he could talk alone and at length with the popular teacher who was often surrounded by people.

Living in the Darkness of the Night (Photo by Pastor Davis)

Living in the Darkness of the Night (Photo by Pastor Davis)

No matter how we look at this question, how we think about it as it might relate to us, it still remains that Nicodemus chose the cover of dark to visit with Jesus.  However, what Nicodemus did not know are understand was that his own night was blacker than he knew.  He was living in complete darkness and he did not know that truth, was about to be revealed to him.

Now as he sit before the Master Teacher, this is what Jesus tells him, “So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.”

Nicodemus asked, “What do you mean by this? How does this happen?”

Jesus said, “You’re a respected teacher of Israel and you don’t know these basics? Listen carefully. I’m speaking sober truth to you. I speak only of what I know by experience; I give witness only to what I have seen with my own eyes. There is nothing secondhand here, no hearsay. Yet instead of facing the evidence and accepting it, you procrastinate with questions. If I tell you things that are plain as the hand before your face and you don’t believe me, what use is there in telling you of things you can’t see, the things of God?

“This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.”

What a tragedy that people have turned away from God’s offer, embracing instead the darkness in hopes of covering up evil actions.  There is probably no more painful moment than when we honestly confront our tendency to love darkness, to twist or withhold the truth.  The Son did not come to judge, but in the light of his character the sharp shadows of our sinfulness stand out.  The people who hate the light are those who want to sin in the darkness.  Evil deeds are revealed by the light, so people who want to do evil must do it in the dark so they cannot be exposed and caught in the act.

According to the context, to do what is right is to come to Christ, the light; the result of coming to the light and living in the light will be clearly seen in believer’s lives.  Christ’s life in us will make our lives able to stand exposure to bright light, for our deeds will be honest, pure, and truthful.  Now we can truly see that Nicodemus was able to see the light that night and experience God love from the Master Teacher because Nicodemus character was changed that very night under the cover of darkness with a meeting with the Master Teacher.

In closing, I leave you with this question, “Are you a modern day Nicodemus, living in the darkness, and seeking answers?”  Know that it is time to open yourself up and be exposed to God’s shining light.  Know the truth and the truth will set you FREE.  I minister to you this day from a position of peace, power, purpose and prosperity.  I remain your brother in Jesus, PASTOR DAVIS/MASTER TEACHER!

A FAMILY DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF IS DESTINED TO FAILURE

A FAMILY DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF IS DESTINED TO FAILURE

THE BYARS FAMILY CREATED BY GOD  (PHOTO BY PASTOR DAVIS)

THE BYARS FAMILY CREATED BY GOD (PHOTO BY PASTOR DAVIS)

We have entered a brand new year, the old, we have left behind.  All things new lie ahead, and therefore present us with our greatest challenges of all time.  The question then becomes, “how do we solve our family problems in this new year that divided our family in the old year?”  This is a very important question that must be placed at the head of our list of problems to be resolved in 2013, but resolve them we must, because, “A FAMILY DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF IS DESTINED TO FAILURE!”

Satan is our greatest enemy, and he is continuing his work of divide and conquers.  He knows that families, a church are a business that is divided against its self eventually destroys itself from within.  Therefore, every opportunity he gets, he pushes our hot buttons to make us war against each other.

The time has come for us to learn to lean and depend on the one who has already defeated Satan, to show

LADY WISDOM TRUTH-BE ENCOURAGED (PHOTO BY PASTOR DAVIS)

LADY WISDOM TRUTH-BE ENCOURAGED (PHOTO BY PASTOR DAVIS)

us the way of bringing cohesiveness into our families that will triumph over the evilspirits that have divided us in the past.  We are victories, because God has given us the victory to lead our families to victory in 2013.  No weapon formed against us shall prosper.  That means no matter what Satan attempts to do with his limited powers by pitting one member of the family against another member, if we are leaning, depending and trusting in God, Satan is doomed and we can return our families to greatness by knowing the truth.  The bible teaches us in John 8:32 this simple message, “Know the truth and the truth will set you FREE.”

Leaders within the families must stand strong, processing a strong moral character and not comprise their moral integrity for the evil that Satan will present to them.  The Pharisees were a perfect example of presenting division within the family, and Jesus was the perfect example of a leader who presented a strong moral character and showed us the standards by which we must stand on to be a great leader for our familiesJesus said to them, “Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked. But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to GodWealth is treacherous, and the arrogant are never at rest. They open their mouths as wide as the grave, and like death, they are never satisfied. In their greed they have gathered up many nations and swallowed many peoples.  (Habakkuk 2:4-5 NLT)

BLESSED AND HIGHLY FAVORED LEADERS IN THE FAMILY

BLESSED AND HIGHLY FAVORED LEADERS IN THE FAMILY

As a leader in our families, our job is to be a servant leader.  Follow the example of Jesus and become a humble servant and serve all humanityFamily members will present you with some of the greatest challenges you will ever encounter.  But you must know how to overcome the feuding by following the example of JesusJesus knew Satan’s strategies and just how he would apply them to bring about division within the familyJesus said to them,Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart. And if Satan is casting out Satan, he is divided and fighting against himself. His own kingdom will not survive. (Matthew 12:25-26 NLT)

Your strong moral character must be the example in which the family in 2013 will rally around and find their moral compass to move towards the purpose and destination that God has already laid out for them.  Remember, just as a good tree bears good fruit and a diseased tree bears inedible fruit, so the fruits of a person’s life will show the quality of his or her characterFruit is a comprehensive word, referring to teaching, character, and action.  Our character is revealed by our conduct.

We have ministered this word to you today from a position of PEACE, PURPOSE, POWER and PROSPERITY.  We encourage you to think globally as you work locally to bring about a change within the family in 2013.  Making it stronger, more cohesive and less divisively.  Empowering it with love, growing it with a purpose, as God blesses you, moles you and shapes you into a powerful, yet humble servant that is capable of moving the family into the realm of possibilities and bringing about the prosperity that is desired for the family in 2013.  I remain your brother in CHRIST JESUS, PASTOR DAVIS/MASTER TEACHER!

Remember, “A FAMILY DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF IS DESTINED TO FAILURE”  Therefore, the time to bring about a change in family unity is now.

 

WHAT DOES EMPATHY MEAN TO YOU

St. Mary Magdalene in the House of Simon the P...

St. Mary Magdalene in the House of Simon the Pharisee (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WHAT DOES EMPATHY MEAN TO YOU

OUR CAPACITY FOR EMPATHY IS A RESOURCE OF LIMITLESS POTENTIAL

Here is how the dictionary defines the word EMPATHY.  It says empathy is defined as the identification with and understanding of another’s situation as in; if I put myself in your shoes, I can understand how angry you must be about not getting that promotion.  Empathy is distinguished from sympathy which is defined as the ability to share the feelings of another as in I am so sorry about the death of your co-worker.

My Bishop, who I considered a Prophet that was filled with wisdom once made the wise observation, and he said to me, “That a person wrapped up in his or her own self, makes a very small package.  Such a person is a self-centered individual.  The dimensions of their life are dwarfed and limited.”

This was the situation that Jesus found himself in when he attended a dinner party in his honor at the home of Simon.  Jesus teaches us a real down to earth lesson when a sinful woman enters into his presents; now listen to how Jesus handles the situation:

One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee‘s house and reclined at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”

“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five-hundred denarius, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?”  And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”  (Luke 7:36-50 ESV)

Now let us example some of the lessons Jesus taught us in this story:

  1. Through empathy a person learns not to judge others in terms of his or her own personal interests, likes and dislikes, but in terms of what life means to them.

 

  1. Through the power of a person’s creative imagination, empathy enables a person to project themselves into the consciousness of others that they may know how the other person may think and how they feel.  Sympathy merely mirrors another person’s trouble, empathy discovers the causes of the trouble with the searchlight of insight.

 

  1. Through empathy a person may closely identify themselves with anyone he or she may wish to understand.  They may seek inspiration from the gifted, the victorious, the happy.  They may develop a deep comprehension of the problems of the blind, the crippled, the sorrowing and the defeated.

 

  1. Empathy helps to create harmony in the home.  Family members may play the roles of each other.  For instance, the father can play the part of the son and the son the part of the father, that each may learn to know and appreciate the feelings of the other.
  2. Practicing the art of empathy will enlarge a person’s life.  It will broaden their humanity, expand their understanding and inspire tolerance and forbearance, compassion and forgiveness.

Finally, all of you have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.  (1 Peter 3:8 ESV)

HOW A PROSTITUTE SHOWED HUMILITY AND LOVE TO JESUS

Christ forgives the prostitute

Christ forgives the prostitute (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN.” LUKE 7:36-50 MSG

If a prostitute can display humility and love, why can’t we?  I ask the question because we as Christians consider the prostitute to be less of a person than we are.  Yet when it comes to showing humility and love to our brothers and sisters we display an attitude of superiority.  This was true when Jesus was ministering and it is true today.

In this lesson, we will show you what happens when a prostitute came into Jesus present and kneels at Jesus feet where he was dinning with a room full of religious leaders.  Jesus often dines with tax collectors and others whom the religious elite thought to be sinners.  On this occasion, Jesus was dinning with the Pharisee and was a guest at the home of Simon.

Now just image for a moment when you have prepared this great dinner party for some of your best and most influential friends and invited a very important leader of the community to be your special guest.  In walks this prostitute whom your entire guest knows is a prostitute except your special guest, and she goes and sits at the feet of your most important guest.  How would you handle the situation?  Now pause, and think deeply on this for a moment before continuing to read the rest of the story.

This story begins when one of the Pharisees asked Jesus over for a meal. He went to the Pharisee’s house and sat down at the dinner table. Just then a woman of the village, the town harlot, having learned that Jesus was a guest in the home of the Pharisee, came with a bottle of very expensive perfume and stood at his feet, weeping, raining tears on his feet. Letting down her hair, she dried his feet, kissed them, and anointed them with the perfume. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man was the prophet I thought he was, he would have known what kind of woman this is who is falling all over him.”

This woman understood that Jesus was very special.  Perhaps she, as a sinner, had come to Jesus with great sorrow for her sin.  Perhaps she had followed John the Baptist and had confessed her sins.  She may have been in the crowds that had been following Jesus and had come to believe in Him.  She may have come to Jesus grateful for being forgiven and so offering him the gift of her valuable perfume.  To wash Jesus feet was a sign of deep humility it was the job of a slave.

But as we can clearly see here, this religious leader had no concern for this woman’s plight, no desire to lift her from her sinful life, or to help her become a better Jewish woman.  Instead, he judged her as a sinner, shoved her aside, and presumed that any other rabbi (and especially one who was a “prophet” would do the same.

Jesus knew the Pharisee’s thoughts and so spoke up and answered them.  Simon had already made a judgment of Jesus and probably felt morally superior to him as well. But Jesus had asked for his attention, so he acted like the good host.

Now here is what happen next, Jesus said to him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”Oh? Tell me.”  Simon said!

Then Jesus spoke and here is what he said:  “Two men were in debt to a banker. One owed five hundred silver pieces, the other fifty. Neither of them could pay up, and so the banker canceled both debts. Which of the two would be more grateful?”

Simon answered, “I suppose the one who was forgiven the most.”

“That’s right,” said Jesus.  Jesus then turns to the woman, but speaking to Simon, he said, “Do you see this woman? I came to your home; you provided no water for my feet, but she rained tears on my feet and dried them with her hair. You gave me no greeting, but from the time I arrived she hasn’t quit kissing my feet. You provided nothing for freshening up, but she has soothed my feet with perfume. Impressive, isn’t it? She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal.”

Let us understand that Simon by inviting Jesus to be his special dinner guest had committed several social errors in neglecting to wash Jesus feet (a courtesy extended to guests because sandaled feet got very dirty), offer him the kiss of greeting, and anoint his head with oil.  The sinful woman, by contrast, lavished tears, expensive ointment, and kisses on Jesus.  In this story it is the grateful prostitute, and not the self-righteous religious leader, whose sins were forgiven.

Then he spoke to her: “I forgive your sins.”

That set the dinner guests talking behind his back: “Who does he think he is, forgiving sins!”

He ignored them and said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

This woman’s act of humility and love show that she had been forgiven.  Jesus did not overlook her sins.  He did, in fact, know that this woman was a sinner, and he knew that her sins were many.  But the fact that her many sins were forgiven caused her to overflow with much love for Jesus.  The woman’s love did not cause her forgiveness, for no one can earn forgiveness.  Her faith in Jesus, despite her many sins, saved her.  By contrast, self-righteous people, like Simon, feel that they have no sins’ that need to be forgiven; therefore they also have little love to show for it.

Although it is God’s grace through faith that saves and not acts of love or generosity, this woman’s act demonstrated her true faith, and Jesus honored her faith by telling her in no uncertain terms, “YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN.” Jesus supported this woman and treated her with dignity.  Believers need to demonstrate Jesus’ approach in dealing with people.

We leave you with our blessings of peace, love, purpose and power.  I remain your brother in Jesus Christ, Pastor Davis/Master Teacher!

 

WHY DID NICODEMUS WAIT UNTIL THE COVER OF DARK TO VISIT JESUS?

Jesus, on the left, instructing Nicodemus, on ...

Jesus, on the left, instructing Nicodemus, on the right (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WHY DID NICODEMUS WAIT UNTIL THE COVER OF DARK TO VISIT JESUS?

This is a question that has been debated by scholars for centuries, and unfortunately the scriptures do not give us a clear and compelling answer.  However, what we do know is this, “Nicodemus is a Pharisee at the top of his field. Not only is he a member of the Sanhedrin, he is the most renowned Bible teacher of his day.  We also know that the Jewish religious leaders were divided into several groups.  Two of the most prominent groups were the Pharisees and the Sadducees.  The Pharisees separated themselves from anything non-Jewish and carefully followed both the Old Testament laws and the oral traditions handed down through the centuries.  As a “leader,” he was a member of the Jewish ruling council.  Although the Romans controlled Israel politically, the Jews were given some authority over religious and minor civil disputes.  The Jewish ruling body was the council made up of seventy-one of Israel’s religious leaders.

The question before us is still, “why did Nicodemus wait until the cover of dark to visit Jesus and what motivated him to come in the first place?”  Under the cover of darkness, this well respected and influential religious man, this prominent national leader of noble decent and inherited wealth, this intellectual man who wielded great religious authority, this designated secret spokesman who represented some of his colleagues from the Jewish ruling council, waits until the cover of darkness to sneak in for a visit with Jesus.  This remains me of the way some of us prefer to do things [under the cover of darkness].

However, this question still rattles our brain, but from what we understand from scripture, we can try and fill in some of the blanks.  First, we know that Nicodemus was both impressed and curious about Jesus and chose to form his opinions about him from firsthand conversation.  Second, it is possible that he did not want to be seen with Jesus in broad daylight because he feared reproach from his fellow Pharisees (who did not believe in Jesus as the Messiah).  Finally, it might not have been fear that brought Nicodemus in the cover of dark; but it is possible that he chose a time when he could talk alone and at length with the popular teacher who was often surrounded by people.

No matter how we look at this question, how we think about it as it might relate to us, it still remains that Nicodemus chose the cover of dark to visit with Jesus.  However, what Nicodemus did not know are understand was that his own night was blacker than he knew.  He was living in complete darkness and he did not know that truth, was about to be revealed to him.

Now as he sit before the Master Teacher, this is what Jesus tells him, “So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.”

Nicodemus asked, “What do you mean by this? How does this happen?”

Jesus said, “You’re a respected teacher of Israel and you don’t know these basics? Listen carefully. I’m speaking sober truth to you. I speak only of what I know by experience; I give witness only to what I have seen with my own eyes. There is nothing secondhand here, no hearsay. Yet instead of facing the evidence and accepting it, you procrastinate with questions. If I tell you things that are plain as the hand before your face and you don’t believe me, what use is there in telling you of things you can’t see, the things of God?

“This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.”

What a tragedy that people have turned away from God’s offer, embracing instead the darkness in hopes of covering up evil actions.  There is probably no more painful moment than when we honestly confront our tendency to love darkness, to twist or withhold the truth.  The Son did not come to judge, but in the light of his character the sharp shadows of our sinfulness stand out.  The people who hate the light are those who want to sin in the darkness.  Evil deeds are revealed by the light, so people who want to do evil must do it in the dark so they cannot be exposed and caught in the act.

According to the context, to do what is right is to come to Christ, the light; the result of coming to the light and living in the light will be clearly seen in believer’s lives.  Christ’s life in us will make our lives able to stand exposure to bright light, for our deeds will be honest, pure, and truthful.  Now we can truly see that Nicodemus was able to see the light that night and experience God love from the Master Teacher because Nicodemus character was changed that very night under the cover of darkness with a meeting with the Master Teacher.

In closing, I leave you with this question, “Are you a modern day Nicodemus, living in the darkness, and seeking answers?”  Know that it is time to open yourself up and be exposed to God’s shining light.  Know the truth and the truth will set you FREE.  I minister to you this day from a position of peace, power, purpose and prosperity.  I remain your brother in Jesus, PASTOR DAVIS/MASTER TEACHER!

 

NICODEMUS QUESTION JESUS ON HOW A PERSON CAN BE BORN AGAIN

Jesus and Nicodemus, Crijn Hendricksz, 1616–1645.

Jesus and Nicodemus, Crijn Hendricksz, 1616–1645. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NICODEMUS QUESTION JESUS ON HOW A PERSON CAN BE BORN AGAIN

Nicodemus as a teacher in his own right found himself in an odd position of being taught when he asked Jesus this question: “How can anyone,” said Nicodemus, “Be born who has already been born and grown up? You can’t re-enter your mother’s womb and be born again. What are you saying with this ‘born-from-above’ talk?”  By his own lack of knowledge, Nicodemus was now in for a rude awaken, and Jesus was about to teach him and all of us a lesson in how to be born again that neither he nor we would ever soon forget.

Now as we have studied the scriptures and heard many sermons preached that Jesus was known for his skills as a Master Teacher, and of course Nicodemus was a respected teacher of IsraelNicodemus was part of a group whose prestige had suffered the most because of Jesus popularity.  The Pharisees were the conservatives in Israel.  They held all the Scriptures in high regard.  They believed in eternal life.  They were the ones most people thought would be able to identify the long-awaited Messiah and announce Him to the people.

Unfortunately, the Pharisees had begun to think of the coming Messiah as one who would elevate and honor them when He came.  But Jesus showed no inclination to do this.  Instead, He called all to repentance, even the Pharisees.  He made it painfully clear to the Pharisees that their devotion to Scripture was undermined by their tendency to apply it wrongly and to exalt themselves over others.  Although they had diligently studied the Scriptures, they had not learned the central truths of Scripture: Justice, mercy, and faith (Matt. 23:23).

In this lesson, we understand that Jesus and Nicodemus had a private conversation late one night.  We do not know whether Nicodemus had an appointment.  We do not know what he wanted to say.  Nicodemus came to Jesus, but Jesus guided the conversation from the start.  In effect, Nicodemus took a step in the right direction, and Jesus met him more than halfway.

Nicodemus said to Jesus, “Rabbi, we all know you’re a teacher straight from God. No one could do all the God-pointing, God-revealing acts you do if God weren’t in on it.”

Jesus said, “You’re absolutely right. Take it from me: Unless a person is born from above, it’s not possible to see what I’m pointing to—to God’s kingdom.”  If Nicodemus purpose was to find out for himself whether Jesus was really a teacher from God, he did not have to wait long.  Instead of defending His own credentials, Jesus offered Nicodemus an eternal lesson.

How can anyone,” said Nicodemus, “be born who has already been born and grown up? You can’t re-enter your mother’s womb and be born again. What are you saying with this ‘born-from-above’ talk?”

Jesus said, “You’re not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation—the ‘wind-hovering-over-the-water’ creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. When you look at a baby, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch. “But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can’t see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit.”

Jesus take no prisoner’s way of teaching had to one of the toughest teachers Nicodemus had ever had to encounter. He allowed Jesus to challenge his understanding.  He did not shrink from revealing his ignorance about the second birth.  He listened.  In spite of the fact that he was a teacher, he was willing to be taught.  Jesus did not disappoint.

Now I ask of you, to join Nicodemus here this night and listen to how a Master Teacher teaches the lesson of our New Birth.  He says, “So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.”

Nicodemus asked, “What do you mean by this? How does this happen?”

Jesus said, “You’re a respected teacher of Israel and you don’t know these basics? Listen carefully. I’m speaking sober truth to you. I speak only of what I know by experience; I give witness only to what I have seen with my own eyes. There is nothing secondhand here, no hearsay. Yet instead of facing the evidence and accepting it, you procrastinate with questions. If I tell you things that are plain as the hand before your face and you don’t believe me, what use is there in telling you of things you can’t see, the things of God?

“No one has ever gone up into the presence of God except the One who came down from that Presence, the Son of Man. In the same way that Moses lifted the serpent in the desert so people could have something to see and then believe, it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up—and everyone who looks up to him, trusting and expectant, will gain a real life, eternal life.

When we know the truth, the truth will set us free, and here we can see clearly that Jesus provided Nicodemus with the gospel truth, and Nicodemus was able to see the light that night and experience God’s love from the Master Teacher because Nicodemus character was changed that very night.

HOW THE MASTER TEACHER TEACHES A WORDLY TEACHER IN A LATE NIGHT VISIT

HOW THE MASTER TEACHER TEACHES A WORDLY TEACHER IN A LATE NIGHT VISIT

Today’s lesson speaks truth to power, concerning the true Master Teacher who knows all things, sees all things and understand the nature of all things.  Perhaps we can all learn how to think deeply on the things not seen, but stand strongly on the word of God, allowing it to cleanse us of all doubt and negative thinking.  Remember, faith and doubt cannot live in the same house.  You are either going to have one are the other and the Master Teacher teaches this lesson well if your mind has been open to receive it.

In this lesson, we understand that Jesus and Nicodemus had a private conversation late one night.  We do not know whether Nicodemus had an appointment.  We do not know what he wanted to say.  Nicodemus came to Jesus, but Jesus guided the conversation from the start.  In effect, Nicodemus took a step in the right direction, and Jesus met him more than halfway.

Nicodemus said to Jesus, “Rabbi, we all know you’re a teacher straight from God. No one could do all the God-pointing, God-revealing acts you do if God weren’t in on it.”

Jesus said, “You’re absolutely right. Take it from me: Unless a person is born from above, it’s not possible to see what I’m pointing to—to God’s kingdom.”  If Nicodemus purpose was to find out for himself whether Jesus was really a teacher from God, he did not have to wait long.  Instead of defending His own credentials, Jesus offered Nicodemus an eternal lesson.

How can anyone,” said Nicodemus, “be born who has already been born and grown up? You can’t re-enter your mother’s womb and be born again. What are you saying with this ‘born-from-above’ talk?”

Jesus said, “You’re not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation—the ‘wind-hovering-over-the-water’ creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. When you look at a baby, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can’t see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit.

Nicodemus was part of a group whose prestige had suffered the most because of Jesus popularity.  The Pharisees were the conservatives in Israel.  They held all the Scriptures in high regard.  They believed in eternal life.  They were the ones most people thought would be able to identify the long-awaited Messiah and announce Him to the people.  Unfortunately, the Pharisees had begun to think of the coming Messiah as one who would elevate and honor them when He came.  But Jesus showed no inclination to do this.  Instead, He called all to repentance, even the Pharisees.  He made it painfully clear to the Pharisees that their devotion to Scripture was undermined by their tendency to apply it wrongly and to exalt themselves over others.  Although they had diligently studied the Scriptures, they had not learned the central truths of Scripture: Justice, mercy, and faith (Matt. 23:23).

And yet Nicodemus chose to come, even if he had to come alone.  He allowed Jesus to challenge his understanding.  He did not shrink from revealing his ignorance about the second birth.  He listened.  In spite of the fact that he was a teacher, he was willing to be taught.  Jesus did not disappoint.

Now I ask of you, to join Nicodemus here this night and listen to how a Master Teacher teaches the lesson of our New Birth.  He says, “So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.”

9Nicodemus asked, “What do you mean by this? How does this happen?”

Jesus said, “You’re a respected teacher of Israel and you don’t know these basics? Listen carefully. I’m speaking sober truth to you. I speak only of what I know by experience; I give witness only to what I have seen with my own eyes. There is nothing secondhand here, no hearsay. Yet instead of facing the evidence and accepting it, you procrastinate with questions. If I tell you things that are plain as the hand before your face and you don’t believe me, what use is there in telling you of things you can’t see, the things of God?

“No one has ever gone up into the presence of God except the One who came down from that Presence, the Son of Man. In the same way that Moses lifted the serpent in the desert so people could have something to see and then believe, it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up—and everyone who looks up to him, trusting and expectant, will gain a real life, eternal life.

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.

“This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.”

What a tragedy that people have turned away from God’s offer, embracing instead the darkness in hopes of covering up evil actions.  There is probably no more painful moment than when we honestly confront our tendency to love darkness, to twist or withhold the truth.  The Son did not come to judge, but in the light of his character the sharp shadows of our sinfulness stand out.  The people who hate the light are those who want to sin in the darkness.  Evil deeds are revealed by the light, so people who want to do evil must do it in the dark so they cannot be exposed and caught in the act.

According to the context, to do what is right is to come to Christ, the light; the result of coming to the light and living in the light will be clearly seen in believer’s lives.  Christ’s life in us will make our lives able to stand exposure to bright light, for our deeds will be honest, pure, and truthful.  Now we can truly see that Nicodemus was able to see the light that night and experience God love from the Master Teacher because Nicodemus character was changed that very night.

Now if you are in need of more knowledge concerning your own salvation or perhaps you need help with ministering the oath of salvation, stroll to the top of this page and click on Salvation and stroll down and study the many topics we have shared for you to be in a position to know the truth concerning salvation.  I minister to you this day with the power God has given to me to help you reach your destination through love, peace and understanding.  I remain you brother in Christ, Pastor Davis/Master Teacher.  I am a servant of Jesus Christ, following in his footsteps teaching his word as it has been given to me in his name as one of his true Master Teachers.  To God be the glory.

 

TODAY’S MESSAGE (JESUS TEACHES US TO PRAY WITH SIMPLICITY)

Cover of "When You Pray: Making the Lord'...

Cover via Amazon

JESUS TEACHES US TO PRAY WITH SIMPLICITY

MATTHEW 6:5-13 MSG

And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?

Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.

The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what’s best— as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You’re in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You’re ablaze in beauty!
Yes. Yes. Yes.

As we seek to be disciples let us consider a second essential building block in addition to continuing in the Word.  The disciple must be a person of prayer!

If we attempt to continue in the Word without prayer, our study of the Word is going to be merely and academic exercise.  What’s more, if we really desire to apply building blocks of discipleship to our Christian life, prayer will be essential.  Prayer is the key to having passion and power in our witness.

For a believer, prayer should be second nature, almost like breathing.  But sadly, in the lives of many believers, prayer is greatly lacking.  Perhaps this is true because many times when we pray, it seems like nothing happens.

When Job encountered his many trials, one thing he cried out was, “There is no days-man for me” (Job 9:33).  What he meant was that he couldn’t find anyone to reason or argue for him, no one who would stand in the gap for him before God.  Job felt as though he couldn’t get through to God.

Perhaps there have been times when you have felt this way.  It seemed as though God wasn’t really listening.  If you have received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, this simply should not be the case, for Jesus has paved the way for us to stand boldly at the throne of grace to find help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).  Today we can approach God through Jesus our Mediator.  “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus(1 Timothy 2:5).  We are also told in Hebrews 7:25 that Jesus “lives to make intercession” for us.

Now let us for a moment consider our motives for prayer; as we look at this passage in Matthew 6, we find Jesus first deals with several common misconceptions that people have regarding prayer.  The first misconception deals with motives.  Jesus said, “When you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites.  They stand in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men.”

The problem with the “religious” people of that day, the Pharisees, was that they prayed to impress others.  On street corners and in the marketplace they could be seen lifting up their hands and praying in a very ostentatious manner.  Others would walk by and think, “Look at that man of God.  He loves God so much that he can’t even wait to get to the synagogue to pray.”

What they didn’t realize was that the person praying was most likely thinking, “What a man of God I am.  Everyone is looking at me.  Everyone is impressed with my spirituality.  I am so holy.”

That type of prayer won’t be heard by God.  A person so concerned with what others are thinking about him is too full of himself to be effective in his prayer.  He is like the self-righteous Pharisee Jesus mentioned who “prayed thus with himself.”  God won’t hear the prayer of a pride-filled person, for it is nothing less than sin, and the Bible tells us that if we regard iniquity in our hearts, the Lord will not hear us.  Make no mistake about it—spiritual pride is every bit as much a sin as lying or immorality, even though it is a more subtle one.

Let me conclude with this word, “come boldly before the throne of grace and pray as Jesus taught us how to pray,” “PRAY WITH SIMPLICITY.” 

If you have received this word today and conceived it in your mind as the word of truth, have no fear; share it with your family, friends and co-workers. Think globally, and work locally, God will bless you abundantly for the work you do in lifting others up. Jesus said, “If I am lifted up I will draw all men unto me.” Be an encourager, and lift someone other than self up today.  I remain your brother in Christ, Pastor Davis/Master Teacher.

 

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE READING (DON’T BE SO QUICK TO JUDGE)

Jesus and the woman taken in adultery.

Image via Wikipedia Jesus and the woman taken in adultery.

DON’T BE SO QUICK TO JUDGE Matthew 7:1-3  (MSG)

 1-5 “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

Romans 14:10-12  (MSG)

10-12So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother? And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister? I’d say it leaves you looking pretty silly—or worse. Eventually, we’re all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgment, facing God. Your critical and condescending ways aren’t going to improve your position there one bit. Read it for yourself in Scripture:

“As I live and breathe,” God says,
“every knee will bow before me;
Every tongue will tell the honest truth
that I and only I am God.”
So tend to your knitting. You’ve got your hands full just taking care of your own life before God.

John 8:3-11  (MSG)

3-6The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, “Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him.

6-8Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt.

9-10Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. “Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?”

11“No one, Master.”

“Neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.”

May God add a blessing to the reader, hearer and doer of His Holy Word, in Jesus name.

HOW TO GET GOD TO ANSWER YOUR PRAYERS (PART 3 of 4)

HOW TO GET GOD TO ANSWER YOUR PRAYERS (PART 3 of 4)

YOUR PRAYERS SHOULD BE LIKE SWEET-SMELLING INCENSE TO GOD   

To capture its full body of richness and flavor, incense must be beaten and ground into a very fine powder. Likewise, your prayers should be “finely ground”—specific and highly detailed. They should “smell good” to God. But if you are not careful, they could smell like something else.

Prayers that consist of the “gimmes,” or that start out with self-righteous attitudes, are a foul stench to God’s nostrils, like sulfur dioxide—rotten egg gas—or burned rubber.

Always thank God: Paul wrote, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (I Thes. 5:18) You should always give thanks to God in your prayers. If you do not, you will miss a vital key to having your prayers answered.

Pray from the heart: When most pray, they mumble a few words and hope for the best. Or, like the Pharisees 2,000 years ago, they give long, monotonous prayers that go no higher than the ceiling (Luke 18:10-12). Either way, they are not putting their hearts into their requests.

Regarding the modern-day descendants of Israel, the Prophet Isaiah wrote, “And there is none that calls upon your name, that stirs up himself to take hold of you: for you have hid your face from us, and have consumed us, because of our iniquities” (64:7).

The prophet Hosea adds, “Woe unto them! For they have fled from Me: Destruction unto them! Because they have transgressed against Me: though I have redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against Me. And they have not cried unto Me with their heart, when they howled upon their beds” (7:13-14).

Contrast this with what James wrote: “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (5:16). Always be fervent!

God used the Prophet Elijah as an example (vs. 17-18). Elijah was human, fallible. He had the same passions and frustrations that people still struggle with today.

Yet Elijah was a righteous man—he obeyed God. And when he prayed, he did it from the heart. Study his example in I Kings 17, 18 and 19.

Look at Christ’s example: “Who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared” (Heb. 5:7).

Fervent, heartfelt, sincere prayer gets results.

And as you have seen, God’s Word shows that there are many conditions for answered prayer. You can discover other conditions by thoroughly studying the Bible.

HOW TO GET GOD TO ANSWER YOUR PRAYERS (PART 2)

Scroll of the Psalms

SCROLL OF THE PSALMS

HOW TO GET GOD TO ANSWER YOUR PRAYERS (PART 2)

Follow Christ’s example and God will answer your prayers.

You can know God’s will by studying His Word. The Bible contains more than a thousand pages and 750,000 words of God’s expressed will. If you study it daily, replacing your thoughts with His, you can understand what God wants.

For example, notice Jeremiah 9; “Thus says the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glories glory in this,” “that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, says the Lord” (vs. 23-24).

Do your prayers reflect loving-kindness (mercy, out-going concern for others), godly judgment (wisdom based on true biblical understanding), and righteousness (obedience to God’s laws; see Psalm 119:172 and 111:10)?

Have a humble, yielded attitude: The carnal mind is deceitful—even to itself (Jer. 17:9). It is naturally hostile to God and His spiritual laws. It cannot obey Him (Rom. 8:7-8).

This world’s Christianity does not understand this. Its religionists, teachers and leaders do not preach it.

Yet the Bible teaches that God will only listen to those who are teachable, humble and yielded to Him. Notice Isaiah 66: “Thus says the Lord, The heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool: where is the house that You build unto Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things has My hand made, and all those things have been, says the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at My Word” (vs. 1-2).

Jesus used a parable to teach a valuable lesson to “some who trusted in themselves” (Luke 18:9):

“Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican [tax collector]. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank You, that I am not as other men are, extortionist, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess” (vs. 10-12). The Pharisee “knew” that He was God’s gift to mankind.

“And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner” (vs. 13). The tax collector saw himself from God’s perspective and humbled himself.

Christ continued, “I tell you, this man [the tax collector] went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalts himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted” (vs. 14).

God will not listen to the prayers of the proud and arrogant.

Keep God’s Law: To begin to understand God’s will, you must obey Him, David wrote, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do His commandments” (Psa. 111:10).

The more you obey God, the more understanding He will give you. Moreover, the more you receive, the more God expects you to obey Him.

When you do this, God promises, “Beloved, if our heart condemn us not”—because we deliberately choose God’s way of life and stop sinning— “then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (I John 3:21-22).

God listens to those who obey Him. It is that simple.

When Jesus lived on earth, He knew that God would always answer His prayers. Here’s why: “And He that sent Me is with Me: the Father has not left Me alone; for I do always those things that please Him” (John 8:29).

If you follow Christ’s footsteps and obey God, your prayers will be answered!

Consider this: “He that turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination” (Prov. 28:9). If you do not listen to (and obey) God, He will not listen to you!

Approach God with a clean conscience: When you sin—break God’s laws—He cannot hear you: “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear” (Isa. 59:1-2).

In Psalm 24, David asked, “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart” (vs. 3-4).

He also wrote, “If I regard iniquity [sin] in my heart [mind], the Lord will not hear” (66:18).

Confess your sins before God. Repent and ask for His forgiveness. Christ’s blood will cleanse you.

Some people fall into a dangerous pattern: When they sin, their guilt gnaws at them. They feel too ashamed to approach God in prayer. And God cannot hear a prayer that is never uttered. Because they have not confessed their sins and repented, their sin grows. Soon they are trapped in a cycle of sin. If they do not turn to God soon, their conscience will be seared. They will end up sinning without feeling guilt, shame or fear.

Do not let this happen to you!

The Bible states, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).

God has seen men commit every sin imaginable. Your confession cannot shock Him. But it will set you free from the deadly cycle of sin, pain and, ultimately, death.

Be bold: This world’s Christianity pictures Christ as a helpless weakling nailed to a cross.

But the Bible clearly shows that Christ is in heaven, actively working on behalf of His servants: “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God; let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:14-15).

When we pray to God, we do so by the authority of Jesus Christ. His shed blood allows us to enter the most holy place in the universe—God’s throne!

That is why, when we pray, we are commanded to “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:14-16).

God expects our prayers to be bold, full of confidence—in Him, not self.

If we come before God wavering and full of doubt, He will not listen (James 1:6-7).

Pray in detail: Some have reasoned, “Why should I pray? Doesn’t God already know everything, including what I think?”

Yes, He does. In fact, God knows you better than you know yourself, down to the number of hairs you have on your head (Matt. 10:30; Luke 12:7).

God knows everything you need even before you ask Him (Matt. 6:8).

He knows your inner thoughts and desires: “I the Lord search the heart [mind], I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruits of his doings” (Jer. 17:10).

Yet God wants you to pray to Him. Here are five reasons why:

(1) God wants you to draw close to Him and show Him where your heart is (Matt. 6:19-21).

(2) He wants you to express out-going concern for others. Praying for others is an opportunity to do this.

(3) He wants you to prove and test Him by claiming His many promises (Mal. 3:10; I Thes. 5:21).

(4) He wants you to submit your will to Him. If you believe God’s Word and pray from the heart, God’s thoughts will saturate your mind. You will come to think—and act—like Him (Eph. 1:17-19).

(5) Like any good parent, God wants to know His children. Specific, highly detailed prayers please God.

Consider this scripture: “And when He had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb [Christ], having everyone of them harps, and golden vials full of odors [incense], which are the prayers of saints” (Rev. 5:8).

TO BE CONTINUED IN LESSON 3.

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