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"And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.
And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.
Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury." (John 19:38- 40 KJV)
Upon His death, Nicodemus came to Jesus’ tomb and he and Joseph of Arimathaea, wound the body of Jesus with linen clothes and 100 pounds of myrrh and aloes. This amount of burial myrrh and aloes would have been an extreme amount even for a wealthy person. The usual custom was to use 20 pounds.
Think of this with me. If any of you have ever bailed hay on a farm, you know that a bail of hay weighs around 60-70 pounds. This bail being compacted and compressed into some sort of shape by a bailer. In Jesus’ day, there were no such machine. They would have had to carry this in a sack of sorts. Imagine the scene of Joseph carrying the roughly 175 pound body of Jesus and Nicodemus carrying the huge sack with 100 pounds of myrrh and aloes for the burial.
Putting myself into this text, I find two men who loved Jesus. Enough that they would risk their own life to see that the Lord would receive the very best burial they could give. So, Joseph donates his very expensive tomb and Nicodemos, not wanting anyone to smell the decomposing body of Jesus, brings 100 pounds of costly burial aloes. When people walked by the tomb, he wanted them to only notice the beautiful smell of the myrrh and not the rotting flesh of a dead God.
I’m not sure where these two were doctrinally at this point, but I do know that they heard the truth preached to them by the Lord himself. However, I’m not so sure they got what Jesus tried to get them all to understand. “(John 2:19 KJV) Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
People often quote John 11:35, “Jesus Wept." Recently at a funeral of 2 friends, the minister referred to the Lord as a mourner who also wept at the funeral of His friend Lazarus. I don’t believe Jesus wept because his friend was dead. He sure was not too concerned when they told him about Lazarus being sick a few days prior. I am certain that the reason Jesus wept at the tomb of his friend is because of the unbelief of those whom Jesus had spent much time with, trying to convince them that He was the Resurrection. How many funeral processions did Jesus stop to raise the dead? He had proven to all of them that He was able to raise the dead. I believe He went to the tomb of Lazarus hoping to find Mary and Martha sitting in wait, full of faith that regardless of how long it took, Jesus would show up and when He did, He would raise His friend to life again. Jesus did not weep for Lazarus’s death, he wept because of the faithlessness of Mary and Martha. Hear his rebuke to them, (John 11:25 KJV) “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:”
With that in mind, lets get back to Joseph and Nicodemos. You gotta love these guys. They really do mean well. They so want the body of Jesus to be preserved and any death odor to be abolished, that they wrap it in 5 times the amount of spices as was customary. Can you imagine how huge the totally wrapped body of Jesus must have been with 100 pounds of spices in the wrappings. It must have been a sight.
But hey, when you have a dead God, it’s important to make sure that he doesn’t appear to be dead, right? After all, they couldn’t have Jesus’ dead body stinking up the place. So they did what a lot of people do, they tried to cover up the fact that their God is not living. They build huge cathedrals to worship him in, but never do let Him into their heart. They go to church with fake smiles on their faces, while all the time they have incredible turmoil in their life and their souls are in despair. Oh, they would never say their God is dead, but the very fact that they are faithless and unbelieving of His word, brings Jesus to tears even as Mary and Martha’s faithlessness did.
What do you do when God is dead in your life? Do you hide the fact? Do you create a façade that say’s “God is alive in my life when you know He is not?” Do you cover the fact with a plastic grin? Or an arrogant attitude that says, “Nothing could possibly be wrong with my relationship with God!”. Can I say something to you? I would have told the same thing to Joseph and Nicodemus. It doesn’t matter how much perfume you put on that dead body. If it doesn’t come alive pretty soon, it’s going to stink and everyone’s going to know it.”
Evidently Joseph and Nicodemos did not have faith that Jesus would rise on the third day as He said He would. If they had, they would have laid him out for all the world to see. Imagine, the lifeless stiff body of Jesus coming alive after being dead for three days. What a miracle that would have been! What a testimony for all of Israel and Rome to witness! Jesus coming alive after all they did to kill him! Honestly, I believe he would have rather they left his body there on the ground by the cross, rather than bury the possibility of a miracle, in a tomb for no one to witness.
You see, that’s what the resurrection is all about. It doesn’t matter how much comes into your life to destroy you. Or who or how many who’ve tried to hide your potential for greatness. Sin can do it’s worst, but when it’s all said and done, there is Resurrection Power available to you through Jesus Christ. He told Mary and Martha, “I am the Resurrection and the Life”. Not only could He be resurrected. But He was the resurrection. This is important to remember when some part of your life is dead. Jesus is my resurrection! He is my hope! That first Resurrection morning, is repeated every time a person comes to an alter and allows the Holy Ghost to give them Life. Each sinner who speaks in tongues for the first time, experiences the Resurrection anew.
We celebrate the Resurrection once a year. But we should know that Heaven celebrates it every time a sinner comes to repentance. We get excited over the holiday that is Easter, but the angels get excited over every single sinner who is filled with “New” life. (2 Cor 5:17 KJV) “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
That’s what Jesus is about, Life. Abundant Life. He’s not about the dead stuff in our life. He is not about covering up a dead soul with false, but politically correct religion. He is the Resurrection and the Life. He is the newness of life that comes when a person experiences Acts 2:38 salvation. If you are wondering if you have a dead god or a live God, ask yourself this question. “Am I trying to cover stuff up in my life? Or am I allowing the Resurrection Power of Jesus Christ to bring Newness of Life to my soul."
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Balance in life does not come naturally. For many of us, our lives are lived in extremes. Incredible things happen when ministry and life are lived at their fullest. The problem however, is that when one area of our life is lived at an extreme, the others become out of balance.
Spending larger amounts of time in one area causes the other areas of our life to become anemic. Few vocations understand this more than the ministry. Our dedication to God and commitment to His church often cause us to have an imbalanced allocation of energy and time resources. Sadly, our families are too often the benefactors of the lessor of the imbalance.
Someone once said, “Time waits for no one!” How true! We really do only have one life and one chance at making the moments of every single day of that life count. Moments that are divided between our jobs, families and ministries. Moments that we will never get back. Moments that turn hours into days. Days into years and years into lifetimes.
- How do you manage all those moments?
- What are the priorities that you have set to budget those precious moments?
- What rules have you put into place to guard the distribution of those moments?
- Is your life so frenzied that you really have no idea who should get the best of “you”?
As leaders and pastors, many of us are involved in growth programs in our various ministries. Whether you pastor a church or lead a small group, it is critically important to have a plan of action for the growth of your ministry. However, it is a serious error to place the program above the person. You, as the person, must take priority over the program. Your program will only be as successful as you are. Your program will only be as successful as your relationship with Christ. If you make personal growth your priority, church growth will happen out of the excess of what is happening in your own life. Your life will be the example to the people you lead. You will be a living testimony. You will have a story to tell.
It is so much easier to lead people if there is a surplus of energy, ideas and anointing in your own life. Take the time to make personal growth a priority. A Plan of action for personal growth is just as important as a plan of action for church growth.
Three must do's for Personal Growth:
1. Get in God's Presence.
When the Old Testament priest went beyond the veil into the Holy of Holies he was literally stepping into the presence of God. It was there that God communed with him and spoke to him everything he needed to hear.
22 And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.
It is a good thing to talk to God every day, but it sure is a lot better when God talks back to me. That is what happens every time I get in His presence. God speaks to me. God communes with me. God tells me everything I need to hear. I must have the voice of God in my life. If I have God's voice in my life, people hear God's voice from me.
In God's presence we grow our person. The presence of God is where we find God's will, God's anointing and God's voice. If you have those three things in your life, people will follow you. Make the time to get in God's presence every day.
2. Get a life.
Every person in ministry needs a life outside of church. We need to get outside of the walls of the church. There are a couple of reasons for this; First of all, you can't personally win anybody to Christ if you have no life outside of church.
Jesus was very good at building relationships with unbelievers;
11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?
12 But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.
The reason Jesus built relationships with publicans and sinners was because they needed Him. The people outside of our walls need us more than the people inside our walls. We need to build relationships with the unsaved in our communities. This is how we win the lost.
Secondly, your life needs to be interesting. The reason our messages or ministries lack impact is because they are not interesting and the reason they are not interesting is because we are not interesting. Take the time to get a life outside of church. Do something different. Get a new hobby. Join a softball league. Go build an orphanage in Africa. Start a soup kitchen for the homeless. Get a life.[ read more...]
I’ve heard many people say over the last year that, as we enter into the 21st century, it will not be the size of the church that matters, but its health that will ensure its survival. So, what about the health of the church? May I suggest a few guidelines for assessing the health of a congregation of any size?
- Biblically based. Do your congregation members have a clear understanding of what they believe and substantial information to assist them in defending their faith? Is there a discipleship- training program?
- Mutually concerned. Do your people genuinely care for one another? Is there a system in operation that easily allows your congregation to know when people have needs and a prayer chain to respond to those needs?
- Socially concerned. If you do not have a small group ministry, do you have a Sunday School program that provides adequate time for your people to break bread together? Church is fellowship as much as it is a formal worship service.
- Community saturated. Are you aware of the day-to-day decisions that are made in your community that affect the school system, the social programs, and the overall moral climate of the city you serve?
- Financially stable. The church that is fiscally responsible will be able to weather any situation. Every pastor and board should insist on maintaining a certain dollar reserve, and do everything possible to avoid paralyzation of ministry through an unrealistic building or property debt. People must be taught by example to give and to give cheerfully.
2. Getting everybody on board and keeping them on board. We all start out great, but it is a constant struggle to keep people motivated and focused.
3. Causing people to change and grow can be exhausting spiritually, mentally and physically.
4. It seems like the attack of the enemy in the spirit realm is greater since I have been a pastor.[ read more...]
While in Bible College many years ago I was fortunate enough to be selected for the Chorale. It was a big thing to make the Chorale. We were to go on a two-week tour during the summer break. It was the highlight of our summer. I don't know why, but recently one of the songs we sang during that summer tour has been on my mind. I can't remember much of the song except the main line of the chorus, which was also the title of the song. It was called, "Shut up and March".
The theme of the song centers around the idea that talk can only do so much good. There is a time to quit talking and a time to get on with the business at hand. I frequently tell my employees, "A little less chatter and a little more clatter, please." I think you get the idea.
When Israel fled from Egypt after 400 years of slavery they thought they had gained their freedom. The Pharaoh had finally relented and allowed them to go. On their very first night of freedom, they set up camp on the shores of the Red Sea. I can imagine how their spirits were soaring. They were looking forward to a bright future. However, in a moment's notice, their freedom was taken from them again. The Pharaoh had changed his mind. He had assembled his mighty army and come to take Israel back. When Israel saw the Egyptian Army they panicked and began to cry out to God. They began to curse Moses for leading them out.
When this barrage of words came against Moses, he responded with some of the most inspiring words in Scripture;
13 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.
14 The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.[ read more...]
New Pastors often make elementary mistakes when they assume the pastorate of a church. Even though you’re now the pastor, you’re still the “new kid on the block.” Listed are some strategies to employ during the first year of your new pastorate.
- Earn confidence by showing competence in decision-making.
- Focus on people first – programs second.
- Make no major changes the first year.
- Promote health through loving the people.
- Tackle the most critical problems one at a time – line them up single file.
- Respect culture – each church has its unique history.
31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
33 They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?
34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
Liberty, Liberation: Freedom from physical, political, and spiritual oppression.
- One of the dominant themes of the Old Testament is that Yahweh is the God who liberated the Israelites from their bondage in Egypt. (Passover)
- In the New Testament, God is the one who liberates people from bondage to sin through Jesus Christ. (Cross)
Freedom: The ability to be and do what one wants instead of being controlled by another.
- We are able to choose our actions and attitudes, our responses to others and to God.
- In another sense, we cannot be and do what we want because we are not independent of others or God.
- The Bible constantly affirms that the kind of freedom all persons have is the kind of freedom that slaves have.
Romans 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
Jude 1:1 Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:
Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.
Deuteronomy 34:5 So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD.
(Moses = Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Kings, Chronicles, Psalms)
2 Timothy 2:24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
2 Peter 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:
James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
(Moses = Chronicles, Nehemiah, Daniel, Hebrews, Revelation)
Slaves on drugs
- Slaves on opiates are oblivious to their carnal situation.
- Karl Marx declared that religion is the opiate of the masses.
- I believe that Paul taught that opiates are the religion of the masses:
(Opiates = Ambitions, Hobbies, Obsessions)
I remember as a young person, admiring the Pastors and Ministers of our movement. In my mind they were (and are) equal to the Apostles. I cannot explain in words my respect for them.
20 years later, I am one of those men. Often I find myself comparing my ministry to those men who I admire. Who I am as a leader, seems far short to that of many of the men around me. Now please don't think that I am wanting to be them. I realize that we are all unique and gifted according to His desire. But there is something in me that always wants to improve. I never want to become satisfied with who I am as a Man of God. I always want to do more for Him. I want to get closer to who He wants me to be. Like Paul of old. After all he did for the Lord, he said "Oh, that I might know Him..." As great a man as Paul was, he still looked to Jesus for a deeper walk.
I'm not sure we always realize the effect we have on the young people around us. Or for that matter, any saint. One thing that God consistently reminds me of, is that I am an example to those who look up to me. I feel that there is blood on my hands, if I lead an example, that would discourage them from living for God.[ read more...]
Based on surveys of more than 15,000 people, the following traits were selected as the key to effective leadership:
· Being honest – 87%
· Being forward-looking – 71%
· Being inspirational – 68%
· Being competent – 58%
- Honest people have credibility – and that’s what gives leaders the trust and confidence of their people. High credibility leaders foster such things as greater pride in the organization, a stronger spirit of cooperation and teamwork, and more feelings of ownership and personal responsibility. What are some of the other characteristics of credible leaders?
- They do what they say they will do. They keep their promises and follow through on their commitments.
- Their actions are consistent with the wishes of the people they lead. They have a clear idea of what others value and what they can do.