Sunday, August 14, 2016


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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Never say never.....

Recently I did a series on Avenged Sevenfodl (A7X), looking for the epic themes of good and evil in their songs, and the undercurrent of biblical references, sometimes subtle, sometimes specific, in their lyrics. As I listened to each piece, prayed for the band members, and asked God for insight, I began to see that the saying "Where there is life there is yet hope" is profoundly true.

Right now is the sunshine, right now is the time for harvest. Jesus talked often about using His time well because when the sun fades, and darkness comes, no one will be able to work in the fields. During His three years of sunshine there were some amazing "Come to Jesus" events -- a Phoenician woman and a Roman centurion, both considered utterly unclean and beyond reach came to have faith stronger than even the disciples. Many lepers, paralyzed, lame, blind, deaf and dumb people were both physically and spiritually restored.

People who were considered the dregs of society, prostitutes, tax collectors (think Wall Street embezzlers for a modern-day corollary), convicted felons, scoff laws, and more all came to know Jesus as their friend, their Savior and their Lord.

Those whom the upstanding citizens and professional religious types considered to be beyond hope found their hope in Jesus. Those who were full of their own sense of importance and purity never knew they needed healing, so they rejected the Healer.

Today's incredible story of "Never say never" is found in Jeff Fenholt, who played the starring role in "Jesus Christ Superstar" and fronted the band "Black Sabbath."

I have one last album, A7X's summer release, to blog on. Beginning in December I'll blog on a song a day. To me, this is the essence of Thanksgiving -> Thanking God for life, real life, and that He never gives up on any of us so long as the sun shines.

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Jesus Gave Three Responses To The Pharisees' Challenge

1) He wasn’t going to be their puppet and try and come up with some miracle that they would accept. Instead He would give them the ultimate sign in just a few years, the resurrection of the dead, victory over death and hell
"For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (Matthew 12:40)
The prophet Jonah had experienced something similar when he was spit up onto the beach near Ninevah.

God told Jonah to warn the Ninevites that they were about to be destroyed by God unless they repented of their sin. Jonah’s bizarre appearance, bleached out by the stomach juices of a fish, must have unnerved them. The Ninevites were fish worshippers. To them Jonah was like a man resurrected from the dead, and they believed his message – all Ninevah repented.

Jesus was infinitely greater than Jonah. When Jesus rose from the dead, that would be the Pharisees’ call to repentance. But they didn’t.

--> How much worse it is now that the resurrection has been established. The Ninevites will judge those today who ask for irrefutable proof when the resurrection stands proven these last two thousand year

2) The Queen of Sheba traveled at great expense to marvel at Solomon’s kingdom and his wisdom.

Jesus’ wisdom was infinitely greater than Solomon’s, and His kingdom infinitely more wonderful. Yet the Queen of Sheba would stand one day in judgment over the Pharisees who had the Son of God Himself right in front of them and remained nonplused.

--> How much worse for those today who can put their hand on a Bible wherever they go, hear good teaching on the t.v., the radio, the internet, go to any number of worship services on any day of the week, yet remain unmoved.

3) Jesus revealed their dangerously empty hearts. The Pharisees had continued the legacy of Ezra’s day,
+ Keeping Israel clean from idols,
+ Slavishly observing the Sabbath,
+ Obeying every possible nuance of God’s law to tithe,
...To fast,
......To keep the holy days.
"When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it.

"Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order.

"Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.

"That is how it will be with this wicked generation." (Matthew 12:43-45)
It's not enough to live a clean and disciplined life and mouth a lot of holy words.

Jesus said there must be someone who lives in the home of your heart, as the owner. Otherwise Satan will just move right back in again, and matters will be even worse.

The new owner has to be stronger than Satan. The new owner is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ. Demons can't possess a Christian because of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Whoever is not with the Lord Jesus Christ is against Him
The miracles of Jesus point to who Jesus is. However, an unwillingness to believe reveals a hard heart.

Failure to believe the message of Christ has serious consequences, because there is no neutral zone.

You are either with Jesus, in the kingdom of God or you are with His enemy, Satan, under his rod of death and bound for his eventual destination of hell. Jesus has pre-eminence over even death and hell, and only He has the power to release you from the strong man’s house.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Jesus warned the Pharisees that their words gave evidence of the evil in their hearts. The sin against the Holy Spirit is not a matter of speech; the words spoken are only evidence of a sin-filled heart
"Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.

"You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good?

"For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him." (Matthew 12:33-35)
Jesus wasn’t talking about a single act, He was talking about their whole way of being, their harvest of bad fruit. The Pharisees had no sense of their personal sin.

Everybody will one day have to face all the things they said in those unguarded mome when the real you comes out. It’s not the words. It’s what’s inside you that matters.

Being called vipers, having their sin pointed out, being called to judgment was something the Pharisees could not stand.
Never mind that
+ Jesus spoke with authority,
+ That everything He did, including even just being born was fulfillment of scripture,
+ That the power of God in the miracles authenticated everything Jesus said,
+ And that God’s Holy Spirit was approving and affirming all Jesus taught.

They wanted to find a way to get out of having to accept Him and what He had just said to them. They wanted to reassert their superiority and authority over Him. So they said,
"Teacher, we want to see a sign from you." (Matthew 12:38)
Don’t you and I get the same thing today from people who don’t like what they’re hearing?
Give me one good intellectual argument for believing the Bible,
...Give me some proof that the Bible is true, that it’s reliable,
......Give me some irrefutable evidence that this is God’s word,
.........That it’s divine,
............That it’s relevant,
...............Or has anything to do with me....

Or how about this: before you and I judge the Pharisees, think about the times we’ve asked God for a sign because what we already know from His word was not to our liking.

--> Unless God makes my spouse initiates conversation, I’m not going to say I’m sorry.

--> If God doesn’t let me get caught, that must mean He’s okay with my doing (whatever it is).

--> When have you ignored God's word on something and asked for a sign instead?

People look for signs, but God looks for obedient faith.

Their hearts were committing adultery against God. They pretended to be faithful to God, to obey God’s laws and to worship Him. But in reality they were in love with their own position in life, seeing themselves as the cream, owners and rulers of God’s people.

In reality they kept the people away from God by making Him seem like a mean and cruel master who valued sacrifice over mercy.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What Is The Unforgivable Sin?

But what is this terrible thing that Jesus talked about next,
Was it limited to the Pharisees, or can such an unforgivable sin be committed today, and if so, how?

The context of this passage is the Lord's indictment of the Pharisees for attributing the origin of His power and the validity of His claims to the devil.

The unforgivable sin is the rejection of the true power behind The Lord Jesus Christ's miracles. To assign miracles to Satan, not the Holy Spirit, is to reject the One who draws us to Christ. To repudiate the work of the Spirit, and reject the witness of the Holy Spirit was to remain in their sin. Notice what Jesus says in verse 32, such a thing “will not” -- not “can not” but “will not” -- be forgiven. God will not where you will not.

As long as you’re concerned that you’ve committed the unforgivable sin, that is a sure sign that you haven’t. Satan, the accuser and father of lies, will try to convince you that there is something that really could separate you from the love of God. He will try to make you discouraged, convincing you that you’ve gone too far.

But experiencing grief over sin is the work of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said the sin He was talking about will not be forgiven.
* Can a believer do something that would forfeit his or her salvation?
* Can God change His mind about something like that?

Go back to Romans chapter 8. Right at the end of that chapter the apostle Paul declares that nothing – nothing on earth, nothing in heaven – can separate us from God’s love.

Salvation does not find its power in your and my faithfulness; it is rooted in the faithfulness of God to His own Son Who died for us!

When Christ died on the cross, how many of our sins were future?
-> If all our sins were future
--> And Christ died for all our sins,
---> Then no future sin can cancel out what Christ has accomplished.

Since the whole debt has already been paid, no sin can separate us from God. Think of the great comfort in what Jesus was saying. Every sin will be forgiven except the one you and I will never commit! All others will be forgiven!

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Jesus' Response to the Pharisees In Three Parts

1) Satan is a formidable enemy. Sometimes a person tries to resist evil without first submitting to God, and Satan pays no attention to that. Jesus said
"If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand?" (Matthew 12:26)
Satan wouldn't be very likely to drive himself out, because that would divide his own kingdom and weaken his base of power. Only someone more powerful than Satan would be able to rescue the people in his possession – only the power of God Himself could do it.

Anyway, this accusation was illogical from the Pharisees’ own point of view too, since there were Jewish exorcists - you can read about them in Acts - who were apparently successful.

Jesus asked them,
"And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges." (Matthew 12:27
2) Satan is a terrible enemy, but he is not omnipotent, as God is. He can’t do everything. In fact, he can only do what God will permit. The devil and his demons have been defeated by Christ's triumph at the cross. Death and hell no longer have any hold over God’s people.
"But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you." (Matthew 12:28)
Only God has the power and the authority to drive out Satan, or to hold him back. All throughout the New Testament, demons recognized Christ as the Holy One of God, and were afraid of Jesus; they had to obey His authorit

3) Jesus was the only one strong enough to tie up the strong man and rob the world of the people he oppressed,
“Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house." (Matthew 12:29)
and bring them into the kingdom of God where they would be free for all eternity. There is no neutral place.

Either you belong to Jesus, who has come into the strong man’s house to rescue you and free you from him, or you are a prisoner of the strong man
“Whoever is not with me is against me" (Matthew 12:30
What’s more, you are either with Jesus, gathering those who want to be free, or you are against Jesus, preventing others from being rescued
"...and whoever does not gather with me scatters" (Matthew 12:30)

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Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Pharisees Accuse Jesus of Working With The Devil

The man who was brought to Jesus was in pretty rough shape. He was blind, he couldn’t speak, and he was being oppressed by a demon. When Jesus delivered him,
All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” (Matthew 12:23)
but the Pharisees accused Jesus of using the devil’s power,
They said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.” (Matthew 12:24)
From the beginning of His ministry, Jesus was driving out demons from demon-possessed and demon-oppressed people. And just as early in the Lord's ministry, the Pharisees had begun dismissing this by saying that Jesus had been driving out demons by the permission, or the power, or both, of the prince of demons.

Satan is a real person. Interestingly, a lot of people don’t believe this – The Barna Research group found that in 2007 more than half of all adults surveyed in the United States, 57%, said that the devil, or Satan, is not a living being but is actually only a symbol of evil.

In that same survey Barna discovered that nearly half of all born-again Christians, 46%, denied Satan's existence.

Yet both the Pharisees and Jesus acknowledged that Satan was a real person, the prince of demons whom they referred to as Beelzebub, which means "lord of the flies" in Hebrew, and was meant as a mockery of the actual title "Prince Baal."

Scripture talks about a spiritual being, an angel named Lucifer, who was accompanied by a large angelic force in a rebellion against God. Isaiah 14 describes the thoughts that went on in Lucifer's mind, "I will make myself like the Most High." He was the most powerful, the most beautiful, of all the angels. His name meant "light-bearer," "shining one," "Son of the Dawn," and he aspired to the throne of God.

He wanted God's possession of and dominion over all the universe, with earth as his footstool.

Jesus said He saw Satan, which means "adversary," fall like lightning from heaven when God cast him out.

Demons are also real, and powerful. A third of God's angels became demons when they were cast out of heaven with Satan and made this earth their dark world. Since that time Satan has been referred to as
- The prince of darkness,
- The father of lies,
- The accuser,
- The beguiling serpent,
- A murderer.

The Bible describes him as a roaring lion looking for someone to devour, and the demons as having the primary purpose of possessing or oppressing humans and tormenting us.

The New Testament describes demons as causing physical as well as mental ailments. They have superior knowledge, supernatural strength and an ability to foretell the future. The devil is fierce, powerful, evil and all the more dangerous because he is a spiritual being; he is invisible.

Satan continues his rebellion against God, seeking in every way to usurp God's position as king. As soon as he had successfully enticed the first man and woman to disobey God, he took ownership of the world and now receives worship from it.

Jesus acknowledged that the world, that people themselves, are occupied by a strong man who possesses them. Satan's rod is death, and he leads the whole world into sin and corruption, using the world to oppose God.

And this was the Pharisees’ official verdict concerning Jesus. No, they said to the gathered crowd of people. This is not the Son of David, the Messiah we’ve been waiting for. This man is possessed of the devil.

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