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Myrrh For A Dead God?
By: James Smith
"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 even for a wealthy person. The usual custom was to use 20 pounds.
Think of this with me. If any of you have ever baled hay on a farm, you know that a bale of hay weighs around 60-70 pounds. This bale being compacted and compressed into some sort of shape by a baler. 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 they 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:”
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1. There are specific, reasonable and attainable growth goals that have been developed. A pastor must see, believe it and work for it!
2. There is powerful Bible-based preaching and teaching, anointed singing, vibrant worship, fervent praying, and generous giving.
3. There is consistent visitation and follow-up on visitors.
4. The pastor recognizes and releases the gifts and callings among the congregation. These gifts include the gifts of teachers, helpers, prophecy, exhortation, ruling, etc.
5. The organization, coordination, and emphasis of the basic departments - Sunday School, Youth, Outreach, Music, New Convert Care - is always on soul-winning and discipleship.[ read more...]
All too often, our church members don't feel comfortable asking someone if they would like to have a Bible study. One of the main reasons for this, is because they are afraid they won't have all of the answers to all of the questions that the person may ask about the Bible. Many people today want to teach Bible studies to their friends and families, but oftentimes, don't know how to teach a Bible study,what teaching materials to use or lack the experience to feel confident enough to teach one.
One idea to overcome this, is to use the mid-week service to teach your church how to teach a Bible study. In most cases, the people that show up for the mid-week service are the core of the church. They are usually the more "spiritually mature" of your saints. Also, when teaching on how to teach a Bible study, let them know which Bible studies you recommend for them to teach. This will give them confidence to teach a Bible study and when they find one that they feel comfortable sharing with someone, they will be more apt and better prepared to teach.
You can use this outline to teach them how to teach a Bible study:
Psalm 119:89 "Forever O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven."
Psalm 119:161:162 "..but my heart standeth in awe of thy word….as one that findeth great spoil (treasure)"
Psalm 119:11 "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee."
· Establish at the beginning of the study the importance of the "whole" Bible.
1) 1 Tim. 3:16 "All scripture is given by inspiration of God…
2) The Word of God is true! From cover to cover!
A few things to remember when preparing for your study:
· Always bring two Bibles; one for you and one for your student. (Remember, this is a Bible study!)
· Be on time!
· Breath mints are good!
· Choose a Bible Study that teaches on one of these topics:
3) Church History[ 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.
If you desire for people to follow you, you have to connect with them. The catalyst of your relationship with them at any level may very well have to be a result of your constant effort to associate with them. An unbeliever’s only basis for coming into the knowledge of truth may well be his relationship with his teacher/preacher.
Connect with them on a personal level. Find out what it is that interests them and try to find a common interest. Get to know them personally. Visit their home. Invite them to yours. Go places with them. Let them know you care for them on more than a Pastoral level. If they consider you to be their friend, they will support you much more than if you are only an authority to them.
Connect with them on a professional level. If he is a doctor, read a few books on the latest surgery procedures. If he coaches football, learn a bit about the game. If she is a teacher, talk education with her.
Connect with them in your preaching. Personalize your preaching. Major newspapers write their articles on the 6th grade educational level. Hence they are able to reach a broader audience than if they wrote them on the college level where most people may not understand certain wording. Bring bible stories and situations into present day circumstances. Touch home once in a while.[ read more...]
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
There are many worship services going on today but too many lack Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit) involvement. The only way to lead a Spirit-filled worship service is if those doing the leading are filled with the Spirit. Sounds basic I know, but it really is the answer to leading a true Holy Ghost inspired worship service. Those who are involved need to have a true love for worshipping God and they need to express that while leading. The musicians, singers and anyone on the platform leading worship should be full of the Holy Ghost themselves (John 20:22).
Lead by example! When you are singing songs about worship and you yourself are not worshipping, you are sending the wrong message. As "worship leaders" we should be leaders of worship. To lead someone is to show someone the way. While leading worship, one should not feel constrained or bound by anything. Outward demonstrative worship requires us doing just that…demonstrating worship! Whatever the Lord impresses on your heart to do while leading, you should do without hesitation.
2 Corinthians 3:17
Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
liberty- freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction, hampering conditions, etc.; power or right of doing, thinking, speaking, etc., according to choice.
Pray to be sensitive to the Lord's leading. The Lord knows in each and every service, where He wants to take the congregation. If we limit Him by not leading the way we are supposed to lead, the service goes in the wrong direction. We should pray every service to be sensitive to His voice and that He would show us what He would have us do in that service. Worship is not something we do for anyone else but for our Creator. Worship is something that does not require the attention or approval of anyone else but our Lord and Savior! We were created to worship Him. He doesn't make or force us to do it, it is something He wants us to do from the bottom of our hearts. He gives us the choice to worship Him or to not worship Him.[ read more...]
How do you evaluate your performance as a Christian leader? I hope it’s not just by how hard you work or how good your intentions are. Listed are 15 points to use as a gauge of leadership effectiveness:
- Leaders know their No. 1 assignment is to develop others. The find joy in giving a new skill to someone they have a glimmer of vision for. Leaders develop other leaders; non-leaders are interested only in self-development.
- Leaders understand the “WOW factor.” The WOW factor means a commitment to a standard of excellence that goes beyond the call of duty.
- Leaders see what is really going on. They understand that parking-lot attendants aren’t just parking cars; they are forming a first impression and winning friends. Effective preachers realize that when they are preaching, something more is happening; They are building faith and bringing healing. Anointed musicians know they aren’t just playing music; they are opening hearts.
- Leaders are people of action. They do. They don’t just talk. This is one of the key factors that sets the leaders apart from the followers.
- Effective leaders have dealt with their insecurities. Leaders make room for others. They seldom feel threatened and are happy to make room for the growth of those they lead.
- Leaders don’t care who gets the credit. The success of the cause is more important than the need for a personal ego boost.
- Leaders constantly find new ways to include people in the action. Only a small portion of the work is done by the leaders themselves.
Here are some foot- dragging steps that are sure to keep you buried in things to do.
Floundering - The failure to focus attention and efforts in a single direction. The cause is a lack of clear-cut goals. This trap can be avoided by crystallizing your goals. Try writing them down on paper. Make them as specific as possible. And Give Them Accomplishment Dates.
Wheel-Spinning - Trying to do something so you'll feel busy but accomplishing little or nothing. This usually happens when we let ourselves get behind in our work and try to assuage out guilty feelings by doing everything at once. You won't solve the problem by frantic activity. Survey your list and make a schedule to accomplish everything in a realistic time frame.
Fire-Fighting - Living in a state of perpetual crisis. We often end up like this due to a lack of planning and goals. It's important to include in your schedule planning time. Take the time to sit down and review your schedule and you goals on a daily and weekly basis.
Vacillation - Indecision. This happens when we fail to weigh the alternatives or consider the possibilities. Get tough with yourself. Weigh the pros and cons, write down all the possibilities and make decisions. Trying to do something and failing is better than trying to do nothing and succeeding.
Dawdling - Drifting, daydreaming, dilly-dallying. This is a failure to keep your goals clearly in mind and make them a priority. Give yourself a deadline and stick to it. Promise yourself a reward when you've done it.
Spraying - Diverting your efforts to many tasks instead of one; spreading yourself too thin. This is also the result of a failure to focus on your goals. After you've written down your goals, focus all your energy on accomplishing them one at a time.[ read more...]
A crucial issue for today’s church is communication. At the heart of the Christian faith is the message of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Yet today this message is one of a multitude of messages people are bombarded with daily. Furthermore, the “audience” has changed drastically. Today, the church faces the increasingly difficult task of communicating sacred meaning to a secular audience.
Here’s a check list of things to consider when it comes to evaluating what you’re communicating today as the church amid the rising tide of secularism:
- Keep it simple. Simplify everything from the bulletin to the sermons. You will communicate better with secular people.
- Translate please. Secular people don’t understand the theological jargon we use. You can simplify Biblical terms without sacrificing their integrity.
- Timing is everything. Time is the new currency. Communication must be concise. If people lose focus because of time, they lose the message.
- Take nothing for granted. The average churchgoer often takes for granted the things new people may not understand. The answer? Define what terms mean.
- Define non- negotiables. Some language and practices simply can’t be changed. Define the non-negotiables and then clarify their meaning.
According to the latest statistics, over one-half of all families in America are experiencing financial difficulties. This includes single parent homes. Most people have financial problems, but don’t know why!
In order to be aware of the financial difficulties one has and know what causes them, a person must educate himself to the reasons for the difficulties. The following are a list of reasons that most people find themselves in financial difficulty.
- FAILURE TO FOLLOW SCRIPTURAL PRINCIPLES. The Bible is full of guidelines regarding financial principles. In fact, one-half of all parables and one out of six verses in the New Testament deal with stewardship. Get your Bible out and start studying. Ask your pastor for more information. See a Christian Financial Counselor for assistance. You will find great guidelines and principles in the Word of God.
- FAILURE TO IDENTIFY YOUR PRIORITIES. Just exactly what do you want? More things or better financial stability? Prioritize your desires and needs and stick to it.
- NO DISCIPLINE! That one horrible word causes us more problems than anything else in the world. We need to exercise discipline in every phase of our life, especially when it comes to discipline! Discipline yourself to limit unnecessary purchases and wasting money. Discipline yourself to set down once per month to analyze your finances. Discipline will be the greatest thing you can establish in your life. Work diligently with disciplining yourself.
- FAILURE TO ESTABLISH GOALS. A person who has no goal is a person without direction. A person without direction is going…nowhere! To solve your financial difficulties, you have to establish a clear goal. Where do you want to be one year from now; five years from now, etc.? Write your goal down and work toward it.
- NO CONTROLS. This compares to discipline, however, it means to have written controls over your spending. Write down what your limits are. Review them frequently.
- FAILURE TO ESTABLISH A BUDGET. A budget is not a nervous breakdown on paper. It is a clear cut guideline of where your money comes from and how it is to be spent. It only takes about 1 hour per month to maintain a budget so that you can control the process of knowing where your money is and how it is spent. Don’t negate the importance of a written budget…it will be the greatest factor in helping you get your finances under control.
- UNABLE TO CONTROL IMPLUSIVE SPENDING. If you don’t follow the direction of your budget and discipline yourself, you will be unable to stop spending when you see that item that you just must have. Don’t spend any unnecessary money until you discuss it with someone. You must control your spending if you ever hope to get ahead financially.