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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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Probably the worst thing that can happen to a God-called minister of the Gospel is that they would be confused about their calling. Confusion in the ministry thwarts the positive impact of the church. No congregation or ministry can move forward when the leadership of that organization is confused about their calling.
Whether we are talking about an individual’s or an organization's calling, confusion can kill their potential. Some men/women spend their entire lives confused about their calling. Hearing a call from God, but listening for direction from other people.
It’s important to understand that every Calling is not a call to preach. Some would argue this. Countless young men and women have felt a call on their life, but got their direction from good-meaning people who put Preaching on them. “You’re going to be a great preacher.” “I feel you are called to preach!” Prophecies are spoken over these people by many misguided folks who believe or have been taught that only a preacher can have an effect on the work of God. Some would have every worker in the harvest to be Great Preachers.
Stop! The world does not just need more preachers. It needs more people who are concerned about souls. It needs compassionate people who care enough about their fellow man to pray for them and invite them to church. It needs not preachers, but teachers. Teachers who will take Bible in hand and sit in someone’s home and teach them a Bible study. Truth is hard to come by, yet it is right at our fingertips. Our generation is lost for a lack of understanding of the Bible.
What is the calling you are called to? Share truth with someone who does not know the truth. Jesus said, “I share with you a truth”. Long before Peter was preaching on the day of Pentecost, Jesus (our example,” was teaching in the synagogue.
What is it about our human nature that desires to be “The one up front.” The one doing the talking. What is it about our human nature that desires not a teacher, but a preacher. Midweek Bible studies have only a slice of the attendance that Sunday preaching services have. Why is that? We are still coming together to worship and share the Word. Yet on Sunday there is preaching and on the midweek service there is teaching. And the church would rather hear a preacher than a teacher.
It’s in our nature. We want an icon. We want someone to idealize. We want a spokesman for our church. We want preachers. So every person who feels a call on their life gets “pushed’ into the preacher mold.[ read more...]
I doubt there has ever been a day or society more dysfunctional than the one we are living in today.
Children are growing up in homes with absent and all too often abusive fathers and mothers. These children grow up in an emotionally or physically abusive atmosphere. One recent statistic stated that 1/3 of the homes in America are verbally abusive homes. Where husbands stop short of hitting their wives, but instead wound them with words that cut deep into her heart and emotional make up. Many husbands are grown men with childhood scars that leave them wounded little boys for the rest of their lives. These same men are often emotionally unable to minister to the sensitive needs of their own children and thus a new generation of dysfunctional adults are born.
The individual is wounded, emotionally scarred and hurting spiritually. There is in America a vacuum of need in the individual's life. It may well be said that there has never been a time when this vacuum has been greater.
We have a Savior who can answer the needs of the individual, yet with this wonderful touch of God on our lives, we are all too often unable to transfer God's loving touch to the hurting, needy individual.
Where is the catalyst that will bring Christ to this hurting world? The catalyst is the Church, yet the catalyst is sometimes unable to accomplish her part. We have to ask ourselves, why? The disciples tried their best to shut Blind Bartimaeus up. They were so inebriated with their own relationship with Jesus that they almost angrily tried to shoo Bartimaeus away. Never noticing his need, they said, "Leave the Master alone".
The individual in America is an emotional mess, with wounds and scars that alcohol, drugs and psychologists cannot heal. The Church is this person's only hope. However, in the traditional church setting, the individual is not always wholly ministered to. Many people have needs that cannot be completely met in the traditional church service. If a silent poll were taken in the average church, I believe we would be surprised to hear what some people would say concerning their personal, spiritual and emotional needs being met.
In the Home Friendship Group setting, the individual has an opportunity to not only be ministered to, but to minister to others. The Bible does tell us to "edify one another". A true family unit is developed when adult members share in the responsibility of preparing food for fellowship times, praying & worshiping together, caring for the children of the group, and hosting meetings in one another's homes.[ read more...]
Pastor Ray Johnson of the Denham Springs Pentecostal Church shares the characteristics of a growing church.
- There are specific, reasonable and attainable growth goals that have been developed. A pastor must see, believe it and work for it!
- There is powerful Bible-based preaching and teaching, anointed singing, vibrant worship, fervent praying, and generous giving.
- There is consistent visitation and follow-up on visitors.
- The pastor recognizes and releases the gifts and callings among the congregation. These gifts include the gifts of teachers, helpers, prophecy, exhortation, ruling, etc.
- The organization, coordination, and emphasis of the basic departments - Sunday School, Youth, Outreach, Music, New Convert Care - is always on soul-winning and discipleship.
Leadership is a complex issue in the 21st Century. Christian leaders at every level in business, church, school, and at home are faced with numerous challenges. A common feeling is that of being overwhelmed.
Christian leaders face difficulty and uncertainty every day. The world is changing rapidly. The political, economical, and social pressures are encroaching more and more into everyone’s daily lives. Although leaders face the same challenges as everyone else, they have the added burden of trying to have answers for others as well.
Ask Yourself a Few Simple Questions
As a leader:
· Who do you turn to for guidance, advice, and instruction?
· Who can you trust not only in their advice, but also in confidentiality?
· Who already knows what you need to know and is willing to share their knowledge with you?
· Who equips you to meet challenges when you do not yet know what tomorrow’s challenges even are yet?
· How do you know if you are lacking the skills required to lead and succeed in the 21st Century?
· Are other leaders outpacing you?
· Are you facing new and more complex challenges that you never faced before?
· Are you struggling with the challenge of developing leaders around you?
If so you need a mentor.[ read more...]
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...]
What does sustaining hope mean to you?
We live in a world of epidemic uncertainty from politics to the financial world. Even religious views and positions have taken changed dramatically in recent years. Ours is a world with changing opinions and attitudes about God and His church. How people thought about the church 20 years ago is much different than how their children feel about it today.
How does one stay resolute in Hope? Those who feel a call of God to preach His Word to this ever-changing world should guard themselves from the elements that would discourage or dissuade them from the call to "sustain hope."
Sustaining hope means being encouraged when everyone else is discouraged. It means keeping your head up and showing people faith even when situations look their darkest. But, how does one stay encouraged? How do they keep that positive mental attitude when life is hitting them the hardest?[ read more...]
All churches must learn to use their announcements as a tool to create anticipation and excitement for the future growth of the church, both short and long term.
Announcements are part of the 'marketing' campaign of the Church. Why is it that corporations will spend millions of dollars and months of planning on their 'announcing', yet we spend very little time and money concerning the marketing of our church and its events.
· Make sure to announce only those events that pertain to the entire body of the church.
· If you start announcing personal events, you are guaranteed to forget something or somebody along the way, and you will end up offending somebody.
· Personal events such as showers, weddings, etc. can be included in Church Bulletins, and Church Websites.
· Another easy way to announce personal events is to create a power point slide show of all of the upcoming events of the church including these personal events. This slide show can be shown before each service as part of a countdown, or simply as a media presentation before service.
· Announcements can also be used to create excitement for[ read more...]
- Pray! Pray! Pray! Pray for wisdom specifically and continually. Pray to the Lord of the Harvest for ministry helpers.
- Seek a God- given vision for growth and philosophy of ministry (core values) and continually communicate them to the church.
- Pray that God will help you identify a core group of people in your church that embrace your vision and core values of ministry and will begin to make positive change in the church.
- Start mentoring your core group. Continue to share the vision and ministry core values God has placed on your heart. Equip them (through one on one mentoring, seminars, video resources, books, etc.) Help them identify their spiritual gifts. Cheerlead them. Love them. Do everything you can to make them a success.
- Praise from the pulpit those who are reaching out. Be careful not to degrade others while you’re publicly identifying those who are making a difference.
- Utilize weekly letters in your church as a means to enhance communication, share your vision, encourage them to bring others to church, praise those who are making a difference, build excitement for Sunday’s services, etc.
- Reach out to members who haven’t come to church in a while. Complacency in the church may have infiltrated their home. It’s time to bring them back into the church.
- Seek ways to reach out to the community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Gradually begin to use visitation, mail-outs, door to door canvassing, advertising of a variety of sorts, special events, etc. to spread the name of Christ and the church throughout your area of ministry.
As you look through history, you find remnants of people who preached and believed the Apostolic doctrine. Whether in parts or in whole, the Acts 2:38 message has been found throughout history. Consider the countless, precious people who gave their lives in defense of the Apostolic message. People who suffered the death of martyrdom unnoticed. Praying saints who never did see their world come to Christ. Men and women who held on to the promises of God's Word, in a day and place when it would cost them their lives.
Being Pentecostal is popular today. Even a good Catholic friend of mine recently told me that their services are becoming more Charismatic. I'm not sure what he meant by that, but I guess he was trying to say, that they were embracing the Spirit of worshipfound in Pentecost.
However, time has a way of erasing things. The tide of generations coming and going, dull and even erase people, governments and religions. Why, if we didn't dig into the earth in the deserts, we wouldn't even know that some civilizations ever existed. Whole nations have been erased from the earth without anyone even noticing that they were there. People who were once proud and who ruled large kingdoms are only remembered in small bits of history if at all.
What will be said of our generation should the Lord tarry 500 more years? Now, I'm with most of you on this one. I believe the Lord is coming back very soon. However, we do not know this for sure. What will future generations remember about us? What will be in the history books of the future about us?
I don't believe there has ever been a brighter day for the Church. We are living on a planet with over 6 billion people living on it. If there ever was a day in which God wanted to give a great revival, I believe today is that day. However, we should ask ourselves, are we looking forward? Are we considering the effect of all that we are doing for the Lord, on future people. What will they say about us? Will they remember us?
Some time ago, I read a book about the Nazi concentration camps from World War II. The story was about a little Jewish girl who was too small to work for the Nazis, and had somehow escaped being shot for being too young. It was often their practice to kill someone if they could not work. So, this little girl lived her life through much of the war and many of the concentration camps.[ read more...]