Archive for the ‘ Bible ’ Category

VerseD: Isaiah 26:3

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

Isaiah 26:3, ESV

When the Maker of heaven and earth, the Judge of all Creation is on our side, we should have no reason fear.

And people will want the peace we have.

The Growing Need for Counseling Pastors

From the time I was a student in Seminary the Lord consistently brought people into my life who were in need of counseling. Though I did not realize it at the time, he had already prepared and called me to this important task of counseling ministry from a very young age. I have been in counseling ministry since 2006, but have been studying psychology and human behavior from childhood. 

I recall being about seven years old and observing an unhealthy relational interaction that kept recurring. This led me to ponder, and pray to the Lord about how to break that pattern, and replace it with a consistent healthy, loving, relational interaction, so I set out on a mission to find the answers to help people. Over time, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and with the support and wisdom of my parents, in particular, my mother, I sought to understand the root of each problem, and the motivation and perspectives that drive them.

By age ten I finally had the courage to intervene in the unhealthy interaction I had observed a couple years prior, and was determined to change it. Though my hope was to be conciliatory, at that point, I was looking only for change, and I remember thinking that it did not matter if the change was good or bad, but only that the pattern be broken. The next time I observed the unhealthy interaction, I spoke up and it made an impact. There was an immediate and noticeable difference, partly in the other parties, and partly in me, for this marked the first time my role was that of a counselor.

Since we, as Christians, recognize that God can and does immediately and completely heal people from all types of ailments, physical and mental, we must also recognize that this is more often the exception rather than the rule. The problem is when Christians who continue to struggle are told from well-meaning brothers and sisters in the Lord that they have not received God’s miraculous healing touch yet, because they lack faith, or need to pray more, or have some hidden sin in their life that they need to confess, etc. The fact is, that oftentimes when God chooses not to miraculously heal someone, it is because he wants them to work through the process of healing, which can and does bring great spiritual growth (See Cloud and Townsend How People Grow). That process of healing is wrought in the context of Christian Counseling.

With all that has transpired in the world over the course of a couple short years, I am seeing an exponentially greater number of people in need of counseling. This, unfortunately, has emphasized an underlying problem, that many pastors are not up to the task of counseling. There are as many reasons for this problem as there are possible solutions, but the fact remains that there is a great shortage of effective Christian Counselors.

The best solution for most churches to consider is hiring a Counseling Pastor, that is, someone who has extensive experience in Counseling Ministry and whose primary role on staff is as a Christian Counselor. In many churches this may be a dual role such as “Counseling and Teaching Pastor,” “Counseling and Discipleship Pastor,” “Pastor of Counseling and Spiritual Growth,” etc.

While this role may, at first glance, appear to be the job of the senior pastor, he may have neither the time nor the training necessary to deal with some of the more complex issues that come up in the counseling session. Christian Psychologist Larry Crabb makes an excellent point in his book Effective Biblical Counseling that counseling (like prophet and teacher, etc.) is a gift given to the church (Rom 12:8 Gk). Additionally, it is beneficial to have a pastor to whom people can go and confidentially confess their struggles without the threat of church discipline (with the obvious exception of extreme cases which would be handled in like manner in secular counseling) or feeling like every sermon will be directed at them. Counseling is kept strictly confidential and therefore compartmentalized for the sake of the dignity and growth of the client.

In conclusion, since it is incumbent upon the leadership to make sure the church is mentally and spiritually healthy, it is imperative to consider the need for the role of Counseling Pastor on your team, and to hire one who is both humble and competent.

Jesse Walker is an ordained pastor who is Christian Counselor.

He is the founder and lead counselor of Christian Counseling Ministries in Phoenix, AZ.

VerseD: Romans 10:9

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 10:9, ESV

The most foolish thing we can do is deny that Jesus lived, died, and rose again.

But if we truly believe this, we have an eternity of joy and peace with Him awaiting!

Sermon: John 7:37-53 – Divided by Water

I preached again! Once again, I was at Paulden Christian Fellowship to help out brother Paul while he is out of town.

As usual, these are my notes, not necessarily everything I said. (But I mostly stuck to it this time. )

John 7:37-53 – Divided by Water

Unexpected Divisions

Before beginning: What would you do if you heard that people were preaching passages that were never in the Bible? What if someone told you that there are parts of the Bible that never should have made it into our Bibles?
Worried?
Doubt?
Fear?
7:53-8:11 – Apparently these verses do not show up in the earliest Greek manuscripts of John. Does this mean Jesus never stopped the stoning of the adulterous woman? Did He never write in the sand and turn away murderous teachers trying to catch Jesus in His words and have Him arrested?
Sometimes this passage shows up earlier in chapter 7, or at the end of John, or even in Luke, when we look at the earliest manuscripts.
Should it not be there? Should we not preach it?
Apparently, Ambrose and Augustine (in the late 300’s into the 400’s) talked about people who removed it for making it look like Jesus condoned adultery. The earliest it is found in manuscripts though is at least 100 years after those men.
Short answer: no one is 100% sure about its origins, but most people use it. There are even indications it was a story about Jesus being told during the Apostles’ lives. It does not contradict anything in Scripture or about Christ’s character.
Yet, it causes divisions amongst those who are called Christians.
Likewise, Jesus caused similar divisions during His ministry on Earth.

Living Water

John 7:37-39 (ESV):
“On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

The last day of the feast of Booths/Tabernacles/Tents
(And the final day actually starts tomorrow night! Sept. 27-28, by our reckoning, so we are discussing this at about the same time it happened 2000 years ago!)

Jesus wanted as many people in Jerusalem as possible to go home hearing one final thought: that they need Him. So He shouted over the crowds.
This was a feast to remind the people of Israel of God rescuing their ancestors from slavery in Egypt and the 40 years in the wilderness.
Clearly, He is reminding everyone present of the two times Moses called water out of rocks. The Israelites complained about their thirst and need for water, so God sent them water flowing out of rocks.
“Living water” is a euphemism for flowing water. We are not as accustomed to thinking about it in our age of indoor plumbing, where we can go into our kitchens, bathrooms, and other rooms with sinks and washing machines and … other things with running water, and make water move.
Jesus is telling the people, “If you believe I am the Son of God who takes away the sins of the world, then faucet of God the Holy Spirit will turn on inside of you and flow through you.”
Sorry. Not just a faucet. I used to use the analogy that faith is like a stick of dynamite in a school toilet. It blows all the [crud] away and lets the water burst forth with gusto.
But what does Jesus say? It is a river. So, faith should be like Verde River flowing out of you. During a strong monsoon season. It SHOULD be overflowing and affecting everything around you.
And, naturally, this gets reactions from people.

Division

John 7:40-44 (ESV):
“When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This really is the Prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” So there was a division among the people over him. Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.”

“Is this the Prophet?”

Deuteronomy 18:15-19, ESV
“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.

They are already thinking of what Moses has done with water, so is this the One he said was coming?
But they get confused because they know a Messiah, a Christ, is coming. They know of the promise to David that his Descendant would rule forever. They know from Micah 6:8 that He would come from Bethlehem.
But do any of them know Jesus was born there?
We also know that many (if not most) people expected a Prophet – one who would restore proper worship – and a King – one who would rule with righteousness and expel those who do not properly worship. Two separate people.
They have plenty of examples. The two biggest: There was a king and a high priest throughout the time of the kingdom(s); Ezra and Nehemiah were a builder & defender and a priest, two who made sure everything was rebuilt and proper worship were restored.
They also may think of Moses who ruled over them (so to speak), yet his brother Aaron led the worship.
But we also know that Moses did both, Aaron serving more as a mouthpiece for his brother.
So, what do the people do? This is not the Messiah they expected. Some were obviously ready to follow, but some thought Jesus should be arrested and tried for leading people astray from God.
But no one touched Him. Instead, they are divided over their perceived expectations of their Lord.

Divisions Even in the Leadership

John 7:45-52:
“The officers (the Temple police, usually Levites who guarded the Temple gates and enforced Temple rules/laws – so usually priests who would know these) then came to the chief priests and Pharisees (the Sanhedrin – those who led the nation of Israel. Chief priests usually were related to the High Priest, which at this time meant the Roman-sympathetic Sadducees who denied the afterlife, as opposed to the Pharisees), who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man!” The Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived? Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.””

Now, maybe you remember from before (Pastor Paul’s message) the hypocrisy of the leadership. How do we see it here?
The Temple guards admit this Man has authority, but “have any of the Sanhedrin [authorities and Pharisees] believed?” Well, yes. There is Nicodemus there with them, whom along with chapter 3 we are told is a member of the Sanhedrin, a Pharisee. And he attempts to defend Christ by the very Law the others are saying none of the crowd understands.
You know: that crowd that was asking if this is the Prophet from the Law or the promised Messiah that is mentioned throughout “the Prophets” (the rest of the OT).
And their response: Think of Nathanael in chapter 1: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” In other words, “Are you one of those miscreants, too? Nothing came from Galilee!”
Except, the Pharisees should know that at least Jonah came from there. Possibly Elijah and Nahum, too. But just one is enough to prove them wrong.
They are purposefully dividing the people over their own expectations.
They are also probably divided over whether to let someone who could bring the wrath of Rome on them.
Which means they are dividing over who to be faithful to.

How the Water Divides

John 7:53:
“They went each to his own house.”

Everyone left at the end of the feast having heard and divided over Jesus’ words.
How has anything changed in the roughly 1500 years between Moses and Jesus?
“This Jesus could bring down the wrath of Rome on us! We should get rid of Him to stay where we are in relative comfort and safety.” Compared to …
“Why has Moses brought us out here to die. We should go back to the relative comfort and safety of Egypt!”
Deuteronomy 18:15: ““The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—”

Romans 1:21-22: “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools,”

What happened to the Egyptians after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea? They were drowned in the sea.
What happened to all the people who refused to listen to Noah when he built the Ark? They were drowned in the flood.
Do we believe God’s Word? Do we trust the Bible, or is it “just a book made by men?”
Do we believe that God’s Word, the Light that shines in the darkness, that is the the life and light of men, became flesh and dwelt among us; or was He “just a good teacher?”
Do we believe Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah, God come in the flesh to save us from our sins, or was He “just some dead dude?”
Do we believe in Him? Do we obey all He has commanded? Or are we content to do whatever we want?
Ancient Israel did the same thing. (Most repeated phrase in Judges: “They did what was right in their own eyes.” They did whatever they wanted.)
Are we wise in our own eyes? Or do we turn to the Wisdom of God who takes away the sins of the world?
We do the same thing today. 1500 years. 2000 years. 6000 years.
“There is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
We still assume we know better than God. We still squabble over what He really said.
“Did God really say …” (Genesis 3:1)
We divide over what we think God said instead of turning to Him first.

John 14:23-26:
“Jesus [said], “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

In Him, by the Holy Spirit, we know we have God’s love flowing in us. And the Holy Spirit, as He flows through us, reminds us the other things Jesus said: starting with obeying His commands.

What are His commands?

Matthew 22:37-39:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

And

John 13:34-35:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

And how do we love God, love others, and love each other, the Church?
We find the fruit of the Spirit flowing through us:

Galatians 5:22-23: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control,” which pushes us to point others to Christ.
For,

John 16:13-15: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

And as Matthew 5 reminds us, when we point others to Christ – when we point out their sin, according to God’s standard as found in the Bible, the words inspired by the Holy Spirit – it will divide them into those who glorify God (put their faith in Him) and those who revile Him and attack us.
The Holy Spirit is the water that divides. He divides us into the sheep and the goats, the faithful and faithless.
Many will claim to know truth, but if it does not align with God’s Word, it only divides us from God.
Many will claim to know truth, but if they deny the Words of Truth, it only divides us from God.
The Living Water – the Holy Spirit – divides us by forcing us to choose Christ or this world, to choose to share Truth or to compromise, to choose loving Him and this world through His Word and grace and love or loving ourselves more.
And choosing Him leads to such a desire to go deeper, to know more, to love more, that it can’t be stopped.
Sure, we’ll have times of trouble and even near-despair. He promised as much (John14:27), but also that He will help us:

2 Corinthians 4:8-15:
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.”

We cannot help but share Christ with the world, for His Spirit overflows from us as we seek Him daily.

Unity! Press on!

Do we come to church each weekend, hear some words said, and then go “each to his own house” without coming to a decision?
Or do we come to church, get invigorated with the Spirit through the preaching of the Word, and then carry that Word not only to our homes but to everyone else?

This is not a message to drag us down.

If you feel guilty, give that guilt to God. He has taken it on the cross!

Press on! Move forward!

Philippians 3:8-15: “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way”.

Philippians 4:4-9: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Do not divide over what God has said. Unite, in Christ, together, encouraging each other, and all the more as we see the Day of His return drawing near.

This Sunday at Church: Thank the Evangelists in your Church

The Domain for Truth

For this Sunday here’s what you can do: Thank the Evangelists in your Church.

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VerseD: Proverbs 17:28

Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.

Proverbs 17:28, ESV

“If you can’t say nuthin’ nice, don’t say nuthin’ at all.”

Sometimes, the best thing to say is nothing. It can be the most loving and intelligent thing to say so that no one gets hurt.

Including yourself.

VerseD: Matthew 6:33

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Matthew 6:33, ESV

God wants to provide for us, and He cares for each of us and provides for our needs. Most importantly, He offers us salvation when we seek Him.

VerseD: Psalm 34:8

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

Psalm 34:8, ESV

We who have come to know the goodness of God show our joy and hope to a lost and hurting world that may turn to that goodness.

VerseD: Psalm 34:19

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.

Psalm 34:19, ESV

God promises life is hard, especially for those of us who call on His name and proclaim His truth to a world that shuns Him.

But our faithful boldness may help convince them.

VerseD: Romans 12:12

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Romans 12:12, ESV

Show others the joy found in Christ in all circumstances, even being lovingly patient when attacked for our faith, praying continually.

This is one of the ways others see the Gospel.