Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Fresh Encounter – Consider Mary


The story of Jesus and the house of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus is found in two passages of scripture, Luke 10 and John 12.  Interestingly, Martha is seen doing the same thing in John 12 as she does in Luke 10, she is serving.  However, as previously noted, after the encounter of Luke 10 where she had a “Fresh Encounter” in the words of Jesus she served the crowd in John 12 with no complaining.  This is an important note for us today because we live in a “culture of complaining.”  Last week a Sunday School class was giving a report about their ministry outside of the ‘four-walls-of-the church’ and we heard that people complained.  Certainly, the world teaches us how to complain and we can be good learners!  However, a “Fresh Encounter” could well change you from being a chronic complainer to being focused on serving Jesus with a whole heart.
Also interesting is knowing that Mary is found in the same place doing the same thing as she did during the first encounter.  The only difference is that she raised her worship to another level.  As she knelt as His feet, she held in her hand a jar, a bottle, or a pound of expensive oil.  This container held the key to her future.  For you see a woman (in those days) was only valuable & attractive for marriage as she had assets to bring into a marriage.  This jar was worth almost a year’s wages.  This made her attractive.  When she poured the oil out on Jesus’ feet, she was in essence placing her future in the hands of Jesus.  She trusted Him with all she was and all she would ever be.  She didn’t use a little of the oil, or a half of the oil, or even just a part of the oil; she used it ALL on the feet of Jesus.
We have much to learn from Mary.  She teaches us about giving all to Jesus in our worship.  After Jesus affirmed her in Luke 10, her example in John 12 is nothing shy of stunningly committed, totally sold out, and completely “all in” for our Lord.  A Fresh Encounter causes that kind of devotion and commitment.  Even so, Lord Jesus come.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Fresh Encounter - Consider Martha



Walk into the home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus (we literally did last Sunday).  Each of these three experienced a “Fresh Encounter” with Jesus that ‘changed their lives!’  This is true of EVERYONE who has an “Encounter with Jesus.” 
Today, on this Tuesday before we gather for the weekend where we seek God for a “Fresh Encounter”, consider “Martha.”  She is known as a person of service.  She does much.  Every time the family needs something ‘done’, Martha is the girl.  She puts muscle and action to whatever is needed. 
She is like many today; to see a need or a task that needs doing is to respond, do, work, and act.  Such was the life of Martha in Luke 10. 
However again like so many, there is a dark side of Martha; she demands everyone do ‘like she does’ and if they don’t, she complains!  Martha might fit well in the 21st century culture because it would seem that we live in a “Culture of Complaining.”  Last Sunday evening in the service, as the S.O.S. class shared about their ministry we heard several stories which remind us of the complaining nature of this affluent culture.
As Jesus spoke to Martha in Luke 10, He revealed that the issue she was complaining about was not her real issue & that the greater service that she could give would be in service to him.  What a lesson for us to learn.
From HER “Fresh Encounter”, her service, actions, & life, were all raised to a new level.  Now, she no longer served, while judging others.  She no longer complained about what others ‘didn’t do.’  She no longer focused on the things of this world.  Her “Fresh Encounter” raised her eyes & heart toward Jesus.
What a lesson for each of us.  Let’s pray that as we come to this weekend, that our Lord will grant us a Fresh Encounter with Him that will change our focus, our motivation, our love, our service, and our very life!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Callings of Christ


Recently I read that a call from God was like a 'telephone' ringing, our Lord calls and we answer and listen.  When Jesus saw the four fishermen, his call was very simple.  All He said was, "Follow Me."  
While the call was indeed a simple call, the response was more difficult.  Peter and Andrew left their boats and nets, James and John left their "Father, boats, nets, and his hired help", and later on scripture recorded that Matthew left his lucrative accounting business (tax collecting).  Following Christ will always mean leaving 'something.'  While this is not a popular message and certainly one that is less than palatable, it is certain a scriptural part of the call of Christ.
His callings extend to every part of our lives.  He calls us to SALVATION - in other words to be saved.  This call, in and of itself, is a call to leave one life and take on another.  Following Christ means a change of our entire life and direction, a repentance from our past and a refocusing on His future for us.  Jesus Himself speaks of being 'reborn' into a new person.  This means that our new person is unlike the old person.  When we are born, we take on the characteristics of our parents.  Now I love my parents but they, like me, are incredibly flawed, selfish, and sinful.  Thus, I take on the characteristics they passed to me in my 'gene' pool.  When I am reborn into Christ, once again, I take on the characteristics of my parents.  This time, my spiritual parent is Christ who has no flaws.  The results are this: things I used to love I now hate,  things I used to do I no longer do, attitudes I used to harbor I no longer harbor, and the heart I used to have I no longer have.  You see, I have become like my father.  Becoming like my spiritual father is the process of sanctification.
SANCTIFICATION is generally the follow-up call to our initial salvation experience.  The Great Commission given by our Lord Jesus is to "Go and Make Disciples".  It stands to reason that it we are to "Make Disciples" we must first "BE Disciples."  It is through this process of learning to follow & live like Jesus that we become a disciple.  Our Lord sends us the Holy Spirit to work this process in us.  Candidly, we have become 'masters' at avoiding the discipleship process.  In the comfortable culture of the USA, we have embraced a 'no-commitment, no change' type of Christianity and it is killing the church.  Jesus didn't die to create a fan base, He died to make disciples.
Part of the process of becoming a disciple is responding to His call to "SERVICE."  No where in scripture is there a spiritual listed which goes by the name of 'sitting in a pew.'  The concept of 'sitting and soaking' is a fairly recent philosophy which, I believe, will be judged with harshly at the Judgment Seat.  Jesus reserved His harshest judgment for the 'unfruitful.'  Discovering, Developing, and Deploying our spiritual gifts is the 'minimum' we can do after all He has done for us.  Every believer has some kind of "God-designed" ministry for them.  He calls us and He gifts us and He expects our response.
When your spiritual phone starts ringing, pick it up, and report for duty.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Lessons From An Atheist



A couple of years ago I was in Mobile, Alabama, for the state Pastor’s Conference and was struck by the truth in a video presented by one of the speakers.  As an introduction to his message, one speaker used a clip from a man named Penn Jillette.  Admittedly I live a sheltered life so I had never heard of the magician team of “Penn and Tiller” nor did I realize who it was ‘on the screen’ when Penn’s name was mentioned and his face appeared.  Yet, the words this avowed atheist spoke still echoes in my soul
Penn told the story of a man, a “Gideon”, giving him, an atheist, a New Testament.  It seems that because of the way this Gideon presented himself; Penn was very affected by the meeting.   
First, the Gideon was very complimentary of the show and it was noted that this was stated in a truly authentic way. 
Next, the Gideon was very nice to Penn; a fact that Penn mentioned no less than twice.
Next, the Gideon looked Penn in the eye; this one truth was high on the list of the atheist.
Finally, when the Gideon walked away, this non-believer was impressed with his kindness, goodness, and his honest concern. 
Perhaps those who believe in Jesus and attempt to live like He desires could learn a few of the characteristics Jesus displayed in His earthly life from the words of this atheist.
The ‘take-way’ for me was Penn’s stunning words as he spoke about proselytizing.  I offer this question for all those who wear the name of Jesus, believe in Heaven and Hell, and eternity.
Penn said, “If you believe beyond a shadow of a doubt in eternity, heaven, hell, and Jesus; how much do you have to HATE someone NOT to tell them.”  He went on to say, “Just because it is socially awkward is no excuse for refusing to tell someone they are in danger.”
There is an old saying which goes, “Out of the mouth of babes.”  I submit “out of the mouth of non-believers.”

(Checkout Pastor Jerry’s web site @ www.jerrywatts.net )

Friday, April 05, 2013

The Touch of God


In the 26th chapter of 2 Chronicles is an intriguing and informative story about a King named Uzziah.  Uzziah was named King when he was only 16 years old and he reigned for 52 years.  Here’s the big news; Uzziah was blessed by God, enjoyed the touch of God on his life (and Kingdom) as well as was successful as long as he sought the Lord!  This was seemed to indicate that ‘when he no longer sought the Lord then he would no longer be blessed by God or be successful.’
The scripture gives a picture of Uzziah’s rise to power, his development of far-reaching power, and even his fall from power.  Because of his past victories, the power of his military, and the force of his power, Uzziah, slowly but surely, became someone who the Lord God would no longer bless.
As a young man and a rookie King, he surrounded himself with great counselors because he knew he needed help.  However, as the victories came and his successes became many, he became too strong for God to bless.  He was too strong on his own, so he no longer sought nor depended on the Lord.  Honestly, he probably felt like he could give God a break because he (Uzziah) could handle whatever came.
So King Uzziah decided that he could do the sacred work that only the priests was supposed to do.  His arrogance before God caused him to be confronted by dozens of ‘brave priest’ and his response was anger.  In fact, he became so angry (red faced) and refused to admit his ‘arrogance’ which caused to God send an affliction, a skin disease, which cause Uzziah to be removed from the Temple, be replaced as King, and be rejected by society.  His epitaph was not the victories he won, but the disease he carried.  His reaction to his God-given success was the cause of his demise.  It is a sad finish to a spectacular beginning.
Here are some things we learn from Uzziah; “When we stop seeking God, He does stop blessing us.”  “God’s judgment is severe.”  “When we put our fingerprint on something (anything), God will take His hand of it.”  “When we forget the God who blesses us, we will lose the touch of God on our life.”
In the decaying culture which we live, having the touch of God on our life, should be a top priority.


(Checkout Pastor Jerry’s web site @ www.jerrywatts.net)

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

The Real Need In this Nation



Our culture and country is in need.  A degree in finance is not required to recognize that we are in a financial crisis, nor is a degree in Law Enforcement is required to know we have a crime problem, nor is a degree is ethics required to clearly understand that the USA has a pervasive problem with ethics.  Yet, all of these stated problems are not the ‘root cause’ of the disintegration of this country, culture, and community.  Finance, crime, and ethics, are but symptoms of the true problem.  If we Americans can ‘man-up’ and ‘face-up’ to the real, deep-seated problem of our culture, then there is hope for the culture that we have come to know and love.  On the other hand, if we are unable to ‘face the music’ and seek the genuine answer, then we may not survive as a country and culture.  What’s required is a spiritual awakening which changes the cultural landscape.  Let me offer a thought from history.  Recently, I read the following paragraph:
On 21 September 1857 Jeremiah Lanphier, a businessman, began a series of prayer meetings in New York. By the beginning of 1858 the congregation was crowded, often with a majority of businessmen. Newspapers reported that over 6,000 were attending various prayer meetings in New York, and 6,000 in Pittsburgh. Daily prayer meetings were held in Washington, D.C. at 5 different times to accommodate the crowds. Other cities followed the pattern. Soon, a common mid-day sign on business premises read, “We will re-open at the close of the prayer meeting”.  It has been told that the courts had to cease hearing cases because there were no ‘cases to hear.’ 
Jeremiah 29:13 reads, “You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.”  The prophet was writing the words as Jehovah God spoke them.  These words follow the promise which God gave only 2 verses earlier (in verse 11). That promise was and is; ‘I know the plans I have for you, plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’
The same God who was present in the birth and blessing of this nation is the same sovereign God who today wants to restore this nation.  The real need for America is to believe Jeremiah 29:11 and to live Jeremiah 29:13.  As He often does, God calls on us, His crown creation, to respond.

(Checkout Pastor Jerry’s web site @ www.jerrywatts.net)

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

God in the House


Simon was a church leader.  He may have been a deacon, Sunday school teacher, or some other officer.  He had a party for all of his church leader friends.  The guest list was quite small.  But, as is recorded in Luke 7, Simon invited Jesus.   Simon is termed a Pharisee in the Bible.  The reason he and all his Pharisee friends wanted to have a quiet, intimate, and personal meal with Jesus is open for much discussion.  Did they want to get to know Jesus or were their motives less than honorable?  This is a question which has to be asked because it was the Pharisees who, only a short time later, were responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus.  But that story will have to wait because there’s a party going on and Jesus is the guest of honor!
When all of the invited guests arrived, things got a little interesting.  An uninvited woman came in and stood behind Jesus.  It seems she was known by the host because in his mind he called her a ‘sinner.’  Today, many think this woman was a prostitute.  So what was she there?  She came for no other reason than to see Jesus.  For you see, Jesus had a reputation for helping those who couldn’t seem to catch a break or help themselves so she just HAD to see Him.
Might I suggest that today, those who believe in Christ need to spend more time making sure that Jesus, through His Holy Spirit, is in the house.  If He’s in the house,
If He’s in the house, He been invited.  Years ago, I read that Billy Graham’s daughter said that, “God is a perfect gentleman.”  He only comes as an invited guest.
If He’s in the house, people know it.  This is a message for every church family who believes in God.  When you walk into a room where God’s presence is, you know it.
If He’s in the house, people will want to be there.   God wrote it into the DNA of man to desire to a relationship with his creator.  People want to be where God is.
If He’s in the house, lives are changed.  Can you imagine coming face to face with the creator of the universe and not being changed?  I can’t.  Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is peace, comfort, and Love.
  
(Checkout Pastor Jerry’s web site @ www.jerrywatts.net)

Monday, April 01, 2013

Singing in a Foreign Land

Before the modern times of ‘civility’, a country that was defeated in a war might well have their population removed from their homeland and carried to the foreign land that had won the war.  The people who were relocated would become slaves of their captors. 
Such was the case with the Jewish nation as recorded in scripture.  In 722BC, the Northern Nation of Israel was captured by the Assyrians under Sargon and around 586BC; the Southern land of Judah was captured by the Babylonian under Nebuchadnezzar.  Many of the people who were taken into captivity were never heard from again.  They were lost to either genocide or cultural absorption.
After almost 70 years in Babylon, the people of God were getting homesick.  From an unnamed writer we read a report in Psalms 137 of how these people felt.  It reads, “By the waters of Babylon, we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion. There we hung our harp on a willow tree, for our captors there ask us for songs and our tormentors, for rejoicing saying, Zion.”  How can we sing the Lord’s song on foreign soil?”
Consider some of the things in your life which can take the form of a ‘strange land.’
First, it could be a foreign country.  I have never desired to be a world traveler because I don’t know the laws & customs in the other countries.  My fear is that I would go and break some custom and wind up in a hole in the ground for the rest of my life.  It’s difficult to sing in a place like that.
Next, it can be this nation.  Candidly, I LOVE the USA!  That said, this country is quickly becoming a strange place.  The country which I have known valued the lives of little children, understood the meaning of morality, and believed in absolute truth.  Today, those standards are all but gone.  It’s difficult to sing in a place like that.
While there are many other ‘foreign lands’ we could name, here is a question for our consideration; “Will we hang our harps on a tree and not sing?” or “Will we reclaim the songs of Zion and let the world hear that God is still love and Jesus is still alive?” 
Let those who have a relationship with God pick up our guitars and sing our songs of joy – even in a strange land.  It could well make a difference.


(Checkout Pastor Jerry’s web site @ www.jerrywatts.net)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Super Sunday #3


Super Sunday!!  The word evokes a vision of ‘football’, ‘championship’, and all the trimmings.  Yet, Creation Sunday and Resurrection Sunday are two of the “SUPEREST” Sundays in human history.  There is one more Super Sunday to consider.  Think about it this way;
If your house were to catch on fire in the middle of the night and you awakened to discover that your only exit route was blocked by a raging inferno and the heat was so intense that your skin began to blister and you noticed your closet was momentarily safe from this inferno - so you entered the closet closing the door behind you.  Candidly, whether from the fire or smoke inhalation, your fate would be sealed and you would soon recognize your dilemma.  To continue this horrendous picture, think about the possibility of this difficult demise.
Now, all of a sudden the closet door swings open and you are rescued by a brave fireman in protective gear. You have now been rescued from certain death.  Do you think this day would be forever etched in your memory?  Would you remember the day, the situation, and the circumstances of your life being saved?  I think so.  That fireman would forever be your savior and your salvation.
The third SUPER SUNDAY is SALVATION SUNDAY, but it’s not from a temporary house fire.  The Bible tells us that, at just the right time, God sent Jesus to save us from our sin.  Another place in scripture reminds us that God love us so much that He sent His ONE AND ONLY SON that we might have eternal life.  Salvation Sunday is indeed a Super Sunday.  Here are a few of the things which happen; we are forgiven of our sin, saved from our sin, establish a relationship with God through His Son, Jesus, rescued from the place the Bible terms “hell”, and we are given an eternal home in heaven. 
I dare say that when so many good things happen on one day to one person, it is a SUPER SUNDAY.  Quite likely, the best Sunday of all!

 (Checkout Pastor Jerry’s web site @ www.jerrywatts.net)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Super Sunday (Pt 2)


Although I lost interest in the Super Bowl this year, one must admit that Super Bowl Sunday always evokes much hype, interest, and money.  Many call this Super Sunday.
Can you really imagine the atmosphere surrounding that first “Super Sunday” which I submit to be “Creation Sunday.”  God said, “Let there be”—and there was!  Genesis 1 goes on to reveal that on the 6th day, “God created man.”  Here is the best news; God created man in HIS OWN IMAGE, blew into man the BREATH OF LIFE, and MAN BECAME A LIVING SOUL.  Mankind was different from the animals God had created because man has a soul, a mind, and the ability to commune with God.
God’s creation was so perfect that He announced it “GOOD”.  Yet, in mankind God gave the ability to make a ‘decision.’  Adam and Eve could either “follow God wisdom through obedience” or “follow their own wisdom through disobedience.”  Sadly, they chose the latter by breaking the one rule God had given them.  In so doing, they became afraid of God as a disobedient child is afraid of their parents.  When God saw their sin, He killed animals created earlier that day making clothes from the skin of those animals in order to cover their nakedness (which symbolizes their sin). 
The dye was cast.  It would take death and blood to cover sin. 
Jesus came to earth for purpose of becoming that sacrificial lamb for all sin.  He lived a perfect life and died the death of a sinner on the cross.  Crucifixion day was a dark day for those who loved Jesus.  And had Jesus remained in the grave, there would be no hope for mankind to have sin forgiven and reconnect with their creator. 
Three days after the crucifixion is the second SUPER SUNDAY!!  It is RESURRECTION DAY!!  Death could not hold Him, the grave could not keep Him from rising again, and in HIS resurrection is the promise that you and I can find forgives, hope, help, and security. 
Here’s a secret; ‘there is more historical evidence for the resurrection of Christ than there are for most World Wars!!’  Because He lives, WE CAN LIVE!  Now that is a Super Sunday worth knowing an d talking about!


(Checkout Pastor Jerry’s web site @ www.jerrywatts.net)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

SUPER SUNDAYS (Pt 1)


The Packers did it again on February 6, 2011, the WON THE SUPER BOWL.  (Actually, I lost interest that year after the Saints went down.  That’s my confession for the day).
Each year, Super Bowl Sunday is a day of high energy, high publicity, and in some cases, high drama.  But whatever the day happens to bring, millions upon millions of people are glued to this event and publicists have a field day with high price ads.  Because of the ‘hype’, all are drawn into the “Super Sunday” frenzy.
However, I submit there are, at least, three days in history and life that eclipse this special day.
First is “Creation Sunday”.  This is the day that God began to work on His divine idea of creation.  His first creation was not mankind or sky or earth, it was light.  He said, “Let there be” and there was.  We should make a note that He didn’t have to ‘create darkness’ because darkness has always been and always will be.  Darkness is the absence of light and before God created light, ‘darkness covered it all.”  On creation Sunday, God overcame darkness with light and began the week of creation which culminated in the creation of mankind. 
The creation of man was God’s “Crown Creation”.  It was into man that God ‘blew the breath of life and man became a living soul.’  This living soul means that God gave mankind a cognitive ability which exceeded any of the animals previously created and the man would have an eternal existence with God Himself.  Basically, God created mankind for fellowship and friendship which is demonstrated by God ‘walking is Adam in the cool of the day.’ 
That first SUPER SUNDAY stands apart in history as the “Day God began something special” and it began only with “Let there be light.” 
When I read the Genesis 1 passage, I never ceased to be reminded of how the darkness had settled over my life and yet, God ‘hovered’ over that darkness until the day through Christ Jesus, God lifted the darkness shined the light of the world on me.  In this divine act, just like creation Sunday, God created a new me!  That is, was, and ever shall be, a real SUPER SUNDAY. 


(Checkout Pastor Jerry’s web site @ www.jerrywatts.net)

What Should I Become


The old adage says, “You never stop learning & growing until you’re in the ground.”  As true as that may be, by our human nature we are sometimes tempted to get a bit complacent with ‘who we are’ and ‘what we are’ which results in a comfortable but stagnant life.  Yes, we get through life but somehow the passion just leaves us.  Arguably, our rationale is our age has stolen our passion when, in fact, our lack of passion comes from our lack of growing and reaching our potential. 
Please consider three qualities or attributes which point us in the direction that the Bible teaches us to go.
First, become an encourager.  This world, country, and culture need encouragers in a big way.  Quite honestly, were it left to me; I would put out the word that there exists no openings in this society for criticizers.  (All those positions seem to be taken - GRIN).  Becoming an encourager will change the environment in which you live.  People will respond differently to you, and it will be a good change!
Next, become a promoter of unity.  It is interesting that while in the garden of Gethsemane praying, knowing that the cross was coming in less than 36 hours, Jesus prayed, John 17, for His followers to be unified.  Frequently, I apologize to the teenagers in our services for the world we are leaving them.  It doesn’t seem than any segment of this society is healthy.  Morals, ethics, and financials, are but a few of the problems which plague our society.  But I wonder if those of us who are followers of Christ owe an apology to our culture because of the disunity which is seen in many congregations.  Jesus wanted us to be unity in Him; this was to be our mark of being His.
Finally, become a purveyor of grace.  Grace defined is ‘receiving what you do not deserve’, while mercy is defined as ‘not receiving what you do deserve.’  Each day we are presented with opportunities to extend ‘grace.’   I submit it is easier to extend grace when we have been the recipient of God’s grace.  Here’s how it works; God pour out His grace on His child, who extends grace to someone who needs it, and then God (who never runs out of grace), pours more grace on us.  We become a conduit of God’s grace.  And that is exactly what God desires for us to become.


(Checkout Pastor Jerry’s web site @ www.jerrywatts.net)

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Rule Book



It would seem that in the last years we have enjoyed one of the best ‘competitive’ times in all college football history.  Football, at any level, would not be possible without a ‘rule book.’  While the rules (and the man in the striped shirts) sometimes get on the nerves of the us ‘fans’, we all agree that a game with ‘rules’ is more fun and productive than the anarchy which would prevail with no rules.
This thought has caused me to think about the game “of life” and the rule book for life.  The Bible says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”  I suggest that if God has inspired a book that is good for ‘teaching, training, correcting, and even rebuking, then perhaps that is, indeed, THE RULE BOOK for life.
Many would claim that the Bible IS their rule book and that they base their lives on the principles of the Bible.  If that is the case, consider a couple of thoughts;
If the Bible is you guide (rule) book, then how exactly does it affect your daily life?
Does it affect how you talk?  The Bible says, “Be quick to hear and slow to speak” as well as “Let your conversation be seasoned with grace.”  During this past week has your conversation measured up to this Biblical truth? 
Does the Bible affect your attitude?  The Bibles says, “Have the same mind as Christ.” I never ceased to be amazed at ungodly attitudes.  Nothing is as unattractive as an attitude which is self-serving, self-centered, or just plain selfish.  One of the tenets of God’s word is selflessness. 
Controlling our words and attitudes are only two principles found in THE RULE BOOK.  Sadly, many are attempting to change the rules today.  The results are many.  One is seen in the continual disintegration of this nation. 
If we would learn from God’s word, ‘put on the mind’ and attitude of Christ what would follow would be a total transformation of our conversations.  The results would be a far-reaching cultural change, would begin with one person, and that person could be you.


(Checkout Pastor Jerry’s web site @ www.jerrywatts.net)

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