Tag Archive | Jesus

The Lazarus Conspiracy

There was a buzz on the streets of Jerusalem as pilgrims flocked to the city for Passover. Rumors swirled that the Messiah could possibly be there. But those rumors were being fed by the fact that a man named Lazarus was there as well.

Yes… THAT Lazarus.

LazarusThe dead guy.

Word of the miraculous resurrection of this man from Bethany had already spread like wildfire. Just weeks before, Lazarus was lying dead in a tomb.

Stone. Cold. Dead.

When Jesus showed up, His presence did little to dissuade their sorrow. Even before He made it into the village proper, Lazarus’s sister Martha came out to meet Him.

“Lord, if You would have been here my brother would not have died”, Martha exclaimed, probably in mid-stride.

Mary, Lazarus’s other sister, waited until Jesus got to town before she fell at his feet, echoing the same exclamation of hopelessness. The display of genuine mourning moved Jesus, in spite of the fact that He knew what the outcome of the day would be. Although God, He was human as well, and subject to human emotions such as sorrow. Lazarus had been His friend, and although the irony of the moment was not lost on Him, He also was not immune to its emotion either.

“Remove the stone”, came the command from the Master upon arriving at the entrance to Lazarus’s tomb.

“But Lord… he’s been in there for four days! What about the stench???” inquired the always practical Martha.

Again with the doubting????

“Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” Jesus’ tone with His reply made them think better of asking any more questions. They rolled the stone away, and after lifting His eyes to the heavens in a brief prayer of thanksgiving to the Father, Jesus set His focus on the opening before Him.

“Lazarus! Come forth!” Jesus commanded into the darkness of the cave.

Moments later, a grave-linen-clad Lazarus appeared within sight of all who were gathered there.

Even in first-century Judea… news traveled fast.

Now Jesus is in Jerusalem, Lazarus is there, and the subsequent attention that both were attracting was not all positive. While the rumors of the Lazarus miracle had attracted the attention of certain Greek converts with a fired-up desire to see Jesus, the religious crowd had other plans.

Now a great many of the Jews knew that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus. ~ John 12:9-11

So… Lazarus has died, Jesus shows up four days later and raises him from the grave, the people are now flocking to Jesus in droves, and your big plan is to kill the guy Jesus just raised from the dead???

Really?!?!

Maybe if they had spent as much time studying the prophecies as they did in scheming and plotting, they would have realized what Jesus then revealed to these Greek converts — a traditionally scholarly bunch.

“The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. ~ John 12:23

In this statement was a huge paradigm-shift. Up until this point, Jesus had — on multiple occasions — declared the opposite; “My time has not fully come” was the reason given on more than one occasion and for more than one reason. But now He was declaring that His hour HAD come!

But what hour?

Jesus understood that the hour had come for the season to be realized.

While the priests were busy plotting against the diversion of the Lazarus conspiracy, every prophecy about Jesus was falling into place. All of the prophetic chess pieces were falling into place, and the Pharisees and chief priests were mere pawns.

The prophecy about His death was about to be fulfilled.

All of the typology of His passion was about to be understood.

The stranglehold that Satan had on the human race was about to be broken.

Jesus understood that His entire life had led up to this moment; the whip, the garden, the betrayal, the mocking, the crown of thorns, and the cross. His entire life on this earth had been a road to the cross. Before time began, God knew of humanity’s fall, and had His kingdom planned (Matt. 25:34), His people chosen (Eph. 1:4), His salvation finished (Heb. 4:3), and the cross and the redemptive blood of Christ planned (1 Pet. 18-20). As the saying goes… “it was over before it started.”

Jesus understood that the hour had come for the seed to be sown.

Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. ~ John 12:24

Jesus saw the giving of His life in harmony with the ancient principles of seed-time and harvest. He was not forfeiting His life. He was giving His life. It was not martyrdom but rather an investment. As Lord of Creation, He understood the Laws of the Harvest

You must sow to reap.
In order to get a harvest, you must first plant seed (John 3:14-15)

You reap what you sow.
Jesus sowed righteousness to release a resurrection life.

You reap after you sow.
Jesus knew what was coming, and knew what He had to do (Heb. 12:2).

You reap more than you sow.
Just as a single seed births an apple tree that produces thousands of apples, Jesus sowed His life, and reaped a new human race.

Jesus understood that the judgment being executed was not His execution.

Jesus knew going into His crucifixion that the real judgment was not the one handed down by Pontius Pilate, but was the two-fold judgment being sealed by His death on the cross.

Christ1Everything the human race was and is in Adam was judged on the cross. (Rom. 5:18)
Jesus knew that all of the history of mankind until that moment was being judged at that moment, and that, in three days, everything would be different.

Satan’s judgment was assured. (Col. 2:14-15)
Satan was “the prince of this world”. He was the cherubim over all the planet earth until his fall. In Eden, he tried to regain what he had forfeited. At the cross, his infernal plans were thwarted once and for all, and he was stripped of his authority.

Jesus understood the attraction of the cross.

And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”
This He said, signifying by what death He would die. ~ John 12:32-33

The cross was an ugly thing. It was one of the most diabolical methods of torture and death ever devised by men. All along, Jesus knew it was coming. Yet, because of Jesus death, that very cross — repulsive to the Jews and a cause of scandal to the Greeks — had a drawing and saving power no one can explain.

They still can’t.

 The cross is more than two ugly wooden timbers fastened together, or a piece of beautiful jewelry to be worn. The cross is the crossroads of human history — the focal point that every moment before pointed to, and every moment since is dependent upon.

You see, the Cross is:

 “of all times the turning point;
   of all history the crucial point;
   of all love the highest point;
   of all salvation the starting point;
   of all worship the central point.”

Fresh Oil Follow-up

 

Last week, we experienced an incredible outpouring of God’s presence at Fresh Oil New Wine 2017. From the speakers to the worship, every word was timely and anointed. Thank you to everyone who attended, spoke, sang, and ministered in even the tiniest way. We are forever grateful for your fellowship, and your faithful and sacrificial service.

Here are a few of the highlights from Fresh Oil New Wine 2017Enjoy!

Perry Stone

Matt Smith

Rabbi Curt Landry

Damon Thompson

Tony Valdes

Ron Phillips & Ronnie Phillips, Jr.

Randy Caldwell

Dwain Miller

Rise Up!

With all of the protests going on around our nation right now, it’s a mantra we hear every day…

RISE UP!

Rise up for this cause! Rise up for that offense! Rise up and be counted among the… well… the people who are being counted.

Allow me to invite you to RISE UP for another — more worthwhile —  reason…

RISE UP and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit!

When we allow the power of God to control our lives, He can accomplish more living and operating through us than we can ask or imagine.

This year, we celebrate 20 YEARS of our Fresh Oil New Wine Conference! It has been amazing to look back and see how God has operated through this event in lives and churches across the nation. Just to give you a couple of blasts from the past…

This is from our first Fresh Oil Conference, 1998…

Jack Taylor was our special guest on opening night in 2000…

John Kilpatrick brought a word in 2003…

This year’s conference promises to be a moment in time like no other…

Perry Stone, Damon Thompson, Rabbi Curt Landry, Randy Caldwell, Dwain Miller, Tony Valdes, and Matt Smith will be joining Pastor Ronnie Jr and I as we RISE UP to take hold of that for which Christ took hold of us!

I hope you will join us for Fresh Oil New Wine 2017! Registration is FREE, but we would like you to register so we know you are coming.

To register, go HERE.

fonw17_s1

See you at Fresh Oil New Wine 2017… RISE UP!!!

Faith for the Finale

Think about this…

Would you run a marathon — leading the entire way by a mile — only to sit down at the end, 5 feet short of the finish line?

Would you finish Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 2 in E minor with a pianissimo oboe solo?

Would you compete for an entire season — going undefeated for all of it — only to refuse to come out of the locker room for the championship game?

vince_lombardi_bart_starrFor many of us who are sports fans, we just witnessed a historic event. In Super Bowl LI, we watched as the New England Patriots — who were down by 25 points at halftime — came back to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy for the 5th time in a stunning overtime defeat of the Atlanta Falcons. Never before had a team overcome more than a 10-point deficit in the Super Bowl. Never before had “The Big Game” gone into overtime. When the New England Patriots came out of the locker room for the 3rd quarter, it looked like it was all but over. I had friends who actually turned off the game because it looked like such a blowout. “On to other things.” So what happened?

Well, one of the things that the commentators kept saying was “how young the Atlanta Falcons were”… How young they were…. How quick they were… How much older the Patriots were. Yet for all of their youth and exuberance, it seems that they lacked the one thing that the Patriots did have: Focus. During the second half, the Patriots stayed focused on winning. They stayed focused on the task at hand. They kept their eyes on the prize. Whether it was blown coverages or senseless penalties, the Atlanta Falcons went from a team hungry to win to a team trying not to lose. Somehow, they lost sight of the hard-fought lessons that got them to Houston. They had the motivation and energy to make it to the championship, but lacked the grit and determination to get them across the finish line.

The entire human race is running full-throttle toward the edge of eternity. So even though prophets, preachers, seers, and scholars have been discussing the Last Days  and The Day of the Lord for over 2,000 years, how should we live now.. today? What should our mindset be in 2017? Should we be filled with fear or faith?

Among the customs of some Native American people was a ritual of a young man passing into adulthood. He would be taken out into a place away from the community; he would then be blindfolded and left in that spot all night. He was not to remove the blindfold until the morning came and the sunlight began to shine through the blindfold. So all night, he was in that place, feeling alone and isolated… unsure of his surroundings and what potential threats waited for him, unseen because of the blindfold.

Well, I am sure you can imagine his surprise when, upon removing the blindfold at morning’s light, he found himself surrounded by his kinsmen — his father and uncles. Though he may have struggled with the fear of loneliness and the unknown, there was never a moment when he was not being watched over by his elders, who remained just out of reach and by his side the entire night.

Just like the young brave was never abandoned by those who loved him, so we are never abandoned by a loving Heavenly Father who never lets us out of His sight.

It is that unwavering attention to His children that allows us to run the race, and have Faith for the Finale.

At Abba’s House, I have just begun a series of messages by the same title…

Faith for the Finale.

I want to encourage you to join us, whether in person or online, as I take you through the steps and mindset that it takes to be an overcomer in adversarial times, and what YOU need to do in order to finish well the race set before you.

See you Sunday.

Pastor Ron

Snowblind!

White Mtns

It sounds dramatic and tragic… Snowblind! For those who live in areas that spend a vast majority of the winter covered in white, snowblindness can be a very real problem. I live in the south where winter almost started to show up this year, so unless you can get snowblindness from looking at pictures of Vermont or Switzerland, watching downhill skiing on television, or staring at a snowcone, I think I’m safe.

imageAccording to the website MedicineNet.com, snowblindness is a burning of the cornea by ultraviolet rays. Also known as photokeratitis, it is a temporary condition that “typically occurs at high altitudes on highly reflective snow fields or, less often, with a solar eclipse.” While it can be painful and unpleasant, resulting in temporary loss of vision, symptoms usually only last about 18 hours.

Here’s another interesting fact about snowblindness…

Did you know that God is snowblind?

That’s right! When it comes to the sins of those who have chosen to put their trust in Him, God is snowblind. In Isaiah, God said to His people…

“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool…” ~ Isaiah 1:18

In Psalms 51:7, the psalmist says this…

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Though our sins makes us filthy and reprehensible in the eyes of God, and separate us from His presence, Jesus came to give us life and take the guilt and shame of our sin upon Himself. For those of us who choose to accept the forgiveness that Jesus offers through faith in Him, God no longer looks at us and sees all of our sins, shortcomings, and failures…

He becomes “snowblind”… Blind to everything that kept us from a life with Him.

He now sees us as pure and clean, washed white as snow by the red blood of Jesus.

Want to learn more?  Watch here…

The Unknown Soldier

2014-01-28-1678Visiting Arlington National Cemetery is an experience I would recommend to any American citizen. Overlooking our nation’s capitol, Arlington is the final resting place for American heroes, patriots, presidents, and other notable figures throughout our history. Among those laid to rest in Arlington are Presidents Kennedy and Taft, Governor Earl Warren, astronaut Capt. Pete Conrad, explorer Robert Peary, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, and civil rights activist Medgar Evers.

For all of the statuary and solemnity that such a place exhibits and deserves, there is one grave that stands out as a place of reverence and respect…

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

2014-01-28-1701Established in 1921, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier  is the resting place of three unknown American soldiers… one from each of the wars; World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. While there had been one unknown from the Vietnam War, that body was later exhumed and identified through DNA as Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie. The Vietnam War crypt now remains vacant.

2014-01-28-1700Guarded non-stop since July 1, 1937, the sentinels guarding the tomb are committed to the respect and reverence a place of such hallowed distinction deserves. From their 8 hours of uniform preparation prior to every shift, to the precision of every movement, to their unwavering dedication in the face of heat, cold, and inclement weather, these soldiers dedicate their time of service to the physical and symbolic protection of the Tomb.

Inscribed in the face of the sarcophagus are these words…

Here rests in honored glory
An American Soldier
Known but to God

You may ask, “So why all of the pomp and ceremony? Why all of the attention to some soldiers who we don’t even know their identity?”

It is because those who established the Tomb, as well as those who dedicate their lives to guarding it, understand that just because a soldier’s name is not known does not make him any less worthy of respect and honor. They understand that bravery and dedication as a soldier of our nation deserves to be recognized and revered in the highest way, even if the rest of the world doesn’t know their name.

In the Bible, the apostle Paul said…

      But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. ~ I Corinthians 1:27-29

Maybe people consider you foolish because of what you believe. Maybe you are not the biggest or strongest warrior of the faith. Maybe you feel despised and even unknown. Maybe you do your task for the Kingdom in utter obscurity, pray in your quiet place, and live your life in quietness and peace.

You know what? You might not be a big deal (or even noticed) in the world, but God sees you. You might not be the one getting the recognition, but God is taking notice of your labors. You might not be getting cheers on this earth, but rest assured, you are receiving the applause of Heaven.

So take heart, you unknown soldier. Your labor is not in vain. Just remember…

The proud are opposed by God, but He gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).

Man may see your outward appearance, but God sees the attitude of your heart (I Samuel 16:7).

The mighty may inherit the battlefield, but the meek will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).

Carry on, unknown soldier… you are known to God — and that is all that matters.

A Tiny Fire.

America has long been a nuclear superpower on the world stage. Since the days of the Manhattan Project to our current time, the United States has possessed the capability for destruction on a scale incomprehensible to most people. And while such power becomes a deterrent to those who would do us harm, it also comes with great responsibility and peril to those who wield it.

For example…

titan-iiOn September 18, 1980, at approximately 6:00p.m., an Air Force PTS team (Propellant Transfer System) entered the Titan II Missile Complex 374-7 in Damascus, Arkansas. Their purpose for being there was to replace a small part on the missile. At about 6:25p.m., a two man team went into the missile silo to work on the missile.

Now, the Titan II missile was no small thing. As the name would indicate, the Titan II was enormous. In the documentary Command and Control (American Experience, PBS), Missile Combat Crew member Allan Childers described the sight…

“You couldn’t see the warhead from the bottom ’cause you were 8 stories down, and the cone of the warhead disappeared off in the distance.”

titan_ii_launchThe Titan II intercontinental ballistic missile stood approximately 7 stories high, weighed around 330,000 pounds (165 tons), and carried the most powerful and destructive weapon in the history of warfare in the United States (possibly the world); a nine-megaton thermonuclear warhead that had three-times the destructive capability of every bomb dropped by every army during World War II combined, including the two atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. This was a weapon with the capability to wipe out — not just a city — but a civilization.

As the crew began to work on the missile, the unthinkable happened. The socket they were using to remove the pressure cap disconnected from the wrench, and fell about 80 feet to the bottom of the missile silo. The eight-pound socket ricocheted off a thrust mount and struck the side of the missile, rupturing the fuel tank.

Over the next several hours, dozens of people across the military and defense department spectrum worked frantically to come up with a solution to keep the situation from turning into a nuclear disaster. During that time, over 14,000 gallons of rocket fuel continued to leak from the rocket into the silo.

In the early morning hours of September 19, tragedy struck.

nuke-4-b

While crews on site continued their work, the fuel ignited, and the missile complex exploded in a ball of fire seen for miles. About 21 personnel were seriously injured in the blast, and one PTS crew member, Senior Airman David Livingston, lost his life. Miraculously, the nuclear warhead itself did not detonate, and the destruction was confined to the immediate area of the missile silo and complex. The nuclear warhead was later located — still intact — in a nearby ditch, having been blown clear of the silo by the massive force of the explosion.

damascus-ar-2Now think about it. This catastrophe was caused because a small, eight-pound socket — something a minuscule fraction of the size of the missile — was accidentally dropped. And all it took then was for the tiniest spark to ignite the leaked fuel for the entire facility to turn into a deadly inferno.

This tragedy reminds me of the words of James…

   Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.

See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. ~ James 3:3-6

woman in depressionA tiny bit controls a thousand-pound horse. A tiny rudder steers a massive ship on the wild sea. Thousands of acres of forest can be set ablaze by an unattended campfire or a carelessly discarded cigarette butt.

In the same respect, the tongue is among the tiniest members of the body, but has the potential of an emotional “nuke”. Wars have been started because of words. Lives have been destroyed because of the power of the tongue. Marriages and friendships have been laid waste in the wake of destructive words.

James goes on to say…

With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh. ~ James 3:9-12

King Solomon put it this way…

The mouth of the righteous is a well of life,
But violence covers the mouth of the wicked. ~ Proverbs 10:11

GirlsWhether it is how you whisper to a child, speak to a friend, orate to a large gathering, or proclaim from the mountaintop through media… words have meaning. Words have consequences. Words can be a fountain of life, or a weapon of destruction. Words are more than just mindless blathering… they are the reflection of the deepest recesses of the heart. Jesus drove this point home when He said…

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. ~ Luke 6:45

nuke-1Maybe your words have already harmed another. Maybe, because of something you said, the elements are already in motion, counting down to an inevitable explosion. It’s not too late! Just as words of anger, jealousy, and malice can set the potential disaster into motion, words of forgiveness, healing, and contrition can avert that same disaster. It just takes the putting down of pride and the willingness to be the “bigger” person; to be righteous instead of “right”. It just takes putting on the mind of Christ, and being an agent of peace and unity instead of chaos.

Don’t wait until the little “dropped sockets” of life allow circumstances to build to critical mass. Let your words be a well of Life for someone else today.