Tag Archive | Mary

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.”

Glory in the Highest!

KS12499

     And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

     Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

     Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

     And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

     “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” 

KS12494So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

From my family to yours…

Merry Christmas!

Where Does Your Worship Come From?

Today, I want to start by asking a question: Where does your worship come from?

iTunes. Wal-Mart. CD Baby. LifeWay.”

No… Not where do you buy worship music…

“Oh… Hillsong United, Chris Tomlin, Kari Jobe.”

No… Not who is your favorite artist, or composer of your favorite song. I am asking where does your worship come from?

YOUR. Worship.

WorshipWe have long been a culture of labels and titles – worship is no exception. We have the part in the church service we call worship. We have a style of music we call worship. We have made worship more than a conversation or attitude… it has become an industry.

Now, understand that I am not casting aspersions; I am simply asking a question. When you strip away all of the trappings of how we view worship — the music, the sound, the lights, the crowds — and get back to the “heart of worship” (as Matt Redman once said in song), where does your worship come from?

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For He is our God,
And we are the people of His pasture,
And the sheep of His hand. ~ Psalm 95:6-7

Webster’s defines worship as extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem.

The Greek word for worship is proskuneó ( προσκυνέω ), meaning, to kiss toward.

In his book, Real Worship,  Warren Wiersbe defines worship as “the believer’s response of all that they are – mind, emotions, will, body – to what God is and says and does“.

So, again with the question… where does YOUR worship come from?

You worship could be prompted by a victory God has brought about in your life. Take Moses for example…

“… I will sing to the Lord,
For He has triumphed gloriously!
The horse and its rider
He has thrown into the sea!
The Lord is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation;
He is my God, and I will praise Him;
My father’s God, and I will exalt Him. ~ Exodus 15:1-2

This is the song of worship that Moses and the children of Israel lifted up to the Lord when, against impossible odds, they were delivered from Pharaoh and the army of Egypt, when God showed His supernatural might against the enemies of His people.

What about David?

O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise. ~ Psalm 51:15-17

Samuel anointing DavidDavid’s worship came from a variety of places throughout His life, but from few places as dark as this. David had committed adultery with Bathsheba, arranged for her husband Uriah to be killed in battle, then took the pregnant Bathsheba to be his own wife. However, the sin he sought to cover was laid bare when the prophet Nathan showed up and called David out for his sin. Yet, instead of dodging, denying, or blaming anyone else, David immediately owned his sin, and sought forgiveness and redemption. He understood that his sin was a barrier between he and a holy God, and sought the path back into his presence.

Mary…

  Annunciation     …was a teenage girl when she was visited by the angel Gabriel with the good news that she had been chosen to be the mother to the Son of God. Although this news was joyous beyond belief, I cannot help but imagine that Mary also was aware of the societal ramifications of her state: I think the Bible hints at this when it says that her fiancé Joseph wanted to “put her away quietly”. Yet, in spite of any potential negative reactions from those around her, Mary’s worship was unhindered and with abandon to the One who chose her to carry and care for the Savior of the world…


…“My soul magnifies the Lord,

And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.
And His mercy is on those who fear Him
From generation to generation…” ~ Luke 1:46-50

God had called Gideon…

   …to a seemingly impossible task. He and three hundred men, armed with pitchers, torches, and trumpets were going to take on the well-armed army of the Midianites. Gideon had tested God, and God had shown Himself faithful. As a final sign, God told Gideon to sneak into the camp of the enemy. When he did, he overheard a man telling his dream to another man, prophesying the defeat of their army at the hands of Gideon. Judges 7:15 says…

And so it was, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, that he worshiped.

Gideon believed in the promise God had given him. Though he had not seen the victory with his own eyes, Gideon believed in the word of the Lord, and chose to worship in advance of that victory. It was worship inspired by faith.

Horatio Spafford was a successful lawyer and businessman…

   …when the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed his businesses and ruined him financially. When the economy crashed two years later, he endured additional hardships. Planning on traveling to Europe with his family, business issues caused him to send his family on ahead, and he would later join them. Tragically, the ship carrying his family collided with another ship during the voyage, and all four of his daughters were claimed by the sea. On his own journey across the Atlantic, upon crossing the very spot his children had died, Mr. Spafford penned these words from the deepest places of sorrow…

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know,a
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
A song in the night, oh my soul!

At the beginning of this blog, I asked the question:
Where does your worship come from?

I guess a better way to phrase it would be “What inspires you to worship?” What is it that makes you drop to your knees in reverence, desperation, and humility before a Holy God? What events in your life have pointed you to His goodness and grace? Honestly, for all of us as humans, we all have those things that strike a nerve, and for everyone, that thing is different. Some are inspired to worship through victory. Others are driven to worship through desperation. Joy, sorrow, grief, confusion, ecstacy — these are all powerful emotions, and equally powerful motivators. Yet regardless of what motivates us, our worship should share a common thread…

That God alone is worthy to be praised.

That He is the Great I AM – Who was, and is, and is to come.

That only He is holy.

That no one compares to His matchless worth and worthiness.

That, as Matt Redman penned, “It’s all about You, Jesus.”

We live in a fallen world, and we are all on different paths, some more triumphant, and some more tragic. Yet, God never changes. He is the constant and consistent One. And from His throne, He doesn’t demand… He invites. He invites you into His presence to worship Him — in spirit and truth. He invites you to release the song He has put into your inmost being. It’s not the song others sing… it’s the one He gave you. It’s the song that reflects YOUR adoration and YOUR devotion to Him. It is the song specific to who He made you to be. It’s no better and no worse than the song He gave to anyone else — it is simply, uniquely YOURS.

And guess what? He wants to hear it.

But all of our songs of worship have one thing in common… Jesus.

When we will learn to make worship our first response to all of the circumstances of life, and make it a chorus instead of a competition, I believe we will find the grace, peace, joy, and unity that God intended for us to walk in on this journey.

Now… go find your song.  🙂

I Want To Be Like…

Any of you that watch my program are familiar with my co-host, Angie McGregor. Along with being on Ron Phillips from Abba’s House, and being the Executive Director of Communications for Ron Phillips Ministries, Angie is also a very talented worship leader, songwriter, speaker, and…

Blogger.

Angie CUAngie recently began her own blog called Real Life. I encourage all of you who follow mine to follow hers as well. She writes things from her own life experience, with deep spiritual meaning woven throughout her words. It’s really good stuff! To visit (and follow) her blog, go to…

http://www.angiemcgregor.com

This is one of her recent posts that I read and, with her permission, wanted to share with you today. I hope you enjoy it! Now, without further ado, I give you my friend…

Angie McGregor.

I Want To Be Like Mary

“She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.”  Luke‬ ‭10‬:‭39‬ NKJV

There’s nothing like a perfect dinner party or family event. Unfortunately, there are many times I have missed the fun because I was trying to get everything ready! If you have the gift of hospitality you always want things to be right. You want the house to look right, the food to taste good, the porch to be swept clean and the plan well organized. It is a lot of hard work! And often times, the work continues after the guests arrive.

Looking back across the years I realize there have been many moments when I had to ask for the conversation to be repeated when something really funny or really important or really beautiful happened. Why? Because I was working in the kitchen.

Everyone thanks you for a great meal and lovely evening. They leave. You realize that you missed it!

In the Bible there is a story about two sisters, Mary and Martha, who were having a dinner party. They had invited a special friend over to the house. This guest was one that they had welcomed to their home before and everyone wanted to sit and listen when he came to visit. His words were insightful, instructive, encouraging and filling. Jesus was their special guest.

For Mary and Martha it was very important to have everything right for Him. They wanted the house to be swept, the furniture in order a good place for him to sit as he enjoyed time in their home. I imagine they had a room prepared with fresh linens and a water pitcher by the bed so that he would be comfortable in the night if He stayed as their guest.

Martha had plenty of food cooking on the stove and fresh bread baking in the oven becauseBread she wanted to provide a special feast for this Man who had given her so very, very much. When He arrived, everyone was excited and they all gathered in the family room and sat down to spend time with Jesus…everyone but Martha, who was tending to food.

Mary and the other guests listened to Jesus talk about where He had been and about all that miracles that had taken place during His travels. He probably told them about the people who had been changed along the way. And then He began to teach them.

From the kitchen, Martha could hear Jesus teaching in the other room but she couldn’t leave the stove. The bread would burn! And then I imagine that she started to think about her sister sitting at Jesus’ feet.  And she began to feel left out and unhappy with her sister, who was not carrying her part of the load!

After all, she was working really hard for her Lord preparing this meal, making sure everything she was doing would please him. I can imagine her finally saying to herself, “Enough is enough! I’m going to go tell Jesus to send my sister in to help me!”

So she goes into the other room where everyone is gathered and she interrupts Jesus, “Master won’t you tell my sister to get up and come and help me make this meal? I shouldn’t have to do all of the work while she sits here and does nothing!”

Jesus replies in a way that’s really difficult to accept if you are someone who has the spiritual gift of hospitality or service. Jesus says to this hard working friend, “What you’re doing is not important right now. The most important thing to do is what Mary is doing — sitting here at my feet and letting me teach her.”

I know that is hard to swallow for those of us who have spent our lives working hard for Jesus. Having been a staff member at a church for 25 years I certainly understand the importance of hard work in serving Christ. But if I look back over my life and even more than the conversations I have missed during dinner parties in my home, I have probably missed some incredible moments with Christ because I worked myself ragged “doing” while the Savior was sitting in the living room of my heart ready to speak to me. All the while I was in the church doing, or in the laundry room washing or in bedroom sleeping because I was so exhausted from all of my service for Him in the kitchen.

So which one are you– Mary or Martha?

Jesus is sitting in residence today in the living room of your heart. He has so much to share with you! Let me encourage you to find the balance between the two. If you say proudly,”I’m Mary”, please don’t leave all the work to someone else! Do your share so Martha isn’t so exhausted all the time and grumbling because she’s missing out.

If you’ll do your part Mary, Martha will be ready to sit down with Jesus when He shows up at the house!

Martha, if there is too much work to be done and no one else will do it, you have to come to a place in your life where you will stop and sit down at the feet of Jesus for the well-being of your soul and the strength of your mind, heart and emotions. Sit at his feet; listen to His voice and learn from Him while He is near. Jesus told Martha that Mary had made the better choice by sitting down at His feet to learn from Him. Why do you need to be still at times?

So you can be equipped by Jesus to teach your children. So you can serve effectively in the community. So that you will want to be in the house of God. So you’re a better spouse. Better parent. Better friend. Better child. Better employee. Better manager.

I want to be like Mary because too often I find myself in the kitchen like Martha…working.

One more very important thing to note, both women had a personal relationship with Jesus. But all of Martha’s doing didn’t gain her more favor with Jesus than Mary did in her stillness.

We must be about the work of Christ. But doing the work of Christ will not save us. I want to be like Mary. How about you? Have you found the balance in your life?  Pray this prayer with me: Dear Jesus, help me sit at your feet and learn from you so I can daily serve you and others with power, wisdom, love and grace. In Jesus’ name. Amen

On Mary’s Lap

What promises have been made to you in your lifetime?

If you are like me… many. Some were kept, some were broken, but many were made.

Now, what if the promise was something that was so outrageous you thought, “There is just NO WAY that can happen?”

For a young girl named Mary, her situation seemed pretty unbelievable. Yet the promise of the Messiah – THE Promise of the ages – was about to come to pass, and she had gotten the message from an angel that she had been chosen to be the vessel by which the Messiah would enter the world.

She… a teenage virgin.

Exactly!

Mary had made the choice to remain pure, and this was the ultimate reward. The prophesy stated that the Messiah would be born to a virgin, and her decision to remain sexually pure made her a candidate. And while some of her other qualifications (being born of the line of David, etc) were things beyond her control, the choice to remain a virgin was uniquely hers.

Now, being the earthly mother to the Son of God would not be without challenges, many of which were probably not apparent at the time to this teenage girl. But in the months and years to come, she would suffer the ridicule of being pregnant as a teen, have to make the 60 mile journey to Bethlehem, give birth in a stable, then have to flee to Egypt to protect her child from the blind rage of Herod. Furthermore, it is fairly apparent from history that Joseph died, leaving Mary to care for their family. Then add to that the fact that Mary had to stand by and watch helplessly as her Son was beaten, tortured, and crucified. Honestly, I don’t know how many of us could stand that kind of grief.

Yet, Mary never wavered from her original assessment — the words she spoke to the angel when he first delivered the joyous news…

Be it unto me according to your word.

Some would argue that some of our liturgical friends have “made too much” of Mary. Well, if this is true, I would venture to say that the evangelical church has made too little of her. We find in Mary a woman of amazing resolve and grace, a servant -hero of the faith.

Throughout December, I will be preaching a series entitled, “What Child Is This?” This week (8th), I will be talking about Mary… who she was, what she did, and what she means to us as 21st century believers… On Mary’s Lap.

I hope you will join me, in person or online.