The Winning Side

Psalm 110 1

FREE THEME – Psalms

This week we are looking at seven different types of psalms.  Yesterday we looked at a wisdom psalm.  Today we are looking at a royal psalm.

The Psalms were written at a time and in a culture where kings ruled.  Israel was governed by either David or his heir.  David was hand chosen by God to be God’s anointed king.  They literally poured oil over the king’s head and face to symbolize being anointed by God to rule.  This anointed one was literally the Messiah or messianic/anointed king.  When God set David apart as king God promised him that his heir would rule over God’s people forever.  This rule would begin at Jerusalem or Zion but would extend ultimately over all the earth.

Psalm 110 is a promise that the anointed king would rule, that God would give him victory over God’s enemies.

Vs. 4 makes a curious statement- this king will also be a priest, but not the typical priest.  In Israel, to serve as priest in the temple one had to be a descendant of the tribe of Levi.  But David and his family were descendants from the tribe of Judah, which was the ruling tribe.  This descendant of David would be a different kind of priest.  Just as Melchizedek was a priest in the time of Abraham, long before Levi was ever  born, this kind of priesthood was a greater kind of priest than the Levitical priest.

All of this finally makes sense when we understand how Jesus fits into the picture.  Jesus is the fulfillment of this psalm.  He is an heir of David, he will rule as King, he is also a priest but not in the temple of Jerusalem.   As a priest he offers up his own body as a sacrifice to God.  He doesn’t enter the holy of holies in the Temple of Jerusalem, he ascends to the heavens and enters into the immediate presence of God, where he continues to serve as our priest, until the day comes when he returns to the earth to rule over all the earth following the final battle when the kingdoms and kings of the earth will all bow before Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  This royal psalm points us to Jesus.

Everyone wants to be on the winning side.  This reminds us that if we choose to follow Jesus and give our lives to Jesus, we will be on the winning side at the last battle.

Psalm 110

Of David. A psalm.

The Lord says to my lord:

“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.”

The Lord will extend your mighty scepter from Zion, saying,
“Rule in the midst of your enemies!”
Your troops will be willing
on your day of battle.
Arrayed in holy splendor,
your young men will come to you
like dew from the morning’s womb.

The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind:
“You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek.”

The Lord is at your right hand;
he will crush kings on the day of his wrath.
He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead
and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.
He will drink from a brook along the way,
and so he will lift his head high.

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Stake Your Life on This

John 11

John 11 25

In John 11, Jesus received word that his dear friend was very sick, and yet Jesus stayed where he was for two more days before heading to Bethany, where Lazarus was.  When he finally got there, Lazarus had been dead for four days.

Martha, Lazarus’ sister came out to meet with Jesus, and we have a record of their incredible conversation.

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

I love these incredible statements of faith:  If Jesus had only been there, he could have healed Lazarus.  Even now, God would give Jesus anything Jesus asked.  “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”  “I believe you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”

No wonder Jesus loved this family.  They were devout followers of Christ with amazing faith.

You know the rest of the story.  Jesus told them to roll away the stone.  Martha said basically, “he’s going to stink, he’s been dead four days.”

40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

Then Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.”  And the dead man came out!

Many people believed in Jesus because of this miracle.  But not everyone believed. The Pharisees’ response was, “If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him…” and they plotted to kill him.

How is it possible to have such diametrically opposed reactions?  Unfortunately, we see a similar range of reactions to Jesus today, from faithful devotion to hostility.

I don’t know about you, but I want to have the same reaction Martha demonstrated.  And I’m staking my life on verses 25 and 26.  I want to encourage you – do the same.  And I’ll look forward to seeing you at the last day.

-Steve Mattison

 

 

Judging Jesus

John 7

John 7 24

In John 7, we see multiple examples of people struggling to believe in Jesus because he didn’t fit their expectations of the Messiah.

In verse 27, the people were saying, 27 But we know where this man is from; when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.” I don’t know what scripture or teaching they were relying on, but they were confused, and it prevented their believing.

Despite his not meeting their expectations, verse 31 tells us, 31 Still, many in the crowd believed in him.  They said, “When the Messiah comes, will he perform more signs than this man?”

The religious leaders heard the crowd whispering about him, and sent temple guards to arrest Jesus.

40 On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.”

41 Others said, “He is the Messiah.”

Still others asked, “How can the Messiah come from Galilee? 42 Does not Scripture say that the Messiah will come from David’s descendants and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” 43 Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. 44 Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him.

45 Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and the Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?”

46 “No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards replied.

47 “You mean he has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted. 48 “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49 No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them.”

 

We see three general categories of people in John 7.

First, some people just believed in Jesus because of the miracles he did and because of his teaching.

Second, some wanted to believe, but they knew some scripture (like the Messiah was to come from Bethlehem), and they thought they knew some facts (like Jesus came from Galilee, and not from Bethlehem), and they couldn’t reconcile the two – so they struggled to believe.

Third, we see the religious leaders, who knew the scriptures far better than the common people, but flatly rejected Jesus — partially because he broke the letter of the law by healing people on the Sabbath, and partially because he was disrupting their hold on the religious establishment of their day.

It’s easy to look back at those people and think, “They were so stupid.  Why didn’t they just believe?”  What about us?  Are we any better?  Do we have pre-conceived expectations of God, or Jesus, or Christianity that just don’t seem to fit our knowledge or experiences, so we’re struggling?  Have we studied the Bible so much that we already “know it all” (like the Pharisees), and are relying more on our knowledge of scripture than relying on our relationship with God and His son?  Or will we take Jesus at his word, as recorded in John 7: 24… 24 Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”

The good news is, regardless of whatever you decided before, you get to make your choice again today.  Choose wisely.

 

–Steve Mattison

 

Missing the Messiah – Still?

John 5 23 b

John 5

Welcome back for the last time this week!  Thanks for sticking with me this far… just one left before you get to hear from someone MUCH cooler than me!  Let’s take a look at John 5.

Thought #1 – Vs. 1-9: It’s weird to me how this story is glossed over so easily when I think of this chapter and all that it carries.  Jesus cured a man who had been unable to move for nearly 40 years!!  That is huge!  And yet it took me three times of reading this chapter before I decided I should even write about it!  That by itself got me thinking… as someone who grew up in the church, how many of the amazing things that Jesus has done or that the Bible tells us do we gloss over because we’ve heard it multiple times?  For me, that answer is uncomfortably high.  I want to always be amazed by the things Jesus has done, even if I’ve read the story more times than I can count.  I think a huge way of getting to that point is simply to pause.  If this story is familiar to you, take a moment and pause.  Read through it again and try to find something new to you.  If you haven’t read this story often, make sure not to rush through!  Take your time and think about the emotions that would have surrounded this story in an effort to get a deeper understanding of its message.

Thought #2 – Vs. 16-30: So, because Jesus was doing what he was sent to do… the persecution starts.  Because the people didn’t listen to prophets before him, because they were just a little too full of themselves and self-righteous, they missed out on the Messiah and all of the amazing things that he was about to do.  These weren’t even the people you’d expect to miss someone as important as the Messiah!  These were Jewish leaders, people who were intelligent and should have been the most aware of Jesus’ coming.  And yet they missed it, because they were too wrapped up in the law of how it was supposed to look on the Sabbath.  How often do you miss out on something greater, maybe even to the point of intentionally driving it away, because you’re too wrapped up in how it looks on the surface?  Now I am not saying that we should ignore the laws we have, but I am saying that we should be more focused on living a Godly life versus living a life that makes others think we’re living a Godly life.  It is so easy to get sucked into the social media craze that includes Bible verses, pictures in your Sunday best with a quote from the pastor, etc. or in a prayer group that is really a place to gossip about others in the church openly without shame.  None of those things by themselves are wrong necessarily, but more often than not, they can distract us from the true purpose of being a believer in today’s world.  We are called to spread the message of Jesus Christ, and social media can be a very useful tool in that.  We are called to pray for one another and help hold each other accountable.  But all of these things must be done in love, and accompanied by a genuine faith and following of Christ.  Have you gotten sucked in to the less-than-realistic believer mentality that keeps things focused on the surface level?  How can you work to move past that and create a deeper, more genuine faith in Jesus?

Thought #3 – Vs 39-40; 44-47: This is more a continuation of Thought #2 than an individual thought.  Here we see Jesus speaking about those who have put their faith in something or someone other than God.  It’s not that these people he is referring to have put their faith in something unholy, unclean, or sinful, and that is the toughest part for me!  These people are putting their time and effort into studying Scripture, and the words of prophets who speak truth.  And yet, Jesus says that they “refuse to come to [him] to have life.”  In my experience with the COG, we tend to have much smaller church bodies that are very close knit.  I love this!!  BUT, I have seen and heard where that can create problems.  People in authority start to hold more weight than what is being taught, and churches can struggle when certain “higher-ranked” members have opinions or do things differently than what the church is meant to do.  These members are good people, but they are not God.  As a church, as a believer, we must put more faith in God than we do in our own personal congregations and churches if we want to experience the life Jesus Christ can provide through the Father.

Well thank you all for finishing Romans and starting John with me!  I hope that something along the way was beneficial to you; I know I gained a lot from getting to write these 😊

~Sarah Blanchard

Thankful for this Current Age

Romans Chapter 10 

 

Building off of the previous chapter, Paul again laments that his brethren have missed their Messiah.

 

But by God’s grace, knowing that His own chosen people would reject His son, He made the saving power of Christ’s sacrifice available to everyone, Jew and Gentile alike.

 

The Jews were full of knowledge, and knew all there was to know about the appearance of their Savior, but they still missed it.  Let that be a lesson to us all, to not be so stubborn and arrogant as to miss truths, whether they be large or small.

 

Another big shift at this time, beyond salvation becoming available to Gentiles, was the idea that righteousness with God was not going to be obtained by works, by keeping the law.  Instead, it is now attainable by confessing with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believing in your heart that God raised him from the dead.  Through these things you will be saved.

 

In verse 10, Paul says “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”  How seemingly simple that is, compared with the copious laws and rituals the Jews had to observe to obtain the same outcome.

 

I am so thankful for both of these changes.  We take them for granted today, but for thousands of years, things were quite different.  In fact, for the majority of history, God was the God of his chosen people Israel only, who were under the law, with no access to Christ.

 

To say that Jesus Christ is Lord seems so easy to us today.  But at this time, for a Jew to say this meant that they fully accepted that Jesus was the son of God, which was a very big step for them.  Likewise, for a Gentile to proclaim Jesus as Lord meant that they were putting the Lordship of Christ over whatever Emperor they were under.   As we know, this was a dangerous public statement to make in those times, for Jew and Gentile alike.

 

greg 3

Never take your position in history for granted.  I am thankful for many things based on our current technology, such as automobiles, air conditioning, modern medicine and indoor toilets.  But I am most thankful that we are living in an age where we have access to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

Greg Landry

“Who Do You Say I Am?”

Matthew 16

matthew 16 16

During Jesus’ ministry, he caused a lot of controversy and caused many to question who exactly he was. In Matthew 16:13-20, this is exactly the issue that Jesus raised with his disciples. However, he not only asks what everyone else thinks of him, but asks the disciples specifically who they think he is. This is important for us to pay attention to, since Jesus says that Peter’s answer was revealed to him by the Father.

 

Jesus’ first question for his disciples is, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” Apparently, there had been many ideas floating around during Jesus’ time; some said that he was John the Baptist, others said he was Elijah, and still more said that he was one of the prophets. We may think this is strange to hear, but the same thing is going on in our time today. If you were to ask people at your school or work, “Who is Jesus?”, you are likely to get many different answers. Atheists who accept that he existed would say that he was a good teacher. Muslims would say that he was a faithful prophet. Some Christians today say that he was an angel, that he was God Almighty, or that he was a spirit; many Christians today just simply don’t know what to make of Jesus.

 

Luckily for us, Jesus asks his disciples a second question that will answer all of the confusion for us. He asks them, “But who do you say I am?” Peter replies by stating, “You are the Messiah (Christ), the son of the living God.” Jesus praises Peter for his answer, stating that this was revealed to him by the Father! This is the correct answer! Later on, Jesus says that this statement, or profession of faith, is going to be the rock that he will build his Church upon. If someone wants to be a part of Jesus’ Church, they need to accept that he is the Messiah and, according to Paul, that he was risen from the dead (Romans 10:9-10).

 

What is wonderful about this section of Scripture is that this question is still being asked of us today: “Who do you say that I am?” As Christians, we oftentimes worry too much about what everybody else’s answer to that question is. We desperately want people to accept Jesus so much that we forget that we need to answer that question as well. So, who is Jesus to you? If he is the Messiah, or king, of your life, are you fully devoted to him, or is there something else that has your allegiance divided? Do you dedicate your life to him, or is he simply someone you only see on the weekends?

 

The challenge for you today is to take time to examine your own life and walk with Christ, and stop worrying about everybody else. After Jesus’ resurrection in the Gospel of John, Peter is deeply concerned about what is going to happen to John. Jesus replies in verse 22, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.” Jesus will be willing to work with the people you are so concerned about, but you need to make sure you are following him fully. You cannot possibly help someone if you aren’t giving it your all as well.

 

-Talon Paul

A Royal Mess

matt 1 1

Day 1 of your new Bible reading. You are psyched! You are committed. You brew a cup of coffee, clean off the kitchen table, and pull out a new set of highlighters.   You grab your large-margined Bible and you open up to your first reading:  Matthew 1. This is it. Your moment of great revelation, and then…you are instantly deflated. Genealogy. Blah. Wait…No…You are committed to do your reading.  You have new highlighters after all! Okay. Here we go. A couple verses down, and…still nothing worth highlighting. “Maybe I will just skim this,” you say to yourself, feeling a compromise is essential to keep up your determination.  The sea of names continues. Sigh. “I think I got the gist, I’ll just go to the end.” Although you made it through Chapter 1, you feel a bit defeated. No highlights; no underlines. You have made a royal mess of your reading.

 

So what is the significance of Matthew 1 anyways? Why not just hop into the Christmas story?  The answer: context. This genealogy of Jesus through his earthly father, Joseph, is to establish the pedigree pointing to Jesus as a descendant of the ruling class of Israel.  God’s so purposely positioned Jesus that there should have been no doubt remaining that Jesus is the Messiah or “The Anointed One”, the one who would reestablish the throne of David.  A fact made instantly clear upon the arrival of the Magi and Herod’s petitioning to and response from the scribes (Matt 2:1-6). As much as God was at work in these plans, He did so in spite of many actions taken by those who make up the family tree.

 

How did the ancestors of Jesus depart from the ways of God? A few quick examples. Abraham laughed at God. Jacob, and subsequently his son, Judah, both betrayed a brother.  David, God’s chosen King, is mentioned alongside his mistress (later turned wife), Bathsheba, and the man he murdered, Uriah. Among the other names are hidden even more wayward actions (idolatry, stealing, lying, etc.), culminating in Jeconiah, who did evil in the sight of the Lord (2 Kings 24:9), which leads to a curse that cuts off the line of David, seemingly forever (Jer 22:30).

 

If you only looked at part of their story, collectively, it would seem like a pretty hopeless lot.  Thankfully, many of the these men and women wrestled with, fought for, and maintained their relationship with God.  In the midst of sin, reputation, or nurture, they connected, repented, and praised God. They were a royal mess, a line of sinners seeking God and putting their hope in his promise of redemption and restoration.  It is no surprise that we find many of their names in Hebrews 11, among those who are waiting to receive their promise (v. 39,40) of a hope and heritage found in Jesus Christ.

We are equally “messed-up” and have fallen short of the standards set by our King (Rom 3:23). When we struggle with sin, our history, or circumstance, it makes us feel unworthy of the faith and hope we have. Don’t give in.  Remain Psyched. Wrestle. Fight. Maintain. You may be a mess, but you are a royal mess, an heir according to the promise, directly tracing your spiritual heritage (the only one that matters) to Jesus Christ.(1 Pet 2:9; Amos 9:11) Having these roots means, we receive a special connection to God through His Holy Spirit (John 14:16,17) and are covered by grace when we miss the mark (Eph 2:8,9).  Today, spend some time examining the stories behind these names a bit more closely, but also look at your own faith story. Whether you relationship is God is slightly disharmonious, somewhat distant, or completely disconnected, you are not disowned; your heritage is Jesus Christ. He will restore the throne of David, and He will restore any mess appealed in His name.

-Aaron Winner