Tag Archives: Jerusalem

Praying with Anticipation (No. 12 of the Series “Prayer: What Difference Does It Make?”)

Today’s message summary of December 17, 2017 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

Luke 2:1-40

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole empire should be registered. This first registration took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So everyone went to be registered, each to his own town. 

Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David, to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped him tightly in cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, Dont be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped tightly in cloth and lying in a manger.

Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and peace on earth to people he favors!

When the angels had left them and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, Lets go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.

They hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the manger. After seeing them, they reported the message they were told about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had seen and heard, which were just as they had been told.

When the eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesusthe name given by the angel before he was conceived. And when the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were finished, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (just as it is written in the law of the Lord, every firstborn male will be dedicated to the Lord and to offer a sacrifice (according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons).

There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking forward to Israels consolation, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lords Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, he entered the temple. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him up in his arms, praised God, and said,

Now, Master,

you can dismiss your servant in peace,

as you promised.

For my eyes have seen your salvation.

You have prepared it

in the presence of all peoples

a light for revelation to the Gentiles

and glory to your people Israel.

His father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and told his mother Mary: Indeed, this child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposedand a sword will pierce your own soulthat the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

There was also a prophetess, Anna, a daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well along in years, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and was a widow for eighty-four years. She did not leave the temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayers. At that very moment, she came up and began to thank God and to speak about him to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. 

When they had completed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The boy grew up and became strong, filled with wisdom, and Gods grace was on him.

Caesar Augustus’ decree made note of the number of people he could render with taxes, but little did he know was acting within God’s control and predestination of the coming of Jesus Christ and His birth in Bethlehem.  Caesar was the head of the Roman Empire, but God was the head of Caesar.

Each one of us is a part of God’s divine plan to live according to His purpose.

Note also the significance of the lineage of David and the prophetic message of Micah:

Micah 5:2-5

Bethlehem Ephrathah,

you are small among the clans of Judah;

one will come from you

to be ruler over Israel for me.

His origin is from antiquity,

from ancient times.

Therefore, Israel will be abandoned until the time

when she who is in labor has given birth;

then the rest of the rulers brothers will return

to the people of Israel.

He will stand and shepherd them

in the strength of the Lord,

in the majestic name of the Lord his God.

They will live securely,

for then his greatness will extend

to the ends of the earth.

He will be their peace.

When Assyria invades our land,

when it marches against our fortresses,

we will raise against it seven shepherds,

even eight leaders of men.

 

The Anticipation of Joseph and Mary (Luke 2:1-7)

Mary was chosen by God to bear and be the mother of the Son of God.  We know that her life changed drastically.  She was hidden for much of her pregnancy and spent much of her time with Elizabeth (she avoided public view to prevent ridicule), and Joseph was going to divorce her quietly (Matthew 1:18-23).

We understand that Mary was blessed because of who she gave birth to.

Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, recognized this truth as well, and told her:

Luke 1:39-45

In those days Mary set out and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judah  where she entered Zechariahs house and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Marys greeting, the baby leaped inside her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she exclaimed with a loud cry: Blessed are you among women, and your child will be blessed! How could this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For you see, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped for joy inside me. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill what he has spoken to her!

Joseph honored God’s request to not divorce Mary, and was told to get up and flee Herod’s effort to destroy the first born children.

Matthew 2:13-15

After they were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, Get up! Take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. For Herod is about to search for the child to kill him. So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night, and escaped to Egypt. He stayed there until Herods death, so that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled: Out of Egypt I called my Son.

The world was now beholding the presence of their Savior–the Lord of all creation:

Luke 2:6-7

While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped him tightly in cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

Did Mary understand the magnitude and significance of who her child was?

 

The Anticipation of the Shepherds and Angels (Luke 2:8-21)

Look upon these verses and ask yourself this question:  Why did God grant the shepherds the privilege of hearing the message of Christ’s birth?

The shepherds were likely looked down upon by members of society, and because they could not keep up with all of the matters of purification as proclaimed by the Pharisees.  God directly chose the shepherds because He wanted to show that He Himself would be the Shepherd for all of the people.

Ezekiel 34:15-16

I will tend my flock and let them lie down. This is the declaration of the Lord God. I will seek the lost, bring back the strays, bandage the injured, and strengthen the weak, but I will destroy the fat and the strong. I will shepherd them with justice.

This is exactly what Jesus said of Himself:

John 10:7-10

Jesus said again, Truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didnt listen to them. I am the gate. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.

He proclaimed the good news of salvation and eternal life.

When you look at Jesus Christ’s birth, it was His presence that gives each one of us life.  It is a wonderful assurance of His birth taken in the human form of a servant and humbled Himself through His life to the cross.

Don’t gloss over this moment during this holiday season and recognize that the greatest gift is that from Jesus Christ and eternal life through salvation.

The shepherds received the information from the angels (the word “angel” means “messenger”), and glorified God for everything that they had seen after the angels told them what was happening.  They were able to share the message with others.

Angels played a major part of delivering the message of salvation to the people here.

Luke 2:11-14

Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped tightly in cloth and lying in a manger.

Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and peace on earth to people he favors!

1 Peter 1:12

It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you.  These things have now been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.  Angels desire to look into these things.

The angels are waiting in anticipation of God’s promise of the completion of His plan and how He will reconcile everything to Himself.

If we fail to praise God, the angels certainly will do it.  They are waiting with great anticipation as to how everything will come about.

 

The Anticipation of Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:22-40)

Luke 2:25-35

There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking forward to Israels consolation, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lords Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, he entered the temple. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him up in his arms, praised God, and said,

Now, Master,

you can dismiss your servant in peace,

as you promised.

For my eyes have seen your salvation.

You have prepared it

in the presence of all peoples

a light for revelation to the Gentiles

and glory to your people Israel.

His father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and told his mother Mary: Indeed, this child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposedand a sword will pierce your own soulthat the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

 

Simeon prayed to the Lord that he would not see death until he saw the Savior, and God promised him that he would.  He knew when he was going to pass on, but it was clear that the Spirit was on him and was speaking to him about the Messiah. Simeon was anticipating the appearance of the Messiah and noted that He was not just for the Jews but also for the Gentiles.  He learned from this experience that God would bring all people to Himself.

Anna was faithful to God because of her dedication to worship and praise continually day and night.  When she came to the temple, she showed her appreciation over His presence and was anticipating His coming.

We anticipate Christ’s return and His declaration as Lord and Savior of our lives.

 

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Go and Make Disciples

A message summary of February 28, 2016 from Asst. Pastor Travis Jackson:

Matthew 28:16-20

The 11 disciples traveled to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had directed them. When they saw Him, they worshiped, but some doubted. Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The point of this passage is to go out and make disciples.

I have been thinking to myself as to why we, as a church, are not growing, as we should. I want all of us to go out and make disciples. If we are not making disciples, then why are we here?

The disciples were called to follow Jesus, and this passage represents one the last times they would see Him. They thought that they would return to their normal, daily lives, as fishermen and tradesmen. He informed them that He would go before them in Galilee repeatedly (earlier in the chapter). It was on this mountain that he would guide them into their own phase of the ministry. It was the beginning of their efforts to carry on the gospel of Jesus Christ. It leads into what we would read in Acts, chapter 1.

The summary of Jesus’ command is this: Go. Make. Disciples.

I.  In order to be a disciple here, it was Christ’s ascension that effectively turned over the gospel message to the disciples. They were empowered to believe in Him and follow Him to the point of persecution and death.

They worshiped Him. Their worship meant that they were surrendering their heart, mind and soul before Him.

Worship is indeed important in evangelism? Why is that? It gives one the fervor and energy to go out and worship before Him and reflect the same passion before others. You are now focused and can do this effectively. It should invigorate you to be able to say that you are recharged to go and make disciples.

In the passage, we see that “some doubted.” There were some disciples there that were beyond the eleven that traveled closely with Him. Those that doubted had lost focus on Him. They knew that Jesus was in authority, but perhaps they needed more evidence.

If there is any doubt in your faith that does not allow you to wholeheartedly serve Jesus Christ, then perhaps you need to see more evidence of Him working in your life.

Mark 9:17-27

Out of the crowd, one man answered Him, Teacher, I brought my son to You. He has a spirit that makes him unable to speak. Wherever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I asked Your disciples to drive it out, but they couldnt.

He replied to them, You unbelieving generation! How long will I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him to Me. So they brought him to Him. When the spirit saw Him, it immediately convulsed the boy. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. How long has this been happening to him? Jesus asked his father.

From childhood, he said. And many times it has thrown him into fire or water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.

Then Jesus said to him, “‘If You can? Everything is possible to the one who believes.

Immediately the father of the boy cried out, I do believe! Help my unbelief.

When Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly coming together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, You mute and deaf spirit, I command you: come out of him and never enter him again!

Then it came out, shrieking and convulsing him violently. The boy became like a corpse, so that many said, Hes dead. But Jesus, taking him by the hand, raised him, and he stood up.

Matthew 14:31

Immediately Jesus reached out His hand, caught hold of him, and said to him, You of little faith, why did you doubt?

Matthew 17:20

Because of your little faith, He told them. For I assure you: If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, Move from here to there, and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.

Our faith is very important when it comes to evangelism.

II.  Christ’s authority

Who Christ is to the person who is evangelizing means everything.

Ephesians 1:20-23

He (God) demonstrated this power in the Messiah by raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His right hand in the heavens–far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put everything under His feet and appointed Him as head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of the One who fills all things in every way.

No one, on his own, has any power to keep himself from death and raise himself up. Only Christ has such power.

We are to understand that Christ’s ascension gives us cause to worship Him, and that His authority reinforces His deity.

III. His confirmation of baptism reflects His authority.

Baptism is a sacrament that reflects obedience to Christ and His authority in our lives. It is an appeal to God for a good conscious in the power of Jesus Christ.

Romans 6:4

Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life.

IV. Perseverance in the Lord

After baptism now comes the teaching and instruction of God’s Word in order to help a person to endure what is to come. A person who is prepared in the Word is conforming to the truths of Jesus Christ, and it leads to a strengthening of the person in Christ.

Matthew 28:19-20

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

The disciples were to head out to the ends of the earth, as commanded by Jesus Christ.

Acts 1:7-11

He said to them, It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

After He had said this, He was taken up as they were watching, and a cloud took Him out of their sight. While He was going, they were gazing into heaven, and suddenly two men in white clothes stood by them. They said, Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you have seen Him going into heaven.

Our Jerusalem is our city of Akron. Judea is beyond the city, and our Samaria is even further away from that. As we hold the fort here in Akron, we move on to the next destination, and so forth.

Luke 24:46-49

He also said to them, This is what is written: The Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead the third day, and repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And look, I am sending you what My Father promised. As for you, stay in the city until you are empowered from on high.

The disciples were witnesses, and they were also martyrs. Only John was a survivor, but he lived in exile on the island of Patmos. They were all willing to sacrifice themselves, endure and persevere for the cause of Christ. We have an idea as to where they began, and where there lives ended. While we may not experience the same fate, we understand the importance of serving a life for Christ, and that means enduring and facing opposition, yet it is a worthy cause to serve the living Christ.

Go. Make. Disciples.


God Provides and Empowers His Witnesses

Today’s message summary of July 5, 2015 from Pastor Gus Brown:

There will still be some sort of religious ceremony or presentation within Revelation Chapter 11. We will still see that Jerusalem is the center of all activity, just as it is today.

God will provide witnesses for Him and His Name. He will empower them and enable them to glorify His name.

Revelation 11:1-19

Then I was given a measuring reed like a rod, with these words: “Go and measure God’s sanctuary and the altar, and count those who worship there. But exclude the courtyard outside the sanctuary. Don’t measure it, because it is given to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for 42 months. I will empower my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, dressed in sackcloth.” These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. If anyone wants to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and consumes their enemies; if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way. These men have the power to close up the sky so that it does not rain during the days of their prophecy. They also have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every plague whenever they want.

When they finish their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, conquer them, and kill them. Their dead bodies will lie in the public square of the great city, which prophetically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. And representatives from the peoples, tribes, languages, and nations will view their bodies for three and a half days and not permit their bodies to be put into a tomb. 10 Those who live on the earth will gloat over them and celebrate and send gifts to one another because these two prophets brought judgment to those who live on the earth.

11 But after 3½ days, the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet. So great fear fell on those who saw them. 12 Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” They went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies watched them. 13 At that moment a violent earthquake took place, a tenth of the city fell, and 7,000 people were killed in the earthquake. The survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. 14 The second woe has passed. Take note: The third woe is coming quickly!

15 The seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven saying:

The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom
of our Lord and of His Messiah,
and He will reign forever and ever!

16 The 24 elders, who were seated before God on their thrones, fell facedown and worshiped God, 17 saying:

We thank You, Lord God, the Almighty,
who is and who was,
because You have taken Your great power
and have begun to reign.
18 The nations were angry,
but Your wrath has come.
The time has come
for the dead to be judged
and to give the reward
to Your servants the prophets,
to the saints, and to those who fear Your name,
both small and great,
and the time has come to destroy
those who destroy the earth.

19 God’s sanctuary in heaven was opened, and the ark of His covenant appeared in His sanctuary. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings of thunder, an earthquake, and severe hail.

In Revelation 11:1, God is not directing John to measure like a ruler, but to determine the quality, or the standard of what is being presented in the sanctuary. Measure the value of worship. Does it meets God standard? Does it qualify? The worship in the temple in Revelation will be for the Antichrist.

I. God has a standard. You have to be willing to make the sacrifices to be different from the world and be holy. The standard has been lowered so much in this day and time that everyone is made to be comfortable in the church. Well, everyone is welcome to the church, but everyone should not feel comfortable in their sin.

In Revelation 11:2-6, God brings the two witnesses to stand against the Antichrist.

We are challenged to worship the One, true God, and to grow in our relationship with Him.

John 4:23

But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.

Yes, the Father wants such people to worship Him. Instead of lowering our standards of worship, we need to keep them as high as possible. The world has lowered its standard of worship, but we are challenged to worship Him as He cleanses us and equips us to minister to others.

Hebrews 9:14

…how much more will the blood of the Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to serve the living God?

Psalm 51:2

Wash away my guilt and cleanse me from my sin.

II. Christ is the center of our worship–in Revelation 11, that will not be the case.

The gospel message is to be delivered. The gospel message will not be delivered in the temple; furthermore, the wrong style of worship will take place in the temple in Revelation 11.

Titus 3:5

He saved us–not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

God gives the authority and power to the two witnesses (Rev. 11:4-5). He gives them the power to perform their ministry and for their protection. God knew that they would face opposition. He gave them fire to proceed out of their mouths, to hold back the rain and turn water into blood.

Scripture does not reveal who the two men are, but some believe that they are Elijah and Moses. Elijah and Moses performed signs that duplicate what these men will do, and they both appeared with Jesus during the Transfiguration.

Matthew 17:3-4

Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.

Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it’s good for us to be here! If You want, I will make three tabernacles here: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

Malachi 4:4

“Remember the instruction of Moses My servant, the statutes and ordinances I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel.

Exodus 7:20

Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord had commanded; in the sight of Pharaoh and his officials, he raised the staff and struck the water in the Nile, and all the water in the Nile was turned to blood.

1 Kings 17:1

Now Elijah the Tishbite, from the Gilead settlers, said to Ahab, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, I stand before Him, and there will be no dew or rain during these years except by my command!”

They could strike the earth with a plague whenever they desired (Revelation 11:6).

III. When their ministry is complete, Satan has the power to kill them. (Revelation 11:7-10)

You will finish on time.

Psalm 39:4

“Lord, reveal to me the end of my life and the number of my days. Let me know how short-lived I am.”

It is OK to stand alone.

2 Timothy 4:17

But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the proclamation might be fully made through me and all the Gentiles might hear. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.

God is with you.

Romans 8:31

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

There will be times in ministry where one needs to stand alone for Him.

There is an appointed time.

Job 14:5-6

Since man’s days are determined and the number of his months depends on You, and since You have set limits he cannot pass, look away from him and let him rest so that he can enjoy his day like a hired hand.

The two witnesses were empowered by God to perform as His witness. In the same way, recognize the power that God gives to you to be His witness for Him while you are able.

The fact that the beast can kill them reveals that they are physical beings. They are killed by the beast, who is also a person.

The two witnesses were killed in Jerusalem. The place is referred to Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified (Revelation 11:8).

Sodom – no morals; rebellion against God (Ezekiel 16:40)

Egypt – idols; captivity of God’s people

IV. God breaks up the party (v. 9-10)

All will see the bodies laying in the streets. Imagine all of the pictures uploaded on the internet and having them broadcast on YouTube!

The witnesses were proclaiming God’s Word, but when they were killed and the word of God was removed from the people, the people were celebrating their demise.

Imagine the terror of the people when they came back to life 3 1/2 days later! (v. 11)

For the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, there is no reason to be ashamed of the gospel. It will require personal sacrifice, but it will be worth it for the testimony that is made before others.