Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Shepastor: “Is Your Heart After God?”

Psalm 42[a][b]
For the director of music. A maskil[c] of the Sons of Korah.

1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
(NIV)
42 As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. (KJV)

One of the most beloved praise and worship songs used for meditation, As the Deer, is taken from this Old Testament Psalm, 42: 1-2. The words depict a gentle creature, a deer, possibly after a long journey, leaping upon mountains, traveling through valleys, walking along through pastures, tired, longing to drink from a fresh water stream. The King James Version emphasizes even more graphically, the thirst that the deer has, “panting” as if exhausted, drained, “thirsty.” Both convey a strong almost desperate desire for God.

An interesting commentary or introduction provides even greater context to this psalm. It says, “For the director of music” or “chief musician. A maskil of the Sons of Korah.” The term maskil means, “one versed in Hebrew or Yiddish literature,” (Merriam Webster). Not to be taken lightly, these “well versed” musicians came from a rebellious family line. They were the “Sons of Korah.” Korah was the ring leader of Israelites (one version calls them “men of renown”) who defied God and Moses in the wilderness, leading many astray (Genesis 16: 1-35). Their rebellion caused them to be swallowed up by the earth suddenly (Who can forget that dramatic scene as depicted by Cecil Be Demille’s “Ten Commandments!”).

How profound that God used a remnant from that rebellious family line to bring Himself glory through this beloved Psalm! Knowing their own history, knowing the shame of rebellion in their bloodline, knowing how an entire generation was destroyed, they chose rather to have hearts that longed for God. How powerful to know and learn from our history? What a loving and gracious God that will not hold the sins of our family line against us! What a blessing and privilege to know that with God’s help, we have the ability to change the dynamic of rebellion and dysfunction in our families!

But it starts with having a heart that is “after God.” A heart that is after God thirsts for God, longs for God, chases after God’s heart, God’s will, God’s wisdom, God’s Holy Spirit, God’s desire for our lives. To be a man or a woman after God’s heart is to love the Lord, reverence the Lord, honor the Lord with the totality of our being. It does not mean that we won’t make mistakes, make bad choices, do wrong things. We hold this treasure in “earthen vessels.” But it means that our desire and longing is to please God. Our heart longs to be united with God. Our heart longs to have pure motives a clean spirit.

None of this is possible without the aid of the Holy Spirit. Through Christ, we can do all things! When we long for God, thirst for God, “pant” for God, we come into agreement with Him. We seek to do His will. We strive to have clean hands and a pure heart. We desire to please God in all that we are, say and do. When we fall short, we repent and lean upon God’s mercy, grace and love to help us to do better. David was a man after God’s own heart not because he was perfect, but because he was yielded. He longed to do that which pleased the Lord. He worshipped the Lord with all of his might. He grieved over his sins and turned away from them.

The Sons of Korah chose the more excellent way. Despite their family dysfunction and rebellion, they chose to have hearts after God. Is your heart after God?

Post a comment or send me an email at Revcsmith1@gmail.com

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Shepastor: “Healing Comes in Phases”

Jesus Heals a Blind Man at Bethsaida

22They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”
24He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”
25Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go intoa the village.”


The body is a wonderful metaphor for so many issues of life. Whether it is issues of cleansing, growth, physical illness and the need to regurgitate, rest etc., the body also reflects important and spiritual realities. Today I’d like to focus upon the healing aspects of the body and how the body can teach us something about emotional and spiritual healing.

Healing does not happen immediately. Whether it’s a cut, a bruise, surgical procedure or whatever, the body takes time to heal. Although science has tried to speed up the healing process with laser surgery, the body still demands a time for healing. Although they have “outpatient” surgery, the body demands that you get rest after even the smallest procedures. Even if you get cut and require stitches, the body demands that you take time to “dress” and care for your wounds. Why is it that we think that emotional and spiritual pain can be healed over night?

I would like to suggest that many of the physical pains that we experience pale in comparison to the emotional and spiritual pain that many people face. Think about our grief policies from work. You are blessed if you can get 2-3 days off of work when a loved one dies. The Jewish Community has this process right. They sit, “Shiva” for at least 7 days and in some instances 12 days. They allow themselves to deeply mourn and reflect upon the life and the legacy of their loved ones. They bury them almost immediately, but they reflect upon them deeply and slowly.

Our society, however, frowns upon individuals taking time to heal. Even in the church, we expect people to quickly rebound from loss, hurt and pain. We accuse people of “brooding” or not having enough faith. Where does this “hurry up and get through it” mentality come from? Jesus himself exemplified the need to spend time away from even those closest to him. Frequently he would go off by himself, the scripture says to pray. I suspect that Jesus was not only praying, but reflecting, communing, consoling and preparing himself to continue to serve amidst a people who did not understand, believe in or appreciate him. Jesus too was hurting.

Our text for today presents an interesting dilemma. Jesus who is God made manifest in the flesh seemed to have needed a “second shot” at healing the blind man. It appears that his first attempt “did not take.” But was it that he needed to try again or was Jesus teaching us something all together different?

Consider the following…

- A blind man is brought to Jesus

- Jesus uses “spit” to heal him

- His healing came in two phases

- Sometimes we need a “second touch” before our healing is complete

- We don’t understand the methods God uses to heal us

- We need to be honest about the fact that we still are not healed – still cannot see (had the blind man pretended like he was healed
completely, he never would have been given clear sight)

- “Don’t even go into the village…” Everyone will not be happy about your healing! Everyone will not understand your healing. You may
even jeopardize your healing by sharing it with some people.
Sometimes God has to "take us outside of the village" to bless us with healing.


- Healing takes time


Healing comes in phases
. God may sometimes use “spit and dirt” to heal us…sometimes the very things that we, under other circumstances would view as lowly and undesirable are used by God to make us see more clearly and yes, heal us.

Everyone will not understand what God has done and continues to do for you. Be prayerful and discerning about with whom to share your healing process. Avoid pretending that you are well, that you are whole, that you are healed when in fact you are still, “seeing men walking as trees.” Be honest with the Lord, yourself and select individuals about needing prayer, support and encouragement to press toward your healing.

Healing comes in phases. Healing takes time. Healing may happen in unexpected ways. Be “for real” about where you are in the healing process. Then and only then will you be able to see clearly and be made whole. Remember, healing takes time. There is no shame in admitting that you need a second touch!

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@gmail.com

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Shepastor: “Everybody Can’t Come in the Room!”

46 And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.
47 And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately.
48 And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.
49 While he yet spake, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue's house, saying to him, Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master.
50 But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole.
51 And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden.
52 And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth.
53 And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead.
54 And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise.
55 And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat.
56 And her parents were astonished: but he charged them that they should tell no man what was done.
Luke 8: 46-56, KJV

In this text, crowds of people were swarming around Jesus. They saw him heal and deliver the sick and those possessed by demons. They saw him feed the multitudes with two fish and five loaves of bread. They heard him teach like no other leader had taught. I imagine that the crowd was so thick that Jesus could barely walk! This was the scene when a broken, pain riddled, sick ostracized women said to herself, “If I may just touch the hem of his garment, I shall be made whole.” The scripture says that this woman had been sick for 12 years with “an issue of blood.” She had spent all of her money on doctors and they could not heal her. She was bleeding nonstop for 12 years! In addition to her extreme pain physically, this meant that no one would touch her. She was “ceremonially unclean.” In that day, when a woman was on her period, she had to separate herself for a specific number of days and then go and be declared “clean” by the temple priest when the bleeding stopped. She was not to be touched by her husband or other men. She had to go through a process of purification. Therefore, this nameless woman was by herself, cut off from the Temple, cut off from society, cut off from being among family and friends. But she knew that if she could just get to Jesus and touch his hem, she would be healed!

At the same time, a man of great respect, high position and wealth needed help from Jesus. His name was Jairus. We don’t know the name of the bleeding woman, but we are given Jairus’ name. His daughter was sick unto death and he fell down at Jesus’ feet, begging him to heal her. She was his only daughter. As Jesus begins to go with Jairus, he abruptly stops and says, “Who touched me?” Baffled by the questions, the disciples say, “Master, all these folks are pressing in on you and you are asking, “Who touched me?” Don’t miss this…Jesus said, “someone touched me because I felt virtue go out of me.” When we come to Jesus in faith and in our depth of need, it touches Jesus in a special way.

Lots of people were physically touching Jesus, but this woman made a connection with Jesus out of the depth of her need and the power of her faith that Jesus would do something for her. She expected that Jesus would heal her. She believed that even his garment was filled with healing power. In other words, she didn’t even presume that he would talk to her. She didn’t think that she needed to hold a conference with Jesus. She didn’t even expect that he would necessarily notice her, but she believed that even if she could touch that which was associated with Jesus, it would be enough to heal her.

When we out of the depth of our human suffering, need and struggle determine that we want to be healed from Jesus, we will reach for him, even to just touch his hem. Can you imagine this woman’s inner thoughts? “Do what you do Jesus, however you choose to do it, but just heal me! I don’t have to be in your inner circle, I don’t have to associate with great people, you don’t have to physically come to my house, just let me touch the hem of your garment Lord, and I shall be healed!” That woman’s faith drew power out of Jesus in a way that others did not. There was something different about her faith!

At the same time, this man of high status humbled himself in a way that his followers in the synagogue had probably never seen. This wealthy, highly positioned, distinguished leader did not care what others thought. He too just wanted a touch from Jesus. He was desperate. When you get desperate enough, pride will go out of the window. When you have a great need, all you care about is the healing, the deliverance, the break thru. Jairus wanted his daughter healed and he believed that Jesus could and would do it.

But while on the way to the house, someone came running out to tell Jairus and Jesus, “Don’t trouble yourselves any longer, your daughter is dead.” Can you imagine the shock, the disappointment, the pain of Jairus? But hear again how Jesus responded to the situation…

50 But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole.
51 And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden.
52 And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth.
53 And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead.
54 And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise.
55 And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat.
56 And her parents were astonished: but he charged them that they should tell no man what was done.


These verses tell us that the very people who were pressing in to see Jesus really did not believe that with God all things are possible. Sometimes people just want to go along with the crowd, see some tricks, enjoy a party, get a thrill, but they don’t really believe that Jesus is who He is! That was the difference between “the crowd” and the nameless woman. When the crowd touched Jesus, it was just a bunch of folks trying to get next to what they saw as a rock star. But when the nameless woman touched Jesus, he felt her faith and her deep desire to be healed. “You will search for me and find me when you search for me with all of your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13, KJV).

Notice how Jesus only took certain people with him into the healing space. Notice how he put all those other folks out…the scoffers, the mockers, those laughing at the prospect of a resurrection. Learn this lesson – everyone can’t go into the healing, delivering and raising room with you. Jesus Himself knew that the doubt of others could zap the faith of Jairus. Therefore, Jesus declared, “Clear the room!” There will be times in your life when certain people cannot go with you. There will be miraculous things that God wants to do in your life but if the wrong people are around, the wrong people are in the room, the wrong people are in your space, they will block your ability to receive those miracles. It’s not that God can’t work around them, its that your faith will be hindered.

You can’t tell everybody everything…your vision, your dreams, your faith that God can heal what’s been diseased for decades, your faith that Jesus can raise that which looks like its dead, your faith that Jesus is able to give you a break thru! Some people are so focused on what they can only see with natural vision that they want to block you from seeing and receiving that which God has for you in the heavenlies. Jesus says, “Put them out of the room!”

Jesus identified key people to go with him into the room to raise Jairus’ daughter. In the same way, prayerfully identify key individuals who you know will pray with you, believe with you, stand with you, cry with you, hope with you and petition heaven on your behalf. That group is small…two or three people at the most. They don’t have to be perfect people, just faithful, loving and praying people. Doubting, scoffing, laughing people will drain you of your faith, throw water on your hopes, laugh at your dreams and ultimately cause you to miss out on all that God wants to raise in your life. PUT THEM OUT OF THE ROOM!

Don’t allow them room in your physical space. Don’t allow them room in your spirit or in your head. PUT THEM OUT! Like the nameless woman, stretch out to touch Jesus. By faith believe that God can and God will heal you. Like Jairus, humble yourself. Want God’s healing more than you care about what folks think about you. Allow Jesus to put the naysayers, the scoffers, those who laugh at the prospect of your healing, your deliverance, your vision, your RAISING…allow Jesus to put them out of your room!

Jesus still healing, raising, delivering and working miracles. Won’t you allow Jesus to do that and more in your life today?

Post a comment or send me an email at Revcsmith1@gmail.com
Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Shepastor: “Highlights from The Sister’s Guide to Survive & Thrive in Ministry, by Dr. Suzan D. Johnson Cook”

“‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’...’Here am I; send me!’” (Isaiah 6:8).

Today Shepastor highlights a wonderful new resource for women in ministry, The Sister’s Guide to Survive & Thrive in Ministry, by Dr. Suzan D. Johnson Cook. Concise, personable and wisdom-filled, this work offers “Sisters” marvelous nuggets of practical truths that can help us to “survive and thrive” in ministry.

As a woman pastor who has navigated the oft times tricky and daunting waters of pastoral ministry, Dr. “Sujay” has earned the right to tell us like it is! From serving in local congregations to national and international platforms, Dr. Johnson Cook has a wealth of experiences that set the stage for her earthy conversations with us as women pastors.

She puts forth ten rules for us to consider and follow:

1. Don’t Make It about You: It’s All about God
2. Stay Responsible for Your Own Spiritual Groove
3. Play, as You Pray, without Ceasing
4. Stay Put
5. Be Arrested by the Holy Spirit
6. Keep Growing: Leadership Doesn’t Confer Maturity
7. Don’t Sleep Your Way to the Pulpit
8. Have Your Own Praise Party
9. Think Outside the Box
10. Select Your Village Mothers: The Value of Wisdom

At the end of each chapter, Dr. Johnson Cook provides questions for response and reflection. For example, following chapter 4, “Stay Put,” these statement/questions and lines for responses are offered:
“Ask God, ‘Have I completed my assignment that you’ve given me? Have I done the best I could with what you’ve placed in my hands?’ What message is God giving you? Where are the still, small places where God speaks to you?’”

I highly recommend this important work for individuals, small groups and workshops. A copy of The Sister’s Guide to Survive & Thrive in Ministry may be purchased at www.judsonpress.com

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org


Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Shepastor: “Five Things this ‘Shepastor’ Has Learned over 55 Years…”

Yesterday, the Lord blessed me to reach the “double-nickel!” While many have far surpassed this age, many went from “labor to reward” before. I am grateful. I spent the day enjoying the bright sunshine, running errands, answering emails and text messages, thanking friends and family for beautiful birthday wishes (of course I’m a pastor so there was still work to be done!!!). During this time, I also began to reflect upon things I’ve learned over my years of life. Below are five lessons that have helped me to grow and mature as a woman of faith…



1. “Seize the day…”
The Roman poet Horace coined the Latin phrase, “Carpe diem” which when interpreted means, “pluck the day” or “seize the day.” It suggests that one should live each day to the fullest. As one elder deacon in my home church used to say, “Do all you can, while you can.” For the people of God, this means something different than for one not guided by Christian principles. Do enjoy life, but not at the expense of others or your Christian witness. Do all you can to live, love, serve, plant and help somebody. Each day is a gift. Live each day to the best of your ability. Tomorrow is not promised.

2. Avoid burning bridges or crossing them before you come to them…

On “Burning Bridges…”

Ecclesiastes 7:9, KJV declares,
Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.
In life, conflicts, disappointments, misunderstandings between people will happen. Every conflict or misunderstanding should not lead to a “deal breaker,” in relationships. While some damage is irreparable, when possible seek conflict resolution. When you immediately “write people off,” you cancel the opportunity for healing and even possible collaborations in the future. Time, maturity, repentance and forgiveness can take very hurtful situations and turn them into beautiful connections in the future. Avoid allowing anger to blind you to future blessings. Life has a way of bringing some of those same people you have dismissed back to help you in ways you never dreamed of.

On Crossing Bridges…
Matthew 6:34, NIV
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I have to be intentional about keeping worry at bay. The phrase, “cross that bridge when you get to it,” has been very helpful for me. While counterintuitive, practice living one day at a time. When I wake up in the middle of the night, thinking about solving problems, looming fears, anxiety about children, whatever, I remind myself, “There is nothing that you can do about this issue at 3:00 a.m. Go to sleep and trust God to show you the way…”

3. Avoid becoming Jaded…
While everyone is not for you, everyone is not against you! Negative experiences tend to stand out in our minds and ring loud as a bell above all of the good that we have experienced. The saying, “life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you respond,” is instructive. There is MUCH wrong in the world. That is undeniable. However, there is MUCH beauty in the world as well. Determine to learn from whatever painful, unjust, ugly experiences you have encountered and determine not to allow those things to defeat you or make you bitter. With God’s help, you can and will rise. Elect to respond with faith, hope and love.

4. Blessings and Curses are boomerangs…
Romans 12:14, NIV
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

It took me a while to understand this principle. It is TOUGH to “turn the other cheek.” However, when you understand that what you give will be returned to you, it is easier to follow. The enemy keeps cycles of dysfunction going by urging us to give back the ugliness that may have been thrown at us. But when we as God’s people choose rather to do what is right and righteous in the face of wrong, we break the cycle of ugliness and open the door for deliverance. God promises that we will reap whatever we have sown. When we sow kindness, forgiveness, compassion, peace and love, that is what will be returned to us. It may never come back from the person who harmed you, but the Lord will send blessings back to you in ways that you could not imagine. Trust God and obey His plan for healing.

5. God WILL make ALL THINGS work together for the good…
Romans 8:28, KJV
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

As I look back over my 55 years of life, I have experienced love, laughter, pain and tears, fulfillment and disappointment, struggle and ease, depression and joy. I imagine that many of you have as well. I have learned that each experience helped to carry me further along life’s journey. Each piece is a part of a larger puzzle and plan still unfolding. Each aspect of my life has been necessary to help to build me into the woman I am today. Not all good, not all wonderful, not all easy, not all pain free, but ALL working together FOR my good…to bless my life and the lives of those I was sent here to bless.

May these words encourage, enlighten, lift and inspire you along your life’s journey.

Thank you, LORD for my life!

Post a comment or send me an email at Revcsmith1@gmail.com

Until next Wednesday
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Shepastor: "You Can Prevail!"

The sayings of Agur son of Jakeh—an inspired utterance.
This man’s utterance to Ithiel:
“I am weary, God,
but I can prevail.[a]
Proverbs 30:1, NIV

Our focus verse for today has been attributed to Agur. We don’t have any additional information about him. We only have his words…

"...I am weary, God,
but I can prevail.[a]


Agur starts out this section with a profound statement. Certainly, he is not the only Biblical writer to confess his psychological and emotional state of weariness, but he follows his initial statement with a declaration of faith…

“I am weary, God,
but I can prevail.[a]


Interestingly, different versions deal with Agur’s words in different ways…

The King James Version does not even include these words. The Contemporary English Version says it like this…
Someone cries out to God,
“I am completely worn out!
How can I last?[a]

The Living Bible combines verses 1-2 and declares,

2 I am tired out, O God, and ready to die. I am too stupid even to call myself a human being!
The New Revised Standard Version says it just like the Living Bible…

I won’t bore you with other translations. You get the picture. Of all of them, however, I was intrigued by the New International Version’s translation…
“I am weary, God,
but I can prevail.[a]


The other translators/interpreters have the speaker declaring that he is weary…a condition that we can all relate to. Weariness is a condition that goes beyond physical exhaustion. To be weary involves more than aching joints, sweat rolling down your face, wanting to flop down on the bed and go to sleep. “Weariness” has several components. Weariness impacts the totality of a person. Weariness involves the psyche, the spirit and the body.

The Hebrew writers suggest that this weariness means feeling completely spent…you’ve given all you’ve got, you are poured out like water out of a pitcher with not even one drop left to give. In other words, you are just DONE! The man in the text says, “God, I am weary!” All of the translations agree on that. The man is weary, spent, poured out, feeling as if he can’t go one step further. But then the translators diverge. They break off from the one translator who, in spite of explaining the weariness of the man, has the man making a shocking statement… the NIV translator has the man declaring, “but, I can prevail!”

The conjunction “but” suggests something to the contrary. The man is making a declaration that is contrary to the way he feels. He feels weary. He feels spent. He feels like giving up, BUT, he declares, “I CAN PREVAIL!” The term “prevail” means, “to prove more powerful than opposing forces; to be victorious.” The man is talking to the right one. He is expressing his weariness to God, but he then decides that in spite of his weariness, he can be victorious over his circumstances.

After spending time in the presence of the Lord, he comes to the realization that he can prevail. He realizes that he can be more powerful than the opposing forces…Whatever is making him weary, with God’s help, he can prevail!

There is much in life to make us weary…situations that keep dragging on long after they should have been over, disappointment, physical and psychological pain, poverty, loneliness, defeat, the death of dreams…the list can go on and on. Weariness is a condition of the heart, mind, body and soul. But we like the Agur can tell the Lord about how we feel. We can tell the Lord about our pain, our sorrow, our disappointment, our struggle, our trial…whatever. As we get before the Lord in sincerity of heart, something will begin to happen down on the inside.

We like Agur will discover the strength we need to declare, “I can prevail!” As we are honest with the Lord and with ourselves, as we plop our problems out on the altar, look at them and realize that God has the power to carry us over, through, above and beyond ANYTHING that life presents, we will say with conviction, “Lord, I am weary, but because of You, I can prevail!”

As you continue by faith to serve the Lord, say to yourself, “I can prevail.” Continue to tell yourself, “I can do all thing through Christ that strengthens me!” Tell yourself, “Greater is He that is within me than He that is in the world!” Tell yourself, “The Lord will remember me with favor!” Tell yourself, “I am more than a conqueror through Him that loves us!” Tell yourself, “Through Christ, I am more powerful than opposing forces; and I WILL BE VICTORIOUS! Tell yourself, I WILL PREVAIL!

Post a comment or send me an email at Revcsmith1@gmail.com
Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Shepastor: “A Lion and a Lamb…”

The Scroll and the Lamb

5 Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” 3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. 4 I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lionof the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”
6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits[a] of God sent out into all the earth. 7 He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 8 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. 9 And they sang a new song, saying:

“You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased for God
persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign[b] on the earth.”
11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were saying:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!”
13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!”
14 The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

I believe that we can all agree that the final book of the Bible, the book of Revelations is very mysterious, eschatological in nature and for some, down right scary! Ironically, as a young girl I was drawn to this book, particularly the sections speaking of those who would be left behind and those that would be caught up in the rapture (that’s for another blog entry!!!).

Recently, I was drawn to this passage of scripture that focuses upon the reading of a sealed scroll. John wept because no one was worthy to break the seal and read the message. But then one of the heavenly elders in the text directs John to look…behold, there was the “Lion of the tribe of Judah.” Interestingly, when John looked, instead of seeing the Lion, he saw the Lamb whose wounds were still evident.

I was taken by this profound imagery that presented our triumphant Lord, Jesus Christ as both the victorious, conquering, Master, Savior and King and also as a wounded lamb, slain, sacrificed for our sins, souls and salvation. Jesus is the ultimate wounded healer! He exemplifies what it means to conquer yet have wounds…to be victorious yet to die, to rise yet to have scars. Jesus’ wounds uniquely position Him to be a “compassionate Savior, tempted in all points yet without sin.” Jesus’ wounds do not weaken His stature as King. They strengthen His position as our victor!

Our wounds can also “break seals” and unlock mysteries. When we by faith, God’s grace and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit rise up out of our woundedness, we too can “read” and “see” things that may not be possible without certain scars. Victory and wounds are not antithetic to one another. They are necessary companions. Thank you, Lord, Jesus for modeling this truth before us.

Post a comment or send me an email at Revcsmith1@gmail.com

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org