Friday, January 18, 2013

Throw it Overboard/ Gaining Christ, Sunday School Lesson, Philippians 3:7-11

Paul spoke of the loss of his religious credentials as he'd earlier spoken of the loss of a ship's cargo (in Acts 27:10, 22, the only other place in the New Testament where loss is used).

Paul had viewed all of his religious past as something to be grateful for and nothing to be ashamed of. Even in persecuting the church he thought he was working for God. Yet there came a time when he "threw it all overboard": "Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" (Philippians 3:7-8).

Paul learned that any confidence in one's own religious attainments in the issue of salvation is not only useless but downright dangerous, for those very things could keep him from eternal salvation.

Here, however, the analogy to losing a ship's cargo ends. A ship's crew (especially the captain) would throw the cargo overboard with deep regret because doing so meant great financial loss. For Paul, however, there was no regret whatsoever. In fact he spoke of his "cargo" of religious background and attainments as rubbish: "I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ" (Philippians 3:8).

Probably a more accurate and descriptive word for rubbish here is garbage—table scraps or the kind of stuff you put down your garbage disposal.

Paul had come to the conclusion that his religious background was something to be deliberately dumped. Why? Because he'd discovered something far more valuable: the righteousness that comes from God through faith in Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:9).

What things do you need to throw overboard? What baggage do you need to sing the goodbye song to?
"Na Na Na Na. Na Na Na Na. Hey Hey Hey. Goodbye." Throw it overboard, make room for what God has for you

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What Adds up to Christ/ Gaining Christ; Sunday Schhol Lesson; Philippians 3:7-11

Looking forward to the lesson on Sunday from Philippians 3:7-ll, today let's look at the verse 7:

Philippians 3:7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
The great apostle tells us of his great love for Jesus Christ, it was an awesome love. I dare say that for us "To Value Something, We Must Know the Value of It". In this passage Paul is telling us that he actually had much in his life that he considered to be of great value. He valued his religious upbringing; it was something that he was very proud to share with any listener.

He had the choicest linage that a Jewish boy could have, he was of the tribe of Benjamin, he was circumcised on the 8th day, he could even brag about being a Pharisee. He lived a life that would be pleasing to mankind, he was so proud of his flesh and his fleshly heritage. As he grew up, did he ever ponder, was this enough, he knew that this all pleased man, but did it please God?

He even persecuted the church; he killed Christians and allowed their persecution, and hoped for their extinction from society. He so valued all of this until he encountered the Lord Jesus Christ as he journeyed down the Damascus road. The day he met this man called Jesus something strange happened in his life, his values changed. The things that he considered to be of great value were no longer counted as anything but useless.

In the past he counted upon those things to get him to heaven, but now he totally turned away form these things, he considered them to be nothing but great loss. He realized the value of the valuable, he now compared these things to a different standard and these things failed to hold any value when standing next to the valuable.
  1. The Humble Realization of This Man—His Loss
  2. The Holy Righteousness of the Master—His Lord
  3. The High Regards of This Message—His Lesson

Cantrell's Jewels for the Journey.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Do you See Anything?

I was recently intrigued in preaching the passage out of Mark 8:22-26 where Jesus returns the sight of a blind man. While Jesus performing miracles is not a new thing, this miracle still intrigued me because of how vastly different it is from most of the other miracles Jesus performed.

The gospels in their entirety records the healing of seven (7) blind men all healed in a variety of ways; whether sent, touched, or told to wash, they were all healed. The intriguing thing for me in this miracle is that it was done gradually rather than instantly. Compounding my intrigue is the fact, Mark is known as the Instantly, Straightway, Immediately gospel writer so this miracle seemed out of place.

Therefore, the question is begging to be asked,  "Why did Jesus heal this man in stages", Why didn't he do it instantly" Did the man lack faith, Was there more power in the second touch than there was in the first touch"? Questions abound, it is very intriguing.

Because of Context and Content, I am left with a deeper meaning of this miracle. Some may intrepret and I couldn't argure with them if it was said that this was a two-stage miracle but I think that is swimming on the shallow end of the pond. To delve deeper, one would really see, this is really two miracles in one. The first miracle is Vision, the second miracle is Perception.

I always miss the first miracle in this message because I waste time time trying to understand meaning. Sometimes you have to learn to shout where you are so you can get to where you want to be. The shout is found in the question Jesus asks in vs 23 and the answer found in vs 24. The shout is in the content but admittedly, it is a fast shout, here it is:

Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.”

Did you see it? No, ok I will try again and reduce some words!

“Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see people,

Do you see it now? Let's reduce to the least common denominator .

“Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see 

The shout is found not in WHAT he sees, the shout is found in the fact that HE DOES SEE. Before Jesus, he saw nothing, after Jesus, He sees something. We have to learn to shout where we are. Things may not be like I want them but after spending time with Jesus, there are better than they were before. I couldn't see any hope, no joy, no peace, no chance, no way, now I see SOMETHING. and in my book SOMETHING IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN NOTHING.

We see the buts in life. I have a job BUT its a dead end job, I have a church BUT its a bad church, I'm married BUT I have no joy in it instead of realizing there is someone that wishes they had a job, a marriage, that God would let them Pastor. Our shout is in the I ONCE WAS.

All of us have an I ONCE WAS Story. I Once was a drunk, a whore, a liar, a gambler, a wrectch undone, a misfit, a miscreant, a disapointment, a sorry excuse for a man but THANK GOD all of our I ONCE WAS Stories have now become a BUT NOW STORY. I would hate to end my story on the I ONCE WAS side, I have to tell you BUT NOW, after I met Jesus I HAVE A BUT NOW, I once was Blind but now I see.

Here in the part of the story, the preacher would concentrate on the second touch of Jesus. We will say, and rightfully so that we all need another touch. After the first stage, the man can see but his vision is very blurry. Only when Jesus touches him a second time can he see clearly. Cloudy spiritual vision afflicts every Christian to some degree. None of us sees as clearly as we would like for now we see through a glass darkly.

That's what this blind man experienced. When he was partially healed, he saw men as trees walking. No one sees life with perfect clarity. All of us have spiritual nearsightedness to one degree or another.

I agree with all of this but that is still missing the context of which this content rests in. The context teaches us that what Jesus did for the man is the same thing he was trying to do for the disciples. The man has received VISION but now he needs PERCEPTION.

In the New Testament Sight is a metaphor for understanding. The disciples had sight but they had no understanding. The blind man has sight but he does not have perception, the power to perceive and understand what he sees accurately, so he seems trees that look like men,

If you go back to the beginning of Mark 8, you have the miracle of the feeding of the 4000 (vv. 1-10). Immediately afterwards the Pharisees came to argue with him (vv. 11-12). After Jesus and the disciples got into a boat, he warned them to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees (v. 8:15). Leaven is another word for the yeast necessary for baking bread, but in this case it refers to the false teaching of the Pharisees.

But the disciples thought he was talking about literal bread. Jesus then rebuked the disciples by saying, "Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember?" (v. 18). Or we could paraphrase it this way: "How can you be so blind after having been with me so long? Don't you understand anything I'm saying?"

Hellen Keller said, "The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision". To give this man sight without the perception to understand that which he sees would cause him to misinterpret what he sees and act wrongly based on misconstrued information.

Perception sees past the problem, past the complaint, past the bickering into the solution, into the suggestion, into the sereneness of peace. SOme people can only see the problem. It used to upset me until I understood that Vision and Perception are two different things.

WHEN YOU KNOW BETTER, YOU DO BETTER, When I understand what I see, I don't walk into the same traps, pitfalls and snares that I did when I was blind. It is for this reason that Jesus tells the man, Don't go to the village but go home. When you don't understand what you see, you fall for the same traps, the same lines, the same ditches, but when you have understand, when you have perception,........


Monday, January 7, 2013

Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts

The word for the day is Excitement, in our church and in our town. Our Christian Education Department launched the Macedonia Christian Leadership School under the direction of the National Baptist Convention USA, INC.

We will be running five (5) Discipleship programs consisting of Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts, Spiritual Formation, Effective Bible Reading, Baptist Doctrine and Evangelism. I want to say thank you to our Christian Education Director, Deacon Chris Dudley and our Dean of Records Sister Cynthia Bellaphant for all of their hard work in setting up and running our CLS.

Sunday was our first class and we exceeded our pre-registration numbers, To God be the Glory!! I was amazed at a needs survey we did at this church how many members thought they had NO SPIRITUAL GIFTS but yet believed they were saved. SO many members believed the only gifts were singing, preaching, leadership, therefore, I don't have those so I must not have any spiritual gifts.

It is our goal for this class to help students identify and then learn how to implement the gifts God has given the body of Christ through His members.

Please pray for us. Some students are taking these courses for certification and some are taking it for information. Either way, we just want to make God pleased with our efforts to develop students who can rightly divide the Word of Truth.

The other excitement in the air is the College National Championship Title Game tonight where the #1 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish will take on the #2 Alabama Crimson Tide. I certainly have local rooting interest in the game as I have spent time with many members of the Notre Dame football team who visit and help assist in ministry at our Church.

We thank God and our church is praying for Coach Ernest Jones who is responsible for helping develop the Fighting Irish football players in three of the five core areas Head Coach Kelly uses to develop and complete student-athletes: intellectual development, social development and spiritual development (the coaching staff is charged with skill development and the strength and conditioning staff is responsible for physical development).

Coach Jones runs INSPIRATION, A Bible based study and prayer group for students, coaches and athletes within the athletic department. We pray for his strength and we pray for the young men who will represent South Bend tonight against Alabama.

We don't mind Alabama rolling but tonight we hope Roll Tide rolls like they are on four flat tires and the Irish win.