Saturday, May 23, 2020

Which Jesus Are You Serving?

Recently I heard someone on an online live broadcast say something like, "Wouldn't Jesus look silly going around with a surgical mask on!" That struck me so I posted this question on my Facebook page, "Would Jesus wear a mask?" Of course I meant a surgical mask when I posted the question. It seemed that everyone who responded knew the type of mask I was referring to. The response was pretty good. I must say, however, I was a bit astounded at some of the content!

Astounded? Why? Because of the range of the content...from an absolute "No" to "Jesus would wear a mask (even though He didn't need one) in order to encourage others to wear them. Actually I didn't think any of the responses were wrong or evil, but what astounded me was the difference of perspective folks have on Jesus. Perspective means a lot, because it determines which Jesus you serve. Your perspective of Jesus should be determined by the purity of God's Word, not the news, not by folks opinion, but again, by the Word of God.

If you commit to being a student/disciple of Jesus, then you commit to studying and learning God's Word. The more you learn, know, and apply God's Word in your life, the more you know and understand the fullness of who Jesus is. Yes, Jesus is Savior, thank God. But He is also Lord, Deliverer, Protector, Provider, and Healer! Actually He is much more than that!

I personally don't think Jesus would wear a surgical mask if they would've had them. I believe the encouragement from Jesus would go something like, "Trust me!" Or, "Follow me, and let me make you...." Or, "I so desire to heal you so let me touch you!" Listen to this: "When Jesus came down from the mountain, large crowds followed Him. And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean." Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." And immediately his leprosy was cleansed." (Mark 8:1-3) Notice Jesus didn't draw back (because the man was a leper) and shout from a safe distance, "I am willing, be healed". He was setting a precedent for those who would follow Him throughout the ages. Later He spoke about you and me just before He ascended back to the Father: "...they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." (Mark 16:18) Also see (John 14:12).

 I truly don't want to be even remotely offensive as I ask this, but is the Jesus you serve the one who would be more concerned with encouraging people to keep a safe distance from the leper by His own example?  Or is He the One who would be more concerned with demonstrating that you and I have power over not only sin, but physical sickness in His name? When Jesus healed the leper, He went against all practical protocol. He didn't keep a safe distance. I am quite sure some people understandably panicked. I'm sure some screamed "leper, leper!", and backed away to a supposedly safe distance. But not Jesus. He wasn't concerned about getting leprosy. Instead, He was driven to impart the gift of healing and restoration to a man who had suffered immensely for a long, long time; a man who was an outcast due to the disease he had. Remember, Jesus still heals today through yielded, trusting vessels.

Jesus established the precedent for you and me two thousand years ago. This post is in no way an attempt to down the medical profession and the incredible medical technology available to us today. But we must always remember that the medical experts are not Jesus. And in a time when politics has infiltrated even the medical world, Jesus is still (and will forever be) the Great Physician. The Jesus I serve is the One who defied all protocol and logic with the power that is much higher, and infinitely supplied from heaven! This is the Jesus who has conquered death, hell, and the grave, through whom we have been made more than conquerors!

Note: This post asks the question "Would Jesus Wear A Mask?". I am not asking you if you would wear a mask.

 

Monday, April 6, 2020

God First = God's Peace

Jesus outlines a very crucial principle in His sermon on the mount in the book of Matthew. I'll get to that shortly. But first He says, "And who of you by being worried (anxious) can add a single hour to his life?" (Matthew 6:27) Jesus' point here is that worry and anxiety produce absolutely nothing beneficial for our lives. They do however produce fear, and fear motivates God's people to magnify the problem over the God who created not only this planet, but all the planets in every solar system in the entire universe. Fear paralyzes God's people, prohibiting them from applying His supernatural, powerful Word in prayer and in conversation. Fear nullifies faith; and faith is the very force that we are to walk by. Faith in Jesus and His Word is the very spiritual shield that quenches all the fiery darts of the enemy!

The very crucial principle that Jesus outlines in His sermon on the mount is this: "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:33) This passage in Matthew is not as much about getting your basic needs met as it is to NOT worry. This principle of seeking first God and His kingdom is the key to warding off and eliminating worry and anxiety. Would you say that about now many followers of Jesus (right along with the world) are bound up in worry, anxiety, and fear? I would and I will. But listen to the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:6-7, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Do you live by the principle of "seeking God first"? If so, your heart and mind are ruled by the peace of God that exceeds all comprehension! It's that kind of peace one experiences when all the circumstances say that you should worry. But you don't because in everything you pray (and have prayed), and you supplicate your prayers with God's powerful life-changing, world-changing Word.

My friend, you can have peace, incomprehensible peace, in the midst of a deadly plague! Peace, because you magnify Jesus over the tragedy - by seeking Him first. Peace, because of the powerful protection His Word and His blood afford to those who understand and apply the principle of seeking Him first. How do you get that? You seek Him first. Turn off the mainstream news media. It only proclaims doom and gloom. Stop posting negative, fearful info that produces fear instead of faith. (Don't align yourself with the negative news media.) Stop reading negative, fearful posts that produce fear instead of faith. Start reading and meditating on God's positive Word. Start posting God's Word. Launch weapons of God's Word that produce faith and hope, but nullify the fear that so many need to be delivered from!

Never forget, God our very creator is more powerful that anything this fallen, sin-tainted world can manufacture and produce. Not only did He create our world, but over 2,000 years ago He came, as the spotless Lamb of God and broke the power of sin over you and me, and the entire world.

What a great time to commemorate the resurrection of the One who came to offer Himself for the entire world...especially in this current time when the whole world desperately needs Him!

Connie and I would love to pray for you. For prayer requests e-mail us at harvcel@gmail.com.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

To Obey, Or Not To Obey During The Corona Virus Crisis?


Should a church continue to open its doors for inside assembly when ordered not to during the current corona virus crisis? Is the government taking away our right to lawful assembly and our right to freedom of religion? Personally, I think not. Is conforming to the government mandates (issued for the safety and protection of our society) rebellion against God? Of course not.

Some are using examples of the early Apostles being told NOT to preach in the name of Jesus, and suffering beatings, imprisonment, and even death for continuing to preach in Jesus' name. But no one is telling anyone NOT to preach in the name of Jesus. No one has been ordered not to preach at all. I've heard more preaching on social media lately than ever before, not only from pastors, but from many who have been emboldened by the Spirit to speak out and encourage others!

Personally I don't like not getting to go to church. I don't like not getting to preach in churches. But because of the current crisis, I've preached to more people in more places than ever...right from my spare bedroom!

Does not getting to go to church (for a season) diminish the power of God? No! Can not getting to go to church drive God's people away from Him? No! From what I have seen and heard, more people are drawing closer to Jesus because of, and the midst of the situation. Paul said, "Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?" (Romans 8:35) He also said, "But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:37-39)

If and when our government comes down and tells us to close our doors to stop the spread of Christianity...that will be another story. If I am ever ordered not to preach Jesus, again, that's another story. But closing our doors during a crisis to stop the spread of a deadly virus is not the same. Remember, it's not just churches, but restaurants, theaters, venues, etc., that are being told to close.

I was raised not too far from the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I've experienced the aftermath of several hurricanes. And in some of those cases, Marshall law and curfews were imposed. Why? To take away rights? No, but to protect people and their property from looters and physical harm. When conditions improved, we reverted back to our normal laws. 

Love me while I say this, but there were many churches just drifting along in the stream of the status quo when all this broke a few weeks back. Having to close the doors for a season ought to make us Christians appreciate what we had, and eager to make it better when we can return. So between now and then draw closer to Jesus. Avail yourself to be prepared by Him to be turned loose by Him soon...on fire!

Listen to what Paul said. "Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil." (Romans 13:1-3a).

And let me present a couple of more questions. Does closing the doors of our churches, in accordance with the authorities (to stop the spread) mean folks have no faith? No. There are lots of folks in all churches that have less faith than others. Some have none! Does it mean we're copping out on God? No. If we simply yield ourselves to Jesus, I'm talking about our entire lives, He will use us in supernatural, miraculous ways during and beyond this crisis. It won't matter whether we're in a church building or a tree house! 

Make sure you are taking this crisis seriously. Yes, certainly the virus is something to be taken serious. But what I'm talking about are the effects it's having on our nation and the world. There is a lot more death than any of us wants to exist. The world economy (not to mention ours) is taking a beating. Take this time to pray...more than you ever have! Those who won't pray are not taking it seriously!

Finally, this crisis will end. And when it does end, I am confident that most of the world will know God intervened. Expect things not to be business as usual though. I'm expecting a much higher level of appreciation of the things we've given up during the crisis. I am believing that God's people will be stirred to a deeper commitment to Jesus. Many churches will be overflowing with folks who never went before!