Kisses can be wonderful.
Think back to your first kiss.  That moment when your lips touched the lips of another person with whom you shared a bond.  Your heart was racing!  Was it everything you thought it might be?
Think back to the kiss on your wedding day.  The words were spoken over you and your spouse, “You may now kiss the bride.”  In front of many of your relatives and friends, you sealed your vows with a kiss.  Your heart was elated with the thought of the commencement of your lives.
Think back to the first time you kissed your child.  You held that precious little gift in your arms and you planted a kiss on their tiny forehead.  Your heart was racing!  How could such an amazing creation be yours?!?
Kisses can be painful.
Think back to the day you sent your child off to camp for the first time or away to college.  You held them for a while and fought back the tears.  This is part of the growing process.  Your heart was breaking!  But you knew this day would come and it was time to temporarily say, “Goodbye.  I’ll see you soon.”
Think back to the day you buried your loved one and the last kiss you gave them.  You sobbed and wept.  This is part of the grieving process.  Your heart was breaking!  But you knew this day would come and that it was time to say, “Goodbye.  I’ll see you soon.”
Think back to the day that Judas entered the Garden of Gethsemane and kissed the Lord Jesus.  His heart was racing/breaking!  What was he doing?  Why would he use a kiss to show the mob that this was Jesus?
I think of these lyrics by Michael Card in a song called, “Why?”

Why did it have to be a friend
Who chose to betray the Lord
Why did he use a kiss to show them
That’s not what a kiss is for
Only a friend can betray a friend
A stranger has nothing to gain
And only a friend comes close enough
To ever cause so much pain

It was that kiss that set into motion the events that would bring us salvation and forgiveness.
Think of the day that will come and you will enter Heaven’s gates and you will kiss the Lord with tears of gratitude and joy rolling down your cheeks.  The sweetest of kisses cannot compare with a kiss such as that.

Luke 22:47-53 (NIV)

47 While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus asked him,“Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

49 When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.

51 But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.

52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? 53 Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour—when darkness reigns.”


A Prayer For Strength

Jesus’ simple prayer in verse 42 reflects His humanity as well as His submission to the will of the Father.  He prayed:

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”​ – Luke 22:42 (NIV)​

He knew that God could have provided another way.  Jesus, in a moment that revealed His human side, prayed that if there could be another way, then let there be another way.  Yet He also knew that if there were no other way, then He would submit to the Father’s plan and go through with it.  Jesus knew that the cross awaited Him at Golgotha.  God the Father, mover of mountains, could have moved the Hill of the Skull.  Yet Heaven was silent.  The Hill called Calvary was not moved.
Don’t mistake silence for a lack of care or concern.  Verse 43 says that an angel from Heaven appeared to strengthen Jesus.  The Father’s care for His Son was evidenced by the angel’s appearance.  God knew that humanity’s salvation depended on Jesus going through with the cross.  Jesus couldn’t have a way out, so God gave Him strength instead.
When we face the daily call to take up our cross, we might have moments where our resolve needs strengthening.  The cross we are called to bear is no less real.  The cross we are commanded to carry is no less painful, albeit ours is not a physical pain, the pain of sacrifice is real.  Pray to God to strengthen you, not give you a way out.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God can give you the strength to take up your cross and follow Jesus whatever it may cost you.

Luke 22:39-46 (NIV)

39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”


Be Prepared For The Inevitable

In Luke 22:35-38, it becomes clear that the disciples still did not understand what was about to take place.  Jesus had sent them out to do ministry and to proclaim the Kingdom of God throughout Galilee.  God had provided for all that they needed while they were doing His will.  They were well received and had a fruitful ministry there.  But now, as the time approached for Jesus’ death, He warned them that things would be different.  The disciples would not be well received.  They would be treated as criminals, just as Jesus would be treated as a criminal.  Jesus quotes Isaiah 53:12 when He speaks of being numbered among the transgressors.  Just as He was crucified alongside criminals, His followers would one day be viewed in much the same way.  He tells them to be prepared, even to the point of arming themselves.  When the disciples produce two swords, Jesus tells them that that is enough of that nonsense.  His words were not to be taken literally at this time.  It was more of a call to be ready when the time came.
Those who choose to follow Jesus and to take their faith in Him seriously should expect to be treated as outcasts.  We should not be surprised when we are ostracized.  People who reject Christ will also reject His followers.  The Gospel is offensive to those who see themselves as self-sufficient.  The words of Jesus are a bright light shining in the eyes of those blinded by their sin.  The world would not accept Jesus and it still rejects Him.  As His ambassadors, we will find ourselves rejected as well.  Let us not be shocked or surprised by this.  Instead, let us prepare ourselves for the inevitable – persecution.  Let us strengthen our resolve to follow Jesus no matter the cost.  Many will fall away and lose faith because of what will happen.  Will you fall away?  Will you lose faith?  The time to prepare is now.  Arm yourself with the sword of the Spirit – the Word of God.  Take up the shield of faith.  Put on the helmet of salvation.  We need the breastplate of righteousness and the belt of truth and the shoes of the Gospel of peace.  Do not be surprised when persecution comes.  Be prepared!

Luke 22:35-38 (NIV)

35 Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”

“Nothing,” they answered.

36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. 37 It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”

38 The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”

“That’s enough!” he replied.


We’re Not As Good As We Think

Despite our protestations, we still fall short and sin.  We’re idealists, really.  We want to believe the best about ourselves.  Simon Peter thought that he could stand up under the weight of temptation and testing.  He told Jesus that he would go anywhere with Jesus – even prison and death!  Jesus knew better.  He knew Peter better than Peter even knew himself.  This is why Jesus provided for forgiveness and restoration before Peter ever sinned.  He said to Peter in verse 32:

And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.​ – Luke 22:32b (NIV)​

​Jesus knew that Peter would fail Him.  He also knew that Peter would return to Him and be restored.
Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves.  He knows we struggle with temptations and sins.  He know that we fall short and miss the mark.  His desire is not for punishment and wrath.  His desire is for forgiveness and restoration.  The Bible says that it was while were still in our sins that Jesus died for us.  He came to seek and to save lost people.  Lost people like us.  Our sins can be forgiven and we can turn back and when we do, our experiences and struggles can be used to strengthen others.  Will you turn back?  He’s waiting for you to do just that.​

Luke 22:31-34 (NIV)

31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”

34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”



He Welcomes Sinners

The sermon from 9/14/14 at Griffith First Christian Church in Griffith, Indiana.  This message is the first in the series, “The Prodigal God” based on the book of the same name by Timothy Keller.


Who Is The Greatest?

In John’s account of the Last Supper, we read of Jesus’ humble act of washing His disciples’ feet:

 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. – John 13:3-5 (NIV)

This was the job of the lowest servant in the house.  This was a dirty, disgusting job.  It was a task that none of the other disciples were willing to do.  So the Creator of the universe had undertaken in order to His disciples an example of service and sacrifice.  Yet according to Luke’s Gospel, this act of humility was lost on them.
On the night before Jesus was crucified, His disciples began to argue with one another about which one of them was Jesus’ favorite.  Who was the most important?  Who was the greatest among them?  They just didn’t get it!  Following Jesus is not about being great!  It’s about serving others in love.  It is not an opportunity to satisfy an ego!  It is about humbly loving others and reflecting Christ to a lost world.  The disciples were so caught up in their dreams of power and glory that they missed Jesus’ humility and service.
We can do the same thing, you know.  When we think that our preferences and our desires are more important than anyone else’s, we are just like the disciples.  We are full of pride and self-centeredness and we forget that our lives are to be lived as servants of Jesus.  What did Jesus come to do?  To seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10).  When we lose that Jesus mission to selfish pride and arrogance, He cannot be pleased.  We have to deny ourselves and take up that cross every day, especially in the church.  What we do in our churches has to have one focus: making disciples.  That means that everything we do has to be about helping people follow Jesus.  Every dollar that is spent has to go toward that mission.  Every second that is spent serving Jesus has to go toward that mission.  Whether you are investigating the claims of Christianity or are a new follower of Jesus or have been walking with Him for decades, the goal and purpose of the church is to help you follow Him better each day until we get to our heavenly home.  And we should be willing to do just about everything in our power (short of watering down the Gospel and violating God’s Word) to help people follow Jesus.
Luke 22:24-30 (NIV)
24 A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest.25 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.28 You are those who have stood by me in my trials. 29 And I confer on you a kingdom,just as my Father conferred one on me, 30 so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Helping People Follow Jesus

The message from Griffith First Christian Church from Sunday, September 7, 2014.


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