VIDEO Peter, Do You Love Me?

John MacArthur Nov 20, 2016

For this morning, we come we come to the 21st chapter of John, and this morning we’re going to finish our study of this incredibly important gospel.  Somebody asked me if I’m always kind of glad when you come to the end of a book and have the satisfaction that it’s completed, and the truth is I have the very opposite reaction. I hate to let it go, because it’s likely that I’ll never be back again to do this; and this is such an incredibly powerful life-transforming experience, especially for me, because of the intensity that I apply to it in order to bring a message to you on the Lord’s Day. So it’s with a measure of sadness that we come to the end of the gospel of John, but it’s going to be, I trust, a wonderfully helpful consummation as we look at the final section. That final section of chapter 21 looks like a lot of verses, and maybe it could be stretched out a little bit. But it is really faithful to the intent of John not to get bogged down here and wander off into all the world and preach the gospel everywhere, but to stick with the emphasis here. This section is really driven right at Peter. Peter, of course, has already been high-profile in the first half of chapter 21. Again, Peter had acted disobediently; and because he was a leader, he led the other apostles who were with him into disobedience.

You remember I told you, they were supposed to be in a mountain waiting for the Lord, but Peter decided that he was going to abandon his call to ministry, if you will, and go back to fishing. There were reasons for that. He had denied the Lord on three separate occasions. I think he felt inadequate. I think he felt guilty. I think he felt weak. He also was a man who didn’t have a lot of patience. He had not yet, along with the apostles, received the Holy Spirit. They were doubtful of their own power, their own ability, to sustain a ministry he knew that he had failed so many times.

The Lord had rebuked him so many times; the others were unsure about the future even though they had seen the risen Christ for the third time in chapter 21 when He met them for breakfast on the shore of the lake in Galilee. So we understand that Peter was really vacillating in his commitment to ministry. If the gospel ended there we wouldn’t really know whether Peter had an official recommissioning, so we’re grateful for verses 15 and following, because this is the restoration, the recalling of Peter, the reassignment of the ministry that God had given him through Christ at the very beginning of the ministry of our Lord.

Back in Matthew 4:19 Jesus met these fishermen, including Peter; told them to drop their nets, leave it all behind and He would make them fishers of men. You remember they all dropped everything, followed Him. This is three years-plus later, and Peter has led his fishermen friends back to fishing in the first part of the chapter. That’s not the Lord’s plan for them. Peter is the leader; he needs to be restored, and behind him will come the others. God has very significant plans for this denying, impatient, impulsive leader by the name of Peter. And as we look at this final section we’re going to see what is essentially a call to faithfulness for any believer, any disciple of Christ, anyone who is going to serve the Lord. This is what a committed Christian looks like. This is a characteristic of committed Christians. To see what our Lord elicits out of Peter is what He wants out of all of us. This is a wonderful model.

Let me begin in verse 15: “So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ And He said to him, ‘Tend My lambs’ – or – ‘feed My lambs.’ He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Shepherd My sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because he said him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend’ – or feed – ‘My sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.’ Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, ‘Follow Me!’

“Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His bosom” – or chest – “at the supper and said, ‘Lord, who is the one who betrays You?’ So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, ‘Lord, and what about this man?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!’ Therefore this saying wen tout among the brethren that the disciple would not die; yet Jesus didn’t say to him that he would not die, but only, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?’ This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.” Just a fascinating portion of Scripture directed at Peter.

Peter is beloved by all of us because he is like us. He has all the failures that we are so familiar with in our own lives. He overestimates himself and underestimates temptation. He think he’s more committed than he is. He thinks he loves the Lord more than he does. He thinks he can face any trial triumphantly; finds out he can’t. By the time we get to this point, even though he has seen the risen Christ, he is really a broken man.

The disciples have not yet received the Holy Spirit, so they have not yet been infused with power, and they are very familiar with their own impotence. It’s very easy for them, as we come to the epilogue in the gospel of John, to just kind of drift back to life the way it used to be, to go back to fishing, which this particular group had been engaged in, with the exception of Thomas. But the Lord is going to call him back, and with him the rest of them, back into significant ministry. They will subsequently be empowered by the Holy Spirit, and they will turn the world upside-down. But it requires a certain commitment for them to be that useful, so here you have a call to follow Christ. It has three components. It is a call to love Christ; it is a call to sacrifice for Christ; it is a call to follow Christ no matter what. That is universally the case.

For every believer, for every follower of Jesus Christ, there is the necessity of a call to love, a call to sacrifice, and a call to obey. That is the stuff of discipleship. So this is a very straightforward, somewhat simple – not simplistic, but simple in the sense that it’s very clear, “Look at what it means to be a disciple.” What comes out of those three things that are very easily articulated – love, sacrifice, and obedience – is still the fact that following Christ is not easy. To love that way is not easy, to sacrifice that way is not easy, and to obey that way is not easy. Salvation is not cheap, it is not easy, it costs everything, everything. We are told by our Lord Himself in His gospel calls that sinners are to submit completely to the Lord Jesus Christ, to find their lives by losing them, to fulfill their lives by emptying them, to live their lives by dying to self.

Salvation is not cheap, it is not easy. Our Lord repeatedly said, “It might require you to hate your father, your mother, your sister, your brother, and your own life. It might require you to turn from everything you possess, all your desires, all your ambitions.” “If you want to follow Me,” – Jesus said – “you must deny yourself, take up your cross,” – which means it may mean death – “and follow Me.” You need to count the cost, and the cost could be your life. The cost will be your life, and maybe your death. This is a very, very extreme call to follow a man.

Why would people do this? Jesus was actually calling for people to become His slave, to abandon their own ambition, desire, control; become slaves of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is extreme. What would motivate that? Why would someone do that? What is the compelling desire that is going to cause me or you or anybody else to sacrifice my life for Christ, to spend my life obeying Him? What’s the motive? Well, that’s where we begin.

The motive is love. That is the only power that can motivate this kind of devotion. I think we understand that even on a human level that people who love greatly, sacrifice greatly. People who love greatly give up things. Love is a powerful, powerful emotion, powerful motivation.

Even earthly love is so powerful it can draw the best out of people, and it can also draw the worst. It is love that makes people sacrifice everything to live with one person the rest of their life. It is love that is so powerful it can destroy a family. It can destroy a marriage; it does all the time. It can destroy a life. It can lead to alcoholism, drugs, suicide, murder.

Love is a powerful emotion on a human level. It is so powerful that people sacrifice their own lives for it on the positive side, giving up their life for the one they love, giving up their life, if need be, for the children. Some have such great love for causes that are even beyond personal causes, that they will give their lives for their nation, for their neighbors.

In John 15:13, Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his philn, the ones He loves.” People die for love. It is a powerful, powerful motivation. And as far as Christians are concerned, according to 2 Corinthians 5:14, it is the love that we have for the Lord that controls us, that’s what Paul said. It is that love that controls us. Some of the translations of 2 Corinthians 5:14 say: constrains us, motivates us, drives us. Really you follow your love, you follow your love, the things you love; you follow those things in life, whatever they be, even objects that you love, experiences that you love, as well as people that you love.

Love is a powerful, powerful motivator, more powerful than any other. And when you move it into the spiritual dimension and the divine world, love is what causes us to serve the Lord in an extreme act of dedication. In fact, we go to the Old Testament, what do we hear our responsibility is? It is this, reiterated in Matthew 22:37 by our Lord Himself: “You are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” That in itself sums up the law. You can have the law of God.

All His laws in the Old Testament directed toward how we respond to Him. You can condense them into the first half of the Decalogue, which relates to how we treat God, or you can condense them once more into one statement: “You love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” That is how you are to live, you are to live a life of love. The Bible never calls for a life of legalism, a life of law, a life of dread, a life of fear; it always calls for us to love God.

And then the second part of that great command like it is, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” That fulfills the second half of the Decalogue and all the other laws that God gave that deal with human relationships. Love is the driving power in life. It is the driving power in the kingdom as well.

Back in Deuteronomy, when our Lord was reiterating His requirements for His people as they were on the brink of going into the Promised Land, chapter 6, verse 4,  He says, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons, talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, when you rise up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and on the front of your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” What are you writing? “The Lord is one and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might.” That’s what you teach your children. That is the summation of all that should be said about our relationship to God.

Listen to the 10th chapter of Deuteronomy, verse 12: “Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul.” Do you see the totality of that commitment? Every faculty, every aspect of your being is to be loving God. And then as a result, “If you love God with all your heart and all your soul, you will keep the Lord’s commandments and statutes which I am commanding you today for good.”

Again, in chapter 11, “You shall” – verse 1 – “therefore love the Lord your God, and always keep His charge, His statutes, His ordinances, and His commandments.” That’s Old Testament. It’s about loving God. That’s what God called the world to do, to love Him, to love Him.

Our Lord makes it clear in the 14th chapter of John. As you remember, on the night before His crucifixion in the upper room, verse 15, John 14, He says to the disciples and to all of us, “If you love Me, you’ll keep My commandments.” Verse 21, “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and disclose Myself to him.” Verse 23, “If anyone loves Me, he’ll keep My word. My Father will love him; We will come to him and Our abode with him.” Verse 28, “If you loved Me, you would have rejoice because I go to the Father.”

It’s all about love. From the beginning, from the Mosaic revelation to the very New Testament and all through the New Testament, and the summation of all that the apostles write, we are called to love God with all our faculties. It’s about loving Him.

John makes obviously a major point of this when he writes his epistles. His epistles are about loving God in the same way, and John extends them from not only loving God, but loving brothers. He does that in chapter 2, chapter 3, chapter 4, chapter 5 of 1 John. So when we talk about what characterizes believers, dedicated believers, it begins by saying they are driven by compelling love for Christ, compelling love for Christ.

Love is the power of obedience. Love is the power of duty. Love is the power of service. Love is the power of sacrifice. Love is the power of worship. Love is the power of fellowship. Love is everything. So you see that in the opening verses, verses 15 to 17, and our Lord’s dialogue with the apostle Peter. Here is a man who needs a total restoration.

Now somebody might say, “You know, he’s going to have to have six weeks of therapy to get him back to where he needs to be. There’s got to be a process here. There’s got to be some kind of path. There’s got to be some kind of course he needs to run. There have to be things he needs to learn. Sanctification is a very complicated thing to get him back on track. We’ve got to have him deal with a lot of his past, and plow through and figure things out, and assess things, and find a way forward.”

No. The Lord asks him one question three times: “Do you love Me? Do you love Me?” because you will follow what you love. You will serve what you love. You will sacrifice for what you love, who you love. That’s the question.

So for us to understand dedication commitment in the way that our Lord explains it here in the illustration with Peter, we start by understanding that a committed Christian lives a life compelled by love for Christ. This is very practical. It’s a wonderful way to end this glorious gospel of John. It almost seems, I suppose, like we’ve come down off this incredible high of the resurrection, post resurrection appearances, and now we’re down with the stumbling and bumbling people in the final chapter. But you have to understand that the glory of Christ is going to be placed in the hands of these stumbling, bumbling people; that this treasure, as Paul says, is in earthen vessels. And so we need to learn at the very end of this the kind of people that God is depending on to proclaim the glory of this gospel.

Now look, Peter overestimated himself a lot. But even in the upper room on Thursday night before the crucifixion, Jesus was talking about the fact that He was going to be leaving, verse 33: “Little children,” – John 13 – “I’m with you a little while longer. You’ll seek Me. As I said to the Jews, I also say to you, ‘Where I’m going, you can’t come.’ A new commandment I give you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you love one another. By this all men will know that you’re My disciples, if you have love for one another.” That is not only the essence of our relationship with God, it’s the essence of our relationship with each other.

“Simon Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, where are You going?’ Jesus answered, ‘Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later.’ Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You.’ Jesus answered, ‘Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times.’” And he did.

Three separate occasions, and in each of the three occasions, there were multiple denials. All of them happened that one night at the trial of Jesus in the house of the high priest. Peter had already seen Christ twice, and a third time on the shore of Galilee, so he knew He was alive. But he still had serious doubts about himself, and our Lord had to go to the core of the issue. He had been told to go to Galilee and wait for the Lord. Instead, he went up there for a little while and then went back to his old career, and took all his friends with him.

“Let’s go back to fishing.” That’s what they did before it all began. “We know how to do that; let’s go back and do that.” That wasn’t God’s plan for them. That wasn’t the Lord’s will. So Peter needed to be restored, and we need to know what happens to Peter at the end of the story.

This is a public restoration, by the way, because he’s not alone here. Back in verse 2 you have a list of all of the other disciples who were with him: Thomas, Nathanael, James and John, Philip and Andrew most likely – the crew, for the most part, that were the fishermen, with the addition of Thomas. And our Lord has prepared breakfast for them after the wonderful, miraculous catch of fish, and it’s now time to set the standard for discipleship and He’s going to start with Peter. They’ve all been disobedient; Peter’s going to be the example.

Verse 15: “When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter,” – by the way, John always refers to him as Simon Peter, which kind of gives us the whole picture before and after. I think there may be one exception to that in John’s gospel. But he chooses to call him Simon Peter. “But Jesus says to him, ‘Simon, son of John.’”

Now that must have gotten his attention. That was his name before he met the Lord, and the Lord had given him another name. “You used to be Simon, now you’re Peter.” Peter was the Lord’s name for him. But Peter had fallen so far that the Lord is using his old name, because he’s acting like his old self. This is like when you did something wrong and your mother called you by your entire name.

This must have been a shock. Peter didn’t necessarily want to be pointed out, he would like to have blended into the group. But he is pointed out, the Lord calls him out, and three times asked him if he loves Him, one for each occasion of denial. For each time that he denied Him, he gets an opportunity to be restored. And here is the restoration, it’s as simple as this: “Simon, son of John,” – or Jonas – “do you love Me?” That’s the question. That’s always the question to ask a disobedient believer, because what is being manifest in any act of disobedience is love. And when you act disobediently, you’re declaring love for something other than Christ, and Peter had done that.

So He says, “Do you love Me more than these?” These what, these men? No, because they had all done the same thing. They were all guilty of a loveless disobedience. He means nets, boats, fish. “Do you love Me more than these things that go with your former life? Are you prepared to give this up, to abandon all your successes, your chosen career? Are you willing to give it all up? Do you love Me enough to do that?”

And the word He uses is agapaó. That’s that high love – the noblest, purest, best; the love of the will. We talk about agape love; that’s a noun form of it. It is love in its fullest sense, love in its deepest sense, love in its greatest sense, love, I guess you could say, in its purest form – divine love.

“Do you really love Me, Peter, at the highest level?” That is the critical question. And that is the key to commitment. It was John Calvin who said, “No man will steadily persevere in the discharge of his ministry unless the love of Christ shall reign in his heart.”

“Do you love Me enough to live for Me? Do you love Me enough to walk away from this? Are you constrained by loving Me? Do you have a love for Me” – in the words of Paul in Ephesians 6:24 – “that is incorruptible love? Do you really love Me in the fullest sense?”

So Peter replies, “He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’” But he changed the word. Jesus used the word agapaó, Peter used the word phileó, he dropped down a notch. Phileó is a kind of brotherly love, kind of warm affection, a friendship love.

Look, Peter couldn’t say, “Yes, You know that I love You at the highest level of love.” That just wouldn’t fly. I mean he had denied Him, and now He had disobeyed Him, and He had enough sense not to be an absolute hypocrite and say, “Of course, I love You at the highest level.” So he says, “Lord, I have great affection for You.” He dared not claim agapaó, but he did claim phileó. But even with that, he has to lean on omniscience: “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

Now some people think omniscience is frightening; I think it’s a blessing. You say, “Well, that means the Lord knows everything you’re thinking, the Lord knows all about you.” Absolutely. What a blessing that is, because even when we don’t demonstrate it, He knows we love Him.

I’m happy to allow Him to know the things that I wish He wouldn’t know if He can also know the things that I desperately want Him to know, that I love Him. And he had to appeal to the omniscience of the Lord. In a broken and a contrite spirit he refuses to acknowledge the love at the level our Lord put it. But he says, “I have a great affection for You. It’s not what it should be, but it’s real.”

This is amazing. He said to him, “Tend” – or – “feed” – boskó is the verb – “pasture My lambs, pasture My lambs.” Amazing. With a less than perfect love, with a less than ideal love, with a less than noble love, with a less than elevated love, the Lord accepts him and says, “Pasture My lambs. Feed My lambs.”

And I just want to call to your attention that personal pronoun is very important, because whoever we shepherd doesn’t belong to us. This is a calling that Peter reminds all of us about in 1 Peter 5 when he writes and he says, “We are all under-shepherds and Christ is the Chief Shepherd.”

If you’re in ministry, if you’re caring for any other believers in any way, you are shepherding His sheep, not yours. No congregation belongs to a pastor or an elder. No Sunday School class belongs to a teacher. No believers in a family belong, in a spiritual sense, to parents. They’re His. It’s a stewardship that in some ways is really frightening. That’s why in Matthew the Lord tells us to be careful how we treat each other, because not only do they belong to Christ, but Christ is in them. So many people don’t understand pastoral ministry as caring for His sheep.

“Peter, pasture My lambs. The most vulnerable, the most weak, the most prone to wander, the most delicate – I turn them over to you. Care for them.” That’s what pastoral ministry is. It’s not about the world, it’s not about how you handle a culture, it’s how you handle His sheep. “If you love Me, then give your life to shepherding My lambs – the most vulnerable, the most dangerous, the weakest.”

You say, “Well that’s wonderful that the Lord would settle for that.” It is, but He’s not done. Verse 16: “He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’” Same word agapaó. “He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ ‘Okay,’ He said to Him, ‘Shepherd My sheep, not just the little ones, but all the rest.’ In other words, ‘No more fishing; shepherd My sheep. This is your calling.’”

And then in verse 17, “He said to him a third time, ‘Simon, son of John,’ – again, painfully repeated three times – ‘do you love Me?’ – and with that word, He dropped down to Peter’s word – ‘Do you really phileó Me?’ – in other words, He’s questioning even that – ‘Do you really have strong affection for Me? Do you really?’” Peter’s deeds didn’t even support that.

Jesus probes deep into Peter. This is corrective surgery. It cuts deep, it’s painful, but it can be healed. “He says,” – says John – “Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time.” He’s not grieved because He said it three times; there were three denials. He’s grieved, because the third time He says, “Do you phileó Me?” and even questions that love. “And, again, he says, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep, tend My sheep, pasture My sheep. No more fishing. No more fishing. Your job is My little lambs, My sheep.’”

Back in chapter 10 He talked about how He loved the sheep, how He gave His life for the sheep, how the sheep knew Him and He knew them. And now He’s handing them over to Peter. “I’m entrusting you with them, and I need to know that you love Me more than you love this, so that you’re going to be faithful to give your life for them.” So three times Peter had the opportunity to tell the Lord he loved Him. You might have thought that the Lord would have discarded Peter at this point since Peter really couldn’t even defend, by his behavior, that lower level of love. But the Lord accepted him and said, “Pasture My sheep.”

We are truly clay pots. The Lord has to use those of us who have an inferior love. First Thessalonians 4 talks about how we’re taught of God to love in verse 9. And then verse 10 it says, “But you need to excel even more.” We’re told that our love should abound.

But this is where all Christian commitment starts: “Do you love Christ more than” – fill in the blank, whatever it is. “Do you love Him more? Then serve Him.” I can tell what you love by what you serve, what you do, what the priorities of your life are. A committed Christian is compelled, driven by love for Christ, and that shows up in his or her life, a life given to His flock.

Secondly – and this is equally important and builds on the first – a committed lives a life compelled by love for Christ, and secondly, characterized by sacrifice for Christ. This is costly love. I already quoted Luke 9:23, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross” – it could mean you’re going to die.

And that’s exactly what Peter hears in verse 18: “Truly, truly, I say to you,” – that’s been repeated many times in the gospel of John: truly, truly, a formula for something that is absolutely true – “I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished. You put on your own belt, you lived your life the way you wanted to. You had freedom, you called the shots, you did whatever you wanted to do. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.”

He’s saying to Peter, “In the future, Peter, you’re going to be taken prisoner. You’re going to be bound and hauled off to a place you don’t want to go. Then” – He says – “you’re going to stretch out your hands” – that is a euphemism for crucifixion. That’s how people were crucified. He’s telling Peter, “When you get old, Peter, you’re going to be crucified. You’re going to be taken prisoner and you’re going to be crucified.”

How do I know that? Verse 19 says it: “Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.” Peter finds out here he’s going to be a martyr. He’s going to be a crucified martyr. And you remember the story that tradition gives us, that when it came time for him to be crucified, he didn’t feel he was worthy to be crucified as the Lord was, so he asked to be crucified upside-down. “So, Peter, welcome back to the ministry. Go feed My sheep, go feed My lambs, and know this, that sometime in the future when you’re old, you’re going to be arrested, you’re going to be crucified.”

You might stop and say, “Well that is really bad news. Why would You tell him that? Why would you tell Him that? Better not to know, right, let it be a surprise.” No, it’s important to tell him that. He needed to know what? He needed to know that the next time he got in a life and death situation he would not deny his Lord. He needed to know that. He needed to know that when they took him and captured him, and tied him up, and stretched out his hands, and nailed him to a cross, he would glorify God.

I think he lived the rest of his life with a newfound confidence that overcame his self-doubt, because he had been such a failure at the trial of Christ. I think this put power into his life. I think this put hope into his heart. I think this added confidence to him and boldness. I think he may have otherwise feared that, “If I ever get into that situation again, what am I going to do?” and that would have sucked all of his confidence out. This is a great gift to this man: “You’re going to be arrested, crucified. You’re going to die, but in it, you’re going to glorify God.” Good news.

This is the ultimate sacrifice, and that’s how believers live. This is the extreme requirement for a committed life. Peter had said, Luke 22, “I’m ready to go with you to prison and death.” Didn’t work out that way first time; it would work out that way the last time. In the end, he will die for his Lord. This is a beautiful life-changing promise. Peter has to be ecstatic, thrilled. His heart has to be soaring. His hopes are flying. His boldness is being elevated as he heads toward a triumphant encounter with those who will kill him for his faithfulness to Christ. That’s what dedication is.

The third thing: a life that is truly dedicated to the Lord is compelled by love for Christ, characterized by sacrifice for Christ, and content with following Christ. The end of verse 19: “When Jesus had spoken the words about Peter’s death, He said this to him, ‘Follow Me! Follow Me!’” So important: “Follow Me!” Simple enough.

In a wonderful gesture, I think the Lord turned and started walking away, and Peter’s going to follow Him, at least for two steps, because in verse 20 it says, “Peter turning around.” What? This guy is incorrigible. “What are you turning around for?”

Well, he saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, you know, the one who leaned on Jesus at the supper, that’s John. He sees John, you know, John, the one who asked the question, “Lord, who’s the one at the table who’s going to betray You?” And verse 21, “Peter seeing John said to Jesus, ‘Lord, Lord, what about him? So I’m going to be crucified. What about him?’” Peter is a project. “What about him?”

I love the answer. “Jesus says to him” – in verse 22, it’s really hyperbole and sarcasm – ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me! Look, if I decide he’s going to live till the second coming, it’s none of your business. Follow Me!’”

I mean this is the kind of focus that our Lord wants: “Follow Me! Don’t compare yourself with somebody else. Don’t ask what God has for somebody else, you just follow Me wherever that leads” – and for him, it’s going to lead to death. “What about John; it’s irrelevant. If I want him to live till the second coming, what is that to you?”

That would be interesting, wouldn’t it, if he were still here. Well, that’s what some people thought, verse 23: “Therefore this saying went out among the brethren that that disciple would not die.” That’s gossip for you; they never get it right. It’s ridiculous, “John’s going to live till the second coming.”

The Lord has to straighten that out. Jesus didn’t say to him that he wouldn’t die, He just said, “If I want him to remain to come, what is that to you?” He had to correct a rumor, because if people actually believed Jesus said he wasn’t going to die and he died, then Jesus didn’t know, and they got it wrong. We’ve got to protect His integrity. “Peter, please, just follow Me. Don’t worry about John. Don’t worry about anybody else.” Like Paul, we’re not comparing ourselves with others, “Just follow Me.” First Timothy 4:16, “Take heed to yourself.” You’ve got plenty to work on right there.

Peter would be faithful, he would be focused. And, oh, by the way, John didn’t live till the second coming, he died on the Isle of Patmos at the end of the first century in exile. But he also was Peter’s companion, right? From the Day of Pentecost on to the first part of the book of Acts, it was Peter and John together.

So the Lord wasn’t saying, “You’re not going to have anything to do with John.” The Lord was saying to him, “You follow My plan for you, not My plan for him.” Peter was crucified upside-down; John lived much longer than Peter. God had a different plan; Christ had a different plan for John.

Peter is restored. And, oh, by the way, John, who is being referred to here, adds his own little final note in verse 24: “This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true.” There is John saying, “The one that he was talking about, that’s me, and I’m the one who wrote all of this and it’s the truth.” The apostle authenticates his own gospel. The apostle authenticates his own gospel: “It’s the truth.” What a touching personal end.

And, again, why does it end this way? You know, we’ve been to the heights. We’ve been through the cross, through the resurrection. The glory of Christ has been demonstrated, verse 31, that culminating statement: “These things have been written that you may believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and believing might have life in His name,” – this great gospel reality.

And in the final chapter, we just come back down to earth and we meet these two guys. That is such a fitting ending, because the glory of the gospel eventually ends up with us, right, ends up with us and whether or not we’re going to love Christ, sacrifice for Him, and be content to follow Him.

And then a final word. There’s just one other question to ask: “Why didn’t John say more about Jesus?” Well, he says, “There are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself wouldn’t contain the books that would be written.”

Now that may seem like hyperbole to you, but we live in a fascinating technological world. Just your life alone and all the words you’ve ever said, ever written, have ever been sent to you, written about you; all the interaction you’ve ever had in this world; I read by the time you’re done with your life could fill 320 libraries; and that just you, and who cares, right?

And you understand that there are so many bits of data in the world that they’re literally uncountable. It’s amazing how one person with one mouth and one pen can generate the volume of experiences that could be written about, conversations that could be recorded, letters that could be repeated, copied. Oh, by the way, it’s all copied, it’s in the cloud; not God’s cloud, it’s in Google’s cloud. But it’s also in God’s cloud. And you would be amazed to know that even though you probably have a maximum of, oh, maybe 20,000 words in your vocabulary, that stretches into an almost infinite number of bits just to represent your one life.

John didn’t know all about that, but he did know that if everything Jesus ever did was written out in full, and everything He ever said was recorded, the world wouldn’t be able to contain it; it would have to be up in the cloud. Someday we’ll have access to that. When we get into God’s cloud and go to heaven, I think we’ll know the full story.

Father, we thank You again this morning for a wonderful opportunity to have our lives examined by Your Word, because that’s what it does, it shines a light on us. It discloses us. It is the revealer of the thoughts and intents of the heart. We thank You for the searchlight of Your precious Word. We thank You for the joy that it brings, the comfort, the encouragement, the counsel, the wisdom, the knowledge, the conviction, the correction. And we would all want to be like You wished Peter to be, motivated by love for You over love for anything and everything else, not loving the world or the things that are in the world, because then the Love of the Father’s not in us. But loving You, we want to be willing to sacrifice for You in life, and even in death if need be. And just in that simple way, we want to follow You, not asking about somebody else or what you have for them, but what You have for us.

Lord, we want to be used by You with all of our frailty. We feel like Peter. We want to say we love You. We can’t climb a mountain of that highest love and say we’ve reached the peak. It’s a lesser love that we claim, and that might even be questionable. But You know our hearts, You know we love You, and we want to serve You. We want to shepherd Your sheep and tend Your lambs. So, Lord, would You count us faithful, know our hearts, and know that we do love You. We are willing to sacrifice for You. We do desire to follow; and in so doing, may You find us useful to Your glory. This is our prayer.

Thank You for all that this wonderful gospel has meant to us and will continue to mean. And as the messages go out around the world in years to come, may they always accomplish Your purpose. And may it be that the testimony that John has written, as he said, will be seen as true, as true. And may the truth enlighten many, many souls to salvation, for Your glory. Amen.

https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/43-116

Lasting Love On Mother’s Day

by Jim Parisi on May 15, 2003

A Mother’s Day Comment by Chuck Swindoll:

I remember a Mother’s Day card I saw that was really cute. It was a great big card written in a little child’s printing—little first-grade printing. On the front was a little boy with untied sneakers. He had a wagon, and toys were everywhere. He had a little cut on his face and there were smudges all over this card. It read, “Mom, I remember that little prayer you used to say for me every day,” Inside was the prayer: “God help you if you ever do that again.”

What greater Love then the love of a mother?

Mother’s day is the day we honor mothers here in the United States.

What greater Love between two Humans then the love between a mother and her child.

We are going to look in to the power of Love for one another.

1 Corinthians 13:1–13, especially verse 1: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.”

You’re never too old for your mother to correct you.

Introduction: According to the Knoxville News-Sentinel, Police Chief Phil Keith was in the middle of a city council meeting in Knoxville, Tennessee, when his pager beeped. Startled to see that the call was from his mother, he rushed to the press table and phoned her. “Phil Keith, are you chewing gum?” demanded his mom, who had been watching on cable TV. “Yes, ma’am.” “Well, it looks awful. Spit it out.” Keith dutifully removed the gum and went back to his meeting.

There’s no one like mothers! The words “mother” and “love” go together like left and right hands, and on this Mother’s Day of 2003,

There’s no better passage to study than the “Love Chapter” of the Bible which describes the agape love of God which is necessary for mothers, fathers, sons, daughters—and for all the rest of us.

1. The Place of Love (vv. 1–3). Love is superior to eloquent words (v. 1). Love is the vital principle, and without it all other endowments, including excellence in communication, is vain. Love is superior to wisdom

(v. 2). If a person could unlock the mysteries of the entire universe and call forth faith to remove mountains, he would be zero without love.

Love is superior to work (v. 3). Albert Barnes notes, “If there is not true piety, there can be no benefit in this to my soul. It will not save me. If I have not true love to God, I must perish, after all. Love therefore, is more valuable and precious than all these endowments. Nothing can supply its place; naught can be connected with salvation without it.”

2. The Portrait of Love (vv. 4–7). Love is patient (v. 4).

It bears injustice without anger or despair.

Love may be practiced (v. 4). It is mild under all irritations and ill usage.

Love produces good manners and courtesy at all times.

Love is pure (v. 4), not jealous or displeased when others are successful.

Love never embarrasses the owner or recipient.

Love is peaceful (v. 4). It is not rash.

Love takes a back seat and is willing to work behind the scenes.

Love does not brag or boast or sing its own praises. Love is polite (v. 5), doing nothing to cause shame.

Love prefers others (v. 5). There is no selfishness in the true love. It seeks the good of others.

Love is not easily provoked (v. 5). When love holds the reins of the soul, there is little danger of provocation to anger and spiteful action that leads to sin.

Love is preclusive (v. 5). It does not condemn on suspicion or without evidence, nor is it malicious nor disposed to find fault.

Love exhibits propriety (v. 6). It does not sympathize with evil, nor does it delight in anything that does not conform to the standard of right.

Love takes pleasure in truth (v. 6). Love rejoices in the virtues of others, not their vices.

Love is pleasant (v. 7). Love maintains a disposition that refuses to make public or to avenge the faults of others.

Love is not suspicious. It trusts others. Love brightens all things, bears all things and braves all things.

3. The Permanence of Love (vv. 8–13). Love’s permanency is suggested by the phrase “love never fails” (v. 8).

Love will always abide, may always be exercised, and can be adapted to all circumstances in which we may be placed.

Love’s pre-eminence is suggested by the phrase “but the greatest of these is love” (v. 13).

Love is the greatest of all gifts, for love makes the rest of the gifts graceful. Love is the one needful thing—our priority.

We lose our goods or even our good names, but if we truly retain love, we have exchanged the temporary for the eternal.

For when the Bible has said all it will say about God, it is contained in the one statement: “God is love.”

Conclusion: There’s an old story that tells of some young pastors who paid a visit to one of the great ministers of the past generation.

They found him preparing to go to a meeting where a strong debate was expected.

He was reading the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians and praying that its teaching might guide his conduct.

The aged minister felt the need of the restraining hand of divine grace and the calming power of love, lest he should be rash in his speech.

This is the kind of love that lasts.

May God give us loving moms, loving dads, and may He give all of us loving hearts like that.

Double the Dose

There once was a wise old physician, who said to a young doctor,

“I’ve been practicing medicine for a long time. I’ve prescribed many things.

But in the long run, I’ve learned that the best medicine is love.”

“What if it doesn’t work?” asked the young doctor.

Then “Double the dose,” he said.

Lord please give us double dose of your love

Amen……..

Pastoral Prayer:

Heavenly Father, You know that mothering, though a wonderful calling, is a demanding task, filled with anxious moments and wearisome days. We ask You will restore and refresh every mother here today. And we also pray for our mothers these words from Paul’s letter to the Philippians: That their love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that they may approve the things that are excellent, that they may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Amen……………

https://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/lasting-love-on-mother-s-day-jim-parisi-sermon-on-women-58206


AUDIO My Mother is the Most Beautiful Woman in the World

By Rev Bill Woods

Exodus 2:1-10

There’s a Russian story of a little girl who, during harvest time got separated from her mother.


She was crying hysterically, shouting for her Mama.

  • People felt sorry for her and tried to help.

Everyone started asking her what her mother’s name was, what she looked like, what she was wearing, plus a lot other questions as well.

  • The little girl got overwhelmed by all the questions and this made her sob even harder.

Finally, she managed to blurt out, “My mother is the most beautiful woman in the whole world!”

One old farmers said, “Finally!  Now we’re getting somewhere!”

  • The people began bringing in the good-looking women.
  • There were blondes, redheads, and brunettes.
  • Some had blue eyes, others hazel, and the rest brown and green.

They were, without a doubt, the prettiest girls that anyone could find.

  • Certainly one of these beauties had to be the girl’s mother!

 One by one, the women were brought to the little girl.

  • She looked at each one and shook her head, “NO” each time.
  • Finally, they came to the last person.
  • “Is this your mother?”

The little girl looked at the beauty in front of her, shook her head and burst into tears.

  • _”I told you, my mother is the most beautiful woman in the whole world!!!”

Suddenly a woman showed up huffing and puffing towards them.

  • “I’m that child’s mother!”

Everyone peered to get a look at that woman.

  •  She was  a short dumpy, lumpy little woman with a round, pleasant wind-burned face and sparkling eyes.
  • She had rough chapped hands and soiled tattered clothes–she wasn’t a conventional beauty.

She rushed over to the little girl, scooped her up in her arms and smothered her with kisses all the while thanking the people for taking care of her daughter and keeping her safe.

The little girl was no longer crying, but was beaming from ear to ear.

She told everyone triumphantly, “I told you my mother was the most beautiful woman in the whole world!”

  •  To everyone else, the woman holding the child was plain and ordinary, but to her little girl she was, without question, THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN IN THE WORLD!

There’s a lesson there, we do not love people because they are beautiful. 

  • They are beautiful because we love them!

My Mom used to worry that when I went to college I’d come home ashamed of my humble roots and be too proud to want to associate with my family.

    – She didn’t have anything to worry about — I loved my family and my home.

Again, We don’t love people because they’re beautiful – they’re beautiful because we love them.

   – We don’t love people because they’re rich —our bond and fellowship is rich because we love them.

A mother was fixing supper when her little boy came in and handed her a piece of paper he’d written.  Mom dried her hands on an apron — she read it:

For cutting the grass $5.00

For cleaning my room this week $1.00

For going to the store for you .50

Baby-sitting my kid brother for you while you went shopping .25

Taking out the garbage $1.00

For getting a good report card $5.00

For cleaning up and raking the yard $2.00

Total Owed: $14.75

His mom looked at him standing there expectantly — you could see memories flashing through her mind. She picked up the pen, turned over the paper and wrote:

For the 9 months I carried you while you grew inside me, No Charge.

For all the nights I’ve sat up with you, doctored and prayed for you, No Charge.

For all the trying times, and all the tears you’ve caused through the years, No Charge.

When you add it all up, the cost of my love is, No Charge.

For all the nights that were filled with dread, and for the worries I knew were ahead, No Charge.

For the toys, food, clothes, and even wiping your nose, there’s No Charge, Son.

And when you add it all up, the full cost of real love is No Charge.

When the boy finished reading what his mother had written, there were tears in his eyes — he looked up at her and said, “Mom, I sure do love you.”                                                                                    .  

– He took the pen and in big letters he wrote: “PAID IN FULL.”

I’ve been blessed to be personally involved with 3 wonderful mothers in my life.                                       .  

– My wife, my Mom, my Grandmother — and now to watch my two daughters, and two granddaughters realize how important it is to be good moms!          

Mother’s Day is special to me.…………………

Today, I want to talk about 2 very special Moms in the Bible.

First, Moses’ mom, Jochebed

Exodus 2:1-10
1  About this time, a man and woman from the tribe of Levi got married.
2  The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She saw that he was a special baby and kept him hidden for three months.
3  But when she could no longer hide him, she got a basket made of papyrus reeds and waterproofed it with tar and pitch. She put the baby in the basket and laid it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile River.
4  The baby’s sister then stood at a distance, watching to see what would happen to him.
5  Soon Pharaoh’s daughter came down to bathe in the river, and her attendants walked along the riverbank. When the princess saw the basket among the reeds, she sent her maid to get it for her.
6  When the princess opened it, she saw the baby. The little boy was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This must be one of the Hebrew children,” she said.
7  Then the baby’s sister approached the princess. “Should I go and find one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?” she asked.
8  “Yes, do!” the princess replied. So the girl went and called the baby’s mother.
9  “Take this baby and nurse him for me,” the princess told the baby’s mother. “I will pay you for your help.” So the woman took her baby home and nursed him.
10  Later, when the boy was older, his mother brought him back to Pharaoh’s daughter, who adopted him as her own son. The princess named him Moses, for she explained, “I lifted him out of the water.”

The Israelites had it pretty plush because of Joseph……………… 

BUT,                                                   

Exodus 1:8 — Eventually, a new king came to power in Egypt who knew nothing about Joseph or what he had done.

The Jewish nation was growing so fast Pharaoh was worried he’d lose control and these Hebrews would take over Egypt.

    – This king thought it necessary to weaken his Jewish subjects by oppressing them, and by    degrees reducing their number.

To subdue them, he enslaved them, and used them to build numerous buildings, especially store-cities, temples, and palaces.

    – The Israelites became slaves serving the Egyptians under very harsh circumstances.

Their lives were bitter from hard bondage — Exodus 1:13, 14 So the Egyptians worked the people of Israel without mercy. 14 They made their lives bitter, forcing them to mix mortar and make bricks and do all the work in the fields. They were ruthless in all their demands.

    – His oppression didn’t slow their population growth..

      – Instead — Exodus 1:12 — But the more the Egyptians oppressed them, the more the Israelites multiplied and spread, and the more alarmed the Egyptians became.

Then the king demanded the midwives kill all the Hebrew baby boys at birth.

    – The king’s orders weren’t rigorously enforced; the little boys were spared by the midwives, so “the people multiplied” more than ever.

Next, the king issued a proclamation ordering people to throw all the Hebrew baby boys into the river and drown them. — Exodus 1:22 Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Throw every newborn Hebrew boy into the Nile River. But you may let the girls live.”

    – The people wouldn’t do it — the king was frustrated.

One of the Hebrew families — Amram and his wife Jochebed and 2 children, 15 year old Miriam, and 3 year old Aaron lived in or near Memphis, the capital city at that time.

A baby boy was born to this family in 1571 B.C.

    – His mother hid him in the house for 3 months.

      – Imagine the stress of trying to keep him quiet so the authorities wouldn’t find him……

It became too hard to hide him.

    – Jochebed came up with on a bold plan to get her boy noticed by the king’s daughter. 

      – She built a little boat of papyrus reeds and laid it among the bulrushes growing on the edge of the river where the princess took her bath.

  • I guess you could say, Moses started out a basket case!

Her plan succeeded!  — The Princess heard the baby crying and found him.

      – Miriam was watching nearby and the Princess sent her to find a nurse, Miriam brought

        Moses’ mother.

    – The Princess said, “Take this child away, and nurse him for me, and I’ll give you your  wages.”

WOW!  Look how God works!  Jochebed’s baby was given back to her along with pay to raise him.

The princess named him “Moses”  Exodus 2:10 — Later, when the boy was older, his    mother brought him back to Pharaoh’s daughter, who adopted him as her own son. The princess named him Moses, for she explained, “I lifted him out of the water.”

    – Must’ve been like my Dad whose birth certificate said:  “The unnamed Woods Child.”

When the baby was “house broke”, he was moved to the Royal Palace and raised as the adopted son of the Princess.

    – Jochebed continued to care for him and home school him.

He grew up knowing all the grandeur and excitement of the Egyptian court.

    – Mom maintained a constant relationship with him, which was so important to his religious belief and his interest in his Hebrew heritage.

The Egyptians provided his secular education.

    – He had all the advantages of both physical and mental training.

     – He became “learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” —  Acts 7:22 — Moses was taught all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was powerful in both speech and action.

  • It makes you wonder why he would try to side-step God in answering God’s call by saying, “Here I am, send Aaron, I am slow of speech.”Exodus 4:10

Egypt had 2 universities — he probably attended Heliopolis to complete his education.

     – Moses was probably 20 years old when he completed his formal Egyptian education.

      –  It’d be another 20 years before he took his place in Bible history.

       – Josephus wrote those 20 years were probably spent in military service where he became a hero in the war waged between Egypt and Ethiopia.

      – He gained prestige as a skillful general, and became “mighty in deeds”

What a successful Mom, Jochebed was!   Hebrews 11:24-25  
24  It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin.

  • He could’ve been a prince, possibly the next Pharaoh, but because of his Mom, he chose to go God’s way!  (Did you catch that Mom and Dad?)

Jochebed overcame so many obstacles to give her boy the foundation he needed to serve God.

So many parents complain they can’t raise their kids for God with the pressures of today’s society  — “If you think you can or you can’t — you’re right!”  

Mom (and Dad) God’s entrusted you with that life — one day you’ll account for the responsibility God’s entrusted to you.  

When Tammy was born, Marty had a tremendous spiritual experience as she realized the impact of her responsibility to God and to this precious little life God had entrusted to her……….                               .  

– She promised God she would do her best to raise both of our girls for Him. 

But what if your kids are already grown and those formative years are past?

There’s still prayer and a positive witness of what God’s doing in your life.  – Still grandkids!                                                                                                   

It’ll take dedication and will, but you can do what must be done!

There was also the Nameless mother in Matthew 15:21-28:
21  Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
22  A Gentile woman who lived there came to him, pleading, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely.”
23  But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. “Tell her to go away,” they said. “She is bothering us with all her begging.”
24  Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.”
25  But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!”
26  Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”
27  She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their master’s table.”
28  “Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.

Jesus put up barriers to test her faith and determination.

She passed His test because she wouldn’t let any barrier keep her child from being ministered to by Jesus.

    – There are a lot of barriers today — don’t let them stop your child from learning to know Jesus.

Preachers, are told not to get too sentimental about motherhood because:

– for some, motherhood is an accident, and not always a welcome one;
– for some, biological motherhood isn’t possible;
– for some, mothers weren’t all that nice;
– for some, motherhood under the very best of circumstances still isn’t a bed of roses and a primrose path.

Poet Wilhelm Busch’s wrote: “To become a mother isn’t so difficult; on the other hand, being a mother is very much so!”

That goes for dads too!  Just because you sired a child doesn’t make you a dad……………….

So, with all those warnings why bother with Mothers’ Day at all?

I heard about one lady who said she hated Mother’s Day because the sermons were always about the Proverbs 31 mothers…………..She felt like a failure.

Listen:  God will help you succeed as a Mom or a Dad if you will let Him lead you in the way you should go!

Why bother with Mothers’ Day?                                                                           

Because for all its stumbling blocks, pitfalls and broken dreams, for all the soiled diapers, soiled wallpaper and spoiled plans, we’re talking about a beautiful ideal, a natural part of God’s creative plan to bring love and caring to light.                                                                                                           .  

– Motherhood is a constant demand for the gift of love and — caring.  Grandmothers can exemplify that too!

The family and home was God’s idea.    We can’t let the perverts and wierdos ruin God’s Plan of a Mom and a Dad raising children together for the Lord.


PODCAST MY MOTHER IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN IN THE WORLD

https://www.buzzsprout.com/824359/8483320

The updated version of Rev Bill Woods book “There Is Still Power In The Blood” will be available soon


10 Best Things Billy Graham Ever Said

By Esther Laurie -March 17, 2021

This article with Billy Graham quotes was originally published in 2015. Billy Graham has since passed on, but his sermons and the example of his life will live on well into the future. Several people have written about the impact Billy Graham had on their lives. Below are some of his most famous quotes and our personal favorites.


Billy Graham is proud to be 96-and-a-half years old and hopes to live to 100. His son, Franklin says he’s quieter now, but still sharp.

Billy Graham has been widely known as the “Evangelist to the World” and “Pastor to Presidents.”

Franklin said he thinks God still has him here on earth to encourage Christians around the world.

“Especially now that we see Christians under attack in this country—and this is something, we’re going to see more and more of this—my father is still present. Even though he’s not able to speak as much as he used to, he’s still present, and I think that is a great encouragement to many people to know that Billy Graham is still with us,” said Franklin.

Some even speculate he might be holding on until Jesus comes back. Anne Graham Lotz, Billy’s daughter, said perhaps “the Gospel will be preached to the whole world” before her father passes. That would certainly be in line with the mission Billy Graham embarked upon as he extended the reach of his ministry with the help of media. His sermons were heard on radios and seen on television during the height of his influence. Several leaders in the Christian world can trace their spiritual journey awakening back to hearing the great evangelist preach either in person or through another medium.

To honor Billy Graham, here are ten of the best Billy Graham quotes with things he said:

“Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion; it is like a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.”

Billy Graham Quotes

“My home is in Heaven. I’m just traveling through this world.”

“God never takes away something from your life without replacing it with something better.”

“The will of God will not take us where the grace of God cannot sustain us.”

Billy Graham Quotes

“It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict. God’s job to judge, and my job to love.”

“God has given us two hands—one to receive with and the other to give with. We are not cisterns made for hoarding; we are channels made for sharing.”

Billy Graham Quotes

“My prayer today is that we will feel the loving arms of God wrapped around us, and will know in our hearts that He will never forsake us as we trust in Him.”

“We are the Bibles the world is reading; We are the creeds the world is needing; We are the sermons the world is heeding.”

“Christ not only died for all: He died for each.”

Billy Graham Quotes

“I’ve read the last page of the Bible. It’s all going to turn out all right.”

These are only our favorite Billy Graham quotes. Share others not listed here in the comments section.

Billy Graham Quotes

MIT chaplain forced to resign after citing George Floyd’s rap sheet to students

MATT LAMB – ASSISTANT EDITOR

Although the priest argued for forgiveness, the message was lost on students

The Archdiocese of Boston forced Daniel Moloney to resign from his chaplain role at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology after students and alumni complained that Moloney brought up George Floyd’s past criminal history in an email to students.

Although Moloney, a Catholic priest, was making an argument that Floyd’s past should not justify his death, the fact that he brought up Floyd’s rap sheet at all prompted some to protest the chaplain’s message to campus officials and file bias complaints over it.

“George Floyd was killed by a police officer, and shouldn’t have been,” Moloney wrote in his June 7 email to the Tech Catholic Community, a group of Catholic students on campus.

“He had not lived a virtuous life. He was convicted of several crimes, including armed robbery, which he seems to have committed to feed his drug habit. And he was high on drugs at the time of his arrest. But we do not kill such people. He committed sins, but we root for sinners to change their lives and convert to the Gospel,” the priest wrote.

“ … In the wake of George Floyd’s death, most people in the country have framed this as an act of racism. I don’t think we know that. Many people have claimed that racism is major problem in police forces. I don’t think we know that.”

The e-mail was republished in its entirety by New Boston Post.

Although Moloney’s argument aimed to promote justice and forgiveness, that message seemed lost on many of its readers.

An article in The Tech campus newspaper reports that MIT’s dean for student life, Suzy Nelson, said administrators and the bias response team received reports about Moloney’s email.

In an email to student and faculty leaders June 12, Nelson wrote Moloney’s message “contradicted the Institute’s values” and “was deeply disturbing” and that “by devaluing and disparaging George Floyd’s character,” Moloney did not “acknowledge the dignity of each human being and the devastating impact of systemic racism” on “African Americans, people of African descent, and communities of color,” The Tech reports.

The Archdiocese of Boston told Moloney to resign from his role as chaplain at the school on June 9, according to the Boston Globe. The move came after more than 60 people attended a forum hosted by Tech Catholic Community on June 9, according to the school newspaper.

Terrence Donilon, a spokesman for the archdiocese, told WBZ-TV “While Fr. Moloney’s comments should not reflect on the entirety of his priestly ministry, they nonetheless were wrong and by his resignation he accepts the hurt they have caused.”

Moloney told the Boston Globe on June 16, “I regret what happened, I regret it was misunderstood, I regret that [it] became difficult for me to be a voice for Christ on campus.”

Moloney is a published author at First Things, The Wall Street Journal and National Review. He used to work at the Heritage Foundation as a senior policy analyst for the DeVos Center for Religion and Society. His doctoral dissertation focused on justice and mercy, the subject of a recent book he published as well. He also maintains an active Tumblr page but has not explicitly addressed the controversy on it.

MORE: Conservative prof says seminary used COVID as excuse to get rid of him

MIT chaplain forced to resign after citing George Floyd’s rap sheet to students



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Christ and the Churches: Part 4 (Revelation 3:7-13)

Pastor Joe Quatrone, Jr.

We are still listening to what the Holy Spirit has to say to the churches. This message from Christ certainly applies to the church today!

Philadelphia, the Faithful Church (Rev. 3:7–13)

As most people know, Philadelphia means “love of the brethren.” Certainly, brotherly love is an important mark of the Christian. We are “taught of God to love one another” (1 Thes. 4:9), but it is not enough to love God and our fellow believers; we must also love a lost world and seek to reach unbelievers with the Good News of the Cross. This church had a vision to reach a lost world and God set before them an open door.

Jesus Christ presented Himself to the church as “He that is holy.” Jesus Christ is holy in His character, His words, His actions, and His purposes. As the Holy One, He is uniquely set apart from everything else and nothing can be compared to Him. He is also the One who is “true”—that is, genuine. He is the original, not a copy; the authentic God and not a manufactured one. There were hundreds of false gods and goddesses in those days (1 Cor. 8:5–6), but only Jesus Christ could rightfully claim to be the true God. It is worth noting that when the martyrs in heaven addressed the Lord, they called Him “holy and true” (Rev. 6:10). Their argument was because He was holy, He had to judge sin and because He was true, He had to vindicate His people who had been wickedly slain.

Not only is He holy and true, but He has the authority to open and close doors. The background of this imagery is Isaiah 22:15–25. Assyria had invaded Judah (as Isaiah had warned), but the Jewish leaders were trusting Egypt, not God, to deliver the nation. One of the treacherous leaders was a man named Shebna who had used his office, not for the good of the people, but for his own private gain. God saw to it that Shebna was removed from office and that a faithful man, Eliakim, was put in his place and given the keys of authority. Eliakim was a picture of Jesus Christ, a dependable administrator of the affairs of God’s people.

In the New Testament, an “open door” speaks of opportunity for ministry (Acts 14:27; 1 Cor. 16:9; 2 Cor. 2:12; Col. 4:3). Christ is the Lord of the harvest and the Head of the church, and it is He who determines where and when His people will serve (Acts 16:6–10). He gave the church at Philadelphia a great opportunity for ministry. But could they take advantage of it? There were at least two obstacles to overcome.

The first was their own lack of strength (Rev. 3:8). Apparently, this was not a large or a strong church; however, it was a faithful one. They were true to God’s Word and unafraid to bear His name. Revelation 3:10 suggests they had endured some special testing and had proved faithful. It is not the size or strength of a church that determines its ministry, but faith in the call and command of the Lord. God’s commandments are God’s enablements. If Jesus Christ gave them an open door, then He would see to it that they were able to walk through it!

The second obstacle they had to overcome was the opposition of the Jews in the city (Rev. 3:9). Of course, this was really the opposition of Satan, for we do not battle against flesh and blood (Eph. 6:12). These people may have been Jews in the flesh, but they were not “true Israel” in the New Testament sense (Rom. 2:17–29). Jewish people certainly have a great heritage, but it is no guarantee of salvation (Matt. 3:7–12; John 8:33).

How were these Jews opposing the church at Philadelphia? For one thing, by excluding Jewish believers from the synagogue. Another weapon was probably false accusation, for this is the way the unbelieving Jews often attacked Paul. Satan is the accuser and he uses even religious people to assist him (Rev. 12:10). It is not easy to witness for Christ when the leading people in the community are spreading lies about you. The church at Smyrna faced the same kind of opposition (Rev. 2:9).

The believers in Philadelphia were in a similar situation to that of Paul when he wrote 1 Corinthians 16:9—there were both opportunities and obstacles! Unbelief sees the obstacles; faith sees the opportunities! Since the Lord holds the keys, He is in control of the outcome! Nobody can close the doors as long as He keeps them open. Fear, unbelief, and delay have caused the church to miss many God-given opportunities.

The Savior gave three wonderful and encouraging promises to this church. First, He would take care of their enemies (Rev. 3:9). One day, these people would have to acknowledge the Christians were right! (Isa. 60:14; Phil. 2:10–11) If we take care of God’s work, He will take care of our battles.

Second, He would keep them from Tribulation (Rev. 3:10). This is surely a reference to the time of Tribulation John described in Revelation 6–19, “the time of Jacob’s trouble.” This is not speaking about some local trial because it involves “them that dwell on the earth” (Rev. 6:10; 8:13; 11:10; 12:12; 13:8, 12, 14; 14:6; 17:2, 8). The immediate reference would be to the official Roman persecutions that would come, but the ultimate reference is to the Tribulation that will encompass the earth before Jesus Christ returns to establish His kingdom. In many Bible scholars’ understanding, Revelation 3:10 is a promise that the church will not go through the Tribulation, but will be taken to heaven before it begins (1 Thes. 4:13–5:11).

The third promise to the Philadelphians is God would honor them (Rev. 3:12). The symbolism in this verse would be especially meaningful to people who lived in constant danger of earthquakes: the stability of the pillar, no need to go out or to flee, a heavenly city that nothing could destroy. Ancient cities often honored great leaders by erecting pillars with their names inscribed on them. God’s pillars are not made of stone because there is no temple in the heavenly city (Rev. 21:22). His pillars are faithful people who bear His name for His glory (Gal. 2:9).

In a very real sense the church today is like the Philadelphian church. God has set before us many open doors of opportunity. If He opens the doors, we must work; if He shuts the doors, we must wait. Above all, we must be faithful to Him and see the opportunities, not the obstacles. If we miss our opportunities, we lose our rewards (crowns) and this means being ashamed before Him when He comes (1 John 2:28).

In Part 5, we will look at Christ’s message to the church at Laodicea, the lukewarm church.

https://joequatronejr.wordpress.com/2015/06/04/christ-and-the-churches-part-4-revelation-37-13/

Christ and the Churches: Part 1 (Revelation 2:1-11)

Pastor Joe Quatrone, Jr.

If you have ever moved to a new community and had to select a new church home, you know how difficult it is to examine and evaluate a church and its ministry. Imposing buildings may house dying or dead congregations, while modest structures might belong to vibrant assemblies on the march for the Lord. The church we think is “rich” may turn out to be poor in God’s sight (Rev. 3:17), while the “poor” church is actually rich (Rev. 2:9).

Only the Head of the church, Jesus Christ, can accurately inspect each church and know its true condition because He sees the internals, not only the externals (Rev. 2:23b). In these special messages to the seven churches in Asia Minor the Lord gave each assembly an “X ray” of its condition. They are commended for their strengths and warned about their flaws. But He intended for all the churches to read these messages and benefit from them. (Note the plural “churches” in Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22.)

The Lord was also speaking to individuals, and this is where you and I come in. “Whoever has ears, let them hear.” Churches are made up of individuals and it is individuals who determine the spiritual life of the assembly. Before Christ judges the world, He must judge His own people (Ezek. 9:6; 1 Peter 4:17). A purified church need never fear the attacks of Satan or men. As we go over these messages, we must apply them personally as we examine our own hearts.

First Love

I. Ephesus, the Loveless Church (Rev. 2:1–7)

The Ephesian assembly had enjoyed some “stellar” leadership—Paul, Timothy, and the Apostle John himself—but the Lord reminded them He was in control of the ministry, placing the “stars” where He pleased. How easy it is for a church to become proud and forget pastors and teachers are God’s gifts (Eph. 4:11) who may be taken away at any time. Some churches need to be cautioned to worship the Lord and not their pastor!

1. Approval (vv. 2–3, 6)

This was a serving church, busy doing the works of the Lord. No doubt their weekly schedule was filled with activities. It was also a sacrificing church, for the word labor means “toil to the point of exhaustion.” The Ephesian Christians paid a price to serve the Lord. They were a steadfast assembly, for the word perseverance carries the meaning of “endurance under trial.” They kept going when the going was tough.

The Ephesian church was a separated people, for they carefully examined the visiting ministers (2 John 7–11) to see if they were genuine. Paul had warned the Ephesian elders that false teachers would come in from the outside, and even arise from within the church (Acts 20:28–31) and John had instructed them to “try the spirits” (1 John 4:1–6). Indeed, Satan has his false ministers, and the church must be constantly alert to detect them and reject them (2 Cor. 11:1–4, 12–15).

The Christians at Ephesus separated themselves not only from false doctrine, but also from false deeds. Jesus commended the church for hating the wicked practices of the Nicolaitans. This was a sect who “lorded it over” the church and robbed the people of their liberty in Christ (3 John 9–11). They initiated what we know today as “clergy” and “laity,” a false division that is taught nowhere in the New Testament. All God’s people are “kings and priests” (1 Peter 2:9; Rev. 1:6), and have equal access to the Father through the blood of Christ (Heb. 10:19). We will meet this dangerous sect again when we study the message to the church at Pergamos.

The believers at Ephesus were a suffering people who patiently bore their burdens and toiled without fainting. And they did all of this for His name’s sake! As we examine this congregation up until this point, you may conclude they are just about perfect. However, the One among the lamp stands saw into their hearts and He had a different diagnosis.

2. Accusation (v. 4)

This busy, separated, sacrificing church really suffered from “heart trouble”—they had abandoned their first love! They displayed “works … labor … and patience”, but these qualities were not motivated by a love for Christ (compare with 1 Thes. 1:3). What we do for the Lord is important, but so is our motive for doing it!

What is this “first love” they had forsaken? It is the devotion to Christ that so often characterizes the new believer: fervent, personal, uninhibited, excited, and openly displayed. It is the “honeymoon love” of the husband and wife (Jer. 2:1–2). While it is true that mature married love deepens and grows richer, it is also true that it should never lose the excitement and wonder of those “honeymoon days.” When a husband and wife begin to take each other for granted and life becomes routine, then the marriage is in danger.

Just think of it: it is possible to serve, sacrifice, and suffer “for My name’s sake” and yet not really love Jesus Christ! The Ephesian believers were so busy maintaining their separation that they were neglecting adoration. Labor is no substitute for love; neither is purity a substitute for passion. The church must have both if it is to please Him. But the Ephesian church had fallen and was not living up to its heavenly position in Christ (Rev. 2:5). It is only as we love Christ fervently that we can serve Him faithfully.

3. Admonition (vv. 5–7)

Our “first love” can be restored only if we follow the three instructions Christ gave. First, we must remember (literally “keep on remembering”) what we have lost and cultivate a desire to regain that close communion once again. Then, we must repent—change our minds—and confess our sins to the Lord (1 John 1:9). Third, we must repeat the things we did at first, which suggests restoring the original fellowship that was broken by our sin and neglect. For the believer, this means prayer, Bible reading and meditation, obedient service, and worship.

In spite of the privileges the church of Ephesus had enjoyed, it was in danger of losing its light! The church that loses its love will soon lose its light, no matter how doctrinally sound it may be. “I will come” is not referring to the Lord’s return, but to His coming judgment then and there. The glorious city of Ephesus is today a heap of stones and no light is shining there.

Revelation 2:7 makes it clear that individual believers within the church may be true to the Lord, no matter what the majority is doing. In these seven messages the “overcomers” are not a “spiritual elite,” but rather the true believers whose faith has given them victory (1 John 5:4–5). Sinful man was banned from the tree of life (Gen. 3:22–24), but in Christ we have eternal abundant life (John 3:16; 10:10). We enjoy this blessing now and we will enjoy it in greater measure in eternity (Rev. 22:1–5).

The church of Ephesus was the “loveless church,” made up of careless believers who neglected their love for Christ. Are we guilty of the same neglect?

Smyrna Church Persecuted 2.8-11

II. Smyrna, the Persecuted Church (Rev. 2:8–11)

The name Smyrna means “bitter” and is related to the word myrrh. The Christians at Smyrna were experiencing the bitterness of suffering, but their faithful testimony was like myrrh or sweet perfume to God.  The assembly at Smyrna was persecuted for the faith, which explains why the Lord emphasized His death and resurrection as He opened His message. No matter what experiences God’s people may have, their Lord identifies with them.

1. Approval (v. 9)

The church at Smyrna was not having an easy time of it! The church in this city struggled against two hostile forces: a Jewish population strongly opposed to Christianity, and a non-Jewish population that was loyal to Rome and supported emperor worship. The members were persecuted because they refused to compromise and worship the emperor. Smyrna was an important center of the Roman imperial cult, and anyone refusing to acknowledge Caesar as Lord would certainly be excluded from the society.

The believers in Smyrna suffered affliction and poverty. The word affliction means “pressure” or “crushing weight.” It resembles the persecution of God’s people in Egyptian slavery (Exod. 3:9; 4:31) and their exile in Babylon (Deut. 4:25–31; 28:47–68). As a result of affliction, these Christians were reduced to unemployment and poverty. The word used here for poverty means “abject poverty, possessing absolutely nothing.”

But they were rich! What a comfort it was for the Christians at Smyrna to know that Christ knew all about their sufferings: “I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich!” They lived for eternal values that would never change, riches that could never be taken away. “As poor, yet making rich” (2 Cor. 6:10; 8:9). Their suffering for Christ only increased their riches.

2. Admonition (vv. 10–11)

No words of accusation were given to the congregation in Smyrna! They may not have enjoyed the approval of men, but they certainly received the praise of God. Jesus commended the church for its faith in suffering and gave solemn words of admonition as they faced increased suffering: “Don’t be afraid!” More suffering was in store for the Smyrnians at the hands of the devil. The word devil means “slanderer,” “accuser,” or “adversary.” In the Old Testament the devil is like a public prosecutor (Job 1–2; Zech. 3). In the New Testament, he is the source of all falsehood and deception. God is allowing Satan to test the faith of Christians, providing the opportunity for them to show their commitment to suffer for Christ.

Jesus assured the church He knew the devil’s plans and He was in complete control of the situation. Some of the believers would be imprisoned and tried as traitors to Rome, yet their tribulation would not be long. Their affliction was to last only for “ten days.” In the Bible, ten days signifies “a brief time” (Gen. 24:55; Acts 25:6). The important thing was faithfulness, standing true to Christ no matter what the government might threaten to do.

The Lord reinforced the promise given by James (James 1:12) and assured His people there was nothing to fear. The “crown of life” was the winner’s crown awarded at the annual athletic games. Smyrna was a key participant in the games, so this promise would be especially meaningful to believers living there. Because they had trusted Him, they were overcomers—victors in the race of faith (Heb. 12:1–3)—and, as overcomers, they had nothing to fear. Even if they were martyred, they would be ushered into glory, wearing crowns! They would never face the awful judgment of the second death, which is the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14; 21:8).

It costs to be a dedicated Christian, in some places more than others. As end-time pressures increase, persecution will also increase; and God’s people need to be ready (1 Peter 4:12). The world may call us “poor Christians,” but in God’s sight we are rich!

In Part 2, we will look at Christ’s message to the next two churches.

https://joequatronejr.wordpress.com/2015/05/20/christ-and-the-churches-part-1-revelation-2/

Behold Two Paintings That Show A Miraculous Christmas Meeting

Two historic women, one old and one young, were the first to welcome and praise the Savior of the world. And two glorious paintings communicate the beauty of these wondrous events.

Behold Two Paintings That Show A Miraculous Christmas Meeting

Dec 23, 2019

If quizzed “Who was the first person to welcome Jesus and announce his lordship?” how would you answer? It’s an important question when we consider that this man from the nowhere town of Nazareth is the most consequential individual ever.

His teaching and followers across the globe radically transformed world culture, toppled great powers without ever firing a shot, established the world of humanitarianism and accessible medical care for commoners, inspired the scientific method, and enlivened the world movements for justice, human dignity, and individual freedom. He literally divides history and is responsible for the founding of the largest, most diverse collection of people around some basic ideals.

This all started with two women no one had ever heard of, whose life-altering experiences are now illustrated in two exquisite works of art. Mary, a humble, young virgin, by tradition about 14 years old at the time, is told by an angel she will give birth to the very Son of God. At this striking news, she “arose and went with haste” to see her cherished relative, Elizabeth, some 90 miles away.

Elizabeth was in the sixth month of her own miraculous pregnancy, for she was well past child-bearing years. Of course, her baby was Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist.

The beauty of this part of the Christmas story is the miracle that happens the moment Mary enters Elizabeth’s home. Christ is recognized, received, proclaimed, and worshiped, and Mary and Elizabeth are not the only two involved in the divine drama here. We read in Luke 1:41-44:

And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.

This is a major event in Jesus’ story and thus the Christian church, but we seldom appreciate it as such. It is the first time Jesus is both proclaimed and worshiped as God! This was done, we are told, “in a loud voice.” And Christ the Lord is worshiped by two people at the same time — one very old, one super young.

The First to Proclaim Jesus’ Lordship

Elizabeth proclaims the blessedness of Jesus and his mother. The simple but world-changing confession, “Jesus is Lord,” was the first and most basic way Christians began to proclaim their faith and greet one another in the church’s early years. It was the first Christian creed, and Elizabeth was the first to proclaim it, long before Christmas morning. Think on that for a moment.

The second greeting is even more incredible and speaks to an intimate relationship in the Savior’s life. Baby John leaps for joy, literally, at the coming of the Savior. He does so as a child in the darkness of his mother’s womb. (Yes, Christianity has profoundly strong words for the humanity and dignity of the unborn child in John and Jesus’ remarkable in utero contribution to the good news.)

John did not start serving as the forerunner of Christ when preaching about his coming in the desert. It was here, in the womb. And it was two very common mothers, Elizabeth and Mary, who experienced this remarkable, history-changing event. It happened in distinctly womanly interiors of their hearts and wombs, and in the humbleness of Elizabeth’s home. Humble motherhood and the intimate bond only mothers can share is the human font of the Christian story.

To be sure, the Christian church, which is often incorrectly charged with being sexist by people who know little of its actual story, is founded upon two women being the first to welcome and praise the Savior. (Remember as well, it was a small group of women who announced the “second birth” of the Savior, if you will, at his resurrection.) What other major faith or philosophy has women playing such a significant role in its founding? I cannot think of one.

Two famous paintings communicate the beauty of these wondrous events, “The Annunciation” and “The Visitation.” The first African-American painter to achieve significant critical acclaim, Henry Ossawa Tanner, created both. He is a remarkable man and one of my favorite artists.

Christmas paintings by Henry O. Tanner

‘The Annunciation’

One of the things I like best in Tanner’s two works here is that he shows us the simple humanness of Mary and Elizabeth. They are not supernatural, other-worldly, saintly subjects in the typical sense. Tanner’s images show us the regular, everyday women they were.

Christmas Painting The Annunciation

He will not allow us to miss the youth, innocence, and commonness of our Mary. Tanner doesn’t give her a facial expression communicating anything obvious. Is she scared? Stunned? Joyful? Solemn? His Mary is more complex than many artists’ as is undoubtably true of the actual event. Tanner has her communicating all these feelings and struggles at once.

When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary with this most startling news, he found a teenage girl living a typical teenage girl’s life. The greatest royal announcement in the history of the universe takes place in this teen girl’s humble bedroom, illuminated by the majesty of God’s oracle. That is precisely what Tanner gives us, and it’s just stunning. Also, his technique in presenting the folds and flow of her gown and bed coverings is nothing short of magnificent.

‘The Visitation’

As wonderful as Tanner’s “Annunciation” is, his “Visitation” is even more striking.

Just look at it and consider what’s happening here.

When Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Christmas painting The Visitation

Tanner allows us personally to witness this event. Elizabeth most likely did not have any notice that Mary was coming or the grand news that prompted the visit. She sits at the table on an ordinary day, when she hears Mary possibly utter what any of us likely would as she comes to the door, “Liz, you home?”

Elizabeth’s divine surprise and wonder is dramatically communicated simply in her uplifted hands. It’s a glorious device. Are they hands of praise or surprise? Certainly both at the same time.

This simple scene of a surprise family visitation and domesticity is the first scene of Jesus being worshiped. Reflect on this a moment. The event we are witnessing right here in this kitchen is the initiation of what the rest of history and eternity will be about, the worship of the second person of the divine Trinity: Jesus, the Father’s beloved Son.

The interchange between these two women in this domestic setting is unspeakably profound. We typically move over it far too easily, wanting to get onto what we see as the center of the Christmas story, the manger.

This exchange is also vitally important because it is the first revelation of Christ beyond Mary’s heart and womb. It is the precise second and scene that commenced the worship of the Son of the God that will continue without end into eternity, the story that encapsulates a Christian’s whole reality.

P.S. Tanner Lived in Philadelphia

I knew Tanner lived in Philadelphia for some time, so on a business trip there some years ago, I wanted to see if his house was discoverable. It was, and I found it, right around the corner from John Coltrane’s home. How cool is that?

Henry O. Tanner house

Glenn T. Stanton is a Federalist senior contributor who writes and speaks about family, gender, and art, is the director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family, and is the author of the brand new “The Myth of the Dying Church” (Worthy, 2019). He blogs at glenntstanton.com.

https://thefederalist.com/2019/12/23/behold-two-paintings-that-show-a-miraculous-christmas-meeting/

The Meaning of Passover

Laura Bagby

The Jews celebrated their Passover Feast in remembrance of God’s deliverance from death during the time of Moses.

Origination of Passover

Moses had been instructed to lead God’s people out of Egypt and save them from the evil and ungodly Pharaoh. Because of Pharaoh’s disbelief in the power of the One True God, Yahweh sent a series of ten plagues upon the Egyptians: the Nile turned to blood and at various times the land was filled with frogs, gnats, flies, hail, locusts, and darkness. In one awesome act of God’s ultimate authority, He sent one final devastating plague: every firstborn of every household would be annihilated.

In His mercy towards His people, God would shield the Israelites from such unmerciful judgment if they would follow the instructions He gave to Moses and Aaron. The specific instructions are outlined in Exodus 12:1-11. In sum, each family was to take a lamb and all households were to slaughter their lambs at the same time at twilight after a certain number of days. Then they were commanded to paint the sides and top of their doorways with some of this blood. Once this was done and all the meat of the lamb was eaten in accordance with God’s instructions, God would spare the Israelites from death. This is what the Lord said:

“On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn — both men and animals — and I will bring judgement on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord — a lasting ordinance” (Exodus 12:12-14)

The Seder Meal

The highlight of a contemporary Jewish Pesach, or Passover, is the Seder.

The Seder meal consists of six highly symbolic elements: matzah, a roasted shank bone, parsley or green herbs, the top of a horseradish, charoset, and an egg. On each plate are three pieces of matzah (a special type of cracker or unleavened bread). Two of these pieces represent the traditional loaves used in the ancient Temple during festivals and the third piece symbolizes Passover. The roasted lamb bone connotes the sacrificial Passover lamb. Herbs symbolize springtime growth. The horseradish represents the bitter years of slavery in Egypt; charoset, a mixture of fruit and ground nuts soaked in wine, represents the mortar used in Egypt; and the egg represents the chagigah (a secondary sacrifice prepared along with the Passover lamb).

The Biblical Accounts

Accounts of what happened can be found in all four gospels — Matthew 26:17-27:10; Mark 14:12-72Luke 22:1-65John 13:1-18:27.

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https://www1.cbn.com/teaching/the-meaning-of-passover

Faithfulness

by Discerning Dad

“And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” John 16:8

I hate peer pressure… I mean I really do. Does anyone like it? We’ve all faced it but it seemed incredibly strong for me in grade school.

Peer pressure is like waves in an ocean trying to move you off course. A boat has to make constant adjustments in order to stay on course. Waves and wind will constantly try to disrupt the navigation flow of the vessel.

So it is with peer pressure, we have our convictions, but we become convinced by a stronger voice in our life to settle or to do something that we would not have chosen on our own. I’m only talking about negative peer pressure here; there can be positive peer pressure too.

Comparison kills contentment and it weakens our conviction. I have been a Christian all my life and in grade school and high school, there was a constant barrage of voices trying to get me to question my faith, to try a drug, watch a mature movie, be in a relationship that wasn’t good for me, and the list goes on.

Even something as relatively innocent as clothing can cause others to size you up based on the latest trends or name brands. I remember around 5th grade, I was completely happy with my socks and shoes. I had no clue about fashion or name brands that is until this one kid in particular made it known to me how much I was lacking in this department.

Every day this kid would berate me and call out, “generic socks and generic shoes.” I don’t even remember what I would wear but it wasn’t good enough for the social criticism in the late 1980’s. This kid was nonstop with the generic comments every single day. I finally pressured my Mom into buying me Nikes, but not just Nike shoes, but Nike socks which visibly had the black swoop on the top of the sock in order to be seen by all. No one would again say that I had “generic sock and shoes.” I had won.

I was perfectly contented with my situation before this peer pressure occurred. I was oblivious to the need to put on a show for others in order to not be ridiculed. Sometimes it’s just easier to give in to quiet the noise around us, to lower our convictions for a moment’s peace. How often have we compromised our walk with Christ for the easy, the popular, the pleasurable, or whatever THING that is demanding of our time and attention?

Peer pressure isn’t as in my face as it was in grade school, but then again my phone is literally in my face every day. I see on social media a non-stop list of what I “need.” what others have, what I don’t have, how others are so happy, how well behaved their kids are, how many vacations my friends are taking, what God is doing in other ministries, and the list goes on. Social media is more subtle form of peer pressure but it may be just as strong, if not stronger, of an influence in our life than a physical person.

Discernment will allow us to ask, “what is God asking of me?” I can’t worry about what anyone else is doing or what God is calling them to do. God measure success based on faithfulness not based on achievements. I am longing for the day that Jesus says, “well done good and faithful servant” (Matt 25:23).

People often will want the results without the work it takes to get there. You see that successful Pastor with a vibrant ministry? You don’t see the two failed churches, the multitude of sleepless nights in prayer, or the constant stress he faces by those that have a critical spirit about them. Actually the stress, the failure, the pain, and prayer have gotten him to this point, he had to learn to fail in order to succeed. He had to learn the lesson of when he did not rely on God so that he would never go down that path again. He had to learn the importance of prayer when he couldn’t do it on his own so that he would be able lift up those around him in a powerful covering so that Satan never gains a foothold in his ministry.

But you see him and you want to be him without any of those steps or God’s calling on your life to do that…

It’s like someone that idolizes a celebrity and wants to be them while never seeing the depression they face, the loss of true friendships, never feeling like they are valued apart from their talent, or the desire they have just to “be normal” again.

What is God calling you to do? Where is God calling you to go? If you can’t answer that, you need to pray. God is always looking for a willing vessel who can say, like Isaiah, “here I am God, send me!”

Read 1 Kings 13, seriously stop and read the chapter before you continue…but if you didn’t I’ll do my best to summarize.

Jeroboam was a wicked king (there seemed to be no shortage of them when you read the Old Testament). God called a prophet out of Judah to go to Bethel (Jewish historian Josephus called him Yadon and I will too for the purpose of this story).

God called Yadon for a purpose, to travel to another city and to boldly rebuke the King, facing a probable death for doing so. When he got there not only did he miraculously prophecy about King Josiah (which wouldn’t happen for about three centuries later) but he also destroyed the pagan altar through an earthquake (13:5)! When the King pointed at him to have his guards seize him, instantly his hand became paralyzed and he couldn’t pull it back (v4).

Now the evil King Jeroboam asked the man of God (Yadon) to pray for his hand to be restored and it was. The King then tempted the prophet to come and eat, drink, and stay in his palace, but Yadon was strong in his conviction since the Lord told him, “you must not eat or drink anything while you are there, and do not return to Judah by the same way you came” (v.9).

This was a powerful confrontation that Yadon had; almost as powerful as Elijah calling down fire on the prophets of Baal. I don’t know the mindset of Yadon but I would have breathed a sigh of relief, not only was I not killed by the wicked King, but God showed up in miraculous signs and the King actually wanted to treat me to a royal dinner. I can imagine he was pretty famished; the long journey with no food and water now was the time to relax… or was it? Yadon resisted the pressure and remained true to what God was asking him to do.

But that was not the end of this story. The rest of this story is about an “old prophet” who is unnamed who sends his sons to find Yadon. Once he was found, the old prophet rode out to meet Yadon. He asked “are you the man of God who came from Judah” (v.14)? No doubt word of his confrontation with the King spread like wildfire through the town. He invites him back to his house to get some food and drink, but again Yadon replies about how God told him not to eat or drink anything until he returns to his hometown. The same answer he gave the King.

Now this part is fascinating…

“But the old prophet answered, ‘I am a prophet, too, just as you are. And an angel gave me this command from the Lord: ‘Bring him home with you so he can have something to eat and drink. (v18)’” The next verse even says the old man was lying, but the peer pressure, the fatigue, and/or the camaraderie of another prophet got to Yadon and he went back with the old man to eat and drink.

Now think about this for a minute, God called Yadon out of his hometown to go to Bethel to deliver a mighty message to the king. Why didn’t he call this old man? He was a prophet, conveniently located in the same town as the king… We know this old man had no problem lying and God knew his heart as well.

So back to the story, the old man and Yadon were eating a meal back at the house and the Spirit of God speaks through the old man, aka the liar! “This is what the Lord says: ‘You have defiled the word of the Lord and have disobeyed the command the Lord your God gave you. You came back to this place and ate and drank where he told you not to eat or drink. Because of this, your body will not be buried in the grave of your ancestors” (v21-22).

I feel bad for Yadon, after this meal he saddled his donkey and rode off to an awaiting lion that killed him (v.24). A mighty victory for God turned into a crushing defeat because he did not obey the word of God; he listened to a false prophet who got him to sway off course. He fell into peer pressure from a fellow prophet. A prophet who said he heard from God nonetheless!

I find it interesting that God still spoke through the old prophet at the dinner table, you see, God can use anyone and anything for His glory, but that doesn’t mean the prophet was trustworthy or following the will of God.

God can speak through anyone, but that doesn’t mean you need to go to their church, to read their books, or follow them if they are not fully obedient to the Word of God. There’s a lot of truth out there being mixed with deception. God can reach people even among prosperity preachers and twisted denominations.

We need to have discernment to align all things against the Word of God and hold fast to what is true.

But on a personal level, if God is calling you to do something, don’t be swayed by what another preacher, teacher, pastor, or priest tells you. God wants you to hear his voice so clearly you don’t need a second opinion.

I’m not saying that we can’t ask for wisdom from others, but I’m saying if God tells you something; don’t listen to someone who hasn’t heard from God for your life, who has a conflicting message.

There are other examples in the Bible of this same thing. Micaiah faced off against 400 other prophets in 1 Kings 22. I love this story and I write about it in detail in my book on the chapter about counterfeits. All the prophets were ‘yes men’ and prophesied success for the King while Michaiah prophesied defeat. One of the prophets came and slapped him saying, “Which way did the spirit from the Lord go when he went from me to speak to you” (v.24)? What Michaiah prophesied came true despite 400 voices claiming to hear from God.

Another example is Hezekiah and the siege on Jerusalem from King Sennacherib of Assyria (Isaiah 36). An envoy of Assyria came to taunt Israel and said a number of insults outside the city including, “Furthermore, have I come to attack and destroy this land without the Lord? The Lord himself told me to march against this country and destroy it” (v.10). Obviously a blatant lie.

Satan can be disguised as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). We have to be very careful when even someone in ministry tells us a word from God that does not align with truth. I do believe God gives people words of knowledge today, but I also believe that Satan can plan deception in people’s minds that allow them to say something that is just a little off and get you to question what God said. Just like with Eve in the Garden, “did God really say?”

God would rather you be faithful to what He is calling you to do, than to chase after dreams and aspirations that don’t align with that calling. After all, are you building your kingdom or God’s?

Maybe being faithful to the job you dislike means that you can bring life into that environment and others can see Jesus through you.

Maybe being faithful to your family despite the frustrations means that your kids will be the first generation to know of the goodness and love of Christ without having to survive an abusive parent.

Maybe being faithful to your spouse despite your feelings means that you need to subject your feelings to the will of God and not your own; your faithfulness will be a witness to other couples with the same struggle.

Maybe enduring the pain and heartache that comes with fostering children means that the children you are pouring your heart and soul into will be able to know about Jesus simply because you are being faithful to that call despite all the garbage that sometimes comes with the foster care system.

This all comes back to discernment. Seek God for yourself; stand fast on the path He is calling you to take. Don’t be swayed by the lies of the enemy, even if it comes to you under the guise of a “friend” or someone that supposedly hears from God.

Be bold, be courageous, God can use you to accomplish His will on this earth if we are faithful and obedience for the glory of God and God alone. Amen!

Tim Ferrara
Discerning Dad

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