“Walking Right Through Rejection”

It appears that our Lord Jesus handle rejection calmly and clearly. At least, this is what I see in our main text. But before this rejection, He graciously read the key text found in the scroll of Isaiah (61:1-2) regarding His life. He confidently presented its fulfillment. Then in response to the whispers of  “Isn’t this Joseph’s son,” He clearly says, (to paraphrase), “Just because I grew up here, doesn’t make this a special place nor you a special people.” Not sure why He felt the need to say this, but from observing the texts He used to present this thought, it is clear what He is saying….

…and it is clear from His neighbors’ response that this is exactly what they were thinking. Ouch! So instead of humbling themselves and pleading for mercy and grace, they decide to take matters into their own hands, and, well, execute the “Self-proclaimed Messiah,” you know, the One Who just did all those wonderful miraculous signs—go figure.

As they “drove” Him a couple of miles—according to some scholars, they obviously jostled and shoved Him along the way; and He let them—right up until the precipice. Then, and only then, did He calmly reject their rejection and “walked right through the crowd and went on His way” (v. 30). Why did He wait so long? Good question.

As you and I ponder this question, let me offer one possible answer: Is it to demonstrate that He was tempted in all ways like we are? Even if the precipice were merely 200 yards away, to be jostled and shoved for that distance would be rather painful and trying, wouldn’t you agree? And would you, like me, be tempted to hurl insults and shove back all along the way: “Hey, I was just telling you the truth and you’re doing this to me!? What gives!?”

It appears that our Lord was modeling for us how to handle rejection, even from neighbors and friends, and even the vicious kind that goes well beyond venomous words of ridicule.

You’ve been there. I’ve been there. From elementary school through High School—and even into college. I was in the middle of the ring of older boys as they shoved me around mocking and ridiculing me. I was the kid that the others conspired to ditch. I was the one they ignored once I became a Jesus Freak in college—abandoned and rejected. And I wish I could tell you I handled all these as calmly as our Shepherd did. But I didn’t.

As I have ponder this text, I am realizing as well that He actually has  beentransforming me so that I no longer “see” rejection, in general, and in particular, I do not get as riled as I used to. I wish I could testify that I calmly “walked right through the crowd and went on [my] way,” but alas I do not, but I’m much, much closer to His likeness in this. The wounds are healing and the fear is evaporating. Love—His Love, which is beyond the rejection, is seeping into the crevices of my wounded heart and mending my wounded soul.

Have you experienced the sort of vicious rejections as our Master has?  Has He been transforming you to be more like Him as well? Care to share?

Main Text— Luke 4:27–30 (NIV84)— 27 And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29 They got up, drove [Jesus] out of the town, and took Him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw Him down the cliff. 30 But He walked right through the crowd and went on His way.

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.Psalm 27:10 (NIV84)

Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.—Matthew 10:17–23 (NIV84)

 At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.— 2 Timothy 4:16–18 (NIV84)

Lord Jesus Christ, calm my heart as I focus on You in the face of rejection and ridicule. Be my confident assurance that I need not defend myself. In You I have nothing to lose and nothing to prove. In Your Name, Amen. 

Pastor Mike

“Don’t Isolate Yourself”

Date: 12-14-14

Text: — Luke 1:39-42 —  At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea,  where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.  When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.  In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!” [NIV84]

The Big Idea: If we step out with the same faith we entered this winter, we will not only discover the one, but the many who will support us.

My Thoughts: 

Mary just received some life-changing news: She is going to have a baby. Now, under “normal” circumstances this would be very exciting news, news she could gladly and openly tell her husband and family, but under these circumstances, we have an entire set of risky factors—one being stoning for adultery.

Instead of isolating her self, Mary seeks out support for this angelic vision from someone else in her family who has just received a similar life-changing announcement—“but at least she has a husband!” The above passage captures for us the moment these two meet. Immediately, Mary’s angelic visitation is confirmed by Elizabeth’s response: And this is before Mary could even tell her!

Lifestyle worshiper: Are you tempted to isolate yourself in your winter as I am? Do you fear seeking out support only to discover those who add colder wind to your winter? Surely, the Lord provided Elizabeth as a support for Mary. Someone who knew her, watched her grow up, and understood the step of faith she had taken. …

By faith, I’m going to step out on a limp: I believe that if the Lord led you into this winter you are presently in—as He did Mary, He will also provide, at the very least, one other to support us in and through your winter. The hard part is overcoming the temptation of isolation. We cannot find this one if we isolate ourselves. Ah, but if we step out with the same faith we entered this winter, we will not only discover the one, but the many. Remember the shepherds and wisemen? Oh, and we best not forget Joseph. Join me in stepping out of our isolation into the Lord’s consolation.  Your thoughts?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. — 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV84)

  We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God’s fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them. — 1 Thessalonians 3:2-3 (NIV84)

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.— Hebrews 3:13 (NIV84)

Heavenly Father,  forgive me for isolating myself. In faith, I step out of my perverted comfort zone to find true comfort from those You have provide. They offer me Your true consolation. Praise Your Name for Your Faithfulness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Identify Your Support Team”

Date: 12-10-14

Text: — Luke 1:39-45 — 39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”  [NIV84]

The Big Idea: I know you have at least one member of your support team.

My Thoughts: 

When Mary’s life entered a rather strange winter, she sought out a strong support team. The winter she entered was strange because it started with a ‘joyous’ promise through a heavenly messenger. She humbly and graciously accepted the news, but it would plunge her into a 9 month winter. She needed a support team. …

Lifestyle worshipers, have you identified your support team in your winter? A close friend or relative, like Mary had in Elizabeth? I know you have at least one member of your support team: Our faithful Lord, who sends His messengers to convict others that you need support during your winter. Yes, the Lord sent Joseph an angelic dream to convince Him that Mary was truly a godly young girl and that she was being used as a vessel for His Holy Son (see Matt. 1:20-21 below).

Oh, one final thought: Are you part of someone’s support team? They really do need you in their winter. Your thoughts?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

 But after [Joseph] had considered [putting Mary away quietly], an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”

— Matthew 1:20-21 (NIV84)

   Who is the one to condemn? It is the Messiah Jesus who is interceding on our behalf. He died, and more importantly, has been raised and is seated at the right hand of God.

— Romans 8:34 (ISV)

 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

— 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV84)

Lord Jesus Christ, I praise You for being part of my support team during my winter. May I be as faithful as You in supporting those You have placed in my life whose winters are long and cold. In Your Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

“How New Is New?”

Date: 12-07-14

Text: — Jeremiah 31:31 — “The time is coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.”  [NIV84]

The Big Idea: Lifestyle worshipers, has the New Covenant lost is freshness to you?

My Thoughts: 

The new smell of a new car, the leathery aroma of a new baseball glove, the papery smell of a newly purchased book: All these are smells that bring fond memories to me. How about you? But after a while that fresh, new smell fades. Some books still have it and my Australian leather glove still has a wisp of that fresh leather smell, but not as before. It never really gets old for me, though.

Lifestyle worshipers, has the New Covenant lost is freshness to you. How New is “New”?….

Perhaps like my older books and very old baseball glove, the newness has faded a bit. I pray not. My prayer this morning is that each time you receive Holy communion—whether it is daily, weekly, monthly or seasonally—the newness of the New Covenant will be refreshened to your souls. You will be reminded afresh of what the Lord Jesus promised to do and has done in the New Covenant promises: “I will remember their sins no more” (Jer. 31:34). Why can I pray this? Because the promise of Jesus’ birth was kept, He will and does most definitely keep this promise as well. He fulfilled the Old Covenant and sealed the New Covenant all at once with His blood. What a marvel!

Borrowing the words of a famous advertisement: Try the New Covenant again for the first time. Let the table of communion be refreshen yet once again.

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

 A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.

— 1 Corinthians 11:28 (NIV84)

  In the same way, after the supper He took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you.”

— Luke 22:20 (NIV84)

In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

— 1 Corinthians 11:25-26 (NIV84)

 Heavenly Father, by the shed blood of Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and through His power, I forgive myself for making the table of communion a common ‘thing’. I ask You, Lord Jesus Christ, to bear the consequences of my feelings & actions. Remove the pain and shame I have caused Your Name. Be that part of my Life that has been disobedient to You. I release myself into your hands. Grant me a right Spirit so to more fully appreciate what You did in the New Covenant. In Your Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

“A Healed Tongue Is Refreshing”

Date: 11-20-14
Text: — James 3:9-12 — With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. [NIV84]
The Big Idea: A healed tongue is a refreshing tongue.

My Thoughts:
Many love biting into some juicy, ripe fruit. Some like them crispy cold; others right off the vine, but whatever degree, the refreshment is amazing.
The same is true with a healed tongue. No matter the degree or frequency, whatever is spoken is juicy and refreshing.

So, Lifestyle worshipers, you may not like grapes or figs or even olives, but I’m sure you’d like a refreshing glass of crystal clear, truly spring originated water. Ahhh, can you taste your words now? I know those who hear your healed tongue can. Your thoughts?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
— Psalm 19:14 (NIV84)

On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” —John 7:37-38 (NIV84)

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
—Ephesians 5:25-27 (NIV84)

Heavenly Father, demonstrate Your healing in my life through the words of my mouth. As they spring from a heart that has been made whole by the precious blood of the Lamb, let the refreshing flow. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Messy Relationships: Opportunities for Peacemakers”

Date: 9-21-14

Text: James 2:8-11 8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.  [NIV84]

The Big Idea: Your BFF became your BFF because you worked through the mess.

My Thoughts: 

As you look around and ‘analyze’ your relationships, you may noticed that it was a rare relationship in which you didn’t have to work through a mess. Even with your BFF, there were messy times—times you didn’t think you’d stick it out….

Lifestyle worshipers, every relationship is an opportunity (a trial) to produce perseverance within us. And many, if not all, are very,  very messy, aren’t they? This is why James exhorts us: “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4). And one major way perseverance (aka patience) will be able to ‘finish its work” in us, is if we stick it out…. This is how your BFF became your BFF: you worked through the mess; you hung in there; you stuck it out. And as the farmer works hard throughout the growing season, he sticks it out to receive a bountiful harvest at the right time….

Have you found this to be true in many of your relationships, especially those in which you worked through the mess? Your thoughts?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

— Hebrews 12:11 (NIV84)

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 

— Matthew 5:9 (NIV)

 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

— 1 James 3:18 (NIV84)

Lord Jesus Christ, I put You on as my Slippers of Patience: The Right Slipper of Forgiveness and the Left Slipper of Forbearance. Continue to make me an instrument of Your presence to bring healing and not harm,  In Your Name Amen.

Pastor Mike

“The Test of Envy Through Relationships”

Date: 9-18-14

Text: James 1:9-11  The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. 10 But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: Our true Love being test with regard to material ‘stuff’.

My Thoughts: 

This may seem like a simplistic argument, but if we all had the same ‘stuff,’ we would never be tested with envy or jealousy or stealing…. Why do we need to be tested? To demonstrate true Love; a Love that springs from a heart that freely chooses to embrace, commit, sacrifice… for another. …

Lifestyle worshipers, maybe some of us have ‘burped,’ “It’s not fair. Why would God do such a thing?” This is a good question. Yet it appears He started this test pattern in the garden with the two trees. Oh, there were many more trees in the garden, but He pointed out two, and He gave expressed instructions not to eat from one of the designated two: “Don’t eat the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil.” (Don’t you find it interesting that He did not command Adam or Eve, “You must eat from the tree of Life”?)

Just like Adam and Eve’s true Love for the LORD was being tested through obedience, so is our true Love being test with regard to material ‘stuff’. This test reveals whether or not the “Have’s” will look on the “Have not’s” with distain, etc., and the “Have Not’s” will envy (stealing in their hearts) what the “Haves” have. What are your thoughts on this? Do you see a Christ-like response to the disparity between the rich and the poor? Do you see this as a test at all?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?

— Luke 16:10-12 (NIV84)

You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

— Revelations 3:17:18 (NIV84)

 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

— 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV84)

Heavenly Father, empower me by Your Holy Spirit so that I may have a response to the disparity between the rich and the poor that will honor Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  In His Name Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Another Test Lab for Growing Up”

Date: 9-16-14

Text: James 2:1-4  My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? [NIV84]

The Big Idea: The test lab of relationships reveals your heart’s prejudices.

My Thoughts: 

The first test lab for growing up James presents is trials, those general challenges of life that are more than slivers. But he also presents a second test lab: Relationships. He brings up the subject in 1:9-11, and speaks about social status particularly between the rich and the poor. But he hits it head on in 2:1-4: The test lab of relationships reveals your heart’s prejudices. …

Lifestyle worshipers, we know we should not favor the rich over the poor. And perhaps this is easy for some, but what I find more difficult not to favor is the ‘lovelies’ over the ‘unlovelies’. Now, my definition of these two words may be somewhat different from yours, but a shared aspect is going to be something like this: the ‘lovelies’ are those I am comfortable with and click with versus ‘unlovelies’ whom I find very, very difficult embarrassing, and draining to be around.

I know that this test lab has a lot more revealing to do in my life. How about in yours? Any thoughts….

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

— Matthew 9:12-13 (NIV84)

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

— Romans 12:16 (NIV84)

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

— Philippians 2:1-5 (NIV84)

Heavenly Father, forgive me for favoring the ‘lovelies’ and ignoring the ‘unlovelies’. I know Your Son mostly hung around with the ‘unlovelies’ of society, and I want to be more like Him. Cleanse me from this unrighteousness so that I may reflect His Life in me more clearly to those You truly Love far more than I can in my own strength. In Your Jesus’ Name Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Trust the Wounds of a Friend”

Date: 8-27-14

Text: Proverbs 27:6  Wounds from someone who loves are trustworthy, but kisses from an enemy speak volumes. [ISV]

The Big Idea: He became a curse of us, and by doing so, He has removed any curses.

My Thoughts: 

Perhaps even now it is hard to talk about, especially when the wounds are still festering and raw, but it is still good to know that when friends wound us, it is because they Love us. Yes, they really do care. Interestingly, just yesterday, I was talking to a friend about wounds of friends, and with both of us being poets at heart, we came up with a phrase, “God’s scalpel doesn’t slip.” When the LORD is using His scalpel on us to ‘wound’ us—by cutting away those ‘cancers’ that infest our souls, we need to remember He is a skilled surgeon. Indeed, His scalpel doesn’t slip….

But, lifestyle worshipers, sometimes we think our friend’s scalpel is constantly slipping, slashing us with reckless abandon. But we must remember that even if they are clumsy with their words or don’t use the “proper” tone of voice, they are still speaking to us on this particular issue because they Love us. No more and no less. And even if their scalpel slips a little (or a lot), this, too, the LORD can use….

When this happens, I do is try to remember that it pleased the LORD to bruise Jesus and by His strips we are healed. How do you deal with the wounds of a friend?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

   Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief.
     — Isaiah 53:10 (NKJV)
  Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it.
     — Psalm 141:5 (NIV84)
  Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me 
     — Revelation 3:19-20 (NIV84)

 Heavenly Father, as You prune away the dead branches of my life so that Jesus’ Life may produce more fruit, may I endure the hardship as loving discipline, knowing that You Love me and have given Your only Begotten Son for me. In the Lord Jesus’ Name Amen.

Pastor Mike