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INSPIRATIONAL Blog

Weekly inspirations from Aurora Colony Vineyard's owner, John Moore.
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John Moore
 
August 1, 2022 | John Moore

The Week of the Cross - Life’s Biggest Failures - Getting Into and Out of Trouble (Part One)

We are now in the last week of Jesus’ life. His entry into Jerusalem, his final instructions to the crowds and to the disciples. In this final week, Jesus predicts his death by crucifixion in two days. This is followed by the details of the sham trial to be conducted by the religious leaders to trap and murder Jesus. Now Jesus makes two shocking predictions – the one who will betray Him, and the one who will deny knowing him! If ever a spiritual movement looked destined for failure, it would be this last week of Jesus – the leader killed, the followings betraying Him or denying him as they scatter. Three shock waves in this final week.

33 Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”  34 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.  35 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.  Matthew 26:33-35.

1. Failure and Collapse Among the Disciples. Jesus correctly predicted that Peter would soon desert him – would deny any knowledge or association with Jesus – and this during this most critical of times where Jesus’ life hung in the balance, humanly speaking. But all of the disciples reaffirmed Peter’s pledge. They would never disown Jesus.  Yet the following narrative is clear.  Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.  Matt 26:56.

2. Understanding the Nature of Spiritual Failure. Certainly, we all fail. How does that happen? At its core, failure and sin in the life of the believer is rooted in our sinful nature, which comes from our continuing humanity marked out as fallen from the garden of Eden.

13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.  James 1:13-15.

Though redeemed, such that the sting of death is defeated, the struggle to do what is right, what is the bidding of the Spirit of God, remains.  And James is clear: by [our] own evil desire.

3. The Encouragement that Failures are Followed by Success. Certainly was true of Peter and the disciples.  They did not let their wholesale denial and desertion of Jesus mark the last chapter of their lives.  They recovered, gathered together, and went out preaching Jesus and the Resurrection. And this is consistent with what Jesus wanted for Peter.

31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32.

Do you see it? The words that should burn themselves into our souls, stamped over and covering the fears and struggle of our failures, are twofold: (1) But I have prayed for you, and (2) when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers. Our divine advocate is not only the Holy Spirit but Jesus himself, praying for us, believing in us and the work we do for the Kingdom. And failure is not the end of our lives. There are needs in the world and opportunities to reach out to others. Don’t let your legacy end in failure. Every great man and woman in the Bible was marked not by failure, but by getting back up after their failures, and committing themselves to faith and obedience – to serving others. God’s best to you this week. Make this a core theme in your life. It is in my life.

Time Posted: Aug 1, 2022 at 12:08 PM Permalink to The Week of the Cross - Life’s Biggest Failures - Getting Into and Out of Trouble (Part One) Permalink
John Moore
 
July 25, 2022 | John Moore

The Week of the Cross – Understanding Betrayal In Jesus’ Last Days

We are now in the last week of Jesus’ life. His entry into Jerusalem, his final instructions to the crowds and to the disciples. In this final week, Jesus predicts his death by crucifixion in two days. This is followed by the details of the sham trial to be conducted by the religious leaders to trap and murder Jesus. Now Jesus makes two shocking predictions – the one who will betray Him and the one who will deny knowing him! If ever a spiritual movement looked destined for failure, it would be this last week of Jesus – the leader killed, the followings betraying Him or denying him as they scatter. Three shock waves in this final week.

31 Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written  “‘I will strike the shepherd,
    and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’[a   32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”33 Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”34 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”35 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same. Matthew 26:31-35.

1. Judas. A study in Utter Rejection of Jesus. Imagine if you can, the disciples traveling with Jesus for 3 years, with various responsibilities. Judas the treasurer of the group, trusted with the financial resources of the disciples.  Yet, it was Judas who humanly fulfilled the prophecy ‘I will strike the shepherd’. And his betrayal is revealed publically to the disciples but in acts of mercy, he is not cast out of the group nor the last hours of association with Jesus. Amazing.

2. Peter. A Study in Failure and Recovery. The second revelation is predicting again Peter’s denial of Jesus.  Now one of the leaders of the disciples – the one on whom was the Rock, and the Church would be built – would deny he knew Jesus not once, but three times. What was left for the disciples to rely on? 

3 .All the Disciples – Will Fall Away. Talk about a failed enterprise. The three years of Jesus teaching and ministering to the crowds was seemingly having no effect nor lasting work. The leader shortly to die. The disciples ALL scattering. The shepherd is killed, the sheep are ALL scattered. While the disciples will later form the foundation of the church, for now, the focus is only and ultimately back to Jesus and the cross.

This passage speaks about commitment and priorities. It illustrates that even during hard times Jesus asks that we follow Him. We may not understand fully, but we can trust him who has gone before us. No better harbor of safety. Blessings to you this week. Be encouraged that we are better than the failures that mark out life as we know it.

17 For this reason he had to be made like them,[a] fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted..  Hebrews 2:17-18.

6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.  Hebrews 11:6.

Time Posted: Jul 25, 2022 at 12:29 PM Permalink to The Week of the Cross – Understanding Betrayal In Jesus’ Last Days Permalink
John Moore
 
July 18, 2022 | John Moore

The Week of the Cross – Jesus to Return – Making My Life Count - Part Five

We are now in the last week of Jesus’ life.  His entry into Jerusalem, his final instructions to the crowds and to the disciples.  In this final week Jesus predicts his death by crucifixion in two days.  This is followed by the details of the sham trial to be conducted by the religious leaders to trap and murder Jesus.  Yet in this impending crisis, again, a woman, Mary, comes to worship Jesus sacrificially.

10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 The poor you will always have with you,[a] but you will not always have me. 12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”  Matthew 26:10-13.

1.  Jesus’ Death Again Predicted. On three other occasions, Jesus has predicted his death.  Now he predicts it with the added detail of crucifixion. This should have horrified the disciples, but asked from the details of the plot of Jesus’ enemy to falsely accuse and kill him, the disciples are left to dispute and squabble in these final hours.  They were indignant. Really! Their indignation should have been for the soon coming of the cross, not a sacrificial act of worship.

2. Again, the Female Follows of Jesus Better Understood the Scope of His Message. Jesus has again predicted his death, now by the savagery of the cross.  Martha and Mary, of the household of Simon (John 12), come to serve and worship him. In this, Mary took what was undoubtedly the best of what she had – an alabaster jar of expensive perfume – and poured it over the head of Jesus, in worship, understanding what was coming for her Lord.

3. Jesus’ Correction and Affirmation.  Even in this last week, the named disciples were in confusion.  What was coming?  How were they to react?  What was the purpose of the Passover?  Jesus affirms the worship of Mary.  Wherever the gospel is preached, throughout the world, what she has been done will be told in memory of her.

No better commendation or memorial.  What a life epitaph!  An act of worship that becomes praiseworthy worldwide. This certainly is a climactic act of worship that says the following – the greatest acts of worship are to Love the Lord our God with all of our heart and soul and mind.  And remembering the woman who ended up at the empty tomb, and then went everywhere telling those around them that He is Risen!  Loving your neighbor as yourself.  These are the two great acts of worship and commendation that summarize all of the Law and the Prophets.  The greatest of approval by God.  The point: no sacrifice is too great in our worship of Jesus, what we have, what we are.  Best to you this week.

Time Posted: Jul 18, 2022 at 3:03 PM Permalink to The Week of the Cross – Jesus to Return – Making My Life Count - Part Five Permalink
John Moore
 
July 11, 2022 | John Moore

The Week of the Cross – Jesus to Return – Making My Life Count - Part Four

We are now in the last week of Jesus’ life.  His entry into Jerusalem, his final instructions to the crowds and to the disciples.  Now the question comes: if Jesus is leaving as predicted, when is He coming back?  And what will be the ones who are counted as great in the Kingdom?  Jesus has taught about the acceptance or exclusion of the virgins at the wedding.  He has taught of the parable of the talents, recommending that we use what God has given us for eternity.  Now he teaches about the sheep and the goats – those included or excluded from the Kingdom or hell.

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. 44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”  Matthew 25:40-46.

1.  First the Prediction.  When Jesus the King returns, Every Person will Give an Accounting of His or Her Life, First ordained by God.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  Matthew 25:34.

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Ephesians 2:8-10.

The good news is that we are not left to our own devices or energies or planning as following Jesus.  Redemption leads to good works.  And those good works are established for us from eternity past, only now for us to be faithful in completing.  The start of our lives – salvation, and now discipleship – is from God, not from our own.  And this start was before the creation of the world!

2. Second, the Promise. God will Reward the Faithful, Those who are Least Among Us.

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’  Matthew 25:40.

26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.  James 1:26-27.

Just as Jesus taught repeatedly about the care for the least in the Kingdom, for the child who is brought to Him, for the sick, the lame, the frightened and confused, so now those who care for the least, for those who seemingly have no claim to the attention or care of God – those will be the great ones in the Kingdom.  Those with the least position to request from us – the widows and the orphans – are the exact definition of religion that is pure and faultless.  Amazing!

3.  Third, The Warning.  Hell is Real.  In the end, There Will be Two Groups of People – the Sheep, the Redeemed and Rewarded; and the Goats, the Ones Who have Rejected Jesus, and will Spend Eternity in Hell and Punishment.  

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.  Matthew 25:31-33.

22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. Luke 16:22-23.

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Romans 1:18-20.

These two classes of people will have no excuse, since ‘what may be known about God is plain to them.’  Hell, also called Hades or Gehenna, is real.  It is a place of separation from God, where people are in eternal torment or punishment.  Though not a popular topic, understandably, it is a real place, taught in the Old Testament and the New Testament. of punishment for those who reject God. 

The critic of God would say, that is not fair? But this text says the opposite.  Every man and woman who has or will live has a chance to see the grace and revelation of God, and to accept or reject it.  Our lives reflect our values.  For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.  Jesus return will finally and completely acknowledge the reality of two classes of people – the ones who chose the narrow path and saw Jesus and His message and accepted it, and the ones who chose the broad path, rejecting God, to their own demise and destruction. 

No wonder that Jesus taught these critical truths in the last hours of his life.  8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Ephesians 2:8-10.  God’s best to you this week.  We are now two days from the cross, and with these teachings, Jesus’ enemies are gathering to plot his death. 

Time Posted: Jul 11, 2022 at 11:27 AM Permalink to The Week of the Cross – Jesus to Return – Making My Life Count - Part Four Permalink
John Moore
 
July 4, 2022 | John Moore

The Week of the Cross – Jesus to Return – Part ThreeThe Week of the Cross – Jesus to Return – Part Three

Jesus has been both instructing and illustrating about greatness in the Kingdom and great crowds began to follow him.  Most recently he has, for the third time, specifically predicted his death and resurrection, though most did not understand this was the redemptive fulfillment of His life. What is coming is a sham trial, public beating and mocking, and the death of a condemned criminal among criminals.   We are now in the last week of Jesus’ life.  His entry into Jerusalem, his final instructions to the crowds and to the disciples.  Now the question comes: if Jesus is leaving as predicted, when is He coming back?  And now, the sequel question, who is He coming for, how will we be held accountable for our lives?

26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’  Matthew 25:26-30.

1. Each One Given from God According to our Ability. The start of life is fairness and generosity, from God to us.  At the onset, it is described as ‘according to his ability."  The 5 talents, the 2 talents, the 1 talent. No fault given for differing ability.  Rather an expectation that we will do well with what we are given.  At the start, from God, to us, fairness, generosity, and expectation of living our lives in a productive manner.

2. The Blame Game. To the first two servants, praise for doing something productively with what was given to each of them.  Bot to the third, who sat and hid, and no production, the blame game – ‘you are a hard man’… resulting in his fear and doing nothing.

3. Proof of Lives Well Lived is in the Results Produced by that Life. The third servant’s true motivation and wasted opportunities in life came out. You wicked, lazy servant, not even a little effort or wisdom, resulting in losses of what he was hoarding and trying to protect. 

What is the application?  The parable of the talents meaning is that Jesus is coming back.  It might seem like he is delayed.  Not coming back.  But he is.  One day the King will return, and we will be held accountable for how we have used what God has given us.  So what are our talents or entrustments – what everyone has:

TIME
MONEY
RELATIONSHIPS
POSSESSIONS

There it is! These are talents we all have. This is our spiritual investment portfolio. Rather than blaming God, retreating in fear, using all of these as opportunities to invest in eternity. For two reasons: because of our love for Jesus, who is coming back; and because we will all give an account of how we have done with what we have.  Amazing truths. God’s best to you this week. Third and final parable, on the sheep and the goats, next week, telling us how to live in light of eternity. Blessings.

Time Posted: Jul 4, 2022 at 11:25 AM Permalink to The Week of the Cross – Jesus to Return – Part ThreeThe Week of the Cross – Jesus to Return – Part Three Permalink
John Moore
 
June 30, 2022 | John Moore

The Week of the Cross – Jesus to Return – Part Two

Jesus has been both instructing and illustrating about greatness in the Kingdom and great crowds began to follow him. Most recently he has, for the third time, specifically predicted his death and resurrection, though most did not understand this was the redemptive fulfillment of His life. What is coming is a sham trial, public beating and mocking, and the death of a condemned criminal among criminals.   We are now in the last week of Jesus’ life.  His entry into Jerusalem, his final instructions to the crowds and to the disciples. Now the question comes: if Jesus is leaving as predicted, when is He coming back? And now, the sequel question, who is He coming for, and will we/they be ready?

10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. 11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ 13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour. Matthew 25:10-13.

1. The Return of Jesus.  With Jesus’ death and resurrection, the business of God – at least one earth – remained unfinished.  Salvation had been offered and secured by the cross, but Jesus coming as Ruler and King of His Kingdom was not.  The bible has much to say about Jesus’ return, and it has been one of the fundamentals of the faith for disciples since the first century.  In Matthew 24, we establish that the day and hour are not known.  Now in Matthew 25, we get the twine messages: be vigilant to be counted as a disciple of Jesus, and use our time and talents for matters that are eternal. 

2. The Parable of the Ten Virgins.  While there is some interpretational debate about these details, two facts are clear: in the church there are the disciples, and there are the pretenders.  The disciples are prepared, ready for the returning groom; the pretenders seem prepared, but are not, ‘no oil, etc’, and are more interested in appearances than in spiritual reality.

3. Acceptance and Rejection at Jesus’ Return.  There will be two groups at Jesus return, two groups in the church now.  There are the since and heart devoted followers, who love the Lord with all their heart, and love others [rather] than themselves; and there will be the ones who are surface pretenders, whose heart and mind have not been given to God.  To the first, acceptance and reception into the Kingdom; to the second, a door that is closed, and will not open.  Salvation for the unbeliever after Jesus returns is a subject for another week.

Jesus’ return promised from the Prophets:

Isaiah 35:10
Verse Concepts
And the ransomed of the Lord will return
And come with joyful shouting to Zion,
With everlasting joy upon their heads.
They will find gladness and joy,
And sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Isaiah 51:11
Verse Concepts
So the ransomed of the Lord will return
And come with joyful shouting to Zion,
And everlasting joy will be on their heads.
They will obtain gladness and joy,
And sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Ezekiel 37:12
Verse Concepts
Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel.

Jeremiah 50:19
Verse Concepts
And I will bring Israel back to his pasture and he will graze on Carmel and Bashan, and his desire will be satisfied in the hill country of Ephraim and Gilead.

Jeremiah 29:14
Verse Concepts
I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.’

Jeremiah 30:10

Verse Concepts
‘Fear not, O Jacob My servant,’ declares the Lord,
‘And do not be dismayed, O Israel;
For behold, I will save you from afar
And your offspring from the land of their captivity.
And Jacob will return and will be quiet and at ease,
And no one will make him afraid.

Jeremiah 46:27
Verse Concepts
“But as for you, O Jacob My servant, do not fear,
Nor be dismayed, O Israel!
For, see, I am going to save you from afar,
And your descendants from the land of their captivity;
And Jacob will return and be undisturbed
And secure, with no one making him tremble.

Jeremiah 31:17
Verse Concepts
“There is hope for your future,” declares the Lord,
“And your children will return to their own territory.

Jeremiah 29:10
Verse Concepts
“For thus says the Lord, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.

Jeremiah 31:16
Verse Concepts
T
hus says the Lord,
“Restrain your voice from weeping
And your eyes from tears;
For your work will be rewarded,” declares the Lord,
And they will return from the land of the enemy.

And from Jesus’ teachings and the New Testament:

 14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  John 14:1-3

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. I Thessalonians 4:16.

That is our hope and our focus.  And for the days given to us, using them in ways that count for eternity.  More on that next week with the parable of the talents.  Stay well.

Time Posted: Jun 30, 2022 at 10:28 AM Permalink to The Week of the Cross – Jesus to Return – Part Two Permalink
John Moore
 
June 20, 2022 | John Moore

The Week of the Cross – End of the World, Beginning Birth Pains – Part One

Jesus has been both instructing and illustrating about greatness in the Kingdom and great crowds began to follow him. Most recently he has, for the third time, specifically predicted his death and resurrection, though most did not understand this was the redemptive fulfillment of His life. What is coming is a sham trial, public beating and mocking, and the death of a condemned criminal among criminals. We are now in the last week of Jesus’ life. His entry into Jerusalem, his final instructions to the crowds and to the disciples. Now the question comes: if Jesus is leaving as predicted, when is He coming back?

3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Matthew 24:3.

1.  When will Jesus return?  It naturally followed that if the discples understood the message of Jesus – the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus – and His predicted retur – when would that happen.  While modern day sooth sayers try to name the date and time, and that is silly and not biblical, there were signs of the time, just as the plants ripen to bear fruit. 
 

2. Signs Before His return - the great deceiver and deception.  ‘For many will come in my name, claiming ‘I am the Christ’, and will deceive many.  Matt 24:5.  This is a summary of the great deceiver, the one predicted as the anti-Christ, with the following traits: Intelligent: Revelation 13:18; Daniel 7:8.  Charismatic Speaker: Daniel 7:8 Revelation 13:5.  Crafty Politician: Daniel 9:27; Revelation 17:12, 13, 17.  Distinct Physical Appearance: Daniel 7:20.  Military Genius: Revelation 4; 17:14; 19:19.  Economic Genius: Daniel 11:38.  Blasphemer: Revelation 13:6.  Utterly Lawless: 2 Thessalonians 2:8.  Selfish, Ambitious Egomaniac: Daniel 11:36, 37; 2 Thessalonians 2:4.  Greedy Materialist: Daniel 11:38.  Controlling:  Daniel 7:25.  Proud and Self-exalting Above God and Everything: Daniel 11:36; 2 Thessalonians. 2:4.

3. Signs before His return – international events.  6You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8All these are the beginning of birth pains. Matthew 24:6-8.  The deceiver will bring international betrayal and chaos.  And these are only the beginning of birth pains.

National and international events cause, for some, fear and anxiety.  Everything nailed down seems to be coming up.  Certainly the current political environment of lawlessness, terrorist activities in our cities, no enforcement of our borders, diminishment of police, rampant inflation – all bring enough consternation.  But in the end times, harder times are coming.  It is the task of Christians to understand the world we live in, and to live as salt and light, modeling the beatitudes in the days God gives.  A life of mercy, kindness, faith, hope and love toward others – these are the hallmarks of the disciple even during hard times.  Blessings to you this week.

Time Posted: Jun 20, 2022 at 1:42 PM Permalink to The Week of the Cross – End of the World, Beginning Birth Pains – Part One Permalink
John Moore
 
June 13, 2022 | John Moore

The Week of the Cross – Separating the Real from the Counterfeit – Part Two

Jesus has been both instructing and illustrating about greatness in the Kingdom and great crowds began to follow him.  Most recently he has, for the third time, specifically predicted his death and resurrection, though most did not understand this was the redemptive fulfillment of His life. What is coming is a sham trial, public beating and mocking, and the death of a condemned criminal among criminals.   We are now in the last week of Jesus’ life.  His entry into Jerusalem, his final instructions to the crowds and to the disciples.  Now he exposes the true character of the religious phonies – the hypocrites who pretended to speak for God.  By contrast, Jesus reaffirms greatness in the kingdom and true spirituality.

8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Matthew 23:8-12

1. Spotting the Phony in the Crowd. There are no hold backs now. Jesus has separated out the hypocrite, the religious phony, and is warning his disciples that they are the opposite of what is great and valued in the kingdom.

2. By Contrast, the Family of God Reflects True Spiritual Values.  Rather than seeking praise and attention and power and influence on earth, with twisted and selfish values reserved for the hypocrite, a disciples understands that our Master and Father is in heaven.  Spiritual titles are reserved for  God, not for man.  We have only one Master…have on Father, and He is in heaven. 

3. And Further Contrast, Service is the Measure of Greatness for the Family of God.  Have you noticed how the outcast, the slave, the child, the least and the despised, the prostitute, the sick and weak, all get the greatest attention from Jesus?  The reason is this: from the imagery of the weak and least, the principle is reaffirmed: the greatest among you will be your servant.  This immutable spiritual principle is to pervade the churches and communities and homes of the true believers. It is immutable. It does not change.

So the family of God and greatness in the Kingdom is the antidote to the hypocrisy in the church:

48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother Matthew 12:48-50.

And ambition – getting ahead by maneuvering ahead of others, has no place in the Christian’s life:

When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:42-45.

In the end, understanding what to do and who to follow and not follow is pretty clear. Just measure it by Him who is our Savior and who gave us life a ransom for us.  It comes back to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.  Stay well.

Time Posted: Jun 13, 2022 at 12:17 PM Permalink to The Week of the Cross – Separating the Real from the Counterfeit – Part Two Permalink
John Moore
 
June 6, 2022 | John Moore

The Week of the Cross – The Anatomy of a Hypocrite – Who and What Not to Be and Do – Part One

Jesus has been both instructing and illustrating about greatness in the Kingdom and great crowds began to follow him.  Most recently he has, for the third time, specifically predicted his death and resurrection, though most did not understand this was the redemptive fulfillment of His life. What is coming is a sham trial, public beating and mocking, and the death of a condemned criminal among criminals.   We are now in the last week of Jesus’ life.  His entry into Jerusalem, his final instructions to the crowds and to the disciples.  Now he exposes the true character of the religious phonies – the hypocrites who pretended to speak for God.

You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?

34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town.

35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth.  Matthew 23:33-35a

1. Identifying the Hypocrite, and Thus the Enemy.  Jesus now reserves his harshest criticism for the phony religious leaders in Israel, the ones pretending to be and do God’s biding, but actually were tools of the devil to confuse the genuine seeker or pilgrim.  Jesus introduces their hypocrisy as follows:

1a.  They tell others to do what they are unwilling to do themselves.

1b.  They burden others with tasks they are unwilling to do.

1c.  They publically pretend to be religious, but it is all for show, never for go.

1d.  They love positions and titles of honor, terms reserved only for God the Father.

 

2. Jesus summarizes their conduct as follows Matt 23:13-32):

3. No fence sitting!  You can know a person by his conduct.  Here Jesus finishes his excoriation of the Pharisees – brood of vipers, shedding of righteous blood, murderers.  The path of the prophets is both a warning to the true follower of Jesus, and a guide to the real rather than the counterfeit.

Jesus had warned his disciples of this from the beginning of his ministry and the Beatitudes: 

Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  Matthew 5:11-12.

Now the demands of discipleship and the test of devotion, for the disciples, is at hand. They will fail more tests than they pass in the next hours, with confusion and fear, but will now understand the message of the cross and the resurrection. 

Time Posted: Jun 6, 2022 at 12:14 PM Permalink to The Week of the Cross – The Anatomy of a Hypocrite – Who and What Not to Be and Do – Part One Permalink
John Moore
 
May 30, 2022 | John Moore

The Week of the Cross – Unavoidable Truth that Jesus is the Messiah

Jesus has been both instructing and illustrating about greatness in the Kingdom and great crowds began to follow him.  Most recently he has, for the third time, specifically predicted his death and resurrection, though most did not understand this was the redemptive fulfillment of His life. What is coming is a sham trial, public beating and mocking, and the death of a condemned criminal among criminals. We are now in the last week of Jesus’ life. His entry into Jerusalem, his final instructions to the crowds and to the disciples, and the courage to face the cross contrary to his will but in obedience to the heavenly Father.  The link is now made from the lineage of David – the royal lineage – to Jesus not only as the Son of David but David’s Lord, namely the Savior of the world.

43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says,

44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord:
    “Sit at my right hand
until I put your enemies
    under your feet.”’[a]

45 If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” 46 No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.  Matthew 22:43-46.

1. Jesus’ Instruction Proceeding from the Known to the Unknown.  This is the last public dialogue between Jesus and his critics.  Begrudgingly, they have to admit Jesus' lineage in the line of David, which is itself royalty.  Not Messianic but royalty.  And to that they admit.  This is known in the community and not deniable. This becomes the foundation for Jesus' affirmation that He is from God, doing the work of the Father, and proceeding back to heaven.

2. Jesus’ Logic Affirming his Deity.  Jesus now, on multiple occasions, has predicted his death and resurrection, to his disciples, and to the crowds.  But to his critics, no acknowledgment was made.  Now they are directed to the logic that not only is Jesus the son of David, which they admit, but from Psalms 110, a Psalm written by David, even David admits that the One who comes after him, as predicted, will be the Messiah.

3. Applying the Psalms to Jesus’ Instruction.  The enemies of Jesus instantly knew that they were biblically and logically wrong – that they were hoisted, as it were, on the horns of the dilemma where they could not affirm Jewish heritage in David and deny that Jesus was the application of the Son of David – the Messiah. 

Psalms 110 says about this One from David – your enemies shall be your footstool; the Lord will extend your mighty scepter; you will rule in the midst of your enemies; your troops … will be arrayed in holy majesty; you are a Priest forever; the Lord is at your right hand, He will crush kings on the day of wrath; he will judge the nations; crushing the rules of the whole earth.

No wonder of Jesus' enemies, it was said: from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.

We are in a crazy world right now.  The newly appointed Justice of the Supreme Court does not have the moral courage to define a woman. USA Today calls a man ‘Woman of the Year’.  A recent witness in our congress advises that men can get pregnant and have an abortion. All absurdities. Where will it end?  Well, our text from Psalm 110 said, evil has its season, but God will have the final say.  Be encouraged that our world is not out of His control.  We follow in faith and trust that, in our lifetime or after, all matters will be set right, in righteousness and justice, both in the heavens and in our world.  Best to you this week. 

Time Posted: May 30, 2022 at 12:09 PM Permalink to The Week of the Cross – Unavoidable Truth that Jesus is the Messiah Permalink