Friday, October 11, 2019

You: a Discipling Disciple! (or ?)


You: a Discipling Disciple!  (?)


Jesus’ followers are to help other disciples 

      by “doing them spiritually good” (Mark Dever).  

How? 

Pray for and affirm them.
Share appropriate passages from the Word.
Pass on a good book, or article.
Listen to them, let them know you are available.
Offer gentle correction, if warranted.
 


Get in the game (2 Tim. 2:2).


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

God is Looking for Fruitful, Faith–filled Followers



Mere Leafiness is Not “Worth a Fig” - from Matthew 21:18-22

Surprise inspections – like “pop quizzes” – can set one’s nerves on edge.  New Amy recruits come to expect their quarters to be examined at any time. But who goes unannounced into the house of a Five Star General and pulls an inspection? With no time to prepare – clean up, hide things – drop-in investigations give an accurate, if painful, assessment. If allowed, they can be a wakeup call, and an encouraging affirmation.

Today’s text may sound like Jesus is irritated at being denied breakfast, but something far more significant is happening here. He is not “hangry”, He is teaching His disciples. God rightfully expects His people to have lives filled with His love and life. There should be evidence, proving-fruit, that we are His people. And such lives will have deep faith in Him, His power.   


Matthew 21:17 And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there. 18 In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. 19 And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.

20 When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” 21 And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. 22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”   (Matthew 21:17-22 – ESV)



Christian often tease about being “fruit inspectors”.  Jesus told us people would know us as His followers by our fruit – our lives, not just our profession. Jesus spoke of being able to tell False Prophets by their lives, and not their empty, deceptive claims: “you will recognize them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:20 – ESV).

Today’s passage is a case of “or lack thereof…” The absence of the evidence of God’s work in your life is no small matter. What if Jesus, after checking what you claimed was a God-shaped life, needed to call out your hypocrisy? Would He, upon further inspection, charge you with false advertising, missing vitality, and then pronounced a curse?

In today’s short passage, we are faced with two important questions:
Do we have God-honoring lives – not just claims, but fruit
Do we trust Him – prayerfully seek His will in the World


Fruitless, Faithless? Beware!
This fig tree – with its leaves - boasted of fruit, sustenance, fulfilled-purpose
Leaves equaled figs! Yet, there was nothing; all show, no substance
Jesus called it out (see Matthew 23)
Jesus calls us out (John 15:1-11)

Jesus knew the tree was barren (Mark 11:13), just as He already knows the spiritual state of our lives (Psalm 105; 139). Our big claims cannot hide barrenness. His cursing of the fruitless fig tree was an acted out parable for His disciples.  Empty confessions of vitality without actual lives that honor God and others are unacceptable.


Got Fruit?  God’s character and purposes lived out in and through you.
The tangible, practical impact of love for and obedience to God (cf. 13:1-24).

We can have loads of religious leaves, but if we do not have fruit, we are not fulfilling our God-given purpose (consult Ephesians 2:8-10; Matthew 5:13-16; 7:15-20)
John the Baptist rebuked, exhorted the Pharisees and Sadducees:
“Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” (Matthew 3:8 - NIV – cf. Luke 3:8)
  

Got Faith? Mark separates these two episodes (see Mark 11:12-14, 20-24). This teaching on faith can seem an odd take-away from Jesus cursing the fruitless tree, but it is a natural, second lesson from this powerful encounter:

From The Message:  “But Jesus was matter-of-fact: “Yes—and if you embrace this kingdom life and don’t doubt God, you’ll not only do minor feats like I did to the fig tree, but also triumph over huge obstacles. This mountain, for instance, you’ll tell, ‘Go jump in the lake,’ and it will jump. Absolutely everything, ranging from small to large, as you make it a part of your believing prayer, gets included as you lay hold of God.”  (21:21, 22)

 Earlier, Jesus rebuked His weak in faith Disciples: "You unbelieving and perverse generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me." (17:17 -  NIV)

Among the many sobering verses in Scripture, add Luke 18:8:
“I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.
However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"  (NIV)


Closing Applications, Additional Study

Get Fruit!
What evidence is present in your life that you are not an “all leaf, no figs” disciple?  Consider Paul’s instruction to young pastor Titus: “To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.”  (Titus 1:15, 16- ESV)

Spiritual Heritage is not enough! God wants congruence in our lives – walking the talk! See James 1:19-22; Matthew 7:21-29. “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”  (Matthew 3:8 - NIV)

Ø  Note the wildly different fruits and their sources in Galatians 5:16-26

Ø  What does Jesus say our part is in being fruitful (see John 15:1-11)?

Ø  What is the difference between the two lives, trees portrayed in Psalm 1?

Ø  What should we be careful to learn from John the Baptist’s stinging rebuke of Pharisees and Sadducees in Matthew 3:7-10?


Get Faith!
In the midst of faith-testing trials, James wrote:  “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”   (James 1:5-8 - ESV)



Giving Jesus the last word: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”  (John 15:4, 5 - ESV)


A Discipleship tool of Christ Community Fellowship
Kerry S. Doyal – Pastor
July 7, 2019

Monday, December 10, 2018

Can You Handle God’s Marvelous Messiah!


 Can You Handle God’s Marvelous Messiah!

            29 Moving on from there, Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee. He went up on a mountain and sat there, 30 and large crowds came to him, including the lame, the blind, the crippled, those unable to speak, and many others. They put them at his feet, and he healed them. 31 So the crowd was amazed when they saw those unable to speak talking, the crippled restored, the lame walking, and the blind seeing, and they gave glory to the God of Israel.

            32 Jesus called his disciples and said, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they’ve already stayed with me three days and have nothing to eat. I don’t want to send them away hungry, otherwise they might collapse on the way.”

            33 The disciples said to him, “Where could we get enough bread in this desolate place to feed such a crowd?”  34 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked them.  “Seven,” they said, “and a few small fish.”

            35 After commanding the crowd to sit down on the ground, 36 he took the seven loaves and the fish, gave thanks, broke them, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 37 They all ate and were satisfied. They collected the leftover pieces—seven large baskets full. 38 Now there were four thousand men who had eaten, besides women and children. 39 After dismissing the crowds, he got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan.”  (Matthew 15:29-39 – CSB)


Getting a Handle on God’s Messiah!
Hallelujah to God’s Sent One – from Matt 15:29-39

            “Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…” Reading Matthew 15:29-39, you may think Matthew has lost track of what he has already written about Jesus. This text has a déjà vu ("already seen”) feel to it: masses coming to Jesus, His sitting on a hill, multitudes miraculously healed, and fed, His “not getting it” disciples, Him moving on…

            Why do we repeat stories? Could it be both emphasis via repetition, and the distinctions in the differences? Yes, Jesus is once again compassionately healing, feeding masses. But who, when, where? Evading political, and religious powers, Jesus is in heavily Gentile territory, giving even more of the children’s bread to the dogs (see 15:21-28). He is behaving – again – so much like God’s Messiah, that even these outsiders are “amazed”, and giving “glory to the God of Israel” (vs. 31; Isaiah 35:4-6). Circle the parts of this passage that Matthew has already written something like:

            “Moving on from there, Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee. He went up on a mountain and sat there, and large crowds came to him, including the lame, the blind, the crippled, those unable to speak, and many others. They put them at his feet, and he healed them. So the crowd was amazed when they saw those unable to speak talking, the crippled restored, the lame walking, and the blind seeing, and they gave glory to the God of Israel.

                Jesus called his disciples and said, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they’ve already stayed with me three days and have nothing to eat. I don’t want to send them away hungry, otherwise they might collapse on the way.”

                The disciples said to him, “Where could we get enough bread in this desolate place to feed such a crowd?”  “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked them.  “Seven,” they said, “and a few small fish.”

                After commanding the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish, gave thanks, broke them, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied. They collected the leftover pieces—seven large baskets full.  Now there were four thousand men who had eaten, besides women and children.  After dismissing the crowds, he got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan.”  (Matthew 15:29-39 – CSB)


The Cast, Setting, Same/Differences:
Ø  Jesus, God’s Miraculous, Merciful-to-all Messiah (cf. 15:27, 28)
Ø  The Marveling, Mixed-Motive Outsiders of Decapolis (John 6:26-42)
Ø  The Needy, getting Mercy, Praising Israel’s God  (Is. 29:18-23; 35:4-7)
Ø  The Dull (less-compassionate?) Disciples (cf. 6:30; 8:25-27; 14:31)  


Points to Ponder, Praise to Give, Paths to Pursue:
v  Have you come to God’s Messiah, who came to us? (John 1:1-14)
v  Who will you bring to, put at Jesus’ feet? (Matt. 9:35-38; 28:18-20)
v  Have you started, or stopped, marveling, praising? (Rom. 11:33-36)
v  Does faith-filled compassion compel you? (Acts 6; 2 Corin. 5:14)
v  How many baskets will it take for you to believe? Cf. Matt. 16:8; 17:20


Don’t or Won’t See?



Don’t or Won’t See?
Being Spiritually Dull is Dangerous
Signs, Bread Aplenty! Beware Blinders & Busyness;
from Matthew 16:1-12

            Talk about missing the point! Jesus’ foes would not see, so they turned to testing Him to trap Him. Jesus’ disciples were slow to see, so they needed a wake-up rebuke and reminder. “Not getting it” often reveals intimate things about one’s heart. See if you can see what Matthew was showing us from these two related encounters with Jesus:


            “The Pharisees and Sadducees approached, and tested him, asking him to show them a sign from heaven. 2 He replied, “When evening comes you say, ‘It will be good weather because the sky is red.’ 3 And in the morning, ‘Today will be stormy because the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to read the appearance of the sky, but you can’t read the signs of the times. 4 An evil and adulterous generation demands a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” Then he left them and went away.

            5 The disciples reached the other shore, and they had forgotten to take bread. 6 Then Jesus told them, “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”  7 They were discussing among themselves, “We didn’t bring any bread.”

            8 Aware of this, Jesus said, “You of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves that you do not have bread? 9 Don’t you understand yet? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand and how many baskets you collected? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand and how many large baskets you collected? 11 Why is it you don’t understand that when I told you, ‘Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees,’ it wasn’t about bread?” 12 Then they understood that he had not told them to beware of the leaven in bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”  (Matthew 16:1-12 – CSB)


Don’t or Won’t See? Doubt, Dullness is Dangerous

Unified Foes = Focused Fools. Testing isn’t Truth Seeking (vs. 1)
·         Strange Bedfellows are a Sign of ill motives, ungodly methods  
·         Demanding our terms is a damnable power play, control ploy


Beware Willful, Selective Hearing / Seeing  (vs. 2-4a)
·         Discerning the Physical, but Ignoring the Spiritual (cf. Rev. 16:9, 11)
·         Not a matter of IQ, but “I Will!” – the Proverbial “fool” (Psalm 14:1)
·         A sign of willfully wickedness, spiritual adultery  (Romans 1:18-24)


Jesus’  Resurrection is Ultimate Sign, Our Faith Focus (4b, cf. 12:39)
·         Grace: “none… but sign of Jonah.” WOW! The Greatest Sign
·         "If they do not listen to… the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'" Luke 16:31 (1 Corin. 15:1-9; Romans 1:4)


It’s Dangerous to be Spiritually Forgetful, or Dull (vs. 5-11)
·         They had one job! What’s yours? Distraction can lead to deception (Col 2:4-8)
·         Humbly hear Jesus: “O you of little faith… Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember… how many baskets you gathered? How is it that you fail to understand…?” (vs. 8-11) OUCH!   
·         Set eyes on, look to Jesus (Col. 3:1-3; Heb. 12;1, 2; John 15:1-5)


Better a Late “Ah, Ha!”  than Never  (vs. 12; John 20:26-31)
·         Beware subtle, contaminating influence of self-righteous pride, or arrogant “liberty”
·         False Teachers tickle, and tempt us to turn from Jesus (2 Timothy 4; 2 Corinthians 11:1-4)
·         Let Jesus bring application to His Teachings (cf. Matt 7:21ff; James 1:22)
·         How are you testing God? What terms and conditions do you set for the Almighty?
·         What are you avoiding hearing, doing? Repent, re-love, re-do (Rev. 2:4, 5; 3:19, 20; John 13:17)



Good News in Which to Glory & Share

Good News in Which to Glory & Share
Ashamed of the Gospel? No Way!

KSD


What do the following things have in common: a bad haircut, engagement rings, facial blemishes, and a new grandchild?

Each sets off a powerful internal reaction either to gladly show and tell or to hide and avoid sharing. Engagement rings are proudly waved around and grand-kids boasted of freely. Not so much with pimples and butchered bangs. They are hidden and covered. Some things are gloried in while others can be embarrassments.

The gospel was Paul’s calling—God’s re-direct on his life. Saul had despised and rejected the good news, but now it was his life. He “saw the light” and was gloriously converted (Acts 9). He was eternally altered from Saul—a zealous defender of Judaism and Jesus-hater, to Paul—a teller and defender of God’s gospel of Jesus.

Paul tried repeatedly to go to Rome to share God’s good news wrapped up in Jesus. He longed to see more lost people found and believers edified. The gospel does both. Rome was the place of political, intellectual, and cultural prominence. The gospel would be seen by many sophisticates there as more Jewish mythical foolishness. Others would be saved.

Thus Paul wrote: “I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith’” (Romans 1:13-17–ESV).

We freely tell about things we’re confident of and that bring us joy. Topics that cause us ridicule or shame, we keep private, deny, or obscure. The gospel—God’s saving truth of salvation in His resurrected Son Jesus, is nothing to be ashamed of. It is good news we can glory in and should eagerly share. Take notes from Paul’s greeting to the church in Rome.

As we see from this text, there are many reasons to glory in God’s gospel. First, the gospel has power to save all who believe. It is divinely dynamic to rescue any who have faith in Jesus—Jew or Gentile. Be they religious or secular, worldly sophisticates or the simple, the gospel is God’s life-changing message.

By God’s powerful good news, the dead are made alive (Eph. 2:1), the condemned are rescued and declared righteous (Col. 1:13-16; Rom. 4), and hell-bound heathens (that would be everyone) become heaven-graced saints. God’s mighty arm is not too short to reach even the most lost person (Rom. 5:1-11; Is. 59:1).

Paul knew of the gospel’s power in his own life. The self-described “chief of sinners,” Paul was God’s Exhibit “A” of grace (1 Tim. 1:14-16). If God could change him, He could change anyone—me, you, or the hardest-of-hearts lost loved one (Rom. 10:8-13).

Ashamed of the gospel? Hardly! We can glory in it because it tells of God’s provision to save us from sin and condemnation. It unveils an alien righteousness from God (2 Cor. 5:21). Job asked, “How can we be right before God?” (Job 9:2). By faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection, a right standing with God is applied to us—Christ’s (2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 5:12-21). Because of Him, we “shall not pass unto judgment, but have eternal life” (John 3:16, 36; 5:24).

We can also glory in God’s gospel because it has the only proclamation that leads to salvation. It tells of righteousness from God applied to us by faith, not law (3:21-31; 6:22-23). This deliverance from deserved condemnation comes by faith in Christ (Gal. 2-4; Eph. 2:1-10).

Ask Martin Luther about its transforming power and message. That hopeless, miserable monk turned professor scoured the scriptures to learn how he could be right with God. In this passage he learned that anyone who is just before God has that hope only by believing the gospel—not through works (Rom. 1:17; Hab. 2:4; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38).

Paul made plans to persistently spread the gospel (1:1-13). Far from embarrassed, he purposefully and diligently shared it. Do you? Sharing the gospel is a glorious obligation. Are you obedient?

What does your gospel-sharing activity say about you? Is the gospel a source of shame or glory to you? Does its good news produce a joyous eagerness to tell others? Or do you stay quiet, seeking to save face? Do you treat God’s good news like a pimple or a prize?

Be confident of its power—God’s power, to change all who believe. If God has changed you, rejoice and unashamedly spread the good news!

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Sea-side Story-time, Soil Analysis. Listening?


 Sea-side Story-time, Soil Analysis. Listening?

Heavenly Heart Checks from Kingdom Parables,
 from Matthew 13


            Oh those sneaky stories Jesus loved to tell. Just when you think they are fun little tales, they turn into a mirror, showing ugly truths, asking hard questions. Parables (παραβολή - to set beside) both reveal and conceal. For those who listen to God’s word, so they can obey, Jesus’s stories direct, correct, and bring hope. For those who have no plan to practice what He preaches, Jesus’ parables confuse, convict, and powerfully disclose the “listener’s” hard heart.

            Jesus’ first parable in Matthew 13 tests our soul’s soil. It is a heart check, a hearing test for the stories that follow. Leaving a crowded house, Jesus heads to a spacious beach, crowds in tow. Sitting on a ship, He sows a string of stories at the sea-side (vs. 1, 2). He starts off speaking of soils, showing His students’ spiritual state (vs. 3-9). When His disciples ask why He uses tales to teach, He tells of two distinct heart diagnoses (vs. 10-17). Listeners who seek to obey His word, are blessed with more truth through them - they “get it”. Hard-hearted hearers, who plug their ears, close their eyes, are found out and called out. Which are you: a fruitful listener or part of the curious, but callous crowd?


Sea-Side, Boat-deck Disciple-making  (12:46 – 13:3a)
·         What makes one His true family, disciples? Matt. 5:1, 2; 7:24-29; 12:46-50
·         Hear AND Do: Josh 1:6-9; Psalm 81:11-13; James 1:19-24; John 13:17
·         “Then he told them many things in παραβολαῖς / parables…”(vs. 3a)


The Stage-setting Story of Soils. Listen! (vs. 3b-9)
·          “Consider the sower who went out to sow.” (vs. 3)   Wise Words!
1)      “Some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.” (vs. 4; cf. Mark 4)
2)      “Other seed fell on rocky ground where it didn’t have much soil, and it grew up quickly since the soil wasn’t deep. But when the sun came up, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away.” (vs. 5-6)
3)      “Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it.” (vs. 7)
4)      “Still other seed fell on good ground and produced fruit: some a hundred, some sixty, and some thirty times what was sown.” (vs. 8)
·         “Let anyone who has ears listen.” (vs. 9 - CBS)


His Sovereign, Soul-Exposing Strategy (vs. 10-17; Is. 6:9, 10)
·         Give His True Family, Fruitful Ones More Truth (vs. 11, 12, 16, 17)
“If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”  John 13:17

·         Befuddle Mere Listeners, Reflect their Rejection (vs. 12-15; Is. 6:9, 10; 53:1)
“This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” Matthew 15:8


Which Soil / Soul are You, a Forgetful or Fruitful Hearer:
·         Rebellious, obstinate, rejecting, fruitless  (Matt. 25; Lk 8:9, 10; Rom. 11:7-10)
·         Shallow commitment, lacking endurance  (Matt. 9:19-22; 26:31, 56; Psalm 1)
·         Mixed affections, worldly, idolatrous (1 John 2:15-17; 2 Tim. 4:10)
·         Fruitful via obedience, an effective hearer (James 1:25; 1 John 3, 4)


            “But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like someone looking at his own face in a mirror. For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of person he was. But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer who works—this person will be blessed in what he does.”  (James 1:22-25 – CSB)



Friday, June 09, 2017

Don't forget the Christmas Snakes!

Don't forget the Christmas Snakes
Kerry S. Doyal 


           Can you imagine the fear, the terror of nightfall? No candles, no flashlights. No doors to shut, or windows to latch. No beds with which to be up off the floor. No doctors, no antibodies, no 911: just snakes. Poisonous snakesSnakes that seem to be seeking people to bite.

Friends are grieving the loss of loved ones. The Elderly, who did not see or hear them approaching, are dying. Loving Moms and Dads who were afflicted have died. Children who knew no better than to get near the snakes perish. Others linger, writhing in pain, suffering.


"Moses", they cry out,  "Moses". This time it was not to sinfully complain. This time was to confess. They had sinned. Sinned against God, against Moses. They had grown impatient  - been discontent. Having spoken against the Lord and Moses, they were being disciplined by the Lord.

"Why?" they had sinfully cried out, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread. There is no water. And we detest this miserable food. Why? Why?”

God's very own gracious provision had become wearisome to them. Familiarity had bread contempt for these pouting pilgrims.

"Moses, pray for us. Talk to God for us. Ask Him to remove these snakes."

Moses, being meek, heard their plea and pleads to God for them. God, being gracious, hears Moses plea and provides a remedy.

"Moses", God calls out to him, "Moses, make a serpent. Make a serpent of bronze and put it on a pole. Take this bronze serpent on the pole and lift it up for the people. Lift it up for the people to see.”

"Moses, tell the people that those who are bit and look to the serpent will be saved. Tell them to look to the serpent to live.”

So Moses did as the LORD told him. He gathered some bronze and fashioned a snake. A snake that looked like thesnakes that were biting the people.

Yet this snake did not contain poison, did not cause death. Not a snake of condemnation, but of salvation.  Not a snakeof judgment, but of deliverance.

Moses gathered the people and told them God's answer. God had seen their plight and heard their penitent plea. "I will be lifting up this serpent in the midst of the camp," Moses said. "All those who have been bitten and look to it will be healed"

Lifted up: an image of the source of the suffering. Lifted up: God's solution to the punishment for their sin. Lifted up: God's serpent to simply be looked upon.

Some must have thought, might have grumbled: "Look upon that? Look to a snake? How can that help? That makes no sense. What good does looking do? What must we do to undo our wrongs?”

Others, undoubtedly, ran home to tell loved ones to look, to look and live.  Loved ones too sick to gather for Moses' good news. Loved ones near death themselves. Loved ones who it was feared would not make it through the night.

"Look!  Look! The serpent has been lifted up! On the pole, on that stick. There, on that simple piece of wood is God's cure, God's remedy, God's sign of  love and forgiveness. Look! Look and live."

And some did!

Some 1500 years later - now in the land Moses lead the people to - a man named Nicodemus came by night to speak to a Teacher. Nicodemus was himself a teacher, a respected leader of his people the Jews.

The Teacher that Nicodemus sought taught like no one else, and did things like no one else. "Rabbi / Teacher," Nicodemus said to Jesus, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform these miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

Jesus did not refute or deny these lofty claims. In fact, He would confirm that He was the one who came from heaven.

After telling Nicodemus he needed to be born again - somewhat confusing and befuddling Nicodemus  - Jesus told him the mission God sent Him to accomplish.  He, like the snake, must be lifted up. He must be lifted up on a pole and looked to for life.

As the snake brought healing, brought God's mercy, so too would the lifting up of Jesus. The cruel crucifixion of Christ Himself was God’s remedy.

So Jesus said to Nicodemus: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so too must the Son of man be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life”  (read John 3).

Those bit by the snake and healed would face death again: old age, illness, war, disease. Those who look to God's Son - God's lifted up Son – show faith in God’s cure. And that belief is met with a gift of eternal life.

Will you look? Do you believe there is a need to look? Do you know you have been bitten, that you too are under God's righteous judgment for sin? "Look to Me" the Lord calls out. "Look to Me and be saved, all you ends of the earth."

God has set us all under rightful judgment due to our sins. God did not send Jesus as further condemnation, but as One in the image of the condemned - yet sin-free. He took our well-deserved damnation.

Sadly, those who refuse to look to the Son stay under condemnation. They - like all of us – are already bit and are dying. Sadder still, those who look only to mock - to scorn the Son - face deeper condemnation.

But those who look in faith, admitting their sinful state, believing God has provided, calling out to Him  - these are redeemed, rescued, restored, reborn. Have you looked? Will you look?

Will you share this good news? Will you go to those who do not know? Will you relay the good news to those sick in sin, those writhing in pain of soul?

Jesus was sent by God to be lifted up, so that He could looked upon, looked to and bring salvation.  Look and live and spread the good news!
Kerry S. Doyal