Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Of all the victories gained in the annals of man’s history,
None can compare with the triumph won at Calvary.
Mighty generals with great armies have assailed,
Against enemies strong they have prevailed,
But no enemy rivals man’s chief foe
And no threat causes him greater woe
“It is finished” he cried.
The victory’s won
Sin and death were undone,
By saving faith His victory gained
Sin is undone, in every way,
Sin’s penalty paid, its power subdued
Its presence vanquished one day too
With Him sin will be no more,
When we enter through heaven’s door
We’ll praise Him throughout eternity
For He won the glorious victory!

O, death, where is your victory! O death, where is your sting?
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law;
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:55-57.

Pastor Jerry

Monday, January 30, 2012


Everything in the life and ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ was extraordinary. So it was in His birth, His teachings, the choosing of His disciples, and His lifestyle. His life, from beginning to end, was characterized by an unrivaled and unexpected humility.

His presentation as King to the nation was not as expected. He entered Jerusalem on a donkey. To be sure it was a special donkey—dispatched to its duty by the Lord Jesus Himself (Matthew 21:2-7). The donkey was even privileged to fulfill Old Testament prophecy (Matthew 21:5). But it was still, nevertheless, a donkey.

S. Lewis Johnson commented on the occasion: “Now if this is the official presentation of the king to the nation, and if this is the royal procession, and if this is a king, it’s a strange king indeed. Because he’s a king who doesn’t even have an ass of his own to ride upon; he has to borrow an ass. And furthermore, instead of followers who are soldiers dressed in shining or resplendid armor, he has a group of peasants with palm branches. Instead of having swords and weapons of warfare they have palm branches. What would a Roman soldier or one of Herod’s men have thought of this rustic procession of a pauper prince who’s riding on an ass and a hundred or two or more of weaponless, penniless men? I’m sure they were very much unimpressed.”

The chief priests and scribes were not impressed. They became indignant when the children praised Jesus (Matthew 21:15). They questioned His authority (Matthew 21:23-28). They wanted to seize Him (Matthew 21:46).

They were like the fig tree that Jesus cursed (Matthew 21:18-22)—all religious foliage and no fruit. They were like a son who feigned obedience but who ultimately did not do what he was told (Matthew 21:28-32). They were like wicked vine-growers. The landowner sent slaves to bring in the harvest. They beat one, killed another, and stoned the third. So he sent another, larger group—they did the same to them. He sent His son, “saying, they will respect my son” (Matthew 21:37). But they killed him in order to seize his inheritance (Matthew 21:21:38-39).

They rejected Him. He was not the kind of king they had in mind. He was a threat to their power and pride. They were relentless in their opposition. But He is the chief-cornerstone! To reject Him is to be crushed by Him and scattered like dust. That’s what happened to them.

A King on a Donkey. “The Stone which the builders rejected” (Matthew 21:24). 1 Peter 2:4-8, “And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For this is contained in Scripture: ‘Behold I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, And He who believes in Him will not be disappointed.‘ This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, this became the very cornerstone, and a stone of stumbling;’ and ‘a rock of offense;’ for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.”

He was rejected by chief priests and scribes, but was praised by the children. In this present age He is likewise rejected and accepted (John 1:12-13, 3:36; 1 Corinthians 1:18; 1 John 5:11-12). Let us be careful to esteem Him as He is—“choice and precious in the sight of God!”

Pastor Jerry


Matthew 20:20-28

Jesus had just reaffirmed to his disciples His future destiny. He was to be delivered up, condemned, abused, and crucified. Three days later He would be raised up (Matthew 20:17-19). It was “then (that) the mother of the sons of Zebedee” came to Him with her request (Matthew 20:20). Her request? “Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left” (Matthew 20:21).

The question and Jesus’ response led to a discussion regarding Christ’s future suffering and the ability of the two sons to endure the same. That discussion then caused the other ten disciples to become indignant with the two (Matthew 20:24). But before we examine further this particular situation, it might prove helpful to look at another similar future event in the life of the disciples.

To wash another’s feet was the task of a servant. That’s why Peter at first refused when Jesus prepared to wash his feet (John 13:8). But Jesus humbled Himself in that manner—He rose from supper, laid aside His garments, poured water into the basis, washed their feet, and wiped them with the towel with which He was girded (John 13:5). He asked them if they understood what He had done for them. Then He explained: “You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you” (John 13:13-15). The context of the foot washing was the celebration of His last supper. He, their Master, washed their feet and shared the last supper with them--the elements of that supper symbolic of His future sacrifice for them (Luke 22:15-22). It is in this context, two graphic demonstrations of His servant hood, that we find these surprising words in the gospel of Luke: “And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest” (Luke 22:23). While their leader was making His way down (to suffer on the cross), they were arguing as to who was on top!

The world has its own definition of greatness. It highly esteems the rich and powerful. Famous movie stars; great athletes; powerful politicians; multi-billionaires--they are assumed to be great for what they have achieved. And the desire for greatness lies in heart of man. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life are ever active and yearning for more pleasure, possessions, and power. It’s a “dog eat dog” world, and according to the world’s way of thinking, it is okay to do whatever it takes (“to eat whomever you have to eat”) in order to make one’s way to the top. To be “king of the hill” is what matters. The disciples had some of that in them. Jesus speaks of dying on a cross. The disciples argue over who is the greatest. Jesus washes their feet. They kick dirt at each other.

Jesus differentiated between the two different ways by which greatness is defined. “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:25-28). The rulers of the Gentiles “lord” it over them. The word translated “lord,” means “to bring under one's power, to subject one's self, to subdue, to master.” That is the role that the world esteems. To be a position to be able to tell others what to do; to boss them around; to be served—that is what most people yearn for.

“It is not so among you.” God’s way is different than the world’s way. The world esteems the master. God esteems the servant. If you want to be great, as God defines great, then you must learn to serve. Jesus exemplified servant hood. We have been called to “follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21). At a later date, the disciples, except Judas, all underwent a Spirit-empowered transformation. They were Spirit-led to walk in Jesus’ footsteps. They became “great” not by aspiring to greatness, but by living a life of self-sacrifice. They ultimately realized that which Jesus taught them—the way up is down.

C. J. Mahaney commented on this matter: “In his excellent commentary…William Lane notes that Jesus is referring to ‘the reversal of all human ideas of greatness and rank.’ A profound and historical reversal is taking place here—one that has to occur in each of our lives if we’re to have any possibility of becoming truly great in God’s eyes. It means turning upside down our entrenched, worldly ideas on the definition of greatness.”

Christ’s example to us is one that should affect our lives in all of our relationships. We are all commanded to “serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). Church leaders are to be servant leaders (1 Peter 5:3). Husbands are to love their wives in a Christ-like, servant-minded, manner (Ephesians 5:25). Fathers are to be servant leaders in their families. We are all called upon to serve others. No matter what the world thinks, God says that humility is a good thing (1 Peter 5:5-6). A humble attitude that is exemplified in a readiness to serve others is highly esteemed by God (Cf. Philippians 2:3-11). The song says “If you want to be great in God’s Kingdom learn to be the servant of all.” A lot of voices out there say otherwise, so let’s be careful to not be dissuaded. The way up is down.

Charles Spurgeon, “Assuredly He who is greatest and chief among us has set us the example of the utmost love-service. No servants waited on Him. He was Master and Lord; but He washed his servant’s feet. He came not to be served, but to serve. He received nothing from others; His was a life of giving; and the giving of a life. For this purpose he was the Son of Man; with this design He came; to this end He gave His life a ransom for many. No service is greater than to redeem sinners by His own death, no ministry is lowlier than to die in the stead of sinners.”

Pastor Jerry

Thursday, January 26, 2012


He was young, wealthy, and powerful, but spiritually impoverished. Aware of a deficiency he made his way to Jesus. His question? “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16). He desired “eternal life”—his youth, possessions, and power still left him hungering for something more. St. Augustine: “Thou hast made us for Thyself and our hearts are restless until we find rest in Thee.”

His question was problematic. The man was on the wrong course. The doings of man, no matter how impressive, can never measure up to God’s standard. God alone is good (Luke 18:19; Romans 3:12). The best of man’s religious efforts fall short (Romans 3:23; Philippians 3:6).

Jesus worked to reveal the man’s shortcomings by issuing a challenge. “Keep the commandments,” He said (Matthew 19:17). “Which ones?” asked the man. Jesus recited for him the second half of the Decalogue—the social division of the Ten Commandments—and added the Leviticus 19:18 requirement to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 19:18-19).

The young man responded by claiming that he had kept all the commandments. Did he really think so? He must have. But he was mistaken. Jesus knew the truth of his heart’s condition and responded: “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Matthew 19:21). “Do you really love your neighbor as yourself?” Are you willing to sacrifice all that you have for their sake? Salvation by good works will demand this and more. Jesus was not suggesting that salvation can be earned, he was revealing to the man the hopelessness of his condition. The young man had much property—he was unwilling to give that up. The demands of salvation by works were too great. Man has neither the will or ability to do all that is required by the Law.

He did not do what Jesus demanded, but instead went away “grieving” (Matthew 19:22). The course he had chosen came to a bad end. It would have been better if he had come to Jesus with need and in faith (in the one alone who is good)--as a child would have come (Cf. Matthew 19:13-15). But he came attesting to his good works, and they were inadequate. It was a sad end of to the story, at least as far as the rich young ruler was concerned. But Jesus used the occasion to teach His disciples some important things. “And Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God’” (Matthew 19:23-24).

The Jews of Jesus’ day perceived riches to be indicative of a man’s piety and God’s blessing upon him. So the disciples were no doubt surprised by what they heard. The reality is that the rich and poor alike must come to God as spiritual paupers. But it is harder for the rich to do that. Agur recognized this. He prayed, “Two things I asked of Thee, do not refuse me before I die: Keep deception and lies far from me, give me neither poverty or riches; feed me with the food that is my portion, lest I be full and deny Thee and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or lest I be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God” (Proverbs 30:7-9). It is natural for a man to “fix (his) hope on the uncertainty of riches, (rather than) God” (1 Timothy 6:17). Wealth is not a helpful thing when it comes to the realization of one’s need for God.

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God! How hard is it for a camel to go through the eye of a needle? I saw a camel recently on our trip to Uganda. He was really large and had really big humps. The eye of a needle is incredibly small. It is not just difficult, it is impossible.

Thank God that what is impossible with man is possible with God (Matthew 19:26). He is able to make us aware of our need for Him and His forgiveness. In convicting us of sin the Holy Spirit causes us to reassess our true condition—spiritual bankruptcy (John 16:8; Matthew 5:3). It is only then that we realize that there is nothing that we can do—“not the labor of my hands can fulfill the law’s demands.” Helpless and contrite we are directed to the one who became poor, that we might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9). True and lasting riches—bound up in Him alone-- are then bestowed on those who sincerely trust in Him (1 Timothy 6:17-19). As Jim Elliot once said: “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Thank God that He is able to do the impossible. Salvation is a miracle of God’s grace for rich and poor alike—but especially for the rich.

1 Corinthians 1:26-30, “For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no many should boast before God. BUT BY HIS DOING YOU ARE IN CHRIST JESUS.” Praise God that it is by His doing—it would otherwise be impossible.

Pastor Jerry


They were aghast at what they had observed. Their fellow slave had amassed a huge debt of 10,000 talents towards their master. The debt was so large that it would take 150,000 years of the wages of a laborer to pay off. It was an unheard of amount—hard to even comprehend. The master, wishing to settle accounts, brought the slave to himself and demanded payment. Since he had no means to repay, the master commanded that he be sold, along with his wife and children and belongings, and that he repay.

Helpless to rectify his condition the slave fell to the ground and begged for the master to show patience towards him. In an incredible and unprecedented display of compassion the master forgave him the debt. The other slaves were astounded. What kind of master was this who would show such compassion!

But no sooner had the slave been forgiven, than he went to one of their fellow slaves who owed the man a debt. The debt was small by comparison. A mere one hundred denarii—an amount that could be earned in 100 days or so. The forgiven slave seized the man and began to choke him. He too begged for patience. But the forgiven slave showed no compassion and instead threw the slave into prison. The other slaves were “deeply grieved” and reported to the master what had happened.

Oh the incongruity of it all! An unpayable debt forgiven by a compassionate master. The forgiveness of a small debt withheld by a fellow slave. And so it goes.

The rabbis had taught that a repeated offense might be forgiven three times, but on the fourth there could be no forgiveness. Peter questioned Jesus regarding the extent to which forgiveness should be demonstrated—“Up to seven times?” (Matthew 18:21). Jesus’ response was not up to seven times, “but up to seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22). Jesus used a parable to illustrate the truth about forgiveness.

It is altogether human to want revenge. The Devil cheers us on in our anger, bitterness, and vengeance. He would have us to believe that some victory is won in retaliation. The flesh is eager to participate. The dreaded injustice is joined with vengeful thoughts into a turbulent concoction. It is simmered on the back burner of the brain and brought to a fervent boil. The wicked brew is drunk down and then vomited up, emitting a noxious odor.

Forgiveness is a God thing. Were there no God there would be no such things as forgiveness. To forgive is to release someone from liability to suffer punishment or penalty. It is to make a decision about an injustice suffered: to not think about it, to not bring it up, to not talk about it, to not allow it to stand between us and the other person. That kind of response is not always easy. It is by God’s grace and by the Spirit alone that we can lovingly respond in this manner (Cf. Galatians 5:20 vs. 5:22; 1 Corinthians 13:5).

Seventy times seven. God has forgiven much. It is His nature to forgive (Cf. Psalm 103:8-11). My certificate of debt was of infinite measure (Colossians 2:14). He “cancelled it out” by nailing it to the cross. He who knew no sin was made to be sin that I might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). “And the transaction so quickly was made when as a sinner I came, took of the offer of grace He did proffer, He saved me O’ praise His dear name.”

It is reasonable to expect that those who have been much forgiven should readily forgive. That’s the point of the account. Anything less is unreasonable and deeply distressing. Those who have been much forgiven should be “forgiving each other” (Ephesians 4:32a). The reason? “Just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32b). Ken Sande: “Christians are the most forgiven people in the world. Therefore, we should be the most forgiving people in the world.” Pat Morison: “We are not called to forgive others in order to earn God’s love; rather, having experienced his love, we have the basis and motive to forgive others.”

It is oftentimes thought that there is some victory won in withholding forgiveness. But that is not true. Anger and bitterness are emotions that work against the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of those who harbor them. In withholding forgiveness one might win the battle—but he will lose the war. I once knew a wealthy man, a believer in Christ, who became embittered with his daughter over a business related matter. He refused to forgive her. He cut her out of his will. His bitterness began to affect his thinking. He lost his health, his wife, and then his wealth. He was taken advantage of by a woman who stole away his money. He died a lonely and confused man. He won the battle—as far as I know he never forgave the daughter--but he lost the war.

Thank you, Lord, for your forgiveness! Help me to readily show that same kind of forgiveness to others. To the praise of the glory of Your grace!

Pastor Jerry

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Six days following Jesus’ revelation to His disciples of His pending death, He led Peter, James, and John up a high mountain where He was “transfigured” before them (Matthew 17:1). Perhaps it was to assure them—in light of His predicted sufferings—as to His true identity and therefore encourage them in their faith. Whatever the reason, it was a privileged viewing for only three disciples.

He was transfigured before them (Matthew 17:2). The Greek word, metamorphoo, is related to our English metamorphis and means to “change into another form.” The result of this was that “His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light” (Matthew 17:3). They were privileged to see what others were not—Christ transfigured before them. His face shone with a light unrivaled on planet earth. His garments were made whiter than white.

Moses and Elijah, representing both the Law and prophets, appeared and talked with Jesus (Matthew 17:3). A bright cloud overshadowed them all. A voice declared: “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him!” (Matthew 17:5). What are we to make of this occurrence?

Jesus’ appearance on planet earth was exceptional in that the full revelation of His visible glory was not openly manifested. His preincarnate state was that of sharing in the glory of the Father “from before the world was” (John 17:5). In His incarnation He took “the form of a bond-servant, and (was) made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7). He divulged Himself of His glorious array. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords put aside His robe and dressed down for the occasion (Cf. 2 Corinthians 8:9; Isaiah 53:2).

The mystery of Christ’s incarnation is especially so in His humility. To hear of suffering and death on one day, and to behold Jesus in glorious array on another was quite the dichotomy of experience for the disciples. And the dichotomy remains difficult to comprehend. “He left His Father’s throne above, so free, so infinite His grace! Emptied Himself of all but love, And bled for Adam’s helpless race; Amazing Love! How can it Be, That Thou, My God, shouldst die for me!”

The experience stuck with Peter. He wrote about it years later: “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2 Peter 1:16). They were eyewitnesses of His majesty! They saw Jesus in all of His glorious splendor on that day. Peter remembered what he had seen years later. It was a foretaste of what we will all experience when “the day dawns and the morning star arises in (our hearts)” (2 Peter 1:19).

John experienced a similar encounter with Jesus on the island of Patmos. He saw Jesus. “His face was like the sun shining in its strength” (Revelation 1:16). When he saw him, he “fell at His feet like a dead man” (Revelation 1:17; Cf. Matthew 17:6).

Only Peter, James, and John were privileged to behold Jesus at the Mount of Transfiguration on that day. But there will come a day when every believer will “see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2), “when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed” (1 Thessalonians 1:10). “And we shall behold Him, We shall behold Him, Face to face in all of His glory!”

Pastor Jerry

Monday, January 23, 2012


Salvation is bound up in a right understanding regarding the person and work of Christ. Declaring and defending these truths is at the heart of Biblical Christianity. Such was the nature of the preaching of the Apostle Paul:

• “But we preach Christ crucified” (1 Corinthians 1:23).
• “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).

There are no more important questions that these: 1) Who is Jesus? 2) Why did He come? These were questions that both confronted and confounded the Apostle Peter. Jesus asked His disciples: “But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15). Peter responded with the correct response “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” and was richly commended: “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:17). “Blessed are you, Simon!” God has revealed to you this glorious truth! Note how Peter had entered into this blessed estate. He did not “figure it out.” God’s higher thoughts and ways (Isaiah 55:8-9) are not “figured out” by men, they are revealed to man by God (Matthew 11:25-27). Happy is the man to whom God has revealed Himself! Salvation is bound up in it. The many miracles of Jesus bore witness of His true identify (John 20:30-31)—that sinners would affirm what Peter declared in order that they might saved.

Peter was not so “blessed” in responding to the second question. “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Matthew 16:21). Jesus was born to die. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). He came “to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). The cross was His God-given destiny. But Peter didn’t understand these truths then. “And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you” (Matthew 16:22).

On a future day, following Christ’s death and resurrection, Peter would stand before thousands and boldly proclaim what he then could not comprehend (Acts 2:22-24). But on this occasion his confusion led to a sharp rebuke: “But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” (Matthew 16:22). The Father had revealed Christ’s identity to Peter, but not yet His plan. He knew who Jesus was, but not the purpose for which He came. Jesus responded to Peter in the same manner he responded to anything else that would work to deter Him from His purpose: “Get behind me, Satan!” From the pinnacle of Christ’s affirmation Peter plummeted to the depths of rebuke. Christ diagnosed Peter’s problem this way: “You are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” (Matthew 16:23; Cf. Isaiah 55:5-9).

Peter’s confusion regarding Christ’s purpose is shared by most. The cross is a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles (1 Corinthians 1:23). Many are glad to affirm Jesus the good man or good teacher—but when it comes to His cross, they falter. They cannot comprehend it. They don’t like it. It is an offense to them. All of God’s glorious attributes are made manifest at the cross (1 Corinthians 1:24; Ephesians 2:4; 1 John 3:16). It serves as the sole basis of salvation. Throughout eternity we will praise Christ for His work on the cross (Revelation 5:12). But a mind set on the things of man lacks the vision to apprehend its glory. These truths are Spirit-revealed.

The revelation of God’s purpose in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection would come later to Peter. Ultimately he gave his life declaring and defending the truth he had previously decried. The glory of the cross compelled him to respond to Christ’s call to discipleship (Matthew 16:24-27).

Who is Jesus? Why did He come? Great questions! It is by the Spirit of God alone that we enabled to comprehend these truths regarding the person and work of Christ (John 16:14). A great transition of opinion takes place in the heart of the new believer as he is Spirit-led to comprehend the glory of the cross. Galatians 6:14, “But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!” Do you glory in the cross?

O that old rugged cross,
So despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction to me;
For the dear Lamb of God
Left His glory above
To bear it to dark calvary.

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
I will cling to the old rugged cross
And exchange it some day for a crown.

Pastor Jerry

Friday, January 20, 2012


Last night in our visit to the hospital I noticed the prevalence of hand washing stations. They were everywhere available—at the entrance; in the hallways, in the bathrooms (of course), and inside and outside of the patient rooms. The medical community has recognized that the washing of hands is good practice in helping to prevent the spread of bacteria and disease.

The Pharisees practiced hand-washing also. It was one of their most important religious practices. They did it in a certain manner. They would wash one hand with the other fist then raise the hand so that the water might run off just at the wrists. An exact amount of water was specified. They would do so before eating, and even between courses. They washed their hands when coming home from the market and on numerous other occasions. Very particular rules were also established regarding the washing of dishes and other eating utensils. But their observance of these rules was not primarily about cleanliness. As with their other traditions it was all about establishing a self-righteousness through religious rule-keeping.

The disciples failed to observe the practice (Matthew 15:2). The Pharisees asked “Why?” Jesus Himself neglected it (Luke 11:37). A Pharisee was surprised (Luke 11:38). Both occasions gave opportunity for Jesus to communicate an important truth: “the heart of man is the heart of the problem.”

• Matthew 15:18-20, “Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.”
• Luke 11:39, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the platter; but inside you are full of robbery and wickedness.”

The heart of man is the heart of the problem. Religious practice has no power to deal it. The heart of man is wicked by nature and must be changed. The cup is filled with sin, and must be emptied and refilled. These are things that God alone can do. There is a scene in Shakespeare’s MacBeth which illustrates the problem. Lady Macbeth encouraged Lord Macbeth to slay the king. But when he returned his hand was covered with blood. So she said to him, “Go, wash thy hand,” a little clean water will clear us of this deed.” So he went, but then looked at his hand and declared, “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No; rather this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red.”

Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” The heart of man is the heart of the problem. The great physician is alone qualified to make a proper diagnosis. Jeremiah 17:10, “I, the Lord, search the heart.” The Spirit of God convicts of sin and reveals to man the gravity of the problem (John 17:8-9). The condition is dire—rule keeping, self-improvement, or behavior modification deal only with the symptoms. A heart transplant is necessary.

At the moment of saving faith a person is forgiven and changed. “But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). Having been identified with Christ—in His death, burial, and resurrection—the believer in Christ is inalterably changed (Romans 6:1-7). He is a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), empowered “to walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

The transforming work of the Spirit of God is an inside-out process. The work He intends is to transform us into the very image of Christ (Romans 8:29). His desire is that we be Christ-like in every way—heart, head, hands. He patiently reveals to us our sins that they might be put off (Hebrews 4:12; Romans 8:13). His presence in our lives is revealed by those wonderful Christlike virtues: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Religious rule-keeping is no substitute for the inside-out transformation that Christ alone can achieve. It’s a good idea to wash our hands—for many reasons. But external cleansing is no substitute for heart change.

Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you washed, in the blood, in the soul-cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless?
Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?”

Pastor Jerry

Thursday, January 19, 2012


My first attempt to walk on water was when I was about 8 years old. Our family was camping along the Little Deschutes River. My Dad and I were fishing—he was a ways downstream from me. I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but somehow I fell into the river. I can vaguely remember still how I frantically tried to resist the current—but I didn’t know how to swim. Fortunately, my Dad wasn’t too far away and he somehow managed to pluck me from the river. I wasn’t really trying to walk on water, but that experience comes to mind as I read this account. Generally speaking, human beings sink in water.

The disciples were in a boat and quite a distance from land. The wind was contrary and the waves were battering their vessel (Matthew 14:24). In the wee hours of the morning Jesus came to them, “walking on the sea” (14:25). They, being fishermen, had no doubt seen a lot of things in their days at sea—but they had never before seen anything like that. They were frightened, thinking Him to be a ghost, and they cried out in fear (14:26).

“Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid” He said (14:27). So many fears come our way and in so many ways. They are “God-sent” inasmuch that we might “heart-sent” to find courage in the Courageous One. He knew no fear. He was strong and brave in the face of every challenge. He has unlimited resources and compassion to grant courage to our timid hearts. If it is courage we need, then it is to Him we must go.

Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water” (14:28). Peter was typically the one who was first to speak. His request was immediately granted: “And He said, ‘Come!’” (14:29). And Peter walked on water. He was enabled by Jesus to do what he otherwise could never do. Human beings generally sink. Peter was walking on the water without sinking. Jesus is able to empower us to do things that we could never do otherwise. Apart from Him we are bound by natural laws and can only rise to the limits of our human potential. In Him there is supernatural power that transcends our understanding. That power is at work in the life of the believer: “He is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us” (Ephesians 3:20; Cf. Philippians 4:13).

“But seeing the wind, he became afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” (14:30). It is at this point in the account that Peter’s actions give rise to criticism. He started out to well, but then he faltered. But Peter’s actions are to be commended, not condemned. He is, after all, the only disciple who was willing to get out of the boat. He began to sink as he took his eyes off the Lord. And so it is in life. We are left with two choices in the midst of our trials and troubles. What will keep our focus—our circumstances or our Lord? Big waves and contrary winds are ever apparent. They threaten to undo us. They sometimes overwhelm us. They cry out for our attention. Left to ourselves we have not the resources to make our way through them. If we are to make our way we must make our way by faith. Trust in Jesus is the only way. He has resources that far outweigh our own. Peter made progress as long as he kept his focus on the Savior. We must do the same! It is as we fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, that we endure (Hebrews 12:1-2). Lord, put blinders about my wandering eyes that my gaze might be affixed on You!


O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s a light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conquerors we are!

His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

Pastor Jerry

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Matthew 13:16-17, “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears because they hear. For truly I say to you, that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it; and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

The term “blessed” can otherwise be translated as “happy.” What makes for happy eyes and ears? Eyes that see and ears that hear!

Jesus taught in parables (Matthew 13:3). The disciples asked him why (Matthew 13:10)? He explained that truth is revealed as God dictates (Cf. Matthew 11:25-27). Those who could hear were privileged to know, those who could not hear were not. This was to fulfill what Isaiah prophesied, “You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; and you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive” (Matthew 13:14; Isaiah 6:9).

Most do not understand. “A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Most are blind to the truth: “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). The context of our passage speaks to this. The sower went out to sow, but more often the seed fell on unfruitful soil (Matthew 13:3-9; 19-23). Jesus spoke in parables, but most did not understand. The prophets and righteous men desired to see (ESV, “longed to see”), but were not privileged to see.

Helen Keller was only two years old when an illness struck her blind and deaf. Unable to communicate with the outside world her life was filled with a despair that one can only imagine. Miss Anne Sullivan was brought to assist her and worked patiently to break through the darkness. One day she and "Teacher"—as Helen always called her—went to the outdoor pump. Miss Sullivan started to draw water and put Helen's hand under the spout. As the cool water gushed over one hand, she spelled into the other hand the word "w-a-t-e-r" first slowly, then rapidly. Suddenly, the signals had meaning in Helen's mind. She knew that "water" meant the wonderful cool substance flowing over her hand. Quickly, she stopped and touched the earth and demanded its letter name and by nightfall she had learned 30 words. Helen later wrote of the experiences of that day: “As we continued to the house every object which I touched quivered with life. That was because I saw everything with a strange, new sight that had come to me. It would have been difficult to find a happier child than I was as I lay in my crib…and for the first time longed for a new day to come.”

Beloved, the “Teacher” has worked to remove your spiritual blindness and deafness! The ability to see and hear is a privilege that has been granted to you by God. Remember the day when the Spirit first brought opened your eyes to the truth! Words that had previously lacked meaning and import were made precious. A longing for the truth was Spirit-borne into your heart! What a precious day it was when your eyes and ears were made happy by God!

• 2 Corinthians 4:6, “For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”

• 1 Corinthians 2:12, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God.”

• “Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.”

You have happy eyes and ears! You are privileged as most on earth are not. Others long for Bibles, you have many. Others believers around the world meet in secret and risk persecution and arrest, you have the freedom to openly gather to fellowship and learn. Don’t take for granted that which God has so graciously given. Happy eyes are made happier still as they are fixed upon the Savior (Hebrews 12:2). Happy ears rejoice to hear Him speak through His Word (John 10:27; Colossians 3:16). He has many more things to show you and to tell you about (1 Corinthians 2:9). Be glad for keen sight and good hearing!

Charles Spurgeon, “Happy men to be chosen to such a privilege! Grace has opened y our eyes and ears. Blessed are your eyes, for they see. What wonders, treasures, revelations do they see! Eyes are blessed which gaze upon the mysteries of divine love. Blessed are your ears, for they hear; hear something sweeter than the song of angels, even the voice of everlasting love from the heart of Jesus. You have learned the great secret; the counsel of the Lord has been revealed to you, and you are blessed. You under the gospel are made to know what the greatest and best of men under the law could not discover. The shortest day of summer is longer than the longest day in winter; and you, ye humble ones, under the gospel dispensation see more of truth in Jesus than the best of saints could see before he came. There is no doubt about this, for Jesus sets the seal of—“Verily I say unto you”--upon the statement. Favored above all others are those whose regenerated faculties both see and hear the truth of God. Are we among this blessed number? If so, let us praise the Lord for so great a boon. Truly to hear the gospel and to see its blessings is a high favor. The love and gratitude which we show in return should be great indeed!”

Pastor Jerry

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


The Pharisees of Jesus’ day lived according to an extensive set of rules. This was nowhere more evident than in their keeping of the Sabbath. In his book, “The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah,” Alfred Edersheim pointed out: “On no other subject is Rabbinic teaching more minute and more manifestly incongruous to its professed object.” There were laws that dealt with how far a person could travel, how much weight a person could lift, and what could and could not be done to deal with a medical need or injury. These smaller traditions worked to cloud the intent of the original commandment and set aside the weightier concerns of the law itself (Matthew 15:3, 6-9; 23:23-24). Jesus perfectly upheld the law (2 Corinthians 5:21), but refused to be bound by their man-made traditions.

After one Sabbath-breaking controversy (Matthew 12:1-8), Jesus entered “their” synagogue and caused another (Matthew 12:9). A man with a “withered hand” was there, along with the people, Jesus’ disciples, and the Pharisees. We are given no history and few details regarding the man, though Luke’s gospel records that it was the man’s right hand (Luke 6:6). It is possible that the Pharisees had deliberately brought the man—to see what Jesus would do. Alfred Edersheim comments regarding the scene: “We can now imagine the scene in the Synagogue. The place is crowded. Christ probably occupies a prominent position as leading the prayers or teaching: a position whence He can see, and be seen by all. Here, eagerly bending forward, are the dark faces of the Pharisees, expressive of curiousity, malice, cunning. They are looking round at a man whose right hand is withered, perhaps putting him forward, drawing attention to him, loudly whispering, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath-day?’ The Lord takes up the challenge.”

Jesus had the man come forward. He asked the Pharisees, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save a life or to kill?’ (Mark 3:4). “But they kept silent.” “And after looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heard” (Mark 3:5) the Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8) healed the man on the Sabbath. “Then He said to the man ‘stretch out your hand!’ And he stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other” (Matthew 12:13). As with Jesus’ other miracles, this one revealed His divine authority and identity (Cf. John 20:30-31). We are not told of the reaction of the people there, though a future miracle caused the people to ask ‘This man cannot be the Son of David, can He?’ (Matthew 12:23). But the reaction of the Pharisees was both tragic and predictable: “But they themselves were filled with rage, and discussed together what they might do to Jesus” (Luke 6:11).

They were, after all, nothing but white-washed tombs, filled with dead men’s bones and all uncleanness (Matthew 23:27). A lively love for God that would have responded to the Spirit’s testimony was absent (Matthew 12:31-32). A genuine love for man that would have delighted in the restoration of this man’s health was missing. In its place was a violent disdain for the One who was working to reveal the true nature of their puffed-up religiosity (Matthew 12:34-35). Henceforth they would not rest until the Light was extinguished.

Religious rule-keeping is no substitute for right relationship with God. It is the nature of “self-made religions” to invent “commandments and teachings of men” (Colossians 2:22-23). But the inferiority of anyone’s self-righteousness is readily exposed before the Divine Son of God. And henceforth there are but two choices, hate the light or come to the light (John 3:20-21)--stand with Jesus or against Him (Matthew 12:30). The Sabbath-day healing of the man with the withered hand enraged the Pharisees, but I’m thinking that the man with the withered hand probably had a different response.

Pastor Jerry

Monday, January 16, 2012



A glorious invitation is given by our Savior in Matthew 11:28-29. Jesus extends an open invitation to weary and burdened sinners to find rest in Him. It is important to note the context. The Father reveals Himself only to those who have laid aside all pretense of self-sufficiency. He can only be known through the Son—and to those whom the Son chooses to reveal Him (Matthew 11:25-27; Cf. John 14:6). It is in relationship with God that true rest is found. St. Augustine, “Thou hast made us for Thyself and our hearts are restless ‘til we find rest in Thee.”

The first invitation is to find “rest” FROM one’s labors—“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Jesus’ invitation stands in stark contrast to that which was offered by the religious leaders of His day. Jesus indicted the Pharisees, saying, “They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger” (Matthew 23:4). Such is the nature of false religion—heavy burdens are laid, but no rest is realized. Many work hard in “self-made religion” (Colossians 2:23), but their most strenuous efforts avail no alleviation of the sin burden. Atlas carried the globe on his shoulders, the burden of sin is of even greater mass. And it cannot be lightened or lifted by anyone but Jesus.

Jesus’ invites the heavy-ladened to come to Him. The false teachers wouldn’t lift so much as a finger, to alleviate a burden. Jesus bore all our burdens on the cross. He “cancelled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14). No sense of release and relief and rest can compare with that experienced by those who come to Jesus for forgiveness! “Days are filled with sorrow and care, hearts are lonely and drear; burdens are lifted at Calvary, Jesus is very near.”

A second invitation is given to find rest IN one’s labors—“Take My yoke upon you…and you will find rest for your souls.” The believer in Christ is to take up His yoke and learn from Him. In contrast to all others Jesus is “gentle and lowly.” The devil is a harsh taskmaster. His demands are burdensome in every respect (Cf. Romans 6:16, 21, 23; 1 Peter 1:18). Jesus is the gentle “Shepherd and Guardian” of our souls (1 Peter 2:25). It is He who loved us and delivered Himself up for us who commands us (Galatians 2:20; 1 Peter 2:24). He demands nothing for which He does not provide the necessary strength and resources (Philippians 4:13). “His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). True joy and rest is found in learning from Him and serving Him.

“Come to Me,” He says, “And I will give you rest.” Rest is “Christ-bestowed.” It is bound up in Him, in His person. Are you weary? Troubled? Restless? The invitation is given with a promise and the promise is valid this day. “Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Charles Spurgeon commented on this text: "’Come.’ A simple word, but very full of meaning. To come is to leave one thing and to advance to another. Come, then, ye laboring and heavy laden, leave your legal labors, leave your self-reliant efforts, leave your sins, leave your presumptions, leave all in which you hitherto have trusted, and come to Jesus, that is, think of, advance towards, rely upon the Savior. Let your contemplations think of him who bore the load of human sin upon the cross of Calvary, where he was made sin for us. Let your minds consider him who from his cross hurled the enormous mass of his people's transgressions into a bottomless sepulchre, where it was buried forever. Think of Jesus, the divinely-appointed substitute and sacrifice for guilty man. Then, seeing that he is God's own Son, let faith follow your contemplation; rely upon him, trust in him as having suffered in your stead, look to him for the payment of the debt which is due from you to the wrath of God. This is to come to Jesus.”

Horatius Bonar (1808-1899) was one of Scotland’s most gifted and influential pastors and writers in the 1800s. “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say,” based on this text, is generally considered to be the finest of his hymns. He intended the hymn to be used by the children—he considered it essential for the children to learn the truths of the person and work of Christ. He penned the words while serving as Pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Kelso, Scotland.

"I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say"
by Horatius Bonar

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"Come unto Me and rest;
Lay down, thou weary one, lay down,
Thy head upon My breast."
I came to Jesus as I was,
Weary and worn and sad;
I found in Him a resting-place,
And He has made me glad.

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"Behold, I freely give
The living water; thirsty one,
Stoop down and drink and live."
I came to Jesus, and I drank
Of that life-giving stream.
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
And now I live in Him.

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"I am this dark world's Light.
Look unto Me; thy morn shall rise
And all thy day be bright."
I looked to Jesus, and I found
In Him my Star, my Sun;
And in that Light of Life I'll walk
Till traveling days are done.

Pastor Jerry

Friday, January 13, 2012



A timeless truth is included in Jesus’ instructions to His disciples in Matthew chapter 10. He sent His disciples out to preach and to heal. He instructed them to conduct their ministry according to this principle: “Freely ye have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8).

It is the nature of God to give. “Every good thing given and ever perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (James 1:17).

Our forbears, Adam and Eve, received an adequate covering that was freely given them by God. The history of Israel gives testimony to God’s abundant and ongoing provision of undeserved blessings. The full measure of God’s desire and capacity to give has been revealed in the person of Jesus Christ: “For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace” (John 1:16). He is the “indescribable gift” freely given by God (2 Corinthians 9:15).

The Apostle Paul asked the Corinthians: “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). What’s the answer? Nothing! The first inclination of need for a Savior was given to us by God. The faith that worked to unite us to God through Christ was freely given us (Ephesians 2:8). The indwelling Spirit, forgiveness, redemption, justification, regeneration—these have all been freely given to us. He has freely given to us “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:3). The good works we do “were prepared beforehand so that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10)! All that we are or ever hope to be we owe it all to Thee! From beginning to end the life of the believer gives testimony to God’s amazing capacity to freely give and is “to the praise of the glory of His grace!”

The world operates according to a different principle—the barter system of reciprocal giving (i.e.“I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine”; Cf. Luke 12:12-14). Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give, than to receive” (Acts 20:38), but the world has that turned around. Taking and getting come natural to us. Some even portend to offer religious benefits for profit (Cf. Acts 8:18-21; Titus 1:11). And much of what happens in the name of Christ fails to measure up to the “freely give” principle. To freely give is to give (and forgive) not demanding or expecting anything in return. It is to give “before God” governed by a desire to please Him (Matthew 6:1-4). God freely gives because it is His nature to give. The believer freely gives because the Spirit indwells him. And to the extent that He is filled with the Spirit he will give in God-like manner.

The Spirit is at work to conform us to the image of the Son. He fills us with God’s love and sends us out into this needy world. He would have us to think and act like Jesus. Jesus gave freely His all in life and then He gave that too. That same attitude is to govern our lives (Philippians 2:3-5). God is glorified in it! Taking and getting rule the day. But when God’s children freely give it reflects upon Him from which all blessings flow. They are mere “channels of blessing, conduits through whom God can make Himself known. Gifts given in freely in Jesus’ Name honor the source of the blessings!

1 John 3:16-17, “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?”

2 Corinthians 8:7-9, “But just as you abound in everything…see that you abound in this gracious work also. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so you though His poverty might become rich.”


God forgave my sin in Jesus' name.
I've been born again in Jesus' name
And in Jesus' name I come to you
To share his love as he told me to.

He said 'Freely, freely you have received--freely, freely give.
Go in my name, and because you believe others will know that I live.

All pow'r is giv'n in Jesus' name
in earth and heav'n in Jesus name
And in Jesus' name I come to you
To share his pow'r as he told me to.

He said 'Freely, freely you have received--freely, freely give.
Go in my name, and because you believe others will know that I live.

Pastor Jerry

Thursday, January 12, 2012



Note: the account of the healing of this woman is found in Matthew 9:20-22; Mark 5:25-24; and Luke 8:43-48.

For twelve long years she had suffered. The bleeding would not stop. Her condition made her “ceremonially unclean,” physical weak, and embarrassed. She had seen many physicians. She had spent all that she had on them—but none were able to help at all. Instead of getting better she had only gotten worse (Mark 5:25-25). She had lost all hope. The good news is that it is typically when we come to and end of ourselves, that we look to God for help (Cf. Luke 15:15-17). And He never disappoints.

“When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.”

She heard about Jesus. She had heard of his power to heal. She thought to herself, “If I just touch His garments, I shall get well” (Mark 5:24-25). Her plan had fear to overcome. Jesus was on an important mission. Jairus’ daughter had died and he had come to Jesus for help. The crowds were pressing in on Him as He made his way there (Mark 5:22-24). She was “ceremonially unclean” and in no condition to be near a man, let alone this Man. The crowds made it difficult to get even near to Him.

Faith finds a way when there isn’t any way. It overcomes obstacles and difficulties and sets its sight unwaveringly on its object. In this case the object was most trustworthy. She had heard reports of His ability to heal. She was determined to make her way to Him, to touch His garments, to be made well. How is your faith in Jesus? Have you heard reports of His power to save? How He can forgive your sins and transform you from the inside out? No matter how long you have been in your lost condition, His power to save knows no limits. He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him! Have you trusted in Him for salvation? Believer in Christ, are you making your way to Him each day, knowing that He has the power to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that you ask or think? Is your faith overcoming the obstacles of past failures, contrary opinions, and doubtful thoughts?

She made her way to Jesus and touched the hem of His garments. “And immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction” (Mark 5:29). Just to touch His garments was to experience His transforming power. His cure was no half-hearted thing! Doctors had promised for a cost what they could not deliver. Jesus freely and immediately accomplished what no doctor had been able to do. When we were in Uganda we visited a church called “What Doctors Cannot Do Jesus Can Church.” Great name for a church! But perhaps a better title would be “What Nobody Else Can Do Jesus Can Church,” because He alone can heal a man completely of all His afflictions. The Adamic disease is at the source of all others. Jesus did miracles of many kinds. His greatest miracle is the salvation of the sin-sick soul, whereby the rebel sinner is transformed into a worshiper of God!

Jesus recognized that “the power proceeding from Him had gone forth” (Mark 5:30). He looked around at the crowd and asked “Who touched My garments?” The disciples look around and saw only a crowd. Jesus looked around and saw the woman. The woman “fearing and trembling…came and fell down before Him, and told Him the whole truth. And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed from your affliction” (Mark 5:34). We are not told what happened to that woman afterwards. But the record of her healing has left us with this truth: “If I make my way to Jesus He can deal with my need.” It’s really as simple as that. Peter put it this way: “Casting all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7-NKJV).

Hymnwriter George Root penned this hymn, based on this passage, in the 1800s:

She only touched the hem of His garment
As to His side she stole,
Amid the crowd that gathered around Him;
And straightway she was whole.

Chorus: Oh, touch the hem of His garment!
And thou, too, shalt be free!
His saving power this very hour
Shall give new life to thee!

He's pow'rful, present, real and gracious;
Thou too canst touch Him now!
Just come and touch while He is still passing,
His power thou shalt know.

Just touch in faith and touch Him in spirit,
And He will make thee whole;
And peace that passeth all understanding
With joy will fill thy soul.

Pastor Jerry

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


The miracles of Matthew chapter 8 demonstrate the authority that Jesus exercised over disease (8:1-17), over men (8:18-22), over nature (8:23-27), and over the demons (8:28-34). They authenticated Him to be the divine Son of God. The disciples asked, “What kind of man is this?” These miracles tell us (Cf. Luke 7:19-23; John 20:30-31).

The account of the exorcism of the demons from the two men is remarkable. The demons recognized Jesus for who He was (Matthew 8:29). Both Mark and Luke tell us that the men were possessed by many demons (Mark 5:9; Luke 8:30). Note that Mark and Luke focus on only one men, while Matthew’s account includes two—Mark 5:1-17; Luke 8:26-37.

These demon-possessed men were greatly tormented. They had been driven away to live in the tombs. Both Mark and Luke record that at least one of the men had been bound with shackles and chains, but that the demons were powerful enough to enable the man to tear apart the chains and break apart the shackles (Mark 5:3-4; Luke 8:29). No one was strong enough to subdue him. “Constantly, night and day, among the tombs and in the mountains, he was crying out and gashing himself with stones” (Mark 5:5). Luke’s account adds that the man “had not put on any clothing for a long time (Luke 8:27). So violent were these men that no one could pass by them on the road. One can imagine children and travelers being warned to avoid these men and that area. They were injurious to themselves and dangerous to their community. But people had learned how to deal with them…

Jesus came to town and exorcised the demons. He did it authoritatively, powerfully, immediately, and dramatically. He granted the demon’s request that they be cast into the herd of swine. The swine herd “rushed down the steep bank into the sea, about two thousand of them; and they were drowned in the sea” (Mark 5:13). It was an obvious display of Christ’s miraculous power.

The various responses to this miracle are instructive. The herdsmen “ran away and reported it in the city and out in the country” (Mark 5:14). “The people came to see what it was that had happened” (Mark 5:14). “And they came to Jesus and observed the man who had been demon-possessed sitting down, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the “legion”; and they became frightened. And those who had seen it described to them how it had happened to the demon-possessed man, and all about the swine” (Mark 5:15-16).

It’s what happens next that is surprising: “And they began to entreat Him to depart from their region” (Mark 5:17). Luke adds “for they were gripped with fear” (Luke 8:37). It reminds us of Peter’s first response to a miracle of Jesus: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” (Luke 5:8). John MacArthur commented on their response: “They saw the supernatural and it panicked them. They saw one who could control the demons. They saw one who could control animals. They saw one who could take the soul of a man and give it back to him as white and pure as the driven snow, and they were scared to death. They saw God is what they saw. I don't know if they all understood that, but they knew it was supernatural, and men don't like that. It makes them uncomfortable. Give us back our pigs and go away. Men can handle pigs; they can't handle God. The mystery of the supernatural they can't handle…People say, Oh if you could just see the miracles you'd believe. Listen, the people who saw the miracles didn't believe. They nailed Him to a cross and they'd seen miracle after miracle after miracle after miracle. They still didn't believe. That just made them hate Him more and more and more and more. People think today that if they can just show everybody a pile of miracles everybody will believe. No, because some people when exposed in the presence of the awesomeness of holy God will literally run because they love their darkness.”

The entire region drove Him off (“And all the people of the country of the Gerasenes and the surrounding district asked Him to depart from them”), but one stood by Him. The man who had been delivered was “sitting down at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in His right mind” (Luke 8:35). The region begged Jesus to leave—“better the demons we know than this Man we cannot control.” But the changed man begged Jesus for something else: “But the man from whom the demons had gone out was begging Him that he might accompany Him” (Luke 8:38). He had personally experienced the sincere love and transforming power of Jesus. He had been a disgrace and blight to himself and the community, but Jesus made a worshipper out of Him. “And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him” (Luke 8:39). Has Jesus done great things for you? Follow in that man’s steps!

J. C. Ryle gave this solemn warning to those who respond to Jesus in the manner of the Gadarenes: “Let us take heed that we do not sin the sin of the Gadarenes. Let us beware lest by coldness, and inattention, and worldliness, we drive Jesus from our doors, and compel Him to forsake us entirely. Of all sins which we can sin, this is the most sinful. Of all states of soul into which we can fall, none is so fearful as to be "let alone." Let it rather be our daily prayer that Christ may never leave us to ourselves. The old wreck, high and dry on the sand-bank, is not a more wretched sight than the man whose heart Christ has visited with mercies and judgments, but has at last ceased to visit, because He was not received. The barred door is a door at which Jesus will not always knock. The Gadarene mind must not be surprised to see Christ leaving it and going away.”

Pastor Jerry

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

TFT - MATTHEW 7:13-14

In Matthew 7:13-14 we have described for us two different gates leading to two different paths headed to two different directions. It is of utmost importance to make sure that you have entered through the correct gate and are proceeding on the correct path.

The broad gate is the popular choice: “and many are those who enter by it.” It is the gate established by Adam (Romans 5:12) and which “seems right to a man” (Proverbs 14:12). Multitudes pass through it. There are no crowds at the narrow gate: “and few are those who find it.” No one ventures through unless the Father first draws him (John 6:44). It is a narrow gate inasmuch as it represents the one way of salvation—salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Ephesians 2:8-9).

The broad way is well-traveled. You can believe whatever you want and do whatever you please on the broad path. It a path of tolerance and “good intentions.” All religions have a place on the broad way. The world, the flesh, and the devil work hard to usher people along that path (Ephesians 2:1-3). People encourage one another along the path (Romans 1:32) and discourage those who consider ever leaving it. People on the broad path generally disapprove of “narrow-path” travelers (Matthew5:10). No warnings beside the broad path are given regarding the path’s ultimate destination (1 Thessalonians 5:3). Broad path travelers can be distinguished by the bad fruit that is evident in their lives (Matthew 7:15-20; Galatians 5:19-21; 1 John 3:10). Some broad path travelers make religious professions and even do religious things (Matthew 7:21-22), but their true identity is known to the Lord (Matthew 7:23).

The narrow-way is the more difficult path. No one proceeds apart from God’s leading and provision. But He is careful to watch over His children along the way (2 Timothy 2:12, 4:18). It is the “way of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:21), established by the Lord Jesus Himself (1 John 2:6), and clearly mapped out in His Word (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Peter 1:19). To make progress one must lay aside encumbrances and sins (Hebrews 12:1). The world, the flesh, and the devil provide no encouragement to wayfarers on the narrow way—encouragement comes instead from the Lord (Romans 15:13), co-travelers (Romans 1:12), and the Scriptures (Romans 15:4; Psalm 119:105). Narrow path travelers can be distinguished by the good fruit that is borne in their lives (Matthew 7:15-20; Galatians 5:22-23; 1 John 3:10).

The destinations could not be more distinct. The broad path leads to destruction. “Those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus”…”will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). The believer in Christ is instead ushered into Christ’s presence and into a state of eternal bliss (2 Thessalonians 1:10; Philippians 1:23, 3:21; 1 Thessalonians 4:17). The rich man “enjoyed good things” as he traveled the broad path, but found himself in “agony in this flame” in the end (Luke 14:24). Lazarus endured “bad things” in his life along the narrow way, but was then “carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 14:22).

There are indeed two gates leading to two paths headed to two different destinations. Most are on the wrong path. As narrow-path travelers we are both obligated and privileged to share the gospel with those who are headed in the wrong direction. Jude 23-25 provides both encouragement and instruction to narrow way travelers: “Save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory and blameless with great joy, to the only God and Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”

Pastor Jerry

Monday, January 9, 2012


Worry is defined as “a state of anxiety and uncertainty over actual or potential problems.” It is a common and popular sin, despite the fact that is can lead to a wide array of spiritual, physical, and emotional difficulties. Worry reflects a lack of trust in God and His ability or desire to care for us—it therefore tends to undermine the intimacy of our fellowship and credibility of our witness. Jesus spoke to the problem in depth in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:24-35).

There are at least 10 reasons given to refrain from worry. Here they are:

1. God commands us not to worry.
2. There is more to life than the concerns we tend to worry about.
3. God takes care of the birds—and you are of more value than they are.
4. God beautifully arrays the lilies of the field—though they expend no effort.
5. Worry doesn’t accomplish anything.
6. To worry--being preoccupied with earthly concerns-is to live no different than the unsaved.
7. Instead of worrying about earthly concerns, be concerned about His kingdom and His righteousness
8. God knows your needs.
9. Don’t borrow, by worrying, from tomorrow’s troubles.
10. Instead of worrying—pray (Matthew 6:8-14; Philippians 4:6-7).

John Newton, “We can easily manage if we will only take, each day, the burden appointed to it. But the load will be too heavy for us if we carry yesterday's burden over again today, and then add the burden of the morrow before we are required to bear it.”

The words below, from an old song, by B.J. Thomas, put things in right perspective:

He's got it all in control
He's got it all in control
He's put that reassurance
Way down in my soul
He's got it all in control

I've put my life in His hands
I've put my life in His hands
So every road I walk down
I'm sure is in His plan
'Cause I've put my life in His hands

He holds the stars in the sky
He holds the land back from the sea
If He can do all of that
Surely he can take care
Of you and me

Pastor Jerry

Friday, January 6, 2012


One purpose of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount was to confront the false teachings and practice of the Pharisaic Cult. The religious leaders of that day had created a “self-made religion” (Cf. Colossians 2:23) entailing the strict observance of some six hundred laws. The only way that an approach like that can work is to reinterpret God’s laws to make them more manageable. That’s what they had done. Jesus, the perfect law-giver and keeper reaffirmed the law’s relevance (Matthew 5:17-19) and corrected their mis-interpretations (Matthew 5:21, 27, 33, 38, 43).

Of the many amazing statements in the sermon (Cf. Matthew 7:28), one stands out: “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). Jesus’ listeners were no doubt surprised by that. The scribes and Pharisees made a good show in their religious efforts. They attended the synagogue, read the Scriptures, fasted, prayed, and gave alms (they would even sound a trumpet—Matthew 6:2). They were impressive in their religious credentials and self-righteousness. But it was not enough.

Jesus later reiterated this truth to Nicodemus. Nicodemus came to Jesus at night with an unasked question--for which Jesus gave him an answer. He was a Pharisee (John 3:1), a ruler of the Jews (John 3:1), and “the teacher of Israel” (John 3:10). But Jesus’ response to him was not that he should try harder to do better. He looked past the religious veneer to his heart and stripped away all of his religious achievements—“You must be born again,” He said (John 3:7). Man’s self-righteousness is inadequate no matter how impressive (Cf. Isaiah 64:6). Something greater is required.

Jesus “told this parable to certain ones who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: ‘Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, and the other a tax-gatherer. The Pharisee stood and was praying thus to himself, ‘God, I thank Thee that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even this tax-gatherer. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax-gatherer, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted” (Luke 18:10-14). The Pharisee assured himself by measuring himself against someone he supposed to be less righteous than he was. This is an age-old practice that was repeated by some in the church in Corinth (2 Corinthians 10:12). The wrong thinking is that if I can find some miserable soul less religious than I am than I must be doing okay. The problem is the standard is not ourselves, it is perfection (Matthew 5:48), it is Christ.

That was the revelation Saul received when he met Christ on the road to Damascus. He was a Pharisee. By his own profession he had been “found blameless”…”as to the righteousness which is in the Law” (Philippians 3:6). When he met Jesus two things were made readily apparent: 1) His own righteousness was worthless; and 2) Christ’s righteousness alone is adequate. He henceforth considered the first to be “rubbish,” and found the second to be of “surpassing value” (Philippians 3:8). Philippians 3:9 further explains the difference: “And may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived by the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.” Paul found, in Christ, the righteousness that surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees and which is alone is approved by God. True righteousness, adequate righteousness, the kind of righteousness which perfectly justifies (declares righteous) a man, is not obtained through our own religious machinations—it is received by faith in Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, THAT WE MIGHT BECOME THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD IN HIM.”

Not the labors of my hands, can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone; Thou must save and Thou alone.

Pastor Jerry

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Despite God’s provision of everything needful in the Garden of Eden, the tempter found easy prey in Adam and Eve. Eve saw that the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil--the one thing they were not permitted to eat—“was good for food, and…a delight to the eyes…and desirable to make one wise.” The serpent claimed that partaking of the fruit would cause her to be like God, knowing good and evil. In Adam and Eve the tempter found easy takers, and the rest—as they say—is history.

From that time until now, with one exception, there has never been a person who never failed to succumb to the tempter’s power. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life run deep in the hearts of the sons of Adam. The most powerful political rulers and military leaders have been easily and repeatedly defeated by the tempter. Indeed, “through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners” (Romans 5:19). Having the power of death, the devil has kept all of mankind captive in sin (Hebrews 2:14-15).

The temptations Jesus faced were like Eve’s in several ways—the devil tempted both to distrust God and His Word. He also appealed, in both cases, to the “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life” (1 John 2:16). But they were unlike in another—the tempter used everything in his arsenal in his attack against Jesus. Forty days hungry the devil tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread. He took him to the pinnacle of the temple and tempted him to prove His identity in testing God. He then took Jesus to a very high mountain and offered Him the kingdoms of the world.

In every case Jesus responded by lovingly submitting Himself to the Father’s will in firm allegiance to the Word of God. How much more then do we need to rely upon the sword of the Spirit in this fight of faith: “I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one” (1 John 2:13). But our warring against the devil would be a hopeless endeavor were it not for the ultimate victory won by our Savior. His temptations did not end there in the wilderness. Peter mistakenly urged Jesus to avoid the cross and gained a sharp rebuke: “Get behind Me, Satan!” (Matthew 16:23). Submission to the Father’s will won the day when Jesus cried out: “My Father, if it is possible, let his cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39). In His death on the cross Jesus overcame: “When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him” (Colossians 2:15).

It is more than Jesus’ good example that we need if we are to succeed. Forgiveness of sin and Christ’s transforming power are possessed only by those who are possessed by Christ. Those who trust in Him for salvation are identified with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection. They are crucified with Christ and made alive together with Him (Galatians 2:20; Romans 6:3-4). They are set free from sin (Romans 6:7). In Christ alone are these things true.

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16). “Greater is He that is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

Adam sinned, all was lost; Jesus came, and no matter the cost; said no to sin, did the Father’s will, ‘til the cross He did climb, upon that hill, the war was won, the captives freed, and now when the Devil comes to you and me; a new power we find, not in ourselves, but in He who is greater—“He was tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”

Pastor Jerry

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


One cannot help but be inspired by the example of the Wise Men! Their journey from the east involved hundreds of miles, many days, and countless obstacles. Their purpose was clear, their destination not so much. Centuries before their predecessors had been instructed (by the prophet Daniel?) regarding the coming Messiah and “His star.” The time came and they set out crossing “field and fountain, moor and mountain” along the way.

Their stated purpose was to worship the new born King of the Jews (Matthew 2:2). They asked “Where is He?” The chief priests and scribes knew where He was to be born, in Bethlehem—but demonstrated an amazing apathy to the unfolding events. Many have some kind of intellectual affiliation with Jesus. But that is no substitute for worship. Those legalistic religious leaders had plenty of time and energy for religion, but no time for their true ruler. They knew about His birthplace, but could care less of His birth.

King Herod feigned a desire to worship Jesus also. But the true intent of his evil heart was later made evident. In a desperate attempt to eliminate this rival king—he “sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under” (Matthew 2:16). Still today there are many who claim to have some allegiance or alliance with Jesus. They would say with Herod, “So that I too may come to worship Him” (Matthew 2:8). The reality is that that the heart of an unregenerate sinner has no room for Jesus (John 3:20, “For everyone who does evil hates the light”).

The Wise Men were not distracted by the King or discouraged by the apathy of the religious leaders. They were single-minded in their pursuit of the King of the Jews. They saw the star and “rejoiced exceedingly with great joy” (Matthew 2:10). Their experience is shared by all who have been led to the Savior (1 Peter 1:8, “And though you have not seen Him, you live Him, and through you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you great rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory”). They were God-directed to the baby Jesus. You, believer in Christ, have been Spirit-led to the Risen Lord. They rejoiced when they saw the star. Rejoice, believer, in that the Savior has found you!

They brought gifts--gifts that prophetically spoke of the tri-fold identity of the Christ child—King, God, and Savior. He is Immanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:23). He is Jesus, who has come to “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). He is the King of Jews, the Messiah (Matthew 1:1-17). “Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain; Gold I bring to crown Him again…Frankincense to offer have I: Incense owns a Deity nigh; Myrrh is mind: its bitter perfume breathes a lift of gathering gloom.” The Wise Men presented their treasures—thus helping to fund a quick escape to Egypt.

Worship involves sacrifice. David recognized that: “I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God which cost me nothing” (2 Samuel 24:24). What is the acceptable sacrifice to be presented by the New Testament believer in view of his Spirit-led understanding of the glory of Christ and fullness of His work? Is it not our very lives! Romans 12:1, “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Cf. 2 Corinthians 8:5).

Most are apathetic regarding the Lord Jesus. And some are downright antagonistic! But God has so worked in our hearts, brethren, that we might stand in awe of Him. And, as with the Wise Men, we might honor Him both with our lips and by our lives—that’s the nature of acceptable worship (Cf. Hebrews 13:15-16).

Pastor Jerry