Author Archives: lrbartel

“Unfair!” you say? But He can supernaturally provide!

You may feel like what someone in authority is asking for, is unfair!  In fact, it not only infringes on your rights as a Christian – it tramples on them!

It happened to Jesus… The collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?”  Peter apparently was not sure if Jesus had, but he answered to the best of his ability, “Yes.”  Later Jesus approached Peter, asked about the encounter, and explained why he believed He (and his followers) should not have to pay the tax… But then he added… “However, NOT TO GIVE OFFENSE TO THEM, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel.  Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.” (From Matthew 17:24-27 ESV)

You may think a request (or a requirement) placed upon you as a Christian by someone in authority is unfair – it tramples on your rights.  And the fact is, you don’t really have the resources to do what is being asked of you (and shouldn’t have to do it)! … Remember, your testimony as a Christian is greater than the issue of your “rights!”  And also remember, God is able to supply your need (even miraculously, as he did in this instance) if your desire is to please and honor Him!

Just say’n!

Moved to tears! …For all my sin!

Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12 is a passage that most evangelical Bible scholars acknowledge as Messianic.  It describes the “Suffering Servant” who is our Lord Jesus Christ – the One who suffered and died on the cross for our sin. 

It was my Bible reading this morning – a graphic, prophetic description of what Jesus went through on our behalf, so that we might be forgiven, cleansed, restored and granted eternal life through His death, burial, resurrection and ascension!

As I read it this morning and reflected on what it said, I jotted these words in the margin of my Bible: “This brings me to tears!  It was for all my sin!”

Here is a powerful excerpt from the passage…

“Behold, my Servant! … He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him.  He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.  Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.  But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.  He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet he opened not His mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so He opened not his mouth… He was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people.  And they made His grave with the wicked and with a rich man in His death, although He had done no violence, and there was no deceit in His mouth.  Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush Him; He has put him to grief; when His soul makes an offering for guilt, He shall see his offspring; He shall prolong His days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.  Out of the anguish of His soul He shall see and be satisfied; by His knowledge shall the Righteous One, My Servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and He shall bear their iniquities… He poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.”

That’s what Jesus did on my behalf, and yours … for the sin of the whole world!  An old gospel song put it this way…

“It was his love for me

That nailed him to the tree

To die in agony for all my sin.

For my own guilt and blame

The great Redeemer came,

Willing to bear the shame

Of all my sin.

Oh, what a Savior is mine,

In him God’s mercies combine;

His love can never decline,

And he loves me!”

  • Norman J. Clayton

An “apostle” eh? What makes you think so?

When it comes to Spiritual leadership there isn’t a position any higher than “Apostleship.”  That term, however, is thrown around pretty easily in some circles.  Some of these self-styled (and self-appointed) “apostles” drive expensive cars, jet “first class” around the world, live in opulent homes, wear the finest clothes and enjoy cuisine at the finest restaurants.  Their message is “prosperity” and “blessing” (culturally defined of course).  The big question, however, is… are they REALLY “apostles” … I mean the Biblical kind?  Or are they what the Bible calls “false apostles” (check out 2 Corinthians 11.13-15… it’s interesting!)

I’ve been around long enough to know that the glossy, glamorous cover on a magazine or brochure is the product of marketers and may not give you the whole picture of the reality of a thing… you have to dig down a bit to discover the raw actuality.  In my Bible reading this morning “Apostle Paul” addressed the REAL TRUTH of what APOSTLESHIP cost him and his apostolic colleagues.  Here’s what he said…

“For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings.  We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored!  To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless.  We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.” (1 Corinthians 4:9–13 NIV)  *Additionally, 2 Corinthians 11:21b – 12:10 might be a healthy read to get perspective on Paul’s “apostolic experience.”

So it seems to me we need to be very careful about how we throw around that term.  We need to use it very carefully and sparingly!  It’s interesting to me that Apostle Paul preferred the terms “bond servant” or “slave” for himself.  Hey, I’ll join him in that… I’ll settle for just being called “a bond servant of Christ”!

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