It’s Not The Wine Talking


John 2:1-10

This is the story that is known for Jesus turning water into wine. But, do you realize that Jesus gained no popularity from this event? The wedding was on a Tuesday, a popular day for Jewish weddings because it was the day that God blessed twice in Genesis 1 on the third day of creation.

By that Saturday morning Jesus was in Capernaum teaching and ends up casting a demon out of a man in the meeting. Now, that got him popularity. By that evening a crowd had gathered around Peter and Andrew’s house wanting prayer. A second wave of needy came to the house a few hours later but Jesus was off praying.

The point is, the wine was not the focus of John’s story as he tells it. So, what was?

John 2:4 Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”

Let’s investigate this verse:

1. WOMAN – in the original this is not a word of disrespect but a general word in the respectful sense. We would say “madam” or “maim.” Jesus, not calling her mother, has set the stage for a conversation with Mary as just another woman.

2. WHAT DOES YOUR CONCERN HAVE TO DO WITH ME? This is a phrase too Jewish for us to understand it well in the English. It occurs several times in the Bible.

David used this phrase with some of his cousins in 2 Samuel 2:10 distinguishing the major difference in thought between he and his cousins. They wanted to punish a man and David did not. They were of two different understandings, not on the same page.

Elisha uses this phrase in 2 Kings 3 in speaking to the King of Israel and then told him to go back to his own prophets, the false ones. He was expressing a major difference between him and the wicked king. They were of two different understandings, not on the same page.

The very Sabbath, following this wedding, He was teaching in Capernaum in the synagogue when a demon possessed man says,

“Let us alone? What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are — the Holy One of God!”

Understand, this phrase was one of comparison. Mary was asking Jesus to do something in the natural, something materialistic, something to save a families cultural reputation. But, all through Jesus ministry, from this point on, was a battle against customs that really didn’t matter. They were of two different understandings, not on the same page.

    • Jesus was baptized just two months earlier and spent 40 days fasting and praying and being tempted by Satan.
    • Now, full of the Holy Spirit, He acknowledged in Nazarath that He had been anointed to preach the good news as He read the first few verses of Isaiah 61.
    • He met John, Andrew, Peter, Philip and Nathaniel in John 1.
    • He invited John, James, Andrew, and Peter to spend more time with Him, to follow Him in Mark 1 while they were mending their nets.
    • And now He is at a wedding just outside of Capernaum getting ready for His first day of healing ministry scheduled for that weekend where his three year campaign begins.
    • He will confront demons, heal those who have never known what a healthy life was, raise the dead, preach to crowds of thousands, stir up the religious society enough that in three years they will kill Him on a cross and then He will rise again.

And Mary wants Him to go to the store and get more wine.

Keep in mind that there is no hint that Mary thought that Jesus would do a miracle. It is more likely that Mary gathered servants up to assist Jesus to find and carry wine. What Jesus did saved the host from embarrassment and added joy to the party soon to be forgotten.

Talk about a contrast. Compare this story the story John writes in chapter 11 of a brother of two sisters who has been dead for four days and He raises him from the dead. Now, that is true celebration and one not soon forgotten.

Which story do you think falls into where Jesus’ heart was?

3. MY HOUR HAS NOT YET COME – This phrase is just as important in understanding the whole of what Jesus was saying.

Keep in mind that Mary had the inside scoop that Jesus was the Messiah. Therefore, any prophecies in the Old Testament about the Messiah was like her photo album.

What Jesus did next, I believe, was not what John was shooting for in this story. Water was turned into wine but he did it discreetly where only a small handful knew what had happen.

To understand this you have to go to a prophecy by Jacob on his death bed in Genesis 49:10-11

The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; And to Him  shall be  the obedience of the people.  Binding his donkey to the vine, and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, He washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes.

Here Jacob is prophesying over his son Judah. He prophesies that the line of kings would come from the tribe of Judah until the Messiah comes.

Just after the birth of Jesus the Roman Empire took away the title and authority of the office of the king in Israel and Josephus wrote that many of the priests ripped their robes, sprinkled ashes on their heads and cried that scripture had not been fulfilled.

In their eyes, for the first time, scripture had failed and a prophecy had been found wrong. The Messiah was to have come before the kingship would stop.

They did not know that the Messiah had already been born. Scripture was still correct. God DID get it right again.

But, notice the picture that is painted. When the Messiah comes something else will happen. There will be prosperity seen in the abundance of wine. Grapevines will be plentiful that they will be used as hitching posts.

Could Mary have understood this and thought that this wedding could be the beginning of that fulfillment? But, Jesus said that His hour had not yet come.

It’s not about the wine. It’s about the fact that Jesus and Mary were on two different pages. Jesus was not about the customs and traditions, to save a families reputation. He was about healing hurts and He still is about that. He has an itch that can not be scratched unless He is impacting lives!

When traditions become more important than healing hurts then we have lost focus of the heart of Jesus.

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Daniel Meets Cyrus


Cyrus II

Cyrus II

Jeremiah preached that Judah’s captivity would be 70 years, one year for every Sabbath year that they did not allow the land to rest over the past 490 years.  Now the 70 years are completed under Cyrus II or Cyrus the Great of Persia.

According to Josephus, when Cyrus made his grand entrance into Babylon after his general had conquered it, the elderly Daniel greets him with an old scroll  containing a letter from God, addressing him by name, written 150 years earlier (Isaiah 44:27-45:12).  It describes Cyrus, his tactics, and Babylon which was not a major power when Isaiah had written it.  Therefore, Cyrus became a believer, although loosely, as reflected in Ezra 1:2-4.

Feel free to leave a comment or insight.

Who Is A Minister?


Equip the Saints

Equip the Saints

Ephesians 4:11-12 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.

I went to College and obtained a degree so that I could be a minister. I took several test to climb a ladder of succession in my denomination to have credentials to be a minister. And then I read this scripture from Ephesians and realized that I had the wrong definition.

When I mention the words laity and minister a very clear picture comes to mind. A minister is a minister of music, youth minister, children’s minister, pastor, evangelist, etc. and everyone else is a laity. Right?

Did you know that the word laity means someone who is in the presence of a professional. When I go to the doctor’s office I am a laity. It is not a scriptural word. The Message does use the word in 1 Chronicles when it is referring to the people who are not priest. But Peter says twice that we are all in the priesthood.

So, who are the ministers? Paul says that five offices were given, not one person holding all five offices. Five offices have the distinct responsibility to equip the saints. That is their primary function.

Who are the saints? According to Romans 1:7, 8:28, 15:25, 1 Corinthians 1:2, etc. . . the saints are those who are followers of Jesus Christ. Are you a follower?

The Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers are to equip the saints or followers of Christ for what purpose? For the work of ministry. What do you call someone who does ministry? A minister.

Therefore, in our congregation the saying is heard often, “You are a minister or a minister in training.” There are no laity here!

Feel free to leave your comments or insights.

Stormy?


Stormy Walk

Stormy Walk

Matthew 14:22-24 Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.

Although the disciples were in the middle of the sea in a storm we can not forget this one thing: Jesus made His disciples to get into the boat to go to the other side. They may have been in a storm but they were still in obedience to God’s will. HELLO!

They were called to a mission – go to the other side. What is your mission?

Weathering the storm required faith. Is your faith in the boat or tools of ministry or on the one walking on the water?

Feel free to leave a comment or insight.

A Divine Appointment


Israeli Sycamore Tree

Israeli Sycamore Tree

Luke 19:1 Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.”

Let’s ask some questions.

  • What was it in Zacchaeus’ heart that gave him such drive to see Jesus?
  • Out of everyone in the crowd, why did Jesus pick Zacchaeus?
  • Not forgetting that Jesus knows everything, but how did He know Zacchaeus’ name?
  • Why was it so important that Jesus felt that He had to stay at Zacchaeus’ house?

Just with these four questions I can not help but to believe that there was a divine appointment. Yes, we can argue that everything that Jesus did and everyone he met was a divine appointment. Without a doubt, this was no accident.

How important are divine appointments? I am going to say that a divine appointment with God is so important that the tree itself was not there by accident. I believe that 30, 60 or 100 years earlier that God took special care as to make sure that this tree grew to maturity. It had a purpose. The meeting that Jesus had with Zacchaeus was so important that the preparation took decades to prepare for.

If that was true for Zacchaeus, ask yourself if your meeting with God was by accident or did years go in to staging it with anticipation of your meeting.

I believe that someone could write a story about this tree and all that it went through to make sure that it was ready for that day. The times it could have been cut down. The times that drought could have challenged it. The boys that played on it. Could this have been a tree that Zacchaeus himself played on as a boy, not knowing what destiny lay ahead of him?

Meeting with God is not accident.

George Muller – Man of Faith And Purpose


picture-8During the time of George Muller there were no computers, no phones, no internet and yet in his lifetime he provided education for over 123,000 orphans in England and personally housed and took care of 10,024 orphans, establishing the very first orphanage in Bristol, England.

George was born in 1805 and died in 1898. He was not born into a Christian home and was, by no means, a Christian growing up. All through his teen life he was known for his lying and the ability to spend other people’s money. He had even spent time in prison, an atmosphere far different from what we have today.

In 1825 all of that changed. He found his way into a prayer meeting and received a true conversion, never to be the same again. In 1832 he moved to Bristol and pastored the same church for 66 years.

He felt very strongly that his calling was to be a missionary, but in the midst of his training became sick and in his recuperation pastored a small church and was married.

By faith Muller supported missionaries, handed out free christian material by the millions, he built five buildings to house 2,000 at a time, and humbly claimed that God answered 50,000 of his requests, of which 30,000 happened the same hour or day of the requests. It is said that there were times that there was no food for the next meal in his orphanage and yet he would sit down to eat, believing that God would provide and He did, never missing a meal.

It is said that God provided over 75,000,000 pounds in his ministry. If I calculated correctly, that would be the equivalent of $1,091,862,000.00 in U.S. That is almost 1.1 billion dollars in his lifetime! And I am squirming to just believe God for $400,000.00 for our church? He never solicited for money nor was he ever in debt. He just prayed and believed with childlike faith. “Lord, forgive me for worrying of our finances.”

Did he miss his calling that he felt that he received at a young age, to be a missionary? By the age of 70, following the death of his wife, he became that missionary and traveled to 42 countries, traveling the equivalency of traveling around the globe 8 times, speaking between 5,000 to 6,000 times to some 3,000,000 people. For many of his ministry travels he was gone for a year at a time. It is said that he read his bible from beginning to end almost 200 times, taking every word by faith.

George Muller walked by faith and never questioned God on his calling. Although he was 70 before he saw his original calling fulfilled, he did not waist his time waiting to be a missionary. He impacted his community and thus, in many regards, impacted the world.

The question is, would he have preached to over 3,000,000 in so many countries after age 70 if he had just waited for his “true” calling? What are you waiting for?

You can find more about this man of faith at http://www.mullers.org/cm, a website by the Muller Foundation.

A Shaky Start


Abraham

Abraham

Please, understand that I am not trying to belittle Abraham, the father of many nations. Yet, at the same time, I do want us to be able to see that God was able to take an average man and make him great because he was willing.

According to Genesis 11 Abraham was born 450 years after the flood, 10 generations away from Noah. The remains of Ur today are in Tell el-Mukayyar and can be found near the city of Nasiriyah, south of Baghdad in modern day Iraq.

Joshua 24:2 And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the River in old times; and they served other gods.

God called Abraham out of a family of idol worshippers. Was Abraham, himself, an idol worshipper?

Although it was Abraham who was called, it was his father, Terah, who led the way toward the promise land. This was failure number 1 – he was to leave his family. Instead, he took his father and nephew, lot, with him. The one who was not called, Terah, became the one to lead the one who was called, Abraham, Acts 7:2.

They made it as far as Haran, an ancient city that exists in modern-day Turkey. Also found in that same area of Turkey are villages that still have the names of Abraham’s grandfather and great-grandfather, Nahor and Serug.

Failure number 2 was that Abraham stayed in Haran for some time before he was ready to continue the journey and he still took family with him. Twice he was called. The first time in Ur and the second time while in Haran.

The 3rd failure was that Abraham still was not willing to leave family behind. The end result was that years later the two split up and Lots daughters got him drunk and slept with him. The names of their sons with their father were Moab and Ben-ammi, the fathers of the Moabites and the Ammonites. They were family but became great enemies of Israel for years.