“Off-Horizoned” ??

Vol. 3, No. 18 – April 29, 2018

Dear friends in Rome: this letter is from Paul, Jesus Christ’s slave, chosen and sent out to preach. Romans 1:1

Christians and Christian Leaders of great achievement are usually those of special attitudes. History shows that they achieved what they did because they believed deeply in what they were doing and thought uniquely about the lives they were living. –D. Stuart Briscoe

I might add that they also think uniquely about the lives they are impacting.

Our text is most likely written in 57 A.D. Paul is a house-guest of Gaius in the great Greek city of Corinth. From reading the Scriptures, Paul often seems fidgety as he enters new fields; new spheres of activity. That is not surprising, for most of us are the same way – it is a human trait.

I can just picture Paul, heading for the local travel agency to lay out plans for an itinerary to Jerusalem carrying financial aid for the needy. Then it would be onward to cross the Mediterranean Sea to the Imperial City of Rome, and then finally to Spain, the oldest Roman colony and chief bastion of that day.

Paul always seemed to contemplate the regions beyond. Perhaps whenever he saw a sailing vessel, he just wanted to climb aboard. When he would see a mountain range, perhaps he was driven by what was on the other side. He observed the great centers of world government; he desired to penetrate the world for his Master’s plan. He seems to be a “one direction guy.”

His letter was urgently penned to his “friends” (2 people in a church he had never visited) to prepare them for his visit, and to reveal the purpose of his travel plans. With a fertile mind, and a fluid pen, Paul writes the colossal dispatch we know as the Book of Romans. It is Holy Scripture; actually a Mount Everest in biblical writing – the great inspired by the Holy Spirit tome that still jogs the mind of the reader.

Authors tend to need credentials. When I wrote my book, Under the Broom Tree: Contemplations on Life and Service, the publisher insisted on information about me and about my education and background.

Paul described himself as a doulos. He spoke of his obligation, great love, and the honor of his office. Servant, the title that distinguishes leaders from others was how he identified himself. Servanthood was where his greatness existed; powerful and a trend-setter for the cause of Christ in a Me-First society – where is the doulos today?

He describes himself as a kaleo – a called one. Called; designated by an action to some sphere and manner of being, and of consequential activity.

To a young, cocky, and too sure of himself, young buck preacher, the old preacher A. Godly said: “Was you sent, or did you just went?” Paul was no run of the mill bumpkin; he was selected, called, and equipped.

Paul describes himself as aphorizo; separated. The Greek word contains our word horizon. The prefix ap allows us to literally translate separated as “off-horizoned.” We all live under the same sky; but we have or choose different horizons.

Paul had been lifted out of the circle where he had lived and placed into an entirely different circle. It had a different center, and therefore a different horizon. He, as a Christian now, was “off-horizoned.”

He was separated unto the gospel of God. Henceforth his life revolved on an axis so different that it was a totally different life. –Barnhouse

Have you looked at your “off-horizon” lately?

Take Aim . . . Take an Ear!

Vol. 3, No. 16 – April 22, 2018

Peter drew a sword and slashed off the right ear of Malchus. John 18:10

What the strong fisherman did was the expression of fugitive impulses and vagrant emotion. This is the practical peril of the man with a shallow and defective enthusiasm and commitment alongside the most powerful being in the universe.

Why did Peter not put his stock in the power and authority of Christ?

Peter was a lot like me in my early years: heat without light; energy without direction, and a consuming passion without constraining principle.

William Cowper identified Peter’s swordsmanship as “false fire of an overheated mind, intoxicated by strong delusion.”

Perhaps we need a little stage-setting. It is Thursday evening and Jesus has just come from prayer time in the Garden of Gethsemane. With His disciples, He is met by a great multitude (several hundred armed men – armed with swords and staves). Their intent was to take Jesus of Nazareth to be their prisoner.

This is a ludicrous scene – a multitude of strongly armed soldiers and temple personnel to take on one “defenseless” man, or was he really? Immediately, Peter draws his sword.

As a Galilean, he was pugnacious, aiming a blow at the skull of the High Priest’s personal assistant. Peter aimed for Malchus’ neck, but wound up cutting off his right ear. Often in our anger, we miss-aim, or at least do not accomplish our intents.

So, Peter was not accustomed to looking before he leaped. What he really did was to whip out his sword and aim it at the first man in his way; but he “blew the blow.” Instead of a head rolling on the grass of the garden, it was a right ear that fell to the ground.

Impetuosity (action with little thought), rushing into a situation like a furious wind, Peter is like a pendulum swinging from one extreme to another.

Peter, the man who would jump into the lake to walk on the water; he would assure the Lord that if everyone else deserted Him, the Lord could always count on Peter; Peter, the one who did not want the Lord to wash his feet, but then pronounced that the Lord should wash not only his feet, but his hands and face. Peter, the disciple that cursed and swore his denial of Christ in the courtyard during the multi-colored trial of the Savior, then heard the rooster crow.

However, we need to turn to the miracle of Malchus. The silenced mob stood by as Jesus picks up the bloody ear and replaces it to the side of the High Priest’s servant head. No one ask Him to do this miracle, He just did it! Malchus was not his friend, but a bitter enemy (remember Jesus just did this thing; this miracle). Jesus even wants His enemies to know His love for them.

The crowd should have done something. They should have ask themselves: “How can we ever hope to capture someone like this?” in their frenzy they lead Him away. Jesus knew all this for He knows all things; but Jesus just did what He did anyway!

Thinking the greatest problem in the average church to be over enthusiasm is like sending a squad of police to a cemetery at midnight to guard against a demonstration by the residents. –A.W. Tozer

When our earthly fires are kindled from His heavenly altar, all things are possible.

He Wept!

Vol. 3, No. 15 – April 15, 2018

Jesus wept! John 11:35

It has been said that God’s disappointments are His appointments; and that God’s delays are not His denials; but do we believe what we hear?

We feel we must be active, energetic, enthusiastic, and humanly effective; we cannot understand why inactivity, weakness, weariness, and seeming uselessness should become our lot. It all appears to be so futile and foolish, without plan or purpose. V.R. Edman

Although it is clear that Jesus loved Lazarus, He not only permitted Lazarus’ sickness, He even allowed it to continue and end in death; however, it was not really the end! Mary and Martha were sure Jesus would come to their home in Bethany. Because Jesus loved Lazarus, “When therefore He heard that he was sick, He stayed then two days longer in the place where He was.” That seems utterly strange; when we hear of someone dear struggling with life we rush to get at the side of the one we love! Lazarus died!

Four days later, Jesus arrives at His favorite hospitality house, and Martha said: “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” (11:32) When Jesus went to the burial place, He commanded the stone that covered the tomb be removed. Mary, weeping said, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days

In a culture that believed there was still a chance for life in a three-day period, four days was too long; Lazarus’ spirit would have departed. Jesus had walked to the graveyard in the hills near town, His tears flowing down. Even the neighbors remarked: “Behold how He loved him!” (11:36) Well, if He loved Lazarus, if He could have healed his sickness, why did Jesus deliberately delay His arrival.

First of all, “going to Bethany after the death of His beloved friend would test the disciples willingness to follow their Lord to that area of danger in Judea, the center of opposition. Our walking with Him will not eliminate dangers, but when dangers come, as they surely will, they will come in the permission of God and within the protective care of our heavenly Father.” –Charles Ryrie

Secondly, God’s timing is always perfect. The Lord of all circumstances said He was glad He was not in Bethany when this event happened, so that His disciples might believe when they saw the next miracle of Jesus. Often we want Jesus to do things our way – even demand it. Our timing is most important to us. It is imperative we leave Him to do these things in His own way, and in His own timing.

Now, four days later, it is time for Jesus to take over, so He shouts: “Lazarus, come out; come forth!” Lazarus came, bound up in the gravecloths, his face muffled in a head swath. Jesus commanded them to unwrap him and let him go. (11:43-44) This had to be quite a sight.

In past years I worked for a company that was contracted by the funeral homes to perform burials, and even transfer remains from condemned mausoleums. I could write a book on those experiences alone. Suffice it to say that many people are not prepared for the departure of their loved ones; they have not relied upon the Christ raised from the dead.

To walk with Christ in delays and even in death is far better than to walk without Him in darkness!

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