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!

One Thing I Do Know . . .

Vol. 3 No. 12 – John 9:1-41 (3.25.2018)

One thing I do know, I was blind but now I see! –John 9:1-41

Here is a truth: It is entirely possible to have it all . . . and yet miss it all!

This is about a man born blind, then receiving his sight in desperation. He had been a beggar up to this point in his life; uneducated, sitting on the side of the dusty street day after day, waiting for some meager charity. He did not have much spiritual insight; he was just looking for a handout.

You have seen many like this. I have had to drive down the street and turn around to go back and make sure the person at the side of the street could have something to help them in life, always taking time to make sure they heard of the One who is chasing them with His grace.

Have you ever tried to explain color to a blind person . . . you can’t. But you can tell a blind person about the person of Christ and that person can see what you are speaking of.

The Pharisees seemed to have it all. They were blessed with full-working physical faculties; had a seemingly in-depth biblical knowledge (at least academically), and had positions of respect in the community. However, they were utterly blind to the fact that God was on the move, chasing unbelievers with His grace, operating in the broken world full of sin.

This man, this Christ, called Jesus, not only did things they did not expect; He also did them in a way that was not kosher (in their opinion). You know about opinions: They are like noses; everyone has one and they all smell.

The Pharisees were not denying the existence of miracles; however they were insistent that God work within the parameters they had designed. Do we do that?

God is notoriously unpredictable. –Tim Hansel

God, as I have mentioned in previous blogs, has a sense of humor; He loves to keep us on the edge of faith, He cannot be boxed in; we can never say that we have got Him figured out. If we think we have Him figured out He will amaze and amuse us!

Think about a specific need in your life; an issue that will only change if it receives a touch from heaven. Maybe it is wisdom that is needed for making a decision; maybe the need is physical healing; or maybe the need is for healing an emotional scar.

Too often even Christians fall into “blindly” accepting “the hand of fate,” when God wants to do a work in them for His glory! (9:3)

Today, we still cannot accurately predict what God will do – He is still notoriously unpredictable in many things (absolutes never change; however, God delivers His grace in a multiplicity of ways). God is still in the miracle business.

When I first came to Christ, a pastor said that the age of miracles was over because we now have the Word of God. That surely was inaccurate as I have personally experienced God’s miracles in my life.

The miracle He wants to do in our lives may not be to change our circumstances (though He can certainly do that). It may be the daily miracle of giving us the strength through pain, heartache, or through our weaknesses. (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)

Wonder what it would be like for you to ask the Lord right now to surprise you!

God is still able to make the blind to see — to have the scales fall from the eyes. Sometimes the blindness is physical, sometimes it is a result of trauma, sometimes it is spiritual — but God is able to address a person where they are, regardless of their condition.

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!

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