I want to take you on a journey with me to Israel. I have to admit the history was fascinating, I could not imagine I was in some of the places Jesus walked, performed miracles, taught with authority, wept over Jerusalem, the place where he was arrested, imprisoned for the night, beaten, crucified, buried, and resurrected. WOW!
I cannot begin to tell you how this trip had opened my eyes to a deeper yearning for the spirit of God. I was able to sit back and just watch God show me things through the scripture. They were jumping right off the pages piercing my heart as I read every word. While observing my heart I did not like what I saw. I saw how much I had missed the mark. I saw how far I have drifted from just sitting at his feet worshipping him for who He is, I have been complacent and comfortable in my walk with the Lord. I have allowed business and works to interfere with my first love. I was like the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2: 1-7 “I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for my name’s sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of it’s place-unless you repent!” I know you probably think Ray your being to hard on yourself. NO! I am just being honest; it is the beginning of healing for my soul, and restoration to a lost relationship. Jesus is no respecter of man; our sins will find us out. And by no means is it the fault of the Church, we have some of the most incredible leaders at BCC; they have set it up to where we as your pastors get poured into 2 times a week, and take enough time off for our families. I am blessed to have leaders who know what is important and healthy for us. This is a matter of the heart, our own personal hearts. We have to always take a look at what is in the inside and make adjustments when necessary. I hope and pray that you will be opened to evaluate your heart this morning as God has sent a saint to hear from Him to deliver a message to His people. As it says in Revelation 2:7 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the spirit says to the church.” Let us pray.
You Better Recognize!
As we begin our heart transplant today, I want to take you to a place in Israel called Chorazin. Jesus is speaking with his disciples; he begins to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent. He said in Matthew 11:16-17 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market place, who call out to the other children, and say we played the flute for you, and you did not dance.” Verse: 19 “ The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they say, behold, a gluttonous man and drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners! Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” Verse: 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Betsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long-ago in sackcloth and ashes.” As I sat in the middle Chorazin, I looked around and saw the destruction or ruins and felt as if I was the one having a visitation from Jesus and the disciples exposing me. I heard the words echoing in my ears “Woe to you Ray! You have seen God perform many miracles in your own life, God has showed up in times of difficult trials, he has provided for your family when you could not, he has opened doors that no man could; if Nick or Jerry would have seen the miracles that you saw they would have repented.” All I could do was bow my head and REPENT!
As I loaded back on the bus, I was just processing what I had just experienced at Chorazin wondering “Lord, how have I drifted so far from you? As I reflect on other sites we went to, I was clearly made aware of what side-tracked me. I remember sitting on the mountain where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount. He gave us some Character qualities to measure our hearts with; I want to go over a few that ministered to me. As I sat and listened on the same mountain he taught the disciples the first Character. One thing I have to let you know about the beatitudes is they don’t promise laughter, pleasure, or earthly prosperity. They are also not a multiple choice- pick what you like or what you are good at and leave the rest.
Matthew 5:3-12: 3″Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11″Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
“Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” The word begins with blessed which means “more than happiness” so when we listen to the beatitudes we are given a quality that may sound good but often difficult to apply. Then we hear poor in spirit, we are to be more than happy to have that character of being poor in spirit. When we are poor in spirit it is similar to having a poverty of spirit, a brokenness that when in the presence of God all you can do is bow your head, you will see yourself as you really are. When we see ourselves for who we really are it also prevents us from being critical of everyone else and their short comings.
I want to share another character with you that jumped out at me.
Verse 6: “Blessed are those who thirst and hunger for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” I remember when we had gone to Petra, we had to walk down hill for two and a half miles and it was hot. We all were so in awe of the rock walls we were seeing on our way down. When we got to the end of the road, we had realized, man we have to go back up two and a half miles. It seemed like it took forever, the legs were burning and sweat was dripping off my head- it was hot! I was experiencing dehydration and a small headache. I had built up a thirst that if there was a horse trough I might have went over and put my head in it. As I was coming near the end on the road, I could see a store on the corner that was selling water. I couldn’t even get the money out before drinking it, I was so thirsty. I had experienced being more than happy to drink some water. It was a great picture of being thirsty and being satisfied. Just like this beatitude, the road we travel on often time is draining, tiresome; we experience fatigue, and weariness. We often wonder is there any assistant on the way. God in the right time shows up maybe not when we want, but he will show up. We need to keep our eyes open, seeking him with a thirst and a hunger that can only be satisfied through Christ. Don’t go looking anywhere else to get satisfaction those things the world offers are temporary; they will not last and leaving you empty, dry, hurting and confused. Thirst and hunger for a right relationship with Him. Oh Lord, I long to have that zeal, to thirst and hunger for a right relationship with Him. Be reminded when in verse 48 he says “Therefore, you are to be perfect, as your heavenly father is perfect.” The word perfect does not mean without sin it means to be mature. When we are pursuing God we should mature as we grow. We should not be struggling with the same things we struggled with when we first got saved. We know we are not perfect no one is without sin and we do have Grace. But Grace does not give us the right to sin; it gives us the ability not to sin! Be encouraged and mature as we walk with God, he will give you and I victory in areas of your life- go drink and be merry at the foot of the Cross.
I experienced a true visitation on the mountain where he had taught 2000 years ago. I was thinking to myself how much God loved me that he would bring me to the same spot he did some teaching and visit me right there as well. My visitation though was one in which needed to happen and he knew it. What love God has bestowed on me. I felt the rebukes, but I also received his mercy and grace, I had been praying for awhile that the Lord would put that fire back in my heart that I had experienced when I first got saved. The only thing that mattered when I was saved in August 1991 was letting people now about the Lord and developing relationships with folks for the purpose of earning the right to be heard.
I want to finish off with my last visitation that speaks to all of us. It took place in Jerusalem at the Mount of Olives.
They actually say this is the Palm Sunday road in Israel. It is vital to seek understanding and watch out for those who will miss lead you. There were so many folks who had witnessed and followed Jesus in his journey in Israel. They saw miracles after miracles and teaching from Jesus who taught with authority. Yet, somehow they were side tracked by others and mis-led by leaders who spoke against the teachings of Jesus. Some did not even recognize the prince of peace coming into Jerusalem. The neat thing about this is that Prophecy was being fulfilled way before this even took place turn to Zachariah 9:9 “Rejoice greatly, o daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O’daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” As I was sitting there on the Mount of Olives, I could just picture Him on the donkey riding down the hill into the city weeping. As we read it caused me to really take a look at my life and be drawn to him. Not out of fear at all, but to really know him for it is the truth and he is calling all his saints to be steadfast and ready. I saw myself as Jerusalem, a city that had been classified as God’s hand being on it. Yet, by the things being worshiped there, turning it from a house of prayer to a robbers den, and the apathy to the things of God, it had failed tremendously.
As we sat on the mountain we were reading out of Luke 19 and Matthew 21, the thing that stuck out to me as we were looking west towards the Golden dome and the temple mount. (Remember this is when Jesus was about to make known his death.) In Luke 19:39-44. Here, Jesus is riding in on a donkey and the Pharisees tell Jesus to rebuke the disciple because they were calling him the Messiah. No way, will they be silent or the rocks will cry out. Luke 19:39 “Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “teacher, rebuke your disciples.” Verse 40 “But Jesus answered, I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” When he approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, v.42 saying “If only you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. V.43 For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”
There are a few things I see in this passage:
The Silence: How many times have we been silent about the things that God has done in our lives? We need to let our light shine with no shame and confidence in the God we serve. He is very unpopular in our schools, work place, homes and communities. It is time for his children to take a humble stand and let your light shine in a dark world. But more than offering lip service live it for “People would rather see a sermon than hear one any day.”
The weeping Messiah: When he looked over into Jerusalem He wept the word wept is whaling, with despair, can you imagine that type of sorrow over the one He loves. When you and I tend to do our own thing and fall away from the Lord He weeps, because he loves us so much and understands what happens to a saint who falls away. He knows that the enemy is about to do us in. Just imagine when you and I see one of our loved ones fall into temptation it breaks our heart. That is what the messiah is feeling as he rides into Jerusalem.
He brings peace: He say’s if only we had known the things which make peace”. Jesus comes to bring peace through his death, burial and resurrection. You see the first time he rides in, is on a donkey to bring peace, the next time he comes will be on a white horse to Conqueror. Here is what he ends up saying, I have hidden the truth from your eyes, why? Verse: 44 say because “you did not recognize the time of your visitation”. Here is an application for you and me Christ has made several visitations to us to bring us peace, have we been blinded, desensitized, calloused and missed his visitation. I can count several times God has visited me to get this right and that right; and I just say “Lord I’ll deal with it later. I know I have a problem, but I am working on getting better, hey I’m not that bad, nobody’s perfect. I can’t let people know I don’t have it together.” Let me ask you a personal question. Has the Lord entered OKC on his colt riding down western turning east on 91st street stopping at the corner of Ollie looking at Britton Christian Church weeping because some of us folks have ignored his visitations in the past. Well I have good news the same Grace and Mercy I experienced in Israel is the same mercy you can receive here at Britton Christian Church this morning. All you have to do is come forward and give your life to Him. If you need to just come to the alter and pray telling the Lord you desire to be put back into a right relationship with him come forward.