“Rivers of Living Water”

“Rivers of Living Water.” What does that mean? Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”
Are we, God’s people, are we to be like that? Not just to be like that, but actually be that! Are we to be “Rivers of Living Water”?
In this sermon Pastor Dean C. Read reveals what it means to really believe in Jesus. Premiering at 6:00 pm EST February 12 on YouTube. Watch and listen and decide for yourself. Are you a believer?
Or, if you are wondering about that longing that has been in you, that thirst for something more than the world has to offer, come and hear how the One and Only God has put that longing within your heart that you may come to Jesus and drink of the water of life.
Is that worth 36 minutes of your time?

The Seed of Liberty

My sermon from yesterday is called, “The Seed of Liberty.” You should know that I preached a three sermon series called “Liberty,” and yesterday’s sermon was the final one. Consider the following: 

What is it about this experiment called Liberty? America indeed has been that God ordained experiment in liberty, where people’s right’s to worship and serve Him, or not, should not be infringed by tyranny. In this final sermon, part 3 of Pastor Read’s new series on “Liberty,” you will learn what true liberty is from the Bible’s point of view. And that liberty, even for a slave, is truly found only in Jesus Christ, who is the fulfillment of the promise that God made to Abraham over 3,500 years ago, that “In your Seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed…” (Galatians 3:16; Genesis 22:18).

Does anything today threaten to take away this liberty? Revelation chapter 13 certainly indicates that a time of religious deception is coming, when once again by tyranny, oppressive laws will proscribe liberty in favor of making “an image to the beast,” so… “that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Revelation 13:17)… and causing, “as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed” (Revelation 13:15). Only those who have what the Bible calls, “the faith of Abraham,” will have true liberty when their rights are denied by tyranny. Is your character such now, that you will be able to stand for right when the trial comes?

Here is the link to yesterday’s sermon. If you want to help me share the message, then you can share the link with others through text or email.https://youtu.be/YfLNldlOuL8

Midweek Pastoral Letter and “The Shield of Faith and Liberty”

Dear Folks,

Happy mid-week! Currently, I am engaged in our Georgia-Cumberland Conference Ministers Meetings, which was supposed to be held at Cohutta Springs Conference Center. However, the uptick in Corona Virus cases changed that plan. Instead, we have been meeting via Zoom from 9:00am till Noon. Tomorrow will be our final meeting. Well, that means I did not have to leave home to stay in a hotel room, and therefore, we will still have our prayer meetings at the regular time. So, tonight for the Griffin group at 6:30pm and tomorrow night for the Thomaston group at 5:00pm, those of us who engage together in prayer will do so. 

Tomorrow morning is the day that my wife Tracie will have the procedure to help heal the extrusion/herniation in her lower back that has kept her disabled since November 14. I do ask you to lift up a prayer for the Orthopedic doctor and team who will be performing the procedure. It is done as an epidural procedure with the aid of X-ray to ensure they get the anti-inflammatory medication in the right spot. Then we will rely on our God to bring healing as the days go by through this miraculous procedure. 

I call it a miraculous procedure because… God has permitted modern medical practices to advance in such a way as to provide healing and relief to millions today. In times past, people who were injured with various injuries like back injuries, just suffered and were completely disabled for the remainder of their lives. Whereas, now, many are restored to health and improved life… all thanks to God’s graciousness to allow discoveries that have saved lives. Oh, wouldn’t it be great if all people who received healing would realize God’s grace to them? Yes, we must pray for our healthcare providers today, as there is so much temptation to praise man, rather than God. There is so much taken for granted by human beings when it comes to what God has done to make His goodness, His love and His salvation known to the world. 

I also hope you are tuning into the new sermon series on “Liberty,” that I began January 8. You can help spread the Gospel of the “Three Angels Messages” by sharing the sermon with others through text message or email. Here is a link to that sermon, “The Shield of Faith & Liberty,” for you to watch and to share with your family, friends and acquaintances:https://youtu.be/TOfarCgxlq0

Happy New Year! Folks,

(Below is excerpted from my first midweek pastoral letter for the new year. I thought I would publish it here to share my hope and my thankfulness to God.)

As we begin another new year together, we yet hope for better things to come. Do we not? Of course, many hope this year proves to be a better year than the past two, hoping for an end to the COVID pandemic. And there may be a sign of the end to that, believe it or not with the Omicron variant. I have been reading some news reports of late that indicate, even though the Omicron variant is more infectious with record numbers of people getting COVID, it seems that the Omicron is not as harmful as the infamous Delta variant has been. There are less hospitalizations with Omicron. And, yes, even vaccinated individuals have been infected with Omicron, however, with much less severity of illness when compared to non-vaccinated individuals. And it turns out, that those infected with Omicron, seem to have a much higher protection against the more deadly Delta variant. Here is a January 3, new years headline from The Daily Wire: “The SARS-CoV-2 variant Omicron is leading to the end of the worldwide pandemic, Denmark’s chief epidemiologist predicted, meaning ‘we will have our normal lives back in two months.'”

Wouldn’t that be great if that were to happen? Two months to what one health expert is calling a return to a “normal life.” Yes, we should take all such advice with a grain a salt, as my dad used to say, yet there is hope.

And, as Christians, and especially as Adventists, we know that no matter what life is like down here on this earth, there is a better day coming. That Day will come when Jesus appears in glory. We wait for it with eager expectation. We wait in hope. And we pray for God’s guidance and His many faceted ways to help us now, in this life. For physical, mental, emotional, relational and spiritual healing for those who need healing. Being thankful for the many ways in which God has provided for us.

I am thankful for food, shelter, clothing, and for medical help when needed. And, so I thank God for the doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals that do provide their skills and sympathy to bring physical healing to those of us in need. Pray for them who God has led into the medical professions to help others.

But, I also thank God for the many other professionals and workers who provide services that make our lives more comfortable and bearable. Think, for example, of all those working to maintain cities and communities and households with electricity. My dad was one of those. He was a lineman. And often, he would be called in to restore electricity to whole neighborhoods, for example, when a vehicle crashed into a power pole and took out the power.

And there are many other kinds of workers for whom we should be grateful. Those who deliver mail. Those who maintain wireless, internet and telephone services. Those who educate our children in public and private schools. Those who drive the trucks that transport all our products and goods to markets and stores where we can easily purchase things like food, clothing, and materials to build with. And for those who run the stores, like food stores, hardware stores, and clothing stores at which we can shop. And for those who serve at the many kinds of restaurants to feed people like you and me.

Can you add to this list? Of course. I would like to suggest that we, God’s people should be foremost of all people in this world at being thankful and practicing thankfulness to others. For as Jesus said, “When you have done it to the least of these… you have done it unto Me” (Matthew 25:40).

Grace & Peace,Pastor Dean

Anointed for a Purpose

Sermon based on Luke 4:14-30

The cry of freedom has been heard throughout the ages. In many regions across this world, even today, multitudes are crying for freedom. For Liberty! Wars have been waged that curtail liberty for some and restore it for others. 

And what really is liberty? Who among Earth’s many nations and people groups are really free?

Do the any of the many and various religions make people free? Does each nation’s kind of government make its citizens free? For example, many would say that in America, our system of government has created a nation of the freest people on planet earth. Yes, we may enjoy more kinds freedoms here than in all other nations; however, those freedoms did not come in one day. 

After Americans fought a war for independence from Great Britain, and a new nation emerged called the United States of America, the Federal Government and the various State Governments struggled for many more decades over who had the power to create and enforce various laws. 

For example, Slavery continued to exist until the Civil War decided that Federal law through the 13th amendment to the Constitution could abolish it. And another Federal Law, the 14th amendment passed in 1866 decided that all former slaves and all people “born or naturalized” in the United States are citizens and would have equal protection under the laws. 

And it was Federal law, the 15th Amendment passed in 1869, that gave African American males the right top vote; but, it took 50 more years for suffrage to be extended to American women with the ratification of the 19th Amendment on August 18, 1920.

Would the world classify slaves as free? Of course not. What about those adults who could not vote until a law provided them the right? Would the world say they were equally free when they could not vote as when they could? Of course not.

Now, any of the states could have given women the right to vote, but none did. And, any of the antebellum Southern States could have freed their slaves, but none did. And the reasons for this struggle in America, that’s another story for another time. But, significantly, it was the influence of Protestant Christianity that led more to the separation, or the disestablishment of religion from government. The Second Great Religious Awakening of the 19th Century, the preaching of Charles Finney and others led to a moral influence in America at a time when it was desperately needed. 

America was struggling over values. Were people more valuable than material prosperity? The principles over liberty is ever a struggle in the human psyche…

When Jesus returned to His own hometown to preach in their synagogue, what happened? Trouble to say the least. Though at first, they were excited and amazed about His words; but, when He told them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing,” they became angry and tried to kill Him. Why? Because He basically told them that they were not free, but in captivity to sin, and it was He who has now come to set them free. He did not come to deliver them from Roman rule, but from sin.

Does this dynamic of animosity against the truth of the Gospel exist today in Churches, as it did in Nazareth 2,000 years ago? Are some Christians in captivity to sin and rejecting the message of Jesus today?

Watch the whole sermon here: https://youtu.be/dqrg2OLSVO8

Lessons of the Turtledove

Sermon by Dean Read https://youtu.be/ZAsCCNBoxy4

Scripture: Psalm 74:19 (Pericope Psalm 74)

“Oh, do not deliver the life of Your turtledove to the wild beast! Do not forget the life of Your poor forever.”

Have you ever wondered why there were so many different kinds of sacrifices at the Israelite Sanctuary of the Old Testament? And why the focus and carefulness involved in the different rituals for worship of God and for offering the various sacrifices? In fact, the sacrificial system was the central part of worship in Israel. This was certainly in the time of Moses. It is in the book of Leviticus where we find the core parts of the sacrificial system, and how God created an earthly priesthood. The priests were taught how to properly administer and teach the various rituals and to conduct the many animal sacrifices… for what?

The “for what?” is answered I believe by what I am calling “Lessons of the Turtledove.” 

What is a turtledove?

The dove is an emblem of purity (Psa 68:13) “Though you lie down among the sheepfolds, You will be like the wings of a dove covered with silver, And her feathers with yellow gold.”

It is a symbol of the Holy Spirit (Matt 3:16). When Jesus was baptized the Bible says that the Holy Spirit descended upon Him like a dove. 

They are the most graceful birds in flight. I have watched them descending with the sun filtering through their wings, looking silvery with a gleaming radiance.

Turtledoves, like pigeons are birds that were considered ceremonially clean and usable for sacrifice, particularly by those who were too poor to afford a larger sacrificial animal. 

The title of my sermon today is “Lessons of the Turtledove.” I was impressed with what I read in Psalm 74, and especially in verse 19. Let me read it to you:

“Oh, do not deliver the life of Your turtledove to the wild beast! Do not forget the life of Your poor forever.”

Here in this precious verse, the Psalmist is calling God’s people a turtledove. And he also refers to God’s people as poor. And the Psalmist is praying that God will not deliver Him to be trampled by wild beasts. There’s a lot to unpack…

Now the turtledove was the least of the animal sacrifices. It was the least expensive and it was for the poorer people who could not afford a more expensive animal like a lamb, or a ram, or a bull, or a goat.

When Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to have Him circumcised, He was just eight days old. Luke then says (2:24), “when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord.” 

It is in the book of Leviticus (chapter 12) where we find more meaning to that. Most Christians don’t bother with trying to understand the Old Testament sacrifices, probably because Christ has already died on the cross, rose again on the third day, and ascended to heaven in glory, where He now ministers as our High Priest…  and intercedes on behalf of those who believe in Him…

Since Christ is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, what more do I need to understand? 

Well, from a New Testament perspective, a basic truth is this: “Differences between animal sacrifices emphasized various aspects of Christ’s sacrifice.” (Roy Gane, “Altar Call,” p.59) And, reading a book like “Altar Call” written by a Seventh-day Adventist theologian, Dr. Roy Gane, helps to make things much more understandable. 

And, if I can understand more about God’s people in the Old Testament, and the rituals they used to worship God, and the sacrifices they offered, wouldn’t that be helpful to better understand more about Jesus and His sacrifice? 

Yes, I believe that is true, and I do want to be drawn closer to Christ. He draws us to Him through His mercy and His grace. His love is powerful and yet tender and draws me to Him. To want to know more about Him. And to better understand myself. And to better understand other people. For, we are all in need of a Savior. We are all in need of His sacrifice. And the Bible calls me to present myself to Him as a “Living Sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.” 

What does that mean? How can you be a living sacrifice unless you die? 

Between the New Testament book of Luke and the Old Testament book of Leviticus… we discover that after Jesus was circumcised, God allowed Mary 33 more days to recover and refresh, before they brought Jesus to the Temple. It was called, “Continuing in the blood of her purification.”  And if a woman had a female baby, she was allowed 66 more days to rest and refresh. How about that?

Now Luke also tells us what kind of animal sacrifice Mary and Joseph brought. “A Pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons” (Luke 2:24; Leviticus 12:2, 8). 

But, when you check the book of Leviticus, you can quickly discern that Mary and Joseph were poor, because the normal sacrifice for when a mother gives birth for a male or a female child to present Him before the Lord, the regular sacrifice is to be: A one year old lamb as a burnt offering. It was to be without blemish of course. 

And the mother was also to bring a turtledove as a sin offering. So that is a burnt offering, a lamb, and a sin offering, a turtledove. 

But if she is poor and unable to afford a lamb, then she may bring two turtledoves instead. One for the burnt offering and one for the sin offering!

What does that say about God? It says that He has made provision even for the poor, because these sacrificial animals were costly. A ram was very expensive. And so was a bullock. Female sheep were less expensive, and goats too. But turtledoves and pigeons were the least expensive. 

And you know what? There was a sacrifice called a trespass, or guilt offering. It was similar to the sin offering, because it involved sin, but it also involved a trespass, either a trespass against God, or a trespass against another person. So when you brought your lamb or your turtledove… to make amends for your trespass, you also had to pay a cost for restitution. You had to make it better. As much as was within your power to do so. 

Think of all the kinds of trespasses one could commit against the Lord. Breaking His Sabbath! Withholding tithe. Taking His name in vain by living the kind of life that represents Him poorly. 

I was reading in the magazine, “Christianity Today,” about the prevalence of abuse in Christian homes. Apparently, even in home school groups that were created by many different church groups in the last couple of decades, there apparently exists less accountability, and where there is less accountability there is a greater risk for abuse. 

If you are familiar with the famous Duggar family, they were finally taken off the air at TLC because of the publicity stemming from the oldest son who had reportedly abused four of his younger sisters. And the account of the abuse dates back to 2001. But they became a famous Christian “Homeschool” family that was heralded as a Christian success story… 15 kids and counting, then later it grew to 19 and counting. 

Now, CT reports that homeschool mothers are much more wary about where they involve their children.

How do you make something right when you have done wrong?  Especially when it comes to abuse within a family? The problem Christian groups have faced is lack of accountability, and a seeming need to ignore past transgressions once someone has said they are sorry, and asks for forgiveness. 

Yes, we Christians are to forgive. Most certainly! But we should not wear blinders about the dangers that some kinds of people pose to our most vulnerable children. 

You see, the lessons of the turtledove teaches us, that anyone can receive forgiveness. Certainly we all need forgiveness. But we also need accountability. And as I have read and observed, when new Christian churches and groups start up, there seems to be a lack of accountability and those kinds of protections. 

Everyone assumes, if they are with church people, their children should be safe. But, the many public failures and moral falls of “Christian leaders” in the past couple of decades should tell us all that moral and ethical accountability is needed… And that has been sorely lacking. 

And, restitution is also required by our God. But how can one payback what he or she has broken through acts of sin. 

You see, I have called this sermon, “Lessons of the Turtledove.” But it really means sacrifice. What do I need to sacrifice? And, how should I regard accountibility and whether or not restitution needs to be made?

Briefly let me mention the five kinds of sacrifice, and try to make them somewhat understandable:

1. The burnt offering is first. Leviticus chapter 1. It is the sacrifice for atonement. That means to make the people at-one-with God. It was to bring God and sinners into a right relationship. A person would bring an unblemished animal of his own freewill. The bull was the most expensive. When it was killed, its throat was slit, and it quickly lost consciousness, so that the animal would not suffer. The least expensive was the turtledove, and its head was quickly wrung, so that it would not suffer either, and its blood was drained, and then sprinkled or applied in the appropriate place of the altar and in the sanctuary. The blood of the sacrifice must be applied!

  • Compare this to what happen to Jesus. He was crucified and suffered greatly. The animal was a type to point to Jesus. But God made provision within the ritual  system, that though the animals had to die, they were not to suffer. Jesus, though, did suffer greatly for our sins. For the sins of the world!
  • The blood of the animal was caught in a basin, and the priest would apply it.  
  • Then the animal was completely consumed by burning. The priests were not given any of it to eat, like in the other offerings. The burnt offering was completely consumed. When Jesus suffered and died on the cross He was literally dying by being consumed from His very insides. The separation from His Father was unbearable. The guilt and weight of our sins upon Him, burned Him up inside. When the soldier pierced His side, a mixture of blood and water spilled out, revealing medically that His heart was broken into pieces that caused an abnormal drainage of fluid.
  • It took the blood to make atonement. The wages of sin is death, and sin is costly, for without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins. 
  • All this animal blood represented the blood of Jesus that was shed for us, once for all.
  • The remainder of the blood was poured out at the base of the altar. 
  • The blood of Jesus ran down His body and down the cross, and fell at the base of the cross. 
  1. Next comes the grain offering. Because the burnt offering brings the sinner into a right relationship with God, atonement… just as if he had not sinned, forgiven… well now he or she can bring a grain offering (Leviticus chapter 2).
    1. The best grain is carefully and thoroughly sieved. It is mixed with oil and incense and then a part of it is burned on the altar. The remaining grain and oil is given to the priests as a food gift. 
    2. This giving of the grain means the forgiven one is now giving his or her  wholehearted devotion to God.
    3. The burnt offering and the grain offering were both like food gifts to the Lord.
  2. The third offering to come is the Well Being or Peace offering (Lev. chapter 3). This one, only the flesh and the fat and entrails are burned, but the meat is eaten together by both the priests and the people. It is kind of like our modern communion supper in that respect. It symbolizes being at peace with God. Being in agreement with God’s plan of salvation. 
  3. The fourth kind is the sin offering.
  4. And the fifth kind is the trespass offering which I have already talked about.
    1. The sin offering covers unintentional type of sin, but helps the person maintain His relationship with God. Because, the burnt offering already did that. But, what if you commit a sin afterwards? Well, that is pretty serious and you had to bring an offering to restore your relationship. 
    2. Note, that you cannot restore your relationship with God on your own. He has provided for all these sacrifices. All the animals are His anyway, as the Bible says, the cattle on a thousand hills are His. 
    3. What the sinner is bringing to God is what God has already provided for the sinner. The animals and the ritual — to bring people into atonement with God.
    4. To save people from their sins. Not, in their sins. That’s why the Savior was named Jesus, as the angel told Jospeh and Mary, “For He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21)
      1. Who brings salvation? God does!
      2. The lesson of the turtledove is that God has provided a way that all may come to Him, and find repentance and forgiveness. Rich or poor, free or bond, red or yellow, black, brown or white, God shows no partiality, all are precious in His sight.
      3. All may find His grace. All may come to Him and be saved. 
      4. All may ask Him to even help them come to Him.

His grace is sufficient for you, for His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). 

We are so poor and weak that we may only be able to afford the smallest of offerings. That’s the lesson of the turtledove too. Everyone needs to bring an offering. Jesus commented about the widow for bringing all she had, which was only two mites, much less than a penny in our value system. 

If you have been withholding your tithe or your commitment from God, that is a trespass against God. Jesus taught us to forgive those who trespass against us. Yes, God will forgive you your trespasses, but the lesson of the turtledove is that our God requires restitution. 

Have you made restitution for your trespasses? 

What about the wild beast? What does that symbolize in the verse? Well when you read all of Psalm 74, you find that the Temple had been destroyed and burned with fire. Thus, the wild beasts symbolize those who would try to destroy God’s people. 

In this Psalm the enemy was Babylon. But, Egypt had also tried to destroy God’s people by trying to limit God’s power among them. 

These nations actually prohibited God’s people from following God’s commandments from time to time.

In our modern context, when the nations of the world forbid God’s people to worship Him on the Sabbath, when they demand that everyone worship Him on Sunday…. That will be the ultimate kind of trespass against God and against His people. 

But that day has not come yet. 

Though many of us can become overly worried about that. 

The lesson of the Turtledove is to commit your way to the Lord, and let Him fight your battles. The lesson of the turtledove tells us that God will not allow the enemy (wild beasts) to overcome us.

The first mention of the dove occurs in Gen. 8:8–12. Noah released a dove from the ark to determine if the floodwaters had subsided from the earth.The mourning of the dove is a metaphor for our mourning (Isa. 38:14).  And, because of the gentleness and beauty of the dove, because of the sweetness of its voice and its faithfulness to its mate, Solomon describes his Shulamite bride as his “dove, his perfect one.” (2:14; 5:2; 6:9). In Matthew 10:16, Jesus counsels His servants to “be as wise as serpents,” yet, “as innocent as doves.”

Turtledoves, like lambs are meek and innocent creatures. They are easily trained to fly long distances and return back again. When we go out to do God’s work in our communities, or across the Globe, we must remember always to turn to God every day for our daily needs. And we should give our offerings regularly.

The lesson of the turtledove is that You should make your life a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). 

And when you feel that the chips are down, when you think there is no real hope, remember God again. 

The God who is my king from of old.

The God who works salvation in the midst of the earth.

The God who divided the sea by His strength, and broke open the fountain and the flood.

The God who dried up mighty rivers and seas that His people might cross over.

The God who prepared the light and the sun.

The God who set the borders of the earth, and set the planets and stars in motion.

The God who made summer and winter.

The God who is mighty in power and who delivers His people from those stronger than them.

The God who was in Jesus when He was delivered up to the Romans and Pontius Pilate, He was delivered to the wild beasts to be crucified…

So that His precious people, His turtledove might not be trampled by the enemy.

The God who is soon to come back to redeem us from this earth, give us new, immortal bodies and take us to heaven. What a day that will be!

We may moan and mourn like the dove, but Psalm 126:5-6 says:

Those who sow in tears Shall reap in joy.

He who continually goes forth weeping,

Bearing seed for sowing,

Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,

Bringing his sheaves with him.      

Purpose: Lessons of the Turtledove is about how we, God’s children are to be. How we are to act and behave in life while opposed by the forces of evil. To be a living sacrifice. To be as wise as serpents yet as harmless as doves in all our actions towards others. The lesson of the turtledove is that God has provided a way that all may come to Him.

AMEN!

Godly Mother’s & God’s Purpose

For Mother’s Day–Do you need a boost, mothers to encourage you as you raise your children to be Christians? Well, let me talk to you about Mary, the mother of Jesus. But I would like to start with a scripture which is the last time her name is mentioned in the Bible.  Acts 1:14–“These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.” 

What’s going on here? We find that after the resurrection of Jesus, His mother and His brothers are with the church. Praying together in the upper room, waiting for the promise of the Father, waiting for the Holy Spirit to be poured out on them. Mary is with them because she too, is a disciple. She is a follower of Jesus. She was also His mother. And she was a follower of Jesus… She was also a disciple. This sermon will draw you closer to God and help you to influence your children to follow Jesus.

I am calling this Season 1, for the year 2021, my first season to produce here, and episode 18-3. 18-3 means the 18th sermon of 2021 dash 3 means the 3rd sermon of a trilogy of sermons that I put together relating to children and raising children. I will post later episodes 1 & 2 of this trilogy (“What About the Children?” and “Teaching Children to Receive Jesus”). Stay tuned… Here is the link to the podcast: https://anchor.fm/dean-c-read/episodes/Godly-Mothers–Gods-Purpose–A-Mothers-Day-Sermon-2021-e10m0v1

Here is the link to the video on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/547805587

Here is the link on YouTube: https://youtu.be/8Cbp9btZa_M

Why Serve?

In our current post-modern era where many church attendees worship from chairs and pews, and many others from the comfort of their home televisions and mobile devices, yes, even standing and raising their hands to show their devotion to the God that they revere, what ever happened to acts of unselfish service? Is the spirit of unselfish service for others still to be found in the church at large today? Today, when there are too many examples of so called “Christian” leaders, their ministries generating lucrative salaries and much income… and then their secret sins are exposed through the news media, and as a result many more are defiled and estranged from the religion of their parents and grandparents. The spirit of apathy towards Christianity grows and the spirit of self-serving thrives.

But it’s not just selfish leaders that bring about this poor condition. Too many who have their membership recorded on church books and thus claim to be followers of Jesus Christ are full of self. It’s human nature after all, that all we human beings are naturally inclined to self-serving; this, as Christians understand it being the product of sin coming into the world after the fall in the Garden of Eden. Just read Genesis chapter 3, and you can follow the woe and misery caused by sin throughout the pages of the Bible. The story of the human experience is certainly not sugar coated therein.

However, when the New Testament church first took off and even thousands were converted in a day, the spirit of unity in Christ and service to others prevailed. It didn’t begin that way though. It took the original disciples a while to learn the lessons of humility and the true purpose of service for Christ.

Jesus Christ Himself came to serve. Imagine that. The Son of God condescended to come down to this earth, making Himself of no reputation to become a human being… to live on this earth as a bondservant (Philippians 2:5-8). He came down to earth to be the Savior of a world that was lost in sin. He came to save and to serve. And, He came to teach His disciples to humble themselves, to sacrifice as He sacrificed, to live as He lived and to serve as He served.

Does that include you? Do you consider yourself as one of His disciples? Are you one of those who believes John 3:16 that you may be saved? That God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. If you include yourself as a believer in Him, then you are also His disciple. And as His disciple, you are called to serve Him.

And that is where I find myself as I read this statement, this command really, from Jesus found in John 12:26 “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.”

To really understand and embrace this teaching requires a humbleness that we humans do not naturally possess. You must ask God for help in prayer, and you must learn to die to self. And the best way to learn to die to self is to start serving, and pray for a heart of compassion to arise within you. For herein lies a great truth applicable to all humanity: We humans are easily mislead by our own selfish nature, because selfishness is strengthened by self-serving. Think about it. (Now, that idea did not originate from me. I gleaned that thought from a wonderful book, a favorite of mine called, The Desire of Ages, page 649 written over 120 years ago by Ellen White) However, if selfishness is strengthened by self-serving, then it should also be true, perhaps even more so, that unselfishness, or selflessness can also be strengthened. How? Through humble serving.

Only one or two days after teaching this remarkable truth, “If anyone serves Me let Him follow Me…” Jesus spent the last night of His life on earth at the Passover table with the Twelve. It was the last Passover He would ever celebrate on earth, and He wanted to help the Twelve understand true humility and the need to be a servant. We know that only one refused the lesson, Judas Iscariot who betrayed Him. But, the other Eleven had some trouble too. Each wanted to know who would be considered the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Each desired to sit at His right hand. The fact is, they were still jealous and envious of one another. So much so that, no one had noticed that there was no servant to wash their feet before the meal, a common custom of courtesy to guests at that time and place in Israel. The towel and bowls and water were there. But where was the servant?

And this is where we find Jesus doing the unthinkable (John 13:1-20). At least unthinkable to His disciples. Because none of them got up to perform the needed task. Not one of them would lower himself to wash the feet of His brethren. So, imagine what their shock and surprise must have felt like when Jesus got up from the table and took off His outer garment to perform the lowest of all tasks. To wash their feet! Their dirty feet.

Now there is much we can learn from this teaching moment, yes even about the cleansing of the feet being symbolic for the need of the greater cleansing, that of the most recent defilements that our own hearts acquire from association with sin. However, what I want to focus on is this, that through this act of service, that of washing His own disciples feet, Jesus taught them that they must also be willing to serve in the lowest of positions. They must be humble and serve like He served. If they truly want to be honored by His Father in heaven, that is to be considered great by God, then they must go where He would go, they must be where He is if they are to serve Him.

If Christians are to serve Jesus, they must be where He is. So wherever you would find Jesus serving, that is where Christians should also be serving. Yes, we should attend church and worship with fellow believers, because Jesus went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day and taught and participated in the worship services (see Luke 4:16; 13:10). And notice, this was not the modern worship day of “Sunday.” It was the seventh-day Sabbath of the Old Testament which was still being observed in the New Testament. Now that is another story to tell, for another day. My point today is not specifically about which day is the Lord’s day; rather, my point is that Christians should be found doing the ways and the works of Jesus, if we are truly His disciples, and thus we should be found serving as Jesus served.

So, how and where should Christians serve. The poor and needy? Yes! The rich? Yes again! All classes and cultures of people. But especially the poor and needy, those who have not had the opportunities with which you were blessed, those who need food and clothing, and all those who need to hear the good news of salvation in Christ, whether rich or poor. Or, as Jesus relays the message to His servants, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:40).

As I consider the passing of the Easter season, will Christians wake up to the fact that worship is one small and necessary part of serving God. The greater part is to serve Him through serving others in need, that where He is, there we may be also. Amen!

“Our King On A Colt”

My sermon from yesterday, March 27, 2021 https://youtu.be/Umn48YoRSoo.

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt, multitudes were shouting “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD.” In fact, by riding on that donkey Jesus was declaring Himself King. I share pictures that I took when I was in Israel and that are pertinent to this Palm Sunday event. While standing outside the ‘Tear Drop’ church looking over the city of Jerusalem, “Can you imagine what it must have been like for Jesus? While on top of the Mt of Olives He paused, and sitting there on the colt and overlooking the city He wept.” Why did Jesus weep over Jerusalem? Tune in and watch, and pray as you listen and you will find a blessing of understanding as you have never experienced before.