Thursday, July 22, 2021

A Note from Pastor Al -link - The Cross and Anchor

 

Encouragement from Pastor Al

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. // Mark 8:34

Thursday, July 15, 2021

A Note from Pastor Al-The Three Crowns

The three crowns. 

Revelation 19:11-16 states, “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter.’ He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”

There is a window in the Nave at Mt. Olive that has three crowns on it. The top crown represents Jesus as Lord and King. The combined [three] crowns honor Christ as Lord of lords, King of kings and heavens Eternal King.

In the Old Testament, there was an event that shows the ancient concept behind the phrase, “king of kings.” It betrays the world’s way of demonstrating control and power over another nation. Saul was Israel’s king. Saul was instructed, in 1 Samuel 15, to destroy a very vindictive and hateful nation (the Amalekites) who had taunted Israel’s weak and vulnerable population. They were sneaky, deadly and wicked in their attacks against Israel when the nation of Israel ventured out of the Exodus and moved toward the Promised Land.

Because of their historically evil nature, God called on Saul and his troops to completely destroy them, down to the last person and animal among them. Saul verbally complied but practically sidestepped complete obedience to God’s command. Saul did not kill their king. He kept Agag, the king, alive.

Why did Saul do that? There was a cultural custom that Saul adopted. If one king defeated another king, the victor would not kill the king but rather keep him alive and imprisoned so that he himself could be known as a king over another king (or “king of kings”). It appears that Saul was hoping to gain this title by keeping Agag alive. God did not approve.

God did not approve because this “human logic” was in complete defiance to God’s command. Such logic in the face of a direct precept of God is very common among human followers of God. We can love God but divert our actions from completely following what God prescribes. Often such detours are pursued because of human logic or human desires. After all, what would this one little disobedience really do to hurt God’s people?

If you have ever read the book of Esther, you realize that the villain in the historical account of Esther is from the family of Agag. The villain arose hundreds of years later as a result of God’s command being partially ignored. What a lesson for us! This should cause us each to examine our own hearts and our own conduct. Are we so bent on doing what makes sense to us even though it knowingly belies God’s will?

Saul’s actions made human sense at the time. But human logic and insight is so short sighted. God knew the long term effects of disobedience. If Saul would have followed God’s direction, he would have been spared from a lifetime of torment and would have also protected Israel’s future.

On an even bigger level, if Jesus is really King of kings, then we have a call to listen and obey his loving direction. His title, King of kings, is not in the process of being procured. His title is already fully realized. There is no nation or prince or president, dictator, or pompous leader who is above Jesus. Jesus reigns as supreme and unstoppable King.

As our King, he secures our future by being King over every power, every president, every dictator and regent. Our King of kings seeks to rule our hearts by being committed to us, his subjects. Our King has already shown us his faithful allegiance; he did this, not by the death of a nation or another king. As our King he became the victim so that he could, by his death, reclaim our allegiance forever. His own shed blood is proof of how far he will go to save us. His brutal death is evidence of his allegiance. His willingness to die is the security we need to know that we now will live with him forever - our debt to God was paid by his death.

Bless our eternal King of kings!

Encouragement from Pastor Al

If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. // John 15:10