Today’s lesson brought to you by the letter H –

  Today’s lesson is sponsored by the letter H.   H as in Hosanna?  Home? Health? Heaven? Happy? My grandson would add Hudson!  

In the church calendar this Sunday is the celebration of Palm Sunday.  Loud Hosannas rang out from the joyful crowds welcoming our Lord into Jerusalem.  The Gospel of John records, (12) … the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. (13)  They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the King of Israel!” (John 12:12-13 (NIV)   Yes today’s lesson is sponsored by the letter H but not the word Hosanna!  There is another H word, maybe even two, that came to mind as I looked at the events of that week in our Lord’s life.

No treachery is worse than betrayal by a family member or closely trusted friend. Julius Caesar knew such treachery. Among the conspirators who assassinated the Roman leader on March 15, 44 B.C. was Marcus Junius Brutus. Caesar not only trusted Brutus, he had favoured him as a son.

“According to Roman historians, Caesar first resisted the onslaught of the assassins. But when he saw Brutus among them with his dagger drawn, Caesar ceased to struggle and, pulling the top part of his robe over his face, asked the famous question, “You too, Brutus?” (Today in the Word August 13, 1992).

Many years ago, when I pastored in Pincher Creek we put on an inter-church pageant of sorts.  I got the dubious role of Judas Iscariot.  Lynda even made me a pouch for my 30 pieces of silver!  When it came time for the kiss it really sank in how low can a friend go!

We tend to think of Judas as an unbeliever and a traitor, and thus we place him in a category all by itself, rather than to see Judas as a man not all that different from you or me, which is exactly where the discomfort comes from.

Judas was a man who seemed to be a genuine follower of Jesus, a close trusted friend.  He was a man who had experienced and had been a channel of God’s power displayed.  He was very much like the other disciples, he did not stand out from them, nor was he ever suspected by them.  He even seems to have been somewhat of a leader among those disciples.  They trusted him as a friend trusts a friend.

Judas’ downfall came from a flaw evident earlier in his life, in a secret sin kept within.  He was a man who seems to have loved money too much and Jesus too little.  He was a man who heard Jesus’ teachings first hand, but failed to obey them.   His failure was progressive, taking place over 3 years, and — by means of a sequence of decisions.

Judas was not forced to sin by Satan, but was surely tempted and assisted in his fall.  He was made vulnerable to Satan’s involvement by his sin of greed.  Satan got a “death grip” on Judas by means of his fleshly desires and their dominion in his life.  He did not choose to follow Satan, but he did choose to follow his own desires.  And while it is clear to the reader that Judas became possessed by Satan, we do not know that Judas was ever consciously aware of this.

To put it differently, Judas made choices which resulted in his possession by Satan, but we are never told that he actively sought to be possessed.

From Judas’ twisted point of view his sin was not all that bad.  In fact, he thought what he was doing would help Jesus to claim His throne that very week. And those loud Hosannas, that jubilant entrance into Jerusalem gave Judas the gumption to do what he did.   For Judas the ends would justify the means, or so he thought.

Remember this infamous villain of Passion Week was just a person like you and me!  He was not born a betrayer, but he became one, by a progression of increasingly wrong or sinful choices.

So what was it about that Triumphal entry that gave Judas the gumption to betray his closest friend?

It was an event that would fully proclaim to all the leaders and people of Jerusalem that their Messiah had come. An event that was orchestrated and carried out by Christ himself in fulfilment of Old Testament prophesies.

Here’s another H word.

To us anyway.  Jesus is and was the HERO of that passion filled week.  To the common person Jesus was a “prophet from Nazareth”.  A man who had done many wondrous things.  As the procession began the people gathered around, some out of curiosity no doubt, wanting to perhaps see a new mighty work, or to gaze upon this man who raised Lazarus from the dead.  Such a hero had to be seen if opportunity arose.  And the scriptures record that all of Jerusalem was stirred by this brief appearance of the Messiah.

As I read before, some got so caught up in the excitement that they “took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! “ “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”  “Blessed is the King of Israel!”” “Hosanna to the Son of David”…”Hosanna in the highest!”.  

Had the Spirit of God brought to their remembrance what the prophet David had written a thousand years before?  Ps.118:25  “O LORD, save us; O LORD, grant us success.  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you”.

It seems that the people began shouting cheers for their HERO, and their Saviour.  They were fed up with the Roman occupation and they wanted the promised deliverer, the one whom Zechariah had also prophesied would come.  “See your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey”.  But they wanted him on their terms not on His.  They wanted Him to wipe out their earthly oppressors.  And yes, Christ truly was their Messiah, even his mode of transportation proved that.  The disciples had found that donkey just as Jesus had foretold.  They even had to speak the words Jesus had forewarned them so that the owners didn’t object.  And in fulfilment of the prophets Christ rode before them.

So they proclaimed Him their king…loud Hosannas to ‘the king of the Jews’.  But in their Hearts, it was only if he ruled on their terms!  Hearts! -yes there is another H-word.

We too, at times approach God in this fashion.  We may even utter praises and platitudes of servanthood but when it comes right down to it, Jesus is only our Messiah, our Lord, when it suits us.  The rest of the time he is that historical ‘prophet of Nazareth’ who lived years ago.  Who is Jesus in your Heart? (pause)

The owner of a photographic studio tells the story of a college boy who came in with a framed picture of his girlfriend.  He wanted the picture duplicated.  In removing the photograph from the frame, the studio owner noticed the touching inscription on the back, written by the girlfriend:

“My dearest Tommy: I love you with all my heart.  I love you more and more each day.  I will love you for ever and ever.  I am yours for all eternity.”  It was signed “Dianne” and contained a P.S.  “If we should ever break up, I want this picture back”.

The very next Friday the same people who shouted Hosanna could be found shouting, “Crucify Him!”. Hypocrisy, don’t you agree?

Well how did the disciples react to all these events?  Did they take them to Heart?

Some of the disciples were sent ahead for the donkey as I’ve already mentioned.  Can you imagine their reaction when they went into Bethphage and there was the donkey just as Jesus had said it would be?  And wouldn’t your jaw drop and hit the ground when the challenge came and the answer accepted just as you had been told?

Of course, it happened that way.  They knew it would– they had walked with the Lord and saw all the miracles and healing and other wonders.  So they brought the donkey back to the Lord and they placed their cloaks over it as a saddle.

And then the Scriptures recorded that they stood silently as the rest of parade went on.  HAH!  Hudson would say, that word has two h’s!

They began excitedly telling how all those mighty works had come to pass and they praised God loudly for all they had seen Jesus do.  They hailed him as God’s king and chanted that the effect of His coming was “peace in Heaven” (as Luke records) and glory in the Highest” Praises befitting only the King of Kings –God Himself. (Luke 19:38)

We too are called to give praise to God for what he has done in our lives and to bear witness to what he is doing in the lives of people around us.  The disciple’s reaction was to lead the people of Jerusalem in worship of the King.  Like them we are to proclaim Jesus Christ the Messiah and get all excited about our faith.  But more often then not, we are quietly telling nobody of the greatest thing that ever happened in our lives. Go-figure!

Now, lets look at the reaction of the Pharisees.  The scriptures tell that they too were present in all this hoopla.  But they didn’t join in.  Instead we’re told that they got in a HUFF, they were ‘indignant’.  They stubbornly refused to believe that this man riding on a donkey was the King of Kings.  They told him to rebuke his disciples!  Tell them to stop praising you as king. (cf. John 12:19)

I love Jesus’ comeback to their Huff —He answered them, even if everybody were to stop — the rocks would continue the chorus of praise!

Exasperated, they cried out in another HUFF that “the whole world had gone after Jesus” (John 12:19).  Of course, they didn’t realize that the interest of the crowd was to be a quickly passing thing.  It was Hypocrisy!   They were a fickle bunch who weren’t worshipping Christ.  Sure, they shouted loud Hosannas but in their Hearts this Hero was worse than a thief.

Only a remnant, a chosen few would be true worshippers, believing in Him as God.

Sometimes, we’re even like those Pharisees, aren’t we?  We tell people that if they aren’t worshipping God the way we believe they should, well they shouldn’t worship him at all.  This has been a major stumbling block of the faith since it began.  Long before Palm Sunday.  In fact, it started way back in Genesis with Cain and Able.  Really! Cain murdered Able over his style of worship.  

But on that Palm Sunday, the people worshipped with shouts of praise, perhaps even with hands raised and they certainly were waving palm branches.  They even gave Christ the red-carpet treatment with the cloaks off their backs.

So what was the Hero’s reaction?  At first it appears that Jesus is elated with the response — but it isn’t long lasting.  Christ knew that the “people worshipped him with their lips but their hearts were far from him” (cf. Mark 7:6)   And as he drew near Jerusalem, he wept for them.

They had missed the golden opportunity.  If the people had only received Him as the Messiah, it would have meant peace for them.  But they didn’t recognise that He was the source of peace.  Now it was too late.  They had already determined what they would do with the Son of God.

Remember, those who had been shouting Hosanna on Sunday were by Friday Shouting Crucify Him!   They rejected Him and their Hearts were blinded.  And our Savior looked on and lamented for Jerusalem.

A.W. Griffith Thomas has said, “Let us sit at Christ’s feet until we learn the secret of His tears, and beholding the sins and sorrows of city and countryside, weep over them too”.  Do we weep over the sins of our city, our province and our nation?  When injustice and immorality are condoned by the masses are we moved to our knees in prayer? When we see people rejecting Christ are we moved to tears, knowing that they have taken another step closer to hell?

With tears in His eyes, Christ foretold in detail of the coming destruction of Jerusalem.  “Not one stone “would be left “upon another” (Matthew 24:2).  And in a few years’ history records that Jerusalem was destroyed, just as Christ had said it would be, as he wept for the lost.  He had visited the city with an offer of salvation.  But the people only wanted Him on their terms.

We often celebrate Palm Sunday as a day of worshipping the King.  And rightly so!  It is good to worship our Messiah!  But let’s not forget the anguish that Christ experienced as he saw before Him a nation who rejected salvation and brought upon themselves destruction. The prophecies were fulfilled that had long awaited the Messiah.

Even today, many call themselves Christians but like the people on that Palm Sunday they do so on their own terms.  Christ is the Messiah, The King of Kings. And the Lord of Lords. But He is the Messiah only for those who come to Him on His terms. For those hypocrites, Jesus laid down His life.  It’s Palm Sunday but Good Friday is coming!  Are you ready?

Continue reading

James 1:1-4 Refining faith God’s way.

Zach was telling me the other day that the first couple of weeks at the Gym are particularly busy this time of year but that quickly trails off as people begin to realize the perseverance it takes to retain never mind grow healthy muscle tone.

Those muscles don’t happen over night.  Sometimes people try to take shortcuts to make that happen but that can often lead to very negative results.

Shortcuts like anabolic steroids taken to make those muscles bulge and produce a temporarily increase in strength.  In the short run, steroids may produce the looks that one hopes for in lieu of the pain of persevering at the gym.  But in the end the folly of taking steroids produces infertility and impotence.Continue reading

Mark 1:40-45 The Least of These?

To see all of today’s study questions, click here.

That passage in Matthew has always caused me great concern.  I’ve wrestled with it for years now.  Especially every time I walk by a street person or drunk out begging or get accosted by the guy who stands at the corner of Channel Parkway and Eckhardt Avenue.  Lately though I’ve wondered are these the least of these that Jesus is speaking of?

So tell me.  Are people like the ones pictured here the ones that Christ was talking about in Matthew 25? Why or why not?  Are these the least of these?  What do you think?

(Zach wrote down the answers on the screen.   See the video above if interested in how we grappled with this question.)

Slide1
As I came to this morning’s passage I chewed on this story in Mark for more than a week before sitting down to write out my thoughts. And as I did my mind would keep coming back to that passage in Matthew 25, back to “in as much as you have done it to the least of these you have done it unto me” (40).   Are these stories intertwined?  Do they complement or antagonize each other as it seems.

I looked at all my commentaries and many different versions of the Bible itself to see if I could better grasp why this story is included and what practical applications I can draw from it.  But every time I started to write I kept coming back to just a few questions.

  1. Are there people you find particularly uncomfortable to be around?

I don’t know about you but I find those who are physically disfigured be it through disease or accident at least somewhat uncomfortable to be around.    Now I’m not exactly sure why.  But I think it may stems from my morbid curiosity.

I find I want to really take a good look and examine what has happened that caused this disfigurement.  I want to look at  them from different angles and get right up close.  In fact I find some things fascinating that way.  But I also know, that more often than not, that starring would make the person really uncomfortable to be around me.  So for the main part I restrain my curiosity at least until I can get to know the person and hear their story.

Slide2I found that getting to know part particularly difficult when I was in Kenya though.  Since I did not know the native tongue it was often hard to even begin a relationship.  Never mind getting to know someone well enough to ask those awkward questions that would allow me to satisfy that curiosity.

And there were a few totally cool looking people that I would have been interested in finding out what happened.   I so wanted to hear their story.  Like my friend Pastor Wyjonji the bigger man pictured here.  His head and hands were truly amazing to see.  As I talked with him I found out that it was some sort of heart defect that caused some hormonal imbalance which in turn caused this wavy growth on his head and unusually big hands and body size.

When I first met him in 2011 I wasn’t sure I’d get to see him again as the heart issue seemed of major concern to him and those around him.  We prayed together and God saw fit to keep him around and a part of every visit to Fafarol since.   He is a truly amazing man, gentle and very loving!

The man next to him, pictured here, is a stock photo I got of what leprosy looks like according to some info I found.   I’ve never met him but again I’d love to hear his story.  I can’t begin to imagine what life has been like for him, can you?

Leprosy is a disease mentioned often in the bible.  In fact leprosy would from a biblical sense actually describes both of these men.  It was  used to describe many skin ailments from severe rashes to unusual deformities.  So it was not limited the same definition as Leprosy today is.

Today’s leprosy has much fewer strains and scientists now believe it all started in East Africa and spread throughout the centuries and across the continents following trade routes.

The characteristic loss of fingers and toes, facial deformity and even blindness is due to the nerve damage that the disease inflicts on its victims.  Since the nerves no longer send pain impulses to the brain, those with leprosy often don’t know that they burned or cut a finger or toe which eventually becomes infected and if left untreated falls off or requires amputation.  And though leprosy was fairly common in Biblical times this disease is still very active in our world today.  In fact in the last year or so 121 countries reported new instances of this terrible disease which is caused by a germ, or bacteria, called Mycobacterium leprae.

Even in Canada 2-10 new cases are found each year.  It is treated quite effectively today with multi-drug-therapy that takes from six months to a year to complete.  But once started this therapy quickly makes the person no longer contagious.  So Isolation is no longer necessary as it was practiced Biblically and especially practiced throughout the middle ages until about 1960.

Slide4This Island was once connected to Crete but according to historians it was dug around and eventually fortified in the 1500’s.  Being well fortified and separated from the peninsula  made this the perfect place to put people, to isolate them from the rest of the population.  And in the early 1900s to 1953 the island was used as a leper colony having housed many people with leprosy at times.

In Biblical times often the leper was simply put out of the camp, town or city and forced to live away from family and friends.  In fact it wasn’t unusual for these poor souls to lose all human physical contact if the disease was not cured.

Once the priest pronounced the person unclean, according to Leviticus 13:45-46, “Anyone with such a defiling disease must wear torn clothes, let their hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of their face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ As long as they have the disease they remain unclean. They must live alone; they must live outside the camp.” 

So not only was the deformity debilitating but depression must have been rampant for these social outcasts.

Which makes our Bible story today all the more miraculous and touching once you realize what this poor man had been going through.

So if you have a Bible with you open it to Mark 1:40-45 and let’s look at this passage together this morning.

 “A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”  Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”  Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.  Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning:  “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”  Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere” (Mark 1:40-45 (NIV).

 “If you are willing you can make me clean!” – As this man comes and kneels before the Lord the one thing that is not said by him is “I’m not sure if you can help me but give it a go”.

Slide6There was no doubt that Jesus had within him the power to heal this deadly, deforming, disease, called leprosy!

Where did this man get such faith?  How did he know that Jesus could heal?  Had he heard about all the people outside of Peter’s house that found that Jesus not only heals the sick but casts out demons?  We can only assume he did because his earnest plea was full of faith!  you can make me clean” (40).

And yet having been subjected to isolation for who knows how long, and having not had the simple pleasure of a hug in ages this dejected man did express some doubt.  Didn’t he?

It appears from what he said that he wasn’t so sure that Jesus would chose to help him.  That’s what this “if” is about.  Why is it that,  It is sometimes easier to believe in God’s power than in his mercy ?(Frank E. Gaebelein, ed., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary – Volume 8: Matthew, Mark, Luke, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 630) 

Have you found yourself there?   You believe that God can do what you need Him to do but you just aren’t sure He’ll do it for you?

Why is it that we can believe in His power but not His mercy and grace?

Slide7Somehow this man had faith that healing was in the realms of possibility.  And he certainly knew there was nothing he himself could do to get rid of leprosy.  But I believe he also knew that emotional sting along with the stench of this disease.  The sting of isolation had created doubt.  And that isolation caused him to doubt that anyone cared enough to help him at all.  But that doubt was short lived.

You got to love our Saviour’s response!  And His compassion even at a time when Jesus was trying to avoid the crowds… it speaks volumes about our wonderful saviour.

If you look back just a couple of verses (Mark 1:30-39) you’ll see that Jesus had tried to escape the growing crowds of people wanting miraculous healings.  He even snuck out under cloak of darkness to a secluded place so he could have a talk with His father uninterrupted (cf. Mark 1:36).   And when the disciples finally found him and told him everyone is looking for you he said “let’s go somewhere else!” (Mark 1:38)  But when this poor dejected man knelt before Him compassion welled up inside of Jesus.

And then He did the remarkable.  He did what no one else had done since the day the man was sent away from that town.  Jesus actually reached out …and touched the man!  That’s the miracle here.  He reached beyond his comfort zone, beyond the cultural taboos and touched a disease ridden man.

 

Now, scientists today are pretty sure that leprosy spreads through contact.  Particularly through sneezing and coughing because of direct bodily fluid contact like most infectious diseases.   And I’m sure when Moses, who was inspired by the Holy Spirit, set forth the laws concerning leprosy, God already knew it spread by contact.  So there was good reason for social isolation.  So when Jesus reached out and touched this man it was not the thing to do humanly speaking.   It was the beginning of a miracle!

The fact is most of us might even find being in this man’s presence uncomfortable, never mind actually reaching beyond that discomfort and touching him.  Even though today we know that the chances of actually getting leprosy from casual limited contact are slim indeed.   And yet the stigma is still there big time.

But can you imagine for a moment the eyes of the disciples?  Of Peter, James and John as they watched what Jesus just did?  It would have been priceless to see their expressions as Jesus hand actually made contact.  Since anyone who touches something unclean becomes unclean until evening at minimum according to the laws of Moses they would have been aghast!  The Law which guided their thoughts and at convenient times even their actions was in them from childhood.   They knew that no one was to touch a leprous man!

Yet that didn’t stop Jesus, he not only reached out, touched the man but answered that man’s question, “I am willing!  Be clean!” (41).

Slide8Alexander MacLaren writes,  “People tell us that to believe in sudden conversion is fanatical. This is not the place to argue that question.” (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture – St. Mark 1-8, (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1906), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 48).

Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured!(42)  It was over in an instant!  A few words of instruction and the Master was on his way.  It has taken me much longer this morning to speak about this event then the event itself took!

But do you think, even for a moment, that this man, once the leprosy was gone, wanted to do what Jesus asked of him next?

We read in verses 43-44, “Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning:  “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them” Mark 1:43-44 (NIV).

Funny isn’t it?  He told that man, don’t tell a soul!  And the man immediately told everyone he came in contact with.  Warren Wiersbe so eloquently puts it,

“Jesus told this man to keep quiet, and yet he told everybody. Jesus commands us to tell everybody—and we keep quiet! (Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary – New Testament, Volume 1, (Colorado Springs, CO: Victor, 2001), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 114).

Jesus specially said to you and I, “… as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give…Go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you until the end of the age…(Mat. 10:8, 28:19)…

But know this!  “…whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”(Matthew 12:50). 

Those who go and tell the Good News, who make disciples…those are Jesus’s brother’s, and sisters…  You mean like some poor leprous man who was healed but couldn’t follow the Master’s immediate orders?

But wait, doesn’t that make him one of the least of these?  As well as one of Jesus brothers? Hmmm?

Slide9

Why do you suppose Jesus said, “don’t tell anyone” to this once leprous man?  Especially if He knew that the man wasn’t capable of keeping this secret between them?   Why was that included in this passage?

Well some say that Jesus was using reverse psychology on him.  You know, if you tell someone they can’t touch something they will likely prove you wrong quite quickly.

But other scholars seem to think it was because Jesus didn’t want that kind of publicity.  He wasn’t looking to become the best magic show in town.  Jesus had come to bring salvation from God, to restore wholeness to broken humanity not just heal disease, but something far more important.

But to this man who was isolated and hurting physically, emotionally and spiritually, the sudden release from the prison he was in was overwhelming good news!  There was no keeping that a secret!

That kind of good news is just too much to keep inside!   So that man “went out and began to talk freely, spreading the good news.

There were consequences to his actions though!  It’s right there in the text.  Verse 45.

As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere”  Mark 1:45 (NIV).   

“Surely you can see how Jesus took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows …” Isaiah 53:4 (NIV)?

Slide10Did you notice?  Did you notice Who was then the one on the outside looking in?  Did you notice Who was now in a sense the outcast, the one in forced isolation?

Mark says,  “Jesus could no longer enter a town openly…he had to stay outside in lonely places!”  Could that be why He asked the man to keep it to himself?  To do as Moses commanded, and give glory to God the old fashioned way?

And yet that’s our Saviour!  He was willing to trade places so that the very illness that separated us from God could be remove once for all.  And it cost Him His very life on the cross.  And that was only the beginning as we saw last week.  He has risen!

Jesus still answers our prayers of desperation with those words that brought healing and comfort to that leprous man.  “I am willing, Be Clean!” (41).

And that kind of takes us full circle to where we started today.  Back to Matthew 25.  Back to the least of these.  Who are the least of these?  Is it the poor, the imprisoned, the outcasts?  Well, actually the answer is right there in what Jesus said.

Slide11I don’t know how I missed it for so long.  It’s not talking about those who are goats, who Christ said, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ …they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Matthew 25:46 (NIV).  They are the ones who mocked the Master and persecuted His brothers, and sisters and even His mother!    These goats are NOT “the least of these”.

The least of these are you and I and everyone who, having been set free by the master and having gone out and, talked freely, spreading the good news, even if it meant we went hungry, thirsty, or naked!  And trust me there are plenty in foreign lands who fit those descriptions.   Many who are forced into isolation or imprisoned or beaten and murdered because of Christ’s name on their lips.   Jesus says to them as well as you and I:

 “… ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’  “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Matthew 25:34-40 (NIV)

They are the ones that Christ said is our brothers and sisters to whom we had the privilege of feeding and clothing, visiting and even giving a cup of water in His name!  AMEN?


 

Read Mark 1:40-45 in several versions. Then read Matthew 25:31-46 and begin the lesson.
1.  Are there people you find uncomfortable to be around? Why is that? What makes you or them uncomfortable to be around?
2.  Who is Jesus referring to in the Matthew 25 passage as “the least of these”?
3.  What do we immediately find out about the man in Mark 1:40?
4.  What do you know about his infirmity?
5.  How would you define his disease Biblically? What does the Bible say about it?(see also Lev. 13:1-46; Num 12:10-15; Deut 24:8-9; 2 Samuel 3:29; 2 Kings 5:27; 2 Kings 7:3-4; 2 Kings 15:5; Luke 17:12-19)
6.  Do people today still suffer from that disease? (Ask mr. google for statistics, you may be surprised!)
7.  What did the man do when he met Jesus? (Mark 1:40) Why is it easier for us to believe in God’s power than in His mercy and Grace?
8.  How did Jesus respond to the man’s faith and doubt? (see also Mark 6:34; Luke 7:12-13; Heb 1:3; Heb 4:15; Ps. 33:9)
9.  There was more than one miracle mentioned in verses 41 and 42 what were they?
10.  Why did Jesus strongly warn the man in verse 43? (Mark 7:36; Matthew 9:30; Luke 8:56)
11.  What did Jesus tell the man to do? (Mark 1:44; see also Lev. 14:2-32)
12.  What did the man actually do? (Mark 1:45) What is so funny about that? (See comment in my notes)
13.  Who actually are “the least of these” according to Matthew 25:40?
14.   Is there a person that makes you uncomfortable that you need to help this week? Who should you see in them?

Pastor Gail’s Hawaii photo journals.

Hello to all!

this is the first note from Travels 2013 as we head to Maui in the morning.  If you received this email and do not wish to be included, please do let me know and I will adjust ;-).

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Weatherman had been pessimistic, but this day is a beauty! and we wandered Stanley Park for a couple of hours, and even dropped into Queen Elizabeth park on the way.

WHALES SOON!!!!

shalom

gail, mike and G’ma Shirley

 

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Aloha
fair winds are blowing and in a few minutes we will be heading 50 feet to our beachfront for a little wakeboarding and our beginning snorkling. We participated in the great annual whale count this morning and while it was not a photo op, there was adventure for sure as we watched a competition pod (many males chasing one female) and even a DOUBLE breech!! monday afternoon is whale watching boat and hopefully there will be photos then.

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Thursday and friday were very rainy, even dangerous on parts of the north east shore…the trade winds dump rain there and leave Kihei almost a desert in the rainshadow of the mountain. we toured a bit and saw big vistas and strange ancient lava formations eroded and beaten by the sea… they are called the Dragons teeth, and the photos show why!! After the storm a lovely sunset.

Sunday morning at the local Baptist Church. Perhaps next week at the local Hawaiian congregation, tho the locals tell me they encourage and welcome visitors the service is in the Hawaiian language!

bye for now
gail mike and g’ma shirley

Aloha! for all you keeners out there with questions….here is the information that our whale count volunteer leader sent to us!
enjoy!

gail mike and g’ma shirley

ps
we were in the group that saw both the competition pod (males chasing one female) and also the double breech!!!

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Date: Mon, 25 Feb 2013 09:10:45 -1000
Subject: Great Whale Count Results!
Aloha Great Whale Count volunteers,

Thank you all for volunteering your time to make the Great Whale Count possible this year. It was a successful Count, and the afternoon gathering seemed to be a fantastic way to sum up the event. For all those volunteers unable to attend the gathering (or for those that did attend but want more information), you will find a link to the results

Mahalo!!!

 

Aloha once again!  we have successfully ended our first week on Maui and all are well, and no sunburns!  When we arrived the trade winds were howling most of the day and intense in the late afternoon…every day now it is softer and gentler and in the calm sea we have watched whales every day.   Often the whales can been seen just in the bay close at hand as the mothers and calves like to rest and nurse in the shallows,  but most of the activity is a few miles offshore in the deeper water trench between the islands.  Last night after supper we sat on the lanai, binoculars glued to eyeballs, and watched as a mother and calf traveled south across our line of site.  Together those two put on a continual show of breaching, tail flipping and flipper waving!

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Tuesday we travelled the infamous road to Hana and i must say the road is everything it is reputed to be! windy  w i n d y WINDY and did i mention the 1700 corners and who knows how many one lane bridges??? I will try to post a video, i know how to do that for facebook, but not too sure how to send it on email, but i will try, just to give you an idea!  We stayed overnight in Hana and wandered leisurely back the next day stopping often to view waterfalls, jungle, bamboo groves and majestic sea vistas.

 

Tuesday afternoon was the much anticipated sail plane over Haleakala, and again, what a delight!!!   Hans is knowlegable, learned to fly at age 14 in Holland, and is semi retired and still loving it!  His skill was needed as those pesky trade winds made it a rather challenging ride near the mountain, and he was most careful not to make me air sick (i was fine).  Hans curled around in large lazy loops just like an eagle, gaining 500 to 900 feel altitude with every spiral….up and well over the top of the volcano, and at first it appeared the mountain was socked in with cloud, but it turned out to be only a halo ring of white mist, and the crater was open for a spectacular view!!!!  believe it or not i forgot to take photos in a few places cause I was too busy watching!   The vessel is a sail plane, which means a motor and propellor and we powered up and up, but it is a sail plane, so the engine was turned off and we softly floated over the top and down the backside of the ridge into the Hana airport!

G’ma was most excited to see me back on the ground! and then it was Mikes turn and we 2 ladies headed over to the black sand beach for lunch, where we discovered a nest of mongoose playing peak a boo in and out of the lava rock wall.

 

The mongoose were introduced to the island years ago to deal with the rat problem that the early sailing ships had brought into port and left on shore.  Bad move. The rats are nocturnal and the mongoose are day runners, so now they are the pests on the island and the rats have nothing to fear!  pests they may be, but awfully cute for inquisitive tourists!

 

Flowers abound, some i can name, others i have no idea!  but when i can i will label the photo so you can know which is which.

 

Son Craig and family arrive saturday, kayak adventures await, thanks Scott for the flippers!!!!!!!!  and most likely tomorrow we will head for a 2 hour drive up the flanks of Haleakala for the sunset and maybe a few star shots if we do not freeze!  temperature in Kihei is about 82F and at the top of the mountain is about 30F!!

Aloha for now

gail mike and G’ma shirley

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good sunny morning to you!!

warm, lots of whales and still windy……windy  ( blowing wind) and windy (twissssssty roads)  is spelled the same and are fast becoming the descriptive words for this vacation!

Come along for a drive in the country….


Aloha everyone

Another lovely day in Maui, the kids arrived last night, and the little ones from Calgary are definately jet lagged, but so very happy to be here in this lovely space with us. Thot you might enjoy a little view around some of the sumptuous condo we have been resting in…ground level, walk out to the lanai (porch) for breakfast lunch and dinner if we wish to. 3 bedroom 2 bathroom and a lovely equipped kitchen for us cooks to play in…. coconut prawns and salad tonight for dinner! Large gas BBQ’s at the end of the lawn beside the warm fresh water pool and a few more BBQ’s on the roof if we feel like the big view! The end wall in the living room is totally glass with 3 enormous roller shades to temper the blazing late afternoon sunshine.

All of these photos are taken in on or around the property just to give you a taste.

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A special little treat for me this noontime as i was walking knee deep in the menehune….all around me literally 100’s of little fish began to jump out of the water in repeated attempts to escape…. escape the eel that was chasing them for dinner!!
(no, no camera at the time)

The prevailling wind is up again and quite a swell is on the bay, but hopefully tomorrow morning will be calm as we go whale watching!!

aloha

gail mike and g’ma shirley

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03-06-2013 Goodmorning all!

Frankolins woke me up again this morning squawking at the rising sun….tho there are plenty of chickens and roosters on this island, it is the chubby little brown frankolins who seem to be the morning activists!  Mom and I started off down the beach, promptly spotting turtles grazing at the algae along the menehune wall, and sandpipers snapping up their breakfast at the waters edge.  There is some type of a night crawling crab who live in burrows at the beach edge just above the waterline.  their tracks are ranging from a little  1 inch to a B I G 10 inches across, but they are long asleep in their nests before we go beach combing.  perhaps i will stake out at midnight on the beach to spot a few!

 

Soon we will be off up island for the day in and around Lahaina.

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The flower photos (and a few critters) are a collection from over the past 10 days from various places on the island, some are named,  others i have no idea what they are called, but they are still pretty!  The best plumeria i have found so far was in the church yard where we worshipped on sunday,  the 1790 church foundations are still visible, and the community has simply installed a concrete floor, fiberglass benches, and church service is in the open air under the palm trees next to the flowers and smells and bird calls of the tropical morning air.

Tomorrow morning we will be up and away early on a Molokini snorkle adventure!

ALOHA

gail, mike and g’ma shirley

 

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Christmas 2012 Immanel

Getting to Know Jesus – A Ten Day Biblical Journey of Faith and Discovery

Getting to Know Jesus – a ten day biblical journey of faith and discovery.

Getting to Know Jesus is a ten day biblical journey of faith and discovery, it was developed by Brian Bird a now retired Anglican priest living in South Africa.

Our life today is dependant on relationships and what better relationship to develop and nurture, than one with God, our Creator. This booklet can be used to gain an insightful perspective on what this relationship means to us and also used by more mature Christians, to refocus our relationships and priorities.

We have Brian’s permission to publish this on the site to extend Christ’s Kingdom.  So we present it here for your use…… be Blessed!”

Kisarean – Church under a tree

This was my second visit to this wonderful and joyful congregation under a tree. They have such big hearts! Five large Maasai families have come together to form this vibrant church. Pastor Jackson Kierie leads this group who are building a church/preschool a ways over the hill. You can check out the videos here after we land back in Canada. The people walk from all over the valley and even several vallies around to be with us this day.


The road on the way in is full of potholes and much of it has been washed out in the heavy rains. The rains are a mixed blessing. After three years of drought the area is finally green again and able to sustain the livestock that provides their living wages.
Our service focused on Psalm 133 and of course L.I.F.E. forevermore. We encouraged the group that their faithfulness with building was showing. And we left a seed to help them continue to build. They of course treated us to lamb and chapaties before excusing our hasty departure. We could see the rains approaching and desired to spare them the added expense of putting up our team for the night. God was gracious and held back the rain until we had safely climbed back out of the valley. And then the clouds burst and the valley was engulfed in one of those huge storms.
This was truly spectacular scenery including the incoming storms.
We made an unscheduled stop at pastor Jackson’s home on our way back up out of the valley our van got stuck in the muck while the rest of us walked up the hill to see the Pastor’s humble dwelling. And the main purpose for this stop was to pray for the pastor’s kids who were sick.
We made it a very brief stop passing up chai as the storm was chasing us back to Nairobi.

As we got in by 6 we decided to have a quick trip to the Maasai market for some souveniers and some high pressure haggling. Catherine at one point fed up with the persistent salesmen screamed, threw her arms in the air and left hastily. The salesman followed her out of the store and quickly accepted her final offer. She’s a great negotiator! Everyone found shopping at Nakumart much more relaxing.