Impact Church

Passionately serving God and His people

Category: March 2016

Real Scars Don’t Always Show

Isaiah 52: 14b …his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men…

Galatians 6: 17. From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of The Lord Jesus.

2Cor 4: 10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of The Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal body.

Penned by the prophet Isaiah many centuries before the sufferings of Christ were ever realized, these prophesies became essential confirmations to those who looked for the promised Messiah. For had it not been for the forewarned cruelties that’d be placed on the One the Father would send, few would have ever believed Jesus was the true redeemer of Israel and the world. The Jewish mind could not fathom degradation as an essential element in determining a true Leader. To the natural mind, respected governmental systems and military might were the prerequisites of any deliverer; and any thought of a national leader being subject to the detestable Romans would be inconceivable and unconscionable.

Yet, Isaiah’s prophetic words and their ultimate fulfillment in Jesus, create a new reality for all who believe. The Spirit of God used the pain, suffering, and persecution of this world to demonstrate His virtues of love, wisdom, and righteousness- not in cultures of beauty, but in environments contrary to them. In essence, the elevated and marred body of Jesus became the deepest declaration of God’s love and grace towards humanity’s sin-induced enmity. His love exceeded our hate, His kindness transcended our antagonisms, and His mercies overcame our judgments. And in His crucified body carried the marks and wounds of both worlds- from above, the height of His love; from below, the baseness of our sin. His was a willingly sacrificed life, yet sacrificed willingly upon the whimsical altars of evil, violent and earthy men.

So that His body became the quintessential battleground for good and evil. And though in His death darkness appeared to have won- in His resurrection every element of darkness- sin and death- were emphatically and eternally overcome! Simply put, His body became expendable so that, 1) the promised spiritual relationship of the Father and His children would be a reality; and 2) in His resurrection He would eclipse temporal mortality with our corresponding resurrection of immortality!

Furthermore, the Apostles also carried in their bodies the indicators of heaven’s compassion and earth’s callousness. History records in detail their testimonies; and with the exception of John, all ended with the sentence of death. And countless others who dared declare the Gospel after His resurrection, bore the marks of horrific persecution. And many others through martyrdom became heaven’s greatest ambassadors! Their faith never failed, their testimonies still inspire, their Savior still lives! And now, so does ours!

So how do we answer the bell in our generation? How do we engage with our culture without compromise? How do we penetrate the ever encroaching darkness, knowing full well the costs of being invested in heaven’s interests? Read the rest of this entry »

Holy Week

Holy Week is one of the oldest Christian observances we know. The first recorded celebration of it comes from a woman named Egeria who traveled to Jerusalem as a pilgrim in the 4th century A.D. There she witnessed Holy Week ceremonies and recorded them in her diary (see Egeria’s Travels, 1999), which means Holy Week observances are at least 1,700 years old.

In the days between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, we see the final week of Jesus’ life on earth. This week was so important that the Gospel of Mark devotes about 40 percent of its pages to this one week. This was the great climax of our Lord’s ministry on earth, when He came to Jerusalem to reveal His most crucial teachings. And in the ensuing conflict with Jerusalem’s leaders, He was crucified. But on the third day, God raised Him from death. Holy Week begins with Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday) and ends with Jesus’ resurrection (Easter).

Take time this week to reflect on these great events. We are including passages that detail Christ’s activities this week to be read each day leading up to Easter. Pay attention to where God may be leading your thoughts. Turn this week into “uncommon time”—time that is not ordinary or common; time that is set apart, and time that anticipates the church’s great celebration of Easter. Our preparation during the week can completely change our celebration next Sunday.

Palm Sunday – (Triumphal Entry) Mark 11:1-11/Matthew 21:1-11

Monday – (Confrontation in the Temple) Mark 11:15-33/Matthew 21:33-46

Tuesday – (Anointed for Death) Mark 14:1-9/John 12:1-8

Wednesday – (Teaching in the Synagogue) Mark 12:28-34/Matthew 25:31-46

Thursday – (The Last Supper) Mark 14:12-31/John 13:1-30

Friday – (Crucifixion) Mark 14:32 – 15:47

Saturday – (Holy Saturday) Psalm 22

Sunday – (Resurrection) Mark 16:1-8/ John 2

The Sound, The Light and The Clay Pot

7:20 When the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers, they held the torches in their left hands and the trumpets in their right hands for blowing, and cried, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon Judges 7:20

4:5 For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; 8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 2 Corinthians 4:5-10

Gideon’s army went into battle with the enemy Midianites with a trumpet in their right hand and a hidden torch in a clay pitcher in their left hand. Divided into three, 100 soldier divisions, the army descended into the Midianite camp. They blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers, crying out in their attack, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon”.

But Gideon’s army didn’t bear a sword. The writer says nothing about the 300 men having swords. How were 300 men “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon” when they had none?

The Midianite army was routed and Gideon’s army prevailed because “When they blew 300 trumpets, the Lord set THE SWORD of one against another even throughout the whole army…” (7:22). The Lord used the enemies’ swords against themselves. Each individual sword of the Midianite soldiers were gathered up into a collective singular, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon.” The Midianite soldiers held the grip of their sword but the blade belonged in the Lord’s hand and He set it against the enemy.

The Lord instructed Gideon and his men to take their trumpet and their torch and cry out in faith. Unlike Macbeth, who spoke of life as a walking shadow, a poor player an hour on life’s stage, “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”, Gideon’s sound and lighted fury was full of faith and trust and The Lord’s sword emerged in the midst of the battle. Not a single Midianite died from a trumpet blast. Not a single Midianite died from burns of a torch. The army went forward with an audio/visual display and the battle was the Lord’s.

The battle is still the Lord’s.  However, the Church is tempted to pay too much attention to what sound to make and how bright to make the lights, when neither of those were used to bring victory.

In a New Testament parallel, all of the same issues reappear in 2 Corinthians 4. The Apostle Paul talks about The Sound in verse 5, “For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake.” Gideon’s trumpet blast is the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Light, Paul described in verse 6, “For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is Read the rest of this entry »