JUDGMENT CALL

Jesus warned us against participating in the thing that defines most people – including people of faith. It’s judging others. According to Him, when we take it upon ourselves to do that – we have to be willing to be judged in the same way – and with the same measuring stick. Jesus’ warning is that when we judge, we actually place ourselves above those we are judging. And that is a dangerous place to be relationally – especially when our judgment is a matter of opinion – our opinion – and can, in fact, be a sign of pride. And pride is always dangerous.
So – what about when we’re in the seat of the defendant, the judged? That happens a lot. We, in fact, do get judged… that we’re not biblical enough, or clean enough, or organized enough, or spiritual enough. That we’re too hard on our kids, too easy on our kids; that we’re too rich – or too poor. On and on it goes…
The destructive part of being judged is when it goes inside – and we begin to act – not on what is true, but on what other people say. Sometimes we get defensive – repel every bit of criticism and go after people like a junkyard dog. Sometimes we never ask the question about the voices, the labels. Is it true – at ALL? There comes a point where, to find peace, we have to say, THE DEFENSE RESTS! The only chance for good to come out of a situation where you are unfairly judged is to be quiet sometimes – as Jesus was. And then to say, like Jesus, Father – forgive them because they don’t know what they’re doing!

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THE DEFENSE RESTS!

After all the demands for answers, “just one more sign,” “prove yourself,” “we’ll prove you’re not the Messiah by hanging you on a cross till dead’ – may God have mercy on your soul!” Jesus walked out of the grave in a blaze of glory and power. His resurrection either answered the questions people had – or inspired intentional unbelief. People usually fall on one side or another.

* Jesus actually was dead – and the Romans and the religious hierarchy knew where the grave was.
* The grave was sealed by the Romans with a contingent of guards who saw the stone move.
* There were 500 witnesses – and a mass hallucination is impossible.
* Jesus one brother, James, who had rejected Jesus in his ministry years – believed.
* The Saul of Tarsus – who hated Jesus and Christians, believed and records the earliest account of the authenticity of Jesus’ death and resurrection – and deity.
* The best, earliest and most numerous (by a wide margin) ancient historical records are of Jesus, His life, His death and His resurrection.
* Jesus didn’t just split history – He changed history. That’s a fact. It’s also a fact that He’s still splitting history into BC and AD for those who come to Him.

Bottom line? THE DEFENSE RESTS! And now you – and every other person must decide on Jesus – and what their lives, their future, their destiny, and their eternity will be.

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JUST ONE MORE MIRACLE!

The most religious, the people who talked about God more than anyone else, and studied the Bible more diligently – and knew the prophecies better than anyone – the best-living people of that day, invaded Jesus’ place of private prayer with His disciples, hauled Him off with the approving kiss of one of His inner circle, held an illegal trial, and manipulated both the Roman governor and the crowd to demand His execution. The irony they missed was that this all took place on Yom Kippur, Passover, the day when the first-born of Egypt died, and God’s people were freed – only by smearing the blood of a lamb over the cross-beams of their doorway.
Even before Jesus’ trial and execution – after an avalanche of signs, the demand of the people and the religious leaders was, “Come on, Jesus – just one more sign!” Judas apparently wanted one more sign. Herod Antipas – wanted one more sign. When Jesus stood before the religious professionals, they demanded answers; He gave them silence. When Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate, He was silent. Even when Jesus had been beaten nearly to death and was hanging on the cross, the high priests, Roman executioners and criminals all demanded just one more sign… “if you’re the Son of God, get yourself off the cross!” Jesus’ only answer to their accusations and mockery was, “Father! Forgive them – because they have NO IDEA what they’re doing!”
Down through history, that’s been the demand. One more sign. Jesus said, “You’ve seen enough! It’s an evil generation that asks for signs.” Why? Because one more sign won’t change a thing! The Defense Rests.

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WHO IS THIS MAN?

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on what we now call Palm Sunday, there was a crowd traveling with Him shouting, “Save Us Son of David!” Those are clearly Messianic words – proclaiming Him to be the One who had been promised ever since God made the promises to Abraham that He was going to bless the nations through him. So, how is it that Jesus was captured, judged, sentenced and hanging on a cross within 6 days? It most certainly wasn’t for the lack of signs and miracles. Jesus left a trail of goodness and power and stunning miracles behind Him. He’s proved that He was the Lord of quality – by turning water to wine; that He was the Lord of quantity – by feeding a massive crowd with a kid’s bag lunch. He proved that He was Lord of gravity by walking on water; that He was Lord over disease and atrophy by healing all who came to Him – no matter what was killing them. And He proved that He was Lord over death by raising at least three people from the dead – the last of which had been dead and buried for 4 days. He forgave sins, He set people free from demonic spirits, He transformed Himself into a being of light in front of His disciples – and He answered every question He was asked. In addition to that – He lived a perfect life!
The specific issue was that He had already been judged by the entire religious establishment – and because He had challenged their authority and their character, they had already decided that He was going to die. It was just a matter of when. Jesus’ life was so huge – and so world-changing. Everyone in our world is forced to judge Him. The Defense Rests… and now, as a member of the jury, you have to decide; is He God, the promised Messiah, the Saviour… or not? Like the religious professionals, you will actually decide your own future – not His!

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THE LITTLE ‘g’ god of ME

In case you hadn’t noticed, self-promotion has become an art.  There is a whole new generation that has been raised with a new song for kindergarten sung to the tune of freres Jacques; I am special, I am special, look at me, look at me. It goes along with what every little kid says at the playground as they try some new stunt, “Hey, lookit me, lookit me!” Strange isn’t it; that on one side is a group that just wants to be normal – and on the other, people for whom being average is a curse.  And with all this is little ‘g’ god of ME. I am the final decider of what is true and what is right and what is moral. Life has a way of judging the little ‘g’ god of ME! Pretending to be a god is to fall into what everyone is tempted with, yet hates in others: PRIDE!

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THE LITTLE ‘g’ god of LUV

I think it’s safe to say that everyone longs to be loved – and a lot of people settle for LUV. Luv is a powerful craving to be wanted, desired, cherished – and causes us to do things and make decisions we later regret. Love  the real deal – is what we give; it’s unconditional – beautiful, sacrificial – and the recipient of it is usually changed forever. LUV – drives people crazy – and causes them to do crazy, reckless things. Love is not crazy; it’s perfectly rational and well-thought-out, but it also causes people to do things that others might see as reckless – even irrational. Luv is the little ‘g’ god that people sell their souls to – looking for real, authentic love… and in the process, they miss it!

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THE LITTLE ‘g’ god of SUCCESS

One of the biggest signs that things had really changed in Markham in March of 2020 – was the empty parking lot at the GO Station. Someone quoted the lines of an old Gospel song, “The marketplace is empty, no more traffic in the streets…”  COVID-19 had a huge effect on one of the most worshipped gods in the GTA – work and success! People climb ladders, step on others, shove their kids up the ladders – and make serious sacrifices to the little ‘g’ god of work – and the god that drives it; success. When it comes to the voices in our past, we have to ask the question, “Were they telling the truth?” And the same is true of this god of success, IS IT TELLING THE TRUTH?

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THE LITTLE ‘g’ god of PROSPERITY

So, why not start with the #1 little ‘g’ god at the top of the org chart in North America – and most of the world? After all, isn’t prosperity the obvious sign that God is pleased with you? Well, not so fast… because Jesus, God with skin on – God who humbled Himself to become man and save us from worshipping and giving our lives to false gods – said, “You gotta decide between Mammon – the god of prosperity – and the God of all the earth!” Maybe it would be helpful to see where all the arrows are pointing!

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THE gods MUST BE CRAZY!

We aren’t the first people to find ourselves in a world of upheaval – where, in less than a year, everything we know and have become accustomed to gets flipped on its back. The same thing happened 3500 years ago when God showed up and surprised a group of slaves and slavedrivers – judged everything that seemed normal – and offered freedom to both the slaves and the slavedrivers. He did it by making life uncomfortable… and the future uncertain for both. And when He did, the little ‘g’ gods were never the same. The tragedy is that both groups, in different senses, ultimately went back to serving them. God’s message to all people, everywhere is, “You will serve someone – or something; choose carefully, because your choice will radically shape both your life and your eternity!

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THE REAL PROBLEM WITH GIVING YOUR MONEY AWAY IS…?

(Philippians 4:14-23)
Our struggle with giving, with tithing is one of unbelief. We don’t really believe that when we let go, release our grip – not only does what we have in our hands get transformed, God then is able to fill our hands once again. If we could see the immensity of giving – and what it means for eternity – we wouldn’t hesitate one bit! Do you have the guts to trust God?

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