Walking the Darkened Path (2012 Good Friday)

Title: Walking the Darkened Path
Series: Walking the Roads of Easter (Good Friday)
Scripture: Luke 23: 1-49
Theme(s): Walking the right path even in the face of adversity

OUTLINE
Jesus walked without company
Jesus walked without blame
Jesus walked without complaint
Jesus walked without support
Jesus walked for you and me

INTRODUCTION
On Good Friday, Jesus chose to walk a darkened path. He walked a path through hatred, selfishness, politics, deception, and jealousy.

HE WALKED WITHOUT COMPANY
• Greeted like a champion on Palm Sunday and days later ignored.
• Shunned and condemned by the religious leaders of the day, the very people who were the supposed followers of the Father.
• Betrayed by Judas, a close confidant.
• Abandoned by the disciples, His closest followers.
• Denied by Peter, one of the “inner circle”
• Passed over by the crowds when they shouted for His life in exchange for Barabbas’ pardon.

We have all known the shock of betrayal, the wounds of denial, the stigma of being shunned, the pain of abandonment, and the utter loss of being passed over for another.

Jesus walked the darkened path without company.

HE WALKED WITHOUT BLAME
• Accused falsely of instructing other to not pay their taxes. The religious leaders knew that Rome did not care about their petty religious squabbles, but taxes, money, that was a different matter.
• Pilate did not find any fault with Him and passed Him on to Herod.
• Herod could not find any blame, but used Him to gain favor with Pilate (v. 12). He was used for political gain.
• He was released by Rome, but condemned by Israel
• Sold for one criminal, and hung between two others.

Jesus walked the darkened path without blame.

HE WALKED WITHOUT COMPLAINT
• He never boasted or bragged about who He was or what He had done.
• He answered the questions simply and directly, and later gave up answering at all.
• They mocked Him and mistreated Him.
• They sold Him in exchange for the life of a known terrorist and murderer (v. 18).
• He asked for their forgiveness, not their punishment (v. 34).
• They stole His possessions and gambled them away (v. 34b).
• He was insulted and ridiculed (v. 35).
• He showed compassion to others when He was receiving none Himself (v. 43).
• He was innocent and everyone from Pilate (v. 14) to the common soldier (v. 47) knew it.

Jesus walked the darkened path without complaint.

HE WALKED WITHOUT SUPPORT
• No one defended Him, even when He defended others.
• No one supported Him, even as He lifted others up.
• No one protected Him, while He was protecting all of us.
• Pilate had a chance and gave in to social pressure (v. 22).
• Herod could have stopped it but chose the easier and more acceptable way (v. 11).
• The crowds followed after Him but did not lift a finger (v. 27). They wept for Him, but never argued for Him.

Jesus walked the darkened path without support.

CONCLUSION-HE WALKED FOR YOU AND ME
He walked where we could not, would not, and did not want to go.
We stand on this side of Calvary and condemn the religious leaders for their choices and their lies, and we are not very different.
• Do we not still mock His name?
• Do we not still take Him for granted?
• Do we not still gamble our lives, His possessions, away?
• Do we not still betray Him?
• Do we not still falsely accuse Him, blame Him, lie to Him, try to deceive Him?
• Do we not still take the easier path to avoid accepting responsibility?
While we were still consumed by our sin, Jesus died for us. Despite what we’ve done, God still chooses to love us and sent His son so He could be with us. That’s what one can call incredible grace.

Walking to Renewal (Easter Wednesday)

Title: Walking to Renewal
Series: Walking the Roads of Easter (Easter Wednesday)
Scripture: Luke 19:45-48
Theme(s): Renewal, Loss of purpose, Second chance

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT
Have you ever gone for a walk in the woods? As you push your way through trees and bushes, you occasionally come across paths that have been created in the woods. You can sometimes see paths that have not been created on purpose, but because man or animals have walked that way time and time again. It might be the quickest way to a source of water. It might avoid some natural predators in the area. It might simply be the easiest way from one point to the other. These paths have been created because of frequent travel. After someone started going that way and broke through the bushes, pressed down the grass, and parted the trees, others that came along the way started following that path. Why? It is simple. It is often easier to follow an existing path than to make a new one. The person or animal who started the path probably never expected to create it or for others to follow it, but it happens. We find comfort in following the easy, comfortable way everyone else is going. It is not easy to take a different path, a new way. It is not always easy to begin “walking to renewal.”

In Luke 19:45-48, we find Jesus entering into the temple and not liking what He finds. We find Christ confused about what He is seeing but sure about He needs to do about it. In defense of the people who were selling animals for sacrifices, they were providing a necessary service. People would travel from all over the nation of Israel to come to the Temple to sacrifice. Families who traveled from these distant places could not always transport the required sacrifices with them from home. They needed a place to purchase these sacrifices for their families—sacrifices that were an important part of the Jewish tradition and culture.

Catch what Jesus says at the end of verse 46: “You have turned it (the Temple) into a den of thieves.” What Jesus alludes to here is that these people were taking advantage of the people coming to the Temple to sacrifice. They could have been charging too much for the sacrifices or treating them unfairly. They could be selling them substandard animals. Part of the sacrifice tradition was that the sacrifices were to be pure and without blemish. They were stealing from God’s people. They were stealing from Him. They were utilizing their advantage of location and ability to take advantage of others.

Our thought today comes in right here. While they may not have started out being “thieves”, this is where Jesus found them now. It became comfortable. It became easy. It might have started to become acceptable—to become their right. They lived here and these foreigners should pay to come here. Somebody had to get them the right animal. Is there anything wrong with making a little profit? “I have bills. I have a family to feed. I have needs.” You see how easy it is—how quick it is to slide down to that place. How easy it is for Jesus to find us there.

Jesus knew He had to do something radical. This was not a time to call together the Temple Better Business Bureau to discuss suspension options. It was not time to form a committee to discuss possible repercussions of dishonest trade franchises. It was time to clean house! I don’t know where God has found you, but there are times in my life where God has cleaned house within me. He has removed all of the stuff that I thought was so important and that I had made important. Like a dentist removing a cavity before putting in a filling, if you build on decay and sin, you will not have a sure foundation. Jesus started them down a “walk to renewal.”

Like starting any exercise program, it is never easy at first. You will get tired and frustrated. You will wonder if there are any results. You will constantly question your motivation and commitment. Renewal is a lot like that. It is not easy to start something new—to make a positive change. Ask someone who is losing weight! One of the most frustrating experiences in weight loss is that healthier foods are more expensive and harder to find than unhealthy foods. Forging a new path through the forest can sometimes come with consequences. You may have to change who you associate with and where you like to go. You may have to try new things and make greater sacrifices. Your family may not understand, and your friends probably will not.

“Walking to renewal” must be your choice. You must initiate it. God has promised us support and help. He has sent His Spirit to convict, comfort, and guide us through this and the rest of our lives. Will you make a covenant with Him today?

Walking in His “Majestic” Presence: Week 1

Note to reader: This is a single part of a multi-sectioned devotional series surrounding the transMission album, “Majestic.”  All of the devotionals will be filed under the category marked “Walking in His ‘Majestic’ Presence.”

Who Are You Walking With?

Play track 1 of “Majestic” entitled “Christ for the World.”  You can stream it live here.

You know the kind of afternoon I am talking about.  It warm with a breeze.  The sun is out, but it is not “out” to get you.  You are on a path surrounded by nature on all sides.  It is one of those moments that you just want to share with those that you are closest to.  You want to walk and share about old memories.  You can stroll along and make new memories.  You might glide along as you remember those who are no longer there.  Or, you can quickly hike along as you share new ideas that you are excited about.  Which ever way you see it, you are out and about with a friend or family member, just sharing the experience.

As the opening moments of “Christ for the World” are filling your ears, you get the sense of not one person marching towards you, but the sense of a group of people, an army.  When a voice emerges from the crowd, he does not sing about his own memories or his own accomplishments.  He does not tell about what he does not have or what he wants.  He is singing about OTHERS, and, not just any OTHERS, but the ones who are forgotten about.

 “The poor, despised and overborne,
The faint, the weak, and those who mourn,
The plagued and sin-sick, sorrow-worn”

He may be walking with those he knows.  They may be people with whom he has things in common.  They may be fellow laborers, but he is singing about OTHERS.

Zechariah 7:9-10 (New Living Translation)
This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another.  Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other.

These verses talk about another voice who is speaking out from a group, Heaven’s Armies.  Here, the Lord reminds us, the faithful, of where our concern should be.  We should care for “widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor.”  The song today also calls them, “the wandering, the wayward, and the lost.”

The most common and easily understood definition of the word, “holy”, is to be set apart.  We were not called as God’s people to be set apart for our benefit.  We were not set apart for our glory.  We were set apart for OTHERS.  We were set apart for His glory!

The song ends with the group singing as they did in the beginning.  Today, who are you walking with?  Are you walking with those who are making a difference for OTHERS?  Are you making a difference for OTHERS?

Soli Deo Gloria!

Walking in His "Majestic" Presence: Week 1

Note to reader: This is a single part of a multi-sectioned devotional series surrounding the transMission album, “Majestic.”  All of the devotionals will be filed under the category marked “Walking in His ‘Majestic’ Presence.”

Who Are You Walking With?

Play track 1 of “Majestic” entitled “Christ for the World.”  You can stream it live here.

You know the kind of afternoon I am talking about.  It warm with a breeze.  The sun is out, but it is not “out” to get you.  You are on a path surrounded by nature on all sides.  It is one of those moments that you just want to share with those that you are closest to.  You want to walk and share about old memories.  You can stroll along and make new memories.  You might glide along as you remember those who are no longer there.  Or, you can quickly hike along as you share new ideas that you are excited about.  Which ever way you see it, you are out and about with a friend or family member, just sharing the experience.

As the opening moments of “Christ for the World” are filling your ears, you get the sense of not one person marching towards you, but the sense of a group of people, an army.  When a voice emerges from the crowd, he does not sing about his own memories or his own accomplishments.  He does not tell about what he does not have or what he wants.  He is singing about OTHERS, and, not just any OTHERS, but the ones who are forgotten about.

 “The poor, despised and overborne,
The faint, the weak, and those who mourn,
The plagued and sin-sick, sorrow-worn”

He may be walking with those he knows.  They may be people with whom he has things in common.  They may be fellow laborers, but he is singing about OTHERS.

Zechariah 7:9-10 (New Living Translation)
This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another.  Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other.

These verses talk about another voice who is speaking out from a group, Heaven’s Armies.  Here, the Lord reminds us, the faithful, of where our concern should be.  We should care for “widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor.”  The song today also calls them, “the wandering, the wayward, and the lost.”

The most common and easily understood definition of the word, “holy”, is to be set apart.  We were not called as God’s people to be set apart for our benefit.  We were not set apart for our glory.  We were set apart for OTHERS.  We were set apart for His glory!

The song ends with the group singing as they did in the beginning.  Today, who are you walking with?  Are you walking with those who are making a difference for OTHERS?  Are you making a difference for OTHERS?

Soli Deo Gloria!