This Changes Everything

5After Jesus’ (Yeshua’s) execution by crucifixion, His disciples gathered. They did not gather to plan their approach to carrying out Jesus’ mission. They gathered to comfort each other. They gathered behind locked doors, hiding from the Jews who they thought might want to kill them too (John 20:19). Later, they would gather to go back to their former lives. “I’m going fishing,” suggested Peter (John 21:3).

Then they saw Him!

Then they saw Him. Not just once, but a number of times. Death did not hold Him! He is alive! He ate with them. He cooked them breakfast. He talked and walked with them. Their doubt and despair became a certain faith. The resurrection became reality. Seeing the risen Savior changed everything for them.

  1. Fear no longer controlled them.
  2. They could be what He called them to be.
  3. They even became at peace with persecution

Less than two months after the crucifixion and less than two months after they went into hiding, they stand up in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost in the presence of thousands and declare, “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”‘ Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:29-36).

Within a few more months they would face severe persecution for their faith in the resurrection. The authorities would have James killed. Stephen’s accusers would stone him while Saul of Tarsus watched in approval. This same Saul would meet the risen Savior and would turn his life completely around. The great persecutor became the persecuted. The resurrection of Christ changed everything!

It still does.

We can have assurance of eternal salvation because Christ rose from the dead.

Hallelujah, Christ arose!

-Scott

A Morning Prayer

prayer

Dear God, Creator of all mankind,

Thank You for this day. Help us to use the opportunities and events of today for Your glory. Help us to share Your grace and mercy in our dealings with those around us.

This weekend many will be travelling. Some will travel to see family. Some will travel for pleasure, Some will travel for business. Others will travel to religious and church events. Please, keep them safe. Help the ones who are driving or piloting a vehicle stay alert to their surroundings.

This weekend many in the world will think if You. They will think about the events that lead Your Son to the cross and will recall the empty tomb. Hel these memories lean them to return to you if they have left and to dedicate their lives to You. Thank you for the victory the resurrection promises. Thank you for salvation in Christ; salvation from the wrath to come.

Many of Your creation are suffering. Some with physical illness, some with physical disabilities. Some are hurting because of the abuse given them by others. Some are suffering because of their economic situation. Some pains are visible and some are emotional, buried deep inside. Please help Your people to show compassion and help where they can. Please be with the suffering and those who watch over them.

In Jesus name.

Helping with Clean Water

w4w018Every year Central Church of Christ and Tide4Christ raise money to help bring clean water to people in Honduras and Haiti. Please help us with our 3rd Walk4Water in Tuscaloosa. Our previous walks have raised almost $20,000 for clean water projects in Honduras and Haiti, and we are so excited to keep it going this year!

Your help is making a difference. When we started three years ago a child died every 21 seconds due to a lack of clean water. That rate has dropped to one child every 26 seconds. A great improvement, but there is more to do.

This year, Amy and I are walking to raise money. You can donate toward our goal here: https://www.hhi.org/walk4water/team/976

-Scott and Amy

The Nose Knows

tucanOur sense of smell is amazing. Sure, there are animals with a more keen sense of smell, yet smell is one sense we should not take for granted.

  • Smells can attract or repel us. I love the smell of a hickory or oak in the fireplace, but burning plastic or rubber is repulsive.
  • The taste of good is closely connect with smell. I just finished a cup of coffee with a hint of dark chocolate. The aroma as the cup came under nose enhanced the flavor of the coffee.
  • Smells can alter moods, just ask my sister-in-law about a citrus candle and her cat.
  • Smells connect to memories and emotions. My grandmother used to dry orange peels to make marmalade. Opening a jar of marmalade brings back memories of her house on the banks of the Ohio river and the peels hanging in the room, just outside her kitchen.
  • Smells can transfer from one person to another or a place to person. I mowed the yard for the first time this season on Saturday. The clothes I was wearing smelled like fuel and fresh cut grass when I put them in the wash.

This brings to mind something the apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2:14-16, “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?”

Look back at Paul’s message. Do you see the words “fragrance” and “aroma?” Paul is saying we are to smell a certain way – we are to smell like Christ. I know that Paul is using aroma and fragrance figuratively. You know that Paul is saying that people should know we have been around Christ because we are like Him. (Fragrances; aromas; smells transfer.) If we are to give off the aroma of Christ, what does that look (smell) like? What are the qualities of Christ that attract people? I can think of a few: mercy, compassion, joy, patience, humility, love, the list could go on.

I leave you with a question.

Do you carry the pleasing aroma of Christ or do you stink?

-Scott

Worship: Why Bother?

worship here I amA group of ministers on social media are discussing worship this morning. I read through the op and the comments and had nothing to add to their thoughts. But I did think about a quote that I remember but do not recall where I first heard it. Maybe it was an original thought that I had . . . never mind, that is not likely!  Here is the quote:

“We all come to worship as unworthy sinners in need of and relying on the grace of God.”

Dear Father, Thank You for Your saving grace.  Thank you for blessing Your creation and Your children with another day.  May we make the most of this day in service to You.”  In Jesus name.

-Scott

In Him I Live and Breathe

In Him I Live and Breathe

© BSMc March 22, 2011

spring

The fog of winter lifts.

The sky begins to clear.

The grass grows.

The flowers bloom.

The trees bud.

A family plants a garden.

The birds sing.

Puppy plays in the lawn.

Children swing, run, and bounce.

Mom sweeps off the porch.

Dad cleans the car and the yard.

Spring!

God, dear Father, Your creative handiwork is visible today.

Thank You!

Matthew and the Messiah – 8

The Messiah is Busy: Matthew 8

Matthew and the Messiah - 8In this chapter Jesus is busy in the lives of people. Matthew shares how the King has compassion for all, especially the least, the rejected, the endangered, and the hurting.

First we observe Jesus healing a leprous man who asks to be healed. To have leprosy in Jesus’ day meant separation from friends, family, and the community at large. A leper had to announce his leprosy to those around him, so that others would not come in contact with the communicable disease. A leper might as well as hung a scarlet “L” around their neck. Jesus heals the leper by TOUCHING him. To those around, Jesus risked getting the disease as well as being ceremonially (religiously) unclean.

Next a Centurion – an officer of the occupying Roman force – seeks Jesus’ help. This man was an enemy of the Jews, surely Jesus would not help him. Yet, the Centurion’s faith was strong enough to know that Jesus did not need to travel to see the sick servant, but could speak and the disease would be gone. Jesus, remarks about the faith this Roman displayed and how such faith shamed Jesus’ own countrymen. The servant received healing the moment Jesus spoke “Go, let it be done for you as you have believed.” (Matt 8:13). Matthew next shares that Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law along with others oppressed by demons and those who were sick. Jesus is busy.

In the later half of this chapter, Matthew shares an event with a storm at sea that made the disciples afraid. Jesus calms the storm and the disciples express amazement at what Jesus is capable of and who Jesus must be. Matthew also narrates events surrounding two other demon possessed men whose demons cry out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have You come to torment us before the time?” Jesus casts these demons into a herd of pigs that then drowned themselves.

Jesus is busy. Jesus is amazing. Jesus is one to follow. But following Jesus is not as simple as one might think. Take note of what Matthew tells his readers in the middle section of this chapter: Matthew 8:18-22

“Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”

Jesus says following Him is an “all or none” deal. You follow Him with all that you are and all that you have or you are not really following.

What does that look like in 2018?

-Scott

Good Friends

good friends 3We are social beings; we need good friends. We need friends who will comfort us, and who will love us unconditionally. We need friends who will correct us and challenge us to grow. The wise man says there is a friend who is closer than a brother (Prov 18:24). In many ways Jesus is that friend. But we all want a friend or five who we can see.

The apostle Paul warns us that a poor choice in companions can ruin our morals (1 Cor 15:33), so how can we choose good friends?

Prov 13:20, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”

Start by choosing friends who display prudence (wisdom / discernment) in their life.

Choose friends who seek after righteousness and who will help you (as you help them) draw closer to God.

How Can I Choose Good Friends?

Here is my list of 10 things to look for in a friend (a.k.a. Ten Ways to be a True Friend):

  1. Controls their tongue
  2. Keeps their promises
  3. Chooses kindness
  4. Shows interest / empathy
  5. Is cheerful
  6. Lives in purity (with virtue)
  7. Is open minded, can disagree cordially
  8. Is aware or and careful of others feelings
  9. Does not let criticism offend them, but instead uses criticism for self=improvement
  10. Deflects praise, does not take all the credit all the time.

Be the friend your friends need!

-Scott

Today

As I was sitting down to write this morning I thought about all that today would bring. Then I considered the importance of just one day and recalled this poem I wrote a few years ago.

The Morning Drive

Today is the day of decision.

Now is the time to choose.

There may be a tomorrow.

But why wait and chance to lose?

What you decide this moment.

Will impact the rest of your days.

Focus on what is eternal.

God is the one you should praise.

Many think too much of this life.

Forgetting the eternity waits.

Do not lose focus on salvation,

Live to enter Heavenly Gates.

© Scott McCown, November 10, 2010

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Matthew and the Messiah – 7

A Sermon from the Messiah Pt 3 – Matthew 7

typorama

In this last chapter of the Sermon on the Mount there is so much that Jesus teaches that I find it difficult to focus on just one.  I could use six posts expounding each section. We could spend a day on:

  1. What the Messiah really says about judging (Mat 7:1-6)
  2. The promise that God will do what is best for His children. (Mat 7:7-11)
  3. The Golden Rule. (Mat 7:12-14)
  4. False prophets and the fruit of there messages. (Mat 7:15-20)
  5. That verbal and mental acceptance that Jesus is Messiah and Lord is not enough. (Mat 7:21-23)
  6. The importance of a strong foundation of faith. (Mat 7:24-27)

Take time to read through these sections again. You may realize that Jesus does not necessarily say what many claim He does. He does not say to never judge, He says that judgement starts at home (with yourself) and He also says to inspect (judge) the fruit of those that claim to speak for God. You may also realize that the Golden Rule when consistently applied will make every relationship you have (family, work, romantic, school, church, political, or social media) better. Think about how you would like others to treat you and treat them that way. Do you want others to be considerate of your opinion? Be considerate of theirs. Do you want others to be patient with you as you grow and mature? Then give others the same.

Go back and read the chapter again. I’ll wait . . . . . . . . .

No wonder Matthew closes this sermon with a comment about the people’s reaction. No wonder the crowds were astonished at His teaching. The crowds still are, when we really pay attention. His message is life changing.

Take the Messiah’s words to heart and follow His message and His example.

-Scott