Thursday, April 30, 2009


According to John Phillips, a donkey is mentioned more than 140 times in Scripture. However, the donkey which heads the list is the one who gave Jesus a ride into town, better known as the Triumphal Entry.

There are some things about this donkey that intrigue me. For one thing, the donkey had to be REDEEMED. According to the Law of Moses, the donkey was pronounced an unclean animal. It did not chew the cud, and it did not have a cloven hoof; thus, it was doubly cursed. Inside and out, it was completely unclean. However, the law also made provision for the condemned beast: it could be redeemed. A lamb could die in the stead of the donkey.

Sound familiar?

It should because we are born unclean, condemned by God's law and sentenced to death. We are doubly cursed. But, the "Lamb of God," the Lord Jesus, has died in our place. Like that donkey, there was nothing we could do to change our condition. But, the lamb died to redeem us.

Not only did the donkey have to be redeemed, but it had to be RELEASED. Jesus told his disciples, "ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither." (Luke 19: 30) The donkey had life, only because of the Lamb; but although it had life, it had no liberty.

I don't know much about the mental functions of a donkey, but can't we possibly imagine how that young donkey may have stood alongside the post, to which it was tied, and dreamed about the day it would be set free. The grass on the yonder hills looked so green. The brook down the hill looked so refreshing. The other animals seemed to be enjoyed the freedom of roaming the hillside. But, it was tied to a post, and the closest it could ever get to freedom was to only imagine it.

How many Christians have been given a new life in Christ, and have been redeemed; yet, they are still in bondage to old hurts, habits, handicaps, and hang-ups. They need to receive the "engrafted" Word of Jesus, "Loose him, and bring him thither." Jesus died to not only redeem us, but to release us. He redeemed us from the penalty of sin's curse; but, He also released us from the power of sin's cruelty.

Finally, once the donkey had been redeemed and released, he had to be RULED. Jesus said that this was a donkey "whereon yet never man sat." In other words, this was an unbroken donkey. It was still full of pride and self-will. It was still full of it's own nature. Again, to delve into the mind of the donkey, I'm sure that he thought, "If I can ever get free, I'm going to run, play, eat to my hearts content." But, I'm sure that he never thought, if I get free, I'm going to let a man control me.

But, Jesus had other plans. He told his disciples to tell the owners of the colt, that the "Lord hath need of him." Thus, as soon as Jesus mounted the back of this donkey, the Master enthroned Himself as the Rightful Owner. All rebellion fled. All fear vanished. We don't read where the young colt bucked, snorted, and kicked while carrying Jesus.

Why? Because it has been transformed from a wild, untamed, cantankerous creature, to an obedient, submissive instrument to fulfill the prophetic word of Zechariah, "Behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass." (Zech. 9: 9)

It had been redeemed to be released; and, it had been released to be ruled. Its one duty was now to lift up the Lord Jesus Christ.

Sound familiar?

Does that not sound like what God desires for each of us? He came to redeem us that He might release us so that He might rule us. As soon as He mounts the saddle of our life, all of our pride, self-will, and cantankerous flesh can be broken so that our sole duty is to lift up Jesus, and carry Him into a lost and dying world.

One final thought.....When He carried Jesus on that triumphal march, and the people lined the streets waving palm branches, singing and rejoicing; do you think the donkey thought all of that pomp and circumstance was for him?

I think it's safe to say that all eyes were on Jesus, not the donkey; but, yet, Jesus used the donkey to lift Him up. If He can do that with a donkey, how much more could He do and would He do with you and me?

I'm Still Amazed,

Pastor Steve

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"Lord, Teach ME to Pray!"

There are a couple of topics of which I still, after many years, feel unworthy to preach. One, is faith; and, the other is prayer. These are topics that are easy for us preachers to preach; but, quite different topics when it comes to practice. In regards to faith, I love how Spurgeon put it, "A little faith can take your soul to Heaven; a great faith can bring Heaven to your soul."

Prayer is a subject that, to be quite honest, I misunderstood for many, many years. As a young preacher, I sat at the feet of some of God's prayer warriors, and there was hardly a time, after listening to them describe their times with God, that I did not leave with deep feeling of condemnation. I would read books on the subject of prayer by Torrey, Bounds, Murray; biographies of great men of prayer such as Hyde, Knox, and Murray-McCheyne; and, in spite of my love for books, I would lay them down feeling as if I could never match up to the example they set.

One day, during my quiet time, a verse leaped off the page at me. It was a verse I had read, and I'm sure you have read many times. In Luke 11: 1, the disciples ask a question of Jesus, "Lord, teach us to pray." That question struck me for several reasons. It intrigued me that of anything the disciples could have asked, they asked to enroll in the school of prayer. They did not ask to learn how to heal the sick, open blinded eyes, make the lame to walk, walk on water, feed 20,000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fishes, or even raise the dead. They asked to be taught how to pray.

Jesus had just finished His own personal prayer meeting, and when it was over he was met with the question from His disciples. Apparently, the disciples either heard Jesus pray, or they saw the effect prayer had upon Him; thus, they in essence ask, "Lord, we have heard You pray, and we want You to teach us to pray like that!"

That brings to bear the question, 'How did Jesus pray?" John 17 is "The Lord's Prayer." Of the 650 prayers in the Bible, none of them hail in comparison to the High Priestly Prayer recorded in John 17. The focus of the prayer was a Son talking to His Father in sweet, unbroken communion.

Most prayers focus on what they can get from God, while the prayer of Jesus focused on who He could be with God. Too often, our prayers are focused upon getting God's approval, while the prayer of Jesus focused upon gaining God's attention. Then it dawned upon me...prayer is designed for us to gain God's attention; and, as a result of gaining His attention, we receive the blessing of getting His approval.

Suddenly, I began to realize that prayer was simply spending time with my Heavenly Father. While I had become wrapped up in the blessings, God wanted me to concern myself with the Blessor. I was to become focused on the Giver, not the gifts. When I concerned myself with Him, I became less concerned about what I could get from Him, and became more concerned with just being with Him.

Instead of coming into His presence with my 'Christmas wish list,' telling Him all that I needed (really wanted), I could come into His presence just for the joy of coming into His presence comforted in the fact that He knows what I need, "even before I ask Him." I recently had someone ask me, "Pastor, if God knows what we need before we ask Him, why should we ask Him?" I replied, "Because HE LOVES TO HEAR YOUR VOICE!"

To again borrow the words of Spurgeon, "Some brethren pray by the yard; but, true prayer is measured by weight, not by length."

O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear.
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.

In God's school of prayer, we can bring, or we can just BE!

Still Learning to Lean,

Pastor Steve

Friday, April 3, 2009


Like most of you pastors, the wheels of my mind have been turning as I have been meditating upon the finished work of Christ. Next week, I will turn to the greatest event of history, the resurrection. However, this week, I have walked with Jesus from the judgment hall to the "place of the skull," where the "Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world," was crucified.

Our minds cannot conceive the pain, agony, and torment endured by the One who was fully God, yet fully man. In his book, "The Life of Christ," Fredrick Farrar said, "A death by crucifixion seems to include all that pain and death have to offer...horrible and ghastly. Dizziness, cramps, thirst, starvation, sleeplessness, traumatic fever, shame, publicity of shame, long continuance of torment, horror of anticipation, mortification of intended wounds. All intensified just up unto the point they can be endured at all. All stopping short of the point that would give the sufferer relief of unconsciousness."

Our blessed Lord has been mocked, beaten, stripped, and scourged with a 'cat-of-nine-tails,' which was a wooden handle with 9 leather strips on it, each strip embedded with glass, or razor sharp pieces of metal. He would be tied to a pole, with his arms pulled up in the air; and, as the whip came down on His back, it would rip hunks of flesh with every lash. The whip would even wrap around His body, cutting open His stomach area, causing His insides to be exposed.

Most victims bled to death at this point, but not Jesus! His work was not yet complete. They must lay Him on a cross and lift Him up, just as Moses had "lifted up the serpent in the wilderness." As He hang between 2 thieves, the final hours of His earthly life were about to come to an end. In one final burst of human strength, He cried, "IT IS FINISHED!"

And, then I saw what I had never seen before..."HE BOWED HIS HEAD and gave up the ghost." Do you see that? He BOWED His head! His head did not just fall down or flop over; He BOWED it! His head did not fall in defeat; rather, His head was bowed in victory. His head was not bowed in sorrow, but in submission.

Even in His dying hour, He was in full control even when things seemed out of control. He bowed His head as if to remind them, "You didn't take my life from Me. I gave it of Myself. I could have saved myself; but, had I saved myself, I could not have saved you."

Oh blessed thought that if in His dying hour He was Sovereign, how much more Sovereign would He be now that He is "alive forevermore" and seated upon His Heavenly throne? I can't speak for you, but that thrills my heart to know that the Cross not only revealed His submission, but His sovereignty.

Perhaps your life seems out of control; but, I remind you that the Christ of the Cross is never out of control. We look at a world that is out of control and wonder, "If God is in control, why doesn't He do something about all of this?"


With the BOWING of His head...
God the Father said, "PAID IN FULL!"
God the Son said, "IT IS FINISHED!"
God the Holy Ghost said, "I'M ON THE WAY!"

Thanks be to God for the Christ of Calvary who is still in control when things seem out of control!

Unworthy but not Ungrateful,

Pastor Steve