Empty Bottles

by The Mad Preacher, Rod Davis

Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?” (Matthew 21:23 NIV)

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” — Jesus (Matthew 23:27-28 NIV)

 “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” — Common English IdiomEmpty_Wine_bottle_edited

I think it was Jamie Buckingham who said, “It doesn’t do any good to put a label on an empty bottle.” Jesus said, “…out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”[1] In other words, a person is measured by the contents and not by the container. Ministerial credentials or seminary degrees are of no value if the one holding them has nothing to spiritually worthwhile to give to others.

In my academic and ministerial experience I have come across several people with fancy religious labels. They had diplomas from well-known graduate schools and seminaries and had a bunch of letters after their name like B.A., M.A., M. Div., D. Min., Th. D. and Ph. D. after their name. There’s nothing wrong with that. I have a few of letters myself. Much like the chief priests, the Pharisees and the Scribes of Jesus’ day, they have loads of head knowledge and lofty titles. Indeed, they were bottles with fancy labels but they were empty bottles. They possessed no real answers and, therefore, offered none. In fact, these empty vessels needed to be filled themselves.

Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools. (Romans 1:22 NIV)

                    … having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. (2Timothy 3:5 NIV)

I remember one such man who was my advisor and the head of the religion department where I studied for my pre-seminary degree. Dr. Chris was well educated and was fluent in ancient Greek and Hebrew. However, he possessed some very twisted and damaging views about The Bible. The basis of his warped thinking was this; he didn’t believe that the Bible was the inspired infallible Word of God. Because of his foolhardiness, many young, impressionable students had their faith shipwrecked by his foolish blabbering.

 … always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. (2Timothy 3:7 NIV)

He and I often butted heads in class. I would openly, but respectfully, call his outrageous claims into question. Unlike the others in my class I was a more seasoned Christian and was not as easily deceived.

 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 13:52 NIV)

On the other hand I have known many great men and women of God much like those described in this passage. They had the same type of formal education and had all the credentials. Yet, these powerful men and women of God were overflowing with something that empty bottles, like Dr. Chris, were woefully short of—joy, the fullness of the Holy Spirit and faith. They were also full of God, his Word and his passion for people. Plus they possessed something else that these others did not—authority. They were able to pour themselves into the lives of others because these bottles were not empty. Like King David of old they could say, “You anoint my head with oil; my cup [or my bottle] overflows.[2]

 [Jesus] said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it. (Mark 16:15-20 NIV)

 “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.” — Jesus                      (Luke 20:46-47 NIV

Jesus warned us to beware of empty bottles. A whitewashed tomb is what he called them. They have nothing to offer but words of death. Don’t be fooled by their fancy labels. What are the contents of their hearts?

 “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance [the label], but the LORD looks at the heart [the contents].”             (1Samual 16:7 NIV)

What are the contents of your heart? Maybe you’re someone who has a fancy label and little more.  Maybe you have no label at all, but you’re still an empty bottle that desperately needs to be filled. Jesus is standing by waiting for you to allow him to fill you to overflow with his presence, his peace, his forgiveness, his joy, his love and a life with a purpose.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:3 NIV)

This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:23-24 NIV)

See a video version of this message at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCia0tyH1QBhvNUSz3OsaJQg

[1] Matthew 12:34

[2] Psalms 23:5

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Measuring Up

measureBy The Mad Preacher, Rod Davis

 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  (Colossians 1:9-14 NIV)

Have you ever applied for a job and were told that you were not qualified, that you didn’t measure up? Perhaps the interviewer thought that you just didn’t meet the criterion. You were told that you didn’t have enough education or that you had too much education. Perhaps, you didn’t have enough experience. Most of us have are familiar with that song and dance. Most have been through an ordeal like that in our quest to find gainful employment.

There are times when people may not consider you to be qualified or you just don’t measure up to their standards. But, what are God’s standards? The greatest job on the planet is offered to us—to be in the service of God. Now, what are the qualifications for divine service? What does God look for on a résumé—experience, education? What qualifies us to be on his team?

Did you know that God’s team, the church, is full of people who don’t measure up? To God being unqualified is not a prerequisite for service. “Qualified” in the original Greek, in verse 12, means to “make sufficient, render fit, to equip one with adequate power to perform duties”[1]. The only requirements for serving God are obedience and the deep desire to fellow Jesus.

But he [God] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2Corinthians 12:9 NIV)

The world may see blanks in your résumé but God, through Christ, fills in those blanks. He’s not looking for self-sufficient people. He wants God-sufficient servants who wholly depend on him to qualify them and make them ready for service.

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. (1Corinthians 1:26-29)

So the next time you since that God is calling you into his service, don’t try to make excuses. He wouldn’t have called you if he wasn’t going equip you.

“Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the LORD Almighty. (Zechariah 4:6 NIV)

(1) The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, by James Strong Thomas Nelson Publishers  (1991)

Comfort Zone

everything you ever need Step-Outside-Your-Comfort-ZoneBy The Mad Preacher! Rod Davis

John 5

1 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.

The reason why modern translations, like the NIV, removed certain verses that were in the KJV and other previous English translations, such as here in John 5:4 is this. It has to do with geres (pronounced “keh-ray”) and Ketiv (keh-teev). A qere (keh-ray) is a marginal note that scribes wrote into the text for a clearing meaning that later became scripture in the KJV and other older versions. Therefore, it was not used by the NIV translators and other newer translations. A ketiv (keh-teev) is the actual text itself.

One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

“Get up. Pick up your mat and walk.”

When I read this narrative a question comes to mind; how long will we lay around the pool in self-pity and hopelessness, waiting for someone to help us get into the pool? I’m using the pool in this passage as a metaphor, a figure of speech. Don’t we know that the supernatural power of God is available to all followers of Jesus all of the time? Will we stand up and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit or lie around feeling down in the dumps and abandoned as we just wait for something to happen. We’re haunted by that universal question, “Why?”

Take note of this; off times miracles don’t happen until an action takes place on our part. Jesus told the paraplegic “Get up. Pick up your mat and walk.” Do you think that the man would have been healed if he didn’t try to get up?

Imagine what the dialogue might have been like between the man and Jesus.

Jesus—“Get up. Pick up your mat and walk.”

Invalid— “Well, I just can’t do that. I can’t get up. You see I’ve been laying on the mat for some 38 years. I’ve never been able to get up, let alone walk. I just can’t do what you say and I will, likely, never be able to pick up my mat and walk.”

That man would have eventually died; probably lying on that same old tattered mat, never experiencing the miraculous power of the Son of God. He would have never known what it was like to go on a journey or to walk to the synagogue, or the simple pleasures of walking to visit family and friends. He would have never been able to have a wife and children of his own, if he didn’t respond to Jesus’ words, “Get up. Pick up your mat and walk.”

We cannot get our breakthrough without some act of obedience on our part.

Jesus asked this man in verse 6, “Do you want to get well?” Let me rephrase that question. In light of your current circumstances, do you really want something in your life to change? I mean… really change? That’s a silly question, Rod. No wonder you’re called, “The Mad Preacher!” Is it a silly question? No! It’s a profound question because the reality is that many people who are caught up in sickness and despair would actually prefer to stay in their present situation. It’s called a comfort zone, a psychology term in which a person feels secure, comfortable, or in control. They prefer where they are despite how unpleasant it is because it’s known and familiar to them. They choose this rather than risking the possibilities of what would be involved in changing their circumstances.

Many don’t even have a hint of joy or happiness. It could be that the condition in the home where they grew up was anything but happy. Strife and heartache was the norm. Then, when they move out and have their own home, they seek to create the same atmosphere in their new home that was in the old. It’s all they ever knew. It’s their comfort zone. So they remain laying by the pool depressed and hopeless.

This is a very sad situation. Even more so when professing Christians are like this.

1 Peter 1:8-9 say, Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. The Greek word for “souls” here is not the word of spirit. It’s the word psuché (psoo-khay’) which we get the English word psychology (The scientific study of the human mind and mental states). Psuché refers to the vital breath, breath of life, the soul as the seat of affections and will, the self.

Have you ever felt like you were losing your mind? “the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls” it the salvation of you mind. Romans 12:1 says “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” The Greek word for “mind” means the same in English. It means the mind, reasoning faculty. It’s the God-given capacity of each person to think (reason).

I don’t know about you but my mind needs saving every day. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 says,

3For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Do you want to spend the rest of your life lying on the same old matt, feeling hopeless with things remaining pretty much the statuesque? Maybe you’re in your comfort zone, resigned to an unhappy, unfulfilled life. There is deliverance awaiting your response. Don’t you think or feel like it’s time to “Get up. Pick up your mat and walk.”?

See a video of this message on YouTube at https://youtu.be/v1jDYZQNMdw

Misfits

by The Mad Preacher,

Rod Davis

I can see the fingerprints of God                                                                                 When I look at you                                                                                                              I can see the fingerprints of God And I know it’s true                                                         You’re a masterpiece                                                                                                    That all creation quietly applauds                                                                                        And you’re covered with the fingerprints of God

Fingerprints Of God – Steven Curtis Chapman [1]

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit defaultthat will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” –Jesus (John 15:16)

I love this description of the men who would one day be called “David’s mighty men.”

All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented [The Hebrew means “to be bitter of soul”] gathered around him, and he became their leader. About four hundred men were with him. (1Samual 22:2)

Imagine this if you will; the US Marine Corps announces a snappy new recruiting slogan. “The Marines are looking for a few stressed-out, bankrupt, bitter men. The few, the losers… the Marines!” If we would be honest, most of us could be counted among those called David’s mighty men. Indeed, we’ve all have our seasons of personal difficulty. I must confess that I have experienced distress, indebtedness and bitterness from time to time. However, the US Marines are not in the market for people like those described here. No, the military may not want them. Corporate America may turn away from them. Sadly in many cases, churches don’t want them either. Ah… but God does. God doesn’t ignore them but rather, gladly embraces them.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” –Jesus (Matthew 11:28)

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things–and the things that are not–to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore,as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” (1Coranthians 1:26-31)

What does God look for when He recruits someone? Well to begin with, there is something we must understand about God. He’s not a talent scout. In other words, you can come to him empty-handed, feeling like you have nothing special to offer. For God’s not necessarily looking for someone who has great personal talent, charisma, or influence. Although those qualities can be used greatly when they’re submitted to God, both in the corporate world as well as in the ministry, they’re not necessarily needed to qualify us for God’s team of mighty men and women.

Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you arethe potter; we are all the work of your hand. (Isaiah 64:8)

God is on a continual quest. But he’s not looking for a stone—someone who’s hard and set in his ways. God is looking for a piece of clay—someone who is pliable in God’s hands. He desires someone He can mold and shape into the image of His son, Jesus—the original societal reject. God’s looking for someone who is willing to put aside all claims to self-sufficiency and then clothe themselves with God-sufficiency.

Just as I am, without one plea, But that your blood was shed for me[2]

God is seeking someone with the keen realization that the battle is the Lord’s and victory and success in life comes from him alone. God’s Elite Team consists of those who make no personal claims but, rather, wholly rely on the Lord. They know that whatever impact they may have in life relies solely on their desire to walk by faith and not by sight. These are the ones he seeks—God’s Elite Team of Misfits.

…who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. (Hebrews 11:33-34)

See a video of this message on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77rFg3en2RY

Look for new posts from The Mad Preacher on Saturdays

[1] Fingerprints Of God – Steven Curtis Chapman

[2] Just as I Am, Without One Plea– Charlotte Elliott and William B. Bradbury

An Open Letter to a Blasphemer

by The Mad Preacher, Rod Davis

godspeaks1

“You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” — God (Exodus 20:7)

Once, while in a chat room looking for an opportunity to share the gospel, I was reading the comments of a young man who was talking about some “dumb” remarks given by a well-known model. In his comments he used the name of Jesus in a profane way. I wrote him the following:

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. (Hebrews 1:3-4 NIV [1])

Hello John,

I read your bit about dumb models. I couldn’t agree with you more. People need to get their act together before they start making statements on TV about something of which they know nothing. There’s just one thing that you said that concerns me, and I would like to address it.

I mean no offence to you personally, John, but why must you use the name of Jesus in a profane way―as in an exclamation such as saying “Crap!”, “Damn!” or “Hell!” That has always seemed very strange to me. Why do people, who claim no allegiance to Jesus, insist on using his name like it was a swear word. If you must say the name of some religious figure as an expletive, why not say “Buddha!!!” or “Harrah Krishna!!!” or even say, “Ahhh… Mohammad!!!” or something like, “Rev. (blank-de-blank) Moon!!!” How about “Ahhh… Pope (blank-de-blank) Francis!!! or “Confucius dammit!” Doesn’t it strike you as a bit strange that people would use only the name of “Jesus” like it’s a cuss word but never use one of these other names?

Why is that, John? The Bible says in Philippians 2:5-11, “God exalted him (Jesus) to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Jesus is the only name of a religious leader that is used by our secular culture in such an offensive, disrespectful way. Yet the names of other famous religious figures are left untouched. In my over sixty-eight years I have never heard anyone exclaim, “Budda-on-a-crutch!!!” or “Awh-h-h-h…Mo (blank-de-blank) hammad!!!” Have you? Why, in our so called “enlightened” society is it considered politically incorrect and deeply frowned upon if someone were to besmirch the names of these other respected religious personalities but it’s okay to disrespect Jesus’ name and use it like profanity!

No, to the best of my memory I haven’t heard anyone use these other names that way. Yet I’ve heard the name of Jesus used in the most shameful ways ways I care not to repeat out of respect for my LORD. The list of profane uses of his name seemingly grows daily, as the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ continues to be defamed in new and creative ways. Why is that, John? Why is Jesus’ name chosen and not that of the others? Indeed, why did you use the name of Jesus as a swear word?

Many of today’s new parents pick a name for their new baby out a name book because it sounded good or they named it after a relative. However, in the ancient Middle East the name given a child had great significance. A name represented the parents’ hopes and aspirations for their child and often represented his or her purpose in life.

Jesus’ name means “Redeemer,” “Deliverer” and “Savior.” It literally means “the Lord is salvation”. Jesus name was representative of his mission in life. Jesus was to lay down his life for the sole purpose of saving humanity, delivering us from the tyranny of darkness and making the way open for us (for you, John) to know God personally. Jesus’ sacrificial death opened the only available door to a relationship with God. His resurrection soundly defeated the Devil by breaking his back and forever destroying the power Satan wielded in the lives of those who have repented and surrendered their wills to Jesus.

His name carries in its meaning all that Jesus is and all that he did for us. It’s no wonder that the Devil hates that Name and would influence people to ignorantly blaspheme it. That’s why he would choose that particular name to disrespect and not the names all the other religious icons.

Consider this; could the reason why so many clueless people pick the name of Jesus to degrade be a veiled and futile attempt to empty that name of its power and authority? Perhaps the name of Jesus makes them feel uncomfortable, because if Jesus is in fact all that his name implies then those who refuse to yield to the his Lordship would wish to devalue the message of the Gospel (which means good news!) by relegating the name of Jesus, and all his name represents, to nothing more than a swear word. Now John, I’m not saying that this was your intention but the resulting effect is the same.

Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The ways offered by these other religious founders, although well meaning, are all bogus. They don’t provide the only way to God as Jesus claims he does. There’s no power to save, deliver and heal in those other names. In fact, all the others were looking for the way to truth and life, not knowing that it was Jesus that they were seeking.

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)

Like I said, John, I mean no offense to you personally. Indeed, I mean no offence to those who follow the teachings of these men. However, I hope you’ll seriously consider what I’m sharing with you. Buddha, Harrah Krishna, Confucius, Mohammad and so many others were probably sincere men who meant well. However, “the name that is above every name” is the name of Jesus Christ the Lord. And when he returns in power and majesty, all those who rejected Jesus will wish they had called on his name for salvation rather than using it for a swear word. I sincerely hope that this won’t be you, John.

Very soon every knee, including those of these religious founders, will bow and every tongue, including your tongue, John, will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. If you don’t do it now, repent and commit your life to Jesus Christ, you will do it when He returns. Only then, it will be too late for you.

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name (other than “Jesus”) under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

Don’t wait until it’s too late, John. Please contact me if you would like to chat more about this all-important subject.

“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31)

Where are the nails that pierced His hands?                                                                Well the nails have turned to rust But behold the Man                                                   He is risen                                                                                                                     And He reigns                                                                                                                   In the hearts of the children                                                                                        Rising up in His name

Where are the thorns that drew His blood?                                                                  Well, the thorns have turned to dust                                                                              But not so the love                                                                                                          He has given                                                                                                                   No, it remains                                                                                                                    In the hearts of the children                                                                                           Who will love while the nations rage [2]

*See a video version of the message on YouTube at https://youtu.be/KhHUMQLr4Hg

Look for new posts from The Mad Preacher on Saturdays. 

[1] Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture references are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

[2 ]While the Nations Rage by Rich Mullins from his album entitled, Songs. ©1996 Reunion