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Promotion
  • Mar30

    “Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.'” – Luke 9:62 NIV

    In 1519 with some 600 men, 16 horses, and 11 boats, Hernan Cortes landed on a vast inland plateau now called, Mexico. They had come from Spain to the New World in search of some of the world’s greatest treasure. With only 600 men and no protective armor, conquering an empire so extensive became a highly unlikely affair. Instead of charging through cities and forcing his men to immediate battle, Cortes stayed on the beach and awoke the souls of his men with emblazoned speeches ingeniously designed to urge on the spirit of adventure and invoke a thirst for lifetimes of fortune amongst his troops. His orations bore fruit, for what was supposedly a military exploit now took on an extravagant romance in the imagination of the troops. Ironically, it was not the eloquent “preaching” that led to the ultimate victory of those adventures; it was just three words that would change the history of the New World. As they marched inland to face their enemies, Cortes ordered, Burn the Boats!”

    They did and thereby eradicated any possibility of retreat from the minds of the troops. They had to commit themselves unwaveringly to the cause—win or die. Retreat was no longer an option.

    Putting aside the violent nature of the example of Cortes and his conquest, we can observe the power of the “no turning back” approach and the disposition of the Christ-Follower who is serving to advance the Kingdom of God.

    When there is no possibility of retreat, we will find the faith to leap forward and to stay the course in fulfilling God’s high calling for each of our lives. The disciples were entrusted and empowered with the advancement of the kingdom of God. Jesus expected them to respond to this call with ardent resolve and tenacity and any one who did not “keep his glance forward” after placing his hand on the plow was not a candidate for the Kingdom of God. Pretty sobering stuff isn’t it?

    May the Lord Give Us His Grace to Plow a Straight Course! 

    On Mission With You,

    Dale

    Dale@DaleEbel.Org

     

  • Mar27

    “No matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘yes’ in Christ. And so through Him the ‘Amen’ [let it be] is spoken by us to the glory of God.” – 2 Corinthians 1:20 NIV

    In recent weeks I have been deeply considering some of the visions the prophet Zechariah received from God. Each of the visions reminds the remnant (the true Covenant Keepers) that the promises of Yahweh for the nation of Israel will indeed come true. They, like us, need to shift their eyes beyond the moment to the end-game.

    Speaking of a future millennium and on into eternity, Habakkuk says:

    “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” – Habakkuk 2:14

    One of the most staggering predications is found in the book of Zechariah:

    11 “Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you. 12 And the LORD will take possession of Judah as His inheritance in the Holy Land, and will again choose Jerusalem.” – Zechariah 2:11-12 NKJV (This is the only time in the Bible where the land of Israel is referred to as “the Holy Land.”)

    Notice that “many nations” and, therefore, many people from all over the world will be united to Yahweh God.

    The other week I took the opportunity to share Christ with another Muslim gal. She was not interested in following Christ and His teachings, but we had a very lengthy and significant discussion about Christianity and Islam.

    Did you know that there are over 55,000 Muslims in the city of Portland?! The world is coming to us. Perhaps some churches ought to adjust their missional paradigm to include training in everyday conversation with those outside of Christ. Diverse people groups are living right here among us and we have the privilege of engaging them for the gospel!

    Another vision is Zechariah 3 in which God shows the prophet a vision of Joshua the High Priest standing before the angel of the LORD, with Satan standing right there among them, accusing Joshua.

    “And the LORD said to Satan, ‘The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! [Is] this not a brand plucked from the fire?’” – Zechariah 3:2 NKJV Wow! How powerful!

    Our Adversary is always accusing and condemning us (Revelation 12:10) just as he accused Joshua for his “filthy” clothing symbolic of how unfit he was to be in the presence of God (Zech. 3:3-5).

    Our Adversary is constantly opposing and attempting to confuse both the message and the messengers of the Lord God. However, the great and precious promises of God will not be thwarted!

    The other day we had problems with our garage door. We called a repair company and the owner of the company came to fix our garage. The owner was a young Jewish man who moved to America from Israel with his wife and three children. As we talked, he told me that he had his Israeli flag stolen from the front of his house. I told him that I also have hung an Israeli flag for the last two years and someone just stole it from the front of our house. The opposition of the demonic forces are alive and well right here in our neighborhoods.

    In Zechariah God makes it clear that whoever “touches” Israel, touches Him for He says, “for whoever touches you touches the apple of MY eye—” Zechariah 2:8

    I went on to talk about our Messiah, Jesus Christ. This Jewish handyman was very intrigued as I suggested that I believed that God brought him to America so that he could find his Messiah. He responded by asking, “Do you really think so?” I say “absolutely!”

    In Zechariah 2:1-5 a man was measuring the future city of Jerusalem and the angel of God tells the young man that the city will one day be so large and populated that it will be beyond measurement. God Himself will be the wall of fire around it. Obviously, whatever time is anticipated by the vision, it is not the time of the present Jerusalem. God sees a vast Jerusalem that cannot be measured (Zechariah 14:8-11).

    Not only will the city grow beyond historical memory, it will no longer be the pawn of other nations; no longer will she be subject to the whims of rival countries and competing religions. Jerusalem will be restored to prominence and the nation of Israel will become the center of His global government!

    The conclusion of Zechariah 2:13 is breath taking. Why? Because in those final days all mankind will be still and silent before Yahweh God! Ponder this final verse with your breath held…

     

    “Be still [silent] before the LORD, all mankind, because He has roused Himself from His holy dwelling.” – Zechariah 2:13 NIV

    In Christ,

    Dale

    Dale@DaleEbel.Org

     

  • Mar26

    “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” – 2 Corinthians 10:12 NIV

    Comparison is the Companion of Discontentment

    How are you most tempted to compare today? Release it to the Lord. There is literally NO good thing that can come from it.

    You will either A.) Grow conceited or B.) Have your joy robbed. Fix your eyes on Jesus, the Author and finisher of your faith (See Hebrews 12:2) who is faithfully completing the good work He began in you! (Philippians 1:6)

    In Christ,

    Dale

    Dale@DaleEbel.Org

  • Mar24

    “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.” – Matthew 11:12 NIV

    The following teaching is a variation of one of the messages I’ve consistently taught men over the last few years. Time and again, men are convicted and motivated (as I am) to respond to the Lord’s strong call of Followership. They intuitively know that there is a certain strength to Christianity, which is often not taught from the pulpits in many of our institutional churches today.

    Admittedly, Matthew 11:12 can be pretty confusing. Lets seek to dissect it together. From the days of John Baptist, when his preaching evoked a strong reaction; when he was imprisoned and ultimately fell victim to Herod’s savagery.

    “The kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing…” Remember, the Kingdom can be defined as  the rule and reign of Christ over our lives. This message of the Kingdom, and those who were to enter the Kingdom, were facing a great deal of aggressive opposition from the general public and from the Jewish religious leaders in particular. This is not surprising because the Good News of the Kingdom of God is a strong message embodied in a call to surrender to the leadership of Christ. It is a message that means you and I must align our allegiance and loyalty to our King and He is now the new and continuing ruler of our lives. This clearly is not an easy message to embrace, as we all have erected and allowed alternative kingdoms to dictate our lives. But it becomes doubly difficult when you face opposition or persecution because of that message. Just stop consider the Christians in the Middle East at this very moment. Would you pray for them? Many are being martyred for their faith through the savagery of ISIS in this very moment. Imagine a Muslim becoming a Follower of Christ in Iraq or Syria today!

    “… and forceful lay hold of it” means that the relentless, determined, and tenacious followed Christ with with forceful resoluteness!  This is also the sense of Luke 16:16. While the Pharisees and others were busy opposing Christ, sinners were entering His kingdom in droves!

    This gives us insight into the reality that we do not have to water or dumb down the message of following Jesus Christ. His chosen people of all ages hear His voice and follow to Him.

    “When He has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow Him because they know His voice” – John 10:4. (See also,  John 10:27-30

    Jesus Christ is once again magnifying, as He frequently did, the difficulty of entering the kingdom of God. Notice: “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” – Matthew 7:14 NIV

    Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone, but it is anything but “easy” 

    It calls for knowledge of the Truth, repentance, surrender, and following Christ in obedience.

    Even the Apostle Paul understood the tenacity and courage it would take to engage the Kingdom of God. “All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering” – 2 Timothy 1:5 NIV

    Jesus reiterated this when he said, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able” – Luke 16:34. The word “strive” means to struggle against conflict. The great multitudes that had once followed Christ were diminishing to a faithful few, “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him” – John 6:66. Great crowds still came to hear,“Large crowds were traveling with Jesus,…” – Luke 14:25, but committed followers were increasingly scarce. Moreover, Christ’s messages often seemed designed to discourage the half-hearted “In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples” – Luke 14:33. Only those willing to carefully assess the cost (vv. 28-32) and invest all they had in His kingdom were worthy to enter. This speaks of something more than mere abandonment of one’s material possessions; it is a life-altering surrender. They were not to safeguard cherished sins, treasure earthy possessions, nor cling to secret self-indulgences. Their commitment had to be without reservation.

    John the Baptist’s message of repentance was meant to precede and prepare people for the coming Messiah and His message. “This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: ‘A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him'” – Matthew 3:3. John the Baptist preached repentance (turn from sin, surrender to Christ’s leadership and follow Him in righteousness), which was a message that called for a rigorous relinquishment of present and past sins with the proof of demonstrative actions.  “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance” – Luke 3:8. His message was a clarion call for people to “seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the righteous man his thought;” – Isaiah 55:7

    Embracing the Kingdom of God requires an un-refined faith.

    In the last 200 years or so, Christians here in the United States have had it relatively easy with regard to cultural opposition. With the institutional Church promoting safety, security, relationships, abundance, grace, forgiveness, peace and other such powerful truths, the American Church has allowed itself to be lulled to sleep. The message of the Kingdom of God has never been an “easy-believism” kind of message. We have been getting away with it because of so much success, prosperity, and cultural acceptance within our faith communities. In our radically changing culture, it would once again seem important to embrace the truth of Matthew 11:12 – where only the “forceful” Followers of Christ “enter the Kingdom of God.”

    Lets not wait to be overtly ostracized or for persecution to intensify. Let’s challenge people today to “strive to enter the kingdom” (Luke 13:34) and “contend [fight strenuously] for the faith” (See Jude 3).

     

    In Christ,

    Dale

    Dale@DaleEbel.Org

  • Mar23

    But others in the crowd ridiculed them, saying, ‘They’re just drunk, that’s all!'”- Act 2:13 NLT

    I’m happy to say that while Jesus can make you spiritually healthy in every wonderful way, He has no ambition to make you normal.

    How often do we want our faith in Jesus Christ to seem more palatable to others? We desperately long to be completely normal, socially accepted, and free from the critique of others. Yet Jesus simply never gave us this option. Our Lord said:

     “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. 19 The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.” – John 15:18-19 NLT

    Jesus has chosen us to “come out of the world” to be separated unto God. We are now a pilgrim people and serving as Christ’s ambassadors with God Himself making His appeal through us (See 2 Corinthians 5:20)! In light of all of this, we will not always seem “normal” to others, right?

    In Christ,

    Dale

    Dale@DaleEbel.Org