Friday, April 13, 2012

The Hand Writing is on the Wall!

What would YOU do if you suddenly saw a hand--not connected to anything--suddenly writing on your wall (or maybe your computer screen)?

Well, I think I'd do a couple of things: 1) Freak out (just a bit); 2) Pray; 3) Read what was written, and 4) Try to determine WHO (or what) was doing the writing.

Well, in the book of Daniel, Ch. 5, that's exactly what happened.

The King--no longer Nebuchadnezzor (see previous posts about him, Daniel and Daniel's friends), but now Belshazzar is throwing a party. (Notes about him: He is either the son, or the grandson, of Nebuchadnezzor, who overthrew Judah and Israel (among other nations).

He apparently did not get the message and lessons that King Nebu had learned. (Note: His name, beginning with "Bel" shows his allegiance to the god 'Baal' in the O.T.--a notorious god who was worshipped by revelry, wanton violence, sacrifice of children, sexual promiscuity, and materialism.) He is throwing a party in the palace and he decides that he is going to reaffirm his domination over the Israelites AND THEIR GOD (again--note his allegiance to Baal). He does so by commanding that the wine goblets and other gold instruments--which had been made for, and dedicated to, the Temple of the Lord in Israel--be brought in and used in his drunken revelry.

This would show continued domination over the people of Israel, but also (very significantly) their God. "King Belshazzar gave a great feast for 1,000 of his nobles, and he drank wine with them. While Belshazzar was drinking the wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver cups that his predecessor, Nebuchadnezzar, had taken from the Temple in Jerusalem. He wanted to drink from them with his nobles, his wives, and his concubines. So they brought these gold cups taken from the Temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. While they drank from them they praised their idols made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone." (Daniel 5:1-4)

As he proceeds to do this, he sees a hand suddently appear a write a message on the wall.

"Suddenly, they saw the fingers of a human hand writing on the plaster wall of the king’s palace, near the lampstand. The king himself saw the hand as it wrote, and his face turned pale with fright. His knees knocked together in fear and his legs gave way beneath him. The king shouted for the enchanters, astrologers, and fortune-tellers to be brought before him. He said to these wise men of Babylon, “Whoever can read this writing and tell me what it means will be dressed in purple robes of royal honor and will have a gold chain placed around his neck. He will become the third highest ruler in the kingdom!” But when all the king’s wise men had come in, none of them could read the writing or tell him what it meant. So the king grew even more alarmed, and his face turned pale. His nobles, too, were shaken." (Daniel 5:5-9)

He freaks a little, and tries to read the message, but can't. He calls in all his astrologers, magicians and prophets to come in and read it...but they couldn't. This just freaked him out all the more!

Suddenly the Queen remembers Daniel, and that 'the spirit of the gods' is in him, and they call for him. Belshazzar offers him prestige, prizes and honor--IF Daniel can interpret the meaning for him.

His response is great: “Keep your gifts or give them to someone else, but I will tell you what the writing means. Your Majesty, the Most High God gave sovereignty, majesty, glory, and honor to your predecessor, Nebuchadnezzar.... and Daniel goes on to recount the greatness of Nebuchadnezzar, and the lessons he learned about humbling himself before the God in Heaven. “You are his successor, O Belshazzar, and you knew all this, yet you have not humbled yourself. For you have proudly defied the Lord of heaven and have had these cups from his Temple brought before you. You and your nobles and your wives and concubines have been drinking wine from them while praising gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone—gods that neither see nor hear nor know anything at all. But you have not honored the God who gives you the breath of life and controls your destiny! So God has sent this hand to write this message:" (Daniel 5:17-24)

He says, KEEP YOUR GIFTS! Daniel is not interested in any so-called 'reward' or 'honor' that this king has to give. He bluntly and accurately calls Balshazzar out, and tells him the message... “This is the message that was written: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin. This is what these words mean: Mene means ‘numbered’—God has numbered the days of your reign and has brought it to an end. Tekel means ‘weighed’—you have been weighed on the balances and have not measured up. Parsin means ‘divided’—your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” (Daniel 5:25-28) BOOM! Here it is, king: You're done! God--the TRUE God--will not play. You've stepped WAAAY over the line, and you're finished.

Balshazzar's response was repentance, worship and humility, right? Wrong...he continued with his previous plan to 'honor and reward' Daniel--as if Daniel cared at all what this guy could give to him! There was no evidence of reflection, repentance, nothing! how did it go for king Belshazzar?

"That very night Belshazzar, the Babylonian king, was killed. And Darius the Mede took over the kingdom at the age of sixty-two." (Daniel 5:30-31)

What are the lessons for US? Humility, worship of the True God, willingness to reject the 'rewards' of this world in order to stand for the Truth...LOTS of lessons to learn!

Is "The Hand Writing On the Wall" today?
Is God calling us today to reflection on His past blessings, repentance, and worship of Him as the TRUE God?

I'll let you decide that...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

We Are Family!

Family...a wonderful thing (even though some of our families are more 'unusual' than others!).

Family is a blessing!

I come from a BIG family. If you add all siblings, in-laws, and kids, we Johnson's have over 80 people in our group.

And we love it!
Lots of differences, to be sure...but we are unified as "The Johnson Family" anyway.

The CHURCH is supposed to be like that!

Because of what unifies us (our love for God, through Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit), "We Are "Fam-i-ly".

Do we have differences?
Are some of us more 'high maintenance' than others?

...but we are FAMILY!

That's true of 'our' church @ KCC, and it's true of 'The' Church--all who call on the name of the Lord.

As the Scripture says, "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called—one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." (Ephesians 4:3-6)

Jesus said that unity--that love--is what would show the world that this 'faith stuff' is legit.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-36)

So, if all that is true, we need to make sure that we are UNIFIED!

...and THAT is why the Comstock churches are doing more together.
THAT is why we are reaching out into our community--together--to show the love of God.
THAT is why we have scheduled another Unity Service. This one (which will be one hour) will be on Saturday, May 5 @ 5:00 here @ KCC. KCC's worship band will lead us, and we'll follow it up with a cookout.

Because we're family...and we're unified in Jesus Christ.

Put it on your calendar and let's make it a celebration!

Friday, April 6, 2012


Good Friday.

On this day, we make a deliberate choice to remember something heinous, unfair, unjust, graphic and "Good"!

Jesus' death on the cross that day was terrible. He'd been railroaded in an unfair trial, he'd been handed over to Gentiles by the Jewish leaders (who wouldn't do anything in cooperation with Gentile rulers--till this), and he'd been beaten, spat upon, whipped, ridiculed, and now, had been nailed to a cross.

The cross--an emblem of suffering and shame, a symbol of Roman power over people, a brutal instrument usually reserved for hardened criminals.

Yet, there was Jesus...Prince of Peace, Healer, Deliverer from Demons, Miracle Worker, Teacher...hanging on it.


A terrible, dark day.

He hung there for 3 hours, gasping for breath, feeling the sharp pain of nails in his feet and hands, along with the wounds that had been inflicted upon Him earlier.

A "Good" day? Hardly!

Yet...there were these words he uttered while hanging there, suffering...

"And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).(Mark 15:34)

Actually, this was a reference to Psalm 22, which David wrote when he was feeling separated from God. That Psalm shouts in triumph that, no matter how David felt, he knew that God was there, and was at work, and would accomplish His eternal plan.

Jesus was reminding the people watching of the same thing: God WAS at work, and He WOULD accomplish His eternal plan!

As He hung there, Jesus was not 'defeated'. This was WHY HE CAME!

"The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again." (John 10:17-18)

He knew that He had come to give up His pay the debt that we owed, but could not pay.

He came to pay for our sins...and that's precisely what He was doing on that cross.

The Jewish leaders, the Romans...and Satan...all thought they had defeated Him, but they hadn't...
"And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit." (Matthew 27:50)

When He had suffered and taken all those sins upon Himself, He cried out in a loud voice.

What did He cry?

"It is finished." (John 19:30)

Not a sigh of resignation, not a declaration of defeat...this was a cry of VICTORY!

This was exactly what He came to do!

He had Paid for the sins of the world!

He had made forgiveness of sins possible for all who would call on Him in faith!

He had paved the way for the growing, vibrant relationship with God that we can experience!


He had WON!

Now, you and I can call that Friday..."Good"!

We can add nothing to it, we can subtract nothing from it. His willing sacrifice of Himself--on our behalf that day--DID IT!


Thursday, April 5, 2012

FREEDOM--purchased by Jesus!

In the movie "Braveheart", Mel Gibson stars as William Wallace, commoner who led the people of Scotland in their fight for independence from Great Britain.

In one of the more famous scenes in the movie, he urges his fellow Scots into battle, against seemingly insurmountable odds with one word: FREEDOM!

Freedom is one goal, one desire that has united individuals, and groups of people over the entire time of man's existence.

It's also something that we take for granted...and sometimes misuse...when we have it.

It's no secret: In America, we have more freedom (or at least, we did at one time) than any other people on earth.

Have we used that freedom well?

Morally, our thirst for freedom has actually been an expression of rebellion--against ANY standards whatsoever!

It almost seems that ANY standards of ANY kind--other than total individualism, total self-centeredness and total narcissism--is resisted.

Is THIS what freedom is all about?

I don't think so.

I beleive the desire for freedom is God-given. Yet, those who revel in it to suit their own desires actually end up mis-using it--at least, according to God's standards.

God designed us; He knows how this life works best, and it works best when we submit ourselves--willingnly--to Him.

If instead we DEMAND our own way, and DEMAND, like a petulant child, that He give us 'what we want,when we want it', we are on a collision course with reality that will be painful for us...and all who love us!

Freedom does not mean 'the ability to do what I want, when I want to, with no hindrances placed on me from anyone'. Rather, real freedom--which is for our good and others' good--also happens to be...for God's glory.

You've seen the bumper stickers which say "Freedom isn't free", right?

Well, real freedom for us cost the Son of God his life! He had to PAY for our freedom!

"So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins." (Ephesians 1:6-7)

The Freedom that we were meant and designed to experience is one that is for our good and His glory. We have 'freedom' from sin and death.

"So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death." (Romans 8:1-2)

THAT is real freedom--freedom to be everything God has made us to be!

It is through Jesus' sacrifice--which we note this weekend--that this freedom was made possible.

Let's NOT take it for granted; rather, let's embrace it as it was meant to be, willingly submitting ourselves to God's will.


Praise God, it can be ours--in Christ Jesus!