The Encounter 

Hebrews 7:1
For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, . . .”

Abraham and his nephew Lot experienced great blessings from the Lord. When they first arrived in Canaan, they had very little, but as the years passed, they acquired great wealth. As nomadic farmers, great success meant an increase in livestock, and increased livestock meant a need for larger pasture lands. Soon their wealth became so great they were forced to separate. Abraham chose to continue to live the simple life of a farmer, while Lot left the family business and began to dwell, with his family, in the city of Sodom. Sodom, and her sister city, Gomorrah, was known for the wickedness that was practiced within the city walls. The king of Sodom had been conquered by Chedorlaomer, a powerful king of Mesopotamia, and along with other kings, paid annual tribute to keep from being attacked. A group of these cities, including Sodom, elected to stop paying tribute and stand their ground. Soon, Chedorlaomer and his forces attacked the rebel cities, and overthrew them. As the saying goes, “to the victor goes the spoils”, and Lot, along with the inhabitants of Sodom and all their wealth, was taken captive. When news of this reached Abraham, he gathered his servants, other shepherds and farmers, and they went in pursuit of Chedorlaomer and his army. Overtaking them in the night, Abe and his men were able to do what the armies had failed to do, they miraculously conquered the enemy forces, and rescued the captives.

It was on the return from this great battle that Abraham met Melchizedek, king of ancient Jerusalem. Weary from battle, and perhaps somewhat frightened at the idea of the retaliation that may arise from Chederloamar’s troops, Abraham has one of the most interesting encounters of his life. We are told Melchizedek meets him with bread, wine and a blessing. The writer of Hebrews tells us Melchizedek is a type of Christ, and his actions illustrate the work of Christ. As the weary warrior is ministered to by bread and wine from Melchizedek, so the Christian is strengthened for future battle at the communion table. It was the night before His death when Jesus took bread and wine and instituted the sacrament of communion. He told us that as often as we want, we can partake of these elements and remember the work of the cross. My sins broke His body, and His blood cleanses me of my sins.

No matter what struggles, battles, or obstacles you may be facing, the secret to your success is found at the cross. Take some time today to reflect upon all that Jesus has done for you at Mount Calvary, and there at His feet, pour out your heart to Him.

Pastor Jim

 

Communion 

1 Corinthians 11:22
“What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God…”

Paul is addressing one of the most important practices of the church and the individual. He will instruct them regarding partaking in communion. Rather than seeing this ordinance as a necessary, and even holy part of their church life, the Corinthian Christians had turned it into a way to honor the wealthy, thus neglecting the poor. It was a common practice in the early church to feast together before communion. In Corinth, they invited the wealthy to eat first and only after they had their fill did the poor get in line. In some cases, the food was gone and the rich were drunk. Suffice it to say, this was not an acceptable practice. Paul is writing to correct their behavior and to instill within them a proper understanding of communion.

“What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God…”

First, Paul points out that coming to the communion table is different from coming to the dinner table. We must come looking for and expecting something different from when we gather to eat. The expectation is we are meeting with Jesus. Communion was not designed as a religious ritual, but as a means of experiencing fellowship with Christ. The last supper, when this ordinance was established, was a very intimate time. The disciples gathered around the table with Jesus as He spoke with them, and it was at that time, John laid his head in Jesus’ lap. Communion is primarily a time to draw near to Christ. It is through the cross we have access to the Throne of Grace, where we meet with God.

“Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

Second, communion is a time of reflection. Jesus said, “do this in remembrance of Me.” The word remember carries the idea of bringing thoughts together or recollecting. Throughout the day we have scattered thoughts about Jesus. Our time with Him is interrupted by responsibility or distraction, but at the communion table we bring our thoughts into the captivity of Christ, and we focus upon what he has done for us. There are five points that we are encouraged to focus upon. First, we should look in. Paul encourages us to examine ourselves. There, with the cross in view, we look at our life to see if our practices are acceptable to God. It is important that this be done in the shadow of the cross, so we do not leave condemned, but forgiven. Are there practices in your life that need to be set aside in light of Christ? Second, we should look back. Communion affords us the opportunity to examine the cross and reflect upon Christ’s great sacrifice. When we see the brutality of the cross, we can then begin to understand the depths of His love. Each time the whip strikes His back, or the nails are driven, it is a reflection of Heaven’s love. Third, we must look up. The cross is not the end, but rather the doorway to heaven’s throne. It is through the cross, we have access to God. We are encouraged to come boldly to the Throne of Grace, where, in daily fellowship, we can receive pardon for sin, and grace to continue on in Christ. We have not only been saved from sin, we are also saved to Christ. We should be experiencing His life flowing into ours. This happens as we access the Throne of Grace. Fourth, we must look forward. Paul spoke of us “proclaiming the Lord’s death until he comes.” The great hope of the believer is that Jesus rose from the dead and will return one day for His church. He calls us His bride, and the marriage supper of the Lamb awaits the child of God. Communion should ever remind us, and prepare us, for the return of Jesus. Finally, we should look out. Again, Paul wrote that with communion we “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” Communion is the Gospel. Jesus bled and died to save sinners, any and all who receive Him will be forgiven. While communion is a practice for the Christian, it is done in a way to illustrate our need for a savior and to draw men to Christ. The broken bread reminds us of what our sin did to Christ, the cup reminds us of what His blood does for us.

Whenever your church partakes of communion, you should make it a habit to be there, and to bring your unsaved friends.

Pastor Jim

 

In Remembrance 

Luke 22:19
“This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

Everything in the life of Christ was working toward His final hour. A moment in time when He, through His death, would provide life for all who believe. Prior to the events of the cross unfolding, Jesus took time to have a last meal with His closest followers. It was at this meal that He established the sacrament of communion. He told his disciples the bread was to represent His body which would be broken to provide healing, and the fruit of the vine would represent His blood, that would be shed for the removal of sin.

A few conditions are given to those who partake of communion. First, communion is for those who believe. The sacrament has its value in what it represents. The religious activity is of no value unless you are one who has received Christ as your Savior. Second, Paul spoke of partaking in an unworthy manner, meaning, if we have sin that has not been confessed and repented of, we should deal with it before we partake (1 Corinthians 11:27-29). Finally, Jesus tells us, the primary purpose of communion is remembrance. It is a time to focus on the Lord. As we hold the bread and the cup, we should be looking back to the cross, looking up to the Lord, looking forward to His return, and looking out at those who have not yet received Christ. Remember, Christ saved you through His work on the cross, and the day is coming when He will call you home.

Let’s be ready…

Pastor Jim

Maybe tonight around the dinner table you, as a family, should partake in communion together. Simply read through this passage, pass the elements, and pray.

 

Meeting Melchizedek

Genesis 14:18-20
“Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: ‘Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.’ And he gave him a tithe of all.”

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b9a/30989304/files/2015/01/img_1302.jpgAbram’s encounter with Melchizedek is one of the most interesting and encouraging stories in Scripture. The scene is set for their meeting in the previous chapter, where we find Lot departing from Abram, and moving to the plains outside the city of Sodom. What seemed to be a brilliant business decision, turned out to be a costly moral one, as Lot is soon caught up in the ways of Sodom. When fighting breaks out between nations, Lot finds himself taken captive as a POW, and led to Elam where he will become a slave. The news of Sodom’s defeat, and Lot’s capture, reaches the ears of Abram, who gathers his 318 servants and heads out in hot pursuit. Abram is attempting to do with 318 farmers, what five armies could not do; defeat the forces of Chedorlaomer.

Miraculously, Abram is able, not only to defeat Chederlaomer, but to drive his forces as far north as Damascus. God has accomplished the impossible through the faithful and fearless service of a few men. It is here, the story gets really interesting. Upon returning home, Abram is met by Melchizedek, the King and Priest of Salem. This man, although only appearing briefly in the narrative of Genesis, becomes a key player in the overall story of Scripture. When we come to the New Testament, we are told the ministry of Jesus was patterned after the ministry of Melchizedek. Jesus, unlike the Jewish priests, was both a king and a priest. The encounter Abram had with him, is an illustration of the encounters that we must have with Christ.

Abram’s encounter with Melchizedek happens after a battle, that would have left any army exhausted, and before facing the king of Sodom, who would offer him great riches. It is here, Abram meets with Melchizedek, who offers him bread, wine and a blessing. As Scripture continues to unfold, we will find that bread and wine play a critical role.

Life for the believer is filled with spiritual battles. We face the trials and temptations of life, coupled with the difficulties of winning others to the Lord. This can become exhausting, and leave us vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks. The secret is to take a page from Abram’s book, being sure our service includes ample time with King Jesus, and our focus is on the cross. In communion, where we are told to remember Jesus, the bread reminds us of His body, broken for our sin, while the wine reminds us of the forgiveness we find in Him. It is critical, in the midst of battle, we learn to get alone with the Lord and allow Him to strengthen us.

Whatever challenges you may face today, spending time with Jesus will prepare you for it. Before you run out the door to face the next hurdle in life, be sure to take time to look into the Word, and up at the Lord.

Pastor Jim