Where has eCsiLe been?

eCsiLe is working on his next full length studio album at Island of eCsiLe Studios. Are you ready for something new?

In mid to late 2014, disciple of Jesus Christ and Soul Anchor Music recording artist eCsiLe of AnchorMEN will be releasing a new album entitled Painful Inhabitance.

The album comes on the heels of a brief sabbatical from making music after an unexpected career change. This project explores the themes of pain, suffering, prosperity, false doctrines, and much more!

Check out his teasers…

 

When Jesus saw the crowds

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When He saw the crowds… – Matthew 9:36

If you want to get the attention of a roomful of teenagers, turn something wild loose. A little touch of chaos in the atmosphere periodically is an asset to any youth group.

Years ago when I was a youth pastor, I turned something loose as I got ready to tell the parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15:1-7). After a little searching, I found a modern-day shepherdess, a middle-aged woman, on the outskirts of our town, Rochester, New York. My wife and I went out to visit the shepherdess on her farm, and she agreed to come to the city and talk about what she had come to understand about the nature of sheep and how she tended them.

Just as I started to speak at the youth meeting that Wednesday night, the back door swung open and in ran a little lamb. That cute animal cut back and forth through the rows and legs of students. The place went wild with excitement. Inserting a live animal into the environment brought a livelier view to the Bible story I wanted to tell.

Jesus has a POV altogether different from ours.

POV is a literary and theatrical term used to describe “point of view.” POV is the viewpoint, angle, or perspective through which someone observes settings, situations, or people. But what was Jesus’ POV? The gospel of Matthew tells us the way he viewed the Crowds:

When [Jesus] saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. – Matthew 9:36

The word crowd is used more than one hundred times in the Gospels. Crowds frequently surrounded Jesus. Floyd McClung, the international director of All Nations, a church planting and leadership training network, wrote:

[Jesus] was just as intentional about reaching the crowds as He was individuals, but with distinctly different approaches… Jesus saw interaction with the crowds as a way of planting seeds in people’s hearts (Luke 8:4-18), a way of arousing spiritual interest, and a way of finding disciples to be taught. He was looking for those who were hungry for more, so He could invest His time wisely with them.

Looking at the Crowds, Jesus saw that the challenges people faced varied. Even now, he sees that you and I, and also the Crowds among which we find ourselves, struggle with the fact that we have

an enemy (thus, we’re “harassed”);
a hopelessness (thus, we’re “helpless”); and
a lonely lostness (thus, we’re “like sheep without a shepherd”).
I hope you know just how much Jesus loves you. One way to find out is to know just how he sees you.

Characteristics of Sheep

Sheep generally run in flocks, in groups. This is where Christ often finds us first, among the Crowds. Remember, the Crowds represent those who follow Jesus to the places of watching and listening.The Crowds often surrounded Jesus. This experience for Jesus never smacked of a celebrity with his fans; rather he was a Shepherd with his sheep.

The shepherdess who visited our youth group gave us insights into sheep and their behavior. Hearing these was an eye-opener for me. Let’s just say, I could identify. Christ also sees these tendencies within you and me.

Sheep Have No Real Sense of Direction

We know from the Gospels that Christ came to earth to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10).

Sheep have a propensity for getting lost.

Knowing Christ and growing closer to Him begins with a sense of need. For the earliest followers of Jesus who heard about Him and made their way into the Crowds, their focal point at this place was their questions. But because of the vast multitudes, they did not have the opportunity to ask Jesus. We can only imagine the questions they must have asked themselves:

Is Jesus really someone come from God?
Can he really help me with my struggle?
Does he understand how I feel?
Is there some way I can get closer to him in order to gain his help?
Sheep Are Quite Helpless Against Predators

Christ told us, “The thief [Satan] comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). When you sense an enemy trying to diminish or harm you, Jesus sees your need and can rescue and protect you.

Sheep Left Alone Will Actually Eat Themselves into a Lost Place

Even in the Old Testament, Isaiah said, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6).

Our default mode tends to find us wandering to places that hurt more than help us.

Sheep Are Weak

And often, so are we. Yet the apostle Paul took time in 2 Corinthians to talk about our weaknesses and how even they can make a place for Christ’s strength to be revealed (check out 2 Corinthians 12 for strong points on weakness).

Sheep Get Dirty Easily

Everything seems to stick to their wool, and sheep do not clean or groom themselves. Our lives and souls can get quickly and easily soiled in today’s world. We often struggle to find a lasting sense of holiness and wholeness on our own. We really do need a shepherd to clean us up.

Sheep Are Gregarious, Social Creatures That Do Better in Numbers

We all do better in community than we do alone. We are created for community. We are formed for friendship. Isolation and loneliness tend to wither our souls; community helps grow them.

Sheep Require More Care than Any Other Livestock

They are time-intensive animals to raise, and they require much from their caretakers. So do we. Just ask your pastor (shepherd) or your parent.

Sheep Are Timid and Easily Panicked

They stampede easily and are prey to mob reactions. Is it any wonder Jesus so often said to His followers, “Fear not”?

Pathos

The Bible’s statement that Jesus was “moved with compassion” is a deep expression of soul, one full of pathos, passion, and heart. According to The Message, “His heart broke.”

Since we are “harassed” by an enemy, Jesus alone can overcome Satan’s power in our lives.

Since we are “helpless,” Christ alone is our “ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

Since we are “like sheep without a shepherd,” Jesus alone is the Shepherd who “lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).

Jesus sees the challenges, struggles, hurts, and pains of our sheep-ness and sheepishness.

One reason God sent His Son to earth was to make sure we would know just how He, God the Father, feels about us and just how He sees us. He is moved by the needs of your life. He sees you that way. No matter what challenge you face, you are not alone. When it comes to you and me, Jesus has a unique POV. He sees Crowds in a unique way, like “sheep without a shepherd.” And isn’t that the only way a Good Shepherd ever would?

Remember… in the Crowds, we discover how much we need a Shepherd.

* * *

Your Turn

Isn’t it a relief that Jesus’ response to our sheep-ness is compassion? Isn’t it encouraging that His response to our need for a Shepherd is to never leave us alone? Come join the conversation on our blog! We would love to hear your comments about our Good Shepherd. ~ Devotionals Daily

SAVE 20% OFF the brand-new book: The One Jesus Loves by Robert Crosby

How close can we get to Jesus? How close do you want to get?

Six circles of relationship formed around Jesus in his time on earth. In the outermost circle, the Crowds who were curious. Next, the Five Thousand who were needy, while the Seventy worked and served in Jesus’ ministry; then came the Twelve who walked with Jesus, the Three who suffered and celebrated with him, and finally the One who sat beside him at the Last Supper. Jesus’ closest follower listened more closely than any other, and recognized the Savior when no one else did.

Scripture promises if you move closer to God, he will move closer to you. Wherever you are in your pursuit of Christ, you can draw closer still. In The One Jesus Loves, you will learn about each of the six circles, and what it takes to move further in, closer and closer to Jesus.

Which circle are you in today? Jesus is calling you closer.

Hosanna ~ Palm Sunday

In June 2002, Queen Elizabeth II celebrated 50 years as Great Britain’s monarch. The nation threw a huge party, the Golden Jubilee Festival, with 20,000 performers participating.The royal family and a crowd of a million people watched as varied entries, such as giant food plates, 50 Hell’s Angels, representatives of five decades of London taxis, scantily dressed butterflies and even a dancing Taj Mahal paraded down London’s ceremonial mall.

In comparison, the parade for an earlier king was much more humble. This procession took place in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, a week before Jesus died. The King, Jesus, rode into town on a donkey. True, even this celebration required attention to details: a donkey, a colt, cloaks to cover the animals, palm tree branches and crowds. But these elements seem so minor. We’d want Jesus’ entry into the city to be the biggest and best parade ever; we want to proclaim, “Here comes the King!” Yet this episode portrays very little of Christ’s kingly authority and power. We wonder:

Why did Jesus arrive on a donkey? Why did He act so unkingly after the parade and even go on to cause a disturbance in the temple? Why were His most enthusiastic supporters a group of disabled people and a bunch of kids?

Throughout his Gospel Matthew explains that Jesus is God’s promised King. As Jesus’ earthly life and ministry came near their end, Matthew wants to remove all doubts about who this King is and why He came – to rescue us from sin. However, like the religious leaders and crowds on that early Palm Sunday, we can easily misunderstand Jesus. In the craziness of everyday life, we can carelessly forget just how great and powerful our King is. Amid the hustle of family and work, we can quickly grow complacent about all He has done and continues to do for us.

Human emperors and kings come and go. Queen Elizabeth occupied Britain’s throne for more than 50 years. Yet that’s just a wink of time in comparison to eternity. Jesus reigns as King forever! As His royal subjects, we can shout our sincere praise:

Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest Heaven!
 – Matthew 21:9

Your Turn

Happy Palm Sunday! If you took charge of planning a celebration and parade for Jesus, God’s promised King, what would the event include? Why? Why do you think Jesus’ “Triumphal Entry” into Jerusalem was actually a humble entrance? As you think of Jesus as King, does this perspective affect how you approach Him with your needs? Does it make a difference in your efforts to follow and obey Him? What can you do to increase His reign in your life?

Scripture

Matthew 21:1-17; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:28-40; Acts 2:22-24; Acts 4:24-31

Scripture #HearingGodSpeak

Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action),
17 So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

(2 Timothy 3:16-17)

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, “17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

That is a remarkable phrase: “every good work”! Everything good that God expects us to do, the Scriptures equip us to do. That is an amazing claim. How does it work? How does the Bible equip us for “every good work”?

It’s not by supplying specific lists that cover all possible situations. Thinking that way would be a mistake in two ways. It would be a mistake because there are hundreds of specific situations we are in that the Bible does not specifically address. There were no TVs, computers, cars, phones, birth control pills, Prozac, genetic engineering, respirators, bullets, bombs in Jesus’s day. The Bible does not equip us for every good deed by telling us the specific choice to make for every new situation.

The other reason it would be a mistake to think that way is that it leads straight to legalism — doing things because of outward conformity to a demand in the hope that performance will win approval. That is not Christian morality. Good works are done from a heart that treasures God and his help, and from a heart that loves to display the glory of Christ, else the good works are not good, no matter how they conform to external expectations.

The Scripture, day after day, reveals to us the greatness and the beauty and the power and the wisdom and the mercy of all that God is for us in Christ so that by the power of the Spirit we find our joy in him, and the ways of sin become distasteful — indeed ugly and repugnant. Yes the Bible gives us many specifics as pointers how to live. But most deeply the way the Bible equips us for every good work is by changing what we find satisfaction in so that our obedience comes from within freely, not by coercion from without. It does this when we read it and meditate on it and memorize it and meditate over it every day.

©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Find many other free resources by John Piper at desiringGod.org