Tag Archives: King

The BRANCH


“The BRANCH” is a Bible Lesson that I composed for the teens at Victory Baptist Church. There are questions within the lesson that, although it was written for teens, I consider them young adults and treat them as such. Feel free to read and enjoy or use it for your ministry if you so desire.

Spring branches are a visible reminder of the new life we celebrated on Easter Sunday. The same God that the Jews longed to meet in the Old Testament, but refused to submit to in the New Testament was the BRANCH. Listed in scripture in all capital letters, which for me is like God shouting His name! It makes me want to know more about why it was listed that way, and what information God wants me to know.

Zechariah 6:12

12 And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord:

The BRANCH is what caught my attention, but the context of the scripture begins in verse 9:

And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,10 Take of them of the captivity, even of Heldai, of Tobijah, and of Jedaiah, which are come from Babylon, and come thou the same day, and go into the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah; 11 Then take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest; 12 And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord:

Joshua. A name we’re very familiar with, and a named that is translated from Hebrew Joshua to the English, Jesus. Joshua is also the common alternative form of Yeshua.

So Zechariah is being told by God to tell Joshua the Priest that he is a figure of the one to come. Jesus, the Messiah, now being referred to as “The BRANCH.” And just like the branches of this season come to life, The BRANCH was going to be born (come to life) in Bethlehem, but raised in Nazareth. And just like the spring branches that we have in view now, Jesus was going to spring forth, full of life and glory for God.

There are two roles of Christ that we’re going to talk about by unpacking the scripture references in Zechariah and those two roles are Priest and King.

We too are referred to as priests and kings in Revelation 1:5-6

Revelation 1:5-6

And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

So how does it make you feel to know you are considered a priest or king?

Is that a position you’re comfortable with now, or is it something that you think you’re going to grow into? At what age, or state of mind do you suppose you’ll arrive there?

Jesus grew up just like kids of today. He may not have had an iPhone, but He had family, friends, siblings, and all the common things of that day, and things that we’re used to having as a family unit.

When you think of growing up in biblical times, what do you think the cultural differences and likenesses of that day were in comparison to ours?

What would teens have done for fun?

What would church services have been like for teens?

The scripture says that Jesus was going to grow up out of that place, the place called Nazareth. That was His place. Nazareth or Netzer, means “The branch from a multitude of plants that grew there.” Another branch in our story

Our place is where we live now. Far from a kingdom view. But so was Nazareth during that day. It was said to be an “insignificant village.” Even the religious of the day said “can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

Have you ever had that feeling about our small town?

While Nazareth wasn’t a big city of that day, it’s now the largest Arab city in the country of Israel. And clearly something Amazing did come from the Nazareth. So why can’t God do something amazing here?

Pastor John Powell of Wadsworth, Ohio was born and raised in Calhoun County, West Virginia. But like many of his era who were born in the 30’s, he left our area to find work. But before that he had a back story. He had a Nazareth village.

When he was just a few months old he got pneumonia and his mother had no money to buy medicine, so she went to her father to borrow it. But instead she had to give John to him at the age of 5 in exchange for the medicine. He was used for child labor and treated very poorly. But even in that state he rose above others as an athlete and in popularity. God called him into the ministry while in Akron, Ohio and it was there that he graduated Bible College and became a man of great means through investments. But the most important thing to know about John Powell was that he reached thousands for Christ and was known for his generosity and kindness all over the world.

The man from Calhoun County.

Jesus grew up in Nazareth and didn’t travel very far in the lifetime of His ministry. One study said about 90-120 miles. In this day and age, that’s not many. But we have to consider His travels were by foot. But look at the impact He made in those 100 miles.

What’s the furthest you’ve traveled, and where do you desire to go?

Jesus’ time on earth was spent preaching the Kingdom, and building a temple not made of hands. What temple has Jesus built?

When Jesus prophesied of His resurrection He said in three days I’ll rebuild the temple, which made the religious of the day angry because they thought He spoke of a building. Which was not so.

We too are considered a temple, how?

There are three ways to build the temple we’re in charge of building

  1. We listen (preaching and teaching)
  2. We learn – (Study to show ourselves approved)
  3. We live (Sharing the word of God)

That is how we build the temple, ours and the body of Christ.

It’s the same thing that Christ did as a young person. When Christ disappeared from His parents and was found three days later it says in Luke 2:46

And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of doctors, both hearing them, and asking questions.

That’s how we grow in the Lord, we ask questions. If we want to grow and feel worthy of our royal positions of priests and kings, we need to do what Jesus did.

If a child never ate physically they would die. They’d also die of boredom if they ate the same thing over and over again. The same is true of our spiritual lives.

Eat. Work! Because as we grow we also need to build.

The new temple that Christ said He was going to build in three days wasn’t what they expected or wanted. They wanted it on this earth. That was not the plan. They wanted the royalty to be here. That was not the plan either. And that’s why it’s hard for us to comprehend that we are priests and kings. Because we live in red neck country. Not Jerusalem.

Just as Joshua was active in the building of the temple, Jesus was going to be the Master Builder of the Spiritual Temple that we call the church today.

Zechariah 6

13 Even he (The BRANCH) shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.

All for the Glory of God.

So what are the responsibilities of priests and kings?

I view it as one governs and the other guides.

So, what do we govern, and what do we guide on this earth.

1 Corinthians 12:27-28

27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

Not everyone is a prophet, teacher, etc. but everyone has a purpose. And every one of us are a part of the body of Christ if we’re saved. So we are overseeing the business of the Lord until His return. We are in charge of guiding others. We truly are a part of the Royal Family. And not the one in England, but the one in Heaven.

Zechariah 6

14 And the crowns shall be to Helem, and to Tobijah, and to Jedaiah, and to Hen the son of Zephaniah, for a memorial in the temple of the Lord. 15 And they that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the Lord, and ye shall know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you. And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God.

There were earthly examples like Adam and Joshua that God put on earth as examples of Christ. We are to be the examples of the Lord set before the generation we’re now a part of.  We are the priests and kings of this generation, even if they don’t know it, or want it.

When someone is born into a royal family, only the head of that royal family can kick them out. God’s the head of this family, and He says that none shall be lost. (John 18:19)

That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.

So whether the world likes it or not, we are the royal family. The BRANCH’S government. Not a branch of the government. We will have our day of sitting with the royal family in person, but today we’re ambassadors in this foreign land.

So the question is, to who, where and how are you an ambassador? Pray and seek the Lord’s will for the land the Lord wants you to cover. And don’t ever think that He can’t take a kid from Calhoun County, and do something amazing for the Kingdom. Because you are children of the King.

Don’t forget …

Isaiah 62:3

Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.

Have I got a story for you!

Chick Manger Scene

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

Luke 2:6-7 KJV

Barely a woman by today’s standards, Mary had just been given a harsh reality in life, and I’m not speaking of the birth, although that would certainly have been one too! But the lesson that I refer to this morning is “not everyone is your friend, and life’s not always fair.” For the past nine months she had been a willing vessel to carry the Redeemer of all mankind. And for that she had been rewarded with being on the cover of People Magazine and the Enquirer too had done a four page spread about the secret life she led prior to marrying Joseph. Okay… so that’s not true, but I’m sure the gossip train rolled just as ugly; shooting off steam and traveling just as far. But this night she lie in a make shift hospital room on the side of a hill. Forget sterile, her baby was wrapped in grave clothes, no anesthesia or drugs to dull the pain, and the Physician’s assistant was a donkey name Estelle. Again, I embellish! But the story is so ordinary… NOT!

It’s one of the thousands of story in the Bible that need not be embellished, it’s just as amazing to me every year and when I slow down to think about it; multiple celestial sightings, prophecy fulfilled, a Baby born to a virgin, welcomed by shepherds, honored by Wise Men and a price put on His little head by a pagan king who feared the power of a not so ordinary infant boy. And all that for me!

What an amazing God we serve that He would write such an awesome story to be placed in our lineage and shared with our children and grandchildren. I wonder if the original characters will gather around and tell us all the “real” version of the story when we get to Heaven. Family story night will take on a whole new meaning when we’re together up there! And those books…the ones that God writes in every day of the things we’ve done for Him; perhaps we could even leaf back through to the night of Jesus’ conception and read for ourselves what God wrote of Mary’s reaction to the news that she would carry our Lord. My mind is reeling at what might have been written in those books and what a trip to the library might be like. I’m so grateful for stories…

It’s Sunday! And today I get to be the storyteller to a group of teens in my class. I get to gather them around and share the Good News and the Glory of God. I’m excited, can you tell? I hope you’re excited to share that news today. You don’t have to be a Sunday School teacher; just tell somebody!

Avoiding Transgression at the Election Polls

your vote

“Then Came Amalek.” A sermon that I heard preached over ten years ago and I can’t for the life of me remember the preacher; but I can remember the sermon because it made such an impact on my life. It’s heavy on my heart as I prepare to go to the polls of Election 2014. Every single box that I check has implications on my future. Somehow America has forgotten that they are the ones held accountable for who is elected. There are times when we in good conscience elect an idiot, usually because we don’t have all the fact or they’re a great deceiver. It never ceases to amaze me when they get reelected.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!

We may forget transgressions, God however does not.

The Amalekite’s transgression:

Deuteronomy 25:17-19

Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt; How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God. Therefore it shall be, when the Lord thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it, that thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it.

The Amalekites were the first ones to attack Israel as they left Egypt and they attacked them from behind where the feeble and defenseless of the Israelites were located. God could have wiped them from the face of the earth that day, but he waited for an appointed time. When the children of Israel had been at rest for some time this would become a test of obedience for Saul.

In 2 Samuel 15:3-5 Saul has been given the final go ahead by God to “utterly destroy” the Amalekites.

Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. And Saul gathered the people together, and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand men of Judah.  And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and laid wait in the valley.

Saul failed. He didn’t utterly destroy the Amalekites, he kept back the elite and allowed his men to keep the best of the best from the Amalekite property. And judgment came.

22 And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.

Here’s the Word I received on Election Day 2014

When the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon occurred it wasn’t necessarily on the feeble but it was on innocent lives that had nothing to do with a battle field. And I believe that America for a few days acknowledged the power of God and His sovereignty over our Nation. We did repent… but not utterly. Our leadership kept some of the spoils and we who elect them allowed those who dishonor God to continue to be in office.

Deciding who to vote for isn’t easy. Israel wanted a King because the rest of the world had one. Saul looked like a king but when push came to shove he sided with the world. He kept the pretty people and the pretty stuff. Those on the ballot may look the part, but what about their hearts. Finding someone who “utterly destroys Amalekitian thinking” and refuses to go against godly principles is tough… if not impossible.  (I know Amalekitian is not a word, but for effect it works)

A few automatic red flags for me is:

  • If they supported abortion, they’ll have no support from me.
  • If they campaigned on Sunday, they lost me there too.
  • If the proof’s not been in the puddin’ for their last term as an incumbent. They won’t likely do a better job next time around.
  • I’ll support my community, I will not however support mismanagement.
  • I’ll pray for wisdom for me and for my community. I’ll love them… democrat, republican, libertarian, mountain or constitution party.
  • I have but one King. His name is Jesus.

The Wise, the Worried & the Wayward ~ What do you seek?

I can clearly remember as a child the fear that I had regarding Armageddon. Having very little knowledge about it, only that it was the war to end all wars, and when it happened, horrific things would be about us and the world would be out of control. That fear followed me into adulthood because I still had not learned the scripture as one would have thought I would have being raised in church. Jesus’ return and the end of the earth as we know brought nothing but dread in my heart. I guess I wasn’t alone, nor the first to have experienced it.

Matthew 2:1-3

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

Wise men fear and Seek Christ

The wise men were said to be men of great spiritual and philosophical understanding. They knew of the coming Messiah and did not fear it but rather embraced it knowing that God’s plan is the right plan. Their obedience to travel such a great distance speaks volumes of their character. They were invested in this trip with time, money and risk; committed to finding God. That’s what wise men (and women) do. They seek God at all costs knowing that the end result is blessing. But then there was Herod…

Worried men fear and Seek Control

Herod sought Jesus too, but not for worship or wisdom, he sought Him for control. He wanted to destroy anyone he thought would threaten his power as King of Judea, and he didn’t care to kill them young or innocent, calling for the mass murder of all infant boys under the age of two. I somehow block out that part of the Christmas story. The political wickedness that ripped the heart out of mothers. The killing spree that filled Bethlehem’s residents with immeasurable pain was so horrific that Matthew quotes Jeremiah’s mournful words regarding Israel’s pain during the Babylonian Exile in verse 18 ~ In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

Perhaps I block it out because it rings too true in society today. Our government will, it seems at any cost, cater to the wicked to keep control, including forsaking God, murdering babies and joining with allies totally against any Christian principal for the sake of power. They should worry, for try as they might, God’s plan will not fail.

Wayward men fear and Seek Comfort

Those who do not know the comfort of Christ will seek comfort in the world at all costs, even freedom. The scripture in Matthew 2 said “all Jersalem” was worried too. They were troubled because they did not know that Christ was coming to bring peace, they only knew Herod was upset and that wasn’t good. They desired no King other than Herod; him they understood. Therefore Jesus was not a King they cared to know. And so it is with many today, content to stay in the ignorance and controlled by what they’re comfortable with than to relinquish full control to God Who will provide them a peace immeasurable.

It’s not hard to see why the world fights against Christianity, because true, undefiled Christianity shatters the lies and deceit that have been created to control a lost generation. Once you truly understand Who Jesus is, the world’s control is gone and you have the freedom to live without fear. You no longer fear the coming of the Lord, but just like the wise men in Matthew you embrace it. You are willing to go and do at all cost and risk, because you know that His coming again will bring wickedness to an end. Why should we fear? Yes Christ came as a baby, but He’s coming again and this time He’s all grown up! This time there will be no risk or danger for those who know Him as their Savior, but to those who don’t there is much to fear.

Do you know Jesus today? If not, give yourself the gift of Peace this Christmas.