Archives for posts with tag: Jesus

the passion of the ChristSimply put, we don’t deserve to receive the benefits of Jesus’ passion. The actual events point to this and our experience now reveals it again. As the disciples squabbled among themselves about who would be the greatest, Jesus humbled himself and washed their feet. As the disciples fell asleep, Jesus was agonizing in prayer, sweating drops of blood on their behalf.

As Jesus was facing a mock trial, beaten, and scourged; his disciples at best denied him and at worst hid themselves in fear. As Jesus bore their sins on the cross, they remained silent or hidden. Jesus – alone – faced the judgment of the world and sin.

Romans 5: 6 says, sin had made us all sick and weak. When Christ died, he died for those unable to worship, unable to give honor or devotion to the Lord. “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”

“But, God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5: 8) When we were without passion, God shows His passion for us. Don’t ever think God (Jesus) dies for your potential good. A passion-less person has no potential to offer, little less be realized.  Neither did Jesus die for the unrecognized good you already possess.

Don’t kid yourself. You’re not all that.  But, Jesus is and more.

Even while the friends closest to him were betraying and denying him, Jesus still moves forward to the cross. Even while the system is rigged against him, Jesus is still resolutely and obediently moving towards Golgotha. Even while, nobody gets it, Jesus makes a new covenant in his own blood and sacrifice.

The promise that drives his passion? “…he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge (of the Father), my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.” (Isaiah 53: 10 – 11)

remember“I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to arouse you by way of reminder.” (2 Peter 1: 13 RSV)

As long as I’m alive there is something for which a reminder is always appropriate. What is it? To make God’s call and His Word the basis for everything we do. Even if we already know this is true and have it firmly established, a reminder is still in good order.

What’s the purpose for the reminder? That we, with greater speed might escape and move away from the corruption that is in the world through desire and that we, with greater speed and choreography, have more and more in common with God’s nature.

These reminders can be stirring us up to the promises of God. These reminders attest to God’s glory and excellence. These reminders can point out the difference grace still needs to make for us to be conformed into the image of God’s Dear Son.

We need these reminders and I am thankful for the ones I get, even though I’m sometimes slow to appreciate them as I should.

I remember when as a young man I watched my grandfather, whose nature with whom I had way too much in common, was acting inappropriately. His caregivers would always respond so graciously, confessing for him, “He’s just not himself, right now.”  But, I was concerned, what if this behavior is closer to the truth than we want to admit?

Regardless, I developed a new prayer in those days, one which I am reminded to repeat quite often. It goes like this. “Lord, please work in me a thorough work of grace, so when I am not myself I look more like YOU than me.”

Again, I remind you, make God’s call and His Word the basis for everything you do. Let everything be laid upon that foundation. That way, everything that happens in your life will be an eternal gift and legacy.

How will you be reminded of this? Do you have a daily habit of hearing from God?  Do you have someone in your life that points out the differences between your nature and the Lord’s?  Do you have a plan to add speed and choreography to your actions that enable you to be in closer sync with Jesus?

Ifollowjesus hope you’re the kind of person that is able to follow the directions when you are putting things together. Even if you have a knack for such things, I hope you are still humble and sensible enough to follow directions if you have them. After all, there’s no need to make up a way if a way has already been provided.

I think of the God-provided instruction for organizing and putting together a well lived life in Jesus’ first words found in Mark, chapter 1. They set the parameters for how to fully seize each day and moment of your life.

  1. “The time is fulfilled.” When do we act? When the situation is perfect? When someone forecasts a high probability of success? How about right now? Jesus says, the alignment of your life to God waits for nothing but your obedience. As the song says, “Right now is the right time to serve the Lord.”
  2. “The kingdom of God is at hand.” What do we trust? Psalm 46 tells us God will bring consumption (wars) to an end. God will burst our bubbles. God will kick the props out from under the systems we take for granted. And, God will consume all the things our lives revolve around. John called the people to repentance because he said, “One mightier than me is coming.” Knowing the kingdom of God is at hand points us to the Mighty One in whom our trust will rest.
  3. “Repent.” The work of alignment and strengthening our relationship with God is ongoing so we are always being called to repent. Remember, repentance doesn’t solely mean turning away from doing wrong. Repentance defines our ‘with-ness’. Dr. Edwin Louis Cole said, “All we do in life is enter and leave.” Repentance is deciding the next place we’re going to be.
  4. “Believe.” If we have our ‘with-ness’ established with God, then our faith propels us to be a witness. But, our faith follows the God who “directs our paths” (Proverbs 3: 6) Yes, to believe is to be led by the Mighty One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit, not to initiate our own program or agenda. We have come to learn that “everything that does not come from faith is sin.” (Romans 14: 23)
  5. “Come, follow me.” Whose bandwagon are we on?  Jesus said,  we need to be on his. The imperative command to come is an ontological and existential decision. What kind of person are we going to be? Are we going to be a Jesus follower or a something else follower? If we are going to be a Jesus follower we need to tuck in behind him as closely as possible so that when Jesus moves we move with him, staying in step and alignment with him at all times.
  6. “I will make you to become fishers of men.” This is the reason we acted to align ourselves with Jesus in the beginning. We wanted the transformation to begin. We wanted to know why we were here and what are we supposed to be doing. This is it. We are part of God’s wake up team, calling people to know the time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, believe, follow, and witness the powerful changes God brings to your life!

goldilocks“And since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings.” (Hebrews 10: 21 – 22a)

If I tell you that you are welcome in my house anytime, the door is unlocked, and whatever I have is yours to use, I won’t be upset when you show up. But, if someone else tells you that and you waltz right in, don’t be alarmed if I get upset.

If Goldilocks had spoken to the bears ahead of time, maybe she wouldn’t have had to ruin every bear’s helping of porridge before she found the one she liked. If they were in a relationship ahead of time they could have had the porridge just right before she got there. They could have told her the little chair won’t hold you up and if you need a nap the baby’s bed will probably be the most comfortable.

But, as the story goes, they were strangers to one another; and when the bears and Goldilocks finally met it led to Goldilocks fleeing in fear and never returning.  Not a very happy ending.

Jesus is the high priest over the house of God. If Jesus says you can come in and eat with him, you are welcome anytime. You can come to him and like a good shepherd, he will feed you. You can abide with him and sit with him and share in all that he has. If you are weary, Jesus will give you rest.

But, try to come into his house at another person’s say so or under your own authority and you will be in worse shape than Goldilocks. Try to take what he would have gladly shared with you as a friend and you won’t have to flee. You will be cast out. You will hear him say, “Depart from me, I never knew you.” (Matthew 7: 23)

You will never hear Grace say, “Depart from me, you didn’t know Me well enough.” Why? We can never know the Lord unless He reveals himself to us but we can be known of God. We can turn to God in repentance and trust him. We can love him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength because he loved us first and gave himself for us.

Answer the call of Jesus upon your life. He is the way, the truth, the life – no one makes progress to the Father or gets to stay in God’s house except by Him. (John 14: 6)

 

simplicityThe function of the pathway of grace is to fit you for living life to the full. Everything is to be done in alignment with the divine will, trusting our lives to the One who raises the dead. We are disciples: saturating ourselves in the Word of God and prayer and coming constantly before the Lord so we can be constantly fit for the people before whom we stand. We have been crucified with Christ, nevertheless we live.

At every turn, the Apostle Paul says, this pathway of grace causes us to live in simplicity and in the sunlight of God. This is the witness of our conscience and the rejoicing of our soul.  We are those who trust the Lord.

But, there are enemies to this simplicity, ways of thinking that complicate our faith or try to shipwreck it all together. The first is the flesh, or “worldly wisdom”. (2 Corinthians 1: 12) This kind of wisdom is governed by feelings and appetites, desires and preferences. It’s this kind of wisdom that leads guys to lead with the wrong part of themselves.

The second enemy of simplicity is following a mindset of procrastination and laziness, of wandering and waste. The Holy Scripture says of God, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (Isaiah 26: 3) You cannot find simplicity if you cannot with singleness of heart and mind surrender yourself to the Lord.

The third enemy of simplicity is what I will call a spirit of adultery or a mindset of deception. Ordinarily, you cannot have simplicity if you have multiple causes or loyalties that have to constantly be weighed one against the other.  Yet, the great danger with this enemy is you can simply be deceived.  And, consorting with another Jesus, creating another gospel, or carrying on in an interfaith spirit, the Apostle Paul warns us with great fear, “you (can) put up with it easily enough.” (2 Corinthians 11: 4)

Yes, this last enemy encompasses all three. We can be deceived and think the pursuit of our will is entirely appropriate. Our life is selfishly simple. Or, our life can be simple because we do as little as possible or simply what comes next. Se la vie! Or, we can follow diligently a false trail.

Do not be entangled with anything that robs you of the simplicity of the gospel. Let your life be a single strand that is pulled along by Jesus.

 

experimentI conducted an experiment last night that helped me understand the Scripture in a different way. I held out my hands in front of me (you try it too) and I spoke the words, “This is me. This is who I am.” With the repetition of each phrase, my fingers curled back towards myself and rested on my chest, right on my breastplate. It was completely reflexive and involuntary but every time I spoke those words, “This is me. This is who I am.” this is where my hands came to rest.

What happened when you tried it?

What did this experiment mean to me? It helped me understand what the Apostle John was trying to reveal when he says, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son (GOD), which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” (John 1: 18)

Thus, when God says, “This is me. This is who I am.” the hand of GOD is reflexively pointing to Jesus. Colossians 2: 9 says it this way, “in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily”. The word, only begotten, directs our thinking to this conclusion, as well. To be the “Only Begotten” is to be the only way God is happening and manifest in the flesh. (1 Timothy 3: 16)

But the verses that got me thinking about this and doing my little experiment came from Exodus 34. Moses has asked God to show him His glory. ‘If I’ve found grace in your sight’, Moses said, ‘let me see your glory’ and God honors his request. Then Moses, looking at the backside of God’s glory pass by him (unable to see the “bosom of the Father”) declared this description of GOD: “The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.” (Exodus 34: 6)

Immediately I hear in my mind, John 1: 14 share the same description of Jesus. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

I pray this experiment will help you recognize, trust, and honor Jesus the way you should and may you confess as Thomas did, “My LORD and my GOD”. (John 20: 28)

P. S. Comment and let me know what happened when you conducted the experiment. Does this help you recognize and worship Jesus as Lord and God?

crosses3Reading through the Bible is not difficult but it will become difficult if we do not make it a daily habit. Luke is the only gospel that includes the word ‘daily’ as a necessity in taking up our cross and following Jesus. The others imply it, we intend it, but actually attending to it is the only thing that matters.

Will we have days like I have had the last few days and we can’t get our computer to connect to the internet? Will that be an excuse to skip a day of faithfully reading and following the plan? Not really. Will sickness or affliction move us to gravitate towards our Bible or the bed and a television?

There are many distractions and many detractors of our faith. There are many who rather than face condemnation and guilt themselves will seek to diminish your faith, belittle it, get you focused on something else, so your faith does not stand in sharp contrast to theirs. Don’t go down that road.

Don’t be like Pilate who knew better but was persuaded by political connection and the crowd of people who clamored for an insurrectionist above Jesus.

Don’t be like Pilate who had the power to withstand the crowd but simply washed his hands to the terrible things the crowd said it wanted as if that was faithfully bearing witness that he could find no fault in Jesus.

Don’t be like Pilate who in attempting to serve himself forfeited his authority to serve altogether.

Keep Jesus your singular focus. Know as Jesus draws nearer to the cross you need to draw nearer to him. This is not to deny you know him but to see where our forgiveness lies, to see where our hope for paradise is centered, and to see how to daily commit our souls unto God.

P. S.

Pray big time today. We’re still going LIVE on Facebook at 7:00 PM EST this evening. Karen says she will hold the phone and I am going to start the mini-concert promptly even if more nervous than usual for me.