Jesus, the way

Who is Jesus?

 

John 14:6  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Today we like to think we’re very enlightened, so much more educated than the ancients.  We think we’re bright enough to pick and choose aspects of different religions, tailoring our belief system, and we think this is some new thought.  Actually, the Pagans of centuries ago saw no problem with pledging allegiance to multiple deities from different backgrounds until they found what suited them.

Jesus was clear though when He spoke of the way to God.  Only He can serve as that bridge.  Only through belief on Him can we see heaven.  He is the only way.  We can try out custom-made religions, but in the end they’re empty, devoid of any true meaning.  Christ has the answer.

By God’s grace we’re saved; we can’t do anything to earn our way to Him.  But He extended this grace in the offering of His Son on our behalf for the forgiveness of sins.  This action by God just shows how He expects us to be reconciled to Him.  Only through Jesus.  And only means only.

 Look for this and other devotions about Jesus in the upcoming Exagorazo Press book entitled “Devotions for Disciples:  Who is Jesus?” due out in October 2011.

Reaching the poor

Deuteronomy 15:11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.

Everyday we see people in need, many times passing them by without a second thought. We go along with our busy lives, never stopping to lend a hand to someone that has been facing tough times. We may justify it, saying “They’ve done something to get themselves in that position”. We may seek to make ourselves feel better by pointing out that there is always something and someone and we can’t help them all.

It may very well be that the person in need is reaping some of the consequences of their own actions, but one finds very little justification in the Bible for not helping someone because it’s their own fault that they are where they’re at in life. We’re called to love, not to love only those who have not made mistakes that led to poverty or need.

It also may be true that there will always be someone in need and we can’t help all of them with the limited resources we’ve been given in our own lives. But again, one could search all through the Bible and find very little instruction to give only if you can give to everyone. In fact, the scriptures point out that there will always be poor people in the land. Yet that is the very basis for the command (“Therefore I command you…”) to give and to help.

Love the poor. Help the needy. You never know, it just may be Jesus that you’ve assisted.

Further reading: Matthew 25:31-46

Jesus, the light of the world

John 8:12  Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

“Let there be light.”  These words were spoken and so it all began.  Time and all that exists came to be only after this one sentence brought about the beginning.  And then, in the course of human history, the true Light came into the world. The one who spoke light into being was the true Light, and in Him all can be enlightened (John 1:9).

Just as we stumble around in the darkness for lack of light, we stumble around in our sin, lost in it, without the Light of the World.  If we walk with Jesus, we will never walk in darkness because He will guide us.  He’ll be the lamp to our feet and the light to our path (Psalm 119:105).

Also, if we walk with Jesus we’ll ourselves be light to the world (Matthew 5:14).  In us, the world will see Him.  They’ll find hope in Him, they’ll see His love.  Our lives will bear witness to the One who sent us, just as His life bore witness to the One who sent Him (John 8:18).

So let His light shine through you.  Others may see it and turn to Him. (Matthew 5:16)

Dealing with anger

Ephesians 4:26 Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.

God has made it clear that He doesn’t want us to act in anger. Instead, He wants us to act in righteousness, just as He is righteous. He wants us to follow the example set by our Lord Jesus Christ. No one person who has ever lied has so exemplified temperament. Insulted, spat upon. mocked – and that was all before He was tried and hung on a cross – and yet this Man did not act out in anger. How can this be? How was Jesus able to be angry and not sin? And what’s more; how can we follow this example?

Jesus had inside knowledge. He was in on the Father’s ways. You see, Jesus understood that all acting out of anger accomplishes is more anger. He knew that there was no situation so big that God would not handle it. He also understood the importance of relationships.

It’s just not worth it to act out of anger. It’s not worth hurt relationships and it’s not worth showing a bad example of a Christ follower to those who may have their eyes on us. If we trust God, we can let Him be the administrator of justice. We can believe that He will take care of the situation that caused us anger in the first place.

Jesus, the Word of God

Who is Jesus?

John 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Before there was anything, He was there.  Before the world, before time, Jesus existed as God and with God.  Nothing that we know was made without Him.  He had His hand in it all – and He still does.

The Word became flesh.  He entered into time and put skin on for our benefit.  He lived and walked among us, to complete a life lived without sin in complete righteousness.  He was God’s revelation of Himself to man, eating and drinking among them, feeling their pain, and laying down His own life, on His own accord.

The treasure of heaven, God’s best, left and entered into His creation.  He bankrupted heaven to be born a baby to a virgin mother of no wealth.  The Word became a servant and showed us what love really is.  Jesus was and is, in every way, God’s way of showing Himself – His character, His love, His example, His sacrifice, His forgiveness.  He is God.

 

Keep your eyes on Jesus

Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of or faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus was willing to die for you. He was willing because He knew the final outcome of His sacrifice. How then, can we not trust Him to intercede on our behalf when we have need? We have not because we ask not and we ask not because we trust not. If we are to have a strong walk with Christ Jesus, we have to look to Him as the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. We have to look to Him and not take our eyes off Him. We take our eyes off him when we are lured in by the weight and sin of the world which clings so closely.

Peter walked on water when he kept his eyes on Jesus. Then the problems of this world drew him away-and he sank. What better example do we need to keep our eyes on our Savior? When life’s storms come our way, the first action we should take is to look to Jesus for our salvation. He will always intercede on our behalf when we pray according to the Father’s will. Keep your eyes on Him.

Jesus, the victorious one

Who is Jesus?

1 Corinthians 15:57  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

No matter what the scenario, Jesus wins.  Sin?  He conquers it.  Death?  He defeats it.  Enemies?  They stand no chance against the risen Son of God.  He wins – period.

The victory of Christ translates into our own lives, though we don’t always realize it and put it into practice.  The enemies that we face, the trials, the temptations, the suffering – His victory bought ours.  We are more than conquerers in Christ Jesus.  His victory is our victory.

We can’t achieve any of these victories on our own.  WIthout the power of Christ we’re utterly incapable and we’ll never win over anything.  But in Him we can’t lose.  If our goals are His goals and our desires are His desires, we’re assured of victory.

Jesus not only wins in the end, He’s already won.  He’s already triumphed over sin and death, already crushed the enemy in defeat.  Because He won, we can win.  Because of His victory, we get a prize.

 

For such a time as this

Esther 4:14  For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Sometimes it’s amazing how things come together.  Our position in life, our finances, even our forgetfulness or laziness can all be used by God at the precise timing and for the exact purpose He has called us to. Queen Esther lived this out when she had been chosen as queen during a time of great struggle for her Jewish people. One of the king’s officials was trying to wipe out all of the Jewish population and Esther’s uncle urged her to make a plea to the king on their behalf.  In this time the king had to extend an invitation before anyone could enter into his court.  The uninvited could be punished by death unless the king extended his scepter to grant them immunity.

Esther was justifiably nervous to approach the king and face death, but her uncle reminded her that she didn’t just wind up in this high position.  It may very well be that God placed her there for the exact purpose of approaching the king to plea for the lives of the Jews.  It was no coincidence that she had been shown such great favor by the king.  Esther knew Mordecai was right and decided to make the move, knowing that she may die in the process, but confident that this is why she was there at this time in this place. The story ends well and Esther is not killed for entering the king’s court uninvited and her people are saved. What an amazing story and God orchestrated it all.

This can be the case in our own lives as we see things unfold one bit at a time to reveal a bigger plan.  It’s theses small things that are a testimony to just how much God is at work in our lives, using even the most seemingly insignificant details to bring about His purpose.  Don’t ever doubt that God is working in you and through you.  Sometimes even when He doesn’t let you know it, He’s doing something bigger than you could imagine in your life.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd

Who is Jesus?

John 10:14-15  I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.

You don’t need to know them, you just need to know Him.  Many Christians spend a lot of time on learning to discern spirits so that when the time comes they’ll know who it is that speaks to them.  The best thing we can do though, is learn to hear the voice of Jesus.

The Good Shepherd said that those who are of His flock know His voice, that all the rest are strangers and we’ll know not to listen to them.  The more time spent with Jesus, the more we’ll know His voice.  We won’t need to practice knowing other voices so as not to listen to them, we just won’t listen to them because they’re not Him.

Only one died for His flock.  Jesus laid down His life for us, the Son of God sacrificing Himself that those who belong to Him would know life.  He laid down His life on His own authority and He took it back up on His own authority.  That’s a voice worth listening to.

Consider others

Pride

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

When we’re prideful we can’t see past ourselves to meet the needs of others.  We view ourselves as the highest priority and we care very little what God wants of us or what others might be feeling.  But a humble spirit puts others first.

All around us are ads, people, groups, businesses and all other manner of communications telling us to put ourselves first and to basically forget about other people and what they want.  You’re #1.  You deserve the best.  But a follower of Christ, a person after His own heart, will not be able to do this without feeling a strong urging to do the opposite.  We’re called to put others first.

This can be taken to an extreme where the person seeking to put others before themselves actually neglects their own needs to their detriment. A balance has to be found though.  We do have things we need and we shouldn’t forget to take care of ourselves. But by considering others more significant than ourselves, we’re just reorganizing our priorities a bit. We’re more courteous, doing things like helping out where we see a need, even when it might make us late.  We’re willing to inconvenience ourselves for the sake of others.  We give our time.  This is humility and God honors it.

Equipping believers to follow Christ and make Him known