Category Archives: Jesus

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.

Three in One – God revealed

The Trinity

Deuteronomy 29:29  The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

Anyone who’s ever tried to understand the triune nature of God knows that it’s a difficult task.  It’s even harder to describe than it is to understand.  People have attempted many different ways of describing God over the centuries and all of them fall short.

The water analogy (God is like water:  it exists as liquid, solid and vapor) fails to capture the nature of God because H2O cannot exist as water, ice, and steam simultaneously and each of these three has different properties.  God is simultaneously Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Each contains the same essence.  The candle analogy (Father=candlestick, Son=light, Spirit=flame) is even worse as each fail to coexist with each other in a way that would even come close to a picture of the Trinity.  Likewise analogies like the courtroom (which gives a good idea of the roles of the Trinity in judge, bailiff and defense attorney) cannot capture the triune nature of God because saying that all of these make up “one court” is nothing like the oneness of our God.  Analogies fall short because God is above our understanding.

We have a tendency to think that we need to figure everything out, that there is somewhere out there a perfect analogy to show just what our God is like.  But God is not like anything in creation.  He is God.  And it’s ok to not understand the mysterious things about Him.  But when He reveals something about Himself, it’s worth taking note.  Through the Scriptures, God has revealed that He is Three in One, and we do well to believe it to be so.  All of the details of this fact may remain a mystery, and we need to be willing to accept that God is more complex than we could ever understand with our finite minds.  If He wasn’t, He wouldn’t be much of a god.

Three in One – Perfect Community

The Trinity

Ephesians 4:4-7  There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

So how does believing in the Trinity affect your life?  How do you live differently because of the triune God?  What part of believing that God is made of one substance but three persons makes this doctrine “Christian” and what does it mean for the church?

While many religions around the world focus on works and performance, Christianity stands out.  We, as Christ followers, don’t give all of our focus to our performance, but the core of our belief is relationship.  God is about relationships.  In fact, the very first model of a perfect community is given in the Trinity.  In the Bible we have Father, Son and Holy Spirit as an example for us of relationships.

There is no sin in God so He is not tainted by its effects.  Among the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are truth, love, humility, peace, service, honor, and unity.  There is no grumbling or complaining, no backstabbing, no gossip.  Though all three persons of the Trinity are equally God, there are different roles for each.  But we never see the Son disgruntled about carrying out the will of the Father, we never see the Holy Spirit resent bringing glory to the Son.  Because within each person of the Trinity there is the others (all one God, all one essence), they work together in perfect harmony.

We can’t be perfect, so we can’t live in the unity and harmony of God, but we have an example set before us to mimic to the best of our ability.  Not to gain perfection, but to carry on good relationships, both with other people and with God.  God is about community, about selfless relationships and love.

Three in One – The Necessity of the Trinity

The Trinity

Romans 3:22-24  the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

Some may ask, “Why is the Trinity so important to Christian belief?”.  Why, for instance, can’t I just believe in God and leave it at that?  Why do I need to know that God is Three in One?  This is a valid question and it really has more than one answer.

Without the Trinity, we lose the Gospel.  Man is sinful and God’s wrath (The Father’s) is upon us.  Jesus, the Son, comes to earth to take the sins of man upon Himself and imputes His righteousness on to those who believe on Him.  This brings reconciliation with the Father.  Upon His departure back to the Father’s side, the Holy Spirit is given to the regenerate Christian to empower him or her to live out God’s will.  If we lose any part of this plan, we lose all of it.  Each person of the Trinity plays His role in the redemption of man.  No Trinity, no salvation and no right relationship with God.

Without the Trinity, the Bible makes little sense.  Some Christians believe in something called Modalism, where God is one, but acts in different modes at different times.  The Father created the world.  Jesus was the manifestation of God as a man on earth.  The Holy Spirit is active today in the lives of Christians.  In Modalism, God does not exist as three persons simultaneously.  But then, why did Jesus come to pay the price of man’s sins to satisfy the wrath of God?  How then did God the Father speak from heaven as Jesus was baptized and the Holy Spirit descend on Him like a dove?  It’s a stretch to makes sense of such things.

The reasoning goes on, but what every Christian needs to understand about the Trinity is that God is real right now in your life and is capable of acting in any capacity necessary.  God our Father, Jesus our Mediator, and Holy Spirit our Helper. They are Three and they are One.

Three in One – Calling

 

The Trinity

Matthew 3:16-17  And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him;  and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

What we see at the baptism of Jesus is the Father confirming the ministry He was sent for and the Holy Spirit empowering Him by coming upon Him.  Jesus, being God himself, is at all times filled with the Holy Spirit, but the picture we get here as believers is that when God calls us to something, He empowers us to do it.  We have the blessing of the Father, the authority given by the Son (Matthew 28:18), and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which enables us to carry out God’s mission.

All three persons of the Trinity are at work as we carry on with what God has called us to do and each plays a part in their own respective roles along the way.  As finite humans who are quite incapable of fully understanding how God works, we may never know exactly how God is working in a given situation, but we can know that He is working and that He is simultaneously acting in the distinct persons of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  These three are one and they equip us to do what we’re called to do.

Three in One – prayer

The Trinity

1 Timothy 2:5  For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus

Ephesians 6:18a  praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.

One aspect of Christian belief that does not often make its way into devotions or teaching on how to apply biblical truth to daily living is the Triune nature of God.  We neglect to focus on the nature of God as three persons in one as part of our view of God in daily life.  But it’s essential that we remember who God is as we seek to know Him more, as we petition Him, as we carry out His will.

As we pray, we are in fact engaging with all three distinct persons of the Trinity.  We speak to the Father, asking Him for our needs to be met, giving Him praise, interceding for the needs of others, and giving Him thanks.  We do this through the Son, who is our mediator.  Were it not for the role of Jesus Christ standing in the gap between man and God, we would have no access to the throne and our prayers would go unanswered.  Since God himself is spirit, we must act in the Holy Spirit to communicate with Him.  All three persons of the Triune God are present and active as we pray.

We can’t neglect any part of God’s nature as we seek Him.  If we forget that He is good, we will have an unnatural fear of Him.  If we forget that He is all-powerful, we will tend to pray without expecting results.  If we forget that He is all-knowing, we may fear that we won’t quite say the right thing and that God will answer our prayers incorrectly because we didn’t get our message across right.  The fact is that God is all of these things and He is present in our lives as our Father, as Jesus the Son, and as the Holy Spirit.

Good news requires a response

Luke 2:11  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Did they know?  Did the people sleeping in Bethlehem that night know that the baby being born in the stable was their King?  Did the people staying in that inn where there was no room know that they were in the vicinity of the Savior?

Chances are none of them knew what was going on that night.  The angels proclaimed their message to the shepherds we’re told, but no one else seems to receive this news.  The shepherds of course immediately go to see the newborn, but it’s probably safe to assume that there were no other visitors that night.  If only they knew. He was right in their midst.

But don’t we miss Him too?  Jesus isn’t being born in a manger in our town, but He is evident around us and we sometimes still don’t seem to notice.  He’s holding all things together (Colossians 1:17), not letting a single grain of sand fall out of place, and yet we go for sometimes long periods of time without even giving Him a second thought.  Maybe the shepherds were chosen to receive the good news because they would listen and respond…

You shall call Him Jesus

Matthew 1:21  She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.

Why Jesus?  What does it mean to name the child Jesus?  Of all the things the Savior of the world could have been named…Jesus…

The Hebrew name from which Jesus derived is Yeshua, or as we would know it, Joshua.  Yes, Jesus was a popular name and the Messiah was one of many.  This is even more puzzling as to why He would be given a name that didn’t stand out, that is until you realize what the name means in the original language.  Yeshua means “salvation”, and this should be no surprise in light of Matthew 1:21.  The child promised to Mary was to be named salvation because He would save His people from their sins.  Fitting.

But consider the other Joshua’s of the Bible.  Joshua, son of Nun was the leader who delivered the people of Israel into the promised land.  He won many military campaigns in the land of Canaan and was considered a godly man.  He was, for all intents and purposes, a savior for God’s people.  Joshua was salvation.  Maybe not as glorious in battle, but also used by God, was the high priest of the book of Ezra. Jeshua helped to rebuild the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem after God’s people returned from exile to their home land.  He rebuilt the temple to reconnect the people with God.  He made a way for them to seek after God.

And Jesus of Nazareth is the name above all names.  The name bestowed upon Him is the one at which every knee will bow, on heaven and on earth, and under the earth.  It’s HIS name at which demons tremble and it’s HIS name that every tongue will confess.  He, Jesus Christ, is Lord of all.  He is salvation.

An uncommon message for common people

Luke 2:8-10  And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

Why do you suppose the angels of the Lord would visit shepherds to deliver the message of the Savior’s birth?  Of all the people who could have received that special message, God singled out shepherds who were out in the fields with their sheep.  Why would He do this?

Shepherds were two things during the time of Christ’s birth:  they were lowly people who weren’t very well respected, and they were fairly common.  We read of several significant shepherds in the Bible (Moses and David among others), and Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd.  This was definitely a thematic element of the story.

The common nature of the shepherds who were out in those fields tells us that God wanted everyone, even the lowest, most ignored people, to hear the Good News.  He could have sent His angels to the King or the Governor, but He chose the common man.  The commonest of the common even.  The Savior came, not just for the respected and the religious (notice the angels didn’t visit the temple with their news), but for the any-man.

No matter who you are, the Good News of Jesus is for you.  No matter how insignificant you are, He notices you and cares for you enough to pay the price for your sins so that you can have a relationship with God.

The forerunner foretold

Luke 1:16-17  And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

Before there was Jesus, there was John the Baptist.  There had to be.  If Jesus had come into the world apart from the way being prepared for Him, the mission would have been compromised.  The people were not ready for the Messiah, they needed someone to prepare them.  John was that someone.

Long before John’s birth, there was a prophesy of the one who would come in the power of Elijah to prepare the hearts of the people to turn back to God (Malachi 4:6). John’s one role was to make the way for the Promised One, and then it was his time to decrease so that the Savior could increase (John 3:30).  Because of the prophesies, John’s parents would have understood what the angel’s revelation to them meant.  Their son would be the last prophet before the coming of the Christ.

In God’s sovereignty it just so happens that John and Jesus were relatives.  The man who would declare Jesus the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) was His own kin.  The baptizer who would watch as the Father and the Holy Spirit gave testimony about Jesus (Matthew 3:16,17)  had affection for Him as family.  Before Jesus could come, John had to come and get things ready for Him.