Category Archives: Jesus

I AM – 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.”

All throughout God’s Word, there are contrasts between light and darkness. Again and again the metaphor of light is used to speak about God, especially when it comes to Jesus Christ. In the Gospels we learn that He is “the light of men,(John 1:4)” the “true light, (John 1:9)” and that “darkness has not overcome” (John 1:5) this light.

The thing that should be noted is that Jesus is not A light, He’s THE light. He’s not just light, He’s the light that overcomes the darkness. The darkness stands no chance.

Any earthly analogy actually fails to fully represent Jesus, so you can just imagine that light isn’t even a good enough description to help us understand Him. Something far greater than what we know light to be is really what He is, but we can’t comprehend that.

Take note, Jesus said that whoever follows Him will have the light of life. He didn’t say we’d experience it or that we’d see it, but that we’d have it as our own. If you’re His, He’s yours and there’s no separating you from the light. The darkness can’t prevail. Victory has already been won. The light wins.

I AM – The bread of life

John 6:34-35 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

We’re all born with an inner longing to know God. Though we may not know what it is we’re seeking, we inherently know that there is someone greater than us. We have a spiritual longing. No matter who you are, this is true.

Throughout human history, people have attempted all sorts of ways to satisfy this spiritual longing, from creating religions to looking to the stars for answers. There’s something out there beyond us and we want to know what it is. The problem is that everything on earth fails to fulfill the need we all have. There’s nothing that gives us the answers or plugs the hole that needs to be filled. Nothing, but Jesus.

The Son of God revealed himself to be the bread of life, the fulfillment of all spiritual longing. The One who can answer the questions we don’t even know we have. He’s what we’re looking for. He’s who we’re looking for. He himself placed within us that desire to know Him and then He revealed himself. He wants to be known.

If you’re looking, that’s natural. If you sense that there’s something more, that’s because you’re meant to search. But if you keep looking after you’ve been given the answer, you’ll just stay hungry. Look no further than Jesus Christ. He’s the One you seek.

Falling from grace

Galatians 5:1-6 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

What does it mean to “fall from grace”? We have this impression in our minds that when someone commits a serious sin or gets found out for some secret sin, that all of a sudden grace is gone and the person is left to the wolves, unable to be saved. But when that person is already saved, when that person has already been forgiven for every sin they’ll ever commit…how can they “fall from grace?” This is contradictory to the gospel.

I was reading a book earlier today called Jesus + Nothing = Everything (I highly recommend reading it), and one part in particular struck me. It struck me because I had never thought of things in the terms of the author, but they were no less true. He pointed out the passage I’ve quoted up above and caused the reader to look at the part where Paul tells the Galatians that some have fallen from grace. Notice he doesn’t say that they fell from grace because of some heinous sin. He says they fell from grace because they accepted legalism as a way to salvation. Legalism is the enemy of grace. It is literally the WORST enemy of grace.

For those of us who have been redeemed by the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, those of us who have saved by grace through faith, we have been set free. That freedom means we’re not under legalism anymore. We’re not under the yolk of slavery that legalism brings. We’re free to obey the law, not oppressed by it. So when we fail and miss a step, either intentionally or unintentionally, it doesn’t mean that Jesus’ grace doesn’t still cover us. His grace is sufficient for all our sins, for all time. No sin can separate us from Him once we’ve already been justified and found not guilty. He already paid the price for our sin, so we can’t just fall away from His grace because we did something wrong. No, we can only fall from grace in one way. If we don’t trust in Him alone for that justification.

When we begin to think that it’s Jesus plus some other act or ritual that gets us to God, we’re not accepting grace, we’re trying to win God’s favor through our actions. That’s just not the way things work. He forgives us in one way and it’s through Jesus. When Christ died, the holy, sinless Son of God took on the sin of the whole world and bore the punishment for us all. In exchange, when we believe in Him for our salvation, we gain His righteousness, the perfect standing before God that only someone who has lived a perfect life can every receive. Because He already won the victory, we don’t have to worry about losing His grace.

God’s grace is powerful. It’s so powerful that once we’ve received it, we’re set free in a way that nothing else could achieve. His grace is enough. We don’t have to add to it. We’re not only saved by His grace, He continually works on us through His grace (sanctification) and ultimately brings us to Himself through grace. We can depend on that, we don’t need to depend on ourselves to earn standing with God.

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

Luke 21:29-33 And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

Signs. We’re all looking for signs. The same was true in Jesus’ day. The Pharisees, the Saducees, the disciples, the crowds, all looking for signs and wonders. They wanted signs that Jesus was really the Messiah, we want signs that He’s really there. They wanted to see miracles, we pray for riches and fortunes.

But Jesus was hesitant to gives signs to the people, even His own disciples. Even the famed “wars and rumors of wars” warning wasn’t so much of a sign as it was Jesus making a point that they weren’t signs of the end. This, He said, was only the beginning. He was telling them that they should always be ready for His return, at all times.

Mark 13: 7 And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet.8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.

There are some actual signs that Jesus tells of (Mark 13:24-27 for example), but He encourages His followers to learn a lesson from the fig tree. “As soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near”(Mark 13:28). He tells them, and us, to interpret the signs appropriately. Do not look at the fact that this world is passing away and despair over it. It’s a sign that the Son is returning. Don’t lose hope because these things are happening, because they need to happen. It’s all the more reason TO have hope!

Worthy to be praised

Psalm 145:3 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.

Nobody’s perfect, right? Nobody is truly worthy of being praised. Well, not exactly. There is only one who is worthy of all honor we could possibly ever give Him and then infinitely more. The God of the universe, our Father, is worthy to be praised.

It’s not all about what He does for us – for that we give Him thanks. No, what we praise Him for is simply who He is. Just His character alone makes Him worthy of worship. So who is He?

He’s the beginning of all things, the eternal Creator, the sovereign and omniscient Lord who calls, commissions, protects, and provides. He’s omnipotent and omnipresent, the first among equals in the Trinity, knowable and yet unknowable, a place to find refuge and comfort.

He’s our portion, our treasure, our Father who adopts us into His family, so good and great and just that He disciplines us for our own sake. He makes no mistakes, shapes all things and brings all things to completion. He’s a holy judge who is patient and rules out of love. He is awesome. And He is worthy of all praise and honor and glory – forever and ever.

Only He satisfies

Psalm 90:14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

Where do you find pleasure? There are so many places in this world to look for fulfillment, but only one satisfies. The things of this world are vain, fleeting, finite, and altogether incapable of filling the void in our lives. They are limited and we’re just left wanting more, which leads us to continually search for that “one thing”.

The Psalmist knew the key to true joy that satisfies. The Lord’s love endures forever, it doesn’t fade, it doesn’t rust or wear out, it won’t leave us. We can be glad all our days if the place we look for fulfillment is in the Lord. In fact, this joy does not have to be sought. It’s a byproduct of seeking God first in our lives (Matthew 6:33).

When we prioritize God first, He adds to us blessings beyond what we can imagine (Ephesians 3:20) and the things this world has to offer seem like nothing in comparison.

 

New Law or Gospel Freedom?

Colossians 2:20-23 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

What is Christianity all about? Have we vowed to follow Christ only to replace the Old Testament law with new law? Is this new life just about more rule-following? Observing some of today’s churches, you would think so! Sermons so often focus on behavior modification or bettering the life of the Christian through specific actions. We trade in the true power of the gospel for the belief that being a good Christian means listening to the right music, wearing the right T-shirts, not swearing or drinking, and being “nice.” Congregants lack the joy of Christ because they fail to keep up with all of the things they are “supposed” to do. Moralistic, therapeutic deism fails to deliver.

The truth is that no formula for behavior modification will ever work because the root of sin is in our hearts. No amount of keeping up with strict law or disciplines or rituals will keep us from being what we are: fallen and sinful. Religion seeks to justify the believer through their actions. True justification comes from Christ (Romans 4:25). Only He can liberate us from sin.

It can make us feel good for a while to try to earn our own merit, but in the end we will always fall short (Romans 3:23). We’ll never be good enough, do enough, deprive ourselves enough to be free from sin. If we fully rely on Jesus it means we trust that His sacrifice was good enough, that we don’t need to be under the law in order to receive forgiveness from God for our transgressions, that He died once, and for all (Hebrews 7:27-28). Nothing we could ever do could make Him love us more. And nothing we fail to do could ever make Him love us less.

 

That you may know

1 John 5:13-21 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death. We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

What do you believe? Where do you put your trust? You may say that you believe Jesus has the power of eternal life, but if you don’t act as though He does, you’re not really believing. John didn’t write his first letter to non-believers so that they would see the truth about Jesus. He wrote it to Christians, so that they would actually believe what they say they believe.

It’s one thing to have the belief that Jesus died for your sins, one thing to go to church and fellowship with other Christians. But it takes more to actually live it out. If you know, without a doubt, that Jesus saves, then don’t ever worry about whether you’re forgiven. If you know it to be true, don’t act timidly when He calls you to do something. If you know He has all things in His hands, act like it.

John made this point by bringing prayer into the discussion. True belief brings confidence and boldness. Are you praying with confidence that God can answer you? With boldness that He will hear you and give you your requests? Pray in His name, according to His will, and He is able to provide all things. There’s nothing He can’t do. Do you believe it?

Testimony Concerning the Son of God

1 John 5:6-12 This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Are you ever afraid to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with someone? Are you ever timid to tell what you’ve seen and heard concerning the Son of God? Don’t feel too bad, you’re not alone. But we’re all called to share the Good News. It’s our job to proclaim it to all the world. But there’s more good news, the results don’t all rest on us.

The thing about being fearful when it comes to witnessing is that most of the work is actually done by the Holy Spirit, not by us. There’s no reason to be shy about sharing when we realize that we’re just a vessel used by God to reach other people with His message. He works in the heart of the person who hears the gospel and He works in you and me when we’re telling them. The Spirit testifies and He does it in the hearer and through the teller. Does that make you feel more at ease?

When you submitted your life to Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit made His home inside you and you are a walking, talking testimony for Jesus. The Spirit declares the Good News. We just need to be available to make it happen. There’s no need to be afraid. It’s not all up to us how things turn out. It’s just our job to speak up and let the world know that Jesus is the hope for all mankind.

Overcoming the World

1 John 5:1-5 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Our faith is the victory that has overcome the world. And what is it that comes from faith? Good works. A natural response to faith is obedience. When we know God and experience His love for us, we want to keep His commandments and follow everything He says to do. If we remain faithful in this, nothing can stop us.

This passage says that everyone who has been reborn overcomes the world. Are you overcoming the world? Have you taken the time to actually evaluate whether or not you’re overcoming the world? What does it even mean to overcome the world? Does that mean we don’t ever fall into temptation or that we don’t sin?

Sadly, most of us don’t think in terms of victory when we look at our lives. We’re not operating in our spiritual gifts or showing any fruit out of the faith we proclaim. Some of us aren’t even showing love to our fellow Christians, let alone to the people out in the world.

But we’ve been equipped. We’ve got the victory already if we’ll just do the next thing God calls us to do. That’s what obedience is. It’s not some lofty, unachievable goal. Obedience is doing the next thing God calls you to do. And when you’ve done it, do the next thing He calls you to do. Then the next. Obedience is a lot like walking. It’s one foot in front of the other.

Walk in victory, knowing that Jesus has already won the battle. The odds are in your favor. You can’t lose.