Category Archives: Jesus

The Word of Life

1 John 1:1-4  That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

The natural response to the joy we receive in Christ is to share it.  How could we, knowing that we have experienced new life in the Son of God, keep that to ourselves?  We should be overflowing with joy, ready to burst if we don’t share it.

John was among the apostles who walked with Jesus while He was here on this earth.  He writes in his first letter to the churches in Asia Minor that he wants them to share in the fellowship he and others have with God through Christ.  He proclaims all he witnessed with his own eyes, all he heard with his own ears, so that the joy of others might be made full.  He’s not willing to keep it all to himself.  What he was sharing was life.

Jesus is the Word of life and He made Himself known to mankind.  John was there when Jesus was present in the flesh, God incarnate sharing life with other people.  John knew that real life is in Jesus and in this he found his joy.  He also knew that his joy would be made all the more complete if he told others about the Word.  Notice his motive explained in verse 4, that “our” joy may be made complete.

Jesus is life.  If you’ve experience new life in Him, share it with everyone around you, so that they will have joy AND so that your joy would be made more complete.  If you haven’t experienced the life-giver, why not seek Him out?  Find out what this life is that others are talking about.  Ask God to reveal Jesus to you and make Him real to you.  He will.

Awe: God in the flesh

Colossians 1:15-20  He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Can I be honest with you all? Sometimes I forget what it’s all about. I have this habit of making my life about me and when I do that I get things all twisted. It’s no wonder I sometimes lose my awe for God. I’m focused on myself.

The thing about this world and this life is it’s all about Jesus. If you want to have joy, look to Jesus. If you want peace, look to Jesus. If you’re looking for healing, look to Jesus. If you want to know God – look to Jesus. He’s the image of the invisible God. Everything God the Father wanted us to know of himself, He revealed in the Son (Hebrews 1:2-3).

With everything going on in this busy world, it’s far too easy to get lost in the wrong stuff and forget what really matters. All things were created through Christ, for Christ. It doesn’t matter what people think of you, it doesn’t matter what you have or where you live. What matters is Him.

Take some time and reflect on who Jesus is – God in the flesh. Just think about the fact that the Creator of the universe came down into humankind and revealed himself. You will be in awe.

Awe: What God has done

Psalm 103:1-5  Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Even if God had never done a single thing for you, He’d be worthy of your praise. Just His characteristics alone are something that brings us to a place of awe. But He has done so much for you and for me that we can’t neglect to think about those things and stand in wonder.

Maybe you’re racking your brain, thinking, “What has God done for me?” If you have to ask, it’s a good indication that you’ve lost your awe for Him. Think back into the past, look at where you are in the present. Is your heart beating? Are your lungs breathing in air? That, in and of itself, is an amazing thing. There’s so much more though.

His love for you knows no bounds. The Creator of all things provided a plan for your redemption, rescue from your ultimate demise, and a way to adoption into His very own family. He sacrificed the greatest treasure in all of heaven, His own Son, for your sake, that you might be in a right relationship with Him. Think on that. Mediate on that. How do you feel about it?

When we lose our awe for the Lord’s greatness, it’s worth looking back and taking stock of all the things He’s done, not the least of which is the provision of salvation for our souls. He refreshes, comforts, guides, loves, and shows limitless grace. How can we not be amazed when our eyes are open to such things?

If you’ve lost your awe, pray. Admit to Him that you need to regain that sense of awe and ask Him to reveal himself. That’s a prayer that never goes unanswered. Search the Scriptures. Look at all He’s done for all of humanity. He is truly awesome.

What are some things you can share from your own life experience that have you in awe of God?

Awe: Who God is

Psalm 145:1-3 I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.

Are you in awe of God? For most Christians there comes a time that the original emotions and feelings involved at the time of our salvation begin to level off or decrease. That’s normal, but what we should never allow to happen is a decrease in our awe for God.

Feelings change as do circumstances, but God remains the same always and forever. There’s never any reason to forget just how great and mighty He is. If we were constantly aware of the Lord’s presence, we’d have less of a chance that our reverence for Him would lessen.

It happens to the best among us, though. There come times in everyone’s life when it suddenly hits us that our awe has faded. The question is how to get it back. God didn’t change, so something else did. What needs to happen to regain that original child-like awe?

There are many things that ought to bring us back to where we need to be, and one of them is to remember who God is. Just looking once again at the nature and character of God, mediating on that, and embracing it, can really lead us back on the right path. There’s truly no one like Him. No one even comes close. Look to the Psalms, search the Scriptures, find who God have revealed himself to be. Stand in awe.

Christ our Advocate

1 John 2:1-6   My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

If we claim to be Christians, there ought to be something to show for it.  If we aren’t walking a true Christian walk, obeying God, growing to be more like Christ, loving others; then we aren’t fooling anyone.  If we love God, we’ll follow Him in everything we do.

All that said, we can try to obey in all things, but we will fail at times.  We can’t be perfect, even though we should try to walk as closely to God as possible, with the help of the Holy Spirit.  We’ll fail, but the true test is whether or not we admit to wrongdoing and ask forgiveness.  If we say we don’t sin, again no one is fooled.  We have to have a heart that’s humble enough to confess that we’ve sinned.  This is what we’re called to as followers of Christ.

The best part is that we, as Christians, don’t receive God’s wrath for our sins, but we get forgiveness.  Jesus already died in our place, He already took on our sins so that we don’t have to suffer the consequences.  He made a way so that we have no reason to hold onto our sins as a secret and not admit to them.  If we’ll just confess them, He’s faithful and just to forgive us (1 John 1:9).  Jesus stands in the gap, advocating on our behalf, making our case.  This isn’t just a message for seekers of truth; the gospel is for Christians too.

The Church: a flock

John 10:11-16 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 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. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

What’s your favorite metaphor that the Bible uses for the Church? Mine is a flock. The beautiful imagery of Jesus Christ as our Shepherd is hard not to love.

Just as a shepherd cares for the sheep of his flock, our Good Shepherd looks after us with affection and with the dedication of one who cares for His own. Some look at God as a distant deity, someone who just created things and then stepped back and doesn’t care what happens. On the contrary, though, the Father cares very much for His people.

He cares so much, in fact, that He appointed the Son over His flock, that we might be cared for in the very best manner possible. He’s even given Him the task of calling those who don’t belong to His flock to become part of it, that there might be just one flock, one united Church, under the headship of our loving Shepherd.

Do you know the Shepherd? Are you His?

Why Do Good Things Happen to Bad People?

 

For as beautiful as faith is, for as wondrous as the hope that it brings can be, the devout and determined Disciple meets with challenges to it daily.

I sat across from a friend recently, and I had to ask, “How is your faith?” I could hear it in his voice, the pain and the struggle. Life, it gets hard for all of us, and in those moments as we feel the weight of it bearing down on us, we can’t help but wonder to ourselves. We feel angry but once the anger subsides, as the fairness, or lack thereof, of it weighs down on us, it turns to a sort of quiet depression as we try to figure out what’s the point of trying when all trying seems to do is lead to disappointment.

After a brief moment of silence he met my eyes, and with a slight sigh, shrugged as he answered, “Not as strong as it used to be…”

His problem, his challenge, the question that lingered on his mind was a simple one, one that we all perhaps battle with now and then, but that we don’t give much thought to during the good times in our lives when things seem simple and easy for us. When the rough times come though, it plagues us as we try to hold on to our faith while remaining a good person, while trying to live the life that we know we should live.

“Why do bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people?” That was the sum of his problem, the one question that he couldn’t quite wrap his head around. The truth is that I’ve been there, I’ve toiled and struggled with the same question, with the same thought rolling around my mind. I’ve wondered why and how a loving God, a caring God, one who is meant to draw His children so near could let them slip so far away from Him. In the depths of depression I wondered how He could be so far removed from the toils of us mere mortals He so loved, that He loved so dearly that He gave His only Son as a sacrifice for. (John 3:16)

The question though answers itself. Yes, it seems as if “good things happen to bad people” while “bad things happen to good people” but the question of why that is the case isn’t so much a mystery, or at the very least, isn’t as big of a mystery as we perhaps let it become in our own minds.

Let’s consider, for a moment, the nature of this world. Despite the imperfections of it, despite our own imperfections, God is not removed from us, nor is He, even in His own perfections, distant from this world. (Romans 3:22-24) Yet in this He warns us that this world that we live in, because of its flawed nature, is going to be a battleground, it is going to be a place of a deep and lasting spiritual warfare. The temptation of Christ (Luke 4:1-13) itself is very telling of just that, not just because our blessed Savior faced the challenge of the sin and the Devil as we did but because he tempted Him in every way he knew would possibly make Him stumble.

This is what he does with us. He looks into our hearts, he examines and he explores our spirits and our souls, searching them for the weaknesses that we have, for those small shreds of self-doubt, for those little bits of vanity, for any piece of pettiness or pain that might plague us. He uses them against us, he turns them against us, to swallow us whole in them and thus devour us himself. (1Peter 5:8)

Why though would he use such tactics against “The Bad” when he knows already that he has won with them? Why would he use them against “The Bad” when he can hold them up as an example of the good things that can happen if you just succumb to temptation and yield to him, relenting in your effort to try and live that good life, that righteous life you have been called to? This is a weapon in his arsenal that he uses to wage his war, that he uses to win his battles and he is going to use it against the faithful Disciple in order to try and win that they may fall on the fields amidst their struggles and their wounds.

Our Heavenly Father, He does not abandon us during these challenges (Joshua 1:5) regardless of how distant He may feel. He arms us that we can stand (Ephesians 6:10-18) knowing that, through Christ, we can find the strength we need to stand triumphant in all the battles, in all the adversity that we may face. (Romans 8:37) This is the promise He has made to us in the love that He has for us, and it is never removed from our lives even as our old and ancient Adversary seeks to put a wall between us and Him that we may not gaze upon the love that He has for us in the faith He has granted us.

It isn’t a question of God’s grace or even a question of faith, but rather a question of how you stand, how you push back when you feel the weight of your enemy, the weight of someone trying so hard to steal your peace from you. Good things may happen to bad people and bad things may happen to good people in this world, but the real victory, it comes not just from knowing this but knowing that the truest rewards, they come to those who accept that and live with faith, hope and love in their hearts, refusing to let this have any power over them, understanding that the real power comes from the blessing they can be despite it all as they hold fast to the wondrous miracle of grace in their life.

God is there for you, He always has been and He always will be. This is His promise to you, hold fast to it in the love that He has for you and you will stand firm against the challenges that this world has, refusing to let imperfect notions, thoughts and understandings create imperfections within you.

The Resurrection

Mark 16:1-8  1 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large.5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed.6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Are you looking for Jesus?  Does it seem to be a lost cause; a search that will never produce any results?  Maybe you’re looking in the wrong place.  Jesus isn’t in the tomb.  He is risen.

Sometimes we have a tendency to make up our own theology, our own doctrine that we think fits our beliefs better than what the Bible actually says.  We make up traits for Jesus that were never true of Him.  We create our own false Jesus.  But the power of the gospel to save lies in the truth of who Jesus Christ really is and what He really did.

It’s hard to swallow, the fact that God came down to earth in the form of a human man and that He lived a perfect life.  It’s harder still to believe that He would sacrifice His own life in place of ours so that we can be reconciled to God.  Hardest of all to grasp is the idea that He rose again from the dead.  That He lives even still today, reigning over all things.  But that’s our hope.  Without it we have nothing.

The hope you and I have that we can one day be with God through resurrection is the fact that Jesus was resurrected from the dead.  If our Savior is dead, then we’re doomed.  But if our Savior lives, then we too can live on forever.  Since He DOES live, we have hope that we can cling to.  Jesus’ resurrection is a truth that changes everything.

Jesus Will Reign

Luke 19:11-14 The crowd was listening to everything Jesus said. And because he was nearing Jerusalem, he told them a story to correct the impression that the Kingdom of God would begin right away.

He said, “A nobleman was called away to a distant empire to be crowned king and then return.  Before he left, he called together ten of his servants and divided among them ten pounds of silver, saying, ‘Invest this for me while I am gone.’  But his people hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We do not want him to be our king.’

And as for these enemies of mine who didn’t want me to be their king—bring them in and execute them right here in front of me.’”

It is interesting that Jesus used current events in this parable to teach the people about God’s Kingdom. In the true story Herod Archelaus went to Rome to stake a claim for the kingdom that his dad Herod the Great had left to him in his will. Archelaus had dealt harshly with the Jews before this and a lot of Jews went to Rome to protest his petition to become king. Despite their efforts, Caesar Augustus made him ruler from 4 BC to 6 BC. Archelaus was the reason that Joseph was afraid to leave Egypt and return to Nazareth.

Luke is very straight forward about the reason for this parable, Jesus told this parable before he left Jericho and headed for Jerusalem, he needed to correct a misunderstanding. There were many people that thought that Jesus would rule here on earth right away and they felt that this trip to Jerusalem was a good time for it to start.

Jesus had to tell them that it wasn’t time, he spoke to the issue before, trying to get people to realize that he wasn’t going to overthrow the Roman government and be their earthly king. They hungered for immediate relief from the Roman government but that wasn’t going to happen any time soon. (John 18:36)

Jesus told us that in God’s plan he wasn’t going to reign yet but instead he was going to die. Jesus was here to cover the death penalty that we are all facing for our sins. They thought that they wanted him as king but what they needed most was a Savior.  (John 3:16)

Jesus came to earth as a lowly servant, a sacrificial lamb, he was obedient to God’s will and as a result he has been crowned king and he will return to reign. (Phil 2:8-11) When he returns he will judge us for our allegiance to the king:

  • Did you accept him as king or did you reject him?
  • Did you use the resources that he gave you to help prosper the kingdom?

There will be a great reward for our faithfulness to the Lord, I need to be faithful like the servants that anticipated the kings return and invested his money, he has given me resources that I need to use wisely.

Thank you Lord for your great sacrifice that took the death penalty away from me. I acknowledge you as King and want to submit to your authority in my life at all times.

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Made alive

Ephesians 2:5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

If you hadn’t noticed, the Apostle Paul was particularly eager to point out to the Ephesian church in his letter that Christians had been made alive. Though we were once dead spiritually, the Father caused us to have life through the Son.

When something is mentioned this much in one letter, it must be worthy of paying attention to. Of all the blessings God gives, the one that’s most important is life in the Spirit. Without life there would be no other blessings. What good would it do to talk of God’s promises if we were not awakened spiritually to experience them?

The Lord gives many gifts, free of charge, but they begin with Him bringing us out of our spiritually dead status into a new life that allows us to see, hear, and feel Him at work. In His grace He saved us. He kept us from eternal death by making us alive.