Category Archives: Jesus

Head over all things

Ephesians 1:22-23 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Who’s your king? Is it some person on this earth who is in authority over others? Is it a President or a CEO?  While these people may have power and may lord it over you, there is One who is truly over all things and He doesn’t exist to oppress you. He loves you.

Jesus Christ was placed in specific authority over the Church, even though He rules over all. The Church, that’s all of us who believe, serves as the body of Christ, living out His mission on this earth. His authority over us is not to control us or to hurt us, but to empower us and strengthen us. We’re better with Him in authority than we’d be without Him.

What about you personally? Is Christ head over you? Have you placed yourself under His authority? Are you living for Him or for your own agenda? It is a far better thing to submit to the King of Kings than to chase after our own desires and live as our own gods.

Name above all names

Ephesians 1:21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

Who is the most powerful person you’ve ever known? Think of the most authoritative and influential person you think has ever lived – now multiply that times infinity and you might start to get the picture of just how much higher Jesus is than any other human being.

He’s above all rule, above all authority, above all power, above every dominion on this earth, and He is above every name that is named. Forever. There will never be another person to walk this earth who compares to the God-man. His is the name by which we can/must be saved (Acts 4:12). His name is greater than all others and it is to Him that every knee will bow, on heaven, on earth, and below the earth (Philippians 2:9-10).

This is the one who we have on our side. What could ever oppose us that He can’t handle, that He doesn’t have dominion over? Simple: nothing. He holds all things together (Colossians 1:17), surely He has your life within His sight and He’s capable of taking care of you. Put your trust in Him. He’s the only one worthy of it.

Seated on His right

Ephesians 1:20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places

When Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, He eventually went back to His rightful place – seated at the right hand of God the Father. Why does this detail matter to your life or mine though?

The Bible is full of symbolism and not one single symbol goes by without deep meaning. It is significant that Jesus was seated on the right hand of the heavenly Father. It shows that He is equal to the Father – He is God. It shows that He is active, and not passive, in ruling. It shows that all power and authority belonging to God is Christ’s. Still, why does that matter for us?

The thing is, if Jesus had only died for our sins, then we’d still be forgiven, but He didn’t end His work by dying. He rose from death and conquered sin and death. He went back to His place in heaven so that the Holy Spirit could come to dwell in His followers (John 16:7), giving us power and authority (Acts 1:8). He went to be seated on the right hand of the Father to mediate on behalf of you and me (1 Timothy 2:5), acting as our advocate. It matters where Jesus is and what He’s doing right now!

Beyond blessed

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places

Fathers love to bless their kids, and God the Heavenly Father is no exception. In fact, He’s the example.  It’s because He’s such a loving and generous Father that we earthly parents even know what it means to bless our kids.

The Father has not only blessed us with salvation through His Son and adoption into His family as a result, but He has given us every spiritual blessing.  These are not the type of tangible things we think of when the word “blessing” leaves our lips, but they’re far greater than anything we can imagine. In fact, they’re so far from us being able to imagine them that we need the Holy Spirit to reveal them to us.

Along with the wonderful gifts He has showered on us, God gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit.  It’s the gift of himself to us. He’s Christ indwelling the believer, the hope of all glory (Colossians 1:27) and the revelation of every spiritual gift. God shows His grace to us through granting us our new identity as His own and allowing us access to everything that entails.

 

Who are you?

Ephesians 1:1-2 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Who were you created to be?  We’ve all been given a unique identity and a unique calling from God; so what is yours all about?  Before you answer, let’s look at the life of the Apostle Paul as an example of walking in the calling for which we’ve been set apart.

Though Paul started out as a persecutor of the saints, he went on to become one of the greatest evangelists for Christ who ever lived or ever will live.  He greets most in his letters by referring to himself as an apostle of Christ Jesus, in some cases a servant also.  Consider the fact that none can give themselves the title of apostle.  This is a title that can only be given to someone from God himself.  While you and I are not apostles in the same regard as Paul, we have been given unique ministries of our own, and the characteristics and qualifications to carry them out.  Our identities do not come from ourselves, but from Christ.

Consider next how Paul refers to those who are receiving his letter.  The “saints” are the recipients of his letter and this does not refer only to super-spiritual people.  All who follow Christ are saints.  As John Calvin has put it, “All believers are saints, and every saint is a believer.”  If you think it’s arrogant to refer to yourself as a saint, look at the opinion of Johannes Brenz, “but as names go, ‘saint’ is much less arrogant than ‘Christian.'”  If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you are a saint and you have a special purpose that He’s given you.

Lastly, Paul’s greeting to his audience is something we need to take as though it were meant for us.  He refers to God our Father, and He certainly is if we’ve put our trust in Him. He’s adopted us into His own family as His children (Romans 8:16).  So saint, you are a child of God, given a purpose and a unique set of personal traits.  What will you do now?

Who, or What, Can be Against Us


“What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) How often do we forget that promise? Perhaps it’s not forget in the traditional sense. After all we remember what the words are, and we may even utter them quietly to ourselves, searching for some sort of comfort when things start to get tough, but, when we look around, we have a hard time really and truly grasping not necessarily what it means but how it applies to our current situations. After all, if God is for us, should it really be this hard? Can’t it just be that much easier? Why can’t it be that much simpler than it is?

That’s the struggle though, isn’t it? It doesn’t come from God’s promises but from seeing how it is actually working in our lives. The words, they aren’t all that hard to understand, but how they apply, how they can possibly be true, that’s the real difficulty that we face. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” At times it just seems like pretty much everyone or everything and the burden, it is too much to bear as we search for the purpose and meaning in it all, as we seek the answers to why it has to be the way it is when the we know God is there, but we can’t figure out how He is there.

We’re not the first to face that question. What were the words of the Elisha as the army’s surrounded the city and it seemed as if all had been lost? “‘Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’” (2 Kings 6:16) In many senses we can all be like the servant who cried out, seeing the insurmountable odds, “Oh no! My Lord, what shall we do?” (2 Kings 6:15) We don’t necessarily see the army of the living God, standing there in front of us, we don’t necessarily see the miracle of His power and glory between us and our real struggle, our real adversity, because we are so focused on all the ways everything has or can go bad, on all the ways that it has or can go wrong. Yet, what we need to be focused on is faith. After all, if it is truly what is hoped for and yet unseen (Hebrews 11:1) then our salvation and our defense is truly at hand even when it is the least clear to us.

We are reminded by the words of the Psalmist, “The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Psalm 118:6) More aptly we should be remember it is not just “What can mere mortals do to me?”, it is also a question of “What can this mere mortal world do to me?” No matter how many times it seems like it is there to knock us down, no matter how many times it may seem like it is there to break us, no matter how often the Devil may come to us, roaring like a lion that is seeking to devour (1 Peter 5:8) God is there to heal us, to strengthen us in the love afforded to us by His goodness and mercy. (Psalm 147:3) After all, if He so loved each us, if He so loved the world that He would not even withhold His precious son from us, (John 3:16) letting his precious blood be spilled for us and for our sins then what really will He let touch us, what really will He let destroy us.

Each step of the way, in all that we are and all that we face, God really is there to stand for us. Sometimes it just takes letting go of the things that we think we know, remembering God’s wisdom and understanding surpasses even our own, and letting His invisible hand take hold of us, rising from the places we cannot see to stretch over us to protect us, to ensure that nothing that really and truly can rob us of His peace and comfort if we trust in Him will overtake us. Yes, that is a hard leap of faith to sometimes make when everything seems to be going against us, but then it is a question of how much hope do you truly put in the Lord and do you trust the promises He offers unto you as an undeniable truth for your life.

Take a moment in your day today, look at the struggles and the challenges that are weighing on you. Close your eyes, and search for God’s love for your life. It is there, and it is ready to make you more powerful than you ever thought possible if you just let it. No matter what hardship or difficulty life may offer, they fall if you stand firm in the Lord. It just takes the strength and the power He has already given to you and that you perhaps aren’t yet aware that you have. Then will you rest easy in the blessings of His promises for you.

Want and Need

What we want isn’t always what we need and what we need isn’t always what we want. That is perhaps one of the most difficult lessons that God teaches us in our lives as we struggle with purpose and meaning, searching for a reason, wondering to ourselves if He is even listening. Sometimes we just, well we have this image in our head of the way things should be or ought to be and it becomes such a prevalent thought that we can’t picture it any other way. Other times it’s that we look around and we can’t seem to understand why it is the way it is when we know it should be different, even if we don’t necessarily know how or why that should be the case.

It’s the question of divine purpose that so often gets to us, that so often weighs us down as we know what we want or how we want it, and yet, as we do, we have a hard time reconciling it to what God knows that we need in our lives. The thing about it is that we’re not even trying to be that terribly difficult, we aren’t trying to make it that much harder, we just want to know why it is the way that it is, we want to know what the plan and the design of it is, and we don’t necessarily get why it has to be the way that it is.

The deepest questions of who we are, and who we need to be, of where we need to be, they aren’t ever questions that come simply or easily. We don’t just become people, we grow into them. Perhaps, along the way or path is changed or altered, it might be that it we are affected, even shaped by the interactions we have with others, sometimes our road is hard, sometimes it is easy, but any way that you look at it, it doesn’t just happen overnight where, one day, we are suddenly who we are at this very moment in our lives. So why would it be any different with a God who knows how we grow, how we evolve as a person, how we learn and we change with time? Why would He make the answers clear to us in a way that He knows would be unclear because it was given without any thought or consideration to who we are and how we became that person?

What God promises us isn’t an easy path, nor a simple one in any way but to our salvation through Christ Jesus. (Romans 5:8) What He does promise is that, through the fires and the floods, through the dangers and the perils, He will be there for us and with us, (Isaiah 43:2) never leaving us or abandoning us. (Joshua 1:5) What He tells us is that what we need, in those times when we question the purpose and the plan of it is all, is trust and patience, because those who trust in the Lord will find His goodness (2 Samuel 7:8) and those who are patient with Him will find their strength and purpose, uplifted in His love. (Isaiah 40:31) This is the wondrous miracle of His hand in our lives even as we find ourselves questioning where He is when we want the most.

Remember, it is not our wanting that exalts us, it is God, our Heavenly Father, and God alone who does that. (Psalm 46:10) It could be, at that moment, we don’t quite get how He is exalting us, but it’s only when we put those feelings behind us, when we let go of them, in the blessings of His hope that He lets us be of one mind with Him, (Romans 15:5) to see as He sees, making more and more apparent the glorious nature of the lessons He is teaching us to become as we need to be as He makes all things possible to us through the power of His grace made perfect in Christ through us. (Philippians 4:13)

Take a moment today, and look at your life, look at what you are struggling with, what is challenging you. Take the time to look at what you have laid at God’s feet, the burdens you still feel weighing on you, and instead of mistaking want for need and putting what you want out there, say to God, “Lord, show me as You will, teach me as You must so I can be as You intend for me to be.” Let go not just of the struggles but of the wants and the desires you have in them, and make it about what the Lord, your blessed Father, intends for you and let Him, in trust, patience and hope, guide you to where you must be.

It is only then that you will find the true path to the peace you are seeking, the only way you will find the true reconciliation of your will with God’s to the glorious ends of the love He has for you as He makes it about you rather than you making it about yourself.

Romans: Sharing with Christ

Romans 8:17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ,provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

We, the adopted children of God, are now officially sons and daughters of the King of Kings.  And what does this mean beyond the fact that we are forgiven of our sins and brought into fellowship with God as part of His family?  It means we get everything.

Everything?  Yes, if we are children of God then we are heirs, just as Jesus Christ is the Heir of all things (Hebrews 1:2).  What’s His is ours.  That’s…the glory and the suffering.

We’re called to more than just living a good life here and now on this earth when we enter into God’s family.  We are given incredible gifts from the Father, but there is more to this life than what we receive.  We have the privilege now of sharing with Christ in His sufferings.

Because we’re children of God, those who aren’t may take offense to our disposition and seek to harm us, whether physically or just emotionally and spiritually.  We may not always be happy all the time because in this world there is evil and injustice that will not be eradicated until Christ returns.  Oh, but when He does, we get to share in His glory.  When that time comes, everything in this life will have been worth it.

What if God Doesn’t Care

Sometimes it’s hard not to wonder if God actually even cares.

I mean we know He does, or, at the very least, we think He does. It tells us in Scripture He does, and what are the words to that children’s song? “Jesus loves me, this I know, because the Bible tells me so.” After all, if He cared enough to create us, if He made the promises that He made, assuring us that they are the same, that His love, bound to us through Christ, is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) there has to be something to the idea that He actually cares. Yet, sometimes it feels more complicated than that, does it? Sure it’s the faith of a child that saves, making way the path to Heaven, (Luke 18:17) but we don’t stay children forever, eventually we put away childish things (1 Corinthians 13:11) and adult problems follow us.

During those times God can seem so far distant, He can seem so far removed as we pray for a sign, for any sign that He still sees us, that He still contends with our cause, that He still cares. There are those times when, for as much as we know that He is there, we just don’t seem to feel it, at least not like we did, at least not like we should, and it’s hard. More than anything else it hurts as we just want so badly for Him to make His presence to be known, to let us know He’s still there, that He still sees us. If there is a Hell, if it is being removed from the presence of God, then those moments sure seem like they are as close as you can get to it on earth, aren’t they?

The thing about it is that, whether we feel His presence or not, whether we see His hand or not, God is there, and there isn’t a moment, a second, an instant where He doesn’t care. (Matthew 6:25-34) We know this not just because the Bible tells us that He loves us, that He is always there for us, that He cares for each of us individually with hope and grace, mercy and faith, but because He is the God who gave His only Son as the great sacrifice to wash away our sin and our guilt, to chase away all those problems big and small that would keep us separated from Him. (John 3:16)

You see, this temporal existence is the last great battlefield, and the Devil, our old adversary, he does everything he can to prove to us that Hell does exist, not just as a spiritual plane but as physical one too, and that this, right here is it. After all, if he can convince us that God doesn’t see us here, if He doesn’t see our pain and our anguish here, then is there really a God, is there really a Heaven or a Hell beyond any of this or is it just a moral argument devised millennia ago? After all, for as much as it can be made to feel as much like Hell as it can, our existence this side of Paradise can’t really be made to feel as splendid as Heaven itself, for however close we may wish or want it to be.

It’s not that God doesn’t care, or that He doesn’t understand. It’s that it’s easier for us to believe that He doesn’t see it than it is for us to accept the truth: amidst this life there are going to be struggles and hardships that seem like they are more than we can handle, there are going to be things in it that are going to cause us so much pain we don’t necessarily know what to do, and yes, God doesn’t necessarily stop them from happening. Why? Because even through them He has a plan for them, He has a lesson He teaches us (Jeremiah 29:11) and He knows nothing the Devil can throw at us is more powerful than we are when we put our hope, our faith and our trust in Him. (1 Corinthians 10:13) Just because we know something is painful now doesn’t mean it can’t lead to something amazing in our future now if we let God show us what it means, just like we can’t know if God takes something painful from us now it can’t lead to a greater pain or a deeper anguish in the future. The nature of faith has to be in the trust, as we put everything we don’t know in the hands of a God who does.

Never for a moment believe that God doesn’t care. He does, and, even in your hardship He is sparing you from some greater challenge, some greater hardship, waging a perpetual battle against sin, death and the Devil for you. He is doing it in ways we can’t understand and can’t conceive, and all He asks of you is a little bit of faith as He guides you through it all. It’s here then that we realize that when we can’t see God or hear Him we need to rely on our other senses, on a greater spiritual sense to find Him. When we do, we know then not only does He care for us, but that He also carries us. It’s then that though that purpose may be lost on us for the moment, we are drawn to the greater moments nearer to eternity when all purpose is revealed to us.

Life is a Journey, Not a Destination

Sometimes I take on projects that I know are well beyond my capacity, that are well beyond my own ability. Sometimes I just sit here in this chair and I’ll stare, my look perhaps a little hazy but my mind intensely focused, wondering how I’m going to go about doing this, tracing and retracing my thoughts even as I find I am unable to think about anything else.

There are moments when I just sort of let out this half laugh. You know the one? It almost sounds like a sigh but there is this chuckle that tries to find humor in it as you find yourself a little bit on the frustrated side. When I do, the prevalent thought that runs through my head seems to be I have no business pushing myself like this, testing the limits of what I can and can’t do, knowing full well just how far it is beyond my skill, talent and ability.

Yet I still try, pushing myself a little harder day by day. Maybe, in a sense, there are the times when I know that I am going to wind up disappointed. It doesn’t quite turn out the way that I wanted to. It could be that every step of the way I am going to end up frustrated, silently cursing what I am doing for turning out so bad, and myself for letting it. Invariably I know those moments may come and that, for as much as you warn yourself about it, telling yourself not to be disappointed if they do, nothing really prepares you for the reality of them if and when they do actually hit, do they?

But then, during these times, during these moments, we have to remind ourselves that though a wise man knows their limitations, it is a great man who not only knows them but does everything that he can do to push himself past them. Life is about understanding the boundaries that our limits have put up, and pushing ourselves past them with strength, vigor and courage in a hope, faith and trust that all things will work out as they must.

Faith is about a journey to the borderland of our boundaries, testing the limits of who we are and what we can do. Consider the words of the Lord to the Apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) This is a testimony of a God who does not believe in limitations, a God who, looks to us, and, in the knowledge that all things are possible through Him (Matthew 19:26) sets us apart in the wondrous and boundless nature of His love that all things may be made possible through Him who strengthens us. (Philippians 4:13)

Without a doubt there will be frustrations, there are going to be challenges that meet us along the way. There are going to be moments in our lives when we feel like throwing up our hands, thinking to ourselves why do we even bother trying? Why do we even bother when it all seems to slip away from us, and it just seems so hard? What we have to remember, during those times, is that we are created in a divine and holy image, in the glorious image of a God who loves us and sets us apart to be more than conquerors in Christ. (Romans 8:37) What we may believe is too hard for us, that we may believe is too difficult for us God has other ideas for. We just need to cast our cares, our worries, our frustrations, our self-doubt aside and look to a wondrous future, and a hope filled plan for our lives.

I have no illusions that I am a great man. Maybe someday I might be better than I am today in the belief that today I am better than I was yesterday. What I know is that if I keep pushing my boundaries, if I keep trying harder to do make what seems like it would be impossible for me to do possible then the best is yet to come for my life in the trust that God will always be there to help me along the way, to help me become more than what I am, perfecting me in His grace and love.

Look to your own life, consider your journey, and the borders it takes you to of your own perceptions of your capacity to grow and to be, to think and to do. God is ready with a divine design for your life to take you beyond. Trust in Him and He will carry you to new heights beyond anything you ever dreamed of before.