Tag Archives: Jesus

There’s a way out

1 Corinthians 10:13  No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

So you know by now that sin is bad and that you should choose to stay away from it.  But it isn’t always just that simple, is it?  Sometimes the temptation to sin is great and just knowing that it’s wrong isn’t enough.  It can be overwhelming.

But there’s good news!  God is looking out for you.  If you belong to Him, He’s on your side and He provides a way fro you to stay true to Him.  The Holy Spirit working in you will not only nudge you to let you know when something is sin, He’ll point you to a way of escape from the temptation.

No matter how massive the temptation you’re facing, God has seen it before, Jesus has faced it before (Hebrews 4:15), and the Spirit has dealt with it before.  You’re not alone and you don’t have to face any sin or any temptation without help.  The truth is, you have the greatest help ever available because God Himself is cheering for you to win.  Find assurance in that.

Christ’s body

The Church

1 Corinthians 12:12-14 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many.

The Church – we are many, but we are one – united in Christ.  Though the Church is made up of many individuals, each has his or her own part in making up the body of Christ.  Each member is like a part of a body, fulfilling a specific purpose to the greater purpose of the body as a whole.

Why do we gather as a church?  To carry out the work of Christ in the world.  To bring glory to God.  He has commissioned us to go out and do His will and bring about His purposes.  When we unite as one, we have strength in numbers, we have unity, we have a greater plan.  In our unity, God works in us and through us, just as He works in and through us as individuals.

In each of us, He gives skills and abilities.  In the corporate body He puts those skills to work, directing us right where He wants us.  Often we pair with someone whose skills complement our own and our effectiveness is doubled, as two strands of rope are far stronger than one (even better with a third – God).

United as a body, we are an unstoppable force in the world for the cause of Christ.

 

Christ’s bride

The Church

Ephesians 5:25-27  Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

Of all analogies given in Scripture to describe the relationship between God and man, maybe one of the most peculiar is that of husband and wife. Christ is the groom and we (collectively, as the Church) are His bride.  Why is this comparison used to speak of our relationship with Jesus?

First of all, any analogy that tries to capture God within human understanding fails.  God is not just like anything we have knowledge of.  But He is kind of like a husband who loves his bride and would do anything (DID everything!) for her.  The best attempt we have at coming close to understanding God’s love is a healthy marriage relationship where there is mutual love.  Christ gave everything, His own perfect life, for His bride.  He sacrificed it all that we might be reconciled to God.

We, His bride, are made spotless (here’s the white dress) to be presented at the marriage (Christ’s return).  He’s made a covenant with us that will never be broken and He remains faithful.  His love never falters, never fails.  His love is true.  And His love is for us.  We await the perfect wedding day to come.

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 – 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.

Conformed to His image

Romans 8:28-29 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.  For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

Romans 8:28 has got to be one of the most quoted and memorized of all Scripture.  It’s important to know that God purposes all things to work together for good.  But when you pay close attention to the latter half of the verse, you see the need to read on.

Paul is stating that there are some who are called by God to fulfill His purpose.  In context we learn that those who are called are also to be conformed to the image of Christ (see also 2 Thessalonians 2:14) in order to bring about that purpose.  The work of the Holy Spirit within us brings about our sanctification which numbers us among the brothers/sisters of Christ.

So what’s our part in this?  What application do we make out of this truth?  Trust, for one thing.  Do you trust that in all things, in all areas of your life that God is active and present, working things towards His purpose?  Do you trust that He is conforming you to the image of His Son through the events and circumstances of your life?  We’ve got to trust that, even when things aren’t going as we planned, our Creator chose us from before creation (Ephesians 1:4) to be part of something bigger than ourselves.  His plan calls for the lives of HIs people to be transformed into the image of Christ and He brings that about one step at a time (2 Corinthians 3:18).

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.