Advertisements

Blog Archives

Thank God.

LORD of reconciliation, Master of mercy, Author of true joy, there is no greater hope to be found than the hope You have provided through Jesus Christ. You alone have the words of life, there is nowhere else to turn. Peace flows from the veins of Christ across all of us who were once at war with You, & You have drawn us near, glorifying Yourself. This is not our effort, but Yours, not our battle, but Yours, not our righteousness, but Yours & You alone are praised for the defeat of sin & death & victory over the grave rests with You. Open our eyes, revive our hearts & continue to draw glory to Yourself as we spread the Gospel around the world. We pray this through Christ our Lord, amen.

Luke 24:36-53
36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them.

44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

50 And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God.

I am real
You wouldn’t think you would ever read through the Scriptures & come out thankful that Jesus ate fish. It’s such a simple action, a basic thing to do. Look at His life with His disciples, how many times do you think Jesus ate fish? Grilled fish, baked fish, boiled fish, broiled fish, stewed fish, smoked fish & I’m sure the possibilities continue. But Jesus takes this common basic thing, this simple sign of something comfortable to reassure His disciples that He is indeed really there with them, present & constant. He’s no spirit, no ghost, no hallucination & He proves it by eating something they themselves prepared. I would have done some small miracle before them, shown myself through a divine sign, proving myself in that way. But He chooses something they can do & duplicate & I think that says an awful lot more.

He wanted them to know without a shadow of a doubt that He was indeed alive, present & moving forward into the next phase of life & covenant with them. A risen Savior is a real Savior, & this crew of confused & disheartened disciples needed something they could sink their teeth into, like a piece of fish. Jesus provided that for them that wonderful morning.

Forgiveness is real
Not only did Jesus want them to see & understand that He was & is real, He wanted them to remember the context of everything that had just happened & that not one moment of it all was coincidence or accident. He reminded them of the Scriptures they were raised with, a comfortable & familiar remembrance. He reminded them about Moses & the prophets & everything the Father had promised & been promising over the preceding millennia. This was the plan the whole time.

And why? This didn’t happen for nothing, right? This wasn’t something that was done simply for the sake of saying it would be accomplished. This is the promise of God to glorify Himself by the redemption of creation & humanity to Himself. This was all about God offering forgiveness to rebels like them & us & bringing peace & righteousness back into creation. This was the first step in seeing holiness win out over sin & evil. The foot of the Savior was bitten by that serpent, but his head was now thoroughly crushed. This has been the plan since the garden had to be cleared out  & Adam & Eve first perceived their own nakedness & brokenness entered the world. This was all about God’s glory & how He would provide forgiveness to all who would come to Him.

You are witnesses
And Jesus didn’t leave them out, either. In this moment where disbelief & joy slam into each other, Jesus reminded them that they had a part to play in this whole wonderful affair. This wasn’t just something done for them, but to them & would now happen through them. They are -the- witnesses to this universe altering news. They are the ones who would take this first-hand account of holy truth into the world. They are the ones with these words written on their hearts because they lived it, every single moment of it. Where they were feeling hopeless just hours before, & confused just moments ago, Jesus was letting them know from the onset that they had what everyone else needed. They have a purpose to fulfill. They are the bearers of the Gospel of love, peace, mercy, grace & forgiveness, & if this world is going to learn how to walk in the rhythms of grace with God, the it’s going to happen through them sharing all of this good news.

Joy is real
The world needs to know that joy is real. There is so much trouble, so many hurts, so many reasons to mourn & feel trapped in the brokenness & God doesn’t desire for another moment to pass from this one where people don’t know about the beacon of joy that will draw them back into wholeness with Him. Jesus knew that people outside of that room would struggle, & so He was sending out people who had struggled. Jesus knew that people outside that room would doubt, & so He sent out people who wrestled with doubt. He knew that people outside that room would deal with loss, sorrow & pain & so He sent out these people who had those feelings fresh on their hearts.

He knew the world needed joy, so He sent these out who were first to experience it. This fresh message, this amazing truth was needed more deeply than anyone could imagine & this firestorm of joy would burn without ceasing for the millennia to come. The disciples carried it, you & I who are in Christ carry it & the world still desperately needs to know about it. There is work to be done, joy to be spread. The Savior is real. Forgiveness is real. We are the witness to true & lasting joy. Let the whole world hear our praises!

Advertisements

Mark 1:1-8 // …and so it begins

“1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
“Look, I am sending My messenger ahead of You,
who will prepare Your way.
3 A voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
Prepare the way for the Lord;
make His paths straight!”

4 John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were flocking to him, and they were baptized by him in the Jordan River as they confessed their sins.

6 John wore a camel- hair garment with a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. 7 He was preaching: “Someone more powerful than I will come after me. I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the strap of His sandals. 8 I have baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.””
Mark 1:1-8 HCSB

Mark opens us up into a scene where the action is already taking place. There is no lag, no waiting for Jesus to grow and mature, the other Gospel writers handle that, and so Mark skips ahead to a camel-clad John preaching loudly in the wilderness, the place of Israel’s disobedience. He also makes no qualms about describing Jesus’ nature by calling Him “The Son of God” right away in his opening sentence.

There’s a boldness and an urgency here that we cannot miss or afford to mistake. Mark legitimizes Jesus by calling to the prophets and their proclamation of a forerunner, an announcer, John the Baptist. John’s own birth circumstances were miraculous, being born to an older, barren couple. And John, a Nazarite from birth, comes with a bold message that cannot be mistaken. This message is not about himself for even a moment, but he is actively pointing toward someone else, and that someone is the Messiah, the Christ, God’s Anointed One, Jesus.

And so what do we take from this? What do I learn from an introduction?
I see that there is an urgency and an excitement that is too often lacking in my own life. I tend to get bogged down in details rather than focusing on the main thing. I get sidetracked by things that look legitimate, but really could stand to wait until a better time, or maybe even be pushed aside in favor of something better. We all make use of our time, we don’t have a choice in that matter. We cannot push a pause button, or step outside of time, we must do something with it, but what we do with it is what matters most. Do we get hung up in the day-to-day, or do we tell ourselves that there is a more urgent work to be done? Do we start each day recognizing that our time is precious, and the time to get started on the work of God is –>now<–, or do we pretend like it can wait, like people can wait? People who are still dead in their sins, who need to be resurrected, resuscitated and brought back to life, do we tell them to wait? Do we dare tell them that they don't need to know quite yet because we think we have the time later to tell the, the best news they will ever hear? Why do we delay? Why do we make other things a priority? The time is now, it has already begun. The work of the Gospel starts with us, today, now, and the ones who need to hear cannot afford for us to wait. Urgency compels us to go stand in the wilderness, to GoLove them as Jesus would. Nothing else takes priority over that…

Love? This is the whole point // Matthew 22

“Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:34-40 NIV

And really, this basic truth remains unchanged and stands as the foundational identifier for those who truly are followers of Christ.

Jesus said that many people would cry, ‘Lord, Lord!’ but stands apart from fellowship with Him in reality. He also said that people would know that we belonged to Him by the love that we share with one another.

Love stands as the foundation of the Law. God has desire for His children’s good. He works, in His perfect plan, for for the good of those who love Him. These plans are to prosper us and not to harm us. Plans based in His love for our hope and future. It is because He so loved us that He gave us His one and only Son, so that believing in Him, we wouldn’t die in our sins, but find eternal life in Him.

It’s not a placating love. It’s not a patronizing love. It’s not a show-off-y love. It’s not a love with a false-front. It’s not a love at a distance, a love just for looks.

This love dies to self. This love serves. This love disciples. This love equips others. This love teaches. This love humbles. This love obeys. This love respects. This love is sacred.

There are -so many- other qualifiers that define this unconditional love, but the root of it is in God. It mirrors His heart. It mirrors His will and mission. The Law of the Old Testament, the mission and message of the prophets, the work of Christ and His Church all work and move within this love. And for all those who claim God, this love stands as our defining characteristic. If this love for others, based in God’s love for us, isn’t present, then we are not abiding in love and we are misled as to the nature of what has been given to us in grace.

For those who claim to be Christians, but spew vitriol and hate, who ridicule and demean, who discourage and abuse…their claims are as thinly veiled as their motives.

All Christians are called to the same love. This is the love of Christ that we minister within, teach truth within, and again, abide within. Everything, as Jesus said, hangs on it.

This love keeps us from compromising the truth of the message we have been given. It draws us into the Scriptures to seek it daily. It is echoed all throughout God’s interactions with His children and His world. And as we examine this love, we are compelled to share in its fullness with anyone and everyone we meet. It is a love that must be communicated or it isn’t fully shared. This isn’t a halfway love or a love that allows us to hold grudges. This love is life. It is the love that compels us to ‘go’ and spread it everywhere.

So, as always, GoLove with your whole life by sharing it with others. This love that is larger than our lives or our efforts at description compels us forward. Go.

God bless the nobodies…

(unmarked journal entry – presumably luke 1)

for so long, the israelites waited for their savior. they followed God in a sad cycle of on again, off again returns and worshiping of pagan gods. throughout it all, God continued to offer them ways back to Him, and messengers to help them back into His fold. But, just like today, they weren’t always ready to listen. by the time the old testament wraps up, you can feel the depth of their desire for the messiah.

things are just too much anymore, and the timing was definitely right.

so, after 400 years of silence and struggle, the pump had been primed for God’s redemptive down-stroke. and the plan is still as marvelous today as when it was first revealed. we would still expect an adult, a strong political/military leader to come in and fix their human situations. but the beauty of a baby, born to ‘nobodies’ still continues to amaze us.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

it’s reassuring to know that God really is willing to use anyone and everyone to accomplish His will and purpose. this is part of the great reversal, that those of us who are not in the world’s limelight, that those of us who do not stand out, are still afforded an equally important role as the guy/lady that everyone sees and knows. we can’t expect to all be called to speak at conferences, or to pray for televised, presidential events. that would create a ridiculous scenario.

but each and every one of us has been given the responsibility of sharing what we know about God to everyone we meet. it has nothing to do with our social standing, our titles at work or how many degrees we have. if a completely un-famous carpenter and his quiet, teenage wife can be given the responsibility of caring for the Son of God, then the possibilities are endless.

to say,  “God can’t/won’t use me because i’m ____________________.” is absolutely ridiculous. God can and will use all who make themselves available to be used. God loves using people no one expects to accomplish great things. because then, it’s obvious that He is at work, and then He gets the glory he deserves in a very unfiltered way. if He only used the high and mighty, someone might get too much of an ego trip, and block out the real message.

so, step forward in confidence knowing that God can and will use you, no matter what you think of yourself, or what you think others think about you. just make yourself available, be willing to take that first step out of your perception of control, and see what He can do through you…

set in motion…

(unmarked journal entry – presumably matthew 26)

it’s easy to read the chapters at the end of the Gospel narratives and think that ‘things have been set in motion now. there’s no turning back.’ and that would seem true. but really, there was never any turning back from the get-go. these events that we see in the NT weren’t just being set in motion. they had been moving that way since the prophets had spoken the words concerning Him, and even before that… you know that if you look back to the garden of eden, you can see this coming, and that God begins speaking of it then.

we need to be mindful of God’s work when it comes to each and every aspect of our own lives. you may not feel like a prophet has laid out the course of your life for all to see, but really it has been. Jesus spoke very clearly and directly about how we were to live in order to follow Him. the apostles and other disciples that wrote later also made a declaration on how we would live, how we should live and what needed to happen for us to live that God-honoring life.

it has been set in motion. so we must ask if we are praying, alongside Jesus, ‘not my will, Father, but Yours be done.’

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

of course we have every possibility of steering off of this path that has been laid out before us. but with Jesus as our example, we see that He made a point of doing things so that Scripture would be fulfilled. (think John the Baptist & “let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.“) Jesus knew what Scripture said He would do, so He made a point of doing just that…we know what Scripture says we should do, so we should make a point of doing just that, as we saw from Jesus Christ.

i am not a proponent of a robotic, predestination theology. but i do believe that when we come across the choices that life presents us, we have been given a prescribed response that glorifies God. it is up to us to follow through with those actions, and either honor God or draw attention to ourselves. it’s kind of like a choose-your-own-adventure book. we come to a crossroads, and we must choose from two or three options. each one will lead us in a different direction, but not all of them will work out toward the ‘happy ending.’

we know what we are supposed to do. the question is, is being faithful to God for the sake of being faithful and giving Him glory enough for us? or do we seek our own prideful ends? the answers to every question have been laid out for us, and we simply need to seek first God’s will, His kingdom plan and watch how things that were set in motion so long ago play out.

life is choice.

choices have consequences.

chose wisely.

%d bloggers like this: