Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Don't Knock It Till You've Tried It!

John 3:3, 5, 7 - Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God...Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God..Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'"

Jesus only speaks the truth. He cannot lie. So why doe some churches teach what seems to be a false doctrine? If Jesus says thus and so, how can it be anything but that?

Years ago I believed so differently than today. I believed what my church taught me as I grew up. Assuming they were right, as most would do, I just went along with it, if I even cared. I did not check a Bible to see what was being taught was accurate. 

There was a time when I would steer clear of people handing out Gospel tracts on Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Milwaukee where I worked. There was also this old car painted from top to bottom and front to back with scriptures. He would blare announcements telling people to "Repent!" My thoughts back then were, "How dare he push his views on me and tell me what I need to do? I'm not any worse than the next person. Society changes; live with it. What's wrong with these people?" 

Even a coworker and now a long-time best friend who'd given her life to Christ was talking at the lunch table about the Bible studies she was going to among other things. One day I guess I couldn't take it anymore and said with yet another curled lip, "You told us that already." We laugh about that now because we both can look back and see how God was working in both our lives at that time. He wanted her to speak; He knew someone was going to hear...and guess who that was? 

Not long after that I had an encounter with Christ. Oh, how we change when we've met Him! How our thoughts change. 

Look again at what Jesus Christ says, not Laurie Dawson:

  • unless one is born again
  • unless one is born of water and the Spirit
  • You must be born again

Again = once more, anew. That's what Webster says. But, like I do occasionally, I check the meaning in a Bible concordance. So often they give us an even bigger meaning of one word.  Are you ready? Wow! This particular meaning for the Greek words again above are: from above, from a higher place; of things which come from heaven or God. That word traces back to a word meaning: up, upwards, above, on high. Then that word takes us to the root word which means: instead of, in place of. This is place of our physical birth...

I didn't make up these statements. They're right there in the God-inspired, inerrant Word of God. What's He telling us? There is a process we must go through to enter the kingdom of God. We must be born again. How can you argue that? It's Jesus speaking. He speaks these same words today. It's a spiritual rebirth. It happens when one accepts Christ.
Being born of water is our natural, physical birth. But it's the spiritual birth that is the most important.  This comes through revelation knowledge. I didn't understand years ago because my heart, mind and spirit didn't comprehend; my eyes were blinded, my knowledge blocked. But one day--and this is so truly a miracle, a God moment--my eyes were opened and my spirit knew and responded when I least expected it...and the rest is history.

Until that moment comes it's not always possible to believe--and we go on believing false doctrine.

Being born again is the start of a new life in Christ. The revelation knowledge begins to shed light on things we couldn't see before. It's like starting all over and this time everything looks different, you feel different. Your spirit is alive and free...because the Spirit of God has entered in.  

This is how it is for me and other believers, those who have received Christ: 
John 3:11 - Most assuredly, I say to you, we speak what we know and testify what we have seen, and you do not receive our witness. I speak what I know because it has happened to me. I can explain it till I'm blue in the face but unless it has happened to another, it won't be comprehended. It's like a light has gone on...only God can do this. It isn't something that can be conjured up on your own. The Spirit of God enlightens. It's revelation knowledge. I am, however, to at least do like my friend did and speak and let people think what they may. It's in God's hands after that.

What's the saying, "Don't knock it till you've tried it?" Not exactly biblical. The Spirit of God is working to turn the hearts of men. Don't resist. It's a wonderful transformation. God's Spirit is out and about looking for the next heart to transform, unlike what 1Peter5:8 tells us: ...Your adversary the devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. You may not realize it now, but should the day come when you hear God's voice and respond, you will look back and know where He was working. Don't knock it till you've tried it.

John 3:8 - The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Way Out

Even more important than Christ's birth is His death. Why? Because it doesn't end there! His death brings life. In our church we joyfully celebrate Easter. Jesus is no longer hanging on the cross. He is alive. Our lives will end in physical death too. But we can share in the spiritual, eternal life that Jesus died to give us.

Here is the best part of the journey down the Roman Road:  the "how" part of receiving the gift of salvation. God has made a way and it's glorious! Yesterday we learned that God so loved the world.....that He gave His one and only Son to die for us. As we head toward Easter Sunday, let this be the season where this true meaning of Easter will take hold. He died so we could live. He died and He is alive!
Romans 5:8 - But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 

I love the "But God's" of the Bible. There's always a way out. Yes, God has always demonstrated His love toward us. In the Old Testament He constantly provided for His people through provision of food and water, clothing and guidance. Even then some of the people just didn't realize it. After removing His presence from His people for 400 years (between Old and New Testaments) He brought Jesus into the picture--to become our sin.  Why 400 years? It was God's way of letting people live among their own devices. There was no help, no hope. They struggled; those who had known God experienced his absence and missed it. It's like us before we truly know Christ. He is absent from our lives and we are living among our own devices. But God...
God's plan for salvation became a reality. Jesus came to this earth to be the sacrifice for all people's sins. All that was necessary back then was to acknowledge Him. It's no different today. It's a simple plan. 

Romans 10:9-10 - ...if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
This scripture above is the most important of all. For so many the idea that attending church, doing good deeds, tithing, even being baptized as a baby is all that is necessary to be considered a Christian. The Bible tells us in such simple words what we are to do. Only God knows our hearts and whether we truly do believe what He tells us. I would not want to be left guessing. I would want to be absolutely sure. I would want my focus to be on heaven's rewards rather than the world's. So we are told: 

Romans 10:13 - For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."

Joel 2:32 in the Old Testament backs this up: And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the remnant whom the LORD calls.

This is such a great promise, if there is verbal confession and if it is heartfelt. If it's just words spoken to be able to say you've said the words, God knows. If a change actually takes place within your heart and your life, then you know it's happened. This may seem a difficult thing to hear but that's because it just goes against the grain of logical thinking. The things of heaven are not always logical. It's the narrow road that seems like such a contradiction to the world view.

Matthew 7:13-14 - Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
I said this yesterday, there has always been a remnant of people focused on God. He continues to this day to call more. It is the duty of all who have been called to follow Christ to become disciples and lead others. Outwardly, I am not so good at that! For now, my outlet is this blog. Perhaps it's a way to strengthen me.

I would be remiss to end this whole Roman Road walk without showing you how, when you are ready, to do this. First, let me ask you a question: Do you know for a fact when you die you will go to heaven? If you don't, you can. If you desire to seek the Lord with all your heart and soul, you might pray this prayer. It's the first step and God will do the rest:

Heavenly Father, I know I am a sinner and I confess this to You now. With all my heart I ask that You come into my life and into my heart and let change begin. I believe You are who You say You are and that you will transform me into the person You truly see me as, into the person whose life has no meaning apart from You. Thank You that You give us all a chance to become Your children, that you give us Your Holy Spirit as a guide, that as Your children You will speak to us and show us what is Truth. I thank You for Your Son, Jesus, and His death on the cross for my sins. I thank You for always having had a plan of redemption into Your Kingdom. Lord, take me as I am. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Monday, March 29, 2010

There Is None Righteous

This is holy week. It marks the last week of Christ's life on earth. His whole ministry was leading up to this time. He spoke time and time again about believing in Him. He often spoke about having to die in order to live, not only in His life, but in ours as well. He became an example for us. He did not let the world tell Him otherwise. His teachings were hard and narrow to those who didn't like what He had to say but He was relentless.

His teaching showed us who we are in this world and who and what we can be--through Him and Him alone. There is something called the Roman Road. It is a series of scriptures from the Book of Romans, with a few others, that will light the path to salvation in Christ. Remember, He alone is the Way. Today I will try to explain what the Bible says about the sin portion of of our lives. Tomorrow, what we can do about it.

Romans 3:10 - As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one." 

As it is written...Psalm 14:3 in the Old Testament...They have all turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is none who does good, no, not one. 

The Bible is dotted with examples of our unrighteousness. But God...always has a way out and you can find that there too!

Romans 3:23 - for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...

There is none righteous. Not since Adam and Eve when they listened to the lies of the serpent, were cast out of the Garden of Eden, out of communion with God and into sin. When we are born into this world, we are born into that same sin and separated from God. Not just an adulterous neighbor or one who gossips, or someone you work with who steals time or lies about their "sick days," but you as well. No one is exempt. We have all been born into disobedience against God. 

We see in the Old Testament how there were constant sacrifices being lifted up to God to atone for the sins of the people. Today there is no work we can do...we can never be good enough, give enough, love enough to get us to heaven. All that we consider good apart from God amounts to nothing. All our works are as filthy rags. Isaiah 64:6 - But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags...

That's why God had to develop another plan for all people so they could be reconciled to Him once again. He chose to make it a one-time issue, this gift of salvation, but one which we have the choice to make. It's not about endless working or sacrificing to try to please God. No. Just one thing. And why? To put an end to our sinful natures and allow us to encounter eternal life. Then our works, done for the glory of God, are good.

Romans 6:23a - For the wages of sin is death...

Adam and Eve. It all started there. And it was Adam who was to blame, not Eve. Adam knew the rules firsthand having spent time walking with God. Eve entered the picture and got the word secondhand from Adam. Satan knew who he could work on.... And when she ate of the apple, death became reality in her life. An interesting theory I'd heard: Adam knew what Eve's consequences would be--banishment from the garden and ultimately death--and he could not envision life without her. So he ate of the apple as well. He would opt to go through whatever she did. Again, this is just an interesting theory. Adam did, however, know the consequences... Whatever the reason their actions brought about our physical death. But we are also given a chance to experience a way for life after death spiritually.

Romans 6:23b - ...but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

In the beginning God made it very evident that following Him and obeying His commandments was the way to go. Over and over the people turned their backs on Him. Some worshiped Him, some obeyed, but there were always those who did not. There has always been a remnant of people focused on God who would draw others. And there has always been a larger number who did not believe. It's no different today. There will always be a remnant of Christians. He continues His call to draw all men unto Him.

God has always loved the world. It grieved Him, I'm sure, to have to make the decision to not allow all mankind into heaven. But you need to understand that God is holy and cannot be in the presence of sin. He has also given us the option to make our own choices. Some choose to follow Jesus, some choose not. Jesus is the only way to life; to believe otherwise may seem narrow minded, but the road leading in that direction is a narrow one and only for those who choose to follow it.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting lifeFor I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father except through Me. (John 3:16 and John 14:6)

Friday, March 26, 2010

God's Heart for Israel

Jeremiah 31:1, 3 - "At the same time," says the LORD, "I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people." The LORD has appeared of old to me [Jeremiah], saying: "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you."

I hinted the other day that God will bless those who support Israel and He will curse them that don't. Israel comprises the true "apple of God's eye," the Jews. This little country has withstood the test of many times over the last 6,000 years. It may like it will be completely overthrown one day, but I guarantee it will not. There will be a day when not only we, but they, will see the soon coming Messiah. 

You might also look at this this way: God loves us; He desires to be our Husband; He has made a covenant with man that cannot be broken...if we choose to follow Him. As you read this, replace Israel with yourself. Personalize it. This is what God feels not only about His little nation, but His people...those who choose to follow Him. What He has done for Israel, He can do for us. We fall into the same category as Israel as His chosen people.

God loves Israel. The covenant He made with her is much like a marriage agreement. He bestowed blessings upon her. He chose to be her Husband. He chose her to be the light to the lost world. His love is everlasting and never changing. Genesis 17:7 and Hosea 2:19 - "And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy..." Again, "you" refers to us as well.

God took care of Israel like a husband takes care of his wife. He desired to show the world His bride. He spoke gently and lovingly with her. He provided for her, fed her and clothed her. He was proud of His bride and gave her everything she needed. 

And then...Israel became unfaithful to Him. He pleaded with her to return to Him, but she chose not to. She chose to worship idols and live an adulterous life. He lost His patience and decided to distance Himself from her. When Israel realized His absence, she decided to repent; however, it was not from her heart and God lamented: "O Ephraim, what shall I do to you? O Judah, what shall I do to you? For your faithfulness is like a morning cloud, and like the early dew it goes away." (Hosea 6:4)

In her unfaithfulness, God chose to reprimand and warn her, out of His covenant love. That heart of love that never fades. He longed for her to seek forgiveness and return to Him, her first love. God will not give up on her even today. He will not divorce her but He will cling to her even in her disobedience.  "Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth, and I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy; then I will say to those who were not My people, 'You are My people!' And they shall say, 'You are my God!"' (Hosea 2:23)

God continues to show mercy on His bride. He still continues to woo those who do not know Him. He allows disobedience and He causes her to now not benefit in those blessings He has promised her. There will come a day when He will show His love for His adulterous bride again. She will see how He had taken care of her (for 6,000 years). She will renew her vows with Him and the world will see that He has not stopped loving her. 

Isaiah 54:7 - "For a mere moment I have forsaken you, but with great mercies I will gather you." God is now in the process of gathering His people back to the small nation of their Promised Land. It began in 1947 when Israel became a nation of its own again. We are told that when this gathering begins to take place, we are in the last days. God's plan for Israel, for all mankind and for the return of Jesus is at work right now!

When that last day comes "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth..." (Philippians 2:10)  Despite the wars and disagreements between Israel and her enemies, God will show His sovereignty. On that day all of Israel, the Jews, and those on earth who have not yet bowed to the authority of the one, true God, will see Him and know and bow down. Better to bow now than then. Come, Lord Jesus, come.

Remember, God's heart for Israel is also His heart for us. Our lives parallel the lives of ancient Israel. When they followed God they were blessed; when they strayed He turned His back until they cried out for Him again. Israel's enemies cursed her and they were cursed in time. He can do that today too. 

Jeremiah 23:5-6 - "Behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "that I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Transformers ?

2Corinthians 3:18 - But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

If we have accepted Christ, we are being transformed...we are transformers into Christ! He wants us to take on His glorious image. And yet it's not about how we look on the outside, but what takes place inside. Boy I hope this blog makes sense...

God doesn't often show us the end of our walk with Him. He gives us clues or points us in a certain direction, but we don't always know what steps He wants us to take from one place to the next. The ultimate goal, we know, will be glorious. 

Over the past week or more a series of events have led me to believe God IS doing something in me (He always is). It's hard to know what it is and what the outcome will be. All these events have all come clumsily together for me, but probably very clearly to God. Bible studies, sermons and thoughts have drawn me to this conclusion...He wants to transform me.

Yes, He wants to transform all of us. This is a given. It's an on-going process. But I think there are times when He suddenly wants us to move forward, like taking a large step up after we've been walking on a flat surface for awhile. All of a sudden there's that hand reaching out for us, beckoning us to climb higher.

I've experienced times at night, when I am no more than turning over in bed, a barrage of thoughts racing through my head. I can't put a finger on what these thoughts are but I sense a disruption in my spirit. God enters my mind immediately when this happens. I know that He is not the author of confusion and that peace and joy come from Him. But somehow I have felt that He is wanting me to go through this struggling in my spirit for a good reason. I have sensed, and mentioned it before, that I think there's a change about to take place in me, a sacrifice, a letting go, breaking free. 

When I think of the sacrifice blogs I've written, Bible studies I've sat in on that speak of drawing near to God, so that He will draw near to us, the periods of time at night...when the busyness of the day is done and He is most able to get my attention...and a study we did last night is all coming together. He will do anything to get our attention...

The study at church is from the Focus On the Family group called the Truth Project. Dr. Del Tackett was discussing philosophy and ethics last night, a very deep subject and a well of information! There's no way I could even begin to summarize...lucky for you! Obviously the entire study, when all is said and done, will continue to point us at what we already know...there is only one absolute Truth and that is Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life. 

One point that struck me at the end (and there were many points that laid hold of my heart) was how when we come to Christ, a transformation begins to take place. I've known this for years. This particular transformation comes from the word "metamorphoo" and that, of course, is where metamorphosis comes from. We are told in Matthew 17:2 that Jesus was transfigured (another form of metamorphosis); His face shone like the sun and His clothes became as white as the light. This is similarly how God wants us to change, like that we stand out in a crowd.

If you recall the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly, we see an incredible change. That drab, lowly caterpillar becomes this beautiful, lofty butterfly. What I'm trying to get to in this whole blog is the become a butterfly, the being that is in the cocoon must struggle to push the walls of the cocoon in order to emerge. Sometimes change is a struggle. We cling to what we know and are content with when God wants us to break loose of those things and allow Him to take us to another level in our journey with Him. He wants us to draw even nearer to Him. He wants us transformed into the persons He sees us as, not who we view ourselves to be.

I love how the Lord does these things. I love how He works in me. He knows me. He knows what it takes to get me to bombarding me with a myriad of thoughts, ideas and His tapping on my shoulder or speaking to my spirit. It's like He knows I need advance warning sometimes...especially when it is going to be something really worthwhile...not that He does anything that is never worthwhile! It needs to get settled in my spirit. 

Transformation. Romans 12:2 tells us to not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. That's transformation. The Truth resides in His Word and when we seek Him through His Word we are renewing our minds, that we might realize greater things in our lives through Him. Who doesn't want greater things? This world cannot give us these greater things, but our God can. That's the truth.

Philippians 3:20-21 - For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

God Knew...God Knows

Jeremiah 1:5 - "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you..."

This whole health care issue our country is experiencing may be upsetting to some of us but don't think for a minute God didn't already know what was going to happen. He created this world. He knew us before we were born. He even knew our names. He knows our thoughts before we think them and the words before we say them. So He already knew that there would be a president whose name He also knew. He knew this man would bring this to pass.

God also knows the outcome. We don't. So shouldn't we be trusting in Him during this time? Knowing that we have a God who will take care of His people is some comfort. We don't understand how He will do it. We no doubt will go through difficult times and wonder how this can be happening, but we are to trust in Him with all our heart and soul. 

He knows the beginning from the end (Isaiah 46:10); therefore, He knows just how much time is left for us on this earth. He knows the number of our days (Job 1:21). He knows when He will send His son to return to bring peace once again and be victorious over evil (Matthew 24:36). As Christians who follow after God, who profess Jesus as Savior and believe in the power of the Holy Spirit, we know how the "rest of the story" ends...we win. 

Even in our death we are victorious (1 Corinthians 15:54). We are promised comfort in times of trouble (Psalm 9:9). We are promised provision (Philippians 4:19). Now those mean different things to different people. I'm suggesting God gives us just what we need when we need it, nothing more. He gives us what He knows we need.

If God could keep the sandals in good condition on the feet of Israel for 40 years and every evening provide them with manna from heaven and they survived, He can do the same today. It's all about trust. 

Israel experienced some difficult times because of their disobedience toward God. They got lazy; they turned to their own desires; they turned their backs on God. Sounds a bit like much of the world today. But He always received them back because He loved them so much. They were His people.

Our country has always done some great things for the needy in this world. We've been looked up to. Look where we came from. The people who came here wanted religious freedom. Eventually it was the idea of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." When did we stop pursuing happiness and start expecting it given to us? When did we lose the freedom to worship God?

We've had a work ethic that has given us the ability and freedom to give to others. That has sadly been pushed aside because of greediness and the will to control. It has sent our country into a downward spiral. Only God knows what lies ahead for us. 

We have a president who is apologizing for our country. What's that all about? We have a government that wants to tell us what we must eat, what kind of car to drive, give up our hard earned dollars and give to people who aren't even citizens of this country or those who choose not to work because they know they can get a handout. They want to tell us how long we can live. Give me a break. That doesn't sound like freedom to me.

The United States has always supported Israel. Now we are poking a stick into "the apple of God's eye." God knew this would happen as well. There is a tangled web in this world that God has control of. One incident is related to another. In one way Israel is in rebellion against God for not believing way back when that Jesus was their Messiah. He knew this would happen. There is a last days incident which will show Israel without any doubt that He has saved them from total destruction...they will see and know in an instant this man called Jesus. 

As far as our turning our backs on Israel, we are turning our backs on God when we do this. Genesis 12:3 tells us that God "will bless those who bless Israel, and will curse him who curses them..." How does that look for us, I wonder? Just suppose...could it be we are being punished (cursed) for our lack of support to Israel (among other things)? Just suppose... God is a God of love, but He also, out of His anger, will judge.

God knows the beginning from the all our small lives and in this whole vast universe. He hangs the stars in the sky and knows them all by name (Isaiah 40:26). What's happening in our country today may be part of His infinite plan. It could be part of His plan to turn us back to Him. Only when we are in the midst of crisis and beginning to lose all hope, we get on our knees and call out to God for mercy and help, just like Israel did time after time. And time after time we are told He heard their cries. We might just see some miracles take place. One might be a people finally willing to turn their eyes on the One who created, sustained and brings hope. The (spiritually) blind will see and the (spiritually) deaf will hear. 

Psalm 121 - I will lift up my eyes to the hills--from whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

He Knows Me

John 1:48-49 - Nathanael said to Him, "How do You know me?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." Nathanael answered and said to Him, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!"

Jesus was out and about beginning to gather His disciples. He already knew who they were! He even knew He would choose Judas, the one who would betray Him. One of them, however, was Nathanael. When Nathanael was first told by Philip, who had already joined the ranks of those who believed they'd found the One who was prophesied about, all he could say was "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Nathanael was skeptical.

But when Jesus saw Philip and Nathanael approaching Jesus was about to bring skepticism to an end when He first made this comment, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!" (verse 47) Nathanael's response is above. "How do you know me?"

Jesus showed Him. Nathanael overcame his doubt in an instant. How did he with just those words? What power were in those words? I have an answer: Jesus is the Son of God; all knowing.

What did Jesus do? It is believed He revealed to Nathanael a specific time when he had been praying (under that fig tree) about the coming Messiah. Because Jesus humbly came from the unassuming town of Nazareth, however, he could not believe anything great could come out of there, especially not someone who claimed to be their great Messiah. How He can change our minds in an instant--by knowing us, knowing what we are in need of. By showing us His power in our lives at the right moment. It's then we believe.

It must have been wonderful to have been living in those days when they could see Jesus' face, hear His voice, walk with Him and learn from Him, eat with Him...see the miracles unfold. But, wait, we can do that today! When we are in relationship with Jesus we may not actually see His face, but we can hear His voice, know that He does walk with us and that He still teaches. We can have communion with Him and even experience the miracle of His saving grace for others! We have Jesus, the Word, in book form and in Spirit. He is as alive today as He was back then. It just takes that relationship.....

Because we have all the past experiences as recorded in the Word, the eye-witness testimonies of so many great people, we can believe. It still takes strength now, maybe even more, to believe in a Person we cannot see. He still does exist in this world today. It's that relationship that allows us to do this, that urges us on, that gives us a hope we can truly count on and promises we can hold in our hearts.

When Nathanael at last believed he was told he would see greater things than what Jesus had just shown him in those few words...verse 50 shows us that:  Jesus answered and said to him, "Because I said to you, "I saw you under the fig tree,' do you believe? You will see greater things than these."

He knows me. He knows all of us. He knows how to get us to a place of humility and acceptance that we need Him, not all the other things the world has to offer. Yes, when we receive Him we are blessed. I sometimes wonder though if it's that our vision has changed and we can be blessed in different ways, not always in things but just the peace and contentment through Him.

Yes, He knows me. He knows my concerns, my desires. He knows what I'm capable of. He can come to us as He did to Nathanael and point out something to show us He knows us. He did that to the Samaritan woman at the well, too. Don't think He can't with us. Ask Him, with a heart that's true, to do that with you. 

In Christ we receive the power of the Holy Spirit. I don't know what "greater things" are in my future to do. I think it doesn't need to be great in the sense that we might think. It can be in anything we do that glorifies God. I think the number one great thing He has done is saved me. Now what will I do to return that favor? What great thing is in store for me? He knows......

John 14:12-14 - I tell you the truth. The person that believes in me will do the same things I have done. Yes! He will do even greater things than I have done. Why? Because I am going to the Father. And if you ask for anything in my name, I will do it for you. Then the Father's glory will be shown through the Son. If you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it.

Monday, March 22, 2010


John 1:10-11 - He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 

How sad. Jesus, the Son of God, and His own rejected Him. These people walked with Him, listened to Him, but when the words got too difficult or they couldn't understand them, they rejected them and Him. That's a mirror image of some today who receive Christ, who turn from their old lifestyles, and because they don't look the same as before, because they do things differently, think differently, adopt new attitudes or ways of doing things, those who knew them before this change reject them. Jesus knew some would reject Him; I should realize not all I say will be received. And...I should not be intimidated. We don't have to agree on everything, do we?

As followers of Christ we change. It happens. It is meant to happen. From sin to righteousness. Some change more quickly than others, but changes do occur. If you've experienced the saving grace of Christ will you know what I am talking about. I may be judged by those who do not. I'm sorry that it happens.

Jesus was rejected by His own. Why? Because of His claims in John 1: 
  • I am the bread which came down from heaven.
  • No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.
  • He who believes in Me has everlasting life.
  • I am the bread of life...which your fathers ate in the wilderness
  • The bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.
  • Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.
  • I live because of the Father, so he who feeds of Me will live because of Me.
  • He who eats this bread will live forever.

I wrote about who to turn to in difficult times last week. When we have a taste of who He is, when we have fed of Him, when we have taken the time to know Him personally through His word and not just what we learn in church, we cannot turn anywhere else. When the disciples heard all that Jesus said above, many turned away from Him. They actually said, "This is a hard saying; who can understand it?" (v. 60)

Well, I say, who can understand what I say these days? Am I a crackpot? Are others hearing me in the way the disciples heard Jesus? (I hope you realize I am not saying I hold a candle to Jesus in any way...) Am I being rejected because I stand by my beliefs? Part of me doesn't want to be rejected, but there's a part of me that realizes it will happen. Why? Because it is a "hard saying" and those who don't know Jesus will say, "who can understand it?" 

Here's the rest of the story...Jesus knew what the disciples were grumbling about and He said, "Does this offend you?" (v.61) If I am only reiterating what the Bible tells me, what Jesus tells me in red letters, does this offend? Jesus did not let offense stop Him. I hope I will not either. If we have been touched by God and born into new spiritual life, the Holy Spirit has taken residence within us. We have been given the words that bring us life. We have believed. We have chosen to take the same path as Christ.

Jesus could very well have said this...Galatians 4:16 - Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth? But these were not His words. He chose not to argue but continue to speak what was the truth. The Apostle Paul spoke these words. He spoke them to a group who once listened to him as he told them the truth of who Christ was but now were beginning to listen to others with opposing views. Isn't that happening today? Not ALL roads lead to God. That is truth but some will reject this. The disciples faced rejection, like Jesus. We will face the same. 

I like what Peter had to say...Jesus was a stumbling block to unbelievers. There are some today who stumble when it comes to knowing Him. They stumble over the words of truth; they are maybe hard words to hear or maybe difficult to understand so they become an offense. And those speaking those words can also be rejected. 

1Peter 2:7-8 - Yes, He is very precious to you who believe. But for those who reject Him [He is] "The stone that was rejected by the builders [but has] become the cornerstone." And the Scriptures also say, "He is the stone that makes people stumble, the rock that will make them fall."

Friday, March 19, 2010

To Whom Should We Go?

John 6:68-69 - ...Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

The thought has entered my mind on occasion how would I react to devastating news whether it be about myself,  family or country. Some out of the blue tragedy that I could not wrap my mind around. These days may be in the future.

How strong am I in the Lord? In the face of day to day occurrences I seem fine until some unexpected disappointment. Sometimes those little upsets in a normal day can send me reeling. I've always been excitable both for good or bad. I normally bounce back quickly. My childhood developed some of these attitudes. BUT is He I need to stay focused on, not friends, family or government.

So through that experience of my defining years have I learned the sink or swim philosophy? Do I look at others' problems with a "suck it up" attitude? Do I have compassion for others in tough situations? How will I react when my own bad news comes? Have I been rooted and grounded enough in Christ to withstand the difficulty? We will know when something strikes. We can't always rely on friends or family, although we would hope they would offer an arm around the shoulder or a hug.

But would the enemy of my soul attempt to get a foothold into my heart to steer me away from all I've learned about the God who supplies 
all my needs, who takes me through the storms of life, who offers to be my strength, the strong tower I can run into, and the Comforter of that very same soul? When things of life begin to get shaky who's to say we won't turn from the one Person we have raved about? Will we weaken in the moments of our deepest despair and lose our focus on Him?

Right now I can't imagine those who don't know a God they can cling to in difficult times. I know believer after believer who has said "I can't imagine going through this without God." To whom do unbelievers cling? Where is their hope, their strength? Is their hope in themselves, the courts, doctors, or do they turn to some sort of addiction? Those are not strengths but weaknesses, footholds for satan to bring about his destruction. This is when our strength needs to be in the Lord.

To whom would I turn? I've known Jesus for a mere 11 years and have not changed my tune about Him. I know it is okay to get angry with God in our grief, but I have never done that. I just remind myself that He knows why things happen, that they are all part of His plan and I don't know the beginning from the end or what this incident has to do with my life or the life of another down the road. I'm thankful I have not given up or that my desire to continue to draw nearer to Him has not waned. I've always been somewhat fickle; but in the Lord I have not changed my views.

I can't imagine being in this life without Jesus. I think about what it might have been like if I had known Him at an earlier age but realize that His time to choose me was His perfect time. There was a reason for His waiting so long and I need not question that or search for answers. He used my prior history to define me, to strengthen me, to show me what He has done thus far. Oh, there are still areas I don't think I'm ready to let go of. I admit I've not surrendered all.

"I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "My ways are not like yours; My ways are greater than yours. I am the one who created you and I know exactly what you need. I offer these things to you if you give all yourself to me that I might create in you the person I see you as, not who you see yourself as."

There is a man named David Ring. I've seen his ministry tapes and he's an amazing man. He was born with cerebral palsey and all the "limitatations" it can bring, 
but God had other plans than those that had been drummed into his young life, those things that began with "you can't." God will never say "you can't" to anything that is good, especially when the idea comes from Him...especially when you receive Him as your Lord and Savior.

Who would I turn to? Who can promise me things that the world cannot? Who can promise me eternal life? No pastor, priest or rabbi can, noman in the White House. Neither can the Dali Lama or Buddha. The Church might lead us to The God who saves but only He can do the ultimate work. Who else could I turn to? No one.

So to whom would I go? It seems once you've encountered God it's hard for the average person to turn back. I've always been adventurous. Perhaps He's the adventure in my life, not knowing exactly what lies ahead and trusting that it will be an exciting ride.

To whom would you go? You do you trust with your life? It's worth asking yourself. It's well worth the journey. If you like to learn and grow He's the right Way to go.

Proverbs 3:5-6 -Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.