“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to SIFT you like wheat.”
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to SIFT you like wheat.”
Pictured above is a before picture of the old Choluteca Bridge built in 1937 in Honduras. Eventually a new bridge was built, and it became known as the Bridge of Rising Sun.
I loved to be served. Actually, don’t we all?
Have you noticed that nobody had to teach you to enjoy being served? It comes very natural to me. Maybe it is my gift? Tim, gifted by God to be……. served. Hmmmm, I like it. :-)
But serving others is another story. Because serving is well….. serving.
Wouldn’t you love to grab a cup of coffee with Jesus? Sometimes I think…. “wow, there were real, living, people that spent time with Him! Asking Him questions and hearing Him teach. It was during those moments that Jesus regularly offended the religious leaders of His day. They did not like the idea
What a week….. Easter Week!
Imagine…. on this very week 2000+ years ago Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. The crowd that gathered shouted “Hosanna, glory to God in the highest”! By the end of the week He was crucified by a crowd that shouted: “Give us Barabas” and “Crucify Him”.
Wow, what a pendulum swing!
So much to consider during this, the Easter week.
The religious leaders have been seeking to trap Him and orchestrate His death. Judas steps forward to provide the opportunity to make their dreams come true.
The ministry of Jesus has been brief and powerful. He has chosen this band of brothers that have gathered around Him. Each day, Jesus is found to be teaching them and preparing them for this very week. They are the 1st Easter Community. An unlikely group. Unimpressive in every way. And yet, they will be entrusted with the continued sharing of Jesus’ life, soon to be death, followed by the miraculous resurrection.
Easter Community: This is what has my attention this week.
This is what shocks me 2000+ years later.
If you are a follower of Christ, you have been called to be a part of that community. Jesus gathered disciples 2000+ years ago….. and He is still doing that today! And, if you are a true believer in Jesus Christ….YOU ARE A PART OF THAT COMMUNITY.
And being a disciple that is a part of that community, we also, have been entrusted to tell of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. And, while there is a heightened sense of awareness this being Holy Week, the reality for all believers is that we are a part of that community every week.
As you gather with your church for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, or Easter Sunday, reflect on what Christ has done to provide this community of believers. Nothing less than the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus has made this community of believers possible!
God has brought His mercy and grace to not only you, but all who you will find yourself gathered with this weekend. But not only that, you are gathered with all the saints who have gone before you. Some martyred, some new in their faith (thief on the cross), some old in the faith, some strong, some weak, all saved by the grace of our Lord.
Amazing love, how can it be?
That you, my king. would die for me
Amazing love, I know it’s true
Its my joy to honor you
Amazing love how can it be?
That you my king would die for me
Amazing love I know it’s true
Its my joy to honor you
In all I do
I honor you
To be clear, I am not suggesting you celebrate the community above the Savior. We are not gathering this weekend to celebrate, “What A Community Of Believers”. No, we gather to celebrate the Savior, “What A Savior”! But, we do so within a community of disciples.
Unlikely disciples, then and now.
God, you have drawn us into this community of people who follow your Son, Jesus Christ. Open our hearts to this glorious truth. Renew our hearts in this unending grace. Help us to honor you as we celebrate all that you accomplished in your life, death, and resurrection.
I don’t know how you read books, but when I start into a new book I try to ascertain, as quickly as possible, what is the point? Yep, that’s all folks…. I want to know why did the author write this book? And, I want to know why…. fast!
I want to microwave my book – cook it fast! What can I say…. I am an American.
Usually one can find a purpose statement tucked in the introduction. I hunt for that statement, sentence, or even a few sentences where the author lets us in on the reason he has spent countless, frustrating hours researching, writing, and laboring to bring all that work to a finish and into our lives.
And hey, I am just like you….. I am busy! I need to know – and quick – is this book worth the time?
Me: Why did you write this book?
Author: Here is why I wrote this and where this book is headed.
Me: Thank you for letting me know if I should put the book down and forget it or journey on with the author.
(By the way – some authors already have credibility and I pre-order the book knowing…. it will be worth my time and effort. More on that later.)
I have a weird relationship with the author. I consider him / her my friend. Yep, weird right?!? . But, I like to think of the book I have in front of me as a conversation.
Grab a coffee, grab my friend off the shelf and let’s chat. And when I think this way, I get to do coffee with Charles Spurgeon, or a theology with Edwards, fantasy with Lewis or Tolkien. And, while I love to sit down with these friends! It is hit or miss sometimes to do so on any given day.
BUT – my every day goal and desire is to sit down with my Creator, Savior, Father, God!
Wow, are you kidding me?!? When I (when you) sit down to read the Bible, you are reading GOD’S WORD. You are sitting down with….. Almighty God! Coffee nearby, pen in hand – God is right there with me/ you!
Back to where this post started.
The point of the Bible – from start to finish – is to lay out for us God’s plan for Redemption.
Here is a quick overview of the Bible.
We could say – the point of the whole Bible – is about: Redemption. How will the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit each work to bring about redemption of fallen man?
The Father Sends
The Son takes on human flesh and goes to the cross for our sins! (Phil 2)
The Spirit quickens our hearts.
God’s Word in a nutshell. Redemption. The purpose of the Word of God, the purpose for our lives, and the reason the believer does not put the book down or ignore the glory it reveals.
The gospel is the Bible’s main message, and preaching the content of the Bible—that is, the prophetic anticipation of God’s redemptive purpose in Christ from the Old Testament and the apostolic witness to the accomplished work of Christ in the New Testament—unleashes the power of the gospel message and achieves its God-ordained end.
Bullmore, Mike (2011-08-02). The Gospel and Scripture: How to Read the Bible (The Gospel Coalition Booklets) (Kindle Locations 88-90). Crossway. Kindle Edition.
From start to finish, the consistent thread throughout the Word of God is REDEMPTION.
Everything prior to Jesus, looks forward to Jesus. Everything post Jesus, looks back to Jesus.
Listen in on how John gives us the purpose statement for the gospel of John.
“so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31).
How will sinful man be made right with God?
Well, therein lies the point of the whole book. Jesus Christ is the Author AND He is the Answer! He is the point. He is the reason we have a Bible and need a Bible. And friend, He is WORTH OUR TIME! That is right, He is WORTH it. Worth my / your time! Worth the effort.
So, take up the book this year in 2015. Grab a coffee and pen. And get to know the Author and The Point of the whole book!
“You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God. . . . And this word is the good news that was preached to you” (1 Pet. 1:23–25).
God WITH us
Who is in that manger means everything.
More than a baby and more than something cute.
More than a decoration for the front lawn.
This is Jesus the Son of the living God.
The creator of the universe has humbled himself and taken on human flesh.
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us).
What does it mean that Jesus dwelt among us?
In Genesis 1,2, 3 we read about the creation and fall of man.
In the garden there was no separation between God and man. Man was without sin. Hard to imagine, isn’t it?
In Genesis 3 Adam and Eve sinned and God drove them out of the garden. Man, was then separated from God’s presence.
Fast forward to John chapter 1. The whole chapter is great to read but let’s focus on one word in this one verse when John says:
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…
This word “dwelt” flies by us unnoticed. But, we need to pause here because that one word packs quite a punch.
Here is what is interesting. John, had at his disposal other words that he could have used for “dwell”. But he uses the word skēnoō.
Who cares right? Dwell means dwell…. doesn’t it?
Well, not exactly.
Here is what is amazing. John’s word for dwell is the word skēnoō. This word means tent and it is a verb. Huh? How is tent a verb?
I know…. you are thinking “big deal, so what?” Hang with me!
What does it mean to “tent” – verb?
It means that Christ came and took on human flesh, born of a virgin, in a manger to pitch His tent among us.
Now, that may sound really odd to us, but for John’s original hearers, they would have immediately made some connections.
An original hearer of John’s gospel would have heard the words: “pitch his tent among us” and would have immediately remembered the history of Israel. The tabernacle was the place that God met with His people.
(Don’t forget about Adam and Eve and the garden and sin and separation from God.)
This tabernacle was covered by…… you guessed it….. a tent. The tabernacle was also known as the “tent of meeting.”
And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.
(Exodus 29:46 ESV)
So we have a garden and sin which brings about a separation between God and man and now, here in Exodus, we have God dwelling among His people…. again.
Now, He is NOT dwelling among His people because they are without sin, or because they have earned this, or anything else. We are to read Exodus and see God dwelling among His people and realize this happened by the mercy and grace of God!
Jump forward to Exodus 33 and it is here we see that it is in the Tabernacle that God had fellowship with His people, Israel.
In verse 8 we find Moses going into the Tabernacle / Tent of meeting and everyone stopped to watch.
Drop everything….“Moses is going into the tent of meeting!” They were in awe.
Why? Verse 9 says that whenever he went into the Tent of Meeting, a pillar of cloud would descend. (Wow!)
God came down to dwell with His people!
So here is what is happening. The Tabernacle was a reminder of what Adam and Eve had in the garden, but not fully…. It was the Lord’s presence in a cloud. AND, it was a shadow of what was to come. Remember John 1:14
God, after He delivered His people from Egypt would come and descend and dwell among His people in the Tent of Meeting / Tabernacle.
What an amazing scene!
God is declaring: “Despite your sinfulness – I am with My people! I will dwell among my people.”
Fast forward to King David. David wants more than a tent / tabernacle. He wants to build a temple, a permanent house for the Lord where God’s presence would exist.
God told David no. But, God did allow David’s son Solomon to build a temple for the Lord.
The tabernacle and the temple were reminders of what Adam and Eve had in the Garden and a shadow of God’s presence that is to come.
Jesus is coming – literally God himself is coming to pitch his tent among us! That is what John is telling us. God is (verb) pitching His tent among us! And, this is not because we deserve His presence. He comes and descends not in a cloud but in human flesh to dwell among us – even though we are sinful and undeserving! By His mercy and grace He comes and dwells / pitches His tent among us!
God WITH us!
John is telling us that the way God descended and dwelt among His people in the Tabernacle, that very same thing – and more – is happening in Jesus Christ. Now, God has descended not in a cloud, but in the flesh! And, He is dwelling among us!
Jesus is pitching His tent to dwell among His people! Jesus, the Eternal God, creator of the universe, Light of the world, He became flesh and tabernacled among us.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…..
When Almighty God takes on human flesh…
When He is born miraculously of the virgin Mary….
When Herod tries to have Him killed as a newborn….
I don’t know…. when the Creator of the universe moves heaven and earth and takes on human flesh, maybe that is supposed to get our attention? And, I don’t mean a little bit – I mean grab our wholehearted, lifelong, enduring, and collective attention.
Perhaps when God moves heaven and earth, is born of a virgin, and takes on human flesh that maybe His intent was bigger than a lawn decoration during the Christmas season?
Jesus, born in the manger is to be more than: “Awww look at the cute baby in the manger.” More than a decoration we might put in the front yard next to Santa, snoopy and the Grinch.
How is Christmas more than just a nice holiday and a few extra days off of work? Is Christmas more than a tree, presents, carols and shopping?
Think about WHO is in that manger!
GOD with us. If we do not know who it is that is in that manger, Christmas will be nothing more than just another holiday….and the manger will be just another decoration.
God, Himself is in that manger!
The creator of the universe came!
The King of ALL kings has come!!!!!
Think about this:
200 years ago it was believed that there were some 6,000 stars in the universe. 200 years ago – 6,000 stars seemed like a lot of stars. Today astronomers believe there are more stars in the universe (that we know of) than there are grains of sand on all the beaches and deserts on the earth!
The latest evidence shows us that there are between 100 and 200 BILLION galaxies in the universe each of them containing 100’s of billions of stars.
And the Bible just matter of factly states: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth….
But hold on a minute. Consider that this God who created all those stars (and everything else in the universe) has now come down and taken on human flesh. God – in human flesh!!
As a culture we are easily impressed with actors, actresses, and athletes.
This past year George Clooney found himself in my small home town Titusville, Fl. He was there to shoot scenes for the movie “Tomorrowland”. As you might imagine, social media blew up in my hometown. Clooney sightings were being reported. Photos uploaded, rumors of sightings passed along, and on and on it goes.
“Did you hear Clooney is shooting scenes downtown?”
I just did a quick google search with the words: “george clooney filming in titusville fl”
My google search spit back at me 34,700 results! Wow!
My point? When George Clooney comes to small town Titusville it blows up. Why? Well, it’s George Clooney! Duh!
What does it mean that the God of the universe, your Maker and mine, takes on human flesh, and is born as a baby in a manger, in the tiny town of Bethlehem?
For the most part, culture is indifferent to the manger. Some are blasphemous and many can be heard yawning. Can you hear the cultural yawn?
A long time ago – by the mercy of God – I traded the yawn in for worship!
Over these next few posts I hope you might read along and join with me to see the glory of that manger scene. Let’s trade the yawn in for worship!
It is GOD with us!
GOD came and took on human flesh
That cute baby in the manger….. it is GOD!
I begin this post once again stating that I am not for irrelevance!
The church must be relevant and as I said in the last post – Truth IS relevant.
Read the last 2 posts here:
My concern is when the church, pastors, and believers lust to be relevant today. And in that lust there lies a warning or concern. Is it possible that in the lust for relevance that we lose sight of truth and in so doing we become “ear ticklers”?
Is it possible in the name of wanting to add people to the church that we water down the message of the Gospel and ones need for salvation?
And, if we water down the gospel and yet we are “relevant” don’t we need to ask: “What exactly are people being saved to?”
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4 ESV)
Paul has been exhorting Timothy to preach the Word. Why? Because the Word IS relevant.
It is a sad day when pastors concern themselves more with political correctness than bible correctness. It is dangerous when we study cultural relevance without seeing how relevant the Word is to our culture.
In the name of love, we don’t want to offend. We allow culture to define what is love. This then silences or edits the believer from saying anything of value at all.
The gospel my friend, IS offensive. The Word, speaking of itself, says it is “folly to those who do not believe….”
The Word calls us sinners. Sinners need to repent. Because, hell and judgement awaits the un-forgiven sinner…..
And that is offensive! It is offensive to sinners, but it is relevant to sinners!
The Christian, the pastor, the church that says nothing of sin, repentance, and our need for a Savior…. well that is like a Dr. who will not tell the patient he is chronically sick. The Dr. is by no means showing love by withholding that information. No, we call that malpractice. And the Dr. gets slapped with a lawsuit for that lack of love!
Listen to the words of Jesus:
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours” Jesus (John 15:18-20).
I do not hear Jesus saying here, “Be relevant so everyone will be attracted to you and your church!”
In Mark 10 we see Jesus being relevant to the rich young ruler. And the result of His relevant truths caused this man to walk away sad.
Be careful, Christian. A wrong understanding of relevance might render you silent and thus irrelevant in a culture that needs truth and love. If cultural relevance is your guide, well, you are on shifting sand. Today’s cultural relevance will be irrelevant tomorrow. Grass withers, flowers fade, but the Word of the Lord remains forever….
God, help us to grow in our understanding of your Word. Let us see how incredibly relevant it is to a lost and dying world. And help us to speak without fear and with much relevance, love, and care.
The doctrine of the Trinity can too often be categorized as a mystery, but yet pages of Holy Scripture reveals so much about the Trinity that can lead us to awestruck wonder and passionate worship often leaving us undone.
The next two posts will be on the second person of the Trinity- Jesus the Son of God. This post will focus on the sending of Jesus and His death for sin. The next post will focus on His resurrection and ascension.
In the Godhead, each member is fully God, eternally God and equally God. Jesus is not one third God and two thirds other. Each member of the Trinity is equal in essence and nature. Though the three persons are one in so many ways, they are also distinct in several ways. For instance, they are distinct in roles, functions and they differ in how they relate to one another.
When we look at the creation account:
In salvation history:
What blows away how we think about the categories of authority and submission is that though the Father and the Son are both fully God, Jesus submitted Himself to the Father’s will and obeyed Him perfectly; not counting equality a thing to be grasped (Phil 2:6). Wow! What display of profound love for His Father!
At the appointed time in redemptive history, God sent His Son to redeem us, so that we might receive adoption as sons and daughters. Because we are now sons and daughters, God sent the Spirit of His Son to bear witness with our spirit to give us assurance that we are indeed members of God’s family, and if members then we are no longer slaves- we are now heirs through God (Gal. 4:4- 7). Amazing!
But this gift of membership to God’s family and becoming heirs through God came at a great cost. Because without the shedding of blood there is no forgives (Heb. 9:22), our redemption came at the cost of Christ’s precious blood.
Jesus the sinless One was horrifically beaten as He took on our sin on the cross. He suffered the wrath that was reserved for us. The Father turned His face away and for the very first time in the history of eternity, Jesus experienced separation from His Father’s love. In eternity past, Jesus experienced perfect harmony and fellowship with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now he was spurned- for us. As a father, one of the things that hurts me most is seeing one of my sons getting hurt and their blood shed on their clothes or on the ground, can you relate? Jesus ransomed us not with gold and silver but with His precious blood (1 Peter 1:18 – 19). Oh depths of the Father’s love for us!
When the Father imputed our sin to Jesus, Jesus became our substitute. But He didn’t just leave us sinless or morally neutral, He imputed Jesus’ righteousness to us (2 Cor 5:21). Now we who believe in Him are declared righteous! We have been justified, and we have been brought near.
Come now and worship Jesus Christ with me!
When I was a kid many matchbox cars were exchanged among friends. Then, I grew up into a mature 10 year old and it was baseball cards that were traded on the school playground during recess.
When we make a trade we are placing value on what is being traded.
If you are on vacation and your destination is a cabin in the Smokey mountains you better have clear directions as to how to get there! I live in Florida, I am a flatlander! Which means….. many times my family has been lost in those mountains! Funny isn’t it – many people today intend to arrive, when their times comes, in heaven. But they have no idea how to get there! Continue reading What is the Gospel?