Archives For Jesus

never-stop-loving1

God has no rival when it comes to His lavish kindness to the ungrateful and wicked. In our own power,  we are not capable of loving the way He loves. He is love. He is Kindness. We are but mere reflections that only get it right when we allow Him to love through us those that position themselves as unlovable, unreachable, ungrateful and wicked.

We can’t love our enemies without submitting to the Spirit of God that lives on the inside of us. Yes,  you will be hurt loving like God but remaining gracefully vulnerable after being burnt time and time again is a bi-product of God’s love through you.

We are called to observable and working love for our enemies. The love that Jesus wants to operate through our lives is not abstract. It’s not a concept hidden in the treasure chest of your mind as just another hopeful idea. His love demonstrates itself by radical counter-culture actions.

The supreme absolution of all is to convert an enemy into a friend of God through the God pattern of kingdom love. When you love like God you’re not losing your mind; you’re imitating His heart and causing God’s kingdom to break into the world.

Matthew 5: 43-45
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

heart-centred

1 Corinthians 13:13 says, “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

It has been said that, “Love alone is credible; nothing else ought to be believed. This is the achievement, the “work” of faith…to believe that there is such a thing as love…and that there is nothing higher or greater than it…”

When heaven and earth come together, and all things are put to right, It’s my conviction we will not need faith or hope anymore; we will only need and partake of God’s love which is eternal. That is how beautiful and powerful the love of God is.

In this present world,  we need faith. In this present world,  we need hope. In the world to come we need neither faith nor hope, for God’s love will be complete and all consuming. Death, hell and the grave will be  cast away forever.

How powerful and beauty is God’s love I’m referring to? Jesus left all of glory for you and me because of His love. He lived among humanity because of His love. He washed the feet of His disciples showing love that was indescribable. He died upon a cross demonstrating His love for all that will repent and turn to Him for rescuing from their sins.

I think of the beautiful words in Zephaniah 3:17, where the Lord is said to be in their midst, and a mighty one who will rescue them. It goes on to say that he will even rejoice over them with gladness and will quiet them by His very love. It even declares God will gloat over them with loud singing.

Yes, God’s love is great for His children and His love is credible. Even though, the world around you may fall apart, His love will always pull you close to His heart. You are His. If you have been crucified with Christ, you no longer live, but it is Christ who is living on the inside of you.

That’s right my dear friend! God loved you so much when you turned to Him in repentance and faith, He moved in! Yes, God’s love is credible, and that love lives on the inside of you. He choose to love you eternal for His glory alone.  There is coming a day, Faith and Hope no more will give way to His eternal love and we will be with Him and the body of Christ forever. Think on that today and know you are eternal loved.

 

nofaithDo you need faith for God to break into your life and do the unexpected? If you read all of Luke chapter 7, you will find the answer. Luke Chapter 7 is a beautiful portion of scripture of both faith in the heart of humanity and the absence of faith. God works in both situations.

In Luke 7:1-9 Jesus heals a Centurion’s servant. I post about it here. A short review revels that Jesus is sent for in order to heal the slave of a Centurion. As Jesus is on the way to perform the healing, the Centurion sends another word for Jesus not to even come, but to speak the words of healing only, and it will be done.

The Centurion confesses that he is not even worthy for Jesus to come under his roof. Along about verse 9 the Bible says that Jesus was blown away at that kind of faith. In other words, Jesus was astonished! That is something powerful to think about in and of itself.

However, the very next miracle begs the question, where is the faith? In the healing of the Centurion’s servant we see the faith, but here Jesus moves and does the greatest of miracles without the faith of anyone. Jesus is not tied to the faith of man. He never has been tied to the faith of man, and he never will be tied to the faith of man. It’s a beautiful paradox because on one hand without faith it is impossible to please God, and yet on the other hand he moves without any faith exercised by anyone in the crowd that day. That is simply breathtaking and beautiful to me.

The whole miracle is even more beautiful when you realize that Luke would have us to hear the future echo of the death and resurrection of Christ in the present story. Here in Luke 7:11-17 the widow and her dead son are being carried outside the gate to the burial ground to rest in death. Think ahead with me to the Jerusalem. Jesus is followed by a crowd also, and his mother, as he is on his way to death and a grave. The only difference is unlike the boy who he raised from the dead and had to die again physically, Jesus will rise to never die again. He is alive forevermore.

Put yourself in the crowd the day Jesus raised the young man from death. Professional mourners and wailers were making noise as they did in the 1st century. The mother could cry without embarrassment with those around her doing the same. The family would have been carrying spices for the body, and they would have been heading for the family cave where they would place the young man’s body.

Suddenly in the middle of all of this, a stranger and his disciple appear along side of them. Jesus walks up to the crying mother and whisper in her ear, “Do not weep.” Then he turns and touches the coffin and speaks, “Young man, I say to you, arise.”

Everyone is shocked! A miracle requiring no faith on their part has been done. They glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen up among us”; and, “God has visited His people.” They would have been thinking of Elijah and Elisha. They found themselves standing along side God between the echoes of Eden and the cross and resurrection to come. God was with them. The resurrection and the life was standing right in the middle of death.

Now, what are you worried about today? What life problem has you worried that your faith is not strong enough to make it? Yes, faith is important. Yes, faith is a gift. Yes, faith at times can even astonish God himself. However, what about when you have no faith? Can God still move in your life? YES! Just ask the young man raised from the dead.

Let God whisper in your ear today, “Do not weep.”

 

 

 

 

JesuscrossPhoto Credit: brian-peck via Compfight cc

I once read the following quote. “To my children…if I had to choose between loving you and breathing…I would use my last breath to tell you…I love you.”

Jesus was the first to essentially say the same thing from the cross when He drew His last breath and said, “It is finished.” If you listen with your heart you can hear Him say, “I love you.”

You are loved; Just look at the cross and you will see. The Bible teaches in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

Spurgeon says somewhere—“We would almost think that God loved us more than he loves his Son.” The greatest example of God’s love for us was found hanging on a cross. He didn’t just talk about how much He loved us, He showed us how much he loved us.

Romans 5:8 tells us,“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Brennan Manning, in The Ragamuffin Gospel says, “My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ, and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.” What a beautiful and true statement!

Reflect on this today; God unconditionally loves us even though we are incomplete, and His love is ever-pursing a relationship with us who are the height of His creation. You are loved. You are loved. (See John 3:16-17)

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Acts 5:40-42 ESV

And when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

It has been said, “God doesn’t simply want us to feel good. He wants us to be good. And very often the road to being good involves not feeling good.”

In John 16:33 Jesus said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

We are promised tribulation. We are promised suffering. Suffering can be embraced as a wind of advancement or suffering can be embraced as a wind of retreat. The choice is yours to make. If you choose to retreat, then you will need no armor. If you choose to advance through it, then God has the power you need to do so.

In Acts 5 Peter and the apostles suffering pressed them forward and not backwards

1. They were beaten and charged to not speak in the name of Jesus anymore (A wounding of the flesh and a wounding of the spirit)

2. They rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name

3. They daily taught in the temple and from house to house, preaching Jesus

They could live through suffering because they had a view that looked higher than the suffering right in front of them. Suffering becomes beautiful when you look up, around and down and realize you are following Jesus.

The eyes of suffering see clearer when they look forward at the kingdom to come, instead of backwards at the suffering it takes to get there.

Out of the Darkness

Out of the dark forbidding soil The pure white lilies grow.

Out of the black and murky clouds, Descends the stainless snow.

Out of the crawling earth-bound worm A butterfly is born. Out of the somber shrouded night, Behold! A golden morn!

Out of the pain and stress of life, The peace of God pours down.

Out of the nails — the spear — the cross, Redemption — and a crown!

Author Unknown.

No Other…

March 27, 2013 — 2 Comments

Jesuscrossbaby

Charles Swindoll in his book, ‘The Darkness and the Dawn’ tells of two paintings he has seen relating to the cross of Christ.

Both paintings offer the same title, ‘The shadow of the cross.’

The first painting is a scene inside Joseph’s carpenter shop.

Jesus is portrayed as a young teenager, and He has paused from his work to look out the shop widow. In doing so, He is casting a shadow of the cross behind himself.

In the second painting,  Jesus is depicted as an adolescent child running toward his mother. His arms are stretched out toward her, and the sun is at his back, casting a shadow of the cross before him.

Jesus lived His life knowing that every day he was one step closer to the cross.

It was not a secret that he kept to himself. It was his purpose; it was the Father’s plan.

Jesus at twelve years of age had already spoken and said to his worried parents who had lost him on a trip, “did you not know I must be about my father’s business?” Luke 2:49 NKJV

His face was set like flint toward the cross.

Mark 8:31-33 (NIV)

31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

Jesus was not on man’s plan; he was fully submitted to his Father’s plan.

We are living in the day that the cross is under attack. That, which cannot be erased from history is trying to be erased not only from the world but also sadly from various churches as well.

If the world can’t get you to eliminate the cross, they will work toward getting you to minimize it.

But I want you to see today that the cross cannot ever been taken lightly, for it is the only hope the world has, there is no other answer.

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I’m starting to understand more and more as I grow older the better question to trouble in the world and evil in the word is “How long?” and not “Why God?”

I’ve arrived at a place where I no longer have to have an answer for trouble; nor do I have an unquenched need to have God give me an explanation for all things wrong and evil.

Instead, I’ve learned to live in the direction of healing and correction of all the wicked and evil in the world. After all, that is what the Christ follower is called to do.

We are called to follow the Price of Peace. My prayers are prayers for God to bring an end to all the evil and turmoil. The message of the Bible is God has promised to end evil, and I just stand, walk and believe. “One day,” will become “The day” all evil ends.”

I trust in the fact that God is perfect love and has a perfect power, and yet things often look out of control and dark. However, I don’t have to look for answers to why evil. I just have to look at the answer for evils final defeat, and that answer is Christ.

I’m not called to understand the evil of this world. I’m called to be a light in it until the light of Christ and His glory floods the earth forever. I don’t have to understand evil, and I don’t have to accept evil. I’ve accepted Christ, and He alone is the undefeated King.

Christopher Wright writes, “Evil has no proper place within creation. It has no validity, no truth, no integrity. It does not intrinsically belong to the creation as God originally made it nor will it belong to creation as God will ultimately redeem it.”

Now my beloved Christ followers…go and live the light and watch as darkness slowly dies. WE WIN!

Revelation 21:1
21 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.

Falling Forward

February 25, 2013 — 2 Comments

trust 3

My son showed me a video the other day on YouTube, and we had a good laugh watching it a few times. A father was filming his daughters learning the trust fall. If you’ve never heard of the trust fall, it’s a trust-building game often conducted as a group exercise in which a person deliberately allows himself or herself to fall, relying on the other members of the group to catch the person.

Anyway, in this video there were only two girls and the father. After, explaining to the girl who had never done it before how to do it, she took her place and prepared for her first trust fall. Her sister got behind her. The father was filming and talking her through it. Finally, she began to trust and let herself fall. She was suppose to fall backward into her sisters arms but instead, she fell forward and right onto her face. She didn’t’ get hurt, but man it was funny to watch.

The trust fall got me think about falling forward. The game of trust fall is designed to fall backwards. However, in the walk of the Christ follower we are called to trust forward. In other words,  we are called to fall forward as we trust Christ to lead us.

Many times God calls us forward and our faith is weak and so we fall away in disobedience. We think to ourselves, “There is no way God can pull off in my life what He is asking me to do?”

We see in our heart the story of Peter getting out of the boat at the command of Christ and then sinking. We say to ourselves, “No way is that going to happen to me, I’ll just say in the boat and drift the storm out.” However, deep down we know we can’t stay in the boat when He is calling. We know our faith won’t grow in the boat, and He won’t get the glory by us staying in the boat.

The only decision that is God honoring is to get out of the boat and not be afraid to fall forward. What is God calling you to do? Where is He calling you to fall forward? I challenge you! Go ahead and fall. He will be there to see you through.

people

Those outside of Christ have a perception of you. They know you are a follower of Christ; but how do they label you? Do they define you by all the beautiful life-giving things you are for, or do they define you by all the things you are against?

I once heard it said, “It should break our hearts that often we are known more for what we are against than what we are for, for who we have excluded than for who we have embraced.”

Years ago when I gave my life to Christ, I became part of the youth group at the church where I surrendered my life to Christ. It was an enthusiastic group of kids. They loved God very much. However, there was one thing that confused me much.

They spent a lot of time after the message in the altar praying. Now of course there was nothing wrong with that but it was some of the prayers I heard that confused me. The prayers didn’t confuse me because they were wrong. I think they confused me because they seemed incomplete. The prayers were one-sided prayers.

I would often hear prayers of repentance over sin they had committed in their lives. Of course,  there is nothing wrong with that because it’s the right thing to do. However, I would also hear prayers of repentance over things that were not sin. I’m not sure why they did that, but I can only assume it was motivated by the desire to be holy and closer to God. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with that, other than you’re repenting over something that doesn’t need repentance.

The thing that was missing were prayers that would accompany them out of an altar into the darkness of their world with the love, grace and mercy of Christ as their battle cry. Instead, I often saw these same kids walk into the darkness preaching their convictions onto those outside the faith. Therefore, many of them became known for what they were against, instead of what they were for.

I once heard Billy Graham say, “It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and my job to love.” I love that! I don’t have the ability to convict anyone. I do have the ability to bring guilt to someone but that not the same as the conviction the Holy Sprite brings. I much rather leave the task of drawing the heart of the outsider to Christ in the hands of the Spirit of God.

I don’t have the right to judge the outsider. That’s the job of God when He sees fit to do so. (Judging one another in the church is for another post) However, I will share just one scripture. 1 Cor 5:12, “It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning.”

It’s my job and your job to love! When we love and show God’s love to the world it melts and convicts the heart of the outsider. When people met Jesus, they didn’t walk away with an opinion of what He was against. (Well, the religious Pharisees did because they needed to be shook up) When people encountered Jesus, they walked away hopeful because of what He was for.

So, allow me to ask you one last time. Those outside the faith, Do they define you by all the beautiful life-giving things you are for, or do they define you by all the things you are against?

Live like Jesus. Love like Jesus and He will change the world through your witness.

Stage

 

You can only think about one thing at a time. Don’t believe me?

Try spelling aloud, “I love Jesus with all my heart” at the same time as you write down your address on paper. (Go ahead and try it; I’ll wait.)

I’m convinced this is a blessing and a gift of God.  There are times in our lives we need to fully immerse ourselves in Him and nothing else. We need to get our minds and hearts refocused on life giving thoughts and directions.

For instance, let’s say someone has broken your heart or wronged you in a particularly profound way. All you seem to be able to do is fixate on them and it’s driving you crazy. It steals your joy, your smile, your happiness, your forward motion and a host of other good emotions that belong to you.

When you have been wronged it brings pain. Pain is a part of life and often the hammer that drives the nail of suffering into your heart. When suffering takes over my emotions I have a choice to make. I can continue to think about it or think about the things Jesus told me to think about.

1 Peter 5:7, instructs us, “7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

You can take your pain and emotional distress and cast them on Him. You can cast them into the sea of His mercy and love and watch them sink away.

Often, we turn to God for help, but we don’t take Him the problem. We manage the problem under lock and key. We open it over and over again and complain about it. Instead, you must take it to Him and cast it upon Him. After all, that’s what He said to do. You want to be obedient, correct? I thought so.

It’s been said, “The human mind is like a stage. Only one performance can play at a time.” Now, let Jesus have the stage by thinking on the things He said to think on. He has given you the power to choose who will play on your stage. It can be the thought of a person that hurt you, or  Jesus who can heal you. It’s your move. God bless you.

Philippians 4:8-9
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.