For God’s Glory- John 11

It seems to me that many people miss an important fact.  They miss the fact that all things are for God.  Let me explain…

The Bible tells us that all things work together for the good of those who love Him, who are called  according to His purpose.  And it’s completely true.  But the second half of that gets little play time in our conversations, and even when we include it we miss the point.  It’s not all about us.  It’s about His purpose.

Nobody has a real foundation for the argument that God does not love us.  His love for us is easy to see for those who’s eyes are opened (that is, those who simply choose to open them).  And His love is unlike anything else.  It is greater than we can comprehend, and far beyond our own aspirations to love one another.

But God doesn’t exist for our sake, we exist for His.  We are not the end all of it all, He is.  He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.  In Him all things exist, and in Him we have our being.

In our passage, John 11, we have the story of Lazarus dying.  And Jesus didn’t say the situation was for Lazarus’ good, although it certainly works out good for Lazarus.  Jesus says in verse 4 “No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s son may be glorified through it.”

What I don’t want is for someone to walk away from this post misunderstanding our place in reality.  People are not just pawns that God throws around without concern.  One would have to completely ignore the cross to see us as such.  We are loved by Him more than we could ever be loved by anyone, including by ourselves.  But in the end it is all about God.  And it should be.  And there could be no higher honor for man, indeed no more complete joy, than to be used to that end.

What a terrible thing it would be if reality was all about anything except Him!

What goodness lays in store for us BECAUSE it’s all about Him!  Look what it did for Lazarus!

Praise God that He is God!!!

Jesus and the Father are One- John 10

Here in the later half of John 10 we see yet another place where Jesus Himself says that He is God.  The Jews were asking Him if He was the Christ.  Not only did He affirm that, but He said that He and the Father are One.

The Jews weren’t planning on stoning Him because He claimed to be the Messiah.  And it wasn’t because He claimed to be some “super-angel” or “the first creation”.  They wanted to stone Him because, as they themselves said, He claimed to be God.

When it comes down to the Word of God, it is such a dangerous thing to try to force your own meaning into the Bible instead of taking the Bible for what the Bible says.  We need to let the Bible make us, and not try to make the Bible.

Some people trust in others for their salvation without even realizing it.  When they stand before God and He asks them why they didn’t believe His words that they read… well, saying that so-and-so told them it meant otherwise isn’t going to fly.  God isn’t anyone’s fool.  Even if you deceive yourself, you won’t deceive Him.

Another thing to note here.  It’s amazing that when Jesus claims deity He isn’t doing it so people will give Him money or lip service or anything like that.  He’s not anything like the tyrannical man who pretends to be God so that people will serve his wickedness.  He’s not trying to justify terrible acts and play a push-around game of “king of the hill”.

Instead He’s revealing Himself to His creation, that they might find true life.  His claim is accompanied by healing a blind man.  It’s accompanied by promises of love and protection.  By the promise of the ultimate self sacrifice.

Jesus is God.  And oh what mercy He showers upon us!!!

Legends of Mount Rainier and the Pacific Northwest

So we’ve heard of the legendary Bigfoot, a creature of Pacific NW fiction.  Recently the fictional vampires of Twilight have become well known beyond the Northwest.  Some have tried to figure out the non-fictional “Grunge Rockers”, who originally roamed the great lands around our beloved Puget Sound.

Well, another creature of legend calls the Northwest home.  They can only be found in the coldest of the coldest places around.  One of their favorite hangouts is on the top of a little hill we like to call Mount Rainier.

Try telling someone to go up to the snowfields and glaciers on Mt. Rainier and look for worms, and they may ask you if they should then use them for snipe hunting.  If you describe the worms in more detail, they may ignore you all together.

But here’s the difference between Bigfoot and Ice Worms, between vampires and Ice Worms… the Ice Worms are as real as grunge rockers!  And besides the crazy thought of little one inch worms burrowing through rock hard ice, there’s another reason people think Ice Worms are fake… when they get warm… they melt!

Want to see what they look like?

You can see a good picture from the Seattle Times at http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/ABPub/zoom/html/2002818692.html, or check out one of the pictures below…

Ice WormsIce Worms

So how can you see on in real life?  Well, you’ll have to find a day when the sun isn’t so bright and when the air is cooler.  Then you get your gear together and head up to the snowfields and glaciers on the top of Mt. Rainier.  Wait for the sun to find the horizon, and then just look on the snow.  You may have to dig, but if it’s cold enough and you find some “Red Snow” then you’ll likely see millions of them wiggling about and searching food.

Make sure you pack the right gear!  It’s very cold up there even on a hot day.  And walking about on the snow and glaciers in good daylight can be dangerous enough… it’s worse when you have less light to see what’s going on.  Browse through Whittaker Mountaineering’s online store to see if you have everything you need.  You can also call them and tell them your plans, and they should be able to give you a good checklist of things to pack.

For more information on Ice Worms check out this site… http://www.nichols.edu/departments/glacier/iceworm.htm

The creativity of God is truly amazing!!!

The Shepherd in Sheep’s Clothing- John 10

God’s people are a thing sought after.  Some want them for their own, others hate God’s sheep, and still others just hate God.  And I’m sure most of the pursuers are a mixture of all three and then some.  It’s dangerous being a sheep in God’s flock. 

Especially since we’ve all, every one of us sheep, called upon ourselves a slaughtering.  We flirt with our enemies.  We tempt them and make them salivate with the thought of dining on our flesh and wearing our wool.

But we have a Good Shepherd, One who will always fight for us and Who will always triumph.  If we turn away from sin, and listen to His voice, then we will always find safe pasture for our souls.

He is not a hired hand.  Some claim to be defenders of the Church, but when it comes down to their very life being on the line… well, they abandon us just as fast as they can.  I’m guessing they’re not even truly employed, but rather they are something more like mercenaries waiting on wages that were never offered or promised.

Jesus isn’t like them.  Like a mighty Lion, He wages war for His Zion.

There has been a problem created by our actions though.  There is a required payment for our sins.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd, who lays His life down for His sheep.  And because it’s a sheep’s blood that’s required for the sheep’s sins, Jesus took our form upon Himself to satisfy the debt. 

His blood became as our blood, except without the sickness of sin.  He became one of us, and knew our every struggle intimately.  Being found in appearance as a man, the very nature of a servant, He humbled Himself and obeyed death.  And not just death, but death on the cross.  He became the Shepherd in sheep’s clothing, sacrificed.

Some people, not all but some, die for others because they have no choice.  If they’re going to die anyway then they figure they might as well do it for a good cause.  Or maybe, against their own will, their life is taken in place of someone else’s. 

Jesus isn’t like them.  No, Jesus didn’t have to die… ever.  But He layed down His life of His own accord, on our behalf.  And by the same authority given Him to lay it down on our behalf, He took it up and overcame death.

He is the Good Shepherd.

There is a constant blood-lust that hungers for the sheep of God.  But we need not fear the wolf in sheep’s clothing… not when we follow the voice of the Shepherd in sheep’s clothing.

The Thiepharisees- John 10

On the last post we considered the blind man who was healed by Jesus and who was thrown out by the Pharisees.  The same story goes on in chapter 10 as Jesus continues his response to the Pharisees who were with Him.

And I don’t think that before now I had ever considered the fact that chapter 10 was doing just that, continuing Jesus’ response to the Pharisees.  So a new thought came to mind as I read today, specifically I thought about who Jesus was talking to (and why He was talking to them) when He said in verse 10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…”

(An interesting note here, the word kill in verse 10 is specifically used of sacrifice.  It is not the common word for killing)

The Pharisees were angry with Jesus because He healed this blind man on the Sabbath.  The great keepers of the Law, as John pointed out earlier in this book, thought that by Scripture they possessed eternal life.  They built their empire of the Law and Jesus was a threat.  Not because He transgressed the Law, but because He transgressed their “law”.

Jesus wasn’t concerned with serving their misconceptions and lies.  He was concerned with saving people, and He knew that the Law kills.  It’s a righteous law, and that is exactly why it kills.  It kills rightfully.  People deserve eternal condemnation for sin… every one of us, who have turned away from God.  And there’s nothing we can do about it.

These Pharisees though, they thought they found life in the Law, and they were going to do whatever it took to slay their own people with this “life”.  And with that misuse of the Law, which claims to impart life to the sinner instead of death, they were able to do only three things… steal men’s hearts from God, sacrifice the people, and destroy them.

Lately brother Hugh Barton has been doing studies on Wednesdays that contrast the Law of the Letter with the Law of Grace.  He’s been pointing out the biblical truth that there is indeed life, but it is not found in the Law.

We, every person, need to remember that the Law holds no promise for us as sinners.  It is good, and serves as a tutor to show us our need for forgiveness and our need for righteousness.  But it cannot impart those things upon the transgressor, nor does it ever claim to.  We can never be good enough.

Do not believe the lie.  A man cannot work his way to heaven.  Salvation by works was the lie that the Pharisees pushed, but God called them thieves for it.  “Salvation by works” is a lie that ONLY steals, sacrifices and destroys…

Don’t believe the lie…

But know that there is hope…

There is a Good Shepherd, who lays down His life for His sheep…

There is Christ!

Where is Jesus? – John 9

God is at work in our world.  People are touched by Him in more ways than they can really understand.  Sometimes it’s hard to tell just how a thing came about.  Other times there is no question.  But knowing “who did what” isn’t the focus, rather its a signpost telling us where to go.  It is the thing that directs us while we are lost.  But we remain lost if we do not venture beyond the signpost.

The focus is coming to the Worker of all good things.  Our destination IS Him.

For the man born blind, whom John tells us about in his ninth chapter, there was no question Who worked the miracle.  It was the Man they call Jesus who opened his eyes.  The signpost was like writing in the sky, everyone knew who was responsible.

But one could not say that the man had truly found Jesus.  They could only that say that he was touched by Jesus. 

That healing touch of love did mighty things for the man’s soul.  He gave the man an opportunity to see, and I’m not talking about with his eyes.

When the Pharisees harassed him about the healing, the man told them it was Jesus who did it.  They continued to press the matter, twisting the truth into all sorts of distortions.   But in response to their lies the healed man said “One thing I do know, I was blind but now I see!”

He may not have realized it, but the work of Christ in his life made him able to see the wickedness of the Pharisees.  He did not receive a miraculous gift of discernment, but he did have a clearer vision because of the one miracle worked upon his natural eyes.  The more he talked with the Pharisees on the matter, the clearer it became to him.  Theses guys had an agenda, and the truth would not sway them from their goal.

He didn’t know who Jesus was, but he saw that Jesus was from God.  Unfortunately today many of those who find themselves in a similar situation remain as they are.  They don’t seek the One to whom the signposts point.  They stand at the signposts and called it being saved, but they are still lost. 

And they are not able to truly show people who Jesus is.  Even if the right words come out of their mouths, they are only able to give lip service to Him…

Having been thrown out by the Pharisees, the healed man went on his way.  Then Jesus found the man and made it clear to him who He really was… the Son of Man, Lord, the Giver and Taker of sight, the Judge, the Gate, the Good Shepherd.

It is a great thing when God works in the lives of men.  But that work may only be the signpost, directing people towards Him.  If a person doesn’t follow that signpost and come to God on God’s terms, they may find themselves in the position of the Pharisees who were with Jesus when He healed the blind man.  They asked Him “What?  Are we blind too?”

Jesus responded “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.”