Only If You Flatter Me! (John 8)

The second half of John 8 is spoken to the Jews who believed in Jesus.  But when you read it, you get the impression that their belief was weak.  It would seem that they didn’t like to believe when Jesus spoke to their sin.

It’s hard, as a Christian who tries to give his all to Christ, to hear of others who claim to have a faith but deny Him if He hurts their pride.  To watch people have such a wishy-washy faith in the One who died for them, who suffered for them, who became a man for them.  It’s unreal how unthankful people can be.

But then I’ m reminded of my own struggles.  Sometimes I’m faced with a situation that  requires I be humbled if I’m to follow Christ.  And sometimes I don’t give up my pride like I should. 

It’s never an intentional thing when I forsake Him.  But that’s just it… I should always intentionally follow Him.  I should have nothing less than a fully intentional, moment-by-moment, living for Him faith.

The Holy Spirit convicts His people when they walk in sin.  When I’ve been convicted and rebuked for my forsaking Him I have two choices… I can swallow my pride and address the situation, or I can go on living in my pride.

My belief will not be limited to one who will flatter me, it is only placed in He who has the words of life!

Consider it Pure Joy (John 6)

In John 6 we have the recording of Jesus feeding the 5,000.  Jesus, seeing the large crowd, took the opportunity to test Philip…

Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?”  This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do.

That’s a lot of pressure to just suddenly put on Philip.  Likely he hadn’t been told to prepare for this situation, and he didn’t exactly have the resource on hand to feed all these people… at least not in the way he was looking at things.  But we don’t read about Philip flipping out or getting angry.  Philip simply answers,

“Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

Philip was obviously a little bit worked up.  But he didn’t go into a self pity mode and talk about how life is to hard, or how God should make things easier on him.  He just states the situation.

I’m reminded of James 1:2

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

I think Philip could have done better with his attitude, but I also think that the average follower of Christ can do better.  We get so bent out of shape over the difficulties in life, and complain about it to anyone who will listen.  But God allows us to go through those things in a way that builds us up eternally.

I pray we all would consider it pure joy when we face trials, when we are called to the difficult tasks.  Certainly, loving others is something that can be… “trying”.  It sometimes requires that we die to our selves in order to love them.  But Jesus died for us.  It’s ok if we have to die too.

Instead of complaining about having to love people and about God’s “difficult” love for us, may we remember that love is a good thing…

Love Is A Good Thing

Loyalty of Authority (John 5)

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis writes:

Do not be scared by the word authority. Believing things on authority only means believing them because you have told them by someone you think is trustworthy. Ninety-nine per cent of the things you believe are believed on authority. I believe there is such a place as New York. I have not seen it myself. I could not prove by abstract reasoning there the must be such a place. I believe it because reliable people have told me so. The ordinary man believes in the Solar System, atoms, evolution, and the circulation of the blood on authority — because the scientists say so. Every historical statement in the world is believed on authority. None of us has seen the Norman Conquest or the defeat of the Armada. None of us could prove them by pure logic as you prove a thing in mathematics. We believe them simply because people who did see them have left writings that tell us about them: in fact, on authority. A man who jibbed at authority in other things as some people do in religion would have to be content to know nothing all his life.

There are good reasons to accept many of the things we believe.  But none of them are as good as the reasons we have to accept Jesus.  How can we expect to know and believe truth if we don’t consider where authority truly comes from? 

A Scientists come to us and says we should believe him because he personally studied a thing out.  Scholars, politicians, judges, presidents, neighbors, loved ones, everyone does it.  But who are they?  They are only men, susceptible to the same sins of compromise that all men fall to. 

And even if a person is right on a thing, the very thing they’re right about would itself testify for Christ.   And if a man is against Christ then that thing in which he put his hope will betray him and side, as it always has, with Christ.  Creation makes no allegiance to that which opposes the Creator, nor does it pretend to.  It will oppose us if we are against the Living God.

As we examined in the previous post, Jesus’ witness have rightful claim to authority.  We would do good to listen to them… and to listen to God.

Hebrews 12:1-3:

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

 

 

The rulers knew (John 3)

I’m finding that doing these blogs is bringing out things in the Scriptures that I never gave much thought to.  This post is about a thing that I’ve given thought to, but not in relation to this passage.

John 3 begins with the story of Nicodemus coming to Jesus at night.  There is much discussion even today over the things which Jesus taught the man.  But I’ve never heard discussion on, nor thought about a word in verse 2… “we”

It has always been apparent to me that Nicodemus had some faith in Christ.  And other passages of Scripture have made it clear that the religious leaders of the Jews also knew the truth of Christ, though I wouldn’t use the word faith when describing their attitude towards Christ. 

This passage, it turns out, supports the fact that the leaders knew, and from early on.  Nicodemus told Jesus “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God.”  Nicodemus wasn’t alone, at least not in his knowledge.  It’s funny to me to speak of Nicodemus’ knowledge, because the passage goes right into the lack of his knowledge.  But that’s addressing a different matter, one I hope to speak on tomorrow.  For now, we are concerned with the rebellious leaders.

It sickens me to think that the leaders knew who Jesus was, yet they acted against Him anyway.  What a vile and disgusting thing.  What a treacherous thing.  But then as I consider it more, my thoughts drift closer to home.  I remember that I too have done this to Christ in my own life.  I made myself into a wretch.

But thank God that nothing is beyond His reach.  Psalm 139 so perfectly speaks to this, to God’s reach in our lives.  Read it if you get a chance.

Today’s leaders are not much different in their ways, and I’m not only speaking of those in politics.  I’m speaking in general terms… leaders in sciences, media, culture, business, literature… and the list goes on.  Some of these leaders know who Christ is.  They know, though they may be too afraid to honestly consider Him in the still, quiet moments of their lives.  Instead they delude their own minds, thinking that they can somehow steal from God and get away from it.  They think nobody knows.

But by their own actions their hearts are revealed. 

And they will give an account for what they do with the knowledge of Christ.  Let us all pray that before their day comes they all accept His salvation, that they will follow the trail that Nicodemus left for them… the quiet one that leads to Christ when all that surrounds them is darkness. 

And Let us continue to speak the truth to them in love.  Let us continually make sure that we ourselves are not guilty of the same treason… knowing who Christ is, yet trying to take what is His for our own pleasures.

Hebrews 1:2 “in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.”

Miracle of Marriage (John 2)

Often when we read of Jesus turning the water to wine we discuss the issues of alcohol.  Unfortunately, too many people ignore the rest of the Bible, or twist it to the point that those defending the truth are set on guard whenever the word wine is read.  To be clear, I believe to get drunk or even buzzed is a sin, and that belief comes from Scripture.  No excuses.  But that is not what this post is about.  For those people who try to force this text into being proof that they can get drunk, into a sacrifice for their religion of self, I hope you someday learn the truth of what Jesus did at the wedding in Cana.

Jesus had recently been “announced” to the world by John the baptist.  Then He gained a few disciples and took them to Cana.  And what is the first event Jesus takes these men to? 

A wedding. 

I don’t know what things were like back then, but I know that nowadays guys don’t usually go and hang out at weddings together.  But even if that was normal back then, I still can’t help but wonder if this is a clue about our walk with Christ.  The New Testament talks a lot about marriage.  We’re even shown how marriage is a picture of Christ’s relationship with the Church.  And Jesus chooses a marriage as the first public event to take His disciples to.  At least it’s the first one that God chooses to inform us about.

Can we really go very far in our relationship with Christ without learning the truths of marriage, and how they relate to God?  I don’t know.  But I know that we have an opportunity for a deep relationship with Christ if we can understand how important marriage is to God. 

The Creator of all things has placed much value on relationships.  And through that truth we can see how God has placed much value upon people.  Upon us.  Mankind was a single man until God instituted marriage.  God decided that it was the relationship that would bring about life, both through childbearing and through undivided love for another person.

And this may also be why Jesus decided to do His first miracle at a wedding.  He wanted His disciples to know.  He wanted the servants at the wedding to know.  He wants all of us to know.  Marriage is a beginning of life.  God stepped into the world in a miraculous fashion to honor a wedding.  And Jesus wasn’t going to start His ministry of discipling without a marriage.  Marriage reveals much about the heart of God.

Jesus’ mother Mary was also at the wedding.  This opened up a great opportunity for Jesus’ new disciples.  From the beginning of their time with Christ, they were given an intimate glimpse into His humanity, seeing Him interact with the woman who birthed Him into this world.  The woman who helped nuture Him, and raise Him up as a little boy.  The woman who treasured up in her mother’s heart the deep truths about her Son, the Christ.  Christ introduced His disciples to His mother at a wedding.

The disciples in Cana that day experienced all at once the humanity of Christ, the divine glory of Christ, and the heart of Christ.  And they put their faith in Him.

It happened at a wedding.

What would you ask? (John 1)

So here He is, the Messiah!  Jesus Christ in the flesh, the Lamb of God, is standing right in front of you!  And He looks at you and asks “What do you want?”

What would you ask?  I mean, this is God here!  As a religious person, you’re likely to have a whole lot of questions in mind and heart.  So many things have happened in your life, and you want to know why.  What they all mean.  And you want to know what all these passages in Scripture are talking about.

Well, this was the situation with the first two disciples of Christ.  They finally meet the Lamb of God, face to face, and He has asked them what they want.  Their deep desire is the answer to the question… “Where are you staying?”

What?  Are you kidding me?  They could have asked so many things, but they want to know where He’ll be sleeping tonight?!

Maybe they were overwhelmed.  Maybe they didn’t understand the opportunity before them. 

Or maybe they did understand.  I don’t think there’s enough information here for us to conclude what was going through their minds.  But there is enough information to tell us something about their character.

Jesus answered their question in a way that He often answered questions.  With opportunity to learn in ways that a simple answer could not afford.  He said “Come, and you will see.”

What did they do?  They didn’t press Him to tell them, they followed. 

How many times has God said to us “Come, and you will see,” only to have us reply “No, I’d rather an answer now thank you.”  I’m not looking to make some deep metaphor out of “Come and see” here.  I’m simply trying to consider our response to God.  When He calls us beyond the limits of our understanding, calls us to step off of the cliff and out of our lives, how do we respond?  Do we continue to push for our selfish desires, for our comfortable Christianity?  Or do we walk with Him, following Him whether it’s a leap off of the cliff or to simply see where He’s laying His head that night?

Knowing where Jesus was going to go to sleep was probably not the most exciting thing to learn when faced with God Himself.  But they listened to the answer and followed.  Not only that, but they took advantage of the opportunity it provided them to bring others to Christ.  The first thing Andrew did was run off and tell Peter “It’s Him, it’s the Messiah!”  And then he brought Peter to Christ.

What is your question for God?  And how are you going to use that answer for the Peters in your life?  I hope that we use what He has given us to bring others into the presence of the Messiah.