Helpmate: I Got Your Back

September 29, 2014

cat got my back
On Sunday, September 28, 2014, the Word of the Day on dictionary.com was helpmate. Dictionary.com defines helpmate as

1. a companion and helper.
2. a spouse.
3. anything that aids or assists, especially regularly
The word of the day reminded me of this picture my wife taped to the mirror above my sink on Saturday. When I went into the bathroom, that is the image and the words that I saw. In human terms, it epitomizes what we think of when one says I got your back. I was just moved. There is nothing like knowing in your innermost being that another person has your back. According to the Urban dictionary, got your back is an expression assuring someone that you are watching out for them. Comes from making sure you are safe by watching what’s behind you when you’re busy looking ahead.
We all want to cared for and looked out for especially when harm abounds. While I was moved by my wife’s commitment, my helpmate, the term helpmate entered the English lexicon in the early 1700’s from the Middle English construction helpmeet which was used in The Wycliffe Bible. The term is a translation of Genesis 2:18

Genesis 2:18 King James Version (KJV)
18 And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

Genesis 2:18 New King James Version (NKJV)
18 And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

Genesis 2:18 New International Version (NIV)
18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Proverbs 18:22 (NIV) says, “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.” I don’t think anyone who has received a woman of God as a wife and is growing in his understanding of that would contend with this verse. I know that I am growing in my appreciation of my wife. When I was going through a tough situation recently, she told me “I got your back.” It was comforting to hear that comment.
Despite the depth of love my wife has for me, there is another who has a greater comfort for me. There is one who has a greater love for me. There is one who is a greater Helper for me. Who is that one? John 14:16-17 tells us that the one is the Advocate, the Comforter, the Helper, the Spirit of Truth. All those names refer to the The Holy Spirit who is the third person of the Trinity or Godhead. The word in the Greek is paraklētos (pä-rä’-klā-tos) which means one who pleads another’s cause before a judge, a pleader, counsel for defense, legal assistant, an advocate; in the widest sense, a helper, succourer, aider, assistant. Jesus told His disciples that He would not leave them as orphans when He went away. He would send their Helper.
15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

Isn’t it comforting to know that we are not alone. More importantly, it is assuring to know that God is not only with me, but He lives in me through the Holy Spirit. This is true for every believer or person who has surrendered his life to Jesus as Savior and Lord. See verse 17 above as well as Romans 8:11 “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.”

Now if that is not an assurance that someone, God, is watching out for you, what is? God has given me a wife who has my back, and He has given me Himself who is watching over both our backs. He leads, guides and protects us. Next time you are in a situation, reflect on the fact that you have a Helpmate: I Got Your Back.

SHAME: How Not to Experience It

September 27, 2014

Good morning,

I know that I shared that I would address The Ultimate Advocate today. In some ways, I will. In other ways, I will not. I will address The Ultimate Advocate by following the leading of the Holy Spirit. During some prayer time this morning, The Spirit revealed to me that I needed to address the issue of shame. Specifically, I needed to address how not to experience shame.

SHAME has been defined as a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior; a person, action, or situation that brings a loss of respect or honor. According to biblegateway.com, there are 134 instances of the word shame found in the New King James Version of the bible. Use of the word shame in the KJV are here at this link.

As I prayed, I clearly heard the Spirit remind me what God said about shame. He said, “Those who put their trust you will never be put to shame.” At that moment, I knew God was telling me to write today about SHAME: How Not to Experience It. The path to avoid shame is strikingly simple; yet exceedingly difficult for man.

I was reflecting over the past six months of my life. I was reflecting over conversations that I have had over the past week about the past six months of my life. When people ask about a seemingly shameful or embarrassing circumstance regarding job, I rejoice at the victory and choice that God has given me. In this world, people equate success and status with position. For the most part, that is a reality in this world, but for the believer, God has told us to “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2. In John 17, Jesus also prayed

13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

We live in this world, but Christ is absolutely lucid that we are not to see as the world sees nor do as the world does. We are to live a life committed and devoted to God Almighty. His goal is that we would experience unity with the Triune God, so that the world will know that God sent Jesus and that God loves the believers of Christ as He did Christ.

Consequently, I can say unequivocally that I can attest to SHAME: How Not to Experience It. Once again, the process is simple. Psalm 22:5 To you they cried out and were saved; in you they trusted and were not put to shame. This is how not to experience shame. Trust in God. “For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 1 Peter 2:6. Every time that I have trusted God, I have not experienced shame.

Put your trust in God. My status or position comes from being in Christ. Acts 17:28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ Deuteronomy 30:20 For the Lord is your life; It is is in Christ that we have our identity. Ephesians 1 states that in so many ways; however, I want to say to you who will not read the Word that my value, status, worth, etc is solely rooted in my value to God who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Isaiah 20:5 says, “Those who trusted in Cush and boasted in Egypt will be dismayed and put to shame.” On the contrary, when we trust in Him, we will never experience shame i.e. disgrace or dishonor. For God says, “Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained.” 1 Samuel 2:30 God is completely trust worthy. I have not only read this in His Word and seen this in His Word, but I have experienced this in my life. When I trust in someone else or myself, I experience shame, but every time I have trusted in God, I have been honored. He has rewarded my faith in Him. While He does not always give me what I want, He always honors me for honoring Him.

We honor God by acknowledging that “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” John 15:5. God will working in our lives if we let Him. My honor is God. My honor is  knowing God and watching Him work to distinguish Himself in the lives of man for His glory.

When reflection on SHAME: How Not to Experience It, we must trust in Him alone.  Do it and be blessed.

The Ultimate Advocate

September 26, 2014

Here in Atlanta, one of the headliners on the news was a story about the enormous water bill amassed by an organization the serves the homeless community. While there are other issues that abound, the news story revolved around a water bill that is in the hundreds of thousands. This organization, in part, fills a huge chasm in services to the homeless. They are in their own way an advocate for the homeless. There are other advocates throughout our society. Each having its own cause or purpose. As defined by dictionary.com, advocate means to speak or write in favor of; support or urge by argument; recommend publicly; a person who pleases for or in behalf of another; intercessor.

In biblical terms, The Advocate is the Holy Spirit. The term used for advocate in John 14 is paraklētos (pä-rä’-klā-tos) or Helper/Comforter.

15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth.

Jesus provided the Twelve and us a conditional promise. In essence, Jesus stated that He would send us a helper, The Ultimate Advocate, if we committed ourselves to Him. Our commitment to Him is evidenced by our obedience. While He knew that none of us would be perfect, Jesus expects us to grow in our obedience to Him or holiness. 1 John 5:18 says, “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin;…” The litmus test for the believer or follower of Christ is our love i.e. obedience.

Assuming that one has truly surrendered his/her life to Christ, Jesus says that He will give us the Helper who would be with us forever. “13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,” Ephesians 1:13. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:22. We also know that Christ expects us to “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. 2 Timothy 1:14

With The Ultimate Advocate, God, The Holy Spirit, living in us, we are able to live victoriously over sin. We know that from several passages throughout the scriptures but specifically in Romans 8
Tomorrow, we will look further into The Ultimate Advocate. Today, commit to following Jesus, so He can give you The Ultimate Advocate to live a life devoted to God.

“If you love Me, keep My commandments.”

September 24, 2014

When we are wrong or at a disadvantage, it’s funny how we change the rules or our perspective. That can be seen in every facet of life – sports, politics, business, relationships, and religion.

My post today will be exceedingly short. I have that from on High. We go back to John 14 for our text. The New King James Version of verse 15 says If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Keep is understood to mean you will keep which conveys a continual keeping of His commandments. When Jesus said this, He was referencing more than the 10 Commandments. He was talking about all of His Word – the things He said then and later through His disciples. 

This is simple. When we sin, it is because we love ourselves or someone else more than we love Christ, our God. If is the word that the entire verse hinges. The condition is centered around love. I have read that this is a fair measure of our love for Jesus. It is easy to think of loving Jesus in merely sentimental or emotional terms. It is wonderful when our love for Jesus has sentiment and passion, but it must always be connected to keeping His commandments, or it isn’t love at all. Love requires action consistent with the object of the one loved. The word for love here is agapaō (ä-gä-pä’-ō) which means to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly.

When Jesus says If you love Me, keep My commandments, He is saying that if you have welcomed me in the home of your heart, if you are fond of me or care for me, you will do what I say. There are no exceptions. Christ requires complete compliance. You know what? We do too. We expect the same thing for those who claim to love us, but we are unwilling to give that to Him who truly does. 

Ponder this – If you love Me, keep My commandments. More thinking about them, let’s do what He says today. Lord have mercy. 
Read these verses about keeping His commandments 

Asking in Jesus’ Name

September 23, 2014

Let me just say that I can’t capture the depth of Asking in Jesus’ Name. First, I am not sure that I have the deepest understanding of the significance of the matter, but God has not muzzled my testimony when my knowledge is not vast. God commands us to share what we know about Him. As such, I will do so today even if brief.

In the natural, we know that names make a difference; that names carry weight. If I were to tell you that I graduated from Harvard, Yale, MIT, Georgia Tech, Juilliard or Wharton, you would respond appropriately if you knew the renown for each of those institutions. If you saw a post or a selfie of me with President Obama, Condoleezza Rice, Bill Cosby, Arthur Blank, Gladys Knight, Travis Tritt, Hank Aaron or Andrew Young, you all would say how did he get in the picture with that person.

Similarly, there is immeasurable benefit in calling on the name above all names. There is true blessing in calling on the name of Jesus. Jesus was named so, “because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21). From Matthew 7:22, we know that people drive out demons in the name of Jesus. Matthew 12:21 tells us that “in his name the nations will put their hope.” Matthew 21:9 says, “The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” Jesus told His disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Mark 9:41 “Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.” John 1:12 tells us “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—” Acts 4:12 tells us that “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” I hope we see a few of the great blessings that come from calling on or trusting in the name of Jesus.

Let us hear what Jesus said about Asking in Jesus’ Name. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (John 14:13) Again in John 14:14, Jesus said, “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” John 15:16 says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” John 16:23 says, “In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete…”

Do not get too excited. When Jesus says “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it”, He is not saying I am your genie or santa claus. In fact, He is saying the opposite. He is saying when you ask in His name, it must be aligned with the will of God to receive from God. In reference to the matter, The Reformation Bible says “This does not guarantee that God will do whatever we ask if only we add to our prayer the words “in Christ’s name.” To pray in Christ’s name is to identify with the purpose of Christ to the extent that our will has become identified with the will of God (1 John 5:14). Those who do not obtain what they specifically request are often surprised by a different but better answer—and “no” is sometimes the best answer. See “Prayer” at Luke 11:2.”
One key is seen in John 15:16 above. We did not choose Christ but were chosen by Christ. He is not here for our beckoning call; however, we are here to bring glory to God, to bear fruit, fruit that will last. Jesus’ intent is conveying “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” is to lead us to reliance on Him in our pursuit of God’s will. It is in that sense that we can have complete confidence that we will receive whatever we ask in Jesus’ name.
What are you asking God for today? Is it centered around your wants and desires that serve your personal interest? Clearly, God does not have a problem with us asking for what we need; however, the focus is on us pursuing God in prayer based upon His will for our lives. He desires to include us in on His work to redeem man. God’s ways and thoughts are higher than ours, but God has consistently shared them with us in expectation that we will adopt them.  The point is that we come to God in Jesus’ name, not in our own name, righteousness or merit. When our wills are submitted to God’s, we will ask for those things that God desires. It is in those moments that we will have what we ask for. Remember though, good things even righteous things may not be God’s will in any particular situation, so be yielded to God when you pray. He reserves the right to say no to any request.

I am in the Father and the Father is in Me

September 21, 2014

There are many ideas, theories, truths that we accept in life even though we do not fully understand them. For example, we all accept the reality of gravity. Conceptionally, we get the idea of the pull of the earth on us, so we don’t float away as one would in space, but do we really understand. Air is gas that consists of free molecules in the ratio of about 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 0.3% carbon dioxide and traces of helium, neon, other gases and water vapor. There are also contaminants which are described as: Solid, Germ & Gas Phase Contaminants. Theoretically, we accept the idea that our bodies breath in air taking in the oxygen that we need and not ingesting or using the other components in air. Doctrinally, the notion of the Holy Trinity is presented throughout scripture, but many do not accept it as we do presented knowledge on gravity and air.

In John 14, we see Jesus’ continuing to assert trinitarian views. All along, Jesus has made statements that support the Trinity – one God in three persons: God The Father, God The Son, and God The Holy Spirit. According to the Reformation Study Bible, Jesus’ statement of “I am in the Father and the Father is in me” is the reciprocal indwelling announced in 10:38 and developed here, also in v. 20, and again in 17:21. Three great unities are proclaimed in Scripture: the unity of the three Persons of the Trinity; the unity of the divine and human natures of Christ; and the unity of Christ and His people in redemption.

John 14

If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.

Just as Jesus called Philip to believe minimally in the works He had done, Jesus is calling us to do the same; however, the optimal belief trigger is because Jesus said it Himself. Jesus wanted Philip to believe that He was in the Father and the Father was in Him because He said it. When Philip did not, Jesus told him to at least examine the work that He had done which evidences that He is God Almighty. As a reminder, Jesus had changed water to wine, open the eyes of the blind, feed five thousand and raised the dead to life. Jesus was asking Philip and the disciples to believe in Him. He wanted them to consider what He had done and said about Himself.

I AM the Way, Truth and Life (John 14:1-7)

I AM the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:1-44)

I AM the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-18)

I AM the Door (John 10:1-9)

I AM the Light of the World (John 8:12-18; 25-30)

I AM the Bread of Life (John 6:25-35; 48-59)

In those statements, Jesus reveals more about who He is on the way to the climax of His earthly existence the crucifixion and the resurrection. Jesus began conveying to His disciples who He is in efforts to prepare them for their roles in carrying forth the Gospel. In those acts and in those statements, Jesus was saying believe in Me.

He is calling us to believe in Him too. We have those things, the rest of the Word and the testimony of what He has done in our lives and in the lives of others we know. When Jesus says “I am in the Father and the Father is in me“, He wants us to believe that He is God. When we falter in our faith, Jesus wants us to defer to the work He has done. If you are a believer, you too are a part of that work. God wants us to acknowledge the work that He has done in very own lives to propel us to greater faith in Him.

We know that it is impossible to please God without faith. Since that is the case, Jesus was calling the disciples to believe. He is calling us to believe that He and the Father are one, that He and the Spirit are one, that the Spirit and the Father are one. Jesus is asking you do you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?

Do you? Everything about faith in Christ hinges on what you believe about Him. If you do not believe that He is God, your faith in Christ is flawed and fruitless. David Guzik says, “No image or material likeness could depict God, but a person could – the person of Jesus… This forever finishes the idea some people have that there is a “bad God” in the Old Testament that Jesus somehow calmed down and made nice so we could be saved. If you want to know what God the Father is like, look at Jesus – the same love, compassion, mercy, and goodness which is evident in Jesus is evident in God the Father. Exodus 34:5-9, among other passages, shows this nature of God the Father in the Old Testament.”

Jesus said, “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” Do you believe?

Do You Really Know Me?

September 17, 2014

Over the years, I have often heard it is not what you know, but who you know. As time went on, that adage was revised to  it’s not who you know, but who knows you. In this world, I have seen man make room for me because man knows me. Let’s face it, people benefit from relationships that they have with others. Right or wrong, fair or not fair, the reality exists that some benefit not because they are better but because of relationship – knowing. I have often stated that the physical often imitates the spiritual. In John 14, Jesus continues His questioning of man’s knowledge of Him.  If you follow Jesus through the book of John, Jesus makes knowing Him a central and pivotal issue. Throughout the book, I hear Jesus saying Do You Really Know Me?

For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.
Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many.
He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them.
Remember, Jesus predicted His betrayal in John 13:18-20. There He says, “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. 19 “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. 20 Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.” He gave them evidence to know and follow Him, but the issue still remains Do You Really Know Me?
Now in John 14, we see Jesus adding to theme of knowing Him. Here is where Jesus questions the disciples knowledge of Him and answers that question as well. Remember the context of the statement below. Jesus had told them that He was going away, but that the disciples could not follow Him now. Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Do You Really Know Me? Jesus answers that question for the disciples save Judas whom He had foretold would betray Him. Now, Jesus is telling the disciples that if they know Him, they also know God The Father and have seen Him. Here Jesus claims a clear as day to be God. He poignantly told the disciples that He was God. By virtue of saying that if they had seen Him they had seen the Father, Jesus claims to be both Jesus, the Messiah, and God. The second person of the Godhead has pronounced it. Later in the chapter (v.26), Jesus closes the triune circle when He speaks of the Advocate, the Holy Spirit.

It is well worth answering question Do You Really Know Me? Jesus made the distinction for the twelve disciples. He also makes the distinction for us. He says that if we know Him, we know the Father as well. Do you really know Jesus? Have you made Him Lord and Savior of your life? Jesus invites you to not only know Him but to be known by Him. He shares the consequences of not knowing Him and the benefits of being known by Him in John 10:

“If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

Jesus is saying Do You Really Know Me?

I AM the Way and the Truth and the Life

September 15, 2014

Of the 7 “I AM” statements of Jesus, He has proclaimed six of them through John 14. As a reminder, those “I AM” statements are listed below.

I AM the Way, Truth and Life (John 14:1-7)

I AM the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:1-44)

I AM the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-18)

I AM the Door (John 10:1-9)

I AM the Light of the World (John 8:12-18; 25-30)

I AM the Bread of Life (John 6:25-35; 48-59)

In those statements, Jesus reveals more about who He is on the way to the climax of His earthly existence the crucifixion and the resurrection. Jesus began conveying to His disciples who He is in efforts to prepare them for their roles in carrying forth the Gospel. While He knew that they would not understand everything at that moment, it was His plan to communicate the truth, so that when their understanding caught up with the truth their minds would be illuminated and faith cemented.

Jesus has just washed His disciples feet, told them that He would be betrayed by Judas, how to relate to one another and that He was going away to a place that they could not come at that time. This is what we find Jesus communicating to them here in John 14.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

I will not profess to be able to succinctly communicate all there is about this verse in this short post or if I ever could. I want to communicate what God has told me today. The disciples wanted to know where Jesus was going that they could not go. Now in this chapter, He tells them. Isn’t that comforting that Jesus shows that He is willing to respond to our inquiries. While God is not obligated to answer us at our every whim, He has shown that He will answer when we call. After following Jesus for the past three years, the disciples were not sure where He was going and why they could not follow Him.

Jesus says, you know the way to the place where I am going. “Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus says that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. It is key that we highlight, underscore, and any other focusing technique that Jesus says “No one comes to the Father except through me” Jesus claims to be the only means for man to have fellowship with the Father. God is not accessible without Jesus. Now, this is another mouthful to communicate. Whether in prayer or in eternity, Jesus declares that man cannot come to the Father except through Him. 

I am not going to attempt to convince any of you that Jesus’ Words are true. He makes that proclamation Himself. I am the way and the truth and the life. He says He is the truth. We either believe Him or we don’t. What about you? Do you believe Jesus? Do think that through good service that you can come to the Father? Do you think that through attempting to be good that you can come to the Father? None is true other than what Jesus said – I am the way and the truth and the life.  We will explore later tomorrow, but today, let us decide if we believe Jesus’ claim about having access to the Father.

12 Years A Slave

September 14, 2014

I admit that I am not much of a movie goer. If I go to the movies, it because my wife or kids want to go, but there is value in going as art often imitates life. There are many parallels that can be drawn from scenes, lines or music from a play or a movie. In 12 Years A Slave, this is certainly the case. I watched this movie last week with my wife and my daughter, partly. For those who may not know, 12 Years a Slave is a 2013 historical drama film and an adaptation of the 1853 slave narrative memoir Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup, a New York State-born free African-American man who was kidnapped in Washington, D.C., in 1841 and sold into slavery. Northup worked on plantations in the state of Louisiana for twelve years before his release. (wikipedia)

Northup, a free family man, was working as a violinist. He was kidnapped, really man-napped, and sold into slavery. He was taken away from his wife, children, life and freedom. I am sure all of us can sort of imagine what it would be like to taken away from our free lives to be sold into captivity where we were dehumanized and subjected to horrible treatment. The film is said to have breathed reality. “There are enough scenes of brutal violence in 12 Years a Slave to make your skin crawl. But few are as disturbing and as genuinely shocking as one in which a black slave is left hanging from a tree, grunting from suffocation, his toes barely touching the ground. Behind him, children play and other slaves go about their chores, fearing for their lives if they even look his way. The camera lingers on this wide shot for several minutes as if to emphasize the sheer helplessness of these people.” (ref).

In another situation where art imitates life, Clemens, one of the characters who had been kidnapped, participates in a discussion with Robert and Solomon. He says, “Three can’t stand against a whole crew. The rest here are niggers, born and bred slaves. Niggers ain’t got the stomach for a fight, not a damn one.” Normally, I stay away from the use of that word; however, this scene struck me because it evidences man’s estate with sin. He has not stomach for a fight against sin. In fact, man does not want to fight against sin. He wants to exists seamlessly with sin. Man wants to sin. Man loves to sin.

12 Years a Slave chronicles the life of one man who was free and became a slave. Man, on the other hand, is born a slave. Psalm 51:5 says, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” Romans 3:23 says, “23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Since we were born into sin and all sin, we, without Christ, are all slaves to sin. Listen to what Paul says about people being slaves to sin and Christ setting you free in Romans 6.

13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

19 I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Without Christ, we are free from the control of righteousness (v20 above). In fact, Romans 8 says,

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.  You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. 12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. 14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.

The Word says that we have an obligation to live according to the Spirit of God if we have the Spirit of God. In essence, Paul is saying that for those who have trust Christ as Savior and Lord are obligated to live as free men and free women not as those who “ain’t got the stomach for a fight, not a damn one.” Christ calls us to live in righteousness and as a slave to righteousness that sets us free. Romans 6:18  You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

12 Years a Slave is nothing compared to a lifetime of being enslaved by sin. In regards to freedom, Solomon Northup said, “I don’t want to survive. I want to live.” The only way for any of us to be free from the slavery of sin is through Christ. 1 John 3:9 says, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.” Do you want to be slave to sin, then ‘You must be born again.’ John 3:7

He Who Had No Room Has A Room For You

September 12, 2014

“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” Luke 2:1-7

We cannot fathom the incarnate God, Jesus, being born into this world without a decent room for Him to arrive and lay. Away in the manger my little Lord lay… Jesus’ first entry into this world as incarnate God was filled with irony. Colossians 1:16 “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” Jesus, The Creator, subjected Himself to a world that valued the created over the Creator. He experienced disrespect and devaluing circumstances as He entered this world.

Just as Jesus had no room in the inn, we will experience circumstances in our lives where people do not make room for us in their lives or spaces. When it does happen, we act as if some great tragedy has occurred. Why should we feel bad, hurt or disappointed when the world confronts us with our own similar experiences? We shouldn’t, but we do because we think we are too good for many circumstances. We think we are above the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 8:17 says, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Just as Jesus endured humblings, difficulty, hardships and sufferings, we too may endure them but not to the point of sweating blood.

In John 14, Jesus was continuing to prepare the disciples for His humiliation, death, burial, resurrection and ascension. He was preparing them for a life where they would endure hardships for Jesus. In essence, Jesus said, He Who Had No Room Has A Room For You. Let’s listen in on what Jesus said.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Jesus provided comfort for them in His conciliatory statements. While they did not know it at the time, He was preparing them for the moment when they would need to know that He Who Had No Room Has A Room For You. Jesus was preparing them for when the world would reject them because of Him. Jesus tells them that there are many rooms in His Father’s house. Jesus left many rooms for no room for us, so He is saying to His disciples this world did not make room for me. It will not make room for you. Don’t spend your time looking for this world to love you, to desire you, to embrace you. It will not, but it is said of our God that “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” Isaiah 40:11 Since He will gather and lead us, we know that He is preparing that place for us. He promises to come back to get us that we may be where He is – with the Father. 

He Who Had No Room Has A Room For You. The world does have room for you, but Jesus does. Will you trust Jesus and live for Him knowing that He will wrap you in His arms in this world keeping you until He returns to take your new room in your new house. He Who Had No Room Has A Room For You!


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