Rise to Live or Rise to be Condemned

April 24, 2014

In the post Crossed Over from Death to Life, it was submitted that some of us wish we had the power to preserve life or bring back life as we reflected on Jesus’ resurrection. In actuality, we all will be resurrected. We will be resurrected to Rise to Live or Rise to be Condemned.

Yes, it is true that all who died will be raised to life. Listen to the Words of my Lord, The Lord Jesus Christ in John 5. Again, we will either Rise to Live or Rise to be Condemned. Jesus says..

28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. 30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

There you have it. Jesus, The Lord, says that all those who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out. If that is not a resurrection, resurrection does not exist. Those who have been buried will Rise to Live or Rise to be Condemned. What is the condition that causes one to rise to live or to be condemned? The text tells us “those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.” What is meant by done what is good or done what is evil? It all has to do with Jesus. 1 Corinthians 15 tells us “21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.” Paul only reiterates what Jesus says in John 5.

In verse 24, Jesus says, “24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” The condition or factor that determines whether one will Rise to Live or Rise to be Condemned is their hearing Jesus’ Word and believing him who sent Jesus, God Almighty. We can gain further insight into life or condemnation by looking at what Jesus said about eternal life in John 17. Jesus defines eternal life in verse three – “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

The question is do you believe that Jesus is the Christ? Do you believe that Jesus is God’s Son who was born, buried and raised from the dead to offer us life? Your belief about Jesus determines whether you will Rise to Live or Rise to be Condemned. Believe Jesus; receive life. Do not believe Jesus, receive condemnation. The choice is yours – Rise to Live or Rise to be Condemned.

Crossed Over from Death to Life

April 23, 2014

I am sure the thought is intriguing to us all especially after recently celebrating The Resurrection. Moreover, I am sure that some of us wish we had that power to preserve life or bring back life. There have been many people who have died that I wished could live. Several years ago, I sat in the hospital room with my aunt. I had been praying for her. When I got to the room, I was so convinced the God would spare her life. I prayed like I had never had with her. When I left, I was confident that God would raise her up.  In less than a week, she died. I couldn’t imagine how her husband and kids felt, but I know that I was despondent. I was shocked because I truly believed that God would raise her up.

I share this story because it illustrates my powerlessness to cross someone over from death to life. As I reflect on the frailty of life, I think about my parents, siblings, children, friends and people in general. There will come a time when someone will wish he/she could bring us back to life. It will all be to no avail just as I discovered with my aunt. I desperately wanted life for her and her family, but no matter how much I wanted it, I did not have the power or authority to grant it or produce it.

There is only one who can – God Almighty. After celebrating Easter this past Sunday, we know that Jesus too is omnipotent. Omnipotence means God is all-powerful and thus has unlimited authority and influence. He has the ability to do whatever His will dictates. We serve a triune God. The Father has given The Son the authority and power to raise the dead to life. This is not only applicable after physical death, but it also applies to the spiritual death we are all born into as children of sinners. Romans 6:23 testifies to that truth. It says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” What did Jesus say about that matter? For that, we will look at John 5 where Jesus uses His healing of an invalid as a transition to address crossing over from death to life.

21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it…  24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life25 I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live…28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.”

In verse 21, we see that Jesus has the power or omnipotence to give life to whom He pleases. In verse 24, we see the spiritual of crossing over from death to life while in verses 28-29 the physical crossing over from death to life is discussed. Jesus is the key for both crossings. Do you know how to cross over from death to life? If you didn’t know before now, you know now. Should you not hear the voice of the Lord, you will not cross over from death to life whether here or in the after-life. Jesus is omnipotent. He is God Almighty. Choose Him and choose life.

“Stop Doubting and Believe”

April 20, 2014

In the post The Cornerstone: Broken into Pieces or Crushed, the issue of people believing Jesus was the Christ or Messiah was addressed. Jesus Himself quoted prophecy (Psalm 118:21-23) about Himself in efforts to help people believe. Peter too used that scripture to show how what people believed about Jesus would determine their eternal estate. 1 Peter 2:7 “Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,”

This same phenomena occurred after The Resurrection as Jesus interacted with Thomas. Jesus calls for all to “Stop Doubting and Believe”. Read with me John 20

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.

11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Thomas did not believe because he did not see. The truth is that attribute of Thomas is in us all. It is true that some people’s faith is stronger/bigger than others, but God gave those that faith. We are all in the same boat in terms of needing evidence before we will commit to believe in Jesus.

Easter is about the resurrection of Jesus as a sign that He truly came from God and was God who can deliver on the promises He made about everlasting life. Before Jesus died, He, as always, perfectly prepared His disciples. If you recall, Jesus defined eternal life for them in John 17:3: “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” Eternal life is not solely about going to heaven. It is preeminently about knowing God and Jesus Christ whom God sent.

This is the essence of Easter. It certainly has nothing to do with bunny rabbits, eggs or new clothes. For the true believer, Easter has everything to do with a new life in Christ. We celebrate that new resurrected life everyday as we demonstrate faith in Christ who suffered a beating and crucifixion for that new life. The beating and crucifixion represent the punishment we deserve for our sin. The spilling of His blood symbolizes the cleansing we receive of our sins from Christ.

Today, Christ offers a new life for him who believes. For him who believes, Jesus offered this prayer to God. John 17 – “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.

In John 14:11, Jesus said, “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.” Easter, the recognition of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and ascension to the Father is the evidence that we must believe. “Stop Doubting and Believe

The Cornerstone: Broken into Pieces or Crushed

April 18, 2014

As Easter fasts approaches, the normal traditions of people preparing are in still in place for some. As I spoke to a student yesterday about an incentive I was going to give her, she replied to me that she would not be at school tomorrow. The adult with whom I was speaking told her to tell me why she would not be at school tomorrow. She told me she was going to get her hair and nails done before she went to buy her dress for Easter. Well, considering the young lady, I am elated that she is engaged in going to church; however, I am not sure if Christ is the focus of her life – not even close.

Long before God called me to surrender my life to Him, I remember being a part of the Easter tradition of getting dressed and going to church. I was nine. I put on a suit. Walked to the church about a mile or so from my house. As I approached, the thought entered my mind “you have not been to church all year; why are you going now?” With that, I assessed the validity of the statement. Then, I went home.

That young lady and I are indicative of what Jesus told the chief priest, teachers of the law and the elders as they looked for a way to get rid of him. The Cornerstone: Broken into Pieces or Crushed. We, in response to Jesus will either be broken or crushed. Join me in reading Luke 20

20 One day as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple courts and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him. “Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?”

He replied, “I will also ask you a question. Tell me: John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin?”

They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ all the people will stone us, because they are persuaded that John was a prophet.”

So they answered, “We don’t know where it was from.”

Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

He went on to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. 10 At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. 12 He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out.

13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’

14 “But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

“What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.”

When the people heard this, they said, “God forbid!”

17 Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written:

“‘The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone’?

18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”

Whether one is broken or crushed solely depends upon how he/she responds to Jesus. Either we believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life or we do not.  If we do, we will be broken of our self-reliance and pride, so God can repair the damage to our soul done by sin. If we do not, we will be crushed, ground to powder because we will not humble ourselves before God. In doing so, we ensure Christ’s judgement for our refusal to surrender our lives to him.

The Cornerstone: Broken into Pieces or Crushed Will you be broken or crushed? The resurrection of Jesus gives us the hope that we too can be raised from the dead both spiritually and physically. There is no use of getting one’s hair done and dressed up if we fail to surrender our lives to Christ. Easter is about the power of Christ exhibited in Christ being raised from the dead to bring about fulfillment to that which He promised about Himself and those who would follow Him. What will you do with The Cornerstone?

“Do you want to get well?”

April 17, 2014

As I have grown older, physical health has become a greater point of emphasis. That is true in the lives of friends and their parents and in the lives of my parents even me. I recently shared that a brother called me to convey that his wife had been given thirty days to live. Just yesterday, my Pastor’s brother passed away. As we look around, physical infirmities abound. I am sure that all of would have answered in the positive if we were asked “Do you want to get well?” by one who could deliver.

This is reality was not any different in Jesus’ time. We see this reality in John 5.

Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.  One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

Here, the pool, represented the hope of the sick. We are not certain of the origin of the healing, but we know that numerous people demonstrated a belief even a faith of a chance of being healed if they entered the pool. Maybe, God honored their faith. We do know that people believed if they got in the pool while it was being stirred that they had a great chance of being healed.

This hope of healing drew a great number of disabled, the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. As always, Jesus (God) is the main character in this account of His interaction with man. The object of Jesus’ attention is the invalid which is a person unable to care for him/herself due to infirmity or disability. The invalid suffered for 38 years. I am amazed that he still had hope after all those years. I am even more amazed that no one had helped him in the pool when it was stirred. He had lost his place for 38 years. Wow.

The invalid was acutely aware of his disability as well as his failed attempts to be healed, so when Jesus asked “Do you want to get well?” as an example of compassion for one who had suffered so long. What do you think he said? He did not exuberantly say “YES!”. Why? He did not see Jesus as one who could heal him. He saw the pool as the source of healing not God incarnate. Listen to his response “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” From his response, we know he did not recognize Jesus as Jesus, the hope of all who believe.

Jesus does not allow this man’s lack of knowledge in who He is to deter Him from his offer of “Do you want to get well?” Jesus continues to pursue him. Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The man just did what Jesus told him to do. When you want to get well, you will do whatever one who seems able to offer you hope.

Man is spiritually sick. This sickness will end in spiritual death. Romans 6:23 says, For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. If you have never surrendered your life to Jesus as Lord, master, boss, and Savior, you are a spiritual invalid. You need Him to heal you just as the invalid in John 5. He suffered for 38 years. How long have you suffered? The more important question is “Do you want to get well?” If you do, follow the invalid’s lead, do what Jesus says to another, Martha, who was looking for healing in John 11. 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die”

“Do you want to get well?” Believe in Jesus.

Signs and Wonders

April 13, 2014

From the very beginning, Signs and Wonders have been at the forefront of man’s belief system albeit because of a deficit. Signs have been given as supports for man’s weak faith in the one true God who really needs no support. It is our lack of faith that gives rise to God’s grace in providing them. Remember in the signs Genesis 9

11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. …

16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

17 So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”

Ligonier Ministries wrote that biblical covenants are usually certified by visual symbols; these include circumcision for the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 17:11), the Sabbath for the Mosaic (Exodus 31:13, 17), and the Lord’s Supper for the new covenant (Luke 22:20). The Davidic covenant required none since David’s offspring were its visible token (2 Samuel 7:11–16). Often these signs were already in existence (e.g., the Sabbath and circumcision), but were given new significance.

When God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses wanted a sign (Exodus 3:11-13). In this case, God’s sign to Moses was his actual leading the people out of Egypt. In Exodus 4, Moses continued ask God for signs about the Israelites believing that God sent him. Listen to why God says He even entertains providing a sign – “This,” said the Lord, “is so that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has appeared to you.”

In John 4, Jesus, the ultimate authority and true judge, weighs in on the indictment of man’s faith.

46 Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. 47 When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.

48 “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”

49 The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”

50 “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.”

The man took Jesus at his word and departed. 51 While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. 52 When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.”

53 Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed.

In this case, God’s purpose in providing signs resulted in belief or faith, but that is not the case throughout time. If we know the history shown over the bible, Signs and Wonders have been continually given to man that he might believe. While given, I, along with God and noted believers, are not convinced that it is still enough. Read to what Guzik writes about Jesus’ commentary about Signs and Wonders . Signs and wonders can lead a person towards belief in God, and can validate a heavenly messenger – but they can also have no effect on a person, and Satan can also use lying signs and wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:9). Signs and wonders from God are obviously good things, but they should not form the foundation of our faith. We should not depend on them to “prove” God to us. In themselves, signs and wonders cannot change the heart; Israel saw incredible signs at Mount Sinai and even heard the very voice of God (Exodus 19:16-20:1), yet a short time later they worshipped a gold calf (Exodus 32:1-6).

I don’t need to ask where you are in needing Signs and Wonders. We all want them because of the feebleness of our faith. Like the Israelites who came out of Egypt, we struggle to believe in God despite what He has done in our lives to authenticate who He is and what He is able to do. We always want Signs and Wonders. Let’s pray that our faith improves because God, the one true and almighty God, needs not substantiate who He is. He is ever-faithful and true. God keeps His Word; yet, we, who are faithless, relate to God as if He is is a man, that he should lie, and the son of a man, that he should change his mind. Has not God spoken and not acted or promised and not fulfilled.

Shame on us for desiring Signs and Wonders.

Spiritual Déjà vu II

April 10, 2014

In the post Spiritual Déjà vu, Spiritual Déjà vu works similar to cultural deja vu. It is experiencing something that you had previously prayed or asked God. As you know, we ask God for all kinds of things all the time. The fact is that we don’t do a good job of keeping up with what we ask God. I want to extend that notion to Spiritual Déjà vu II which adds words that God has told you to what you may have prayed about.

As I wrote Spiritual Déjà vu, the poignant example in the Word is Peter remembering what God had said about him denying him three times before the rooster crows. Below, I have included that reference as well as others. Read and remember.

Matthew 26:75

Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
Mark 14:72

Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept.
Luke 22:61

The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.”

Matthew 27:63

“Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’
Mark 11:21

Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”
Luke 24:5-9

In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ Then they remembered his words.

When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others.

John 2:17

His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said.(A) Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.

16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.

Acts 11:16

Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’
The commonality in all the statements is that all who remembered are of the body of Christ. This should not surprise us, because before he died, Jesus told his disciples that “25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
The remembering or reminding is the work of the Holy Spirit. As such Spiritual Déjà vu II is a function of the Spirit of God working in our lives to guide us to God and toward godliness. We cannot ignore the Spirit. There are grave consequences for failing to take heed to what God says to us through His Spirit. The reminders are warnings or support structures designed to prevent collapses in our lives. When we fail to take heed, we are risking a great collapse.
Take it from one who has suffered two major collapses in my life. Like Peter, as soon as the situation played itself out, God, through the Spirit, spoke to me just as He spoke to Peter when he denied Jesus that third time. For the believer, that is one of the most defeating experiences. We imagine what Peter felt like, but I am here to tell you that those acts of disobedience have had significant impacts in my life. While God forgives, there are consequences that we must deal with – some last a life time. To borrow a phrase from a known injury lawyer in the city, One Call, That’s All. All it takes is for us to call on the name of Jesus in the midst of our situation. God will help us when we cry out for help. Stop, drop and roll. Do not move past go. Call on God and be saved, then, you will not be like Peter and Darron who experienced Spiritual Déjà vu II.

Spiritual Déjà vu

April 9, 2014

According to dictionary.com, the cultural definition of Deja vu is the strange sensation that something one is now experiencing has happened before: “I knew I had never been in the house before, but as I walked up the staircase, I got a weird sense of déjà vu.” From French, meaning “already seen.” I am not sure if you have experienced this phenomena before. I have, and it is sort of what I envision time travel would be like. 

That was the cultural definition. Spiritual Déjà vu works similar to cultural deja vu. It is experiencing something that you had previously prayed or asked God. As you know, we ask God for all kinds of things all the time. The fact is that we don’t do a good job of keeping up with what we ask God. Some of you are great a cataloging what you have inquired of God, but the reality is most of us don’t. How could we when we are told to pray continually in 1 Thessalonians 5:17. Despite that, there are times when there is something really, really big that we pray for. It is so connected with our being that we will remember. This is the case in our text, John 4, today. Remember the royal official from The Man took Jesus at His Word. Well, if not, here is the text below.

46 Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. 47 When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.

48 “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”

49 The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”

50 “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.”

The man took Jesus at his word and departed. 51 While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. 52 When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.”

53 Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed.

54 This was the second sign Jesus performed after coming from Judea to Galilee.

The royal official’s son was dying. No doubt that he would remember the prayer to save his son. He, like any of us, clung on to hope that his son would live. When he heard that Jesus was there, nevertheless that he was a Roman official, he sought out any help he thought he’d get in saving his son’s life.  His high  position did not preclude him from being humbled to beg Jesus for His help. God humbles us all. We demonstrate our humility when we come to God in prayer.

We know from Jesus’ response that the man did not come to him out of faith in who Christ is but out of hope for a sign/miracle. Jesus said to him “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will never believe.” In order to reach those for His Father, Jesus gives some signs/miracles. Jesus told th official to go his way that his son was healed. He complied. What else could he do? We know from the text that follows that he did not necessarily believe Jesus when He told him his son would live, but we do know The Man took Jesus at His Word because he did leave as Jesus instructed him.

In order to receive from God, we must do what He says. No matter how small our faith, God looks for some response of obedience or faith in us. Hear the Word of God:

The man took Jesus at his word and departed. 51 While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. 52 When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.”

53 Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed.

This is the moment the royal official experienced Spiritual Déjà vu. He realized that this was the exact time Jesus told him that his son would live. Like the royal official, we experience moments of remembering what we ask God for. When we do, we experience Spiritual Déjà vu just as he did. Often, we fail to remember what we ask God, but God never forgets. He always remains faithful to us in hopes to draw us to himself into lead us to faith in Christ just as royal official and his family did. Jesus tells us the object of him answering prayer is to draw us and lead us to believe in Christ for the salvation of our soul. Have you believed? Have you experienced Spiritual Déjà vu? The purpose is for you to believe that Jesus is the Son of God who offers salvation of your soul just as He did and was for the royal official and his family.

The Man took Jesus at His Word

April 6, 2014

Today’s passage in John 4 is filled with condemnation and commendation. Jesus gives a view of what He expects for us while also showing what those aren’t true believers are like. The first condemnation surfaces in Jesus’ statement about a prophet not having honor in his own country. In doing so, Jesus was basically saying that those who were His own did not believe in Him; yet, there is hope for them and us presented in this story.

Like with us all, Jesus uses a challenging moment in life of a royal official to drive us to Himself. This royal official is said to be The Man took Jesus at His Word. In life, we all will be confronted with insurmountable situations. In today’s passage, this royal official’s son was dying. I don’t know about you, but there isn’t a situation that demands more belief i.e. faith than the life of your child. The question is will we take Jesus at His Word? If we do, we can be at peace. We may not get the response that we want, but we will get what we need to build our faith or cause us to believe. Let’s see.

John 4

43 After the two days he left for Galilee. 44 (Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country.) 45 When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, for they also had been there.

46 Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. 47 When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.

48 “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”

49 The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”

50 “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.”

The man took Jesus at his word and departed. 51 While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. 52 When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.”

53 Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed.

54 This was the second sign Jesus performed after coming from Judea to Galilee.

Jesus’ commentary about man was that “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will never believe.” Regardless of our spiritual claim, we all fall into that category. We must see to believe. It is unfortunate but true. I am sure this is why this story, in part, is included. While our need for signs is condemned, Jesus in the same passage recognizes The Man took Jesus at His Word.

There are certain promises that God has made to us. 2 Corinthians 1:18-22 reaffirms that. “18 But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.” 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silas and Timothy—was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.” 20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” I want to get to the point where it is said about me that The Man took Jesus at His Word.

Will Jesus say about you that The Man/Woman took Jesus at His Word. Let’s work to ensure that our faith is strong.

 

Jesus declares to be the Christ (Messiah)

April 3, 2014

Debate, argument, fighting and/or murder has ensued over whether Jesus is the Christ (Messiah). Today, I want to present the same text from the post Bucking Tradition. In John 4, there are many things that Jesus addressed, but the most important was that Jesus declares to be the Christ (Messiah).

There is a lot of reading today because I don’t want you to be shortchanged. You can read it in less than 5 minutes, so do not turn away from the Bread of Life – John 4

John 4

New International Version (NIV)

Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.

Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

17 “I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” 26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” There it is right there – Jesus declares to be the Christ (Messiah). While she considered it heavily, we know from verse 29 that the woman was still not convinced that Jesus was the Christ (Messiah); however, she went and told about her encounter with Jesus. She asked them the question of the authenticity of Jesus’ Messiahship? She, along with many others, came back to Jesus to find out about His declaration.

How have you responded to Jesus when He declared to you who He is? Have you walked away impressed but not convinced like the woman at the well. Did you go back to Him to verify your suppositions? What are you overlooking? The woman was surprised that Jesus, a Jew and a man, spoke to her. That was unheard of; yet, she did not fully embrace Jesus as the Christ (Messiah), but she came back to explore and answer her thoughts when Jesus declares to be the Christ (Messiah).

Where are you? Are you still wondering despite the declaration and the proofs that proceeded Jesus’ declaration? Look deeper into your life at the times where God through Christ and the Spirit has declared unto you who the triune God is.

 


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