Archive for December, 2011

If you know Jesus, you are not your own!

December 30, 2011

In the post Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?, I concluded with these sentences. Do you know that God’s Spirit lives in true believers? If you are a true believer, how are you accommodating the Spirit? Are you thinking things that are offensive to the Spirit? Are you saying and listening to things that make it uncomfortable for the Spirit? Are you going places that the Spirit would never go Himself? God lives in the believer through the Spirit. Let’s act like it.

Why was it that I stated let’s act like it? Remember our text 1 Corinthians 3, had ties to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. The focus of the former passage revolved around the call to maturity overcoming carnality and division. In the latter passage, we hear the call to flesh out or live out those expected norms of Christ-like behavior. Let’s hear from Paul in verses 19-20:

19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

Paul reminds the Corinthians of what he had previously told them – the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now, Paul is connecting a consequential behavior as a result of being indwelt by the Holy Spirit. If you call yourself a Christian, then 1. you are own. 2. honor God with your body. Here there were specific sexual behaviors that Paul was conveying to the believers that they needed to refrain from, cut out, cease. Famed commentator Matthew Henry stated, “Paul rejects the notion, held by sophisticated pagans in his day and ours, that what one does with one’s body is one’s own business. On the contrary, he reminds his readers that their bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.” Paul emphatically states, “You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”
Essentially, Paul is telling us that when we make a commitment to follow Jesus with all our heart, mind, soul and strength we forfeit our right to do what we want. This is the whole point with Christ being Lord of our lives. He is Lord not us. He is in control not us. He has the deciding word on what we think, say and do. He does if He is Lord of our lives. The entire basis behind a person becoming a Christian is to become like Christ. If we are unwilling to surrender decisions or areas of our lives to Christ’s control, we really need to look at whether Christ is Lord, King of our souls. We should not make any hay about this matter. These are God’s Words. If we are to honor Him, we will be obedient. As a child honors his earthly parents with obedience, how much more should we obey the Heavenly Father?
Be blessed. Might be off the grid for a minute.

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?

December 28, 2011

As we continue to look at metaphors, analogies, and symbols in order to deepen our knowledge and understanding of God as it relates to believers, the text today is filled with a wealth of examples. A few days may be expended to address these concepts.  As far as the post’s title, Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?, it comes from 1 Corinthians 3:16.

Based on the context of 1 Corinthians 3, Paul is addressing the maturity level or growth of the Corinthians because of their carnality and division. There were elementary and insignificant arguments that served as impediments to their growth in Christ. For today’s post, I will focus on the bigger picture and work backwards on later days. Paul addressed them in efforts to help them give honor to their bodies, by keeping them pure. Pure in mind and pure in action.

The entire point about verses 16-17 is that the church is the temple of God; therefore individual believers, are the temple of God. Paul delves deeper into this concept in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. FOR THOSE WHO SAY THEY DON’T HAVE TO GO TO CHURCH to believe and follow the Lord, here is one more reason why you are incorrect. Remember Paul is addressing their maturity i.e. that they should be further along in the pursuit and demonstration of Christ. God has chosen to dwell in the collect body of believers called the church. The church, contrary to some architectural wonders, is not a building. The church is the group of believers who consistently convene to worship God and honor God. Listen to what Paul says in verse 16-17:

 16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.

Again, Paul says in Ephesians 2:18-22 “And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” From the Ark of the Lord, the Tent of Meeting, and the Temple that Solomon built, there has always been a notion and assurance that God was with His people. As with everything that Christ did, the relationship between God and man became more personal. God’s Holy Spirit dwells in the believer.

Paul was defining what makes the church a temple? The answer that he gives is that the Spirit of God dwells in you. The Greek word used for temple is naos (nä-o’s). Naos refers to the actual sanctuary, the place of the deity’s dwelling, in contrast to the broader word hieron, which was the temple area in general. Since God dwells in the body of the believer through the Spirit, Paul was warning them of the importance to live or conduct oneself in the right way. Paul warned that if anyone defiles the temple of God, he defiles the church; consequently, God will destroy you. God’s temple, His church that is every believer, is holy, and it matters to God how we treat His holy temple.

Do you know that God’s Spirit lives in true believers? If you are a true believer, how are you accommodating the Spirit? Are you thinking things that are offensive to the Spirit? Are you saying and listening to things that make it uncomfortable for the Spirit? Are you going places that the Spirit would never go Himself? God lives in the believer through the Spirit. Let’s act like it.

The Lamb of God

December 27, 2011

I trust that we all had a Merry Christmas. Intentionally, I opted not to write on Christmas. I just felt that I could not truly capture what to say. I sat and sat and sat; yet, there were not words that came to mind. When that happens, I don’t force it. I reveled in the results of Christ’s renewal of God’s covenant with man. There are deep, deep theological truths associated with the incarnation of Christ. Things like God being monotheistic but expressed as three persons – the trinity. Things like Christ being completely both God and man. Easton’s Bible Dictionary says, “The union is hypostatical, i.e., is personal; the two natures are not mixed or confounded, and it is perpetual.

Those are very deep concepts of which I may not be able to fully explain each in a manner that satisfies someone’s quest for a deeper understanding. While I am sure that I don’t completely understand the ramifications of the grace, incarnation and trinity of God, I am sure that I believe that Christ is the Son of God whom we just celebrated His incarnation and substitution for man in which we receive salvation by justification through Christ’s birth, death, burial and resurrection. What?

Let look to John the Baptist who is attributed with this statement when confronted with Jesus. “29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1) John the Baptist was clear on who Jesus was and what He came to do. The metaphor of Jesus being the “Lamb of God” was keenly understood by the people of that day. They were all aware of the priests responsibility to offer sacrifices to atone for man’s sin as well as the priest himself. The sacrificial offering was a continual practice which in many instances used lambs without defect as the offering. The blood of the lambs were sprinkled on the altar. It was the blood that temporarily atoned for the sins of man. In this process, God offered to accept that sacrifice to forgive the misgivings of man against God.

Jesus’ birth, death, burial and resurrection allowed God to provide a sacrifice once and for all. After God provided His own Lamb, there was no need for continual sacrifices of hundreds even thousands of animals. As history shows, those sacrifices were not eternally sufficient whereas Christ’s sacrifice is and is perpetual. Jesus’ giving keeps on giving. He was sufficient. He is sufficient. He will be sufficient. As John the Baptist said, He “takes away the sins of the world!” This is true if one accepts Jesus as who God says He is – the Son of God. Jesus Himself declares that He is God’s only provision for sin to be eternally and perpetually forgiven. John 14:6 says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

In stating that He is the way, the truth and the life, Jesus affirms what John the Baptist proclaimed. In essence, Jesus reaffirms what the triune God had already stated way back in Genesis and throughout the Word. Jesus is God’s only means for sins to be forgiven. He is The Lamb of God. To saved from the consequences of your sin, you must be covered by the blood of the Lamb. If not, you will be condemned for your sinfulness no matter how good you thought you were. Romans tells us that there none that are good save God. Be covered by the blood of the Lamb.

A little leaven leavens the whole lump

December 24, 2011

We have been exploring the use of metaphors to help us learn about God. As we continue to look to the Lord as Master Teacher, we see another metaphor, analogy or symbol being used to teach truths about our triune God. Almost all of us has heard this saying, “One bad apple spoils the whole bunch.” Whether literally or figuratively, we know that to be true. In scientific terms, the plant hormone ethylene is a gaseous hormone. It ripens fruit naturally or in lab processes. Similarly, leaven or yeast is a fungi that causes the dough to rise which is the by-product of fermentation (the conversion of a carbohydrate such as sugar into an acid or an alcohol).

Arguably, there is not greater metaphor in scripture than leaven. Leaven is a contamination symbol that is symbolic of sin. Just as leaven or yeast causes dough to rise by eating away at the sugars contained in it, sin causes destruction of man by eating away at his relationship with God. Isaiah 59:2 says, But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” There is no more damaging act than to be separated from God resulting in Him be unable to hear us. Galatians 5:9 says, A little leaven leavens the whole lump. (NASB).

From the Exodus to the Last Supper, the notion of using unleavened bread has had major spiritual significance. The use of unleavened bread in communion is symbolic of Jesus Christ who was sinless or without sin. For scripture quotes “Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Furthermore, 1 Corinthians 11:23-24 says, ” 23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In doing so, it is representative that Jesus cleanses the believer of his sin making him acceptable to God and before God. On the contrary, James 2:10 tells us “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” Consequently, if we sin once, we are deemed as sinners.

The similarities between leaven and sin is profound. Leaven or yeast is so prevalent in our world that if you set dough on the counter, it would attach itself to the dough and take over the whole mixture causing it to rise.  Even inside a sheltered kitchen, yeast find their way in. They are ubiquitous. Sin is much the same. Sin is everywhere. It’s pervasive. While you are in this world, sin is all around seeking to attach itself to you. In fact, sin is in you as you were born in sin. You can’t stop sin from finding you, but you can make it easier or more difficult for sin to grow in your life.

Limit the conditions for the yeast to grow in you. Live a holy life, being committed to what God calls. 1 Peter 1:14-1614 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” In such a life, it is harder for sin to attach itself to you and settle in your heart. Consider, where you go, what you allow to come into your ears and through the eyes of your soul. If being a good witness is of paramount importance, live your life holy unto God. Remember, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.”

The Salt of the Earth

December 22, 2011

Over the past few days, I have attempted to show how God uses metaphors, analogies or symbols to explain who He is and what is His will for us. The Lord Jesus knew that our comprehension increased when we were able to associate an unknown truth with a known idea, experience or concept. For example, the Lord knew that the people of that day knew about sheep and their penchant for wandering off. He also knew they were acutely aware of the characteristics of a good shepherd and a hired hand. He used that background knowledge to help shape their understanding of a new truth – Him as the “good shepherd” in efforts to lead them into the Kingdom of God.

Again in our passage, Matthew 5:13-16, today, the Lord Jesus uses a metaphor to aid His disciples understanding about who they were and how they should reflect the character of God in this world. In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus tells the disciples what He called and declared about who they were and wanted them to demonstrate, the Salt of the Earth, and Lights of the World. The Lord Jesus was setting the expectation of how the disciples should see themselves and how they should interact with people in this world.

Let’s just take, the Salt of the Earth today. In Jesus’ time, salt was a preservative. In fact, salt was the best-known food preservative for thousands of years. Actually, it is still used as a preservative for us today, but we are not as conscious of that attribute because of refrigeration and other preservatives. Back then, people used salt on meats to extend the amount of time the food remained good for consumption. For some time, salt was considered a highly valuable commodity during human history. In Jesus’ day salt was so valuable as to be considered coin in trade. Men were paid their wages in salt, from which I am sure the phrase, “worth his salt” was probably derived.

To reiterate, salt served to preserve food and to minimize spoilage, so food would last longer. As disciples and believers in the Lord Jesus, our role is to preserve those around us by sharing Christ’s incarnation, humiliation, and resurrection for our justification. Christ’s sacrifice affords us the opportunity to be preserved from the wrath of God because of our sin. Remember, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)  The apostles were the salt of the whole earth, for they were commissioned to go into all the world to preach the gospel. Again, as disciples, we have the same commission (Matthew 28:18-20).

“But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” We have not served the Lord wholeheartedly; may be that is one reason why the Way of the Lord, the Lord Himself, is under more attacks through His church. If we aren not actively seeking to preserve souls for the Lord, we have become worthless to the Lord. Let us not become worthless as salt being useful only to be trampled by man. Seek the Lord spending time with Him in prayer and reading the Word. Share what He shares with you to those around you whether a sheep in the fold or not. God expects us to share what He gives us especially “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”. Let’s be salt.


December 21, 2011

We have discussed the “good shepherd” over the past couple of days. Today, I will be brief because I spent extra time praying with my wife which is better by far. In a strange twist orchestrated by God, I just realized that the time I did spend with her talking and praying represents what our passage (Matthew 18:10-14) today says.

 10 “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. 12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.

Because of the need for brevity right now, this passage is encouraging those who know the Lord to participate in finding the “lost sheep”. This is why I title the post Sheepherding. We need to participate in the sheep herding. No, we who profess Christ are called to participate, a privilege I add, in God pursuing those who are not in the fold or have wondered from the fold/herd. Why else would all be potentially left for the sake of one? God is showing his tender care and value for each sheep or soul who strays. It has been said that “it is not enough not to cause stumbling; we must also actively seek to prevent anyone from stumbling.”

The Father is committed and has committed those who join His cause to go after them. Notice too that there are angels already committed to those sheep. 14 Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation? Hebrews 1:14  A father takes care of all his children, but is particularly tender of the little ones, Gen. 33:13. The Father in heaven is demonstrating this position through the text in Matthew 18. We should recognize that God is truly concerned not only for his flock, but for every sheep that belongs to it. That’s why He gives care to show us that he notices what happens to one out of many. We learned that the great shepherd owns and cares for the flock; therefore, one sheep is not easily lost, for he calls his own sheep by nameJohn 10:3.

That is true Sheepherding. As the head of my home and priest of my family, I had to spend time with her to shepherd our relationship. This is something that I have not always given my utmost attention to doing. I am making progress. This is the same commitment I must show my kids and anyone whom I share the Word of God with. They too may be one who is chosen to enter the kingdom.

What Kind of Sheep Are You?

December 20, 2011

In 1 Peter 2:22-25, Peter says this about sheep (us), “24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

While the focus of that verse is on Jesus, it is in reference to what Jesus did for sheep. There are two types of sheep Peter mentions in verse 25: one going astray, the other returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. I ask you again What Kind of Sheep Are You? The sheep that go astray are not ones that listen to the voice of the Shepherd. The Shepherd calls them, but they don’t respond. “In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; (Matthew 13:14). It appears that the ever hearing but never understanding sheep will not follow the Shepherd. They will be left for the one who seeks to kill, steal and destroy as they do not have the Shepherd to protect and keep them.

For the sheep who hears the voice of the Shepherd and returns to the Shepherd, 10 He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, “‘though seeing, they may not see;    though hearing, they may not understand.” (Luke 8:10) “3 The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” (John 10)

Whose voice are you hearing? More importantly, whose voice are you understanding? Let me give you an example. As a family, we decided that we would attack the fears that confront us. Last Sunday, the Christmas program for the kids took place. My daughter, GIA (God Is Able), has communicated that she has a fear of speaking before people. She had a line or two to say. She stated it confidently, clearly and commendably. After the program as we were riding home, she told me that God told her to speak loudly. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Now, do I know if that’s what God said to her? No. I do know that she said she “heard” God say. God never tells us anything that is contrary to His Word. His admonitions or encouragement is always consistent with what He has already stated. I trust that God did speak to her, and as one of His sheep, she heard and followed the Shepherd and Overseer of her soul.

In John 10, Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. Once more, What Kind of Sheep Are You? 

My Sheep Listen to My Voice

December 19, 2011

In the post Are You Harassed and Helpless, Like a Sheep without a Shepherd?, we discussed God using metaphors, analogies and symbols to convey His truths to us. I want to spend another day reflecting on the condition of man. Christ states that the man without Him is like a sheep without a shepherd. What does that really mean? To answer that, we need to hear what Jesus said it meant. Let’s delve further into John 10 

 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. John 10:11-14

First Jesus uses the effective instructional strategy of compare/contrast to drive home the point. He defines “good shepherd”. The Word says, “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” The significance here is that the value of the sheep is so high that the shepherd is willing to lay down his life for that sheep. Lay down connotes a willingness not compulsion. The good shepherd willingly laid down His life for me. Jesus willingly went to the cross receiving the penalty of my sin. He was sinless, so He did not deserve to suffer and die on the cross, but Jesus is the good shepherd who is contrasted with the “hired hand” The good shepherd owns the sheep whereas the hired hand does not. The hand is not personally invested, so when danger comes or anything that calls for personal sacrifice, he “abandons sheep” if you will. In this case, it is the sheep.

This point is of particular significance to me. Today, I, along with two other principals, have an important meeting with the superintendent and every other cabinet official in the system. Normally, I don’t get nervous or concerned, but in this instance, I have allowed myself to take on weights and concerns. That’s wrong. I was at church yesterday singing this song, Oh Precious Blood, which one verse said

So pleasing is
my Savior’s blood
No longer need I to depend
On who I am, or what I do
For by His blood I am let in

Wham! God told me that the meeting has nothing to do with your security. It is by my Son’s blood that you are deemed worthy. Regardless of what happens in that meeting, and they have said it is not a punitive meeting, but evaluations are being made, God has told me that He holds my future, and as He said in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I need not attach my significance to my performance before men. I need to be R.A.D.I.C.A.L – rely and depend on Christ as Lord.

Regarding those whom God has placed in authority over me, “2 Therefore this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the LORD”. Jeremiah 23:2. The Good Shepherd has laid down His life for me. I am truly valuable and will be kept by His power not any suave statement I may make. Zechariah 4:6 says, “‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.”

I simply need to rest in the Lord and allow the Holy Spirit to give me the Words to say. In John 10:27 Jesus said, My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” I have heard you Lord Jesus. Trust you to keep me in the faith – to protect me from all that assails me even my own fears. God’s message is that even though one might be hemmed in God keeps us all, but for the believer, there is the assurance that we have been brought into the fold. The sheep may threaten but he cannot be devoured for He has laid down His life to ensure my heavenly deliverance.

Thank you Brother Huey for reminding me of how God has always taken care of me. Not sure what you might be facing now, but G.I.A. – God Is Able. “20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20  If you know the Lord, he said, “My sheep listen to my voice.” Do you hear the Lord? If so, listen. If not, humble yourself, ask for forgiveness and listen.

Are You Harassed and Helpless, Like a Sheep without a Shepherd?

December 18, 2011

Once more, I bring you another metaphor, analogies or symbols the Lord used to teach a truth about Himself, the Creator, and us, His creation. The title of the post comes from passages in Matthew 9 and Mark 6. Those verses came up at church a couple of Sunday’s ago. I will find the exact title and post the link to listen to that message. It was powerful, but like many things in my life, I did not give enough attention to it. God, being the greatest teacher, has brought me back to that concept today in my exploration of how He uses stories or word pictures to teach us truths. The concept that the lives and souls of mankind are like harassed and helpless sheep without a shepherd is clear. Listen to how Matthew 9:35-37 says it.

35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.

For some reason, I see a wolf pack surrounding a sheep. They have hemmed the sheep in. The sheep has nowhere to run. He sees his predators approaching him. His mind rapidly firing the various scenarios of how he may be harmed, damaged or fatally wounded by those harassers. Haven’t you experienced a person or maybe a circumstance that seemingly stalked you as a predator would stalk his prey? Without Christ, we have no hope of consistent protection. God keeps us all, but for the believer, there is the assurance that we have been brought into the fold. The sheep may threaten but he cannot devour.

Spiritually, sin and satan will ultimately destroy any life/soul that does not have Christ as shepherd of his/her soul. John 10:9-11 expresses this dynamic clearly and explicitly – “9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

There is a song that we sing sometimes at church titled Jesus is the Answer. Jesus does have the answer for that life or soul that is harassed and helpless because he/she has no shepherd. In 1 Peter 2:22-25, Peter says this about Jesus, “24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

Make no mistake about it, we all will be harassed by sin and satan. If you do not know Jesus, you have no true shepherd who lays down his life for you. Your mother might be mankind’s best attempt to love you like the triune God does. As good as most mom’s love is, it pales in terms of what we need from spiritual predators. There were so many situations in which my mother, father, step-mother, step-father, brother, sister or any other person could not help me with. I was simply susceptible to world’s and satan’s rapaciousness. I was tossed to and fro until Jesus stepped into my life causing my heart to surrender to Him. Now, I have a defense and strength. When I fail, it is because I failed to rely and depend on Christ and the power of His Holy Spirit. Are you without a shepherd? If so, ask Jesus to shepherd you. He promised He would.  36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” He has given us all these metaphors, analogies, symbols and stories to help us understand the truth about who He is and what He is for us. Trust Him.

Water of Life

December 17, 2011

Once more, I affirm that “A picture is worth a thousand words”. Metaphors create images or pictures in our mind that help us understand facts, features or principles. As such, the Word of God is replete with metaphors, analogies and symbols. God strategically places them in His Word to explain spiritual or heavenly matters in a manner in which those concepts may be understood them better. Jesus himself explains the use of metaphors, analogies and symbols in John 3:12 which says, “I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?”

The heavenly things are reflective of the mind and will of God. God desires for man to know Him and His way/will; therefore, God, again the epitome of the greatest teacher, meets us where we are. He addresses us at our own level; yet He differentiates our experience with Him based on our personality, willingness and level of faith.  Let’s look at what Titus 2:11-14 tells us about God using metaphors, analogies or symbols to teach us.

11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Since God’s grace teaches us to say not to sin what picture can accurately capture what that means for us? How can our understanding be deepened and contextualized? Being able to say no to sin allows God to purify for himself a people who are his very own.  Those who are eager to do good. Since of doing good relates to us being responsive to God when we want to do what we want – that is to sin, we must become responsive live clay is to the potter. Consider for a moment that clay, once dug up and exposed to the air, is hard, inflexible and friable; however, when water is added to clay, it becomes malleable able to be shaped into whatever the potter desires. Likewise, the Word tells us that we are made of the dust of the ground, but once born of the water, to be born again, we, like clay, become pliable to His hand, so that He can shape us as His will has determined – like Christ.

For us, we are old clay. For those used of God, we are first broken and crushed before He adds the water of life to fashion us into what He wants us to be.

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him 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.” John 4:13-15

Jesus has given Himself to redeem us and to make us useful for the Kingdom of God.