Archive for June, 2014

God’s Shepherd and God’s Sheep

June 28, 2014

20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’

Okay, I know that I may be reaching hear, but Matthew 7:20-22 is the verse that came to mind when I was reading this morning for today’s post out of John 10. The passage above has to do with true and false disciples. Imitations should not be anything new to us. We see them in the form of perfume, shoes, purses, cars and even cloning is being pursued. Regardless, we know that people often try to pass the imitation off as the real thing. Again, my personal belief is that what Jesus said in Matthew 7 is the same implication in John 10 where Jesus was differentiating between Himself, the Good Shepherd, and the Pharisees, the hired hand and supposed leaders of the day. Jesus was also differentiating between those who know him and those who do not. In Matthew 7, Jesus said you would know them by their fruit. Here in John 10, one fruit of knowing Jesus is the ability to hear and respond to his voice (3-5) whereas the imitation sheep will not know, hear and respond to His voice.  Jesus lays out characteristics of God’s Shepherd and God’s Sheep.

John 10

 “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.

First in verse 3, we see God’s sheep listen to his voice. Again, Jesus is contrasting His sheep against the imitation sheep, those who claim to know God but do not exhibit the characteristics of true sheep. God’s sheep listen to His voice and imitation sheep don’t. Maybe I am misreading the text, but it appears to me that Jesus is Isn’t it ironic the first widely reported cloned complex organism was a sheep, Dolly. I am just saying – uhhhmmmm.

Jesus says that He calls His own sheep by name and He leads them out. When you call someone by name, it shows that you personally know them. Jesus was saying that my sheep are precious and personal to me. They know me because I know them by name. I am excited that Jesus knows me by name. I am even more excited that Jesus says He leads His sheep. Leading connotes a care and a known destination for the sheep. Sheep are led to a pasture to eat and away from danger. I am not sure what circumstances or events that you may be facing now, but I am facing a change of direction vocationally. It is so comforting and peaceful to know that Jesus is leading me to pastures to feed me and away from danger. He is taking me to the place that is best for me. As my Shepherd, He is committed to doing what is best for me as He is for all who are His sheep.

In John 9, Jesus brought out His own sheep from the fold of sheep in Jerusalem. The Pharisees were not His sheep. Jesus was clear in saying that they did not know Him. He was also deliberate in showing the progression of how the blind man whom He healed came to know Him. He brought out His sheep, the blind man, from among many others. The Pharisees thought in their hearts that they really knew God, but Jesus tells them they are mistaken. When God’s Shepherd calls the sheep, He goes on ahead of them as God has always done. God tells us so in Deuteronomy 31:8 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” As I was leaving my job, some teachers gave me a sign that reads, “Don’t be afraid of tomorrow; God is always there. God will not lead us to where He is not and where He can deliver us.

Standing on God’s Word helps the sheep know His voice. When sheep heard their shepherd, they knew his voice. To illustrate that, I once read that in the common sheepfolds of ancient times, the shepherd merely gave his distinctive call and his sheep came out from the others, following him out of the sheepfold. Sheep are experts at discerning their shepherd’s voice. Listen to this commentary about a shepherd and his sheep who knew his voice. “During World War I, some Turkish soldiers tried to steal a flock of sheep from a hillside near Jerusalem. The shepherd, who had been sleeping, awoke to find his flock being driven off. He couldn’t recapture them by force, so he called out to his flock with his distinctive call. The sheep listened, and returned to their rightful owner. The soldiers couldn’t stop the sheep from returning to their shepherd’s voice.” Do you know when you are being carried off by thieves and robbers? Do you know when the shepherd calls you to return to Him? Each day, sin assails us. Sin wants to carry us off, but the Spirit of God calls to us to avoid that sin. We must hear and know His voice to avoid that trespass. More than that, Jesus was speaking of calling His sheep from this world to follow Him and escape a life riddled and entrapped by sin.

Jesus says a true sheep will never follow a stranger. In fact, Jesus says, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice. This is a spiritual stranger danger. How many times do we cry stranger danger when enticed by our sinful desires? Jesus is referring to following false teachers whom the Pharisees represented. Jesus was saying to them that my disciples will never follow you because they know my voice and they know that you are a stranger.

There is so much more in this passage about God’s Shepherd and God’s Sheep. I wanted to whet our appetites regarding the great position we are in. Remember, God’s Shepherd always goes before us as he leads us in loving care to the places that are ripe for our next stage of development. I know that God is leading me to the place that will bring Him the greatest glory and my greatest good for this next phase of my life. I am one of God’s Sheep because I have trusted in God’s Shepherd, Jesus Christ, for my salvation. Where are you? More importantly, are you one of God’s Sheep?

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Are We a Thief or Shepherd?

June 26, 2014

In the post Are You A Fence Hopper?, the motive and means of how one accesses property was presented. Jesus presented that those who seek to enter an enclosed area bordered by a fence by climbing/hopping the fence is a thief and a robber. Today, Jesus presents a different perspective. The one who enters the enclosed area by the gate or door is one who has been granted permission to enter as well as entrusted to care for what property is within the fence.

John 10:1-3

“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

The contrast of motives and means is in sharp contrast already in the passage. In reviewing the motive, we see the one who enters the sheep pen by climbing/hopping the fence is characterized as a thief and a robber. He comes to take what is not his. Whereas, the one who enters the sheep pen by the gate is characterized as the shepherd of the sheep. The robber/thief’s motive is to care for himself while the shepherd’s motive is to care for the sheep. The robber is selfish while the shepherd is selfless. One does not have authority while the other has authority. Because the shepherd is involved with proper possession, the sheep listen to his voice. Not only so, the shepherd knows the sheep by name. The implication is that the thief does not know the sheep by name nor will they listen to the thief/robber. The intimacy and personableness indicated by the shepherd knowing the names of the sheep further conveys his personal interest and stake in the sheep. The sheep represent the property being protected by the fence. They are within the sheep pen for protection which the shepherd is committed to providing. He has assumed ownership/responsibility for the sheep, but the thief/robber does not intend to care for them in that manner since he does not know them by name.

In terms of the means to enter, you have one who enters the sheep pen by climbing/hopping the fence – the thief and robber. The thief does not have permission to enter the sheep pen. Conversely, you have one who enters the sheep pen by the gate which the gatekeeper opens for him – the shepherd. The shepherd has permission to enter the sheep pen as the gatekeeper opens the gate for him.  Presumably, the gatekeeper is the rightful owner of the sheep or at least has been given the authority to act in that manner. There is right way to do everything. The thief does not go about taking possession of the sheep in the right way. His motive is wrong.

How do our motives and means compare as it relates to the things of God? Are we like the thief and robber who is only concerned about himself? What are we taking from God that does not belong to us? Is it the time, talent or tithe that He gives? Is it neglecting our role in assisting in building the kingdom of God, or are our actions prompted out of selflessness as we seek to attend to the things of God? Where are we? Do we tend to our wants and desires or to God’s. Let’s examine our motives and means to determine Are We a Thief or Shepherd?

Are You A Fence Hopper?

June 25, 2014

When I was a kid, there were times that I entered the yards of people in the neighborhood. Those times included going to get a ball that had landed in their yard or going to some other place in the neighborhood where their yard was a short-cut. In some cases, those neighbors has fences. In order for me to accomplish my objective, I had to jump their fence. There times that I asked, but most of the time I did not ask. By jumping the fence, I clearly demonstrated that I did not belong in their yard. Without permission, I appeared to be in their yard for mischief because I jumped the fence.  I had to ask Are You A Fence Hopper?

Like those neighbors, God has a fence. A fence is designed to protect and to signal that the area and property inside the fence is off-limits; it is to mark a boundary. Based on my life alone, we know that intrusions happen. In a spiritual sense, Jesus talks about property inside His fence. Jesus also makes a declaration about the people who enter the area without going through the gate – a fence jumper/hopper if you will. Jesus was asking Are You A Fence Hopper?

Listen to what Jesus says..

John 10:1

 “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. (NIV)

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. (NKJV)

Jesus is continuing His conversation with the Pharisees who had asserted that Jesus was not of God like them. In making the statement in verse one, Jesus is saying whoever enters the pen/fence by the gate of the pen/fence is the person who belongs. If one climbs, jumps or hops the fence, he is a thief and robber. Not only was Jesus asking Are You A Fence Hopper?, He was declaring to the Pharisees that they were not in the pen/fence of God. While they should be encouraging and leading people to God as the religious leaders of the day, they were preventing people from worshiping God in truth. Remember in John 9, the Pharisees kicked the healed blind man out of the synagogue for stating the truth about how he had been healed by Jesus. Moreover, the blind man challenged their assertions about the authenticity of Jesus’ work in his life.

Jesus is asking us this morning Are You A Fence Hopper?  Are you attempting to enter into a relationship with God or enter into heaven as a fence hopper? As Jesus would go on to say further in the chapter and book, He is the gate (v7,9) or the way (John 14:6). We must enter through Him. We only have access to the Father through Jesus, the Son, so I ask you Are You A Fence Hopper?

The Blind and The Seeing

June 24, 2014

In a spiritual sense, there are two types of people – The Blind and The Seeing. There are those who fail to see God as He presents Himself in the Word and in the lives of those whom He works. We have been in John where this has been evident in the Pharisees – the religious leaders of the day. They were supposed to be able to lead people in the truth of God, but as Jesus says, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, 29 but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.” (John 7) The Pharisees, and all who don’t know God, are blind because they do not believe that Jesus is from God, is the Son of God and is God. Jesus said, they are committed to the work of their father, the devil, and they want to carry out their father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. He is a liar and the father of lies. The Pharisees have asked about God’s work. Jesus told them that “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” in John 6:29.

John 9

39 Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”

40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”

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

In addressing the Pharisees, Jesus tells them plainly why He came into the world. Jesus came to make the blind see – that is to open the spiritual eyes of man who man would believe in God and that God sent Jesus to reestablish relationship with man. Jesus also came to blind those who claimed to see. Their claim is to know God or to have spiritual sight but truly become blind because they fail to believe in Jesus.

Matthew Henry says, “This great truth he (Jesus) explains by a metaphor borrowed from the miracle which he had lately wrought. That those who see not might see, and that those who see might be made blind. Such a difference of Christ’s coming is often spoken of; to some his gospel is a savour of life unto life, to others of death unto death. (1.) This is applicable to nations and people, that the Gentiles, who had long been destitute of the light of divine revelation, might see it; and the Jews, who had long enjoyed it, might have the things of their peace hid from their eyes, Hos. 1:10; 2:23. The Gentiles see a great light, while blindness is happened unto Israel, and their eyes are darkened.” In more simplistic terms, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Notice how the Pharisees responded to Jesus explanation of The Blind and The Seeing“What? Are we blind too?” They understood what Jesus meant; yet, they still did not understand that they were blind because they did not believe in Jesus; however, Jesus provides clarity and challenges their prevailing thought. Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains. Since you say insinuate that you are not blind and can see, Jesus plainly tells them you are guilty of sin. Because they will not believe in Jesus and be set free from sin, their guilt remains with the impending consequence of their sin.

The only difference between The Blind and The Seeing is their belief about Jesus, but that makes all the difference. Jesus sets free those who trust in Him as Savior, Lord, and Son of God. The truth about a person coming to Christ in John 6:44 is paramount. We see that we are totally incapable of coming to God on our own. God must empower us to come to Christ. God must give us the faith to believe, but when confronted with the truth by God or His people, we cannot ignore or deny the truth. The Pharisees were more concerned about being in power than they were about following Jesus.

That is the true difference between The Blind and The Seeing.The Blind see Jesus as a hindrance and obstacle to their own priorities where as The Seeing see Jesus as their priority who allows them to overcome hindrances. Which are you, The Blind and The Seeing? If you don’t believe that Jesus is from God and is God then you are blind according to what Jesus says in John 9.

Do You Believe in the Son of Man?

June 23, 2014

In the post Marks of a True Witness, the initial evidences of one believing in Jesus was presented. Today in John 9, we see Jesus bring the evidence to a close. Jesus asks the blind man whom He had healed Do You Believe in the Son of Man? It is the same question that He is asking the world today. Tomorrow, we will see Jesus contrast the manner in which people respond to who He is.  Let’s see the text in John 9

35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

36 “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”

37 Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”

38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.

First, I want us to note the care Jesus had of the healed blind man. When the Pharisees threw him out of the synagogue, the place of worship for the Jews as well as their sense of belonging, Jesus sought him out and found him. The blind man was thrown out because he stood up for the truth of Jesus’ work. He was a witness  (v30-34) of what Jesus had done in his life. When we do what’s right for Jesus, He will do what’s right for us. He will contend for us.

Now, let’s deal with our understanding of the term Son of Man. There is much debate about term “The Son of Man”; however, most popular biblical and scholarly perspectives presented by Christian ideology is that Jesus used the term “Son of Man” to lay claim to his Messiahship and as a means to connect the enigmatic figure prophesied in Daniel 7. There, The Son of Man is equated to being God because He originates in the heavens, comes on clouds and came by God’s prompting or causing. The expression “son of man” is used sixty-nine times in the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) and twelve times in the Gospel of John to refer to Christ. It is the title Jesus most often used of Himself. The Son of Man is equated to the Son of God i.e. God’s Son, the second person in the trinity of God The Father, God The Son and God The Holy Spirit.

Pastor John Piper describes it as such. “The more sophisticated and important historical insight is that the term “Son of Man” doesn’t merely align him with humanity. It is probably taken from Daniel 7. And if you read that chapter you’ll see that the Son of Man is a very exalted figure: not just a human figure but an exalted figure. It was Jesus’ favorite self-designation. I think the reason he did so is because, on the face of it, Son of Man is an ordinary phrase for “human being.” He was born of a man. And there’s no offense there: who isn’t a son of man? But those with ears to hear could hear Daniel 7, in which he was claiming a very exalted role in the history of redemption. And he meant to do it. Jesus was very subtle in that he was always opening his identity to those with eyes to see, but he wasn’t opening it so blatantly that everybody would come and make him king. He had to steer a very narrow course in disclosing his identity, not just openly saying, “I’m the Messiah, I’m the King of the World. Come and acknowledge me as King.” He didn’t talk like that.”

Now that we have some background knowledge of what we strongly believe Jesus was saying when He asked the healed blind man Do You Believe in the Son of Man?, let’s see how the blind man responded to Jesus’ question.

36 “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”

The blind man, obviously understanding the reference in Jewish tradition of Daniel 7, asks Jesus to tell him who the Messiah, the Son of God is, so he can believe in him.

37 Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”

When we want to know the truth about Jesus in our inquiry of Him, He answers.

38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.

In this second encounter with Jesus, the healed man’s faith moves from a general confidence in Jesus’ godly mission to a joyful acceptance of Him as the Messiah, worthy to be worshiped (Ligonier). This is the last mark of a true witness – one who worships Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God.

Guzik tells us that “Jesus calls on the healed man him to fully believe, and he does. When the healed man declared his loyalty to Jesus by sticking by Him before the hostile Pharisees, he was rewarded when Jesus revealed more of Himself to him –You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.

Today, God, through His Word and me, is asking you Do You Believe in the Son of Man? If you do, do like the healed blind man and worship Jesus in word and deed.

 

Marks of a True Witness

June 21, 2014

Giving testimony about who Jesus is and what Jesus has done for you is The Value of Following God’s Directions II. It is also a sign of those who are on the verge of living solely for Jesus. In John 9, this fact is evidenced in God’s commentary about the Pharisees and that of the healed blind man. Let’s take a look at the Marks of a True Witness. John 9

13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. 15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”

16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”

But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided.

17 Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”

The man replied, “He is a prophet.”

18 They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. 19 “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?”

20 “We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. 21 But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23 That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”

25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

26 Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”

27 He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?”

28 Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”

30 The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”

The blind man believed Jesus and acted on his faith. The Pharisees could easily see, pun intended, that the man who was blind could truly see; yet, they refused to believe Jesus had healed the man. Instead of believing Jesus, they attempted to discredit Jesus’ work by stating He healed on the sabbath. In Jewish history, the sabbath, from when God created the world and rested on the seventh day, was kept holy by people emulating what God did on the sabbath. note: God did not rest on the Sabbath because He was tired. He did so as an example modeling for mankind the cycle of labor and rest. Mankind is exhorted to participate in it (Ex. 31:17), and to look forward to the eternal redemptive sabbath rest (Heb. 4:3–10). Matthew Henry wrote, the solemn observance of one day in seven, as a day of holy rest and holy work, to God’s honour, is the indispensable duty of all those to whom God has revealed his holy sabbaths. The problem here was that Pharisees were not attempting to honor God just themselves. We know in Mark 2, Jesus says, “27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

It appears that I went off on a tangent, but I wanted to illustrate the depth of the Pharisees’ effort to discredit Jesus. They went all the way back to creation. Jesus had made assertions that He was from God and was God. In their response, they were trying to say that He could not have been since He did not honor the first thing that God instituted or evoked holiness, the sabbath. Despite their efforts to discredit Jesus, others stated that “How can a sinner perform such signs?” That caused a division, so they asked the blind man again about his testimony of who he thought Jesus was. He said a prophet. While his understanding of Jesus was not yet fully developed as we see in v. 38, this true witness did not attempt to discredit Jesus but gave him the glory he was aware of at the time.

The depth of their disbelief and failure surfaces as they summons the blind man’s parents to verify if he was indeed their son who once was blind but now sees. They verified that he was their son, but they wanted to distance themselves from giving testimony because they, like the Pharisees, did not believe Jesus. They valued the praise and association of man over God which was not so with their son.

The Pharisees’ utter disbelief rises again as they ask the blind man again who healed him. They continued to try to discredit Jesus. Listen: “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.” They insinuated that the blind man’s original testimony about Jesus was not true, so they give glory to God by telling the truth. That was the ironic thing. They did not believe the truth. The blind man responded to them 25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” Again, a true witness testifies about what he knows as true.  I was blind but now I see.

Once again, the Pharisees do not believe. 26 Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?” After they can’t get the blind man to deny the truth or lie, they begin to discredit him. 28 Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.” But the blind man now all of a sudden begins to speak to them in authority of the Word to rebuke their thinking.

The Marks of a True Witness are that they believe Jesus and act on what He says; they give testimony about what Jesus/God does in their lives; their testimony about Jesus does not waver but remains constant even in the face of hardships; they stand on scripture as a defense of who God is and what He has done in their lives.

Where are you? Can you see the Marks of a True Witness evidenced in your life?

 

God’s Reminder of His Power

June 20, 2014

On July 21, 2013, I wrote this post – God’s Reminder. Today, I got a reminder from a buddy of mine, Charles. He sent me the devotion that comes out from his church. The verse for this post is a verse that God whispered to me over a week ago. Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 (NIV). The verse, as I heard it from God was from Luke 18:27 “Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.””

God gave me that verse last week to remind me that He Is Able where I am not able. Today, I know some financial, relational, and vocational odds that seem insurmountable for me, but God Is Able.  I am not sure what impossibilities you are facing today, but I wanted to share with you that God is always reminding us of who He is and what He can do. Ten years ago today my son, Darron, was born on Father’s Day. When he was born, God told me that He chose Father’s Day as a reminder to both my son and I. God told me that He wanted me to remember that He is my Father who loves me and cares for me. He wanted my son to know that his Father in heaven chose Father’s Day as a sign and reminder that he was special and important, so important that He chose that day for my son.

My son’s birth is God’s Reminder of His Power, but God’s Word is a greater reminder of who God is and His power.Let me give you a few examples of God proclaiming just that to His people.

Genesis 18:14

14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

Job 42:2

“I know that you can do all things;
    no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

Jeremiah 32:17

17 “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.

Matthew 19:26

26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Luke 1:37

37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

Luke 18:27

27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

Romans 4:21

21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

 

God’s Reminder of His Power of too numerous for us to recount; however, God wants us to remember that God Is Able. God has made many promises to those who have trusted in Him through faith in Jesus Christ. I am not sure what you have faced, are facing or will face. Regardless, God wants us to know that what is impossible with man is possible with God. My life, my marriage, my children, my health, my this or that and you are examples of what is possible with God.

Go with God today and forever. Remember Jesus’ Words in John 8:12

12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

The Value of Following God’s Directions II

June 19, 2014

In yesterday’s post, The Value of Following God’s Directions, I shared that the Word of God is full of wisdom, insight and direction. We must make a decision to honor The Value of Following God’s Directions. As with the blind man in John 9, many of us have been plagued with limiting conditions all our lives. God has provided directions to us, but we must, as He said in John 8:31-32, abide, keep or hold to His teaching then we are really His disciples. Then we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free.

The Value of Following God’s Directions II is beyond attending to our issue. It is about God working in us to create a witness of His grace and mercy. When we give testimony to what God has done in our lives, we perpetuate is purpose and plan of bringing glory to Jesus and drawing man to a closer relationship with God. Well, man has been exposed to another opportunity to establish or deepen his relationship with God.

In The Value of Following God’s Directions II, we see the testimony of the blind man whom Jesus healed after a lifetime of being blind. This account is in John 9.

His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” Some claimed that he was.

Others said, “No, he only looks like him.”

But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”

10 “How then were your eyes opened?” they asked.

11 He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.”

12 “Where is this man?” they asked him.

“I don’t know,” he said.

13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. 15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”

When allowed, Jesus changes the path and course of our lives. When a true conversion occurs, people will identify the old way of life in comparison with the new way of life. Here, the focus is on a physical change. He used to be blind and begging. Now, the man can now see and is moving about without the aid of others. Jesus’ primary goal is for us to experience and spiritual change where we become a new creation.

The Value of Following God’s Directions II, the new creation, is captured in 2 Corinthians 5:17 which says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” The notion is that you now live for Christ and not for yourselves. In Galatians 2:20, Paul describes this new life in this way – “20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” 

While the blind man in John 9 was a new creation physically, it all points to God, through Christ, creating in us new creates designed to give testimony about what Christ did in our lives. The change may be so drastic that people don’t recognize or believe what Jesus has done. They asked the man how is it that your eyes are open i.e. how can you see now. He told who did it, Jesus. He told them how Jesus did it, with mud and washing.

Now, the Pharisees were looking for Jesus but He was nowhere to be found. Contrast that with the blind man. The blind man was not looking for Jesus; yet, Jesus found him. In this, Jesus shows that there are some who give the appearance that they are searching for Him, the light, but really they do not want to see. Their motives are wrong all while there are those who cannot see, spiritually, but Jesus finds them. Then, Jesus creates a new creation and sends them off to give testimony about Him.

Giving testimony about who Jesus is and what Jesus has done for you is The Value of Following God’s Directions II. Has Jesus transformed you into a new creation? Has He made you anew in your spirit transforming who you are by renewing your mind after regenerating your heart? If your answers are yes, Jesus, as well as the Father, expects you to give testimony about what God has done in your life. Join the blind man in giving testimony to Jesus, the Savior.

The Value of Following God’s Directions

June 18, 2014

As a boy, I heard from adults all the time about the value of following directions. I used to hear that one day it could save your life. Guess what, one day turned into several days. I can think of several incidents when following the voice of an adult, usually my momma’s, assuredly saved my life. At a minimum, I was kept safe. All incidents of following directions did not have such life-threatening implications but were important all the same. I remember things as mundane as keep a dime in your pocket. You never know when you might have to call me. (this was before cell phones. we used pay phones). She also said, “eat before you go to someone’s house. You want to always be prepared if they don’t offer you anything”. I have been to plenty of people’s houses for an event and there was nothing to eat for a couple of hours. Had I not heeded that direction, I would have been hungry. We could go on and on about direction that we received from our parents or other adults. We could go on about directions that we have received since becoming adults. Regardless of when, we recognize how high the stakes are for our lives.

The stakes are raised though when it refers to The Value of Following God’s Directions. While my mom and other adults are important, their words cannot compare to the value of God’s Word. God, more than any mother, has an unselfish, uncompromising and unadulterated love for man; yet, we, like children to our parents, do not always follow directions. Enough of us already. Let’s get to Jesus and find out The Value of Following God’s Directions. We turn again to John 9.

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

I am not sure if you struggle with your vision, but I do. I can’t imagine not ever seeing the beauty of God’s creation whether in nature or in the faces of people we love; a beautiful sunset at the beach; a smile from a child when you are concerned; a rainbow in the sky after the storm; a soldier viewing a family picture while in war. Regardless, our sight is very important to us. Spiritual vision is even more important as it lights our way. There are so many directions that God has provided in His Word. The blind man knew of his struggle. He wanted to overcome it, so he listened to the directions that Jesus gave him. Our problem is that we don’t recognize our struggle in many instances, so we don’t adhere to directions that God has given us to overcome our struggles. When we do hear, how often to we question the sensibility of what we heard.

I am sure that he did not envision himself regaining his sight by performing a routine duty of washing in a pool. We sensationalize everything with God. It has to be big. It has to be awe-inspiring. It has to be noticed. No! It does not. Jesus did not make some eloquent statement. He did not perform the miracle in a way that caused amazement. It was an obscure, some might even say uncouth, gesture in the blind man’s healing process. First, notice the man did not see Jesus. Jesus saw him in his condition. Jesus came to the man. Jesus took action. Then told the man to take action – go, wash in the pool of Siloam. The healing only came after the man followed Jesus’ direction. To follow, we must have faith in what someone says. In this case, it was Jesus, the Son of God and God incarnate that was talking to the blind man. What has Jesus been talking to you about in the midst of your challenge?

The Word of God is full of wisdom, insight and direction. We must make a decision to honor The Value of Following God’s Directions. As with the blind man, many of us have been plagued with limiting conditions all our lives. God has provided directions to us, but we must, as He said in John 8:31-32, abide, keep or hold to His teaching then we are really His disciples. Then we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free. Jesus wants to set us all free from physical, relational, societal, financial, and spiritual chains. We simply need to understand The Value of Following God’s Directions, and just follow Him. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Do you see The Value of Following God’s Directions? If so, follow Him and be set free.

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

June 17, 2014

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People? is a very common question, but it has the wrong presupposition.  That question presupposes that man is right in assuming that he is good, and God is wrong saying that man isn’t good.  That question supposes that man does not deserve what ills are referred to at the time of those statements. 

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People? It may pain some you to find out that there are no good people.  Luke 18:19 says, “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.” (crf). Romans 3:10-12 says, “10 As it is written:“There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” That is a reference to Psalm 14 where God addressed the presupposition of the goodness of man. It says, “The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.” Well, we see God’s judgment in the matter “All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.As Matthew Henry said, “Whatever good is in any of the children of men, or is done by them, it is not of themselves; it is God’s work in them. When God had made the world he looked upon his own work, and all was very good (Gen. 1:31); but, some time after, he looked upon man’s work, and, behold, all was very bad (Gen. 6:5), every operation.” He also said, “Sin is the disease of mankind, and it appears here to be malignant and epidemic.” Mr. Henry’s assertion is supported by Titus 1:16 which says, “16 They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.” Any time that we doubt the character of God we have demonstrated atheistic behavior. There are no good people; therefore, we must lay aside our claim to deserve good from God.

As if that was not enough, let’s explore Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People? through what Jesus says in John 9.

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

The disciples believed that a person’s condition was the result of the sin of the person or his/her parents even though the person was blind from birth. That suggests that the disciples understood that sin is present in the nature of man even before man is born.  Jesus had established the corruptible nature of man way back in the Old Testament. Time after time man evidenced that man does not trust God nor wants to follow Him. Here, Jesus is not confirming that declaration of the goodness of man. Jesus is answering the question that all of us have thought at one time or another. Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Let’s remember that some of our hardships or sufferings come as a result of our disobedience. This is not the case in with the blind man in John 9. This account indicates that some of our hardships or sufferings, like those of Job, come as a reason for God to reveal His glory and for our good. We are either made healthier spiritually, i.e. grow in our faith, or we are healed as in this case with the blind man. Either way, the result is the same – for God to be glorified and for man to work to tell the world about the light of the world. In our hardship or suffering, we do not always know God’s specific purpose in it, but we do know that God assures us that His purpose for the hardship or suffering is good (Rom. 8:28).

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People? It happens to reveal God’s glory and for our good.  Let me leave you with 2 Corinthians 4

The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you…17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Don’t be blind. See the light of the world which is the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ who being God gave Himself so that we can become right with God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)