Archive for January, 2015

Scattered, Smothered and Covered

January 31, 2015

No doubt the title of this post is a familiar phrase to those who have eaten a the Waffle House chain of restaurants. For those who do not know, the Waffle House uses the phrase Scattered, Smothered and Covered to describe one way that hash browns can be prepared. Scattered conveys that the potatoes are thinly sliced and spread out. Smothered tells us that the potatoes are covered in sautéed onions. Covered describes that the potatoes and onions are covered with cheese. It might sound delicious to you, but I don’t like hash browns, so why the reference.

As I began reading 1 Peter 1 this morning to hear the voice of God, He spoke quickly. In fact, I did not make it off the first verse before I had the foundation of today’s post. In previous posts, I have shared that God can reveal infinite truths from the same passage. The bible says the Word of God is living and active. While definitely inerrant, infallible and immutable, the Word of God is still dynamic. The Word of God is not static in the sense that the same meaning is gained from reading the same passage every time. God uses His Word to speak to where we are in all of our being. To evidence this fact, I have read this passage before. I never thought about Scattered, Smothered and Covered.

1 Peter 1 begins with the following texts

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance. (NIV)

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:  Grace to you and peace be multiplied. (NKJV)

In relation to the text, Scattered, Smothered and Covered means something totally different from what Waffle House intended. Scattered refers to the scattering of the believers, God’s elect, due to persecution. This notion originally started in Jerusalem when the followers of Jesus were scattered because of the persecution of the Jewish followers of Jesus. Now speaking to Gentiles believers, Peter acknowledges that they too share in the faith of Christ being scattered throughout region he references. Many have proposed that Peter was in Rome when he wrote this letter because of the references to Babylon. For ages, many have agreed that Nero, attempting to prevent a revolt of the people of Rome for supposing he burned the city, blamed Christians for starting the fire. To add validity to his accusation, Nero began a series of persecutions to the believers of Christ.

Of the Christians in Rome at that time, Steadman wrote many “were dipped in tar and burned as torches to light the gardens of Nero when he threw an outdoor party. They were tied to his chariot and dragged through the streets of Rome until they were dead. They were thrown to the lions; they were tied up in leather bags and thrown into water so that when the leather bags shrank, the Christians were squeezed to death. In a hundred other delicate ways, Nero sought to impress upon them the folly of being Christians. Now it was during this time of the outbreak of the persecution of Christians in Rome that the apostle Peter wrote this letter. And he wrote it, most scholars believe, in Rome to “the exiles,” he says, or “the strangers in dispersion:”

Believers were scattered because of persecutions. I am not sure why you may be experiencing some hardship, trial or persecution, but God has always used the spreading of His people to spread His Word, His Way, His Jesus. God takes those things that change people’s local to proclaim who He is. Peter wrote this letter to God’s elect, those chosen by God to receive salvation, to encourage them in their hard times. Peter could certainly identify with persecution. He saw it firsthand with Jesus’ crucifixion then with the followers of Christ in Jerusalem. He was told of his own hardship and ultimate persecution in John 21:19. Nevertheless, Peter persevered. Now, he is telling other believers to persevere the scattering.

While Smothered and Covered are not explicitly stated in this text, it is implied. Believers are smothered by the Spirit of God. It is the Spirit of God who sanctifies us in conjunction the Word of God. Of the believer in Jesus Christ, 1 Peter 1 says “who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.” The Spirit of God is to extinguish our own sinfulness along with our faith in Christ to extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. Through our faith in Christ, it is the Spirit of God who uses the Word of God to suffocate, suppress and to extinguish the fire of sin in our lives. He Himself becomes the fire from which our lives now burn.

Similarly for covered, the text also says “sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.” For the believer, we are Covered by the blood of Jesus. We know that it is by the blood of Jesus that we have been brought near to God and have confidence to enter in the Most Holy Place to fellowship with God. Woven in scripture is the pairing of blood and peace. It is Jesus blood that covers the believer imputing His righteousness and supplying His peace to him who believes in Jesus. Listen to Hebrews 1320 Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Finally, Revelation tells us “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

As a believer, you may be going through a difficult time. You may have been relocated either physically or ideologically, but God’s plan is for you to share Jesus where you are. It is through Jesus’ humiliation, persecution and suffering that we are free. Our lives will conform to Christ’s. Considering all that has been said, I trust that you too will be Scattered, Smothered and Covered. Trust Jesus, the Son of God, for salvation, and you will be Scattered, Smothered and Covered to the glory of God.

Hope for an Inheritance

January 27, 2015

There aren’t any people who I know who do not have use for additional resources for living especially money. Huge battles have taken place over inheritances. All we have to do is just listen to the news about who is fighting over what was left to them by a father or husband. As a relative of a father or husband, people feel entitled to what that person left. They battle because of the Hope for an Inheritance.

Hope for an Inheritance is big in the bible too. In the Holy Bible, inheritance is used 239 times in 203 verses of the KJV. Inheritance occurs 242 times in 217 verses in the NIV. Inheritance occurs 208 times in 176 verses in the ESV. In the Old Testament, inheritance (nachalah) means taking possession, occupation of any thing; to have a share or portion of some thing. In the New Testament, inheritance (klēronomia) means property received by inheritance; what is given to one as a possession. In Christendom, inheritance is the share which an individual will have in that eternal blessedness, the eternal blessedness of the consummated kingdom of God which is to be expected after the visible return of Christ. For those who know Jesus, it is not money but Jesus and the Kingdom of God that is our inheritance.

Money, despite its usefulness, is not the end all and cure-all. God reserves that place for Himself. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. Fortunately for us, He is also the one who will take us from the beginning to the end and beyond. As benefactor, God is both Father and Husband of His people; therefore, He is in position to provide an inheritance as He promised which is A Living Hope for those who trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior. This is what Peter was discussing in 1 Peter 1.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, (NIV)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, (NKJV)

In contrast to money or property that are given as inheritances in this world, our true inheritance is 1. incorruptible contrast to corruptible nature of things on earth. 2. undefiled contrasts with our life and world at the fall of man became tainted by sin. 3. does not fade away contrasts with riches and possession in this world which gets old and the novelty wears away. 4. reserved in heaven for you contrasts with the things of this world which anyone can have, but the treasure of heaven is reserved for those who know God through Jesus as Lord and Savior.

There is so much more about our inheritance. Believers should be trust God not man as they Hope for an Inheritance.

A Living Hope

January 25, 2015

In Christendom, there are a number of exclusive claims for which we hold. First and foremost, Christ is God incarnate. In Christ, there is no other name in which salvation is found. All other Christian beliefs hinge on the fact that Christ is God. While that exclusive claim rest in the Christian faith, there are many other principles that are universal among those who express faith in a god as well as those who do not. Hope is one of those universal principles that all people ascribe. Below are a variety of beliefs about hope.
  • Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.  Desmond Tutu
  • Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.  Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.  Vaclav Havel
  • Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.  Robert H. Schuller
  • Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.

    Joseph Addison
  • What gives me the most hope every day is God’s grace; knowing that his grace is going to give me the strength for whatever I face, knowing that nothing is a surprise to God.  Rick Warren

People readily acknowledge that circumstances abound that verify our limited ability or control. In those moments, we hope. There are events that happen in life which are beyond our control. When our car breaks down, we call a mechanic. When those things happen, all we can do is appeal to those who have the authority or power to make a change in those circumstances or in us. When our house is about to be foreclosed, we appeal to lenders or those committed to helping keep their home. When our health fails, we seek out the best doctor or medical specialist to bring us back to health. I could go on and on, but you get the idea that in those moments we hope.

When life’s circumstances spiral beyond the control of any man, what do we do? Hope that is centered in best case scenarios are not enough. Hope in most cases are essential wishes or expectations that are not root by anything of substance or certainty. In Christ though, we find another exclusive about hope. In 1 Peter 1:3, we learn that God has called us to A Living Hope. With A Living Hope, our hopes can’t be dashed if we are truly trusting in God. The hope of living eternally is a hope that has been pursued perhaps as long as man has lived. In Christ, Peter tells us

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Now, there is so much in this passage, but I want to focus on the fact that Peter tells us that we have been given birth into A Living Hope in Jesus Christ. Peter could give personal testimony about the living hope amid his darkest moments in life – the crucifixion of his Jesus. If we recall the disciples, they lost hope as evidenced by their fear and hiding. What brought them out of their fear and hiding, Let’s let Jesus tell us from John 20:19-20

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.

The resurrection of Jesus. 1 Peter 1:3 says,”Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” Peter let us into his life and his experience of Jesus serving as his living hope. Peter tells us that the essence and substance of our hope is Jesus Christ. We who profess Christ do not have an empty hope or a hope rooted in best wishes. We have a hope established by the power of God of which Jesus is.

A Living Hope is Jesus who offers Himself to all who would believe. Do you want a different hope? Do you want to see the gospel come alive. Trust in Jesus who can redeem not only your circumstance but more importantly your soul and mind.

From Where Do You Expect Your Help?

January 23, 2015

I have been thinking about the memory verse, Psalm 121:1-2, for several days now. It was the first of verses from this passage that our church is learning. As I sat in church on Wednesday night, God asked me From Where Do You Expect Your Help? Of course, it was a rhetorical question because He already knew the answer. That’s what God does. He asks us things to awaken our consciousness to the truth and our response to it. In John 17:17, Jesus said, “your word is truth.” God is always moving us toward adherence to His Word. His goal for those who call Christ Lord and Savior is conformity with the purpose of his will. His will is for us to be conformed to the image of his Son, Jesus.

How does Psalm 121:1-2 answer the question From Where Do You Expect Your Help? Listen and hear the Word of the God.

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth. (NKJV)

Simply put, God challenged me with why I am most often frustrated, angry and disappointed. He shared with me that I put people, specifically those I love the most, at the center of my expectation for help. Throughout the scriptures, God is clear that He is our help. Psalm 46 is one passage that has always been a favorite of mine. Let me give you a taste of it.

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging

If we really think about, when is our life not full of trouble or where trouble is lurking to get us. For me, I say never; therefore, it gives reason and makes sense that God is an ever-present help. I am asking you like God asked me From Where Do You Expect Your Help? We should consider God. Listen to Deuteronomy 33:26-29

26 “There is no one like the God of Jeshurun,
    who rides across the heavens to help you
    and on the clouds in his majesty.
27 The eternal God is your refuge,
    and underneath are the everlasting arms.
He will drive out your enemies before you,
    saying, ‘Destroy them!’
28 So Israel will live in safety;
    Jacob will dwell[f] secure
in a land of grain and new wine,
    where the heavens drop dew.
29 Blessed are you, Israel!
    Who is like you,
    a people saved by the Lord?
He is your shield and helper
    and your glorious sword.
Your enemies will cower before you,
    and you will tread on their heights.”

For those who have trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior, we too are Israel. 2 Corinthians 1:20-22 says 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.  I ask again, From Where Do You Expect Your Help?

A Divine Call to Freedom

January 19, 2015

“Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

That is one of Dr. Martin Luther King’s most often quoted statements. On this day in which our country recognizes Dr. Martin Luther King, what a great text to commemorate Dr. King but more importantly, Jesus who was the impetus for the work of Dr. King and many others who sought to bring about freedom. Jesus, in John 8:36, said, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Peter received A Divine Call to Freedom.  After his call, a great deal has transpired with Peter since we left off in John 21 where Jesus reaffirmed Peter as one of His main men to establish His church i.e. A Divine Call to Freedom. Jesus said this about Peter “you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” We know that Paul also concedes this fact calling Peter (Cephas) one of the pillars of the church in Galatians.

Peter further describes who he is and what his role is in relation to Jesus. Peter writes that he is “an apostle of Jesus Christ”. Apostle is defined as a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders. In this case, Peter is a delegate, messenger of Jesus Christ sent forth to follow Jesus and to feed His sheep. That is what Christ told Him in John 21. In the strictest sense, those who were called apostles during that time were the 12 disciples. As time passed, the term was applied to prominent teachers. Today, it is loosely applied by too many, but that is not my focus today. The first two verses of 1 Peter is my focus. The Word says,

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you. (ESV)

As an apostle of Jesus Christ, Peter identifies to whom A Divine Call to Freedom was directed. His message was to the elect,exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia. Now, we get into a very divisive doctrinal matter – the elect. NKJV says “To the pilgrims of the Dispersion …” Pilgrims and exiles are terms used to connote that the people lived outside of the place considered to be their homeland. Peter identifies those places where they lived. Some have proposed that they were descended from Jews who were translated from Babylon, by order of Antiochus king of Syria, about two hundred years before the coming of Christ, and placed in the cities of Asia Minor. Nevertheless, we know that they are Jews and that they lived in the places Peter identified. He was writing to Jews who believed that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God.

Belief in Jesus, especially for Jews, was no small feat. Here is where huge controversy in Christendom happens. Listen to how Peter describes their faith in Christ. First, they are identified as elect. How?  according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood” In most cases, people believe that they come to Christ on their own. They wake up or come to realize what they need. Jesus provides clarity for that in which none of us can dispute. In speaking with His disciples about love and remaining or abiding in Him, Jesus, in John 15:16, said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” Ligonier Ministries provides this insight. Jesus does not mean that His disciples exercised no will of their own; they did choose to follow Him. Rather, He is indicating that the first initiative, the original and saving choice, was His. Had He not chosen them, they would not have chosen Him. The immediate reference is to service as apostles, but the principle applies to many other matters including election to salvation (Eph. 1:4, 11). Peter states that there were decisions made about the salvation of souls in eternity past according to foreknowledge of God the Father. It is brought about by the sanctification of the Spirit and made possible by the sprinkling with Christ’s blood.

We do clearly have a choice – to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior or to reject Him as Lord and Savior. One’s eternal estate hinges on the choice that one makes. We, like Peter, have A Divine Call to Freedom. We are asked not only to be free but to assist in freeing others from the grips of sin in and on their lives. God is calling. He has sent you His text, the Word of God. He  leaves you voicemail, the Spirit of God. He desires to Hangout with you or speak to you via Facetime, but the question remains, will you answer A Divine Call to Freedom.

I have chosen to follow Christ. Consequently, the Son has set me free from sins reign in my life; therefore, I am free indeed.”Whether you respond or not, I leave you with what Peter left the elect – “May grace and peace be multiplied to you.”

Church Rock or Stumbling Block

January 18, 2015

Opposites, contrasts, or contradictions abound in our lives. Right now, it is really dark in the room where I am. In fact, the only light sources are the computer screen and the numbers from a clock, but if I were to turn the lights on, the entire room would be filled with light. I spent some time yesterday communicating with a friend who had lost several pregnancies. Understandably in those times, she was really hurt about those losses, but the pictures she sent me yesterday were filled with HUGE smiles from her, her husband and their beautiful baby. No matter who, we are we experience highs and lows in our lives.

That too is a reality in our spiritual lives. Peter who walked on water also sank. He knew Jesus intimately but also denied knowing Jesus. Peter is a prime example of the spiritual contrasts. Peter, along with us, are also the object of today’s post – Church Rock or Stumbling Block. In John 21, we see that contrast unfold in Peter’s life. After Peter had denied knowing Jesus, Jesus reaffirms Peter as His guy, His disciple, His leader, His rock (petra) upon which Christ would build His church (ekklēsia), but let’s remember that GodHead is the true rock of salvation. Listen to the Word of the Lord. Peter had denied knowing Jesus as Jesus went to the cross. Naturally, he felt ashamed that He let Jesus down. I am sure we can all relate to that emotion and experience, but when Jesus reaffirms Him as the rock, a contrast occurs. I am sure that Peter was elated that Jesus again expressed confidence in him as one who would help build His victorious church.

In Matthew 16, Jesus said this about Peter you are Peter,and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. Imagine Jesus telling you that? Wouldn’t you feel great value and pride that God would use you to build His church? It is here that we see another contrast unfold. God incarnate had told Peter that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. Now right after that, Jesus tells the disciples of His imminent suffering, death and resurrection. Peter did not hear the part about the resurrection and understandably so. We are much more acquainted with suffering and death. When Peter heard Jesus say he would suffer and die, “22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Then, “23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.””

Peter, in a short period of time, had gone from Church Rock or Stumbling Block. How could Peter experience such an affirmation of having Jesus tell him that He would use Peter to build His church which would prevail against satan and all of his minions then hear such denunciation? How? Just as we all do. We take the focus off of what God has proclaimed directing it toward our own desires, cares or fears. Jesus had just told the disciples that He must suffer, die and rise in order to bring about God’s will then Peter says no Lord. Those two words, no Lord, should never be put together. By definition, they are a spiritual contrast or contradiction which have no place in the Kingdom of God. This is why Jesus tells Peter that “You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

What determines whether one is a Church Rock or Stumbling Block? Jesus defines it for us in His Word. When we do not have the concerns of God in mind, we become a stumbling block to Him. Mere human concerns are not God’s primary focus. His concerns are His primary focus. Mere means being nothing more nor better than. In comparison to the concerns of God, our concerns are nothing nor better than. When our concerns reign supreme, we are nothing more than idolators which assumes the place of God in our lives, and we are no god. By our obedience, we can become a church rock or should I say building block or stone. Through Peter, God too has told us about being used to build His church. There God affirms us as stones to be used to build His Kingdom. He also reveals another spiritual contrast. We who are unholy and being rejected by many on this earth are told “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” HALLELUJAH.

Which will it be for you a Church Rock or Stumbling Block? Let God turn on the lights to fill your entire heart and mind with His marvelous light.

Peter – A Chip Off The Old Rock

January 17, 2015

If you have been following the posts, you know that the Book of John has been the primary impetus for posts for some time now. Today, it serves that function once again. As we reached the end of the Book of John in chapter 21, one of the central figures, other than Jesus of course, in the text is Peter. This portion of text is known for Jesus reaffirming Peter as His guy, His disciple, His leader, His rock (petra) upon which Christ would build His church (ekklēsia).

Hear the Word of the Lord in John 21.

15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

Jesus reaffirms Peter’s purpose as the rock of His church in John 21. Listen to thoughts of the matter from Ligonier Ministries: Feed my lambs. “My lambs” and “my sheep” correspond to “my church” (10:14, 26, 27; Matt. 16:18). When Peter writes to his fellow elders (1 Pet. 5:1, 2), he urges them, “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you,” apparently having taken to heart the words of Jesus. It represents Christ’s declaration – Peter – A Chip Off The Old Rock

Peter made a heavenly confession in Matthew 16 which served to guide Peter to experience God’s plan for Him in building His Kingdom/church on earth. Jesus had asked the disciples “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Consequently, Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter,[b] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[c] will not overcome it.

A common and well-known idiom is “chip off the old block”. It means a person who resembles one parent in appearance or behavior. Jesus declares that Peter would resemble Him in behavior by building the church or body of God on earth. Here Christ predates that idiom establishing Peter – A Chip Off The Old Rock.  We know that God; therefore Christ, as Peter later testifies, is the ultimate rock of salvation and the rock of the church. Despite that, Jesus tells Peter “you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” It is a divine play on words because Peter (Petros) in the Greek means “a rock or a stone”. In 1 Samuel 2:2, we learn “There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.” We know God as rock is reiterated time and time again. Nevertheless, Peter is told “on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Indeed, Peter – A Chip Off The Old Rock.

Tomorrow, we will look at how Peter goes from being a rock to a stumbling block. Then, as naturally as it seems from being led from the Lord, I will start reading 1 Peter as the foundation for my posts over the next few weeks. Be blessed by standing on the Rock.

Pushing and Pulling

January 15, 2015

Yesterday was a classic day in the lives of students I serve and in my own life. It was a classic example of Pushing and Pulling. Let’s take the start of the day. Ironically, it was a continuation of a conflict between two students from the previous day. They did not settle their conflict with one another before the end of the day, so they began verbal Pushing and Pulling. Another teacher there intervenes. I take one of the students from him to the office. Life is filled with conflict that seeks to capture and bind us.  As I stand at the entrance of the cafeteria, I am reminded of a sardine can. It is packed and enclosed. As the lid is pulled, the vacuum fresh sound escapes from the can. That was the ringing of the bell. The students began their chatter, but to the post’s title, the students were Pushing and Pulling in efforts to get out of the can. They wanted to be free of the confinement. I stood there directing some to wait while others left. I constantly communicated no Pushing and Pulling.

Let’s move on throughout the day. During one class change as I stood outside in the brisk weather, a student calls my name to tell me that one of her friends squirted water on her. I called the ice maker over. I know her well as she is one of my students. As I began to address the matter, she wells up with anger and tears. It was emotional Pushing and Pulling because of the correction received. Later, a colleague asks if I can speak to several students who had conspired to work together using another students research from the internet, but the assignment was designed to be authentic not an exercise in secondary sources; yet, it was another example of Pushing and Pulling. There were many others, but the last example I will share is a group of students who were not focused in class. As I speak with them, all stated that they are at fault for being disruptive in their class except one student who, according to the others, had been placed in the group without cause. The peer-defined faultless students were caught up in a situation in which he had no involvement. The others readily admitted their improper behavior, but all asserted it was in response to what they felt was maltreatment. Either way, it was another example of Pushing and Pulling.

Pushing and Pulling reminds me of the condition Jesus said people experienced. Listen to Matthew 9:36. “When he (Jesus that is) saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus recognized that those people had been exposed to life’s Pushing and Pulling. Jesus did identify the remedy to being harassed and helpless. They were shepherdless. He was stating that they needed a shepherd. The implication was not just any shepherd, but The Good Shepherd. Remember, Jesus said I am the Good Shepherd.

Jesus makes it plain how to effectively deal with life’s moments of Pushing and Pulling. John 8:31-32 says, “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”” The remedy for Pushing and Pulling is to become a disciple or follower of Jesus and hold to the teachings that you discover in your pursuit of him. There was not anymore of a classic example of life Pushing and Pulling than in my own life. After arriving home from school, life was normal and good. I did fall asleep before we were off to church. As I arose, this is when the Pushing and Pulling began. My wife was miffed that I did not help get the kids ready for church. While not a full-fledged fight, the exchange of was certainly not benign or tender. My daughter, who professes Christ as King, Lord and Savior, grabbed my hand and prayed. While I was not angry, I did not appreciate the hyperbolic accusation that I have not responded in years in regards to helping her get the kids ready for church. Nevertheless, like the kids I had attempted to help, I too needed a shepherd because I was being harassed by life’s Pushing and Pulling. Thank God that He is my God, my Lord, and my Savior. It was the work of the Godhead that freed me. The Father had drawn me to Jesus who gave me the Word and His Spirit. It was the Spirit who consistently whispered the truth in my ear to confront the sin that was going on in my head in response to the Pushing and Pulling. As we sang songs of praise at church, the layers of vile thoughts melted away as ice falls off shelves when defrosting a freezer. Jesus had done what He said, He gave me the truth, Himself and His Word, and I was truly free from my feelings and thoughts to my very own Pushing and Pulling.

What a day. It started with Jesus as Hero and ended with Jesus as Hero. If life is Pushing and Pulling on you, Jesus says that He is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). He said I am the Good Shepherd. He will not allow His sheep to live life being harassed and helpless. He comes to the rescue. I was both a dispenser and recipient of His help yesterday, and it was a beautiful thing. Hallelujah for such a wonderful Savior and life. We all experience life’s Pushing and Pulling. The question is are you harassed and helpless or do you have The Good Shepherd. contending for you. If you don’t have The Good Shepherd, surrender your life to Him, and He will lead you like a shepherd green pastures and quiet waters.

“It Is Finished.”

January 10, 2015

As I surveyed the Word of God waiting for Him to speak to me, John 19:30 was impressed upon my heart. Contemplating what it meant, I thought to myself that Jesus may not have utter three words any more important than “It Is Finished“. I am sure that I do not possess all the knowledge about this verse and surrounding verses, but I want us to think about the essence of what Jesus meant when He uttered those eternal words.

In my study, I found the quote below that gives some insight into what Jesus meant when He said, “It Is Finished“.

“Father, we know that when we come to the death of Jesus Christ, we come to sacred ground. We know that there is no issue in all the Bible that is as important to Your mind and heart and plan as this one. You told us that He was a lamb slain before the foundation of the world. There was no accident or coincidence. He was not a victim of circumstances. He died because You ordained it from eternity past. You planned all the circumstances of it. You hardened the heart of religious leaders to accuse Him falsely. You told us long ago in the prophets that You would do that and that they would not listen. All this was done to put Him on the cross to die for our sins that we might have everlasting life. We marvel at Your plan, and pray that You will deepen our understanding of the death of Jesus Christ on our behalf. It is in the precious name of our Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ, that we pray. Amen”. (David Hocking)

At the heart and mind of God is God; however, we play a central role in God glorifying Himself. In fact, after the GodHead, we are the most important means that God has chosen to reveal Himself to powers and principalities as well as man. God desires and deserves to be worshiped; however, not all powers/principalities and people worship Him in spirit and in truth. After the fall of man, God set out to restore man back into oneness and fellowship with God. Adam, before He sinned, was one with God experiencing God’s presence without inhibition. Sin broke fellowship with God. Sin caused Adam to want to hide from God because of a unknown consciousness was brought to light. Nevertheless, God established a plan in eternity past, so that when time began, He would unfold His plan to demonstrate His character while illustrating why He should be worshiped and praised.

John 19:28-30 reads

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

At Jesus’ death, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Proceeding verses teach us that “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” In Christ, God reconciled man’s sins cancelling the debt of them through Christ alone. When He died, His death was more than sufficient payment for man’s sin. Remember, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”(Romans 6:23). There are many prophecies that Jesus fulfilled at this time. It was not about us; it was about God.

When Jesus said, “It Is Finished“, He was heralding to powers/principalities and to people that God’s dictate was done. He had accomplished it all as He was returning to His rightful place at the right hand of the Father. Everything else was, is and will be academic. It is done. God will do what He said He will do. Christ is the proof. As Paul says in Romans 8,” 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” This took care of people.

Hebrews 10 share insight on how God took care of powers/principalities. “Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”  When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

It is important to remember that Jesus said, “17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” John 10:17-18 When Jesus said “It Is Finished“, it was finished. We will spend eternity learning of the incomprehensibleness of God. Since I do not know it all, I am sure that I did not say all of it. What I did say is that Jesus reconciled man unto God in His death and resurrection. He also defeated death signaling the powers and principalities of the dark side that their end was imminent. Be blessed “It Is Finished“.

The Crucifixion

January 7, 2015

We know that Israel, along with all of us have said, Hail, Nah to the King. It is because of all of us that Jesus endured to The Crucifixion. Some things are better said with brevity. Listen to how the King of kings is described in John 19 as He goes to pay our ransom.

He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” So he delivered him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

He willingly went to the cross and died for us. Doesn’t He deserve our heart, mind, soul and all from us. If you agree, don’t like this; don’t hashtag this; don’t tweet this. Obey and serve Him. He desires obedience over sacrifice. He carried His cross. He wants us to carry our cross. He wants us die to ourselves daily. How will you die today for the cause of Christ? Celebrate The Crucifixion by imitating Christ’s willing obedience, even to death on a cross.