Thursday, December 24, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will ABUNDANTLY PARDON. "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways", declares the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts" Isaiah 55:6-9
The verses above are often misquoted and in their misquotation the real meaning and passionate call to salvation is often missed. We use these verses to explain away the things we don't understand about life and God when in reality these verses are about the limitless love of God to a dying and desolate soul. I know it's not popular to use the words dying and desolate to describe the condition of the human soul without God but I can honestly say that during my college years there were moments I would have referred to myself this way. I believed the lie that there was no way the Lord could forgive me and while embracing this lie I covered up my sin and shame by living my life the way I saw fit with no regard to God. Depression has a way of bringing you to your knees and I am thankful that the Lord brought me to the end of myself.
Oftentimes, when we sin we turn away from God. For a long time, I did my best to silence Him because to admit there is a God I must also admit that I was not god. I didn't know what the Bible said but I did know that within myself I wasn't following some higher moral code. I sought answers everywhere but not from the One who was calling me unto Himself. I wish that I would have known these verses then. I would have come sooner, if that is possible.
We see from the verses above that salvation is for everyone who comes. That God desires to ABUNDANTLY pardon sin. Our sins. He calls us to seek Him, to call upon Him, and to forsake our sinful ways and thoughts. In doing all these things He abundantly pardons. Our minds can't comprehend nor can our human intellect understand a holy infinite God who loves us and desires to pardon everyone who comes to Him, believing that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Hebrews 11:6. According to the verses above, there is no room for penance or working for our salvation for only God pardons sin and He does so through faith in His son, Jesus. God doesn't pardon sin reluctantly but abundantly.
Monday, December 7, 2009
In the post, Just Curious, I mentioned that the people were following Jesus to get their physical needs met. They were following Him out of their desire for a political Messiah that would make no demands of them, but of whom they could make their requests. Today, I want to address the discourse Jesus had with the crowd the following day. Remember the day before, He fed 5,000 men, not including women and children, John MacArthur makes mention that this would bring the total number of people close to 20,000.
The verses we are going to discuss today grieves me because we see from these verses the fickleness of the crowd. The selfishness and spiritual blindness of those who were curious about Him and therefore followed Him out of their sinful shallowness.
It again begs me to ask the question, "Am I following Jesus for all the benefits and none of the cost"? And the question, "What is it about my human nature that wants to cut and run when I don't understand some of the teachings of Jesus?" It isn't as if He is asking for my opinion. I can accept Him or reject Him but I can not confirm Him into the image of who I think He should be. We see that most of the crowd chose the latter, they rejected Him because they followed Him out of their selfish ambitions and the cost of following Him proved to be too great.
Let's continue on with the discourse between Jesus and the crowd mentioned in the post, Just Curious, So they said to Him, "What then do You do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate manna in the wilderness; as it is written, He, being Moses, gave them bread out of heaven to eat." Let me break into the discourse and mention, the day before, these same people were supernaturally fed fish and loaves of bread. They were now asking Jesus for yet another sign to prove His deity. Jesus then said to them, " Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven, and gives life to the world." Then they said to Him, "Lord, always give us this bread." Jesus said to them, " I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and will not thirst But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe." Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, "I am the bread that came down out of heaven." They were saying, "is not this Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? 'How does He now say, I have come down out of heaven'?" John 6:30-36,41-42
Merely a man they thought, a man blessed by the power of God but not God Himself. This is why they didn't understand and they grumbled just as their forefathers grumbled in the wilderness. The saddest words, "and yet you do not believe". I know you are thinking, "but wait, they asked for this bread that Jesus was referring" and yet we see here that Jesus knew their motive for wanting this physical bread and He knew of their unbelief. Later in the discourse He states, "I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever' and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is my flesh." John 6:51. This declaration incensed the crowd, they started arguing with one another and asking,"How can this man give us His flesh to eat?" John 6:52
This was His final teaching for many of His disciples, for we read in verses 66-68, "As a result of this teaching many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So Jesus said to the twelve, " You do not want to go away also, do you?" This is where Simon Peter declares, " Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believe and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God."
Sweet sister, may I implore you to listen to the heartbreaking words of Jesus, "You do not want to go away also, do you?"
When death takes a love one too early. When those you love start to turn away from the truth. When your marriage is falling apart. When your singleness has caused you to question God's precepts. When Jesus gets too big for your box. When your finite mind can't comprehend an infinite God. May you hear His sweet and tender voice ask you, "You don't want to go away also, do you?" May our response be like Simon Peter's "Lord, to whom shall we go?"
Friday, December 4, 2009
"Rabbi, when did you get here?" Jesus answered them and said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal." Therefore, they said to Him, "What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?" Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him who He has sent." - John 6:26-29
To be honest with you, this verse haunts me. When I was a new believer it was hard for me to study the words of Jesus because it was so contradictory to what my mind had created Him to be. My mind created a loving, pacifist, who catered to the needs of all people. He spoke of things like getting along and loving your enemy, turning your cheek and pursuing a life a peace. I imagined Him to be a pushover that I could somehow pacify with my good deeds. You see when I began my walk with the Lord, I wanted all the benefits with none of the cost. I had the attitude of, "what have you done for me lately." I asked Him to come into my heart so that I could go to Heaven, just in case He really was the one He claimed to be. I did this while continuing to worship the god of self.
"Why do I reveal this to you?" I reveal this to you because we see in this passage that the people of Jesus' day were doing the same thing. They heard about the miracles He was performing and they pursued Him out of their curiosity (John 6:2). There was no doubt that He was the Son of God for He healed the sick and fed 5,000 men, this number does not include the women and children who were in attendance and fed. John 6:14, tells us that the people saw the sign which He had performed and believed Him to be the Prophet that they could make King and deliver them from the oppressive arm of Rome. This chapter goes on to tell us that the people believed they could take Him by force and declare Him king. Because they intended to take Him by force Jesus withdrew from the crowd. The people got in their boats and followed Him to Capernaum. Which leads us to the verse above, John 6: 26-29."Rabbi, when did you get here?" Jesus answered them and said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal." Therefore, they said to Him, "What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?" Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him who He has sent."
They sought Him but not because they believed Him to be who He claimed to be but because He was meeting their physical needs. I also believe that they sought Him because they wanted to be entertained by His many miracles. They wanted an earthly political "messiah". They were looking for the King of Kings in His first coming not a suffering Servant.
Also notice, they referred to Jesus as the Prophet...merely a man blessed by the power of God but not God Himself. This reminds me of the discourse between Jesus and His disciples. Jesus asks His disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah , or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered, " You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus responds, "Blessed are you Simon Peter because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father who is in heaven." Matthew 16:13-17.
So often, we allow the culture to define for us, who God is. We look to the culture to determine what we believe to be true about God. In essence, we look to the world and not the word.
We trust in things we can see and understand rather than the things we can't see and our minds can't comprehend. We get caught up in the current of culture and swept away. I think it is fitting that Jesus asked His disciples first, "Who do the people say that I am?" and not "Who do you say that I am"? I think He did this, knowing, more often than not, the culture defines for us our beliefs. I also believe He did this to commend Simon Peter for not conforming to the ideas of the culture. And to explain that unless God reveals to us the truth, we will confirm to the ideas of this world.
Let me ask an uncomfortable question, "Are you following Jesus for all of the benefits and none of the cost? Following Him only when it is convenient or meets some emotional/physical need?" or "Are you following Him in full assurance that He is who He claims to be, the Son of the living God, who was and is and is to come?"
Please understand, this post, is not written to condemn you. I merely ask these questions because it has been questions like these that have brought me to a place of repentance and reconciliation.
As always, please overlook ALL the grammatical errors. A lot of times, I am writing with three kids coming in and out and numerous interruptions. I will not have time to re-read before posting.