Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Kingly Humility

“When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take Him by force, to make Him a king, He departed again unto a mountain Himself alone.”
John 6:15

     In John 6 Jesus had just finished feeding the 5,000 men (plus the unnumbered women and children) with a little boy’s lunch. This was only the 4th miracle that Jesus performed, and it was the first real, public miracle that the Jews witnessed.

     Jesus performed a public miracle by turning water into wine at a wedding, but that was in Cana, and His 2nd and 3rd miracles were the healing of a government official’s son and the lame man by the pool. These latter two miracles didn’t have many witnesses. So when thousands of people were fed miraculously an outbreak erupted.

     Some of these Jews may have believed that their long-awaited Messiah was there in the flesh, but their misunderstanding of Scripture led them to believe that He should take the throne by force and rule with an iron fist. Others may have just wanted someone to overthrow the existing government. Others still may have just enjoyed the show and the free lunch. Either way, Jesus perceived that their emotions did not include taking up their crosses and following Him.

     So with all the power and authority of heaven on His side, Jesus demonstrated the upmost humility. Can you imagine if you were in His situation—with throngs of people pushing to make you their king (or president)? Add to this the knowledge that Jesus knew the cross awaited Him, and the temptation to give the people what they wanted would be too much for most men.

     This display of humility from the King of kings serves as a model for us. Maybe, like Jesus, you need to depart to some mountain before your ego gets crowned.    

Monday, July 23, 2012

You Found Me

 I am very excited to be having Big Daddy Weave (and Aaron Shust) here in Union this October for Church Night at the Fair. Mike Weaver is a talented songwriter, and together with his brother Jay wrote a song called You Found Me for their newest CD.

     The song is about the day that God saved the singer, but the best part is the bridge. It says, “I don’t think that I could ever be the same, but who would want to be anyway?”

     What a great thought! After God has saved us, why would we ever want to go back to the way we were when our spirit was at war with God? That question should be rhetorical, but so many people are going back, so it begs to be answered.

     Jesus died to make us free from the power of sin, not to make us free to sin and then ask for forgiveness. Jesus saved us to a life of good works out of gratitude to Him, not to a haphazard life of saying “works don’t save me.” Jesus called us to holiness, not to the lame excuse of “nobody’s perfect.”

     If you have gone back to the way you were before your conversion, you have to ask yourself, “What did I convert from?” Before you give me the taken-out-of-context line about me not judging you, please realize that I am asking you to judge yourself. Do what Paul told the Corinthian believers to do, and “examine yourself, whether you be in the faith.” That verse (II Corinthians 13:5) goes on to say that we will see that Jesus Christ is within us—unless we fail the test!

   If you have gone back to the life you lived before God found you, maybe you haven’t fully given your life to God. Examine yourself, and if you see changes that need to be made, make those changes. Then never go back…who would want to anyway?   

(Read about Big Daddy Weave's song "If You Died Tonight" here)

Wonderfully Made

Psalm 139:14 gives us one more reason to praise the Lord: we are fearfully and wonderfully made. We were not wonderfully made as a result of a bang or explosion, but by the creative power of the God of the universe.

Without getting into any form of science, just consider some of what we can deduce from common sense. You are using your eyes to read this. You know your eyes—those tiny, squishy balls in your eye sockets that take in sight upside down, and at the speed of light flip it so that you can see properly. Have you ever considered how your eye works? Or how about your brain? Or your liver, kidneys, or stomach? How do your veins, arteries, or platelets do what they do? What about your nervous system or digestive system? Even if you know how they work, that doesn’t explain the miracle that they do work.

Consider your heart. Your heart beats 1.3 gallons of blood per minute, and if you live to be 66, your heart will have pumped 48 million gallons of blood. That is what it means to be wonderfully made.

You can listen to an evolutionary scientist ramble on about debunked methods of carbon dating, but at the end of the day, just use common sense. Are we really supposed to believe that our complex bodies evolved, or that an Intelligent Designer created them?

“I will praise Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are Thy works, and my soul knoweth right well.”
Psalm 139:14

Wearing Christ

Galatians 3:27 says, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” That expression “put on” is the same one that is used to describe getting dressed, as in putting on a shirt. So according to Paul, all who have put their trust in the Lord (salvation) and are being obedient to Him (baptism) should be wearing Him as well.

    You can tell a lot about a person by what they wear. You can tell what team they cheer for, places they have been, or maybe their line of work. If you saw me today and I had on scrubs, a shower cap, and a mask over my face, you would probably assume I was a doctor or nurse. But if you asked me and my response was, “No, it’s just laundry day,” then that would be confusing.

     It is also confusing when Christians don’t wear Christ. We should model Him in all that we say and do. If you say you are a Christian, and yet you use language that our culture deems as profane, then you confuse the people around you. Profanity is just one example; any vice can be substituted there.

     A man recently told me that he doesn’t believe that Jesus is real because he knows a so-called Christian that watches the TV show Family Guy (the worst show on TV). Listen to this assessment from an unsaved man: “If Jesus were real, His followers would never watch something like that.” When we do, we confused the unsaved.

     Most Christians say that they can participate in sinful things because it doesn’t bother them. It may not bother you, but it confuses the unsaved, and that bothers God.

     If you have been baptized into Christ, then model Him today.   

Washington Monument

Last week I had the privilege of going to Fairfax, Virginia to be interviewed on the TV show Communicating Today. I knew that the exit for Washington DC was only about 10 miles past the exit in Fairfax, so we decided to pass our exit and continue to our nation’s capital.

Neither my wife or I had ever been to DC, and we were both excited about the opportunity. We had no idea what to expect once we exited, and we didn’t know if we would get to see any of the sites since we only had a few minutes. All at once when we were taking our exit I saw the Washington Monument, which is far taller than I had realized.

Part of what made this such an amazing sight to me was the age of the monument. Completed in 1884, the Monument has been observed by people from all over the world. I was also struck by its size and strength. I remember the Virginia earthquake on March 23, 2011; our church building, some 8 hours away, shook during the quake as the Capital was evacuated. The Monument suffered some damage, but it still stands high into the sky.

Upon seeing the building my mind went to a familiar Bible verse: Proverbs 18:10, which says, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it, and they are safe.”

Our eternal Lord has been around forever; Abraham, Moses, David, and people throughout history have found shelter in His name. And He is strong, a very present help in time of trouble.

Let the righteous find refuge in their strong tower, the name of the Lord.