Calling? Good? Best

An interesting and oft overlooked incident occurred on Palm Sunday from John’s account.   As the crowds gathered, some Greeks who likey traveled a great distance, ask to see Jesus.  They go Philip who goes to Andrew and together they go to Jesus to tell him of these men want to see him. (Jn 12:20-22)

Jesus responds with: “The hour has come” (Jn 12:23) and outlines his crucifixion.  The Greeks are evidence that the mission of God is spreading as more as these men have come from a different culture than the Jews.  Likely this would have been a good opportunity to share with them.  But Jesus, single minded in purpose, commits to “the hour” which has come.

There are many good things for us to do.  Sometimes opportunities present themselves, good opportunities.  But if it is not what the Father has called us to do, Jesus shows us that we are to do the Fathers will.  He also states this in John 5: 30  “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.”

It would seem that having a relationship and frequent communication would be helpful to discern what and how we are to follow Jesus.  Studying the bible and knowing the stories are also ways to get to know God.

I have recently really tried to look into the details of biblical stories and place myself in the various situations and circumstances. I have been trying to get into the characters and observe their reactions and note the dialog.   I have found that there’s a lot more  going on than I first realized

It has been said we cannot comprehend God but we can apprehend him.  And through our sincere and honest pursuit of him it may still be a little fuzzy, but we will get to know the Father and his will for us can be clearer.  It was clear for Jesus.  And though fully God he was human, just like us.

Calling? Good? Best

An interesting and oft overlooked incident occurred on Palm Sunday from John’s account.   As the crowds gathered, some Greeks who likey traveled a great distance, ask to see Jesus.  They go Philip who goes to Andrew and together they go to Jesus to tell him of these men who want to see him. (Jn 12:20-22)

Jesus responds with: “The hour has come” (Jn 12:23) and outlines his crucifixion.  The Greeks are evidence that the mission of God is spreading as these people have come from a different culture than the Jews.  Likely this would have been a good opportunity to share with these seekers.  But Jesus, single minded in purpose, commits to “the hour” which has come.

There are many good things for us to do.  Sometimes opportunities present themselves, good opportunities.  But if it is not what the Father has called us to do, Jesus shows us that we are to do only the will of the Father and nothing else.  This is restated by Jesus also in John 5:30:  “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.”

It would seem that having a relationship and frequent communication with God would be helpful to discern what and how we are to follow him.  Studying the bible and knowing the stories are also ways to get to know him.

I have recently really tried to slow down and look into the details of biblical stories and place myself in the various and specific situations and circumstances. I have been trying to get into the characters and observe their reactions and note the dialog.   I have found that there’s much more going on than I at first realize.

It has been said we cannot comprehend God but we can apprehend him.  And through our sincere and honest pursuit of him, it may still be a little fuzzy, but we will get to know the Father and his will for us can be clearer.  It was clear for Jesus, and he was God, but also human, just like us.

 

 

 

The Bible and Jesus

A new concept I am wrestling with is to know and obey Christ, not know and obey the bible.  From his book The Only One author Curtis Sergeant writes: “Scripture provides the first test in discerning the voice of the Spirit, but it serves as the beginning rather than the end of God’s conversation with us.”

Knowing Scripture is important and necessary, but it is knowing Christ and obeying him that is the ultimate objective.  Not to earn our salvation, but as a result of it.

Jesus points to this in John 5:39,40 when he chastises the religious “know it alls”: “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life.  These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”

We all must study the Word of God but we must know and obey “the Word”, Jesus (John1:1).

This can be tricky but it is essential that we not miss the forest for the trees.  Jesus is our objective, our King, our Master who is to be worshiped, obeyed, imitated.  The bible is the all important source to THE source of life and the one to whom we are to be like.  We are to study, learn from, and spend time in the bible.  But we are to imitate, obey, be like and spend time with Jesus.

“This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” (1 Jn:2:6)

Be Active

Last week we were in a discussion about our reticence to think we know what’s best for others and that we should interpret the bible and tell others what the bible means for them.

This is supported in scripture from 1 Cor 8: 1b, 2.  “We know that we all possess knowledge, knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know.  But the man who loves God is known by God.”

The style of learning in the days of the Hebrews was reading the text, discussing it, and then asking questions in a group setting with dialogue.  Later, Greeks and Romans introduced the  lecture and a one way download of information learning style, which is much of our style in the West today.

We might consider “discovering” what the bible says as opposed to lectures, using commentaries, and study guides others have formulated.  Not that there is anything wrong with these, but God does make himself directly available to each of us.

We can read the bible, and ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate it for us since his function is to: “lead us into all truth” (Jn 16:13).   And in 1 John 2: 27 the author talks about the anointing of the Holy Spirit: “As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you.”  Then discuss the text in groups.  This is interacting with the text, and using our minds in conjunction with the Holy Spirit and others to reveal the words God has given us that “will not return void.”  (Isa 55:11)

Sometimes I think we forget that God has very much opened the way to him through Jesus and his Word and as believers we ALL have equal access to God.  We lose sight of the fact that: His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”  We don’t need to passively sit back and have others interpret God’s word for us.  We can, and should, be active learners and dig into the bible with others directly ourselves with the help of the Spirit.

 

 

 

 

 

Dichotomus Reality

A dear friend of mine is going through a very tough time.  It spans from injustices during childhood to marriage and family challenges now.  There are no easy answers, and no quick fixes.

I was reading in Revelation Chapter 1 and enjoying the victorious visions of John.

  • Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it
  • To him who was and is and is to come … who loves us …who has freed us from our sins … the faithful witness 

 He has made us “a kingdom of priests”.  And Jesus is quoted: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty”.

I was so encouraged and felt a “hallelujah and amen” coming out of my soul!

This rejoicing in Revelation I was jolted by this joy and the juxtaposition of walking with my friend.

Then I read verse 9: “I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.”

It is widely believed this book is written by John the apostle while he was exiled to the Roman penal colony island of Patmos.  And he states he is there because of his faith in Jesus.  It is here where he penned this account of his incredible vision of Revelation.

This is the dichotomy of our lives here on earth… the “already, not yet” of God’s kingdom in our time.  We are priests, and companions in the “kingdom” and Jesus has overcome.  Yet we are also “companions in the suffering” and companions in the “patient endurance” that we must experience living in our world today.

My friend’s current situation and John are examples of our lives in his dichotomous reality. In their circumstances they deeply remain steadfast in their faith in Jesus.  Their lives are a testimony.

 

 

 

 

The Poor Among You

A colleague of mine has worked among the urban poor.  He has lived in places we would avoid and can’t even imagine.

He shared some ideas – Jesus became poor.  Jesus often worked in cities.  Jesus worked among the outcasts and the poor.  Jesus’ disciples were from the working class.

He talks about us as westerners thinking of doing good things among the poor and how we might rethink things.

We “do to understand”.  We do in to learn as we help.  But we don’t go in with a mindset that we know everything.  Rather we do things – slowly – and then begin to understand how things work among those we are serving. We go in to learn about the spirit of the people, the assets that are present, the leadership capabilities of some among the community.

He talks about “appreciative inquiry”.  You go in to look for the positives, and don’t see everything as a problem.  What are the strengths. You honor the gifts and strengths of the people who have lived there among transitions and poverty, and have thrived against all odds.  So there are strengths present.

You don’t bring in money and things.  This is what we as westerners do so often and it is not helpful.  The resources are there because this is the nature of the Kingdom of God.

And a view of “non-destitute poverty”.  Where people make choices to work and live among the poor but not a choice to be destroyed and overcome and see everything as “poor”.  That is  in your inner spirit you are not poor.  So you don’t lament and aggrandize your living as poor.  You make a choice to live a certain way but you don’t become poor in your thinking.

I think this can transform how we see people among us.  Those who are in different economic situations than us, those with problems we don’t have.  A more Christ-like way to see those among us with value, hope, and life.

Here’s a clip to challenge your thinking…

On Display

Have you ever been near someone of high stature or a famous person you respect?  Sometimes it is just cool to be in close physical proximity or get a personal live view of influential people.

Just by chance I was taking a break from studying during my undergrad years at UCLA.  I was in the medical library located making a call from a phone booth (remember those?).  Suddenly there were men in suits going up and down the hallway and a man knocked on the door and demanded me to open it and peaked in.  He nodded turned and stood by the door.

As I looked out the window Jimmy Carter walked by.  He was visiting John Wayne who was in the hospital being treated for cancer. It was very exciting being a few feet from the President of the United States!

In Ephesians 2:6 Paul writes: “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace expressed in his kindness to us”.

Amazingly our place as believers is being right there seated with Christ.  We are literally sitting down with Jesus in the heavenly realms.  That is our position and admittedly,  I forget how valued we are to God and how high he elevates us all.  We are given a seat next to the king for all to see.

Then later in versus 7-13 we learn who God is showing the “incomparable riches of his grace” to.  The audience is: “the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms (vs 10). God is showing the Enemy that these rebellious sinners who have turned to me are my pride and joy and I am showing you how far my grace goes by showing my kindness to them.

We, the church, are the ‘trophy wives’.  Not on our own, but God makes us beautiful, seats us right with him and shows us off to the Enemy by expressing his kindness to us.

We are honored, let’s make our king, our husband, proud and be the church!