The superlative desire of Jesus is to teach His followers His mind. Paul states this is so, “We have the mind of Christ” (1Cor. 2:16). What is the desire of Christ for us? That we would have His mind, for wisdom of the world leads to nothing. What does it mean to have the mind of Christ? When exploring this question three things seem to emerge: The beauty of Holiness, the possibilities for things lost, and the beauty in claiming lost things.
What is, “The beauty of holiness,” (Ps 96:9)? We know that Jesus came from God, (Cf. John 17:3), and because Jesus came from God it was written of Him, “How great is His goodness, how great is His beauty,” (Zech. 9:17). God sent Jesus, consequently all things were viewed by Jesus through that relationship, and the issue of holiness is always beauty.
When Jesus came into the world He found beauty spoiled. Despite what he found, He knew that everything had the possibility of restoration, renewal, and recreation. He knew this because He knew God and that gave Him a conviction of the possibilities for lost things.
Jesus knew the beauty of holiness, and the possibility for things lost, and therefore He considered His death on the cross to be the highest glory that could be granted to Him. Through His death God’s beauty would be known in creation, and those things lost would be restored. This was the master inspiration of His mind, and thus he emptied Himself!
I read a story this week about a man who was in an art gallery and was overheard criticizing a work by one of the great masters. The story caught my attention for two reasons. First, because my wife is an artist and second, the story’s point: The man thought he was criticizing the painting, but in truth the painting was criticizing the man. I bring the subject up as a springboard to my reply to those who criticize the church for such things as not having any saints, it’s filled with hypocrites, and Christians, are people who are just weak.
Suppose it were true that no holy person could be found in the church, is the presence of imperfection justification for the absence of the critic’s perfection? If there is no holy person in your local church then shouldn’t its critic be the first? Is your argument really because no person has done it, no person can do it. If that was true than no master would ever have painted a masterpiece, no mountain was ever climbed, and no discovery was ever made. All great things in this life were made by those who blazed the trail, and not by those who criticized.
It is said, “Christ is as great as your faith will allow him to be.” Don’t be afraid to be the first, for all of God’s resources are at your disposal. Dare to be the first. Critics are many, but masters are few.
Be the First,
Merry Christmas to you and your family!
The landscape of the Christmas Season is one of miss-directions, for the Christmas season takes us down many paths. One path we may be pulled in is the remembering Jesus and his birth, and that is a good thing. Other paths are but miss-directions, and not so good. For instance the season may lead us to dwell on our current troubles, or past experiences that we would just as soon take a breather from then reminisce about, but those troubles and memories keep popping up in all their rawness. The season may pull us toward some temptations or habit that we are weak in, and therefore Christmas becomes a time of extra diligence on our part to avoid temptation.
In a season that is miss-directed let us open our Bibles and see the true reason for the season: 1. 1John 3:5, “He appeared so that he might take away our sins.”
2. 1John 3:8, “The reason the son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.”
3. John 14:9 [Jesus said] “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” I ask that I may comment here, so as you do not miss my point; Jesus came to reveal God to us.
4. Heb 9:28, “… He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” Again I comment; Jesus came so that he can come back again.
Why He Came,
In the New Testament stories of Jesus healing someone, he always brought the person being healed face to face with the one impossible thing in their life. For example in Matt 9:28 two blind men wanted sight. Jesus asked “Do you believe I am able to do this?” In response to their faith he touched them and they were able to do what they could not do – see! In another healing Jesus drove a demon out of a man who was mute, and the man was able to do what he could not do – speak (ibid 32-33).
It is also true that many are kept away from Christ by one thing: Pride of the eyes, lust of the flesh, or a habit; it is always one thing. If it were at all possible for all the fog to melt away that is about us and we could clearly see, and have a minute of real honesty with our friends, family, and co-workers who have never yielded to Christ, it would be found in every case there is one thing hindering a person from coming to Christ.
As an example remember Jesus spoke to the rich ruler and said, “One thing you lack.” Jesus pointed out the one thing that kept him from the Kingdom of God. The example makes my point, Jesus method is always that of bringing men and women face to face with the one thing that is the master paralysis of their life.
What is your one thing?
The salvation of Jesus Christ is holistic, by that I mean it is complete. With that said we should understand there are many dimensions to living in harmony with God. I think most of us understand in one sense salvation is a legal transaction. We as humans are guilty of sin, and as sinners we stand against a God who is holy. Because God is holy he must deal with our sin because it is an assault against who he is. Enter Jesus, who died on the cross in our place. Jesus gets what we deserve; we get what Jesus deserved. Doesn’t sound fair, but that is grace.
If salvation is just a legal transaction in which we are forgiven of our sins so we can go to heaven, then salvation essentially becomes a ticket to somewhere else; salvation kicks in when we die. But Jesus did not teach this. Jesus said that when we believe, we have, “… crossed over from death to life,” (John 5:24). When I enter into a relationship with God through Christ, I am connected with God now, and forever.
Jesus salvation is now, and that is important for us to understand because I need God now, I need healing now, I need help now. Yes, there are greater things that will come someday, but salvation is now.
Give Him Praise!
The Law of the Jewish Religion was first written by the finger of God on tablets of stone. Jesus brought to fulfillment the Law of the Jewish religion, and in so doing fulfilled all the ceremonies of the Law. Therefore, there is no need today for the Temple, priests, and sacrifices – with the exception of communion and baptism.
Jesus came into this world, and when we allow him to write, with the Finger of God, on the tablet of our heart His Law we then no longer need or want a tablet of stone, for we know when we put our self in bondage to the tablets of stone, written with the finger of God, we are in bondage to a thing depleted of its vitality, depleted of its force, and depleted of its effectiveness. Thus Paul wrote, “You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tables of stone but on tables of human hearts,” (2Cor 3:2-3).
The stone tablets of the Law have been replaced by the law written on the human hearts of men and women who have accepted God’s offer of salvation. And to those who have accepted God’s Spirit, His Spirit is making those men and women like Jesus Christ.
Make me like Him,
3030 W. Van Buren, is an unlikely place for a church. In the day it was a motor court, now it’s a large tent open at both ends. Under the tent are three rows of tables that are broken, and stained. The table’s chairs are no better, for no two are alike. At one end is the pulpit, often in the sun, and the other end there is a constant stream of wandering people. Who goes to this unlikely church? The homeless go there.
How does one serve such an unlikely church? First you bring music, for the homeless have restless souls, and music soothes their restlessness. You bring the Word, Jesus is the Christ, to feed their souls. You bring clothing, for the clothes they have don’t last long on the streets. You bring food to feed their bodies. It is at the serving line where their desperation is most visible, for there are always elbows. Who knows when they last ate, or when they will eat again?
3030 W. Van Buren is an unlikely place for a church, but it is where Christ is preached, souls are ministered to, shelter is given, bodies are fed, and people find Jesus. Yes it is unlikely place, but it is Christ’s church, and that is why we were there.
His Word Goes Forward,
From the Pilgrims, to the leaders of the colonies each declared publicly and in writing their new commonwealth came into existence solely for the glory of God. This is our country’s history. No historian can rewrite it, no president can expunge it, if a 1,000 angels swore on a 1,000 Bibles that this was not true it would in no way alter the fact that the United States was conceived, established, dedicated, and founded on a biblical cornerstone.
Today God cannot be found in our country, for we have driven Him out of our land. We have exchanged our God for idols, our life for darkness, and our glory for that which cannot save us. Sadly, we are ready to risk what comes on the other side of that exchange when the blessings of God are removed from us.
We have come to a critical moment in our land. A moment similar to one when Elijah stood on the top of Mt. Carmel and cried out to Israel in her hour of decision. Standing between two altars and 2 Gods Elijah’s voice cried out to Israel to choose this day whom you will serve. If the Lord be your God then follow him, but if Baal be your god then follow him, and go to hell.
In response to Satan’s temptation to turn stones into bread Jesus said, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Jesus knows there is more to a person than physical needs; there is the spiritual too.
One of our responsibilities is to recognize the mysteries and yearnings of our life. The Greek philosopher agreed for he said, “Man, know thyself first.” Once a person knows the mysteries and yearnings of their life, what then? I would say it is their responsibility to yield to the ruler-ship of Him to whom life was conquered by – Jesus.
The 139th Psalm begins, “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar,” (1-2). Now look how that Psalm ends, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting,” (23-24). The Psalmist asked God to search him. Make that the first, supreme, and essential business of your life to acquaint yourself with Jesus, and so be at His peace, and so find the meaning of life.
An angel said to Joseph, “Get up … take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you” (Matt 2:13). In faith, without complaint, or question Joseph, “Got up,” and took his family to Egypt. Like Abraham, Joseph, “Went out, not knowing where he was going” (Heb 11:8). Have you ever been told by God to “Get up?” What was your response?
There is an allegory of being in God’s hands is like a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. Like the archer, God is aiming at something the saint cannot see, but God continues to pull back on the bow, stretching and straining more and more. Straining more and more the follower of Christ says, “I can’t take any more.” Yet God pays no attention; he goes on stretching until His purpose is in sight, and then He lets the arrow fly hitting the target unseen by the Christian.
What is the allegory’s lesson? The Christian is to trust themselves into God’s hands, though being stretched and strained to point of breaking; even to the point of being like Job who said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust him” (Job 3:10).