A Christian Journey

Archive for August, 2015

Is It Time

“Whereupon Jesus said to them, My time has not come yet; but any time is suitable for you and your opportunity is ready any time.” John 7:6  Amplified

Jesus was growing in popularity and in our verse today His brothers are urging Him to go to the Jewish Feast of the Tabernacles to show Himself to everyone. Bear in mind the Jewish people had been longing for the conquering Messiah to come for a long time, some who saw what Jesus was doing thought it was Him.

Jesus tells His brothers, in our verse today, that it was not His time to come out publicly at a big event. Our human nature wants to be famous, even those who are shy and don’t like the limelight, would probably like at least some attention. Most of the time attention brings favor and we all like that. One of the reasons some people even act badly is for the attention thinking some attention is better than no attention.

As believers we have to be extra careful with that because the word tells us that pride goes before the fall. If you get to puffed up in yourself you’ll likely start making some poor decisions. When you’re seeking to please God and do what’s pleasing to Him, He will lead you where you need to go. Don’t let others push you into something you don’t feel led to do. Wait on God to tell you when your time is right, He will never lead you astray.

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Wisdom Vindicated

“Yet wisdom is vindicated, shown to be true and divine, by all her children, by their life, character, and deeds.” Luke 7:35  Amplified

Jesus is speaking to the crowds about John the Baptist, and about Himself. He asks them, what did they come out into the desert to see?

That’s a deep question we each must ask ourselves whether we’re believers are not. If we’re believers self-examination is a regular course you should participate in. Sunday is a good day for this, but we must routinely ask ourselves why we say, do and think the way we do. Of course for believers our guiding compass is God’s Word. It’s about your attitude.

Interestingly, in the scriptures before our verse today it says that the people, even the tax collectors acknowledged the justice of God in calling them to repentance. See the self examination there? Yet it goes on to say the Pharisees rejected God’s purpose concerning themselves. Jesus told them they were like little children sitting in the marketplace calling to one another saying, we did this and we did that. See any self examination there?

Our verse today shows us that wisdom, understanding of what is best, is shown by a person’s life and how they live it. How’s yours?

Well Done

“In vain, fruitlessly and without profit, do they worship Me, ordering and teaching to be obeyed as doctrines the commandments and precepts of men.”  Mark 7:7  Amplified

As we continue to look at Jesus, as He walked here on earth so that we can be like Him, we must carefully look at His interaction with others as well as what He said. In our verse today the Pharisees and Scribes are questioning Him on the fact that His disciples didn’t follow the ceremonial ritual of cleansing before they ate. My initial thought is that it’s probably a good hygienic practice of washing your hands before you eat, but the Jewish ritual likely included following certain steps that were beyond what was needed.

Jesus’ reply doesn’t dispute their question as far as cleanliness goes, but he takes it a step further by showing them that the outside of our body isn’t what makes us right with God, it’s the inside.  He tells them, “These people constantly honor Me with their lips, but their hearts hold off and are far distant from Me.”  He goes on to tell them that they disregard the commandment of God, the first commandment to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and spirit. Instead they cling to the tradition of men and keep it carefully and faithfully. He specifically points to the tradition of the Corban, which is giving gifts and supporting the temple instead of taking the responsibility of caring for and honoring parents, which is the fifth commandment. He basically turned the tables on them, showing them that they’re accusing someone of not following God’s commands, which ceremonial washing wasn’t, yet they don’t honor their mother and father, which is one of the commandments.

Finally, Jesus told them, “There is not even one thing outside a man which by going into him can pollute and defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him and make him unhallowed and unclean.” Mark 7:15.

As believers we’re in a relationship with our Lord, we don’t have a religion. Religion is rules and regulations, do’s and don’t’s. Man, in his attempt to follow Jesus formed groups, some believed this, others believed that, denominations were formed because of this and here we are – divided. If we believe Jesus died for our sins we all have fellowship no matter what denomination we’re a part of.  The bottom line though is our one on one relationship with God, for we all will stand before God naked and alone in the end. If we have Jesus living in our heart and seek to follow Him, we will live as He wants us to live, we will live to please Him, we will walk that out in our every day life and interaction with others. Then we will hear Jesus say, “Well done good and faithful servant, enter into your rest.”

The Golden Rule

“So then, whatever you desire that others would do to and for you, even so do also to and for them, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”  Matthew 7:12  Amplified

Aw the Golden Rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Most people see at as, do unto others before they do it to you. Of course that’s the upside down way to look at this verse, but the enemy and world usually do that to God’s Word.

If we’re to be like Jesus we must not only follow this rule, but be the initiator in it. Don’t wait for someone to treat you nice before you treat them nice, you do it first. We must go beyond our carnal nature even in trying to follow this rule. For some, returning a kindness doesn’t take much effort, but being for the first to give the kindness that might take a little thought and effort. Thinking of others first, that’s the key to following Jesus and we all have a hard time with that one. Especially when the world all around us says to take care of number one. If we first look to God to meet our need and to take care of us, then we’re free to be used by Him to take care of others. How wonderful our world would be if we all took care of each other. That’s what heaven will be like, God caring for us and us caring for each other. We could all stand a little bit of heaven here on earth.

The Kind Of Faith

“After this many of His disciples drew back and returned to their old associations and no longer accompanied Him.” John 6:66  Amplified

Wow, how appropriate that this verse is 666, these are disciples who found Jesus’ preaching too hard and turned back from Him.

Jesus was explaining to the crowd that He was the Bread of Life come down from heaven and that anyone who eats of this Bread will live forever. He told them they would have to eat His flesh and drink His blood. He said, “Whoever continues to feed on Me, whoever takes Me for his food and is nourished by Me, shall in turn live through and because of Me.” His disciples told Him that this was a hard, difficult, and strange saying, an offensive and unbearable message. He asked them, “Is this a stumbling block and an offense to you?”. He went on to tell them that the Spirit gives life not the flesh, but still some of them failed to believe and have faith.

The bottom line is that each of us must make a decision whether to follow Jesus or not. It requires humility to choose to follow Him. Our flesh, our carnal nature doesn’t like to humble itself and will find any excuse to keep from doing that. If you knew without a shadow of a doubt that actually eating the flesh of someone offering it up to you would bring you eternal life and perfect health, I have no doubt we would all do it. That’s the kind of faith it takes to follow Jesus.

A Blessing From Jesus

“And blessed, happy with life joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, and to be envied is he who takes no offense in Me and who is not hurt, resentful, annoyed, repelled, or made to stumble whatever may occur.” Luke 7:23   Amplified

I had to share this verse today, it isn’t so much about how to be like Jesus as it is Him telling us a blessing we can receive.

As a little back story John the Baptist is in prison and has asked his disciples to go and inquire of Jesus if He is the Messiah. Two things jump out at me from this, one is that even the great people of the Bible sometimes doubted and two, it’s okay to question. When Jesus sends His reply back He doesn’t fuss at John for asking He tells the messengers to go and tell John all they have seen Jesus do. Then He adds our verse today, the blessing, but let’s unpack that a little more.

The blessing is for those who take no offense in Him, these would be people who refuse to believe Jesus is the Messiah, they will not humble themselves and admit they are a sinner. The blessing is also for those who are not hurt, resentful, annoyed, repelled, or made to stumble whatever may occur in life. Are you easily offended, get your feelings hurt, get annoyed, or stumble? If we’ve given ourselves to the Lord we give up our rights to any of those feelings and emotions. Even though we may still sometimes feel those emotions we don’t need to led them rule our life.

If we remain faithful, trusting the Lord that all things will work together for good, Romans 8:28, “whatever may occur”, we’ll be blessed. Now don’t fall into the world’s idea of blessing thinking that it’s material possessions. John was in prison and would soon die for his faith, he certainly wasn’t going to be a wealthy man. One reason I like the Amplified Bible so much is it explains the words in the scriptures in more detail. Our verse today says that the blessing is “life joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation”. There are people all over the world who have all the money anyone could want and need, yet have no peace and joy.

So if you sometimes question or doubt, or let life situations affect you, now you can chase those away with your blessing from Jesus. Choose to be blessed.

Dull And Callous

“For they failed to consider or understand the teaching and meaning of the miracle of the loaves; in fact, their hearts had grown callous, had become dull and had lost the power of understanding.” Mark 6:52  Amplified

Can you imagine being with Jesus every day? You would think if you were with Him that you would be a mighty man or woman for God. Walking with our Lord, hearing Him speak, and seeing Him perform all the miracles He did, we would just be floating five feet off the ground. Well the disciples were with Him every day, yet our verse today says their hearts became dull and callous. How could that be?

Let’s first remember that we know Jesus post resurrection, when the disciples walked with Him they could see that He was different from others they had known, but that’s all. Even when we consider His miracles, Moses and Elijah had performed miracles too, but they weren’t the Messiah. So maybe we can understand how they could so easily become dull and callous. Think about this, when we listen to our pastor preach on Sunday morning, even when we listen intently, an hour later we may not be able to tell anyone what he preached on. Our carnal minds aren’t really interested in spiritual things and in our world today we are constantly being bombarded with worldly thoughts. The disciples back then didn’t have exactly the same culture to deal with, at least not electronically, but temptation has been the same since the dawn of time, it just wears a different outfit now.

Our verse today reminds us that we must always be diligent to hide God’s word in our heart and be intent on feeding our spiritual minds. If we don’t, we will become dull, callous, and lose the power of understanding spiritual things. Then we’ll just be like the rest of the blind sheep in the world who follow after whatever is popular at the moment. There’s not much joy and peace in that.