Wednesday, March 31, 2010
He is divine, I am debranch
As I think about it, the teaching about fruit has more focus on the pruning than on the grape. The Father’s pruning makes us more like Him. I think it’s His way of taking something created (and quite mundane in comparison with Him) and making it more God-like. In other words: Good, by choice, holy by choice, loving & kind by choice, one with Him by choice. Ephesians 5:26f says “so that He might cleanse us and present us to Himself without spot, or wrinkle, holy and blameless.”
It’s too deep for me to really grasp today. Or maybe it’s just too simple. I believe that His leaving us here to bear fruit has a lot to do with the process, with learning about “remaining in the vine,” as Jesus said. Like in my discussion about “branding” with my friend, Guy. The “brand” is the by-product of what you do and how you do it. No branch can bear fruit “of its own,” or out of its own desire or effort.
In the spiritual life the goal isn’t necessarily the “fruit.” The goal is a healthy, well-pruned branch that knows how to abide in the vine. Fruit is the by-product. The goal is to be more like Jesus, maybe I should strike that and say the goal is to be more in Jesus. The result is fruit. Psalm 17:14,15.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
The Spirit of Truth
I did a search on the phrase "the truth." 64 out of 74 occurances are in the New Testament. About 1/3 of these are in John's writings. Another large group is in Romans.
A few come to mind: men traded the truth of God for a lie, men did not love the truth and therefore could not come to salvation, false Christian leaders are always learning, but are unable to come to a knowledge of the truth.
Lynda said "what's the opposite?" I thought, well, the devil was a liar from the beginning. He does not stand in the truth.
But then I realized that there are certainly degrees of a lie. There are not degrees of truth, however. ("No lie is of the truth," "we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth.") So, there is no such thing as a "half truth."
An outright lie is the easiest to detect. Slight and deceptive lies are more difficult to detect.
What I've discovered is that in times of wickedness (or in "end" times), men will believe and embrace the lie rather than the truth.
That is just the case today - leaders can speak an outright lie and people believe it. The next day they can contradict it with another lie and they will believe that. If they are confronted with the contradiction, they defend the man!
People buy into bold-faced lies. They don't even need to be disguised any longer. That is scary.
It is also when Psalm 37 speaks to me. "Do not fret because of evil doers, because of the wicked who prosper ... cease from anger ... for it only leads to evil doing." Instead, trust, do good, cultivate faithfulness, delight in the Lord, commit your way to the Lord ..."
So, instead, to paraphrase the Psalm, I need to redirect my focus and be filled with joy!! I need to focus on God, focus on good, focus on the opportunities for good and for ministry that God has placed in my path today.
Lord, help my focus today be on You and on how You want me to live today, and not be caught up in the world - that Your joy may be in me, and my joy may be complete. How amazing is that -- that I can be filled with joy today!
Friday, March 19, 2010
Why am I drawn to the Gospels?
I've been reading the Gospels over & over for a couple of years (so has my friend, Jerry), and now I’ve found myself parked in John 12-17 for some time. I’m not sure why – maybe this will explain.
Hebrews 1:3 He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature.
· Radiance of His glory – radiance, brightness, shining forth, luminary (apaugasma)
· Exact representation – the image, character, precise reproduction, stamped image (character)
In the Old Testament we witness the deeds and words of God in action with Israel. In the gospels we can watch the express image of Him walking with men day to day. With that in mind I read John 14:6-9
14:6 All who come to the Father must come through Me. This “coming” is present active of erchomai – the act of coming, as in contrast to hako – the arriving. In other words, finding the Father is a process that never ends, but the pathway is always through Jesus (no man comes … but through Me).
14:7 If you had known (egnokeite) Me you would have perceived (adeite) the Father. Both these are in the pluperfect. Pluperfect can be described as an action that happened in the past that affected something in the past or even in the present.
14:8 Phillip asked “show us (deizon) the Father”
· A good illustration might be: “If you had saved for the last 20 years, you’d have a retirement today.” In other words, “If during the time we’ve been together, you had come to know Me, you would have already perceived the Father.” Jn 10:30 I and the Father are one (present indicative eimi).
14:9 Jesus answers in the perfect tense – action that has permanence: lasting, maybe even eternal results. He says, "If you have seen me ..." or “If anyone has used discernment in observing Me, he has seen/discerned the Father.”
Jesus is making it clear that knowing the Father is predicated on knowing Jesus. If we want to know the Father we have to do it though knowing Jesus. This is why the Gospels are so cool.
How I see it:
· In the Old Testament we learn about the acts and character of God.
· In the Psalms we learn about how the man after God’s own heart & God related to one another.
· In the Epistles we learn about the Christian life – how to reckon, how to think, how to act.
· In the Gospels we learn about the person of God as revealed in Jesus Messiah
So the implication: If I want to know God – in depth / personally, I cannot get that today. It’s not like a download. It’s like an investment. I can have it in the future but I have to work on it today. To get it I must study the image of His nature, the luminary of His glory. The more I study Jesus, the more I’ll know the Father.
So, for me: Keep reading the Gospels. As I read, don’t just read what Jesus said and did, but learn Jesus. Learn the how and why of His actions, His character, His motivations, plans, way of living, way of loving.
This is why I’m drawn to the Gospels, because I’m being drawn to the person of God. As I study the Gospels I learn the Person, the Path, the Life. I believe that as I learn the Epistles I learn how to think and how to live, but if I learn Jesus in the Gospels, I learn life, I receive life. You want the life, John? He’s it. Not knowing about Him, but knowing Him. Receive it. Live it. Give it.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Hurt that heals
When Ron's wife died, Denver said to him "I know when somebody you love is gone that's the last time you feel like thanking God, but sometimes we has to be thankful for the things that hurt us 'cause sometimes God does things that hurt us but they help somebody else."
I thought "isn't that what happened on the cross?"
Later on Ron wrote: "I remember what CS Lewis said about the clash between grief and faith 'the tortures occur,' he wrote, 'if they are unnecessary then there is no God, or a bad one. If there is a good God, then these tortures are necessary, for no even moderately good Being could possibly inflict them or permit them if they weren't'"
This, plus the other quote, reminded me of Paul's "sharing in the sufferings of Christ." Out of Christ's pain, others are made whole. In God's redemptive plan, any pain can make other's whole. That's how we share in the sufferings of Christ, by allowing our pain to heal others.
As Jesus Christ brings me healing through His Holy Spirit, I am transformed into a more compassionate person. Lord, help my compassion spread your mercy to others, for, as Paul said in Romans, it is the kindness of God that leads a man to repentance. The path to God is strewn with His acts of mercy. As written in James, mercy triumphs over judgment.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Lord, please make it brief
I really like 2 Chron because it's Israel's history written from God's perspective. His working in the ongoing history of israel is very evident in this book. The beginnign of kings forsaking, being troubled, seeking, turning, finding. So often I seek like in 10:15 "for it was a turn of events from God." It's obvious that I need that sometimes - a turn of events from God.
In chapter 15 we see the people seeking God, and even covenanting to seek Him with all their hearts "and He let them find Him.
It's all part of the process God was trying to accomplish then, and still now - when He caused them to be subject to Egypt (12:8) "so that they might learn the difference between My service and the service of the kingdoms of the coutries." Lord, if I or my family have to become slaves to something to learn this lesson, please in Your mercy, make it brief.
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