Tag Archives: Reality

Comfort

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  [NIV]

This is the middle of the week between Palm Sunday and Easter for us.  The memory of that first “Palm” Sunday crowd raising their Hosannas for the Messiah of their own imagination along with this quote from John Piper is my reminder for today.  “Many of Jesus’s followers [in AD33] thought Jesus came to rescue and reign now. They anticipated a physical and political freedom from the oppressive Roman rule. For them, the Christ was the key to their immediate, this-world issues.” [Your Sorrow will Turn to Joy]  

Re-read that quote from Piper and replace “Roman rule” with coronavirus. As believers in Christ we are confronted today with the same challenge of that long ago crowd – choosing imagination or reality.  We can’t imagine how Jesus will rescue us from the deadly coronavirus but we can find comfort in the reality of His own words “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  Choosing to let Jesus’s Word be the reality of comfort for us is better than letting our imagination for this-world confront us in the midst of this coronavirus week between Palm Sunday and Easter [2020].

Heart-Breaking Headlines – Adultery and Murder

2 Samuel 11:1-5 It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.  Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king’s house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold.  So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?”  Then David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her, for she was cleansed from her impurity; and she returned to her house.  And the woman conceived; so she sent and told David, and said, “I am with child.” [NKJV] 

“While Joab is busy in laying siege to Rabbah, Satan is [laying seige] to David, and far sooner prevailed.” [Trapp]

God’s plan for marriage
The condition,1 the promise2 and the blessing.3

Genesis 2:24-25 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother.1 and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.2  And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.3
The reality of the relationship…Deuteronomy 17:17a  He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray.
The evidence of accumulated sin…2Sa 3:2-5 Sons were born to David in Hebron: His firstborn was Amnon by Ahinoam the Jezreelitess;  his second, Chileab, by Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite; the third, Absalom the son of Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur;  the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital;  and the sixth, Ithream, by David’s wife Eglah. These were born to David in Hebron.

News flash! Deceit and cover up from a position of power are not new and the consequences of  sin are not normalized by repetition or by calling it by some gentler name.  How does a nation deal with the complete moral failure of its leader?  Consequences aren’t just a dismal surprise resulting from corrupt acts, they’re a given.  Heart-breaking consequences were the result for a whole family and a whole nation as a result of the accumulated sins of the very king who had captured God’s own heart.  Satan found a way to expose those accumulated sins into the tragic reality of consequences that included adultery, murder and death. 

Here’s the Good News from 2 Samuel this Sunday: God did provide for the king’s heart to remember the grace of repentance and restoration that could forgive accumulated sins even in the midst of heart-breaking circumstances.   That should sound familiar to our heart too.  God has provided for our hearts to remember the grace of repentance and restoration we have through the death of another child, His own Son.   Jesus,  is God’s provision for our hearts to find repentance and restoration in every circumstance. 

Complete Identity

John 15:20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. ESV

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“Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.” Remember just a few verses ago when Jesus called you friend?  Why does Christ remind us now of the servant/master relationship?

We live in a world of two polar opposite masters; Jesus who is God and the princes of this world who aren’t. All of humanity will have to choose which of those two powerful masters to serve. There’s no inbetween. You can’t be a friend to both. You’ll either have to organize your life without God OR accept and act in accordance [abide] with Jesus’s example.

Take a moment and consider just what that example is.  Jesus has already declared himself to understand your past, believe in your future, and accept you just the way you are. He has called you friend. He wouldn’t have forgotten that when He said “A servant is not greater than his master.’  Remember “Jesus took upon him the form of a servant” [Philippians 2:7].  John 15:20 is not a reminder to us of His position as Master but of His complete identity with His own servanthood and His desire to prepare us for the reality of accepting that identity  as our own.

Life on the Edge

John 15:18 “If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. [NRSV]

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Reading John 15:18 feels like I’ve fallen off the edge from one celebrated reality… the birth of the Promise of Advent as evidence of God’s love…and directly into a world of gray.  That world is filled with inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.  The edge is real and the world of  gray is real.  That’s unsettling because this world is our only option right now.  

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said  “I discovered later, and I’m still discovering right up to this moment, that is it only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith.” God’s Promise has not come to separate us from this world but to clearly define how different the options are on either side of that edge.

Jesus is our world-shaping option who’s provided another reality for navigating a complete life on the edge in this world while we learn to have faith: “I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.”  [John 17:15 NRSV].  

Curious

John 15:16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.  [NRSV]

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“Bear fruit, fruit that will last” is the curious qualification for the “whatever” in the response “SO…the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.” I’ve spent hours and typed many paragraphs these last few days trying to explain to myself what that specific “fruit that will last” is because it’s so important to that “whatever.”  

In the end I’ve discovered to bear “fruit that will last” is something far simpler and more personal and it’s my tie-in to Advent.  Jesus is our  gift of faith.   “Bear” usually implies the power to sustain without flinching or breaking and faith is the only “fruit that will last” long enough to make “whatever” a reality in our life.

Breathe

John 15:8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become [be] my disciples.

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One of the “biggest” ideas of Scripture is distilled to an absolute and simple truth in this one verse.  It’s the will of God.  It begins, “My Father is glorified by this…”  Surprisingly it’s not a list of things you must do but the more subtle and important variation between the words “become” and the footnoted [be].  Growth is focused on “becoming.” Glorifying God is focused on “being what you’ve become.” Those two forms of the same word are the distilled reality of living in God’s will.

BE: “exist, have life, breathe

Knowing the will of God seems impossibly big but Jesus has clearly identified how simple it is: bearing fruit and being a disciple of His. The one who exists to BE in Christ is simply and absolutely living in the will of God. The will of God is not a struggle of the mind to grasp all the “shoulds” and do them. The will of God doesn’t require perfection; Jesus has got that!  The Word of God is not a crib sheet with the right answers to all the questions that haven’t come up yet.

When God breathed life into Adam He established drawing breath as evidence of life. God in his sovereign will has chosen Jesus and the Holy Spirit and given us the Word to breathe His life into us.  Every breath taken “accepting and acting in accordance [abiding] with” Jesus is simple and absolute proof of life that glorifies God and confirms you are in His will and you will bear fruit.  Just abide and breathe!

Can You Believe?

Truth; John 15:3 You have already been cleansed [or pruned] by the word that I have spoken to you. [NRSV]

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Inspiration: Remember the Apostle Peter?  Remember how he protested when Jesus wanted to wash his feet?  Jesus’s response to Peter sounds just like John 15:3 to me – ”you’ve already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you.  

Reality: OK, this is a test!  Get a pencil and paper and write down the first five true things you remember Jesus has spoken personally into your heart.  Write them in the order you remember them without any concern about a timeline.  It doesn’t have to be a complete list and they don’t have to be written as verbatim scripture but they do have to be real to you.  AND THIS IS KEY: don’t go back and edit them in any way as you read them again. [you know it’s me I’m talking to]. The important thing is they ARE written in the order you remember them. 

•Test IS the root word of test meaning “to bear witness.”  Do not confuse this root test with the same word which means examination. It is true that when you take an examination you are a witness for your own knowledge and, unless you cheat, you are showing what you do or don’t know. However, here the word means a solemn telling of the truth of what you know, bearing witness for truth’s sake.
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You may have already had the experience of writing or giving your testimony.  You know how difficult it is to distill the most important things Jesus has done for you from the many really good things that have happened in your life without turning it into an “I was and now I am” testimony.   I believe the results of your test are listed in the priority of their impact on you specifically.   Can you believe the things you just wrote down are an accurate recounting of Jesus and the Holy Spirit verifying “you have already been cleansed”?   If you can, that belief can make your list the perfect outline that moves what you wrote from that examination kind of “test” to  the root of a new “testimony.”   A testimony that bears witness for truth’s sake to the I AM.  My wish would be that you would use your results and write your own new kind of testimony.

This is my own “unedited” list.  My new testimony is only to show you an example of how effectively it can work.
1.  I have been crucified with Christ.  I have scars but they’re part of the testimony of my healing.
2.  There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus
3.  Jesus will complete the work he’s begun in me
4.  The greatest of these is love
5.  Lord help my heart, soul, mind an strength

Nobody wants to admit their inability to deal with life or being wounded.  Even healing can leave scars.  I want my scars to be changed from something that needs to be hidden to evidence of blessing.  I want to be like Jesus.  I want Him to be the power that allows me to believe and live as if I have “already been cleansed. ”  I want to view those scars as the revelation of a changed heart not a sign of condemnation.  I want to believe my soul has caught a glimpse of promised immortality, my mind has been challenged by the Word of God and I really do have the strength to live by the words Jesus has spoken into my heart – I AM “the word that I have spoken to you.”