Discovering The True Jesus (pt.3)- The Birth of a Savior

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”   Luke 2:11-12

The virgin birth. In America, most of us hear this story every year during the Christmas season, so much so that I believe we have become calloused to the extraordinary way that Jesus entered into our world. The Bible teaches that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in a virgin named Mary. The angel Gabriel tells Mary, “behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.”

Often times, we think of Jesus starting His whole life as an infant, but the Bible also teaches that He existed with the Father for all of eternity past. In the book of John, the author describes Jesus as the “Word,” stating that He was with God the Father in the beginning, and that God created all things through Him (John 1:1-3). God says before He creates man, “Let us make man in our image” (Gen 1:26). So, lets think briefly about the transition from Jesus’ life in heaven to His “birth” on earth….what do you think it was like?

Hard to think about, isn’t it? Thankfully, in Philippians, the author lays out for us what Jesus did when He chose to come to earth:”Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Phil 2:5-7). Jesus completely humbled himself in leaving his heavenly throne to come live as one of us….to ultimately die for us and save us. He was born in the likeness of men, so that He could be the perfect sacrifice for men.

Speaking of Jesus’ humbling himself, look at where He was born! In our first text in Luke, we saw that it was said that Jesus would be found lying in a manger. A manger is a feeding trough used to feed farm animals. It was in the center of the holding houses and likely the dirtiest part of the barn. When animals eat…they often relieve themselves in the same spot. This is likely what the scene actually looked like:

manger

Jesus, the Son of God, came into the earth and spent His first few minutes on earth in one of the dirtiest environments. Why? Humility. Jesus humbled Himself, remember? Is this the way for an earthly King to enter the world? Certainly not. But we will learn of Jesus throughout our study, that He does nothing like an earthly king would do. “My kingdom is not of this world” Jesus says in John 18:36. But I also believe that this was God’s way of showing that Jesus was the real deal. Jesus was humble and a servant from the get-go. He was willing to do whatever it takes to complete His purpose, and in this case-that meant being born in a dirty manger.

The last piece of this story that I want to unfold is: why was it necessary for Jesus to be born of a virgin?

All throughout the Bible, God required a perfect sacrifice to be made before Him to pay for sin committed. In the Old Testament, God’s law required His people to sacrifice “unblemished” lambs, bulls, and goats. If the sacrifice wasn’t perfect before God, it was unacceptable. In the same way, for Jesus to be the perfect and final sacrifice, He must be perfect and unblemished before God. Ever since Adam sinned in the garden, every human being has been born into sin, and the Bible depicts sin nature passing down from generation to generation through the father (Romans 5:12,17,19). It was critical Jesus not to be “born in sin” so that He could fulfill His role as the perfect sacrifice. This is why the Holy Spirit conceived Jesus in Mary’s womb, so that Jesus could circumvented the transmission of the sin nature and become a perfect man.

This little story has more depth than you thought, didn’t it? Its read every year at Christmas, but certainly worth celebrating the entire year. It marks the beginning of Jesus’ life on earth, and is absolutely crucial to the fulfillment of the rest of His mission. Jesus wasn’t only born in a dirty manger, but He would die on a bloody cross.

Tune in next week for part 4 of this series.

Discovering The True Jesus (pt.1)

For one of my Marketing classes this fall, I am required to write ten different blogs about anything that I am passionate about to practice gaining a presence on the web and to better “market” myself to employers/network associates/etc. So…I had to choose what to write on that would have a consistent theme throughout the semester. After much thought, I decided to write about….Jesus. Instead of marketing myself, why not market Him? Most of what I do in my life is based off of who He is and what He did- so why not share that with my peers and fellow students?

In order to do this, I plan on analyzing ten major events, stories from, or teachings about Jesus from the Bible, so that I can paint an overall picture of who the true Jesus is, and what He came to accomplish on earth. I hope that you will join me regularly on this journey, and comment and interact with me as I seek to unveil the truth about the most influential human being that ever walked the earth!

So, for my first post, I will simply introduce Jesus from a historical perspective, and how He is viewed by the world. Most credible historians agree that a man named Jesus did live 2000 years ago, and quickly gained a following that changed the course of the future forever. Josephus and Tacitus are some of the main secular historians who wrote about Jesus as they recorded events in Jerusalem and Rome near Jesus’ lifetime. However, there are countless hundreds of individuals who wrote about Jesus’ life, relaying information that they heard from eyewitnesses, within 100-200 years after His death. Any argument that Jesus never existed is not very credible, and goes against the grain of many leading (even secular) scholars. So then, if Jesus existed, what do people believe that He actually did? Who was He?

People of Jewish descent believe that Jesus was a man who claimed to be a messiah (a savior for the nation of Israel) but that He was a false messiah. Muslims believe that Jesus was just another prophet in a line of prophets before Muhammad. Secular historians believe that Jesus was just another religious individual who gained popularity after His death and started a new world religion. Christians believe that He is the Savior of the world, the Son of God who ransoms mankind. But most would refer to Jesus simply as a “good teacher” or a man with many helpful and wise teachings.

However, if Jesus is only a “good teacher,” what must we do with the fact that He claimed to be God’s Son? That He said He was the Messiah? That He said He would raise from the dead? Would “good teachers” say these things about themselves? I think not! Jesus, then, must either be a liar, a lunatic, or who He said He was. He cannot be just a good teacher, or even a prophet (because good teachers or prophets would not make false, incorrect claims about their identities and still be considered “good”). He is either intentionally lying (trying to deceive others), or He is crazy (He thinks He’s God’s Son!) or He is who He said He was (He was telling the truth!). These are the only three options for who Jesus can actually be.

So….who is He? What evidence is their to back up some of the world’s major views of Him? Is He who He claimed to be? Or was He disiluusioned? To learn about anyone’s life, we must go to the people that knew them best: their family members, their friends, their colleagues. Thankfully, Jesus’ closest friends wrote about His life in four distinct books called the Gospels. We will take a look at one story in the next blog and try to come a little farther in answering the question, “Who is the REAL Jesus?”

The Never-Changing God

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

Our God NEVER changes. One may think, “great, how is that of use to me?” It is of great importance to us! Think of the ways that Jesus responded to the crowds in the first chapters of Mark: there were three different instances when Jesus was almost crushed by crowds of people. He even had to tell his disciples to prepare a boat that He could get in if the crowds started to crush Him (yes, that many people were running to Him!) When He went home to sleep that night, the scriptures say that the entire town was at His house! Yet, He skipped his meal, stayed and ministered to and loved on the people so much that his own family remarked that he was “out of his mind.” So, if He never changes, He still has this disposition, and He still reacts this way to those who run to Him.

Here is solid comfort. Our human nature cannot be relied on, but we can rely on God! However unstable I may be, however fickle my friends may prove, God does not change. If He changed as we do; if He willed one thing today and another tomorrow, if He were controlled by His mood, who could reveal their secrets to Him? However, we can bring Him praise and worship, because He is ever the same! His purpose is fixed, His will is stable, His Word is sure. Here then is a Rock on which we may fix our feet, while the mighty oceans of life try to sweep us away. (My translation of A.W Pinks Attributes, pp 692 Kindle)

Think about it. His character is permanent. He could never change for the better, for that would imply that there was something about Him that needed improving before, and thus, He wouldn’t be a perfect God. He has always been, and forever will be, the same, perfect, God. The permanence of His character guarantees the fulfillment of His promises:

For the mountains may depart
    and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
    and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,
    says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”               Isaiah 54:10

His promises are true. His hatred of sin endures forever. His love for His children never changes. His satisfaction with the sacrifice His Son paid for our sins will never change…Aren’t you glad that our God never changes?

God’s Sovereignty In the Book of Acts: Ordaining the Cross

God’s-Sovereignty

“His Sovereignty rules over all.” – Ps. 103:19

I have often heard the phrase, “God is sovereign” in a way that has been spoken to me to give me encouragement in a tough time or situation. But I never really took the time to meditate on what it meant for Him to be sovereign. The term is defined by having supreme power and authority, a free ability to do as one pleases. In other words, God is in absolute control over every situation, and works out everything according to His will. Think on it for a while, and it will drive your brain into massive confusion. However, we are called to submit ourselves to and believe what scripture tells us, and trust in his sovereignty.

These past few days, I have read through the book of Acts, and I was struck with how much it reveals about God’s sovereignty-with regards to salvation! I simply would like to share them with you in a 3 part series, so that you too can see how God has worked out salvation for his people, and how you, too, if in Christ, were brought into salvation by his amazing grace.

In this first post, Lets look at the major theme of sovereignty in how God ordained the cross:

  • Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” Acts 2:23

I had a very interesting conversation with a Muslim man the other day, who asked me if Christians hated Jews, because they were the ones who “killed Jesus.” This was the first time that I had really come across this misconception. Before I could reply, my friend with me answered, “No,no,no, we don’t hate them at all. We believe it was God’s plan all along, that he used the Jews and the Romans to accomplish his purpose of sacrificing Jesus!” This can be a tough pill to swallow, but Acts 2:23 clearly states for us that Jesus was crucified because it was the definite plan and foreknowledge of God. Let’s look at another verse:

  • What God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled.” Acts 3:18

In this verse we are told that not only did God plan it from the beginning, but you can see his plan through reading the prophets in the Old Testament. Lets look at one of the most well-known passages. Isaiah 53:5 reads, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.” Isn’t is incredible that these words were written 600-700 years before Jesus birth? There are over 300 in the Old Testament like it! God surely had a plan, and was voicing it to his people all throughout history.

If you haven’t been convinced yet, lets look at one last verse,

  • For truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus…Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your hand had predestined to take place.” Acts 4:27-28

In the most heinous crime committed in the history of mankind, God was behind the scenes, sovereignly ruling. His hand predestined for Jesus to go to the cross, and to bear the weight of our filthy sin. He planned it all, so that whosoever would repent and believe in Him, would have eternal life. This was the depth of his love for us, that he would send his own Son, who would be despised and rejected, so that we might have life with Him. “But God showed his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8. Recognizing this plan helps us understand the cornerstone of the gospel, seen in Isaiah 53:10,” Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush Him.” Him- meaning Jesus.

People everywhere are commanded to repent and believe in this incredible gospel (Acts 17:30). How could we not accept so great a Savior? How could we not devote our lives to a God, who in his sovereignty planted the very tree that he would be crucified on-all to give us life and relationship with Him?

Truly, He is sovereign.

Jesus: Giver of Living Water

At the very beginning of the story of the woman at the well, we see Jesus do something that yet again sets himself apart from most religious leaders at the time. We are told that he had to pass through Samaria (John 4:4). Most devout Jews would avoid Samaria on this journey to and from Judea, taking a much longer route, due to their racism and hatred of Samaritans. Jesus, however, walks right on through, and sits down for a divine appointment with a sinful Samaritan woman.

Jesus tells the woman,

“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.” -John 4:14

The woman suddenly makes a request for this water, but she does not understand what Jesus is saying. This is clearly shown in the latter part of her sentence, “..so I will not be thirsty

Jesus came to quench the “thirst” of those longing to know God. He alone provides the “living water” for us to be in a relationship with God and be satisfied with Him forever!

To aid the woman’s misunderstanding, Jesus helps her understand who he is by telling her he knows of her five husbands (4:18) and prophesying that people will eventually be able to worship anywhere (because God will no longer dwell on a mountain or in a tabernacle, but in the hearts of believers). When the woman tells Jesus that she knows that a “Messiah” is coming, he responds with what would be an incredibly dramatic scene in a movie by saying, “I who speak to you am he.”

I trust that at once the woman knew who Jesus claimed to be, and she believed- she drank of the living water.

In verse 28 we are told, “So the woman left her water jar and went away into the town..”

She left her water jar! This is not astounding to 21st century readers as it should be, because we do not understand the difficulties of retrieving water. Most women in the 1st century would walk some great distance to fill their jars for the necessities that the day held: cooking, bathing, drinking, etc. Also, the fact that the woman came at approximately noon is a possible indicator itself that she felt ashamed and didn’t want to be seen in public (potentially due to her having 5 husbands)- which makes it all the more interesting that this is the woman that Jesus speaks to. Nevertheless, what we do know for sure is that the retrieval of water was a big deal-so to leave the jar behind and return to town without it-was a big deal!

This is to say that the most important thing in the woman’s life at the time was dropped when she encountered Jesus. I believe she understood that she had encountered something far greater than a necessity for this physical life- she encountered the necessity for a spiritual life in God- Jesus.

You see Jesus offers this living water to us, it is ours for the taking. To trust him, to drink of the water that he offers, to be brought in relationship with Him, and to never thirst again- is the offer on the table. Will you take it?

If you are dying of thirst in a desert and you stumble upon a pool of water, would you look at it? Would you admire it? Would you try to understand how it got there? Or how you stumbled upon it? Would you memorize its color and study it? No- You would drink it at once!

The woman not only left her jar, she ran into the town, among the people she was ashamed to be seen by, and emphatically told them about Jesus. Her previous worries of being mocked or looked down upon were gone! She knew who she had encountered- the King of the universe. You can encounter him, too.

My friends, please drink of this living water! Drop everything else your worrying or thinking about. Nothing is as important as this- Have you accepted Jesus? Have you drank of the living water? Throw yourself upon Christ. He is waiting to quench your everlasting thirst!

Please email me at jrfletch@uga.edu with any questions!

A.W. Tozer- Self-Sins

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20, KJV)

To be specific, the self-sins are self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love and a host of others like them. They dwell too deep within us and are too much a part of our natures to come to our attention till the light of God is focused upon them. The grosser manifestations of these sins–egotism, exhibitionism, self-promotion–are strangely tolerated in Christian leaders, even in circles of impeccable orthodoxy.

They are so much in evidence as actually, for many people, to become identified with the gospel. I trust it is not a cynical observation to say that they appear these days to be a requisite for popularity in some sections of the church visible. Promoting self under the guise of promoting Christ is currently so common as to excite little notice….

Self is the opaque veil that hides the face of God from us. It can be removed only in spiritual experience, never by mere instruction. We may as well try to instruct leprosy out of our system. There must be a work of God in destruction before we are free. We must invite the cross to do its deadly work within us. We must bring our self-sins to the cross for judgment.

“Oh Lord, do that ‘work of God in destruction’ within me today. I am indeed ‘crucified with Christ.’ I pray this morning that the cross would obliterate the self-sins in my life and let me live only for Jesus Christ and His glory. Amen.” (Tozer on Christian Leadership, November 15)

Jesus in the Old Testament: Isaiah 53:7 (Part One)

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. ” –Isaiah 55:7

The book of Isaiah was written about 2700 years ago, an entire 700 years before Jesus walked the earth. Yet he writes about Jesus several times, identifying several specific aspects about his life and death that are perfectly fulfilled at the end of Jesus’ life. This is clear proof that God had preordained and planned the very events of the crucifixion that would cover the sins of the world!

Verse 7 of Isaiah 53 says that Jesus didn’t open his mouth. What does this mean? Well, when Jesus was brought before Pilate, twice scripture tells us that he was accused by the high priests several times, and in Matt. 27:13 Pilate asks him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” And in verse 14 it says, “But he gave him no answer, so that the governor was greatly amazed.” In very good book I read this past month, Pontius Pilate, it describes how unusual this was that Jesus didn’t offer a defense against the accusations of the Pharisees. Those who weren’t guilty would emphatically declare their innocent, yet even those who were obviously guilty offered some type of argument or defense. Jesus didn’t need to argue back or defend himself, for he knew what was to come, and knew that a defense would only hurt his testimony, his humility, and his obedience to the Father. In that moment, we were on his mind, and he remained quiet to be obedient, fulfill what Isaiah wrote, and to humbly embrace the crucifixion sentence that was coming.

This passage of Isaiah also describes Jesus like a “lamb that is led to the slaughter.” In ancient Judaism, the lamb was the most powerful sacrifices to atone for sin. We can clearly see this in the Passover in Egypt, when the Hebrews were required to sacrifice a lamb and paint its blood over their door so that they would be saved. When the angel of death came through Egypt to fulfill the final plague, those who had the lamb’s blood over their door were “passed over” and were saved from death. We must not think that this referring to Jesus as a lamb is a coincidence! In John 1:29 we read, “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John exclaimed this the first time that he saw Jesus, for he knew exactly who he was and exactly what he came to do. Likewise, Isaiah intentionally prophesies about Jesus, calling him a lamb. When we compare the use of the lamb to the passover story mentioned above, we can see an amazing parallel that relates directly to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for us. Those for whom Jesus died (believers) are covered by the blood of the cross, just like the Hebrews were covered by the blood of the actual lamb, and by this covering we are saved from spiritual death, just as they were saved from a physical death!

It is through His death on the cross as God’s perfect sacrifice for sin and His resurrection three days later that we can now have eternal life if we believe in Him. The fact that God Himself has provided the offering (a perfect “lamb”) that atones for our sin is part of the glorious good news of the gospel that is so clearly declared in 1 Peter 1:18-21: “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

 

The next day he *saw Jesus coming to him and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! – See more at: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Lamb-Of-God#sthash.0sFBM4vo.dpuf
The next day he *saw Jesus coming to him and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! – See more at: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Lamb-Of-God#sthash.0sFBM4vo.dpuf The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!” John 1:29

“It Is Finished.” Jesus vs. World Religions

Faith in Christ compared to every other world religion or belief system is amazing in that- one man and his life changes everything. Every other religion in the world spells D-O and is all about trying to do enough to please God. Whether it be keeping laws, praying certain times a day, refraining from foods, sharing your belief so often, or taking part in rituals or traditions, the main goal is to do enough good things to achieve eternal life. In the Bible, Romans 3:23 lets us know that this is not achievable because “ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Our faith in Jesus Christ is drastically different than any religion. Where every other religion says D-O, Jesus says ,”D-O-N-E.” His final words on the cross exhibit this beautiful truth: “It is finished,” (John 19:30). Jesus did what we could never do by living a perfectly obedient life to the Father’s will. In addition to this, He willingly laid down his life for us on the cross and by doing so He paid for all of our wickedness and sinfulness by taking the Father’s wrath upon himself. This was done so that “whoever calls on his name shall be saved (Romans 10:13).” One of my favorite examples of how our salvation is not about doing is found when Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a generous landowner Matthew 20:

In my own paraphrasing, this is what happens: A master goes out and hires a group of workers early in the morning and promises to pay them a denarius (a day’s typical wage.) Then the master went back out around 9:00am and picked up some more workers, and he did the same thing again at 12:00, 3:00, and then even 5:00. All of the workers worked until about 6:00pm, and each were given one denarius. The workers that had worked for twelve hours exclaimed,” these last have only worked one hour, and you have made them equal to us.” But the master replies, “Am I not allowed to do what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?” (Matt. 20:15).

What a beautiful representation of the Gospel! When I have talked to some of my coworkers and friends who are nonbelievers about the Gospel, I have usually been asked, “So someone who sins their entire life….can have faith in Jesus the last year of their life and still be saved?” The answer is YES my friends! It simply does not make sense to those who have not been shown by the Holy Spirit. But I wonder, how many times have we acted like the men who worked the entire day..judging and thinking that we have done more, are more spiritual, and deserve more blessings and recognition because of our obedience, works, and “strength of faith”? Jesus tells his disciples after the parable, “So the last will be first, and the first last.” This is the great beauty that is found in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ! It is all about our faith in him, and not about what we have done or how long we have done it! Each believer will be rewarded with heaven, whether he is a Billy Graham or a murderer who has faith in Jesus in the last moments. Don’t think this last part is sounds fair? Take it up with Jesus, who tells the thief who had just asked Jesus to remember him in his kingdom this: “Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise” Luke 23:43.

How beautiful is this! The man on the cross next to Jesus had spent his entire life in sin, but at the end of it, something was different. At the end of his life of rebellion and wickedness, he realized how depraved he was, which led to his realization of his need for a Savior. Regardless of his life experiences, his simple faith in Christ was enough for him to be given Jesus as his personal savior, and for him to be granted eternal life. My friend, this amazing love is at the door for you and me! Oh how he desires for us to come to Him, just like the thief, at the end of our rope and in desperate need of a Savior. Seek Him, and you will find Him. He longs to save us from the weariness of doing, and bring us into the fullness of joy that is found in resting in what he DID!

How can we not love, worship, and seek to know this amazing God! We no longer have to do, because it has already been done.  Trust in him, and him alone, because when Jesus said, “It is finished,” I promise you, HE MEANT IT!

 

“You are altogether beautiful, my darling.” -God

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You are altogether beautiful, my darling, And there is no blemish in you.” Song of Solomon 4:7

“The greatest task of the believer is to seek out and try to discover how much God loves them.” -Paul Washer

The hardest thing to believe is the way that our God loves us. He loves us with a pure and perfect love, and when he looks on us, he says, “You are altogether beautiful, my darling.” It is so hard to believe it, because our culture gives us such a shallow definition of love. But oh, this love, we have never seen anything like it! Think about it, the God who created ENTIRE UNIVERSE looks on US, and says, “You are beautiful, my darling.”

Why does he view us as beautiful? Because Christ is beautiful! We are told that any good thing we do as an unbeliever is nothing but “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). Picture yourself, before you come to Christ, standing, wearing nothing but filthy, dirty rags. You see, Jesus also wears a garment, it is a cloak of perfect righteousness, and it is utterly beautiful. When we lay everything at the cross and come to Jesus to save us from our sin, he strips us of our filthy rags, and he places HIS cloak of righteousness over us, and WE are made righteous. When God looks upon us, he doesn’t see the old, wicked, rebellious sinner. He sees his Son’s cloak of righteousness, his Son’s beauty, and he regards US as beautiful.

We ought not to only say, “Christ died for us.” You see, Christ also lived for us! He stepped down from his heavenly throne and lived a perfect life, full of good works, filled with love, mercy, and grace! He lived this life so that by going to the cross and being crushed for our sin (Isaiah 53:5) God the Father’s wrath would be taken out on him, and that we, by believing in him, may be given his perfect obedience as our own. This is what the second part of the Song of Solomon verse is referring to when it says, “and there is no blemish in you.” ! How amazing is this! That when the God of the universe looks on us, he loves us and sees us as beautiful, because we have Christ’s perfect obedience and life laid over our own lives. He sees us as PERFECT! He sees no blemish in us! This is how he can love us so much and be so passionate about a relationship with us!

God pursues his children. Constantly. He loves them so much! He is always calling them, “Come, come, come” and he makes sure that they will. This is why someone who says they were saved twenty something years ago by saying a prayer but have never grown, they have not come to love God’s people, and they have never encountered God, probably are misunderstanding salvation..and have not truly been saved…because God PURSUES his children! Oh, that you would not experience a life without the Father’s love! He desperately wants you to come to him and seek him and love him! When we focus our eyes on heaven, when look to Jesus, when we pray with a pure heart, his heart beats faster and faster. That’s how much he loves us, he PASSIONATELY desires you! Our God is such a lover. Our love for him, regardless of how small it may be, is cherished by him! Paul Washer says that,”Every time that we cut our eyes to heaven, it is as if the heart of deity beats faster!” Oh, how God loves his children coming to them in prayer!

True religion is not trying to do better or doing the right thing, the real religion is, “He saved me, I want to know Him, I want to please Him, I want to love Him!” He loves us this much! This will drive the unconverted, falsely assured “Christian” to think that this gives him the license to sin, because he will simply be forgiven. Oh, how wrong he is! This truth of how much our God loves us will drive the converted, genuine Christian to say, “If he loves me this much, I want to be for him all that he wants me to be!,” which will ultimately cultivate obedience.

If you are in Christ, God really does love you this much. He sees his only begotten Son, whom he so desperately loved, every time that he looks at you. His righteousness is yours. I plead with you to come to him! This love relationship is unlike any other you will ever experience on this earth. It is so hard for us to fathom because we have never seen anything like it. Come to Him, pray to Him, seek Him, love Him, cut your eyes to heaven and make His heart beat faster! He is longing to hear from YOU!

The Heart, Words, and a Love For Jesus

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Convicted. Sometimes I approach God’s divine Word, I walk away thinking, “Man, scripture calls me to do this, act this way, treat people this way, and I just can’t do it!” However, I believe there are two ways to respond to this: 1.) Give Up- When I’m convicted, I could easily say, “Man! This bible stuff is so hard, there’s so much I can’t do! Jesus can’t possibly expect me to actually do these things, and if I show a tiny bit of effort, that will be enough. Or, 2.) I could say, “Lord, even as I read your Word I realize more and more how much I don’t even come close measuring up to your standards. I am so depraved and sinful, and would be utterly lost without you. Thank you so much from saving me from this body of sin. Please, by the help of your Holy Spirit, help me to not only hear and understand your words, but to DO them.”

I was confronted with another passage of scripture this morning that brought me this “decision point” of how to respond. The passage is in Matthew 12 (verse 34) where Jesus says, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”

Wow. I was taken back a bit. As I read this scripture I remembered the conversations I had the day before about NBA Playoff predictions, golf, braves, fishing, hunting, work, etc. Jesus tells us that out of the abundance of our heart, our mouth speaks. Basically, whatever we prize or cherish the most, is what we talk about the most! I was convicted, but also encouraged to engage in more conversations with my peers (and even strangers) about Jesus!

I was talking with my girlfriend earlier this week, and our conversation was about the reason that we were created. In scripture, we are told that we were created for two related reasons:

  1. To glorify God.
  2. To have a personal relationship with him.

If we honestly believed this, how much more time would we doing things that accomplishes both of these? Wouldn’t we have more conversations with our friends about the one who made a personal relationship with God possible for us!?

Jesus HAS made it possible!  This IS the purpose that YOU were created! If this concept is foreign to you, or your have never really understood all this “Jesus” stuff, let me give you a brief attempt at revealing this amazingly good news: We are sinful. You know we are. We all do “wrong” things and rebel against God. This happens because God created man and woman to live in perfect harmony with him, and they sinned against him by breaking one rule he gave them. Mankind has been slaves to sin ever since. David says in Psalm 51, “In sin did my mother conceive me.” Romans 6:23 tells us that the “wages of sin are death.” By being sinful, we deserve an eternity in Hell, suffering never ending torment and separation from God. But God chose to manifest himself through his only Son, Jesus, stepping down from a place in glory, to a place where he would be beaten, mocked, abused, and spit on, just for you and me. He lived a perfect, sinless life, and was subject to torture and to death upon a cross, all for us. He did this so that by believing in him, his blood would cover all of our sins and make us in right standing with God. God no longer sees us as sinners, he sees us as saints. When he looks on us, he sees Christ and his righteousness. We are given access to eternity with Him because Christ’s obedience and perfect life is attributed to us if we believe. 1 Peter 3:18 says, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.” The relationship that God intended to have with Adam and Eve has been restored, and he will keep us into his hand until the end of our lives, where we CONTINUE this relationship with Him in heaven!

A quote by one of my favorite pastors, Timothy Keller, demonstrates Christ’s great love for me and YOU:

Well, when Jesus looked down from the cross, he didn’t think “I am giving myself to you because you are so attractive to me.” No, he was in agony, and he looked down at us – denying him, abandoning him, and betraying him – and in the greatest act of love in history, he STAYED.

My friends, he did this for YOU! When he was being beaten, spit on, mocked, and crucified, he could’ve easy had an army of angels at his side at once, but he STAYED and endured, so that you and I could be restored to our Father!

I encourage you to spend some time this week focusing on these truths. No one has or will ever love you this much. He saved you from so much. I encourage you to come along side me and help make Christ the center of some of our conversations (yes, outside of church) this week, showing others how thankful we are for Him and how much we truly love Him! Here are a couple questions I can think of to get the ball rolling!

  1. What is your view of Jesus? How would you describe him?
  2. How did you come to know Jesus, or how long have you been walking with Him?
  3. What changes have you experienced in your life as a result of following Jesus?
  4. How would you describe your relationship with Jesus?
  5. How is He working in your life right now?

Prove that Jesus is the abundance of your heart this week!