Our Sharing Savior

May 31st, 2019

I haven’t shared here for a long time. It is not that I have not been enjoying the Scriptures, for I have… Perhaps part of the reason is other responsibilities crowd into the time required to write. Perhaps another reason is I’m not sure why I’m writing. What started as a desire to exchange thoughts about Christ really is just an outlet for what I’ve appreciated about Him, with others listening in if they like. Will it continue? I don’t know… perhaps, if I still feel an urge to write and happen to have the moments to do so.

But our Lord Jesus never stops sharing. I find myself going back to John chapter 17 many times–a chapter full of the sharing, loving heart of the sent One as He speaks to His Father in heaven. His desire is to share what He is, has and enjoys with us. Having recently witnessed a wedding, His sharing took on another dimension that I thought someone else might enjoy enough to make an attempt to put it into words worthwhile.

So what things does He, our Maker and Redeemer, our Friend and Bridegroom, have, that He wishes to share with us?

1. My Peace.Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)

The Lord had to leave His disciples, but He left them with His peace, and a promise of His return. What do we need if we are to enjoy real peace in a world of turmoil? I suggest that we at least need to have certainty in regard to our current and future security and well-being, assured through the knowledge that someone who cares for us is also able to provide for us. Now as to our position before God, in order to be safe, we need the knowledge that we are at peace with God, that our sin debt has been settled, and that nothing separates us from God’s presence any more. Our Lord Jesus satisfied that requirement when He died for our sins. And so our emotional peace can only come after our soul has found positional peace (union with God) in the cross-work of Christ. “My peace I give unto you.” So our eternal well-being comes from our Savior. He made peace by the blood of His cross.

But not only that, our Savior gives us peace in the experiences of life–emotional peace. This reminds me of various places where the word shadow is found in the Scriptures. Psalm 36:7 says, “How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.” I think of the Lord’s words in regard to Jerusalem in Luke 13:34: “How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!” Here, the Lord compares His care for a city (that should have received Him) to a hen’s care for her chicks, carefully gathering them under the shadow of her wings. He wanted to care for them not once nor twice, but how often! Such is His caring desire for the well-being of His own. A hen’s wings demonstrate care and refuge. All who come to Christ find His shadow to be a place of care and refuge.

Psalm 91:1 says, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Here we learn that our God provides protection to those who draw near and take refuge in Him.

Isaiah 32:2 “A man will be as a hiding place from the wind, And a cover from the tempest, As rivers of water in a dry place, As the shadow [or shade] of a great rock in a weary [or parched] land.” Our Lord provides for us cool refreshment and defense as does a great rock in a weary land.

Song of Solomon 2:3 “Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods, So is my beloved among the sons. I sat down in his shade with great delight, And his fruit was sweet to my taste.” As we sit under the shadow of our beloved Savior with great delight, His provision and presence is sweet to our soul.

So come, beloved, sit under His shadow, and enjoy the peace that He alone can give.

2. My Joy. “But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.” (John 17:13)

Our Lord imparts His joy to us through His Word. As we meditate upon His words to us and work them out in our lives, His joy is imparted to us. In John 15:9-11, that joy is linked with the knowledge of His love for us as we do what is pleasing to Him. Even amidst suffering, the Lord Jesus delighted to do the Father’s will, anticipating the joy of being glorified to the Father’s side and being united with His blood-bought bride (Hebrews 12:2).

3. My Glory. “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one…. Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:22, 24)

In what way does our Lord Jesus share His glory with us? We know that His divine glories are His alone. But the glory of sonship (relationship with the Father), a special place of blessing and privilege, and shared love and union with divine persons are some ways in which His glory is shared with us. In a future day, we will be glorified together with Him, made like Him (1 John 3:2), and reign with Him (2 Timothy 2:12). We are to sit with Him on His throne… He shares that with us! (Rev. 3:21)

4. [My] Father’s Word. “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” (John 17:14)

The Word which He received from the Father He has shared with us. With the treasure of the Father’s words, He imparts to us wisdom, understanding, truth, revelation, promise.

5. Our Love. “And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:26) “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” (John 14:21)

The Father didn’t spare His own Son, but freely gave Him up for our sake (Romans 8:32). If the Father was willing to give His most precious possession for us, then we can be sure that He will withhold no blessing that would be for our good. That same love that is shared between the Father and the Son is also shared with us! The Son is willing to share the Father’s love with us, and the Father is willing to share His Son with us. How overwhelmingly wonderful this truth is.

6. My Father. “go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ ” (John 20:17)

Akin to the previous point, the Son of God calls us family– His Father is now our Father, and He calls us brethren. While He retains a special place as the only-begotten Son of the Father, yet we are brought in to share in a relationship which He has enjoyed from eternity past. This is so deep that only faith, by the power of the Holy Spirit, can take it in (Romans 8:16).

 7. My Body. My Blood. “And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” (Luke 22:19-20) “For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread. ” (1 Cor. 10:17) “For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. ” (Ephesians 5:30)

How much more can one give, or how much closer can one get than one’s own body? In giving His own body for us upon the cross of Calvary, and shedding His own blood as a perfect payment for our sin, He made union with Himself possible, through faith.

8. [My] Inheritance, Wealth. “…that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6) “to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4) “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:16-18)

He became poor, humbling Himself to the cross death, to make us [spiritually] rich. The wealth we receive because of His sufferings is beyond compare. As children of God, He shares with us an eternal inheritance (1 Peter 1:4), as the Father makes us co-heirs with Him. We share His Father’s house (John 17:24, John 14:2) and His Throne (Revelation 3:21), inheriting a place in His eternal kingdom. Now isn’t that worthy of a bit of trials and toil here and now?

9. [My] Sufferings. “but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” (1 Peter 4:13)

We move to a different viewpoint as we consider our sharing Savior. If we are to share in His future glory, then it follows that we will share something of His sufferings for the present as well. We rejoice even in sufferings, recognizing that just as Christ was glorified, so we, too shall be glorified together with Him. Our short time on this earth is our opportunity to prove our love to Him in the face of trials and hardship.

10. My Yoke. My Heart. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)

As we work side by side with Him, sharing the yoke which He as well carries, we come to know Him better in His meek and lowly character, and we find rest of soul in the midst of toil of body.

11. My Name. “And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:26) “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.” (Revelation 3:12)

When a bride is married, she receives a new name. We, as the bride of Christ, have already received a new name as children of God, but there awaits a special time of full identification with our Bridegroom in a future day, when He will reveal Himself to us in a special, personal way. What a day that will be!

 


Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Our Puerto Rico

September 28th, 2017

I read about Puerto Rico this morning. The island in shambles after hurricane Maria. The people desperate for water. Supplies available, but how to get them to the people who need them? No electricity a widespread problem, with some places potentially without power for the next month. Communication difficult or impossible. A crisis.

Thinking on such a crisis this morning, the thought came to me… we have just as big a crisis in the United States as they have in Puerto Rico, but the big problem many have is they don’t know they are in the crisis. The water of God’s word is available to them, but they are not drinking it. The power of God is ready to save them, but they aren’t asking for it. Communication with God is broken. Men and women are perishing daily without a Savior. Some were told that they were in danger. Others perhaps were not. Some pray to a Maria who cannot save while others are totally or willfully oblivious to their danger. And a bigger hurricane of God’s righteous indignation is coming. If we were to look on the spiritual state of the United States, it would look worse than hurricane-torn Puerto Rico. What a crisis!

Eclipse… light triumphs

August 21st, 2017

Today’s eclipse reminds me of other periods of darkness in this world’s history. God’s judgment on Egypt was seen through a period of darkness over all the land of Egypt for three days. This earth is a land of the shadow of death, a place where sin abounds, destined for judgment. It was into this same world that Christ, the Light of the world, came, illuminating and revealing God to men. Through death, He endured the judgment of God, where in three monumental hours, a physical darkness covered the whole land, silently declaring that the weight of the sin of the whole world was being placed upon the holy Lamb of God. But Christ came out of that darkness victorious; the way into God’s presence was opened and the temple veil rent; and out of death He rose gloriously triumphant on the third day, then to seat Himself at the right hand of the throne of God. Light has triumphed over darkness, and that same gospel light shines into the hearts of people today to bring salvation to all who put their faith in the One who went through that darkness for them.

*****

And the LORD said unto Moses, “Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt.” And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days (Exodus 10:21-22)

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. (Isaiah 9:2)

And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is, being interpreted, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” …And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the [spirit]. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the [spirit], he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God.” (Mark 15:33-39)

Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.” Pilate said unto them, “Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.” So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch. In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. (Matt 27:62-28:6)

Binding and Loosing

April 23rd, 2017

I’m enjoying some thoughts from a Greek Grammar by William Mounce called “Basics of Biblical Greek” (Zondervan 2003). A quote in that work is as follows…

“In some translations of Matthew 18:18, it sounds like Jesus promised His disciples that whatever they bound on earth would be bound in heaven, and whatever they loosed on earth would be loosed in heaven. In other words, they had the power to bind and loose, and Heaven (i.e. God) would simply back up their decrees. But the matter is not quite so simple; the actions described in heaven are future perfect passives-which could be translated “will have already been bound in heaven… will have already been loosed in heaven.” In other words, the heavenly decree confirming the earthly one is based on a prior verdict.

This is the language of the law court. Jewish legal issues were normally decided in Jesus’ day by elders in the synagogue community (later by rabbis). Many Jewish people believed that the authority of Heaven stood behind the earthly judges when they decided cases based on a correct understanding of God’s law. (This process came to be called “binding and loosing.”) Jesus’ contemporaries often envisioned God’s justice in terms of a heavenly court; by obeying God’s law, the earthly court simply ratified the decrees of the heavenly court. In Matthew 18:15-20, Christians who follow the careful procedures of verses 15-17 may be assured that they will act on the authority of God’s court when they decide cases.

Just as we struggle to affirm absolutes in a relativist culture, Christians today sometimes wonder how to exercise discipline lovingly against a sinning member of the church. In this text, Jesus provides an answer: when the person refuses to turn from sin after repeated loving confrontation, the church by disciplining the person simply recognizes the spiritual reality that is already true in God’s sight.

– Craig S. Keener

The Word Became Flesh

February 15th, 2017

I’m enjoying some thoughts from a Greek Grammar by William Mounce called “Basics of Biblical Greek” (Zondervan 2003). A quote in that work is as follows. Sit back and take it in… and worship.

A casual first-century reader of the fourth gospel’s prologue (John 1:1-18) would have little difficulty understanding John’s description of the Logos (Word). As a concept it was simple enough. Logos was the intelligible law of things. The Logos of God was God’s transcendent rationality that gave the universe order and purpose. A Hellenized Jew would quickly reach for a volume of wisdom literature explaining that God’s wisdom, His word (or logos), provided the universe with its form and coherence. As such the Logos of God was foreign to human ways, above us and distant from us, guiding us from afar.

John 1:14, on the other hand, would make any such reader pause in stunned silence. “And the Word became flesh (sarx) and dwelt among us.” Sarx is the earthly sphere, the arena of human decisions and emotions, human history, and human sinfulness (cf. John 1:13; 3:6; 17:2, etc.). John 1:14 contains the risk, the scandal, and the gospel of the Christian faith: the Logos became sarx. The center of God’s life and thought entered the depths of our world and took up its form, its sarx, its flesh, in order to be known by us and to save us.

This affirmation about logos and sarx is the very heart of our faith. God has not abandoned us. No lowliness, no misery, no sinfulness is beyond God’s comprehension and reach. He came among us, embraced our world of sarx in His incarnation, and loved us. It is easy enough to say that God loves the world (John 3:16). But to say that God loves me, in my frailty and my faithlessness–that He loves sarx–this is another matter. This is the mystery and the power of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.

– Gary M. Burge

Scattered thoughts

January 7th, 2017

Scattered musings of the morning…

God reveals Himself to those who need Him. If we don’t see God working in our lives and revealing Himself to us, perhaps it is because we do not need Him…

“Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt 18:20). Often times assemblies with which we are associated are small in number. But God is great in using small things to accomplish great results, to His glory.

The way in which we conduct our meetings does not appeal to the natural mind, but it should appeal to the spiritual, biblical mind. Do I have a spiritual or self-centered mind? Do I seek heavenly things over earthly (Col 3:1-2)? Am I dead to this world (Col 3:3)? Is Christ my life (Col 3:4)? Does the Word of Christ dwell in me richly (Col 3:16)? Am I marked by thanksgiving (Col 3:17)? Do I live for the commendation of the Lord over the praise of men (Col 3:23)?

Quote from Voice of the Martyrs magazine (Dec 2016): “When people persecute me or talk about me badly, I don’t feel sorry for myself. I always feel sorry for them.”

A Burnt Offering

December 3rd, 2016

There were two categories of offerings for which God gave instructions to His people in the Old Testament in Leviticus chapters 1-3 and 4-6. One type was offerings for sin. When an Israelite took their sin or trespass offering to the priest, they were essentially saying, “I deserve to die, but this lamb is going to die in my place.” The other type of offering was for a sweet savor to God and was not related to specific acts of sin. I believe this second type of offering was in view when God asked Abraham to offer up His only son to God as a burnt offering (though the Mosaic covenant had not yet been given). It appeals to me that the burnt offering, being an offering of free will, was also an expression of identification with the animal that was to die. The offerer laid his hands on the offering, identifying himself with it. In Leviticus 1:4 we learn that the burnt offering was for atonement– that God might accept the offerer– but it seems to me that this offering was deeper than a simple acknowledgment of a wrong action. This was not now an acknowledgment that I deserve to die, but rather was a willing laying down of one’s own life before God in consecration, acknowledging the LORD’s worth and worthiness, while at the same time acknowledging the offerer’s own unworthiness and inability to serve God acceptably in his own strength. As the lamb of the burnt offering died, the offerer said not now, “I deserve to die,” but rather, “LORD, I give myself as a consecrated offering to Thee. In myself I cannot please Thee, but through this offering, accept my heart and life as I lay it down for Thee to use” (Romans 12:1).

God asked Abraham to give back to Him the most precious possession that he had– his own son. The miracle child. The one God had said would be the heir through whom God would bless the whole world. But now God was asking Abraham to offer him. Would not this destroy the promises? God had said specifically, “Through Isaac your descendants shall be named” (Gen. 21:12). But Abraham and Isaac were walking up a mountain, and Isaac was asking, “Father, where is the lamb?” Abraham, like Job, refused to charge God and become angry with God for requiring the return of that which He had given. Instead of being angry at God for negating His own miracle, Abraham believed God and trusted Him for another miracle. The same God who could bring life out of death at his son’s entry into this world was the God who could bring life out of death at his son’s exit from this world (Hebrews 11:19).

There on that mountain, with knife in hand, it must have felt like he was about to take his own life. His own son was on the altar, and surely Abraham would have chosen to give his own life rather than his son’s. And essentially, that is what happened on Mount Moriah (Gen. 22). It was the climax of Abraham’s song to God… “Take my life and let it be,  Consecrated, LORD, to Thee.” Abraham put the Giver before the gift and the Blesser before the blessing. God did provide for Himself a lamb that day, but He also provided the Lamb of God, His own beloved Son, as a blessing that flowed and continues to flow out to the whole world. A blessing that flowed from the faith of one man who was willing to trust God and die to himself. A burnt offering.