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Completing Scripture, Entry #6

“And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Luke 4:21

Jesus initiates the conversation, as He usually does. He is talkative without being irritating or tedious. “He began to say” is just the start, and He intends to penetrate our defenses with His words. As ‘hard-headed’ as we are, we desperately need a spiritual jackhammer. And Jesus promises to keep His word.

The Bible is ‘God-breathed.

It isn’t like any other book, it discerns “the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12). There is nothing–absolutely nothing that remotely compares to God’s Word. It is the ultimate authority in the entire universe. By the Lord’s eternal Word all of creation came into existence. By His speech He changes our calloused hearts to be like His.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” 

John 1:1-3 

When Jesus stands up and reads, He ‘bonds’ His ministry to these scrolls. Both He and God’s words are fully connected with each other. He ‘fulfills’ everything that is written down in ink. The authority of Christ and the power of the precepts are fully cemented together. God’s wondrous work is truly seamless.

“I will answer for it, the longer you read the Bible, the more you will like it; it will grow sweeter and sweeter; and the more you get into the spirit of it, the more you will get into the spirit of Christ.”

-William Romaine


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Tempted by the Devil, Entry #3

“But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God are’”

(Matthew 4:4)

God’s Words are equated to bread, emblematic of God’s kind of food. Bread signifies life. Jesus addressing the tempter places the Word of God as the final Sustainer of life itself. By His declaration, He establishes what is real and necessary to every disciple.

The Word of God is the food that the believer needs. Without the promises of God, we’ll “starve” inside spiritually. We must have what God is speaking, all that “the mouth of God” wants to share with us.

Deuteronomy 8:2–3 parallels Matthew 4:1–4. When Jesus is tempted three times, He quotes exclusively from the book of Deuteronomy each time. We see Him strengthening His calling by using the truth found in the OT, He establishes His ministry using the Law of Moses.

God’s words have a profound effect on our hearts. They change us from the inside out and nothing can do that. Without his words, something dies deep inside us. We look around and realize there is no real meaning.

“I will abundantly bless her provisions;
    I will satisfy her poor with bread.”

(Psalm 132:15)

(See also: Matthew 3:15, 4:7, 4:10)

Image, “Christ in the Wilderness,” Briton Riviere

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Do You Hear Him? #75

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”

Luke 10:27-28, (context vv. 22-30)

Being secure means being fully in Christ’s hand. Some might argue about the doctrine of Eternal Security vs. becoming apostate, and losing one’s salvation. Whatever your position on this, I trust that you are his–and you really do hear his voice.

In 1982, I sat in a theology class where the teacher taught the opposite of security. He believed and taught that the believer, if he wasn’t careful, could lose their eternal life. Since then, I’ve thought long and hard about this–I confess my motive was concern, mixed with fear and doubt.

This particular passage both bothered, and comforted me. Many think that these verses are the clearest statement to guarantee a believer’s safety. And that our salvation could never be lost.

This passage declares that salvation is a gift, and it’s not something that is somehow earned. It can’t be attained by my effort. Salvation is Jesus’ precious and holy handout to the undeserving, it’s not a reward for good behavior.

Jesus makes it very clear, “they will never perish.” He gives a security to each who authentically believes him.

“No one can snatch them out of my hand.” In the original Greek (the language used in the original text) the word for “snatch” means to rescue, or to seize by force. The old KJV uses the word “pluck.” These are all very potent words and thoughts–we dare not minimize them to fit our wishes or personal theology.

For the most part, I think that all of this is contingent on a single phrase–“my sheep hear my voice.” Perhaps hearing is the critical part of this verse. The true believer is a listener, it’s what sets us apart–we hear his voice, and he seems to be always speaking to the sincere seeker.

Do you really hear him? Are you truly listening? The Word and quiet prayer really become your way to know, and discover what he wants you to do, today.

“God’s voice is still and quiet, and easily buried under an avalanche of clamour.”

     Charles Stanley

 

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Mary Knows Best, #73

“The Lord answered, “Martha, Martha! You are worried and upset about so many things, 42 but only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen what is best, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:41-42, (context vv. 38-42)

I grew up in America’s rural dairyland–the great state of Wisconsin, with its cheese and bratwurst. Our high-school classes included Agronomy and Animal husbandry. We were taught how to judge cows, pigs, sheep and chickens. I know the differences between a holstein and a brown swiss. To this day, I know what to look for if you need to buy or breed farm animals. Amazing, huh?

I remember our field trips to visit the different farms. I remember once seeing a cow who had a plexiglass “window” that you could see into a cow’s four stomachs, and watch hay as it was being digested. Useful stuff.

The sisters both loved Jesus, of that, I have no doubt. But Martha did the work, and Mary only sat and listened. It was Jesus who understood what was going on. He discerned the frustration of Martha, and knew the eagerness of Mary. Jesus saw inside. He understood them both completely.

He understands your heart, and mine. His sees us as clearly as one would look through a window pane, and he knows everything there is to know. And yet–he will never condemn you. His love for you is limitless, and forever; it won’t ever change, even on your worst days.

One thing means one thing. Not two things, or three. One thing.

One thing have I desired of the LORD, that I will seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple.”

Psalm 27:4

“When Jesus heard these things, he said to him, “You still lack one thing…come, follow Me.” 

Luke 18:22

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” 

Philippians 3:13-14

We must discern what is best. We must look, decide, and judge what needs to take precedence over other things. How and what we decide determines everything. We each get to pick, and to choose, and then we get to live with the consequences. The repercussions of our decision reverberate throughout our whole life, and into the lives of others.

“The one thing needful evidently is that which Mary chose — that good part which should not be taken away from her. Very clearly this was to sit at Jesus’ feet, and hear his word.”

CH Spurgeon

Our decisions determine our destiny. You and I will make a choice. Will you work, or will you sit? You must decide what you should do. I strongly suggest that you decide wisely.

Will you decide to sit at his feet today?

“The way to get the revival is to begin at the Master’s feet; you must go there with Mary, and afterwards you may work with Martha.”

CH Spurgeon

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The Whole Truth, #65

“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:31-32, (context, vv. 31-47)

There’re several ideas in these two verses which absolutely have to be considered. They can’t be ignored, they’re essentially bedrock. I’m convinced the most astonishing things about God’s Word is that it’s alive. It’s far more than stark dark letters of black ink on white pages. It really breathes and moves in each of us who want to follow Jesus.

The Bible is alive–it has a heartbeat. It simply wants us to get out our spiritual stethoscope and listen.

We sometimes get confused about the word “abide.” It seems like a tricky word, and of course we’ll insist on complicating it, but if he is calling us to follow Jesus – the Word made flesh–means we’ll abide, (to live in, to dwell in, to make your home there) –in that Word. Disciples sometimes won’t do this out of fear of man, or they can’t because of unconfessed sin, or politics, or religion, or philosophy. They’ll become confused about this, and it’s painfully obviously to all.

Imagine, you find a lost wallet in the parking lot. Now what?

You open it to find ten 100 dollar bills! I’m convinced at that certain moment, the Spirit will speak what’s true. You really can rationalize it–possibly this is definitely God’s gift to me (!), or maybe we might look for the driver’s license in order to return this lost wallet to its owner. But it’s a moment of truth, and all of heaven is standing on tiptoe to see what you will do next.

The truth will set you free.” Keeping the money, and ditching the wallet seems like a fine idea at the time, but it’s essentially a seductive trap. If you rationalize this, at this at this point, you’ll fail his test. Your freedom is at stake. What’s true, and what the Spirit is saying, is well on its way of being discarded. (A thousand dollars after all would truly be a blessing? Maybe I’ll tithe off it?)

And maybe the Holy Spirit wants to see what’s really in our hearts, and just maybe a minor angel planted it there, just to show everyone what see what we will do. And maybe it was accidentally dropped, which is probably the case. But what are you going to do? The longer you wait, the trickier it seems to get.

Are you abiding in the words of Jesus? He’s calling you to follow him–and he wants you to become intimate with the real truth, which is really him in the flesh. Disciples who are living out the life of Jesus will act like him. As “abiders” we’ll insist on making his decisions, and becoming truthful people–even if it seems like a disaster.

“Where I found truth, there found I my God, who is the truth itself.”

Augustine

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This Light’s for You, #64

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, 

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 

John 8:12, (context vv. 12-20)

Apart from Jesus, we live in deep darkness. This is painful news to frustrated human beings and is often disputed by the majority. History points to different illusions of attainment. (And there are many five year old’s who still believe in Santa Claus.)

History tells us things, and so does scripture. Most of us are able to give off some light, but in our fallenness the best is just more darkness. Light isn’t possible without Jesus, who is called “the light of the world.”

We might be trained in a discipline or field, but really, at its best, we’re starting to realize that it’s just dark journey into a foggy gloom. We may be a physics or literature professor–but Jesus declares that “the light of the world.” Nothing we can do will change the fact.

It’s interesting that those who follow him, “will have the light of life.” I like the Message translation of John 8:12.

“Jesus once again addressed them: “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.””

“Plenty of light to live in,” That’s his strong point, and that’s why it’s critical that we seek Jesus first and foremost. He shares this light with us, and to be actively energized by the LORD insures real life, peace, and spiritual success. And as he shares, we will transmit. He is the light, and we hope we can be the shiny mirrors.

We can only be light if the switch is turned on, it does nothing on its own. All it does is let the electricity flow through it, simply allowing a connection to be made. It seems that this is the believer’s role. When we pray, or when we worship authentically, the connection is made. Stand back and expect light.

When we finally let this light radiate through us, we won’t have to say a thing–it’s bright and it’s supernatural. Lighthouses don’t fire a cannon to call attention to their shining–they just shine. And now is an especially good time to blaze.

“The fundamental principle of Christianity is to be what God is, and he is light.”

John Hagee

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Soul Food, Entry #14

“But he said to them, 

“I have food to eat that you do not know about.”

John 4:32, (context vv. 28-35)

Jesus states that He draws His strength from the Father’s will. His “food” is exclusively His own (not the ‘disciples’). He gains power from doing all that God is asking Him to do. Jesus’ personal strength comes from accomplishing or fulfilling that which the Father reveals as His will.

Why can’t we be more like Jesus in this? We have the daily option (and it’s indeed ‘optional’) to do the things that the Holy Spirit has laid out for us. Will we fulfill His will or do we decide to go our own way? What is our “food?” Where does our strength lie?

The Spirit reveals what God’s will is to our particular path. The decision to do the things He has laid out for us is necessary for us to grow up, to advance His kingdom, and to reveal God’s glory to a watching world. This is what we have been created to be. This is our truest calling.

His purposes are to be our food.

Doing God’s will can be optional, and a decision has to be made ‘moment-by-moment’ and every single day. Our precious time with Him, through prayer and the Word, quite often will lay out the direction we’re to take. We definitely need to hear His voice, that is critical. Becoming attentive and aware to His purposes reveal a true intimacy with the Lord.

Doing God’s will is the exquisite adventure of a faith that is really alive. Our witness blossoms when we decide that we will obey Him. I don’t think it needs to be dull or tedious. It’s the grand call of the authentic believer. Doing the things He wants for us is to be our “food” for each day. His will is our ‘nourishment.’

I believe this is what Jesus was teaching His disciples.

“If you keep my commands you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”

John 15:10, CSB

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