Tag Archive for John

Peacemakers

Today I am going to celebrate all the people I love in my life. Right now some of them don’t like each other, but I am going to rejoice that God has called and ENABLED me to love them all – Democrat and Republican, gay-affirming and homophobic, rich and poor, self-employed and day laborer, corporate executive and street cleaner, mansion dweller and gutter sleeper.

It’s Marin Luther King Jr. Day, so I think it is only appropriate that I am spending the day reading (hopefully) 150 pages of a book in my biblical and practical peacemaking class.

Here is a quote that got my juices flowing this morning, “To be a Christian means that loyalty to the ‘Christ’ paradigm is the final standard by which to evaluate Christian action. To declare oneself a Christian means to confess that ultimate reality is fundamentally revealed in the biblical paradigm of redemptive history, a norm that reaches its culmination in the Christ event. It is neither possible nor proper, then, for Christians to attempt to develop the norms for politics on independent rational or philosophical grounds apart from revelation. That would, in effect, mean that revelation is not really the absolute presupposition from which Christians operate, that something alongside faith is of equal value.”*

While I disagree with this author on many other points, I think I can agree with him on that one!

Praise be to Jesus Christ for His great love for me!

For while I was still a sinner He died for me. (Romans 5:8)

While I didn’t want anything to do with Him, He gently persuaded me to reconsider my rejection of Him.

Yes! “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” 1 John 4:9

Today let us all be peacemakers!

“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

Today, be reconciled! Be blessed!

* Friesen DK. Christian Peacemaking & International Conflict : A Realist Pacifist Perspective. Scottdale, Pa: Herald Press; 1986. 

A happy letter

“I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.” I love the musical quality of this part of first John. He writes to children because they have been forgiven and know the Father. He writes to fathers because they know Him who is from the beginning. He writes to young men because they are strong, have the word of God in them and have overcome the evil one.

It’s always encouraging to know that the Bible was not written to beat us over the head with all kinds of harsh sayings and impossible demands! It was written because it is possible for us to know God. Praise be to His glorious name!

Later John says that he is writing to them because they know the truth already. They need no one to teach them for the Holy Spirit is in them and teaches them about all things. As that Spirit (anointing) has taught them, they are to remain in Him!

What great news! The writer isn’t talking down to his readers because he fully realizes that they don’t need him at all! They have the Spirit of truth. It is an echo of what Jesus had told the Apostle John the night before He was crucified.

“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” John 16:12-15

Today may you be encouraged, remain in Him and know all truth!!!

A look at destiny

Much of what God has destined me for, I am really excited about. I am excited about becoming like God (Romans 8:29), being holy and blameless in His presence (Ephesians 1:4), being adopted as His son (Ephesians 1:5) and being for the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:12).

I am a little less excited about 1 Thessalonians 3, which says I was destined for trials and persecution. Indeed Jesus Himself warns us constantly in the gospels that the life of a disciple will be one fraught with pain. We will have to lay down our entire lives (Luke 14:33); we may lose our entire families (Luke 12:51, Matthew 10:34); we may be called the devil (Matthew 10:24-25). The list could go on and on.

In 1 Thessalonians, Paul reminds his readers that he warned them frequently in person that they would under go persecution and “it turned out that way as you well know.” He had sent Timothy to strengthen and encourage them in their faith, “so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them.”

It’s not a fun fact, but it is a fact. You and I will have many trials in this life. Jesus has a good way of cheering us up! “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

It’s true that we will face trials and persecution here, but it is just as true that we are seated in the heavenly realms with Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:6) We don’t submit to our trials. We don’t worship them. No, they are under our feet. We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us!

Today as we face each trial and every unkind word, let us remember Romans 8:35-39

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

God is not worried

Whatever the case might be, God is not worried about 2019. On Sunday I heard someone give someone else a word of encouragement. It really encouraged me too. God was not worried about this person, and He isn’t worried about us either.

Had I been asked, “Is God worried?”, I would be able to quickly say “no”. It wouldn’t be just an intellectual assent to a doctrinal truth, but it would be something I really believed.

However, if I was asked, “Is God worried about you?”, there may be a brief moment of hesitation. Sometimes I feel like there is disaster still lurking around the corner of my life. Right now life is going really, really well. So well that last night as I fell asleep I could not believe I was starting a new year on such good and joyful terms. My life is nearly perfect, and it is not hard to dance instead of walk down a street.

Yet even if God being in my life has led to such an abundance of the fruit of the Spirit as for me to confess a nearly perfect life (in which I still face daily trials and tribulations), I still can feel like an accident waiting to happen. God isn’t worried about me? Are you sure? because I can be pretty incompetent down here.

The good news is that He is down here too! I am not here alone, and neither are you! God has complete confidence in our safety and spiritual growth. He doesn’t put His trust in humans (John 2:24-25); but He does trust His Spirit within us.

Paul told the Philippians, “I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:4-6

Today as we begin a new year, let’s rejoice that God is doing a good work in us! If you don’t know what in the world I am talking about or have the slightest clue how to begin a relationship with God, head over to the page on my blog called “What is the Gospel?“. There is some mighty good news there.

Let’s start our year filled with the fruit of righteousness! God has great confidence in His Holy Spirit. We can live with confidence and joy. We never have to fear a thing. God is not worried. As His children, we needn’t be either.

A gift to reflect me and a me to reflect God

A few days ago, someone gave me a Christmas gift. “It reminded me of you,” they said. My interest was immediately piqued. I was about to gain insight into how this person saw me by studying the gift they gave me. Some people view me as a person entirely broken, incompetent and unable to survive life. This person didn’t. Her gift spoke of love, joy and fun. It was truly beautiful.

As I reflected on the experience, I realized that there is a slight commonality between this gift-giving experience and our relationship to God. We have been made in His image. However, I propose that we do not seek to discover who He is by studying ourselves; but rather discover who we are by studying Him. Before the universe became broken through the disobedience of humanity, one could learn about God by studying the goodness of the human race. Now studying humanity may entirely confuse the student of God as to the actual nature of His character.

Jesus calls the attention of His opponents to the fact that Psalm 82:6 calls people “gods”. As Jesus challenges the way these religious people thought, He notes, “If he called them ‘gods’ to whom the word of God came – and Scripture cannot be set aside – what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world?” (John 10:36)

If you find this saying of Jesus offensive, never fear! So did many of those who heard Him say it the first time!

What does it mean to be made in the image of God? What does it mean for God’s Son, Jesus Christ, fully human and fully God, to quote such a Scripture while noting that Scripture CANNOT be set aside. We are not to ignore anything it says!

What does it mean to be called Jesus’ sister or brother? (Hebrews 2:11)

What does it mean to be called God’s daughter or son? (Galatians 3:26 and many other Scriptures)

What does this say about your essence?

What does it say about your potential?

What does it say about YOUR VALUE?

Today as we go about our day, let us rejoice that we are created in the image of God! Capitalize on your creativity! Lean into every good choice that you can! When presented with the opportunity to choose between something good and bad, choose the good. When presented with a choice between the good and the excellent, choose the excellent. Reflect the character of God and rejoice in communion with Him. Come to Him through Christ and dance your way through this day with Him leading the waltz!

Jesus wept

It’s okay to cry. Today I want to remind us of that simple truth. The same man who wrote to the Philippians, “Rejoice always!” cried as he wrote part of the letter. (Philippians 3:18) He also cried every day for three years when he served as a missionary in Ephesus. (Acts 20:31)

Part of following Jesus is NOT turning off our human emotion. Jesus wept. (John 11:35) He became so angry in one instance that He whipped people out of the temple courts. (John 2:13-17) Jesus as the image of the invisible God wept and was angry. (Colossians 1:15)

The reality is that until Jesus comes a second time and restores peace and perfection to the whole earth (all its inhabitants, creatures and creation), there will be things to legitimately cry about here. There will be reasons to be righteously angry. It is only after the coming of the new earth that this changes. (Revelations 21:1-4)

If you have something to weep about this Christmas season, I encourage you to give yourself permission to do so. Jesus cried. It is okay if we aren’t laughing every moment of every day. It doesn’t make us any less godly or Christ-like.

As you express your emotion as part of a very real human experience, I pray that you will experience God’s comfort. For Jesus promised, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)

The compliment of presence

The greatest compliment you can give someone is to love to be in their presence. This thought came to me last night as I was praying with a group of believers for all of us to receive a greater filling of the Holy Spirit. 

When it was my time to pray, I gave that compliment to God and invited Him to come and be with us because we loved spending time with Him so much. It was a sweet moment. We were worshiping in spirit and in truth. 

It was only on the way home that it occurred to me that God had also given me this compliment. He wasn’t satisfied with simply sending Jesus to earth to spend time with us and show us who God is. He took it a step further. The Spirit, the third Person of the Godhead, would live in everyone who believed in God. Some would argue that He communicates with everyone on earth through the tool of their conscience – whether or not they believe in Him or even know about Him. 

God doesn’t only love me; He likes me. He likes me and wants to be with me so much that He developed a way to be with me and enjoy me forever. 

Long before I longed for His presence, He longed for mine. 

Today as we go throughout our day, may we be greatly encouraged that God does not only dwell among us, but He dwells within us! Listen carefully for His voice. When He whispers in your heart to testify to His goodness, speak up and share the amazing love God has shared with you! 

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. John 14:16-17

Truth or Comfort?

I saw this question as the title of a podcast yesterday. It jumped at me because it is spoke to a lie about the truth. Sometimes it can seem that if we face a truth about our actions or the actions of those around us, this will lead to discomfort in our lives. And for a time, it might. We may end losing a relationship with someone whom we finally admit has poor character, or we might need to do a whole lot of personal growth as we deal with an unpleasant truth that we notice in our own character. Either way, the initial feeling isn’t a bunch of warm fuzzy feelings. 

However! Jesus says, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31

In the short-term, facing truth may be uncomfortable. It may force us to switch churches, say goodbye to certain friends, or radically change the way we live our own lives. But in the long run, the truth will always set us free! It will always lead to more comfort and joy in our lives. 

Today I encourage us to be willing to accept truth into our lives – especially in all the areas where we are afraid of how that truth might change us!! 

Hold to the teaching of Jesus! and may His truth set us free! 

A woman with guts

Yesterday I read the story of Deborah. When reading the story, I always expect that I ought to learn something from Deborah herself or at least be inspired. This time I wasn’t. God had me meditating on a different character in the story. It was Jael who caught my attention. Now she was a leader! 

In the story, she is the wife of Heber whose family had made an alliance with Israel’s enemy. One can only imagine that when the Canaanites conquered the land of Israel,  Heber’s family decided to protect themselves by making an agreement with the enemy. The agreement didn’t give them freedom, but it at least gave them the allusion of protection. 

In the story, Jael makes an independent decision. She decides to fight for freedom instead of betraying her people to the enemy. When the commander of the Canaanite troops arrives at her door, she makes him comfortable. After he falls fast asleep in the comfort of her home, she takes a tent peg and a hammer and kills him with them. 

Because she chose to step out of the alliance her family made with the enemy, she becomes the hero in the story of the freedom of an entire nation. 

Neither you nor I have a physical enemy in the way that Jael did. Neither of our families has made an alliance with an enemy of America so as to protect us and destroy America. 

But each of our families at one time or another has made an alliance with habitual sin – often it is secret. It could be sexual abuse that is happening or has happened. It might be someone who rules the roost with an iron fist while the emotional well-being of no one else in the family is considered. Maybe it is alcoholism, materialism, or fear. Perhaps it is anger that consistently explodes from someone as though unable to be controlled. Maybe it is excessive lying. I once had someone who told me, “You would call it dishonesty.” All I could think in my head was, “That is because it is dishonest.” But this person had made an alliance with dishonesty. There was a great big gray area painted between truth and lies. Everything became okay in their attempt to live the story they wanted to be true about themselves. 

Today each of us has the freedom to be Jael. We can step out of alliances with the enemy and step into freedom. We can say, “No more!” to the sins and lies that are destroying our homes and communities. We can take a stand and put to death the works of darkness. 

I can’t help but wonder what happened when Jael’s husband came home that evening. “You did what!? You killed our friend! Have you no idea how we benefited from our alliance with him? He protected us!” 

Or perhaps the character of Heber was such that he was immediately excited to be in some kind of spotlight even if not a wholly positive one. Maybe the allusion of fame appeased his wrath. 

Today each of us will be faced with the choice of living in bondage to sin or risk making “Heber” (those who have chosen to excuse, enable and propagate sin) angry. 

My prayer is that everyone who reads this post chooses risking anger for the sake of freedom. Step out of the bondage of generational sin into the marvelous healing of God’s wonderful light! 

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 3Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.  John 8:34-36

*The story of Jael is found in Judges 4.