Wednesday, April 24, 2013


In Proverbs 3.1 Solomon writes--
Do not let kindness and truth leave you
bind them around your neck
Write them on the tablet of your hear
So you will find favor and good repute
in the sight of God and man.
We have seen the expression, God and man in Luke 2.52 when--
Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature
and in favor with God and man.

This was said about Jesus as a boy. It's one thing to grow in stature with God. We know that John the Baptist did. In Matt. 11.9 Jesus calls John a prophet, that no one born of woman is greater than he, 11.11. John was a desert dweller, a man of fasting and prayer, a Nazarene, a flaming preacher. But he did not dwell in the company of men.

Someone who did was Nicodemus. He has a conversation with Jesus in John 3.1, he meets with the Sanhedrin in John 7. 50, and he provides the spices for the burial of Christ's body when Joseph of Aramithea brings it down from the cross., John 19.39. Nicodemus seems to be accepted by men of high stature and reputation in the Sanhedrin and of low reputation at the cross. But he is not known for his relationship to God, the way the Baptist was.

These two men represent the two sides of God's covenant. Jesus says in that the two greatest commandments are to love God and love your neighbor.

God and man, kindness to men and truth to God.

And yet Jesus as a boy is increasing in stature with God and men. How did He master kindness and truth at such an early age?

Could it be that His relationship with God was due to his father Joseph? And His kindness is what He saw in His mother Mary? If this is so, how did Joseph help His only son become the man He became?

Joseph and His son heard the Hebrew scrolls read in synogogue. They both could have noticed how Israel is God's son. This is first expressed as a saying in Exodus 12.27 when the Lord speaks to Moses about the first Passover--
It is a Passover sacrifice to the Lord who passed over the house of the sons of Israel...

Then in Deuteronomy 14.1 it becomes more than an expression. It is a description--
You are the sons of the Lord your God...

Joseph heard an angel tell him to take Mary and the baby Jesus out of Israel and into Egypt, thousands of miles away, Matt. 2.13. He simply did it. Joseph knew how to obey the leading of the Lord. So Jesus is led by that same Spirit out into the wilderness, He simply goes, Matt. 4.1.

Matthew gives us two quotes from the OT concerning the baby Jesus. One is Matt. 3.15—-
out of Egypt I called My Son,

and Matt. 2.18—
Rachel weeping for her children
and she refused to be comforted,
because they were no more. 

Matthew associates the children of Rachel with the young boy babies who were killed by Herod when he was searching for the baby Jesus. Did Joseph know of these prophecies? He may have because the angel told Joseph to return from Egypt as--
those who sought the Child's life are no more.

This is some indication Joseph knew who his son was and would teach Him to enter into the life His heavenly Father had for him. Jesus expresses His unique relationships with His heavenly Father in John 17.4-8.
From Mary He may have learned of the kindnes of His heavenly Father. In Ephesians 2.7 Paul speaks of the kindness of God--in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Kindness in Chrsit Jesus. In 2 Cor. 6.6 Paul says he commends himself as a servant of God--in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love... And in Colossians 3.12 Paul says to--put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Such qualities were not promoted by the ancient classical world, but they are part of the foundation of the kingdom of God. He may have learned these qualities from Mary.

But now, is this growing in stature with God and man for us also?

The answer is yes.

When a lawyer came to Jesus, asking what is the greatest commandment, in Matt. 22.35, Jesus does not say which one—-He says two. The first is to love God and the second is to love one's neighbor. Jesus thrusts at the lawyer the significance of these two-—
upon all these hang the Law and Prophets, Matt. 22.40.

Paul summarizes our relationship with God and with man in Philippians For the God side, Paul says in Phil. 1.10--
so that you may approve the things which are excellent in order that you may be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ , having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ to the praise and glory of God.

And for the man side, Paul says in Phil. 2.15--
that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.

This is great stuff.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Usually world religions have two trademarks. One is they require subservience through a code of conduct. The other is they require the individual give the gods something, usually money or sometimes animals.

   The concept is the gods have something which we are supposed to need, since we lack it. So we come to the god to buy some sort of relationship to that god with money or a sacrifice.
   However this is not the situation with Christianity. Paul says--He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, Ephesians 1.4. When Paul says we are--in Him--he means we are in the likeness and image of God. We have Him within us, so that we are not lacking in anything we need. So, instead of coming to God to buy what we lack, we go out into the world to give away what God has given us.

   This is why the Bible says we have an unspeakable gift, or freely you have been given, freely give. Paul says--you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise....Eph. 1.13.

   We do not seek to acquire, we seek to give away. A perfect example is Matt. 8.2, 3. A leper came to Jesus. The leper bowed down, saying, Lord if You are willing, You can make me clean.'

  Is Jesus willing? Will He hoard the power He has, running away to a desert community or to Miami Beach? What will He require of this soiled leper? What sacrifice must the leper make?
   Jesus says, I am willing; be cleansed, Matt. 8.3.

   What happens next? Is the leper to keep this miracle to himself, just not give it away? Jesus then says to him, present yourself to the priest and present the offering that Moses prescribed, for a testimony to them. Not a testimony against the priest, but to him. Through the willingness of Jesus, two are blessed: the leper and the priest.

   In Romans 4.15 Paul says—the Law brings about wrath. What he means is the Law reveals that we have fallen short of the glory of God. This results in wrath because we were meant to reveal God's glory beautifully. As we have sinned, so the glory of God has been darkened.

   However, if we keep on reading Romans 5.8 says—while we were sinners Christ died for us. This released us from that wrath, to be free before God. Romans 6.6 says---we are no longer slaves to sin... We live the life of holiness which Christ lives, we are---alive to God in Christ Jesus.

   We've been given the gift of eternal life. As a result, we are to give away. In Matt. 5 Jesus says to give away not just our shirt but our coat. He says in Matt. 5.42--Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. In Matt. 9.22 and 9.29 Jesus gives away His power. In Matt. 10.1 He gives the disciples authority over unclean spirits.

   So we are not subservient to the Law but we are alive to the holiness of God in Christ Jesus. He even says in Matt. 10.39 that if we give our life away for His sake, we will find it. For all of the people in all centuries who have sought for a meaning to their life, this is where it is found.

   This is how the Christian lives. It is unique.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

ALL I NEED--Part 2
In the NT we have been given encouragement and instructions by which to experience God in coming to Him.

When Jesus walked Israel many came to Him.
  In John 2 Mary comes to her son Jesus, asking Him to provide wine. Then He came to the servants, changing water into wine.. In John 3 Nicodemus comes to Jesus asking about Him. So Jesus comes to Nicodemus when He says—You must be born again. In John 4 Jesus comes to Jacob's well. When He speaks the truth to the Samaritan woman, she returns to her city. Then John 4.40 says—When the Samaritans came to Him, they were asking Him to stay with them. He stayed with them two days.

   In each instance, someone came to Him so that He might come to them.
We are told in John 4 that the Father is looking for true worshipers. He wants us to approach Him.
  Today we come to Him through the Spirit, through prayer and the Bible and through worship. In Revelation 22.9 the angel tells John, worship Him.

When we do these things, we can do what the Levitical priests did in the OT, we can approach God.
  Jeremiah had said that we cannot go out of God's presence---
'Can a man hide himself in the hiding places, so I do not see Him?' declares the Lord. 'Do I not fill the heaven and the earth?' declares the Lord.
 In Acts 17.28 Paul said to the Athenians---For in Him we live and move and have our being...  So we see that God is all around us, like the air we breathe.
  But God was not satisfied with His presence being all around us; He wishes to be in us. The Bible tells us that God not only fills heaven and earth, but He fills the souls of believers. In 1 Corinthians 3.16 Paul wrote--
you are the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in you.

  Peter says in 2 Peter 1.4 that God has given us promises---that by them you might be come partakers of the divine nature...

   Paul says in Ephesians 1.4 that---He chose us in Him...that we should be holy and blameless before Him. As Elijah was before Him, we are before Him so that we might be filled in Him.

   Now all of this is quite spiritual, so we come to Him in quiet steps so that He would come to us in soft waves.
   Some are far off, as the multitudes in John 6.2 where the crowd followed Him at a distance. So Jesus came to them through the disciples who fed them with fish and bread. When this happened, the crowd comes to Jesus as much as they can when they say—--This is of a truth the prophet who is to come into the world, John 6.14.

  The centurion stands a bit off when he says in Matt. 8.8---if you just say the word, my servant will be healed. Jesus says to the centurion---Go your way; let it be done to you as you have believed, Matt. 8.13.

   Some come closer, as the woman with the issue of blood who---came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak. Jesus says---take courage daughter, your faith has made you well, Matt. 9.22.

   Children even sat on his lap in Matt. 19.14.

   How these people came to Jesus was how He came to them so that they could enter into His presence.
   Hebrews 10.22 says—let us drawn near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

ALL I NEED Week 49  Part 1

The two drives which have haunted nearly all Christians throughout the centuries have been:

--the drive to find certainty
--and the longing to experience God.

The more perceptive fiction writers say we live in an inconclusive world. So what is there which is certain, so the soul can know that it is in the hand of God? What really changes people?
In Matt. 6.14 Jesus is teaching about forgiveness when He mentions His Father. He says--if you forgive men for their transgressions your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Notice Jesus did not mention the individual sinner who sinned, but the Father who forgives. This makes forgiveness sure, as it comes from heaven and God. It come from eternity, in which God and heaven never change. If we are forgiven in heaven with God the Father, then it is sure upon the earth.

I have counted 13 times in Matthew's gospel Jesus says, God who is in heaven.
In Matt. 5.16 we are to let our light shine before men so that they may see our good works and--glorify your Father who is in heaven.

In Matt. 5.48 we are to be perfect--as our heavenly Father is perfect.

In Matt. 6.6 when we pray and--your Father who sees us in secret will repay you.

In Matt. 6.9 it is--Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name..

In 7.11 it is--how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him? In 7.21 it is--he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. And in 10.32 it is--everyone who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. In Matt. 7.15-21 Jesus speaks first about those who are false. Then he summarizes by saying--Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord', will enter the kingdom of heaven but he who does the will of My Father, who is in heaven. This is the same lesson as it is in 16.17, 18.10, 18.19, 19.32. Each of these passages uses, the Father who is in heaven. What comes down from heaven from God is sure on this earth. This has been said in a short form in Matt. 6.10--on earth as it is in heaven.

Jesus makes this personal in Matt. 19.32 when He is speaking of confessing His name. He says--Everyone therefore who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.

Bu what about experiencing God? If Jesus died for our sins, we might get the idea He experienced God but we did not. Since we can't work our way to heaven or ever be holy enough in our flesh to climb into heaven, how can we--ourselves--ever experience God?

In our own day many desire to experience God. The further away from Biblical times we are the more difficult it is to find our way back. So the desire to experience God has become intense.

Just as soon as Adam and Eve leave the Garden, immediately God begins to draw them back to Himself. To replace what was lost in Eden, God gives Adam and Eve a family who will eventually give birth to a savior.

God gives His family, Israel, a tabernacle so that He might dwell in their midst.
He gives them His Law, so that they might know Him.
He gives them psalms so that they might approach Him.
He gives them a temple so that they might praise Him.

And then He gives them Himself, so that where He is they might also be.

Being with God is being like God. So God gives His Holy Spirit to transform every believer, Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female just as in the Garden--those who are far off and those who are near.

In Exodus 14 God shows Israel His majestic power at the Red Sea. Not only did they see columns of bursting water careen so that they might walk between them, they felt His fury, His grandeur in holiness.

And in 1 Kings 19.11 God tells Elijah to stand before Him on a mountain. In a certain cave, Elijah hears God is not in the whirlwind, the fire, or the earthquake but in a still small voice. As God tells Elijah to come before Him, so God comes to Elijah.

In Psalm 69.18 David says--
O, draw near to my soul and redeem it,
Ransom me because of my enemies.
Jeremiah 31.3 says--I have drawn you with lovingkindness.

These are promises fulfilled in the NT. There in John 12.32 Jesus speaks of His death as the act of redeeming which David asked for--If I be lifted up I will draw all men unto Me.
The author of Hebrews said in Hebrews 10.22 we can do this--
Let us draw near with a sincere heart...  And finally James summarizes it all when he says--Draw near to God and He will draw near to you, James 4.8.