31 Days with the Savior: God

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Gentle Reader,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. – John 1:1-2 (NKJV)

The first thing that we need to know about Jesus is that He is God. He is not “a” god, as the Jehovah’s Witnesses assert in mistranslating these verses. He is not part of a tritheistic, divisible “head,” as in Mormon teaching. He does not exist in a pantheon from which we can pick and choose. He is not the archangel Michael. He is not a part of the unsound understanding that splits the names “Elohim” and “YHWH” into two entities. He is not the product of God the Father having sex with Mary. He is not the brother of Lucifer, nor is Lucifer His equal. He is not, nor ever was, married. He is not an “enlightened” teacher like Buddha. He is not lesser than Muhammed.

Jesus is God. He is not created. He has no beginning. He has no end.

Defining Jesus as anything other than God is to miss Him completely. He the eternal Son, consubstantial (of the same substance or essence) with the Father and the Spirit. (Note: This one Trinity is not at all the same as believing in three gods. If you are unsure, please do some reading. This article is a good place to start). The Father is one hundred percent God. The Spirit is one hundred percent God. Jesus is one hundred percent God.

Jesus explicitly told us that He is God (see John 5:17-18, John 8:58, John 10, John 14:9, Mark 2:5-7 for just a small sampling). Let us therefore end with this, from C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity:

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this Man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon or you can fall at His feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

My journey to faith. (15)

For all entries in the Jesus: 31 Days with the Savior series, go here.

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31 Days with the Savior: Introduction

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Gentle Reader,

Welcome to 31 Days 2014!

For the last few weeks I’ve been trying to come up with a good topic. I thought I might write about organizing, but, to be perfectly honest, my best tip in that area is: Clean up after yourself. I thought I might write about chronic illness, but The Detox Diaries covered that. I thought I might do a series on speaking the truth, but I worried that I’d wind up using this blog to deal with issues rather than go to people directly.

What to do? What to do?

Last Thursday night as I flipped through my Bible, searching for comforting words to share with my husband who just suffered the loss of his grandmother, it hit me.

Jesus.

His words, His actions, His person. All of Scripture is centered around the Lord and expresses His holiness, His majesty. It also expresses His great mercy in redemption. There is no figure in all of history so magnetic. There is none more important.

Starting tomorrow, we will be enjoying 31 days with the Savior. We’ll look at moments both beloved and obscure during His years of earthly ministry. We’ll consider how He has always been, and how He always will be, the True and Righteous King. We’ll look at His role and presence in creation. We’ll look forward to His return.

Let us begin this by loving the Lord, and let us end this by loving Him more.

My journey to faith. (15)

For all entries in the Jesus: 31 Days with the Savior series, go here.

Five Minute Friday: Because

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Gentle Reader,

Doing this on time for a change. Many thanks to the lovely Kate. Tonight we write: because.

Go.

Because life is hard. Because sorrows come.

Because we need reminding.

“What a Friend We Have in Jesus”

Joseph M. Scriven

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
May we ever, Lord, be bringing
All to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
There will be no need for prayer—
Rapture, praise, and endless worship
Will be our sweet portion there.

Stop.

My journey to faith. (15)

What You Need

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Gentle Reader,

No, you can’t always get what you want,
No, you can’t always get what you want,
No, you can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometime, you just might find
You get what you need. – Mick Jagger & Keith Richards

Yes. I just quoted the Rolling Stones.

The chorus of this famous song holds a lot of truth. Try as we might, we don’t always get what we want. If we’re honest, this doesn’t make a lot of sense. We work hard. Try to be kind. Take care of our families. Pay the bills. Shouldn’t we get what we want? We’re playing by the rules, after all. Shouldn’t our figurative cups be overflowing?

When we think of the abundant life, we assume that it will be filled with all the things we want. The wants may not be extravagant. A nice home, good relationships, a steady income, no debt. They might be wild and imaginative, like the desire to travel the world or have a painting hanging in a famous gallery or museum. Or they might be somewhere in the middle, like a cool car or a book contract.

Thing is, God is less about what we want and more about what we need.

Don’t misread that sentence. Every good and perfect gift comes from God (James 1:17) and He delights in giving us those good gifts (Matthew 7:11). There are many times when God blesses us with something that we want because He’s a good and loving Father. Yet if we look at the big picture, the Lord doesn’t allow us to have or do something that is outside of His will. He is not a vending machine, to use the cliche, concerned only with dispensing our desire of the moment. His will in the life of a believer is to make her more like Christ (Romans 8:29) and if the disposable income readily available for the purchase of new shoes every few weeks isn’t going to make her more like Christ, then, well…

You do the math.

Again, don’t misunderstand. I don’t at all believe that God inflicts suffering and hardship on His people willy-nilly. He doesn’t use our longing for red ballet flats or a new set of chisels as a source of entertainment. He doesn’t see what it is that we want in life and then go out of His way to make sure that the opposite happens. As a wonderful and kind God, He showers us with goodness, but within the context of making us more like Jesus.

2 Corinthians 9:8 opens up the concept for us:

God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work. (HCSB)

Graces oozes in fantastic measure from the Lord, pouring out torrentially upon His people. He makes sure that we have absolutely everything that we need – and this is a greater blessing than having everything we want. Think about it. You may not being having filet mignon for dinner tonight, but, if you have access to the Internet and can read this right now, chances are good that you’re not going to be hungry. Is a fancy meal every single time you sit down really better than a satisfied stomach? Is the food you eat what matters, or is the fact that you get to eat?

Because here’s the thing: This verse, which talks about grace permeating your life and all your needs being met, stands in a very specific context in Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church. Take the time to drink in every word of the chapter:

Now concerning the ministry to the saints, it is unnecessary for me to write to you. For I know your eagerness, and I brag about you to the Macedonians: “Achaia has been prepared since last year,” and your zeal has stirred up most of them. But I sent the brothers so our boasting about you in the matter would not prove empty, and so you would be prepared just as I said. For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we, not to mention you, would be embarrassed in that situation. Therefore I considered it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance the generous gift you promised, so that it will be ready as a gift and not as an extortion.

Remember this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not reluctantly or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work. As it is written:

He scattered;
He gave to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever.

Now the One who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for all generosity, which produces thanksgiving to God through us. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many acts of thanksgiving to God. They will glorify God for your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with others through the proof provided by this service. And they will have deep affection for you in their prayers on your behalf because of the surpassing grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift. – 2 Corinthians 9 (NKJV)

God blesses that we might bless. He provides so that we might provide for others.

The abundant life isn’t about big houses and nice cars. It’s not about extravagant vacations, millions in the bank and a wrinkle-free face. It’s got nothing to do with age or class or gender or race.  It’s about being like Jesus. The One who had no home (Luke 9:58). The One who set aside all of His glory and riches (Philippians 2:5-11). The One who took up the role of a servant (go here for a list of the many references regarding Jesus’ servanthood). The One who ultimately hung on a Cross, enduring great pain and humiliation. (And, praise God!, the One who rose again).

This same Jesus took a couple of fish and five small loaves of bread and made a feast for thousands (John 6:1-12). A feast made of fish and bread. Not exactly food for a king. Yet He both blessed and provided for the crowd by meeting their needs with this simple fare. They experienced abundance because God touched them all with His compassionate, inventive caring.

Let’s take the fish and the bread we need – and share it with others.

In that is abundance.

My journey to faith. (15)