Open Eyes Toward Jesus

thX9AGTWJF

       The religious leaders that Jesus encountered had been blinded by the law and the man-made religion that stemmed from it. The leaders created variations that profited them as leaders and at the same time kept the people blind to the purpose of the law, the message of the Torah, and the revelations of God through His prophets. It all pointed to the coming Messiah. When He stood in the midst of these leaders they were blind to their God in plain sight. They could not see that He was a fulfillment of prophesy and a fulfillment of the undefiled law. Let’s look at what Jesus says when He confronts these men and then take another step at what else can steal our sight. Knowledge of who Jesus is will help us to recognize Him with open eyes.

39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” (John 9:39)

       Jesus is not referring to His judgement here. Think about how this applied to the religious judgement of the Jewish Leaders through the law. Jesus wanted the people to see the heart of God, and He wanted to fulfill the law (with love) that had separated the people from God. The purpose of Christ was to open our eyes to mercy through love and close them toward the judgement and condemnation of the law.

40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains. (John 9:40-41)

       The Pharisee were so lost in the religion they had created through faulty human interpretation of the law that they were too blind to see the author standing in front of them. The author and perfecter of our faith came to give a 3 year, one man ‘panel discussion’ about Himself (The Word) and they couldn’t let go of the picture they made in exchange for the real thing. When we look past Jesus and try to rely on religion, the residue of sin (guilt) remains because human effort cannot remove it. Only the blood of Christ is capable of removing the stains that sin has left on us.

 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2)

 All who came before me are thieves and robbers,…10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:8,10)

       We have all seen John 10:10 above used to refer to satan but it refers to a much larger group of things to which the devil belongs. Jesus says two versus prior that all who came before Him are thieves and robbers. Not only before Him in time but before we accepted Him for our salvation. It refers to false prophets, man-made religious ideas, false teachers, and even the law itself when compared to the Messiah. Anything other than Jesus: steals the opportunity to know God in personal relationship, kills the indescribable joy that only comes from Jesus, and destroys the freedom that comes from the promise of eternal life in the presence of God. While this definitely describes the deceiver it also points at anything that fills the empty place in your heart designed for Jesus. It could be people, beliefs, material things, or even sin that we haven’t put down at the foot of the cross. Jesus is the source of the abundant life we seek and anything less is robbing us of our sight and the full potential found in Christ.

Accused But Never Defeated

Dore-THE-WOMAN-TAKEN-IN-ADULTERY

In the Gospel of John, chapter 8 verses 2-11 we find a story we all know about the woman caught in adultery. This story has so many things in common with the way people treat each other even now. Let’s look at the story, broken down with comments, and please recognize the way Jesus not only defeated the manipulation but also reflected the love of God into the circumstance to reveal yet again how love triumphs over law, always.

Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them.

       Those who were not caught up in a selfish pursuit to condemn what would render their service to the law futile (Pharisee) were eager to drink from the living well. Those who were lost in their posturing, worldly religious position, and misguided interpretation of the Word were looking to discredit the Savior at any cost.

 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery.

       There are many issues to take note of here. Where is the man caught in the act with her? Where is her husband who would have taken part in catching her in the act because nobody else would have been more aware of the situation? Also take note of the way they address Jesus: “Teacher” or “Master” in the King James Version. They are trying to find fault in Him and they address Him in a way that allows them to discredit Him from that very position, as if to mock Him and His teachings all together.

 Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him.

       They are using the sin of the woman to try and condemn a sinless man. They are also using the law to condemn the love of God that Jesus came to express. The law is being used against the fulfillment of the law (Jesus). It’s not her sin they are worried about, they are trying to condemn Jesus at her expense and for their selfish purpose.

Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.

       Jesus doesn’t give His attention to the accusation. He doesn’t feed into their plans to derail His teaching. In fact, His lack of attention makes them pour more emotion into their purpose. Jesus in His perfect wisdom brought them to a point where one statement would send them into retreat. He let their ignorance, selfishness, pride and emotion drive them into a place where they would expose themselves when the perfect nature of God was reflected into the situation. They had no foundation when the love of God washed over the situation.

 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.

       Look at how the accusers left: Oldest to youngest, leaders to followers, high stature to low stature. I see the elevated men leading the younger men into this confrontation. The Pharisee that have their worldly position and authority at stake are followed by the mislead men to who they are teaching the law. This is a common problem where people blindly follow fallible leaders and never seek God on their own to form the relationship that allows God to grow in them. They are blind to a truth that they have never been exposed to.

 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” (John 8:2-11)

       Now we see the perfect love of God triumph over the law. We see the fulfillment of the law through Jesus break through the constraints of religion. We see the light of our Savior break through the darkness of accusation and condemnation.

      Let yourself stand there and be in that moment. Watch Jesus write on the ground. What is the Spirit telling you He wrote? Think about that. See the love of God defeat the law. See Jesus triumph over religion. See hearts changed and not condemned. Take note of God’s mercy, God’s forgiveness, God’s love, and the salvation found in His Son.

Steps of Walking with Christ (1 of 7)

thX9AGTWJF

1) Awareness
We are all aware that there is something more. It may get shoved down to a place where it can be temporarily ignored but it resurfaces when the panic arises. Our desire to fall into God is at its greatest when we are at the end of ourselves and realize that our need/ desperation just outgrew our pride. God puts eternity in the hearts of all men. Some come to the One who transcends time and is larger than eternity. Others fall into the snares of this world be trying to fill the void of their lives with things that will perish. They don’t see that only the eternal God can fill the void He made for Him to rest. How many people do you know that are lost in the darkness of this sinful world? They need the light of Jesus to brighten their life but are in too much turmoil to turn and seek the light. It’s comparable to a child who is in fighting to keep their head above water. The fear of drowning causes panic and they flail about trying anything to sooth that panic and find comfort. All of the terror of their heart keeps them from seeing that the water is only four foot deep and they can stand up at any time. The light of Jesus is always within reach. God and the Son are only a submitted prayer away. Your Heavenly Father is seeking to deliver you from the darkness. Jesus has overcome this world and He seeks for the lost to join Him. Being aware He exists and calls to you is the first step to beginning a walk that leads to things so great only God knows what He has for those you love Him.
“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” the things God has prepared for those who love him (1 Corinthians 2:9)
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33b)

Meekness of Wisdom

thOUTYGN3W

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. (James 3:13)
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)

As I read through the book of James the Lord stopped my heart on the phrase “Meekness of Wisdom.” I felt the desire to revisit the concept of meekness and feel fortunate that I was led to do this.
People mistake meekness for weakness. The exact definition we find when we look is: submissiveness. Now ask yourself: submissive to who? Our inclination toward a definition of weakness means we see this as a submission to others. The bible indicates that our submission is to God! Biblical meekness is confidence in God which allows us to submit to His rule over our lives. Psalm 37:5-8 breaks this down into pieces: waiting on God, committing our way to God, trusting in God, being quiet and still before God, and not allowing anger when others prosper. The bible tells us: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9) We are also told: He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. (Isaiah 40:29) We have to decrease so that God can increase. Meekness goes against our sinful nature which seeks to enforce our beliefs and lash out under criticism or reproof. A spirit of meekness calls us to be slow to speak, quick to listen, and slow to anger. (James 1:19) Jesus tells us that the meek will inherit the earth. Seeing as the universe is God’s to give along with all of its provision, wouldn’t submitting to Him allow you to receive the inheritance as one of His children?
Meekness is not weakness. It is allowing the power of God to rule your life thus making you stronger than you could be on your own. It’s in submission we find peace. It’s in letting God fight our battles that we find closure. It’s in trust that the world has no hold on us and His joy can fill our hearts.

New Covenant- New Vocabulary

th1

                Along with the New Covenant found in Jesus Christ came new ways of understanding God. Describing the infinite God already proves impossible. So why shouldn’t Him becoming man cause us to have to repurpose or create whole new words to describe a reality unique to Him? Two words I’d like to focus on form the basis of God and our relationship with Him through Jesus.

                 The words are agápe (love) and charis (grace). The word agape which means love in Greek is unique to Christianity. It refers to God’s quality of love. This kind of love is not known to man outside the presence of God. Agápe love is different because it is unconditional and not based on merit. You cannot earn or deserve a Godly love. Loving like God is a choice and not based on emotions which drive man. The writers of the New Testament had to create this word to describe a concept foreign to man before Christ came to be an example of such an amazing thing. There are many words for love in the Greek language including éros(sexual), philía(friendship), storgē(parental),and ludus(playful). None of them had the power to describe a love that cannot fade or change.

            Charis (grace) is a word that had to be reconditioned. When the writers of the New Testament began to use it to describe the gift of God to His adopted children it gained a power it never had before. The word originally described kindness or favor (Hebrew ‘hen’) in the Old Testament (as in God’s favor toward Noah or Moses), but took on a meaning much larger and powerful with the coming of the prophesied Messiah. Where the law of the Old Testament fell short and drove man away from God, the grace found through faith in Jesus brings glory to God and a new meaning to a word that also fell short of the undeserved gift of our Lord.

Marks of a True Christian (12 of 12)

thGIGEDHS9

Never be wise in your own sight

Being wise in our own sight grows arrogance in our hearts. True wisdom accepts reproof and direction. (Proverbs 9:9) Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning Being wise in your own sight will not only slow your ability to grow closer to the infinitely wise God, it’s outward manifestation will draw people away from us preventing us from being able to speak God’s truth into their lives. People who profess a quality about themselves prevent the true admiration and connection found in humility. This goes for the admiration and connection of people in need to us as well as our admiration and connection to God.  The haughty nature of self-professed wisdom breaks the flow of God’s spirit through a believer as a vessel. We reflect the light of God. If we allow ourselves to get tarnished in arrogance, the light doesn’t brighten the world the way it is intended to through His faithful.  

Marks of a True Christian (11 of 12)

One_Nation_Under_God

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly/ so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all

The absence of harmony and the presence of arrogance create an uneven terrain with which we identify with the people around us. Not only are we prevented from growing people but we are prevented from personal growth as well. The ‘lowly’ have a point of view that has great value. The lowly of spirit draw us closer to God in their desperation and need. The lowly of wealth rely on the provision of God in a much deeper manner than the more successful. The lowly in years exude a child-like faith that we are all called to and can learn from. The ability for all of God’s children to find harmony can grow in the power of their diversity. The mingling of views and the intertwining of spiritual gifts draw us closer to the infinite God in understanding and praise for the depth we can never truly comprehend. Live peaceably as much as that depends on you. Don’t let your anger or pride the determining factor in the harmony of your life. Leave that to the Lord and watch the amazing people He brings into your life so that together we can mature in spirit and see Him better.