Open Eyes Toward Jesus

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       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.

Walk of Faith

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                I was listening to a lecture from a professor of theological studies and he made a point that resonated with me. It’s always amusing when a side note gets your attention. He was talking about the faithful characters in the Bible and how even in their failures God was pleased with their faithfulness. He reminded the audience that salvation comes through faith, not through success or results. We can thank Jeremiah for that example. Poor guy professed God for a lifetime and was repaid with rejection and failure, if you measure through results. The professors example was of two Christ following people who disagreed about the meaning of a piece of scripture. He explained that their faith in what the derived from the scripture was pleasing to God. This is a good example of the failure of Christian legalism in growing spiritual maturity and a stronger relationship with Jesus.

                I thought of an analogy that made me smile so I wanted to share. God gives us direction through His Word and even an example in His Son, but we fail continuously. Many people get discouraged, but that should not be the case. Imagine as a parent you tell your child to get dressed. They run off and come back mismatched, different shoes and buttons done out of order. Are you angry at the lack of perfection or happy that they followed your direction the best they could? It’s probably a proud moment that they put so much effort into following your instruction and trying to make you happy. I feel God has a similar mindset for His children at times. He doesn’t give exact direction for all situations but allows you to honor Him in your actions and decisions. Then just like the parent of the mismatched child, He is more than willing to help add correctness and completeness to your faithfulness. Your Heavenly Father will rebutton the shirt and find the other shoe. Follow His Word and stay in communication with Him. God never asks for perfection, He only ask for your heart.

               David made many mistakes and the Lord still blessed Him and allowed his line to bring about the Savior of the world. He was a man after God’s own heart even though he was far from perfect. We can also look at Joseph who was amazing in his faith because he was guided by a God honoring heart as opposed to directions from God. He trusted in God and honored him with his actions and the Lord prospered him and his family. A follower’s walk in faith is more loved by God than a perfection we can never achieve.

                God has already given victory and completeness to His children through their faith. He sent Jesus to make a way for us to reach Him. We should never count on our ability to do everything right. We should be thankful that the grace and mercy of God are ours as His children through our faith in His Son.

Grace gives us what we don’t deserve, Mercy doesn’t give us what we do.

Loved and Redeemed

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I will not forget you. I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you. (Isaiah 44:21b-22)

         As we grow in love and obedience to God and develop the wisdom to understand His love for us poured out on the cross, it’s common to feel distant from or unworthy of God. I believe this is because all of us are used to the temporal, shallow love available to us through earthly vessels. Even when people love us with all they have, it still will never compare to the love of the Father. His love is eternal and unconditional. Although God hates sin, His love sweeps away our sin when we return to Him in repentance. We can never be too far gone for the love of the Father to wash us white as snow with the blood of Jesus.
         We can praise God that His mercies are new every day and that He will never give up on us as we are tempted to do when we feel discouraged. Believers must be careful not to see the love of God through the broken lenses of earthly affection. In the same way we cannot see the joy found in God through the broken lenses of happiness. The beautiful thing about God’s love, and also the thing that makes it hardest to comprehend is the fact that it is not based on emotion. There is no condition to His love. Similarly, there is no condition to the joy His love provides, unlike happiness which is conditional and fleeting.
         God created you to be loved for eternity. The deceiver looks to mask that and replace it with lesser versions like lust. The devil knows that one of his biggest problems is when we come into the full realization of what God’s love looks like, and what it looks like for that perfect love to drive out the fear used by the deceiver as fuel to draw us into darkness. Know that God’s love is forever yours. He sweeps away sin and offense for His name sake and not because of you. You can’t do anything to remove God’s love for you which existed before the beginning of time. Let the blood of the Lamb wash you clean and receive the love God came to earth to give you. Let His Spirit dwell in you and lead you to the purpose found in His perfect will and perfect love. He will never forget and of His creation. He knows the number of hairs on your head and knew your sin before your birth. Dwell in His love and let His love dwell in you, for He has redeemed His chosen, He has redeemed you.

The Glory of His Patience

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What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory (Romans 9:22-23)

                Just because we see sinful people prosper doesn’t mean that God has looked away from their sinfulness. We are told not to envy wicked people in their prosperity, for that prosperity will lead to their ruin. Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong (Psalm 37:1) The scripture above tells us about God and the great patience He shows toward the “objects of His wrath.” It then ask us to consider what purpose He has in showing them patience. He looks to show His children the “riches of His glory.” What could that mean?  The Hebrew word for glory originally means “weight” or “heaviness.” The same word is then used to express importance, honor, and majesty. Take a moment and consider that definition in this context.

                How many people that the world views as prosperous are dead and empty on the inside? They have sought and gained the best the world has to offer at the expense of their peace and are now left with nothing to fill the void in their heart. Our sovereign Father gives us the opportunity to see what gaining the world and losing your soul looks like in the flesh. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Matthew 16:26) These people who have chosen to ignore God are without the most fulfilling thing available to us, a relationship with the Father.

                As the “objects of His mercy” we can live with the joy of knowing the riches of His glory. We know that the presence and provision found in relationship to God outweigh the lesser things of this world. God’s provision is designed for us by our Creator, not our sinful desire.  Believers can live with the peace of knowing God and the assurance that we have more than enough to walk the path He has called us to. Gaining more might drive us into worldly assurance. God loves us too much to let us wonder from what is best for us. We can let His light guide us on our walk with Jesus and be an example to those God has “prepared for destruction.” God desires that none shall parish.

                Let God’s glory shine through you. You might be the reason His patience benefits someone who is looking to fill the place in their heart where God is meant to dwell. Let others know what it means to see the riches of God’s glory and what it is to grow in His mercy. Show the world that God’s great power can also be shown in the grace and mercy of His patience toward all of us.
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:3-4)

God’s Repeated Warnings

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Yet if there is an angel at their side, a messenger, one out of a thousand, sent to tell them how to be upright, and he is gracious to that person and says to God, ‘Spare them from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom for them— let their flesh be renewed like a child’s; let them be restored as in the days of their youth’— then that person can pray to God and find favor with him, they will see God’s face and shout for joy; he will restore them to full well-being. (Job 33:23-26)

                Reading the passage above I am confronted with the extent of God’s mercy. This wonder scripture tells us about “one of a thousand” angels send to guide us in how to walk with God. That’s God’s one thousand plus attempts to guide us back to Him. Imagine the love involved in that kind of persistence. Would you have the love to try a thousand times to walk with someone who rejected every previous attempt? God allows people who turn from Him to walk into trouble repeatedly in the hope that the next angel sent to them will be the messenger of joy to Heaven.

                Then it’s revealed that the angel may find a ransom for that lost soul, that they might be renewed in the eyes of their Lord. All of Heaven knows that there is in fact a ransom which will reconcile us with God. He sent His Son so that He might be a ransom for all who believe in His name. the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28) For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as ransom for all (1 Timothy 2:5-6a)

                Praise God for the mercy, grace and love that led Him to seek His children a thousand times. Praise God for the gift of Jesus and His rescue from a death we all deserve in our sinful turning away. Although the events of Job take place well before the laws given to Moses or the birth of Jesus, we see the heart of God for His people. We can fall in love with a God who seeks us in our rebellion with a tenacity that has no bounds. Let this love for God lead you to share it with the lost as He sends to share the Gospel. Know that you are one of God’s thousands of attempts to make His love known in all the earth.

Don’t miss God’s plan

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Old Testament Laws are like guiding lights/ bread crumbs/ a map/ a GPS. They were originally intended to bring the focus of the Israelites to God and at the same time serve as a guide to show His power in their lives to the rest of the world. Knowing that sin kept all people from fulfilling the laws God became man and a sinless sacrifice so that love could succeed where the law had failed. Mercy could succeed where judgement fails. Many people miss the point of Jesus and continue attempting to please God in obedience to law. They use the law as a tool to learn about God and try and grow in Him. They miss the opportunity to be filled with His spirit in complete intimacy as a conduit of His power. Focusing on the law will cause you to miss God’s desire which is to live in your heart and allow you to shine His light to this dark world. Keeping your eyes on the Map/ GPS God gave people in the Old Testament will cause you to miss the destination God gave us through Christ, His Spirit!

Bible of Legalism

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                Something occurred to me as I thought about the people I meet in my Christian walk who see God as a rule enforcer. They ridicule people don’t follow a written code or set of rules. Most of those rules were never of God. To be perfectly blunt, after Jesus, none of them are. Jesus came as a fulfillment of the law to bring a new covenant of love through His blood. The love developed through a walk with Jesus and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit make the law obsolete and unnecessary. The absence of The Spirit requires people to seek laws that they have not allowed God to write on their hearts.

                After seeing the rejection of all those who do not meet their legalistic standard, I had thought. If they reject those who are unworthy of God’s favor, do due lack of adherence to His impossible standard of holiness, or their man-made version of pleasing God; how could they accept God’s chosen of the past either? Wouldn’t they, based on their un-Godly behavior, have to reject the teachings and wisdom of those who fail according to the law? They would certainly reject a man who committed adultery and then had the husband killed to cover up the resulting pregnancy (1). They would certainly reject a polygamist who worshiped other gods (2). They would reject a murderer (3), a persecutor of Christians (4), a person who denied Jesus (5), people who would sell a family member into slavery out of jealousy (6). They would certainly reject these people and absolutely reject any advice/ wisdom from those same people. Agreed? Now let’s see what this looks like.

  • (1) King David (A man after God’s own heart)à His Wisdom/Influence: Psalms, 1&2 Samuel, 1&2 Kings, 1&2 Chronicles [ 989 times mentioned in 28 books of the bible]
  • (2) Solomon (God made wisest to ever live) à His Wisdom/ Influence: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes [283 times mentioned in 15 books of the bible]
  • (3) Moses (Chosen to lead God’s people to the Promised Land) à His Wisdom/ Influence: Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Numbers [796 times mentioned in 31 books of the bible]
  • (4) Paul (Spread the Gospel to the gentiles) à His Wisdom/ Influence: Gospel of Luke, Acts, All (11) of the letters to the churches, (3) pastoral epistles [195 times mentioned in 15 books of the bible]
  • (5) Peter (Cornerstone of Christ’s Church) à His Wisdom/ Influence: Gospel of Mark, Acts, 1&2 Peter [162 times mentioned in 8 books of the bible]
  • (6) The Sons of Jacob (The heads of the 12 tribes of Israel) à Honored and protected as God’s chosen through-out all time

Add to this that the Gospel of Matthew was written by a tax collector, the fallibility of the Judges like Samson, and the sin of Adam/Eve/Noah/Abraham; we are left with a list of minor prophets and some writings by John (none of whom were sinless either). I only make this point to show the absurdity of legalism and that true redemption is found in God’s grace and the blood of Christ. Don’t let rules cloud the significance of Christ’s sacrifice for you. Don’t let the legalism of others draw you away from the truth, and your identity as a forgiven child of God in Jesus Christ.