Where is Jesus right now?

Posted: July 28, 2017 in Thoughts on God

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. (Revelation 1:17-18 ESV)

Close your eyes and picture Jesus. Don’t keep reading, just close your eyes and form a picture of him… What does he look like? Where is Jesus in your mind’s eye?

Now, you probably saw either a painting of Jesus with pretty hair and a docile expression, or Jesus hanging on a cross, head dipped in despair.

These are the two most popular depictions of King Jesus. The marginalized peasant, and the suffering servant. And Jesus did live his life on earth for the good of others and to the detriment of himself (Mark 10:45).

Do you know where Jesus is right now?

“Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.”

(Revelation 1:12-16)

Jesus took on flesh for a time, but he is no longer suffering on a Roman cross. He is alive. He is ruling and reigning, sovereign over all the universe.

He is King in heaven, King over hell, and King upon the earth. There is no glory like his to be seen by the eyes of men.

What was John’s reaction to seeing King Jesus? “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.”

This, too, should be our response to Jesus. If you do not feel awe toward Jesus, maybe you don’t know who he is.

We serve neither the Jesus of pop-culture nor the one depicted by oil paintings and dead relics.

We serve the risen Jesus, the living God. We serve a most capable King.

Does the majesty of Jesus lead you to worship? Dwell on Jesus as King and Lord today.

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

(Lamentations 3:22–24 ESV)

We’ve written about the mixed emotions encouraging verses like Jeremiah 29:11 bring. And today’s verse is no different.

The writer tells us of meeting God’s never-ending mercies. He says they’re fresh as the morning air.

But have you ever actually read Lamentations?

If we pluck this verse out of context, it’d be like watching a movie without sound. We might see part of the story, but we miss the true meaning.

Lamentations is a collection of songs and poems of lament. And what exactly is the writer, Jeremiah, lamenting?

He just saw his city fall to an invading army. He watched its gates burned. He watched as his neighbors and friends and family were killed.

Jeremiah’s entire world was falling apart and yet he wrote these words of hope through bitter tears.

Jeremiah wrote words of hope through bitter tears.

In previous verses he said things like: “Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the night watches! Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord! Lift your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint for hunger at the head of every street” (Lamentations 2:19).

The picture is of parents pleading for their destitute children in the dark of night.

Jeremiah talks about these awful things non-stop and even says he’s forgotten what happiness is (Lamentations 3:17).

Then we come to this moment where he essentially says: “I can’t get these images out of my mind and they crush my heart. But even in my despair, a memory sparks like a flare in the night sky…” (paraphrase ofLamentations 3:20–21)

He remembers the “steadfast love of the LORD” and his mercies that “never come to an end.”

In his moment of dread and defeat—truth steps in. And he holds onto it.

Even though things are horrible around him, he declares that God’s goodness is not contingent upon his situation. That God’s mercies are like a relentless flood that nothing can hold back.

Most of all, he remembers aloud that it’s God himself who is our portion—and he’s the only one in whom we can place our hope.

You see, those words are just as true in times of peace as in times of trouble. They’re beyond the “warm-fuzzy phrases” we post on Instagram and Twitter.

They’re not simply there to make us feel better when things are hard. They remind us of reality of the gospel.

Our God is so good he went on a death march for us. And he’s so powerful that not even death could keep him in the grave.

To meet with God’s mercy, we can follow Jeremiah regardless of our situation. We can declare that what was intended for evil, God can—and will—use for good (Genesis 50:20).

What hardship are you in right now? Repeat the words of Jeremiah out loud: “God, you are my portion. I put my hope only in you. You have my heart.”

When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land…” (Genesis 15:17–18a)

In the dead of night, while Abram lay somewhere between waking and dreaming, God made a promise that changed the course of history. But promise is too light a word… It doesn’t carry the weight that it does in this event.

In today’s verse, God made a covenant with Abram that showed him how deadly serious he was about making good on his word.

Here’s what was going on.

Just a few verses earlier, God asked Abram to bring, “a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon” (Genesis 15:9).

Then, all the animals except the birds were cut in half (Genesis 15:10) and laid on the ground. There was a path between the bodies and the fire pot and flaming torch floated over it.

Just like at the burning bush (Exodus 3:2), on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19:18), and on Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18:16–45), the flames and smoke represent God’s presence.

The Covenant

Now imagine this scene. Orange light from the flaming torch flickers across the animals split in two on either side. The smoldering pot floats between them.

And in this act, God himself is saying: “Abram, if I don’t keep my covenant with you, let what was done to these animals be done to me.”

God’s nature is faithful. His word always comes to pass. He is so serious about keeping his promises he would take such bold action in front of Abram. However, this covenant is kept and fulfilled in the books of Exodus and Joshua.

We know how radical God is about keeping his promises, because he did give up his own life on the cross nearly 2,000 years ago.

The God we serve determines the disciples we will be. Our God is faithful, so we can be faithful as well.

Does God’s seriousness about his promises impact the way you make and keep yours?

One Million Dollar Debt

Posted: July 24, 2017 in Thoughts on God

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. (Matthew 18:21-22 ESV)

Jesus followed this interaction with Peter by sharing what we now know as, the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:21-35). The situation was this; a king forgave his servant for what would equate to, in our day, a million dollar debt. This was more than any average person, let alone a servant, could produce for repayment. The king, out of compassion, kindness, and beautiful mercy forgave the entire debt, and not on the grounds of repayment either. The king knew this servant would never be able to repay the money owed, yet he forgave him anyway. At this point, the narrative is gracious and wonderful. What a good king!

But here’s the servant’s response: straight away, this forgiven man found a coworker of his who owed him just a fraction of what he had been pardoned from repaying the king. He grabbed him by the throat, and demanded he be repaid the money owed him. When that man begged patience, just as the forgiven servant had, “he refused and…put him in prison”!

The point here was this; we as God’s forgiven, redeemed, and reconciled cannot take the forgiveness of a bottomless debt from God’s hand, and then with our own hands demand repayment from those who owe us, or have wronged us. While this does not mean that we become a doormat for those who would walk all over us, it does mean that we do not live like the unregenerate servant who did not understand and appreciate the debt that had been forgiven of him.

Is there someone who you have not forgiven for the wrong they have done to you? Ask God to remind you of the debt He has forgiven of you.

Our great reward

Posted: July 21, 2017 in Thoughts on God

Therefore Levi has no portion or inheritance with his brothers. The LORD is his inheritance, as the LORD your God said to him.
(Deuteronomy 10:9 ESV)

Have you ever thought about how you will pay for your retirement when you get older?

If you haven’t yet, there will be a day when you do. When you are no longer on this Earth, that money you worked hard for and saved up for your whole life will go to your children as an inheritance. It will probably help pay off some debt or buy a new house or car for your kids. Inheritances can also rip families apart as they fight for who gets what and how much they get.

What a shame that we work so hard and horde so much money for our retirement and an inheritance for our kids when there is the greatest inheritance of all to be fought for as a follower of Jesus.

“When the Lord divided Canaan among the tribes of Israel Levi received no share of the land. God said to him simply, “I am thy part and thine inheritance,” and by those words made him richer than all his brethren, richer than all the kings and rajas who have ever lived in the world. And there is a spiritual principle here, a principle still valid for every priest of the most high God.

The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One. Many ordinary treasures may be denied him, or if he is allowed to have them, the enjoyment of them will be so tempered that they will never be necessary to his happiness. Or if he must see them go, one after one, he will scarcely feel a sense of loss, for having the Source of all things he has in One all satisfaction, all pleasure, all delight. Whatever he may lose he has actually lost nothing, for he now has it all in One, and he has it purely, legitimately and forever.” – A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

Rejoice! Our inheritance is the Lord!

Look to the right and see: there is none who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me; no one cares for my soul. I cry to you, O LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” (Psalm 142:4-5 ESV)

In every interaction you have is someone weighted?

What do I mean by this? Do you put expectations on others to act a certain way or say things in a certain manner? Then, when they don’t do what you expected, do you get upset? Do you misinterpret others’ words? Or do you put words into people’s mouths that they didn’t say? Welcome to the broken club my friend.

I can’t believe how broken I still am when I put expectations on interactions! I’m cruising along doing fine, and one misinterpreted interaction brings me back to that lost and abandoned child. Pain comes rushing back, and sorrow sets in.

However, I have learned a few things over the years; one being, most people are selfish. Yes, it’s true. People care about themselves and their own problems. It’s our human nature; so if you’re putting expectations on people, you will be failed. King David experienced this throughout his life and cried out to God in the Psalms.

If you are putting expectations on a person to fill you; you will fail my friend and still find yourself alone and lost. There is only one who will never fail you. There is only one who will never abandon you. You can trust Jesus to listen. You can trust Jesus to hold you when you are broken-hearted. He alone is your refuge!

Father, we acknowledge we are broken and ask for You to fill us with Your presence. Fill us with Your joy! Let us not look to others to fill our void, but only to Jesus, our refuge and portion, in Jesus mighty name.

Be a grace giver

Posted: July 18, 2017 in Thoughts on God

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15 ESV)

The question of genuine forgiveness is one of eternal importance. And why is it, you may ask, so crucial that Christians forgive? For starters, Jesus’ statement in today’s text is quite a compelling reason, for “if you do not forgive others…neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Suffice it to say then, we had better make sure we are forgiving “our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).

Here’s the bottom line: forgiveness is such a central element to Christianity that it is an indicator of salvation! Not that we are saved by any works of our own, such as forgiving others, but that when we are reconciled to God through Christ, our new life will be marked by grace giving and forgiveness.

Remember, our sin was exchanged for Jesus’ righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21), our wrong for His right, our injustice for His justice. God meets our rebellion and pride with grace in and through the person and work of Jesus. Those to whom grace is extended should also extend grace, and those to whom forgiveness is extended should also extend forgiveness.

Forgive as you have been forgiven. Not because it’s easy, but because it’s at the core of who you are in Christ.