Nov 22, 2011
Matthew West’s “Leaving Heaven” (with lyrics), from his “The Heart of Christmas” CD
Nov 22, 2011
Matthew West’s “Leaving Heaven” (with lyrics), from his “The Heart of Christmas” CD
[Jesus] touched his ear and healed him. —Luke 22:51
Early in his career, jazz player Herbie Hancock was invited to play in the quintet of Miles Davis, already a musical legend. In an interview, Hancock admitted being nervous but described it as a wonderful experience because Davis was so nurturing. During one performance, when Davis was near the high point of his solo, Hancock played the wrong chord. He was mortified, but Davis continued as if nothing had happened. “He played some notes that made my chord right,” Hancock said.
What an example of loving leadership! Davis didn’t scold Hancock or make him look foolish. He didn’t blame him for ruining the performance. He simply adjusted his plan and turned a potentially disastrous mistake into something beautiful.
What Davis did for Hancock, Jesus did for Peter. When Peter cut off the ear of one of the crowd who had come to arrest Jesus, Jesus reattached the ear (Luke 22:51), indicating that His kingdom was about healing, not hurting. Time after time Jesus used the disciples’ mistakes to show a better way.
What Jesus did for His disciples, He also does for us. And what He does for us, we can do for others. Instead of magnifying every mistake, we can turn them into beautiful acts of forgiveness, healing, and redemption.
Lord, You understand how prone we are to make
selfish and foolish mistakes. Forgive us and
restore us. Please, for Your name’s sake, use even
the worst aspects of our lives for Your glory.
Jesus longs to turn our mistakes into amazing examples of His grace.
“For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.” (Job 19:25)
This famous testimony of Job has encouraged many. He knew, as we can know, the reality of his living Redeemer and that the Redeemer would one day reign over His creation as intended.
A redeemer is one who buys back something which has fallen into the hands of the enemy. Originally, the creation was in the proper hands, but Adam sinned, and to a great extent the rebellious world and all its inhabitants fell into bondage at the hands of Satan. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). We became the slaves or “servants of sin” (Romans 6:20).
In order to be freed, a slave must be redeemed. Could we as slaves have bought ourselves back? No, we had nothing of worth. Silver and gold would not do it. In fact, nothing short of the blood of a completely innocent sacrifice would suffice to pay the “wages of sin” (Romans 6:23). Only God the Son, by laying aside aspects of His deity and taking on human flesh, could be that perfect sacrifice. “And he saw that there was no man [capable of redeeming mankind], and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation” (Isaiah 59:16). “In his love and in his pity he redeemed them” (Isaiah 63:9) by His own blood, buying us out of bondage to sin and Satan.
Notice also that this redemption is not just something we hope for; it is a fact! He has done it, and it will never be undone! “Thou shalt know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob” (Isaiah 60:16). “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Timothy 1:12). JDM
The Christians at Laodicea pictured themselves as rich and self-sufficient, when in reality, their spiritual blindness and self-righteousness had prevented them from recognizing their true poverty. Though they had closed a door between themselves and Jesus, He never gave up on them. Can you relate to this idea of a loving Savior reaching out to you?
Revelation 3:20 shows that Jesus . . .
• Stands at the door—The Lord takes the initiative. He’s ready and willing to seek us, even when we’ve erected a barrier.
• Knocks at the door—He tries to get our attention through a variety of means, including circumstances, pain, trials, conviction, sleeplessness, and/or His Word. Then He patiently awaits our response.
• Invites us to open the door—Though Christ is omnipotent, He never pushes His way into a relationship with us. He lets us respond.
• Enters through the door—If we open up to Him, He will come into our lives. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, we’ll actually partake of Christ’s divine nature and be transformed into His image.
• Dines with us indoors—Now that nothing stands between us and Jesus, we can begin to enjoy all the benefits of an intimate relationship with Him and be nourished by His Word.
Where are you in this process? Have you built a barrier between yourself and the Lord? The Laodiceans show us how miserable we are when we try to keep Jesus at arm’s length. Only when we let Him have unhindered access to our lives will we experience the joy of intimacy with Him.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure of heart,
for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3-10)
The Sermon on the Mount begins with the Beatitudes. Jesus taught us lessons for our journey in this life. Beatitude is “a state of utmost bliss.” The Beatitudes are stepping stones to what Christ wants us to become. In return for implementing them in our lives, we are given complete happiness. Our hearts, souls and spirits are transfigured, and we become like Him. He is preparing us for life in His kingdom.
The first step is the “poor in spirit.” We must submit to God’s Will, to be humble and to realize that all we have, and all that we are, comes from him and not of ourselves. The second step is built on the first as we start to mourn our sinfulness, and we want to live for God and do His Will. As we work to improve ourselves, we will become meek, which will cause us to “hunger” or “thirst” for goodness in us and throughout the world. Then, we will become loving, compassionate and merciful towards our neighbor. Our hearts will be rid of selfishness and pure. We will be filled with peace and will desire to spread peace to others. Lastly, we will be persecuted for following Christ. “If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you also.”(John 15:20-21) The Beatitudes are explained individually here: http://jesuschristsavior.net/Beatitudes.html
We must not lose heart over the last one. We are not created for this world but for our heavenly home with God. We will have times when we are ridiculed, mocked or opposed in our faith, but we must take comfort in God’s promises. Think of the Christians who are paying the ultimate price for Christ. Their reward is certainly great in heaven.
Now, we will compare them to the six things that God hates, seven that are detestable, in Proverbs 6:16-19:
“16 There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19 a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in a community.” (Proverbs 6:16-19)
They are nearly complete opposites of the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes bring forth blessings while the opposites cause violence, tension and hate. We see these growing and spreading everyday.
We must ask God for the graces we need to do His will, to help us to live the Beatitudes. It must start with us, so that love and peace can flow from us and cause others to live the Beatitudes as well. It is how Jesus wants us to live: the way of the Beatitudes.
by Rebecca Johnasen
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16
Charles G. Finney believed that Bible teaching without moral application could be worse than no teaching at all and could result in positive injury to the hearers.
I used to feel that this might be an extreme position, but after years of observation have come around to it, or to a view almost identical with it.
There is scarcely anything so dull and meaningless as Bible doctrine taught for its own sake. Theology is a set of facts concerning God, man and the world.
These facts may be and often are set forth as values in themselves; and there lies the snare both for the teacher and for the hearer.
The Bible is more than a volume of hitherto unknown facts about God, man and the universe. It is a book of exhortation based upon these facts. By far the greater portion of the book is devoted to an urgent effort to persuade people to alter their ways and bring their lives into harmony with the will of God as set forth in its pages.
Actually, no man is better for knowing that God in the beginning created the heaven and the earth. The devil knows that, and so did Ahab and Judas Iscariot. No man is better for knowing that God so loved the world of men that He gave His only begotten Son to die for their redemption. In hell there are millions who know that.
Theological truth is useless until it is obeyed. The purpose behind all doctrine is to secure moral action!
We love him, because he first loved us. 1 JOHN 4:19
If we are to have any satisfying and lasting understanding of life, it must be divinely given. It begins with the confession that it is indeed the God who has revealed Himself to us who is the central pillar bearing up the universe. Believing that, we then go on to acknowledge that we have discovered His great eternal purpose for men and women made in His own image.
I heard a brilliant Canadian author being interviewed on the radio concerning world conditions, and he said: “I confess that our biggest mistake is the fond belief that we humans are special pets of Almighty God and that God has a special fondness for us as people.”
We have a good answer: Man as he was originally created is God’s beloved. Man in that sense is the beloved of the universe. God said, “I have made man in My image and man is to be above all other creatures. Redeemed man is to be even above the angels in the heavens. He is to enter into My presence pardoned and unashamed, to worship Me and to look on My face while the ages roll on!” No wonder we believe that God is the only certain foundation!
Dear Lord, thank You for Your unconditional love for me. I pray that I will not act like a spoiled child but that my life will honor You in all my relationships.