Are You Hungry?

July 31, 2013
Jeremiah 15:15, 16; Job 23:10-12; John 6:51-57

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

So how hungry are you?  No, not for food you regularly eat at the table – three meals a day, plus snacks.  And some of us eat a few more meals and snacks than are good for us!  I am talking about taking in another kind of nourishment.  Are You Hungry for the Word of God?  Let’s consider three scriptures on the subject and see what we can learn.  First let’s look at Jeremiah 15:15 and 16:

    O LORD, You know; remember me, and visit me, and take vengeance for me
    on my persecutors.  Do not take me away in Your longsuffering.  Know that
    for Your sake I have suffered rebuke.  Your words were found, and I ate
    them; and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; for I am
    called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.

In verse 15 Jeremiah is relating to God that because of proclaiming His Word to Jeremiah’s fellow Israelites, he has been persecuted and suffered rebuke.  In Jeremiah 38, those who opposed the prophet even arrested him and threw him into imprisonment in what seems to be an old cistern.  There was no water in the cistern, only mud.  And Jeremiah was left to die, sinking in the mud!  Remember, Jeremiah’s severe troubles were because he was faithfully proclaiming God’s Word to the people!

But then we come to verse 16 – “Your words were found, and  I ate them; and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.”  The very thing that was causing Jeremiah’s troubles – being called by the Lord’s name and preaching His Word – was also that which gave him so much joy and rejoicing, he ate them as he might eat physical food – regularly and abundantly!

Now look at Job 23:10 through 12:

    But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth
    as gold.  My foot has held fast to His steps, I have kept His way and not turned
    aside.  I have not departed  from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured
    the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.

Again, here was a man who was going through horrible troubles, being tried by God.  But Job’s testimony of his pious life included loyal obedience to and love of God’s Word.  As he said in verse 12, “ I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.”  Here also, as in Jeremiah 15, the Word of God is likened to physical food.  Job says it is more valuable than necessary food – the food we need to stay alive and keep healthy!

Jesus expanded on this Old Testament idea.  Since He is the Word of God (Revelation 19:13), we are to consume Him!  This is what He says in John 6:51 through 57:

    I am the living bread which came down from heaven. if anyone eats of this
    bread, he will live for ever; the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall
    give for the life of the world….Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the
    flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.  Whoever
    eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at
    the last day.  For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He
    who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.  As the
    living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me,
    will live because of Me.

Do you have the appetite of Jeremiah and Job?  Do you want to obey what Jesus has told us we must do?  Do you desire to take in to consume God’s WordYou should!  More than that, you must!  When God’s Holy Spirit comes into your heart and life, He brings with Himself an appetite for the WordIf you don’t have an appetite for the Word, then something is wrongEat regularlyEat heartilyYour spiritual life depends on it!

Over the next several blogs, I will be showing what the Bible – God’s Word – can and will do in your Christian life.

Add Illumination To Light!

July 29, 2013
Matthew 5:14-16

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

Over the years, I have heard people say, “I don’t say much when it comes to being a witness for the Lord.  I just let my life shine as my light.”  They, of course, are referring to what Jesus said in Matthew 5:14 through 16, a part of the Sermon on the Mount:

    You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hidden. 
    Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and
    it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men,
    that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

My life – the way I live – is my light,” is a common way of thinking.  But it is flawed!  If your light is your good works, then why does it say in verse 16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works…”?  What Jesus says here separates good works and light!

Now good works are good!  Paul writes in Galatians 6:10, “…as we have opportunity, let us do good to all….”  As a matter of fact, good works must have a place in our salvation!  It is not that we are saved by good works.  We aren’t!  We can never be good enough to achieve salvation by our works.  Paul put it this way in Ephesians 2:8 through 10:

    For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it
    is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  For we are His
    workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared
    beforehand that we should walk in them.

Good works are not to procure salvation!  They are to be manifest in your life and mine after salvation!  So important are good works manifested in the Christian life that James says in James 2:20 and 26, “…faith without works is dead….”  If there are no good works in your Christian life, then your faith is false, empty and dead!

Just what are good works by Biblical standards?  James 1:27 says, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this:  to visit ophans and widows in their troubles, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”  Paul gives a longer list in Ephesians 5:2 through 4 and another in I Thessalonians 5:14 through 22:

    …walk in love, as Christ also has loved us….But fornication, and all uncleanness
    or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints;
    neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor course jesting, which are not fitting,
    but rather giving of thanks.

    Be at peace among yourselves….warn them that are unruly, comfort the faint-
    hearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.  See that no one renders evil for
    evil to anyone; but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. 
    Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the
    will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  Do not quench the Spirit.  Do not despise
    prophecies.  Test all things; hold fast what is good.  Abstain from every form
    of evil.

This certainly is not an exhaustive list of good deeds that should characterize a believer’s life.  There are many more lists that could be developed, and many examples that could be lifted up.  But this, perhaps, will give you an idea of some of the works that a Godly life should manifest.

Back to our Matthew 5 scripture:  You see, when you do something good for another person – maybe taking a meal to someone who is sick and shut it – that one may look upon what you have done and say, “What a good person you are!”  Who, then, gets the glory?  But if we add light to our good works by saying something like, “I am doing this because I am a Christian – because Jesus has saved me and God has changed me,” then who gets the glory?  God gets the glory, not us!  So your light shining before others is you adding words to your deeds to direct people to look to God, not us!

If you have been thinking that your life – the deeds that you do – are your light, your Christian testimony and witness, then you need to Add Illumination To Light!  “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16).

Three Ways We Relate To Jesus

July 26, 2013
John 12:1-3

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

There are Three Ways We Relate To Jesus, and unless all three ways are manifest in our Christian lives, then our faith – as we live it out – is not complete.  All Three Ways are shown in the compact scripture of John 12:1 through 3:

    Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus
    was who had been dead, whom He raised from the dead.  There they made
    Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at
    the table with Him.  Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard,
    anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair.  And the house
    was filled with the fragrance of the oil.

The first verse gives the setting:  it is in the home of Lazarus, Martha and Mary in Bethany, a town less than three miles southeast of Jerusalem.  These three adult siblings, apparently all unmarried and somewhat wealthy, lived together in a large house in this small town.  Jesus and His disciples were welcome guests there, and there are at least three times recorded in the Gospels that Jesus was at their home (Luke 10:38-42, John 11:18-45 and John 12:1-8).

Taken in order, Martha, Lazarus and Mary show forth the Three Ways We Relate To Jesus.

•    John 12:2 – “…they made Him a supper; and Martha served….”  Serving the Lord
must be part of our Christian lives.  Paul gives us the idea of what serving the Lord
means in Colossians 3:22 through 24 (NIV):

    Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their
    eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence
    for the Lord.  Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for
    the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance
    from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Service to Jesus is more than being a minister, missionary or Christian teacher.
You can serve the Lord – and you should be – in everything you do!  Paul says,
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for
men….”  Whatever you do!……can be done as if you are doing it for the Lord Jesus
Christ!  Of course, this eliminates sinful actions.

Martha was simply serving dinner, but her guest of honor was her Creator, Redeemer,
and Lord!

•    John 12:2 – “… Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him.”  Lazarus
was not serving, he was fellowshiping with Jesus!  He was sitting down with a
good Friend and enjoying His company!  Sometimes we miss that concept in our
Christian lives. – just spending time with the Lord.

Do we realize that Jesus wants to spend time with us – just to be with us?  In John
15:13 through15 He says:

    Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.  No longer do I call
you servants; for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have
called you friends, for all things I have heard from my Father I have made
known to you.

The Lord wants to be with us so He can share what is on His heart.  And we can
interact with Him, asking Him to clarify what He means, or giving our thoughts and
comments on the subject.  That’s two friends fellowshiping together!

•    John 12:3 – “Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the
    feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair.  And the house was filled with the
    fragrance of the oil.”  This is worshipbowing before our Lord and offering
    Him our best!  In worship we are telling Him – in this case by actions, not words –
how great and marvelous He is!

It was Mary’s worship that affected the whole house the most, because it
… filled…the house… with the fragrance of the oil.”  Do you want to fill the
whole place where you are with the sweet aroma of a precious offering?  Then
worship the Lord Jesus Christ!

As said before, all Three Ways We Relate To Jesus must be manifested in our lives if we are to live a balanced Christian life.  Make sure your life contains all three!


July 24, 2013
Deuteronomy 11:18-21

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

Indoctrinated!  The word brings up negative connotations, like being brainwashed into wrong thinking.  But Webster’s New World Dictionary says the definition of indoctrinate is this:  “to instruct in doctrines, principles, theories, or beliefs.”  Now that does not sound so bad, does it?

Taking the principle of the admonition given to the ancient Israelites, we are to indoctrinate ourselves and our children in the things of the Lord.  Here is what it says in Deuteronomy 11:18 through 21:

    Therefore you shall lay up these words of Mine in your heart and in your soul,
    and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between
    your eyes.  You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you
    sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when
    you rise up.  And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on
    your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in
    the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as the days of
    heaven above the earth.

Well, this let’s us off the hook!!!  We are only supposed to teach the Word of God to our children (our families) “…when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”  In other words, teach them only when you are in your house or outside of your houseTeach them only when you are lying down or when you aren’t!  What’s left?  We are to indoctrinate our family every day, all the time!!!

Why is this?  The world will indoctrinate us if we don’t!  Society, bombards us with it’s beliefs and values all the time – through formal schooling, work, play, entertainment (TV, Computers, electronic games, general interaction with others, etc.)  For instance, we are educated from kindergarten through graduate school in the ‘scientific fact’ of evolution.  What we are not told is that evolution is a theory that has a lot of holes in it!

Another example is the homosexual agenda.  We are inundated through education and the media with the ‘fact’ that it is an acceptable alternative lifestyle.  But although God loves sinners enough to die for them, He pulls no punches in condemning such sinful actions (see Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:21, 24-27; I Corinthians 6:9; Galatians 5:19-21; II Timothy 3:3)   The results of a survey conducted by NORC of the University of Chicago (formerly known as the National Opinion Research Center) were published in the UChicago News in an article called, Americans move dramatically toward acceptance of homosexuality, survey finds.  One paragraph states:

    The change toward acceptance of homosexuality began in the late 1980s after
    years of remaining relatively constant. In 1973, 70 percent of people felt same-
    sex relations are “always wrong,” and in 1987, 75 percent held that view. By
    2000, however, that number dropped to 54 percent and by 2010 was down to
    43.5 percent.

By Indoctrination, society – especially the younger generation – has changed their opinion that homosexuality is wrong.  And this stand is moving more and more from opinion to the law of the land!

These are just two examples of how the world will indoctrinate us and our children.  As Christians, we are called to indoctrinate ourselves and our families in the Word of God!  Every bit of information that enters our mind is to be filtered though the truth of God’s Word!

Did you notice that there is a promise attached to this command?

    …that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land
    of which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven
    above the earth.

The Bible says a lot about heaven.  And from what it says, heaven is a wonderful place!  What God says in Deuteronomy 11:21 is this:  If we take this command of God’s seriously – if we try as best we can to indoctrinate ourselves and our families in the Word of God to guide our lives – God will so bless us that our lives here on earth will manifest what we will experience in heaven!  I don’t know about you, but I want that!!!

The Body of Christ – V

July 22, 2013
John 14:12

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

As we talked about in the last blog, how is it that we can be Jesus Christ – the incarnation of God come in the flesh – is this old world?  It is because Jesus – when He walked upon this earth – lived as a man, a human being, totally empowered by the Holy Spirit.  He did not live and act out of His own God-being and power during His three and a half year ministry.  Yes, He was fully God, as well as fully man.  But all that He did – even all the miracles and healings He accomplished – Jesus did as a man fully given to and empowered by the Spirit within Him.

Jesus said in John 8:28, “…I do nothing of Myself; but as my Father taught Me, I speak these things.”  As the Father had taught Him, He spoke, He acted, He did His mighty works.  He was totally dependent on the Holy Spirit within Him.  It is written in John 3:34, “…He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure [to Him].”  Jesus was given the fullness of the Holy Spirit without measure!  He let Himself be continually directed by that Holy Spirit in everything He said and did.  It was not just concerning the cross that He practiced what He prayed in the Garden:  “…nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.”  It was everything He said, did and thought!

It was by living in submission and by the direction of the Holy Spirit that the Lord overcame all temptation and lived His life without sin – in complete obedience to God.  He did not have the fallen, sinful nature with which we struggle.  He had the same sinless nature that the first Adam had when created.  But Adam – even with that sinless nature – succumbed to temptation and sinned.  Jesus did not!  Still, all the trials and temptations the Lord experienced were real, and He resisted them in the power of the Spirit.  In Hebrews 4:15 and 16 it says:

    For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses,
    but was in all points tempted [tested] as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore
    come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to
    help in time of need.

He experienced all that we can go through – all the trials and temptations of life, in one form or another.  And He invites us to come to Him to receive His help and grace to overcome whatever we are facing.  It is as if He says, “I know what you mean.  And not just because I am God, and God knows everything!  I have been there and done that – and overcame!  I can help you do the same.

The point is this:  Jesus lived as a human being totally relying upon God.  He lived by the power of the Holy Spirit in everything He did.  He was victorious by that same Spirit.  All He did – His total life and ministry – was done with simply the same resources that God has made available to us!

We receive that same Holy Spirit to reside within us when we ask Jesus to come into our hearts and lives.  He comes in to take up permanent residence in us.  It is by that Holy Spirit in us that God reveals to us His mind – His will, His way – and then gives us the power to carry out whatever He directs us to do – just as the Father filled His Son Jesus with the Holy Spirit and directed His life.

If it was not true that Jesus lived His life as a human being with the same resource that is available to us – the Holy Spirit – then He never could have said to us “Follow Me” (Matthew 4:4).  And certainly He never could have told us in John 14:12:

    Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will
    do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to my Father.

We cannot follow Jesus!  We cannot do the works He has done!  We cannot……IF He lived His life out of the power of Him being God!  We are not God!  But if Jesus lived His life as a man empowered by the Holy Spirit, then we can follow Him, we can do the works He directs us to do!  We can be the continued incarnation of God come in the flesh upon this earth!

Let us realize the resource that we have, God in us by His Holy Spirit, and let Jesus Christ live out His life through us!

The Body of Christ – IV

July 19, 2013
Colossians 1:18

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

Paul writes in Colossians 1:18 that Jesus, “…is the Head of the Body, the Church….”  We have seen that the head – having the brain, housing the mind – is to be in control of the physical body.  Applied to Christ and the Church – not forgetting that the Church is the peoplewe, as the Body of Christ, are to be in complete subjection to the Lord.  He is the One who is to give direction to the Body, and we are to carry out that direction without adding to His will our own will and wishes!

So what does this all mean?  It means that we are the incarnation of Jesus Christ in the worldIncarnation, according to Webster;s New World Dictionary, is, “…the taking on of human form and nature by Jesus as the Son of God.”  We are the second incarnation of God come in the flesh!  Or, I suppose it is better said, we are the continued incarnation of God come in the flesh!

You see, it is only by God becoming flesh – Jesus, the Son of God taking on the form and nature of man (but not the corrupted, sinful nature) – that man could begin to understand Who God is.  Before that they simply did not have the capacity to know God.

•    Adam and Eve were in perfect fellowship with God before sin entered the human race. And they walked with Him regularly “…in the cool of the day…” (Genesis 3:8).  But when they sinned, it separated them from harmony with their Creator.  He came, as He regularly did, but it says in Genesis 3:8, “Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

•    God appeared to Abraham several times, but Abraham did not know God as we can know Him in Jesus Christ.  Most of “appearances” were the voice of God instructing the patriarch to do one thing or another.  Abraham obeyed God’s voice, but he did not know the nature of God as revealed in Christ.

•    At Sinai, God came down on the top of the mountain in glory to give the Israelites the Ten Commandments and the law.  But this is their reaction to the glorious sight recorded in Exodus 20:18 and 19:

        Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the
        sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people
        saw it, they trembled, and stood afar off.  Then they said to Moses, You
        speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.

•    Even in Jesus’ day, God answered from heaven Jesus’ short prayer in John 12:28, “Father, glorify Your name.  Then a voice came from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.”  What was the reaction of those who stood by?  “…the people…said that it had thundered.  Others said, ‘And angel has spoken to Him.

But the people could walk and talk with Jesus.  They could touch Him, hear Him, interact with Him.  And He said in John 14:9, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.”  The more you know Jesus Christ, the deeper you know the Triune God!

So Jesus Christ came and walked the earth among men.  But He ascended back to heaven.  What did He leave behind?  His Body – the Church, you and me – to walk among men and manifest the invisible God to them so they also can know HimThis is the continued incarnation of God in human flesh among mankind!  And now it is multiplied from one Person – Jesus Christ – to potentially thousand and millions of obedient Christians around the world who will live in complete submission to their Head.

So God is only manifested by the Holy Spirit in Christians when we are willing to put down our own mind – our own will, wants and ways – and submit to our Head, Jesus Christ.  Remember, it is only the Head which has the mind of God!  Thus will Godthrough His Son in us by the Spiritbe shown forth to people so they also can know and have fellowship with the Father.

Christian, are you ready for the challenge of submission to the Lord?  Are you ready to be Christ in this old world?  For He “…is the Head of the Body, the Church…” (Colossians 1:18).

The Body of Christ – III

July 17, 2013

I Corinthians 12:12-27

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

I Corinthians 12:12 through 27 is rather a long passage, but I think we need to reproduce it here:

    For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one
    body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.  For by one Spirit are we all
    baptized into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free —
    and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.  For in fact the body is not one
    member but many.  If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not
    of the body,” is it therefore not of the body?  And if the ear should say, “Because
    I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body?  If the
    whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing?  If the whole were
    hearing, where would be the smelling?  But now God has set the members, each
    one of them, in the body, just as He pleased.  And if they were all one member,
    where would the body be?  But now indeed there are many members, yet one
    body.  The eye cannot say unto the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again
    the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”  No, much rather, those members
    of the body which seem to be weaker, are necessary.  And those members of the
    body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor;
    and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts
    have no need.  But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that
    part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that
    members should have the same care for one another.  And if one member
    suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the
    members rejoice with it.  Now you are the body of Christ, and members

Paul is talking about the human body likened to The Body of Christ.  Obviously, in the human body, all the different members – the different parts – serve a purpose.  As a teenager, one of my brother’s friends had his little toe completely severed in a lawn mowing accident.  He testified that he had to relearn his fine balance since that little toe was no longer there to provide its support!

A member of The Body of Christ may seem insignificant – always in the background, never in the limelight – but let that one be taken out of the picture, and he or she will be missed.  That one may be the person who keeps the waste baskets emptied after filling them with gum wrappers or old bulletins left behind after a church gathering.  He or she may be the one who takes some groceries to a needy neighbor, leaving them on the doorstep so they won’t be identified as the giver.  That one is significant to The Body of Christ!  That one will be missed!  We are all needed in The Body of Christ!  And we have all been gifted to serve.

The apostle says in verses 25 and 26:

    …members should have the same care for one another.  And if one member
    suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the
    members rejoice with it.

Do you hurt when others are hurting?  Do you praise God when others are blessed?  When I was 15, a friend gave me a ride in a doodle-bug cut down from a 1937 Chevy one-ton four-speed truck.  It was shortened so much that the distance from the back of the front wheel to the front of the back wheel was only about two feet!  In first gear (duel low to you newbies!) that thing could do a wheelie lifting the front wheels three feet off the ground!  I jumped in the passenger seat barefoot.  My friend said, “Watch this!” and popped the clutch!  The wheelie made the battery – on a shelf under the dashboard – jump off, and the corner landed on my bare big toe!!!  The bone in my toe broke and the toe itself split!!!  I suppose I could have said, “It’s only my toe!  The rest of me is fine!”  But that small member of my body hurt soooo bad, every other part of my body was in agony!  My hair hurt!!!  And the sympathetic pain remained in my whole body for weeks while the toe slowly healed!

Should not the members of The Body of Christ “…have the same care for one another…”Let’s start being the Body that Jesus wants us to be.

The Body of Christ – II

July 15, 2013
Philippians 2:5

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

We will continue to examine The Body of Christ today by looking at The Mind of Christ from Philippians 2:5: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus….”  A number of translations have something similar to the NIV:  “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…,” but “attitude” does not carry the weight of what the original Greek is saying.  In Kenneth Wuest’s Bypaths in the Greek New Testament, this noted Biblical Greek scholar, on page 86, says, “The translation reads: ‘This mind be ye constantly having in you which also was in Christ Jesus….’

I think the difference between “attitude” and “mind” is important.  You see, if it is just our attitude that is to be like Jesus’, then the idea is that it is something we generate ourselves so we will be more like our Lord.  But if, indeed, it is the mind of Christ, then it is something outside of ourselves that is given to us – that is, implanted in us!

In last Friday’s blog, I brought forth again the central idea behind the April 29th blog, The Most Important Prayer A Christian Can Pray.  And that prayer, modeled by Jesus and found in Luke 22:42 is this:  “…nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”  Just what are the mechanics behind this prayer, that is, the working out of this prayer in our lives?

What we are saying is, “Never mind what I think, Lord.  Never mind what I want Lord.  I set my will, my mind aside, so Your will, Your mind might be manifest in me!”  So it is not just setting aside the control of my mind over my life, because if it just that, we would then be mindless!  No, it is allowing God to replace my mind with Jesus Christ’s mind, my thinking with Jesus Christ’s thinking, my will with Jesus Christ’s will!

And Jesus was always in tune with the Father.  He said in John 8:28:  “I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak [I do] these things.”  So The Mind of Christ is obviously the revealed mind of God!  And, by the way, this is why Jesus is called “The Word of God ” (Revelation 19:13).  He is the perfect expression of the mind of the Father!

So in order for The Body of Christ – the Church, you and me! – to fulfill God’s will, we must be filled with His mind and guided by His thoughts.  This is done by the Third Person of the Trinity – the Holy Spirit – which God has given to us to reside in us, and to not only give us His mind, but to empower us to live out His life!

It is an ongoing choice to put down our own mind, our own thoughts and our own will, so The Mind of Christ can be manifest in and through us.  And this ongoing choice is not easy.  It is a battle!  Paul writes this in Galatians 5:17 (NIV):

    For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is
    contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do
    not do what you want.

It might seem like a big job to “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:5), but it is entirely possible.  If we are commanded by God to do it, then it can be done!  And this is not the only place where the idea is presented.  From Paul again in I Corinthians 2:16:  “But we have the mind of Christ.”  Here the idea is put forth, not as a command to be accomplished, but as a fact that is already accomplished!  And Paul presents it to the Corinthians as something that is commonly to take place among Christians – something to be manifested in every follower of the Lord.

So, to every Christian who reads this blog – “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:5).  This is the only way we can truly be The Body of Christ!

The Body of Christ – I

July 12, 2013
Colossians 1:18

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

The Church is pictured in the Bible in several different ways:  the bride of Christ – II Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:22-32; the foundation and temple – I Corinthians 3:10; Ephesians 2:20, 21; I Peter 2:5; the habitation of God – Ephesians 2:22; the union of Jew and Gentile – Ephesians 2:11-22.  But the one analogy upon which we will concentrate for the next few blogs is The Body of Christ – Romans 12:4, 5; I Corinthians 12:12-27.  The reference on which I want to concentrate for this study is Colossians 1:18:

    And He [Jesus] is the Head of the Body, the Church, who is the beginning, the
    firstborn from the dead; that in all things He may have the preeminence.

Let’s consider the head first.  It sits atop the body in a prominent place.  And it contains the brain, which is home to the mind, which controls all the members of the body.  If Jesus is the Head of the Body – which is the Church, made up of individual members, you and me – then He should be in ultimate control over all the members of the Body!

There is a sad condition of disease that afflicts some people.  It’s called multiple sclerosis, or “many scars”.  I know, sclerosis means “hardening”, but according to my medical dictionary,

    It is “sclerotic” because it leaves sclera or scars at the point where demyelination,
    the loss of the protective covering of the nerves, takes place.

This allows short circuiting of impulses from the brain to other parts of the body.  The brain may send a signal to the right foot to take a step forward, but the signal – short circuited – goes instead to the left arm, and the arm flails upward.

In a town where I pastored several years ago, there lived a woman who had advanced multiple sclerosis.  She was often seen slowly progressing down the sidewalk, staggering, arms flailing, hardly making any headway, her hair and clothes unkempt.  She eventually had to be institutionalized for her own benefit.

The Body of Christ is too often like one afflicted with this disease.  Jesus, Who is the Head of the Body – the Mind who is to be in control of all Bodily actions – directs the feet to go to a certain place, a certain person, in order that the mouth may share the gospel with that one whom the Holy Spirit has prepared to receive the Good News.  But the body has a mind of its own, and the body says, “No, I think I will move my hand to buy an ice cream and eat it!”  Hence, the Body is out of control of the Mind of Christ!  And the will of God is negated!

God has allowed this possibility to happen by giving us free choiceWe can choose to do what we want, even if that choice goes against what the Lord wants us to do.  So The Body of Christ, in essence, acts as if it is afflicted with multiple sclerosis, effectively disconnected from the Head, and acting on its own!

And the will and work of God suffers and goes unfulfilled!

If we are to be obedient followers of Jesus Christ – if we are to be fulfilling His will, His mind – then we must make the constant choice that we will submit to His direction.  And to do that, we are to follow our Lord’s example and prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane – “…nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42).  Go back and reread the April 29 blog, The Most Important Prayer A Christian Can PrayIf we, in every situation, make that choice to defer to Jesus’ mind and will, then the Body will function as God intends it to function, and the will of our Lord will be accomplished!

Remember, He is the HeadWe are the BodyHe is the One who is to be in control, not us!

The L – O – N – G View!

July 10, 2013
Romans 8:18; II Corinthians 4:17, 18

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

A child dies, and the parents are devastated.  The mother keeps asking, “Why did God take him?  He was so young!  It isn’t fair!  He had his whole life to live!  Why?

A father of four teenage children is stricken with a malignant brain tumor and, after treatment which often leaves him incapacitated for days, he is given the news, “I’m sorry, we have done all we can do.  It is just a matter of time now, three months at the most.

A fifteen year old girl who was very close to her grandmother is now upset with God.  After a long illness, the older woman passes away.  And the girl angrily spews, “She was so good to me – and to everybody else!  I prayed she would be healed!  So why didn’t God hear me?  Why didn’t He heal her?

A single mother of two was laid off a year ago from a good job that provided adequate pay and benefits.  She has been surviving on unemployment benefits and food stamps, but the benefits are about to run out.  She and her two children have had to move back into her parents home and all she has found is part time work.  She sometimes silently screams at God, “Why are you doing this to me?  What did I ever do to deserve this?

Have you ever been in similar situations?  What are you going through now?  Have others sounded off to you concerning what seems so unfair in their lives?  Is there a perspective from God’s Word that will help us understand what is happening when the hardships of life come?

First, I recommend reading the blog from March 8th, What’s God’s Purpose For Me? based on Romans 8:28 and 29.  In a nutshell, He is using trials and testings – to mold us, to grow us, to perfect us, to bring us more and more into the image of His Son Jesus Christ – which is God’s ultimate purpose for all Christians.

But there’s another idea that will help us face the troubles of life.  I call it The L — O — N — G View!  The problem is that we try to make sense of it all considering only the 70 or 80 years – or shorter, or longer – that God allots for this phase of life.  Yes, I said, this phase of life!  For if we believe the Bible, how long is the life God has given to Christians?  He has given us eternal life!  Twenty six times in the New Testament that phrase is used, and I John 5:11-13 is a good summary:

    And this is the testimony:  that God has given us eternal life, and this life is
    in His Son.  He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of
    God does not have life.  These things have I written to you who believe in the
    name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life….

So why don’t we take into consideration all of life eternal life – when we try to make sense out of life?  Here are two scriptures that shed light on the issue, one from Romans 8:18 and the other from II Corinthians 4:17 and 18:

    For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be
    compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

    For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far
    more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things
    which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.  For the things which
    are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Paul was here taking The L — O — N — G View!  Consider what he went through in his life.  He gave a partial listing of his hardships – comparing himself to false apostles – in II Corinthians 11:23 through 27:

    Are they ministers of Christ?…I am more:  in labors more abundant, in stripes
    above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.  From the Jews five
    times I received forty stripes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods;
    once was I stoned; three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have been
    in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils
    of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in
    the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness
    and toil, in sleeplessnes often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold
    and nakedness….

And Paul says that is nothing?!!!  Not compared to what he had coming in heaven!  You see, in whatever way we seem to come short here – in this phase of life – it will be more than compensated for in eternity!

Paul looked back on all the suffering through which he had gone – and, remember, he had his head cut off when he was in his 60’s in a Roman prison – and he can now say, “It was nothing!  Look what I have now!

Are you going through hard times now?  Take The L — O — N — G View!  In whatever you seem to come up short here, in this life, you will be more than paid back in full in eternity!