Saturday, May 29, 2010

Upheld by the Father and the Son

We have nearly traveled through an alphabet of descriptive terms for Jesus, arriving today at “Upholder of All Things.” It is a portion of the passage in Hebrews 1 reminding us that God speaks to us through Christ. The little piece we are focusing on is this:

“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power,”

As we consider that Christ upholds us—sustains us, leads us to our destination, proves us—through speaking (living) the truth of His power, may we each be strengthened and blessed deep within our spirits.

The weights of life are intense if we choose to bear them on our own. Individual complexities confound us. Heartaches and burdens we feel and see discourage us. Competing priorities drown us. Yet, we do not have to choose to bear those weights. First Peter commands us to roll all onto Christ. He is ready, willing and able to bear our weights. Hebrews 1:3 helps us understand how to roll them onto Jesus; it is not a ‘doing’ from us. We just have to let them go because He is there upholding us…if we will hear the truth of His power.
The word used for power in this passage speaks of Jesus’ ability; He is able to do all that God ordained for Him. In fact, it is done and this passage goes on to remind us that Jesus is seated in heaven at the right hand of the Majesty. An interesting link to the Old Testament is that in Isaiah, where we read prophesies of Christ, God calls our eyes to His Servant (Jesus) and tells us “I uphold Him with my righteous right hand.” When you are feeling crushed, remind yourself that the Father and the Son…with all the power that exists…can and will carry it all IF you let it go.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tender Plants

I love to garden; it is the time of year to move my seedlings from the indoor growing area to the garden. These tender plants will require some hardening before I set them into the unprotected garden environment. At first glance, the fragility of seedlings would not inspire thoughts of Christ, but Isaiah's prophesy portrays Jesus as 'like a tender plant' and a 'root out of dry ground.' Our journey this morning is to explore the reality and beauty of Isaiah’s words.

Unlike my seedlings, Jesus needed no hardening or well-prepared garden soil--that is the great beauty we will explore. Barren, hard ground is not a barrier to Jesus; His tender love of humanity is not frailty. J. Vernon McGee offers a wonderful insight with these words, "The loveliest flower of humanity came from the driest spot and period of the world's history." God did not 'plant' Christ in the midst of luxury and prosperity. He did not need to do that for His love and His power were sufficient...are fulfill His purposes.

Nothing created in this world can measure up to the tender fortitude of Christ. Tender green plants are doomed to death in a barren desert; eternal souls in a sin-scarred world are the same. In this world, there is much that masquerades as life but the reality is that without Jesus, there is no life—there is only barren ground. Just as Isaiah prophesied, Jesus is the tender shoot which can spring up in the dry ground of our lives. We need never despair at the soil we see—in ourselves or others—for He is able to transform even a desert into a bountiful vineyard. The presence of Christ brings the certain hope of a harvest. Share Him. His seed will produce in miraculous ways!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Beauty in Stones

The Bible lands are a very stony place; rocks and stones are common word pictures throughout scripture. In Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar’s dream revealed a rock which destroyed all the kingdoms of the earth; we know that kingdom is Christ’s. Peter, the disciple whose very name means stone, was told by Jesus that the truth of Christ’s identity is the rock upon which the Church is built. Jesus is the rock upon which the wise build their lives. He was the Spiritual Rock from which the desert-wandering Israelites were refreshed; He still quenches thirsts. The Word of the Law was written upon stone but the Word became life! As unbelievers we had hearts of stone but the Living Stone of Christ brings life into our hearts. We are now living stones being built up into a spiritual house of which He is the Cornerstone. Contemplating Christ reveals great beauty in stones, does it not?!

Stones are solid and foundational; we need them! There is much in our world to remind us that instability is the norm. A wobbly world-wide economy, volatile weather, incurable diseases and dissolving families reveal a crumbling world. The words of the Psalmist are a joy: ‘When the earth and all its people quake, it is I who hold its pillars firm.’ We have a glorious message to share with our trembling friends! The temptation to look at the quaking foundations of America—of every nation today--will only produce fear. Greed, selfishness and the desire to be our own gods is imploding the structure of nations once built upon the Word. Yet as individual living stones, we are part of the spiritual house held together by Christ. Our lives do not need to implode or even shake. We need not fear, only revere, the One True God. The God who is loving and faithful and not willing that any should perish has given us a message to share. Just as Noah called for others to join him in the Ark, we need to call others into Christ. Do not fear as the world crumbles! Remember the Sure Foundation upon which you stand…and call others to join you in that safety.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Ransomed! Rescued!

Our journey of exploring the names of Christ brings us today to “Ransom.” Jesus is the ransom paid to release you and me from captivity. We can no longer be held by the captor’s chains because Jesus’ life was given in our place. The iron chains of sin—selfishness, self-righteousness, hatred, self-indulgence, lies—are released because the debt is paid. That the debt was paid by the One we rejected is another awesome facet of this amazing story. The magnitude of the Ransom price paid to release a soul reveals the worth of every individual to God. It exceeds my understanding but oh, how it excites my spirit!

Our human nature is to value ourselves above others. Even when we recognize that self-promotion is the path to emptiness and death, we all too often choose that road. We demand consideration from others expecting them to give us grace and mercy when we err or fail. Yet we resist giving the same to others. We resent, and usually refuse, to sacrifice what we see as our ‘rights’ for anyone—even those whom we ‘love.’ Jesus Christ, God Himself, came to show us God’s way, the right way. Jesus came to serve us, the rebellious and undeserving. He came as the Ransom which would purchase our freedom from the emptiness and death we chose!

We don’t mean to choose death; we have an intrinsic love of life. We are captivated by real-world rescues. Whether it is miners trapped in the dangerous dark depths or a pet floundering in torrential flood waters, our hearts soar when a life is preserved. That deep love is placed there by God Himself; our Ransom is rooted in that love. He desires for our hearts to soar at His Rescue and for our hearts to overflow with a passion for others to know the same! Choosing to live His way gives life—to us and to others. Who will you be a ransom for today that they might see the love of God and know the value He places upon them?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Jesus is the Quickening Spirit

And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul;
the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. (1 Corinthians 15:45)
A few years ago there was a movie where the main character dramatically whispers his secret, "I see dead people." The heart-wrenching truth is that there are 'dead people' all about us. Without Jesus Christ, there is no life...only an illusion of life...the living soul like Adam's. Walking, talking dead people. This was never God's intention. Humanity was created for union with God Himself...union with the life-giver. Yet there was an option given to this special creation called 'man;' the option to choose life or the option to pursue knowledge on one's own. We all know that Adam and Eve did not choose life; they chose to go their own way and seek--without God. God does not want a mindless creation; yet He wants to guide us on our journey.
Like Adam, all humanity since has sought their own way. The all-wise Creator had known the choice Adam--and his descendants--would make. God knew the cost He would pay to redeem His Creation to its intended purpose. And God, who is love, went forth with His plan by giving Himself to redeem humanity. Fully man, yet fully God, Jesus came to the earth to die to self that true life might be restored to His beloved creation. Jesus did not choose to allow his body to dictate his days on earth. He did not choose to allow his emotions or his reasoning to dictate his choices. Jesus chose to receive God's direction for all His life. With that choice, death had no power. It could not hold the body or soul of Christ; the life of the Spirit was victorious!
When we receive His Spirit into ourselves, we live that victory. We are no longer chained to the rule of our irrational emotions or our rational mind. We are no longer dominated by the desires of our body. We choose life; we choose to be filled with God Himself when the Life-giving Spirit of Jesus is received. May your soul be restored today to the full vibrant life Jesus has provided through your faith in Him!