Friday, April 27, 2012


Christ, the Power of God, is our focus today.  When we accept the precious gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus, we actually receive God Himself into the clay jar of our human life!  Eternal life is not just a gift from God; it is the gift of God Himself: what an exciting distinction!  Our weak, frail bodies become a receptacle for the life-giving, life-transforming Power of God.  I find great comfort in understanding that the weakness of my clay is the key to releasing eternal Power into the world!

We love to feel strong…to feel that we understand this Christian life and are on the way to Victorious Living!  Our human nature glories in strength.  We do not want to be needy; we want to be strong and independent.  Yet, life has many ways of humbling us.  Glory to God, that weakness is the key to receiving His abundant generosity and releasing His Power in our lives and others. 

The grace of God is always the joyful companion of the Power of God.  We must receive from Him; our strength is a barrier to His generous grace.  Only when we are broken and emptied of strength, do we begin to see the glory of receiving from Him.  As we see the hope-filled potential of His Power, we become willing to release not only our weaknesses but also our strengths to Him.  Submitting to the Power of God allows His life-giving Power to flow in and through us.

God Himself shows us the power of submission.  It is a nearly incomprehensible truth that the Creator of the Universe subjects Himself—His power--to us, to fallen humanity.  He subjects Himself to our will both before and after salvation.  Each soul has the privilege of accepting the gift of God—or not.  After that choice, we have a continual choice:  our power or the Power.  That choice is ours only because Jesus made the choice to submit to persecution and death that He might become our Power.  Despite our personal records of failure and rebellion, God willingly chooses to submit and entrust His Power to our care!

God chooses to submit Himself to us because He knows that our weakness is the best showcase for His Power!  Our weaknesses are never to be an excuse for failing to live with Power.  Instead, they are a doorway for the life-giving Power of God to flow forth!   The Power which conquered death—the Power which restored life to our Savior’s beaten and crucified body—lives with you and I!  He, the Power, waits within us ready to meet every challenge we face.  His Power surges in us, longing to break out and make our lives a fruitful, sustaining garden for others.   All earthly power is limited and eventually ends in death.  Let us choose to submit our weaknesses—and our strengths--to His Power that we might become a wellspring of life in this dry land!


Friday, April 20, 2012


The name we will consider for our Lord today typically appears as part of a title: Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end.  Our attention today, though, will focus primarily on how He is the Omega, the fulfilling End of all.  Jesus ascribed this title to Himself in the opening of His Revelation to John.  Christ said ‘this is who I am—tell the churches!’  It is a title offering confident rejoicing and purpose to His Body. 

John gave us wonderful insights in his gospel about the alpha portion of this name.  “In the beginning was the Word…without Him not anything was made.”  Life itself begins in Jesus.  Life also finds its completion in Jesus.  Christ embodies the totality of the purposes of God.  He is the ‘end of the law’ and the ‘last Adam.’ His perfection—His completeness) is the source of eternal life for us!  He is the source of fulfillment in our earthly lives as well.  Nothing else will satisfy…we will continue to seek until we find the End!

As the End of the Law, Christ fulfills the law as only He can.  The end of the law is righteousness:  He is that End for He is Righteousness.  Christ became sin, though He was sinless, so that He could give us His righteousness!  When we pursue righteousness on our own—through good works and self-initiative, we are derailed from the End.  God gave the law that we might glimpse how lacking in righteousness we are.  It is but a shadow of the plans He desires for every man—the plans Christ fulfilled.  The purpose of the Law is creating a thirst that only finds satisfaction in Christ:  the End, the fulfillment of the law. 

Jesus as the End not only gives us a future; He gives us purpose in the present as well!  Paul tells us in Corinthians that the first Adam was a living soul.  Adam was able to see, feel and interact with the blessings of the world.  This world is an amazing place, full of great beauty and adventure.  Our soul thrills to the things this world offers. Yet, all that it is in the world ultimately leaves us empty—there is no end to seeking until we find the End, the last Adam:  Jesus.  He is the quickening spirit who brings life to the world.  Without the presence of the End, the pleasures of the world simply pass away. 
Sadly, though, life has a way of deceiving our hearts and turning our eyes from the perfect End!  The blessings of earthly things draw us into pursuing them—and leaving the Way to true fulfillment.  Financial security, the praise of men, the accomplishments of goals and the pleasures of life become substitutes for the presence of God.  We seek the gifts and not the Giver and end up with only fleeting benefits.  Disasters destroy our savings, fickle friends destroy our confidence and pleasures often produce destruction of our bodies and minds.  Mistaking blessings for evidence of God’s love derails us from the Way.  He must be the End we pursue. 

Friday, April 13, 2012


Jesus of Nazareth, the Nazarene, is our focal point today.  Though the Old Testament does not mention the village of Nazareth, Matthew declares that Jesus dwelt in Nazareth “that the words of the prophets might be fulfilled.”  Jesus referred to Himself as ‘of Nazareth, demons used the title and the cross of our Lord bore the reference.  Truly, that Jesus was of Nazareth—was a Nazarene—has tremendous significance for us. 

Nazareth was a small village in Galilee near the border of Samaria.  Passing by the village was a well-traveled trade route that would have brought the ‘world’ into view for residents.  In the eyes of those passer-bys, Nazareth was a community of backward, uncultured people.  Devout Jewish people looked down upon this village almost as much as they despised Samaritans.  In the eyes of the religious, Nazareth was a community of pagans.  Very few saw the truth of Nazareth from God’s view.  Even the people of Nazareth failed to recognize Truth—for they would reject the One who came from them.  The disciple Nathanel conveyed the sentiments of the day toward Nazareth with his question, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” 

Indeed, we know great good came from this despised village!  As the Crusaders of the 12th century inscribed on a church erected in Nazareth, “Here the Word was made flesh.”  For centuries, the prophets proclaimed the coming Messiah.  Some prophesies revealed His Kingly nature—some His Suffering Servant role.  Our human tendency is to hear and see that which promises pleasure:  preferring power to persecution is human self-preservation.  It is comfortable for us to be blind to Truth when it does not fit our plans and pre-conceived ideas.  Our Jesus, the Nazarene, calls us to seek the Father’s perspective and His acceptance above all else.  Jesus of Nazareth reminds us that God’s ways our not our ways. 

Just as man erroneously judged the village of Nazareth, so, too, man mis-judges Jesus.  As Isaiah prophesied of the coming Messiah, Jesus was ‘despised and rejected of men’.  The plans of man have no room for suffering.  Yet, God chose Nazareth as the hometown of the Savior because rejection of the world is the path to acceptance of God.  Embracing the Nazarene, the One the world rejects, is the only way of acceptance for each one of us.  Only in Him--the Beloved--can God accept us.  This world, though created, loved and redeemed by Him, received Him not.  The world prefers the darkness of its own plans above the Truth and Light of the Father’s plans.    Love of the world cuts us off from the love of the Father.  May our hearts rejoice that Jesus, our Savior, accepted the path of rejection that acceptance would be ours.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Morning Star

There are many stars mentioned in the Bible, but today’s look at the Lord focuses us on one star in particular:  the Morning Star.  Way back in Numbers 24, God gave the message of the Morning Star to a conniving prophet named Balaam.  Hired to curse the Israelites, Balaam thoroughly irritated his employer because he could utter only the blessings placed in his mouth by God.  One of those prophetic blessings revealed a Star that would rise up out of Jacob.  Later, the star of Bethlehem announced the fulfillment of that prophesy when God took on flesh and entered the earthly realm as a baby!  In Revelation 2, Jesus promises the “Morning Star” to those who hold fast to His ways and overcome the world; in Revelation 22, Jesus reveals that He Himself is the Morning Star! 

As we looked at last week, the Light which represents Jesus is self-igniting and self-sustaining—the Morning Star is the Light and Life of Christ.  Recognizing Jesus as the Morning Star is the key to allowing His life to dawn—to rise up—in our own lives!  Peter helps us grasp the Morning Star as he instructs us to heed the message of the prophets and those, like him, who personally witnessed the true Light of the World.  Heeding—applying oneself to the truths revealed in the Word—is key to the dawning of the Morning Star in our lives.  Only that dawning produces the transformed life God intends for His children. 

The dawning of the Morning Star has great resistance.  There is a deceptive light in our world that seeks to keep the Morning Star hidden.  The source of that blinding light is Lucifer.  The prophet Isaiah spoke of this counterfeit ‘morning star’ in relation to the fall of the king of Babylon.  The king—and Lucifer—set up their own plan for success and glory.  Both were doomed for only the plans and purposes of God are eternal.  Yet the do-it-yourself plan for glory still traps light-seeking souls.  The imitation light-bearer promotes an external transformation instead of the Morning Star dawning.  He offers a do-good and be-right lifestyle that panders to human pride and self-initiative.  Rather than the diligent seeking of Light from the Word, persistent pursuit of one’s own purposes becomes the light that leads astray.  As believers, we need the light of the Morning Star illumining our path and the world around us.  Any other light deceives and destroys. 

Let us claim the promise of Jesus and receive Him through our pursuit of His ways and His will.  May Jesus, the Morning Star, dawn in our hearts in the coming week!