Posts Tagged John 14: 6

In Him

Psalm 19: 11        Passion

For they warn us, his servants, and keep us from following the wicked way, giving a lifetime guarantee: great success to every obedient soul!

We all want great success, don’t we? In this, the eleventh verse, King David points out that all that he has written in the previous ten verses comes to a head here. In verse ten we learned that nothing brings the soul such sweetness as seeking God’s living words. Why? Because they warn us, keep us, bring us success with a lifetime guarantee. Do you see how this flows together?

God’s living words, understandably, have life in them. That life, which actually is Jesus (John 14: 6), has success and prosperity built in. Look at Jesus’ life. Do you remember how he recruited his team? He said, “Follow me.” And they did. How is that for charisma? That is success. He didn’t strive or fret. Success was built in and guaranteed for life.

I find that sometimes we balk at language such as “the wicked way.” Can I just say that we can reframe that as we read it to prevent our stumbling? The wicked way isn’t just about sinning and no one, including Yahweh, thinks you practice sinning. His words, His living words lead us in the “right” way. Remember verse nine from yesterday which said that every command from the Lord is right? So, His commands, His words lead us in the right way. Now follow this chain one step further – they lead us in righteousness. Okay, don’t stumble here either. Righteousness is not the same as holiness. We are talking about being in the right place with God, being in your right place. When you follow God’s words, instructions and commands, you end up in the right place. That is how simple righteousness is. You have heard me quote this scripture many times, “He made the One who knew no sin to become a sin offering on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God,” (2 Corinthians 5: 21 Tree of Life Version). This means that we have become the righteousness of God, right? That is what is says. It says something else too, though. We are the righteousness of God in him. In whom? In Jesus. Our righteousness is in Christ Jesus. So, if we are not in him, are we the righteousness of God? No. It is only in Jesus that we are righteous. Going one step further in the logic today. Who is Jesus but the Word? Therefore, we are right back to this verse from King David. God’s living Word keeps us righteous. We are in the right place when we are in Jesus. We are kept from the wicked way and preserved.

All it takes is an obedient soul. We must actively involve ourselves with the Living Word who is the Christ our saving grace. It is so simple a child can do it but incredibly complex in the mechanics of the miracle God has wrought for us in Jesus. Let’s keep it simple though. Seek the Lord. Seek the living words of God’s Living Word. He is the miracle of our guaranteed success. There is no striving, no stress, no worry. There is only Christ and him crucified. In Him you have all you need, all you desire. In Him – those are words to live by. Amen.

Sure Steps

Psalm 17: 4 – 5                  Passion

Following your word has kept me from wrong.
Your ways have molded my footsteps, keeping me
from going down the forbidden paths of the destroyer.

5 My steps follow in the tracks of your chariot wheels,
always staying in their path,
never straying from your way.

We are Word people, are we not? If not, then we need to make a decision, today, that we will become those who follow the Word of God because the Word guides us and protects us. David told us in Psalm 12 that every word God speaks is sure and true. Here he reveals that abiding in God’s words is a refuge and a guide. Following God’s teachings kept David’s foot on the path of success and safety because His words are always sure and true.

It is reasonable to suppose, that when we follow in God’s footsteps, or in this case the tracks of His chariot wheels, then we are going to avoid the snare of the destroyer, keeping ourselves out of harm’s way and trouble. God’s Word keeps us in the Father’s ways instead of the ways of destruction.

This is not just about wickedness and sin. That is likely what many hear. The bigger picture is God’s way is sure. There is safety in His way and His way is His Word. Jesus said, “I am the way,” (John 14: 6). John 1: 1 reveals Jesus as the Word. Therefore, to follow Jesus, to follow in the way is to follow the Word. Nothing else will do.

If you want to keep yourself from trouble, let the Word mold your steps. There is one other thing you can do as well. Verse 3 reads, “I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress.” It you want to prevent yourself from going down the forbidden paths and out of the mouth of the devourer, then you will also want to make the Words of your mouth follow God’s Word. Most of us trip over our tongues. Keeping ourselves safe, protected and prosperous is accomplished by keeping ourselves in God’s Word and His Word in our mouths. He is our shield and refuge, but it is we who must don his protection by abiding in His Words. Following in His footsteps is as easy as following His words.

Life – Chai

John 14: 6

I am . . . the life.

My friend told me that the number 18 in Hebrew means “life” so, since today is the eighteenth, it is the day of life. The word “chai” means life, or alive. I like to think it means “fully alive.” Let’s celebrate life today.

Jesus is the life, he is who gives us life. When we were dead in our trespasses, he came and gave us life, his life. This Jewish concept of Chai, then, is very significant to Christians. Of course, let us not forget that Jesus is Jewish. For that matter, so are you because you have been adopted into the family of Abraham.

Jesus also said he is the truth. The truth is, there is no life without Jesus. When we were Gentiles, we thought otherwise, but life and the fullness thereof, is only found in the life devoted to and in Christ. As you have undoubtedly noticed, this ministry’s slogan is “Intertwined with Jesus.” The reason is that everything to do with life is tied up in Jesus. We have a mission to go into all the world and tell people the good news about Jesus, that he came to bring us abundant life (John 10: 10). The thing which concerns me, though, is that many of us are not living the life Jesus came here to give us, the life he won for us.

Life should be full. It embraces physical health, financial solvency, rewarding relationships, spiritual nourishment and meaningful work. It means adventure and fulfillment in the Spirit and joy unspeakable. All good things are in Christ and it is this fullness of life that he came to give us. Anything less than everything is a debit in the life column. My heart is with Jesus in this. I want you to have fulness of life. Today is a good day to reach out for all Jesus has for you. It is a great day to receive fulness of life and the perfect day to thank our God for sending life to us.

Lift your glass and celebrate with me. L’chaim – To life.

Pinocchio

Philippians 2: 12

Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

Do you remember the Disney movie Pinocchio? I had it on last week and was struck, as never before, with the commonality between that little wooden headed boy and Christians.

The story goes that Geppetto, a wood carver by trade, made the little wooden puppet. He wished, though, that this little puppet could be a real boy. The blue fairy heard Geppetto’s wish and because he had given so much joy to other people she visited his house to grant his wish. She waved her magic wand and the puppet came to life. Hallelujah!

Do you see the parallel there with us and Jesus? When we were dead, nothing but inanimate wooden heads, he came and gave us life (John 10: 10). But wait, there is more to the story. The blue fairy explained to Pinocchio that it was because Geppetto wished for a real boy that she came to give him life. Upon hearing this, Pinocchio asked, “Am I a real boy?” The blue fairy told him, “No,” that becoming a real boy would depend upon him. He had to prove himself truthful, brave and unselfish, and to learn right from wrong to become a real boy. Interestingly, she didn’t say that he had to “do” right rather than “wrong”. That is implied. The key was in learning the right way from the wrong way. It is not instinctive. We, like Pinocchio, have to learn.

Pinocchio’s task was monumental, almost insurmountable, but the fairy didn’t leave him on his own to learn all of these important lessons. He would have been destined to fail. She gave him a helper. His name was Jiminy Cricket. We too have been given a helper. Jesus said, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever (John 14: 6). We have been told to be transformed (Romans 12: 2) but like Pinocchio, our task would be impossible if not for the Holy Spirit, our helper.

We have another similarity with Pinocchio. Jesus came and gave us life but it is up to us to become real Christians. We have the life, but we have to be transformed into “real boys” through our own walk with our helper. When we do not listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we end up in the same kind of trouble that Pinocchio found when he did not heed the advice of Jiminy Cricket. Because of his own actions, Pinocchio was being transformed into a jackass. I am afraid that comparison is far too close for comfort.

Many of us have thought that once we accepted Jesus as Lord, we were done. We concluded we could go on living like Pinocchio’s worldly friend, Lampley, without reaping the consequences. Wrong! The salvation prayer is akin to what happened when the blue fairy gave Pinocchio life. From there we should have received advice like she gave Pinocchio. It is up to you to become a real boy. Prove yourself truthful, brave and unselfish; learn right from wrong and you will be transformed into the very image that Geppetto, the Father, has for you.

We must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling but we are not alone in this or any other endeavor. God didn’t tell us to be transformed and then we would be saved. No! He saved us, gave us life and then gave us His very own Spirit to be our guide, our conscience, if you will. We will never be transformed without his help. We cannot do this work in our own strength or else we would have created a prettier version of ourselves long ago. But here’s the rub, he cannot do it without us either. This is always a cooperative effort.

I hope you take your own transformation seriously. I hope you seek the heart and mind of God to discover where He wishes to lead you. The road is far better when we follow the advice and leading of the Holy Spirit. If you don’t believe me, go watch Pinocchio and see how it turns out. Spoiler Alert: the secret is in learning to be unselfish.

18 = Life

John 14: 6

I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

Jesus is the source of life. Everything which has life has it in Jesus. Whether or not a person chooses Jesus as his lord or not, his life force is only because Jesus lives. What is life though?

I think we tend to have a rather narrow view of what life means. We equate life with having a pulse. However, Jesus said, John 10:10 that he came to earth to give us life and that more abundantly. I don’t think he was just talking about abundant health. I know he was not referring to eternal life only. That wouldn’t even make sense. Eternal life with the Father will necessarily be abundant. That is the only way God knows how to do life. No, this that Jesus is talking about is in the here and now and it is much bigger than just having a heartbeat. Jesus came to give us a life worth living. A life as big as him.

I have a friend who has a Jewish background. He explained to me recently that Hebrew letters, and hence words, have numeric values. For example, the word “life” has a numeric value of 18. But wait, we are living in the year 2018. That went off in me like a gun. This is a year with a numeric value of life. Ponder that a moment.

When Jesus came to give us life, he had in mind something supernatural. The people in the earth already had physical life. He came to give us life in the Spirit, a life where all is rightness. Our health should be right, our finances, relationships and everything else you can think of. He came to restore our spiritual life as well.

We were separated from God. Jesus restored our spirits, made them new and restored the connection between us and the Father so that now we can walk boldly into Father’s office and talk with Him. Jesus restored our spiritual eyes and our spiritual ears. Because we are in Christ, because we dwell in him and pursue the life of Christ within us, we can now hear and see spiritual things. Most importantly, we can hear the Father’s voice using our spiritual ears. We no longer exist on just one plane, if we choose. We have entrance to the spiritual realm. Everything that was stolen from us has been restored by Jesus including our ability to walk in the cool of the evening with the creator.

Some people are concerned about what they will have to give up in order to be a Christian. Man, that is totally the wrong perspective. It’s what you gain that folks should think about. We gain everything, including real life, not this shadow of existence that most people experience. We can walk in true light and life right now, right here. Perfect health is part of our inheritance, abundant friends, adventures, riches; whatever you want but the most amazing life of all is the life in Christ which allows us admittance into the spiritual realm. He bought our ticket. He restored our rights. He is the invitation into a life which is above and beyond mere physical life. He will have us soaring on wings if we will open our eyes and ears to what the Spirit is saying to us right now. There are so many fascinating and wondrous things Jesus wants to experience with us, so broaden your definition of life. Imagine what a Jesus kind of life should look like. There is no brokenness in Jesus, no lack and no weakness. Rise up on your wings and breathe in life. Make this the year you embrace more life and more of what Jesus offers than ever before.

Breastplate

Breastplate

Ephesians 6: 14b

Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness.

What do you picture when you hear “breastplate?” Do you see Roman armor or perhaps medieval knight armor? A good visual image helps understand the importance of this piece of armor.

The breastplate protects all the vital organs except the brain. Obviously, it is a crucial piece of armor. We are encouraged by Paul’s writings to stand firm against the enemy. You won’t fear the stones thrown by the enemy because your breastplate protects your heart and the rest of your sensitive organs. So, what is our breastplate fashioned from and how do we don it?

The breastplate is righteousness, so what is righteousness? The simple answer is that it is right standing with God. Vine’s adds “right relationship” with God. The harder question becomes, how do we attain this right standing or righteousness with God.? It may be easier to begin by discussing the wrong way to pursue righteousness. Romans 9: 30 – 32 reads, “What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; but Israel pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone.” Many of us have confused righteousness with holiness. We are to be holy for God is holy (1 Peter 1: 16) but holiness is not synonymous with righteousness. The Jews, Paul tells us, tried to acquire righteousness through good works. That is not the way. Jesus is the way (John 14: 6). We can never be righteous in or by our own works. The Gentiles attained to righteousness because of their faith, because, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5: 21). They put their faith in Jesus and he became their righteousness.

The key to putting on this breastplate of righteousness is contained in that verse. It is in the last two words. Jesus is righteousness but if you want to put on his righteousness then you must be “in him.” This is so critical. As I said, it is the key. One can be a Christian but never make their abode with and in Christ. We must put him on and live in him. It is difficult to explain but you may perceive the difference. Abiding in him means that your life is inextricably interwoven with Christ. He is all wrapped up in your life and you in his. When you are in Christ, when you make that decision to live in him, then his righteousness becomes yours automatically. This is not a work of the flesh either. By faith we receive the righteousness of God. We receive, rather than labor. My holiness is putrid but Jesus’ righteousness is glorious, shining armor.

So, this means that your right standing with God, which is something Jesus bought for you, protects and guards your heart. Your part is to receive it with grace and thanksgiving. Acknowledge your righteousness in Christ Jesus in your own mind. Speak it with your mouth. When you are challenged, stop and see yourself putting on the righteousness of God like a Roman breastplate. Wear righteousness proudly because not only is it the breastplate of your armor but in fact you have actually become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. Wear Jesus, therefore, proudly and when you feel like a sinner, or when the devil accuses you, renew your mind with this truth. Stand firmly, therefore, unable to be persuaded that you are lowly and sin-stained. Stand proudly with your chest up displaying the righteousness of Jesus. Where we have failed, he has all the more overcome and his victory outshines our ineptitude and failures.

Shine up your breastplate. Put it on by acknowledging Jesus’ purchase of righteousness for you. Get you and your failure off your mind and delightedly present Jesus. Don’t try to earn righteousness, just put it on.

Belted

Ephesians 6: 14

Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth.

The first piece of armor God has given us is truth. It is worn like a belt, around your middle. It circumnavigates your whole body and connects the lower and the upper half. Truth is the beginning point. Without tying yourself to the truth, all else will be meaningless. In order to stand firm, the first thing we need is THE truth, and dedication to the truth.

Jesus told us that he is the truth (John 14: 6) and the beginning and the end (Revelation 21: 6). He is continuity. Like a belt or sash wrapped around you, the beginning and the end, come together. They complete one another. There is no loose end because the end is connected to the beginning. The truth is the ongoing support of all else. Jesus was in the beginning with God. Truth, therefore, is the beginning point but it is the ending point as well and everything that is or ever will be must, necessarily, be contained within this circle of beginning and ending and back to the beginning again. Wherever Jesus is, there is truth and we are wrapped with it.

In the case of armor, the belt or sash secures clothing and armament. It is the piece from which many other items of clothing and weaponry depend. Knives and swords are suspended from the belt. In life, it is truth which sets us free. Really, it is knowing the truth, the real truth, not our imagined or perceived truths which is freeing. So, freedom is secured by truth. In an interesting contrast, the more wrapped up we are in the truth, the more free we are. Other garments may be worn loosely but the belt is meant to be snugged securely about us.

When we begin with truth, not only have we begun with Jesus but we actually form the basis by which the rest of our armor, and hence our lives, will depend. The belt of truth is prime importance. There is no possibility in making truth too high a priority. When you hear the word truth, there should be at least two resonant ideas. First is that Jesus is the truth. That should be loud in your mind and spirit. Second, there is the ordinary use of the word truth, as in not false nor even misleading. We should endeavor to live in and speak truth as absolutely as we may. Lying on taxes is not acceptable because it is untruth. Misleading business associates is not living in truth. Do you know that if we are to live in the fullness of victory Jesus has prepared for us, and our battle array to shine and be effective, we cannot even lie to our kids, even when it is uncomfortable? We are going to have to learn new ways to respond to people such that we do not compromise our firm stance. You cannot usher in truth, which is overcoming power and freedom, and at the same time utter untruths. There is a decision to be made here and this is the point of beginning. Will you gird yourself, first and foremost, with truth?

The reality, as we begin this study, is that untruth leaves you exposed. None of us desires to begin with our pants down. So pull up your pants. Cinch your belt of truth and prepare yourself for victory.