He Wept . . . part two

He Wept . . . part two

Jesus wept.” Known as the shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:35 is part of the Lazarus resurrection account. We read here another instance in which Jesus was brought to tears. This time it appears to have been over the passing of a friend. As was observed by the Jews present at the graveside of Lazarus, “See how He loved him!” Then there are the naysayers, “Could not He who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” There is always at least one negative Nelly in the group. We all know one Church Curmudgeon who if given half a chance would complain about Jesus being talked about too much from the pulpit.

There have been a few thoughts tossed around as to what caused Jesus to tear up at this moment. Was it at the loss of a friend? The lack of faith of those who mourned Lazarus? Which could be two-fold in its understanding, they lacked faith that Jesus could or would raise him from the grave; and or, they lacked faith that they would once again see Lazarus at the coming of the Kingdom. There is also a wilder idea out there and that is that Jesus wept because He knew from where He was calling Lazarus back from. Could it be that Lazarus was in that “far better place” we often talk about our passed loved ones have moved on to?

Calling Lazarus back from his eternal reward, only to have to suffer and die again, would definitely be cause for tears in the one who knows best, Jesus. It still could have been the divine plan to give example to the power and authority of Jesus on earth. Even so, Jesus wept. He weeps for us, for our unbelief, for our lack of faith, for our doubt, for our weaknesses. Jesus’ deep concern for us is felt in the heart, it pours out in His words, and works. Is it true that He doesn’t take pleasure in seeing us mourn? Is it true He doesn’t enjoy seeing us greave or in pain? Yes, it is true. But i tend to agree that Jesus did not weep out of sadness for Lazarus, or for the lack of faith in this instance but rather for what Lazarus was being brought back from and what he would have to endure again.

i think it is revealed in His prayer, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” The Divine objective met in the revealed humanity of Jesus through His tears. His desire is that we all, everyone who believes, enjoy the eternity that was intended from the beginning, in the garden. His redemptive work is intended to restore humanity to its perfect relationship with the Father who walks in the garden and calls us by name, Lazarus come forth!

You are loved,

cj

Jude (Part 1)

Jude (Part 1)

Let me start here: if you have not read Jude (an introduction), stop now and go read it . . . it will make more sense that way. However, as a reminder to those who did read it let me refresh your memory. Jude is one of four brothers of Jesus and at some point led the Church in Jerusalem. He came to faith after Jesus’ resurrection. This same Jude then pens this letter and it is powerful! As a call to repentance, as a reminder of judgment, and as a warning to stay alert as we contend for the faith.

He doesn’t waste time with small talk, antidotes, or gibber, he is very matter-of-fact. In the verses, we will look at this week, we will see his heart, and his understanding as the brother of Jesus and leader of the Church. Let’s look at verse 5, “Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe.” Here is an interesting point, there are a couple manuscripts out there as well as a few versions of the Bible that use “Jesus” in place of “the Lord”. Could these early manuscripts be more accurate to Jude’s point? i think so. Jude had come to an understanding of who Jesus was and was not ashamed of it.

We love grace, i love grace. We preach grace, i preach grace, and it is glorious! However, we mustn’t lose sight of Jesus. Jesus, actively a part of the Old Testament, who is the same yesterday, today and forever, saves us by His cross. He leads us free from the chains of sin, out of bondage and into freedom. As the Israelites out of Egypt and still, subsequently (lit. the second time) He destroys those who did not believe. Folks, there is judgment. There is a hell and it has been preached since the formation of the Church. Do not be led astray. We must continue to contend for the faith in a world that would pervert the grace of God, even some in the Church.

Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that [e]the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, [f]subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after [g]strange flesh, are exhibited as an [h]example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. (NASB)

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved[c] a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire,[d] serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (ESV)

Pray with me for insight, for understanding, for fresh revelation into God’s Word. Let the Spirit of God speak to our hearts through these words written by Jude inspired by the Spirit. May we grow in wisdom and faith, as we seek to walk humbly with Jesus, contending for the faith. Until next week . . .

you are loved,

cj

Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord!

The shortest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 117, it is just two verses. Yet these two verses are immensely profound in their simplicity. You want to boil things down to the minimum and just look at the core of human existence? Then here you go:

“Praise the Lord, all you nations! Worship Him, all you peoples! Because God’s faithful love towards us is strong, the Lord’s faithfulness lasts forever! Praise the Lord!”

It doesn’t get much simpler than this, Praise the Lord. Worship Him. Because, He is faithful. His love is strong towards us and He is forever faithful. Thus, we should, Praise the Lord! No matter what you are facing, no matter what difficulties or trials befall you, Praise the Lord! In the good and in the bad, Praise the Lord! In the sun and in the rain, Praise the Lord! In life and in death, Praise the Lord! In sickness and in health, Praise the Lord! In the hardest of times and in the best of times, Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord,

you are loved,

cj

A Lack of Faith in Faith Alone

A Lack of Faith in Faith Alone

So often we say one thing with our mouths and another with our actions. We listen to one side and not the other. We form ideas, strategy, methodology by impulse, think tanks, town halls, emotion and not by faith. It is the human condition. i am not chiding any side, any person, any idea, i am highlighting our lack of faith in faith alone.

i fully understand and want you to understand the Scriptures stance and wisdom in counsel. For example; Proverbs 11:14; 15:22; 24:6; in a nutshell, its better to seek counsel than to go it alone. i in no way want to contradict that here. However, i will aim at convincing you that sometimes we put to much faith in counsel while leaving the “Wonderful Counselor” out of the conversation. Even if we are having the conversation with Him!

Here is my historical claim to present my thesis, John 11:17-44 (you can click the link to read the passage in your browser). i will point out the facts to highlight my point. First, Lazarus has died. He has been dead roughly 4 days. Second, Martha is the first to greet Jesus and basically said, if you had only been here sooner! Third, Mary greets Jesus and basically says, if you had only been here sooner! Fourth, Mary and Martha had around them many consolers and counselors. Neither understood Jesus fully and both wanted to have faith, both claimed belief in Him, both followed after Him.

Jesus, was and remains patient. He asks Martha, a question, “Do you believe?” Jesus asks concerning resurrection. Martha responds in the affirmative, “Yes, Lord; I believe…” Jesus doesn’t always explain His methods. He saw the sadness and the emotion of those mourning the loss of Lazarus and He, Himself wept. He inquires of the body. They still don’t understand. He asks for the rock to the tomb be rolled away, they protest, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.”

Sometimes our lack of faith is evidenced in our actions. Our lack of understanding fuels our lack of faith. So i submit for the record this, “Who can know the mind of the Lord?” We find this question sprinkled throughout the Word, Romans 11:34; 1 Corinthians 2:16; Isaiah 40:13; Just a few examples. What is my hope in pointing this out? Simply, that we do not, nor can we fully understand the ways of God, we are simply called to believe, to have faith. Let me submit this exchange between a Centurion of a sick servant and Jesus, found in Luke 7;

“’Lord, do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof. Therefore I did not even think myself worthy to come to You. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.’  When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, “I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” And those who were sent, returning to the house, found the servant well who had been sick.” 

This remarkable exchange occurs just before Jesus raises from the dead a son of a widow, found in the same chapter of Luke. Prior to, from what we can gather of timetables, scripturally speaking, of Lazarus’ death and subsequent resurrection. This had to have followed Him, Jesus; as many brought their sick, possessed, dying to Him. Yet, for some reason when forced to believe outside of our understanding…we faultier in our faith.

Now, all is not lost my friends. i am not in anyway writing to you to suppress any hope you have in yourself, or your cadre of counselors. In fact, the opposite is true, i am writing to affirm, that you are fully capable of the this faith the centurion displayed. That even in our doubts, like Mary and Martha, Jesus is still Lord and He is still able. That even when the counsel we have assembled disagrees as in the case of King Saul, we can be like his son Jonathan, armed only with faith, “Come on now, let’s go across to these uncircumcised pagans. Maybe God will work for us. There’s no rule that says God can only deliver by using a big army. No one can stop God from saving when he sets his mind to it.” (1 Samuel 14)

By all means have counselors, i have counselors. Please, seek advice and formulate plans, i seek advice and formulate plans. But, and i say it again, BUT, do not forget to sincerely seek the counsel of God, do not forget to seek His Wisdom, His plan, His ideal…DO NOT FORGET to consult the WONDERFUL COUNSELOR, the PRINCE OF PEACE. And when in doubt, as it surly will arise remember this exchange between a father of a boy with an unclean spirit and Jesus in Mark chapter 9; Jesus said, “If? There are no ‘ifs’ among believers. Anything can happen.” No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the father cried, “Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!” Seeing that the crowd was forming fast, Jesus gave the vile spirit its marching orders: “Dumb and deaf spirit, I command you—Out of him, and stay out!”

Be willing to live on the edge of belief, on the cliff of faith, in the pool of dependance, and lie in the bed of trust…against all odds, proclaim, “I believe Lord, help my unbelief, for there is no rule that says God can only deliver by using a big army. No one can stop God from saving when He sets His mind to it!”

 you are LOVED,
cj