He Wept . . . part one

He Wept . . . part one

And when He (Jesus) drew near and saw the city, He wept over it . . .” Jerusalem was a sight to see. Its magnificent temple, the buildings, and homes dotting the countryside, all surrounded by a great wall. The capital city of Israel since the time of King David. It was so beautiful, so compelling as a city, it beckoned on the weary Jewish traveler, ‘come home.’ Surely Jesus was not lost in the moment by its stately stature, no His tears were deeper than, for that i am certain.

Imagine coming to your own, as the prophecy had taught for hundreds of years. Finally, the long-awaited Messiah had arrived only to be rejected by a pious yet foolish people. Now on the eve of the most torturous event, on an undeserving man, the weight of it all begins to sink in. Here Jesus looks out upon the great city of Jerusalem a tear forms as He begins to weep “saying, ‘Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.'” (Luke 19:41-44)

We too even now often reject Jesus. Even in the church. We cuff Him and set time for Him. We structure our services “allowing” certain time for Him but in the end, we have our expectations, and our purpose, and our time frame. Oh sure we celebrate His arrival with shouts of praise but we limit His ability with our expectations. Oh that we would understand, “the things that make for peace!” or as the Message translations put it, “If you had only recognized this day, and everything that was good for you!” Jesus, clearly, makes a statement as to the heart condition of the Israelites of His day. Pious, yet foolish, caught up in “knowledge” but never coming to the understanding of the truth. As Paul writes to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:7.

i fear that Jesus would look upon the USA, and many other countries, as He did Jerusalem, with a tear in His eye. May we begin to awake to His presence. To allow Him all the room in our lives, our homes, our families, our Churches, our friendships, and yes even our cities and towns, to move and be and do all that He desires, as we Worship Him.

You are loved,

cj

God is Love.

God is Love.

i have been on a journey for some time now to discover how one might love others in a scriptural way. Given our human nature. Wesley taught that entire sanctification was that of understanding “pure love” or being filled with the “pure love of God.” To be entirely sanctified is as Wesley stated, “the second work of grace” or  “Christian Perfection” not to be confused with flawlessness but an infilling of the Holy Spirit that leads the Christian onward in life . . . to love others. Loving others isn’t easy, by any stretch of the imagination. Especially nowadays. Just look at a twitter thread or comments on a Facebook post, “Christian” or “secular” and you will see that we are a long way from love.

Which brings me to my current thinking spot in Scripture, 1 John 4:7-13. i am going to write it below. Read it. Pray on it. Next week i will give my thoughts on it as i sit and read and pray this week.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this, the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 13 By this, we know that we abide in him and he in us because he has given us of his Spirit.

Meditate on this . . .

You are loved,

cj

Jude (Part 2)

Jude (Part 2)

Once again we will be looking into Jude. This is, as the title states, part 2, there is also an introduction. If you have not yet read those i would suggest going back and reading those before continuing here.

Jude is writing about those who have crept into the church unnoticed. The warning is for us to be alert. So that we do not fall prey to them. To continue to search the Scriptures daily so that we remain knowledgeable and able to spot the imposter.  These folks have come in the side door, they slipped in the back. Yet, their resume and their teachings are not the same. In as much as they have subtly shifted meaning, context, and even grace, ultimately denying the very person of Jesus, while claiming His name.

Verse 8 reads, Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile [i]angelic majesties. These men, by dreaming, let me say this, that dreaming isn’t bad, it is good, and we should have lofty dreams. However, these men were not dreaming lofty God-sized dreams, they were dreaming as men. It was for power, prestige, influence that these men dreamed. We know this because they defiled the flesh, this is the same as “strange flesh” that of Sodom and Gomorrah. It is a perverted sense of grace and self-assumed authority in matters best left to God’s Word and not man’s opinion. You see they reject all authority to include Church authority and all the way down the line to government authority. They have taken it upon themselves to pronounce judgment rather than hang onto the authority of Scripture. Thumbing their noses at Jesus Himself as they curse the very Word.

These men are like hidden reefs that would shipwreck your faith. Pual writes to Timothy in 1:18-20 says, “This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.” These men are hollow, waterless clouds, pushed my any which wind that blows, in other words, their moral compass is broken and they are persuaded by the mood of the people rather than the Word of God. Trees without fruit. We are told that we will know them by their fruit, Jude isn’t saying anything new and yet we need to be reminded.

Yet in the same way, these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile [i]angelic majesties. But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” 10 But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are [j]destroyed. 11 Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay [k]they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. 12 These are the men who are [l]hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, [m]doubly dead, uprooted;13 wild waves of the sea, casting up their own [n]shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the [o]black darkness has been reserved forever. (Jude 1:8-13)

Take a deep breath. Ask yourself this, are you seeking the approval of man or of God? Let us together walk the road less traveled and seek the will of God, dream God-sized dreams and live out our lives flowing from the grace that we have been shown. Not by running from God’s Word, or watering it down, but by living it out — that we might save some.

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

Living in ideals . . .

Living in ideals . . .

Ideals. An ideal to me is like the bullseye on the target. When you live your life in the realm of idealism you are aiming square for the bullseye of the target of life. Much like in target shooting, you are not going to hit the bullseye every single shot you take. Sometimes you hit dead center, right on the mark, and other times you just miss the mark and by just a hair. Now when you are aiming for ideals, you will miss as if you were shooting with your eyes closed, over your shoulder, at a moving target that isn’t even there, now that’s missing the target.

Jesus sets up a pretty nice target in His sermon on the mount found in Matthew 5-7. It’s a big target full of ideals. Heavenly stuff. In Matthew 6 He teaches his disciple how to pray. Our Father…and so on. Now this line, Your (the Father’s) will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. What makes heaven heaven, the will of the Father is being done. The ideal is being lived out in tangible ways every moment.

Could you imagine if we began to pray this prayer with authority, with mission, with purpose, with desire, with sincerity, with a pure heart…Let Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven? And then, with as much fervor lived within those ideals? Not as a yoke of bondage but as a response to the grace we live under, knowing that our miss isn’t condemnation but an opportunity to realign our sights. And as the Father leads us by His Spirit into His perfect will, lined out for us through the Word, Jesus, we are made more and more into His likeness.

Romans 12:1-2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”

2 Corinthians 5:17Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

Malachi 3:16-17 Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name. “They will be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts, “on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.”

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

Perfection!

Perfection!

How many of you are perfectionists? You do, and do and do until, in your eyes, the thing you were doing is perfect, unless in your eyes perfection isn’t attainable. In which case you don’t even attempt it for fear of failure! How many of you have given up on perfection as an unachievable mark? There is no way it will ever be perfect so why bother! Then there are those that do without any prejudice or thought it is just that you do things and good is good and bad is bad; therefore you strive for good, which varies by activity. We have talked before about how we should aim for the target. Why would we aim or shoot for anything else?

If the goal is to love our neighbor as ourselves, why would we, on purpose, act any other way? He is an enemy? “Love your enemies, pray for those that persecute you,” it says in Matthew 5, as Jesus teaches on the mount. If we are to take after the widow and orphan, why then would we on purpose neglect them or ignore them? Of the hungry, naked, sick, in-prisoned, should we not do for the least of them as we would even Jesus Himself. As Jesus declares in Matthew 25, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Now if these are the goals, “To love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and to Love our neighbor as ourselves.” If we aim for that target and somehow miss the mark . . . the pessimist will say, “see an impossible goal is met with imperfection!” A perfectionist will say, “I will fail, therefore, this task is not for me!” While the doer will say, “But I do this one thing:” One thing, is the difference between apparent failure and never trying, “But I do this one thing: I forget about the things behind me and reach out for the things ahead of me. The GOAL I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

“Failure isn’t falling down. Failure is not getting up after you have fallen down.” ~Richard M. Nixon

A life of dependance . . .

A life of dependance . . .

We all depend on someone or something for life. Some will say they don’t depend on anyone, well that simply says, “I depend on myself.” So the reality is everyone depends on something for their existence. It may be work, that job you hate going to every Monday, or it may be a spouse, or a relative of some sort. It could be the Government, a retirement investment or an inheritance. Some who are very ill depend on machines or medicine for life, without them they die. So whether we like to think in these terms or not we are all dependent upon something or someone for life.

Being dependent upon riches or popularity or even other people, yourself included leads to disappoint, despair, even tragedy. Oh there might be momentary pleasure, riches, even glimpses of happiness. However, we can name person after person of influence who has struggled with fame, fortune, popularity and riches. A quick google search will show us these facts to be true. And whether we like to admit it or not we are dependent by nature. So, lets talk about for a second, the idea of being dependent. For if we are by nature dependent then we should find the true source of our dependence.

i offer up to you this passage from Jeremiah 17:5-8;

Wisdom from the Lord

This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans,
    who rely on human strength
    and turn their hearts away from the Lord.
They are like stunted shrubs in the desert,
    with no hope for the future.
They will live in the barren wilderness,
    in an uninhabited salty land.

“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
    and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
    with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
    or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
    and they never stop producing fruit.

 

John D. Rockefeller, (July 8, 1839 – May 23, 1937)  said, “If your only goal is to become rich, you will never achieve it.” Now this coming from a man who arguably was the richest man in modern history. Yet, although rich as could be his dependence was not on his wealth, as this quote here will show, “This Sunday School has been of help to me, greater perhaps than any other force in my Christian life, and I can ask no better things for you than that you, and all that shall come after you in this great band of workers for Christ, shall receive the same measure of blessedness which I have been permitted to have.”

You might argue that it was easy for him to have his dependence on Jesus because he was so wealthy. Well, to that i say what about Horatio G. Spafford. Here is a man who lost everything, with the exception of his wife, “saved alone” from a shipwreck. He went on to pen one of, if not the greatest hymn of all time, “It is well with my soul”. Read his full story here. Today, where do you find your dependence, i submit to you that if your answer is anything but Christ alone, you need to stop what you are doing and reevaluate life and put your hope, trust, confidence . . . dependence on the only one who can and will see you through, Jesus the Messiah.

You are loved,

cj

13 Years and Counting

13 Years and Counting

i have been writing a book for 13 years, that’s right you heard me, 13 years. i guess you can say that i am persistent or lazy. i would say, i am self-conscience of ability. However, one day that book will be completed, and it will be read by at least two people, my mom, and my dad. Now imagine this, the Bible which many refer to as the “Good Book” is actually a collection of works, both books, and letters. There are 66 of them written by 40 different authors over a period of…well…thousands of years.

The influence that the Bible has had over the years is unfathomable. It has had both good and bad impacts on the world depending on who was doing the interpreting. It is an adventure story, love story, comedy, history, and wisdom. It is if read correctly, the answer to all of life’s questions…and by life’s questions i mean any and every question you might have ever in your life.

In 2 Timothy 3 we read in verses 16 and 17 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” And again in 2 Peter 1:20-21 we read, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” There are a few other places that talk about this idea of the impactfulness and importance of Scripture, google it some time.

The book that i have been writing will not take thousands of years…at best i only have about 50ish years left to live. It will not even come close to impacting the world as the Bible has either. There have been countless books written, but none have claimed so much, promised so much, explained so much and been right so much ever! There is no book that has outsold or been stolen more than the Bible either…how’s that for distribution?

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving, a time in which we gather to be thankful. For most of us, we can raddle off a half dozen things in no time at all; God, family, friends, pets, work, home, health. See, not so hard at all, i didn’t even mention my wife and kids by name; which i very well could, for each one is such an amazing blessing that i am incredibly thankful. For many, however, it isn’t so easy to make such a list; Broken homes, broken hearts, brokenness.

Is there a holiday for lamenting? In the TV series Seinfeld, there is an episode where they celebrate “Festivus” and “the airing of grievances.” As ridiculous as “Festivus” is, that holiday is actually not that bad an idea. In the book, we call the Bible there is a section called, “Lamentations.” It is a book of lamenting. Here is how it begins:

Oh no! She sits alone, the city that was once full of people. Once great among nations, she has become like a widow. Once a queen over provinces, she has become a slave. She weeps bitterly in the night, her tears on her cheek. None of her lovers comfort her. All her friends lied to her; they have become her enemies.                                                               (Lamentations 1:1-2 CEB)

There is something to be said for lamenting, letting things out, there is a season for it. A time and a purpose. It is actually good for the soul to let things out and not to hold things in. Can one lament too much, too often? Yes! The book of Lamentations is only five chapters long. What does that mean? There comes appoint when we stop lamenting. Here is how Lamentations ends:

Return us, LORD, to Yourself. Please let us return! Give us new days, like those long ago– unless You have completely rejected us, or have become too angry with us.”    (Lamentations 5:21-22 CEB)

In the book of Ecclesiastes, we read one of my favorite passages of Scripture and the influence of the hit song by “The Byrds” “Turn, Turn, Turn” from 1965 although the song was adapted by Pete Seeger a few years earlier the “Byrds” really took off with it…(laughy crying face emoji). Anyway, this passage is such wisdom:

A season for everything

There’s a season for everything
    and a time for every matter under the heavens:
    a time for giving birth and a time for dying,
    a time for planting and a time for uprooting what was planted,
    a time for killing and a time for healing,
    a time for tearing down and a time for building up,
    a time for crying and a time for laughing,
    a time for mourning and a time for dancing,
    a time for throwing stones and a time for gathering stones,
    a time for embracing and a time for avoiding embraces,
    a time for searching and a time for losing,
    a time for keeping and a time for throwing away,
    a time for tearing and a time for repairing,
    a time for keeping silent and a time for speaking,
    a time for loving and a time for hating,
    a time for war and a time for peace.                                                                         (Ecclesiastes 3:1-3)

May it be, as it is my prayer for all of us if you find yourself in a season of lament, to pause for a moment and laugh or dance, to love and make peace, to heal or to build up, to gather and embrace. Happy Thanksgiving!

You are loved,

cj