Tuesday, April 7, 2020

THE POWER OF GOD TO SALVATION

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…”  (Romans 1:16a NKJV)

The story of Jesus' crucifixion for me is more than just the story of how the forgiveness of God is so supremely demonstrated in the death of this One who was "without sin." Even though I cannot put its meaning easily into human words and theological formulas, I have always found the story of Jesus' crucifixion to offer the hope that evil can sometimes be overcome in this life -- and that it has been overcome in some ultimate sense that we will fully understand only in the life to come.

The remarkable expansion of the Christian religion throughout Africa and South America today is occurring largely because of the hope that the story of Jesus brings to people living in devastating poverty and disease. I know this sounds mystical and mysterious, but I also know that the telling of the story of Jesus' crucifixion year after year during Holy Week has indeed been the "power of [God to] salvation" for those who respond to the story with belief that the God of creation has entered human history on our behalf -- and overcome evil on our behalf. And that belief is of course tied to the conviction that Jesus was raised from the dead as the ultimate sign of God's message that evil and death itself will ultimately be overcome.

-- Dr. Timothy Johnson in “Finding God in the Questions”


#4815

Monday, April 6, 2020

THE MODEL OF HUMILITY

“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”  (Philippians 2:5-8 NLT)

Jesus was humble. Perhaps this was His most outstanding characteristic. Imagine if you were God -- equal with the Father, sharing glory with Him, having every privilege of being God -- and then you became a human and laid aside all those privileges. Imagine becoming the servant of all and being God hidden in the obscurity of humanity.

His humility was expressed most when He became a man and died on the cross. He never insisted on His rights and privileges to be honored, understood or viewed rightly, but He emptied Himself of His reputation. He was content to be seen as ordinary and did not seek esteem. Think about embracing a life of weakness, poverty, shame, homelessness, rejection, and pain. We realize this when we study Isaiah 53 and see Jesus as the suffering servant. Jesus had lowliness of heart.

It’s easy for us to say we’re humble and broken until the real test comes, and we are put in a humbling position. We wonder, “Why aren’t we recognized?” It doesn’t feel good. We react and don’t like it. We want to be important and are often so proud. But Jesus became nothing during His life on earth, and He gives us His example so that we may follow in His steps. In fact, the only character trait that He proclaimed about Himself was His humility. Jesus didn’t put on humility to just accomplish a task on earth. Humility is part of His eternal nature. As we understand His humility it should produce admiration, inspiration, and confidence in us. In His lowliness of heart we find rest for our souls.

-- Adapted from Debbie Przybylski in an article entitled “How Jesus Modeled Humility”


#4814

Friday, April 3, 2020

THE PEOPLE ON THE ROAD TO JERUSALEM

“Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields.”  (Mark 11:8 NIV)

This was Jesus’ announcement that He was indeed the long-awaited Messiah. He chose a time when all Israel would be gathered in Jerusalem, a place where huge crowds could see Him, and a way of proclaiming His mission that was unmistakable. The people went wild. They were sure their liberation from Rome was at hand. While the crowd correctly saw Jesus as the fulfillment of these prophesies, they did not understand where Jesus’ kingship would lead Him. The people who were praising God for giving them a king had the wrong idea about Jesus. They expected Him to be a national leader who would restore their nation to its former glory; thus, they were deaf to the words of their prophets and blind to Jesus’ real mission. When it became apparent that Jesus was not going to fulfill their hopes, many people would turn against Him. A similar crowd would cry out, “Crucify Him!” when Jesus stood on trial only a few days later. It takes more than participation at a praise gathering to be a true friend and follower of Jesus….

Like the people on the road to Jerusalem that day, we have much to learn about Jesus’ death and resurrection. We must not let our personal desires catch us up in the celebration and shouting lest we miss the meaning of true discipleship.

-- From the “Life Application Commentary - Mark”


#4813

Thursday, April 2, 2020

CONNECTED TO THE VINE

Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing.”  (John 15:5 NLT)

The branches of a vine live by just remaining connected to the vine. Permanently. Consistently. They simply rest in their position, allowing the sap of the vine to flow freely through them. There’s no effort. The fruit is produced by the life-giving sap inside.

When you’re completely connected to Christ, His Spirit flows through every part of you -- your mind, your will, your emotions, your words, and your deeds. The fruit that you bear is produced by His Spirit in you. [“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23a NRSV)] It’s not produced by any conscious effort on your own.

If you want to be fruitful, concentrate on your relationship with Jesus Christ! “Be filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:18)

-- Anne Graham Lotz in “Fixing My Eyes on Jesus”


#4812

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

HOW IS IT WITH YOUR SOUL? - Part 2

“Christ encourages you, and His love comforts you. God’s Spirit unites you, and you are concerned for others. Now make me completely happy! Live in harmony by showing love for each other. Be united in what you think, as if you were only one person. Don’t be jealous or proud, but be humble and consider others more important than yourselves. Care about them as much as you care about yourselves.”  (Philippians 2:1-4 CEV)

John Wesley’s question, “How is it with your soul?” can help make sure that we still find life in things that we may have taken for granted because of their routine-ness.

Someone once told me that prayer is to our souls as breathing is to our bodies. Wesley’s question helps me to make sure my soul is breathing. Reminding me… to pause… to pray… to wonder… to be in awe… to laugh… to cry… to sing. It reminds me that it’s OK to be human. And that it’s more than OK to admit that I’m not doing well and need a little help from my friends.

Maybe you could benefit from asking yourself, “How is it with my soul?” Or maybe you could help someone by asking how their soul is and then genuinely listen to their response. It’s an important question that we should ask and answer frequently.

-- Adapted from Joseph Yoo in “Ministry Matters” Blog


#4811