Tag Archives: Jesus

January 15; The Man Upstairs

Job 35-37

People who know about God may think like Elihu. In fact, most false religions in the world have gods like the one Elihu describes.

Do you know people who refer to God as, “the man upstairs?” There are some who picture God on a cushy throne, wine glass in hand, feet up and eyes closed, with no thought of his creation, no involvement in the lives of his people. In a sense, it’s convenient to believe in a god like that. What does he care how I live my life?

Some people might think of God as a big old bully, sitting up there in heaven with lightning bolts in his fists, hurling them at helpless people like a villain in a video game. “Take that, human!”

Nature does declare God’s power. But Jesus reveals a different side of God; the softer side, the side that loves and cares for people, the side of God that rubbed shoulders with the least of us, and called us His friends. Jesus told us God not only sees every sparrow out there, not only counts every hair on our heads, He wants to gather us up like a chicken gathers her chicks to protect us.

The truth, contrary to what Elihu would have you believe, is that you DO matter to God. He DOES answer when you call out to Him, and He DOES listen to your pleas. Not only that, but if we are clothed in Jesus’ righteousness, we can have an intimate relationship with this great God of ours. That means everything to Him.

Do you know this personal, great God of ours? He’s not at all like “the man upstairs.” He is here, right now, and He wants you to know Him.

January 9; Is There A Target On My Back?

Job: 15-19

Job brings up a hard truth about God that we often try to ignore. We can talk all day about God’s love, His grace, His forgiveness, kindness, acceptance. But we don’t like to even think about His wrath.

Now, to be perfectly clear, chapter 1 tells us Job’s suffering is not a direct result of sin. God is not punishing him. In fact, Job is an upright citizen. God even calls him “righteous.” Yet awful things are happening to Job.

In chapter 16, Job says he feels like God has placed a target on his back. Job feels God’s anger as though God were ripping him to shreds with gnashing teeth. Job says he’s tried to bind his wounds himself, he’s cried endless tears. But Job realizes his helplessness to combat God and win.

It’s easy to say Job didn’t deserve this. But here is what God impressed on me: if Job, descried by God Himself as a “righteous man,” has no defense against God, I’m in serious trouble.

Paul, in Romans 3:23 tells me everybody has sinned. Romans 3:10 actually quotes some Old Testament verses that tell me there isn’t a righteous man or woman anywhere. Not even one.

(I have no problem hearing God call Job “righteous,” then reading more than one Scripture that says no one is righteous. Job never lived like he was sinless. He continued to offer sacrifices for his sins and for those of his children. “Righteous” described Job because he had dealt with his sin.)

Scripture repeats these words, or words like them: Every sin is punished. Every sin deserves death. Every. Sin.

That’s why I think we should probably remove the word “deserve” from our vocabulary when talking about circumstances of life. We are all sinners, and God hates sin. Hates it. It’s hard to hear, but God considers sinners his enemies. (Romans 5:10; Philippians 3:18; James 4:4; I Samuel 12:14; and others)

Being sinners, we “deserve” God’s wrath. And, friend, you can’t handle God’s wrath.

As I look at the theme of worship in the book of Job, I am blown away that this man who is so lost, so grieved and alone, still looks to God. He begs God for an audience, not to give God a piece of his mind, but to present his case before God. Job longs for an advocate from heaven. Listen to this:

Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as a man pleads for his friend. (17:19-21)

Read that again and let God speak to your heart. Hear Job’s confidence that there is Someone who is on his side, someone who pleads with God on his behalf like a man pleads for his friend. And Job had never even heard the name of Jesus. My soul is overwhelmed at the beauty of this truth. I love it so much.

Here’s something about God’s wrath: It’s real. And it’s frightening. It’s harsh and relentless. And we are absolutely, totally powerless against it.

But Jesus!

Jesus took God’s wrath directed at you and me. He faced God’s fierce anger – AND IT KILLED HIM.

But He didn’t stay dead! He defeated the last enemy – death. Now, by His grace, I can stand before God – not an enemy – but as His precious child. Not because of my own righteousness (which is non-existent) but because I’m wearing Jesus’ righteousness through the blood He shed on the cross.

God is no longer my enemy. He’s my Father. He calls me His friend!

Please understand that unless you have accepted what Jesus did for you on the cross, you are an enemy of God. You can try to bandage your own wounds, you can try to stand before Him in your own strength. But you don’t have any hope of winning that battle. No hope.

I don’t know what the circumstances of your life are like right now. But I know if you are blessed, you don’t deserve it. If you are suffering, you deserve much worse. You might feel like there is a target on your back, and you might be right.

But read again what Job said in the quote above. And know there is Someone in heaven who would love to be your advocate. Someone who would love to cover that target on your back with His own blood. Someone who wants to turn you from being an enemy of God, to being His most precious child.

 

January 7; Spider Webs vs Mountains

Job 8-10

As I consider worship in the book of Job, I see a marked contrast between those whose worship is directed toward God, and those who worship anything else.

Bildad, in pointing to their history, says of the one who forgets God, “What he trusts in is fragile, what he relies on is a spider’s web. He leans on his web, but it gives way; he clings to it, but it does not hold.” (8:14-15)

Have you ever had trouble breaking through a spider’s web? Just a little pressure, and the strands give way. Have you tried to stand on a spider’s web? Or lifted yourself up on one? How did that work for you? With a swing of your hand, you can brush away the web, so that it appears it never even existed.

Then, in chapter 9, Job points us to God whose wisdom is profound, whose power is vast. God, who can move mountains, turn off the light of the sun and stars, who performs wonders that cannot be fathomed. God sees all, knows all, created all, and there is nothing in me or you that can match Him. You aren’t going to brush Him away with a swing of your hand.

Job also points us to Jesus (9:32-35). This awesome, powerful, fearful God has become a man! He is the arbitrator between the Father and us that Job longed for. And, unlike Job, I can speak to Him without fear because of Jesus.

If we worship science, self, or even a loving, soft marshmallow god we are basing our worship on something as fragile as a spider’s web. But we whose foundation is built on God, we who worship the God of the Bible, have placed our trust in the sturdy, solid, Truth of God Himself.

He deserves our worship. And when I am faced with the Truth of who He Is, I cannot not worship Him.

 

Revelation; No More Tears

I don’t often sit down and read straight through the book of Revelation,  but I did today. I wanted to read John’s vision as he describes it without looking for hidden meaning in it. I discovered that the book of Revelation is a pretty accurate description of life.

And life for followers of Jesus comes with particular hardships. Sometimes it seems as though we are fighting against monsters and demons, and it is easy to get discouraged. But God assures us through John’s vision that He’s got this.

There is no demonic monster that is too powerful for Him, no false doctrine, no phony preachers, no anti-Christ theology that can change the Truth that is God. There is nothing that happens in this life that He didn’t see happen before Creation. And He wants us to know He is coming again to take His children home.

That’s the glory of John’s vision. That home-going! A place beyond human words where God is in all His glory. A place where He Himself will dry the tears of His children, no more sorrow, sickness, discouragement, anger, hurt feelings, or drama. Our past troubles will be forgotten forever, and we as His Bride will look into the eyes of our Bridegroom and know for the first time what true love is all about.

The book of Revelation is a book of hope. We win. And the victory celebration will be beyond imagination.

_________________

I trust you had a blessed Christmas as we celebrated the birth of Jesus, the One who made our home-going possible. And I pray that 2019 will find you growing  in grace and knowledge of our Savior, and that you will have many opportunities to share our Lord with people in your life who need him, that you will be blessed and a blessing.

I’m going to take a break from blogging for the next few days. Starting January 1st I am going to start to read through the Chronological Bible in 2019. I haven’t decided if I’ll post my thoughts every day, or not. I want to honor God with this thing, so I’ll be praying for God’s leading.

Thanks for going on this journey with me. I’m praying for you.

1&2 Peter; Too Late

Can you celebrate the birth of Jesus and ignore the fact that He is coming again? He first came as a baby boy, grew to be a man, rocked the world at that time, and continues to rock our world after His death on the cross, and resurrection.

Christmas is not just a birthday. It’s the beginning of the end. Jesus will come again, and Peter reminds us it will be a day of reckoning. Are you ready?

I hope your Christmas holiday will be blessed with happiness and precious moments with family and friends. But I also hope – no, I pray – that when you consider that baby in a manger, you will consider how His birth has impacted you. That baby was born for love of you. That baby was born to save you.

Do you now Him? I pray you do. But if you’ve never confessed your sin and allowed Him to forgive you through the blood of Jesus, do it today. I can’t imagine a better birthday gift to give that Baby Jesus, than your heart.

Because He is coming again. It could be today. And when He comes it will be too late for you to suddenly accept what He died to give you.

May you celebrate the birth of YOUR Savior this season.

Hebrews 1-8; A Better Way

I hope you have read, and considered, the Old Testament with its laws and regulations. Do you know the awesome responsibility Levitical priests carried? Have you looked at the intricate details they had to follow to first, make atonement for their own sins, then offer sacrifices for the sins of the people? The rules had to be followed down to crossing t’s, or God could not forgive sin.

Unless you’ve spent time looking at what God required for the sacrificial system, I’m not sure you can fully appreciate what Jesus did on the cross, or understand His role as our High Priest today. Jesus’ words from the cross, “It is finished,” take on a significant meaning in light of the Old Testament Law.

The writer of Hebrews celebrates our eternal High Priest, and the new covenant God made to us through Jesus. The truth, the anchor for the soul, our hope and assurance is this:

Therefore he (Jesus) is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. (7:25)

Jesus came, lived, died, and rose again 2000 years ago. But He didn’t complete the mission, then go home and put His feet up. He lives to intercede for us. Right now. Today. Jesus is working for you at this very moment.

What a blessing is ours to live this side of the cross, to know our Savior is alive, our High Priest is interceding for us. It is a better way.

Romans 1-5; Just-As-If…

Paul spends a lot of time talking about sin and condemnation, faith and justification. When you read his letters you can’t help but see that we are all sinners condemned to an awful eternity separated from God. And you can’t help but see that Jesus went to the cross, while we were still sinners, and took our punishment on Himself so none of us ever has to be separated from Him.

But Paul also makes it clear that, although Jesus died for the sins of every man and woman who ever lived, not every man and woman will enjoy the fruits of His sacrifice. Only those who receive it by faith will be justified. No amount of rule-following, or kind deeds can do what Jesus did on that cross.

What does it mean to be justified by faith? I’ve heard it explained that when we confess our sins, God is faithful to forgive and cleanse us, so that we can stand before Him, “Just-as-if I never sinned.”

Can you imagine? I have no fear of standing before a Holy, Holy, Holy God because He will only see purity, guiltlessness, holiness in me. I can hardly imagine.

But as I sit here today and consider this precious truth, I am overcome. Because, you see, I am a sinner. There is nothing pure or holy about me, and I’m certainly not guiltless.

It occurs to me that on that day, when I stand before the throne, God is not going to look at me as if I never sinned, so much as He is going to look at me wearing Jesus’ righteousness because HE never sinned. God won’t see me as something I’m not (holy, pure). He’s going to see my Savior’s blood that covered my sins. Every one of them.

I’m not going to stand there and look God in the eye sinless. But I am going to stand there before Him, gaze into those piercing and Holy eyes, forgiven!