Wednesday, September 23, 2009

ARE WE THERE, YET?

MIAMI - JUNE 20:  Marvin Juarez from Miami, Fl...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

HOW MANY TIMES did I drive my dad crazy by asking him, "Hey Dad, are we there yet?" I can remember he usually answered in one of four ways. First, "No, we still have five-hundred miles to go!" Which to me meant nothing because I had no concept of mileage/time. His second answer was usually was, "We'll be there when we when get there!" Again, big help! Even I knew that! Then there was the eternal lie, "We'll be there real soon." Yeah, right! And then there was the silence, usually followed by the stare in the rear-view mirror. At which point I would slink down to the floor of the back-seat. (No seat-belts in those days.)

In our passage for this week's sermon we will be looking at John 16:16-33. As I have read it over and over again I could picture the disciples asking Jesus what He was talking about, but never quite getting the answer for which they were looking (hoping). They kept asking, "What does He mean in a little while we will see Him no more, and then we will see Him?" (John 16:17-18) Much like a 6 year-old in the back-seat they were getting anxious that they might never get to where they were promised.

Into their anxious thoughts Jesus spoke this truth, It might seem like we are never going to get where I promised you, but take heart soon you will see me again (John 16:22-24), and when you do it will be so amazing that all your grief will be turned to joy. Little did they realize that though it looked like their journey was going to end in death of their rabbi, friend, and Lord (and even in their own deaths), in reality the journey would be one to the resurrection and beyond!

Jesus told them, yes the journey is indeed long and rough and filled with trouble. Yes you may feel trapped in the back-seat, but Jesus reminded them than in Him they would find true peace, because he had overcome the world. (John 16:33)

Jesus knew that the journey he had called His disciples on would be tough, but He also wanted them to know that the destination would be one of great joy and of everlasting peace, and would be completely worth the trip.

It's the truth He wants us to know as well. Are we there yet? Soon, maybe very soon!

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Monday, September 07, 2009

Not Without Reason

I remember this acquaintance I once had, (I really wouldn't call him a friend) every so often he would come up and whack my in the arm. When I asked him "why?" he would respond, "no reason," and just walk away. I always thought that if you're going to punch me in the arm, you should at least have a reason. But I guess some people will do mean things for no reason at all.

In this week's sermon passage (John 15:18-25) Jesus states that there are those who have "hated me without reason." (John 15:25) Jesus' words at this point are a quote from the Old Testament, from Psalm 69:4,

Those who hate me without reason
outnumber the hairs on my head,
many are my enemies without cause
those who seek to destroy me
I am forced to restore
what I did not steal.

Ecce Homo (Behold the Man!), Antonio Ciseri, 1...Image via Wikipedia


Scholars have said the Psalm 69 is the most quoted by the New Testament writers. And for good reason. As you read through it it is quite evident that the words of the psalmist can be placed in the mouth of the Messiah, the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53.

As I studied this Psalm in light of John 15:18-25, I was specifically drawn to the final phrase where the psalmist (Messiah) declares that he is forced to restore what he did not steal. Is that not what Jesus did on the cross? He paid for the sin that was not His. By His death He brought back to us the possibility to live in a restored relationship with the Father, a relationship that for Jesus did not need restoration. Yet, in the darkness of the Cross, He too knew the depth of separation from the Father which sin brings. (Mark 15:34, Psalm 22:1)

The death of our Savior Jesus the Messiah, brought about by a hatred which was thrown at Him without reason, but His death was not without reason. In fact, it was something that God had reasoned from of old.

Come, let us reason together
says the LORD,
"Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be white like snow;
though they are as red as crimson,
they shall be like wool."

How good is our God! For He has not given us what was reasonable considering our state, but in His grace and mercy He has done the incomprehensible paid the price for our sin. As the hymn writer, Charles S. Gabriel (1905) wrote in the refrain to his hymn, "I Stand Amazed in the Presence,"

How marvelous! How wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! How Wonderful!
Is my Savior's love for me!
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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Better than Facebook

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 25:  In this photo ill...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

OK, so I confess, I enjoy spending time (wasting?) on Facebook. Sometimes I do think it borders on the voyeuristic, but truly it is a great way to find and keep up with friends. Though I must wonder how many of the 416 people listed as my friends really count as friends? In fact, there are those who I really count as friends who are not on Facebook.

In this week's sermon passage (John 15:1-17) Jesus, in speaking with His disciples, calls them friends (John 15:15). Now, we must say, that's even better than having thousands of friends on Facebook.

Friendship with Jesus is quite different than friendship with those on Facebook. His friendship is one that is marked by His sacrificial death for us (John 15:12-13), and maintained by an open relationship of communication (John 15:15).

Yet, unlike Facebook friendships, our friendship with Jesus carries with it some important requirements: obeying His commands (John 15:9-13), staying attached (John 15:4), and loving each other (John 15:17). Hardly burdensome when we consider the benefits friendship with Jesus brings: fruitfulness in life (John 15:6), open communication with God (John 15:7), His promise to remain in us (John 15:9-10), the gift of His joy (John 15:11), and the list could go on if we would take a survey of the rest of Scripture.

So, enjoy your time on Facebook, if nothing else it sure makes a good prayer list! But remember, there is a friend who sticks close than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). And if you're going to be adding a friend, Jesus is the best one to have on your friend list!

See ya on Facebook.
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