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Archive for the tag “Disciples of Jesus”

God’s Equality

The other day, a man was arrested for sharing the Good News. Of course, he doesn’t live here in this country. He lives in a predominately Muslim country so he is in a very bad situation. His family may be targeted next. He and his family need a miracle. It seems so foreign to me because of where I live; I can’t imagine that people all over the world have the same kind of risk when sharing the Gospel message.

There are women all over this world who are looked down upon because of their gender – not their skin color, but gender. They can’t walk on the streets without their husbands or brother or father with them. Even then, the men walk ahead of them. They can’t vote or even drive a car. They have no rights when it comes to civil affairs. Again, this is just so foreign to me that I can’t imagine a time when I couldn’t go where I wanted and do anything (within reason) I wanted to do.

We see in ancient times the same thing happened – women were second class citizens. It wasn’t until Jesus came along when He elevated them to equal standing before His Father. When the woman who was caught in adultery was brought before Jesus (the man wasn’t accused of the same act), everybody expected Jesus to accuse her and stone her – it was the law in that day. However, Jesus said that the man who had not sinned could throw the first stone. One after another left that day, because the only one who could actually condemn her would not do so – Jesus was the only one who had never sinned, yet He did not pick up a stone. He said in John 3:17 “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” It was His right to do so, but He chose another way.

Women were counted among those who were in Jesus’ circle of influence. Many women were acknowledged for helping support the disciples in their work. After Jesus was resurrected, Jesus appeared to the women first. They came to anoint His body with oil as they do for all dead people. But Jesus wasn’t in the grave. He appeared to them outside the grave, alive and glorified. The stone was rolled away; there was nothing left to hinder their approach to Him. The door had been opened to a greater role for women to play in God’s plan along with every man of every color and nationality.

However, I have come to the conclusion that life on earth isn’t fair in any shape or form. Skin color, economic status, background, sexual or verbal abuse in the home, or sexual orientation; there are many different shapes to an unfair disadvantage. However, I am told through the Gospel message that everyone is equal in the eyes of God – Jesus came for us all.

The cross of Jesus is on level ground. We have either received the grace of God by Jesus’ death and resurrection or not. Doesn’t matter of nationality or gender, we are all one in Him if we have received the grace. We are brothers and sisters of the same family – there are no grandchildren, just children of God. We all have a role to play in the family – with no hierarchy to it; every role is important. That’s pretty special!

This “take a knee” for the anthem doesn’t upset me like some. Of course, I haven’t served our country and risked my life for the freedoms I enjoy. I recognize the importance of the good that this country has done through the years. The sacrifice of all who have served throughout the years to give me a right to freedom of speech and the fearlessness of being a believer in this country; to keep us all safe from those who would destroy us if given the opportunity. This country as great as it is, is not my first citizenship – my first citizenship is in the Kingdom of God. My knees hit the ground for Him alone. I am His disciple.

I will stand for an anthem because it’s a respect for those who came before me and for all the rights and privileges I enjoy today because of where I live out this earthly presence. But one day, we will all come to a place of understanding – this is not our home. This is just a journey through until we one day will stand in the Promised Land – a land so rich and beautiful that we can’t even imagine; where streets are paved with gold and waters flow from a throne. And we will all stand before that throne. One day, everything will be equal at that throne. In the meantime, let’s pray for one another and encourage one another. Life is tough for many right now. We have a great God who listens to the prayers of His children. He will meet every need as we lift them up together. Let’s stand together – united as one in Him!

I looked again. I saw a huge crowd, too huge to count. Everyone was there—all nations and tribes, all races and languages. And they were standing, dressed in white robes and waving palm branches, standing before the Throne and the Lamb and heartily singing:

Salvation to our God on his Throne!
Salvation to the Lamb!

All who were standing around the Throne—Angels, Elders, Animals—fell on their faces before the Throne and worshiped God, singing:

Oh, Yes!
The blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving,
The honor and power and strength,
To our God forever and ever and ever!
Oh, Yes! Revelation 7:9-12 (MSG)

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The Vision

Do you have a vision of the future? Do you dream about what your life will look like in five or ten years? I can’t really say I have a great vision of the future. Sometimes, it feels like the future is very dark. Just look around and see all the things happening. It can be nothing but doom and gloom. I believe we are meant to dream though. God places in us a passion for something. It’s a matter of discovering what drives us to fulfill our purpose. We all have a unique calling. I believe there is a beautiful future ahead for each of us. Even in the presence of such oppression and darkness. God has something amazing for us. We are in the times before Jesus returns. God chose us for this hour. It’s no accident that we are here for this hour. We are here for something greater than what we could ever ask or imagine! Just imagine that!

There is a vision of the future that I get excited about every time I think about it. Every single day, we are getting closer to seeing Jesus. Even if I do not see Him coming in the sky – I will see Him when it’s my time to leave this earth. We are closer to seeing Him, but are we ready? We are told that Jesus will come when we least expect it. Beth Moore told her simulcast audience a couple of weeks ago to stop saying Jesus is coming on this particular day. She said that it’s delaying the time because we are expecting Him on that day! (She gave a humorous account of our predicting something that no one can predict).

Last week I wrote about The Day. Jesus sang the song as He was leaving for the Garden of Gethsemane – this is the day that the Lord has made. Finishing my thoughts about The Day, there is another day in which we are to rejoice. God set a day when Jesus will come once again for His bride. I think Jesus is at the threshold of heaven waiting for the word from God to “Go!” God is patiently waiting on the fullness of time. We are to be watchmen on the wall. We are to be about God’s work. We are not to be caught unaware. We are not to be in situations that we would be embarrassed if Jesus came for us. We are to have our conflicts resolved; forgiveness should be offered. We are given tasks to fulfill. We should not delay doing them. It’s time to get it done. We are to run our race until the end.

The vision for the future is bright. It is not a hopeless situation, but a hopeful expectation. Times are definitely rocking toward a dark day when the heavens will roll up and all hell will break loose. As long as the light is still shining on the people of God, we still have time to act. We still are able to reach those who are walking in darkness. God is still calling people to Himself. God has promised many blessings to those who endure until the end. Let’s run with endurance. Let’s face the giants of oppression with the power we’re given in Jesus Christ! We are not meant to shrink away, but stand in fight with the determination of a champion prize-fighter! We have already won and we need to remember who we are! We are victorious in the battle.

The vision of the future is brighter still. And we will rejoice together with one voice for the glory of the Lord! Jesus had that day in mind when He endured the cross; He endured the cross with joy because He had a vision of the future joy that surrounded the throne of God. As disciples of Jesus, we are the children of light. We are not meant to hide our light. Let it shine before all humankind so on that day, all the nations will be represented in front of the throne – REJOICING! Lord Jesus come! Let Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven! For this is the day that You have made; we are rejoicing with heaven for this day! And all God’s people said – AMEN!

Jesus replied, “My light will shine for you just a little longer. Walk in the light while you can, so the darkness will not overtake you. Those who walk in the darkness cannot see where they are going. Put your trust in the light while there is still time; then you will become children of the light.” John 12:35-36

Saturday

I am writing this on Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The day when nothing happened. The day between fear and faith. During my quiet time, I thought about the disciples locked in their houses living in fear. Jesus was gone. I am sure they didn’t understand what was taking place. They had yet to receive the Holy Spirit; they didn’t yet have the understanding so they were still clueless on this day. They didn’t have the whole story at that point, even though it was foretold in Scripture and even Jesus said it on numerous occasions – I will be raised to life on the third day. But in the midst of their grief and their fear, they didn’t remember all the teachings of Jesus. No one had written it down yet. Here they are shut up and worked up.

I can look at Scriptures and wonder how the disciples missed it, but I am too much like them. I live in those Saturday times between fear and faith. When fear overtakes my understanding of what Jesus has taught me. When my faith is still weak, and I can’t see a thing. I know – faith is not by sight. I understand it but in the midst of the circumstances, I just don’t seem to have that full faith that Sunday is coming. Jesus said it so I should believe it. The disciples ran away. Me too, at times. The disciples had to see for themselves in a few hours that Jesus wasn’t in that tomb; what He said is true. He is alive. He has risen. But on this Saturday, the darkness is still there.

I think on this particular Saturday morning, the skies are overcast and the rain has been hit or miss, I have the sense with anticipation of a new beginning even when it doesn’t look like it right now. I think of the promises of God that are yet to be fulfilled. Yesterday, I was reading Revelation 22. It is the hope of what is to come. Jesus said in Revelation 22, “I am coming back.” He said it three times in that chapter alone. It hasn’t happened yet. It’s still Saturday waiting on the promise to be fulfilled. Three times is significant. I have the hope of that coming. I have faith that will become sight one day. I don’t know if it will happen in my lifetime or not, but either way, I will see it one day!

On that day, Sunday will be glorious just as it was when the disciples laid eyes on their risen Savior. Can you imagine the joy they experienced when they saw Him for the first time? Can you imagine seeing the nail scarred hands? Can you imagine looking in His eyes and seeing the love that must have been evident? What a glorious day when we too will see those nail scarred hands! What a glorious day when we look into His eyes and see the love that is meant for all people but His focus is on each one of us. But on this Saturday, why wait until Sunday to believe in the promise? I think we should live in anticipation of it. We should live in faith and celebrate it now. His love endures forever – even now when the rain is falling, and the skies look bleak. His eyes are focused on us, His beloved. Fear nothing. God is good and keeps His promises. Yes, Jesus is coming back. Praise the Holy One of God, the One who died for all. And praise the One who defeated death for all who believe in Him!

Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.” “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:16,33

All In

The pastor asked the question “Now what?” I have been asking that particular question for the last two plus years. I have been searching high and low for the answer, but it just wasn’t coming to me. However, God was working hard to prepare me to hear the answer. It was like a “duh” moment when the answer came. Jesus said as you are going about your daily life, make disciples of Jesus. Put time into the lives that are in your circle of influence. Yeah, I understand that concept. I get it but how does that relate to my calling? Yeah, that is my calling.

Jesus left the earth with the commission to the disciples to go out and do what He did. And they did; all the way until their death. And the ones they invested in invested in others. And on and on. Until the Gospel message reached through the centuries, through the nations until it reached my ears. Jesus didn’t have a “Plan B.” In the game of tag, we’re it. As the preacher spoke the next Sunday, he made the comment the church in America has quit producing disciples. We have turned to the consumer Gospel. It’s the Good News too good to share. So we don’t. I am guilty of that. I listen to numerous sermons week after week. I am studying the Bible hard for my benefit. But what about others?

How is the Good News supposed to live past this generation unless we share it? But how do I put the things I am learning into practice? The blog is one thing but am I really helping others follow Christ through my blog? Am I helping to disciple any one? Is there anyone following Jesus because of me? No, I would say not. It’s not too late for me to use the remaining time of my life to do just that, to put things into practice. God has given me a voice. I am to use it for His purpose to help others follow Jesus.

We should be modeling the first body of believers found in the Book of Acts. I get it. I understand what we are experiencing here in America is not really what this message is all about. I should be serving Jesus where Jesus wants me, doing the things Jesus taught and loving others as well as I love myself. His message to the disciples was “follow me.” And they did. And that’s the message of today. Either I am all in or not. It’s my decision, no matter where, no matter what, no matter how. Jesus said to follow Him. Yeah, I get it. I’m all in. Lead on!

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:14-18a

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