Tag Archives: Relationship

Celebrating His Coming: Thoughts for the 3rd Week of Advent – Day 7

Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. -John 18:36-37, KJV

mountains with crepuscular ray

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As we round out the third week of Advent, we shift our focus from the earthly ministry of Jesus to His Kingdom.

This world will never fully see the Kingdom of Heaven, just a taste through its subjects, we Christians who spread the Kingdom throughout this fallen world. We carry His voice to every corner of the planet.

And what is Jesus saying through us?

“You have rebelled against your Creator, and your sins are immeasurable. But I came to redeem you back to Me, to cleanse you of your sins, and one day I am returning to bring you home.”

Be of good cheer, dear Christian. You are cleaned and redeemed, and He is coming again soon!

King Jesus, continue to make us faithful citizens of Your Kingdom, and move through us to reach this world for Your glory.


Celebrating His Coming: Thoughts for the 1st Week of Advent – Day 6

Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the Branch.
For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.
In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree. -Zechariah 3:8-10

close up of fruits hanging on tree

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close up of christmas tree

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The great news of Zechariah is that the Branch of Jesse, the descendant of David, the Servant King of Israel, would be coming to His people, and in a single day He would manage to remove all the sins of His people.

Through this Branch, all people will be able to come together in peace and love, living by the fruit of the Spirit in all facets of life and relationships.

This is not simply some feel-good story, but the source of the peace we celebrate at this time of year.

It is also the hope that we will one day see this fulfilled completely. It will be fully realized when our Lord returns to reign on Earth for eternity.

Lord of hosts and Righteous Redeemer, thank You for taking our sin upon Yourself and reuniting humanity with You. Guide us in bringing Your Kingdom to this world.


Ransomed and Redeemed

The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright. -Proverbs 21:18 KJV

I see two ways the wicked can be a ransom for the righteous and the transgressor for the upright.

First, the fulfillment of “you reap what you sow.”

Think of Haman from the book of Esther, who hoped to hang Mordecai, but was instead hung on the very gallows he had built.

Or the men who tried to trap Daniel and were themselves thrown into his pit of lions to be devoured.

In other words, if you plan evil against someone, you may very well find yourself suffering that fate.

Secondly, the ransom is not the payment but the prize.

Think of the kidnapped child. The “ransomed child” is paid for and redeemed.

(You probably see where this is going …)

Jesus Christ is the only truly righteous and upright One, and He sacrificed Himself for our ransom. Praise be to God that we wicked transgressors are the ransomed of Christ.

Likewise, we should go out and be willing to sacrifice everything to bring others to the knowledge of our Great Redeemer.


Worshipful Interaction, or Taste and See

The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the Lord hath made even both of them. -Proverbs 20:12, KJV

There are two main things this verse tells us:

  1. We can know the Creator God is watching over us and listening to us, for he created us with the ability interact with our surroundings.
  2. We should be thankful to and give glory to God for our ability to interact with each other, our world, and God.

Please take note of how this has been worded: interact with.

Why?

I can hear the arguments from others, “But what about those who can’t see or hear?” And these arguments can include the question of suffering.

A) We must remember that we live in a fallen world, corrupted and tainted by our sin. Sometimes, people lose some ability to interact in this world, and we have no one to blame but ourselves (humanity, not necessarily the individual, say, the one who was abused).

B) Sometimes God ordains a malady to bring glory to Himself by bringing someone to faith. Look at those Jesus healed during His earthly ministry.

But, again, read the first two points! The fact that we inherently are able to interact with others including our God who knows us, we should be moved to worship!

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Psalm 34:8


Take Me To Church!

Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom. -Proverbs 18:1 KJV

Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment. -Proverbs 18:1, ESV

This entry is on Sunday, the day most churches meet.

If you are not attending, why?

Do not forsake the meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing. -Hebrews 10:25

We have the biblical command to meet with other Christians regularly.

This does a few things:

  • Gives us opportunities to encourage each other (the rest of Hebrews 10:25)
  • Gives us opportunities to spur each other on to loving others and doing good works (Hebrews 10:24) It can be easy to only “seek his own desire” or be lazy apart from the Church.
  • Keeps us on the straight and narrow path (Hebrews 10:23). It can be easy to stray from sound doctrine and teachings. Why do you think there are so many cults and people who believe crazy things? (How many raptures have we survived in the last decade alone?)

It is important to meet with others, if for no other reason than to keep us from getting weird ideas.

Most importantly, being together helps us grow more Christ-like.

Therefore, take me to church!

Then I know you came to!


Reconciling with the World

He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends. -Proverbs 17:9 KJV

Read the Second Letter to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians).

We are called to a ministry of reconciliation. We are to help reconcile our fallen world to a holy God.

How do we do this?

It is not by constantly telling people what they are doing is wrong. We should, ought to point out their sinfulness and need for a savior, but repeating it over and over and putting forth a air of judgmentalism, driving people away.

Instead, we acknowledge the sin, yes, but we make it clear that we still want to be with them and see them.

That we still love them, because God first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

We must cover their sins with the love of God, as He did for us with the blood of Christ. Then they will be able to see God’s grace that much more clearly.

Even with your brother or sister, your crazy mom or deadbeat dad, the customer who complains about everything or the cashier who messes up your order, and the driver who cut you off in traffic.


Measure Twice …

When he established the heavens, I was there; when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth -Proverbs 8:27‭-‬29 ESV

God did not begin Creation until He had begun with wisdom.

It makes sense. Jesus, also called the Wisdom of God, gave us hints:

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?
Luke 14:28

God is smart. He planned and then built.

God’s Greatest Work

However, His universe building pales in comparison to His greatest work: Making us new.

We must remember that right relationship of us with Him was always His goal, a holy people who would give Him glory and love as He lavishes love on us.

… Cut Once

My dad, like Jesus and His earthly father, is a carpenter. He instilled in me the axiom “Measure twice, cut once.” That is, take time to accurately prepare so that you are not constantly fixing mistakes.

We should do the same with Jesus. The passage quoted above is a about the cost of discipleship.

Do we realize we must take up our cross (Luke 14:27)?

Do we realize we must radically change our thinking and actions, that we must tell a fallen world they are destined for destruction, and that it could cost us financially, materially, even bodily (basically Matthew 5-7 and … much of what Jesus said)?

If we do not wisely count the cost, we will be constantly re-cutting things from our lives, things that should have been done. We may even finding ourselves asking for forgiveness from God again.

Let God finish the work He started. Trust the Master Builder to cut and rebuild, and realize what it may cost you.

It cost Him Jesus.


Debts & Promises

My son, if you become surety for your friend, If you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger, You are snared by the words of your mouth; You are taken by the words of your mouth. So do this, my son, and deliver yourself; For you have come into the hand of your friend: Go and humble yourself; Plead with your friend. Give no sleep to your eyes, Nor slumber to your eyelids. Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.
Proverbs 6:1‭-‬5, NKJV

Co-signed

Have you ever needed to take out a loan or get a service (cable, telephone, electricity, etc.), but your credit was … lacking? You need a co-signer to get that loan or service.

Perhaps you have been on the other side and have been the co-signer. It can be scary either way. I have been on both sides.

I have had to pay debts friends and family could not pay, and sometimes it was a struggle financially.

This could be a lesson on Christ’s sacrifice posting our debt of sin. Instead, this is about seeing how our promises can catch us.

Leaving the Altar

You see, our commitments have effects on others. We promise to pay that bill. We promise to be at that event. We promise to carry our fair share.

And then we don’t.

We put up the strong front and commit to keeping other promises.

Say, tithing.

But Jesus says, “if you bring your gift to the altar, and then remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and first go be reconciled to your brother before returning to offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23‭-‬24)

In other words, humble yourself, and do what is right.

If as the one who owes, confess your wrong or inability and seek forgiveness. If as the one who is owed, forgive the debt (of the promise, of the burden) and move on (possibly through making a plan or as simply releasing all responsibility).

The big point is to hold onto the relationship above all else.

That is why Jesus sacrificed glory, comfort, and life: to forgive our debts and broken promises to restore the relationship. And He arose to guarentee it for eternity.


Spurious Gifts

Proverbs 21:27

27 The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?

Spurious gifts

Have you ever had someone give you gift, and it came from someone who you were sure did not like you?

Later it turned out that gift, which seemed like a nice and generous act at first, was actually a way for that person to mock or embarrass you in front of others.

Perhaps you have been in a workplace with a supervisor who did not like you. The only reason they did nice things to you was to look good in front of others or to benefit themselves in some way. In return, all you received was trouble or no credit, perhaps even getting passed over for well-deserved promotions.

These acts and gifts did not bring you joy or thankfulness. They only made you angry.

Spurious sacrifices

How do you think God feels when we bring poor or purposefully bad sacrifices and offerings?

This is done through giving what we feel like when it is time for tithes and offerings. (Malachi 3:6-12)

This is done by saying “Yes, Lord! I will do whatever you ask of me!” when you have no intention of doing anything. (Malachi 3:13-15)

This is done by saying you are a Christian and then calling evil things good. (Malachi 1)

We must always check our hearts as we deal with people and with God, that we may willingly and joyfully give what God desires and deserves. (2 Corinthians 9)

Lord, forgive us for our wicked selfishness and idolatry. Help us to love you and offer true sacrifices (Isaiah 58). Help us forgive those who treat us as wickedly as we treat You.


Why Worry?

Proverbs 21:21

21 He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour.

Can’t Take It With You

Most of us have heard the phrase “You can’t take it with you when you die!” This is one of those euphemisms to allude to the fact that stuff does not matter, and the pursuit of things and money ultimately is pointless.

So many people struggle with getting enough or having enough, and their lives only have trouble or emptiness. Either they are always seeking more or greater, or they feel like they are failing to provide or failing at life.

This can even be true among Christians. We all only want to provide for ourselves and our families, to create a full life, so we seek out the means to do that.

Seek first …

However, God tells us the best and ultimately the only way to provide our needs.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Matthew 6:33

When we seek God’s holiness and more of Him in our lives, we will want the things God wants. In the process, God will take care of all our needs. This is not just making sure we have food to eat, water to drink, clothing, and a place to sleep.

In return for our faithfulness, God, in His faithfulness, gives us eternal life, righteousness, and a good name (honor). All of this comes through His Son, Jesus the Christ.

Heavenly Father, lead us by Your Holy Spirit to seek only You. Give us a thirst for righteousness and mercy, that we may not feel the need to worry and to bring glory to Your name!