He Turned the Tables…For All Time

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Friday of Jesus’ final week.  It’s called Good Friday.  Good in the sense that God sent His only Son to pay the price for our sin debt.  God planned and orchestrated the greatest act of love in human history.

Jesus is being crucified at Golgotha, The Place of the Skull.  Jesus was nailed to the cross at approximately nine in the morning.  It’s now three o’clock in the afternoon, it has been dark since noon, to fulfill the scripture in Amos 8:9  I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day; and in Jeremiah 15:9, Her sun is gone down while it is yet day.  The darkness to signify that the Sun of righteousness was leaving this world and the Jewish nation would be in darkness; a sign from heaven that their eyes would be blinded.  At three o’clock in the afternoon, Jesus cries out in a loud voice, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”  Matthew 27:46b.  The darkness further signifying the dark cloud of Jesus’ soul as he himself was the offering for sin, the sacrificial lamb.  It also signified the withdrawing of the light of God’s countenance as Jesus took on the sins of the world.

After Jesus cried out and breathed his last breath, the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.  The splitting of the curtain signifies the destruction of the nation and church of Israel and the entering in of the new and living way into the Holy of Holies by the blood of Christ.  No longer will the High Priest, from the Levitical priesthood, come into the Holy of Holies once a year to offer sacrifices for the sins of the people with blood that is not his own but with the blood of animals.  Christ is now our High Priest, in the order of Melchizedek, who’s own blood was shed as the only eternal, acceptable sacrifice and sprinkled on the Holy of Holies in heaven and therefore he is able to continually intercede for those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose.

In the temple area in Jerusalem, the Court of the Gentiles is several acres on the outer most part of the temple area.  This is the designated area for gentiles from all nations to come worship and pray.  Just a few days before, Jesus had come into the temple area in Jerusalem and overturned the tables of the money changers.  These passages of scripture are given the most prominence in regard to the anger of Jesus in regards to the greed and dishonesty of the money changers and people selling animals for sacrifice that filled the Court of the Gentiles.  Furthermore, any gentile who wanted to come into the Court of the Gentiles to pray had a difficult time doing so because they were crowded out by all the vendors selling animals and the money changers that were making exorbitant fees.  Jesus comes into the Court of the Gentiles and literally “turns the tables.”  The Jewish leadership had allowed the sanctity of God’s temple to be robbed.  Allowing the merchants and money changers into the temple area showed the Jewish leadership’s lack of dedication to God and the true purpose of the temple.  Further, it also showed Israel’s lack of respect for people of every nation to come worship and pray.  What Jesus did by literally turning the tables in the Court of the Gentiles, displays what was getting ready to happen in a few short days when He hung on the cross.  Similarly, in the book of Esther, God “turned the tables” for the Jewish people displaying the greatest turnaround on the grandest of scales.  Christ did, likewise, turn the tables for all peoples from every tribe and nation for all time.

Sometimes Jesus would speak of future realities in the present tense.  One example is when Jesus spoke of the signs of the end of the age.  In Matthew 24:34 “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.”  Surely, the disciples must have marveled at what Jesus was saying and wondered when this event would happen in their life time.

As finite beings that think sequentially due to our restriction to time and space, we have a past, present and future.  God is eternal, transcendent and above time and space.  God is the eternal present tense.  He is the eternal present tense in our past, present and future.  So, when Jesus tells the disciples of these events,  He is speaking of our future reality in His eternal present tense.

In the present, Jesus shows his anger toward the money changers crowding in the Court of the Gentiles and preventing the gentiles from worship and prayer.  In the future, Jesus displays through this act that the former way of temple worship will be no more.  But, an even greater act is that from now on the Gentiles are no longer restricted to the outer court.  Christ’s death has secured our future and He has turned the tables for all time. The promise of that future reality was signed and sealed when Jesus breathed his last breath on the cross and the curtain was torn in two from top to bottom.  The gentiles from the outer court of the temple area are now able to run right into the temple, past the The Holy Place and into the The Most Holy Place to the alter of God.

So,  don’t stand around and dawdle in the Court of the Gentiles, run…don’t walk…run through the temple to the Holy of Holies to the alter of God.  Jesus has secured our future.  He was forsaken by the Father so that we wouldn’t be forsaken.  Yes, this is Good Friday and it is the darkest day in history. But, Good Friday is in anticipation of Easter Sunday, the brightest day in human history.

If you’ve been half-hearted or lukewarm to the things of God…today is the day to turn it all around.  Jesus has already turned the tables for you.  All you have to do is turn to Him.

Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem

As we come into the most wondrous time of the year, Jesus’ birth, I ponder the miraculous place of His birth all orchestrated by the Father.

To Live is Christ

Micah 5:2,5b is the prophesy regarding the place of Christ’s birth, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting…and this One shall be peace.”

How truly amazing is the birth of Jesus in so many respects.  Micah prophesied long ago of the exact town in which Jesus would be born.  Jesus doesn’t come as we would think in grandeur and born in a major city…He comes in insignificance and littleness.   It’s so fitting for God to do this…no human can claim any glory, so that God receives all the glory.  Jesus was placed in an animal trough, so that no craftsman would say “He chose my well-crafted bed.”

Though God chose that Jesus be born in the insignificant and not very…

View original post 361 more words

He’s Unchangeable…I’m Changeable

hebrews 13 8

Some days I take two steps back and one step forward or maybe even three steps back and one step forward. Frustrated that I cannot always move forward. But what I have learned is that those steps back can be helpful in my progression to move forward. Sometimes when we attempt to win victory over a sin in our life…we can frequently fail. Those failures can bring us to a place of being more aware and sorrowful for our sin. Our heart then cries out to God for His mercy and grace. Not a cry for God to remove the desire, but a cry for His grace to enable us to have victory over the sin. You see, it’s not the removal of the sinful desire that gives God glory. It’s our surrender to Him and the understanding that we no longer believe the lie. What lie you ask? Well, it’s two-fold actually.  First of all, we believe that the sinful desire will complete the promise it has told us and we will be fulfilled.  A sinful desire never completes its promise.  The only promise it provides is guilt and shame.  Secondly, we believe the desire we have is of greater worth than God. It’s true!  Every time we choose a sinful desire we have chosen something that is not what God desires for us and usurps Him.  Beloved, It is God’s presence and His grace that allows the victory in our lives and that gives Him glory.

So, I thank Him today that He is unchangeable..immutable. If He were changeable, how could He ever be trusted? If he were changeable, how could He ever change me into His likeness. He is trustworthy and true. He is the faithful, unchangeable creator who loved me before the world was created.

Jesus is the unchangeable savior who continues to rescue me every day and the Father will one day deliver every one who is His child to the bridegroom as His spotless bride.

The King

martin luther king jrI was only ten years old on August 28, 1963, when from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Martin Luther King, Jr. stood before 200,000 civil rights supporters and delivered one of the most famous speeches of the 20th century entitled, “I Have a Dream.”   King called for racial equality and an end to discrimination.

My father’s family is from the Deep South…Louisiana.  My mother’s family hails from a small town in northeast Texas.  Because of where my parents were from, they grew up inundated with racial inequality.   That meant…separate bathrooms for blacks, required seating in the back of the bus, even separate water fountains to drink from…all those corrupt requirements imposed to try and prove that whites were superior when in actuality it proved our pride and hatred.  Even at ten years old, I recall feeling uncomfortable if I heard the “n” word because I knew it was not a term of endearment but a pinpointing of their insignificance.

I remember the day King gave this speech because I recall watching my father as he listened to him on television.  The expression on my father’s face changed through the course of King’s speech.  You know what I mean?  That curious, inquisitive look of, “Well, I wonder what this fine, black fella has to say.” transformed to “I don’t think I’ll ever be the same!”  My father got up from his chair…different.  I could hear the liberation in his voice when he spoke.  God had touched his heart with King’s message.

When was the last time God touched your heart with THE King’s message?  Unlike the early disciples who had to rely on their memory of Jesus walking and talking with them, we possess in our very hands the written Word.  When was the last time you allowed the King to liberate your heart?  Take out your Bible.  Sit.  Read.  Ponder.  Meditate on it.  Memorize it.  Open your heart and allow The King of Kings to come in and touch your heart TODAY!

Who am I In Christ?

I am You are

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lie.  I am not good enough.

The Truth.  You are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Psalm 139:14  “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

The Lie.  I am unable to go on.

The Truth.  You can do everything through Christ who gives you strength.

Philippians 4:13  “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”

The Lie.  I am hopelessly flawed.

The Truth.  You are a new creation in Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

The Lie.  I am not wanted.

TheTruth.  You are chosen by God.

I Peter 2:9 ” But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

The Lie.  I am not loved.

The Truth.  You are delighted in and sung over by God.

Zephaniah 3:17  ” The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”

The Lie.   I can’t do anything.

TheTruth.  You are gifted by God to do good works.

2 Timothy 1:6   ” For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”

The Lie.  I am not fit for anything.

The Truth.  You are Christ’s ambassador.

2 Corinthians 5:20  “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”

The Lie.   I am not valued.

TheTruth.  You are of infinite worth.

Luke 12:7  ” Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

You are fearfully and wonderfully made!

You can do everything through Christ who gives you strength!

You are a new creation in Christ!

You are chosen by God!

You are delighted in and sung over by God!

You are gifted by God!

You are Christ’s ambassador!

You are of infinite worth!

 

Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem

Micah 5:2,5b is the prophesy regarding the place of Christ’s birth, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting…and this One shall be peace.”

How truly amazing is the birth of Jesus in so many respects.  Micah prophesied long ago of the exact town in which Jesus would be born.  Jesus doesn’t come as we would think in grandeur and born in a major city…He comes in insignificance and littleness.   It’s so fitting for God to do this…no human can claim any glory, so that God receives all the glory.  Jesus was placed in an animal trough, so that no craftsman would say “He chose my well-crafted bed.”

Though God chose that Jesus be born in the insignificant and not very populated town of Bethlehem; He chose a town where princes of Judah had been born…King David.  This is where Bethlehem would receive it’s honor, not in the multitude of it’s people, but in the magnificence of the princes born there.

God chose that Jesus, the true manna from heaven, who was given for the life of the world (John 6:51) to be born in Bethlehem, which means the “house of bread”!   In Hebrew Beth-lehem is two words and means “house” (Beth as in Beth-el, “house of God”) and “bread” (lehem). The Hebrew Language is read from right to left, and so Bethlehem is written like this:

  bread           house

Jesus said we are to feed on Him, “by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God” the living bread.  Yes, His words reaching deep into your heart and soul become your very life.  His Word is Life, Truth, and Freedom for all who will receive, feast and believe. Jesus was born in the House of Bread.

Note also that God makes His announcement of Jesus’ birth not only to the Jews through the scriptures written so long ago, but also to the Gentiles in their day,  by the star.  The Gentiles know the time of His birth by the star and the Jews know the place of His birth by the scriptures.

So, what about Ephrathah?  Ephrathah, or Ephrath, is the ancient name for the town of Bethlehem, in Judah, in the southern part of the land of Israel.  It is referenced all the way back in Genesis 35.   The name “Bethlehem Ephrathah,” prophesied by Micah was used to distinguish it from another town named Bethlehem in the northern part of Israel. Ephrathah means, “fruitfulness” or “abundance.”  Jesus was born in the House of Fruitfulness.

Jesus, the true manna from heaven, came down from heaven.  His life which is given for the life of the world was born in the House of Bread.  The One who IS the embodiment of the fruits of the Spirit, provides and enables my fruitfulness to God was born in the House of Fruitfulness.

Only God could have planned and orchestrated this.

Glory to God in the Highest!

He Came for This Day!

cross of christ Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-5

He bore our sorrows and infirmities (sins) and cast no blame on us.  Who can even imagine his mental anguish.  He was scourged (not under the more merciful Jewish law, which allowed no more than 40 lashes to be given to the worst of offenders) under the Roman law. His scourging was even more severe as Pilate intended it as equivalent to his crucifixion. Not a bone was broken, as ordered, however, there was hardly any part of his body, from the crown of his head, which was crowned with thorns to the soles of his feet, which were nailed to the cross, that was not covered with wounds and bruises.  Because of their hate for him, they thought that God did as well (that he was his enemy and actually was fighting against him); so, they became enraged against him, saying: “God has forsaken him; pursue him and seize him, for no one will rescue him.” Psalm 71:11 The cross, resurrection and exaltation portray both suffering and healing, rejection and triumph, humiliation and glory.

May this day of reflection on the sacrifice of the beautiful and innocent Lamb of God and the incomparable mercies and riches of God on those who formerly were His enemies fill your heart with awe and thankfulness.  “For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” Romans 5:10

Thankful and amazed that He would come and die to save a wretch like me.

He Turned the Tables…Forever!

As Easter approaches and Spring is in full bloom in the hill country, I am reminded of the Lord’s sacrifice to bring me to God. God’s gift is for anyone who will receive it. His love for us is undeniable. His sacrifice for me is personal.

To Live is Christ

It’s Friday of Jesus’ final week.  Jesus is being crucified at Golgotha, The Place of the Skull.  Jesus was nailed to the cross at approximately nine in the morning.  It’s now three o’clock in the afternoon, it has been dark since noon, to fulfill the scripture in Amos 8:9  I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day ; and in Jeremiah 15:9, Her sun is gone down while it is yet day .  The darkness to signify that the Sun of righteousness was leaving this world and the Jewish nation would be in darkness; a sign from heaven that their eyes would be blinded.  At three o’clock in the afternoon, Jesus cries out in a loud voice, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”   Matthew 27:46b.  The darkness further signifying the dark cloud of Jesus’…

View original post 856 more words

Is This Popular Saying Biblical?

You’ve heard it…I know you have. Some, not truly knowing, have thought it’s a verse in the Bible. But I promise you won’t find this phrase in the Bible because it doesn’t exist. What is that phrase?

God helps those who help themselves.

This phrase more recently has been attributed to Benjamin Franklin, who, by the way, was a Deist. A Deist is one who believes that while a supreme being did create the universe, that supreme being does not involve itself in human affairs. Therefore, miracles and special revelation (such as healing, the virgin birth and resurrection of Jesus, and the inspiration of the Scriptures) don’t actually happen. The phrase, however; actually originated in ancient Greece as the moral to one of Aesop’s Fables, Hercules and the Waggoner.

Maybe, like me, you at one time believed or still believe this phrase. I mean, it sounds good on the outset…doesn’t it? It also seems to attest to our western culture work ethic. You know…”pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”

This phrase, however, is as far removed from the heart of God as is the enemy of our soul. It actually smacks in the face of God and says to Him “I don’t need You, I want to do it myself” and “I’ve got this, I don’t need your assistance God.” If anything, these statements confess a heart that is full of self-dependence and self-reliance.

This is exactly what our first parents were thinking when they sinned in the Garden of Eden. They, in essence, said to God, “The snake (enemy of our soul) told me and I believed him, that you were holding out on me. That I actually should have received and deserve more than you gave me. That I should be just like you, God, having the same knowledge of good and evil and in control of my own life.   So, because I want to be independent of you and be my own god; I disobeyed you and bit into the fruit.” That, beloved, is the heart of fallen man that Jesus came to redeem. A desire deep down inside to be independent…to be the god of our own life…to shake our fist at God and tell Him “I don’t need you, I can do it myself.” It is the BIG lie. In reality, we are so dependent on God that we can’t even take a breath without Him. He supplies the very air we breathe. God created us to live wholly for Him…that is His plan.

Beloved, God works through our choices and the exercise of our will. He doesn’t push Himself on us, however, he does pursue us. It is the nature of our faith walk to ask in prayer. As a child, dependent on the love and trust of his or her parents, asks. God is eager…eager to give us what we need when we ask. Jesus said, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matt. 7:11)

Why does God require that we ask Him? Because asking reveals evidence of our faith and dependence on Him; entrusting Him to provide for our every need. “And without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Heb. 11:6) Faith is pleasing to Him and the action of faith is on-going day-in and day-out trust in Him. It creates a bond of oneness which the Father desires. This oneness which was first exhibited between the Son and the Father is expressed in Jesus’ prayer in John, in which Jesus prays for His disciples and those who would come to know Him through them. Jesus prays for this same oneness with those the Father gives to Him. “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name–the name you gave me–so that they may be one as we are one…that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:11b, 21, 22-23)

Jesus was so dependent on the Father that every word He said was coming directly from the heart of the Father. Jesus said “I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.” (John 6:26b) Jesus also said, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (John 15:9)

What are some ways we exhibit our independence from God? One way is when we attempt to prove God’s priorities. We say to ourselves, “God is too busy. Why should I bother him with my little daily nuisances when he’s busy helping people with big problems and those who are very ill? Surely, He expects me to deal with these things on my own.” We may also think, “I have gotten so far away from God, what’s the point? With all the sin in my life, why would God listen to me?” Here’s the misconception in that thinking. You have minimized your own pain to your own peril. You miss a perfect opportunity to humbly come to Him and say “Please help me, have mercy!” It can also develop into the beginning of a habit of creating your own world apart from God…independently and defiantly going your own way.

God won’t help those who help themselves because those who do are too busy doing to receive His power and His help. Jesus said, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) However, so often we continue to prod along on our own and then wonder why we don’t experience His power in our life.

How is His power perfected in us? His power is made perfect in our weakness. The Apostle Paul was given a taste of heaven and to keep him from becoming conceited regarding this revelation from God, a thorn in the flesh (we are not told what it was) was given to him. He asked that it be taken away, but Jesus said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (Paul continues) Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:9-10) Paul delighted in difficulties and other hardships, so that he would remain weak and therefore, Christ’s power would be strong in him.

Beloved, the truth is God doesn’t help those who help themselves; God helps the helpless and His power is perfected in our weakness.

Boasting in Weaknesses

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ‘s power may rest on me. 2 Cor. 12:9

Paul boasts in weaknesses (not sinful weaknesses) but in limitations, illnesses, distresses, or circumstantial adversities. Why does Paul boast in these afflictions? Paul knew that it is not human achievements that showcase the grace of God…it is human helplessness. This is the Christian paradox. When we are weak in ourselves, we then reach out to Christ and are provided His strength and divine grace. God has given us our weaknesses for our joy. What do I mean? Because the more aware I am of God’s grace, the more humble, prayerful, thankful, patient, gracious, content, and joyful I will be. That’s exactly where I desire to be.

Weaknesses are there to display most clearly the grace and strength of God.