Monday, January 21, 2019

something excellent

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After Jesus performed a miracle in Mark 7, the people said of him, "He has done all things well."

The same could be said of His entire ministry - even His entire life. Everything Jesus ever thought, said, or did was perfect. He was excellent in all of His ways. This part of Jesus life is almost inconceivable to those of us who seem to sin every minute of every day. But the Scriptures are clear that it is in His perfect life of active obedience to the Father that Jesus fulfilled the law for us on our behalf - culminating with the words "Thy will be done" in the garden on the way to the cross. (His suffering and death for us on the cross constitute His "passive obedience.")

Although as the eternal Son of God He possessed all the excellencies of heaven, He lay aside His glory in order to take on human flesh, to live and suffer and die for us, that we might be forgiven of our failures and lifted up to new life in Him forever.

God the Father has given us His very best in the sacrifice of His Son on our behalf. We now in faith give our best back to Him.

"If anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things, and the God of peace will be with you." - Phil. 4


Friday, January 18, 2019

something admirable

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At one point in His ministry, Jesus was walking with some of His disciples around the temple courts in Jerusalem. A few of them were admiring the noble stones, the costly materials, and the great workmanship of Herod’s newly renovated temple. It was a sight to behold - one of the wonders of the world at that time to be sure.

"Look Teacher, what wonderful stones and buildings!" After hearing all of this, Jesus drops a bombshell on them. "You see all these huge stones and buildings? Not one of them will be left on another." After a generation passes, this whole thing is going down.

The beautiful temple in Jerusalem they were admiring that day eventually did topple at the hands of the Romans in 70 AD, just as Jesus had predicted. But the temple of His own body was about to begin a major reconstruction. The body that had come riding on a donkey into the city of Jerusalem to great pomp and circumstance, would soon be torn apart and ripped to shreds in His suffering and death on the cross. But in His glorious resurrection, His risen body would become the new temple of the Living God.

As Jesus died on the cross on Good Friday, the curtain in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The time of the temple was over. The greater temple, the temple of the body of the Son of God, was now established in His death and resurrection. From now on, God is only to be approached through the death of His Son. No longer in a building, no longer through the blood of bulls and goats, but now through the body and blood of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. That is the place we now go to meet God.


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

something beautiful

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Pascal once said that we are all made with something like a god-shaped hole, a space in our being that only God can fill. A space that seeks relationship, that creates longing, that looks for something greater, something beautiful. Something that CS Lewis simply called "Joy".

No matter who you are or where you come from, everyone has this urging, this longing, this sixth sense for something higher, something better, something beautiful.

One of the ways this manifests itself is our delight in beautiful things. We all have different ideas of beauty of course - whether it be music, art, nature, or physical appearance. Luckily my wife thinks that bald is beautiful. ;-)

As Christians we have a different sense of what is beautiful. We find beauty in things and places where the world doesn't.

When we go below the surface and dig deep into God's Word, we find that even things like pain, suffering, and even death can be beautiful. Even broken things can become beautiful.

So what is the most beautiful thing in the whole world? This time the sunday school answer is the right one - Jesus. But not just the risen and living Jesus with white robes, flowing hair, and pearly white teeth. It's also the black and blue and bloody Jesus hanging on a cross dying for all the sins of all the world.

For as ugly and painful and terrible as that scene was - it was also good and true and beautiful. That's why we now call the day that it happened Good Friday. Because now, on this side of the resurrection, we're able to look back and see that it was indeed ... something beautiful.


(ht - tony cook)

Sunday, January 13, 2019

something pure

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Pure - free of contamination - not mixed or adulterated with any material or substance - without any extraneous and unnecessary elements. Clean, clear, fresh, sparkling, pure.

It's pretty hard to find something or someone that is pure these days. But it's always been hard. That's because there has only been one pure, perfect, holy man that has ever lived. His name was Jesus. The only way we can be pure is through Him. 

David says in the Psalms - "Create in me a pure heart O God."
Jesus says in the Beatitudes - "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
And John says in his epistle - "All who hope in Him purify themselves as He is pure."

There is a health and nutrition organization called PURE - People United Reaching Everyone. I think that would be a good slogan for the Christian Church - People United Reaching Everyone.

May we reach out to all people this season with the pure good news gospel message of the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.


Thursday, January 10, 2019

something just

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Two of the most important things to God in the Old Testament were justice and righteousness - mishpat and tzedekah.

Justice on the earth is the outcome of God's righteousness from heaven. Although Israel was unable to be either just or righteous, the promised Messiah was to come and be both. And that's exactly what Jesus was. He was perfect before God His Father in heaven - and perfect before His neighbors around Him on earth. And it all culminated with Jesus' death on the cross - the intersection of justice and righteousness once and for all.

“The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.” -  Psalm 33
“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.” - Psalm 89
“The Lord of hosts is exalted in justice, and the Holy God shows himself holy in righteousness.” - Isaiah 5

"But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption of Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement through the shedding of His blood to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished. He did this to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus."  - Romans 3


Wednesday, January 9, 2019

something honorable

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The word honorable has to do with people and actions that are honest and fair and worthy of respect. An honorable person is someone who believes in truth and in doing the right thing - and tries to live up to those high principles.

These days the word "honor" is relegated to the military, the justice system, or public office. We rarely hear the word honor used in our daily lives. But it is a word, along with duty, respect, and integrity, that should characterize the life of the Christian.

Here are some passages from the Bible that speak of honor ... "Honor your father and mother." "Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of your produce." "Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will receive honor." "Outdo one another in showing honor."

As for Jesus, although He had all glory, laud, and honor as heaven's high prince, in His incarnation and state of humiliation He was made "a little lower than the angels" in order to live and suffer and die for us. Only later was He "crowned Him with glory and honor" in His resurrection and ascension.

God has honored us with the knowledge of salvation in Christ that we might honor others in love through the Gospel.


Tuesday, January 8, 2019

something true

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"Something True" is the name of a popular podcast that shares strange and bizarre true stories from the footnotes of history. A dog in the United States Cabinet? A 13 year old boy who identified witches? Virginia Woolf donning blackface to prank the navy? They're all true. Strange but true.

But they're not near as odd as some of the true stories we find in the Bible. A man swallowed and spit out by a big fish, three men surviving a fiery furnace, a river turned to blood, a talking donkey? Strange but true.

Perhaps the most amazing story of all is the story of a God who came down to earth as a man in order to save His fallen creation. This God/Man was born of a virgin, grew up as a peasant, worked as a carpenter, began his ministry as a rabbi, performed signs and wonders, only to be crucified and put to death by His own people.

But then - the unimaginable happened. Three days later He rose again from the dead! He appeared to over 500 people over the course of 40 days - and then ascended back into heaven to His former glory.

The whole world has been turned upside down because of the life of this one man. And now, a third of the world's population follow Him and call Him Savior and Lord. Strange but true.

God's love for sinners in Jesus Christ. It's something true - for you.