Show us the Father!

Hey All

I learned something new this Easter season. The definition of Hosanna: save, rescue, or savior. In the context of the Easter story think, John 12:12-13 “On the next day the large crowd who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.”

So the people of Israel are realizing and acknowledging that Jesus is the savior, the rescuer, who has come to be the true king of Israel. But did they realize what Jesus was really coming to save them from? Look back to Jesus birth,   Matthew 1:21 “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Not Roman occupation, or oppressive governments, or religious leaders.

What are the sins, that they are being saved from? Now I have written about sin in the past and I believe sin; defined as ‘missing the mark’, is simply the lie we believe about God. We are missing the mark, the reality, the truth about who God is, about his character, his motives, basically we missed the Heart of God. Our sin is not believing the truth about who God says he is. Our sin is believing the lies of the enemy when he tells us God cannot be trusted. This is the sin Jesus saves us from.

Colossians 1:15 – “He is the image of the invisible God.”

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And how does he do it? Jesus is the image of the invisible God. Jesus is God made flesh. Jesus said if you have seen me you have seen the Father. Jesus said he is the only way to the Father. Jesus said He and the Father are one. Jesus said I only do what I see the father doing. No one has ever seen God but the one and only son. Jesus didn’t come to change us, he came to change the way we think about God, or more specifically, change what we believe about God.

Think of it this way. There is so much evil and hurtful activity in this world and in our lives. Much of this pain is the direct result of people who don’t trust God can or will take care of ‘it’, and who do ‘it’ themselves. People who believe God isn’t good and God won’t deal with whatever is going on and they take things into their own hands. People who are quickly reminded they rarely make things better, but usually hurt more people in the process. After all isn’t the old saying, hurt people, hurt people. I mean seriously generational sin is really just me passing on the pain of my father, who passed on the pain of his father who passed on the pain of his father, ad infinitum.

You see this in Genesis 3, you see this in the story of Cain and Able, we see it throughout scripture, people who have been lied to about the true nature of God, people who have been hurt, and in turn hurt others. And what did God do about it… He sent Jesus, he sent Jesus to save people from their sins, he sent Jesus to correct all of us who thought God was too holy to be in relationship with us, who thought God didn’t care about our pain, that God was only interested in sacrifice, God sent Jesus to correct this false view of God, Jesus came to show us the father, to show us how much he loves us, how much he desires to be one with us, and that the only thing holding us back from enjoying such a perfect union with God was our unbelief. The lies of the enemy have been defeated at the cross, where love wins and death is no more. This is the gospel message, the reason God sent His son, to save His people, and reconcile them to Himself.

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John 1:18 – No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is Himself God and is at the Father’s side, has made Him known.

John 14:9 – Jesus replied, “Philip, I have been with you all this time, and still you do not know Me? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

 

 

 

 

Jesus Changes the Heart

Philemon 1:6 (NASB) “…and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ’s sake.”

I did a word search for “I pray” the other day and found three instances in Paul’s writings. The third was in Philemon, and I have broken it down here, at least how I understand it in the context of how I understand community and reconciliation which is at least part of why Paul wrote this letter to begin with. So…

The fellowship of your faith. Faith in the context of community. Faith is believing not what I see or hear, but believing that which is unspoken, that which is unseen. Faith in the context of community is… in the community in which I live; I do not always believe what I see or hear, rather in specific situations having faith in things unseen, and things unspoken can have great value. Especially when we consider what happens so often in the context of community.

The hurts and misunderstanding between the saints are so common in Christian circles, so common in church communities. Somebody says or does something and somebody else is hurt, upset or offended. So often instead of talking it out with the other person; we gossip, or fall away from the community. Offended and hurt, we tend to isolate. Or maybe we do talk it out, but in the process, instead of getting better it gets worse, and again, we fall away.

I believe Paul is praying against this division, and divisiveness. I believe what is being communicated in his prayer is the reality of the hurt and the pain happening in the context of fellowship, and that our faith plays a part in the processing of the hurt and pain. That in order for our faith to be effective in the context of community, to be enduring, to be powerful and applicable to our lives, this faith must be informed by the knowledge of every good thing in you.

Every good thing? Now still in the context of community and remembering the definition of faith, every good thing in you – is all the good things that God has done in the context of that community, in the context of that relationship. The high points of the relationships, the positive and good things that have been experienced, these are the good things that are in you. These are the things that in the context of pain and hurt so often are forgotten, so often we become almost blinded to the memories. But it is exactly this knowledge of good things, that will carry you through the hard times, remembering the things unseen, the things unspoken, the good times, rather than the present seen and heard painful situation. Taking by faith that those past experiences reflect the true heart of the person who hurt me rather than the present circumstances, by faith we overcome the pain, hurt and mistrust that develops in broken relationships.

In the midst of our pain and hurt and our offense, we can pull back and say; “Well this is how I am being treated, and I don’t feel honored, respected, or loved, but by faith I choose to see the good things that have happened, by faith I choose to remember the positive thoughts, feelings and circumstances we have experienced.” Thus the fellowship of your faith become effective by remembering the good things that have happened and allowing love to cover a multitude of sins, for Christ’s sake.

Not to allow somebody to get away with something, not to deny my pain and hurt, not to ignore another person who made a bad decision, or said a hurtful thing, but for the good of the kingdom, for the advancement of His plans, allow your faith to influence your feelings, allow your knowledge of good to adjust your response, and allow your desire to reflect Jesus to change your heart towards another person.

Paul is praying that the fellowship of their faith would be effective, that it would have power, and lasting impact, Paul is suggesting anger clouded memories of good and faithful actions, would by faith, be enough to bring about reconciliation, and would ultimately serve a purpose, and have a place in the workings of God’s plan, and to the outcome of bringing Him glory.

Just my thoughts, reflecting on Paul’s prayers for the saints, and what they mean. What is Paul’s heart, as it reflects the heart of God.

Figure 1~Paul in Chains w/Onesimus

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Who Hit You?

 

“Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking Him and beating Him, and they blindfolded Him and were asking Him, saying, “Prophesy, who is the one who hit You?”” Luke 22:63-64 (NASB)

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I have been pondering these verses for a couple weeks now and in this Easter season where we often take time to step deeper into the death and resurrection of Jesus it seems appropriate to share some thoughts.

The more I rest on these verses, the longer I linger here, the greater pain I feel for Jesus. I place my humanity in his position and I sense the physical pain isn’t terrible. Jesus was a carpenter, he was likely well-built and capable of taking a punch, but being blindfolded he couldn’t see the strike coming and brace against the pain. This vulnerability, and powerlessness I am confident made the beating more than just physical, rather it became an emotional torture of sorts. It created this ever growing anxiety, not knowing from which direction, or where in your body you would be hit. So yes, I imagine it was mentally and physically very difficult. However…

Aside from the physical and mental anguish Jesus likely endured, I believe there existed an even greater pain for Jesus. He DID know who was hitting him. He knew each person who struck him. He knew their name. He knew their story. He knew their pain, and he knew their suffering.

When the first man hit him, Jesus knew his father died at an early age and his older brothers took out much of their pain on their little brother. He would often ran away and hide from his brothers. Alone he would cry and ask God why. Knowing that when he got home it would all start again, and it would never get better, because God obviously didn’t care.

Jesus knew the second man to strike him was the oldest son of an infirm mother. He went to great pains to care for his mother, as his father was incapable of caring for his wife and the father hated his son for being the man he knew he was not. The father treated his son with contempt, constantly belittling and criticizing him until the day his mother died and then his father just disowned him.

The third man kicked Jesus in the back. It was the same spot the man himself had been kicked by a mule in his youth, and in the boys anger he had killed the mule. It was the first of many times this man’s anger got the best of him and he suffered his whole life. He was always angry, never at peace in his heart, he was miserable day after day, night after night, alone and always full of hate.

These men struck Jesus over and over, each hit a reminder to Jesus of the pain each man suffered. Over and over, each time he was hit, Jesus remembered their emotional pain, and suffering. Yes Jesus knew who was hitting him, and each hit was also a reminder to Jesus – why he was going to the cross. These men didn’t know Yahweh. They didn’t understand the true nature and character of Jehovah. Jesus was going to the cross so these men would see and understand the truth that they were loved, that in their pain and suffering God was present and He was holding them in his hand, and that their lives mattered, their suffering was real, but never were they alone.

That is what I am reminded of this Easter season that even though I didn’t know God, even though I didn’t understand God’s presence in my pain, even as I lived out of the pain of my life – hurting others and myself, God never left me. Jesus died for me, and more importantly, Jesus was resurrected and redeemed. Therefore I too have been raised up and I too have been redeemed.

That is the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is why, at least once each year, it’s good to press into the Easter story, press into the heart of God, and to seek his face.

Be blessed, Terry

God Sees You

A friend of mine was recently sharing the story of the woman who was healed as she touched Jesus garment. I really appreciated the points he was making, but he didn’t answer my question, so I decided to spend some time reading the story and Seek God’s Heart in the matter.

Let’s start, shall we…

“A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse— after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. For she thought, “If I just touch His garments, I will get well.” 

Question? Why did she approach Jesus in secret? She could have asked for healing. She could have waited for an opportunity to connect with Jesus, plenty of people were following him around. But she didn’t. Could it be she was ashamed? Could it be that she was afraid of rejection? Could it be she didn’t want to be exposed, she didn’t want the whole crowd of people to know her pain, her suffering?

Are we any different? I believe most, if not all, people hide their shame. We are afraid to be exposed. Not believing we are worthy, not believing we are important, not believing we are loved. So instead of risking exposure, instead of risking rejection, she conspired to touch Jesus’ robe and slip away unnoticed.

Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My garments?” And His disciples said to Him, “You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’” 

I love it! “Who touched me?” Really? Seriously? Jesus didn’t know who touched him? Jesus had no idea today when he woke up this woman who had been suffering for 12 years would be reaching out to touch his garment and be healed. I don’t think so.

I imagine every day Jesus woke up with a heart of expectation, and anticipation at the things he would be doing that day, and today was no different. Today Jesus would finally get to meet ‘Her’. For 12 years she has been spending all her time, energy and resources to be healed of her affliction, and after 12 years, its only gotten worse.  Oh, you can be sure Jesus was excited that today her suffering would end. Do you know Jesus feels the same way about you, every day he looks forward to seeing you, to experiencing you!

Once the woman has touched the hem of Jesus’ cloak, she was healed. Jesus could have just kept walking. He didn’t need to stop, he didn’t need to figure out who it was that drew power from Him. Jesus didn’t need to scold her or make an example of her. I believe Jesus wanted to see her face. He wanted to hear her voice. He wanted to connect with this woman who had been suffering for 12 years. Why?

And He looked around to see the woman who had done this.

I believe Jesus wanted her to know that she had been seen. He knew of her pain, and he knew she was suffering. Jesus wanted her to know she was worthy, she was valuable, and that she was loved. Jesus SEES her. How so many of us long to be seen. To be seen, and not judged. To be seen, and then accepted. To be seen and then loved; despite the list of things we know in our hearts should keep Jesus and others from loving us. Jesus sees us.

Jesus wanted her to know, she was seen, and she was important. She had value. It wasn’t enough to simply allow her to be healed on the outside, Jesus needed to heal the inside. He wanted to remove the shame and fear.

Finally, I love the way Jesus reflected the Father’s heart to her by referring to her as Daughter. He is reminding her of her true identity. Beloved Daughter. Child of the King.

Jesus longs for a relationship, with you, he longs for connection with you. He longs for healing, he longs to tell you how much he loves you, how important you are to Him, that you are worthy, that you are seen. And everything that Jesus sees – it’s all good!

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A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse— after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. For she thought, “If I just touch His garments, I will get well.”
Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My garments?” And His disciples said to Him, “You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’”
And He looked around to see the woman who had done this. But the woman fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.” Mark 5:25-34 NASB

A Party at the Pool of Bethesda

The Healing at Bethesda – John 5:2-8

If you are not familiar with this story I encourage you to read it. It’s quite fascinating. Here we have this pool of water, and apparently, from time to time an angel of the Lord comes down to stir the waters and the first person in the pool gets healed. Jesus shows up one day and questioned one of the people at the pool, and after a short conversation healed him.

I read some commentaries on the passage and nobody seems to question the idea that God sends down an angel to heal the first person in the water, and then leaves the other people in their infirmities. My problem is outlined well by the man Jesus questioned; he basically said every time I try to get in, somebody gets in front of me. Now I always used to think the man was just being a victim and was acting all powerless and I judged him pretty harshly as Jesus tells him to get up and be healed. I would say in my mind; “Yeah, sucka, deal with it, get busy and stop whining.” End of story.

But I stopped this time and asked myself a different question. “Why in the hell, would God set up something as lame as this to heal ‘the first one in?” and “Why wouldn’t Jesus heal everybody?”

I mean our God is a God of order and symmetry, a God of love and compassion. Can’t you see the crowd, as one commentator suggested, circle the pool waiting in anticipation of a stirring and then BAM! Everybody in the pool. I’m reminded when I was a child, as the mandatory breaks at the city pool were coming to a close, we would line the edges of the pool waiting for the guard to blow the whistle and BAM! Everybody in. It was crazy, and I see no reason to think this picture of the Pool of Bethesda would be any different. Actually worse considering what was at stake for the people circling the pool. It strikes me as not something that God would do, I mean as I circle the heart of the Father, this just doesn’t fit with who He is. This circle of sick vultures pushing and shoving to be the first one in at the first sign of any stirring.

So I am left wondering if it’s not God, where did it come from? And of course, I suspect an enemy of the Father is lying to people and drawing them towards this false hope. Instead of seeking God the Father, they seek cheap parlor tricks or old wives tales. But in walks Jesus, and nobody seems to notice. The eyes of God’s children are far from him and they are hopeless, defeated and alone. It’s a stronghold of the enemy. A place of bondage for many, people, for many years, as we will soon see.

Jesus shows up and asks a man if he wanted to be healed? The man who has been coming to this pool for 38 years. For 38 years this pool of water has been his hope. For 38 years he has been drawn to this stirring in the water, and here he stands, full of self-pity, powerless, and a victim. How I hate him because HE IS ME. I live this way too, I suppose we all do in one way or another, I don’t know, but today, everything changes as this man is healed. His hope in God is restored, his eyes have been lifted up and he sees Jesus. Amen, praise God.

But before we leave what about my second question. Why would Jesus only heal this man? This scripture is a story John is telling about one man, and how this one man created a firestorm with the Pharisees, but the scripture doesn’t say he was the only man healed, or that Jesus only performed one healing that day. We know from other passages in the bible that Jesus went from town to town healing ALL who came to him, and you can be sure there was a party at the Pool of Bethesda the day Jesus visited. He cleaned out that pool, and there would be nobody left, blind, lame, or sick. That is not God’s way, that is not what Jesus did. Continue reading “A Party at the Pool of Bethesda”

Just Live It!

I once heard a story about a man and his wife who spent about 45 minutes mowing and cleaning up a neighbor’s yard as the neighbor was in a tough spot.  Their simple act of kindness opened a door to share the gospel with a young couple and the kingdom grew by two that day.

The cool thing is the couple didn’t start a new ministry, and mow every one’s lawn then bombard them with the gospel.  It was just two people responding to the Holy Spirit, and watching what God did with it.  They obeyed the Spirit and people got saved.

Recently my son brought over a dozen students from his dorm for dinner.  When my wife and I found out, our first thought was, we never envisioned ourselves doing college ministry.  Then as we talked about it we wondered why we feel like we have to name it?  We just need to respond in obedience to what God is doing, live out of our hearts, and love people that God loves.  We were not engaged in ministry we were engaged in life.

Jesus didn’t have a healing ministry and a feeding the poor ministry, and a leper’s ministry.  Jesus simple listened to the Father’s voice and joined Him in His work.  Some days that was lepers, other days it was raising the dead, and some days it was ruffling the feathers of some religious folk.  Jesus lived out of His heart, and I think the verses in Matt 28, and Acts 2 speak to a relational evangelism, people living out of their hearts day by day and when needed speaking God’s words in love, extending His invitation for eternal life.

I don’t think its God’s heart that we should join or start evangelism ministries.  Nothing wrong with knowing the gospel message and yes God needs people to respond in love to the people who he puts in our path.  After all God is hard at work every day speaking to people.  We don’t need to go looking for strangers to share with, we got neighbors and friends and family all around us every day.  People who need to see the truth lived out, before they will believe the Truth within.  My encouragement to you today… Go love somebody.

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Try Doing Nothing

Welcome back to my blog, it’s been a while since my last post, so a quick reminder of why I do this Seeking God’s Heart thing.

I believe the point of scripture is God wanting to reveal himself to man. I also believe knowing God’s heart towards me is more valuable than a list of do’s and don’ts or a list of expectations that God lays on me. (Yuck!)

I believe understanding God’s heart towards ‘me and you’ will enlighten my view of ‘me and you’, and creates a better reflection of God in my heart, mind, soul, and spirit. Understanding God’s heart informs and influences my response to the world, and my response to Him. So ‘let’s get jiggy wit it’ shall we? I have been chewing on some verses from Daniel recently and am ready to swallow my thoughts and spit out some of my beliefs. (Great word picture there?)

Most people are familiar with Daniel chapter three; the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, or SAM for short. How King Nebuchadnezzar built the golden idol and how he called SAM to task for not worshipping as ordered. How King Nebby gave them a second shot to avoid a fiery grave, and they responded…

Daniel 3:16 “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter.”

The scripture describes Nebuchadnezzar with the words rage, anger and wrath. To say this is a man who is put out, or upset; doesn’t even come close. I can see the spittle flying from his lips, the tightened posture, leaning forward, practically screaming. Not just lighting the furnace, but heating it 7 times greater than normal. To the point, the men who carried SAM to the doors burst into flames.

SAM responded to the rage, anger, and wrath of the king with calm, ‘we do not need to give you an answer.” No plea for mercy, no defense from scripture, no logical argument why this was a bad idea, just ‘we do not need to respond’, it’s not necessary, it’s not needed, it’s not required. Either God saves us or God doesn’t but either way, we don’t need to give you an answer.

As I think about God’s heart as this story unfolds, who do you think God’s concerned with? Who is God paying attention to? I’ll tell you who I think is heavy on God’s heart?  King Nebuchadnezzar! He is the one far from God, he is the one in great pain, filled with hate and anger and wrath. He is the one about to kill three men in a horrible grisly death and it breaks Gods heart. The idea King Nebuchadnezzar needed to build this huge idol and to require people to worship him. I imagine a God whose heart is broken for a lost child, a man far from Him.

I believe we like to think this story is about how ‘we’ should act in the face of persecution, or a story about how ‘we’ should have greater faith or some other way ‘we’ should act, react, or believe. But the story isn’t about us, it’s about God revealing to us His heart. The story is about God and Nebuchadnezzar. What I see is a story of a man far from God and a God who longs for connection with a lost son. Can you see it? Can you feel it? And how does God go about connecting to His son, how does he draw Nebuchadnezzar near?

Well, first God didn’t use SAM to carry a message. He didn’t speak for them. He didn’t command or instruct them to speak. He simply asked them to remain silent. Certainly, God has prophets who speak for him, true. Certainly, God asks people to say and do things all the time, but today, in this story, God asks them to simply be silent, and in that silence, God does an amazing thing.

v 16 “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter.”

v24. “Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astounded and stood up in haste…”

v 26 “Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the furnace of blazing fire; he responded and said, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, come out, you servants of the Most High God, and come here!””

v 28  “Nebuchadnezzar responded and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego,”

v 29 Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation or tongue that speaks anything offensive against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego shall be torn limb from limb and their houses reduced to a rubbish heap, inasmuch as there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.”

Okay, so he doesn’t respond in the godliest fashion tearing people limb from limb, but you get the picture. The man who was seeking praises for himself is now the one praising God. The man who was far from God is now the one worshipping and honoring God. And God’s heart? Even for the slightest moment to hear his child speak this way, having his child feeling these feelings towards Him. There is a connection with God, and I’m sure it’s like a fragrant offering, a pure joy for the Lord. It’s not a full reconciliation, but it’s a step and a start.

If you want a takeaway. if you want something to do in response to Gods heart remember… the next time you see somebody as the enemy of God – God doesn’t. God sees a lost sheep, a hurting angry person, and maybe instead of responding to that person, just don’t. Allow God to do the talking, allow God to do something miraculous in the heart, mind, spirit, soul of the person you are dealing with. Maybe you are in a conflict and believe you need to give a response, you need to offer a correction to the facts as being presented. Maybe all God needs is your silence. So instead of getting in the way of what God is trying to do, you simply say; “Maybe God shows up and makes it all better, or maybe he doesn’t, but I do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter.” If you really need something to do, try doing nothing.

I’ve done it and it can be hard when people are saying lies about you. It can be hard allowing other people to be wrong, to believe wrong things. It can be hard allowing other people to simply exist where they are, without you explaining and correcting and ‘sharing.’ God’s heart is for people and sometimes when they won’t listen, or can’t hear us, we just need to stop and be silent and allow God to do his thing.

Verses about Jesus:

Matt 26:53 “Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”

Luke 23:9 – “And he questioned Him at some length, but He answered him nothing. Even though they treated him, with contempt and mockery, he remained silent.”

Matt 26:63 “The high priest stood up and said to Him, “Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?” But Jesus kept silent

Matt 27:14 “And He did not answer him with regard to even a single charge, so the governor was quite amazed.”

Luke 23:9 – “And he questioned Him at some length, but He answered him nothing. Even though they treated him, with contempt and mockery, he remained silent.”

 

Be blessed! If you want to ask a question or respond please do, it’s all welcome.