Jesus Has a Family

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46 As Jesus was speaking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. 47 Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, and they want to speak to you.”

48 Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” 49 Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. 50 Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!”

Matthew 12:46-50, NLT

The crowds have gathered, and they keep coming. Jesus begins to speak, and for most of them this is what they came for. Miracles had occurred; people have been healed and delivered. This mass of people had seen all of this. But at this moment, they are quiet; they want to listen to what Jesus is teaching.

Someone passes a message to someone else. Soon Jesus is alerted to the presence of his family. Some commentaries suggest that they’ve come to take ‘custody’ of him; that they wanted to escort him to the privacy of their home. It seems like Mary and Jesus’ brothers want to do an ‘intervention.’ They have come to speak with him, but they don’t understand.

The Lord uses this as a way to announce the inauguration of a new order of things. Jesus is setting a new family that is ‘spiritual’ in substance. The old is acknowledged, but now the new is emphasized. Spiritually, Jesus reveals a higher order of family. He points to his group of disciples, and declares them to be “my brother and sister and mother!”

All of this hinges on an obedience to the will of the Father. And that really is the point. The disciples had left everything to be with their new teacher. Their boats and nets probably would have been sold to finance this move. They’re now ‘doing the will of God.’ It is their decisive obedience that makes them ‘real’ family.

Blessed are all who fear the Lord,
    who walk in obedience to him.”

Psalm 128:1, NIV

“Often the only way to a deeper intimacy is through a decisive obedience.”

Combine this with earnest prayer, and time in the Word. Through grace you can open up a fresh breeze of the Holy Spirit. You can become closer to Jesus. Maybe closer than you have ever dreamed possible.

“”The Bible recognizes no faith that does not lead to obedience, nor does it recognize any obedience that does not spring from faith. The two are at opposite sides of the same coin.” 


–A.W. Tozer

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The Power of a Soul’s Gaze

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One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.”

Psalm 27:4, (NIV)

One thing: Not two or three. One. Something extraordinary. Not something noble or even praise-worthy things, however exceptional. But just a singular sight of Him, in His house and in His beauty. In other words,

“I’m asking God for one thing,
    only one thing:
To live with him in his house
    my whole life long.
I’ll contemplate his beauty;
    I’ll study at his feet.”

Psalm 27: 4, (The Message)

There can be a multitude of options for us– and many of them are good and true. We are very adept at finding other alternatives; the enemy will even suggest things to usurp the believer’s gaze.

I once knew a small congregation in Pacifica, California. They were tremendously gifted at combining worship with evangelism. We would get permits to close a street in San Francisco, and they would bring us a deep anointing. They were remarkable. We all looked forward to their ministry.

lovejesusBut something happened. That church is no more. They got involved in activism, and over time they focused on politics and soon became disenchanted with pure worship. I was told that their church services became saturated with many other things. They stopped looking at Jesus, and turned their gaze on other things. I have no idea where they are at today. This seems to be the ‘price of distraction.’

To gaze is defined as, a steady or intent look. Often with great curiosity, interest, pleasure or wonder.” It combines the sensory of sight with a thoughtful contemplation. Often we see, but do not understand. A combination of the physical and the mental is necessary. But we also must ‘see’ the spiritual side as well.

I suggest that we set our gaze on our God. After all, this is where we will spend eternity. And more so, He is and will be spiritually ‘intriguing’ and a source of endless joy for the believer. God alone is worthy of our gaze. Let’s not be satisfied with mere trifles.

“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”

Hebrews 12:1-2 

Jesus alone must satisfy. To keep him always ‘front and center’ must be our total focus. Plans and methods and mechanisms can’t save you from your sin. Only Jesus can do this. To God alone belongs salvation. (Ps. 72:18).

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Spilling the Apple Cart

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“Buy the truth and do not sell it— wisdom, instruction and insight as well.”

Proverbs 23:23

“May it be the real me, that seeks and finds the real You.”

I’m not much for ‘written’ prayers. I guess it’s an ingrown reaction to ‘religion,’ of which I’m highly suspicious. But I’m willing to accept reciting prayers and even liturgy, if only they don’t develop into a ‘replacement’ for the Holy Spirit. And that is hard to do. The last couple of months, I started praying this ‘one sentence’ prayer. It came to me, out of the blue, but has echoed through the deepest part of me. It is a desire to be real– authentic, and true.

“May it be the real me, that meets with the real You.

The last several months have been difficult for me. I suppose I was going through the motions: writing, praying, reading. Spiritually I guess, feeling kind of phony and ‘detached’ from anything real. You can only varnish something for the 1000th time before you really need to take it back to bare wood. I feel like that was what I was doing. But I couldn’t figure out ‘how.’Core-apple1

Lately I feel ‘brand new.’ Issues that have plagued me for years are being stripped away. When I started praying with this ‘new’ prayer, and combined with meaning, the heavens just  seemed to open up. It’s not the ‘pretend’ me, seeking a ‘pretend’ God anymore. 

I sincerely hope, with all my heart, that just maybe this will touch you. I’m not into ‘knocking over any apple carts.’ But I feel compelled to share this experience with the hope you might walk into something real. May the ‘real’ God reveal Himself to the ‘real’ you.

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Sin Boldly, But Believe in God More Boldly Still

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“If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides.”

Martin Luther, From the Melanchthon Letter no. 99, 1 August 1521

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Luther is essentially communicating the things that are real to us.  He takes it down to bare wood.  We are given an understanding of this World, an a sense of what we can expect from the hearts of all those who surround us.  Sin is the issue, and we need to accept that from our brothers and sisters.  We should not be surprised when someone we love intentionally blindsides us with their disobedience to God.

Dramatic words, ‘sin boldly’.  We instantly see this as a way to sin, without restraint.  And let’s face it, sinning is fun.  At times perhaps, even a whole lot more pleasure than walking out godliness.  Luther recognized the inevitably of sin.  As fallen people we should accept that fallenness.  We sin, it’s what we do, and we do that very well. And the Lord knows that.

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

1 John 1:8

Our ‘religious’ hearts often go into this ‘deception mode.’  We endeavor not give in to the viciousness of sin.  “We will overcome!” And yet we are so infected with sin, and rebellion that we try to minimize the problem.  If the truth be known, we are sick, infested and condemned.  There are no ‘quick fixes’ for us.  Evil runs rampant.  It is the ultimate epidemic.

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Looking at our salvation

“Let your trust in Christ be more boldly still.’  The Lord Jesus has decisively interrupted our lives.  He has wholesale entered into our darkness and sin.  In a way it’s like a ‘roadside’ bomb, and needs a direct intervention of a specialist to disarm it.  As people who are completely saturated with sin, we need a third party to step-in and to save us from all the embedded darkness.

Often there is a sense of boldness when we completely understand our depravity.  We ‘know’ our sin.  For the most part can grasp its deadliness, and its infectiousness.  The Holy Spirit’s ministry is to bring us to this transparent moment when we can see the darkness and harm we’ve caused.  The fact is, that we are to accept this, it’s all true.  We have been this evil and awful to those around us. Most believers would curiously admit that ‘they have sinned more as a believer’ than before they were first saved.

Luther declares a significant point when he tells us ‘to believe in Christ more boldly still’. Simply, our ‘sin’ awareness must never exceed our Christ awareness.  We must have a stronger sense of Jesus’ victory then our sinfulness.  Our confidence, which has taken a hit on our sinfulness, now shouts ‘hallelujah’ at His victory.

“If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.”

1 John 1:8-10, NLT

“You need not fear because sin still plagues you – instead rejoice that by God’s grace you are on a journey toward eternal life and sin will finally fade into the distant past.”

Luther

“May it be the real me, that seeks and finds the real You.”

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Further info, and source:  http://www.scrollpublishing.com/store/Luther-Sin-Boldly.html

http://www.lectionarysermons.com/june_30_02.htm

http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/a-luther-quote-to-wake-up-the-sleepers

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