Jesus is Our Centerpiece

The Gospel of John describes a wonderful image of the vineyard— branches and vine. This illustrates our relationship with Jesus.  We must abide and remain in him to be fruitful.  He is the vine, and we, we are merely the branches. He is the sole source of everything.

Notice the clear implications of John 15. (Come to Me, remain in Me, stay connected to Me.)  He didn’t advise or suggest we attend a seminar, go to Bible school, or attend a prayer meeting.

He said,Come to ME.”  He, and He alone is the one we are to center on. He insists that He is to be our total focus. There is no other (Matthew 11:28.)

This is either an egotistical religious fanatic intoxicated with His power and self-importance, or He really is reality.  C.S. Lewis comments,

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.
He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

 

Jesus insists that we worship Him.  That much is clear.  I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life.  I am the only way to the Father.”  And of course, “He who believes in Me has eternal life, and he who doesn’t is condemned” (John 14:6.) We just breeze through these verses and never truly grasp the ramifications. A mere man could not say these things (at least not with straight face) and be considered sane.

He either was what He said He was, or a liar or lunatic.  And we must decide who He really is. 

As believers we need to realize Jesus’ His rightful position.  The One who sits on the throne is the center.  All things derive their life, meaning and essence from Him.  We must not forget that He is the Risen Lord.  We need to realize that He has asked us to worship Him.  Point blank.

Many of our struggles come when we try to reduce Jesus to something less than what is real. If He really is the only way to the Father, we had better pay attention.

“A rule I have had for years is: to treat the Lord Jesus Christ as a personal friend. His is not a creed, a mere doctrine, but it is He Himself we have.”

–D.L. Moody

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Seriously. Forever and Ever.

“Christianity asserts that every individual human being is going to live for ever, and this must be either true or false. Now there are a good many things which would not be worth bothering about if I were going to live only seventy years, but which I had better bother about very seriously if I am going to live for ever.”

–CS Lewis

“But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them shout for joy forever. May you shelter them, and may those who love your name boast about you.”

Psalm 5:11, CSB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evaluating Jesus Truly, [CS Lewis]

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“The Difference Jesus Makes,”  from C.S. Lewis

What are we to make of Jesus Christ? This question…has, in a sense, a frantically comic side. For the real reason is not what are we to make of Christ, but what is He to make of us? The picture of a fly sitting deciding what it is to make of an elephant has comic elements about it. But perhaps the questioner meant what are we to make of Him in the sense of  “How are we to solve the historical problem set us by the recorded sayings and acts of this Man?” This problem is to reconcile two things. On the one hand you have got the almost generally admitted depth and sanity of his moral teaching, which is not very seriously questioned, even by those who are opposed to Christianity….

The other phenomenon is the quite appalling nature of this Man’s theological remarks. You all know what I mean, and I want rather to stress the point that the appalling claim which this Man seems to be making is not merely made at one moment of his career. There is, of course, the one moment which led to His execution. The moment at which the High Priest said to Him, “Who are you?” “I am the Anointed, the Son of the uncreated God, and you shall see Me appearing at the end of all history as the judge of the Universe.”….

On the one side clear, definite moral teaching. On the other, claims which, if not true, are those of a megalomaniac, compared with whom Hitler was the most sane and humble of men. There is no half-way house and there is no parallel in other religions. If you had gone to Buddha and asked him “Are you the son of Brahman?” he would have said, “My son, you are still in the vale of illusion.” If you had gone to Socrates and asked, “Are you Zeus?” he would have laughed at you. If you had gone to Mohammed and asked, “Are you Allah?” He would first have rent his clothes and the cut your head off.  If you had asked Confucius, “Are you heaven?” I think he would have probably replied, “Remarks which are not in accordance with nature are in bad taste.”

The idea of a great moral teacher saying what Christ said is out of the question. In my opinion, the only person who can say that sort of thing is either God or a complete lunatic suffering from that form of delusion which undermines the whole mind of man. If you think you are a poached egg, when you are looking for a piece of toast to suit you, you may be sane, but if you think you are God, there is no chance for you….

Now, as a literary historian, I am perfectly convinced that whatever else the Gospels are they are not legends. I have read a great deal of legend and I am quite clear that they are not the same sort of thing. They are not artistic enough to be legends. From an imaginative point of view they are clumsy, they don’t work up to things properly…

[Take, for example] the strangest story of all, the story of the Resurrection. It is very necessary to get the story clear. I heard a man say, “The importance of the Resurrection is that it gives evidence of survival, evidence that the human personality survives death.” On that view what happened to Christ would be what had always happened to all men, the difference being that in Christ’s case we were privileged to see it happening. This is certainly not what the earliest Christian writers thought. Something perfectly new in the history of the Universe had happened. Christ had defeated death. The door which had always been locked had for the very first time been forced open. This is something quite distinct from mere ghost-survival. I don’t mean that they disbelieved in ghost- survival. On the contrary, they believed in it so firmly that, on more than one occasion, Christ had had to assure them that He was not a ghost. The point is that while believing in survival they yet regarded the Resurrection as something totally different and new. The Resurrection narratives are not a picture of survival after death; they record how a totally new mode of being has arisen in the universe. Something new had appeared in the universe: as new as the first coming of organic life. This Man, after death, does not get divided into “ghost” and “corpse”. A new mode of being has arisen. That is the story. What are we going to make of it?

The things He says are very different from what any other teacher has said. Others say, “This is the truth about the Universe.  This is the way you ought to go,” but He says, “I am the Truth, and the Way, and the Life.” He says, “No man can reach absolute reality, except through Me. Try to retain your own life and you will be inevitably ruined. Give yourself away and you will be saved.” He says, “If you are ashamed of Me, if, when you hear this call, you turn the other way, I also will look the other way when I come again as God without disguise. If anything whatever is keeping you from God and from Me, whatever it is, throw it away. If it is your eye, pull it out. If it is your hand, cut it off. If you put yourself first you will be last. Come to Me everyone who is carrying a heavy load, I will set that right. Your sins, are wiped out, I can do that. I am Re-birth, I am Life. Eat Me, drink Me, I am your food. And finally, do not be afraid, I have overcome the whole Universe.” That is the issue.”

– Asking Them Questions, Third Series, edited by Ronald Selby Wright (OUP, 1050), also reproduced inUndeceptions (Geofffrey Bles, 1971) and God in the Dock, Chapter 9 (Fount, 1979)
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The Ransom Note

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“We collapse in the dust,
    lying face down in the dirt.
26 Rise up! Help us!
    Ransom us because of your unfailing love.”

Psalm 44:25-26, NLT

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Mark 10:45

“God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but he has now revealed him to you in these last days.”

1 Peter 1:20

I think that God has more or less ransacked the human language in His effort to get through to us the critical nature of what exactly has been done just for us. When it comes to our salvation and what that means to the universe, the word, “ransom” is used.

The connection for us, as we consider the implications, has mainly a connection with the crime of “kidnapping.” This is when someone is captured by other men, and held in captivity until certain terms are met. When the kidnapper feels his needs are fully met, then the hostage is released.

In the Bible sense, we should work through several verses. There are at least three Hebrew words. In the N.T. Greek just a single word to explain “ransom” is seen. And yet we can say, each word is linked back to the idea of being “helpless.” And helpless is far more than a definition, rather it is a description of a “state of being.”

We come to understand that helplessness is the natural state of human beings. We each have been captured, taken away and are being held, until terms are met for our release. I suppose that some see this helplessness easier than others. (And I’m sure a few will never acknowledge it at all). But nevertheless, it is real and it describes every single person that has ever lived.

Being completely helpless is hardly a situation we would ever choose. Having ransom demands being made to set us free is mostly awkward. And it’s an affront. Perhaps, we feel we are worth more? But the issues here are eternal, and currency concepts are never the consideration.

But there is a present need, to purchase back those who are being held as captives. The absolute clear position is that the Lord Jesus Christ, died in our place. Choosing to die for us, he was essentially tortured before his cruel death. In this decision, he himself paid my ransom. In doing this, I was set free and fully able to return home.

There are many who have been free. But there is a thing called “the Stockholm Syndrome.” This refers to those in captivity who somehow “connect” with their kidnappers through a prolonged captivity. This is to the point where they begin to act less than the victims, and more like the captor. It is confusing. They seem to go out of their way to act “pro-kidnapper”. This can get very disturbing.

We must look to our children, and closest family and our friends. They are toiling for Satan, the captor of our souls (past-tense). Many different tactics are being used– depression, addictions, lust, greed, anger, gluttony, pride, guilt and many other deceitful things. They are being held, until faith (the key) “springs” them out of their prison.

Thank you Jesus, for coming to free us. Thank you for forgiving us. We have been released, and now walk away free. You died, so we might live. We desperately want to see the others we love set free.

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ybic, Bryan

 

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Tiny Little Giftlets

 

51+IynkoiCL._SX425_He was created of a mother whom He created. He was carried by hands that He formed. He cried in the manger in wordless infancy, He the Word, without whom all human eloquence is mute.    –Augustine

There were many who saw the babe, but did not see the salvation.    –Author Unknown

For the Christ-child who comes is the Master of all; No palace too great, no cottage too small.    –Phillips Brooks

Rejoice, that the immortal God is born, so that mortal man may live in eternity.    –John Hus

His poverty was so great that He was born in another man’s house, and buried in another man’s tomb.    –John Boys

It is here, in the thing that happened at the first Christmas, that the most profound unfathomable depths of the Christian revelation lie. God became man; Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as this truth of the incarnation.   –J.I. Packer

Who can add to Christmas? The perfect motive is that God so loved the world. The perfect gift is that He gave His only Son. The only requirement is to believe in Him. The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life.  –Corrie Ten Boom

The Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, needing to be fed and changed and taught to talk like any other child. The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets. Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as this truth of the Incarnation.   — J.I. Packer

There were only a few shepherds at the first Bethlehem. The ox and the donkey treeunderstood more of the first Christmas than the high priests in Jerusalem. And it is the same today.    –Thomas Merton

Christmas is based on an exchange of gifts, the gift of God to man – His unspeakable gift of His Son, and the gift of man to God – when we present our bodies a living sacrifice.    –Vance Havner

The idea that there’s a force of love and logic behind the universe is overwhelming to start with, if you believe it. Actually, maybe even far-fetched to start with, but the idea that that same love and logic would choose to describe itself as a baby born in shit and straw and poverty is genius, and brings me to my knees, literally. To me, as a poet, I am just in awe of that. It makes some sort of poetic sense. It’s the thing that makes me a believer, though it didn’t dawn on me for many years.    –Bono

The central miracle asserted by Christians is the incarnation. They say that God became man.   — C.S. Lewis

Infinite, and an infant. Eternal, and yet born of a woman. Almighty, and yet hanging on a woman’s breast. Supporting a universe, and yet needing to be carried in a mother’s arms. King of angels, and yet the reputed son of Joseph. Heir of all things, and yet the carpenter’s despised son.   –Charles Spurgeon

Carols stir us. Holy words inspire us. The golden glow from the manger warms us. A little religion at Christmas is fine. But that glow in the manger comes from the Light of the world. It exposes evil and either redeems it or destroys it. The babe in the manger is far more than an object for sentimental sighs. He is the Son of God who must be accepted as ruler – or confronted as rival.   –John G. Stackhouse, Jr.

The universal joy of Christmas is certainly wonderful. We ring the bells when princes are born, or toll a mournful dirge when great men pass away. Nations have their red-letter days, their carnivals and festivals, but once in the year and only once, the whole world stands still to celebrate the advent of a life. Only Jesus of Nazareth claims this world-wide, undying remembrance. You cannot cut Christmas out of the Calendar, nor out of the heart of the world.  Anonymous

It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.   –Charles Dickens

Christmas is for children. But it is for grown-ups too. Even if it is a headache, a chore, and a nightmare, it is a period of necessary defrosting of chilled hidebound hearts.   –Lenora Mattingly Weber

Hark the herald angels sing,
Glory to the new-born king.”
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled.!   –Charles Wesley

This Gospel anticipates a world far different from C.S. Lewis’s Narnia, where it is “always winter, and never Christmas.” The promise of the Gospel is that it is “always Christmas.”  To be “in Christ” is to enjoy each morning as a Christmas morning with the family of God, celebrating the gift of God around the tree of life.   –Kevin VanHoozer

The spirit of Christmas needs to be superseded by the Spirit of Christ. The spirit of Christmas is annual; the Spirit of Christ is eternal. The spirit of Christmas is sentimental; the Spirit of Christ is supernatural. The spirit of Christmas is a human product; the Spirit of Christ is a divine person. That makes all the difference in the world.   –Stuart Briscoe

Here’s a side to the Christmas story that isn’t often told: Those soft little hands, fashioned by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb, were made so that nails might be driven through them. Those baby feet, pink and unable to walk, would one day walk up a dusty hill to be nailed to a cross. That sweet infant’s head with sparkling eyes and eager mouth was formed so that someday men might force a crown of thorns onto it. That tender body, warm and soft, wrapped in swaddling clothes, would one day be ripped open by a spear. Jesus was born to die.    –John MacArthur

There is no connection between the worship of idols and the use of Christmas trees. We should not be anxious about baseless arguments against Christmas decorations. Rather, we should be focused on the Christ of Christmas and giving all diligence to remembering the real reason for the season.   –John MacArthur

Quotes from CrossQuotes.org under the topic, “Christmas.”

ybic, Bryan

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The Tree is Speaking

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There is so much I would like to share with you.  Christmas Day is here (finally), and we celebrate that God has reached out to us through His Son.  Jesus is fully and completely like us, and yet He is fully God.  It was arranged for this Son to grow up and then die in place of us.  The image was that of the Jewish festival of a lamb dying to pay for the sins of a family.

I could say much on this, but if you will commit to finding out about this yourself,  God will give you as much as you can handle.  I would suggest starting with the Gospel of John.  Don’t let others decide for you.  Find out for yourself, after all eternity is a long time.  The decisions you make are vast and significant.

Please, contact me if you think that might help.  No religious goofiness, but a sounding board as you sort things out.  Joy, and the joy of forgiveness are very close to you. I’m at flash99603@hotmail.com.

Embedded Truth: Time to Decide

When God becomes a man, truth can be embedded in our hearts

“The Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, needing to be fed and changed and taught to talk like any other child. The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets. Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as this truth of the Incarnation.” —J.I.Packer

“The mystery of Christ, that He sunk Himself into our flesh, is beyond all human understanding”Martin Luther

There is no question about it at all, the incarnation drives us to a point of decision. We all stand as individuals at the manger, and we leave either knowing we have gazed into the face of God; or we see nothing but a baby.

The Gospel expects nothing, and demands everything. We move through life, taking our lumps, figuring it out as we go along. As Adam’s sons and daughters we live a charmed, and albeit, a frustrated life. We are each given a spark. Some labor to fan it into flame, others grab a bucket of water.

What will you do with this God-Man, Jesus of Nazareth? Does the fact that God became flesh, funneling himself into a baby, grip you at a fundamental level? Does it really matter? Can you live with yourself if you step away from his cradle, without giving him your heart?

The Bible tell us that the squalling infant Jesus came and developed into a man. That “man-god” went on to teach, preach and heal at astounding pace. In three years of ministry, he lit up his world. Everywhere he went, he was always the eye of a hurricane.

The Bible teacher John MacArthur posits this for us.

“If we could condense all the truths of Christmas into only three words, these would be the words: “God with us.” 

We tend to focus our attention at Christmas on the infancy of Christ. The greater truth of the holiday is His deity. More astonishing than a baby in the manger is the truth that this promised baby is the omnipotent Creator of the heavens and the earth!

Make a decision, and then keep making it.

So what are you going to do? Will you decide to follow him into his light and love? I feel compelled to ask you, do you know what is real? This Christmas we are celebrating the birth of God into the child, Jesus. We must do something with him. This is a real decision point we all must make. Not to decide is a decision.

My friend, Pastor Adrian Rogers has a web site. Please go to it, a link has been provided below.  We can be sure of heaven and eternal life.

 

You can know Jesus definitively. Let me know of your decision to accept Christ and I will pray for you, and will send you things that will help.

Dr. Rogers site: http://www.lwf.org/site/PageServer?pagename=dis_YouCanBeSure