February 22, 2011
He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. (John 19:30)
The Roman Empire used the word “Tetelesti” when they crucified someone, or when a prison sentence had been completed.
Crucifixion was one of the favorite methods of execution by the Romans. They crucified whole villages that did not pay their taxes. Almost any act of what they considered a refusal to obey them could be punished by crucifixion. They left the naked crucified bodies on crosses for weeks until the vultures picked the bodies clean to inspire terror in the lives of those they had conquered.
Jesus was obsessed with the work the Father had given Him to do. He told His apostles that His meat was to do the will of His Father and to finish His work. He said that He must do the works of His Father while it was day because the night was coming when no man could work. When He was about to be arrested and taken to His death by crucifixion, in prayer to His Father He told the Father that He had glorified Him because He had finished the works He was given to do.
When He was convinced that His suffering on the cross was a sufficient sacrifice to forgive the sins of the world, He announced that glorious reality with a loud cry which in English translates “It is finished!” By providential irony for this glorious reality He chose that word “Tetelesti.”
By devotional application this means that there are no works we can add to what He finished for us on that cross. Another application would be to ask, “What has begun in our life because of what He finished for us on that cross?”
February 20, 2011
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer …let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)
Have you ever heard any one confess,“I guess I’m a control freak?” My response to that confession is “Welcome to the human family!” The truth is we’re all control freaks. Both Jesus and Paul taught that we should not be anxious. What they both meant was don’t worry. They also both taught us not to worry about the things we cannot control – like the height of our body or the lives of other people.
Speaking as one control freak to another, the thing that really freaks us out is what we cannot control. In what the Alcoholics Anonymous people call the “Big Book,” there is an illustration with which all of us control freaks can resonate. We think that life is a stage on which we are directing a play. The people in our life are characters in that play. As the play director we give them their scripts and their cues but when they don’t respond to our direction, our frustration drives us into a bottle or some other addiction.
When I was a student I had a mentor who wrote a poem with these lines: “You can’t control the weather or rainy days, but you can control the emotional climate that surrounds you. You can’t control the height your head will be from the sidewalk, but you can control the height of the contents of your head.”
After quite a few of those his punch line was “Why worry about the things you cannot control? Accept the responsibility for the things that do depend on you.”
Follow the advice of Jesus and Paul and don’t worry about what you can’t control.
February 15, 2011
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption … What counts is a new creation.” (Galatians 6: 7, 8, 15)
The Apostle Paul wrote these words to the Galatians. The first part of this passage is often preached to unbelievers, but Paul was addressing professing believers. As believers this is a spiritual law of our life in Christ. Every day we can sow spiritual seeds in the garden of our life, or we can sow seeds of our flesh in that garden. William Barclay, a professor of Bible at Edinburgh University for forty years, wrote that when the Bible refers to our flesh it means “human nature unaided by God.” According to Paul, human nature unaided by God is a seed that produces corruption.
We have the option to sow spiritual seeds in our life every day. Paul writes that these spiritual seeds produce a continuous creation. David prayed “Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit in me” (Psalm 51:10). In the New Testament the apostles refer to being born again as a miracle of creation. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God…” (2Corinthians 5:17, 18).
This means we have two awesome options before us every day: creation or corruption. We can sow spiritual seeds in the garden of our life which continue the act of creation God is miraculously performing in us, or we can sow seeds that produce corruption.
What seeds are you sowing in the garden of your life every day?
February 11, 2011
“Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” (Numbers 13:30)
In the book of Numbers we read that twelve Hebrew spies were sent into Canaan to determine the strength of the enemies they would face as they invaded that land. Ten of the spies reported that, “The people in that land were such big and fierce looking giants they made us feel like grasshoppers. And the cities are mightily fortified with walls so thick they build houses on them!”
However, two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, reported that they had never seen such fruitful soil in their lives. They described how two men had to carry on a thick pole one cluster of grapes from a vineyard in Canaan. Furthermore, they proclaimed that since they had the Lord with them they were well able to conquer the land of Canaan.
We might say the ten spies with the negative report were experts in “giantology” because they saw the giants, while Caleb and Joshua saw the Lord – they had a vision that their Lord was well able to give them that exceedingly fruitful land of Canaan.
When we “committee our way unto the Lord” and are challenged to take on a project that has great potential for being exceptionally fruitful and there are many obstacles and risks involved, we often have a split committee on a ten and two basis. Ten are experts on the obstacles and the risks involved in that project and two are like Caleb and Joshua.
When you are faced with challenges that involve risks, but great potential for God to bring great glory to Himself, are you an expert in “giantology” or do you see the Lord?”
February 5, 2011
“For if I make you sorrowful, then who is he who makes me glad but the one who is made sorrowful by me?” (2 Corinthians 2:2)
Every relationship we have is a two-way street. According to the Apostle Paul whatever we send down that street comes back up that street and has a dynamic impact on that relationship. Jesus states this same truth with a positive spin on it when He teaches hypercritical people, “With the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Matthew 7:2)
This was a marketplace metaphor in the culture to which Jesus came. If you were selling oats and a fellow merchant in that marketplace was selling wheat, when you bought from each other you could request them to use their bushel standard of measurement. Paraphrased, this was saying that whatever standard you use when you give to the other person in a relationship, they will use when they give to you. All of this means that we cannot control the weather or rainy days, but we can control the emotional climate that surrounds us in a relationship.
Communication is not only what is said but what is heard. It is not only what is said but what is felt. How does the communication you are contributing in a relationship make the other person in that relationship feel? If you’re sending negative waves into that other person’s life, is that likely to inspire them to send positive waves in your direction?
Paul gave us another great teaching on this subject when he wrote, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for the building up of others, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29)
I challenge you to apply these teachings of Jesus and Paul in your relationships.
February 1, 2011
Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.” (John 9:41)
Jesus spoke these words to the Bible experts of His day. He had just healed a blind man and then preached, “I am the Light of the world.” He explained that this Light He is gives sight to those who know they are blind and it reveals the hard reality that some who are proud of the fact that they can see are actually blind.
Let me illustrate what I believe Jesus meant: There was an explosion in a coal mine that trapped miners for many days. When the rescuers broke through to the trapped miners there was much jubilation and celebration until one of the miners asked, “Why didn’t you guys bring any lights?” The rescuers had actually brought many lights. This miner had been blinded by the explosion, but he did not know he was blind until the light came.
The intriguing part of the verse above is the declaration of Jesus that if they were blind they would have no sin. This means His declaration that day was “No light, no sin.” By this He gave us a definition of sin. Sin is a rejection of the light that was brought into this world by the One Who was – and continues to be – the Light of the World. Our response to the light we receive is therefore critically important.
We can conclude that it would be better for us to not receive light than to receive light and not respond properly. You can see why Jesus taught that doing is more important than knowing (John 7:17).
Does the Light of the World cure or reveal your blindness?