ID’d #likeJesus

What is at the heart of a confident faith?

In John 1, after Jesus comes back from his 40 days of fasting and prayer in the Judean Wilderness (really a barren desert), He walks into the town of Bethany on the other side of the Jordan.  John the Baptist sees him coming and declares, “Look, the Lamb of God!”

Here we find two keys to a confident faith:

First, we must know who Jesus is.

John the Baptist declares Jesus is the Lamb of God.  He is “of God” and will be sacrificed for our sins.

Two of John the Baptist’s followers ask Jesus where he is going and, at His invitation, spend the rest of the day with Him.  We know one of the two is Andrew because we’re told Andrew runs to get his brother Simon (Peter).  The other is unnamed and likely John himself, the author.  The fact that he recounts the time this happened, about the tenth hour, is a detail likely known and told by one who experienced the event personally.

As a result of his time with Jesus, Andrew confidently declares to his brother, “We have found the Messiah!”  His faith was firmly planted in the knowledge of who Jesus was.  Andrew believed!

Second, we must know who we are…  in Christ! 

When Simon met the Messiah, his identity changed.  We don’t really think about the significance of this moment.  Simon has lived his whole life being known by the name his father gave him.  Now, from this moment on, he’ll be called Peter.  That’s a normal name to us.  But what about to them?  That was the equivalent of giving Dwayne Johnson the nickname The Rock. Not a normal name at all, but rather a characterization of what you are (in Johnson’s case, rock hard physique).  In Simon’s case, it was not a characterization of what he was, but of what he would become in Christ.  He would become a Cephas, a Petros, a Rock…  Simon Peter…  Simon the Rock!

Jesus changes everything. For Andrew, for Simon, for you, for me.  He gives me a new identity in Him.  The more my faith is confidently rooted in the real Christ, the more confidently I will live out my identity “in Christ!”

 

To learn more about Walking As Jesus Walked and Discipling As Jesus Discipled, visit:  SONLIFE.COM

Amazing Grace #likeJesus

I’m sitting in the courtyard outside Caiaphas’ house where Peter betrayed Jesus.  What a great place to reflect.

Simon, son of John, was nicknamed Cephas or Petros, the Rock.  In my reading of the Gospels today, I’ve read from Matthew 4 and Mark 1 where Jesus approaches this hardened, tough fisherman and gives him a new job.  More than a new job, Peter is given a new purpose.  For all his faults and inadequacies, somehow Jesus still believed in Peter.  He would make something great out of Peter.

“Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men!”

From being called “the Rock” to being invited to fish for men…  to this place… this moment.  The depths of despair.  Denial.  Disgrace.

This courtyard serves as a powerful reminder.

Even the strongest among us falters in moments of weakness, yet no failure is so great that it pushes us beyond the reach of God’s grace.  We’re all works in progress, under construction, unfinished products.

Jesus wasn’t finished with Peter.  He would become the rock once again.  Jesus would make something great out of his life.

Jesus is never finished with me.  Even when I blow it, like Peter, there is still hope!  I’m never so disgraced that I’m beyond the reach of God’s grace.

Is that a license to sin?  No way!  (Or as the Apostle Paul writes in Romans, “God forbid!”)  Grace is not a license to sin.  It’s a license to live.  It’s a license to love.

Amazing Grace!  My chains are gone!  I’ve been set free!

 

To learn more about Walking As Jesus Walked and Discipling As Jesus Discipled, visit:  SONLIFE.COM

Proclaim #likeJesus

The angels were the first evangelists.  They were God’s messengers, bringing the good news of God’s Son to the lowly shepherds.

“I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be for all people!”

Now the shepherds would become the first human messengers.  We’re told, “All those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.”

Do I respond to the good news and the opportunity to be its messenger like the shepherds did?

We find first that they “came with haste and found Mary and Joseph.”  They wasted no time.  They were quick to respond.  They acted immediately on the opportunity!

When I’m given an opportunity to be a messenger of the good news, do I act?

We then see that they “made widely know” the good news about the child.  You get the impression they were telling everyone they could.  The news was so good, so amazing, they couldn’t keep it to themselves.

Do I share the good news of God’s love, unrestrained, unable to keep it in, ready to burst with joy and amazement?

Finally, we see how the shepherds felt about the privilege given to them.  They were “glorifying and praising God for all the things they had seen and heard.”  The truth is, when I do open my mouth and share the good news, this is the same emotion I feel.  I’m awed by the privilege.  I’m grateful to be used by God as His messenger.  I glorify and praise Him!

May I do just that today!  Like the shepherds, may I bring the message of the good, joyful news of the Savior to those He places in my path.

 

To learn more about Walking As Jesus Walked and Discipling As Jesus Discipled, visit:  SONLIFE.COM

Empowered #likeJesus

What are God’s plans for my life?

One thing that stands out in reading the story of John the Baptist, even the angel’s words to his father Zacharias, was that God had a clear purpose and plan for John’s life.

“He will be great in the sight of the Lord…  He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.  And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.  He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

After John is born, his father Zacharias prophesied:

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, To give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

God’s purpose for John was clear.  Turn the hearts of the people back to God. Make ready a people prepared for the Lord.  Give the knowledge of salvation, bring light into the darkness, guide into the way of peace.

Do I know with this much certainty God’s purpose for my life?  As a father, like Zechariah, have I  given the gift of this certainty to my own children?

One interesting thing I’d never thought of here…  John was “filled with the Holy Spirit from birth.”  This was really unusual.  Before Acts and the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, we generally read of the Spirit in terms of the Spirit “coming upon” or “being with” people at specific moments.  It’s not until Pentecost that the Spirit comes to dwell inside us.  But not for John.  He experienced this indwelling from birth, even in the womb.  No doubt, this was the source of his confidence, conviction and power!

I can dismiss John’s impact by saying he was a “one of a kind,” never to be repeated. But then I look more closely, and the striking realization dawns on me.  What was unusual, unique even for John among all those around him…  was the Holy Spirit…  and I too have had the Holy Spirit from birth… new birth!   What was “unusual” about John should now be “usual” for me and every other believer in Christ.

Just like John, I am filled with the Spirit.  The real question is, am I walking in the power of the Spirit?  If I am, like John then, I too will be used by the Father to turn hearts back to Him, to give the knowledge of salvation, and to bring light into the darkness!

Oh, Spirit of God, work through my life… work through my wife’s life… work through my daughters’ lives…  just like you worked through John!

 

To learn more about Walking As Jesus Walked and Discipling As Jesus Discipled, visit:  SONLIFE.COM

Uncontained #likeJesus

How do you end a story that you don’t want to ever end?  Happily ever after?  No, better than that.

Zarley harmonizes Mark 16:20, John 20:30-31 and John 21:25 to conclude the gospels.

“Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.  Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not recorded in this book.  If every one of them were written down, even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.  But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”

There are three great reminders here for how we should respond to the Resurrection.

1.  Go and Tell.

Tell everyone.  When you’ve seen the resurrected Christ, you can’t help but tell others.  Talk about Good News!  Experience the power of God that accompanies the message of God.

2.  Be Amazed.

We could fill the world with books about who Jesus was and is, what He said, what He did, and the world wouldn’t be able to contain it.  Knowing the real Jesus is an inexhaustible pursuit, an uncontainable treasure.  So keep seeking Him out. Be amazed as you learn something new about Jesus every day.

3.  It’s all about Jesus.

The point of the gospels is believing in Jesus and having life in His name.  Don’t read the gospels and miss the point.  Put your faith in Christ, first for salvation, and then for everything else in life.

 

To learn more about Walking As Jesus Walked and Discipling As Jesus Discipled, visit:  SONLIFE.COM

Loving Israel #likeJesus

Today, I began a new harmony of the gospels,  John MacArthur’s One Perfect Life.  I love how he begins.  In the first section, MacArthur harmonizes passages from the Old and New Testament that speak to the prophecies of the coming of the Messiah.

He begins in Genesis with:

  • Jesus Christ- the pre-existent Creator and Savior.
  • The Fall of the human race into sin.
  • The Curse upon Creation.
  • Mankind’s need for a Savior.
  • The Promised Seed of Abraham.

He continues with prophecies about:

  • The Coming Messiah as Prophet and King.
  • The Coming Messiah as the Suffering Servant.

All of this was rich, but reading these verses here in Israel, I was particularly struck by the last few paragraphs.  With selections from Acts, Romans, Zechariah and Isaiah, we read:

“Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come- that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.

Blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.  And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:  The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.

Then they will look on Me whom they pierced.  Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.  In that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious.”

How exciting to think about the fulfillment of this promise.  All Israel will be saved!

God’s heart for His people, His heart for us too, compelled Him to send His Son, the Deliverer.

 

To learn more about Walking As Jesus Walked and Discipling As Jesus Discipled, visit:  SONLIFE.COM

Alive #likeJesus

How amazing!  How surreal!  Reading the events of the Resurrection… in the city where they took place.  The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is only a 10 minute walk from here.

I arrived in Jerusalem this evening and I’m staying in the Old City right inside the Jaffa Gate.  The city is buzzing with activity.  I hear the music playing.  There is laughter, eating and dancing.  There’s a festival that has attracted thousands to this part of the city.

Passover week here in Jerusalem would have been crowded 2000 years ago, busy and loud just like this.  The buzz in the city that Passover was Jesus.  Who is this man?  Everybody was talking.  And then He was crucified, a public spectacle.  Everyone would know the story.  Everyone would have an opinion.

So when Sunday morning rolled around and the tomb was empty, it’s hard to imagine the buzz of an empty tomb not spreading like wildfire too.

It makes total sense that the chief priests would buy off the Roman guards.  But think about it.  What’s the likelihood that people in the city would buy their story?

“Hey, remember how the sky turned black.  That was crazy, right?  And then that earthquake.  Wow, that was eerie!  And did you hear that dead people walked out of the tombs?  Yeah, they’re walking around the city!  And then what about the Temple.  The curtain was torn in two.  This stuff kind of freaks me out.  And now, the tomb is empty.  And Jesus said he would rise from the dead.  Whoa!”

Honestly, in a place like this, at a time like that, who wouldn’t have heard about the resurrection?  And hearing, who wouldn’t have been tempted to believe?

But evidence is not enough.  It’s not a court case to be argued and won.  It’s a battle for the hearts and souls of men and women.

Being here where the gospel was birthed is a potent reminder that proclaiming the gospel is spiritual work and only the Spirit can open eyes, soften hearts, and draw people to Jesus.