Proclaim #likeJesus

What can we learn from Pilate about proclaiming Christ?

The question almost seems ridiculous.  Pilate?  He was ruthless, not righteous.  What could be learned from him?

Well, from a seeker’s perspective, Pilate wanted to know the truth.  “What is truth?”  he asked Jesus.  Pilate asked lots of questions.  He didn’t allow his opinion of Jesus to be shaped by the doubters and haters, but instead looked at Jesus directly.  He did, however, allow his opinion to be influenced by his wife’s dream (the supernatural).  With all this though, to our knowledge Pilate still never believed.

Yet even as a wicked, ruthless unbeliever, Pilate proclaimed Christ more boldly than most Christians.

“Behold the Man!”

Look at Jesus.  See who He is.  I’ve examined Him, and here is what I have found to be true.

“Behold your King!”

Make a choice.  This is who Jesus is, who He claims to be.  Make Him your King.

Of course, the Chief Priests rejected Pilate’s plea.  They rejected Jesus as their Messiah.  “Away with Him, away with Him!  Crucify Him!”

Pilate presented the truth about Christ.  “Behold the Man!”

Pilate asked for a response to Christ.  “Behold your King!”

In its simplest form, that is evangelism.

Pilate was an unredeemed, evil man.

We know and love Jesus.

We are indwelt and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

We are called and commissioned as Ambassadors.

We, as Christ-followers, shouldn’t let Pilate out-evangelize us!

 

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

Brave #likeJesus

When does fear masquerade as faith?

When we do something that “appears” bold as a reaction to fear, it’s really just stupidity that we blame on faith.

Consider the Apostle Peter.  We tend to look at his faithless moment as being his three denials of Christ, but I think his faithlessness showed up just before this.

Jesus and his disciples were in the Garden of Gethsemane.  His prayer was interrupted by a hostile crowd.  They’d come to arrest Jesus, led to this spot by Judas, the betrayer.

It appears Peter responded to the situation with great courage.  He took out his sword and cut off the ear of Malchus.  Jesus told Peter to put away the sword and then reattached Malchus’ ear.

But was this an act of courage?  Was it bravery?  I’d always looked at it as misguided bravery, but I don’t think it was.

We read that along with Judas, the Chief Priests and their officers, the Pharisees, the Scribes and the elders of the people, there was a “detachment of troops” that was sent to arrest Jesus.

A full Roman cohort would be 1000 men, but usually it consisted of 600, sometimes as little as 200 men.  So imagine all the Jewish authorities and their officers being accompanied by 200 Roman soldiers as they squared off with Jesus and His small band of followers.

Wow!  Now that makes Peter’s actions look even more brave.  But who did he attack?  Did he fight back against the fierce Roman soldiers?  No!  Did he fight back against the officers, the trained Jewish guards sent with the Chief Priests?  No!  Did he fight back against the politically powerful Chief Priests, Pharisees, Scribes or elders?  No!

Peter attacked Malchus, the High Priest’s servant.  He attacked the secretary, the administrative assistant, a likely unarmed slave.  Could he have picked an easier, less threatening target?  It looks like he picked a fight he knew he would win.  He picked on the “little guy.”  Is that courage?  Is that faith?

Peter acted out of fear, not faith!  That fear would manifest itself again when he would soon deny even knowing his Savior.

Sometimes it takes more faith to do nothing, to wait…  especially when we have a driven, “act now – ask questions later” personality like Peter.  Activity driven by fear seldom produces lasting, God glorifying kingdom fruit.  So before I act, it’s time for a gut check.  Faith or fear?  Which is driving me right now?

 

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

Advantaged #likeJesus

“It is to your advantage that I go away.”  John 16:7

How in the world could this be true?  Their best friend, their Savior, their Messiah, their Lord… gone!  Is there any way this could be a good thing?

Jesus’ words here remind me of the Apostle Paul’s words in Romans 8:28. “He works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

How can losing be winning?  How can bad be good?

But what did Jesus’ departure mean for His followers?

1.  The Permanent Indwelling Presence of the Spirit of God

“For if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.”  John 16:7

While Jesus was with them, they had Him by their side.  Oh, but when He left, the Holy Spirit would come to dwell on the inside.  Now that is better!  The power and the presence of the living God inside of me.   Nothing is impossible!

Jesus gives another reason why it will be to their advantage for Him to leave.

2.  The Unspeakable, Unexplainable, Unstoppable Experience of True Joy

“Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you…  that your joy may be full.”  John 16:22-24

The power in sorrow and suffering is that it becomes fertile ground for unspeakable, irrevocable joy.  This too is a gift from Jesus through the Spirit, and the depth of this experience of joy is so transformative, we become permanently marked by it!

“We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us!”   Romans 8:37

So…

“It is to your advantage that I go away.”  

Impossible to imagine, but true, nevertheless.

 

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

Walking #likeJesus

One day, laying on your death bed, what message would you want to share with those closest to you?  What would you want to remind them of?

On the night of His betrayal, Jesus hammers home two reminders over and over.  These reminders are at the heart of obedience.  These two reminders are at the heart of what it means to walk as Jesus walked.

1.  LOVE ONE ANOTHER!

“Wash one another’s feet.”

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you.”

“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

“These things I command you, that you love one another.”

 

2.  DEPEND ON THE HOLY SPIRIT!

“He will give you another Helper.”

“He may abide with you forever.”

“He dwells with you and will be in you.”

He is “the Spirit of truth.”

“The Holy Spirit will teach you all things.”

“He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

 

Jesus reminds his disciples that they are to walk in love and walk in the Spirit.

Walking in love for others is evidence of our obedience.  Obedience is evidence of our love for God.  And love is a fruit of the Spirit, produced as we walk in the Spirit.   Love then is evidence of the Spirit’s work within us.

To walk as Jesus walked is to live a life of love empowered through daily dependence on the Holy Spirit.

 

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

Priorities #likeJesus

Where does your attention gravitate towards?  What distracts you?  What can tempt you toward mission drift?

The Olivet Discourse begins with something interesting.  One of Jesus’ disciples- maybe it was Judas, the one enamored with money, or maybe it was James or John, the brothers hungry for power- points out the magnificent construction of the temple.  It was adorned with beautiful stones and donations.

What a striking backdrop for what Jesus is about to teach His disciples.  Herod the Great made the temple one of the most impressive structures in the world.  Some of the stones were 40x12x12 feet.  Massive!  And they were bedecked with gold ornamentation.  The buildings were made with gleaming bright marble. The whole eastern wall was covered with gold plates, reflecting the shimmering glow of the temple for onlookers to see from miles away.  Wealthy people gave gifts of golden statues, golden plaques and other treasures to be displayed on the walls.

All this had caught the disciples’ eyes.  Awestruck by power and riches, Jesus’ words about His return, the destruction of Jerusalem, the misery to come and the great tribulation might have all seemed unfathomable.

Jesus taught them parables highlighting their need to be ready, faithful and righteous.  All these virtues were to be prized greater than the treasures adorning the temple.

It’s interesting to note that the Olivet Discourse begins with a disciple noticing the riches and splendor of the temple, and it ends with Judas leaving to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

30 pieces of silver was the price of a slave.  Judas sold himself, enslaved himself, for the allure of this world’s wealth.

Like the disciples, shiny things can get my attention.  I need to be reminded to prize faithfulness, righteousness and spiritual preparedness above what this world values.  When I don’t, in small ways and big, I’m tempted to sell out and enslave myself, trading my character for temporal treasure.

 

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

Taking Marriage Seriously #likeJesus

What does Jesus have to say about divorce?

It’s interesting to me that the Pharisees would raise the issue of divorce to try and test Jesus.  Was it a cultural hot button in that day like gay marriage and gender preference is in ours?

“Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason?”

Any reason?  Really?  Even in our culture, divorce isn’t acceptable for “any” reason.  It might be legally allowable for any reason, but if a man cheats on his wife and then divorces her to marry the “other woman,” that is still something that our culture looks upon with disdain.

Jesus asks the Pharisees, “What did Moses command you?”  Interestingly, Moses made divorce permissible.  But Jesus is quick to point out that this was not God’s plan and was only permissible because of the hardness of their hearts.

So it seems that man’s standards are more lenient, making divorce permissible for a wider range of reasons that what God would tolerate.

Jesus goes back to God’s intent, His design, that man and woman would be united in marriage and would become one flesh.  Because of this, divorce was intolerable.

Jesus gives one “out,” possibly two.  If a husband or wife commits adultery, it is permissible for their spouse to divorce them.  Not preferable, but permissible.  And if it is permissible, then remarriage is also permissible.

The other situation where divorce is permissible is when your spouse chooses to divorce you.  Not that you have much of a choice.  You can and should fight for your marriage, but ultimately you cannot force someone to stay married to you.  In that case, it is also permissible to remarry.

Jesus gives no other “out” for divorce and subsequent remarriage.  The question then becomes:  Can you expand the meaning of adultery to include unfaithfulness of other kinds?  What about cases of abuse?  Abandonment?  What’s the difference spiritually between divorce and legal separation?

All these questions make me wonder:  If Jesus were asked this same question today, how would he answer it?  Would he expand the meaning of adultery to the broader scope of “marital unfaithfulness?”

One thing I know would remain the same.  Jesus would still say ,“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.  Therefore, what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

God created marriage.  It’s His plan.  He loves marriage.  It’s worth fighting for!

 

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

Straight Talk #likeJesus

How could the disciples be so dense?

In Matthew 20:17-19, Mark 10:32-34 and Luke 18:31-34, Jesus clearly tells them what will happen when they arrive in Jerusalem.

“For the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles; and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him.  They will crucify Him.  And the third day He will rise again.”

How could He be any more clear?  Yet immediately after this, James, John and their mother (who might have been Jesus’ aunt), came and asked Jesus for positions of prominence in His kingdom.  Huh?  Positions of prominence?  He said He’d be hung on a cross to die.

After traveling through Jericho where He heals Bartimaeus of his blindness and dines with Zacchaeus, Jesus tells the disciples another parable as they neared Jerusalem.  Luke tells us Jesus told this parable “because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately.”  Huh?  Immediately?  After Jesus just told them what would happen in Jerusalem…  betrayed, condemned, mocked, scourged, spit on, crucified and killed… things that don’t sound remotely like a triumphant kingdom.

The disciples were hearing what they wanted to hear, thinking what they wanted to think, believing what they wanted to believe.  The truth can be harsh, inconvenient, abrupt.

And I’m just like the disciples.  Oh, how often I fail to really listen…  to others… to God…

In stubbornness and pride, my mind is already made up.  I hear what I want to hear, think what I want to think, believe what I want to believe.

Father, teach me to truly listen.  In humility, help me to hear what You want me to hear, see what You want me to see, and then live how You want me to live.

 

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