The “Hurt” and the “Healer”

(Isaiah 53:3-5) He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him and by His wounds we are healed. 

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Today while in prayer, I was led to this passage of scripture by the Holy Spirit. This was in relation to a confession I made to God. This confession was not concerning some secret sin, or scandalous and tempting thought, but rather of pain, which I did not realize had been building below the surface of my life (for a while). The pain is a result of my sincere love for Jesus. I write this not as a boast, for how can I love Christ at all, lest He reveal his love to me, through the cross (Romans 5:8). This love created an intense desire to make Him known to my family, friends, neighbors, community, as well as those in the churches, I have been privileged to minister to over the years.

I suspect that whether you are a congregation member or minister, in either a lay or vocational capacity, your love for Jesus has ticked off more than a couple of people, within your sphere of influence. It is quite possible that you have been misunderstood, maligned, and mocked by those you love; even ostracized by family or community to the point of physical or emotional pain. For readers who live in areas of open persecution, this is all too real (know we pray for you and are encouraged by your walk of faith). In any case, if you endeavor to love Jesus with all your heart, at times… YOU HURT!

Sure we all want to declare “What people think about me does not matter!”, but realistically, if you are a member of the redeemed of the Lord, you do care. I do not believe the reason we care is wholly selfish, for to be rejected by anyone hurts. Yet to be rejected by those you desire to share the message of Jesus Christ with, the message that will change their life for the better now and forever, hurts even more. We must recognize that not only is the hurt from personal rejection, but from our Jesus being rejected, therefore it is hurt coming right from Christ’s heart.

(Isaiah 53:3) He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

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As we can see from Isaiah 53:3, Jesus felt the sting of sorrow and hurt from being rejected by the world, His nation and religion and even His family. We see this truth reiterated in John 1:10-11, where we read “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him”. Later on in John 7:5 we see that our Lord’s own brothers, those He grew up with, did not believe in Him. The Gospel of Mark 3:20-35 reveals a cohort of family and friends who believed He was out of His mind.

We have little difficulty understanding that Jesus could feel the pain of the cross. What we often forget is the mental and emotion pain he endured as well, being rejected and cast out. Consider John 11, where Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus. The pain which caused His weeping was not over the death of His friend. Jesus knew four days earlier that His friend would die and that He would raise Him from the grave (John 11:1-14).

So why did our Savior weep? Because of the unbelief of Lazarus’ sisters. Weeping is brought on by real emotional hurt. Sweating blood is also brought on by real emotional pain.

(Luke 22:41-44) And as He was withdrawn from them about a stones throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will,take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”

Have you ever felt the overwhelming emotional despair of having to deal with consequences for simply living your life to serve God? Jesus understands, for He suffered it before you.

Have you ever felt the emotional pain of being despised and rejected by those you love and desire to reach with the message of Christ? Jesus understands, He suffered it before you!

Have you ever felt the sting of physical pain or the emotional stress of deprivation of true material needs, because you have taken a stand for your faith? Jesus understands, He suffered it before you!

But He did more than suffer it first, He suffered your pain for you…

(Isaiah 53:4-5) Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him and by His wounds we are healed. 

Isaiah 53:4 is a prophetic scripture that was to be a land mark for the Jewish people, that Jesus was the Messiah, as it is quoted in Matthew 8:16-17. In addition to the initial fulfillment of what Isaiah declared by the Spirit concerning Christ, Isaiah  53:4 finds its ultimate fulfillment after the cross, in those who have come to Christ through faith.

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Let us remember that in his body on the tree, Jesus bore our sins and sorrows from physical and emotion brokenness (both are the result of Adam’s sin). Most Christians would agree that Jesus provided for the healing of the body in his atoning death on the cross. I Peter 2:24 declares “who Himself bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we who have died to sins, might live for righteousness–by whose stripes you were healed“. This of course begins in the here and now, as we are renewed inwardly day by day, which ought to affect our physical and emotional health; it is part of the process of sanctification (I Thessalonians 5:23). One day we will experience the fullness of this verse as we are with Christ forever, having been transformed and glorified in Christ.

Until that time, we will continue to experience hurt on behalf of our Savior. This is what I was confessing in my time of prayer. Sadly, for a while, maybe like you, I tried to convince myself I was beyond pain affecting me. Perhaps like me, you decided “I’m good, I’ve got Jesus, I can handle it”. But the only way  sorrows and griefs can be handled for our benefit, is by confessing to our Savior, “I Hurt”. Note I did not say, confessing to a friend, although that may help for a little while. Just remember, they may understand, but they did not bare your “griefsand carry your “sorrows“.

Today I was driven to prayer after being lost in thought concerning some people close to me, by whom I have been rejected for my faith. In that moment, I knew this was not about forgiveness, as I had no desire to be paid back or have an “I’m sorry” from them. No, it was a deep and rising grief. Therefore, I flew to prayer and told my Lord and my God, why I was hurting. As I the “HURT” spoke and the “HEALER” responded;

“I bore Your griefs and carried Your sorrows.” He continued “Not only do I understand, but you understand what I felt, on your behalf.”

With that answer, I felt the rising joy of God’s Spirit filling me afresh and began to sing…

Man of sorrows what a name
for the Son of God, who came
ruined sinners to reclaim:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
in my place condemned he stood,Related image
sealed my pardon with his blood:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Guilty, helpless, lost were we;
blameless Lamb of God was he,
sacrificed to set us free:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

He was lifted up to die;
“It is finished” was his cry;
now in heaven exalted high:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

When he comes, our glorious King,
all his ransomed home to bring,
then anew this song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Let me encourage you, dear friends, Let the “HEALER” heal your “HURT”. Be encouraged, not only is their healing for the soul trampled for the sake of Jesus Christ, it is also the pathway of the greatest blessing in the universe.

(Philippians 3:10) that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

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It’s Alive (SIN)!

(Romans 6:12) Do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.

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In January 1818, writer Mary Shelly published her most well know work; it was about a monster. “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus”, has become one of the most well-known novels of the last 200 years. Whether in book form or projected on the silver screen, this story of a man’s ambition to create life, which leads to him creating a monster, has captivated audiences for a century and a half.

The story centers around the creation of a murderous abomination, which is referred to as “a fiend”, “a demon”, “a vile insect”, “a wretched devil” and  “the abhorred devil”. Dr Frankenstein’s creation is basically sown together from the body parts of the dead and brought to life through an infusion of electricity. Shelly’s novel artfully brings to light the moral dilemma arising from man’s ambition to use science beyond the limits of God’s moral law. Come to think of it, science needs to revisit the message of this novel in our day.

Perhaps one of the most well-known scenes of the story of the Frankenstein monster, is from the 1931 movie version (clip above from film “Young Frankenstein”), where upon the monster’s awakening, Victor Frankenstein declares “It’s alive, It’s alive”. This is the moment, we see the abomination come to life. Like the monster in Frankenstein; brought to life through an individual’s ambition, arrogance, pride and misuse of God-given gifts, so is sin lives and had its beginning in a similar fashion (more on that later).

Unlike the creature from the pop culture phenomenon, sin is not allegorical, but a clear, present and dangerous reality. We must understand sin as it truly is, in order that we may defeat it practically in our lives. Whether you agree that sin is alive or not, the word of God most certainly attributes living characteristics to its existence. Consider our lead scripture again Romans 6:12.

(Romans 6:12) Do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.

The above passage regards sin as having lusts, that we can obey to our own detriment, if not carefully denying them. In these lusts we understand sin’s ultimate desire is to rule over us. As we can clearly see, sin has been assigned characteristics of living things. We can not simply dismiss sin as alive because we do not see it that way.

Consider yeast for example, particularly the yeast called Candida. This type of yeast is literally alive and exists in every persons gut, along side of bacteria essential to our digestive and immune systems. The essential bacteria actually communicate with your brain, telling it what it needs to eat. This communication is not only for your health, but so the bacteria (which is also alive) gets the food it needs to live. When in proper balance, the bacteria will out number Candida 2/3 to 1/3 or more.

Image result for candidaA problem arises when the candida begin to grow close to even with the bacteria, in number. In these times, the candida will high jack the communication highway to the brain and begin to demand the type of food it desires: sugars, carbohydrates and starches. These are things we need in only limited quantities, but candida need them to grow; for this reason the candida lusts for bad foods. As the yeast begins to dominate the gut, we then see its life principle in our bodies, as we experience, bloating, weight gain, illness, lethargy, grey film on the tongue and much more. This living single-celled organism, is alive and rules and influences two out over ever three Americans (considered overweight). Like candida, we do not see sin, nor feel its presence until we become spiritually lethargic or worse yet fall into a behavior which offends God.

As candida is alive, desiring to grow and dominate, so is sin. Consider how sin, which is dominant in the “flesh” or as otherwise known as “the old man”, wars against the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:16-17). Consider how feeding sin’s desire only leads to a greater desire for more of the same (Galatians 6:7-8). This appetite for more is paramount in understanding sin as a living principle, for it desires more for the purpose surviving and perpetuating its life. This must lead to domination. Let us look to Genesis 4:6-7 for more clarity.

Genesis 4:6-7 So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”

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This passage of scripture follows the rejection of Cain’s sacrifice and directly before he kills his brother Abel. God’s warning to Cain is very revealing, as it displays two truths. The first truth, for those of us who intend to follow Christ, is that God will warn us before we are about to sin. This is for the purpose of assuring we yield to Christ’s life in us, rather than the living principle of sin (Romans 6:12-14). The second truth is that sin is not that sin is alive, but its ultimate desire to dominating our whole life.

This can be seen in the phrase “sin lies at the door” and what it means in the original Hebrew. The word “lies” means  “to be crouching as a beast waiting to pounce on prey in order to devour it”. Once more we see sin not only attributed with living characteristics, but characteristics given to those organisms that are bloody carnivorous hunters. It’s time we see sin for what it truly is.

Far two often we followers of Jesus have a 2 dimensional view of sin. We see its length and breadth on the written page, but rarely is sin’s depth or physical/spiritual nature considered. In our two dimension view, we see sin as behaviors that are contrary to God’s moral law. Therefore we see sin, as breaking the written code of scriptural law, and therefore we do our best not to violate the right, by choosing the wrong. This is a good and elementary understanding of sin, but tragically  insufficient.

We can clearly see the insufficient nature of this view of sin, in Jesus Sermon on the Mount (specifically chapter 5 of Matthew). In verses 21-30, Jesus handles two of the commandments “Thou shalt not commit murder” and “Thou shalt not commit adultery”. In both instances, Jesus explains that the black and white, 2 dimensional view of these commandments was limited. He fully articulates the depth of those commandments to include behaviors, all humans have fallen too, in particular, killing a person with our words and committing adultery by longing and lustful thought. Once more the moral law of God extends to more than what is written on the page.

Therefore, we must see sin not only as a list of behaviors we are to avoid, but as the living principle implanted in the humanity of every human being. This living thing desires to please its desire to grow and dominate. It is a physical, intellectual and spiritual living reality. But where did sin have its birth, its beginning?

In Ezekiel 28, we are given a vision of the fall of Lucifer, in a prophecy concerning God’s judgment of a very prideful king. Some have speculated this passage is not to about the fall of Lucifer, whom we known as Satan. Yet large portions of the passage could not be aimed at anyone other than the supernatural entity, who is the cause the fall of man. One of those portions is Ezekiel 28:13-16.

(Ezekiel 28:13-17) You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes Was prepared for you on the day you were created. “You were the anointed cherub who coversI established youYou were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were createdTill iniquity was found in you. “By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, And you sinned; Therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; And I destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the fiery stones. Your heart was lifted up because of your beautyYou corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground,

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Here I believe we see the genesis of sin in the universe. Remember in the Mary Shelly novel “Frankenstein” that Victor Frankenstein, because of ambition and arrogance concerning his God-given gifts of intellect, created an abomination. Like the novel’s conceited doctor, Satan, when he saw his God-given beauty, gifts, splendor and power, focused on himself rather than the Creator who made him. In this gaze, this turn away from God toward self-rule, sin was born with its living principle of death. It is a living spiritual cancer, one that wholly overcame Satan first, then man, as he submitted to Satan’s temptation, which brought all humanity into slavery to sin.

Since Adam, sin has been the living inborn ruler of the humanity. The more we obey its lusts, the more it grows and influences our actions. Only Christ’s finished work of atonement on our behalf provides the antidote to the living death of sin. Romans declares the reality of the death of sin’s dominion in our life in Romans 6.

(Romans 6:5-7) For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.

Although sin’s dominance, as the ruling power of our life has been crucified, we understand, its presence within our humanity remains a reality. It is for this reason that the scriptures command us in Colossians to “put to death in our members: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desires, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). We do this by putting “off all these: anger (undo), wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth” and not lying to one another (Colossians 3:8-9). As we “put to death” and “put off“, we also “put on the new man” (Colossians 3:10).

Yet we must be careful not to make our  earlier mistake with the above truth, by seeing them only in two dimensions. Let us remember that the living principle of sin, is overcome by the same Resurrection Power that raised Jesus from the dead… The Spirit of God Himself.  Sadly, for Christianity in America, far too often we see this truth in the two dimensions, of confess and do the list of rights while staying away from the list of wrongs. This does will never diminish the power of the barking desires of sin. It takes the reality of the Spirit of God.

Let us therefore remember that in our new birth, we have been given the Spirit of God, as an earnest or deposit, on our completion in Christ, when we are gathered together with Him forever (Ephesians 1:13-14).

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With this truth, let us understand that from the beginning of our new birth, where by faith sin has been nailed to the cross, we become partakers of the divine nature; by the Holy Spirit in us, we submit to His leading (II Peter 1:4; Galatians 6:8).  Remember, what takes place within us is not a battle of two equal but opposing forces. Sin has not chance at regaining dominance in the person absolutely surrendering to Christ. For in that surrender, the Spirit of God, who is the Present Almighty Power of God in Person, empowers the willing soul. This is the victory that puts to death the power of sin in real-time.

(Galatians 2:20 KJV) I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

As affirmed above, let us remember that for the believer, Christ is living within the frame of their whole being (spirit, soul and body). Therefore, when we obey the word of God, it is actually Christ in us obeying the word of God. This becomes very apparent in Romans 6:13.

(Romans 6:12-13) Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

Therefore, let us hold to the truth that it is not our obeying a written code, that overcomes the living death that sin is within us.  We overcome, sin by his cross firstly, then as we yield to Jesus our Messiah, as He moves through us.  disciplining ourselves in yielding, is what diminishes the call of the old man of sin.

In these truths, let us strive for complete surrender to Christ, as He moves within us. When this becomes our program the fullness of the Spirit is a breath away. Should we reach this New Testament reality, many more will come to experience sin losing its dominion in there lives, as the lost world encounters Christ in us, the hope of glory.

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Posted in "It's alive", Frankenstein; or, The new Prometheus, indwelling sin, Mary Shelly, Romans 6:12, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Living Sacrifice

(Romans 12:1)1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

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Most of the readers to the website are in some way familiar with Romans 12:1. I have  personally heard many explanations of this passage from servants of God, and have myself taught concerning its truth many times. Therefore I will abstain from another explanation of what it means for us to be a “living sacrifice” to God. One of the most difficult elements in teaching the word of God is how the eternal truths are to be assimilated into the life of the follower of Christ. In view of this, I have recently been reading a wonderful little book written by Andrew Murray entitled “The Blood of the Cross”, which I believe gives a practical and faith-based pattern to present ourselves to God as living sacrifices.

In the following paragraphs I will quote directly from Murray’s book, from Chapter 3 entitled “The altar is Sanctified by Blood”. Murray’s conception is that the cross of Christ, which was eternally sanctified by His shed blood, is the altar on which we are to present our selves as “living sacrifices”. With that truth in view let us begin. I hope you will be as blessed and challenged as I have been.

Christ bore our sins in His body on the tree. Our bodies are the sacrifices which have to be presented to God, on the altar (the cross). The body has many members and it is a wonderful union of several powers. Each of these separately and all together, must be laid on the altar.

The body has a head–we speak of the head with brains as the seat of understanding. The head with all its thoughts must be laid on the altar. I must consecrate my understanding entirely to the service of God, placing it entirely under His control and direction to be used by Him: I must “bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”.

The head has its members also, the eyes, the mouth and the ears. By the eyes, I come into touch with the visible world and its desires; the eyes must be turned away from vanity and to be wholly His, to see or not to see, according to His will. By the ear, I must enter into fellowship with fellow-men. The ear must be consecrated to the Lord, and is not to listen to conversation that pleases the flesh, but is attentive to the voices which the Lord sends to me. My mouth and tongue and lips must be consecrated so that I will not speak anything except what is in accordance with God’s will and to His glory. The eyes, the ears, the mouth, the head, and all belonging to it must be laid on the altar and purified and sanctified by the cross.

I must renounce every right to manage them. I must acknowledge my sinfulness and want of strength to control and sanctify them. I must believe He who purchased them will accept them and guard them in the fellowship of the cross and His entire surrender of Himself. In that faith, I must offer them to God upon the altar (the cross). The blood has sanctified the altar (the cross) and made it the “Holy of Holies”: all that touches the altar (the cross) becomes holy. The act of touching is a living, spiritual, real and in faith an ever enduring thing. The reconciliation of the cross has opened up the way for the fellowship of the cross. The blood has sanctified the cross as my altar.

The body also has hands and feet. The hands represent the power to work. My handiwork, my business, my service, my possessions must all be placed upon the altar to be sanctified, cleansed from sin and consecrated to God. My feet represent my ways and my walk, the paths I choose, the companionship I cultivate, the places which I visit. The feet sanctified by the altar, cannot go their own way any longer. They have been presented to God to be in all things under His leading and at His service. And they must be “beautiful” to carry the Good News and to bring help to the sorrowful and the lost. With hands and feet bound the body must be laid upon the altar, not having the least freedom to stir, till He enables the souls to cry out “I am thy servant: Thou has loosened the bonds” (Psalm 116:16).

Our Savior hung on the cross, nailed to it by His hands and feet. In wonderful spiritual union with them, our hands and feet were crucified with Him. The natural use of them is condemned and abides only under that sentence. In the sanctifying power of the cross of the living Christ, they are free and holy and fit to work for God.

The body has a heart, the center of the life, where blood, in which the life dwells, flows in and out. In the heart is the meeting place of all desires and endeavors of men, of all they choose, of love and hatred. The heart of Jesus was pierced on the cross. Everything that flows in and out of the heart (Proverbs 4:23), must be on the altar. I must renounce the right to seek or will anything after my own wish, to love after my own desire. In the case of Jesus the cross meant :”My will is of no account: the will of God is everything”; “The will of God, cost what it may, must be done, even if it costs me my life.” In the smallest as well as in the greatest things God’s will must be done. In nothing must my will be done–in everything God’s will.

That is the purpose behind the cross which Jesus sanctified as an altar for us. The will is the kingly power of the heart. It is governed by our love or hatred, and by it, in turn, the whole man is governed. When the will is on the altar, that is, on the cross, the fellowship of the cross will soon extend its power over the whole man. My will, sinful and blind; my will, condemned and freely surrendered to death; my will put to death on the cross; my will in fellowship with Jesus living again, raised to life again, and made free; my will now entirely submitted to His leading and authority. This is the way in which the believing heart comes to understand what it means to be on the cross as on an altar. And the believer experiences that the two seemingly opposite conditions are united in a glorious union: His will bound to the cross and yet free; His will dead on the cross and yet alive. And so the truth now becomes glorious even for Him, “I am crucified with Christ”–“Christ liveth in me”–“I live by faith”.

Heart and head, hands and feet together form once body. They are now united in a wonderful structure of flesh in which the soul has its lodging. It was created at first to be the servant of the soul, to be kept in subjection to the guidance of the spirit; sin subverted this order. The sensual body became the seducer or tempter of the soul and has dragged off the spirit into servitude. The only way for restoration of the order which God ordained, is for the body to be placed upon the altar (the cross), the body by the Holy Spirit to be nailed to the cross. The body with its eating and drinking, with its sleeping and working, with its wonderful system of nerves by which the soul comes into contact with the world–the body must go to the altar. The power of the cross of Christ which, by the Holy Spirit, becomes at once and continuously active, must have authority over the entire body. The body with its soul and spirit dwelling in it, must become a living sacrifice to God. Thus that word of deep significance obtains its fulfillment: “the body for the Lord; and the Lord for the body” (I Corinthians 6:13).

Let us seek to be “living sacrifices”, wholly acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service.

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Missing the Revelation of Job (Re-post)

Related imageMany people, regardless of their religious persuasion, have heard of the O.T. biblical character named Job. The reason for this knowledge among the general populace is that Job encountered a wide range of suffering. His suffering included the loss of livelihood, wealth, children, health, the comfort of his wife’s loving support, the pain of assault on his integrity, and most profoundly the silence of God. Of all that humans may suffer, Job’s suffering runs most of the gamut of possibility; and his tragedies occurred almost all at once.

In my opinion, overemphasizing his sufferings have colored our outlook on perhaps the most overlooked lesson from the account of this man’s life, which is the greater revelation of God’s Person Job received on account of what he lost.

I realize what I just wrote may confuse more than a few, which is part of the problem. We teach Job improperly. We use the book as a kick in the pants for the person who is suffering, either to say “Buck up friend, it could be worse”—or to move their focus to the “spiritual battle” taking place between God and Satan—or to encourage the sufferer to “remain faithful and God will restore to you double”.  Although I believe those truths are contained within the account of Job’s life, sadly they are not ultimately what is being communicated, although they may be a means to God’s end.

Let’s begin by accepting that Job did have some good theology. We can see that Job made sin offerings to God, which were required, even before the law of God was given. We also can ascertain to a certain degree, that his sacrifices were rightly a reminder of the One who would ultimately be our sacrificial Atonement.

(Job 19:25-27) 25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; 26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God,27 whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!

Related imageIn this we see Job lived by faith as he served as the priest of his family. Despite this understanding Job also battled with his fears and his fears would muddy his motive for sacrificing. Remember he declared “For I know that my Redeemer lives”. In this he understood that redemption was an all encompassing act that was individually applied, as the one sinning would procure the sacrifice having been convicted of sin, and ready to turn from it. Yet in Job chapter 1:5 we find the man sacrificing for his children, unsolicited by them, for “it may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts”’ Job did this regularly.

Although it would appear Job knew to some degree that his sacrifices would cover his sin, until the Redeemer came to take it away permanently, it would also appear he was sacrificing out of ungodly fear.

(Job 3:23-26) 23 Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden, and whom God has hedged in? 24 For my sighing comes before I eat, and my groanings pour out like water. 25 For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, and what I dreaded has happened to me. 26 I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest, for trouble comes.”

What was it that Job feared? He, like so many of us, feared the loss of what we think makes us who we are: family, wealth, health, and our good name. Yet in spite of his fears, and all the unnecessary things he did to protect it, he lost it all. In the end, what he would gain would be beyond measure, and I am not referring to the return of good standing and a good name, more children than he had before, or more wealth exponentially.

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(Job 42:1-6) 1 Then Job answered the Lord and said: 2 “I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. 3 You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. 4 Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’ 5I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. 6 Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

Job’s conversation with God, actually begins in chapter 38. Prior to his interaction with God, both Job and his three friends offer all sorts of reasons for his suffering. Some of their reasoning has the scent of truth, yet most of it is ill applied to the current situation they are discussing. In Job’s comments, although he does not curse God, he comes dangerously close to misrepresenting the LORD’s character. Therefore, when the LORD speaks for the first time in chapter 38, He now questions Job…

(Job 38:1-4)1 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said:2Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge? 3 Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me. 4Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding.

After almost four chapters of God revealing Himself, Job is floored and abhors himself and repents. Why did he repent?

Before the loss of everything, Job only knew about God, subsequently, most of what he did in sacrificing and being a good boy, was to avoid losing what he possessed. Therefore, we see his motive was not for the purpose of having a greater relationship with the LORD, but to maintain the life he loved. As we discovered earlier, Job did have some appropriate understanding of the One coming to be our Redeemer, yet he did not know Him. He did not know Him because of all he had accumulated.

Sadly, it was not until Job lost everything that he found to be precious, that he was truly able to know the LORD, who is precious beyond measure, “I have heard about you with the hearing of my ears, but now I see you with my eyes”. It was not till he lost it all that Job actually met the Redeemer face to face. Remember it was not God that engineered this loss (Satan), but He did allow it to bring a greater revelation of Himself to Job.

Related imageDon’t our lives often reveal this same struggle? We know Jesus is our Savior. We understand what He has done to remove our sin, transform us into His righteousness (by the indwelling Holy Spirit) and bring us to be with Him forever on that great Day. Yet as we live we accumulate stuff that we see as blessing, and it becomes personal to us. At times we fear the loss of these things and move to secure them, only to feel them slipping away. The very things we hold as precious in this life can stand in the way of our knowing the presence and power of God. Make no mistake child of God, the more we work to save them, the more they will slip away. This is a reciprocal law Jesus taught us.

(Luke 9:23-25) 23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?

In light of the word of God revelation above, we would do well to prayerfully consider Paul’s testimony about what he sought as most precious.

(Philippians 3:7-11) 7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

It is not God’s desire to take away the things we count as precious, but there can be no doubt He demands He be our most precious One (Exodus 34:14). Should the LORD gain that sole place of prominence in our lives, not only will we have appropriate perspective on what we ought to value, but we will move to discard that which hinders our relationship to Christ. When Jesus has that place of prominence, knowing Him more deeply and intimately flourishes, no matter what our circumstances or physical condition.

Thank God for the Book of Job; one man’s journey to know the God he served, personally and face to face. May we too move from hearing about the LORD with the hearing of our ears, to seeing Him with our own eyes.

Posted in Christian suffering, God's Power, God's Presence, Philippians 3:10, The Book of Job, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Samantha, WE LOVE YOU, No Matter What

Hello Friends! Being able to share with you what God lays on my heart, is such an honor, one I do not take lightly. Tonight the Lord laid a blessed task upon my heart. I am not really into Valentines Day, but He led me to remember one I should’ve passed along.

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Almost 19 years ago God blessed Kim and I with a little girl with blue eyes and a pure heart; her name is Samantha Lynn. She has grown up quite a bit, but in her I still see the first buddy I every had. I still hear that same little voice, a voice that always encourages me when I lose heart. In here eyes I still see, the purity of heart that at two years old could recognize the face of Jesus, in a man who could not see Jesus in himself. In her sweet and beautiful face I see the sanctified beauty of a woman of God, who  will change her world, on behalf of the Savior she loves. In you, my wonderful “Sam-a-lama-ding-dong”, I still see my friend. Daddy loves you, we all love you, no matter what. How can anyone not love such a beautiful gift from the Lord like you? Remember always, your daddy will never be ashamed of you. I am so proud, you are my daughter.

When Jesus came in to my life, He became my all in all. He changed my heart and revealed to me every precious gift, beyond His precious blood, he had given. Of course, you know how I love Mom, and she is a most precious gift, but you were the first gift, I loved the moment I saw you. I wanted to hold you, but was so nervous to have you placed in my hands. I wept with joy I could not express. As I heard you speak, just a word, thrilled and warmed my heart. Most people were impressed with your personality, smarts and ability to make almost anyone smile. No one more than me. As I have watched you grow, I could not believe something so good, could come from someone as flawed as me. Your life, continued to show me, that if something so wonderful as you, came from someone so inadequate, that God truly did work miracles. That is what you will always be to me, a miracle from God.

To all those who have been kind enough to read my writings, please tonight consider praying for Samantha Lynn Erdel to be blessed, filled with grace, overflowing with wisdom, strong in integrity, firm in godly conviction, and always having a view of the empty cross of Christ Jesus our Lord. He loves you Samantha more than I can hope to grasp. He reminded my forgetful soul, that you needed a valentine from your First Love. I just have the pleasure of giving it to you.

Jesus gave permission to join in this His late Valentine (I suspect He is right on time). We all love you (Daddy, Mommy, Mikey, Abbey, Ellie Mae, and Elijah). We love you no matter what and are proud we know you.

Always remember the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable. If you ever are not able to see His face, or hear His voice, remember He will never leave you nor forsake you. I am so thankful my Jesus sits in the Highest place, as you know my sweet and beautiful daughter, He watches your every move. He has special plans for your life. Happy late Valentines Day, from the broken-down and remade man, who never deserved such a great daughter. You are a miracle, to be honored and cherished with pure godly love.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Applauding Luke Skywalker and Approving of Evil

Related imageI freely admit to being a Star Wars baby, having been born three years prior to the first film’s release in 1977. I came of age in the rush of marketing and toys, which infatuated a nation of boys and made George Lucas billions. In 1981 my family purchased HBO and one of the first major films to play on it was “Star Wars: A New Hope”. Not long after its showing, “The Empire Strikes Back” played almost endlessly on the movie channel and my brother and I viewed it as often as we could. By the time I saw my first “Star Wars” film in a theater, “The Return of the Jedi”, I was the proud owner of many “Star Wars” toys including, a millennium falcon,  x-wing fighter, original Death Star play set, snow speeder, sand speeder, and over 50 action figures.

To say “Star Wars” was a large part of my childhood would be an understatement. The movies drew me like none other as I got lost in the fantasy of being a Jedi and using the force to conquer my troubles. Even as I was hired at General Motors and was working in the grown up world after college, I would read novel after novel with the intent of following the adventures of Luke Skywalker.

After about 8 months at G.M. I began to read the word of God. My desire for truth was (still is) insatiable. I soon lost interest in just about everything else. Upon receiving Christ by faith, I began to see the world and its pleasures and entertainments in a much different light. One of those pleasures and entertainments was Star Wars. This was not because my Church was speaking against it but because of the thread of false eastern religion running through the entire use of the force. This revelation came through the Holy Spirit. Knowing the “force” is futuristic language for the demonic thread that runs through the eastern use of martial arts, I could no longer ignore how palatable “Star Wars” made it all seem. I was troubled.

Although being troubled in my spirit has guided most of my personal and parental choices, I admit, I have at times been hypocritical, falling to the cultural pull and that of my own flesh. Although we kept our viewing of Star Wars to a minimum, I realize now I was revisiting my nostalgic past and ultimately sowing to my flesh. Some may want to conjecture on this point, but twisting watching movies into an activity that sows to the Spirit is a hard case at best (Galatians 6:7-8).

I realize that in the realm of what is offered from Hollywood, the “Star Wars” movies are relatively better than most, with little in the way of troubling language, sex, or bloody violence.  Yet despite the relative clean of the Star Wars franchise, there are huge draw backs; such as the use of the force and its humanistic religious and political themes. To be fair I don’t pick on Star Wars, in isolation, as I am also bothered by American Christians excusing the sorcery and violence of Lord of the Rings or the occult and humanism (trans-humanism) of the superhero genre. 

Although the reasons stated above were the basis of my desire to abstain, recently the Lord reminded me of something we tend to forget: To not stand against evil is to approve of it. I believe this also extends to paying actors, sports stars, and musicians who promote and propagate evil through the purchase of their tickets and merchandise. This brings me to Mark Hamill, the actor who plays Luke Skywalker.

In an article in the Christian post entitled “Sarah Silverman, Feminists Mock Pro-Life Laws, Joke About Abortion“, which covered a pro-abortion event given by the “Lady Parts Justice League”, celebrities give their vile opinions on the pro-life movement and the life of a child still in the womb.

The program included someone dressed as a vulva, abortion charades, an interview with abortionist Willie Parker and speeches.

Volunteers were asked to act out two laws, “You cannot use aborted fetuses as ingredients in the manufacture of food products,” and “Clinics are mandated by law to cremate or bury every aborted fetus.”

After the first “sh**** law” charade was acted out, Silverman said, “It’s this bananas law that makes you think that eating fetuses is a thing and it’s not; and if anything has ever made me want to eat an aborted fetus, it’s this law.”

In 2012, Sen. Ralph Shortey of Oklahoma had introduced a bill banning the use of aborted fetuses in food after coming across suggestions that some companies may be using embryonic stem cells to develop artificial flavors. Shortey said he was not aware of any company in his state that was doing so but wanted to prevent it.

The article then turns to Hamill’s participation in the event…

After the second charade on a law that requires the burial of aborted fetuses, Silverman said to laughter, “Funerals for f***ing aborted fetuses? I would like to speak at those funerals. He lived the way he died. He died the way he lived. The size of a sesame seed with no discerning brain function.”

Star Wars actor Mark Hamill was also part of the event, and created two art pieces to be auctioned off. He told the crowd, “Disney gave us a Last Jedi poster, and when we figure out who wins, I’ll personalize it. I’ll write something obscene and dirty if you want.”

Winstead then joked, “Mark Hamill is actually going to become an abortion provider. He’ll give you an abortion with a Jedi wand. It’s going to be awesome.”

This is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Mark Hamill and abortion. The child you see on the right is Autumn Chen; she is Mark Hamill’s granddaughter. Yet he, his wife and son have nothing to do with her. When Autumn’s mother became pregnant, her boyfriend, Nathan Hamill, pressured her to have an abortion. She attempted to have this done through pills, which did not work. After a few months, then Mark Hamill and his wife, sought to pressure her into another attempt. By the grace of God, that procedure did not work either. Autumn was born October 31, 2016 and Nathan Hamill, as wells as his family have nothing to do with her. In fact, as of March last year, not one dollar had been provided by the father or grand parents for the support of the child.

My point is not a hit piece against many people’s favorite Jedi, but to reveal why I am glad I did not spend more money, selfishly, to please my flesh. I certainly do not want to support anything that allows Mark Hamill to continue his war against the children in the womb. Some may feel I am going too far, but am I really? The broader question is why are we Christians trying so hard to justify how we entertain ourselves? How many useless articles and books have been written on finding the gospel in… take your pick… Superman, The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, or Harry Potter? None of the articles supporting indulgence in these worldly enterprises have a shred of solid Biblical merit.

The greater question is: Should disciples of Christ be using actors, musicians, artists or athletes for the purpose of wasting time in entertaining ourselves? I realize I am setting myself up to be assaulted by the brethren, but the scriptures make no provision for children of God to waste time or resources on selfish pursuits. Consider Ephesians 5:15-17.

(Ephesians 5:15-17) See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

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In citing the above passage, some want to cry “legalism”, but the argument of whether it is legalistic to use no form of worldly entertainment or liberal to occasionally use some form of worldly entertainment, is not the most pressing matter. The most pressing matters are [1] Are we redeeming our time or wasting it? and [2] Are we approving the performers sinful personal behavior by watching it, by paying for it, or by being entertained by it? [3] Are we exposing the evil deeds of the world or approving of them?

(Ephesians 5:8-11) For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.

We must ask whether what I am partaking in has any real value towards me living my new life in Christ, or is it inherently worldly and therefore part of the darkness of my past, or the past of others? We must also consider if our partaking approves of a behavior I should be rebuking. The Book of Romans expands on this truth by communicating a character trait of the lost, that can be true of the redeemed, if we are not careful.

(Romans 1:32) who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

In the Greek language the phrase “approve of” means to applaud. Is it possible that by applauding the performance of an actor or athlete and further filling his pockets, we are approving of his evil actions? It’s more than possible! It is a reality, which many of our brethren will deny, without any biblical merit other than an out of context reference of  “all things are lawful”. It is true indeed that “all things are lawful”, but so is the other part as well “but not all things are expedient” (I Corinthians 6:12, 10:23). It is also true that our liberty in Christ is not to be a stumbling block to others. Therefore it is not only possible we are approving of evil, but causing our brothers to stumble, by offending their conscience.

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So how can believers reprove the evil of the militant support of child murder in the womb, perpetrated by Mark Hamill? Stop paying to to be entertained and spend the two and a half hours on your our knees in prayer for the salvation of Mark Hamill and his family. Begin a discussion on the sanctity of life with those who are fan boys and girls, helping them understand God’s love for all humans at every stage of life. Let them know God’s wrath is against all unrighteousness, including abortion. Use this discussion as a means to discuss God’s desire to bring even the militant pro-choicer to repentance and reconciliation, through atoning death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

We followers of Jesus, including all ministry men and woman, are called to “put away childish things”. Now is the time.

Consider my 17 year old son Mike. He used to enjoy watching Cleveland Cavalier basketball with his family. Recently when the team had a national T.V. game, my son was was sitting with his head down most of the time. I asked him why. He told me it was because of a player he really liked whom is living with a reality T.V.  star he got pregnant. His word’s were not words of judgment, but of grief, grief for sin which is approved of everywhere in our society.

He no longer wants to cheer this player, or the team on; for in his right thinking, applause for a worthless game would be approving sinful behavior. My son is right, the Cavaliers do not need his or my fandom, they need my pleas to God for their souls. Some would conjecture, that the suggestion made in this article would mean, little if anything we entertain ourselves with is appropriate for us to invest time in. They would be right!

We were not called to recreate or be entertained…

But to manifest the truth of Jesus Christ, as we inject His word and our lives for Christ, by  the power of the Holy Spirit, into every man’s conscience, in God’s sight (II Corinthians 4:2).

We are also commanded to shine!

(2 Corinthians 4:6) 6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

*Below is full article concerning the pro-choice event Mark Hamill supported and was featured at

https://www.christianpost.com/news/sarah-silverman-feminists-mock-pro-life-laws-joke-about-abortion-216368/

Posted in Christians and Luke Skywalker, Ephesians 5:8-17, exposing evil, Romans 1:32, Uncategorized | 8 Comments

The Character of the Christian Heart

(Mark 9:33-41) 33 Then He came to Capernaum. And when He was in the house He asked them, “What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road?” 34 But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest. 35 And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” 36 Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.” 38 Now John answered Him, saying, “Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me. 40 For he who is not against us is on our side. 41 For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.

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The above passage of scripture reveals two-thirds of what makes up the foundational character of a Christian’s heart (or if you prefer the Christian’s mind or mode of thinking). The other third of this character is found in Matthew 18-1-3, where Jesus declares, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles Himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven”. 

In reading both passages, you will find them complimentary; a comprehensive instruction of Jesus’ revelation on how to keep brotherly love, in the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace. You will also discover how to repair these elements when they have been offended (email me for a pdf file pertaining to this topic at mje4jesus @gmail.com).

In examining Matthew 18:1-3, in relation to the character of the Christian heart, we find humility the doorway to understanding the first characteristic. Why humility? Because there is a fundamental difference between children and those who grow up. That difference is that children know they are dependent, and those growing up are fighting for independence. The reason is that independence comes with a greater degree of personal sovereignty, in our thinking. Children, may behave at times like mini-adults, but truth told, when in need, they are very honest about their inability to obtain it.

When a child knows he is in need and cannot get what it is he desires, the child will ask, whine, cry, or pitch a fit, should he feel it will aid his cry . Whether he believes he deserves what he desires or not, he knows he can’t get it without his parent.  In contrast, as a child approaches their teen years we understand her desire for independence and her need for it. She has obtained a driver’s license, works hard to earn money and to a certain degree has more freedom to make her own decisions. At times she has soared discovering her natural gifts developing and at times she has crashed, as she has found personal freedom can give us the illusion of sovereignty.

What do I mean? When we begin to feel the freedom of independence, it is not long before we will have to deal with the eternal truth that everybody has to serve someone. In Matthew 6:24 Jesus reveals that we either serve the one true God or the god of this age. Humanity often believes they have gained independence from parents, oppressive governments, bad bosses, or adverse circumstances, only to find they have become dependent to something or someone else. Christians are called not to emancipation for personal freedom or independence, but to become like little children, who are dependent, knowing they need Abba every hour. This takes HUGE God inspired humility. Jesus Himself is our example.

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Our Savior lived in complete dependence on His Father; Jesus never spoke unless instructed to by the Holy Spirit on behalf of the Father (John 12:49)–Jesus never did anything unless He was commanded to by the Father (John 5:19). Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, displayed His dependence, when in the Garden of Gethsemane, He asked the Father if there was another way, crying out “Abba Father”, and submitting to His will. This is the first characteristic of the Christian heart, and moment by moment knowledge of our total dependence on Him, that we seek to walk in.

(Romans 8:14-15) 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”

As we look into Mark 9:33-36 we encounter a foolish conversation among the disciples that reveals the second characteristic of the Christian heart. Jesus was aware of the conversation, but waited till they were in private to handle the ego-driven argument between His closest friends. In response to their shamed based silence, per His inquiry into what they were discussing, Jesus declares “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35). The revelation in Jesus words is two-fold [1] You are all basically self-willed and selfish [2] If you are going to be great in the kingdom, you have to be like ME.

Truly, this verse reveals the only person among them, at that time, that had the character of a Christian heart, was the KING Himself. This of course was to change, as this was the reason for His admonition. Scripture also calls us to the same.

(Romans 15:1-3)1 We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. 3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.”

(Philippians 2:3-4) 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

Since I have written extensively concerning this principle , it will be sufficient to declare the second characteristic of the Christian heart is to be growing in selflessness , like King Jesus.

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In order to understand the third characteristic of the Christian heart we need to look a little deeper into verses 37-40 where we read ““Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.” 38 Now John answered Him, saying, “Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me. 40 For he who is not against us is on our side”. 

In this portion we see Jesus speaking about receiving “little ones” in His name. Most commentators will agree that although Jesus was using a child to draw the disciples attention, the child was an object lesson, concerning how the disciples were receiving people, who were doing Jesus things, yet not among their group. We know this because after Jesus gave them His take, John reveals how they rebuked a follower, who was doing God’s word of casting out demons using Jesus name, yet not walking in the midst of them. When adding to this fact, Jesus directly begins to teach being careful of not offending these “little ones” (Mark 9:42-48), we can begin to see the characteristic number three, which is recognizing and rejoicing in the work of God.

It is this last character trait of  a Christian heart that is most seen, especially when it is lacking. Consider that Jesus prayed in the garden before His death “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they may also be one in Us, that the world may believe you sent Me”. (John 17:21). When this is lacking, the world considers the church of Jesus as a joke and we fall into irrelevance, because in offending the unity of the Spirit and bond of peace, the Presence of God withdraws in offense (Ephesians 4:1-3; 30-32).

In looking at our account from Mark chapter nine, let us understand, the rebuked person was doing God’s work in Jesus name successfully. The disciple literally stopped Him from bringing freedom to people in Jesus’ name, because the man did not consider the disciples great. I do not believe this is reading too much into the passage, considering the teaching of Jesus directly before this account. Here is the point: we so often disparage, rebuke, mock or dismiss the word of Jesus Christ in other’s because they do not line up with all our distinctive doctrines. This is shameful.

In the first place, we must find unity in the Person of Christ: His being fully God from eternity, His virgin birth, His sinless life and miracles, His substitutionary atonement in His death on the cross, His resurrection, His ascension, and His bodily return to this earth. These are the essentials of Christ. We also need to have unity on men being saved by grace through faith. We must seek unity on our being holy vessels of God, set apart for His will alone. Yet there are a few other things that rise to the level of separating from the brethren of other denominational stripes, unless they are in some clear scriptural violation.

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Let us give liberty when discussing our view of God’s sovereignty (Calvinism/Arminianism), views on eternal security, preferred Bible versions, views of the end times, or the scores of other things we can divide over. The point being, if you have a Christian heart, you can recognize the work of God in others who love Jesus, even if you don’t agree on all things in between the essentials.

In closing consider this story. A few years ago, I met a man of God in the town I was ministering in. We met around a sister in Christ, who went through a divorce while in our congregation. After her awhile it was difficult for her to stay with us, because of memories of her husband. As much as we loved and cared for her, we desired her growth in the kingdom and blessed a change of fellowship. When I finally met her pastor, we had tons in common in how we ministered to the flock and the lost, and were having wonderful conversation, until our major difference surfaced. This difference had nothing to do with being saved by grace through faith, or the deity of Jesus Christ, but led to this brother declaring “Well Mike, we are theological cousins”.

I did not find that very comforting and I told him in reply “Matt, if we are not brothers in Christ, we have nothing to talk about”. He agreed. A few weeks later, we took a trip to the local university to do some on-campus evangelism. We both delighted in the work of God being done in a Christian, who is different, but the same. That day the character of the Christian heart, won out in both of us. Will it in you?

Posted in brotherly love, Christian Character, Mark 9:33-50, The heart of Christ, the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace, Uncategorized | 1 Comment