254:  The Two Most Important Questions Asked of Jesus

254: The Two Most Important Questions Asked of Jesus

The first of the two most important questions asked of Jesus is:  Who are You? (John 7:12)
This question can be asked of Him as long as He is with the crowd, as long as He’s at arms length to each of us.  But when He invades our world, everything changes.

Now we are faced with the second most important question asked of Jesus:  Can we believe what You say?  Are Your words true?  And what exactly are You saying to us? (John 7:16-18).

Or, to summarize CS Lewis’ statement in Mere Christianity:

A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.  He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell.  You must make your choice.  Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse.  You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God.  But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher.  He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

Want to know more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on John 7:15-24.

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Jesus as Teacher and Creator

Jesus as Teacher and Creator

Often we have the tendency to erect standards in the Christian life that we cannot ever obtain in the flesh or by sheer will and determination— and this inevitably leads to discouragement, frustration and despair.  We do this because we see Jesus as the Anointed Rabbi, the Master Teacher, the Perfect Example and not the Lord who can complete in us exactly what He teaches.  In other words, as He spoke the universe into existence and created something from nothing, He can also create in us what He is teaching us to be.  He has promised, after all, to complete what He has begun in each of us (Philippians 1:6).

This is the profound thought that Oswald Chambers dissects in today’s My Utmost for His Highest devotion.  And I would greatly encourage you to spend a year learning from the feet of Mr. Chambers as he expounds on the deeper things of God.  It is time well spent.

For today:

Beware of placing Our Lord as a Teacher first.  If Jesus Christ is a Teacher only, then all He can do is to tantalize me by erecting a standard I cannot attain.  What is the use of presenting me with an ideal I cannot possibly come near?  I am happier without knowing it.  What is the good of telling me to be what I never can be— to be pure in heart, to do more than my duty, to be perfectly devoted to God?  I must know Jesus Christ as Saviour before His teaching has any meaning for me other than that of an ideal which leads to despair.  But when I am born again of the Spirit of God, I know that Jesus Christ did not come to teach only: He came to make me what He teaches I should be.  The Redemption means that Jesus Christ can put into any man the disposition that ruled His own life, and all the standards God gives are based on that disposition.

The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount produces despair in the natural man— the very thing Jesus means it to do.  As long as we have a self-righteous, conceited notion that we can carry out Our Lord’s teaching, God will allow us to go on until we break our ignorance over some obstacle, then we are willing to come to Him as paupers and receive from Him.  “Blessed are the paupers in spirit,” that is the first principle in the kingdom of God.  The bedrock in Jesus Christ’s kingdom is poverty, not possession; not decisions for Jesus Christ, but a sense of absolute futility— “I cannot begin to do it.”  Then Jesus says— “Blessed are you.”  That is the entrance, and it does take us a long while to believe we are poor!  The knowledge of our own poverty brings us on to the moral frontier where Jesus Christ works.

Ouch.  And ouch again.

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249:  Salvation Brings a Changed Life

249: Salvation Brings a Changed Life

Zechariah chapter 12 tells of the national salvation of Israel where the Lord will “pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; 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” (Zech. 12:10).  It is the literal fulfillment of Romans 11:26 where Paul says “and so all Israel will be saved.”

So what happens after God saves a nation, or what happens when He saves you and I?  What is our response?  What are we to do?  How are we to act?

And that very question is what is answered in Zechariah 13.  Zechariah lets us know exactly what God expects from those He calls “My people” and for His people who say “the Lord is my God” (Zech. 13:9).  What God commands the remnant in Zechariah 13 is exactly what He commands of us today.  After all, we also have been cleansed of our “sin and uncleanness” from a “fountain” that flowed from the veins of the Lord Jesus (Zech. 13:1).  A fountain of blood freely given for us.  As William Cowpens wrote so many years ago:

There is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains.

Want to know more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Zechariah 13:1-9.

To download the notes from this message, click – HERE

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247:  Israel, the Antichrist, and Dark Days Ahead

247: Israel, the Antichrist, and Dark Days Ahead

Just the mention of the word Antichrist brings to mind images from Revelation 13 and of some old, outdated movies that were made in the late 70’s.  Remember those movies?  I sure do.

But the Scripture reveals much about the Antichrist from the Old Testament.  In fact, Zechariah gives us the only physical description of the Antichrist found in Scripture and his description lines up perfectly with what we know from Revelation 13.  Zechariah says:

“Woe to the worthless shepherd, who leaves the flock!
A sword shall be against his arm and against his right eye;
His arm shall completely wither, and his right eye shall be totally blinded.”

Want to find out more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Zechariah 11:1-17.

To download the notes from this message, click – HERE

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How Bad Do You Really Want It?

How Bad Do You Really Want It?

Often I find myself asking the Lord to reveal Himself to me.  In fact I find myself, like Moses, continually pleading for God to “show me Your glory” or to at least let me experience a little of what the early church experienced back in the book of Acts.  “Lord, give me something.  Anything. Just give me a glimpse, maybe just a tiny taste of Your awe and Your power and Your majesty.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I really don’t know what I was expecting God to do.  Maybe a flash of light like Peter and John saw when Jesus was transfigured before them.  Maybe a chance to see the Spirit of God move in the wind and fire like Elijah did at the mouth of the cave.  Or maybe to feel the very foundation of the house shaken by the power of God like it did when the early church prayed.  I don’t know.  Maybe something memorable.  Maybe something out of the ordinary.

Something more than this.

Have you ever felt the same way?  Have you looked at the life of the church portrayed in the Acts and then at your own life and wondered what went wrong?  What’s missing?  And if you have, did it drive you to the Scriptures or did it drive you to a church service that made you “feel” electrified with pulsating music and long, drawn out periods of spiritual aerobics?  You know what I mean.  Churches that try to imitate what they think the Spirit “feels” like by manipulating the flesh.  We’ve all seen it done and we know how superficial it is at best.  It’s a bad copy of the real thing.  A counterfeit.  A mirage.  Smoke and mirrors.

Which brings us back to the Scriptures.

“Lord, is there somewhere in Your Word that will show us how to know You more?  Is there some passage that can give us the key to unlocking the secret of getting close to You?  Is there somewhere in Your Word that will satisfy our desire to know more of You?  Lord, can you please help us out?”

And, of course, His answer is, yes.

First, you must understand that His Word is full of places that show us what is necessary to have intimate fellowship with Him.  But many of these have to do with living right and striving for holiness, which is not a particularly popular topic in today’s Laodicean church.

So before we tackle the Graduate Level stuff like sanctification and “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5) or “walking by the Spirit and not according to the flesh” (Gal. 5:16) or “not being conformed to the image of this world” (Rom. 12:2), we need to take a step back and examine our level of commitment to living a life of intimacy with the Lord.  It’s not something to be taken lightly.  It’s a radical change of existence where you will daily die to yourself in order for Christ to live larger and stronger in you.  It’s a trade, all of you for all that He is.  It will be an adventure of great heights and deep valleys, of pain and hardship and failure— but it is also an adventure of breathtaking seasons of sheer bliss.  “Is the pain and hardship worth it?” we all ask.  Absolutely!  But there’s a price to be paid to hear God speak and understand the knowledge and wisdom of God.

And the question before us is this:  Are you willing to pay the price?

If so, let’s begin with some Scriptures that speak of the required level and intensity of our desire necessary to know the wisdom and knowledge of our God.

Proverbs 2 begins this way:

My son, if (a conditional clause) you receive (or, snatch, hold, get) my words and (implied – if you) treasure (or, hide, store up) my commands (not suggestions) within you (2:1).

Uh, question.  What does it mean to receive Your words?  Can You give me some examples?

So that you incline (or, heed, hearken, be attentive) your ear to wisdom, and apply (or, stretch out, extend) your heart to understanding (2:2).

Ok, got it.  But to what extent?  In other words, do I apply my heart like I did to high school algebra or is it something greater than that, something more intense?  How much do I need to seek the wisdom of God and His understanding in order to experience true intimacy with God?

Yes, if (conditional clause) you cry out (or, call, summon) for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding (2:3).

So am I to cry out for Him like a fan at a football game or like Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire when he cried “Stella!” at the bottom of the stairs or Rocky Balboa when he cried out “Adrian!” in the ring?  Or is it more like the two blind men that continually cried out to Jesus, desperate, refusing to be silenced, begging to be heard and healed, “Son of David, have mercy on us!” (Matt. 9:27).  Or is it something more?

Can you feel the rising level of intensity in these words?  It’s more than simple mental assent or wishful thinking.  There’s a sense of dire urgency, of helplessness, of reckless abandonment in these words.  The Lord tells us we must seek discernment and understanding like a drowning man seeks one more breath.  We must want it more than anything else, more than life itself.

Does that seem a stretch to you?  Does it seem too radical, too over-the-top?  Then let’s read on.

If (again, conditional clause) you seek her (wisdom, discernment, understanding, knowledge of God) as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasure (2:4).

Got it, we are to seek and desire and crave the wisdom and knowledge of God more than the very treasures we spend our lives trying to accumulate.  We must want it more than gold and silver, more than comfort and ease, more than our own pleasure.  We must seek it like the man in search of fine pearls (Matt. 13:46) or the woman with the lost coin (Luke 15:8-10) or the man who finds the treasure in a field (Matt. 13:44).  We must be willing to sell all that we have to possess the very wisdom of God and the knowledge of God and experience the very presence of God.  After all, nothing else really matters, does it?

Then (the result of all the previous “ifs“) you will understand the fear (or, reverence, awe, terror) of God and find the knowledge of God (2:5).

Simple truth.  Clear path.  Wonderful reward.  But are you willing to pay the price and fulfill the “if’s“, the conditional clauses, to receive the “then” at the end?

I know that I am.  Are you?  And, if so, will you join me on this grand adventure?

Adveho quis may.
Come what may.

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