Blessings Gain

Sunday, June 09, 2013, 7:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus woke me this morning with the song “That Man” playing in my mind. Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. I read Acts 3 (NIV):

Walking and Jumping

In the name of Jesus Christ, Peter and John were instrumental in the healing of a man who had been lame from birth. The man jumped to his feet and began to walk. He went with Peter and John into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. Amen! Praise Jesus! The people who witnessed this event were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to the man they had known and recognized as a crippled beggar.

You Disowned Him

While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.

“Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.’

“Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days. And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’ When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”

Peter gave glory to God the Father and to God the Son, Jesus Christ, for the healing of the lame man. And, then he took this opportunity to share with the people of Israel about Jesus Christ, and about his gospel. He let them know that the man they had disowned, disavowed, and killed, by having him hung on the cross to die, was none other than the Holy and Righteous One, i.e. God himself, their Lord, Messiah and Savior, and the author of life, their creator. Pilate was ready to release him, but they chose rather to have a murderer set free. Yet, Peter said, God raised Jesus from the dead. By faith that comes through Jesus Christ, he said, this man was healed, to the glory of God.

We Deny Him

There are many ways in which we disavow, deny, disown and even kill Jesus Christ today. We do this when we fail to make him truly Lord of our lives, and when we do not place him above all else, and exceedingly higher in priority and devotion over all other “loves” and/or “lovers” in our lives. And, sometimes we do this through outright refusal to listen to his voice and to obey his commands, and/or when we become apathetic or spiritually lazy because we have things we want to do, and he just doesn’t fit with our overall plans for our lives. As well, we do this when we willfully neglect time with him in his word and in prayer, seeking his face, hearing him speak, and then responding in obedience to what he teaches us. And, one other way we deny him that comes to mind is when we knowingly and willfully do not speak of him or of our faith in him, when given the opportunity, because we are fearful of what others will think of us, and we are afraid they might reject us for our faith.

Yet, the Lord Jesus brought another way to my mind this morning in which we disavow him, and that is when we treat his true servants and witnesses the same way in which the Israelites treated Jesus Christ. Many of them did not believe that he was truly of God and from God. Even though they saw the miracles he performed, and they saw how loving, forgiving, merciful, compassionate and gracious he was, still they refused to accept him as their Lord and Messiah, and they chose to kill him and to release a murderer. Of those who were truly pushing for his death, many of those did so out of jealousy, envy and resentment and/or out of fear of losing their positions of power (see John 11:45-48; et al). So, they mocked him, persecuted him, and called him crazy, of the devil, and blasphemous. They did whatever they could to try to discredit him, and then they finally took him to the cross.

Scriptures teach that we should test everything to see if it is of God, and we should reject every kind of evil, but it also teaches that we should not put out the Spirit’s fire, and we should not despise (treat with contempt) prophecies supposedly coming from God (see 1 Thess. 5:19-22). In other words, we shouldn’t just accept and buy into every person who comes along and says they are speaking God’s messages, but we should test all messages supposedly from God to see if they add up with scripture. On the flip side of this, we shouldn’t just reject everything we hear just because it doesn’t fit with our culture, traditions, religious practices and/or notions of how things are supposed to be or how the body of Christ is supposed to operate, one with another. We should be willing to listen to one another, providing that what each other is saying is not an obvious contradiction of scripture, and we should pray and ask God if the message being brought to us is of him.

Yet, so many professing Christians, perhaps in ignorance, as did the Israelites, reject those who are true servants of the Lord, and may even treat them with the same type of disdain as the Jews treated Jesus, just because the Lord’s servants don’t fit with the culture or the traditions of men or the religious practices established within man-made institutions. I pray I would not be guilty of rejecting a servant of the Lord just because that person did not fit inside my box, i.e. within the framework of my preconceived notions of what a servant of Christ should look like and act like. Jesus and John the Baptist both did not fit! May we be ever so careful that we don’t deny, disavow and disown Jesus Christ through false judgment and wrong treatment of his true followers, just because they don’t fit inside our “boxes.”

The Gospel

John the Baptist preached that we must repent of our sins. Jesus’ first sermon was “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” Peter’s first sermon began with “repent,” and so did his next one, I believe. And, again he is telling those who crucified Jesus that they must repent of (turn from) their sins and turn to God/Christ. This repentance is a radical change of heart and mind, which results in a radical change of our actions. It is the working of the Holy Spirit of God within those of us who choose to believe in Christ, as we cooperate fully with that work. We must willingly turn away from our lives of sin and living for self, and we must choose to turn to follow our Lord Jesus Christ in obedience (see Luke 9:23-25; Eph. 4:17-24) so that our sins may be wiped out (completely forgiven), so that “times of refreshing” may come from the Lord, i.e. so that we may be restored to a vital relationship with God.

That Man / An Original Work / May 23, 2013

Based off John 3:22-36

An argument between some men
Erupted out of resentment.
They came to John and said,
“That man is baptizing everyone.
They’re going to Him.”

So, John replied, “A man can
Only receive what is given him.
You yourselves can testify that
I said, ‘I am not the Christ.
I’m sent before Him.’”

The bride belongs to the bridegroom.
His friends await and watch for Him.
They are full of joy when they hear
His voice speaking words to them.
That now is our joy!

Jesus, the One who comes from heav’n –
He testifies of forgiveness.
Yet, so many do not trust in
His words, and do not repent.
They will face judgment.

The one who trusts in Jesus Christ
Has certified that God is truth.
Jesus Christ speaks the words of God.
Those who put their faith in Him,
Eternal life gain!