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Laser Beam Focus on Jesus (not distracting speculation)

Laser Beam Focus on Jesus

The world that we live in is riddled with evil. It’s full of foul and wicked plots. There are many theories and conspiracy theories that tell stories about this world that we live in. Many of these tales are attention-grabbing and even deeply disturbing. How should we respond?

God tells us how we should respond. Here are a few things He tells us:

Laser Beam Focus on Jesus

From the beginning to the end, the story of Scripture is a story about the Savior; our need for a Savior, the coming of the Savior, and the coming quick return of our Savior. Scripture says testify about the Savior! He is who the world needs!

The world does not need just more knowledge or secret knowledge. It doesn’t need to uncover all the plots of man or Satan. The world needs the experiential life-transforming knowledge of Jesus the Messiah and Savior.

Satan portrays himself as an angel of light. He’ll even quote God Himself. He’ll give what appears to be secret knowledge as he did to Eve in the Garden. But, that work of Satan is a distraction and diversion from the truth—from Jesus the Savior, answer, and solution.

Do you know who really knows what’s going on behind the scenes?! Not the person on YouTube; no matter what they say or how many followers they have.

We don’t want to be guilty of “always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7). Instead, we want to follow Paul’s teaching, conduct, aim in life, faith, patience, love, steadfastnesses, and persecutions and sufferings (v. 11).

We also need to remember that all Scripture, all the promises of God, find their fulfillment and answer in Jesus. We need to see Jesus, not more videos on various theories. Jesus is the hope and protection of the earth, not some person with some so-called “secret knowledge” of what’s really going on behind the scenes.

That being said, there are evil and deceitful plots going on in the government—in every government. We should not be naive and think there isn’t. But there always has been. There was when Jesus physically walked the earth and Moses too. But what does the Bible say the solution is? And what should be our focus?

People clearly do follow “the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2). This world is often a wicked place where people creatively carry out wickedness. That is true. But what’s the solution?

It is certainly true that “ we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). Yet, the solution is not some secret knowledge. It’s being “strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (v. 10). The solution is taking “up the whole armor of God” (v. 13), not knowing the intimate and hidden details of what the spiritual forces of evil are up to. Colossians 2:15 tells us that Jesus is the one who defeats the wicked powers.

Amid a crooked and perverse generation and while the antichrist or antichrists walk the earth, how are we to respond? How do we steel up ourselves to endure and persevere? It’s not through secret theories that we discover on the internet. No. It’s through holding fast to the word of truth, tenaciously seeking Jesus, and lovingly telling of Him and His goodness.

Jesus has the “words of life.” Jesus is our “first love” and it is He that we need to return to (Revelation 2:4). Notice what 2 Peter 1:3 says: “HIS divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of HIM who called us to his own glory and excellence.” It is in Jesus that “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). And the riches of blessing found in Him are limitless.

Thus, we need a laser focus on Jesus. Satan as the great deceiver and destroyer would have us distracted from Jesus by any means possible.

Don’t Waste Time on Old Wives’ Tales

1 Timothy 4:7-8 says: “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths [some translations say, “Old Wives’ Tales.”]. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

In John 17:17 Jesus says we are made holy by the truth and then He says God’s word is that truth. It is all Scripture—not secret theories—that is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

We need the words of life to live the life we’re called to live. We need to consume that truth every day and be able to “rightly divide the word of truth” and be like the Bereans and weigh what is said against what the Word of God shows us (Acts 17:11). And we need to be in tight relationship with other Christians so we can be accountable and encouraged by them.

In 1 Timothy 1 Paul urges that people not “teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith” (v. 3-4). Paul goes on to say, “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion” (v. 5-6).

In 1 Timothy 2 Paul tells us what we are to do instead of engaging in “vain discussion,” internet searches, and YouTube consumption: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (v. 1-2). So, instead of reading and watching conspiracies about the government, we are to pray for the government. That’s productive, biblical, and God-honoring.[1] So, if you have concerns about what’s going on in our world and in the government—which you should!—the thing to do is pray, not feed on loads of news and theories about “what’s really happening.”

Paul says that when we pray in this way, it “is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all” (v. 3-6).

God loves people and wants them to receive salvation through Jesus. So, we pray for them and we share with them. We don’t waste time on speculation and silly myths. Instead, we should seek to be continually captured and enraptured by Christ Jesus, knowing there is solace, depth, mystery, and beauty there to sustain us a thousand lifetimes.

Spend Your Time on the Greatest TRUE Tale

Paul said, “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ.” And Paul also said, “Him [Jesus!] we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” (Col. 1:28-29).

Read 2 Timothy 4:1-5. What Paul says there is the priority. That’s what “fighting the good fight” (2 Timothy 4:7) looks like.

Paul strove and struggled to share the message of the Savior, not a secret message about something going on in the world. Satan would have us distracted from the good news of Jesus—the good news of hope and salvation to a broken and needy world.

When the chaos of wickedness ratchets up in the book of Revelation, what is it God’s people are to do? Protect the world and keep it from destruction through knowing what’s secretly going on behind the scenes and through sharing those hidden things? Is that how the book of Revelation exhorts us to persevere? No.

Revelation is about Jesus and the victory of Jesus. It’s the true story of His final triumph over every evil plot and wicked foe. It holds before us the truth that we are in a cosmic battle, that there is a god of this world who is presently working ruin, but also the truth that the Lion and the Lamb will conquer. That’s the “secret knowledge,” the revealing, the REVELATION we need. We need the true message of Jesus’ victory. We don’t need distracted by lesser stories. Instead, we need again and again to return to and be tethered to Jesus.

So many tales are a distraction from the true and greatest tale. Brothers and sisters, we don’t need new and secret knowledge. We need the old old story again and again. We need to be smothered with the truth of the Savior of the world, not suffocated by secret theories. The hope of the earth is Jesus, not some locked away thing we can learn about on a website somewhere.

We need laser beam focus on Jesus. And we need to share the true story about Him in love. We need to be evangelistic about the good news of Jesus Christ! Not any conspiracy theory.

Notes

[1] I think of Chuck Colson. If there was a theory about the watergate scandal it wasn’t just a conspiracy theory. It was true. But the answer wasn’t information, it was prayer. God brought Chuck Colson to salvation when he was in prison. Colson has gone on to lead a ministry to those in prison. So, prayer is powerful.

*Photo by Mika Baumeister

Are We Brokenhearted Over Our Societies’ Idolatry?

Athens

Are we brokenhearted over our societies’ idolatry? The Apostle Paul was. 

Paul was in Athens and he saw that it was full of idols (Acts 17:16). When he saw that there were idols everywhere, he was cut to the heart. Paul was visibly grieved. He was greatly troubled.

In Paul’s day, Athens was home to a stadium and a large concert hall. Athens’s most prominent feature, however, was its numerous pagan temples.

One author around the time of Paul said that it was easier to find a god than a man in Athens. There was a great temple to Athena (the Parthenon), a temple dedicated to multiple deities, and the temple to the goddess Roma. There were other pagan sacred sites that have been found as well.

Then, as now, there is a lot of idolatry. There is a lot of suppressing the truth about God for a lie. There is a lot of worshiping what is created rather than the Creator who alone is worthy of worship (Rom. 1:25).

So, how did Paul respond and how do we respond when we see rampant idolatry?

Paul was not consumed with anger or with amazement as to how stupid people are for their idolatry. No. His heart was broken for them. He had compassion for them.

And his compassion pushed him to winsome conversation…

“So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there” (Acts 17:17).

Paul apparently shared in a winsome way. People were interested in hearing from him. We see this because they took him to the Areopagus and said, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting?” (Acts 17:19).

Paul had a heart for the lost and won a hearing with the lost.

It says that Paul walked around and looked carefully at their objects of worship. And something he saw gave him an opportunity to share the good news of Jesus. He saw “an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’” So, Paul was able to say: “What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you” (Acts 17:23).

In sharing Paul even quotes from two of the “rappers” of the day. They actually were long since dead but his audience would have been familiar with them.[1] Paul took the time to meet people where they were.

Paul had a heart for the lost. He wept over their idolatry. And he also studied how to effectively speak into their lives. He “looked carefully at their objects of worship” and could even quote their authors.

Yet, he did so not just to be on the in with them, but to point something out. He wanted to see what they see so he could show them how to see.

We too deal with idolatry today. It’s perhaps all the more insidious because it’s less apparent. We have no temple to Aphrodite;[2] but we carry the equivalent in our pocket on our phone. Idolatry is alive and well. We just don’t see it well.

Do we have broken hearts over societies’ idolatry? And are we willing to wisely, winsomely, and lovingly wade into the fray? Are we willing to reason in the religious meeting places as well as the marketplace? Are we willing to be “in the know,” so we can help people to know?

___

[1] Epimenides of Crete (c. 600 B.C.) and the Stoic poet Aratus (c. 315–240 B.C.).

[2] Aphrodite was known as the Ancient Greek goddess of beauty, desire, and all aspects of sexuality. Aphrodite was known to be able to entice both gods and men into illicit affairs because she was so attractive. Aphrodite was honored as a protector of prostitutes. 

*Photo by Douglas O 

Strangers

Stranger
Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11).
 
What is the greatest problem I’ve had being a missionary? It hasn’t been:
  • The language – even though we have learned one National language and one tribal language and function in a third area trade language and deal with 3 other tribal languages.
  • The bugs – even though when people ask about the most dangerous animals we have, I reply – mosquitoes, ameba, thyroid, and other assorted microbes.  The Lord has been very good to us and our kids, He has, I know, protected us from many things we were not aware of.
  • The snakes –  I saw more snakes growing up in Eastern Oklahoma.  We see some big snakes on occasion. I have seen 20ft snakes and eaten them. I have been face to face with a king cobra.
  • The rivers – we travel by river, not road. And in the beginning, made some unplanned swims in the river.
  • The mountains – we are thankful for missionary pilots that fly us over the mountains.
  • The heat – this is a much bigger issue and seems to be affecting us more as we go along.  But we have fans that help.

What I’m talking about is something that is more basic than just physical comforts. It has to do with relationships and our reason for being in a 3rd world tropical environment. The most difficult thing has been that we are always strangers/foreigners. I am always too tall, and too white. I don’t always talk and think like the natives.  

Now I don’t even think like the natives in the US. I am a stranger in America. I’m a river boat man. We travel by boat, I marvel at all the boats on the lakes here. I can’t understand why people would have boats like this to just use a couple of times a year, and they are not even going anywhere but in circles. It seems strange to me.
 
I have a problem when I come to the US. I am now a stranger. I feel it every time I come back.  Now my daughter shows her old Daddy how to use the credit card at the gas pump and at the check out in Wal-Mart. I have a problem every time I start driving in the US. Every time I have the green light and start through the intersection and have an approaching car – I pause to make sure the approaching car will stop.
 
We don’t have stop signs where I come from and folks don’t always stop for red lights where we come from. Teresa and I are strangers in this country. I feel like I am always trying to find my way around in traffic – always driving in a strange place and new roads. I need patience. Now I don’t always understand the words people use.
 
Is this wrong or sinful to feel like a stranger? No! I think the opposite is true. If we feel at home in this world we have an ungodly and non-Biblical worldview. I know that is strong language, but we have some things in Scripture to back this up. In a godly and Biblical sense, we should feel like strangers in this world. If we feel at home in this world we shouldn’t. This is not our home we are just passing through.
 
Heaven should be the home that we long for. I appreciate Don Wyrtzen’s song, “Finally Home”:
“Just think of stepping on shore, and finding it heaven
Of touching a hand, and finding it God’s
Of breathing new air, and finding it celestial
Of waking up in Glory, and finding it ‘Home'”
That’s what I long for, to finally go home.
 
We often joke about the fact that in the Rapture there will be no packing and houses to close up, no kerosene fridges to shut down, no luggage to pack, list to make, nothing to forget,   nothing to move and check-in, no passports or visas, no security checks, or immigration points!  Nothing – just home, home at last.
 
Let’s think about some other folks that were strangers.
    1. Abraham was an alien and even had to buy a site to bury his wife Sarah. By faith Abraham was a stranger – by faith he saw his real home (Gen. 12:1; 23:4; Heb 11:8-10,13-16).
 
    2. Moses was a stranger all his life. An alien Hebrew in an Egyptian court for 40 years. A refugee in Midian for 40 years. A transient in the Sinai for 40 years. Yet he wrote of his dwelling place in Psalm 90:1: “Lord you have been my dwelling place throughout all generations.” This is a Godly attitude.
 
    3. John the Baptist was the original nonconformist, he marched to a different drummer, saw a different world.  He was the original nonconformist, a genuine free thinker. He adhered to Romans 12:2 which says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world” (cf. Matt. 3:4-6; Lk. 7:28). Our home as Christians, after all, is heaven, not this world. We are not going to live forever in this world.
 
    4. Jesus was a stranger in this world. Jesus said in Matthew 8:20-21, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Having no “nest” is the cost of following Jesus (from my experience, our “nesting instinct” is one of the biggest hindrances to mission work).
 
    5. Paul the apostle shows us that being homeless on this earth is part of the job of an apostle (1 Cor. 4:11). He also reminds us to “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor 4:16-18).
 
The majority of the world thinks that the visible is the most important thing. Money, a house, a car, land, a job, a position, recognition–all the things, the visible things, the world considers important. If we genuinely believe that the invisible is eternal, we will be a stranger in this world.
 
I am a stranger in this world because I believe the invisible is more important than the visible. “Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20).
 
    6. Peter says, “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul” (1 Pet. 2:11-12). Peter says we are strangers and should behave as such.
 
    7. James is very clear on this subject, as is typical for James. James 4:4 says: “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God” (see also Jn. 17:14-16; Rom. 8:7; 1 Jn. 2:15).
 
Samuel Rutherford said, “If we were not strangers here the hounds of the world would not bark at us.” When I was growing up everybody had hounds that ran loose around the yard and would bark at strangers. How many of you remember that? Nowadays they have to be tied up. But those same hounds would not bark at us kids when we would come home but would come running for a pat or a scratch.
 
The world is threatened by us. We are of another world. They bark at us because we threaten their sinful desires and lifestyles. As John 3:20 says, “Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” We are to be in the world but not of the world (see 1 Cor 5:10). We are to be a boat or ship on the water but not have the water in the boat.
 
I am a poor wayfaring stranger – this world is not my home. I’m just a pass’en through. So we don’t lose heart (2 Cor. 4:16-18), we continue to labor (1 Cor. 15:58) because we know an eternal reward is coming (Matt. 10:40-42; 19:28-30)! In fact, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor 2:9).
 
So, keep in mind everything is either a tool or an idol. And everything is going to burn.
 
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (Jn. 15:18)
 
“For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come” (Heb. 13:14).
 
You can play this song at my funeral: “Wayfaring Stranger.

Christmas and Christian Mission

“Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you’” (John 20:21).

We don’t often think of Christmas as connected to missions but it really is. Let me show you. First, “Christmas” is actually shorthand for “Christ’s mass.” The English word “Mass” comes from the Latin word missa,[1] which means to be “sent.” So, Christmas reminds us that Christ was sent.

He was sent to accomplish something. And His mission was not just to be a cute little baby. Jesus’ mission was to bring salvation. That’s actually how He got His name.

Matthew clearly spells it out for us: “You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

The name Jesus is actually the Greek form of the name Joshua. And it means “Yahweh saves” or “Yahweh is salvation.”

Friends, the bad news is we have not loved and listened to Yahweh, the one true God, as we should. But, the good news is, Yahweh saves. He saves in unexpected and amazing ways.

He saves by sending Jesus, the Promised One, to be born in a mere manger. He saves by sending Him to die the death we deserved to die.

So, Jesus was sent on a mission. He accomplished that mission. And we see that we now are sent on mission. Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21).

We are sent on a different mission but in the same way that Jesus was sent we too are sent. We too must carry out the mission. Christians join Christ in the Missio Dei, the “mission of God.” We are not the good news, but we tell the good news.

Christmas—Christ’s mission—should remind us of our mission. Thankfully, it is not our mission alone. Jesus did not leave us alone to accomplish the mission. He Himself is with us to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). And He Himself sent the Holy Spirit to be with us as our Helper.[2]

[1] This Latin shows up in missions and in missionary.

[2] See John 20:22 and John 16:7-8.

Christian Status

As Christians, Jesus is emphatically our Leader and Lord and His Kingdom is not of this world. His Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom made up of people from Sierra and Senegal, Armenia and America, China and Czechia, Portugal and Pakistan, Mexico and Mali (and many many more). America is not and never will be Israel. And the paradigms and parallels that we try to place on America that are meant for God’s people will never work because they are not theologically accurate. 

Christians belong to an entirely different kingdom. Jesus’ Kingdom is not of this world. The paradigms that people have that have Americans or Christian Americans as the promised people is gravely wrong. God’s promise to bless the nations is not a promise to America, it is a promise fulfilled in The Son of Abraham, Jesus. All the nations of the earth are blessed in and through Him.

Christian citizenship and allegiance first belongs to our Lord Jesus’ Kingdom, and only secondarily to any merely earthly kingdom. Our hope also needs to visibly be in the Lord Jesus, the supreme Lord of the universe that actually suffered as a servant for His subjects, and not in any earthly power. We work for change and we work with sacrificial love, but we do not have our hope wrapped up here.

As Christians, it is also important to remember, we work primarily at the heart level as Jesus did, and as surgeons do, not mainly on the symptoms level. Our overarching desire is to change the cause, pull the root. We believe primarily in transformation from the inside out and not mainly in the mere reformation of society. We don’t want to rearrange the furniture on the Titanic, we want as many passengers rescued as possible. We don’t mainly want to save America, we mainly want Americans saved. So, even while we work for progress on the policies we believe in, our hope is not in them. We know, as it says in the book of Revelation, the new Jerusalem comes down out of heaven; it is not constructed here (21:2).

The Christian hero and hope is a seemingly powerless middle-eastern refugee carpenter with olive skin that was crucified as a criminal and rejected outcast. That’s who Christians identify themselves with and place all of their hope in. Not in the seemingly powerful people, politicians, or political parties who have technology and Ph.D.’s, money and influence, beauty and charisma. 

Further, we should not even lead people to believe that our hope is in people or any earthly power. “The hope within us” that is supposed to be communicated and seen is that Christ is Lord (1 Peter 3:15). It may not always look like He is in the world around us, but the reality is that He is. Jesus rose from the dead and demonstrated in space and time that He is Lord and He is coming back soon. It is also important to remember that when we tell people about our hope in Messiah Jesus, that we do so “with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

When the onlooking world sees Christians, they should see we have hope that transcends this world. “Christ in us”—not a mere person, policy, or political party—is the “hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). The exiles spoken of in Hebrews made it clear (11:14) that “they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God” (11:16). May that be clear for us too! May we make it abundantly clear that we are looking for and longing for the country the Lord has prepared for us (v. 14).

Gospel Motive Filter

How can we know if our motives are gospel-focused or not? In the below video I outline a way to filter out motivations that are not gospel-focused.

Is Jesus Really the Only Way?

A lot of people believe that all “good” people go to heaven.

“After all, isn’t being good[1] what really matters? If someone is good and sincere in their beliefs then they should go to heaven. Plus, aren’t all religions basically the same?”[2]

“How could a good God allow people to go to hell?”

However, it should be asked, does God want those people to go to hell?[3] And has God provided a way for them to be saved? The answer to the first question we’ll see is no[4] and the answer to the second question is yes.

First, Scripture repeatedly says things like God desires all humans to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4). Here are three more:

“The Lord is… not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).

“Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?… For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live” (Ezek. 18:23, 32).

“Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?” (Ezek. 33:11).

So, God’s desire is for people to come to a knowledge of the truth of salvation in Jesus Christ and repent of their sins and be saved. That is God’s desire. However, that’s not it.

Second, God has also provided the way of salvation. The one God has provided the one way of salvation through the man Christ Jesus who is the one mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5).

Imagine we were all on an island that a very wealthy and magnificent man owns. It is on fire and we all have to get off or we will die. Now, imagine that the owner of the island built a very large and sturdy bridge to the mainland so that people could escape. And in making the bridge he himself died.

Read More…

The Hospitality of God and our Hospitality

First, what even is hospitality? What does it mean? It means “love for the stranger” or “to befriend a stranger.”[1] One definition says hospitality is having “regard for one who comes from outside one’s group.” That is exactly what God has done for us. God is perfectly holy and exalted and yet He has regard for us. 

The Lord God has regarded us—loved us—even welcomed us into the Triune fellowship (see e.g. Jn. 20:17), we who were sinners and strangers. And He did so with great cost to Himself.[2] And we see from the Gospels that Jesus was a friend (philos) of those we would expect to remain strangers and outsiders, people like tax collectors and other sinners (see Matt. 11:19), sinners like you and me.[3] And so Paul says, “welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Rom. 15:7).

When we understand the amazing hospitality of God we will find it easier to love and welcome people in. Understanding the hospitality of God is essential as we think about the hospitality that we are called to practice. Because, in one sense, hospitality is supernatural. It is certainly not natural to us. We need to meditate on the hospitality of God if we hope to be hospitable as we are called to. 

It is true, however, that even “secular people” who don’t know God’s love show surprising generous hospitality (cf. Acts 28:2,7[4]). So, how much more should Christians, who have been welcomed in by God with great expense, welcome in and love others?

The LORD has shown undeserved love to us in Christ may we show love to others (Ex. 23:9; Lev. 19:18, 34; Deut. 10:17-20).

Read More…

The Cleansing of the Temple

“For zeal for your house has consumed me,
and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.”
                             —Ps. 69:9 (cf. Jn. 2:13-17; Matt. 21:12-17)

 

That’s exactly what happened to Jesus. He was consumed by zeal for the LORD’s house.

Can you imagine the scene? The whole city was frantic with excitement and expectation as Jesus came into Jerusalem.[1] Many expected that Jesus would soon bring freedom from Roman oppression and establish a reign of peace. People expected Jesus to ridicule Rome and inaugurate the Jewish state. Jesus, instead, condemns what’s going on in the Jewish temple.

If Jesus’ actions are unexpected it is because of misunderstanding or lack of zeal on our part. What Jesus did is in full agreement with Scripture (cf. Jer. 7:11; Zech. 14:21). The temple was to be a house of prayer, not a “den of robbers” (Is. 56:7). Specifically, the house of prayer is supposed to be “for all peoples” (v. 7). Because of all the selling, however, the court of the Gentiles would have been so filled with commotion that neither Jew nor Gentile would have been able to pray without distraction.

Jesus has concern for the poor, the sick, and the outsider. Jesus stands up for them even to the point of experiencing opposition. “Christ does more than denounce injustice—he takes action against it.”[2] That is good news!

Read More…

The Missional Mandate for Christians

As followers of Jesus, Christians have a missional[1] mandate (Matt. 28:18-20). Christians are pupils and apprentices. We follow Jesus and we do as He did. We give our lives away in love and we tell people about the good news of Jesus. To be a disciple is to be missional. We are not true disciples if we are not missional.

We lovingly engage with the people around us. We do not shut ourselves off in “God ghettos,” we do not create Christian castles. Jesus said that we are to be lights in a dark world (Matt. 5:15).[2] Paul said we are not to leave the world (1 Cor. 5:9-11) but be messengers of the King in the world (2 Cor. 5:20).

So, we as followers of Jesus…

Leave the “bubble”

We remove excess emphasis on Christian bubble activities and programs and instead spend time relationally engaging together with peers, neighbors, and coworkers. We are intentionally in the world. Jesus intentionally went to the world, He left heaven. He incarnated Himself (Matt. 1:22-23; Jn. 1:14; Phil. 2:7).

We follow our King and we enter the world in love (Matt. 5:13-16; Eph. 5:8; Phil. 2:15; 1 Pet. 2:12 cf. 1 Cor. 5:9-10; Jn. 17:15-16).

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