What Did Jesus Say?

What Did Jesus Say?

Jesus said some pretty amazing things during His time here on earth. Here is a small representation of some of what He said and claimed to be.

Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.”

Matthew 10:34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

Matthew 11:28-29 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them saying, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and earth.”

 

Luke 4:43 “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.”

Luke 5:31-32 “Is is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.

Luke 12:49 “I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled!”

 

John 5:24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgement, but has passed out of death into life.”

John 6:38 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”

John 8:12 “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

John 8:23 And He was saying to them, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world.”

John 8:42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.”

John 10:10-11 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”

John 10:30 “I and the Father are one.”

John 12:44-47 And Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me. He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me. I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness. If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.”

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

Savoring Jesus

If Anyone Loves Me He will Keep My Word (video excerpt)

 

In a recent sermon, John Piper enunciates so beautifully what it means, or what it’s like to love Jesus- not a duty or obligation, but something that we value and treasure above all other things. Loving Jesus is savoring His words and life. “Taste, and see that the LORD is good” Psalm 34:8. Here is how Piper says it:

Loving Jesus is a reflex of new birth. Once you had a soul whose tastebuds found him bland, or even bitter. Then you were born again and you licked the gospel, and for the first time it caused a high. What was that?? You saw him you tasted him, you saw that the lord was good. That’s new birth. You must be born again to see, to taste this Jesus. You can’t love Jesus if you’re not born again because he’ll taste bad.

“Thank you Lord that you taste good to me. Thank you Lord for being sweet in my mouth and life. Thank you for opening my taste buds so that I now can savor you. Always taste sweet to me Jesus. Amen!”

 

Not My Will But Thy Will

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I love that famous quote by C.S. Lewis:

There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, ‘All right, then, have it your way.’

C.S. Lewis says that there are two kinds of people- people who believe and submit to God for what’s best for their life, and those who think that’s just a bunch of baloney and want to do things their own way. Two paths in life. Two outlooks. Two philosophies.

I’ve found that the more we align our life to God and His way the much better off and happier we are. We’re much more satisfied when we do things God’s way. After all, He created us. He knows better than I do what’s best for me. I know that’s hard for a lot of people to acknowledge. This isn’t a new thing. We’ve been following in our ‘parents’ footsteps ever since Adam and Eve made the decision to choose knowledge (tree of knowledge) over trust (trusting God). They chose to trust in themselves rather than in God. And we’ve been making the same mistake they did for thousands of years. Do we trust God with our lives or would we rather do it ourselves? It’s probably our most basic struggle.

Romans chapter 1 talks a lot about what this struggle looks like in people:

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Rom 1:20-21

People have a basic knowledge of God- a basic awareness. God is ‘clearly seen’. But though He’s known He doesn’t force obedience. He always gives us a choice. And in the case of the Romans they chose their own way. He “gave them over to the sinful desires of their hearts. . . they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator.” This is an example from long ago, from the early church, but we don’t need to look very far to see this struggle still being played out (and failing) in our society. Look at all of the ills in our culture. Look at the things that divide us- marriage, children, family, neighbors, leaders, work, relationships, etc. Look at the political debates (or don’t). Everybody has an opinion. Do we ever consider what God says about all this? It might not be trendy, but it’s always the right answer.

This choice has never been easy. Sin has a way of enticing us to do it our way, convincing us that our way is right. We forget that there’s something so much better out there. Sin has a way of corrupting things. It takes what God has created, His standard, and warps and twists it. But sin always has its consequences, as we see so clearly when we get it wrong. Let’s get our heads on straight and come back to God’s standard. Let’s consult the boss. “Thy will be done.” Amen!

Quiet Times and Coffee. Can’t Beat It.

Probably one of my most favorite things to do, especially in the morning, is to brew a small cup of coffee, sit down with my Bible, and read and enjoy God’s word. I can’t think of a better way to start the day really. A healthy dose of Truth and something yummy to sip on. Can’t go wrong.

This morning I read and prayed through Psalm 5. Lately I’ve been reading and praying through the Psalms. It’s been a great way to point my prayers. Oftentimes I sit down to pray and just kind of draw a blank. Or more often too, I sit down to pray but my prayers are very self-focused, like ‘Lord, please DO this or MAKE this happen’ which really is all about me and has little to do with God. But reading the Psalms and praying through them is a great reminder that I need to have the right perspective of who God is before I start praying. It’s like sending a letter to someone you don’t know. What do you tell someone who you don’t know? All very general stuff I’m sure. But once you KNOW the person who you’re sending the letter to you can communicate more thoughtfully and meaningfully. I think that’s how it is with prayer. Once I have an accurate picture (or reminder) of who God is I pray with so much more intensity. It feels like my prayers have more ‘bite’ to them, if you know what I mean. You can’t ever go wrong with praying God’s word back to him. After all, He said it first, I’m just repeating it back to Him. That’s the only time I can be sure what I say is true, when God says it first.

The part I really liked from Psalms 5 this morning was verse 3:

In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice;
In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.

I was convicted a bit that that although I pray a lot, how often do I eagerly watch for His answer? More often than not I forget what I pray for as little as five minutes after I pray it. I simply forget to watch for God to provide the answer. God isn’t a genie that I can throw requests at and He’ll just do cause I say so. No. I think God wants to show us stuff when we pray. He wants to show us how faithful to us He really is. But how can He show me this if I forget what I even asked Him for? I miss out of an opportunity to see God work.

I want to eagerly watch for His answer. When I do this it changes the way I pray. If I have to wait for God to answer and watch until He does, that just might change the way I pray. It’ll make me pray for things much closer to me, for the people and situations around me. If I’m to SEE his response I have to be in a position to see. I don’t want to be too dogmatic about this, but it’s definitely something to think about. Does it mean I don’t pray for people far away from me? No, I don’t think that’s the right answer either. But I really think that my prayer life and therefore my spiritual life would be much healthier if I really focus and wait for God to answer- and keep praying until He does. Hold Him to it. That would change the way I pray. Instead of throwing coins at the slot machine not knowing what will come out I want to write a letter to God with intentionality, KNOWING who it is I’m talking to, expecting Him to answer according to His character. Intentional prayer. Expectant prayer. I’m reminded of the story of the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8. She kept coming back to the judge again and again with her request until finally he relented. Jesus teaches us through that story to ‘pray consistently and never quit’. Oh how my prayer life would be changed if I prayed like this.

“Lord, please help me to be more effective in my prayers. Lord teach me to pray like the persistent widow, who never gave up no matter what. Lord, help me to SEE your hand move in response to the things I pray. God, be glorified in my prayers. I trust you Lord. Thank you for helping me to pray expectantly. Amen!”

Empty Space, Creative Places

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Turning Off Your Smartphone: More Stress Or Less?

I had to read this article twice. Pretty much nailed it for me. Couldn’t have said it better myself so I’ll just quote the article:

When it comes to creating stress, smartphones are near the top of the list. Although these ubiquitous devices put the world at our fingertips, and seemingly free us from the shackles of the office, they also invade our lives and psyches.

This is something I’ve thought a lot about. I see the way that people are so wrapped up in their smartphones and online devices and it really concerns me. I think people are way too addicted to them. They demand our attention, interrupt relationships, consume our thoughts, and pretty much wipe out any free time we’d normally have if we’re not careful. They insert themselves into the empty spaces of our lives. But we need those empty spaces! In this fast-paced online always connected world, I often wonder if we’ve lost the margin in our lives. Do people even care about margin anymore?

I’m cognizant of how much time I spend in front of screens during the day, whether they be Tv, computer, iPod, etc. It’s really sneaky how it works. While I’m looking at a screen I’m getting fed information and stimulating my mind. I’m being told what to think, told what to believe, leaving little room to weigh my own feelings. No room for creative thought. This is the same reason why books are better than movies- one allows for imagination, the other doesn’t. Personally, I need time to reflect on things, put the pieces of my day and life together and make connections. Without it I feel lost at sea. Margin lets me build bridges in my mind. It’s how I make sense of the things around me. I think if we’re not careful we lose this margin, this breathing space, without knowing it. But if we’re careful we don’t have to!

I appreciate the author of the article suggesting we need predictable time off- time when we deliberately turn off our smart phones, unplug our internet, and turn off the Tv. I wonder how many of us are really able to do this? It’s a discipline for sure. And for those not used to it, it could be kind of boring, leaving a wide open empty space in their life. But I say it’s worth it! It’s worth trying. Those who are never able to disconnect and unplug have lost something. They’ve lost the ability to think, to wonder, to let the mind wander into new creative places. Have we lost the ability to daydream? Or have we been overtaken by Angry Birds or some other mindless video game? The people I admire the most are those who can say ‘no’ to these things- not just on principle but because they know that it’s in the empty spaces where some really wonderful things take place. That’s when we’re most thoughtful, and most creative. Let’s not lose the magic of margin in our lives. It might open up a whole new world for us.

Prayer is the Work

We’re just about in the middle of fasting month, or “bulan puasa” as we call it. It’s been a surprisingly fantastic month overall. Honestly we were a little unsure about this month, a little hesitant. It was at this time last year that we felt a pretty heavy weight on our hearts. It was a very dark time spiritually speaking and pretty depressing. Kim also started to get quite sick last year right as this month started. So we were a little hesitant.

But it’s been going well. We’ve been really blessed being able to spend so much time with the Lord. It’s been a discipline for sure. One of the biggest things we’ve been praying for this month is just that God would teach us HOW to pray and HOW to fast. See, this doesn’t come naturally for me. This is something I’ve had to develop. But prayerfully asking God to help me remove all the distractions in my life has helped me focus on Him. And fasting from food all day helps me focus better too.

It’s been a very unique month. A very sweet month. I almost don’t want fasting month to end because I’m learning so much. It’s been healthy for us to lay our burdens down. To REALLY trust that God is moving in response to our prayers. And to really trust that He is the one who can and will work here and in the hearts of the people around us. It’s His work and the more we realize this the better off we are. We feel more free to be ourselves- and wait for His timing. But in the meantime praying like there’s no tomorrow! One thing we’re realizing more and more is that PRAYER IS THE WORK. We’ve already seen God move in response to the things we pray for. And not only that but we are starting to get a reputation amongst our neighbors that God listens to us- he actually answers our prayers. If our neighbors can see this why can’t we? So I believe right now prayer is the work. There’s nothing more “productive” for us right now than putting our face to the ground, laying it all out there and asking that God would work here. In a book I’m reading right now it was described as “laying hold of God”. That’s precisely what we want to do this month and every month- lay hold of God. Beg Him to work. Ask Him to come. Invite Him to move in the hearts and lives of the people. And then wait and expect Him to answer. It’s one thing to believe something. It’s another thing to act in response to that belief. Faith in action. So we’re praying, and waiting/expecting God to show up. Because at the end of the day we aren’t the ones who get stuff done here. We’re only in a position to watch the action. I believe God wants to move here. I believe God wants people to know Him. And so we’re praying a connection with Him will be made.

Encouragement Comes From Little Places

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I absolutely love it when people share Bible verses and/or stories and lessons with me. It is such an encouragement to my heart. Sometimes I feel people put me and Kim on too high of a pedestal. We’ve trusted God for big things and He has taken us very far in our faith. People see this and are encouraged. But oftentimes our friends and family forget that they too can be a HUGE encouragement to us- if only they would just try. We don’t have the corner market on godly wisdom. We don’t have the lion’s share of faith. No. No. Our faith has been pretty poor lately to be honest- doubting God in the midst of our year long trial. But if you’re reading this PLEASE don’t hesitate to confront, advise, teach us or all of the above. We most definitely need to hear it.

One of our partners sent this little reminder to us today:

“Sometimes God will lead you in a way that makes no sense at all. Sometimes you will be able to see why it was good later on. Sometimes you will never know. But God can be trusted, even when you don’t understand. He is 100% loving, all-knowing, and trustworthy. Rest in that, no matter what the circumstances look like. This lesson has stayed with me in a very powerful way all my years. It goes with one of very favorite verses: Be still and know that I am God. It is enough.”

Amen! Thank you for the reminder.