Who is Jesus?

easter01This is a momentous week in the life of the church.  Because it has been framed by two monumental events of history, it is the week traditionally referred to as “holy week.”

It’s a week that began with Palm Sunday, and it will end this Sunday with the celebration of Easter.  Palm Sunday is associated with the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, and Easter is the joyful recognition of His resurrection.

There’s a three word question that was asked by those who observed Jesus on Palm Sunday. As He rode a white donkey through the narrow and dusty streets of Jerusalem, they asked:  “Who is this?”

The Gospel of John presents a group of witnesses that offer a line of testimony that answers this question:

  • John testifies that Jesus turned water into wine at the marriage supper of Cana.
  • The nobleman gives a detailed account of how Jesus simply spoke and his dying son was healed.
  • The man who had been crippled for 38 years jumps in the air and clicks his heels together to show the miraculous manner in which Jesus healed him.
  • The little boy holds up an empty lunch pail and says: “It had just enough food for my dinner, but Jesus blessed it and there was enough to feed 5,000 people.”
  • The seasoned fishermen relive the moment when they thought their boat was going to sink and they were going to drown: “The Master appeared out of nowhere, walked on the waves, commanded the water to be still, and we were saved.”

After listening to all the testimony, a man rises and says:  “May I speak?  I think my evidence is conclusive.  You see, I was dead, but somehow I heard the clear and loud voice of Jesus:  ‘Lazarus come forth,’ and I shook off the chains of death.  I’m living proof of who Jesus is.”

Who is this?  Jesus is:

  • The Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
  • The Bread of Life.
  • The Light of the world.
  • The Good Shepherd
  • The Way, the Truth, and the Life.
  • Resurrection and the life

Who is Jesus to you?

A Joyful Heart

Beautiful smiling cute babyMy concept of God might be different than yours.  I believe God is loving, caring, and full of joy.  God gave us our sight so we can have the pleasure of seeing rainbows,  butterflies, and majestic mountain ranges.

I thank God that He blessed me with the sense of smell, so I can enjoy the aroma of a freshly baked cake; and I am overjoyed that He created me with taste buds, so I can savor the flavor of apple pie topped off with a big dip of vanilla ice cream.

On my journeys into the wilderness, I’ve enjoyed the solitude of silence that is only interrupted by the chirping of a bird, the whistle of a quail, or the refreshing sound of a flowing river.

I’m glad that God wants His people to experience the wonder of joy and the fruit of happiness.  Solomon wrote of this in the Proverbs: “A joyful heart makes a face cheerful, but a sad heart produces a broken spirit . . . a cheerful heart has a continual feast (15:13, 15).”

A couple of chapters later, Solomon draws a contrast between the joyless and the joy-filled:    “One with a twisted mind will not succeed, and one with deceitful speech will fall into ruin. A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones (17:20, 22).”

Since a joyful heart is good medicine, here’s a medicine chest full of quotes:

  • The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things. ~ Henry Ward Beecher
  • I think I began learning long ago that those who are happiest are those who do the most for others. ~ Booker T. Washington
  • If we try hard to bring happiness to others, we cannot stop it from coming to us also. To get joy, we must give it, and to keep joy, we must scatter it. ~John Templeton
  • You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; this is why God, Your God has anointed you with the oil of joy. ~Hebrews 1:9
  • I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you. ~John 15:11-12

The key to living a life of joy is found in the words of the Psalmist:  “You reveal the path of life to me; in Your presence is abundant joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures.” ~Psalm 16:11

Three questions come to mind when I think of the verse above:

  • Since God reveals the path of life to you, why take a detour?
  • If abundant joy is found in His presence, what do you have when you refuse it?
  • If eternal pleasures are in God’s right hand, what is left? Temporary and unfulfilling worthless worries?

I’ll close with the words of Paul:  “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” ~Philippians 4:4

Are You Barely Bearable?

imagesAm I a BEAR or a BEARER?  This is one of the questions I asked myself when I had finished reading Galatians 6.  The practical and profound principles that Paul states in this section of Scripture provide a good checklist for anyone who desires to live a life that is pleasing to God.  What answer can you give to this list of questions?

  • 6:1: When someone stumbles and falls, do I restore him in a spirit of gentleness or do I kick him while he is down?
  • 6:2: Do I lend a hand to a fellow Christian and “bear one another’s burdens” or do I find fault in him and savage him with hurtful gossip?
  • 6:3: Do I deceive myself with a false sense of self-importance?
  • 6:7: Do I realize that I am going to reap what I have sown?
  • 6:9: Am I keeping my eye on the goal of the harvest, so I don’t grow weary in doing what is good and right?
  • 6:10: Do I look for opportunities to be a blessing to others?
  • 6:11: Do I remind myself that the “grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” is constantly with my spirit?

There are seven items on this checklist.  To unleash the power of each them, I suggest that you read them for the next 7 days at 7 AM and 7 PM.

As a list, this is just a potential principle; but, you can make it an exponential essential by reviewing it today whenever it is 7 minutes past the hour (7:07. 8:07, 9:07. 10:7, etc.).

The practical application of these principles will develop a tactical expression of your faith.

Relationship’s Three R’s

Wheat field sunriseWhen I read the Psalms, I get the idea that many of these believers were get-up-before- the-rooster-crows kind of people. They rarely missed a sun rise and enjoyed the early morning hours.

I see this theme in most of the Psalms and here as well: “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love that we may rejoice and be glad all our days (Psalm 90:14).”

Henry Ward Beecher may have been reflecting on a similar verse when he said: “The first hour of waking is the rudder that guides the whole day.”

I encourage you to set a time to reflect on the three R’s of relationship that are found in the Psalms. These can act as a rudder to help guide your day:

• Relax in His peace: In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety (Ps. 4:8).”
• Refresh yourself in His mercies: “The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made (Ps. 145:9).”
• Rejoice in His love: “I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation (Ps. 13:5).”

I’ll close with two verses that can summarize what I’ve written: “Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:2-23)!”

Green Beanology

Like many of you, I worked outside this past weekend, and one of my tasks was my garden spot. As I planted my green beans, I remembered one of the supper table rules. My parents would say: “Eat a little bit every time and you’ll learn to like it.” Even though the rule was good in theory, Buster, my brother, never learned to like green beans. It was a sure bet that Buster would gag at the sight of a green bean on his plate.

Whenever I work in my garden, I’m reminded of certain words and phrases in the Bible; words like: sowing and reaping, grafting, pruning, and bearing fruit.

I wonder how these words apply to the Garden of Life and the opportunity to plant the seeds of kindness in the lives of others. To raise a good crop from these seeds, I should cultivate the garden with a smile; support it with a prayer; nurture it with acts of grace; and when necessary, mend it with mercy.

The prophet Jeremiah spoke of harvest time when he wrote: “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved!”

When harvest time comes, will your garden be barren or fruitful?

Think About It!

The Smooch of Forgiveness

There are many symbols and legends that give accounts of people moving from death to life.  The mythological phoenix was a bird that would rise from the ashes to new life.  Another account is the biblical story (Numbers 17) of Aaron’s rod.  This was a dead piece of wood that budded to new life.

The death to life cycle is what we witness each Spring as the cold hard days of winter are vanquished by the warmth of the sun and flowers begin to dot the greening landscapes.  Hope, once again, is reborn.

In a few months people will return to their gardens.  The soil will be cultivated and seeds planted in eager anticipation of a succulent harvest.

A part of this process is the need to weed.  Tiny seeds will feed on the fertile soil, take root, and and become a nuisance.

The need to weed should also be at the top of a person’s daily agenda.  The fertile ground of the mind can be a garden spot of beauty or one that is beastly in nature.  It can blossom into the beauty of forgiveness or be parched with the dryness of bitterness.

The SMOOCH project addresses this need with their global documentary and online forgiveness initiative.   This project profiles individuals who have found the humanity in the very persons they thought they could never forgive.  Their team of  filmmakers and photographers hold  Forgiveness Shoots around the world that focus on both the offender and the offended.   These heart-touching stories culminate in the forgiver and the forgiven giving one another a kiss on the cheek.

Jesus made a turn-the-other-cheek comment that should be enough to keep you thinking:  Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously (Matthew 5:39).