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Rockets Over Jerusalem

A few minutes ago our evening was again interrupted by the sound of sirens warning of incoming missiles from Gaza. Two nights ago, our anniversary date was cut short as we sat in the stairwell of a hotel in Tel Aviv, along with several Israeli’s, amidst the same glaring noise. Shortly after we decided to return home to be with our 3 kids in Jerusalem.

peace

Living in Conflict

Our family is often asked how or why we choose to live in a place of seemingly continual unrest. What we have found is that you can experience joy in the midst of conflict. Jesus talks about this in Matthew 5:9,

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

People naturally want to live peacefully. However, Jesus is not saying blessed are those living in peace, but blessed are peacemakers. Peacemakers actually live in the midst of conflict. In other words, blessed are those living in conflict and bringing peace. Godly joy is readily found in the worst conflicts.

C.T. Studd grew up the son of a wealthy Englishman. He felt compelled to fulfill Matthew 19:21, sold what he had and gave to the poor. He spent his life in China, India, and Africa. In a poem he wrote is the line,

Some wish to live within the sound of chapel bells; I wish to run a rescue mission within a yard of hell.”

Studd discovered joy in the midst of conflict.

Taking Sides

America loves sports and Americans love to root for their favorite sports team. The World Cup displays people around the globe doing the same for national soccer (football) teams. The problem is that same mentality affects our view of people in the world. It’s easy to watch the news of middle east strife and put on display our competitive athletic nature rooting for blue and white or black, red, and green. To put on a kippa or Palestinian scarf and take sides in a conflict that takes lives on both sides of the line. But that’s not the Jesus way.

Defining Peace

Jesus lived at a time described as the “Pax Romana,” or Roman peace. Rome established and maintained peace through military might. Jesus, however, is referring to a peace (shalom) that makes a person whole, not the absence of war.

Peace is described as a state of mind, inward soundness, and well-being. When people tell me they are praying for the peace of Jerusalem I like to remind them to be praying for the well-being of all Jerusalem’s inhabitants – Jews, Palestinians, Armenians, Secular Israelis, Druze, Samaritans, Russians, Europeans…all who walk its streets and call it home.

The Peacemaker

Jesus was a peace-making Jew who cared for Jew and Gentile alike. He understood that the sun rises and rain falls on all mankind (Matthew 5:45). Paul describes Jesus as our peace, restoring relationships and bringing unity. “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility…and he came and preached peace to you who were far off (Gentile) and peace to those who were near (Jew)” (Ephesians 2).

The coming of Jesus brings the possibility of peace.”

Mourning for this Land

Several weeks ago three young Israelis, Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frenkel, and Gilad Shaar, were kidnapped and murdered near Hebron. A few days after their bodies were discovered, a young Palestinian, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, was kidnapped not far from where we live and burned alive in the Jerusalem forest. Our family mourned for these sons of Israel and this son of Palestine. We prayed for the families and asked God to bring shalom to this land.

Jesus also shared, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). This mourning is both personal and global. A mourning over the state of the whole world as you see the moral mess and unhappiness and suffering of mankind. Mourning with an understanding that the wrongdoer is sick, in need of healing.

We mourn when rockets are fired from Gaza because the wrongdoer is in need of healing. He terrorizes residents of Tel Aviv and others throughout the land, who are forced to hide out in bomb shelters and stairwells. We met some of them. We mourn when bombs are dropped on Gaza and lives are lost. I watched a video of a toddler being dug out of rubble. A child, barely able to walk, growing up in a profoundly hostile world. This land needs peace.

The World’s Great Need

The great need of the world today is for a number of peacemakers. If only we were all peacemakers there would be no problems, there would be no troubles. So what does a peacemaker look like? What do they do?

  • The peacemaker has only one concern, and it is the glory of God amongst men and women.
  • Peacemakers are ready to humble themselves and ready to do anything and everything in order that the glory of God may be promoted.
  • Peacemakers are prepared to suffer in order to bring it to pass. They are even prepared to suffer wrong and injustice in order that peace may be produced and God’s glory magnified.
  • Peacemakers do not simply sit in a study and theoretically work out this principle. It is in practice that a person proves whether they are a peacemaker or not. {1}

Godliness

God has made peace. He has humbled Himself in His Son to produce it. That is why the peacemakers are ‘children of God.’ What they do is to repeat what God has done. Peacemakers have an element of godliness about them, lovingly restoring right relationships. God considers peacemakers as one of His own, like a proud dad making the claim, “That’s my boy!” or “That’s my girl!”

Loving God and Neighbor

As people with Israeli and Palestinian friends, we are occasionally asked, “So whose side are you on?” As a family who serves Jesus with a heart to follow in His footsteps and fulfill His command to love God and people – all people, we are on neither side.

Joshua 5:13-14 gives guidance, “While Joshua was there near Jericho: He looked up and saw right in front of him a man standing, holding his drawn sword. Joshua stepped up to him and said, ‘Whose side are you on-ours or our enemies?’ He said, ‘Neither. I’m commander of God’s army.’”

We are for all peoples and nations, to the glory of God!”

The Challenge & Prayer

May you have a heart to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and all its inhabitants, may you mourn over the state of the world, may you forge a growing desire to be a peacemaker in this world, and may shalom be experienced in this land and beyond its shores.

{1} Copyright 1959-60 D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Studies in the Sermon on the Mount. Published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. Grand Rapids. 1976.

In God’s Time

After graduating from college, Shellie and I had a desire to teach overseas. We began exploring different opportunities but in the end took teaching jobs in the Chicago area. One of the things we learned following Jesus is to trust His timing. During Jesus’ ministry, He always waited for the right time.

time

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John 4:1

Jesus knew the Pharisees had heard that he was baptizing and making more disciples than John.

Curious

The Pharisees had taken an interest in John the Baptist (John 1:19). Yet now Jesus was baptizing more than John. They became equally curious about Him.

John 4:2

(though Jesus himself didn’t baptize them—his disciples did).

Under God’s authority

Jesus himself did not do the baptizing but the disciples did under His authority. The value of baptism is not found in the baptizer but in the One whose name the rite is administered, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

John 4:3

So he left Judea and returned to Galilee.

The right time

Jesus withdrew from Judea and set out for Galilee before a confrontation could occur with religious leaders. The timing was not right.

God’s time

When it comes to the work of God, His will and His way is not only involved but also His time.”

According to God’s will and way Jesus would die on the cross. Just as important was the timing. Jesus needed time to train His disciples so they could carry on the work after His resurrection and ascension into heaven.

Leaving America

After teaching in Chicagoland a number of years, Shellie and I began working with an international school in Khartoum, Sudan. We trusted God’s timing and He led us to a great school that we were able to lead for a few years. Our experience in Africa changed us forever, moving us from a routine to radical life, dedicated to God’s glory among the nations.

In pursuing the will and way of God, trust in His timing as well.

The challenge

Pursue God’s will, way, and timing for everything. Allow Him to order your steps and make your path straight.

How has God’s timing made a difference in your life? Share your comments below.

God is Love

One of the most famous verses in the Bible is John 3:16, sometimes displayed at football games, on vehicle stickers and roadway signs. The verse contains the message of God’s love, Jesus coming, and eternal life. The verses that follow disclose the heart-breaking desire of people to remain in darkness. Are you living in the light?

love

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John 3:16-17

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

The divine gift

God loves more than a people group, gender, or nation. He loves the whole world. His love propelled Him to give the divine gift of His Son as a sacrifice for sin.

Although Christ’s coming brings judgment to those not believing, this was not the purpose. His aim is saving the world.”

John 3:18-19

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.

Lovers of evil

Refusing the divine gift brings judgment. People consumed with wrongdoing prefer to not be shaken out of a comfortable sinfulness. Yet if people desire darkness over light they have chosen condemnation.

John 3:20-21

For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.

Loving darkness

Those in darkness hate the light because it exposes the real person. Few like being confronted about what they do wrong. Even so, some willingly lay down pride and respond to the love of God, accepting Jesus.

The challenge

Live life in the light. Choose Jesus! Then tell others about their need to embrace God’s love in order to spend eternity with Him.

How has living in the light changed your life? Share your comments below.

Made New in Christ

While serving as School Administrator of an International school in Sudan, I had opportunity to work with people of various backgrounds. One of the Arabic teachers made the decision to follow Jesus while I was there. A person who daily came dressed in black, with a countenance to match, was transformed by the power of God. She happily greeted passerby’s with a sparkle in her eyes and a smile on her face previously not seen. Her decision to follow Jesus not only made her behavior new but also came with the promise of eternal life.

John chapter 3 reveals eternal life involves being completely remade by the power of God.

new

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John 3:1-3

There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.”

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

Being remade

Nicodemus came to Jesus impacted by the miracles he witnessed. Jesus, without delay, got to the very heart of the matter. In one sentence he cast aside everything Nicodemus stood for and challenged him to be remade by the Spirit of God.

John 3:4-8

“What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”

Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”

Genuine transformation

Nicodemus refers to physical birth in his response. Does he think this more probable than someone’s nature being transformed? Every time a person comes to Christ a miracle occurs. Genuine life-change begins by divine intervention.

John 3:9-15

“How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked.

Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony. But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven. And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.”

Lifted up

Jesus refers to His death as being “lifted up.” Jesus would experience the momentary humiliation of a cross that was actually the ultimate display of eternal glory. This one act would bring new life to those believing in Jesus.

Defining eternity

John’s reference to “eternal life” is about the life to come. The importance of eternity is not the quantity but the quality. When passing from this life into the next, a person moves from the earthly to the heavenly.

How is this achieved? As a gift from God, not based on human achievement. John 3:16 unpacks this idea.

The challenge

Ask Jesus to transform you completely. Be remade by the power of God and begin experiencing eternal living with Christ.

How has Jesus changed you? Share your comments below.

Missing God

Jews have been waiting for a Messiah for thousands of years. Jesus’ messiahship was regularly challenged. Many Jews formulated their own concept of what the Messiah should do and missed the One reconciling man to God and inaugurating His Kingdom.

John 2:18-22 reveals misunderstanding the nature of Christ can cause someone to miss God’s eternal work.

god

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John 2:18

But the Jewish leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.”

The Messiah

Jews were questioning the rightness of Jesus’ action of cleansing the temple. They wanted a miraculous sign to authenticate this Messianic act.

A shallow understanding of God and lack of faith cause people to demand proof. I have known people who asked God to show them a sign in order to believe in Him. That is not faith. The writer of Hebrews states,

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (Hebrews 11:1).

John 2:19

“All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

A gospel sign

The ultimate sign Jesus gave to the Jewish leaders was His death and resurrection. He knew they would destroy the temple (Jesus) and three days later God would raise Him up.

The religious authorities wanted a sign, but not the one Jesus ultimately gave. God works in people lives, but this often takes shape in ways different than they anticipate. His ultimate desire is for everyone to become right with Him through Jesus Christ.

John 2:20-22

“What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?”
But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said.

A spiritual temple

Commentators argue for a double meaning in His words, one referring to His death and resurrection and the other referring to the abolition of the Temple and sacrifices. Both occurred by Jesus dying on the cross and being raised from the dead.

Jesus was handed over for crucifixion by Jewish religious authorities and three days later raised from the dead. The rebuilt Temple is the New Covenant put into effect by the cross and empty tomb, a spiritual Temple.

God is greater

Isaiah shares, “For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). God is at work. It is better to align yourself with His perfect plan than be consumed with questions about actions or motives. People need to come into line with what God is doing, not seeking self-rightness by challenging His plans.

The challenge

Avoid coming to God with preconceived ideas of what He desires for your life. Passionately pursue Him knowing His ways and thoughts are not of your measure or standard.

Have there been times when you have missed God? Share your comments below.

Kingdom Access

The story of the prodigal son is interesting. The brother became angry at his brother’s celebrated return. Had he not been in the field at the time, would he have guarded the doorway to the house? Are you joyfully welcoming others into the Kingdom of God or restricting their access?

As a follower of Jesus, shouldn’t you make room for others?

kingdom

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John 2:13-14

It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money.

Open eyes

As a yearly custom, Jesus celebrated the Passover at Jerusalem. He saw merchants selling and trading goods within the outer Temple area, the Court of the Gentiles. The merchants took up space where foreigners should have had access.

As followers of Jesus, it is important to become aware of what is keeping others to have access to God.

John 2:15-16

Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!”

That all might hear

Jesus states why he acted so harshly, “Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” It was not the physical force but the moral power Jesus employed that emptied the courts (Morris, Gospel According to John).

The Messiah’s desire was for everyone to have access to God”

“I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.” (John 10:16)

John 2:17

Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.”

Messianic revelation

The actions of Jesus remind the disciples of Psalm 69:9 and Scripture is once again fulfilled by Jesus. “The action is not merely that of a Jewish reformer: it is a sign of the advent of the Messiah” (Hoskyns, The Fourth Gospel).

Passion for the lost

Followers of Jesus can inadvertently keep others from access to God by looking down on outsiders. Christians critical of how God-seekers appear and act need to remind themselves of the Holy Spirit’s transforming work. Christ followers should reflect the fruit of the Spirit and accurately display the character of Christ. A life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control provides others with a living gospel witness.

The challenge

Make way for others to have access to God. Be passionate for others to experience the transforming work of God in their lives.

How can you provide greater access to the message of Jesus? Share your comments below.

The First Noel

What was it really like that first Christmas? A small middle-eastern town was packed with people on account of a mandatory census. Shepherds were keeping watch over their sheep throughout a cool night. People were unaware of the eternal implications of a new birth, a divine King.

Noel?

Noel is the French word for Christmas, from the Latin word “natalis” meaning birthday.

noel

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Announcing the Savior’s birth

“The first Noel the angel did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay:
In fields where they lay a keeping their sheep
On a cold winter’s night that was so deep.
Noel Noel Noel Noel
Born is the King of Israel.”

“That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in highest heaven,  and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2:8-15)

A sign of the divine

“They looked up and saw a star
Shining in the east beyond them far:
And to the earth it gave great light
And so it continued both day and night.
Noel Noel Noel Noel
Born is the King of Israel.

And by the light of that same star
Three wise men came from the country far;
To seek for a King was their intent,
And to follow the star wherever it went.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.”

“The wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matt. 2:9-11)

The King has come

The newborn King came to be enthroned in the hearts of mankind. Many things in this world compete for your affections — busy schedules, the pursuit of comfort, an endless hope for gain, assurance and guarantee from harm. Many things can keep your focus off of Jesus.

Will you crown Jesus your King?”

The challenge

Enthrone Christ in your heart. Do not allow temporal and perishable things overtake a relationship with God.

What competes with the newborn King in your life? Share your comments below.

A King in Disguise

Why did Jesus come in such a humble manner? Why was it necessary for the divine to come to earth?

king

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An advent parable, A King in Disguise, written by Soren Kierkegaard (modified) gives us some insight:

“Once upon a time, there was a prince who was single and very eager to marry a lovely maiden for his future queen. Near his palace was a large city, and often he rode his carriage down to the city to take care of various chores for his father. One day, to reach a particular merchant, he had to go through a rather poor section. He happened to glance out of the window and right into the eyes of a beautiful maiden.

“He had occasion on the next few days to return to the section of the city–drawn as he was by the eyes of the maiden. And more than that, he had the good fortune once or twice actually to meet this young girl. Soon he began to feel that he was in love with her. But now he had a problem. How should he proceed to procure her hand?

“Of course, he could order her to the palace and there propose marriage. But even a prince would like to feel that the girl he marries wants to marry him. Or perhaps, somewhat more graciously, he could arrive at her door in his most resplendent uniform and, with a bow, ask her hand. But even a prince wants to marry for love.

“Again, he could masquerade as a peasant and try to gain her interest. After he proposed, he could pull off his ‘mask.’ Still, the masquerade would be ‘phony.’ He really could not manage it.

“Finally a real solution presented itself to his mind. He would give up his kingly role and move into her neighborhood. There he would take up work as, say, a carpenter. During his work in the day and during his time off in the evening, he would get acquainted with the people, begin to share their interests and concerns, begin to talk their language. And in due time, should fortune be with him, he would make her acquaintance in a natural way. And should she come to love him, as he had already come to love her, then he would ask for her hand.

“Over time, she did fall in love with the carpenter. She adored him. She believed in all of her heart that he was poor, simple, and common, and she loved him like that. And so, one day he proposed marriage, and she accepted. He still didn’t tell her he was a prince, a soon-to-be king. He simply told her to put on a beautiful dress, and on a particular day, he would come and pick her up, and then he would take her to the wedding. He would take care of all the details and surprise her.

“So she was there with her family and her friends, and an army of chariots and soldiers and banners and musicians – thousands upon thousands, showed up. They picked up this girl from the poor section of town, and they carried right through the palace gates – trumpets blaring, right down the aisle.

“Seated on the throne, she saw the prince, her soon-to-be husband. She got off of her chariot. She walked up to the prince and he told her, ‘I wanted you to love me not because I was going to be king, but I wanted you to love me simply for the sake of loving me. Then I could show you that I was the soon-coming king, and I would know that your love for me would always be true.’”

God did the same thing for us. He came in an unexpected way, a humble, simple, regular, normal way – as a regular guy, from a regular town, with a regular mom and a regular dad, living a regular life but being God. The world did not recognize him and rejected him. “He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him.” (John 1:10-11)

They said, “We are waiting for a king.” Jesus says,

I am a king, and if you love me, I’ll take you to the palace, but love Me first.”

He loves you and He wants your love, but freely and voluntarily. He could have ordered you to love Him but is that love? He could have appeared to you in kingly glory. Who would not be awed by such splendor? He wanted to win your love without dazzling and overwhelming you with the magnificence of His divinity. Paul writes “…though he was by nature God, [He] did not consider being equal with God a thing to be clung to, but emptied himself, taking the nature of a slave, and being made like unto men. And appearing in the form of man he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even to death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8).

The world says, “We will not marry a common, poor, simple Jesus. We are waiting for someone better.”

Then he rose from the dead. What a King! God meets you on your level that you might respond freely to His love.

Christmas is a great time to respond to His love. Will you give a wholehearted response to His love this Christmas season? Will you commit yourself to the King? Share your comments below.

Follow Me

Online is a comical picture of Jesus sitting on a park bench talking with a young man. The caption reads, “No, I’m not talking about Twitter. I literally want you to follow me.”

follow me

Are you simply skimming the words of Jesus, like a twitter feed, or are you purposely pursuing Him?

Following Jesus

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Come, follow me.”  Philip was from Bethsaida, Andrew and Peter’s hometown. (John 1:43-44)
Jesus took the initiative to ask Philip. Nothing is said of Him asking Andrew or the others. He went out of His way to enlist Philip into the “band of brothers.”

Philip the evangelist

Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.”  (John 1:45)
Philip acts like a torch setting another torch on fire. Experiencing Jesus causes people to tell others about Him.

Come and see

“Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” “Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied.  (John 1:46)
Nathanael’s hometown is Cana, located near Nazareth. Their proximity may have pitted a rivalry. Philip simply replied, “Come and see,” not arguing but inviting.

Divine insight

As they approached, Jesus said, “Now here is a genuine son of Israel—a man of complete integrity.” “How do you know about me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus replied, “I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.” (John 1:47-48)
Jesus salutes Nathanael as being straightforward, someone spending time in prayer.

The fig tree is a symbol of home, with it’s shade frequently used as a place of prayer and mediation. Nathanael possibly had an extraordinary experience with God in the privacy of his home.

King Jesus

Then Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God—the King of Israel!”  (John 1: 49)
Jesus had a special insight about Nathanael. In return he expresses awe in meeting the Rabbi, the Son of God and divine King.The royalty of Jesus is important, even though it is veiled by his lowly life and death. By declaring Him King, Nathanael submits himself to Jesus.

The stairway

Jesus asked him, “Do you believe this just because I told you I had seen you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.” (John 1:50-51)

The phrase “I tell you the truth” gives substance to the rest of His statement. Jesus is revealing His link between heaven and earth.

He is the means by which the reality of heaven is brought to earth, making possible a relationship with God.”

Jesus

In this chapter Jesus is given several titles: the Logos (the Word) (v.1), God (v.1), the Light of men (v.4), the true Light (v.9), the only begotten from the Father (v.14), a greater than John the Baptist (vv.15, 26-27, 30), Jesus Christ (v.17), the Lord (v.23), the Lamb of God (vv.29, 36), he that baptizes with the Holy Spirit (v.33), God’s Chosen One (v.34), the Son of God (v.49), Rabbi (v.38, 49), and the King of Israel (v.49). John paints a glorious picture of Jesus.

The challenge

Jesus knows you and invites you to come to Him. Tell others to join you and experience more of heaven on earth.

Who could you invite to experience Jesus? Share your comments below.

The Grace of God

Roof shingles make great frisbees, or so I thought as a child. While walking through our neighborhood with a friend, I saw one laying on the road, picked it up and gave it a good throw. It flew well but unfortunately wound up hitting a window, causing it to shatter. For reasons I still don’t fully know my friend took the blame and paid for the broken window. I was the recipient of unwarranted grace.

Have you ever experienced grace after doing something wrong?

grace

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A greater One

John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’ ” (John 1:15)

In antiquity chronological priority meant superiority. John indicates a reversal in the case of John the Baptist and Jesus. Till Jesus came the Baptist occupied center stage. He who came later was “far greater” than the forerunner.

Before the Baptist

Though Jesus appeared on earth after John the Baptist, He actually existed before him, from eternity. Jesus was before John, even though His earthly birth was later. The preexistence of Jesus shows superiority.

Blessings in Christ

From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. (John 15:16)

Christ is the source of all blessings. God’s grace is continuous and is never exhausted.

Grace has no interruptions and knows no limit.”

No one knows where grace will lead, what blessings will come, and what challenges will occur. Grace means an ever deepening experience of the presence and power of God.

The Law

For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. (John 15:17)

The first five books of the Old Testament were divinely given to Moses. The Law made a way for sin to be forgiven through sacrifice and gave instruction for living. People, however, began to think they could earn a relationship with God by doing good. Everyone falls short, no one is perfect.

Truth and Grace

The Law points to Jesus, the Messiah. “If you really believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me.” (John 5:46) Jesus came bringing God’s truth and grace to the world. Everyone falls short of fulfilling the Law yet Jesus offers grace, including forgiveness and new life. Changes begin and the Law is fulfilled by grace, showing the evidence of salvation by obedience.

On the cross

Jesus died as the Substitute for our sin. God knew the totality of our sins and placed them on Jesus. Although people deserve the holy wrath of God, Jesus paid the penalty. Jesus offers grace upon grace; an unending, loving, merciful, affection for the children of God.

Seeing God

No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us. (John 15:18)

God has never been fully seen. Moses partially viewed Him (Exodus 24:9-11) but God’s essential being could not be revealed. God is present but physical eyes do not detect him. Jesus makes God known personally. If someone wants to see God, look to Jesus. He is a clear picture of Him.

The life and words of Jesus are a revelation of God’s love and purpose for mankind.

The challenge

Receive God’s gift of grace and truth. Learn about God by looking at Jesus. He perfects faith.

In what ways has God made Himself known to you? Share your comments below.