Gethsemane again

This morning as I spread jelly on a bagel, I heard stinging words that were hurled at me over a piece of toast years ago. Rather than launch me into anger,  those words – thank you, Jesus –  brought me back to a truth I realized many years ago, though it isn’t written into the Gospels. I’m not even sure this truth hit me at Easter, but when it  hit me, I fell to the floor in worship.

Think, Christian, of your Redeemer and Savior King kneeling in the dirt beneath the olive trees that night. Think of the lies, challenges to his identity, insults and slurs hurled against him by the “religious” power structure – just listen, and remember:

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.But  Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11“No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8: 3-11 NIV

The Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and testing Jesus, they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. But He replied to them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ “And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times? “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” And He left them and went away. Matthew 16: 1-4 NIV

Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH’?
“So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE AND SEND her AWAY?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” Matthew 19: 3-9

Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?”

18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

23 That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 24 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him.25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. 26 The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. 27 Finally, the woman died. 28 Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”

29 Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 31 But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

33 When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.

34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”

“The son of David,” they replied.

43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says,

44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord:
    “Sit at my right hand
until I put your enemies
    under your feet.”’[e]

45 If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” 46 No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions. Matthew 22: 15-46 NIV

Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled.32 He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; 33 they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.”34 The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.  Luke 18: 31-34 NIV

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 25For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. 1 Peter 2: 23-25 NIV

Scripture enough, truth enough to remind us that throughout his ministry, Jesus was continually challenged, “traps”laid out to trip him up by the “religious” leaders who saw him as a  threat to their power base. Baseless,  senseless, unreasonable, self-centered, irrational, and yes, flat-out evil. These are the very ones Jesus came to save, to spill his blood for and redeem IF ONLY they  would recognize their sins and need of his atoning Blood, IF ONLY they would turn in true repentance and reverence to him, turn in true gratitude at least, if not in awe and wonder at such selfless, sacrificial, dauntless, courageous, relentless, passionate  love. What, if not this kind of love, would cause the ONE who knew HE WAS THE SACRIFICIAL LAMB OF GOD to cry out FOR the people he would suffer and die for:

37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” Matthew 23: 37-39 NIV

So what thought came to me about  the thoughts of Jesus as he knelt there in Gethsemane? HE SAW YOU! HE SAW ME! HE KNEW OUR LOVE, HEARD OUR PRAYERS, HEARD OUR SONGS OF THANKS AND PRAISE! That’s what helped Jesus stay  the course and walk through the insults, the agony, the weight of OUR sin falling on HIM: that  we would see the truth,  embrace it  with joy and run to HIS forgiving, gracrious, merciful, true love!

And what was his grief? THAT SO MANY  WOULD NEVER SEE, NEVER RECOGNIZE, NEVER KNOW, NEVER UNDERSTAND, NEVER COME TO HIS LOVE FOR THEM! Oh, I feel that  same anguish! 

That’s the sole,  singular reason I write this blog: to tesitfy to GOD’S LOVE IN CHRIST JESUS in fervent hope that some  who don’tknow HIMmay readthis, see and  hear Him,and come to HIS passionate love for them. And so that those of us, you who read this and know HIM, may be encouraged to run with the great GOOD NEWS THAT JESUS SAVES! Don’t hide your lamp under a  bushel! Don’t say someone else will do it! Don’tsay it isn’t your  calling, because IT IS YOUR CALLING! However you are grace-gifted, it is your calling! MAKE  JESUS KNOWN! MAKE  HIS LOVE AND TRUTH FAMOUS! DON’T STOP TILL THE WHOLE WORLD HEARS – even your neighbor, even your brother-in-law, even your boss, even that person who hurls insults at you.

This is why about 25 of us ordinary  women gather every Monday morning to fervently sing and declare Scripture and passionately

pray for three hours for ALL THE WORLD TO KNOW THE AMAZING GRACE AND  SAVING  LOVE  OF GOD IN JESUS, OUR REDEEMER, SAVIOR, FRIEND, GOD AND KING!  Here’s  an ordinary  guy singing what we ordinary  girls  sing. Oh ordinary person, come to and lift up  your EXTRAORDINARY SAVIOR AND GOD!

Today, pray your own honest “…BUT GOD…” Lord, Jesus, Savior, I confess I’ve held back and not shared your love when I could, and I don’t know  why it scares me, unless I fear the rejection of people more than the approval of God. I’ve kept quiet, BUT NOW AS YOU HELP ME I WILL_______________________________________________________________, and Holy Spirit,  speak LOUD and CLEAR to me, in Jesus’ name, AMEN!

 

Advertisements

The Great ( C)Omission

Here I go out on a limb again. Dating myself, I remember first hearing about The Great Commission in college, probably at the Lay Witness Mission at our Methodist Church where I first went forward publicly to affirm my faith in Jesus as my Lord and Savior, or maybe at the college Sunday School class or Campus Crusade meetings I attended after that. Right here it is, in verse 19 of Matthew 28, among the last words Jesus spoke to his disciples after his Resurrection:

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

I’ve met many Christians in the last few years who say to me something like this: “My faith is very personal to me, a private matter between Jesus and me.” That’s great; I applaud a deeply intimate personal relationship with Jesus, because that’s what Christianity truly is. What usually follows that comment, though, is an unspoken “…and that’s why I don’t say anything about Jesus in public.” Hmmm…..

“I’d rather see a sermon than hear one,”so goes the argument for keeping quiet about your faith.  Imagine for a minute what the world would look like if those eleven men on the mountain with Jesus had felt the same way….  BUT the truth is, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” ” Romans 10: 13-16 NIV

“On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the disciples had gathered together and locked the doors of the place because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. Just as the Father has sent me, I also send you.” John 20: 19-22 NIV

“I like to keep my faith personal and private- evangelism is for people like Billy Graham ” is the attitude I’m here calling The Great Omission. Granted, up front, not every Christian is called to be or gifted to be an evangelist, What exactly, is an evangelist, though?

Strong’s Concordance 2097: euaggelizó: to announce good news

Original Word: εὐαγγελίζω
Part of Speech: Verb
Transliteration: euaggelizó
Phonetic Spelling: (yoo-ang-ghel-id’-zo)
Short Definition: I bring good news, preach good tidings
Definition: I bring good news, preach good tidings, with or without an object, expressing either the persons who receive the good news or the good news itself (the good news being sometimes expressed as a person).

“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

So an evangelist is basically anyone who expresses/communicates the good news of Jesus – who himself is the Good News – and his gift of forgiveness and salvation. If I may use an analogy, it’s a person who plays on and FOR the team, not a bench-sitter.

Truly, does anyone who plays on an athletic team of any kind join the team just to sit on the bench all season and cheer the other players on, but never actually play in the game? I may be wrong, but don’t the fans in the bleachers do that? Yes, fans may wear team jerseys, but they aren’t ON the team and IN the game. If the first disciples had simply been fans of Jesus, the cheering would have stopped when Jesus “left the field” and you and I wouldn’t be able to know, love, or live for Jesus today. Nobody else would have! But those first eleven, and the others who joined them, at the cost of their own lives took the word, yes the spoken out loud to other people word, of Jesus to every corner of the world where they were able to travel. They lived the Great Commission, as have millions of others since their time, and that’s the reason you know Jesus as Savior and Lord today: somebody SAID something about Jesus to you.

No, I’m not advocating that you get a soapbox and stand on a street corner. What I am advocating is that, even if your spiritual gift is administration, or giving, or accounting, or service, or helping others, or greeting at the door onSundaymorning, or teaching preschoolers, please don’t “hide your light under a bushel” and let people think you do those things well and happily simply because you’re a good person. “Oh, but if they see me doing good, they’ll ‘see’ Jesus in me know it’s because of Jesus.” No, they won’t. They’ll see a “good person” doing good unless you SAY something about your motivation to do that good coming from your relationship with Jesus. You don’t have to give a sermon. All you need to do is say something like, ”Well, God loves me, so I love others,” or “Jesus loves me, and I want to share his love, so I _________.”

The apostle Peter wrote, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect ….” 1Peter 3:15 NIV

And Jesus himself said to the thousands gathered on a hillside, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5: 14-16 NIV

Of course we aren’t supposed to call attention to ourselves. But how will those others know that you have a Father in heaven to give glory to if you don’t let them somehow know your have a Father in heaven and HE’s the reason for the good you do?

I suspect the reason we don’t make our faith known is that, deep down, we fear rejection or censure of some kind or ridicule. Isn’t it insecurity about what other people might think? I admit it wasn’t until four years ago that I started asking waitresses and waiters in restaurants if there was a way I could pray for them. Guess what? So far, no one has told me to take a hike. In fact, I’ve met some very receptive and grateful people! They don’t know my name, but they know Jesus knows THEM enough to nudge one of his teammates to express care about them. When Christ returns, or when I go home to heaven to meet him, I don’t want him to find me simply warming the bench.

Jesus paid the ultimate price for me, his own life, endured unimaginable pain and taunts and suffering for me to not just cover over, but take away my sins. and give me a loving, intimate, implausible relationship with the Creator of the Universe! Isn’t that worth sharing with someone who may never have heard the good news, and who may never hear it if you OMIT rather than COMMIT and don’t say something?

I quote Joseph Prince:

“God, who is the only one who can fully appreciate the full value of His Son’s blood and who is completely satisfied by His Son’s sacrifice, is at rest in His heart today concerning your sins! That is why He is not against you even when you fail. Neither is He out to punish you when you sin. No, He still loves you, is for you and wants to help you overcome that sin.

In the Old Testament, the blood of bulls and goats could only “cover” sins and not take them away. (Hebrews 10:4) But the blood of Jesus is not like the blood of animals! For by one sacrifice, the eternal blood of the Son of God has forever removed your sins (Psalm 103:12) and cleansed you of all unrighteousness! (1 John 1:9) In fact, God is so satisfied with His Son’s perfect work that He says to you today, “Your sins and lawless deeds I will by no means remember!” (Hebrews 10:17) And if God does not remember them, why would He punish you for them?

Beloved, you have “redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace”. Because Jesus’ work is complete, all your sins have been completely forgiven.”

If you’d shout at a baseball or football game when the team scores, why won’t you even quietly share one sentence with your next-door neighbor about the greatest goal, the greatest score, the greatest victory and the most amazing Victor ever? Will you ask God to give you courage from him to overcome your fear, and will you believe, if He was wiling to give His son to die for you, He more than wants to?

“Put me in Coach, I’m ready to play today!”

 

A”…BUT…” to pray: Lord God, you know I dont feel qualified or ready, but you equip the sent, so I’m asking You to help me ________________________________________________.In Jesus’ name, and Holy Spirit, I will listen _________________________________________. Send me with what YOU say!