Category Archives: Favorite Scriptures

Favorite Scripture #6: One of The Many Reasons Why Jesus Christ is Great…And I am Not

One of my all-time favorite scriptures is 1 Peter 2:21-24, which so beautifully and powerfully captures the essence of who Jesus Christ was while he was on this earth:

“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”

This passage speaks to my heart about the supreme greatness of Jesus because it illustrates his perfect obedience to the Father, and his unwavering humility, even in the midst of the most horrific of suffering. As our magnificent saviour hung on a cold wooden cross, iron spikes protruding from his hands and feet, all in the presence of his gloating and triumphant enemies…he did not retaliate, speak a word in his defense, or even threaten his tormentors with what was going to happen to them at death. Instead he silently entrusted himself to the one who judges justly…his Father.

Jesus knew that in obedience to God and as an example for us, he must endure unfathomable suffering and humiliation at the hands of his most bitter enemies…and so must we…so must I.

The primary lesson I absorb from this passage is that, for me to truly be Christ-like, I must be willing to quietly endure even the pettiest of rejections I face as a follower of the biblical Jesus. Really – anything I suffer for his name is petty compared to what he went through on our behalf – yet sadly, it is difficult and even agonizing at times not to defend myself. My pride rises in my throat as I seek to defend my name, my reputation. But wasn’t Jesus of no reputation? Didn’t he allow himself to be mocked and even abused for the very same sin that rises in my wicked heart as I speak his truth?? As Paul said so eloquently: oh what a wretched man am I!  Who will rescue me from this body of death? …

…Jesus Christ…He alone bore my sin in his body on the cross so that I might die to sin and live for righteousness. By his wounds I have been healed. I believe Lord and I am so thankful for who you are and what you did. I forgive those who have hurt me…help me to perfect that forgiveness in my heart just as you so willingly forgave me while I was yet a sinner. Do not let my love grow cold but help me to fix my eyes on you as you truly are in your word, as I speak your scriptural truths in love and as I run this race with endurance, hand in hand with you, my saviour and my Lord….

Favorite Scriptures #1: Paul’s Perspective on the Purpose of Life

The Written Word of God: What Did Jesus, Paul, and the Apostles Say About the Written Word of God?

False Prophets and Teachers: Wolves Among Us

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***Favorite Scriptures #4*** – God chose the weak and the foolish things of the world to shame the strong and the wise. ( 1 Corinthians 1:17 – 2:5)

                                                      The Way of the World…And the Way of God

 

27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.  

1 Corinthians 1:27-29

  No scripture quite annihilates the patterns of this world – and sadly modern Christianity – as powerfully and as comprehensively as 1 Corinthians 1:17 – 2:5. In that passage, which I will quote in full below, Paul expounds, in clear and incisive language, on how exactly God chose and chooses to influence this world. It is a direct indictment of every earthly institution – including the modern church. He does not use the rich, the eloquent, the beautiful and the powerful. Instead, God chooses the weak and the foolish and the broken. He chooses empty things and lonely things, and things that are not to nullify the things that are so that no one…may boast before him.

17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

Chapter 2

 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

 The world, including, in very large part, our churches and Christian organizations, send us the message that we are to admire and follow the lead of successful businessmen, “Christian” politicians, the talented, the athletic, the wealthy and the beautiful. We are taught, in word and by example, to uphold those with obvious temporal gifts, and leaders are chosen accordingly. Why do we do this when it is contrary to everything we see in the scriptures? The Apostle John tells us “flesh gives birth to flesh and spirit to spirit.” (John 3:6). Yet time and time again, we as believers choose the temporal, the flesh, over the spiritual, when it comes to those we follow and admire.

Jesus was born to teenage parents…in a barn. He spent most of his life performing manual labor as a carpenter. Isaiah 53 makes it clear that he was not physically attractive so that people would not be drawn to his outward appearance – but to his spirit. During his time of ministry Jesus said that, even foxes and birds have holes and dens in which to live, yet He had no place to rest his head. The Living God did not even have a place to call home in while on this earth. The Apostle Paul, among others, followed this example and traveled the known world on foot and by cargo ship, seeking, not to gain wealth or temporal power but only to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, so that perhaps, some might be saved…for Paul was looking to an eternal kingdom, to the heavenly Jerusalem, to the city of the living God. (Hebrews 12:22).

Jesus chose his disciples from among the uneducated and the despised. He chose fishermen and a tax collector to become the preeminent leaders in the kingdom of God. He chose men who were nothing in this world, to sit in judgment over the twelve tribes of Israel at the end of the age. Why didn’t Jesus choose successful merchants, political leaders – or even priests and military officers to be his disciples? Because such men were already full – full of pretense, and power, wealth and the admiration of men – just like the wealthy and the powerful today.

Jesus makes it abundantly clear that it is difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven…very difficult. Why? Because their reputations and hopes are built on worldly achievements that have earned them, temporarily, financial security, the respect of men, and earthly power. Flesh truly does give birth to more flesh, and absent great brokenness and great humility, wealth and power are very difficult fates to escape.

In my experience I have rarely, if ever, seen a successful businessman or an influential person in the temporal sense, truly become a disciple of Christ – counting everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord, for whose sake Paul gladly lost all things. (Philippians 3:7-14) I have seen such men engage in church meetings and Bible studies, building friendships and gaining knowledge – and even tipping a little of the pride and wealth out of their full cup. But typically it seems that the purpose of this activity is to have better relationships with family, learn new principles of leadership and gain new friends – and even business partners – rather to than to learn what it means to fall face down in humility and repentance before the consuming fire who is the Living God.

Even in our churches, it is the beautiful and the hip who take center stage leading worship and often preaching. The deacon and elder boards are filled with successful businessmen who contribute financially to the church and thus, have more control than any man deserves…not because of their character in Jesus Christ, but because of money and standing in the community. The eloquent and the clever speak and teach…yet Paul came in weakness and fear and with much trembling so that his message and his teaching would not rest on his wisdom…but on God’s power. Unfortunately, the western church may have gained much of the world by embracing its culture and methods…but it has also perhaps, forfeited its soul. May we not do the same.

Portraits of Jesus Christ in the word: Who Exactly is our God?

Favorite Scriptures #1: Paul’s Perspective On This Short Life (Philippians 3:7-14)

Teachers, Preachers and Mammon: Money and the Ministry

 

 

 

 

Favorite Scriptures #3 – Whether the Lord gives or takes away…blessed be his name! (Job 1)

In the darkest, most emotionally painful moment of my adult life, when I was lonely, broken and afraid, the Lord led me to an Old Testament book I rarely read…Job. He didn’t send me to Job because I, in any way resembled Job and the honor with which he handled the unprecedented personal destruction allowed by God on his life. I was sent to Job in order to fully grasp the righteousness and sovereignty of our great God, whether I have plenty or am in need, whether I am full of joy or lying on the floor in such great pain that it feels like emotional death.

My circumstances do not change the absolute truth that God is sovereign, loving and glorious. In ALL things and at all times the great and Living God is to be praised. The scripture quoted below begins the moment Job is told that, not only are all his children dead, but every cent of his wealth gone…. 20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” 22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

What an amazing disposition toward God in the midst of these horrific losses. What an unbelievable statement of faith, while in deep, deep despair – and with no end in sight to his misery. Even in what must have felt like total condemnation from God and rejection by God, Job embraced the one and only eternal truth that will remain after this world burns…God alone is sovereign in all things…and at all times… blessed be His name!

The above passage from Job 1 absolutely destroys the perspective on “christianity” that is held by so many in the western world. Somehow we think that God’s purpose is to bless us and prosper us materially. Here, the wealthiest man in the world loses literally everything he has and loves, and his wife and friends tell him that God is against him and that he should curse God and die…but he refuses. He stands with God in his pain and does not abandon the faith. His hope is not in prosperity or even in earthly health and happiness…his hope is in God alone. His hope was truly in an eternal kingdom that can never, ever be shaken, with the One who made all things and who promises glory, peace and joy forever and ever to those who love him with their hearts, not just their mouths. Surely God was testing Job’s heart by destroying everything…everything he held dear on this earth. Would we pass this test? If we know that we would not, I would go to to quiet place before the Lord, fall on my face and beg Him to transform my heart by his Holy Spirit so that whether he gives – or chooses to take away everything I hold dear, I can say, even in anguish…Blessed be the name of the Lord!!

Favorite Scriptures #1: Paul’s Perspective On This Short Life (Philippians 3:7-14)

The Deceitfulness of Wealth: Your Best Life…Later Part 1

Forgiveness: To The Merciful, God Shows Himself Merciful

Favorite Scriptures #1 – The Purpose of Life: Paul’s attitude towards life in light of what Jesus Christ did for him (Philippians 3:7-14)

When I was I was in my late teens, I was given Philippians 3:7-14, to memorize by a friend. As soon as I read that passage I knew that I had been given powerful, life-altering truths that would change the way I approached Jesus Christ forever. It was like a sharp double-edged sword of truth had been thrust deeply into my youthful selfishness, pride, greed, and lust. For the past 25 years there has rarely been a day when I haven’t quoted at least a part of that passage to myself. I still don’t live these verses as much as I’d like to…but I am praying that the spirit will continue to work their truths into me as I meditate on them day and night:

7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

The thought that every single thing on this earth that profits the flesh…everything – whether wealth, temporal power and success, athletic ability, good looks, perfect families, etc. – or even for a second allows me to put my hope and confidence in anything other than the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ…is a loss, resonated deep within me. Yet at the same time I knew that I did not -and cannot- think as Paul thinks, absent a massive work by the Holy Spirit. I don’t have Paul’s heart towards this life or towards God – but I long too because what Paul says so eloquently and powerfully is true. I can feel the strength, peace, and truth that rest in those words of surrender and yearning for a life completely hidden in God, every single time I read or recite them. Yet I know that my flesh doesn’t really want to share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings, becoming like him in his death. But I want to want to…desperately, and the more broken I become as a result of my failures in striving to grasp at the lies of this world instead of Jesus, the more I am able to understand how Paul can really mean what he says. Yet Paul knows that not even he “has already been made perfect” or has fully taken hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of him. In that I can take comfort.

This passage ends beautifully and hopefully, reminding me that I am forgiven each day as I walk in the Spirit, and that I can continually put my failures behind me as I live…earnestly seeking the face of Jesus…. “Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

The Deceitfulness of Wealth: Your Best Life…Later Part 1

Heaven: Your Best Life…Later Part 2