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Stripping the Word

The Pharisees made great sport of hassling Jesus about the disciples. These guys were not trained theologians. Most of them were tradesmen.

Imagine being out on a first century fishing vessel all night long. I am thinking there was probably not a lot of ceremony surrounding the eating of their supper.

But now that they were following a leader who played in the big leagues of religious thought, they were under the magnifying glass.

Let me be clear here – Jesus didn’t set out to reform religion – He came to reconcile individuals and nations to their maker. [Tweet This] But He rocked the religious world, because religion is big business, and when you put it in the hands of the common man, you are making waves in pharisaical wading pools.

Today I find Jesus and the boys in Jerusalem and the Pharisees are picking on them once again.

Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread. – Matthew 15:2 NASB

Jesus puts it right back over to them with a question of His own.

And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? – Matthew 15:3 NASB

Then He takes them to task about not caring for their parents by ‘giving to God’, which, since they were ‘God’ employee’s (aka they worked for the organization they gave to) was really keeping the resources for themselves.

Then He really brings it home, and this is where I find the Word correcting me today.

And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition. – Matthew 15:6 NASB

Hear this in the New King James:

Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. – Matthew 15:6 NKJV

Now we know that …

… the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12 NASB

But when we build constructs in our lives to protect our sin, or preserve self, we strip the Word of its power.

We strip the Word of its ability to change us.

We strip the Word of its ability to change others when we share it with them.

We are actually blinded to the intent of the Word, and like the Pharisees, we use the word to protect our pet projects, and to attack those who threaten our little society.

The Word of God is trying to transform you to the image of Christ. It has the power to change you. (bet your spouse wishes they had that power)

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2 NASB

But when you use the Sword of the Spirit to attack and accuse your brothers and sisters – or even sinners and outsiders – you will find that rather than getting more and more like Christ, your love grows cold. You will find that your prejudices increase, your hate alarm is ringing off the wall, and your pride meter bursts through the roof.

You have stripped the Word of its transforming power!

It does not have to be this way. Let the Word act as a mirror first. Let it have it wonderful work in your life, then – and only then – you might hear the Spirit of God giving you the ability to HELP others.

Paul said it this way:

The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, (who oppose themselves – KJV) if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. – 2 Timothy 2:24-26 NASB

Don’t strip the Word of its power today. Let’s let it have it transforming work in us. Let’s hear it. Let’s do it. We can be hearers and doers, becoming more like Christ today.

BN Writers Page 150Thanks for stopping by today.

Shine someplace.

Ben

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Friending Jesus

Originally posted on Comments on Christianity:

Friendship

By Benjamin Nelson

There is a popular song making the rounds of church worship sets these days. It’s not exactly a worship song. It’s more of a “what I get out of my relationship with Jesus” song. Hey – there is a place for this. It is important for us to know who we are, and how Jesus feels about us. There is a place for us to talk about what we get. I am not sure I would call that worship, but that is a rant for another day.

The song of which I speak is “Friend of God” by Israel Houghton. The chorus goes like this:

I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
He calls me friend.

Israel Houghton lyrics come from Psalm 139 and John 15. These are wonderful and important truths for us to…

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Bread

 

Lord's_cup_and_Bread

 

I am the bread of life. … He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. John 6:48 & 56 NASB

If you’ve followed my blog for any time you may have noticed that my antenna has been up and focused on the concept of abiding. I am repeatedly drawn to the Last Discourse, John 13-17.

Last week, it was at our Good Friday service, as we took communion, the Spirit spoke in my heart as I ate the broken bread. This is what He said:

You in Me and I in you.
You in Me and I in you.
You in Me and I in you.
Christ in you the hope of Glory.

And it was like Jesus lit up the dark room.

This word drew me to John 6 where Jesus started talking about the bread of life, and eating His body. I wanted to see if there was any link other than the bread between these two ideas.

The connection between John 6 and communion is pretty obvious.

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. John 6:53

Strangely John does not record the specifics of the Jesus instituting the Lord’s Supper like the other three gospel writers. He spends a quarter of His account of the life of Jesus recounting that evening, but does not give us the ritual, the ceremony.

That’s because the ritual is a picture of the words Jesus gave us through John. Communion is simply a visual and physical reminder of the truth that Jesus was preparing the Way. The Way is the Way of abiding, of indwelling.

Communion is a demonstration that Jesus is in us and we are in Him. I was thrilled when I found the link in John 6.

He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. John 6:56-57

Do you see? He restates it this way in John 14:

In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. – John 14:20 NASB

And this way in chapter 15

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. – John 15:10 NASB

And this way in chapter 17

that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. – John 17:21 NASB

I have more to say, but time escapes me. I will be back to this again soon.

In the mean time, grab a piece of bread, and as you eat it today, hear the words of the Lover of your soul, “you in Me and I in you.”

BN Writers Page 150See you again soon,

Ben

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Isaiah 53 Speed Run

Last week, leading up to the remembrance of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus, you may have felt like I became a spammer, and I apologize if it was too much. What I was doing was running through Isaiah 53, that most wonderful chapter of the Old Testament, with brief meditations on each thought put forward by the prophet Isaiah hundreds of years before Jesus walked the earth.

I decided I should gather them in one place to make it easier to run back through them if you missed any.

So here goes:

The Arm of the Lord

Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed
?

Isaiah 53:1 NASB

Tender Shoot

For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;

Isaiah 53:2a NASB

Nothing to Look At

He has no stately form or majesty 
That we should look upon Him, 
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.

Isaiah 53:2 NASB

Strange Will, O God

He was despised and forsaken of men, 
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; 
And like one from whom men hide their face 
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Isaiah 53:3 NASB

He’s a Carrier!

Surely our sicknesses he hath borne, 
And our pains — he hath carried them,

Isaiah 53:4 YLT

Who Smote this Holy One?

Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, 
Smitten of God, and afflicted.

Isaiah 53:4 NASB

Not a Drop of Blood Wasted

But He was wounded (pierced NASB) for our transgressions, 
He was bruised for our iniquities; 
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, 
And by His stripes we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5 NKJV

Wanderers

All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:6 NKJV

The Silence of the Lamb

He was oppressed and He was afflicted, 
Yet He did not open His mouth; 
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, 
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, 
So He did not open His mouth.

Isaiah 53:7 NASB

Our Stroke

By oppression and judgment He was taken away; 
And as for His generation, who considered 
That He was cut off out of the land of the living 
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?

Isaiah 53:8 NASB

The Rich and the Wicked

His grave was assigned with wicked men, 
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,

Isaiah 53:9 NASB

The Prince of Peace

Because He had done no violence,

Isaiah 53:9 NASB

The Truth

Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

Isaiah 53:9 NASB

The Path of Life

But the LORD was pleased 
To crush Him, putting Him to grief; 
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, 
He will see His offspring, 
He will prolong His days, 
And the good pleasure of the LORD 
will prosper in His hand.

Isaiah 53:10 NASB

Crushed and Prospered

But the LORD was pleased 
To crush Him, putting Him to grief; 
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, 
He will see His offspring, 
He will prolong His days, 
And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

Isaiah 53:10 NASB

Satisfaction

As a result of the anguish of His soul, 
He will see it and be satisfied;

Isaiah 53:11 NASB

Fear of the Lord

By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.

Isaiah 53:11 NASB

Will You Bow?

Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, 
And He will divide the booty with the strong; 
Because He poured out Himself to death, 
And was numbered with the transgressors; 
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, 
And interceded for the transgressors. 

Isaiah 53:12 NASB

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What Does the Resurrection Mean? C|C Writers Reflect on Easter

Ben Nelson:

Check out this collaboration from Comments on Christianity. What Does the Resurrection mean?

Originally posted on Comments on Christianity:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYow5qWvLcI

Back Row Baptist

Jason Neil Soto

DJ Writers PageChrist’s resurrection is the most spectacular magic trick ever created. The greatest tricks all seem to have the three parts of magic.

The Pledge: To claim a Savior of the world to come.

The Turn: To Die on the cross and be placed in the tomb.

The Prestige: The tomb being empty on the third day.

What a wonderful trick the Romans sold us on. Well… It can be, if we choose not to see the truth. A man who dies to cleanse the world of sin is powerful and the sacrifice should be enough for us to choose to follow him. But for Him to beat back the bite of death as well, it should pull us to him with humble hearts of contrition. The true prestige is in the fact Jesus is alive and well, even today. We should be ready…

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The Glory of Obedience

John 17:1, 9, 24 

Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, …

I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours; …

Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

John 17:1, 9, 24 NASB

Jesus’ prayer – gives us a window into Our Savior’s heart. Here, we glimpse His deepest longings. The word “glory” appears nine times. “I glorify You, Father.” “You have glorified me, Father.” “I have given them the glory that You gave me, Father.” Glory seems to be the love-language between the Father and the Son, and in God’s embrace of us, we too have a share in that glory. Isn’t that glorious?

Well, what does the Glory of God look like? Evidently, glory takes on a different appearance on earth as it does in heaven. In heaven, Jesus shared the majestic manifest glory of His Father, as King of heaven, worshiped by angels from everlasting to everlasting. In coming to earth, He traded this manifest glory for a different kind of glory – the glory of obedience to His Father’s will. Was He any less glorious when He lay in a feeding trough, when He touched lepers, when He knelt to wash men’s filthy feet, when He was spit upon, beaten and nailed to a cross? No. This is the glory of obedience.

This is the glory we get to share here and now: Giving glorious pleasure to Our Father’s heart as He watches us walk this earth in obedience to His Word and His Will, glorifying Jesus Christ before men. God’s glory was the deepest longing of Jesus’ heart. May His glory be the deepest longing of our hearts as well.

By Christa Grajcar, PBC Small Group Leader

===

This is another entry from our 47 day pre-Easter prayer guide. Christa is a dear sister in the Lord, and a wonderful servant of Jesus. She models to the body of Christ what it means to die to self and live for Him.

There is a deep revelation in her word, – simple (not to be confused with easy) obedience demonstrates the glory of God in us.

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by.

See you again soon.

Ben

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The Testing of Our Faith ~ SoS Saturday   

Many Waters - SoS header

This Song of Songs moves back and forth between narrative, moving the story of the Shepherd King and His maiden bride, and intimate conversations.

The narrative sections depict for us the progression of the life of a fully devoted believer’s walk from interest in the things of God, through intimacy, and into partnership. The conversations give us beautiful pictures of who Christ is to us and in us, as well as how He sees us from His heavenly perspective.

The last bit of narrative had the bride giving her garden, her life, over to the Lover of her soul with nothing held back.

Now we move into a period of the testing of her faith. The Lord will test both areas of her devotion. From the start we’ve traced her progress on two fronts – intimacy and partnership – the two requests she made of Him in the beginning of the Song. “Draw me after you and let us run together!” (Song of Songs 1:4 NASB)

The Song:

I was asleep but my heart was awake.

A voice! My beloved was knocking:

Open to me, my sister, my darling, 
My dove, my perfect one! 
For my head is drenched with dew,
My locks with the damp of the night.

I have taken off my dress,
How can I put it on again?
I have washed my feet,
How can I dirty them again?

My beloved extended his hand through the opening,
And my feelings were aroused for him.
I arose to open to my beloved;
And my hands dripped with myrrh,
And my fingers with liquid myrrh,
On the handles of the bolt.

I opened to my beloved,
But my beloved had turned away and had gone!
My heart went out to him as he spoke.
I searched for him but I did not find him;
I called him but he did not answer me.

The watchmen who make the rounds in the city found me,
They struck me and wounded me;
The guardsmen of the walls took away my shawl from me.

I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
If you find my beloved,
As to what you will tell him:
For I am lovesick.”

Song of Songs 5:2-8 NASB

Many commentators look at this as failure – sin – in the maiden, but we will not take that approach. I believe that just as when Abraham finally had his promise in hand and the Lord asked him to give it up, so we can see that the maiden’s resolve is tested on both fronts. I first had this turned around for me by Mike Bickle in his series on the Song of Songs.

This is a meaty passage so don’t miss it.

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by today.

Don’t forget to shine in the darkness surrounding you.

Ben

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