In my ponderings, I ran across six of the saddest words I’ve ever read.

I found them right in the opening to the book of John.

…His own did not receive Him. - John 1:11 NASB

The “Him” here, thus far, has only been identified as “The Word” and “the Light.” We’ll learn later in the first chapter that the old apostle is talking about Jesus Christ.

John establishes first that Jesus and the God of the Jews are One in the same.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. - John 1:1-2 NASB

Next, He tells us that this same Jesus, the Word, is the agency through which all things came into being, He’s the creator.

All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. - John 1:3 NASB

But the heartbreak comes down in verse 11.

He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. - John 1:11 NASB

This creator of all things actually made a covenant with a people. He chose to reveal Himself to the Children of Israel.

He chose them

He brought them out of slavery

He established them in the land of promise

He protected them

He gave them a land and made them a people

But when He came to reveal Himself to His people

they rejected Him

they hated Him

they mocked Him

they scourged Him

they crucified Him.

There have been times when I’ve been unwilling to receive Him. Even as a child of God, even after He saved me and I received His free gift of salvation, there have been times when my heart closed up to Him. Has this ever happened to you?

He chose me

He revealed Himself to me

He delivered me from the power of sin

He blessed me with all spiritual blessings

He protected me from the punishment of sin

He joined me to a people who were not my people

And yet there are times when I don’t receive Him

When I set Him aside

When I don’t pursue Him

It is sad, isn’t it?

Lord Jesus. I am so thankful that you came, lived, and loved me/us. Forgive me and help me walk with my heart open to you today, moment by moment. I don’t want to be remembered like these you record in your Word who did not receive you, though you came to them.

You are a good, good Father, and I thank you for speaking through Your Word.

Don’t leave feeling guilty. Conviction comes from time to time to call us back to a place from which we’ve stepped away. Today is a good day to step back into the arms of the Father. He’s right there at the end of the lane, waiting with open arms. Every time we open our hearts to receive Him, He opens His arms to receive us…

…And great rejoicing ensues!!

Hallelujah!

Thanks for stopping by today.

See you again soon.

Ben

4

Jesus does not save us from God!

Have you ever heard the “God of the Old Testament” pitted against the Jesus of the gospels?

It’s as if the God we learn of in the OT books is a cantankerous old man who destroys all things pleasant or happy.

It’s as if God wanted nothing more than to crush anyone who did not walk in every single statute perfectly.

It’s as if Jesus came to save us from God!

Or perhaps you think Jesus came to save us from hell. (That’s pretty much the same thing, in my book, since it’s not the devil’s hell, but God’s.)

But here is the gospel, the good news:

"She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." - Matthew 1:21

Let’s be clear—Jesus is the God of the Old Testament. As it says in Hebrews opening gambit:

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, - Hebrews 1:3

The Bible never tells us that God changed. In fact, it tells us that God is unchangeable. (1 Samuel 15:29)

It doesn’t tell us that God used to hate us, but now that Jesus came, He is OK with the human race. Nope—He’s the same today as He was yesterday and in the beginning.

What’s really awesome about this bit, is that when you look at Jesus and see the way He walked in life, you're seeing God’s heart in the flesh. There is nothing in Jesus’ ministry that is not in God the Father. And there is nothing in God the Father that Jesus didn’t carry.

When John tells us God is Love, (1 John 4:8) He’s not telling us God became love, but that the essence of God is, was and always will be love.

I know - this is all such basic stuff, but I want you to let it sink in a bit.

God the Father is a lover, who loves you with an unchanging, enduring love.

But Sin

On the other hand, sin is your enemy.

It’s sin that Jesus came to save us from.

It’s sin that breaks God the Father’s heart because it tears the object of His love away from Him.

It is sin that separates us from the one who made us and then gave His life to buy us back.

It’s sin that required a veil in the temple.

In the Garden of Eden, there was no veil. In the garden man and God walked together with no filter.

Then

Temptation entered the scene.

Sin entered.

Separation entered.

Death entered.

God the Father still wanted to walk with man, but there needed to be a veil—a barrier between us.

The bible calls Jesus that veil. The one mediator between God and man. (Hebrews 10:201 Timothy 2:5)

He came to break down that wall of separation—to save us from our sin.

Hallelujah

BenHeadshotI hope my little ramble did you good this morning (is it morning?)

Walk in the light and keep shining.

Ben

4

As I mentioned yesterday Jesus said:

All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. - Matthew 11:27

So why is it that you can only know God the Father through Jesus?

An Aside

By the way, let me just say that exclusivity is not inherently evil. I know it is portrayed that way in this generation, but it is not wrong for there to be only one correct answer.

Consider an Island community with one point of access, be it a bridge or a ferry. It may at times be inconvenient, but it is not wrong to say the way to the island is thus and such a highway. It is in fact helpful and instructive to point out such a fact. If I want to have access to this island, this becomes critically important information.

Back to Jesus.

Check out what the writer of Hebrews says:

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, - Hebrews 1:1-3

One of the key reasons God the Father gave us His Son Jesus was to show us Himself. Jesus is the clearest and most precise image of God we will ever receive.

You see Jesus is the Word of God made flesh. He is God’s chosen form of communication. Jesus is God speaking to us in a language we can all grasp. Want to see God? Look at Jesus and you will see God’s priorities, God’s attitudes, God’s heart and mind expressed in action.

Will you follow Him with me today?

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by.

Walk in what God has given you today!

Ben

And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 NASB)

Mighty God

In this prophecy we have come to the most controversial note. Anyone who looks at the life of Jesus, even from a natural standpoint, and is not predisposed to hate Him would probably be OK with every name on this list with one exception.

There is enough empirical evidence that He did miracles – wouldn’t historians of the time have debunked all the talk of Messiah if no one ever saw or experienced His powerful touch?

Anyone who reads the Beatitudes, the Golden Rule or the Prodigal Son would agree that He was a great Counselor.

I suppose Father is a bit tricky since He never married or had earthly children, but the way he Fathered the multitudes with His words, healings, feedings, etc – no big problem here.

Clearly a man of peace – never raised His voice in His own defense as He was unjustly accused, tried and executed.

But Mighty God? Has Isaiah gone too far? Is this over the top?

Many Christians would point to His calming of the sea as to where His God robes were in full view, or perhaps when He was walking on the water, or multiplying the loaves and fishes.

But according to Jesus himself, this was not an exposé of Jesus as God, but rather the man, Jesus, full of the Spirit of God, who descended upon Him in the River. (He told us He only did what He saw the Father do, and that the works that He did, we could do the same way – eyes on Jesus)

I do believe there were 5 guys who got to see this “Mighty God” aspect of Jesus when He walked the earth. – Peter, James, John, Moses, and Elijah.

It was only on the mount of transfiguration that Jesus slipped back into the Mighty God Robe that He set aside just before stepping into that Manger.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2:5-11 NASB)

[Sorry – I can’t break that bit up – my word processor was offended when I tried to only put the highlights in.]

Jesus emptied Himself, and took on the form of a servant.

But know this: HE IS MIGHTY GOD!

He has picked up that wonderful robe, and is seated on the throne of heaven, rising now and then to greet His loved ones into their eternal home.

Hey - I know the robe is not a perfect image, but it helps me understand the difference between Jesus wanting us to walk like He walked. We are tempted to say, I can't do it because He was God and I am not. Yes, He was, and IS God, but chose to walk as a man filled with the Spirit of God, as a demonstration of the "normal Christian life." He never stopped being God, but that does not excuse you from walking like Jesus.

That’s my Jesus!

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping in today.

See you tomorrow.

Ben

And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 NASB)

Mighty God

In this prophecy we have come to the most controversial note. Anyone who looks at the life of Jesus, even from a natural standpoint, and is not predisposed to hate Him would probably be OK with every name on this list with one exception.

There is enough empirical evidence that He did miracles – wouldn’t historians of the time have debunked all the talk of Messiah if no one ever saw or experienced His powerful touch?

Anyone who reads the Beatitudes, the Golden Rule or the Prodigal Son would agree that He was a great Counselor.

I suppose Father is a bit tricky since He never married or had earthly children, but the way he Fathered the multitudes with His words, healings, feedings, etc – no big problem here.

Clearly a man of peace – never raised His voice in His own defense as He was unjustly accused, tried and executed.

But Mighty God? Has Isaiah gone too far? Is this over the top?

Many Christians would point to His calming of the sea as to where His God robes were in full view, or perhaps when He was walking on the water, or multiplying the loaves and fishes.

But according to Jesus himself, this was not an exposé of Jesus as God, but rather the man, Jesus, full of the Spirit of God, who descended upon Him in the River. (He told us He only did what He saw the Father do, and that the works that He did, we could do the same way – eyes on Jesus)

I do believe there were 5 guys who got to see this “Mighty God” aspect of Jesus when He walked the earth. – Peter, James, John, Moses, and Elijah.

It was only on the mount of transfiguration that Jesus slipped back into the Mighty God Robe that He set aside just before stepping into that Manger.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2:5-11 NASB)

[Sorry – I can’t break that bit up – my word processor was offended when I tried to only put the highlights in.]

Jesus emptied Himself, and took on the form of a servant.

But know this: HE IS MIGHTY GOD!

He has picked up that wonderful robe, and is seated on the throne of heaven, rising now and then to greet His loved ones into their eternal home.

Hey - I know the robe is not a perfect image, but it helps me understand the difference between Jesus wanting us to walk like He walked. We are tempted to say, I can't do it because He was God and I am not. Yes, He was, and IS God, but chose to walk as a man filled with the Spirit of God, as a demonstration of the "normal Christian life." He never stopped being God, but that does not excuse you from walking like Jesus.

That’s my Jesus!

BenThanks for stopping in today.

See you tomorrow.

Ben