Tag Archives: Christ

To Trust Obedience is to Fail, Bro.

The way to be eternally secure is to cleave to, trust, rely on and have faith in (believe in) Jesus Christ!  The way to be eternally insecure is to cleave to, trust in, rely on and have faith in anything else, even one’s obedience to God’s perfect law.  The latter will fail a person.  The first will secure a person.  His name, Jesus, means God is salvation.

When I trust in my obedience to God’s law I fail to see my own terrible lack and deficiency, my own disobedience.  I fail (come short of, be deficient in, cease to be furnished with, be cut off from the supply) in life by focusing on the idolatrous illusion of my own obedience to the detriment of my Savior, Jesus Christ.  When I trust in my obedience to God’s law I am blinded to the miserable, pitiful decay, lack and deficiency of my own need – the very reason Jesus died.  Therefore when I trust in my obedience to God’s law and commandments, my obedience is idolatrously exalted and the Source, the very Source of Life is relegated to an inferior position.

To believe in (be habitually, routinely committed to) Jesus Christ is to trust (assured resting of the mind in the veracity, integrity, justice or other sound principle of another person; confidence; reliance) in Jesus Christ (i.e. God) for my salvation. One path to failure in salvation is to trust and believe my obedience to God’s perfect commands or commandments will save me.  My obedience will fail me because I am human.  The source of life is not obedience.  The source of my eternal life is none other than Jesus Christ, who judicially declares me justified, sanctified and to be glorified.

To be saved then starts with a simple belief in Jesus Christ (John 1:12) which over time will grow to a confident assurance (strong belief) and absolute resolved single-minded purpose and determination in Jesus Christ first and foremost, above everything else and to then obey out of thanksgiving for what God has done.  As we grow we learn to not just to obey because of His gifts or His blessings, but in all assaults and barrages of lies and deceit from the enemies, in all of physical life’s circumstances we grow in Him through good times, as well as terrible suffering.

To God be the glory – He is the source of our salvation!

Update (3-21-14):

John 11:5 (Amplified Bible) “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus [They were His dear friends, and He held them in loving esteem.]”

When I read this verse this morning, it occured to me, I don’t view Jesus in the same way as Martha, Mary (her sister) and Lazarus did.  That’s tragic.  Why is that?

As I thought and prayed about that, it occurred to me that I still struggle in my view of God.  I still see Him too often as a Being who is watching my every move to catch when I disobey so He can correct it.  Do we really think thoughts like mine were the thoughts of Martha, Mary & Lazarus toward Jesus?

It’s their relationship with Jesus that better proclaims the beauty of the Gospel – God coming into His creation to build a relationship with fallen sinners, even an intimate friendship.  Friends and even marriage partners don’t worry about obedience, it’s more about respect for one another.  They don’t fret about obedience because obedience is not the focus of the relationship.  It’s deeper than obedience, love and gratitude toward the other person are the focus.  The focus of obedience is on the self.

Now certainly disciplines, “ought to’s,” and even at times “commands” are part of love.  But aren’t commands and obedience more of a framework, rather than a way of life?  Doesn’t the question from Jesus, “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments?” a question targeted more toward those who are immature or are children than a mature friend?

Obedience certainly is clearly addressed in the New Testament, but it seems to me (and I need more time to process this and would appreciate feedback here), that obedience issues in the New Testament relate more often to non-believers and to immature believers who need warning about going astray, using grace as a license, and taking God far too casually, etc.

Think of it:  “a friend of Jesus – one who is free.”  It’s a relationship concept that I trust we all desire to have with Jesus, instead of a slave relationship (which involves oppression, not freedom).  That friend relationship is not to mature to a trust in obedience, but should mature into a strong relationship of trust in Jesus, the One who died for us.  He’s the object of our desire, right?  Or is the object obedience?  I think Jesus is the object.  For “a slave (a person oppressed to obey and keep commandments, who points to his obedience as to whether he is worthy enough) does not abide in the house forever.  Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:35-36).  Free to be a child, a maturing believer, a dear friend and eventually an intimate spouse of the King – in His very house relating to and with Him.

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Do You Ever Want More?

Wheat "White" for Harvest

Wheat “White” for Harvest
Photo by Ferrell Jenkins used according to Permission Rights.

Really, do you in all honesty, fact and sincerity want more?

You might ask, more of what?  More time?  More motivation?  More satisfaction?  More strength?  More happiness?  More money?  More from your spouse, friends or kids?

On Monday, Luke Anderson (an Equip teammate) and I went to Kampala.  He was showing me where the immigration offices were and he was picking up a document from there.  As he was waiting in line, I was reading the first chapter of Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller.  The words provoked me, and caused me to think about having more – more insight and ability to see spiritually like Jesus did.  Had that desire become an idol, secondary to intimacy with Jesus?  It seems so.

The white bus with a blue stripe is similar to the bus Luke and I travelled in from Jinja to Kampala.

As we had wrapped up our business at immigration and were traveling home in the bus, I was sitting next to a window near the back of the bus.  I was still pondering what I had read.  Why could I not see the mission field as “white with harvest” as Jesus could?  I mean, really.  Jesus seemed to see fields ready for harvest – he saw “white.”  I am more likely to see fields bare, hot with sun, lacking rain and possibly ready for planting or waiting for growth.  I see needs, but I do not see desire.  Apparently I don’t have the eyes to see desire or hunger for God.

Later, as I pondered these things near the back of the bus that was returning to Jinja, a girl probably in her 20’s was sleeping in the seat directly in front of me.  She jolted me from deep thought with rapid outbursts of loud and dramatic screams.  At first I thought the bus was about to wreck.  All attention in the bus quickly turned to her.  The man next to this girl leaned away from her and moved away a few inches in fear, while the man in front of her got up out of his seat and turned around.  Not sure what to do I leaned forward, began praying and touched the girl on the back, lightly consoling her.  By this time the man in front of this girl had asked to switch places with the man beside the girl.  The man beside the girl did not hesitate for a second, looking for any opportunity to separate himself from the unknown.  He quickly exchanged places, moving forward to the other seat.

The man moving from in front of the girl showed signs of age and maturity, with a small splotch of gray in his hair near his sideburns.  He was probably in his 50’s.  As he climbed over his seat and moved one row back, he looked at me and verbally expressed appreciation.  I could see in his expression that this was not the first time something like this had happened.  He knew what to do and quickly took his new seat to the girl’s right and wrapped his left arm around and behind the girl.  Since I was behind her, I placed my right hand on her head and gently stroked her tightly cropped hair.  She very slowly laid her head back awkwardly against the top of her seat while turning her head over her left shoulder.  As her face came into view I could see thick, white and clear sputum dripping from her mouth.  While she had stopped screaming, her eyes were crossed as she slowly looked back at me.

Our eyes connected only briefly.  The man who was holding her to her right quickly reached with his right hand across her face and brushed her eyelids closed.  The look in this girl’s eyes reminds me now as I write, of the barrenness of her field.  Her outburst stirred compassion and questions within me.  How long had this girl and this man endured the pain and embarrassment of this affliction?  Was the outburst a result of a seizure?  Was it the result of a witchdoctor?  Was it due to cerebral malaria?  Was it a result of abuse?  Had this man taken this girl to a witchdoctor for help?  Had he sought help from numerous church leaders to pray for healing or cast out demons?  How often did this happen?

These questions still remain.  I wasn’t sure how to respond and the bus was noisy.  I didn’t want to bring more attention to the girl and she seemed to need to sleep, which eventually came to her.  So I did not follow up in conversation with the man.  And he did not turn and seek conversation with me, or anyone else for that matter.  People were eerily quiet while the noises of the bus, its radio and the noisy sounds of travel in Uganda were heard.  People seemed to fear another jolt of the unexpected.

As we continued our journey down the dusty road between Kampala and Jinja, people occasionally glanced back at the girl to see how she was behaving, if she was OK and look for signs of another outburst.  It did not happen.

I was left questioning.  Was that a “white” field ready for harvest?  If it was, what should I have done?  And why did this man not ask or seek?  Was he weary from seeking help?  Perhaps he had come to the place of acceptance with this burden.

Have we come to the place of acceptance with our burdens?  With our struggles?  With our sin?  With our, “I’ve blown it again” thoughts?  With the mundane?  With the barren fields?  With things as they are?  What is God up to?

Full moon occurs at every Passover (usually in March or April).

A full moon occurs at every Passover
(usually in March or April).

At a very quiet and intimate time in the life of Jesus and his followers, the betrayer restless with Jesus not doing more about bringing his kingdom to the earth and overthrowing the wicked Romans, left the sweet fellowship of Jesus to do his dastardly deed.  As Jesus’ life was drawing to a close the full moon cast light into the darkness.  Similarly the Rabbi teacher shed a glimmer of revelation into the dark mysteries of intimacy and closeness with Him, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”

Oh, do you not long for that day – to ask of the Master, and then to receive?  I wonder how much anticipation the older man and girl in the bus have for this day, “to ask for release of their burden” and to receive.

Abide.  The word means to remain; wait for; tarry; be prepared for; watch; bear patiently; tolerate; remain stable or fixed in some state or condition.

As I write, Michelle just finished up today’s women’s Bible study.  She has no idea of the subject I am writing, and she was telling me her study today was on God’s timing.  The lesson she received was, “We wait on the Lord – that is where our strength is.”  She continued, “Waiting on an event or a person depletes us.”

What does that mean?  Deplete means to “empty or unload; use up resources; consume vital powers of; exhaust.” Webster’s 1913 dictionary gives a graphic illustration of the word, to empty by (the old fashioned medical procedure of) bloodletting.  Loss of blood literally and figuratively drains a person of their strength. Fresh blood, on the other hand, brings strength to a person.  I witnessed that truth first hand at Hospice when patients would receive a blood transfusion – their strength and vitality; their life would return.

When we cast our sins on Jesus through confession and repentance, the blood of Jesus cleanses and brings life, strength and vitality to us.  We abide, waiting not for some event to happen, but abide in getting to know Jesus.  How long did Jesus wait before His Father said, “Go!”?  How long do we wait for His return?  Waiting brings strength – strength from our quiet time; strength from learning patience; strength from knowing the passion, waiting and suffering of our Savior, the Christ.  The relationship with Him is the most important, for that relationship will last for an eternity.  So do you want more things to go your way?  More events to happen soon?  More people to live and do things the way you want them?  Or do you want more of Jesus?

If you want more of Him, simply ask.  As you wait on Him, He promises that He will give you what you desire.