Posts Tagged With: John

The Amazing Race of Life

LIFE IS AN AMAZING RACE!

Here are a few Scriptures that present our lives as a race that God has set before us:

“Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” – Paul (1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NLT)

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” – Paul (2 Timothy 4:7 NLT)

And also in Hebrews:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1 NLT

SO… What are we racing for? Are we, as Paul does, running with purpose in every step? If we look only at these texts of Scripture what can we learn about what’s needed to run this race well?

WHY EVEN RUN?

We are told we are running for an eternal prize. So what is the prize? Is it worth all the effort running requires? Will we even want the prize?

The first thing that comes to mind when I think about what the prize might be is a phrase Jesus often uses: eternal life. I’m not refering to what many think when presented with this phrase (heaven instead of hell) but to a quality of relationship with God. This is how Jesus defines eternal life:

“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” – Jesus (John 17:3 NIV)

Looking at how this phrase “eternal life” is used by Jesus and throughout the New Testament would leave you with these impressions.

  • It is defined as a relationship with God (knowing him) John 17:3
  • It is something that those who believe in Jesus already possess. 1 John 5:13
  • John seems to indicate that eternal life is Jesus himself – 1 John 5:20 (which makes sense when you consider that Jesus says, “I Am the way the truth and the life” (John 14:6 NIV) and “I Am the resurrection and the life” (John 11))

Other prizes include reigning and ruling with Christ in his coming kingdom . Does this even register on our radar? Do we ever even given it a thought? Are we even aware Christ has a coming kingdom and that how we live here and now determines our place in that kingdom?

How about commendation from God for a life well lived. To hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant”. Does this matter to us? This reminds me of a Francis Chan video:

What’s needed to run this race well?

Hebrews brings up the vital issue of being unentangled and free of sin. For this we need to be disciplined. But disciplined to what end? What’s the goal?

I firmly believe it all boils down to this: To live a life of love. Love is the goal of discipline.

Sin is, after all, anti-love. So how do we discipline ourselves away from sin and toward a life of love?

I think it’s so important to always keep in mind that love is the goal of a disciplined life, not just simply to avoid sin. And I think, herein lies the victory. Think about it.

If we are actively pursuing a life of loving others, waking up each morning with the thought, “How can I show love to ____ today?” and then by God doing it, then we are living and walking in the life God wants for us. In fact, whether we know it or not, we are living “in God” for the bible says, “those who live in love, live in God”. (1 John 4)

Amazing. If we are actively loving others, God is all over and in and all around us. You can’t escape God when you are loving others… even if you aren’t even aware of it. For God is love.

However, If you aren’t actively loving others then you are about as far from God as you can be. I don’t care how much of the Bible you have memorized or how big a church it is that you pastor.

“Without love, you are nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13)

I will end with a Scripture that sums up this conversation:

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction;whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” (Galatians 6:7-10 NIV)

So what do you think? Does this spark any interesting thoughts for you that you’d like to share? Please leave a comment!

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Categories: Love of God | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I AM Salvation, the Name of Jesus (Yeshua)

Here are a few thoughts regarding the Good News (Gospel) of Jesus and the Name of Jesus. After watching the word for word rendition of the “Gospel of John” (Visual Bible), I was stunned. My faith was challenged as I watched this actor playing the role of Jesus saying the audacious things he was saying.

If you read through John’s Gospel you can’t escape the fact that Jesus was claiming to be God. This flesh and blood, quite ordinary looking Jewish man, claimed to be God! Any serious look into who who exactly this Jesus was (and still is) forces us to wrestle with his claims and make a decision about him.

C. S. Lewis writes that for a man to make the kind of claims Jesus made he could not simply be just a prophet or just a good moral teacher. No, He would have to be much more than that or very, very much worse.

Lewis points out that either Jesus was a liar and a great deceiver, or he was a lunatic or, that he was and is exactly who he says he is. The LORD. God incarnate. The only way of salvation. The “I AM”. There is no way around it!

God has left it to you to decide. Will you believe in Jesus? Will you receive him or reject him? Will you submit to him or chase after sin? But you must not and cannot come with any patronizing nonsense about him being just a good moral teacher or just a prophet. He didn’t leave that option open to us. He did not intend to.

Well put C.S. Lewis.

God revealed his name to Moses as “I AM” (YHWH) in the burning bush experience (Exodus 3). This is often rendered Jehovah or Yahweh and in most bibles will read “LORD” (all caps) throughout the Old Testament. God progressively reveals himself to his people by pairing his Name “I AM” with his attributes. In Genesis 22 He reveals himself to Abraham as “I AM your provider” (YHWH Jirah) Genesis 22:14 . The Bible goes on to describe him with these names:

  • I AM your Righteousness (YHWH tsidkenu) Jeremiah 23:6
  • I AM your Healer (YHWH rapha) Exodus 15:26
  • I AM your Peace (YHWH-shalom) Judges 6:24
  • I AM here for you (YHWH shammah) Ezekiel 48:35
  • I AM your Creator (YHWH hoseenu) Psalm 95:6
  • I AM your Banner of victory (YHWH nissi) Exodus 17:15
  • I AM your Sanctifier (I make you holy) (YHWH-m’kaddesh) Exodus 31:13
  • I AM your Shepherd (YHWH-raah) Psalm 23:1
  • I AM Lord of hosts (armies) (YHWH-sabaoth) 1 Samuel 1:3

In his Gospel, the apostle John picks up on this theme and gives us at least 7 “I AM” statements of Jesus.

1. The Bread Of Life
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35)

2. The Light Of The World
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

3. The Gate
I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. (John 10:9)

4. The Good Shepherd
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)

5. The Resurrection And The Life
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26)

6. The Way, The Truth, And The Life
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

7. The Vine
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

On one occasion Jesus makes his identity abundantly clear to his Jewish audience who then picks up stones to stone him for blasphemy. He says them, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I Am!” (John 8:58 NLT)

They all knew what he was claiming and were going to kill him for it.

Here is another account where Jesus makes a claim that the people knew was a claim to be God from John 10:30-33 (NIV):

I and the Father are one.”

Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him,  but Jesus said to them,“I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”

“We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”

Take a look at this account of when Jesus was being arrested in John 18:4-6 (NLT):

“Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. “Who are you looking for?” he asked.

“Jesus the Nazarene,” they replied.

“I AM he,”[b] Jesus said. (Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.) As Jesus said “I AM he,” they all drew back and fell to the ground!”

(Here is the footnote [b] John 18:5 Or “The ‘I AM’ is here”; or “I am the Lord”; Greek reads I am; also in 18:6, 8. See Exod 3:14.)

Amazing isn’t it? This Jesus whose very name means “I AM Salvation” is the very same God who spoke the world into existence, who created you and I for his glory, and then gave his life on a cross. His love for us made him do it.

I will leave you with this last verse I just stumbled upon:

“Unless you believe that I am you will die in your sins”  ~ Jesus (John 8:24)

The following are some videos I put together on this subject and more. I particularly like Part 2 and I think you will too:

Categories: Jesus, Love of God | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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