Elevated Eyes

Look above. Fix your eyes on Jesus. See life from a different perspective

Tag: #jesus

New you

In becoming a Christian a change takes place in our fundamental identity.

In identifying and believing in Jesus death on a cross, our inner being is not mended, it is not fixed. Something in the core of who we are dies.  Early Christians called this our ‘old man’.

The idea of our ‘old man’ is said like this by Paul

“For you died, your life is now hidden with Christ in God”

Colossians 3:3

There is this old nature of ours that is broken, selfish and is always pulling us to live in ways we aren’t called to live.

God hasn’t come to fix our old nature He came to kill it. However many times it tries to raise it’s head and pull us back into our old way of life the reality is that it is dead.

God doesn’t only kill this old person but He then gives us beautiful new nature, we have taken on the very identity of Christ.

It’s not that we are perfect now or that we will never struggle again.

This new way of life needs to be consciously brought to mind. It is a process of having our mind renewed as we begin to believe the truth about the life God has given us.

You are a new creation.

You are not who you were.

You are in Christ, when God looks at you He sees Christ.

You are God’s chosen people made holy in Christ. Without blemish and unstained.

The issues isn’t about striving to do certain things that will make me holy but it is about me understanding the work God has already done in me. It is about me waking up to the new creation God has made me.

We are called to live up to what we have already attained in Christ.

As we share our faith, I don’t believe we are to use shame to call people to a list of things that they are not doing. But we are called to share who people are from God’s perspective.

When people fall back into old life we do not shame them but we call them again to who they are in Christ.

We do this not because sin isn’t serious but because we are meant to take seriously what God says about us.

 

You are a new creation.

Change your Thinking: Standing to Sitting

Final part in the the change your thinking series is here. We’ve looked at victory in the Christian life is so much more about changing the way that we think than changing our actions. Out of the heart the mouth speaks and it’s so often the thought life that dictates the type of fruit that grows in our life. If you want to read my two previous posts you can do so here (Part 1 – http://elevatedeyes.org/change-thinking-death-to-life/) (Part 2 – http://elevatedeyes.org/change-thinking-sin-saviour/)

 

In this final post in this series I wanted to look at the idea that we need to learn to sit with our saviour  Jesus.

 ‘And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.’

Hebrews 10:10

You’ve been forgiven once and for all.

 ‘And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,’ Hebrews 10:11-12

Christ is our great high priest.  He made one sacrifice, for sins, forever. He bled out on that cross, once and for all. The saviour of this earth breathed his last and then rose from the grave.

To destroy death and what is His position?

He is no longer standing He is Seated because the job is done.

Our high priest sat down.

The other priests we’re told here are standing up daily making sacrifice but He is seated.

He is seated.

He is seated before His enemies.

He’s not shocked,

He’s not worried,

He says it’s done.

Meanwhile as Christians on earth, worrying and freaking out because we’ve sinned, or because things are going wrong.

Jesus saying it’s fine I am still seated. I am still in control. It is still finished. I’ve still won and you’re still mine.
The next time Jesus stands is to wrap this whole thing up. He is still seated.

 

Ephesians 2:5-7 Jesus made us to sit.

even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.’ Ephesians 2:5=7 

We often don’t want to sit.

Jesus is saying be seated.

We want to run around I will sort it out, I will fix things, I will deal with things.

Jesus is saying I’ve already taken care of it, sit down.

I want you to see that our position, needs to change from standing to sitting.

In the Hebrews 10 passage that we have been looking at it says ‘The blood of bulls and goats can never take away sin,’ this is a creative way of saying your striving, your works can never take away sin.

Only your all conquering victorious seated Jesus can do that.

You are not controlled by your sin, you are not defined by your sin, you do not have to spend the rest of your days focussing on your wickedness, on your faults on your failures.

You have been set free, you can now live preoccupied by your champion Jesus.

Our champion Jesus has done what you could not do for yourself. He has cut the power of sin off. He has crushed him, he is gone It has been buried, your sin has been removed from you as far as the east is from the west.

This will change the way you live.

It is time for you to celebrate again, it is time for you to stand up again, speak up again, dream again and walk in victory, and be all that God made you to be.

Lets start living this way, lets start living in the light of our seated saviour.

Know that what was dead has been brought to life and because we have been raised with Christ our sinful nature did not.

Know that the theme of our lives is not Sin, but it is falling in love with our saviour

Stay conscious of our seated victorious saviour and know that He is still seated through it all. And stop being paralysed by our sin and celebrate His victory sit with Him, rest in Him and be all that He has called you to be!

Change your thinking: Death to Life

Change is hard, we all struggle with it. Maybe it’s those new year resolutions that by this point in the year you have given up on. It’s hard to change but I believe that the call of the Christian life is a call to move from one degree of glory to another.

The biggest call over the Christian life is not so much a change of behaviour as it is a change of belief.
So often our behaviour flows from our belief. It flows from what we believe about ourselves, about our world and about others.

In Christ we have  new identity, we’re born again. The old has gone and the new is here and it’s here to stay.

The learning process is not about getting rid of the old but it’s in changing our thoughts from our old mindset to our new mindset.

In 3 posts I want to set out 3 ideas that need to shift from old to new.

Death to Life

Sin to Saviour

Standing to sitting

 

Let’s look at that first one, Death to Life

1 Corinthians 16-28 says

16-20 If corpses can’t be raised, then Christ wasn’t, because he was indeed dead. And if Christ weren’t raised, then all you’re doing is wandering about in the dark, as lost as ever. It’s even worse for those who died hoping in Christ and resurrection, because they’re already in their graves. If all we get out of Christ is a little inspiration for a few short years, we’re a pretty sorry lot. But the truth is that Christ has been raised up, the first in a long legacy of those who are going to leave the cemeteries.

21-28 There is a nice symmetry in this: Death initially came by a man, and resurrection from death came by a man. Everybody dies in Adam; everybody comes alive in Christ.

In life there’s often the idea of digging up old stuff as if it is important. I’m sorry if you’re a fan of that kind of tv show,  you know the kind, where they search through old antiques trying to find hidden treasure.  The truth is that a lot of the time the stuff is just junk with little value.

In life we often try to dig up these old things as if they are still important to us. The truth is they so often aren’t. They aren’t important they don’t have control and they aren’t that relevant to our lives now.

How many of  us believe that Jesus, actually, physically rose from the dead. If we’re christian it would be most of us, I know I do.

1 Corinthians 15:17

‘And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sin!’

Your sins whether they are alive or dead, hinges on this verse. If He rose then your sins didn’t and if He stayed in the grave then your sins rose.

Maybe it makes more sense to look at it this way ‘though we still sin, you are not in your sin’. Which is to say our sins that bind us do not define us, our sins do not stick to you, our sins no longer make us who we are. Because we’re a new creation.

What does it say in 2 Corinthians 5:17

‘Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, the old has passed away, behold, the new has come’

You are no longer a sinner, but you are a son or daughter of the king. You are righteous, you are a saint. You can say I am His. Though I sin it cannot change what my risen Jesus has finished.

Because He moved from death to life, and clothed you with new white robes. You’ve been moved from death to life in His power. You have resurrection power in Jesus.

The old has passed away the new has come, we need to change the way that we think sometimes we need to see that Jesus has taken us from death to life with Him.

Let’s jump back to that 1 Corinthians passage just one more time

1 Corinthians 15:17 ‘And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sin!’

If Christ did not rise, you did not rise and you are still in your sin but He did rise He conquered.

Yet we as Christians so often think that sin has resurrection power. We need line our thinking up with what God has finished in our lives.

When Jesus says the words ‘it is finished’ the actual Greek word is tetelestai, it means to endto bring to completionto bring to a conclusionto completeto accomplishto fulfill; or to finish.

In Him you’ve been brought to life and your sins have not.

Have faith that you can walk free from the power and control of sin and live life in the resurrection power of Christ that is in you! You died in first Adam and you have life in Christ, live like it.

What areas of your thinking needs to move from death to life? Maybe it is how you view your finances, your relationships, your spiritual life. Remember today that God comes to speak life not death into every area.

Live life with a green light

One of the main questions I’ll get asked by teenagers, students and adults in my church is how do I know I’m in the will of God? How do I know that the decisions I make and the things I do are in the will of God for my life.

Who should I marry?

Should I take that job?

Should I move city are questions we all think about.

If we see our lives as a set course and the will of God like a program that we walk along then it is very hard not to be troubled by these questions.

The will of God is not one little road for your life, it is a way of living and it is a state of being.  If Jesus is our good shepherd that gives His life for the sheep. If through His love He welcomes us into the pasture and provides us with fullness of life. Do we have freedom in the pasture? Does the Shepherd bring a blade of grass to us, and then when we have eaten that, He brings another one and then another. Does He direct what we are allowed to do.

Paul says in the letter to the Corinthians that where the spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.

How is this way of living in the pastures of our Shepherd freedom?

This is often the lens that we interpret and see the world through.

When God is ready He will speak, guide and direct us to that ‘next thing’. And yes of course He speaks, guides and directs but He also gives us the responsibility to live our lives with wisdom in the power of the Holy Spirit.

There’s so much more freedom than we realise.

I believe that as we enter the kingdom, through the good shepherd we’re given freedom in the pasture. We’re given the green light, to eat, enjoy life, live and learn to love well.

So if there is so much freedom and it isn’t about a pathway through life. What is the will of God?

Rejoice always,  pray without ceasing,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.’

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

The will of God in Christ Jesus is to

rejoice always

pray continually

and give thanks in all circumstances.

This is the same that any good husband would want for his wife. We are the bride of Christ. Does our good husband Jesus want to control us with one clear, set pathway. We say to our loved ones  I want you to be happy, communicate and that you are content. Jesus is saying to us, be happy, communicate with me and be content. That is His will for us it is a state of being.

‘For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.’ Philippians 2:13

God is in you and is working out his will in you (A state of being) for his good measure.

‘I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.’ Romans 12:1

What is God’s will for you? To have your mind renewed and transformed from the way of the world.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.’  James 1:5

We are in God’s will and now.  It is a state of being in Christ Jesus. We are in the flock the pasture and now you need to ask for wisdom. The will is a state of mind, when you are in the will you need to ask for the wisdom of God.

The apostles lived with a green light. They didn’t spend their lives waiting for the green light as to whether to serve, help, preach or pray. They went, they lived and the loved. They spent their lives living in the green light of the Spirit of God that says I am with you, you are my representatives on the earth and I give you authority to represent me well.

If you were an ambassador in a foreign country and every time you’re asked to help and see an opportunity make the country better you said “I need to wait and double check if the country that has sent me will allow me to help” you wouldn’t be a very good ambassador. As an ambassador you have been given authority by the home nation to go, make a difference. In Life we have been given authority by the king of kings to go.

And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7 And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. 8 So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.’

Acts 16:6-8

The apostles lived with a green light, they heard go and they are going, they are healing the sick, preaching the good news and casting out the demonic. Then as they are going they are asking for wisdom and guidance and they’re then blocked by the holy spirit. They are directed by a vision in the night. The direction came as they went, not as they sat and did nothing.

We’re not supposed to live in fear of being blocked and redirected. We’re meant to have a green light, enjoy the pasture. We aren’t meant to let anything hold us back until the holy spirit redirects us.

Ask for wisdom in the process,

live life not questioning the will of God,

live life with the green light of the Holy Spirit,

rejoicing always, praying constantly and always being thankful.

Cultural Sandcastles

Culture is constantly changing and reshaping, how are we meant to build something that can make a difference, how are we meant to live a life that’ll last in the middle of so much uncertainty.

It feels a little bit like we are building on sand, that is always going to change. God calls us in the book of Hebrews to be a people that are of a different kingdom, an unshakable kingdom.

We live in an unstable culture.  As we look all around we see huge shifts in mindsets, pressures in society. There is a cultural earthquake happening all around.

I believe that culture is shaking and soon there is going to be a revealing of a people that is unshakable.

Hebrews 12:26-13:8

At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.

Sacrifices Pleasing to God

13 Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 3 Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. 4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. 5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say,

“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”

7 Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

We’re called to be a rescue team reaching in and saving those trapped and hurting in the earthquakes of culture we see all around us.

Hebrews, I believe is written  by Paul in prison to Jewish Christians in Israel.  Before this text was written, the Jews had risen up against Rome, and the emperor was fed up. So the emperor dispatched his best general and the might of the Roman military machine to crush the zealot rebellion.

The Jewish people knew what was coming they knew the destruction that was on the way.

The Jewish nation was about to live through the reality of Roman destruction.

There was a push from the Jewish Christians to leave the sect of Christianity they were being squeezed on every side. Their world was being turned upside down.

photo-1413977886085-3bbbf9a7cf6eThey were afraid, there was massive upheaval on the way. You know what we all need to be ready, we need to be ready for change we need to be ready for hard times we need to be ready to face tragedy and disaster.

We have been called as the rescue team, as the ones reaching down into darkness disaster and pain and being a rescuer. Being a movement of God here on earth.

The writer gives us 4 things to do at this time and in these moments.

  1. HAVE COMPASSION. You are to keep the compassion of God burning in your heart. Hebrews 13:1-2 Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

It is easy to become bitter, to become resentful and angry. Do we judge those that are shaken or do we have compassion on them?

  1. FOCUS ON COMMUNITY. You need to turn away from self-interest and turn towards community Hebrews 13:2-3 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 3 Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.

What do we see in countries around the world hit by devastation? In times of trouble we need to remember to stand alongside each other, to embrace those in greatest need. When everything else is being broken, you need to tend to community. In times of trouble it is not good to isolate ourselves and we need to fight that impulse and build each other up. People want to feel community that is stable. They want some where to call home. A place to find identity to find calling.

  1. WE NEED TO CONNECT PEOPLE TO THE BIGGER STORY. As earthquakes shakes the world, peoples security falls. What they build there identity in, there security in, there jobs there families it crumbles. We need to show people that there is a story bigger than us. As the world around us shakes and falls remember there is a Connection story that connects you to all of the people of God down through the ages, that connects you to all the Christians who love the Lord. There is a bigger story there is more than your here and now. There are seasons coming that you needed to be prepared for and this is a preparation time. Hebrews 13:5-6 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

 There is a bigger picture here, let me show you. Keep holding on keep moving forward. This is happening for a reason, but the Lord is faithful throughout it. We need to show people that there is a connection story that there is something bigger happening. Something that is not about loss but about redemption.

  1. BE A COMPASS POINTING PEOPLE TO CHRIST. Where do we go when there is confusion, when the maps are no longer clear. I believe as a rescue team we are called to point people to Jesus to give them a stable and secure compass. Be a Compass pointing the way Hebrews 13:8 ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever’ follow the one that is unchanging and teach others to do the same. Be a disciple. You have the spirit of God living in you in the midst of a shaking world. We are the people of God. Remember who you are. Point people to Jesus. It is all about him.

Be the rescue team of God reaching into a hurting world. Show compassion, demonstrate community, connect them to the vision and redemptive story, and lead to the unshakable one who is the same yesterday, today and forever.

God gave us a Story.

I wanted to spend some time unpacking two types of study that hopefully can help you in your understanding of the bible.

There are two main types of theological study.

Systematic and Biblical theology

Systematic theology groups theological study into specific topics. So if you were studying theology in a systematic way you would likely study, atonement theory, the doctrine of salvation, doctrine of the Holy Spirit, Eschatology and the doctrine of the church. You will begin by searching the bible for everything it says on a topic and then sharing views and opinions on it. It runs through the beautiful story of the bible drawing threads together to form a viewpoint and an opinion.

I’m not convinced that studying a systematic theology is a good way to learn about the Bible. It has it’s uses but it also limited. It is a bit like a big net, you will pick up a lot from a systematic study but the net has holes and a lot is missed.

photo-1429032021766-c6a53949594f

God speaks to us in a story, His revelation to us is anything but systematic.

The story is messy, it’s complicated, it tells the story of people who mess up, of God who gets involved in the life of his creation. The Bible narrative is compelling; sometimes exciting, sometimes hard and complicated but it is not systematic. God did not give us a system, he gave us a story. Trying to force something that has so much life into a system can squeeze the life out of it.  It’s His Story

Biblical theology looks at the story of the bible as a whole, it examines the truth of the bible in it’s historical and contextual position. Biblical theology recognises that the there is a progressive revelation of the nature of God throughout the story. Strong biblical theology puts us in the context of the writer and the reader and asks the question “What would this have meant to the writer?” “What would this have meant to the reader?”

Biblical theology helps us see the Bible as a unified narrative, rather than as a collection of unrelated points.

When studying the bible I believe we need to

1 . Have a solid historical and contextual interpretation.

2. Understand that God is revealed progressively throughout the bible.

As you read and study the word of God, ask God to reveal himself in it. Recognise the process of the nature of God being revealed to the writer as it is written. Ask yourself what would this passage have meant to the writer and the reader at the time and how does this help me understand the big picture of the story of God.

 

 

 

 

Give your Boat to Jesus

Do you ever wonder if you’re doing what you were called to do. I think this is something that we often struggle with in life.

Am I with who I’m meant to be with?

Am in the job i’m meant to be in?

God calls us to live life to the full with Him, to do what we were built for, which I believe is to live every day with the Spirit of God inside.

If you are ever questioning your purpose, calling or direction ask, am I allowing the spirit of God o flow through my life.

In Mark 4:35-41 where Jesus demonstrated what it means to live life with the Spirit of God

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!”And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Now let me ask you a question, what is a boat built for? It is not built to be tied to the shore it is built to be pushed out into the ocean.

It’s not built for the shore, but it is built to sail it’s built for adventure.

You weren’t built for the shallows, you were built to be the boat in the deep.

Life with Jesus is meant to get your adrenaline pumping.

Sometimes we need to let go of that rope, we need to push of from the shore and allow the Spirit of God to take our life and guide it in the direction He has for us.

God longs to take you deeper. He says follow your heart, surrender to me trust my way. The boat was not built to be tied to the shore but it was made with a purpose it was made to sail. Invite Jesus into your boat, push off from the shore and life will never be boring again.

Now the bible doesn’t say that Jesus owned a boat so it is probably safe to assume that someone leant Jesus the boat that day.

I want to encourage you, hand your boats over to Jesus. Give Him all you have.

Give Him your gifts, your time, your talents, your future, your hopes, your dreams.

Give Him your all and your life will be host to the miracles of the king of kings.  Just give your life to him and watch what He can do.

If you notice in the  story the disciples are fearing for their lives, they are fighting to stay alive. They are bailing water out of the boat. I wonder if you ever feel like that in life, just trying to stay above water. The most you can hope for is that you can somehow survivor this.

Like the disciples you cry out to Jesus in the middle of the storm you are facing and with all the tender strength of his heart He stands majestically to his feet and the creator of the universe commands the elements back into order and the waves to lie down.

Jesus commands the waves that are surrounding you to lie down, and peace returns. Your lake is calm and you survive.

But you see in verse 36 of the passage that they weren’t the only boats on the sea that day.

On that lake and in that storm there were other boats, sailing to the left and to the right. That day who got blessed? The people crying out to Jesus yes, but the people on the left and the people on the right. When the blessing fell, it fell to the left and to the right. Some might have been friends some might have been strangers but they all got blessed.

God’s plans for your life are bigger than your life,

God’s plans for your boat are bigger than your boat,

God’s plans for your journey are bigger than your journey.

The plans are bigger than you think. Because there is a world caught in a storm, there are frightened people everywhere and they need Jesus. Every boat on the lake got to enjoy the blessing because some cried out to Jesus.

The miracles are for everyone you come in contact with, His love pours from our lives.

Through His love practically worked out in your life others can navigate their stormy sees. We reflect His love to others so that they can find their peace in Jesus. You are not the only boat on the sea today. Make sure that you surrender your boat to God so that His blessings can flow to others because of you.

What area of your life do you need to completely surrender to God? 

Who do you know around you that is in the middle of a storm right now and what can you do to help? 

 

Open Heart Surgery

When we look at the news it is really easy to see the pain, devastation in the world.

There are some terrible things happening in the world and as Christians it is hard to see what is God’s heart for people that do these things.  Do we serve a short-tempered angry God, or is God a loving father even to those that are evil.

I’ve been thinking about the Heart God has for people. Because as Christians it is so often the heart that God works on and changes.  Maybe God wants to open our hearts up again to love.

Have you ever read the book of Hosea?

In the book of Hosea God begins to paint the beautiful picture of love. Hosea has suffered and faced rejection and God has drawn this parallel to himself and the nation of Israel’s rejection of him.

Hosea 11:8b 

My heart is torn within me,
    and my compassion overflows. (NLT)

It’s almost as if God  is saying  “I’m torn, because I am just and righteous, and sinless but I am merciful, and long-suffering, patient, forgiving and sympathetic. I’m torn.”

Many scholars believe this is similar to the covenant He made to Noah when He said I will not flood the earth any more.

God is still just, God is still righteous, at the end of this life because of who God is there will be a judgement, but because of this illogical and irrational love that pours out of our king, God desires that all are saved.

When God said I love the world. He meant it.

In sending His son He was saying, “I love all of you. I am sending my son not to judge the world but that the world through him might be saved.”

He is not the great critic but the great cure. He is a God of Love and His heart’s moved by His children.

There is evil adulterous behaviour in the heart of the Israelites, yet God is looking at them and saying, I chose to love. In the midst of the darkness He shows mercy.  In the middle of rejection He shows forgiveness.

We need to be a people who emulate the heartbeat of our heavenly father, where mercy triumphs over judgement every time. 

So what does this Heart of God look like for us

1 John 3:16-17

 We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? (NLT)

I love how John just brings this home. He speaks directly into our day-to-day lives. We have just made this leap from the son of God laying down his life for us in verse 16 to if you have a bit of money and see someone in need then help.

It’s powerful stuff. He just says if that is you (that shuts up your life to those in need) then how can the love of God be in you?

I believe that through this passage we can see that God’s love is not shut up, but God’s heart is open to all. If there is a being in the universe that has a right to shut His heart to some it’s God. He would be right and just to say my heart is open to one and it’s shut to another.

But His mercy and His grace and His love push through and His heart remains open to all humanity.

John writes, He died for you, He opened his heart for you, and He gave His son for you. If you see someone in need don’t you shut your heart up.

Maybe as His ambassadors as His representatives here on this earth we could be a people of an open heart.

We need to look at the father, because He had an open heart He goes to extraordinary illogical lengths to demonstrate His love even though He knows many will not take notice. He was a God of the open heart.

What is it that you can do today that will demonstrate the open-hearted Love of God?

Father,
perform open heart surgery on us,

expand our hearts,

expand our prayers,

Help us to love the least, the last & the lost.

Threads part 1: Jesus.

The bible is like a massive tapestry, it is so vast, complexed, sophisticated, unique, beautiful and powerful.  As Christians we spend some much time focussing in on little stories and areas, we focus in on individual chartaters and events this is great, though in doing this we can sometimes miss the over-arching threads, storylines and pictures that run through the bible.  Over the next few posts we are going to be look at different threads that run throughout the whole of the bible, I encourage you to take a step back, see the bible as the vast story that stretches across humanity. God longs for you to join him, to take up the threads in the bible run with them and have incredible God adventures as well.

 

Ultimately the bible is His story, and it is now also our story. The bible is about God and it is about us. It is a story of Jesus relationship with humanity, it has the highs, it has the lows. It is a story about God’s never ending pursuit of those he loves. He is never going to give up because he is hungry after you. He is desperate for you to experience His love.

Throughout every page and every story we can see the person of Jesus lovingly outworked.  We see pictures of Jesus the whole way through the bible.  I encourage you to look for Jesus in every area of the bible.  Look for him, as you read the stories how can you see a picture of Jesus and what He did for us in it.

You can see here in the story of Abraham and Issac in Genesis 22 an amazing picture of the love, mercy and grace of Jesus.

After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.

9 When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

How could God command someone to sacrifice there own son, yet ‘For God so loved the world that He gave his only son John 3:16  God asked no more of Abraham than He himself was wiling to give.  God gave up His son Jesus who He loved very much out of chose because of His love for us.

Just looking at the picture here of Jesus, the area called Moriah where they traveled to is actually now where Jerusalem is built, it is interesting to see them traveling in on a donkey, then hundreds of years later Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey as well. In little subtle ways we can see that God is making hints for us laying down the ideas that this God of the heavens is coming, a Son so much greater so much more faithful a son which will be the sacrifice for the whole world.

We see in the story that the wood for the sacrifice was placed on the back of Issac, can anyone see any other similarities between this and Jesus?  Later the father placed the cross, the wood for the sacrifice on the back of Jesus and He carried it.

Later after God has provided a ram for the sacrifice we see Abraham saying in Genesis 22:14 ‘ So Abraham called the name of that place, “The LORD will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.”’

Thousands of years later on the same mountain range, the Lord did provide again, He provided eternally when the son of God stepped in. He didn’t provide a ram or offer a lamb for the offering but He provided the lamb of God the son of God Jesus Himself.  The provision of Jesus for us and for our sins was something that He had planned before we were even born.

This story of Abraham and Issac, just shows us that God knows what it was going to cost him, yet He went ahead with it anyway. God helped Abraham and Issac understand something that day.

God wanted His people to live and not to die.

God wanted to rescue His people and not to punish them.

But they must trust in Him.

God promised Issac and Abraham that one day someone would be born into your family, and He will bring happiness to the whole world.

God was getting ready to bring an amazing gift to the whole world, it was going to be Gods way of telling His people ‘ I LOVE YOU ‘

Many years later another son would climb that hill, he wouldn’t struggle or run away, He would trust his Father He was the lamb of God.

We can see the person of Jesus in all the old testament hero’s we see Him in Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David.  We need to remember that this isn’t neat joining of dots to together, this is a rich and glorious truth, it is the salvation plan of Jesus being worked, in the lives of individuals in the old testament. Just like Jesus is weaved into the lives of these individuals in the old testament He is being weaved into our lives

God has laid messages, a love letter throughout the whole of the old testament about the fact that one day God himself was going to come. He was going to come not to punish his people but to rescue them. God was getting ready to wipe every tear from every eye, the true party was just about to start.

How today are you letting the story of Jesus be outworked in your life?  In everything we do we must let the love of God, the grace of the king and the power of Jesus flow out of our life. We carry the king of all with us into the darkness of the world. Just as the story of grace and truth outworked in our old testament hero’s was just a shadow of the king pointing to Jesus to come, our lives are meant to be the light that points people to life.

 

‘Christ in you the hope of glory.’ 

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