Resurrection

I want to share a quick thought from John 11, and the resurrection of Lazerus. You can read the whole story in John 11, but I want to jump in when Jesus shows up on the scene and meets up with Martha.

Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” – John 11:21-22

Martha almost asks Jesus to ask the Father to raise Lazerus up.

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” – John 11:23-24

Martha believed in an end-time resurrection and believed that her brother had faith enough to take part in it.

I feel like Martha’s doing pretty well here, based on her words. But she’s missing something. She gets how connected Jesus is to the Father and how He can ask anything and God will do it. But Jesus’ response to her takes it all to another level.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” – John 11:25-26

The answer for Martha comes not from Jesus’ tight connection with the Father, or with the amazing things Jesus can do.

We get stuck on what Jesus can do sometimes.

Like the Leper Jesus met in Matthew 8

And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” – Matthew 8:2

What we are missing, like Martha and the leper, is not what Jesus can do, but who He is.

I AM – the Greek phrase Ego Emi. It’s actually the reason the Jews wanted Him dead, and Jesus used this phrase over and over through out His ministry.

It was not that He had the power or the connection with God. Jesus is resurrection. He is THE LIFE! Life and death are like hot and cold, or light and dark. Death, cold and darkness are not measurable. These words represent the absence of something. When it’s cold out, it’s because there is less heat available. Darkness flees in the face of light because it only represents the absence of light.

So it is with death. Death is simply the absence of life.

So when life Himself comes on the scene, what can death do but yield. Death flees in the face of The Life.

BenHeadshotThanks for taking a minute for me today.

See you again soon,

Ben

Momma’s Boys – #SOSSaturday

My mother’s sons were angry with me – Song of Songs 1:6

Last week we looked at the Maiden’s first big problem she felt dirty on the outside but had beauty on the inside.

Today we get a look at a second crisis in her walk with the Lord – Momma’s boys.

It is interesting to me that she does not say “my brothers.” Rather – these sons of my mother. What do we have here, wicked stepbrothers?

First, we have to understand the age-old question – who’s your momma?

Jesus via the Great Commission in Matthew 28, puts the job of evangelism squarely on the shoulders of the Church. Throughout the ages, the Church has been in a motherly role. It is her job to evangelize and her job to make disciples. A newborn in Christ is said to need the mother’s milk of the word. The Church wields the bottles.

Consider:

But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother. – Galatians 4:26

My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you – Galatians 4:19

 

nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority. – 1 Thessalonians 2:6

We have a little mixing of metaphors here. God composes our spiritual mother of brothers and sister.

But as a new believer, you might feel more like an outsider, and so the term “mother’s sons.” Our girl is new to the faith. She’s not feeling part of the family-a bit outside the camp.

Worse than that, after her intimate encounter with the King, her zeal and passion that set her apart. She stands out in every crowd.

I know many of you have been there. You are (or were) that passionate one who just won’t shut up about Jesus. In the lobby of the Church, you talk about your God encounters throughout the week, while everyone else talks sports and fashion.

Ray Comfort (writer, speaker, evangelism teacher) talks about himself as a young Christian. (I paraphrase here.) When he was a young Christian he had great zeal and passion and told everyone he ran into about Christ. He was on fire. And over the years (long pause here) he has never cooled down. He is still on fire for the Lord with the same zeal and passion for the Lord as ever he had.

I love that. I feel like that is my story. I hope so. I might say that years and experience have given me a different perspective on some things, but the passion remains. One of my favorite things is to see a young Christian, full of that “first love.”

So here is the problem. There are many in the Church who have left their first love. And when they run into our maiden–our zealous, passionate firebrand–they feel a twinge of conviction. They see in her what they should be.

So begins the unsanctified bucket brigade. They immediately start dousing our maiden’s fervor. They don’t want to be around her; They don’t have that same passion; They aren’t consumed by a desire for the presence of the Lord. And it’s all right here in her every word.

This causes a reaction in the maiden, too. A twinge of self-righteousness? Our holy zeal can develop an edge of condemnation. Why aren’t they where I am? Why don’t they want to talk about the Lord? Why don’t they want to spend their Saturday on the street with me preaching to passers-by?

And so there is strife in the Body of Christ. So we train the young to tone it down and the passionate to calm down. We call it maturity. So God’s newest and hottest lover lured into judgmental self-righteousness.

Let’s all take a step back today and consider–are you a firebrand in the hands of the Lord, or are you in the bucket brigade? We all need correction, and I want us to stop and listen to the Lord today.

Those of us in the Church for years need to be cheerleaders, mentors, equippers, throwing logs (and even accelerants) on the fires burning in our young brothers and sisters.

Those of us who are full of zeal and passion must be careful not to write off your elder brothers and sisters. Many have known your zeal and inwardly want it back.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, – Hebrews 10:24 NIV

cropped-BenHeadshotThanks for reading today.

See you next week

Ben

See God!

…for they shall see God – Matthew 5:8

To this point, I have been talking about our approach to the Father. Pure hearts allow us to draw near to Him, but there is more. There is another dimension to seeing God, and we must not miss it.

Here is a question for you to ponder? When Jesus died, the veil in the temple split in two from top to bottom. Why? Was it God granting us access to the holy of holies? Yes–and no! The writer to the Hebrews implores us more than once to approach the throne of God. God intends for us to make our way into His domain.

But that’s not the whole of the matter. For centuries, a religion that told us exactly where to find God satisfied men. The torn veil speaks of God on the loose! No longer confined to a box in a tent or temple, God, to His great pleasure, now walks with us and in us.

Not only can these pure in heart approach the throne of God. The pure in heart will see God show up in day-to-day life. Where we go, He is sure to follow–wait–check that–lead. He goes before us into the workplace, the marketplace, the schoolroom. When we pray for our family members, co-workers, classmates, employees and employers, God shows up and confirms His Word with signs following.

This is where I really get turned on. It is one thing for me to look more spiritual, and walk around like a great saint. But when God starts walking in and through my life with me in tangible ways, that is real Christianity. That’s the kind of Christianity that Christ lived and the kind of Christianity for which He died.

cropped-BenHeadshotSee you soon,

Love,

Ben

Dark But Lovely #SoSSaturday

I am dark, but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, Like the tents of Kedar, Like the curtains of Solomon. – Song of Songs 1:5 NKJV

Our girl has spent the evening in the Kings courts. She experienced His personal care for the first time. Now she knows what Isaiah learned in the year that King Uzziah died.

Leonard Ravenhill, the wonderful revivalist from the last century, often preached a sermon using Isaiah 6 as his text and with this outline: Woe, Lo, Go. (You can download a copy at SermonAudio.com. It’s wonderful.)

Woe is me! For I am undone. (vs 5)

When I get into the presence of the Lord the first thing that strikes me is how I really don’t belong here. I am filthy, dirty, DARK and unfit for the Kings Presence.

Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. (vs 7)

The blood of Jesus purges opens the way for me to enter this place, and I am not consumed.

Go, and tell this people. (vs 9)

Intimacy leads to productivity.

So let’s look at our maiden. She spends the evening in the King’s presence and when she gets home she begins to examine herself. One look in the mirror is all it takes to see she is earthy–from working outside–from years in the hot sun of the Middle East.

She is dirty from “everything under the sun.” This is the phrase Solomon used in Ecclesiastes to talk about the world’s influence. Jesus told Peter to sit still while He washed his feet. Peter didn’t need a bath–just a cleansing from the dust of the roads of life.

Then she remembers His words to her. He says “I am lovely.” I can see the scene in West Side Story. “I feel pretty,” rings out as our dark beauty dances about her tent’s dirt floor in bare feet, remembering her evening with the King.

The tents of Kedar made of dark animal skins dotted the white sands of the wilderness. The curtains of Solomon, sumptuous and pristine, highlighted the windows of what may have been the most beautiful palace of all time.

Dark and dusty on the outside, beautifully adorned on the inside.

So it is with us. Any time spent on introspection will turn up dirt. Exposing things we know must change. Uncovering hidden places of the heart. Highlighting areas we know we could improve. All of it fodder for shame in the accuser’s hands.

Then you take the bread and wine of God’s love and realize He made you lovely and perfectly acceptable in His sight. No, not just acceptable–desirable! You are the apple of God’s eye, the rose of Sharron, the lily among thorns. You are His desire.

Staggering, isn’t it?

BenHeadshotO the joys of the presence of the Lord!

Come back again next week, won’t you?

Ben

Pure in Heart

Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God ~ Matthew 5:8

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: ~ Hebrews 12:14

Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, ~ Psalm 24:3

We are called to have a pure heart, and to be holy. I am not sure if these two are interchangeable, however, based on the scriptures above each has as its reward an audience with the King of Glory!

The paradox here is that in order to approach God we must be holy which means set apart. And God is so holy and so set apart as to seem unapproachable. It has long fascinated me that God actually created angelic beings whose sole purpose is to hover before the throne of God for all eternity crying “Holy, Holy, Holy.” Both Isaiah and John the beloved tell us of these creatures that act as eternal warning beacons. In the same way, when God decided to interrupt Moses’ afternoon by showing up in a bush, the first order of business was to alert Moses that he was on holy ground.

At first blush, this seems like it is intended to keep us away, but the fact is, in all three cases God’s intent was to draw each of these men closer. As they prepared themselves they got a glimpse of God’s unmatched holiness and they were drawn into His irresistible presence.

Approach the Lord? Yes, you. He calls us to His throne. He beckons we sons of Adam to come before Him. As we draw near, change will be required. The very journey toward His throne will mold us–conform us–to His image. As we approach, He will ensure that we don’t arrive in an impure state, and He will supply what is needed to allow us into His wonderful presence. He did it for Isaiah with coals from the altar (check out Isaiah 6); He will do it for us.

Was there a time that God revealed a greater measure of His holiness to you?

BenHeadshotCome back soon

Love you,

Ben

Show Me Your Glory

As we sang this lyric, my heart cried out as it has often in the past. “Lord, show me a visible manifestation of Your glory.” I’ve longed to see something like I’ve read about at the Azuza street revival when a visible glory cloud showed up. I’ve seen the videos of the cloud that floated around at Bethel Church in Redding, CA. I’ve sought after this for years, really.

As I pressed into this desire of my heart, I heard the Lord nudge me, “Look around.”

I looked. People worshipping. People I know, some that I don’t. Some hands up, some eyes closed. A team of Levites going after it with all their hearts.

Then the Lord said in my heart, “to your left, and right, this IS a visible manifestation of my glory. You may think of them as distractions to your ability to reach My glory, but My glory is manifested through them.”

“If you can’t see it, it’s because you don’t esteem them the way I do. You don’t love them the way I do. You don’t see them through My eyes. You don’t see what I’ve placed in them.”

“If you would see them the way I see them, you would recognize the glory I’ve put in them, and the unity I prayed for would be one step nearer.”

Then the Lord reminded me of His high priestly prayer.

The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one;John 17:22

There it is. His glory manifest to my left and to my right, in front and behind me. I was surrounded by a manifestation of His glory, and as I looked through His eyes, I loved more, cared more, and understood. This is the path to unity in the body. Seeing His body with His eyes.

I’d still love to see some visible, tangible manifesttion, but today, I’m satisfied by His glory in you.

BenHeadshotLove you,

Ben