Way back in time when creation was new, everything was beautiful and all needs were provided, the Tempter came and said to our first parents, “There really is something better than all this. You can make up your own rules. You can be like God himself”. We’ve been working on that premise ever since. The problem is that when God created the man and the woman He breathed into them the breath of life, his very own breath. That gave mankind a spirit, a heart, that is different from all other created beings. That heart can only be satisfied, only be complete, when it remains in communion with God Himself. None of our attempts to play God, or change the plan He has established for life can change that. They all leave something lacking, something empty and unsatisfied. The wise Psalmist many centuries ago understood this when he wrote, “Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.”(62:1) God really did know what He was doing when He created us, and we can’t improve on that.
Our God is an awesome God! (Nehemiah 1:5) He is great and mighty and above all things. He has made all that is. The creator of the cosmos, and the One who formed you in the womb. He holds the power of life and death in His hands. He is the great King above all kings. And yet He is a Father, our good Father. I am more and more aware that His ears are open to the smallest of our words and the least of our cries. We can’t hide from Him, and we should never want to. For in His words, His answers to prayer, His gentle touch in so many wonderful ways through out the day, He give us the joy of new life. He is your Father. Know that He is with you today.
When John the Baptist came he preached “repent for the kingdom of heaven is near”. This was also the message Jesus brought , as did the Apostles after Him. Many of Jesus’ parables began “the kingdom of God is like”. Why was there such an emphasis on the kingdom of heaven, or the kingdom of God? The Lord is trying to expand our view of life. We get so caught up in our present needs, trials, projects, and goals that we forget there is a whole other dimension to life, a dimension that makes a difference now and not just some vague hope after our physical death. Knowing that life is far larger than what is apprehended with out five senses, and extends beyond our earthly years, is reflected in many aspects of daily life and priorities. It is not that we are rushing to get out of a broken world, but we seek to share the values of God’s kingdom in all our present activities in this world. We are a people who show other the greatest hope, for the kingdom of God really is near.
Jesus asked the disciples who they believed He was. They said that He was the Christ, the long promised Messiah who would restore the Davidic kingdom. This was great. They would be freed from foreign domination and restored to their former glory, so they thought. But Jesus immediately taught that He must go to Jerusalem, suffer, die, and on the third day be raised from the dead. “No!” they cried. This can’t happen. This is not the way of the Messiah, the King of Israel. But it was. It was the only way. The real enemy was not the oppression of the Romans. That was only an external force they were required to obey. The real enemy was the sin residing in the hearts of all people separating them from their holy God. That enemy only a Messiah who would give His life in atonement for the sins of all people would be able to conquer. People today still don’t like the idea of a suffering and dying Messiah. We want an easier way, but there isn’t one. Freedom only comes through the cross, and that is freedom indeed.
From the earliest years of the Church there have been debates about who Jesus is. Christian theology teaches us that He is both God and man, but is He more one than the other? Some of the greatest heresies in Church history have come from this debate. Scripture teaches that Jesus is both true God and true man. Incomprehensible to human reason, but a truth of God’s grace that means our life and our hope. As true man He knows us intimately having experienced every temptation and trial we face, yet without yielding to sin. As true God He is the perfect unblemished Lamb sacrificed in atonement for our sins. We can’t fully comprehend this by human reason, but we can accept it as the truth of God’s Word, and humbly bow in worship of the One who has given us life.
Sometime a very little phrase in Scripture can say a great deal. Mark Chapter six has the account of a storm on the sea of Galilee. Jesus had just fed the crowd with five loaves and two small fish. The disciples got into the boat and started across the lake while Jesus stayed on shore. It had gotten to be 3 or 4 AM. A storm had come up. The disciple were straining at the oars trying to make progress against the wind. The text says that Jesus came walking on the water, and “intended to pass by them”(NASB), or “He was about to pass by them”(NIV), or “would have passed by them”.(KJV) In other words, if they had not seen Him He would have left them to struggle through this situation on their own. Uncaring? No. What happened to the compassionate Lord? He was still there. He was near by. He saw everything that was going on with these disciples He care about, and was training to carry His truth to the world. But in this instance they were not in mortal danger. They would have to toil and struggle to get to the other shore, but that wasn’t a bad thing. They would face far worse trials in their later ministry. They did finally see Him, and the storm was stilled, but we face some storms that seem endless. But that doesn’t mean the Lord is not near, or does not care. All things are ultimately in His hands, and we will get to the right shore.
There it is again. Another request for “feedback”. Take this sort survey and tell us how we are doing. I even got one this morning from NBC News for a 2 minute survey of how they are reporting the news. Sure, we all like to hear that we’ve done a good job with a task we had. But there is only one opinion that really matters, that of the Lord we serve. Paul wrote to the people of Colossae counseling them that “whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”(3:17) When understand that in daily life, whether at home with the family or our place of employment, we are working with our Lord and for our Lord, we seek to do the best we can. Then we can be content. We make mistakes, and don’t always give 100%, but the Lord is gracious continually helping us to grow. If we make it our aim to do all to the glory of God we can be at peace with that. We don’t need surveys. We’ve already been declared a child of God for Jesus’ sake.
Psalm 125 declares that “Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forevermore.”(vss.1-2) This is a great word, and a great encouragement, but we also find ourselves in the midst of a world of trials, problems, and uncertainties. We can find it difficult to keep our trust in the Lord. But we do have the many real promises from our Lord that He is there for us “both now and forevermore”. Even further, we look back in our own lives seeing the times God has acted in life’s situations. He has brought us through many difficult times. Both Old and New Testaments teach us not to worry or be anxious, but to keep the eyes of our hearts fixed upon the One who is faithful. In Him “we cannot be shaken”.