Tag Archives: God

What Did Jesus Do?

What Did Jesus Do?

Read Matthew 5 (through chapter 7 if you have time); 25:31-46; Luke 4:16-21; 6:17-49

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” (John 10:37-38)

What Did Jesus Do?Who is Jesus Christ? Is he a prophet who lived in Palestine over 2,000 years ago? Is he the messiah as promised throughout the Torah and the prophets in the Hebrew scriptures?  Is he the true King of Israel, in the line of David? Is he the Son of God, born of a virgin? Is he the Word of God made flesh, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords? Is Jesus God?  These questions and more are answered in various ways by various different Christians, and depending on where you find yourself in your faith, you may or may not find yourself shouting “heresy” at the answers that different Christians might put forth.

What’s more, not only are there questions regarding Jesus’ divine identity; however, there are questions regarding Jesus’ personality and his mission as well. There are those who would claim Jesus to be a peace-loving guy, while others would claim that Jesus was a no-nonsense guy who flung tables around in order to “cleanse” the temple of corruption.  There are those who would show that Jesus was compassionate and all-accepting, and others who would show that Jesus had little to no tolerance for those who he saw as opposing God.  So, who is this Jesus Christ?

The fact of the matter is that Jesus cannot be easily pinned down. While doctrine states that Jesus was truly divine, it also says that he was truly human as well.  And the range of emotions and actions that come from Jesus in the four Gospels alone is enough to be a thorn in the side to anyone who wants Jesus to completely fit their mold.  We, as Christians, run into problems when we get caught up in debates about who Jesus is all the while ignoring the mission of Christ that was clearly outlined in the Gospels.

But, perhaps we are asking the wrong questions. Rather than trying to get the edge on who Jesus is, perhaps we should focus our search for answers around the question of what Jesus did. We should be asking ourselves, what did Jesus do?  Jesus did teach people, he did heal people, he did accept those who had been rejected. Jesus did stand against religious dogma, he did show compassion to those who were on the fringes of society, and he did preach the imminent arrival of God’s Kingdom, which he saw as being ushered in by God through himself and those who followed him. For Jesus, ushering in the Kingdom of God (through bringing hope, healing, and wholeness) was HIS mission. Nothing shows this more than Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount, Luke’s Sermon on the Plain, Jesus’ mission statement in Luke, and Jesus’ stark illustration given to his disciples (in Matthew 25) of king who separates the sheep from the goats.

When we ask the question of what Jesus did, it gives us a clearer understanding of what we should be doing. If we are to be imitators of Christ, and/or allow Christ to live through us, then we should be engaging and investing in the same mission that Jesus is engaged and invested in. We should be working to usher in the Kingdom of God, bringing hope, healing and wholeness to those of whom God has put all around us. If we invest ourselves in Christ’s mission, then I believe we will find that the answers we have come to through our intellect will fade away and be transcended by the answers that will have risen up out of our faith.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

“An ounce of love is worth a pound of knowledge.” – John Wesley

PRAYER

Lord, help me to keep my focus on your mission and use me to usher in your Kingdom to my community. Amen.

All the Time in the World

Read Ephesians 5:15-20

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“The days of our life are seventy years, or perhaps eighty, if we are strong; even then their span is only toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.” (Psalms 90:10, NRSV)

All the Time in the WorldHave you ever watched the old TV show called the Twilight Zone? There was one episode starring Burgess Meredith about a man named Henry Bemis who loved nothing more than a good book, or a compelling news story, or a tabloid magazine. Henry loved to read and it didn’t matter if it was poetry, a classic novel, a newspaper article or even the button on someone’s shirt, Henry loved reading. The only problem was that he just didn’t have enough time in a day to do all the reading he wanted to do. He had to work and could only find a little time to read on his lunch break. When he was at home, his wife demanded that he spend time with her, which included going over her friends houses.  There just wasn’t enough time.

One day, while on lunch break, Henry went into the bank vault at work to read.  He closed the door behind him and sat down to read a book.  Somewhere during his time in that vault, an atom bomb was dropped and the world as Henry knew it was literally blasted away. When Henry emerged from the vault, there was nothing left but rubble. Everyone he knew, everyone in general, was dead.  It took him a while to come to terms with the fact that he was all alone, but when he stumbled upon a ruined library, and plethora of books, he realized he had all the time in the world to read. He was elated about this until he accidentally knocked his glasses off of his head and broke them. Staring through blurry eyes he cried out, “That’s not fair…that’s not fair at all. There was time now, there was all the time I needed. It’s not fair…It’s not fair.”

Many people, myself included, go about their days and get lost in the business of their lives. In fact, is it not true that the very source of our income, the very source of our “end’s meat” is business (aka BUSY-NESS)? And then, when we are home, we busy ourselves with other things as well.  Whether it is driving our kids around from place to place, fixing stuff up around the house, scheduling ourselves around our favorite reality shows, or whatever else it is that we do, it is no wonder that at the end of the day we simply say that there is not enough time!

But is that true? Do we truly not have enough time? Has God truly dealt us an existence that lacks in time? Or is it that we find ourselves wasting the time that we have? Are we good stewards of the time that we have been given?  While there is not doubt that it is important to spend time with family, and it is important to work, and it is important to have some leisure time as well, it is also important to manage the time we have and to make the most of it. We are called to be good stewards of our time as much as we are called to be good stewards of anything else.

What God is calling us to do is to live out our time here on earth with purpose.  To waste time is to waste the purpose God is calling us to live out. The fact is, as Henry Bemis discovered, there is a difference between all the time we want versus all the time that we need.  God has given us all the time we need and is asking us to use it wisely.  We never know when our time is up and there isn’t a moment to lose in seeking and living out the purpose God has given us.  We don’t want to end up like Henry Bemis staring down at a broken clock and lamenting over the time we could’ve had, even as he was facing all the time in the world he could ever want. The time to live with purpose is now.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

“You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it.” – Charles Buxton

PRAYER

Lord, help me to become a better steward of my time by guiding me toward the purpose with which you would like me to spend it. Amen.

 

Truly Living

Read Matthew 16:24-27

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble” (2 Peter 1:10).

A scene from the film, "Braveheart"One of my favorite films is the movie “Braveheart”, which tells the true story of the Scottish freedom fighter and revolutionary, William Wallace, who lived in the late 13th and early 14th centuries. Wallace was born and lived in a Scotland that was occupied and ruled by the English.  During this time, Wallace witnessed many oppressive things happen to his people.  The English were heavily taxing the Scots, banning them from observing their traditions, raping their women and killing people as they saw fit.

Wallace, who was a landowner and had much to lose, would have none of that. Instead, he rose up and rallied an army of Scots to fight for their freedom against the English. Though he had some decisive victories, including sacking and taking the city of York in Northern England, Wallace was eventually captured, hung, drawn and quartered as a traitor.

In the film, as he was awaiting his death, the princess comes to him and begs him to plead for mercy, to confess in order to be spared a painful death.  Wallace refused and the princess begged him again saying, “But they will kill you, it will be awful.”  It is here that William Wallace looks her in the eyes and says, “Every man dies, not every man truly lives.”

How true is that? Each and every one of us will die, yet many of us go through life without ever truly living. Jesus says similar words in the suggested reading above, but what does it mean to truly live, what does it mean to inherit true life? This is not a question that is easily answered and, for each person, the answer will most definitely be different.

For each of us, there is a divinely ordained purpose. God has a plan for each and every one of us and until we answer the call to pursue God’s will we will not be truly living. Just as both Jesus and William Wallace did, we too will have to make sacrifices to pursue the calling and/or purpose placed on our lives.  The question is, will you make the sacrifices to serve God’s purpose for your life, or will you try to hold on to the “life” you think you have already? What is God calling you to do? What is the purpose God has ordained for you?

I, the writer of this devotional, cannot answer these questions for you; however, God can and will. Remember what Jesus says in Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you” (NRSV). Be present in the lives of others and seek God’s will in your life. In fact, seek God’s will for your life by being present in the lives of others. If you do so you will most definitely inherit true life.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

A life without purpose is as good as faith without action.

PRAYER

Gracious God, what is it that you would have me do today and beyond? What purpose are you calling me to? Guide me, O God, toward your will so that I may be a flavorful granule of salt and a light for the world to see.  Guide me toward the true life that you have in store for me. Amen.