Living Like Jesus (The Life & Teachings of Jesus Part IV)

  

Photo Credit: Pinterest 

You’ve probably all read the scriptures that say be imitators of Christ as dearly loved children, love one another as Christ loves you, be good to all especially those in the household of faith, love your neighbor as your self, no greater love has a person than to lay down their life for their friend, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ, forgive one another as Christ forgives you, don’t just look out for your own interests-look out for the interests of others, encourage and pray for one another daily….

The Bible is filled with all this information on how we are to live and to love. Yet I read an interesting article a few weeks ago that states American Christians in high percentages don’t look or behave like Jesus (this is relative and I thought interesting). There’s church attendance, yet Christians in China, India, other parts of the world are actually risking their lives to do what Jesus said…Love others, share the Gospel, do what you see Me doing. 

This isn’t a condemning devotion. It’s a reflection. What’s different? 

I asked God. Two much information to put in an email but here’s the summary. 

The call to follow Jesus is a call to die. Yes, I said it. Die. Death to slavery to sin. Death to selfishness. Death to living life independent of God. Death to seeking first our agenda. Death to elevating anything or anyone above God. In covenant something dies so something new can be formed. That’s the difference between a contract and covenant. God didn’t come to improve the old man. Jesus came to kill him so we are reborn. In covenant, I becomes we. Jesus took the first step and said, “I will die first. I will model for you true love. I am laying down My life first and then I am giving you My Spirit so you are empowered to do the same.” 

To be martyred is to die once for God.  Yes it’s painful and final. To live a life of dying to self is far more difficult. 

When God says… 

Go love this person who continually rejects you. 
Go bless this person who despitefully uses you. 
Remain silent while they gossip about you. 
Keep serving while they ignore or dishonor you. 
Speak well of them though they speak ill of you. 
Seek to serve instead of be served.
Take the lowest place.
Associate with people who have far less and are outcasts of society. 
Forgive, forgive again…and again…
Do your best even if everyone else is not… 
Seek My ways, My will, even if it causes others to mock you or misunderstand. 
Give to others expecting nothing from them. 
Choose to love those who hate you, rely on My Spirit. 
Seek holiness as I have cleansed you and made you righteous in My sight. 
Put Me first in all things…

You see those who love their lives more than Christ will never truly live! And it’s burdensome to try to follow Christ and live to please ourselves. His yoke is easy and His burden light. It’s not always easy, yet He’s worth it. He’s the greatest reward, knowing God and being one with Him in covenant. 

So I ask myself, am I dying daily to My agenda to pursue His? For it is Christ in me the hope of glory. If I am on the throne, He is on the cross. If He is on the throne, I am on the cross. The fruit that emerges from full surrender blesses others and brings Him tremendous glory. Not My will. His will be done, for God alone is perfect and good. 

Are you dying? It’s impossible without the Holy Spirit. Yet with God, with His Spirit all things are possible. He only asks us to do what He will empower us to do. It starts with being with God. Intimacy, not striving produces Christlikeness (John 15:5). 

You are SO very deeply loved! 

Erin 


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Jesus & Sinners (The Life & Teachings of Jesus Part III)



Photo Credit: Son of God Movie (Pinterest) 

When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:16-17 (NIV)

One of my favorite stories involving Jesus is with the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus stopped to speak to the Samaritan woman which was not culturally acceptable. She was not only a Samaritan woman speaking to a Jewish man, she was a woman who had multiple male suitors. 

Jesus knew everything about her, and it’s remarkable the outcome of this story. You can read it here: 

Jesus and the Samaritan WomanFrom John 4:1-26.

I love this story because the Samaritan woman went on to tell everyone she knew about Jesus. He offered her life not judgement. 

Jesus wasn’t afraid to speak to someone the world deemed unworthy. Some of the harshest words we hear spoken by Jesus were to the self righteous, the Pharisees, and when He rebuked Peter. 

To the tax collector, the woman caught in adultery, the Samaritan woman, other sinners…He offered forgiveness and the chance for a new life. 

Jesus always loved the sinner, yet acknowledged their need for repentance. He said to the woman caught in adultery, “Go and sin no more,” (John 8:11). 

We live in a culture that believes that stating something is wrong or a sin is intolerance. Not so with Jesus. 

He did not say to the Samaritan woman, “I know you have multiple relationships, do what’s best for you. I love you.” 

If the Jesus we are following approves of sin, it’s not the Son of God. 

If the Jesus we are following is too good to share the Gospel or love with sinners, it’s not the Son of God. 

We have two major noticeable extremes in our culture; the “Jesus loves everyone so anything goes,” and the “Jesus hates everyone who sins and especially the sins I don’t commit.”

Both are wrong and not in alignment with scipture. 

From Scripture: 

God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son so we would be able to have everlasting life (John 3:16). God SO loved the world. 

Those who do not repent and accept Jesus as Savior will pay the full penalty for their sins which is eternal separation from God. Jesus is not a way, He is the way into heaven (John 14:6).

Jesus mingled with sinners and shared the Gospel with them. He came to save the lost. 

The Good News of the Gospel is we don’t have to live separated from God. Jesus paid for all sin so those who believe in Him and follow Him would have everlasting life. 

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Only Jesus is mentioned as living a sinless life.  

So we can’t look down our noses on other people. If it were not for God, where would we be? We have to put down the picket signs and hold up a cross, a cross that reads, “Paid in Full. Jesus paid it all. No matter what you’ve done, Jesus paid for it. Come to Jesus! He loves you!!

We share the Good News of the Gospel of grace. We check our hearts to see if we’ve fallen into the trap of being a Pharisee-seeing yet not believing-self righteous and hypocritical; filled with unbelief.

We take the Gospel into the marketplace and what the world calls the worst of sinners. 

Father I ask that we’d see ourselves and others through Your eyes and the eyes of Jesus. May we share the Gospel with the lost and more importantly live the Gospel in front of the world. May we love people, yet still have a desire for holiness and purity. 

The Real Jesus (The Life & Teachings of Jesus Part II)



Photo credit: Pinterest, Son of God Movie 

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,”~John 14:6. 

I posed the question during the worship series, “Which God are we worshipping?” 

If we worship the “God” created in our own image we become more selfish, & self centered. When we worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we become more like Jesus. 

So the question posed in this post is which Jesus are you following? 

I’ve had the honor of talking to numerous people about their thoughts on Jesus. He’s a great prophet some say. He’s loving and kind and forgiving. And for some He’s still hanging on a cross being crucified for our sins. If you go on social media there are many things about Jesus that are antibiblical, antichrist, and opposite to the character of God. We need to know who we are following. 

I want to investigate the Jesus written about in the Bible. It’s good to understand His full nature. Last post we established Jesus is the Son of God. He is Supreme over all. This post I would like to talk about the character of Jesus and His invitation to follow.

Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing. He perfectly represented the heart and nature of the Father. 

“Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does”,~John 5:19

Jesus aligned His life with heaven. There was no sin in Him. 

He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth,~1 Peter 2:22.

Jesus invited people to deny themselves and follow Him…

I can only find instances in the Bible where Jesus asked people to follow Him. Following implies submission, obedience, listening, and abiding. He’s not only friend, He’s Lord. Here’s a passage where Peter decided to tell Jesus He would not be crucified. 

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done,~Matthew 16: 23-27. 

Jesus was no people pleaser…

Jesus walked the earth and offended people. He offended the religious systems of His day. He offended some of His disciples. He offended the culture of His time by empowering women and mingling with sinners and tax collectors. He did things that were unconvential and unprecedented. He turned over tables in the temple. He called the Pharisees blind guides, bloody vipers, and children of Satan. 

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.

Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath.’ You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 

Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it,~Matthew 23:15-22.

Jesus was and is serious about cultivation of relationship. 


“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”~Luke 6:46. 

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’~Matthew 7:21-23. 

Jesus cares about the sick, hurting, poor, and oppressed. He devoted His ministry to caring for people. 
Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him,~Matthew 20:34.

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him,~Acts 10:38. 

Jesus came to redeem the lost, free humanity from the power of sin and death. 

And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death,~Romans 8:2. 

Jesus told people to repent and sin no more…to abide in Him. 

Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”~John 8:11b

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing,~John 15:5. 

Jesus is love. He is filled with compassion, joy, hope, life, truth, and honor. He reaches low to lift humanity higher. He is the resurrected King. He gave His life for relationship. Part of that relationship is following. In order to follow Jesus we must know who He is. We have the Bible that gives us insight into the person of Jesus. We have the Holy Spirit who continually reveals Jesus. He offered us the key to relationship in John 15:5. He tells us to abide. May we investigate the God we say we are following and continually encounter Him. 




Supremacy of Jesus (The Life & Teachings of Jesus Part I)

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The world has ideas about Jesus. He is well known in many religions other than Christianity. Those religions call Him a good man, or a prophet. They do not call Him God or the way to salvation. They remove the supremacy of Christ which is crucial. The bible outlines for us who Jesus is. Let’s dive into some text…

Colossians 1:13-23 (NKJV)

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.

What do we learn about Jesus in this passage?

1. He is fully God. The Father chose to have all His fullness dwell in Him.

2. He is the firstborn of all creation.

3. He was before the creation of the world and all was created through Him and for Him.

4. By Jesus the Father reconciles all things to Himself, by Jesus, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood shed on the cross.

4. Through Him we have forgiveness of sins. He presents us holy to the Father through His sacrifice.

5. He is the head of the church.

Let’s look at another passage about Jesus.

Ephesians 1: 19-23 (NKJV)

…what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

We learn from the second passage…

1. Jesus was raised from the dead.

2. Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father.

3. His name is above every name.

4. Jesus is far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

It’s important that we understand who we are following. Jesus is fully God. He’s not weak, powerless, intimidated, still hanging on a cross, defeated, or passive. The Father gave Him the name above all names. He is the way to heaven, salvation. Without relationship with God, no person shall enter heaven.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,“~John 14:6 (NIV).

So my questions for us this series post are?

A. Do we view Jesus as scripture depicts Him?

B. When we share the Gospel, do we let people know Jesus is Lord? We aren’t inviting people to live as they please. It’s an invitation to love and commitment.

C. Have we made Jesus Lord over every area of life?

To call Jesus friend is an honor and privilege. Yet have we made Him Lord. If He is Lord, then we are submitting to Him. We align our hearts with His will.

I hope this series challenges us to know Jesus and what He taught. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He’s highly exalted. He’s worthy!

Father, help us to see Jesus as He is, not our preconceived ideas of who He is. May we know Him and follow Him. In Jesus powerful name, amen.

Love,

Erin

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart,~Jeremiah 29:13.