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Believe Jesus? Or Know Jesus?

If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is.
John 14:7 (NLT)
My summer was crazy exciting, but I strayed from blogging. The fall routine has arrived and I’m bursting with inspirational thoughts! I don’t know where to begin so I’ll start with Jesus.
I love Jesus and I came to this love by discussing scripture in a small group. I believed in Him my whole life, but my belief didn’t make an impact on my life until I came to know and love Him.
What’s the difference between believing and knowing? Everything.
Belief is a head thing. A decision. We decide Jesus is the Son of God and sign on to follow (most of) His teachings as a good person should.
We don’t follow the ones that are hard or don’t make sense. Many are completely counter-intuitive. They seem unreasonable. We feel vulnerable. We don’t understand why His way is a good idea. But we’re good people because we love others like Jesus did.
Knowing Jesus is understanding His heart. Absorbing every detail of the stories about Him to discover why He modeled humility and abhorred hypocrisy, touched the outcast and insulted the powerful, eagerly taught the hungry crowds but stormed out of the Temple. Jesus is a real person. Not a set of rules.
When we get to know the complete person of Jesus, His teaching makes more sense. Opening our hearts to see the world through Jesus’ eyes leads to transformed attitudes and perspectives. We follow Jesus because we want to, not because we should.
I learned the difference between believing and knowing by reading and discussing the Bible in a small group. Every ah-ha thrilled me as I pieced together the big picture and discovered rich, personal meaning in familiar stories. I had tried reading scripture on my own. I had signed up for online studies but never finished. The assignment and discussion made all the difference.
The shift from believing in Jesus to knowing Him is when transformation occurs! (tweet this)
How can you seek the heart of Jesus?
#SeedsofScripture #Jesus #Biblestudy #JustDoIt #SmallGroupStudy #theheartofJesus

Good News!

This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News. God promised this Good News long ago through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord. Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority as apostles to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name. And you are included among those Gentiles who have been called to belong to Jesus Christ. For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving
everyone who believes… This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”
Romans 1:1-6, 16-17 (NLT)
 
Good News! You are included among those called to belong to Jesus.
 
Good News! Jesus is indeed the Son of God, fulfilling more than 300 Old Testament prophesies. God kept his promises.
 
Good News! Jesus was raised from the dead and seen by more than 500 people who were still living when the accounts were written down. Jesus sightings were verifiable.
 
Good News! Jesus offers life to everyone who believes. It just takes faith.

Good News! You are called to belong to Jesus! (tweet this)

How can you celebrate this Good News?
Will you tell someone what God has done for them?
 
#SeedsofScripture #GoodNews #faith #Jesus
 

Be More Human

Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us.”
Genesis 1:26 (NLT)
What does it mean to be more human?
I’ve recently been immersed in Crossfit (see Facebook Cathy Alger Chung for details). It’s a wonderfully friendly and supportive community ranging from elite athletes to people trying to live healthier. For the most part, each member of the community wants every other member to do their best, no matter what level they’re at.
The serious athletes work extremely hard and shape their lives around achieving their highest potential. But ordinary people also succeed in improving their lives by losing weight, becoming more mobile, reducing pain, beating diabetes, and gaining confidence.
Reebok’s promotion implies that being healthy makes us more human and, indeed, physical health is an important aspect of being our best. However, God created humans to reflect His image. So our personal best as humans must look a lot like Jesus, the human form of God.
Being more human means being more like Jesus. And Jesus was a servant.
We can describe Jesus as compassionate, loving, just, humble and forgiving, but at His core, Jesus was a servant. He set aside His divinity in order to limit Himself inside a human body – from unlimited, all-powerful to an oppressed, poor son of a carpenter. He lived with one ultimate purpose – to willingly carry other people’s sins to an excruciating death.
Jesus was the ultimate servant, giving His life in exchange for your life and mine. Being more human means loving others as much Jesus does.
How can we be as dedicated as Crossfit athletes in improving our abilities, stretching our limits, and focusing our minds on loving others as much as Jesus does?
How can we encourage and assist each other in being the best possible servants?
How can we better shape our lives with the primary purpose of loving and serving?
#SeedsofScripture #crossfit #bemorehuman

Fully Committed

But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.
Acts 20:24 (NLT)
Can you imagine being completely dedicated to spreading the message of God? All activities, decisions and behaviors point to Jesus. The manner in which we carry out the necessities of life reflect God’s character. Nothing is more important.
La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona is an example.
This translates to ‘The Holy Family’ and is a masterpiece cathedral by Gaudí. There are many cathedrals in Spain, but this one is different in that every detail tells the story of God’s love in Jesus.
We followed the audio guide as did most other visitors. It described each sculpture’s intricate details and its symbolism. Beginning with the beauty and variety of God’s creation, stepping through the events of Jesus’ life and finally to His glory in heaven, Gaudí wanted this cathedral to point to Christ, not himself. He used his gifts well to put God on display.
I love that thousands and thousands of people hear the story of Jesus every day as they listen to the audio guide. Not sanitized or politically correct, but welcoming all. One door is carved with the phrase ‘give us this day, our daily bread’ in almost all of the world’s languages.
Though Gaudí has been dead nearly 100 years, he continues to spread the Good News.
What would it look like to use all your energy and gifts to point to Christ? 
Can you imagine giving your life in this way?
Is this what it means to surrender to Christ?

 

When we surrender to the Holy Spirit, Christ is magnified, not us.” – Francis Chan

Privilege or Responsibility?

The covenant-call to be God’s people, far from being primarily an invitation to special privilege, is first of all a summons to special responsibility. God calls a people to live in response to the needs of others, to live in right relationship with God, to bring justice and mercy to the land, and to lead the way toward peace and freedom. The covenant binds [God’s people] to trust in God alone, not putting confidence in false prophets or false securities.

From Seeking God’s Peace in a Nuclear Age: A Call
to Disciples of Christ

God promises life to those who believe in Jesus.  We are set apart but not with special privilege. Instead, we become servants because God’s people live in response to the needs of others.
Rather than privilege, we have a special responsibility to express God’s radical justice and mercy through our lives. Jesus shows particular concern for the poor, the social outcasts, the ill, the mentally ill and for those without a support network. His mercy even extends to those who have committed the worst kind of evil. In contrast to our idea of fairness, both long time believers and late-in-life believers receive the same reward.

God’s justice and mercy is radically different from ours. (tweet this)

In addition, God’s people trust God above all else. Our confidence is not in our career, bank balance, social standing, family, or health. None of these is secure. Only God is truly reliable. We trust Him to provide our needs as we follow His guidance (at least it’s our goal to trust Him that well).

How can you show God’s justice and mercy in your circles of influence?
Could you expand your circles?
When have you trusted God to provide instead of relying on yourself?
#SeedsofScripture #mercy #justice #TrustGodAlone

A Good Fight

Remind the believers… they must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone.
Titus 3:1-2 (NLT)
There’s an appropriate, effective and productive way for us to disagree with one another: don’t slander or quarrel, but be gentle and truly humble.
Taking the original Greek meaning into account, this verse might say: Don’t speak evil
or be contentious. Be equitable, fair and mild. Have a gentle or meek spirit.
Today we might say: Stick to the truth and remain calm. Be open minded and willing to
listen. Consider what’s best for everyone. Don’t insist on being right.

When Christians disagree, let’s stick to the truth, remain calm, and listen well. (tweet this)

Do you think this verse offers good advice?

Is this method effective?

How well do you express a difference of opinion?

#SeedsofScripture #disagree #humility #slander #listenwell

My Selfish Love for Jesus

Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, he’s the one to fear.
Luke 12:5 (NLT)
Aren’t these some of Jesus’ most encouraging words?
I grew up hearing about hell as a very real, scary, painful, forever place and I did not want to be there. So I chose the way out and avoided destruction by following Jesus.
I didn’t love Jesus, nor did I feel loved by Him. But I selfishly wanted what He had to give: a ticket to heaven. I began doing what I thought God required: attending every church event, memorizing Bible verses handwritten on index cards, and kneeling
bedside in prayer.
As time went on, my enthusiasm faded. It was too hard and it didn’t mean much. I avoided thinking about God, Jesus and hell for the next 25 years. With my questionable behavior, I figured I was doomed. Then my nerdy curiosity (or was it God?) led me to join the Disciple Bible study.
God was wooing me back.
This time, my ticket to heaven came bundled with helpful guidance, explanation and discussion about the Bible which helped reshape my angry, judgmental, ‘damning me to hell’ image of God. I began to see God’s true character and to know that He loved me. And I began to love God.

In His own words, God revealed the life He wants for me right now, not later in heaven and certainly not hell. The Disciple Bible study was the beginning of the best part of my life, thank God!

Jesus is more than a ticket to heaven. (tweet this)

Does your picture of God match His self portrait?
How do you know?

#SeedsofScripture #heaven #tickettoheaven #Jesuslovesme #selfish

Is There Only One Way to Heaven?

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 (NIV)
Is Jesus the only way to heaven?

Jesus says yes. “No one comes to the Father except through me.” This one statement prevents many from believing. How could a loving God exclude good people? How could He ignore the faithful of other religions? Don’t all religions really worship the same God? Doesn’t God love everyone?

I don’t have answers. But I do believe that Jesus is the Son of God who carried our sins to the cross. And as the one whose blood covers sin, He alone is qualified to decide whether or not a person enters into God’s presence. So I believe Jesus is one way to God.

That said, there may be many ways to Jesus. We don’t know. Jesus is the gatekeeper and gets to decide. But why, after knowing the one sure way, would we take a chance on an unknown possibility?
You may unfollow this blog because of this post, but I hope instead that it will prompt deep thinking. Wrestle with the question. Read scripture. Engage in conversation. Pray. I have come to this place in my beliefs over years of study, prayer and conversation. Is my view correct? It’s impossible to know. I, too, am disturbed by the possibility that not everyone I love will live in eternity. I can’t know the answers. I can only know and trust Jesus. By His wounds we are healed.

We can’t know all the answers. We can only know Jesus and trust His goodness. (tweet this)

Now it’s your turn. What do you believe?

#SeedsofScripture #TheWay #heaven #GodisGood #TrustJesus

Personal note #1 – God moment: Immediately after writing this blog, I got in my car and the song on the radio was The Way by Pat Barrett. Have a listen.

https://www.bing.com/search?q=the+way+pat+barrett&form=PRLNC1&src=IE11TR&pc=EUPP_LCTE

The Kingdom’s Power Pyramid

For you granted [your Son] authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

John 17:1,4,19(NIV)

Jesus had authority over all people.
Yet instead of wielding his power to stay on top of the power pyramid, Jesus elevated the sick, poor, grieving, humble and persecuted. He declared blessings on the generous, compassionate, peacemaker, and believer.

We have power too.

Our socio-economic and educational statuses often position us within the power pyramid, but we have power in every human interaction. Our words and tone of voice can build or destroy. Our choice to see and hear someone defines their position above or below us.
What did Jesus do with His power?
Jesus paid particular attention to the outcast of His day. He listened, taught, healed, touched, and made himself  known to these people. Those who were confident in their status weren’t changed by Jesus’ power. They didn’t comprehend His teaching. They weren’t healed.
In God’s kingdom, the last will be first.
After the God of the universe stooped to touch dirty feet and tenderly, lovingly do a servant’s task, he silently accepted unjust accusations and brutal punishment. He withheld his power and allowed these events to occur with a specific purpose – so that you and I could approach God and have a personal relationship with Him.

For them Jesus sanctified himself so that they too could be sanctified.

Discover the Christian meaning of power and learn how to use it for the good of others. –Richard J. Foster (tweet this)

 

How do you use power? How can you support the Kingdom’s power structure?

#SeedsofScripture #followJesus #discipleship #power

Let Them See You in Me

I heard this song for the first time in church this morning – Let Them See You by Colton Dixon. The song beautifully expresses the hope I wrote about in Don’t Follow My Example.

Here are two YouTube links. The first is a Laura Daigle cover which makes the song a universal prayer that any of us could say. The second is the Colton Dixon original.

Laura Daigle cover: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Phx-MkVGUnc

Colton Dixon original: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuyIQNDAxGs

Spend a few minutes to plant a quick Seed. Or stay longer and plant a whole garden.

Each post is a brief scriptural thought that will grow as you let it take root in your thoughts.  If you have time, dig into one area of interest and plant a whole garden.
Each post is a brief scriptural thought that will grow as you let it take root in your thoughts. If you have time, dig into one area of interest and plant a whole garden.

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