(Late) Sunday Morning Coffee: Home Alone

No, this is not about the movie.

I don’t know what happened, but I woke up early this morning with pretty severe back pain and knew I couldn’t deal with the long drive to church, nor sitting through two services and then the drive back home. It feels a little better now, thanks to good medication.

This could easily be Terry and me. Together, glad to be together, but not talking. After 53 years together, conversation is not always necessary. Quietness is valued.

So, right now, I have a quiet moment alone until everyone else gets home. I love quiet moments alone. Solitude is good for my soul. Some people replenish and renew by being around a lot of people, talking and enjoying companionship. I’m just the opposite. Give me quiet, solitude, music, and a good book and I’ll be ready to face the world again. According to some definitions I’ve heard, my love of solitude makes me an introvert. Those who feel replenished with lots of people and conversation are extroverts.

I don’t know for sure about all that. I just know I treasure “alone time,” and always have done so.

Jesus was the most balanced Man who ever lived. Luke 2:52 covers Jesus’ growing up years: He increased in wisdom (discernment, understanding, learning); stature (physical strength and development); favor with God (spiritual maturity); and favor with man (social, personality development). He was both an introvert and an extrovert. He occasionally removed Himself from the crowds, needing rest and solitude. He always ministered to the crowds, teaching and preaching and touching their physical needs. His final act at the end of Passion Week was to give of Himself utterly, completely, without holding anything back.

Here is a list of 25 verses that teach us the importance of becoming more like Christ:

https://reformedwiki.com/verses/becoming-more-like-christ/kjv

Of course, He was wholly God as well as wholly man. We, being wholly human, are at something of a disadvantage in being Christlike. However, we can remind ourselves that doing so is a process, not an event. It takes a lifetime, however long that may be, for us to reach the final goal of becoming as He is when we reach heaven.

In the meantime, when you feel the need to renew and recharge, enjoy the process–whatever it may be that works for you!

A Lively Hope

I Peter 1:3. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

What immediately came to mind upon reading this verse was Fanny Crosby’s wonderful song, Blessed Assurance.

This is the living hope, the sure foundation of our faith, the Rock of our salvation! “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine; Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchased of God! Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood!”

A living hope is one that is not destroyed by circumstances. It is that which keeps us moving forward when times are tough. It is the sure knowledge that no matter what comes our way, heaven is our final home.
I love the phrase His abundant mercy. It is not through any good that we may do that we can claim salvation. We do not deserve His mercy. We have not, cannot, earn His mercy. Yet, His mercy is abundant. Overflowing. Available to all. Endlessly available. There is never a time, while a person is still alive, when His mercy is not available. It is His desire that ALL should come to repentance, and that NONE should perish. Abundant mercy.

I need to point out, also, that without His resurrection, His death would have been meaningless. Just another crucified Jewish guy. It is His resurrection, His triumph over the grave, that provides us with the sure hope of salvation.

Complete in Him

Col. 2:9-10.

For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

And ye are complete in Him, which is the Head of all principality and power:

In Him refers back to the previous verse, which names Jesus Christ as the true basis of all knowledge and understanding. This verse, starting with in Him, boldly declares the complete deity of Jesus. He was the physical, fleshly fulfillment of the Godhead. It was necessary for Him to come in the flesh. He was wholly God; He was wholly man. It is His body incarnate that made it possible for Him to die in our place. He walked this earth, with all its sin, as a Man, and He reached out to touch sinners, to save sinners. That is why He came, and that is how we know that all men are sinful. “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

Because of Jesus Christ, we, too, are complete in Him when we accept His death and resurrection as our only way to heaven.

That we are complete in Him can only be true because Jesus is truly God.

Anything that says we are not complete in Him also takes away from the deity of Jesus.

i. If all the fullness of God dwells in Jesus, and as believers we are united to Him in a faith-relationship, then we are also complete in Him. Therefore there was no need to go to the false promises and attractions presented by the false teachers among the Colossians.

Guzik, Blue Letter Bible

He, Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, is the Head of everything; all principalities, all powers. In several New Testament scriptures, the words principalities and powers are used to describe ranks of angels, either faithful or fallen, over which Jesus is the Head. One of the false doctrines being taught in Colosse emphasized the power of these created beings, even going so far as to place them above Jesus in rank or authority. That is simply not true.

We have lots of interest in angels today. We romanticize them, making them all-powerful. There are movies and countless television programs in which angels take the lead roles. It is often taught in those movies that angels are human being who have died and are now working to earn their wings, which are symbolic of their full acceptance into the ranks of angels that are governed, strangely, by St. Peter or some fictional super-angel.

We do NOT become angels when we die. There is not one word of scripture that indicates that we suddenly become angelic beings when we die. To believe that angels earn their wings may be a fun and enjoyable story theme, but it is not truth. If it were true, then it is also true that salvation can be earned. The whole point in scripture is that we simply cannot be good enough to earn salvation, or even angelic rank. If we could, then Jesus wouldn’t have had to die.

Angels are not deity. They operate under the power and direction of the Godhead, embodied in Jesus Christ. If you are interested in this topic, I can recommend you to an article in biblestudytools.com. Guardian Angels in the Bible. Lots of scriptures are there that support the existence of guardian angels, operating under the authority of God.

Jesus, Son of God

John 20:30-31.

And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book:

But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name.

John wrote very similar words in I John 5:13: “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”

The entire purpose of John’s gospel, his epistles, and his Revelation was to present Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Savior, the Messiah. There is life in believing in His Name!

In the next and final chapter of this gospel, Jesus encourages His disciples and bids them farewell until the next time they meet. It’s a wonderful chapter, full of the love of God for His Son, and of the Son for His disciples. I’m looking forward to digging into it.

Go to My Brethren

John 20:17-18.

Jesus saith unto her, Touch Me not; for I am not yet ascended to My Father: but go to My brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My God, and your God.

Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things unto her.

What would you have done if you had been in Mary’s position? What would anyone have done, who loved Him and had thought He was dead?

I think the illustration above shows it perfectly. She worshipped Him as Lord, and was overwhelmed to see Him and hear Him speak.

Jesus was not being unkind when He said “Touch me not.” The primary translation of the word used for touch in this passage is to fasten one’s self to, adhere to, cling to.

My sons all live a very long distance from me. When I get to see them, I have a hard time letting go of them. I want to cling. They are patient with me, and let me hug them until I finally let go. So I think I can understand, from a very earthly perspective, how Mary must have wanted never to let Him go.

What He was saying, in my own words, was, “Mary, you must not cling to Me, for I still have some things to accomplish before I go back to My Father.”

Then He told her to go and tell His disciples, His brethren, that she had seen Him and spoken with Him, that He was alive. The men needed to know that He would soon ascend to the Father.

As far as I can find, this is the first time Jesus refers to the disciples as brethren. Prior to his death, He had called them servants, and friends. But now there was a new relationship because, through His death and resurrection, all who believe on Him are adopted into God’s family through Jesus Christ.

It is interesting that Jesus told Mary to tell the men. That is, in part, because under levitical law, the testimony of a woman was not considered evidence. I know, that raises the hackles for women today. But it was not uncommon even in the non-Jewish world for the testimony of women to be dismissed as the irrational, emotion-led ravings of hysteria. Did you know that the Greek word for uterus is hyster? That is why surgical removal of the uterus is called a hysterectomy. And hyster, clearly, is the root word of hysteria and hysterical. Women, apparently, were the helpless victims of their wombs, and therefore were not considered capable of rational witness in any legal matter.

Of course, there has never been any such thing as an hysterical man.

Jesus, of course, knew all that; He knew it was also foolishness. So He chose a woman to be the first to see Him, speak with Him, touch Him, and to go and tell the rest of His followers the wonderful news.

Mary obeyed Him. She went and told the disciples everything she had seen and heard from Jesus.

Show Us the Father

John 14:8-9.

Philip saith unto Him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.

Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus  replied, “Ha… | Inspirational quotes pictures, Inspirational bible quotes,  Biblical quotes

Philip entered the conversation at this point. We need to remember that later, Philip was called The Evangelist. Clearly, he understood after Jesus went to the cross, gave up His life, arose, and returned to the Father.

Jesus showed a small hint of distress in His response to Philip. “You’ve been with Me all this time! Do you really not know Who I AM? If you have truly seen Me, you have also seen the Father! Why, then, do you ask Me to show you the Father?” (my own words)

Again, we ought not to be too critical of the disciples. If we had been there, the chances are good that we wouldn’t have seen the whole picture yet, either! I remind you again that these men were reared to adhere to the Law, including all the ritual and sacrifices. Jesus could see beyond the Law, but these men were getting just a glimpse of what He already knew.

Don’t be too hard on them. Later, they showed their complete devotion to Him in a variety of ways that I’m not sure you and I would be willing to match today.

Sent

John 9:6-7.

When He had thus spoken, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,

And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.

Place Your Life Before God – OUR SENSES - Gloria Dei Northbrook

Remember that this man was born without sight. He had never seen anything at all. I have often wondered about how he must have felt when Jesus touched his eyes. Was he excited? Confused? Maybe a little afraid?

And why did Jesus choose to do it the way He did? Our modern sensitivities, especially during a pandemic, are repulsed by the idea of someone using spit as a method of healing!

Times have changed. Saliva has not always been considered a dangerous or contaminated substance. In fact, using saliva as a medicine for the eyes was not uncommon at all. The saliva of some important person, such as a king, was believed to have curative qualities–especially if it were fasting saliva. Think for a moment: If you cut or otherwise injure your finger, what’s the first thing you do? You put it in your mouth!

Jesus was following a custom that was familiar to observers, and there was nothing strange or repulsive to them about His actions. He used the dust of the ground, the same substance from which He created Adam; He mixed it with His own saliva so it would stay where it was needed.

As His fingers touched the man’s eyes, I wonder what the blind man felt? Warmth? A sense of life? Maybe nothing more than the damp earth. In any case, when Jesus finished applying the mud, He told the man to go to the Pool of Siloam to wash his eyes. Siloam means Sent, we are told. So of course I wondered why Jesus chose that specific place, when any other water would have had the same effect. The miracle was in Jesus, not in the substances He chose. It was also in the trust, faith, and obedience of the blind man.

When he was king, Hezekiah had built a tunnel that would bring water into Jerusalem that was unavailable to King Sennecharib of Assyria during his siege of Jerusalem. This tunnel was cut into the rock beneath the city, accessing water from the River Gihon, which is one of the four rivers mentioned in Genesis as flowing out of the Garden of Eden. The life-saving water was sent through the tunnel to the people of Jerusalem at Siloam’s Pool. Here’s a video I hope you will enjoy:

Yes, I followed a rabbit trail today. It interested me, and I hope held some interest for you as well.

So Jesus sent the blind man to Siloam to wash his eyes. It is fitting that Jesus, sent of God, sent the blind man to water that was sent into Jerusalem to save the people from Sennecharib.

So the blind man went, washed, and returned–seeing!

The Light of the World

John 8: 12-13.

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the Light of the World: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

The Pharisees therefore said unto Him, Thou bearest record of Thyself; Thy record is not true.

I Am the Light of the World | Mark Driscoll - YouTube

Keep in mind that the incident with the woman caught in adultery was an interruption to what Jesus was teaching the people in the Temple during the Feast of Tabernacles. After those who had brought her to Jesus quietly tip-toed away, Jesus turned to the people and picked up where He had left off.

An important feature of the Feast of Tabernacles was a lighting of the Temple that gave a brilliant light over the entire city of Jerusalem. That must have been a couple of massive chandeliers! This lighting ceremony was done to remind the people of the pillar of fire (light) that guided them through the wilderness for so many years.

So Jesus didn’t just switch topics when He introduced Himself as the Light of the World; the statement was a continuation of what He had already been saying. Just as He is the Water of Life and the Bread of Life, so He is also the Light of the World. Anyone who follows Him will have the Light of Life, and will not be lost in spiritual darkness ever again.

As you can imagine, His bold statements enraged the Pharisees who remained. They immediately accused Him of testifying of Himself, blowing His own horn; they said He was a liar. They said His testimony wasn’t true.

As always, He rose to the challenge.

Bread of Life

John 6:47-48.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life.

I am that Bread of Life.

I Am the Bread of Life - Faithlife Sermons

Two short, simple verses today. At least, on the surface they seem simple. However, they are words that lead to such depths of richness, such blessing unimaginable!

Bread. It’s a universal food. Every culture, every nationality throughout history has had its own form of bread. The fluffy white stuff we eat here in America (I know, not all of us, not all the time) is nothing like the hearty, chewy loaves they ate in Jesus’ day.

The wheat was not refined. It was whole, healthy, and chewy. In most households, the bread was baked fresh every morning. If it sat in the pantry much longer than a day, it would be too hard, and would have to be used to sop up gravy or soup in order to be chewable.

Every household, every housewife, was familiar with bread. It was important. It was life-sustaining. It was mixed up and set to rise every evening, and baked early in the morning. Imagine a whole little village or neighborhood waking up every morning to the wonderful, come-hither aroma of fresh bread in the ovens!

It smelled wonderful. It tasted wonderful. It satisfied hunger. It was a symbol of hospitality–to break bread together is to be on good terms, perhaps loving terms, with the other person. It was symbolic of charity. A gift of a small loaf of bread was immensely valuable.

Jesus said, “I AM that Bread of Life.” Now, where it is appropriate and fitting, go back and insert the Name of Jesus where you see the word bread, or a description of bread. Please don’t take it too far, or you’ll be having Jesus mixed up and put in the oven! But consider, as you read, that Jesus IS the living Bread. I think you’ll be blessed.

Sin No More

John 5: 14-16.

Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.

¶The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.

¶And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay Him, because He had done these things on the sabbath day.

Image result for Pharisees critical of Jesus

Afterward. . . .we don’t know if it was later that same day, or later in the week. We do know that the healed man was at the temple, and Jesus knew that. Jesus wanted to admonish the man to go about his business, and to avoid sin in order to avoid more trouble in his body.

Some believe that Jesus’ words here indicate that the man’s illness was brought on by his dissipation. Perhaps, but I’m wary of assuming that is always the case. If it were so, we would all be lame, diseased, crippled, blind–for no one is without sin.

Jesus told the man to “sin no more.” Does that mean it is possible to live a sinless life? No. Believing we can do that on our own power leads to all kinds of self-righteousness, which is also sin. What Jesus was telling him was that he should stay away from whatever he was doing that brought him to such straits in the first place, because if he went back to it he would reap much worse consequences than he already had.

It’s possible, although this is only my opinion, that the man struggled with being tempted back into whatever he had been doing before. Don’t we all have those sometimes not-so-secret sins that we have to guard against all the time? In Proverbs 20:27 we read, “The spirit (conscience) of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly.”

The first time I really saw this verse, it had such an impact on my life! That nagging sense of wrongdoing is God shining a light on the hidden corners of the heart, revealing to us where sin is waiting in the darkness for its opportunity to creep out like a snake out of its den, seeking to pull us into doing what we know can destroy us.

The man went to the Jewish leaders and told them, “It was Jesus who healed me!” Was he informing on Jesus? Ratting Him out, guilty of the same sin as Judas Iscariot? No, there is no indication in the scripture that his motives were evil. Remember, these leaders were respected and honored. I don’t believe the man had any idea of their real motives.

Jesus did, though, and He was ready for them.

How did they “persecute” Him? I don’t know. Perhaps the persecution was in the form of their accusations, and the threat of death (!) because He had healed on the sabbath. These types of men managed to show up wherever Jesus was, spying on Him, arguing with Him, accusing Him. Always looking for a valid reason to demand His death.

He was, most importantly, a threat to their authority and position of prestige among the Jewish people. He had to go!