Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hidden In Plain View

In this fast-paced world of breaking-news and ever changing technology new and exciting discoveries abound! Energy, medicine, travel, communications, every element of our daily life is influenced by change. Change is happening so fast that there is no time to establish a tradition! Even our breakfast cereals claim to be, “NEW AND IMPROVED!”

Change is a good thing, a desirable thing, a necessary thing. New technology allows us to delve deep into what was thought yesterday to be unknowable.

There is, however, an uneasiness associated with the speed by which change is occurring. Today’s assertions become tomorrow’s cause for corrections. This pattern seems to repeat itself time and time again until we are left wondering if it is possible to really KNOW anything.

Consider, for instance, how new DNA technology has impacted people’s lives. Information once hidden in clear view is now revealed through DNA. And as wonderful as it may be to now have this technology, it cannot erase the fact that critical life decisions were incorrectly determined because the ability to clearly see the true evidence had not yet been established.

Such reality gives us, “cause to pause”.

What other truths might be right in front of us that we are missing? How might they otherwise impact our lives if we only had the ability to clearly see them?

The Bible speaks of very important truths; truths concerning not only life as we know it, but life more abundant. Now, right away some might be saying to themselves,

“I know where he’s going with this one, the Bible thing...”.

Some might be thinking,

“What if his premise is off? What if the Bible is just a book of collected stories carefully crafted and manipulated by individual groups to support their own need to know the unknowable or, at best, to usurp authority over weaker more gullible members of society?”

In this tech-KNOW-logical world, where wonders are revealed on a daily basis and minds are stretched beyond the capacity to fully understand the revelations being witnessed, it is hard to imagine that much of humanity remains so closed minded to the possibility that the Bible just might be more relevant than previously thought. It’s been sitting there on the coffee table or on the bookshelf for a long time. What if Truth has been hidden in clear view?

Okay, okay I must acknowledge that some have chosen to stop reading this little blog. They have heard it all before. However, you are still with me so I will continue...

The Bible gives us some very straight-forward language.

“For I KNOW the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace, and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. THEN you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you. THEN you will seek Me, inquire for and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me; when you search for Me with all your heart, I WILL BE FOUND BY YOU, says the Lord, and I will release you from captivity and gather you from all the nations and all the places to which I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you again to the place from which I caused you to be carried away captive.” - Jeremiah 29:11-14

So, just how did the Lord God Jehovah plan for our welfare? Is there a truth we may have overlooked?

“In the beginning [before all time] was the Word [Christ ] and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself. He was present originally with God. All things were made and came into existence through Him; and withoutHim was not even one thing made that has come into being. In Him was Life and the Life was the Light of men. And the Light shines in the darkness, for the darkness has never overpowered it - put it out, or has not absorbed it, has not appropriated it, and is unreceptive to it.” - John 1:1-5

There It was! The true Light [was then] coming into the world - the genuine, perfect, steadfast Light - that illuminated every person. He came into the world, and thought the world was made through Him, the world DID NOT RECOGNIZE HIM - did not KNOW Him. He came to that which belonged to Him - to His own [domaine, creation, things, world] - and they who were His own did not receive Him and did not welcome Him.” - John 1:9-11

“BUT, to as many as DID RECEIVE AND WELCOME HIM, He gave the authority [power, privilege, right] to become the children of God, that is, to those who believe in - adhere to, trust in and rely on - His name.” - John 1:12

Verse fourteen sums up the previous verses by simply saying,

“And the Word (spoken of in verse one) [Christ] became flesh (human, incarnate) and tabernacled - fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile - among us; and we [actually] say His glory - His honor, His majesty; such glory as an only begotten son receives from his Father, full of grace (favor, loving kindness) and TRUTH.” - John 1:14

There is “cause to pause"....

Do you KNOW this Truth, this Word of God? This Jesus? By “know” I do not mean to ask if you have acknowledged Him as having actually walked this earth. I do not mean to ask if you know the Bible story of His birth, His death and His resurrection. I do not mean to ask if you recognize Him as God, for the Bible tells us,

“You believe that God is one; you do well. So do the demons believe, and shudder!” - James 2:19

I mean, do you personally know Him?

“But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
- Romans 5:8

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” - John 3:16

“Behold I stand at the door [the heart’s door] and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door [THEIR heart’s door], I will come in to him or her and eat with him or her, and he or she with Me.” - Revelation 3:20

“For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” - Romans 10:13

Oh, there are many, many opinions about spiritual things. Indeed, mankind has sought to ease their fear of the unknown by ritual and creed. But the Bible tells us,

“There is a way that seems right to man and appears straight before him, but at the end are the ways of death.” - Proverbs 14:12

On the other hand, following Jesus resurrection a confused and doubting Thomas asked,

“...Lord, we do not KNOW where you are going, so how can we KNOW the way? Jesus said to him, I AM THE WAY, AND THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE; no one comes to the Father except by (through) Me. If you had KNOWN Me - had learned to RECOGNIZE ME - you would also have KNOWN My Father. From now on you KNOW Him and have seen Him. Philip said to Him, Lord, show us the Father - cause us to see the Father, that is all we ask; then we shall be satisfied. Jesus replied, Have I been with all of you so long a time (hidden in plain view) and you do not recognize and KNOW Me yet, Philip? Any one who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say then, show us the Father.” - John 14:5-9

“He who believes in the Son of God - who adheres to and trusts in and relies on Him, possesses this divine attestation - has the testimony within himself. He who does not believe God (in this way) has made Him out to be and represented Him as a liar, because he has not believed - put his faith in and adhered to and relied on the testimony - the evidence that God has borne regarding His Son. And this sis that testimony - that evidence: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who possesses the Son has that life; he who does not possess the Son of God does not have that life. I write this to you who believe in (adhere to, trust in and rely on) the name of the Son of God - that is, in the peculiar services and blessings conferred by Him on men - so that you may KNOW (WITH SETTLED AND ABSOLUTE KNOWLEDGE) that you [already] have life, yes, eternal life." - 1 John 5:10-13

Have you opened your heart’s door to Him? Why not humbly pray and ask Him to come into your heart to dwell with you forever? He stands at the door and knocks; hidden in plain view even today!

God bless!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Being Picked Last

Have you experienced the ignoble distinction of being picked last?

Oh, it is a horrible feeling.

You were the albatross, the default, the booby-prize. Not quite talented enough, fast enough, tall enough, smart enough, good-looking enough or popular enough to be desired by the rest of the team. You simply did not fit in; you were too different.

“The Ugly Duckling” was never your favorite book and you’ve surmised, “The Little Train That Could (?)” was probably kicked in the caboose all the way up the hill and chased all the way into the ensuing valley. Your Cracker Jacks prize was always broken and when someone told a joke - you were usually the punchline.

Rejection can begin early in life. It is often a result of cultural, physical or lifestyle differences [determined by the masses to be] too peculiar to be normal. However inconsequential the rejection of an individual may appear to a casual observer, it is an indignity that can emotionally scar it’s recipient for life.

Does God’s Word, the Bible, give us any encouragement? Unfortunately, at first glance the Bible appears only to confirm our worst fear:

“... ALL have sinned AND ARE FALLING SHORT of the honor and glory which God bestows and receives ...” - Romans 3:23

FALLING SHORT. Well, that’s just great! Isn’t that what we’ve been feeling? And so we desperately scramble for another verse. Perhaps the Old Testament can give us hope:

“For we have all become as one who is unclean [ceremonially, as a leper], and all our righteousness - OUR BEST DEEDS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS and justice - are as filthy rags or a polluted garment. We all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away [far from God’s favor, hurrying us to destruction].” - Isaiah 64:6

WELL, THANK YOU VERY MUCH! I’ll just assume my position at the back of the line. Why not? I’m used to it; LAST PLACE! Home sweet home.

Ah, but there is One who understands rejection...

Who among us can begin to imagine the rejection experienced by Jesus? We will never comprehend the numerous levels of rejection He willingly accepted. Certainly His rejection was social, physical, emotional and spiritual but it was so much more! Our feeble minds will never begin to grasp the rejection He experienced that encompassed the whole of heaven and earth, of time and space, of all creation past and all creation yet to become; His was total and complete rejection.

Sadly, His rejection has not yet ended. His rejection occurs even today. Faced with the Biblical account of Jesus’ death burial and resurrection, there are those even today who would offer a polite, “no thank you” to His gift of love. And yet, according to the Bible, it’s through His gift of love that we personally experience the redemption and acceptance we so desperately desire.

Read again that verse of condemnation. Notice that it was never intended to leave us in a condition of "having fallen short” of God’s glory:

“... ALL have sinned AND ARE FALLING SHORT of the honor and glory which God bestows and receives. ALL are justified and made upright and in right standing with God, freely and gratuitously by His grace (His unmerited favor and mercy), through the redemption which is [provided] in Christ Jesus. Whom God put forward [before the eyes of all] as a mercy seat and propitiation by His blood - the cleansing and life-giving sacrifice of atonement and reconciliation- [to be received] through faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He passed over and ignored former sins without punishment. It was to demonstrate and prove at the present time (in the now season) that He Himself is righteous and that He justifies and accepts as righteous him who has [true] faith in Jesus.” - Romans 3:23-26

As the late Paul Harvey might say, “and now you know the rest of the story...”

Chosen last? I’ve got great news:

“Even as [in His love] He chose us - ACTUALLY PICKED US OUT for Himself as His own - in Christ before the foundation of the world; that we should be holy (consecrated and set apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love.” - Ephesians 1:4

Amazing! According to the Bible, when you experience that saving grace, you can be confident that you were chosen, not last, but before the foundation of the world! And why?

“So that we who first hoped in Christ - who first put our confidence in Him - [have been destined and appointed] to live for the praise of His glory.” - Ephesians 1:12

So take heart friend. You have been chosen by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Today is yet another day to give thanks by living for the praise of His glory!

By the way, since you have been chosen, it’s time to get into the game!

God bless!