Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Talk Tuesday-The Fulfillment of GOD's LOVE: The Mission of Christ, Pt. IV

“2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” Isaiah 9:2 

“6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” Isaiah 9:6-7 

Why is this piece of scripture so important? It provides the prophetic foundation for the mission of Christ. Contextually, it occurs during the reign of King Ahaz, son of Jotham, king of Judah. After King David's death, Israel was divided into two separate kingdoms. The Northern Kingdom (ten tribes-Reuben, Simeon, Dan, Napthali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Ephraim, Manasseh) was taken away from David's offspring; the Southern Kingdom remained with them (Judah, of which the tribe of Benjamin was absorbed into). The tribe of Levi was consecrated as priests to serve in the Temple in Jerusalem, in Judah. The idolatry of King Solomon, David's son and heir, was responsible for this partitioning:

“11 So the LORD said to Solomon, 'Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates. 12 Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son. 13 Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.'” 1 Kings 11:11-13.

Yet, what precedes this punishment is GOD's promise to King David, who is often described as 'a man after GOD's own heart'. “16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever,” 2 Samuel 7:16.

So what does this have to do with JESUS? The Prophet Isaiah is speaking to Judah, whose kings, like those of Israel, have often continued in idolatry. In Isaiah chapters 7 to 9, the name 'Immanuel' translated as 'God is with us,' is used. This refers to the Incarnation, which is captured in the Gospel of John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” JESUS, fully GOD, fully man, the Son of GOD, One in being with the Father, the second in the Trinity and consubstantial with the Father, came to save us. The Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed remind of us of these truths. The gospels trace Jesus' earthly lineage all the way back to King David, that is why he is called the 'Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David,' in Revelation 5:5. The angel Gabriel told Mary, “The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end,” Luke 1:32, (note-Jacob's name was changed to Israel: see Genesis 35:10). During his ministry JESUS went to the synagogue in Nazareth, stood up and read from the Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 61:1-12), boldly declaring his mission:

“'18 The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.' 20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, 'Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.'” Luke 4:18-21. 

What does all of this mean for us? JESUS, is the fulfillment of GOD's LOVE, and WE, as his body-his hands and his feet-are to comfort the broken hearted, love the sinner, share the gospel of truth, proclaim freedom from the bondage of sin, and bring His light where there is blindness.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Talk Tuesday-JESUS, The Light of the World: The Mission of Christ, Pt. III

42 Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. 44 Then Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. 45 And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. 46 I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. 47 And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. 50 And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.” John 12:42-50 (NKJV)

Jesus' ministry took place amidst great opposition from the religious leaders and rulers of the time. The very first chapter of John's gospel sets the foundation for understanding who Jesus truly is and what his ministry is all about. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it,” John 1:1-5. The interesting thing about darkness, is that it is an absence of light. Our vision is obscured and our understanding hindered by what we do not perceive. Jesus came to bring light that we might see and gain spiritual insight. This light illuminates the reality of sin and our need for salvation. It gives us the power to overcome!

The mission of Christ is also our mission. We are His hands and feet here on earth. If you are considering following Him, do not allow others to dissuade you. If you are already a Christ follower, then live with your vocation in mind. May the LORD continue to bless and strengthen you!

“14 You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Talk Tuesday - Salvation's Call: The Mission of Christ, Pt. II

1 Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. 2 Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. 3 And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” 6 So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. 7 But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.” 8 Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; 10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:1-10 (NKJV)

Why does JESUS choose to go to Zacchaeus' house, when he could have chosen the home of a more 'righteous' man? The crowd's complaint is a telling indictment against tax collectors. It was through their efforts that their people were 'robbed' of money that not only went towards the building of the despised Roman Empire, but lined their own pockets through extortion and dishonesty. Notably, Zaccheus is described as a 'chief tax collector' who was 'rich'. This is akin to calling him a 'traitor' and a 'master thief'. This is who JESUS summoned!

Something happens to the heart of Zaccheus in the presence of JESUS- salvation, repentance and restitution. The mission of Christ is inherent in his response, “...for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost,” Luke 19:10. Salvation's call is for all who would hear. What does that mean for the believer and non-believer alike?

“19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19-20

 “6 Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.” Isaiah 55:6-7

“16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Talk Tuesday-Of What Spirit Are You?: The Mission of Christ, Pt. I

51 Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, 52 and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. 53 But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. 54 And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” 55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. 56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village. Luke 9:51-56 (NKJV)

The disciples are understandably upset at the Samaritans who are neither hospitable nor welcoming. Aware of who they are with and the power they have in Christ, they ask if they should command fire to come down from heave and burn them up, as the Prophet Elijah did in 2 Kings 1. Jesus' rebuke reveals His mission, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. 56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” Luke 9:56.

The Mission of Christ is salvation. Why did Jesus come and what does His coming mean for us? If we believe in Him, then what do we believe of ourselves? Join us as we embark on a new series called, 'The Mission of Christ', where we will explore what this means for us. We know that JESUS will return one day, and that Judgment will come upon the earth. So, in preparation for our time together, I leave you with two scriptures as you prepare to answer the question, 'Of What Spirit Am I?'

“14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.” Joel 3:14

“37 Then He said to His disciples, 'The harvest truly is plentiful, but the labourers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into His harvest.'” Matthew 9:37-38