Jesus plus ? = eternal life

Jesus has an exclusive. It is Jesus plus nothing, and Jesus or nothing.

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched —this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.

1 John 1:1-4

There is no one else who can truthfully claim to be the Word of life.

Jesus said in John’s Gospel “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6

Our culture wants to downgrade Jesus, to make him one of many ways to God, but that is not what he said. He said we can’t get to the Father without going through him. Can Jesus lie and still be perfect? Can he exaggerate and still be sinless? Can he be mistaken and still be trustworthy? It looks like I have a choice to make, he can’t be one of many if he said he is THE way, THE truth and THE life. I choose to believe what he said about himself.

John also said this about Jesus in his Gospel “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

John 1:1-5

I can’t imagine how cool it would be to hang out with Jesus. John, the writer of this Book was a close friend, maybe the closest friend of Jesus. “We heard him, seen him, touched him…” He’ll say it again, “seen and heard”. John was an eyewitness to Jesus’ ministry. He was one of 3 who got to see him transfigured on the the mountain top.

“Make our joy complete. “ John’s joy was to see people believing in Jesus and being saved. Our family, my dads side, us four siblings, any cousins and aunts and uncles we can gather will be meeting again this year. Loeffelbein’s are descendants of German immigrants. Our family has a history of being hard working industrious people. We know how to work. We don’t know as well how to play, how to relax. We are learning. We do enjoy getting together. There is sweet fellowship. There is family love.

Fellowship with God will be like this except beyond it, way way beyond it. Love that knows no boundaries or limits. Love that knows us completely, faults and fears, failures and foibles and still loves us completely. Engulfed in love, like the security of a warm newborn swaddle and the freedom of a moonlight skinny dip, blended together in perfection. I believe that I cannot fully comprehend what fellowship with God will be but I think it will be like the garden of Eden, fully exposed and unashamed. We receive Jesus not only to escape hell and avoid its tortures but to gain fellowship, with each other, the family of God, and with God our Father.

Jesus knew that sweet fellowship before he left heaven. He left that to come here to earth, to to live and love and serve, and in completion of that service, to suffer and die for our sins, for my sins, then raise to life again and go to back to heaven to intercede for me and make ready a place for me to spend eternity.

Today the Word of life is reaching out to each one of us. What will we do with his offer of forgiveness of sin and eternal fellowship with a God who loves us more and better than we can know or deserve?

Anthropomorphism

Anthropomorphism. I do it all the time. It means to give human characteristics to non-human things. I do voices for our dogs to explain their facial expressions or their behavior. I do it for my truck Rusty, ascribing to him traits he doesn’t really have, or feelings or even masculinity. ( trucks are in fact gender neutral, but don’t tell Rusty).

When I looked up the word to make sure I was getting it right it said anthropomorphism is something we do to non-human things, especially deity, gods.

That’s strange for me to write deity, like there are a multitude of gods. I believe there is only one God and he exists in 3 persons but that’s not what I want to write about.

Matthew 6 has the prayer in it that we call the Lord’s Prayer.

I’ll quote it here in context but I really only want to look at the first line of the prayer.

“5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

9 “This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

10 your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us today our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]

but deliver us from the evil one.[b]’

14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Hallowed be your name. Why would Jesus recommend we start our prayers like that? Hallowed. It isn’t a word we use often. It means revered or holy. Holy is a word that grasps the meaning for me. Holy means separate or special or “other”.

All we see around us, all we can know or experience, is all part of the things God created but God himself is not part of his creation. He is holy, he is other, he is not from around here, he is different. Jesus knew our propensity to anthropomorphize things around us to help us understand them, but we cannot treat God that way. We cannot understand God better by attributing to him human characteristics. He made us in his image, it doesn’t work to return the favor and recreate him in our image. One reason for that is that that puts limits on God and God is limitless. When we sit down to pray and we start out by stating, “God, you are not from around here, you are not limited like I am, you are not a created being, instead, you are the creator, you are separate from us and yet you love us and joined yourself to us in Jesus, you became God in the flesh, you are to be hallowed, you are so awesome and great and fantastic that it makes me want to worship you”.

Once I have established that mind set, then I can get on with my prayer. I can pray for his kingdom to advance in our world because I believe only he knows what is best and can do what is best. I can ask for my needs to be met, I can ask to be forgiven, I can ask for guidance and protection because I am talking to my God, the creator of the universe.

Our father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

(Originally posted 1/16/17)

Good news/Bad news

The good news / bad news of Matthew 5.

Matthew 5 starts out with the beatitudes.

“3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are those who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

5 Blessed are the meek,

for they will inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

for they will be filled.

7 Blessed are the merciful,

for they will be shown mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart,

for they will see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called children of God.

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

I like what I hear until I get to verse 10. I’m challenged by 10-12. I guess I kind of want to think about persecution as a surprise and not an expected upcoming event. You can’t surprise God. And he doesn’t want us surprised by negative push back. Persecution will come.

Who can reject the gospel message? Who would ? I mean the very word gospel means good news. Who doesn’t want good news? Well unfortunately along with the good news there is bad news. The good news is that God loved us so much that he sent his son to die for us. The bad news is that before we can receive Gods gift of forgiveness, we have to confess that we need to be forgiven. Everyone wants the forgiveness but not everyone wants to admit that they need forgiveness. Some people who have been hurt refuse the message of forgiveness because if they can be forgiven then so can the ones that hurt them. Everyone is invited to be forgiven. Not everyone will take God up on his offer. Some will rather damage or destroy the good news bearer than to hear and receive the message.

We are all in the same race. The human race. It’s a race that we all lose. We all lose to death. There was one who died and then came back from death. Jesus. If the race was to live life without sinning then there was the same one, Jesus, who lived his life as a man without sin. He is offering us to share in victories both over death and over sin.

There are many challenges in chapter 5. If we think our life is free of the “big sins”, he tells us that if we hated someone then we have killed that person in our hearts. If we have never touched another person sexually, but we thought about it, we committed the deed in our heart. It’s in the heart where sin is born and if our hands are clean but our hearts are dirty then we are dirty.

2 more challenges.

“43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Love our enemies and pray for the very person who is persecuting us? That is a challenge.

The last verse is the topper. Being perfect. How can I be perfect? My heart goes places my hands will never go and God sees that. How can I be perfect?

I’ve heard it said that you do not have to be Good to get into heaven. You do not have to be good……you have to be perfect.

How can a sinner like me be perfect?

Jesus.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

The bad news is we all need be forgiven. The good news is that God has already done that in Jesus

(Originally posted 1/15/17)

why I read it

(I am cheating a little bit. This is a post from my Facebook page yesterday. Not everyone who reads my blog, reads my Facebook so I thought I could post this here and cover everyone who follows either one).

Somehow I got a day ahead on my daily bible reading so I just flipped open my bible to Psalm 19. Verse 14 was part of the Lutheran liturgy.

The Psalm praises God’s word.
“The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression. May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:7-14 NIV

To recap for my easily distracted mind, Gods word is:
Perfect
Trustworthy
Right
Radiant
Pure
Firm
Righteous
Precious
Sweet
In them are warning and reward.

Through them I am lead and shown my own sin.

May the words that I say and even more deeply, the thoughts I think be formed and influenced by your words God, forgive me when I fail.

Grow

2 Peter, the last two verses, “Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

2 Peter 3:17-18

These verses, especially verse 18, are significant to me.

When I was in my early 20s, an older guy took me under his wing and mentored me in my new faith in Jesus. He was a friend of the family, a dentist in the next town over. He would come over to our little cafe in the evening, once a week and lead a Bible study. He didn’t directly bring me to Salvation but he was around when I was saved, he did pray for me to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and he encouraged me to grow as a Christian by asking me to memorize verse 18 of 2 Peter, chapter 3.

I wasn’t part of his church (yet). But he invested in my life anyway. Thank you Floyd Jacobson for sharing your life, and your savior with me.

The second reason that this verse is significant is because of what it says.

Grow.

Get bigger. Expand. Mature. Take up more space in. In Grace. Grace, unmerited favor. Whose favor? God’s favor. Why? Because the world, my own evil desires and rebellious heart, along with the hateful and destructive enemy of my soul will be actively trying to shrink, kill, distract and destruct my faith. I need to be even more actively involved and invested in my relationship with Jesus, keeping it alive and growing.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever and he is always worthy of praise and glory, yesterday today and forever.

Ever heard of the phrase “to know me is to love me”? That phrase has never been truer than when we apply it to Jesus. To grow in the knowledge of Jesus is to grow in love and trust of Jesus. There is no darkness or shadow or even a variation in him. As I’m writing these things about Jesus I am convicted that I don’t always apply this knowledge to my own life. I encourage myself then too, to grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, to him be the glory, both now and forevermore, do you agree?

(Originally posted 1/13/18)

Let’s take a test….

Jesus.

His test.

He prepared for his life and his ministry by fasting 40 days.

He fought temptations with just words, but they were Gods words.

“4 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted[a] by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’[b]”

5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,

and they will lift you up in their hands,

so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[c]”

7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’[d]”

8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

When his cousin John was arrested and sent to prison, awaiting the death penalty he took up where John left off.

“Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is near.”

He began calling disciples. He said to four fishermen, “come follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” One of those first four would be dead in 4 years.

(For the sake of accuracy James was probably killed in 44 AD. He may have been run through or disemboweled or Beheaded. He was killed for believing that Jesus rose from the dead. Killed for following Jesus.

“2 He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword.”)

He started teaching and preaching the “good news”. He then began healing everyone who was sick or lame, demon possessed, or even just hurting.

“Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. 25 Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis,[g] Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.”

Jesus. Who is he? How did he do this stuff? Why did he do this stuff? What am I supposed to do with him?

Life is the test. The questions are listed above. You have the rest of your life to finish the test. The thing is, no one knows how long that is.

This is how I answered those questions:

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.”

(Originally posted 1/12/17)

God in 3 persons

Part of the Lutheran liturgy came to mind this morning.

“Holy holy holy, Lord God almighty, all thy works shall praise thy name in earth and sky and sea, Only thou art holy, there is none besides thee, God in three persons, blessed trinity.”

I guess it’s a hymn.

I grew up believing in God. I have since childhood believed that this God I believe in is one God in 3 persons.

Today I read about it in Matthew 3.

“13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.

16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

We don’t have a plethora of gods to sort through when we pray like other cultures do. We have one God. He is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

I have believed in God since childhood, but believing he exists and knowing and trusting him as my savior are two different things. I received him as savior when I realized that I couldn’t be good enough and God knew that and gave Jesus his son to pay for my sin. I confessed my need and received forgiveness all in an instant standing next to the dishwasher in my parents cafe.

Have you received Jesus as your savior yet? Today would be a good day to do that. He is waiting for you.

(Originally posted 1/11/17)