I am damaged goods. I’m not just talking about my body. My heart, my soul are damaged. They are always wanting their own way. I am sitting in church listening to songs about how much God loves me, but my mind keeps flashing back to my failures, telling me I don’t belong here. Then over all the other voices and memories I hear Jesus words from the cross, “it is finished”.
Jesus finished the work it took to forgive my sins. I entered black with sin, but bathed in his red blood I am washed white. I don’t understand it but I cling to it like a drowning man to a life raft.
Join me if not in this place at least in this position. I have Asked Jesus yet again to cleanse me and his blood is just as effective today as it was the very first time a I called out to him to save me.
Church starts at 10 am here but there are church’s every where and if you can’t make it to church Jesus is available 24/7 and makes house calls.
It isn’t Sunday but the thing is, all days and nights are the same for God. God is Holy. That means he is separate and separated from creation. He is not subject to time. With God it is always now. Today, right now God is calling us to come home to him. To come home and get cleaned up, to be loved on and cared for. To have our wounds and sicknesses healed, to be fed and to rest and enjoy love and mercy and tenderness. To be clothed in new clothes, pure and white and taylored to us. Today, right now, come home to a father who loves us, loves you and loves me.
The house had been abandoned. Left alone and derelict. Windows and doors had been boarded up, not cleanly with sheets of plywood but with random slats and planks, crossed and crisscrossed, nails and screws haphazardly pounded and bent, screws at odd angles and stripped heads. Pity the fool that ever takes on the challenge to remove them. And yet there he stood, “the fool” with a tool Kit in one hand and the deed in the other. He looked long and hard at the old place. He walked around it slowly looking it up and down. Taking note of every flaw and failure. The longer he looked the more his expression changed. When he first arrived his expression was serious, even concerned, but as the mental list Of all the repairs grew, the corners of his mouth began curling up, up and upUntil At the End of his survey and tour he was smiling, smiling a broad smile and he even began to whistle a soft tune, as he hit the chorus he began singing softly as he ran his hands over the siding of the old house, the dry cracked paint crumbing under his calloused And scarred hands, “yes, Jesus loves you, yes Jesus loves you, yes Jesus loves you, the Bible tells you so…”
Chapter one: Jesus at the door
“20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. Revelation 3:20 – NIV
The title of this blog is how to build yourself a basement, but what I intend to write is a short book on how to build your self abasement. Building humility. It will be a book about how the life of following Jesus starts, how to keep it alive and healthy and growing. It will use the analogy of Jesus our carpenter/savior/redeemer rebuilding a house. The house is me. I was a mess when Jesus bought me and I am now in process of renewal and restoration. The process is similar for every follower of Jesus. Similar, not the same, so some things will ring true for other followers and some? Not so much.
The first chapter will be about letting Jesus in to my life. I feel like most of my blog posts have covered that so condensing around 800 posts into a chapter will be challenging.
Stay tuned. As I write it I will share it.
Thank you readers for continuing to read, like and comment. My hope is that I am encouraging you, and that together we are expanding God’s kingdom.
Can people really change? Does meeting Jesus and having him become our master really have any affect on us?
Once upon a time there was a slave who lived in Colosse. He was a young man born into slavery. He stole some money from his master and ran away to the big city of Rome. He was hoping to lose himself in the crowds. In stead he met a man named Paul who introduced him to a God/man/savior named Jesus. This slaves name was Onesimus. Paul had this to say about the character of this guy; “He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here.”
And this “Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, 9 yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love. It is as none other than Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus— 10 that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus,[b] who became my son while I was in chains. 11 Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.
12 I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you. 13 I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. 14 But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do would not seem forced but would be voluntary. 15 Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— 16 no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.”
The second quote is from the book of Philemon. Philemon was Onesimus’ owner. How strange to own another human yet he did and it was within his rights to do anything to his slave. Paul asked for mercy and forgiveness.
The name Onesimus means useful.
Jesus can change people from useless to useful. He can set the the heart of one enslaved free, even if his body is still owned.
There are many modern slaveries that we get sold into. Jesus can set us free by washing away sin and breaking chains, spiritual chains the keep us locked into patterns and behaviors.
Can people change? Hmmm. Can Jesus change people? Yes.
(It could be that the man called Onesimus in Paul’s Lester to the Colossians is not the same Onesimus mentioned in Paul’s letter to Philemon. But it could be and probably was).
The next bit of bible I’m going to quote is how to get along with people. How to live in community. The very next sentence is a very controversial, counter cultural bit of advice. The way our society recoils at it you would think it said that God hates puppies. God doesn’t hate puppies. He loves puppies. You know what he loves more than puppies? Us. People. Men and women. And he wants us to live in the best possible way. Since he created us he probably (probably?) knows how we can best live. He gives us the manufacturers recommended way to use this thing called life.
Here it is:
” 18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
21 Fathers,[c] do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism. 4 Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.”
Jesus loves us and has died to pay for all of our sin and now he lives forever and we can too, with him.
If we fail….when we fail at the above list of interpersonal relationships we have forgiveness in Jesus.
I recently read this in this very same book; “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you[d] alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
Mary and I were talking last night as we sat out under the stars and watched the planes fly over. Seeing the planes makes us think of our adventures in Italy last year. We want to go back but we would change one thing. We would pack lighter. Images of the two of us taking busses, trains and boats with 3 suit cases pops into our heads. It was comical.
Have you ever been lugging around baggage (or is is bagging around luggage?). Carrying more than is comfortable? It’s so hard. Pulling around a huge box of stuff that seemed so very important at the time. It was meant to be an asset but in actuality becomes a liability.
I went to a family gathering this last weekend. One thing that happened there is that it reminded me of baggage that I carry of things done in my past. Things done Not to me, but by me.
Colossians 2 says this about our sins:
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you[d] alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
I know Jesus has forgiven me, but I haven’t done the next step and and confessed and repented to the offended. With every year it seems more difficult to do. Soon. I’m really tired of carrying this luggage or lugging this baggage.
I don’t hold any grudges, not with my family anyway but that’s another set of bags that we can drag around with us.
There is a warning at the bottom of the Lord’s Prayer, one that states Our own forgiveness hinges on whether or not we forgive others.
“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.”
Forgiving others is like having your luggage sent ahead, like checking it at the gate. Something I wish Mary and I could’ve done on our leg of the trip that took us to Venice so we both could enjoy all that we were experiencing.
We are all travelers. How much luggage or baggage are we carrying unnecessarily? My goal is to lose as much as I can so I can be free to enjoy the journey. All of the “Venice’s” of this life are much easier to enjoy without baggage.
We worship the one who created us and then bought us back when we sold ourselves into sin. We worship With our words, with our music, with our gifts and offerings.
It is so easy to get caught up in business of church that we miss the real reason that we came together.
Matthew 21 records Jesus’ encounter with the folks who had lost their way.
“12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’[e] but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’[f]”
14 The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.
16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.
“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,
“‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’[g]?” 17 And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.”
I lose my way. I’ve been there recently, so concerned about the mechanics of how we worship that I have forgotten who I worship.
Forgive me Father God. Help me see you and worship you well. You alone are worthy of my praise and adoration.
“But God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and “All who belong to the Lord must turn away from evil.” In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.
2 Timothy 2:19-21 – NLT
It was late and it was dark and the stars were out. I was out on the patio waiting for the dogs to do their business before bedtime. I sat down in our outdoor lounge chair and leaned back to enjoy the view of the Big Dipper. The air was soft and warm and scented…what was that scent? Sniff, yuck. Hmmm cows? Sniff, no not cows…wow that’s really strong. Wow that’s a strong poop smell. Just then I remembered that We had had company, our daughter and kids had come over to pick raspberries so I spent a few minutes scooping up dog poop and put it into a bucket. After I cleared the yard I had set the bucket down and then got distracted. The poop filled bucket was now just a few feet from chair. That is what was scenting the air.
So the stars would have to wait while I dumped the poop and put the bucket away. As I dumped the bucket out I was reminded of verses I had just read, the ones quoted above. I felt like God was trying to show me something. He asked if I’d like to get a drink. If so, would I drink from the poop bucket? My answer was Yuck! No way! That thing is filthy!
Then he reminded me of the verses from 2 Timothy and he zeroed in on the last half of verse 19, “All who belong to the Lord must turn away from evil.”
I heard him ask me, “how can I use you to bring refreshing pure water to thirsty people if you are treating yourself like a poop bucket? Who will drink from you? You need to be careful what you allow to be put into you…” I thought of some of my viewing choices I had made recently, and I as I write this now I’m also thinking about my choice of topics to talked about at the men’s bible study i had just attended , not bad, but not helpful, not edifying, nothing to build up our character or help us mature and make us more like Jesus.
I don’t want to be a poop bucket follower of Jesus. I want to be a sparkling clean glass, so nothing from me taints the refreshing words that pour out of me.
To answer the title question “who wants to drink from the poop bucket?” Not me. Nor do I want to be a poop bucket in the lives of others. I will strive to be more aware of what goes into me. I can choose what I watch, and what I read, and what I ruminate on.
We can use the list Paul gave us in his letter to the Philippians.
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
Philippians 4:8 – NLT
Father God, keep me clean enough to use. Forgive me and wash me then fill me with the good things of you so I have enough to share. Do not let me become a poop bucket.
He left to prepare a place for us. When that is ready and the full number of people who will believe in Him do believe in him, he will come back.
Matthew 21 records Jesus’ triumphal entry in Jerusalem before his death on the cross.
“21 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”
4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
5 “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”[a] 6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna[b] to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[c] “Hosanna[d] in the highest heaven!” 10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”’
We who are alive today have an opportunity to ask the same question about Jesus.
Who is this guy?
Eternity is balancing on our answer.
He is coming back and it won’t be the same. I’m not trying to scare anyone. It is just the truth about his return. Will you be one of his followers? Or will you be one of his enemies? If you are a follower then you are one of God’s kids and are safe but as God’s kid, I am one too, we bear the responsibility of sharing the good news of Jesus’ and forgiveness to a world that either doesn’t know or doesn’t care.
“11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.”[a] He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
It happened again just the other day, I was walking to the garage, I had a paint brush in my hand, a can opener in one pocket, ziplock baggies in another pocket and I suddenly stopped walking, I was about half way between the garage and the ladder I had just been climbing up and down. I stopped because I had forgotten why I was walking to the garage. I knew I was painting but I had come to get something, what was it, a tool? How much time should I waste standing there trying to remember? I decided to go back to where I had been to see if something would jog my memory. Sure enough, it only took a couple of steps to think back through what I had been doing, painting, I was doing the window frame, I stopped because I saw… loose paint! Scraper! I came for a scraper! Yes! Exciting! I remembered!
I hope you can relate to my mental lapse and the process of recovering my mission. I am getting older. I will tick over onto a new group of numbers with my next birthday, from my fifties into my sixties. That’s a lot of birthdays. A lot of birthdays means a lot of life and stuff are packed away in my cranium. My thoughts can get distracted as my mental synapses wade through the memories to get to the main things.
That was a long introduction to my bible reading. The chapter I read this morning isn’t where I ended up. I started in 2 Corinthians 12 but I bounced around and found myself back in chapter 5 of the same book.
I thought it might be worth sharing. In this current COVID-19 climate where everything is uncertain, we recently got an order to wear masks and i was ready to comply but then I read an article written by a nurse about the strain wearing a mask puts on a body and now? I don’t know. Everything is so uncertain. Who do we trust? Who do we obey? What’s my favorite color? Wait what? That’s how my brain is responding to all this chaos, it’s getting discombobulated.
I am a believer in Jesus. As a believer, my mission and purpose never change. One reason for that is that God never changes. He is the same, yesterday, today and forever.
Paul summed it up in 2 Corinthians 5.
“And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 – NLT
As a believer in and follower of Jesus I have one job to do. Reconciliation. I am to plead with those who don’t know yet, to come back to a God who loves them. Come back to God! All is forgiven in Jesus. Our relationship with our Heavenly Father has been restored!
I end with this, if you my reader are a follower of Jesus, don’t let the current situation distract you from our mission, reconciling a lost world to our God and savior. Go tell someone, better yet show someone how much God loves them.
If you my reader have yet to meet Jesus, just let me tell you this about him he has died to meet you. It’s okay, he came back to life and now lives forever. He left briefly to prepare a place for us and will return someday, possibly soon, to gather his followers up to be with him. You can join us. If you confess with your mouth, Jesus Christ is Lord, and believe in your heart that he rose from the grave, you will be saved.
“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 – NLT
I just read some verses that if followed would change the plot lines of almost every action movie and every western movie that I have ever seen.
Most action movies and westerns have at their core, revenge as the motivation for the hero.
Maybe I should take this a different direction. Let me restate that opening paragraph. If a follower of Jesus is living their life according to the words that I just read in Paul’s letter to the Roman believers, their lives would make poor movie plots.
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” Romans 12:9-21 – NLT
As a follower of Jesus I don’t get to take revenge. I get to do something even better, I get to love others as I have been loved. My weapons and my battle gear are different than the the rest of the world.
“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” Ephesians 6:10-18 – NLT
That isn’t to say that our life of following Jesus will be dull or boring. We will be serving and helping and working and loving all we meet. While Paul was doing that he encountered all types of adventures.
“Are they servants of Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger? If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am. God, the Father of our Lord Jesus, who is worthy of eternal praise, knows I am not lying. When I was in Damascus, the governor under King Aretas kept guards at the city gates to catch me. I had to be lowered in a basket through a window in the city wall to escape from him.” 2 Corinthians 11:23-33 – NLT
The life of following Jesus is not the life we see portrayed in popular culture today. It is a life of loving and serving and forgiving as I have been forgiven. Sometimes I forget and sometimes I lose my focus or forget my mission but God is faithful to bring me back and get me back on track.
“29 As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30 Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
31 The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
32 Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
33 “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”
34 Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.”
In Mark 10 one of these guys is named, Bartimaeus. Luke also records the story with one guy. (Mentioning one guy doesn’t say that there wasn’t two guys).
Keep quiet and don’t bother God.
Who would say something like that? Would they be a friend or an enemy?
Mary and I were praying together last night and I got so distracted by a disturbing thought that I stopped praying mid sentence.
It wasn’t “shut up! Stop bothering God!” But it did stop me.
God will never say “shut up”. He will never say “stop bothering me with this”.
He will say, “what do you want me to do for you?”
Would these guys have been healed if they weren’t persistent?
In Luke 18 Jesus gives us a parable.
“18 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”
6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”’
We should not let anyone or anything silence our prayers. We will Pray, keep on praying for healing and for salvation for our friends and family and for protection and for provision and for guidance.
“Following the leader, the leader, the leader, we’re following the leader wherever he may go”🎼.
As I was typing this I could hear the tune in my head. I can’t remember what it’s from. Peter Pan?
Jesus actually said something like this in Matthew 20.
“20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.
21 “What is it you want?” he asked.
She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”
22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”
“We can,” they answered.
23 Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”
24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”’
Where is our leader? Right now? He is in heaven, preparing a place for us. What else is he doing? He is interceding for us. What was he doing before that? Before that the greatest man that ever lived was dying for our sins.
Philippians 2 Paul stayed this principle in a more practical way.
“2 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature[a] God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature[b] of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Christians, those of us who follow Jesus, should be the servants of all And as I was typing this I was imagining a CEO leaving a boardroom to unstop a toilet, a nasty toilet, filled to rim.
As a Christian, There should be no job beneath our dignity. “What do you need? How can I help? Child care? Diaper duty? Dog doody duty? Teaching in Sunday school? Janitorial? Visiting shut ins? Visiting the hospital? Visiting the jail? Cleaning? Gardening? Cooking?
As I’m writing this it feels very flannel graph ish. Disconnected from life and pretend. The main truth, that no job is beneath me is there but my approach and how I’m saying falls short of honesty.
The reality, Jesus served us, following him we must strive to serve. Humility for the sake of humanity, to care about other people and care for other people. To do what needs to be done.
As Christians, how are we doing? Does being a follower of Jesus change how we act? Change what we do and how we do it? Does it change why we do it? Does Love compel us to serve?
Jesus make me more gooder at being good and doing good and serving and loving.
Jesus knew how and when and what was coming to him and for him in Jerusalem and yet he went there willingly.
“17 Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, 18 “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death 19 and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”’
Why? What prompted him to continue on into Jerusalem knowing he was about to die in the cruelest, most painful way that mankind had ever invented?
It was love.
In Isaiah we read this:
“4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Jesus knew we needed him to die in our place so he suffered the death we deserved. Then he was raised to life that we can live forever with him, this man who willingly walked into Jerusalem, knowing it would kill him.
Quitting time. My favorite time of day. Packing up my gear, putting away the tools. Cleaning up and setting up for tomorrow. It’s a great time of day. What if you walked onto the job at quitting time and still got paid for the whole day?
That’s what happened in Jesus’ story in Matthew 20.
“20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius[a] for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
3 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went.
“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’
7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.
“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’
8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’
9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’
13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”’
Some of us are reaching quitting time, not just of a job or a career but of life. It is the eleventh hour. The sun is setting. What does God want from us? What will God do for us?
Jesus died to pay for our sins. All of them. Whether it’s the grocery sack full of the at age 16 or 26 or a cargo ship full at 56 or 66 or 76. The age doesn’t matter and the amount doesn’t matter. Jesus died to pay for our sins. You only have to ask. Forgiveness is for all at any age, even at the eleventh hour.
God wants his kids to come home. Will you accept his gift of salvation today?
I got goofed up on my bible reading. I read John 15 earlier this week. Today I got realigned and read it again.
The key to be a fruitful follower of Jesus is found here. That key is to stay connected to our vine, Jesus. He is the vine, we are the branches.
There is a promise tucked into this section of verses that seems too good to be true, but Jesus reiterates the promise so he must’ve meant it.
He says he will answer our prayers. To catch it all we have to read several verses.
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command: Love each other.” John 15:5-17 – NLT
He says it twice, that he will give us what we ask for. There are some conditions that Jesus lays down. We have to be connected to him. His words must be in us. We must be obeying his commands, his command stated here is that we are loving each other up to and including laying our life down for each other. And we must ask in his name.
I am not a bible scholar, I am a bible student. My understanding of these verses is limited to my study of them and my knowledge of the character of God and my experience of life as a follower of Jesus. It seems like this could be a blank check, Jesus signed it and said, “whatever you want…” but that isn’t what I think this is. This promise is set into a section of verses about us us being fruitful. I think what Jesus may be saying here is, “whatever you need to be more fruitful, ask for it and you will get it…”
Sometimes I find myself feeling angry and hurt by God because he hasn’t provided a perceived need. I will pout, fuss, sometimes throw a tantrum about how God doesn’t really care about me or that he isn’t keeping his word to me, but then I will hear the gentle voice of God the Holy Spirit ask me, “did you pray about this? I don’t remember you asking me about this…” To which I will have to sheepishly reply, “no, Father, I guess I forgot to ask…”
This doesn’t solve all of the requests that I do make and don’t seem to get an answer to. But Just like with dealing with my own kids, I am Gods kid so when I ask God for something and don’t receive it right away sometimes it is because he says no and sometimes he says wait. My role in this part of my relationship is to stay connected to him, have his words in my heart, be following his commands and to be asking for what I need. The purpose of my life as a follower of Jesus should be different than it was before I followed him. Before I followed him my life was about me, making me happy, making me feel good, giving me pleasure and honor and success. Now as a follower of Jesus my focus should be switched to pleasing God, bringing him honor and pleasure, to expanding his name, making disciples for him who follow him. I can easily get off this track and train of thought when I let a want or desire become a need or necessity.
As I write this I have a struggle going on because I let my focus drop to my desires, which then became a need from my perspective and a a cargo van sized block of prayers from me flooded heaven. A toddler Christian tantrum right there in our Father God’s throne room. Forgive me Father and help me get back to the real reason for me being here, being fruitful for you.
The prophet Isaiah foretold the coming of Jesus with the analogy of a stump coming back to life.
Earlier this spring I shared pictures of our honeysuckles and used their overgrown dead branches entwined on our metal obelisk as a picture of sin.
Now I want use the same bushes as a picture of Jesus. I hope that double use isn’t confusing. Please read on.
I cut the honeysuckle back to the stump and it looked dead. We planted four vines originally. One vine for each side of the obelisk. It’s been weeks since I did the pruning. All that was left of any of the four vines was a woody stump.The stumps were dry and bark was peeling off. I thought that I had killed all four honeysuckle plants.
In the midst of the honeysuckle we also had 2 weed vines that were using the honeysuckle as cover to grow. It was very difficult to eradicate the weeds without harming the honeysuckle. When I chopped the honeysuckle back, I pulled it all out. Of the two weed vines, one was what I call Virginia creeper, it looks like a grape vine so it is easily distinguishable from the honeysuckle. The other is what I call potato vine. It has similar leaves to the honeysuckle. It distinguishes itself when it blooms, it has pretty little purple flowers that turn into tiny round black berries. The berries I have been told, are poisonous. Neither of the weed vines are a welcome visitor to the obelisk.￼
After chopping it back and pulling it down, everything was cleared away except the stumps. Then I waited. I wanted the honeysuckle back but I wasn’t sure how it would grow back, from the stumps or from the roots. Soon we had green vines sprouting up around the stumps but the stumps still looked dead. So we waited longer. Today I saw life springing out of the stumps of the honeysuckle.
That got me thinking about the root that grows out of the stump of Jesse that Isaiah talked about. Here I am doing yard work, trying to stay busy but avoid a tiny unseen enemy, COVID 19. I am kind of looking for an answer, a healer, a savior, a returning king. I am looking for Jesus to return.
(I mentioned the weed vines because the first green thing I saw growing was a vine growing up out of the ground. It sort of looked like the honeysuckle but it wasn’t coming up out of the stump. I was skeptical but I left it alone and waited. Eventually the real honeysuckle grew up out of the stump. The weeds had almost deceived me. Once I saw the real vine, I pulled up all of the weed impostors. There will be false messiahs who try to trick us and deceive us. They will say that they are the messiah. We need to be watchful and careful and know what the bible says about Jesus’ return so we don’t get fooled.)
Paul mentions the verse about the stump in his letter to the Romans.
“And again, Isaiah says, “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him the Gentiles will hope.”
Romans 15:12 – NIV, Paul uses this verse because Isaiah was referring to Jesus.
Isaiah talked about this new life springing up from the dead stump. God promised that David’s line would continue and yet the Davidic line had evaporated. Like following a path Into the forest and losing it as the path gets smaller and the deer and rabbit trails begin to spread out.
At the time of Jesus’ birth, David had many descendants but none were royalty. By the time Jesus was born There hadn’t been a Davidic king on the throne for hundreds of years.
This is what the prophet Isaiah had said:
“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord — and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.
Isaiah 11:1-10 – NIV
At the time of Jesus, the Jewish people had been waiting for a descendant of David to come and shake off the oppression of the Roman government. Some, maybe most, saw the coming messiah as a political King. Jesus came as a son of of David, but not to set a particular group of people free from a particular group of oppressors. Jesus came to set all people free from a slavery and oppression that we have all been under since Adam and Eve first rebelled against God in the garden. Since then all people have been slaves to sin, and oppressed by sins reward, death.
Back to the vine and the stump and 21st century and hiding from a virus that may may me a little sick or kill me dead. Covid 19 has shut the world down. I lived through Mt St Helen’s eruption and the aftermath of a literal mountain of ash and how it just shut down everything. That was weird and real but it was local. And it was short. This is a fear of a thing that is real but it is global, the whole world has shut down, mostly. We don’t know how our world and our bodies will do once we begin to open back up and turn the world back on.
All of this makes me look for Jesus’ return. When things happen on a global scale my spiritual ears are pricked and perked up and my eyes are wide open and scanning the headlines and the horizon for signs that my King might be returning soon. The branch of David may soon pop out of the dead stump. No, he already did that part. The stump was the royal line of David. Jesus human family had both sides descending from David. He was humanly a son of David. Spiritually he was the son of God. He was born of a virgin. No male seed caused Mary to become pregnant. Impossible? Humanly yes it is impossible. With God, nothing is impossible. But I digress.
We do have a stump sprouting back to life. Our honeysuckle. And we have a king who we have been waiting for for thousands of years, Jesus. Hundreds of generations have scanned the horizon and the headlines for a sign of his return.
My dad and I had a strained relationship. He was a hard headed person and he was hard to live with. One quality he had that I admire was that he kept his promises. If he made a promise, he would die trying to keep it.
God is a promise keeping father. He made a promise to have a king spring up, grow out of the dead stump of king David’s lineage, he also made a promise to the woman Eve, that her seed would crush the serpents head. Jesus made a promise to come back.
The stump, the remnant, the hope for life to spring up out of death. That is what I am longing for and looking for. In Isaiah 6 the prophet has been watching his home land be laid to waste as Israel’s enemies slowly scoop up the people and either kill them or deport them.
“And though a tenth remains in the land, it will again be laid waste. But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.”
Isaiah 6:13 – NIV
God had a plan to keep his plan moving forward. Jesus would be born from a daughter of King David. He was indeed born, lived, died, rose again and then he ascended into heaven and sent his Holy Spirit to lead, empower and guide his followers. And now we wait for his return.
In John’s Gospel, chapter 14 he records what Jesus said about all of this on the night he was betrayed and arrested.
“Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe. “I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me, but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going.”
John 14:23-31 – NLT
Readers if you’re still reading, thank you for hanging on through this long post. I rambled.
Jesus is the root of Jesse that God promised. He came. He lived and died and rose again and ascended and will return. Are you ready? Are your friends and family ready? How will we tell more people about this amazing God who keeps promises and saves and redeems and sets people free? Can we each just tell one person this week? I am not very good at it but maybe I can get better. Maybe we can get better. Today we are a day closer to his return. No pressure, but can we be looking for opportunities to serve others and once we have helped and served, then watch for a time to tell them about our amazing God?
Our honeysuckle is coming back, so is Jesus. It could be soon.
How are you doing? Has the COVID-19 isolation gotten to you yet? Have you become detached and desensitized by the restrictions and closures?
Are you a follower of Jesus? I am. But I must say that the longer the isolation wears on that I am weary and spiritually sleepy and sluggish and dry and thirsty.
This morning my bible reading guide had me read Matthew chapter 7. I highly recommend if you are feeling like I do that you read the entire chapter. It’s only 29 verses. The chapter is the last part of Jesus’ sermon on the mount. It highlights and yet encapsulates what following Jesus is all about.
I will give an overview.
Don’t Judge. Be aware of your own sinful condition. We will be judged as we have been judging others.
Pray. Don’t quit praying. Keep on seeking keep on asking, keep on knocking.
The golden rule has nothing to do with gold. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
The narrow gate. The way into Gods kingdom is narrow. It’s Jesus. The way to destruction in broad. It is everything thing else. Jesus is the only way into Gods kingdom.
Be aware of wolves in sheep’s clothing. You can tell what a tree is by its fruit. In same way, the actions of a person will reveal their heart.
Not everyone who calls out to Jesus superficially will be saved. Read verses 21 through 23 for more about that.
A house is only as firm as its foundation. What have I built my life on? Jesus is the only firm foundation. Jesus is the rock.
Read the verses and be refreshed and renewed.
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. “Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you. “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him. “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets. “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it. “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’ “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law. Matthew 7:1-29 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Matthew%207:1-29&version=NLT
Our external actions don’t always expose where our heart, our beliefs and motives and longings our true feelings are. We can mask where we really are, what we really are.
Jesus exposes one mans heart in a very gentle and loving way in Matthew 19.
“16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
18 “Which ones?” he inquired.
Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’[c] and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’[d]”
20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”
28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife[e] or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.”
Would we eat at a restaurant that stored poison next to food prep areas? If you didn’t know about it you might. The front of the restaurant may be clean and inviting, the service excellent, the prices good, the food very tasty but the buying public doesn’t see the kitchen.
God sees our kitchen. We may never kill anyone but we have a long list of people that we hate. We have already murdered them in our heart.
We may never commit adultery but we cherish our fantasies, we have done the deed in our heart.
The front of the restaurant doesn’t determine the safety of the food. It’s in the kitchen. The public part of our life, no matter how squeaky clean it is can still be hiding a very dirty and perverse and dangerously poisonous heart.
God sees into our “kitchen”. God sees our heart. AND he loves us anyway.
In Romans Paul tells us this about God’s heart for us:
“6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
And later in Romans he says this:
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Jesus loves us. Even me. Have you seen my kitchen? Sometimes it’s a mess, (not my literal kitchen, it’s very clean) but the kitchen of my heart mind and soul. Yet Jesus loves me. Jesus loves even me, even you.
Today will you ask him to forgive your mess and take you into his family? I did.
And he did. I have been accepted into his family and he has forgiven my “kitchen mess” and has promised to help me clean up my “kitchen”, my heart and mind and soul. Will you allow him to help you too?
I just had a vision of heaven. It was just a flash. I will try to describe what I saw.
There was a glorious walled city. Gleaming white. There was only one way into the city. There were two lines of people approaching the city. One group was allowed into the city. The others were walked off into darkness.
The line of people that were let in were all wearing the same thing, a beautiful crimson red robe.
I recognized some in this line. They were notorious sinners. Then I looked at the other line line and saw some really good descent people. It confused me deeply.
I looked back to where the lines were forming. I could see that it was one line from deaths door, then it split. At the split I saw Jesus. As each person approached him he would gently ask them two questions, if they shook their heads no, he would sigh and point them towards the darkness. If they nodded their heads yes, he embraced them, kissed both cheeks, took off his robe and put it on their shoulders. Smiling he would say ” well done good and faithful servant, welcome home!” Then guide them towards heavens gate.
What were his questions?
Maybe it was Are good enough to be in heaven? That couldn’t be it, I saw some bad people in the line moving towards heaven. Was it how much did you give? That answer couldn’t be a yes or a no. Was it did you behave? Did you follow the rules? Did you keep the commandments?
I had to know so I went up closer to listen. Here is what he asked them.
“Do you know me?” “Would you like my help?”
That was the vision.
Could it really be that simple? Is that all there is to getting into heaven?
The apostle Paul said this about that. “9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”
Evidently it is that simple. It isn’t about the following the rules, but it’s about following a savior.
Do you know Jesus? Do you know this man who died on a cross and came back to life 3 days later? Have you heard that he loves you? Have you heard That he suffered and died so that our sins could be forgiven? Your mistakes and my mistakes? will you accept his help today?
We will all step through death’s door. What is on the other side? Will it be like the vision I had? Which line will you be in? It is your choice. Will you accept Jesus’ help then? How about starting today?
When I was little my grandparents had an old bathtub buried in their garden. It was a garden for water lilies. My brother told me to be very careful around it, there was no bottom. I believed him. I walked a wide circle around that white rimmed hole to the center of the earth.
I was told another story as a child. I was told about this man who did miracles. That he healed sick people, even raising some from the dead. He was killed by being nailed to cross. He was put into a grave carved out of rock and three days later he came back to life. He stayed here for a few more days with his friends and then he was taken up in the clouds where he said that he would build a house for me, and he would come back some day.
Kids believe the stories that they are told. They have child like faith.
Jesus talked about that in Matthew 19.
“13 Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.
14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.”
I think I was there the day they pulled up the old bathtub in grandmas garden. There was a bottom after all. That story wasn’t true.
As for the other story? No one can disprove. Many have tried. I still believe the whole thing. Even the part about him coming back someday.
I heard more of the story as I got older. I found out why he died. He died to pay for my sin, to pay for our sin. The sin that keeps us separated from God. He died because he loves us so much he would rather suffer and die than to be kept apart from us.
It’s been a long time since he left. We don’t know when he will come back. One thing is for certain, his return is closer now than ever. He is waiting for the last one who will believe in him to hear the story I was told and to believe it.
Are we telling the story? Some one needs to hear the story today. Will we tell them the story of Jesus?