Awe

Behold Jesus

Posted on Updated on

God-Became-Man

As we start December, what a fitting way to begin contemplating who Jesus is and why He came to earth.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

God became flesh. Creator God entered His creation. God moved into the neighbourhood of people like you and I. God who is not constrained by time and space constrained Himself to time and space. God, who does not change, became like us so as to communicate with us, be understood by us, and ultimately so that He could die for us in our place for our sin! God the immortal One, took on mortal flesh so as to give us immortality.

Behold Jesus! Mystery, wonder, awe, worship…

And why? Why did God do this? Why did Jesus enter our humanity?

So that He could become the sacrificial atoning Lamb of God who could take away the sins of the world (vs29). He had to become like us, so that he could die for us in our place for our sin.

So that God could adopt as His own beloved children all those who believe in Jesus (vs12).

Jesus we stand amazed. Jesus there is no one like you, no one who can compare, no one who has gone to such great lengths to love us – we worship You and adore You.

Read and re-read and re-read John 1:1-34. Be in awe and wonder, worship and delight in Jesus, in God.

Advertisements

Majoring in the Majors not the Minors (Mark 12:18-40)

Posted on Updated on

wrong-focus1

To love God fully & to love people sums up all the commandments.  We can easily make following Jesus overly complicated but Jesus makes God’s will exceedingly clear.

The Scribes and Pharisees were full of questions fixating on minor issues.  However in reality they were majoring on the minor and minoring in the momentous!

Jesus was and is God in the flesh in their midst.  Jesus had come to seek and save the lost, however most of these Pharisees and Scribes were not loving Him but rejecting Him.

As the Westminster Shorter Catechism states; “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”  This is our purpose, to love, to honour, to glorify God in all we do.

And Jesus connects this with how we treat others.  If we truly love God, our hearts will be soft toward God and the Holy Spirit will lead us to love others as God has loved us.  This is the whole message of Galatians 5:16-24.

Loving God leads to loving people, being compassionate, merciful, forgiving as we have been forgiven.  That’s true godliness, true holiness.  That’s what we should be majoring in!

And the only way to get to a life that truly looks like that, is to have a life that is overtaken with love for God.  And the only way to love God more deeply is to see God more clearly, to see who He is and what He has done for us and to live out your whole life as a response.  #moreinawe

 

My Jesus? (Mark 8:22-9:29)

Posted on Updated on

wwjd.png

Jesus is characterised by the unexpected. The Jesus of Scripture doesn’t fit into the box of neatly arranged human expectations. Some people walk around with “WWJD” rubber bracelets with the intention of suggesting we should live like Jesus, but what would Jesus really do in many situations?

For example: if you come across a deaf guy with a speech impediment like Jesus did in Mark 7:31-37. WHAT WOULD JESUS DO & WHAT SHOULD YOU DO? Well Jesus stuck His fingers in the mans ears, spat and then touched the mans tongue and he was healed!

Or again, if you come across a blind man like Jesus did in Mark 8:22-26. WHAT WOULD JESUS DO & WHAT SHOULD YOU DO? Well again, Jesus spat, this time on the man’s eyes, laid hands on him and he was healed after praying initially and then praying again.

I would hazard a guess that these are not suggested methods in many; ‘How to heal manuals’. You can’t put Jesus in a box you’ve made for Him.

Seeing all that Jesus was doing, people began to have growing opinions regarding who Jesus was and what He had come to do. Was Jesus, John the Baptist raised from the dead or Elijah or one of the other prophets raised from the dead? Why was Jesus here, what had he come to do?

In that moment, Peter has a revelation and exclaims; “You are the Christ (Messiah)” (Mark 8:29). In that moment, God the Father reveals to Peter WHO Jesus really is (Matthew 15:17), the long-anticipated Messiah.

But still Jesus will not be boxed by our limited expectations regarding what Jesus had come to do. The Jewish people had been anticipating the Messiah for hundreds of years, they had hoped that the Messiah would deliver them from human oppression and the national disgrace they’d endured under foreign ruling powers. Peter and others expect that the Messiah will deliver them from Roman rule and oppression…

And so when Jesus starts to teach about how he is going to suffer and be rejected and be killed…Peter can’t handle it! You can imagine him crying out; “No, Jesus”, ”This is not how it is supposed to be”. He wants Jesus to fit into his box, but Jesus won’t.

Jesus rebukes Peter, calls him out as doing Satan’s work in resisting what Jesus is saying is his ultimate mission. “For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Mark 8:33)

We do this at times don’t we? We want Jesus to fit into the box we have made for Him? I sometimes encounter people who will use the phrase, “Well my Jesus wouldn’t do that/say that/expect that…”

But if He is YOUR JESUS then He is not the Jesus revealed in Scripture. Reading the Gospels it is apparent to me that the disciples were on a journey of discovery, learning more and more (often in unexpected ways) about WHO Jesus was and WHAT Jesus had come to do on planet earth.

May I, may we remain humble, open to the real Jesus revealed in Scripture.
May we always be in awe & wonder at WHO Jesus is & WHAT Jesus did for us.
And then may we worship Jesus with our whole lives.

Why trumps what! (Mark 7:1-23)

Posted on Updated on

Why trumps what!  Why you do what you do, matters more to Jesus than just what you do.

The Pharisees and scribes are indignant! Jesus and his disciples are not adhering to the strict codes and traditions that had built up around God’s law that regulated every aspect of life in the attempt to keep ‘pure’.

These regulations legislated behaviour in everything, here Mark mentions the scenario of coming home from the market where one could have been defiled by contact with Gentiles and the need to wash hands, pots, plates & even couches!

Jesus’ disciples were being accused of not walking ‘according to the tradition of the elders’ (Mark 7:6). Jesus rebuffs their accusations, accusing them of caring more about their human traditions than about the original commands of God that the traditions were meant to encourage obedience to (Mark 7:8-13).

So what really matters? Jesus quotes the Old Testament to them (vs6-7) which reveals what God wants from every one of us. God wants our hearts not some external compliance that’s not rooted in love for God.

You see, why trumps what! Worship/godliness that’s only skin deep or behaviour that’s not emanating from a heart of worship is not worship at all.

God is after our hearts. What we do does matter, how we live does matter but its the motivation behind the external actions that God really cares about. It’s why we do what we do that matters to God.

This is the difference between religious legalism and the gospel! Tim Keller sums it up when he says;

‘“I obey therefore I am accepted by God” = Religion
“I am accepted by God because of Jesus, therefore I obey” = The Gospel

God freely accepts those who believe in Jesus and accept Jesus’ offer of forgiveness for their sins. God then delights as those saved sons and daughters begin to obey His will for their lives, not because they must, not because they’re trying to be accepted but because they already are accepted by Him, because their hearts have been melted by His love and His mercy and His grace and transformed so that they beat now with a new desire – to please their Father who is in heaven! What results, is the motivation for all true godly behaviour. Why trumps what!

So, gaze again at Jesus!  Consider who He is and what He has done for you.  Be freshly impacted, amazed at Him and live your whole life as a response to His incredible love for you.  What will result is observable godliness rooted in worship, and that pleases God.

Awe…

Posted on Updated on

Awe is a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear, a sense of wonder, amazement, astonishment, worship, reverence, honour, love and respect.

Awe is a response to something.  It doesn’t exist in isolation but rather is the result of something seen, experienced or encountered.  Awe is informed by the mind yet is truly rooted in a heart that has seen and surrendered to the majesty and might of almighty God.

And therefore awe is the opposite of irreverence, familiarity, contempt and indifference.  Awe is about perspective, having clarity concerning God, oneself, circumstances and others.

And yet, awe seems to be a fragile commodity.  One that’s not, easily obtained, is easily lost and or replaced.  In some way children seem to have a better grasp on awe than adults do.  They seem to just delight in and be amazed by things, they believe easily, express freely the joy of discovery and wonder…

Why is it we who are older aren’t more like these young ones with mouths and eyes wide open?

I want to find myself looking like the girl at the top of this post more often, speechless and yet captivated by God, who He is and what He has done for me, for us.

Awe is linked to worship, we won’t worship want we don’t see, we won’t worship what we don’t revere and are astonished by.  Like Moses who wanted God to reveal Himself, like Paul I pray; “I want to know Christ” (Philippians 3:10).  I want to see more, know more, encounter Jesus more – whether through Scripture reading, prayer or worship with the saints, whether through ministering to people and seeing His mighty power – I want to know Him.  There is a song we sing in Oasis that expresses this desire (King of Wonder) which at one point goes something like; “the more we see, the more we love you”!

But don’t for a minute think that this is some fanciful irrelevant impractical desire.  Paul Tripp says;

Awe of God should be the reason I do what I do with my thoughts. It should be the reason I desire what I desire. Awe of God should be the reason I treat my wife the way I do, parent my children the way I do….should give direction to the way I live as a citizen in the wider community…  

Awe of a God should lift me out of the darkest moments of discourage gun and be the source of my most exuberant celebrations.  Awe of God should make me more self-aware and more mournful of my sin while it makes me more patient with and tender towards weakness in others.  It should give me courage I would have no other way and wisdom to know when I am out of my league.  Awe of God is meant to rule every domain of my existence. – Paul Tripp

Awe is not some peripheral thing for the Christ follower, it is central to the heart motivation of our lives.  Without awe we quickly descend into mere external moralism and or a faith that is dead and dry.  Tripp says that there is a spiritual danger that lurks here and it’s that when awe for God is dead, it is quickly replaced by awe for ourselves (pride) and so Tripp goes on to say that;

If you are not living for God, the only alternative is to live for yourself.
– Paul Tripp

As a leader one of my greatest responsibilities is to stimulate awe in others, yet awe is caught not only taught.  Awe is based on knowledge of God but it is more about the state of ones heart in response to what one knows about God. What I have come to see is that it is impossible to lead someone to a state of awe – if such awe is absent in your own heart.
Just like a tour guide in a great city like Rome – you don’t want the person who has just read more books than you.  You want your guide to also have walked the streets before, seen the city before, you want someone who knows the people, the history and the culture.

Similarly, if you’re doing an expedition in the Himalayas, surely you want the  Sherpa who has scaled Everest or K2 themselves, before you’ll feel they are qualified to guide you up the slopes.

Likewise, as a leader you can’t take people where you haven’t been yourself, where you not just went years ago but where you regularly are… What a provocation, as a leader!
May I, may we, not be those in whom there is an “awe deficit” or where the wonder has been lost.

I’ll close with the lyrics of a song by Leeland called “I wonder”, words that have been my song lately;

At the stars in the night, I wonder
At Your lightning in the sky, I shudder
Your glory is a blanket that covers, every living thing

I’m in awe at the majesty of who You are
Your love is a seal burnt inside my heart
All of the day I want to be where You are
Holy Father

And it feels like there’s not enough praise inside of me
With all these words, all my heart can sing is holy
You are holy

Jesus Christ
You bled Your love, laid down Yourself
And gave me life
In naked shame You hung and You were lifted high
Here I lay in awe and wonder
I am afraid, for no one’s ever sacrificed and loved me this way

So on my face I fall under Your heavy grace
Here I lay in awe and wonder
And I wonder

I’m in awe at the majesty of who You are
Your love is a seal burnt inside my heart
All of the day I want to be where You are
Holy Father

And it feels like there’s not enough praise inside of me
With all these words, all my heart can sing is holy
You are holy