Posted in Christian Living

A Place Called “Everlasting”…


It’s a common mistake.  Anyone could make it.  Someone would ask me, “Where’s Jesus from?”  My first response used to be “Nazareth” or “Bethelehem”.  After all, He is called a “Nazarene” for a reason.  He grew up and lived most of his life in Nazareth.  But when we look to the gospels we find that even though Jesus’ family lived in Nazareth, He was not actually born there.  Both Matthew and Luke record the birthplace of Jesus as Bethlehem in Judea.  What is more, Jesus’ parents were both descended from David’s house.  David was a Judean (of the tribe of Judah) and his family was from Bethlehem.  The implication of Luke’s record about the tax census in Luke chapter two is that his mother’s husband, Joseph, had to go to Bethlehem to register because Joseph was born there too.  So, it would not be accurate to say Jesus was really “from Nazareth” as a place of origin. But He wasn’t really from Bethlehem either.  John makes it clear in both chapter one and in chapter two of his Gospel that Jesus came down from Heaven to Earth.  He didn’t come into being or begin to exist when He was conceived in the womb of Mary.  So, is Jesus from Heaven?  Colossians chapter one makes it clear that God created all things “by” or through Christ.  John Chapter one tells us that “all things were made by Him” and that “without Him was not anything made that was made”.  The first statement of the Torah in Genesis declares that God created “the Heaven”.  So, if God created the Heaven and God created everything that was made “by” Jesus and without Jesus nothing was made that was made, then, Jesus made the Heavens.  And if Jesus made it, then He didn’t come from there originally.  He came from Nazareth when He came to be baptized and begin his ministry.  He came from Bethlehem to Nazareth, by way of Egypt.  He came down from the Glorious Heaven to Earth.  But Jesus can’t be originally “from” any of these places because He made them all and must then have pre-existed them all.

So, where does Jesus come from?  Or in a broader sense, where does God come from?  An often overlooked profit who lived at the same time as Isaiah named Micah gives us the clearest answer to this question in chapter five of the book that bears his name.  But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, (though) thou be little among the thousands of Judah, (yet) out of thee shall he come forth unto me (that is) to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth (have been) from of old, from everlasting.  (Micah 5:2)

Jesus has been “going forth” from “of old”.  His original hometown is before time, before space, before creation.  He is “from everlasting.”  This is one of the clearest teachings about God and Christ in the Bible.  God is truly Timeless.  Omnipresent through time as He is through space.  Not a creature in time, but the Creator of time.  And if Jesus is older than the years, than what does that mean?  How can I relate to Him?  I can kind of conceive of Everlasting future.  From the moment of my new birth in Christ when I repented of my sins and believed the gospel, I have been living eternally.  My body may decay, but in truth, I cannot die.  But, both my temporal physical life and my eternal spiritual life have definite beginnings.  When my parents love brought them to intimate joining and God blessed their union by quickening my life within my mother’s womb, I began to live in time physically.  When the Holy Spirit convicted me of my sin, convinced me of the gospel, and called me to repentance and faith, and I responded to His voice, I began to live in Eternity spiritually.  Each of those two kinds of life that are in me have a source and a beginning.  I can kind of understand it.  But, God is not a creature.  He has no point of origin.  No genuine “nativity”.  The Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit have been “going forth” from “of old”.  They are “from” a place called “Everlasting”. 

I may not claim to ascertain the meaning of that.  But I have laid claim to the message in it.  My God Who is my Father is bigger than the moment I am trapped in.  He’s more available than a heartbeat away.  He’s going to outlast the Kings and Presidents and Prime Ministers of all temporal Kingdoms and Republics of men.  He will still be God when I run out of Time.  He has been God when the Old World perished in the Flood.  He was God enough to save Adam’s seed through the Ark of Noah.  He was God enough to stop Abraham’s hand from sacrificing Isaac.  He was God enough to deliver Goliath into David’s hand and the Kingdom to His posterity.  He was God enough to bear the darkness of Golgotha.  And God enough to be the Sonrise of that first Easter Sunday.  He was God enough keep the candles burning in the Lord’s persecuted churches through those Dark days that stretched into Dark Ages.  He is God enough hold me when I earthly parents die.  When my children make choices that break their parents’ hearts, He’ll be God enough.  When this world finally spins out of all control but His, He’ll be God enough to take His children home, and set His wrath in motion.  And when His fury has been spent, He’ll be God enough to come in Person to heal the land that He made.  Whenever the days are too long and the hours are too full of Darkness, I know that He is still God enough, because He not only will be forevermore, He already has been fromevermore.

Posted in Christian Living, FYI, The Christian Man, The Christian Women

Does God Really Not Need Me?


As we learn about God there are many incredible truths about Him to discover.  Early on we try to wrap our minds around the concept of being truly “eternal”.  Only God is truly Eternal in the sense that God is from everlasting and to everlasting.  And we struggle to wrap our brains around that.  Then we learn that God is All Knowing.  And we get quiet as we try to absorb the magnitude of knowing everything.  Someone teaches us that God is omnipresent and we clutch at the possibility of being one hundred percent present in every corner of creation and every moment of time all at the same time all of the time.  We heard about an attribute of God somewhere called omnipotence.  All of our superheroes and legends became smaller as we thought about God being “Almighty”.  We almost leap back into the pages of the sacred text to find out more about this God we are learning to know and we turn page after page in wonder as we try to suspend our disbelief and accept by faith that God is still more unknowable than He is known after all this time.  And then we read the words that Paul said about God to the Areopagites on Mars Hill.  Luke, the Beloved Physician, chronicler of the Christ of God and his holy apostles was moved by the Holy Ghost to record the words so we could read them back again and again.  Of the unknown God Paul said this “as if He needed anything…”.  

The emphasis on “anything” is mine.  I have no idea if Paul inflected the word when first he spoke it.  But it’s precisely that word that reveals one of the most incredible truths about God.  Jehovah doesn’t need anything.  The pagans of Athens had spent centuries bringing him gifts of vegetables, bread, nuts, and flesh.  But God doesn’t get hungry.  They built Him Palacial temples of ivory and gold.  But God doesn’t need to come in out of the cold.  God doesn’t go fishing, plant crops, draw water from the well at the edge of town.  He doesn’t need to.  Once upon a time, God made time.  In the Beginning, He made the space that our reality occupies.  He made the planets, the stars, including our world and our Sun.  That means that He existed without any of those things.  And He is eternal.  That means He existed forever and for evermore before anything else did.  How long could a person live without ground to stand on or a sky to gaze toward?  How long can one go without food?  A few days?  Water?  Even less time.  But God managed to get along just fine before any of those things existed.  Forever.  

Some people refer to this truth about God as His “Independence”.  Others call it His “self-sufficiency”.  Theologians use a word that comes from Latin, “aseity”, which refers to the state of being alone or by oneself.  For all Eternity, God existed utterly “By Himself”.  Whatever it is called, it is a staggering idea.  God doesn’t really need anything… or … anyone.  

God doesn’t need me.  He got along just fine without me for all Eternity past, and if I chose not to accept Everlasting Life from His open hand, then God would keep on getting along just fine without me for all Eternity yet to come.  All of my silly notions of being integral to God’s plans, God’s purposes, God’s essential being are challenged by this truth.  I’m ultimately unnecessary.  Because in the final analysis the only One Creation needs to exist, is the One Who alone doesn’t need Creation to exist.  I don’t know how I feel about that.  If I’m not needed, does that mean I am not valuable?

Perhaps the very opposite is true.  Could it be that the only way to truly know the value of a person or thing is to completely remove any necessity or profit derived from it.  Anyone who needs me finds in me intrinsic value.  I am worthy because I am worth something.  But anyone who doesn’t need me has the ability to truly value me for me alone.  God doesn’t need me.  But how does God assess my value?  How much am I worth to God?

Before the beginning, in the vastness of the ultimate void where space and time were not, God thought of me.  God dreamed of me.  God envisioned me.  He didn’t decide to make me.  He didn’t think up the idea of me.  He has always known everything.  The Self-existent Eternal Mighty Three always knew me before there was me.  He knew that I was going to be.  And He knew what and who I would be.  Every failure.  Every curse.  Every stumble.  Even every deliberate act of rebellion and every willful hurt.  God knew.  He knew it all and chose to make me anyway.  Or rather, He never wavered from His eternal decree that I would come to be.  He also knew that I would be unable to save myself from myself.  And that I would need the one thing that only He could become: My Saviour.  From time out of mind He always knew what I would cost Him.  And He made me anyway.  Before He shaped the body of my ancestor from the dust of Eden He already felt the nails in His hands.  Before He said “Let there be light” He had already said “It is Finished”.  Does God need me?  Not at all.  But does God value me?  There stands a lamb before the throne of God with holes in his hands and feet  and a scar in his side.  The pierced lamb is the eternal testament to how much I am worth to the God who made me.  

Posted in Christian Living, Daily Living

Light Reveals So Much


An epiphany occurred in the shower this morning. Light really helps a person see.

It doesn’t sound like much of a revelation, but let me explain.

I’m of an age where I need glasses to read and see details up-close. If you’re smirking, that’s fine. According to my optometrist, your day in glasses will come. Everyone’s eye muscles wear out.

I lathered up my legs to shave. Sunlight beamed through the window in our bathroom, spotlighting those long hairs on my ankle bones. (Men, scroll on past. This means nothing to you.)

I thought, “Wow! This is great. With all this light, I can do a better job shaving.”

That’s when it hit me. 

Jesus is the Light. With him, we can see everything more clearly.

Unfortunately, most people would rather stumble along blindly. Most of them probably don’t even realize that they’re in need of the Son’s light.

Worse than that are the ones who scurry into the darkness like cockroaches. (Sorry for that unflattering visual. And it probably means nothing to you if you’ve never lived in the South and flipped a light switch on in the middle of the night. Ugh. Disgusting.)

And, now, back to scripture. “Light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light” (John 3:19).

I didn’t make up the observation about people scurrying into darkness. Jesus pointed this out two millennia ago.

Life is so much easier in the light. We can see to perform basic tasks better. Nuances we miss in half-light become obvious in full light.

Step into the Light, my friend. It will make navigating your life less difficult.

For the whole story, read John 3: 1-21.

If you enjoyed this post, maybe you’d like to read more from this author. She had a Bible study on Psalm 119 and one to help women find focus in their lives.

Maybe fiction is more your thing. Read about the life of Christ from the perspective of his mother in the Biblical fictionalization by Sharon Hughson.

Posted in Daily Living

Hit and Run on Social Media


Today’s post is shared from one of my favorite Christian authors. Her words touch my heart and stir my soul. And after the barrage of negative social media thrashing and the unexpected in-person conflicts, I need a dose of her wisdom.

The Bible’s wisdom. That’s the only kind that will make a difference in the long run.

For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Hebrews 12:3

Jesus knows all about being blindsided by people who called themselves a friend. He understands the agony when the people closest run away when you need them most.

And through it all, He still loved them. He still loves us.

But how do we react?

Here’s Holley’s take on it:

It’s in times like these that retreat seems safest and sanest. Let’s go home and shut the doors, bar the windows and disconnect the doorbell. Gather round with our stockpiled faith and ration out just enough to survive.

Most of all it seems tempting to safeguard our hearts. Just take them right out and stick them in the solid metal safe at the back of the closet. Then forget the combination. Forget what once beat in our chest.

Because I am tired just now. Not so much in my body but in a deeper, invisible place. The one that sees the best in people, that reaches out in love, that keeps believing folks can change.  And as I lay in bed the other night I talked to God about it. Into the darkness it seemed He whispered something like, “I get it.”

And I realized, suddenly, He does. More than I can know, more than any of us comprehend. He knows what it is to love and love. To extend yourself so far that you are, oh, stretched out on a cross. And then to be rejected or dismissed or misunderstood.

Read the rest of the post here.

Whatever you need to get through today (and tomorrow), Jesus has an ample supply. He’s waiting for you to see that he “gets it” and will provide what you ask for in faith.

No need to be weary or faint in your minds. Jesus has the remedy.

What ways have people been trying to discourage you lately?

 

Posted in Christian Living, Daily Living

Getting a Heart Transplant


Without God, our hearts are evil and wicked and they fuel the fire our tongue wants to kindle. But there is a Great Physician who is ready with a new heart and the ability to perform the transplant.

Why We Can’t

But we can be good enough. We have great self-control. We’ve learned to bite our tongues when they start to wag out something cruel.

Great. That’s good practice.

But the truth is, we can’t solve our heart problem.

Solomon asks a question in Proverbs 20:9. “Who can say I have made my heart clean? I am pure from sin?”

It’s a rhetorical question folks because the Law of Moses made it evident that every human being sinned. And all their sacrifices, offerings and prayers would never change the unredeemed state of their hearts.

Of our hearts. Yours. Mine.

“There is none righteous; no, not one” Romans 3:10

Why He Can

But wait!

There is one person who was righteous. One man who lived a sinless life, but offered himself as a sacrifice for all the sinners.

The man Jesus Christ.

Because of His perfection, Jesus Christ can take care of the sin debt we owe. In fact, He did it. His death on Calvary paid redemption’s high price.

God told the Israelites when they were in captivity because of their continued unconfessed sin of idolatry, that He could fix their problems.

Yes, God went right to the heart of the problem: their sinful hearts!

Getting a New Heart

“A new heart also will I give you…and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh” Ezekiel 36:26

To get a new heart, you have to go to God.

The only way to Him? Jesus said, “I am the way…no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

The world tells us there are many ways to Heaven. We can find our own path.

But God, the Creator of All, says differently.

In fact, God sacrificed His one and only Son to open the way to Heaven, to a new heart John 3:16).

What’s the way?

  1. Admit you’re a sinner
  2. Believe Jesus died to pay for your sins
  3. Call upon him, by turning away from your sins and admitting to Him that you need His gift

Sometimes, His children have filled their hearts with wickedness. That’s why he promises to cleanse us from every sin we confess to Him (1 John 1:9).

How about your heart? Is it right with God?

If not, He’s waiting to give you a new, clean heart. Why not take Him up on His gracious offer?