Originally posted several years ago, this article continues to expound one of the most powerful truths in the Christian faith, and still calls each of us to greater consecration to our Father God in obedience and love.
” . . . but that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do.” John 14:31
With these words, Jesus is personally explaining to His disciples the reason He agreed to be born as a human being and become the sacrifice for man’s sin. Until the reality of these words sank into my heart during a time of meditation one day years ago, I had always believed that Jesus had been willing to go through the terrible crucifixion and separation from His holy Father just because He loved me so much. I had thought His love for us, the people He had created, had compelled Him to that cruel cross.
But this verse forced me to come face to face with the truth. It wasn’t love for us that caused Jesus to pay the awful price. Rather, it was His love for His Father: “That the world may know that I love the Father . . . even so I do.”
Now, to be sure, it was the Father’s love for us that caused Him to send Jesus. But it was Jesus’ love for the Father that caused Him to obey and carry out the plan. Indeed, love for the Father instigated and controlled absolutely everything that Jesus, the Son, did. We were the fortunate recipients of that beautiful obedience, but we were not the cause.
Most assuredly, as God, His love for us moved Him to compassion, but His love for the Father moved Him to obedience. He spoke and acted, not out of His own compassion, but only as He felt the Father speak and act in compassion. He makes that fact clear repeatedly during His ministry. Because He was determined to be a continuously obedient vessel, He never acted or reacted because of what He saw or felt personally, but because He felt the Father’s leading and wanted to please Him.
That truth seems so simple, but when it finally settled deeply in my consciousness, it brought me to a new level of enlightenment concerning Jesus and what moved and controlled Him. Not only did I see Jesus in greater revelation, but consequently I was confronted with a greater understanding of what it means for me to be “like Jesus.”
I realized more than ever that being like Him was much more than obeying commandments, walking in forgiveness, loving people, and reaching out to meet their needs in the power of God. Those endeavors are, to be sure, part of the Christ-like character. But the overriding requirement for being Christ-like, indeed the very root of Christ-likeness, is love of the Father.
Love of the Father must be our primary reason also for doing or refusing to do anything. Certainly, the right words and the right actions will get a job done or solve a problem many times. But speaking or acting because we believe it is what Jesus would do, or even because we love those whose needs we are trying to meet by those words and actions, never makes us one with the nature of Jesus. No, beloved Christian, only a passionate, all-consuming love of our Father God will bring us fully into oneness of nature and character with Jesus.
When we love the Father so much that we live to please Him, even hunger to please Him, we have truly entered into the nature of Jesus Himself. When no circumstance and no person moves us to action, but rather the leading from our Heavenly Father, Whom to please is more important than life itself, then we will have come to that place where Jesus is truly living His life in us.
Then the world will “know that we love the Father, and as the Father gives us commandment, even so we do.” They will see the same love of the Father that they saw in Jesus – a love that leads us to an obedience so supernatural that it compels those watching to turn to a God Who merits such a love.
Dear Christians, may it be our constant prayer that the love of the Father will be our only motivation in every facet of our lives from this day forward.
O, Lamb of God
So pure, so holy, undefiled,
You came so meekly,
Vulnerable, a tiny child.
You took our sin
And took all of its consequence.
You chose the cross,
And on it your lifeblood was spent.
But for what cause,
When tempted in the garden that night,
Did you still choose
To let yourself be crucified?
You told us, Lord;
If we’d just listen, we would know.
You said, “Because
I love the Father, I will go.”
Lord, work in us
That holy and obedient love,
That we, when tried,
Will speak and act only for God.
(Photo courtesy of Karen’s Whimsy)
As we enter the Easter season, I thought I’d share a look at Jesus’ sacrifice from the perspective of the murderer whose life was spared because if Him.
My heart pounded
As they dragged me out.
They stood me close beside Him,
And I looked about.
The crowd was frenzied:
With rage and raw disgust.
I wasn’t sure the real cause —
Why they fumed and cussed.
I glanced beside me
To catch a glimpse of Him,
But what my eyes saw in His
Convicted me within.
When the guards shouted,
“Who’s it going to be?”
Then I understood they’d choose
To set one free.
“We want Barabbas!
Set Barabbas free!”
I could not believe my ears:
They chose, not Him, but me.
“But what of Jesus?”
Pilate asked the crowd.
“Crucify Him! Crucify Him!
He is not our God.
My shackles fell off:
By law a free man.
Pilate called for water then
And there he washed his hands.
The day grew darker
As He was hanging there,
Upon a cross with thieves each side;
Then He said a prayer.
He prayed, “Forgive them.”
Did that include me?
Then He cried, “It is finished!”
I thought, how can this be?
For suddenly I knew —
He’d died to save me too —
Even me — Barabbas.
(Scripture Reference: Matthew 27)
Christ’s blood seeped from the puncture wounds the thorns produced around his head. His blood ran freely from the scourging that tore apart his back and torso. It gushed from his side slashed open by the soldier’s spear. His bright red blood mingled with death’s morbid, black shroud that afternoon on Calvary’s infamous hill.
But during the somber three days following that seemingly fatal failure, that precious red blood inundated the black of death — mixed with it and overcame its fearful depths — and thus created the regal color of victory. And purple reigns forever, the color of royalty upon the throne of the universe. Salvation is complete.
Today I’ve chosen to post the same response to the prompt on both this site and my “Happy Wordcrafter” site. So if they look identical, you’re right: they are.
To participate in the prompt visit Daily Post.
” If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind (and affections) on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1-4)
Walking in the likeness of Christ on this earth stops being some vague, mysterious idea to us when this passage of Scripture becomes real to us. I like the translation of verse 3 in the Living Bible. Although the Living Bible is actually a paraphrase, and, in some places, lacks accuracy, on this verse, it hits the bull’s eye in translating God’s intention in these words. Verse 3 in that translation says, “You should have as little desire for this world as a dead person does.”
Brothers and sisters, when we move into complete surrender to Jesus, we truly recognize that we have been crucified with Him — we have died to this world, to sin, to the pull of our flesh. And we have been raised, but not given our own life to live. Rather, we are raised with Jesus in us, prepared to live out His life, His plans, His purposes, His goals through our bodies and minds. According to this passage of Scripture, our own life is hidden away safely in God. When Jesus comes again in glory, then our life will be released to us so that we may live it out in glory and perfection with Him. But in the meantime, we are not our own.
Let me use myself as an example. Since Sandra Conner is dead, and her life is no longer to be lived out on earth, but rather is tucked away in God for the time being, the only life she is to live here is Jesus’ life. Sandra no longer has rights and privileges for herself personally. Rather, Jesus, in her, has all the rights and privileges. Sandra no longer calls the shots in making plans or determining how she will act or react in any situation. Jesus does. Sandra no longer has the say in how she spends her time, her energy, or her money, because she isn’t living out Sandra’s life any longer. Jesus is using Sandra’s body, mind, and heart to continue to live out His life here on earth, so that His love, His truth, and His power can be offered to all the people Sandra comes into contact with.
Needless to say, Sandra Conner no longer has a right to indulge in offense, hurt feelings, self-defense, self-indulgence, or self-promotion. Jesus has all the rights, and if He does not have His feelings hurt, Sandra certainly can’t express hurt feelings, because she is dead, and her new life is tucked away in God. If Jesus doesn’t give in to the temptation to indulge the flesh instead of spending time in the Word and prayer, Sandra certainly can’t, because she isn’t the one living now.
Do you see how it works, dear believer? Now, please don’t misunderstand: Sandra Conner is NOT perfected in this walk by any means. But by using myself as a real-life example, I can better explain what our understanding and attitude should be.
When we truly see that it is to be Jesus living His life His way through us — that we’re just the carriers, so to speak — then our perspective of life will change dramatically. We will see life from an eternal perspective. Our goals will become eternal goals. We will begin to judge everything we do and say on its ability to accomplish something lasting for God’s kingdom. And we will set our priorities accordingly.
So how do we live this out practically? We will talk more about the how-to’s in Part 2.
Everyone calls him Slate, and you won’t want to miss knowing him. Rough around the edges, a little slack in his morals, but totally irresistible all the same.
When I started writing this my 11th novel, it was going to be Vanessa Hayes’ story. But, somehow, while I was minding my own business — just sitting at my computer keyboard — quietly putting the story together one chapter at a time — Slate took over. And I’m so glad he did. I struggled with this novel for a couple years, but once Slate came to the front of the story, it flowed the way it was always intended to do.
What’s it about? Well, several of my readers know because they followed the story with me while I posted it one chapter at a time (under a different title) on my author’s blog (The Happy Wordcrafter). And they helped it along with their comments and encouragement. But for the rest of you, here’s a short synopsis:
While in Florida looking for her brother Ken, who has disappeared, Vanessa Hayes meets Slate. Owner of Buccaneer Boat Charter Service, Slate is actually better known in the area as the local rake. Moreover, his connections with sources on the wrong side of the law prove more valuable than local law enforcement in helping Vanessa discover Ken’s fate.
But Slate’s attention isn’t fully centered on the investigation. His primary interest is in seducing Vanessa, even though she is engaged to a man back home who’s very much in love with her.
As the investigation heats up, so does Slate’s pursuit of Vanessa, causing her life-long commitment to the Lord to meet head on with temptations she never thought she’d have to face.
And in the meantime, the Lord is in pursuit of Slate. Love on several levels gets a workout in this story, and the resolution will stick with you long after you’ve read the words “The End.”
The book is now available for purchase at the Amazon Kindle Store, and because the contract with Amazon is exclusive, I won’t be able to leave the chapters on this site for free reading. But I hope some of you will hop over and check it out. Even if you read it here, if you enjoyed it, I hope you’ll buy one for someone you love.
And don’t forget. You don’t have to own a Kindle. Amazon offers a free Kindle app for any device. You can download it from the same page where you order the book.
Just follow the link and get to know Slate for yourself.
Nathaniel was a man who knew no guile.
He walked with Jesus, loved Him all the while.
When first he heard His name, a question posed,
But waited ’til the answer was disclosed.
“From Nazareth can any good come forth?”
He asked of those who knew that city’s worth.
He asked for meditation, not reply,
Yet found the answer true in Jesus’ eyes.
And although from the garden he did run
With others as they scattered one by one,
As Roman guards led Jesus, bound, away,
There came a reckoning after the third day.
As Mary ran to spread the glorious news,
Nathaniel, hidd’n with others, all confused,
Received her words with doubt, and hope, and fear,
And hungered so His Master’s voice to hear.
Then Jesus stood among them, His work done:
Salvation for the world from Nazareth comes.
(Scripture Reference: John 1: 45-51, John 20)
I’m actually fudging a little (well, okay, a lot) on this “two-word” Tuesday post. I do want to highlight the two words “Jehovah Saves,” but it’s going to take a few more words to say what the Lord has put on my heart this Tuesday. It’s about that word “saves,” or “salvation.” I’ve written about the meaning of that word previously, but we can never be reminded enough of just how complete and all-encompassing the Lord has made the finished work of Jesus.
The word salvation, as it is used in both the Old and New Testament, means much more than just the forgiveness of sins so that we can someday live with the Lord in Heaven. There are two main Hebrew roots from which the word is taken in Old Testament scriptures, and there is one main Greek root that is translated “salvation” or “save” in the New Testament. In both the Hebrew roots and the Greek root, the word “salvation” includes the following definitions:
To set free, deliver, aid, heal, prosper, protect, make whole, provide for one’s welfare.
The name “Jesus” is actually derived from a Hebrew root (and is sometimes translated as Joshua as well as Jesus.) But to be more specific, the name is derived from a combination of two Hebrew words that mean “Jehovah Saves” (heals, delivers, sets free, etc). And when we read the word “salvation” in a passage of scripture, we need to think much bigger than some vague concept of being free from guilt and condemnation so “someday” we can reach Heaven.
We need to take advantage of everything that word means because our Father God — and our Lord Jesus Christ — have paid an indescribable price to give us the whole package. Let’s remember every time we see that word that we can — and should — correctly include every part of what the Lord gives us in “salvation” — healing, deliverance, freedom, protection, prosperity, welfare — and know that Jesus’ finished work provides it all.
“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; He also is become my salvation. Therefore, with joy you shall draw water out of the wells of salvation. And in that day you shall say, Praise the Lord, call upon His name, declare His doings among the people, make mention that His name is exalted. Sing unto the Lord; for He hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth. Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in your midst.
In this chapter of Isaiah, the Lord is encouraging Israel — and the church (by virtue of our Jewish lineage through Jesus Christ.) The promises in this particular chapter look forward to Jesus and all that He would bring to earth for the human race. Although the Lord is referring to a specific day of deliverance for Israel from her physical enemies, this passage, like so many in the Old Covenant, also foresees the ultimate deliverance of God’s people through the finished work of Jesus Christ.
What this passage offers one nation — on a small scale — it also offers the heirs of that nation (the church of Jesus Christ) on a much larger scale. So if behooves us to look very closely at exactly what is being promised and offered here, so that we know what God has made available to us through our Lord’s finished work.
The most important word in this entire passage is “salvation.” Now, unfortunately, to English-speaking people, that word tends to turn our minds to a very limited, somewhat atrophied definition. For many, “salvation” represents some rather vague state of being resulting from the fact that God has forgiven our sins and that we are now in a position to be able to go to Heaven when we die. And, of course, it does mean that, but that simple definition is so far from the true meaning of the word in the original texts of Scripture that it leaves us in ignorance of all that Jesus has done for us.
The word which we translate “salvation” in the Old Testament comes from two Hebrew words — each of them used in different O. T. passages, but both of them having the exact same definition. The really interesting thing is that the word we translate “salvation” in the New Testament comes from one Greek word which also has exactly the same definition as the two Hebrew words used in the O. T.
Every one of those root words means the following:
“To set free, deliver, aid, heal, prosper, protect, make whole, provide for one’s welfare.”
Now, if you are reading this article and you did not know that definition previously, you need to read through it again — maybe two or three times — because until we have all of those parts clearly embedded into our mind, we do not understand the word “salvation.” We also need to understand that when the Scriptures use other forms of that word (such as “save” or “saved”) they are still using the same root word with the same definition.
So what Scripture really tells us is that when Jesus took our sin and the curse for sin upon Himself, died with it, and rose from the grave with all the debt paid in full, He bought, not only forgiveness for the sin, but also deliverance from all the aspects of the curse that was in effect for breaking God’s laws. (For a quick list of the things included in the curse of the broken law, you can read Deuteronomy chapter 28. The first 14 verses list the blessings for walking in covenant and obedience with God, and the whole rest of the chapter lists the punishments for disobedience.) Galatians chapter 3 explains how Jesus took that whole curse for us and left us free to inherit the promises given to our forefather in the faith – Abraham.
So when we read that word “salvation,” we need to stop and include all the words in the definition of that word. If we never give correct meaning to it, we will never be able to appropriate the wonderful things it offers us, and we will not be grateful to the Lord for having bought those blessings for us with His own suffering and death.
Just begin with this passage in Isaiah and when you come to the word “salvation,” stop and read “freedom from sin, deliverance, aid, healing, prosperity, protection, wholeness, and welfare.” If you’ve never done it, you will find that it will change your life — and your relationship with God.
Let’s go one step farther into the New Covenant. The name “Jesus’ is actually derived from a Hebrew root (and is sometimes translated Joshua as well as Jesus.) But the point we need to zero in on is the fact that the name is derived from a combination of the Hebrew words that mean “Jehovah saves — heals, delivers, sets free, prospers, protects, etc.” Wow! No wonder there was unqualified joy in Heaven and among groups of people who were looking for the Messiah when word came that “Jesus” had been born.
Now, let’s return to Isaiah 12 for one more thought. In the last sentence of that chapter, we are told that the inhabitants of Zion are to shout for joy because the Holy One of Israel is great in her midst. Now, this “Holy One of Israel” is the same God who came down in fire and burned up Elijah’s sacrifice, along with his altar, and then licked up the water. He’s the same God who slew Goliath when David through his rock. He’s also the same God who went before the army of Jehoshaphat and destroyed three whole armies without Israel even having to get sweaty. If that God is in the midst of Zion, she has nothing at all to fear.
It’s interesting to note that Zion is also used in Scripture to look forward to the church, and in the New Testament book of Hebrews we are told that believers have come to Mt. Zion, to the Heavenly Jerusalem, to the general assembly and church of Jesus Christ. Does that mean that the “Holy One of Israel” is also in our midst? Well, let’s take a look at 1 John 4:4 — a letter written strictly to the born-again believers who make up the church of Jesus Christ: “You are of God, little children and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
And not only is HE (the Holy One of Israel) in us, but so is His Kingdom. Jesus said the Kingdom does not come with outward observation, but that it comes to us internally. (Luke 17:21). He also insisted that it is our Father’s good pleasure to give us His Kingdom. (Luke 12:32). And how does Jesus describe the Kingdom of God? Well, it includes God’s righteousness, of course (Matt. 6:33) but it also includes healing the sick, casting out demons, raising the dead, and giving out the things of God freely. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus tells people that when He or His disciples minister the delivering and healing power of God, the Kingdom of God has come to those people. All of those things are inside of our born-again spirit.
So, dear believers, it’s time we stirred ourselves up to go draw the water of life that we need from the wells of God’s “salvation” — the wells of “Jesus” — the wells of “freedom, deliverance, healing, prosperity, protection, and welfare.”
It’s time to cry out and shout for joy — regardless of how things look or feel in the natural. Because those things that have come against you — those enemies — those giants that threaten your survival — those multiple armies of deadly problems that have encamped against you — all of them have one thing in common: they are no match for the Holy One of Israel — for Jesus, who forgives, delivers, heals, prospers, and protects you. Great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel. Believe Him and let Him work for you.
Epiphany is a celebration by the Body of Christ of the revelation of Jesus Christ to the gentiles — all nations of people who are not from His own Jewish heritage. On this day, we often celebrate the arrival of the wise men from the east, who came many miles, following a great sign in the heavens, to worship Jesus as the Lord of the universe who had come to earth as a man to redeem His creation from their own sin and its curse. The following article is an edited version of one I posted a few years ago, but I feel it says what is in my heart on this special day of celebration. I hope it blesses you, even if you read it when I originally shared it. It comes to you with my wish that you will have a continuous revelation throughout this new year of Jesus Christ and all He wants to be for you and your life.
“Jesus of Nazareth is coming!”
“Do you see Him yet?”
“Here He comes!”
“Here comes Jesus!”
Excitement was rampant, and cries of “Hosanna” filled the air. Shouts of joy and triumph could be heard for miles along the road, and people rushed to lay palm branches and their personal garments as a carpet of welcome. Jesus of Nazareth was coming to Jerusalem.
This carpenter-teacher who had journeyed among them for nearly three years, teaching them, healing them, feeding them, forgiving them, raising their dead. This miracle worker, this wise man, this man who was gentle enough to draw crowds of children to his side yet bold enough He would soon drive money-changers from the temple with a whip — this man whom many claimed was the prophesied Messiah of Jehovah — this man was coming again to Jerusalem! I’m sure, had we been there, we would have heard the message repeated over and over again for miles: “Here comes Jesus! Here comes Jesus!”
We in the Christian world celebrate that event on one special day out of the year, and we call it Palm Sunday. We have special services and some of us wave palm branches in the air to commemorate the day that is often referred to by church historians as Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. But that event happened over 2000 years ago. One could say it’s all history now; it’s been said and done; it’s over.
But not so, my friends! I am thrilled beyond words to be able to tell you that Jesus is still coming to anyone and everyone who would like to receive Him. He’s a living, vital, right-now Jesus. He is the I AM (The self-existent one who causes all other things to be; the one who is and becomes whatever He desires to become — Hebrew definition). And the great I AM desires to become everything that His creation needs.
Jesus of Nazareth is alive today, and He’s still loving people, teaching people, feeding people, forgiving people, delivering people, healing people and making them whole. And, yes, He’s still raising people from the dead. He’s the same Jesus who fulfilled the words of the ancient prophets by riding into Jerusalem on a donkey that day. He’s the same Jesus who worked myriads of miracles for the people. He’s the same Jesus who went to the cross to pay for the rebellion and sin of all the human race.
He’s the same Jesus who rose from the grave and took His throne as Lord of the universe. He’s the same Jesus who promised that if we would call on Him and receive Him as Lord, He would freely fill us with His own eternal life and with power to serve Him. He’s the same Jesus who promised that after our life of service to Him on this earth, we would move on to Heaven and live with Him forever. No questions — no if’s, and’s or but’s. No struggling to get there, no sacrifice, no hard work, no price to pay. Jesus did the work. We receive the benefit. And the Word of God, Hebrews 13:8, says “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.”
So I can tell you confidently: “Here comes Jesus! He’s coming to you today! He’s coming because He sees your need; He sees your trouble; He sees your sorrow; He sees your pain; He sees your desperation; He sees your hopelessness; He hears your questions; He hears your confusion; He hears your private crying. He’s coming to you because He loves you.
Did you know that you don’t have to be a Christian for Jesus Christ to love you? Sometimes we who call ourselves Christians tend to flock together so tightly that we become almost like a clique, and the rest of the world feels as though they can’t break through the wall to become a part. But my message to the “rest of the world” today is that you don’t have to become a part of the “clique of Christianity.” All you have to do is get to know Jesus, the real person.
And did you know that you don’t have to be a Christian to call on Jesus? That’s right. Jesus isn’t listening just for the call of the Christians. Certainly, He’s attuned to their cries and He rushes to their help when they need Him, but Jesus the Christ is listening — intently — for the cries of all the millions of His creation in this world who don’t know Him at all. His heart is waiting expectantly for their voice to call out His name. And He’s ready to answer that call swiftly. He’s ready to come home with you at any time.
When Jesus walked the earth, He was often found in the homes of those who were not active believers. People whom the scriptures refer to as “publicans” and “sinners” found that Jesus was more than willing to spend time with them and teach them the truth about God — and show them God’s love by healing their sick and delivering those in demonic bondage. In fact, He often received hateful criticism from the religious leaders of His day because He gave Himself so freely to those who did not have a relationship with the true God. But Jesus’ response was simply that His main reason for coming into the earth was to find those who did not know Him and offer Himself to them.
Zacchaeus was one such man. (His story is told in the Word of God, the book of Luke, chapter 19.) Although technically a descendant of Abraham, Zacchaeus was chief among publicans — which means he made his living working for the Roman government, collecting taxes from his fellow Israelites — and, by his own admission, cheating them. He had heard about Jesus, but he was no believer. However, he was curious, and as Jesus passed through Jericho, right before his entry into Jerusalem on the donkey, Zacchaeus, a short man, climbed into a tree so that he could see and hear Jesus easily. Jesus called him down from the tree and invited Himself to Zacchaeus’ house.
Zacchaeus recognized Jesus as the Messiah and opened to Him his home and his heart. We know that he invited Jesus in with his whole heart, because, after spending only a short time with Him, Zacchaeus voluntarily confessed his sin of cheating and promised to make restoration of everything with interest. Jesus did not ask Zacchaeus to do so. The man simply opened his heart to Jesus, and a changed nature was the result.
So, I will say once more: You do not need to be a Christian to call on Jesus. No matter what religious tag you wear — including that of “Atheist” — that tag will not keep Jesus from coming to you if your heart is reaching out for Him and inviting Him in. What will happen to that religious tag after you meet Jesus? Who cares? I can guarantee you — without qualification — that if you ever meet the real Jesus, you won’t care.
Here comes Jesus! He’s coming to us today — Christian and non-Christian — He’s coming. With words of comfort and reassurance to destroy fear — with delivering power to destroy the yokes of the devil — with healing and wholeness for body, mind, and spirit — with wisdom and direction that leads to successful solutions — with the power of His Holy Spirit and all of the anointing for service — with eternal life to overcome death once and for all and forever.
Jesus is coming! He’s coming to you! Right now! Open your heart to Him and let Him meet all of your needs today.
Picture courtesy of Wikipedia commons: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jesus_entering_jerusalem_on_a_donkey.jpg