Tag Archives: John

A Peek Behind the Curtain

They were dispersed over a large area and feeling quite alone. Experiencing great difficulty on many levels. They likely felt very discouraged. Perhaps they even questioned their faith in this carpenter from Nazareth who had come back to life.

I’m speaking of John’s intended audience, those first followers of Jesus who would have read the book or letter of Revelation and marveled at all the strange imagery.

I don’t imagine that the life of following Jesus was turning out exactly like they had expected. It seldom does.

John the Baptist saw Jesus and declared, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”

But just a short time later when he sat in jail about to lose his head, John sent disciples to ask Jesus if He was the One they had waited for or if they should wait for another. I’m guessing that John thought doing life with God would be different.

Hadn’t Jesus come to heal and comfort and restore? Why is following Him so difficult, so unpleasant at times? Is it really worth all the hardship and sacrifice?

In The Wizard of Oz Toto pulls back the curtain to reveal a man masquerading as the great and powerful Oz. They are given a different perspective on what’s really going on and who is in charge; and it’s a big disappointment.

But the peek behind the curtain given to John in the form of a vision is much different. In it we catch a glimpse of what life will be like in the very presence of God. And it’s awe-inspiring!

In John’s day, Rome appeared to be in control; but it was really God who was working behind the curtain of our reality.

In our day, Washington, D.C. appears to be in control; but it is really God who is working behind the curtain of our reality.

The center of the universe is heaven, and the center of heaven is a throne, and there is Someone, our triumphant God, sitting on the throne.

Why is following Jesus often so difficult now?

Because we are not home yet!

So hang in there and keep running the race. Keep fighting the good fight. Hold onto the faith.

One day soon God will make all things new!

***

© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Bible, Christianity, Eternity, God, Heaven, Hope, Kingdom of God, Persecution, Religion and Spirituality, Scripture, Suffering, Trusting God

Are we really pursuing the better life?

So… exactly how would you define “better life”?

  • More money…
  • Better job…
  • Newer car…
  • Bigger house…
  • Happy kids…
  • Better health…
  • Dream vacation…
  • Happier relationship/marriage…

“Have you ever realized that living for the Better Life is an insult to God?  It’s the same insult paid by the prodigal son to his father: ‘Your only value is what you can do for me.  I don’t have any interest in knowing you.  Just give me what I need to enjoy this life.’ That’s too close to how we think.” ~ Larry Crabb, The Pressure’s Off, Page 149

When God met Moses in a burning bush that did not burn up, He said that His name was “I AM.” It’s a simple verb that means “to be” or simply “be.” God was expressing that He alone is the essence of life.

Jesus came to dwell among us as the only one who could make God known to us (John 1:18). John also describes Jesus by saying, “in Him was life and that life was the light of all mankind” (John 1:4).

A little further on in John’s account he records Jesus saying, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

The real “better life” is deeper, richer intimacy with God!

Are we seeking God for His blessing, what we can get from Him to make life here more comfortable; or are we seeking God for greater intimacy with Him?

***

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Filed under Desire, God, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Loving God

The Trouble with Invitations

Invitations come in all shapes and sizes today. By email or text message; through Facebook or a personal invite; some even come the old-fashioned way of snail mail. But no matter how they come, they can also cause a fair amount of trouble.

A lack of invitations can leave us feeling unloved, unimportant… even unwanted. None of this is true from God’s perspective. He values us enough to have sent Jesus to die for our sin. But the enemy will use a lack of invitations to try to get us down on ourselves.

Don’t go there! Find your identity first and foremost as a child of God. (1 John 3:1)

On the other end of the spectrum is the issue of too many invitations and this is a big problem today. For a variety of reason we are obsessed with overloading our calendars with activity after activity after activity…

We have somehow come to equate hyperactivity with an abundant life but something just isn’t adding up. We are doing more and more but we are statistically more miserable than ever. Why? Because we have substituted activities for genuine, deep relationships.

Therapist Will Miller, author of Refrigerator Rights, makes this observation.

“If you talk to any therapist today, the problems we see mostly are mood disorders: depression, anxiety, loneliness, and social detachment. As blessed as we are as Americans, as prosperous as we are, there’s all this depression. So where is it coming from? I’m convinced it’s rooted in the loss of ‘refrigerator rights’ relationships.”

A person with refrigerator rights is someone who can come into our home and feel comfortable going to our refrigerator to make a sandwich without our permission. Miller argues that too many Americans suffer mentally and emotionally because they have too few of these kinds of relationships.

No one had more demands on his time than Jesus. And while Jesus was always busy, He was never in a hurry. His discernment in saying “Yes” or “No” to people and their invitations came from first saying “Yes” to intimacy with the Father. (Mark 1:35 ff) It’s a way of life He’s willing to teach us.

Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. (Matthew 11:28-30 – The Message)

Are we willing to learn from Him?

***

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Filed under Children of God, Choices, God's Will, Grace, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus

Draw Close!

Do you remember playing with magnets as a kid? Do you remember the first time you discovered that two magnets can actually push each other away? No matter how hard you try they simply will not occupy the same space!

The very same dynamic works spiritually!

In John 10:10 Jesus states clearly that He came to bring us life, but just prior to that He makes reference to the thief that comes “to steal and kill and destroy.” There is debate about whether or not Jesus’ reference here to a thief is referring to Satan – the devil; but even if it’s not it is an apt description of his intentions.

It’s easy to forget that this life is also an ongoing spiritual battle zone and that Satan is actively working to attack and destroy us. He wants nothing more than to fill our heads and hearts with greed, unforgiveness, bitterness… all the things that can keep us apart from God and unable to experience His divine presence.

Satan is a formidable foe but the Hollywood version of him is misleading because his power is limited. While he may be stronger and craftier than you and me, his power is nothing compared to God’s.

Learning to embrace the full and satisfying life that Jesus came to make possible (John 10:10) will also require us to resist and repel Satan like the magnets we played with as kids. And James is very specific in how we do that.

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.” ~ James 4:7-8 (NLT)

To humble ourselves is to submit to God’s authority in every area of life. When we do that daily, moment-by-moment, we are empowered to resist the devil and we are set free to draw close to God.

And when we draw close to God, He will draw close to us!

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Filed under Divine presence, Humility, intimacy with the Lord, Satan, Surrender

Jesus did what?

“On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds…” ~ John 7:37 (NLT)

What? You’ve never seen the picture of Jesus standing and shouting? Holding the lamb – yep! With children on His lap – sure! Arms stretched out over a city – you bet! But shouting? Nope! Never seen that picture; but that’s what He did.

The traditional rabbinic teaching posture was sitting and speaking. But Jesus stood up and shouted. John uses the same Greek verb here that was used three others times when people shouted.

  • The blind man shouted, appealing for sight. ~ Mark 10:46-47
  • Peter sinking in the water, crying out for help. ~ Matthew 14:29-30
  • The demon-possessed man who shouted, pleading for mercy. ~ Mark 5:2-7

Very intense moments to be sure. What would fill Jesus with such passion?

Thirsty souls!

The festival mentioned above was the week-long celebration that was the annual reenactment of the rock-giving-water miracle of Moses. People slept in tents and lined the streets. Each morning a priest filled a golden pitcher with water from the Gihon spring and carried it down to the temple.

Announced by trumpets, the priest encircled the altar every day… once a day… for seven days. Then on the last day, the great day, the priest gave the altar a Jericho loop – seven circles while pouring seven vessels of water. The climax of a monumental celebration. It may have been at that very moment…

On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” ~ John 7:37-38

He shouted to get our attention. He shouted because His time was short. He shouted because He loves us and wants to quench our deepest thirst.

And Jesus uses a verb that suggests repeated swallows. Literally, “Let him come to me and drink and keep drinking.” As Max Lucado puts it:

“One bottle won’t satisfy your thirst. Regular sips satisfy thirsty throats. Ceaseless communion satisfies thirsty souls.”

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Filed under Christianity, Contentment, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Love of God