Jesus, what are you thinking?

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I urge you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice—holy, acceptable to God—which is your spiritual service. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:1-2 (TLV)

Have you ever wondered, “If only I could see into their thoughts” about someone you know? If you’ve ever dated or are married then I guarantee you’ve wanted to know what the other person is thinking. Occasionally, as a conversation starter, my wife and I will ask each other, “what are you thinking about?” We do this more than just to break the silence. We do this because we genuinely care what preoccupies the mind of one another. What if we could ask Jesus the same question? What if we could see into His thoughts? Well…we can!

In Philippians chapter two, we’re told to have the same mind as Christ. This would be an impossible task if we didn’t know what His mind was like. But He has helped us out with that one. He has told us His thoughts and His motives!

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:5-8 (ESV)

His thoughts are described through His actions, just like ours are. Not only did Christ create us (read Colossians 1) but He also doesn’t stop thinking about us. That is a fact that should overwhelm us with humility! The way He displayed His love for us should bewilder the mind. Why would God want to be in human form? Why would God want to go through and excruciating death for our sake? Because we are His beautiful handcrafted masterpiece!

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV)

You are unique! You are special! You are a one-of-a-kind, full of purpose! And so is everyone else in the world. We all have God’s hand print on us. And He thinks about His workmanship continually. Because His thoughts are on us, ours don’t have to be. What is Jesus thinking about…?

1-Others

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV)

Much of our life is filled with vein pursuit because we think about ourselves way too much. If Jesus’ concern was for His comfort and well-being, He never would’ve gone to the cross. If He wasn’t over come with a compassion for humanity, He never would’ve volunteered to take out place. If our concern is mostly for ourselves, then we will never fulfill the command to love our neighbor like we are supposed to.

2-Pure and Holy things

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Philippians 4:8 (ESV)

How much of our mind do we literally pollute with toxic images, posts, articles, videos, and much more? It doesn’t even have to be inherently bad things either. I can sit and read NFL news and updates on Star Wars movies for a long time. Those aren’t evil but they certainly are a waste of time when I could be thinking about how to meet the needs of my wife, my kids, my students, the homeless, and children in poverty around the world. They are definitely a waste of time when I could be thinking about Jesus! They are a waste of time if I can’t even remember that devotion I read, or the last sermon I heard, or the last passage out of the bible that I studied. I can’t remember them because I stopped thinking about them and focused on less important things instead.

3-Mission

And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”

Luke 2:49 (NKJV)

At 12 years old, Jesus was teaching and preaching! That’s because He came to earth with a mission and that purpose consumed His thoughts. Since we follow Him, we have the same purpose…to be about our Father’s business, testifying of the truth. And that truth should consume our thoughts.

4-The Lost

…for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Luke 19:10 (NKJV)

How much do you really think about the salvation of others? I don’t mean the genuineness of a believer’s heart. Only Jesus Himself can know that with 100 percent certainty. I’m talking about all those ‘good people’ who openly deny Christ. How about the adulterers, the rapists, murderers, and terrorists? How about all of those who believe in other religions? They’re all in the same category as far as salvation is concerned. Does your heart ache for them? I for one will admit that I don’t think about them enough and I am without excuse.

The greatest influence on what we do in life, will be what we think about during our lifetime. The mind of Christ is key to living how He lives. To  live like Christ is to think like Christ.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus…

Philippians 2:5a (ESV)

 

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Lessons About Jesus From Star Wars

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I was watching Star Wars: the Force Awakens about a week ago and the Holy Spirit rocked my world. You read that right…I had a Holy Spirit encounter while watching Star Wars. It goes to show that His reach is without limits right? The scene: Han Solo encounters his son, Kylo Ren, on the surface of the StarKiller Base created by the First Order. If you’re not a Star Wars fan then I may have lost you. Just know this…Kylo Ren has been taken by the dark side of the force, and Han Solo (his father) has never given up hope that he can become good once again. This scene is one of the most powerful in the entire movie.  At the beginning of this scene, Han Solo has a choice to make, escape the planet unharmed, or risk his life to confront his son. Han’s love for his son made that no real choice at all. It drew him out onto the breezeway where Han called to his son, and he immediately stopped and turned around. Han walked out to him until they were face to face. Here is the dialogue that ensues:

Han Solo: Ben!

Kylo Ren: Han Solo. I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.

Han Solo: Take off that mask. You don’t need it.

Kylo Ren: What do you think you’ll see if I do?

Han Solo: The face of my son.

Kylo Ren: Your son is gone. He was weak and foolish like his father, so I destroyed him.

Han Solo: That’s what Snoke wants you to believe, but it’s not true. My son is alive.

Kylo Ren: No. The Supreme Leader is wise.

Han Solo: Snoke is using you for your power. When he gets what he wants, he’ll crush you. You know it’s true.

Kylo Ren: It’s too late.

Han Solo: No, it’s not. Leave here with me. Come home. We miss you.

Kylo Ren: I’m being torn apart. I want to be free of this pain. I know what I have to do but I don’t know if I have the strength to do it. Will you help me?

Han Solo: Yes. Anything.

The moment that comes next was heartbreaking! Kylo Ren kills his own father with his lightsaber. The moment that shook me came next and it’s pictured in the image at the beginning of this post. In his last seconds of life, Han Solo reaches up and caresses his son’s face while gazing endearingly into his eyes. It was as if Han Solo’s only thought at that moment was that he got to see his son one last time, look into his eyes, and touch his face. The look on Han’s face showed no sign that he was focused on his own eminent death.  Kylo’s cruel act could do nothing to destroy his father’s love for him.

So how do I see Jesus in all of this? The love of Christ is so great that it is unshakable, even when our sin was killing Him nearly 2000 years ago. When He created us, knowing our fallibility, knowing His blood was needed to cover our mistakes, Jesus loved us. Even as the crowds stood in the courts and yelled for His blood, Jesus must have been overwhelmed with His love for them, for us, for me. With each stroke of the lashes that tore the skin on His back, the love of Jesus held true. When the nails were driven into His body, securing Him to the cross, the love of Jesus was prevailing. When the voices shouted out in mocking fashion while He hung on the cross, His heart was moved with compassion for them. If it were possible, I’m sure Jesus would have embraced all of His executioners.

We so greatly underestimate the love of Christ. We acknowledge His great sacrifice, but rarely do we allow His motivation of love to break and reshape our hearts.  I believe that Jesus would have extended His hands to each of those Roman soldiers and hate-filled Pharisees, had His arms not been fastened to the tree.  If you haven’t, try to think of it this way and see if it doesn’t move you to tears. Even if it were you that drove the nails into His body, He’d still love you. Even if it were you that whipped Him, mocked Him, or forced a crown of thorns on His head, He’d still love you. The reality is, that you and me did do all of those things. Our sin necessitated His suffering. But in the midst of His blood splattered face were eyes, filled with love, gazing back at His betrayers…His murderers…at us…wanting to make us sons and daughters. And while it must have physically pained Him more than I can imagine, He did it with joy.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV)

The choice is laid out for all of humanity. We can continue in the life of darkness, disregarding this incomprehensible sacrifice and love, or we can allow His love to prevail in our hearts.  His love never gives up on us. His love sees no limits. His love makes it possible for anyone to be saved. Why anyone would walk away from a love like this, i’ll never know. Jesus has proven that He’d do anything to save humanity…to save you and me. Be encouraged my brothers and sisters. We are so fiercely loved!

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:6-8 (ESV)

Where are you going Jesus?

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As a follower of Jesus, it would only make sense that I go in the same direction He is. Have you ever stopped to wonder where exactly that is? Have you ever asked, where is God leading me? I certainly have. Some of the specifics can vary for each person, no doubt about that. But there are consistencies for all of us following the Leader.

Do you know which direction Jesus is going? That might seem like a silly question. It may not even make sense to you. So allow me to explain. Jesus is not dead. I know that’s not a breaking news headline. Yes, He was crucified, and buried in a tomb, but as the story goes, He did not stay there. He is alive, and will remain that way forever. I gave that little gospel refresher so that I can say this: we aren’t following a figure of the past. We are actively following a person who is actively leading. We aren’t emulating a dead hero. We are pursuing a trailblazing Savior.

Let’s look at where He went in the past so we can know where He is still going today.

1- To Church

“And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭4:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I know what you may be thinking: this is a lecture that we all need to be in church if we’re Christians. You’re right…it is. The synagogues were the churches of the day. But church is more than just a building. Church is the gathering of believers. Why is it so important to be in community? Because there is power in numbers! Praying power, encouraging power, financial power, learning power, and so much more. Where is Jesus going? He’s going to be wih His people and so should we.

2- Beyond His borders

“but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.””

‭‭Luke‬ ‭4:43‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Jesus didn’t stay put. He moved all over the region. He was active in spreading the message to the most amount of people. He didn’t stay pint up in a cozy home after a day of work. He didn’t stay solely within the four walls of church. Jesus was and is on the move. He going to every nation and every group of people. His Spirit has no borders.

3- To the Unclean

“On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭17:11-16‬ ‭ESV

They had two strikes against them in the eyes of society: they were lepers, and they were Samaritans. Both of those things would have made them unclean in the sight of others. Our world is full of ‘unclean’ and outcast people. It’s important for us to remember that we are one of them apart from Christ. We might as well put ourselves in the place of the lepers in this story because that is exactly how we were before Him. His mercy on us is our only hope just as it is for all those who remain shunned by the world.

4- To the Hated

He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”

Luke 19:1-5 ESV

The tax collectors were among the most despised of Jesus’ time because they worked for the evil occupiers of the region (the Roman Empire) and often times exploited the people and took more than what they were supposed to. But Jesus didn’t hate them. Jesus doesn’t hate anyone! On top of going to Zacchaeus’ home, He also called Matthew, another tax collector, as one of His disciples. Jesus didn’t minister to the favorable. He didn’t just go to those who were safe. Jesus even went to those who society either didn’t think would ever be saved, or who society didn’t want to be saved.

5- To Seclusion to Pray

 But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.

Luke 5:16

Jesus never neglected the act of praying. Without prayer, we can’t remain connected to our power source. Prayer is the cord that plugs us into the power inlet. That’s why we’re told to never cease praying, and sometimes that means getting alone, away from the distractions. Jesus wants to draw us into these secluded places for a refreshing.

Jesus is alive and active. He is going far more places and to far more people than just these. His Spirit is both in us, and moving throughout the entire world. Are you willing to follow? Am I?

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

John 10:27