The New Dawn

Where have your convictions gone?

Laying dormant below the surface.

Waiting to arise but held in place.

Pushed to a place no one will find them.

They’ve been gone so long not even you may recognize them.

Move aside.

Let them break through.

Relinquish the self inflicted chains that bind them.

Embrace your true identity.

Take the first step back onto the path of life.

The One who breathed life into you before, can do it once more.

Awaken to the new dawn.

See the light pierce the deep darkness you’ve been wandering through.

Hear the One who spoke you into existence speak soft words of love once again.

You’ve been closed off from Him for so long.

But He’s never left your side.

Bring your worst and watch it melt away in the presence of His forgiveness.

“Welcome home my child,” He says, “Oh how I’ve missed you.”

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Don’t trade in the power

Good day everyone. Today I wanted to write a follow up to my last post. If you haven’t read it yet give it a click here and check it out. It’ll definitely help this content make more sense.

If you take note of all of the incredible things people did in the Bible, the inescapable connection you’d notice is that none of them did it on their own power. God brought the animals to Noah’s ark. God directed Moses in the exodus of Israel from Egypt. God led Joshua into the promised land to take possession of it. God empowered each of the Judges who rescued Israel. God’s Spirit filled the prophets enabling them to work wonders. God’s Spirit gave birth to the church and used them to spread a world wide revival. Wonders, miracles, changed lives, raised lives, parted waters, walls crumbling, nations preserved, and hearts set free. All of these things were only possible through God’s Spirit and the power that comes along with it.

Every power possessed by humanity is extremely limited, and often ill directed, unless envisioned and driven by the Spirit of God. But even well meaning followers of God have gotten sidetracked down through the ages. Really, it’s easy to do. Even the most ardent Christian can find themselves living self reliant and disconnected.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John‬ ‭15:5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Few chapters in all of the Bible depict God’s design for our lives quite like John chapter fifteen. Jesus illustrates our relationship with Him like that of a grape vine. All branches receive their nutrients from the vine itself. Whenever the connection between a branch and its roots are severed it begins to die. As long as the connection stays strong however, that branch can flourish year after year. The same is true for any tree or plant. And Jesus used that imagery to show us how to live a full life.

If you want to know the key to living a powerful life, it’s right there in that chapter. It’s captured in one word…abide. To abide is the state of being in something. In this case, Jesus is referring to Himself. The powerful life is one lived in Jesus. In other words, it’s a life lived like Him, through Him, and for Him. Paul said it in a different way.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians‬ ‭2:20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Jesus is our example, our source, and our life. Far too many of us trade in that life for empty customs and traditions. It doesn’t take a non-believer to live an impotent life absent of Spiritual zeal and power. So many try to find God through their own means and their own interpretations. Some put so much emphasis on laws and rituals yet pay no regard to the law of love behind them. Look at all the people who Jesus confronted during His time on Earth. They were often rigid, greedy, self righteous, nitpicking control freaks who were absent of love. They filled the coffers at the synagogue yet disregarded the needy on their way in. In Mathew 23 Jesus calls these types of people out for being hypocrites by tithing all sorts of things yet neglecting the ‘weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness.‘ We should never seek the life of those living opposed to Jesus and that’s exactly what will happen when the letter of the law outweighs the love of the Law-giver in our hearts.

“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John‬ ‭15:10-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

There it is. Love others by laying down our lives. That level of love in our lives is a good indicator of just how well we’re connected to the Vine…to Jesus. Feeling disconnected lately? Me too. The good news is, unlike the branch of a grapevine, our connection to Jesus can be mended. His love can be reborn in our hearts. We just need to stop abiding in the wrong things.

The Song of the Redeemed

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans‬ ‭8:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Today, in America, is a day of celebrating many things. Among them are freedom, sacrifice, heroism, and the birth of a new nation. Today is Independence Day. In 1776, the British colonies in America declared their separation from their sovereign empire and created a union of 13 stares. The following eight years saw large scale warfare waged from Canada to Florida all along the eastern portion of the continent. During the course of the war nearly 25,000 Americans lost their lives. But that doesn’t account for the devastation that the war inflicted on the landscape and the lives of merchants and farmers alike. Lives were forever changed and so was the world.

For the last several years today has meant much more to me than the birth of a nation. It’s been an indispensable reminder of my own personal Independence Day. Few people bleed the red white and blue more than me, but there is something far greater to celebrate than the birth of a nation. Around 2000 years ago another war was waged and won for the cause of freedom. Jesus Christ single handily defeated sin and death with the fatal stroke He dealt upon the cross and by walking out of the grave three days later.

What Jesus achieved for humanity was nothing short of heroic. He is the greatest hero in world history. What Jesus achieved required the greatest sacrifice for love has no greater action than to lay down ones life for another. Jesus willingly surrendered His own life that the world may know freedom. What Jesus did was to create something new in everyone who believes in Him. For Christians, we have two birthdays. The day we were born and the day we were reborn by the Spirit.

If you are celebrating the independence of the United States of America today, take time to reflect on the most impactful Independence Day in human history. It’s a day that anyone can celebrate no matter what country they call home. If you haven’t experience freedom in Jesus, I want to invite you to take today to declare independence from condemnation, fear, doubt, and sin. Declare Jesus as your Lord and Savior and join in the song of the redeemed being sung all over the world.

Happy Independence Day!

Disaster Averted

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I had this old water heater in my last house. One night I noticed a tiny droplet of water on the bottom the expansion tank. Close by was a spot that looked rusted over. Directly below, at the bottom of the heater itself was another rust spot. Around that was a water spot on the platform that the water heater sat on. My assumption was that the drip from the expansion tank had been leaking onto the base of the water heater and causing it to rust. So I shut the water off and ran to the store to buy a new tank. Once I got that replaced I felt confident that the problem was resolved. A couple weeks later the water spot around the tank looked larger. I examined the tank that I replaced and all seemed well. I made a plan to come back and look at things in another day or two. But…it didn’t make it that long! The next day I get a call from my wife telling me how the garage is flooding. The water heater had ruptured. I told her how to shut off the water until I could get there to clean up the mess. My awesome father in law and along with one of my friends came to the rescue and helped switch out the tank for us before I even got there.

A slow drip had turned into a disastrous leak. Just like sin in our lives. There are things that are hurting us and are slowly showing signs of concern. Some allow anger to build and it slowly alters the way they treat others until one day they explode. Some allow lustful thoughts to creep in until one day they are wrapped up in an affair. Some pour themselves into their careers more and more year after year until one day they are so distant from their families. We have a choice to address those signs early and correct the problem before the flood happens. We can’t be negligent with sin. We can’t put it off for another day. Our motto cannot be, “I’ll just get through this and tomorrow I’ll do it differently.” Tomorrow will be too late.

I can’t say that I blew off the water heater issue. But I was not diligent in discovering the entirety of the problem so only part of it was solved. Partially dealing with our sin amounts to doing nothing. The disastrous flood is coming unless the sin is wholely addressed. We need to figure out why this is part of our lives. Why do I put such a high priority on work? Why do I lust after others? Why am I angry? There’s always a root and it’s not always easy to find. That’s why we need to be surrounded by safe people who we allow to speak into our lives. That’s why we need to abide in the Lord and devote ourselves to being connected to Him. That’s why we need to spend time consistently reflecting on our lives and motives. None of us are leakproof but we can all be patched up and made whole by the One who made us.

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed;
    save me, and I shall be saved,
    for you are my praise.

Jeremiah 17:14 ESV

You’re Being Read

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Very few people in the world today actually read the Bible. The above image was taken from Christians….CHRISTIANS! More than 50% of Christians are not familiar with the Bible. Only 20% have actually read the entire thing. This is God’s story. This is the story of humanity. It’s the story of redemption, past, present, and future. It’s the most valuable information we could ever gain. It’s universal in application. It’s faultless. Yet, for so many, it’s collecting dust on people’s shelves or sitting as an unused app on their phones. If this is the case among Christians, you know that far fewer non-believers are reading it. But do you know what they are reading? You and me. If people aren’t reading about who Jesus is, we need to show them. We may be the only image of Jesus they get. What message are the people in your life getting? The message of Christ is not contained when it lives in and through His followers. Let’s show the world the contents of the Bible by how we live and love and the truth that is the banner of our lives.

He Is Alive

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“Oh that my words were written!
Oh that they were inscribed in a book!
Oh that with an iron pen and lead
they were engraved in the rock forever!
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!

Job 19:23-27 ESV

Job makes one of the most profound statements in these few verses. He says, “For I know that my Redeemer lives and at last he will stand upon the Earth.” This is the foundation for every hope that Christians proclaim and all of humanity searches for. It was the lifeline that Job was so desperately clinging to. It’s a reality that can bring that glimmer of light into anyone’s dark world.

We’ve all felt the sting of sin. Some more than others. Whether self-inflicted or caused by another, it hurts…bad. Anyone who would try to argue that this world isn’t in need of redemption and renewal doesn’t have much of an argument to stand on. The evidence is all around us. The news blasts it, our hearts testify of it, and the pain experienced in every human’s existence rebukes any belief contrary to the notion that things are way off the mark. Just like Job, our hurt is far too real to deny the need for redemption. Our bodies, while absolutely amazing, are frail and prone to sickness. The world is decaying. Social structures, in every culture, are far from perfect. Violence and hate take up way more headlines than love and charity. The hope that this will not always be so, is what motivates many to face another day.

We’ve all tried to make up for the mistakes we’ve made. To set things right again. Most people want to see change and progress made. But no matter how much we try, all our efforts will come short of bringing a lasting change. That’s because we don’t last forever and there’s no guarantee that those after us will continue our efforts. This world needs a redemption far greater than we can accomplish because it owes a debt far greater than we can pay.  But that payment has already been made by another.

The Messiah goes by many names in the Bible. One of those is Redeemer. To redeem is make compensation for faults. Synonyms include to save, justify, rescue, or vindicate. Because of sin, everything and everyone in this world, past, present, and future, need to be redeemed. That’s why the message of the Messiah is a universal one.

Job proclaimed a few things. One, that there is a Redeemer. Two, He is alive. Three, that He will one day stand upon the Earth. And four, that he will one day see the Redeemer face to face. Most Biblical scholars agree that the life of Job came at least 400 years before Moses. That means that Job is at least 1700 years away from the day that Jesus walked the Earth. So how could he possibly see Jesus? And if the Messiah was alive in the days of Job, how could that be a reference to Jesus?

We know that Jesus walked the Earth. No one with any historical credibility would argue against that fact. But that’s only one of the criteria spelled out by Job for the Redeemer. There are a lot of passages that reinforce the idea that Jesus was not only alive during Job’s lifetime, but long before that and way afterward too. Revelation 22 calls Jesus the Alpha and the Omega. These are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. It’s a way of saying that Jesus is both the beginning of all things and the end of all things. Check out Colossians chapter one and John chapter one for more evidence to strengthen that concept. If Jesus was in the beginning and will be forever, then 3700 years ago and 3700 years from now is nothing in the life of Jesus. Jesus didn’t come into existence in a manger in Bethlehem. He has always been, and will always be. Our Redeemer is alive and nothing can ever change that. No cross. No grave.

Just like Job, we all can have the same promise that we will see Him. Not as some celestial being with wings and a diaper like popular images like to portray. We will see Him in the flesh. Jesus is coming back. Our destination is not heaven. Earth is our home and for the follower of Christ, always will be. God is making all things new one day. The Earth, along with followers of His, will one day be redeemed and we will enjoy it forever.

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my [Jesus] word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.  And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

John 5:24-29 ESV

The Bible ends with the greatest of all happy ending stories. Revelation chapter 22 paints an amazing picture of what is to come. It shows a world redeemed, nations of people healed, and a multitude drinking from the well of eternal life. And Jesus is there too. Forever, with those He created and chose Him.

I know that my Redeemer lives and that one day I will see Him face to face.

This is the final post in part one of the series showing how God revealed the Messiah throughout the Old Testament. We began in Genesis and are wrapping up here in Job. In all, part one has included 22 posts, covering nine different books, over the last seven months. If you’ve missed any of them you can go to the Messiah tab on my home screen or click here. My plans are to have three more phases to this series. Part two will cover Psalms and Proverbs. Part three will just focus on the book of Isaiah because it is arguably the greatest portion of scripture that prophecies about the Messiah. The final phase will span Jeremiah to the end of the Old Testament. I am planning a brief hiatus from this series so as to focus on some other topics I’ve been working on. Part two should launch this summer.  God bless you guys and thank you for coming along with me on this journey.

Arbiter

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For he is not a man, as I am, that I might answer him, that we should come to trial together. There is no arbiter between us, who might lay his hand on us both.

Job 9:32-33 ESV

Anyone familiar with the story of Job knows that for period of his life it was pure misery. He had lost his entire family, besides his wife, and his body was riddled with pain. The quote from earlier comes on the heels of Job’s friends rebuking him and accusing him of sin. He’s being prosecuted by those close to him and labeled as guilty for his own misfortune. The problem with this is the God Himself had labeled Job as a righteous man earlier in the book. Here are the opening words of the story:

There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.

Job 1:1 ESV

Job tried to state his case several times to his friends, but they refused to listen. They tried to explain their view of who God was and why Job’s circumstances had to be due to him being at fault. Job’s friends, however, had not be privy to information that you and me are…Job was under the assault of Satan himself (refer to the rest of Job chapter one).

Bildad, one of Job’s companions, prompted Job to go before God and state his case to Him. Job wasn’t having any of it. In a direct rebuttal, Job proclaims a somewhat misunderstood view of God’s relationship to man. Much of what Job says is true, but he doesn’t clearly grasp Who God is or how He wants to relate to His creation. This ultimately leads to God rebuking Job and his friends later in the book. His blurred view of God becomes pretty clear in chapter nine when he says that there is no arbiter who can bridge the gap between man and God. Through Job’s misconception (which is not his fault because he was operating with limited knowledge from time and space) he makes a prophetic statement about God’s plan for His Messiah.

An arbiter is a mediator. According to the dictionary, an arbiter is, “a person who settles a dispute or has ultimate authority in a matter.” That is a great representation for who the Messiah is. On one hand, what Job says is true. No man can fill the role of arbiter. The only one who could lay hands on both man and God, would have to be God Himself. This is another one of the many prophecies of the Old Testament that made it clear that the Messiah had to be both man and God.

First of all, then, I [Paul] urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

1 Timothy 2:1-6 ESV [my emphasis]

Jesus solved Job’s conundrum. Jesus bridges the gap. He is both man and God. He is the Arbiter, because as the dictionary says, He has full authority in the matter of humanity’s salvation. No one supersedes Him. Before you say, “wait a minute, this passage says Jesus was a man and says nothing about Him being God. Isn’t that a contradiction to what you were saying earlier?” Not at all. Check out this passage from John chapter 10:

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

John 10:28-30 NIV

God is complex. By extension, so is the Messiah. No man could ever fill the role of Messiah because every human down through the ages are the same…we’re all fallen and imperfect creatures who fall vastly short of the glory of God. The Messiah had to be unique, set apart, and a one of a kind. Enter Jesus, who is both God and Man. He is the Bridge. He is the Arbiter.

For you and me, our enemy is the exact same as Job’s. We all have someone who is trying to blind us to reality, who is trying to make us consumed by our own goals, grief, and desires. Our enemy wants us to not know Who God is or that we have a way to be directly linked with Him. That is the beauty of the Messiah. He is someone who can connect a broken person with a Perfectly Holy God. You and me friend, have access to that loving Messiah…to Jesus. We can come boldly to the throne of God because of love…because of Jesus.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:16 ESV