Wake Up!

So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus *said, “Remove the stone.” Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” So they removed the stone. And Jesus raised His eyes, and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. But I knew that You always hear Me; nevertheless, because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.” And when He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” Out came the man who had died, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus *said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” John 11:38-44 (NASB)

You’ll notice when reading the verses leading up to this portion in John that Jesus was overcome by emotion. I think we can conclude that Christ also weeps over the dead soul that is yet to be awakened. That Christ weeps over the sinful acts of His children. That Christ feels greatly for those who are in the tomb or return to it. But the question is, do we? Do act as those who looked on to the tomb of Lazarus with such grief over the unsaved soul? So we plead with Christ for those who are dead just as Martha did for her brother? In the book of Ephesians chapter five we see Paul revealing to us how we’re supposed to walk as Christians. We’re told to walk in love, light, and wisdom. Isn’t it safe to say that if we aren’t living that way than Christ is weeping over us? Isn’t it safe to say that this is what Christ died for? In verse 14 of this chapter Paul makes a statement which parallels what Christ has called out to Lazarus.

“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

Ephesians 5:14

Christ weeps for you and me just as He wept for Lazarus. But even so He cries out “watch this!” Jesus says I’m going to show you all something that will astonish you. You will see the Glory of God. When Christ stood outside my spiritual tomb He shouted the same words…”Brook, come forth!” Rise to life because you are mine. Awake from the dead and I will shine on you and others will see the glory of God through your transformed life. Not only did Christ call us out of a spiritual slumber but He also said, “Unbind him/her and let him/her go.” We weren’t saved to remain in our burial clothes. We have been raised to so much more. We’ve been raised to freedom and a new life, and a new hope.

Restoration

Over the last couple of months, I have been working on restoring a couple of World War Two era bayonets. It’s quite the process so I have to work on it when I can. It’s not like I’m ever going to strap these to a rifle and go charging into battle. I’m doing it because there’s something about taking an old, discarded, and damaged item and making it like new and valuable again.

I drive down the road most days and see sweet rides from the 1960s, 1950s, and even older. They aren’t rattling down the street losing parts as they go. No, they’ve been rebuilt, polished, and repaired. They look as though they just rolled off the lot.

I’ll think inside of everyone, there is a heart that greatly appreciates restoration. It’s human nature to want to see things made new. Not everyone will go through the process of restoring an object, but the appreciation is there nonetheless. And I think it’s written into the design of every image-bearing human being because of Who we’re made to reflect.

“And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”” Revelation‬ ‭21:5‬ ‭ESV

God is a God of new beginnings. The entire Bible is a story about restoring the world back to its original design, before sin messed it all up. It’s also about restoring humans back to our original purpose before sin led us astray. We appreciate restoration so much because deep down we long for it to be real inside of us and in the world around us. It’s part of the mission we’re invited into. You don’t even have to be a believer in Jesus to feel it. But the desire broadens to so many more areas and goes to so many deeper levels when you are.

Restoration is in our hearts because our hearts need it so much. That is the offer in the life with Jesus. He takes the old, imperfect, broken, and discarded you, and makes you whole again. He fills the voids, polishes the edges, and refines the character. Jesus, and Jesus only, can make us new. And newness is what we all need.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

More Extreme Vision

This is from an article I read in Voice of the Martyrs.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self . . . and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22, 24

The prisoner was brought before the deputy commander, a harsh, angry, red-faced woman with broad shoulders. “So, you have been speaking to the prisoners about God again. I am here to tell you it must stop!” Her face illustrated the rage in Communist prisons in Eastern Europe.

The prisoner stood quietly but steadfastly. She informed the commander that nothing could stop her from speaking about her Savior. The commander raised her fist to strike the prisoner, but suddenly stopped. “What are you smiling about?” she demanded. “I am smiling because of what I see in your eyes.” “And what is that?” “Myself. I used to be quite impulsive, too. I was angry and used to strike out until I learned what it really means to love. Since then, my hands do not clench into fists anymore.” She continued, “If you look into my eyes, you will see yourself as only God could make you, just as he did with me.” The prisoner could see how her former self might have defended her rights, returning insult for insult. However, because of her new life in Christ, she only showed kindness and gained the right to continue her witness. The commander’s hands dropped to her sides. She seemed completely stunned and said quietly, “Go away.” The prisoner continued to witness for Christ throughout the prison, with no more interference from the deputy commander.

The commander’s attempts to rile the prisoner were like arguing with a dead person. It was as if she were trying to provoke a corpse. Finally, the commander saw the prisoner for who she really was: a new creation in Christ. The old person that would have once responded to hatred with more hatred was gone. In its place, the prisoner allowed the commander to see only Christlike repose and kindness. In the same way, we must see ourselves in a new light. We are no longer bound to respond to our enemy with worldly animosity. We have died to the former way of life. When you are poked, prodded, and provoked by the enemy to act unbecomingly, take a lesson from the prisoner in this story.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Who are the ‘enemies’ in your life?
  2. How can you respond differently to people?
  3. How are you ‘new’ since giving your life to Jesus?
  4. Does anything stop you from sharing Jesus with others?

The Flood of Salvation #3

One of the most hopeful themes of the flood story in the book of Genesis comes at the end. As the waters recede and dry ground appears, the earth washed clean from the stains of evil, new life begins to take shape. It’s the fresh start that the world needed. It’s the new beginnings story that everyone is drawn to.

People have a tendency to make mistakes, sometimes rather large ones, and in doing so we make a mess of things. We’ve all hurt others by our actions or words. We’ve all hurt ourselves by poor choices we’ve made at one time or another. Some of us have ruined careers or relationships, or both. Some of us have alienated children or have wandered deep into the path of addiction. Some of us have made choices in life that have led to battles with depression or anxiety. Whatever the person’s story is, God is the God of new beginnings. It applies to everyone’s world.

The flood brought salvation to Noah and his family, but also to the world that had been plagued by misuse and corruption. The flood was a clean slate. As the story goes from there, humanity makes a royal mess of things all over again. We’ve been spiraling into moral corruption ever since the flood. Which means, the slate will be wiped clean again, only this time it’ll be permanent.

In the book of revelation we can read about Jesus’ return. Throughout the book Christ’s return is proclaimed, prepared, and finally carried out. It’s a difficult read but very worth an in-depth study. The preparation for Christ’s return brings about a shockwave of catastrophic events meant to draw peoples hearts back to repentance. Instead, people get more bitter and push God away more than ever. These catastrophic evens serve to cleanse the Earth of the prevalent evil. That evil will finally be eliminated once Christ’s rule is established and Satan is destroyed forever.

It’s pretty obvious that the world we live in now is messed up and getting worse all the time. Truth has been distorted and evil runs rampant at every level of society, in every society. It was no different in Noah’s lifetime. God has always been in the process of reverting the world back to the form of its original creation. A form in which God and man can walk together in the cool of the day. A form in which all of creation lives in harmony and all sin is absent.

God is in the business of redemption and making things new. The flood story is an illustration of that. But as we’ve been looking at, it’s an illustration that points to a far greater event carried out by Yeshua the Messiah. Christ’s death on the cross and subsequent resurrection established the new life and new beginnings for anyone who pursues that in Him. The Spiritual cleansing has taken place and continues to because of Him. All of our bad choices can be erased. Our sins can be vanquished in the blink of an eye. Lives can be redirected. People’s hearts can be transformed. All because of Yeshua’s work on the cross. He rose to life so we too can be raised to a new life. As incredible as that is, it doesn’t end there. One day, there will be a physical cleansing of the Earth that Jesus will bring and it will be amazing!

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.

Revelation‬ ‭21:1-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬