Threads of the Divine Nature of Jesus | Week 3 | The High Priest

Saturday! The Sabbath day! A day of rest and worship. The day to refocus your attention on the Most Hight and to evaluate your past week and your priorities. The day to really spend time focusing on the eternal and not temporal.

Yet, we live in the temporal and still have temporal needs. The disciples, spending time walking around with Jesus on the Sabbath, were no different. They got hungry! While walking through a grain field, they took some of the heads of grain and ate them.

 

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The problem with this? They were Sabbath breakers! Or, so said the Pharisees. Jesus chides these leaders and explains that neither he or his disciples broke the Sabbath. They just didn’t abide by the rules set by the Pharisees regarding the Sabbath. These are very different things. Jesus ends this part of the conversation by saying that he is the Lord of the Sabbath. Now, there is much there that speaks to the divine nature of Jesus, but I want to touch on something a bit more subtle.

Here is the passage in view; Matthew 12.1-8:

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” 3 He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: 4 how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? 5 Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? 6 I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. 7 And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8 For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

I find verse three very interesting. Jesus is making the point to these leaders that what the disciples are doing is okay because, well, David broke the rules and ate food he wasn’t supposed to eat, so why can’t the disciples, right?! At least, that’s how it seems to read to us. However, it is highly likely these leaders knew the details of this David story well and caught some of the subtleties of it. Let us go to that story and see what takes place. We find it in 1 Samuel 21.1-6:

Then David came to Nob, to Ahimelech the priest. And Ahimelech came to meet David, trembling, and said to him, “Why are you alone, and no one with you?” And David said to Ahimelech the priest, “The king has charged me with a matter and said to me, ‘Let no one know anything of the matter about which I send you, and with which I have charged you.’ I have made an appointment with the young men for such and such a place. Now then, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever is here.” And the priest answered David, “I have no common bread on hand, but there is holy bread—if the young men have kept themselves from women.” And David answered the priest, “Truly women have been kept from us as always when I go on an expedition. The vessels of the young men are holy even when it is an ordinary journey. How much more today will their vessels be holy?” So the priest gave him the holy bread, for there was no bread there but the bread of the Presence, which is removed from before the Lord, to be replaced by hot bread on the day it is taken away.

Did David eat bread that he wasn’t allowed to eat? Yes, he did! However, did he unlawfully go into the Temple and take the bread, breaking God’s holy Laws? No, he did not! He beseeched the priest for bread and the priest granted David the shewbread – the bread that was consecrated only for the priests. David received permission from the one that had lawful access to the bread, took it as a gift and then he ate it. So, what are we seeing with the disciples?

 

shewbread

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We see the disciples being accused of breaking the laws of the Sabbath. We see Jesus standing up in their defense. We see Jesus make a parallel to David, lawfully beseeching a priest for bread and the priest making the decision to grant David bread that he did not have access to.

Jesus, by his actions and then his defense, is declaring, as the Lord of the Sabbath, that he is the priest granting permission to his followers access to what was “not allowed” for them. He granted them legal access to partake. He is the eternal and divine priest. He is the one who was serving when the Father showed Abraham the pattern of the Tabernacle in heaven. As declares Hebrews 6.20, “where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”

He is the eternal one! He is the divine one! He grants us legal access to places we dare not tread alone. Indeed, the vail is torn asunder!

May your thoughts abide in Christ on this day. Shabbat Shalom!

 

[Scriptures taken from the ESV]

Published in: on 7 AMpSat, 25 Jan 2020 08:53:02 -050053Saturday 2016 at 8:53 am  Leave a Comment  
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Threads of the Divine Nature of Jesus | Week 2 | Winds & Waves

In the distance, menacing clouds arise. Upon seeing them, they scurry trying to prepare themselves, but the world around them begins to stir more and more; the clouds leap upon them rapidly. The vehement wind blows with great violence! The water around churns in anger at these disturbing touches. The sea – in it’s blind rage – takes it’s frustrations out on their small boat. The wood moans and creaks, seeking mercy under the onslaught of savage waves and ferocious gusts. Ropes shake and clamor as they smash against the sides, beams and supports. Everything dripping, both fresh and salty. This boat, containing several professional fishermen, has never seen a storm rage such as this. Danger is a foregone conclusion as at the moment death begins to sweep across the stressed boards. These fishermen know all too well.

In a last effort of hope, they realize they are missing a companion – their Leader. Ah, these disciples go looking for the one they claim and call, the Messiah; the Savior of the World. They dearly hope, but also have faith, that this title suits him well in this moment. But, where is he?! Then they find him, fast asleep! They rouse him – “We are dying!” as the boat conintues its chaotic dance across the white foam. This Teacher arises, comes out to the deck, looks at the storm, and says, “Stop!”

Immediately, the winds and the waters become quiet and calm…

 


 

In just five verses…an entire narrative; a movie being played out in front of the Disciples eyes. Here is the Word, from Luke 8.22-26:

22 One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, 23 and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. 24 And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. 25 He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him? 26 Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee.”

What is obvious in the passage is certainly Jesus just did something amazing! How many people do you know that would (1) soundly and peacefully sleep through a storm that is on the brink of killing you while you are on a boat, and (2) he commanded – and was obeyed by – the winds and the water. Amazing!

However, for this series, as you well know, we are looking into things that show Jesus to be both eternal and divine. Do the claims that he is God hold true and what does this passage show in regards to this issue. Something quite amazing actually.

In order to see this, we have to remember something important Jesus said. In John 5.19, “So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.'”

With this in mind, let us turn our attention to the Psalms. In Psalm 65, we see something truly remarkable. Here, in verses 5-8 we read:

“5 By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas; 6 the one who by his strength established the mountains, being girded with might; 7 who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples, 8 so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs. You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.”

Jesus, thousands of years after this passage was written, under impectable circumstances to carry this out, literally does “what he saw his Father doing.” What’s more, he does acts that are clearly contributed, according to the Psalm, only to God…

Below, I am going to show each verse again, but color code the connections.

I hope you enjoyed this second installment and look forward to meeting you here next week. Shabbat Shalom.

 


 

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Luke 8.22-26 & Psalm 65-5-8 (ESV):

22 One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, 23 and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. 24 And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. 25 He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”
26 Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee.

“5 By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas; 6 the one who by his strength established the mountains, being girded with might; 7 who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples, 8 so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs. You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.”

 

Published in: on 7 AMpSat, 18 Jan 2020 11:00:46 -050000Saturday 2016 at 11:00 am  Comments (1)  
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Threads of the Divine Nature of Jesus | Week 1 | The Eternal Ladder

Isaac was tricked! With the help of his mother, Jacob slid quietly into the room, arrayed in a disguise to make his father think that Jacob was actually his brother. The result? Jacob received his brother’s blessing – the blessing of the firstborn. This is after Jacob already tricked his twin brother into selling his birthright. He’s at it again, as Isaac’s wrinkled hand reaches out with dimmed eyes, but words full of life. Esau had enough! He wanted to kill his brother. Will this be a retelling of Cain and Abel? Not if Rebekah can help it!

She sends Jacob away until Esau can calm his fury. Jacob receives another blessing from his father with instructions on getting a proper wife for himself and he sets out. He comes “to a certain place” between Beersheba and Heran as the sun is setting. He sets up camp for the night and lays his head down on a rock.

Genesis 28.10-11, “10 Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. 11 And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep.” Yet, according to Hebrew tradition, this was the most special “certain place” in all of the earth. This is the exact location of where the Temple – and specifically, the Holy of Holies – would stand in the future. Thus, what happens next may not be too much of a surprise. He has a most vivid dream of the Heaven’s opening, seeing magnificently angelic beings, and the Lord of Hosts beaming down upon the Earth.

 

Genesis 28.12-17: 12 And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! 13 And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. 14 Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” 16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

 

What a view! What a promise! Jacob saw the Stairway to Heaven, and Led Zeppelin had nothing to do with it! He saw the access point, or the way, in which the angels come into our realm and return back to Heaven; how they came to us and back to the feet of the Lord of lords. He saw God, and God used this channel to communicate a message directly to Jacob. Talk about a moment in one’s life that’s impactful!

Yet, what in the world does this have to do with Jesus? Jesus who came into the world thousands of years after this event. Jesus of the New Testament. Jesus who is never mentioned in this story at all – how could he since he was born so much later, right? In fact, on the surface, this story really doesn’t have anything to do with Jesus! However, what if I told you that Jesus was actually a central character in this story? You think that’s crazy right? “Obviously, this guy can’t read very well – it doesn’t mention Jesus at all!” I know, and yet…it does. How do we know? Because Jesus tells us it does!

Let’s move forward a few thousand years into the future. There’s a Rabbi walking around Israel who is ready to start his teaching ministry and is gathering some other young men to be his disciples. As he’s walking around, some disciples of another prophet ask if they can go follow this Rabbi instead and this prophet gives his blessing. These two hustle to follow this man. The next day, they are walking through a town and this Rabbi tells a man named Philip to follow him and Philip runs and tells his friend Nathanael to come with him and follow this Rabbi too. Philip also tells him they have found the Messiah. Nathanael is suspicious, but comes along to what all the fuss is about.

When Nathanael meets this Rabbi, he is blown away. Jesus tells Nathanael what he was doing while alone before Philip found him – prophetic! Nathanael declares – “You are the Son of God!” Jesus tells Nathanael, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!” (This is my translation, by the way.) He tells Nathanael something very intriguing… “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” Here’s the entire exchange:

 

John 1.43-end: 35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).

43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.

What is going on here? Jesus is declaring exactly who he is! He is telling them that he was the central – quiet – character in Jacob’s story. He is the avenue between Heaven and earth. He is the one whom angels use come and go in and out of our realm. He is the One whom the Father looks along to communicate with his children. He is the eternal connection. No mere mortal could ever claim to be the avenue in which angels come in and out of this world! He is the eternal access for us to ascend to the Father. Here, he is showing them that he is eternal and that he was there with Jacob and led him to the Father. He showed Jacob he has authority over the angels of Heaven. He gave Jacob the vision that he is the “ladder, staircase; way” to the Father. Later, Jesus tells his disciples directly and clearly that he is way. “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” (John 14.6)

According to Christians, Jesus is the way to God. We claim that Jesus is the only path to get to God. Why do we make this claim? Simple: it’s the claim that Jesus makes himself. However, with this story in view, we see that Jesus didn’t just say he was the way at one moment in history, but rather showed that he is the eternal access point to the Father. He is the Stairway to Heaven. He is the ladder that will lift us up to the glories of the Father’s throne, if we allow him to do so. However, if this is the case, we must also realize that it is an assent we cannot make on our own. We assume that we can make the assent ourselves or that there are other “ladders” to lead us to the Promised Land. This simply is not the case. We need divine help from the eternal One!

 


 

I hope you all enjoyed this first installment of “Threads of the Divine Nature of Jesus”. Please leave your thoughts on these passages. Hope you join next week for installment two – it may be a stormy ride…

Blessings,
Joshua

 

Published in: on 7 AMpSat, 11 Jan 2020 09:30:18 -050030Saturday 2016 at 9:30 am  Comments (3)  
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Introduction | Threads of the Divine Nature of Jesus

As a Christian, I believe whole-heartily that Jesus is the Son of God, the promised Messiah, the Incarnation of God who is fully God and fully man. The reason I believe this: personal testimony and the authority of Scripture. When is comes to the witness of Scripture, there are numerous places in the Gospels where Jesus comes right out and says who he is, and other places the Scriptures testify directly to the fact that he is God.

However, there are also several places in Scripture where the message is still quite clear, but it’s not quite as obvious. In other words, there are times when the proclamation of Jesus’s divine nature are present, but more hidden in the actions – or taken for granted by those present in the story, but we miss in our cultural shaping – than obvious in the words spoken. These are the types of instances I would like to look at more closely together. Over the next 12 weeks, I will be posting about instances like these I see unfolding in the Gospels.

 

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I hope you join me on this journey. If you are a Christian, I hope that this will provide you some encouragement and maybe some new insights into our Lord. If you are not a Christian, but following this anyway – thank you! I hope that this will provide a spark for you to consider again the claims of Jesus and the hope of his mercy.

Thank you for your time in reading this. I hope to hear from you soon and look forward to your insights along the way. Let us grow together and I will see you back here next Saturday for the first look into the “Threads of the Divine Nature of Jesus.” 

 

 

Published in: on 7 AMpSat, 04 Jan 2020 10:00:05 -050000Saturday 2016 at 10:00 am  Comments (2)  
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Homily | Installment 4 | “The Master Speaks”

Brown Book Page

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Holy Scriptures for Sunday, 11 August 2019

  • Isaiah 1.1, 10-20
  • Psalm 50.1-8, 22-23
  • Hebrews 11.1-3, 8-16
  • Luke 12.32-40

 


 

At the outset, I must confess, this group of Scriptures is very dense indeed! I cannot presume to be able to do it justice, especially in a short blog. Truthfully this is also always the case, but seems even more the reality for this group. However, since my goal with these is not really to be an authoritative teacher, but rather to just try and pull together threads I see in an attempt to encourage you. In that case, there is something I will share that will hopefully be a blessing.  Regardless, please click on the link above and read the passages for yourself. Especially if you give them a good 2-3 readings through, they will do much more for you than what I will be doing.

Praise be to God for his Word that he shares with us!

The one thing I really want to drive home for today’s “homily” is that God certainly speaks! He speaks to us all of the time! Most of the time, we just miss it. The reality is, he is reaching out for us. This is a great blessing, but we must not mistake what is taking place in this interaction. He does not speak to us and reach out for us as a beggar in search for crumbs, but rather as a King imploring his subjects to stop their rebellion! We make it seem as though he will have consequences if he does not stop pursing us – like a pestering beggar on the street. On the contrary, he is imploring us to put down our arms and submit again to him while he allows us to do so! He will be returning; there will be a reckoning… Let’s look at some of the passages:

  • Isaiah 1.12, 15-17 – “12 When you come to appear before me who has required of you this trampling of my courts? 15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. 16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of our deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, 17 learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”
  • Psalm 50.3-6 – Our God comes; he does not keep silence; before him is a devouring fire, around him a mighty tempest. He calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that he may judge his people: “Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!” The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge! Selah
  • Luke 12.33-35, 39-40 – 33 “Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 35 “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning,”
    39 “But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

We see here that God indeed is paying attention to what is going on. Not only that, but he speaks into our situations. He desires and demands that we repent of our sin (any act or commission or omission that is contrary to his Law) and turn to him. To follow him and become his faithful servants that will be awake and watchful for is certain but unexpected return. He is coming back. We will all stand before him. We, all of us, will kneel before him and confess his majesty. What will be the condition of our hearts on that faithful hour? How are we living today to meet that certain reality that none will escape?

  • Isaiah 1.20 – “but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Yet, in his abundant mercy, he calls to us now, before that day, to participate with him in making things right! He calls us to make things right in ourselves first and then to allow that power to work through us to change the world back to how it should be.

  • Isaiah 1.18-19 – 18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lordthough your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land;”
  • Hebrews 11.1-3, 13-16 – Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
    13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
  • Luke 12.32 – “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

What we can plainly see, is that God is rich in mercy and calls out to us. He speaks to us! May we have ears to hear! This reminds me of a story. I was speaking to one of my friends one day who is not a Christian and she told me that while getting ready for the day she just felt like she wanted to call out to God. So she did. She said, something along the lines of, “God, if you’re real, come to me.” She said, nothing happened… I thought about this for a while before the reality struck me and I then explained to her, that the Scriptures – and our natures – teach that we do not seek God. The only way people even come to him is by his grace and he allows them to wake up to his presence (we just often hit the snooze button!). So, I tried to relate this and to not be discouraged and even though she didn’t get the response she wanted, the reality of the situation was that she was really the one who was responding. He was already there and was drawing her heart to seek him. She was responding to that pull and he was the initiator, not the other way around. May we all be perceptive and responsive.

How do you see God working around you?

© Joshua Curtis, 2019

Published in: on 7 AMpSun, 11 Aug 2019 11:30:25 -040030Sunday 2016 at 11:30 am  Comments (2)  
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Homily | Installment 3 | “God’s Presence”

Hello everyone! Sorry for being so late with this one!

 

I’m here!

 

I am finding my job makes it difficult to write after being there for a few days. Too much energy is gone; tying to figure this thing out!

 



 

I am going to change the format up just a bit for this week compared to the last couple of weeks. At first I was struggling with picking the topic of drawing these verses together. I then saw the string of God’s Presence in specific ways through each passage. I am going to pick a few of these ways and highlight them in different colors.

Before getting into it, consider the following. What would you do, how would you respond, what would you say if God himself came to be in your presence? What would his presence demand out of you? … We all will be in that position one day; what are we doing about this fact today? This is all about his presence – a presence we will encounter at some point.

 

priest holding hostia

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Scriptures for this week:

  • Acts 16.16-34
  • Psalm 97
  • Revelation 22.12-14, 16-17, 20-21
  • John 17.20-26

A few aspects we see in his presence:

  • Freedom/Freedom in Living
  • Fear/Trembling 
  • Judgement/Justice 
  • Praise/Worship

Acts 16.16-34

16 As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” 18 And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.

19 But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. 20 And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. 21 They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.”22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. 23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas.30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God. (Personal note here: Notice the true freedom happening here. Most of us in this position, when the chains broke and the door opened, we would have bolted! However, Paul and Silas remained in there in their true freedom which brought true freedom to the jailer and his entire household.) 

 

Psalm 97

The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice;
    let the many coastlands be glad!
Clouds and thick darkness are all around him;
    righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire goes before him
    and burns up his adversaries all around.
His lightnings light up the world;
    the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
    before the Lord of all the earth.

The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
    and all the peoples see his glory.
All worshipers of images are put to shame,
    who make their boast in worthless idols;
    worship him, all you gods!

Zion hears and is glad,
    and the daughters of Judah rejoice,
    because of your judgments, O Lord.
For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth;
    you are exalted far above all gods.

10 O you who love the Lord, hate evil!
    He preserves the lives of his saints;
    he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
11 Light is sown for the righteous,
    and joy for the upright in heart.
12 Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous,
    and give thanks to his holy name!

 

 

Revelation 22.12-14, 16-17, 20-21

12 Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” 14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. … 16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” 17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. … 20 He who testifies to these things says, Surely I am coming soon.”Amen. Come, Lord Jesus21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

 

 

John 17.20-26

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly oneso that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I amto see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

 

Thank you for reading. May the Scriptures bless and encourage you. Remember to ask yourself, what will happen when I encounter God? Will you be like the slave girl, the melting mountains, an adversary meeting his fire, or one that is one with him rejoicing in the longing response of “Come!” He gave it all for you to have the choice. Come to him on his terms and receive grace or come to him on your last day on your own terms. The choice is ours, but the weighty reality that we will not always be permitted to avoid him is his choice. Choose wisely!

 

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Published in: on 7 PMpMon, 03 Jun 2019 17:00:53 -040000Monday 2016 at 5:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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7-Word Story | “I’m Late!”

Late!

Dreadfully late!!

Homily post … … … tomorrow!

LATE!!!!

Published in: on 7 PMpSun, 02 Jun 2019 18:28:20 -040028Sunday 2016 at 6:28 pm  Comments (2)  
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Homily Series | Installment 2 | “Home”

Holy Scriptures for 26 May 2019

  • Acts 16.9-15
  • Psalm 67
  • Revelation 21.10, 22-22.5
  • John 14.23-29

 


 

In the Gospel reading this week, we see in John 14.23 – “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.'”

This is indeed the beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is, always and at all times, for all people. No matter where you live, your culture, age, gender, etc., Jesus can come and set you free and bring you into his family. He will clean you up and invite you to his table! We see the truth that it’s for all people in the Psalm reading. 67.2-4,

That Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations. Let the peoples praise You, O God; Let all the peoples praise You. Oh, let the nations be glad and sing for joy! For You shall judge the people righteously, And govern the nations on earth.” 

Believers, we need to pay attention to the promptings of the Spirit as he leads us. Like we see in the Acts reading, there are times when the Spirit of Christ will tell us no. However, he will tell us where to go from that point. We need to be open to his promptings and also understand that it may not be what we thought. Paul had a vision of a man calling for his help, but when they arrived, who did he help? Lydia.

 

 

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If you do not follow Christ at this point, I encourage you to give it some thought. Will you be like Lydia? Will you have a heart to hear and see God which God will bless? Or will you push the truth away? Jesus loves you! He loves you so much that he literally died to bring you forgiveness and peace and resurrected to give you life in all abundance.

God has always had his eyes upon the whole world. He has always wanted to redeem every and all peoples. How will you respond to his call today? Feeling lost? You can be at home with him!

At the end of time as we are confined to it now, we see him bringing this already true reality in our world! We will dwell together with him. He will be our God and we will be his people.

As Jesus said, he will come with his Father and make their home in us. This is one of the “already and not yet” truths of Christianity. For example, this is absolutely true in my life, right now, but does it feel like it? Not always! How do I know it’s true? Because I can trust the one who says it! In addition, I do see evidence of it as time passes. However, this will be fully consummated and fully known at the end of – beginning of – time.

In Jesus Christ, we are … home!

Blessings.

© Joshua Curtis, 2019

Published in: on 7 PMpSun, 26 May 2019 23:52:13 -040052Sunday 2016 at 11:52 pm  Comments (1)  
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Homily Series | Installment 1 | “Descending Glory”

These posts will probably be a little more in depth, but for this one, short and sweet (at least from my comments). Hope you enjoy. 

 


 

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Holy Scriptures for 19 May 2019

 

I have linked the entire passages for each of these on their respective texts. For the purpose of this, I will just show the aspects of the texts that I want to draw your attention to.

As an American Christian, I can say that most mainstream Christianity here is focused on being “saved” in order to go to heaven. Indeed, there is some Scriptural precedence for this and I am not saying it’s absolutely wrong. However, I do believe our focus should be elsewhere.

From the readings this week, this is what stands out to me in terms of what our focus should be, bringing his Kingdom down to earth!

  • Acts 11.5-9, 15-17 – ‘“I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to me. Looking at it closely, I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air. And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I said, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But the voice answered a second time from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’”’ & “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?”
  • Psalm 148 – notice how it is written. It starts high and then goes low. It moves from the heavens to the earth. It goes from broad to be narrow in focus. The entire flow of this Psalm is “a coming down.”
  • Revelation 2.2-4 – “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.’”
  • John 13.33 – “ Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’” – notice that Jesus was not concerned with bringing us with him, but in sending his Spirit down to us!

 

As Christians, we often are going through difficult times and it seems that darkness is pressing in upon us – all around! Often, we say to ourselves, something along the lines of, “I just wish I was with Jesus so he could fix all this!” My sentiments exactly too! What’s the word that sums this up though? Maranatha! Literally, “Come, Lord Jesus.” Not, “Take me, Lord Jesus.” His focus is not about taking us out, but about empowering us to represent him well here and allow “Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!”

Jesus’ focus is bringing Heaven down to earth! He will redeem all of it! There are several other Scriptures that speak to this very thing. May his glory come; like Mt. Sinai, may his glory come!

Another really good book on this topic is Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church by N.T. Wright.

Again, let our focus not be on escaping, but on conquering! Our time will come, but in the meantime, let us remain faithful and true!

Father, may your kingdom come upon us! For your name’s sake and for your glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings.

 

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© Joshua Curtis, 2019

Published in: on 7 PMpMon, 20 May 2019 23:22:05 -040022Monday 2016 at 11:22 pm  Comments (3)  
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God’s Word – A Poem

Originally written in 2009. Originally posted 10/14/2016.

 

 

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“God’s Word”

Powerfully prolific proclamations pour forth from the pinnacled port of God’s heart –
Ecstatical – exuberantly and enthusiastically exegete upon us like elaborate equations
Simultaneously stating simple and profound statements – sagaciously storytelling
Rapidly revealing in repetition renown reputation and desired relationships
Utterly unfolding understanding of his unyielding and unending love and unity
Decrees displayed and delivered dynamically and dramatically to us with his desire,
Predicated Explicitly on Submission – Rescue before the Ultimate Day!

© Joshua Curtis, 2009, 2019

 

Published in: on 7 AMpThu, 16 May 2019 04:45:41 -040045Thursday 2016 at 4:45 am  Comments (5)  
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