Monday, September 13, 2010

Both God and Man

"In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God…And the word became flesh and dwelt among us…"

John 1:1.14

A question that I need to ask myself is, “Does the truth of Christ being God in flesh cause me to stand in awe of Him? “ The truth is Christ took on flesh so He could reveal the Father's love to each of us by paying the penalty for sin. That ought to rock my world. But there are times that I just take it for granted. After all it is the union of Christ’s two natures, the human and the divine, that made it possible for each of us to have a kinsman-redeemer who could legitimately take our place when He paid for our sin. Yet, I have to admit that I don’t fully comprehend the fact that Christ is both fully God and fully man -- everything that God is Jesus is as well, yet Jesus is fully a man. It is all beyond my comprehension, but I am glad that Jesus came.

It is amazing that back in eternity past a plan was born in the heart of God. The Creator, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Sovereign God, chose to veil His Glory. He chose to leave the vast beauty of His heavenly home to grow in the dark confinement of one of His own creations. While His heavenly position entitled Him to be born in a palace and wrapped in purple linen, He opted to be born in the middle of a sheepfold, and wrapped in swaddling clothes – the clothes usually used for wrapping a dead body pointed to his purpose from day one. He by-passed a golden cradle for such a simple manger, which was prophetic of future role as God's sacrificial lamb. He chose to limit His limitless abilities and powers to show us He understands our limitations and in doing so He has been able to fulfill the role of a sympathetic high priest. He faced every temptation we ever have or ever will have, yet He was without sin. Simply put, He loved us by becoming a man.

It is hard to comprehend a love so outrageous that it motivated Christ to leave His heavenly home and become dependent upon His creation. It is also hard to understand why He would choose to grow up in a home with half-brothers and half-sisters who did not recognize Him for who He was or what He came to do. It is hard to comprehend a love so outrageous it would cause Him who spoke the universe into place to limit His creativity and become an apprentice in His step-father’s carpenter shop. There His infinite creativity was limited to one medium, that of wood. Rather than speaking things into being, He chose to limit Himself to using human hands -- hands that became dirty, callused, and rough just like ours. At the same time, his rough hands could tend to the fine details needed in the carpenter’s shop. These same hands revealed God's tender compassion by being gentle enough to bless children, restore sight to the blind, restore life to dying flesh, and that motivated him to heal the hurts that were buried deep in men's souls.

It is hard to understand a love so outrageous that it motivated God to take on a human body and experience needs like ours -- hunger, thirst, and sleep. He also experienced our emotional needs and asked His friends to pray for Him when He was facing the cross. It is even harder to understand a love that would motivate Him to set aside His own needs to meet the needs of the crowds that pressed in on Him. They needed food and He provided it. They needed to be healed and He touched them. They needed comfort and He wiped away their tears. They needed knowledge so He taught them. They needed courage so He encouraged them. When they needed acceptance He demonstrated His acceptance of them. His disciples needed rest He took them aside to get it. They needed freedom from spiritual bondage and He set them free from demons that vexed them. They needed love and He loved them with an eternal steadfast love that never once wavered.

It is hard to comprehend that the same voice that He used to speak the universe into place is the same voice that comforted people, expressed forgiveness, and offered blessings. It was the same voice that comforted two sisters whose brother had died that turned around with power and majesty and ordered him out of the tomb. The voice that spoke with the authority to legions of demons spoke so kindly that it healed the deep shame of adultery when a guilty woman was cast at His feet. It was His eyes, capable of seeing everything, that penetrated the hardest heart. His eyes that sparkled in the early morning light as He prayed shed tears when His friends grieved. His eyes, the only eyes that had a right to condemn, were used as instruments that delivered His grace. For as a man, Christ gazed into the eyes of people broken by pain and by sin and conveyed the loving heart of God -- a heart full of tender mercies and passion so outrageous that to demonstrate it fully He chose to become a man. What are your thoughts on the truth that Jesus is both God and Man? What are your thoughts on His outrageous love?

Father, sometimes we forget how much You love us and understand us. Your word says that Christ demonstrated Your love by dying for us, but He also demonstrated love by living among us. By His life we know we have a sympathetic "high priest" praying continuously to You on our behalf. He understands us! Help us to see the mercy and grace you continuously show us in our relationship with Christ. Help us love the unlovable, forgive the unforgivable, reach out and touch the untouchable just as Jesus did. Let our hands be instruments of comfort, our voices instruments of truth, and our eyes instruments of grace revealing sacrificial love and acceptance. Amen.

The Goodness of God

"Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?"
Romans 2:4

Have you ever thought about what causes you to repent and confess your sin? The verse above tells us it is the Lord’s goodness that leads us to repentance. The context of this verse is a charge to the Jews to be accountable in their lifestyle and evangelism rather than judging the people who were not Jews for their past pagan practices. The Jews had become exclusive rather than evangelistic and had a hard time accepting the idea that God’s plan of salvation included people of all nations, some of which had a lot of different practices. That would be the equivalent of our coming to understand that no sin is too bad that Christ's death is not sufficient enough to cover it. Emotionally, I think that sometimes we have a hard time handling that. How do we feel if a murderer, a wife beater, a child abuser, a drug addict, or a prostitute, or a homosexual gets saved? When Romans was written, the Jewish believers were struggling to accept that some of the people who had come from nations that used temple prostitutes and child sacrifices were now being born again into the body of Christ.

But wait, Paul, himself, had been responsible for the death of many Christians before he met Jesus on the Damascus road. If we are honest, we can understand what the Jewish people may have been feeling. We can choose to look at each person we meet as someone that Christ died for and the truth is that the more seeped in sin each person is the more each needs the Savior. Real Christianity is nice and neat, it is downright sticky. If we are obedient to the command to go into the world we will bring in new believers who may dress, talk, and who have been living very differently than those who have grown up in the church.

We need to realize the Christian life is a series of choices that we are called to make. The more we get to know Christ and His goodness the more our decisions will include repenting of our sinful actions and even the hidden attitudes of our hearts. All of the letters Paul wrote began with doctrine that helped people understand more fully what their salvation meant. Ephesians tells us things like God chose us to be adopted by Christ and that through Christ we are accepted, redeemed, and sealed by the Holy Spirit. Colossians tells us that God has already delivered us out of the power of darkness and made us partakers of the inheritance of the saints! In his letters, after Paul expounded on doctrine, he gave specific instructions on how to live and relate to each other. He believed if he taught them more about God's goodness that they would want to continue to grow in holiness. Paul understood that grace is not getting Christ to love us more by our "good actions." It is understanding that He already loves us and forgives us and letting that love motivate us to change.

As children of God, we are told that we will be disciplined because we are loved. Hebrews 12:6,10-11 says, "For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives…For (earthly fathers) chasten us after their own pleasure, but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His Holiness. Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward, it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them who are exercised by it." Understanding God's goodness will help to come to repentance, but understanding that sometimes our stubborn rebellious hearts come face to face with His relentless stubborn love and He will discipline us. He wants us to be partakers of His holiness…not just act right! He wants us to enjoy peace that only comes from His righteousness in us, conforming our hearts to His, resulting in humble righteous acts and relationships. God designed us to live a certain way and that was distorted when Adam and Eve sinned. It is God's goodness that wants us to be restored to Him through Christ and wants us to partake of His holiness. There is more joy in serving, witnessing, loving, praying for healing, and teaching the word and seeing lives changed than in all the sin we can be involved in. God knows that and He will discipline us to bring that about so we can experience His great joy.

Lastly, there are times God's goodness will lead us to confront a friend or a friend to confront us (James 5:20). Confrontation needs to be done with love, grace, humility, and truth. Confrontation is more successful when we include a reminder of the goodness of God. I try to let the person I am confronting know I care more about them and their relationship with God than their behavior. When we are confronted about sin we need to remember God sent that person to us and not get angry with her or him. It is God's desire for us to have intimacy with Him and He will expose that which hinders our relationship with Him. Confrontation can actually leave us feeling loved and motivate us to change if we understand the purpose it serves.

Some questions we should ponder are: How has God's goodness led us to repent? If someone enters our life bearing the marks of sin, will we remember that it is God's goodness that leads them to repentance, not our harsh judgments? Is there anything that is not holy in our life hindering our relationship to God?

Father, thank you for your goodness and the fact that it leads us to repentance. Help us to see your goodness as well as your holiness. Help us to see our sin in light of your goodness, that we might grieve over what grieves your heart. Help us to confront others with your goodness when you call us to speak truth. Help us to accept confrontation as your goodness to us. Melt our pride and purify our hearts, that we might humbly hunger and thirst hard after you. Amen.


Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!