Category: John (Page 1 of 27)

If Not You…

“See to it that no one misses the grace of God.” ~Hebrews 12:15
As children of God and disciples of Christ Jesus, we demonstrate his grace to the people around us. We make sure all the people we contact every day know the truth about our God because they experience it in us. They encounter his grace in us. They see it and feel it in you.

This is as practical and tangible and as real as the Christian life gets. Whatever you have received from the Lord, you generously pass it on to others.

“Forgive each other just as in Christ God forgave you.” ~Ephesians 4:32
Forgive the person in your life who doesn’t deserve it. Forgive the person who’s never apologized. We’ve got more than enough people out there accusing and condemning. Who’s going to forgive? Christians who, by God’s grace, have been forgiven.

“Accept one another just as Christ accepted you.” ~Romans 15:7
Invite somebody over to your house who is 30 years older or 30 years younger than you. Take somebody to lunch who’s a different race or speaks a different language. Have a conversation with somebody from a different culture than yours and learn something. We’ve got lots of people out there dividing us and categorizing us and drawing lines and excluding others. Who’s going to accept others? Christians who, by God’s grace, have been accepted.

“Love one another as I have loved you.” ~John 15:34
Take a Sonic drink to your grouchy next door neighbor. Say something kind and encouraging to the customer service agent. Compliment the cashier at the gas station. Give up your own rights and give in to the demands of someone else. There’s enough hate out there, there’s enough haters – more than enough. Who’s going to show love? Christians who, by God’s grace, have been eternally loved.

Peace,

Allan

A People Person

When we follow Jesus through the Gospels, it’s impossible to miss that Jesus is basically just moving from one dinner party to the next. On every page of the Gospels, Jesus is either at a dinner party, just leaving a dinner party, or about to go to a dinner party. We notice early on in the story that Jesus is not a silent, high-minded, stoic priest lighting candles in a dark sanctuary; he is a rowdy rabbi who does his best teaching and pastoring among a big group of people at a party.

Of course, he was criticized for it. He was called a glutton and a drunk. One of the main things Jesus was known for was his very public eating and drinking.

Yes, there were times when Jesus went alone to the desert or up on a mountain to pray. But it’s much more typical in the Gospels for Jesus to be eating and drinking with big groups of people. Eating and drinking with five thousand folks in the wilderness. Having dinner with two strangers in Emmaus. Dining with his twelve closest friends in an upper room. Feasting with Levi and his friends at Levi’s house. Preparing a picnic on the beach. Jesus was all the time eating and drinking with sinners and saints, with prostitutes and Pharisees, with men and women, with Jews and Gentiles.

These big meals are illustrative of our Lord’s character as a people person. Jesus was with people all the time. Praying with people. Worshiping with people. Walking with people. Fishing with people. Teaching and debating with people. Laughing and crying with people. Attending weddings and funerals with people. Jesus was very deliberate about this, very intentional.

John 4 says Jesus had to go through Samaria. Well, no, nobody has to go through Samaria. Most people like Jesus went out of their way to avoid Samaria. But Jesus purposefully goes to meet that woman at the well and he stays in her village with her and her people for two days. And at the end of those two days, everyone in Sychar declares that Jesus truly is the Savior of the world!

Our Lord Jesus is a people person. He is a supremely social and communal person. Whatever the Father sent the Son to do, Jesus had no interest in doing it by himself. Jesus is a people person. And if you’ve seen Jesus, you’ve seen the Father.

Remember, Exodus 24. The very first communion meal. God has come down to his people on the mountain. He comes to be near them, to be with them. Moses is sprinkling blood on the people to cleanse them: “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you!” Then they go up on the mountain and they see God. The Bible says it twice because it is so astonishing. “They saw God and they ate and drank.”

But as good as that was, it wasn’t good enough for God. It wasn’t close enough. Or near enough. It wasn’t physical.

So our God decides to come to us in the physical flesh and blood of Jesus. And now, through Jesus, God himself is eating and drinking with everybody! All the time! At Zacchaeus’ house with all his friends. At Mary and Martha’s house with the community in Bethany. God in Christ is now eating and drinking with everybody, together, in person!

And Jesus says, “This is the Kingdom of God! The Kingdom of God is like a wedding banquet, like a giant feast! It’s just like this!”

You might read the Bible differently – the whole Bible – when you realize that our God’s eternal goal is to eat and drink with his people. To be so close to us, to have all the barriers to relationship between you and God removed so that you and we can eat and drink together in perfect community – you might understand the Kingdom better when you understand the goal.

Peace,

Allan

From Death to Life

“I AM the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will never die.” ~John 11:25-26

There’s a scene about a third of the way through the Temple of Doom movie in which Indiana Jones and his little sidekick, Short Round, are trapped in a room inside an evil castle. Short Round accidentally trips a lever and the walls start closing in. The four walls are coming in and the ceiling is coming down and long, pointed, metal spikes are coming up out of the floor and down from the ceiling. Indy and his little buddy are going to be crushed to death! The walls are coming closer and Indiana Jones is freaking out. He’s yelling at Kate Capshaw on the other side of the wall: Pull that lever! Stick your hand in there and pull that lever! But there are bugs and snakes in the wall and she just can’t do it. The spikes are coming down and the desperation builds and they zoom the camera in tight on Indiana Jones’ face. One spike comes up against his face. Another spike comes down and presses his hat against his temple. And he looks directly into the camera and says, “We. Are. Going. To. Die.”

No, you’re not. We know you’re not. Indiana Jones will never die.

He’s lowered into a pit of boiling lava, he’s walking on the outside of an airplane at 30,000 feet, he’s captured by Nazis, he’s strapped to a rotting suspension bridge a mile above a canyon floor, he’s brainwashed by murderous witch doctors – but he never dies. He keeps rescuing the children and saving the village and restoring the sacred stones and he always gets the girl and he never loses his hat.

Indiana Jones can live that way, recklessly doing what few will dare to do, because he knows he’ll never die. Why? Because he has an arrangement with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. They’ve already determined that Indiana Jones will never die.

“Our Savior Jesus Christ has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality.” ~ 2 Timothy 1:10

Jesus Christ is the Lord of Life, the eternal author of life, the giver of all life. He came that we may have life and have it to the full. In his death and resurrection, a new age has dawned for those of us who believe. Death has nothing on you. Neither does sin. We are living right now in the new era of his resurrection. God’s Holy Spirit lives inside us. That exact same Spirit who brought Lazarus out of the grave and rolled the stone away on that third day and sat on it – that same Spirit lives inside you!

You’ve got the resurrection inside you! You’re dangerous! You’re invincible! You can’t be stopped!

And the call is still on. It’s still on.

So we don’t cower, we don’t hesitate, we don’t slow down or back off or ever walk away. Our attitude is: You can kill me, but you can’t hurt me! We know how the story ends and that impacts how we play our part.

“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection!” ~ Philippians 3:10

So we love unconditionally and we forgive unflinchingly. We heal the sick and we feed the poor and we stand with the marginalized and the oppressed. We give and we serve uncompromisingly. We protect and provide for the widow, the orphan, and the stranger in the gate. We fight racism no matter the cost. We tear down walls no matter the opposition. And we deny ourselves and take up our crosses and unashamedly follow the one who laid down his life for the whole world!

No matter what chaos and confusion is out there, no matter what uncertainty surrounds you, sin and death do not have the final word. They do not have the final say. Our risen and reigning Lord Jesus is the author of life and he always writes the last line. And it’s good to have an arrangement with the writer.

Peace,

Allan

Serve Like Jesus

“What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants.” ~1 Corinthians 3:5

Around the table on that last night, our Lord Jesus personally washed the feet of his disciples. Then he told them, “Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing” (John 14:12). Our model is the Lord. We serve others in the name and manner of our great high priest. We do our best to imitate Jesus, the Christ, who was always with people, always helping people, always serving people. In the crush of the crowd, in the middle of the multitude – healing, feeding, protecting, encouraging. In the quiet of the one-on-one conversations at night. Weeping at a funeral. Eating with a tax collector. Holding the kids. Dying on a cross.

The Church is not an end in itself. The Church does not exist to make rules, to pass laws, to be in charge, or to glorify itself. The Church does not seek its own power or privilege or comfort. And we’re not just a support group for people who have already been saved. Just like our Lord, the Church is sent into the world not to be served, but to serve. And to give itself up for others.

We know the words of our Savior who said it is more blessed to give than to receive. And we experience the truth of that, and the blessings, when we serve others in love.

Peace,

Allan

A Display for the Work of God

In John 9, Jesus and his disciples come across this man born blind. And the followers of the Christ immediately turn this guy into a theological case study. Who sinned? Whose fault is it? This is a terrible thing that’s happened, who’s responsible? Who’s to blame? Let’s start the debate, let’s take sides. Ready? Go!

And while the apostles are pulling out their commentaries and Hebrew word studies and their grandfather’s old lectureship notes, our Lord Jesus completely sidesteps the whole argument. Jesus says nobody sinned. Nobody did anything wrong. That’s not why this man is blind. Then Jesus heals the man. He gives this man exactly what he needs right there on the spot. It’s a great story. Praise God.

But the question remains: Why is he blind? That question is not going away. Why was this man born blind? What’s the reason this happened? It’s so cruel and awful and unfair. Why was this man born blind? Why was this woman abused? Why does that man have cancer? Why am I divorced? Why did I lose my job? Why did bad things happen at my church? What’s the reason?

Jesus answers the question. And his words provide just the perspective we need to increase our imaginations and expand our vision.

“This happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” ~John 9:3

Jesus says you’re asking the wrong questions, you’re focused on the wrong things. Jesus says this man was born blind so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. This man’s life is divinely intended to be a display for the salvation work of God. He is to be a huge billboard, a bright flashing neon sign, a massive marquee that proclaims the glory of God and his saving work in the world.

That’s your church, too. Your church is a banner that displays to your whole community what our God is doing in the world. As individuals, of course, but also as a church, we are unfurled before the watching world as a banner that proclaims the goodness and glory of our God. That’s our call. That’s our mission. That’s our purpose. That’s the reason you are who you are and where you are: to be a display for the great power and boundless love of our God.

It’s important that you see your church as the billowing banner it really is. Stop asking the wrong questions. Don’t focus on the wrong things. I’m asking you to see your church the way our Lord sees it. Think about your church the way Jesus thinks about your church. Our God is using whatever has happened in your church or in your life in order to display to the world his eternal salvation and his matchless grace.

Peace,

Allan

There’s Always a Way

The Dallas Mavericks won their first playoff game in franchise history in 1984 over the Seattle Supersonics and attempted zero three-pointers in the process. Zero three-point shots. No attempts. In the first two games against the Clippers in this current first round playoff series, the Mavs have hit 35 of 70 three-point shots to take a commanding two-games-to-none lead. Times have changed.

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If our God sees things that you can’t see and if our God chooses and uses nobodies and calls them beloved, then there is always a way for you. And God has already got it figured out.

It doesn’t matter how big and imposing the obstacles in your life. It doesn’t matter how numerous the forces trying to knock you off track or destroy you. Or destroy your marriage. Or your kids. Or your peace. Or your faith. It doesn’t matter how far back you are at the end of the line or where you are at the bottom of the pile. Or how you got there. There’s always a way for you and our God has already figured it out.

Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of God tells us, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand… My Father has given them to me… no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:28-30). 2 Corinthians 1 says God has delivered us, he is delivering us, and we have set our hope on him that he will continue to deliver us.

Our God is willing to break through the barriers of time and space to do the impossible, to come to earth in your flesh and blood, to put on your skin and to take on your sin and suffering to rescue you and save you right now today and forever. With humans this is impossible; but with our God, all things are possible!

As long as there is one lost sheep wandering around in the wilderness, as long as there is one dusty coin hiding in a dark corner, as long as there is one lonely child desperate and crying in a faraway pig pen, our God will do whatever it takes – he will not stop – until he finds you and brings you home! He will bring to completion the good thing he has started in you. The Bible says he is faithful and he will do it.

And I know the voices are there. You hear the voices. So do I.

You messed that up big time. You failed her big time. You let him down. You’ll never change your behavior. You’re trapped. You’re dead.

Like Goliath, those voices, those words, are there in your head every morning. They’re ringing in your ears every night. The insults, the mistreatment, the lies – penetrating your soul and just sitting there. Heavy.

You’re not a good parent. You’re not a good Christian. God hasn’t really totally forgiven you of that.

You hear the voices. You sense the size of the enemy. But there is a way for you and God has already figured it out. And he’s already done it. Jesus Christ willingly took all your sins with you to the cross. And God’s Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit who came upon David in power, raised Jesus from the grave to destroy forever the forces of sin and death and Satan and anything that might separate you from God. That same Spirit of the Lord lives inside you with that same eternal power. It’s not fate or luck – God’s Spirit is in you. God’s Spirit has taken hold of you like he did David and he won’t let you go. You can betray and stumble and sin and fail, but he will never fail!

In Jesus Christ, all your enemies have already been defeated. All of them. Name them. The voices are wrong. The enemy is dead. The way for you is clear in the Way, the Truth, and the Life in Jesus. And, to quote David, you and I and the whole world know that there is a God in Israel. And he has chosen you and he loves you and you belong to him today and forever.

Peace,

Allan

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