We are easily amazed by things but what amazed Jesus, Son of the Living God?
Twice the Scriptures describe Him as being amazed. In Matthew 8:10-13 Jesus is amazed at the incredible faith of a Gentile. And in Mark 6:6, in Nazareth, Jesus was amazed at the lack of faith of his own countrymen and home townspeople. It is a paradox that the religious people of the day, who had the Scriptures, would lack faith, while the Gentiles should demonstrate faith.
Jesus lays out a paradox of his own. The religious, who would expect to participate in the heavenly banquet, were kicked out. But the foreigners were allowed in. The simple lesson is that Jesus respects faith, not ethnicity, background, religiosity, tradition, or other truly external things.
According to Tim Keller, there are 2 basic ways people try to find happiness and fulfillment:
- Moral conformity: Living “RIGHT”
- Self-Discovery: Living “FREE”
Everyone chooses one of these two ways and everyone thinks those in the other group are the problem in the world.
Those people are “immoral.” NO! Those people are “bigoted.”
Some go back and forth or hide behind one even though they are part of the other. And BOTH of these approaches are WRONG!
Actually the 2 ways are more similar than they appear. Moral conformists have the sin of pride as a barrier. It’s how they CONTROL life. If I am “good,” then I will be blessed.
But it doesn’t work that way.
This means you can rebel against God by breaking the rules OR by keeping all of them diligently.
You can avoid Jesus as Savior by keeping all the moral laws. Then God OWES you answered prayer and a good life. Religious people try to get leverage over God, to control Him.
They obey to get things. They don’t obey God to GET GOD HIMSELF. Sin is not just breaking the rules. It is putting yourself in the place of God as Lord.
So both ways are wrong and lead to Hell.
A study at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research tracked the relationships of 423 elderly couples for five years, during which time 134 of them died. Those who had giving relationships (helped friends, did child care, assisted in errands) had half the mortality rate of those who didn’t. It’s interesting that the benefits don’t accrue to those at the receiving end of the relationship, only the giving end. We need to give in order to meet one another’s needs, and this need in us is so basic that “lack of religious involvement has an effect on mortality equivalent to forty years of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.”
Being a Christian does not mean merely believing with our head that Christ died for us. It’s being persuaded that Christ died for me AND I died IN HIM! That is, I am ready to die, that I might live in the power of His love and for the display of His Glory.
What needs to “die” in you, so that you can live for Him?
I first ran this post very early in blogging, and got quite a response from people who I’ve never met. Make sure to check out the comments below. Very interesting stuff. I’m re-running this post because I think it’s important and informative.
An 8 week old “fetus” has a beating heart, an EKG, brain waves, thumb-sucking, pain sensitivity, finger grasping and genetic humanity, but under our present laws in the United States is not a human person with rights under the 14th Amendment. This is not right. That’s why I am “Pro-Life.” Watch this video and tell me what you think. Are there arguments for abortion or the right to choose that you don’t know how to respond to or that you find compelling? :
People ask, “What do you want for your birthday?” So here’s a few things that I’ve come up with…
- I really want to know Christ better, to hear His voice clearer than I’ve EVER heard it before. To KNOW what it is like to be completely filled with and consumed with the Holy Spirit and follow Him with abandon!
- That I will be the best husband on the planet, that I will pursue Jennifer for the rest of my life, that I will do all that I can to make her feel beautiful and special, that I will honor the vows I took on June 27, 1992 and NEVER allow the church or anything else to replace her as the love of my life.
- That I will be an amazing father to Reagan, Micah, and Aidan…the kind of dad that after they move away and have families of their own, that they’ll WANT to come back and spend time with me. I want to model for them what it means to follow Jesus.
- To continue to lead FCC where more people are giving their lives to Christ. I want to see what can happen in a church when people are COMPLETELY sold out to Him, refuse to play it safe and do ANYTHING SHORT OF SIN to reach people for Christ. I can do my job but I need the WHOLE church AND ultimately the Holy Spirit. So may God grant me the gifts and wisdom to do my best.
- To be a friend that loves, trusts, forgives, and believes the best about people, even people I disagree with and for some reason “don’t like.” I don’t want to be a complainer.
- To be a great leader worth following–one that refuses to use people, be manipulated by fear and/or throw my integrity away because I want anything more than honoring Christ.
- To write a book. Oh…this is the one that haunts me the second most on here. I’ve got part of it written with ideas galore but how do I do it and not sacrifice anything above? Pray that I would “find more time.”
- To obey God’s voice and live for His praise rather than giving in to the voices of mere humans who want something different than God. I want to please God, not man.
What are the things, memories, observations, dreams, or experiences that fill you with amazement, awe, reverence?
- Seeing the birth of my children.
- Watching someone transform spiritually.
- The changes in my wife during pregnancy.
- The fact that people sometimes follow me as a leader.
- The four seasons.
- Love–particularly agape.
- Watching/experiencing true teamwork where my unique significance makes a difference.
- Contemplating the incarnation.
- Studying the hand of a baby or young child.
- The rhema/pneuma of God’s Spirit in my life.
What would you add?
First, the children of God are known by their actions:
- They love each other (1 John 4:7).
- They believe in Jesus (1 John 5:1).
- They love God and keep his commands (1 John 5:2).
As a result, children of God receive certain blessings:
- We have victory over the world (1 John 5:4).
- We have an intimacy with the Father by which we can call him “Abba” (Romans 8:15).
- We become fellow heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).
- We await future blessings when Jesus returns (Romans 8:19-21).
So…are you a child of God? How have you been blessed as a result?
“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.” Romans 8:14
That verse is clear: if the spirit of God isn’t leading you, you are not God’s child, just as you do not belong to God (see 8:9).
The image of “adoption” tells us that no one is born into a true relationship with God. The fact that we receive our adoption status proves that there was a time when we were lost; we were not naturally God’s children. Originally, we were spiritual orphans and slaves.
Second, the image of adoption tells us that our relationship with God is based completely on a legal act by the Father. You don’t “win” or “earn” or negotiate a parent. It is simply received.
This teaching is clear and important because it is common to hear people assert that “All humans are God’s children.” The biblical evidence for this assertion is Acts 17:29 where Paul does call all humans God’s “offspring” (genos=descendant), which is like calling Henry Ford the “father” of the Model T. The Bible reserves all the richness of the term “children of God” only for those who have received Christ as Savior and Lord.
“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12
The status of God’s child is given to those who receive Him. No one has it naturally except Jesus Christ.
Historical Christianity has taught that Jesus was the Son of God, God incarnate (made flesh). If that’s true then it’s fair to expect some evidence to back it up. It’s fair to ask, “Did Jesus act like God? Did he do the things God alone is able to do?” The answer to these questions is a resounding: “YES!”
- He was prophesied (Isaiah 9:6-7 and many others).
- He performed miracles (John 10:25 and many others).
- He taught with authority (Matthew 7:28-29 and many others).
- He had supernatural knowledge (Matthew 21:1-3; 24:1-2; 26:17-35 and many others).
- He was sinless (John 8:46; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22).
- He was one with the Father (John 1:1-5, 18; 3:35-36; 10:25-30; 14:1-11).
- He accepted worship (Luke 5:8-9; 7:36-50; 19:35-40 and many others).