A Fresh Look at My Role in Christianity

Week 4, Part 4 in the Series: “Christianity From a Fresh Perspective”

 

Jesus,Please give me the ability to see you through childlike eyes, full of wonder. Help me to recognize your lavish kindness toward me; and bend my knee to you who are the only source o

What if I daily treated Jesus as the most important person in the world? What if I believed my relationship with him through prayer, Bible reading, and worship was the most important thing I could do all day? What would happen if I took what precious little time I have in a day and gave some of it to him as a gift? What if I stopped trying to gain more knowledge, or buy his favor, and just enjoyed him?

How would my life change if as I read his Word, I asked Jesus to show me:

  • Who He, the Father, and the Spirit really are – not just who I think they are.
  • His power for my life – what that looks like today, not just 2000 years ago.
  • His promises and gifts – and how he intends they are to impact my life and the lives of those I love.
  • How he longs to convict, lead, and comfort me in my current circumstances.

How would my life and the lives around me change if when I prayed I first asked how he would have me pray for my needs, my circumstances, and the needs of those around me?

What if I asked him to show me how he blesses my life – to open my eyes to the daily gifts I don’t see. And what if I then took time to thank him, and recount those gifts to him often?

What would happen if I had the boldness to make these requests:

  • This situation______________________is way beyond me. Please show me your power.
  • I feel hopeless, please show me your love and goodness.
  • I can’t change, please change me!
  • I’m not even sure you exist – if you are real, show me!

What if I then trusted God to come through? What if I then chose to yield to Him and let go of my control?

I know what would happen – my life would change. Because I would be asking the only One able to change my life to do so, and then let him do it.

What if then I asked for the boldness to tell someone else what I’ve seen and heard? How would that change my world?

I know the answer to that as well – by the power and love of Jesus Christ through us, the world would slowly change, one person at a time.

I know, because I have seen and and heard and can testify – that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and he has not only the power, but the desire to change lives and set captives free. He’s doing so for me and for many around me daily. (I John 1:3 NLT)

This song beautifully portraits our role in Christianity –

Ashes Remain, “All Of Me”

With great longing for the Giver of the gospel,

Robin <3

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Fresh Look At A Relationship With Jesus

WEEK THREE OF FIVE IN “CHRISTIANITY FROM A FRESH PERSPECTIVE”

Jesus,Please give me the ability to see you through childlike eyes, full of wonder. Help me to recognize your lavish kindness toward me; and bend my knee to you who are the only source o

Jesus is light and life, lavishing gifts on those who seek him, opening blind eyes and setting captives free! (John 1, Luke 4) Yet only only 4 years ago I heard for the first time

“When you choose to follow Jesus, He’ll change your life. Expect it.”

With all my years in church, why had I never heard such bold statements?

I spoke with a fellow believer not long ago, telling her what I’m seeing and hearing as men and women’s lives are being changed by the power of the gospel at the church I now attend. She stated, “Wow, I’m so glad people are turning their lives around.” I was stunned as I realized she and I had totally missed the point.

Before these life-giving words, I expected when someone met Jesus, He would give them a new heart. What that meant was, they would now want to please God, and so would make every effort to do so. It never occurred to me the gospel taught otherwise, and meant so much more.

The focus of my Christian walk used to answer the following questions:

  • What am I to do to follow Jesus?
  • What am I to give in devotion to Jesus?
  • What am I to believe? (Studying the Bible for how I’m to live.)
  • How do I please God, for all Christ has done for me?

These questions aren’t wrong, and are necessary to ask. But notice all the “I’s“? When the focus of my Christian walk is on “me” and what I bring to Christ, rather than on Jesus, I lose sight of the wonder, awe, and power of the gospel to change lives.

With that single statement four years ago, my focus slowly began to change as I realized

The gospel isn’t about what I can give Jesus. It’s about who Jesus is and all He’s given me!

  • Here is a glimpse of all Jesus gives those who truly seek him:
  • His life, no matter the cost. (Romans 5:6-9 NIV)
  • His love, no matter who I am. (Ephesians 2:8-10 NIV)
  • His power to transform my life, no matter my past. (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)
  • His forgiveness, no matter how I fail. (1 John 1:9)
  • His Spirit, filling me with power to change, no matter how unable I am to change on my own. (Romans 8:11 NLT)
  • His Word to nourish, guide, and correct, no matter how dark life is around me. (Deuteronomy 8:3, Psalm 119:105, Hebrews 4:12)
  • His promises to sustain me and rescue me from the world’s destruction, no matter how I’ve messed things up. (2 Peter 1:4)
  • His adoption, granting me a new family, no matter my biological roots. (Romans 8:15)
  • His hope for a new future, no matter what my current circumstances. (Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 8:28)
  • His forever home where there will be no more tears, no matter what life is like now. (Luke 23:32-43)

It’s really all about Jesus.

What is my part? Allow him this work. Embrace Him. Yield to Him. Trust him, no matter how hard life may be at times. Rest in who he is, knowing he is as powerful and loving as he claimed.

With gratitude for the power of the gospel,

Robin <3

A Fresh Look at Jesus

 

Jesus,Please give me the ability to see you through childlike eyes, full of wonder. Help me to recognize your lavish kindness toward me; and bend my knee to you who are the only source o

WEEK TWO OF FIVE IN THE SERIES: “CHRISTIANITY FROM A FRESH PERSPECTIVE”

If we are going to take a fresh look at Christianity, then we must begin with how we view the One we worship and the message he came to proclaim.

Over the last 4 years I’ve had the opportunity to take my own fresh look. And although I met Jesus at 4 years old (and am now 58), and have been walking with him since – what I’m discovering has radically changed my life and walk. Even if you have walked with Jesus many years, please join me in taking a fresh look at this One who came to earth 2000 years ago for the purpose of restoring a relationship between God and man.

For those of us who’ve walked with Jesus any length of time, we can become immune to that which once captivated us. So before I begin, let me pray.

“Lord, protect us from boredom and from thinking “I already know this.” Rather, give us the heart of a child to see you from young eyes. Remove any hardening of the heart and any staleness. Breath your fresh, living Spirit upon these words so as we read them, we would we feel your wind blow life onto any parched ground. And give us a fresh longing to know you in all your majesty. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

WHO IS JESUS?

John the Baptist, a man sent from God to prepare the people for Jesus’ coming, described Jesus in John 1 in this way:

  • The only life-giving, creative Word – whose very words powerfully spoke the world into existence, and who continually speaks life into his creation
  • God of very God over all life and creation
  • The only Light, so powerfully bright it quenches the blackest darkness in universe and heart
  • One so great he could demand allegiance, yet chose not to force himself, accepting the rejection of his very own people
  • The One who lovingly embraces any who come and receive Him, granting them the honor of becoming part of his grand family – re-birthing them not because of any man’s decision, but by His Father’s decree
  • One so limitless, but yet chose to subject himself to the confines of human birth and existence. And living with us, among us – he allows humanity to see and touch glory
  • The One who fills our lives with his fullness, giving us the ability to experience abundant and overflowing grace and truth (Greek: kindness and reality)
  • The One who in making himself known, revealed God
  • The Lord (master); so perfect and flawless – yet he chose to sacrifice himself to pay the penalty due for the rebellion of his subjects
  • The One the Spirit of God descended upon at his baptism, thereby God declaring him “God’s Chosen One”
  • The One who fills us (his children) with that same Spirit (John 16:1-16 NLT; Romans 8:11 ESV)

Meditate on John’s description of Jesus. Don’t quickly brush by him. Then ask yourself: Do I recognize Him as he truly is – the One full of power and might, life and light, grace and truth – all things we desperately need to live? Do I act in a way that represents such great power, might, glory, and grace truthfully to my world?

WHY DID JESUS COME?

Luke 4, (especially verses 18-21). After being baptized, Jesus spent 40 days in the desert alone with God, also being tempted by Satan. The Bible says, after the 40 days, he returned to his hometown, Nazareth, filled with the Spirit. He entered the Synagogue on the Sabbath (the day of worship for Jews), which was his custom, and was given the opportunity to read the scriptures and then teach those who’d gathered.

As Jesus read and spoke from Isaiah 61, he proclaimed why he came to earth:

The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him.21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” 

22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked. (emphasis mine)

Do we see Jesus’ heart in coming to earth? Do we believe and long for the world to experience what was most on his heart, or do we respond as those did that day “He’s a good man with amazing words!”

Do we view Jesus as One with authority and power able to release those held captive, to set the oppressed free, and cause the blind (in life and in spirit) to see? Or do we act as though he is only “Joseph’s son”?

As I look at these few verses, and there are so many more, I’m struck with three things:

  1. I don’t really see Jesus as he is, and want to.
  2. I don’t live as though I believe he has the power today to release those held captive, set the oppressed free, and make the blind to see, through me.
  3. If I intimately knew Jesus as John did, and lived as though Jesus were who he claimed to be, my life and the world around me would be transformed.

Lord Jesus, please change my heart and mind. Grant me the ability to not only see you with fresh eyes, but to be transformed by knowing you. May I become your “skin” so as to become freedom and healing to a dark, imprisoned, hopelessly blind world. In Jesus’ name, amen.

So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. John 8:36 (NLT)

With great joy because of the message of the Gospel,

Robin <3

You may also appreciate reading: Christianity from a Fresh Perspective and Power to Give Life 

 

 

Power to Give Life

 

No one had ever raised themselves from the dead before.

Yet, after Jesus was crucified and buried in a borrowed tomb, 3 days later his tomb turned up empty.  The Roman soldiers who had been assigned to guard the tomb of the itinerant Jewish rabbi, returned to the temple leaders and exclaimed what they had seen. They were given a large sum of money as a bribe and told to tell no one, but instead spread the rumor that Jesus’ disciples had come and stolen the body in the dead of night while they were asleep. (Matthew 28:12-15)

Anyone who could raise themselves from the dead must be God.

—–

Lee Strobel, was a Legal Editor and an Investigative Journalist for The Chicago Tribune. In 1980, he was also a devout atheist, and had been since he was a teenager. He’d studied law at Yale, and believed that since he saw no proof of a god of any kind, there were therefore no inherent morals and virtues, and so lived accordingly, in hedonism.

His wife, Leslie was an agnostic, and several years after their marriage, met a woman who lived in the same housing complex, who was a follower of Jesus.  The two of them became friends, and Leslie began to attend church with her new friend, where she became a devout Jesus follower.

After telling Lee, he became very antagonistic toward her and her newfound faith. So much so, he began a series of investigations that led him on a 2 year journey throughout the world to disprove the fact Jesus rose from the dead, since a Christian friend had told him if Jesus hadn’t raised from the dead, the Christian faith was nothing.

Jesus’ resurrection means everything.

Lee used his training as a lawyer and a journalist to cross-examine experts and written accounts of the resurrection, looking at the historical, personal, and medical records, as well as eye witness accounts of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. He investigated both biblical and non-biblical sources.  After 2 years of scrutinizing the evidence, Lee came to the conclusion that not only the death and burial of Jesus were irrefutable, but also the resurrection itself.

He also concluded, unlike the rabbis long ago, if Jesus rose from the dead, he must be God as he claimed.  If he was God, then he must be worshiped as God.

He states in the video, upon confessing Jesus to be who he said he was, he saw no change in his life. However, he shortly thereafter read a verse in the Bible:

John 1:12 (NIV)

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—

He realized that he must not only believe Jesus is God, but also receive the gift Jesus offered him of forgiveness and a new life.  Belief must be accompanied by action.

He then confessed his own rebellion against God (sin) and made the choice to receive Jesus’ gift of life and forgiveness.  He said that immediately he knew he was forgiven of his hedonistic lifestyle, and his life was altered forever.  He goes on to say, that his and Leslie’s decision changed not only their lives, but also the course of their entire family.

Lee’s story is recorded in the movie “Case For Christ” as well as in his book of the same name. Below is a video (about 40 minutes long) of his story of turning from a devout, atheist to a follower of Jesus Christ.  As with the movie of Josh McDowell (on a post last week), this video is well worth watching.  Their stories are very different, but their transformations equally profound.

Jesus died to pay for our rebellion against God.  He rose because God accepted his sacrifice.  Because he rose from the dead, he defeated death, and sin once and for all. Anyone who can do that proves that they have the power to give life.  He’s proven who he is and what he is able to do.

The real question is, “What will you do?”

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT)

I would love to hear your comments about the two videos this and last week.  Thank you so much for coming to the table.

With much love and prayers,

Robin <3

p.s. A thank you for the interview with the Strobels on “Christian Media Magazine“. Through their article, I was able to obtain some of the information needed to complete this post.

True Relief

When I’m struggling, it’s too easy for me to look for relief in the wrong place, or to assume relief would come if only…….

The Jewish people had been under Roman rule long enough.  Most of their history they’d been under someone’s rule.  If only Messiah (leader/savior in Hebrew) would come!  He would be the kind of ruler that could crush Rome.

There were rumors that a young man from Nazareth was healing the sick all over the region. When he spoke, it was with the authority of God, unlike the daily fare the people were used to from the local religious leaders.  Why, even the demons obeyed and fled at his word!

Also, unlike the religious leaders, he spent time with everyday folk.  He loved even those any good Jew would consider “unclean”.  Tax Collectors, lepers, prostitutes. Why, among his closest followers were local fishermen, former tax collectors, and political zealots!

So much of what he said and did sounded like something the Messiah would say and do. His authority was reminiscent of the prophets of old.  Could this be the Messiah the Torah scriptures had foretold hundreds of years ago?

He’d even fed 5000 hungry men, along with women and children, after teaching them for hours, with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.  Thinking he might be “the One”, crowds hounded, wanting to make him king by force.  They could get behind a king who could dole out food like they’d just seen!

However, Jesus told them their priorities were wrong – rather than clamoring for him to feed their bellies, they needed him to feed their souls and spirits, for he himself was the bread that would satisfy their deepest need.

——

The people thronged Jesus, but the religious leaders were more and more antagonistic, the atmosphere becoming volatile.  Jesus  spoke of  life and freedom found only through following him.  He spoke of the opportunity, through him, to actually have an intimate relationship with God; unlike those who passed themselves off as God’s representatives. The religious leaders demanded their converts keep rules and regulations piled deep, meant to keep people in line.  There was, with them, no talk of intimacy with God, nor freedom.

Amazingly, Jesus backed all he said with a power and authority only God could give.  His miracles were more numerous than could be written.  Yet he was humble.  Nothing like the leaders they were accustomed to daily.

He even proclaimed himself to be the Messiah whom they’d waited for.  His converts and their changed lives attested to the truth of his claims.  Why, even his cousin, John, who’d been baptizing people in the Jordan for years said he was given a vision from God stating Jesus was who he claimed.

—–

Jesus knew he’d come for battle, but not one that would win him political contests.  His battle wasn’t with religious leaders or political ideologies.  He’d come to battle the serpent who’d long ago urged Adam and Eve (and all since) to rebel his heavenly Father’s authority.  His very life was part of the battle – as God in human flesh, he exhibited daily, through lavish grace and love, the character of his heavenly Father, dispelling the serpent’s lies spoken long ago in mankind’s ears.  He set captives free from sin and its consequences by speaking truth with healing power, transforming the lives of those who’d been caught in the serpent’s chains.

He was and claimed to be God in flesh, but never acted on his own for his own benefit. His whole earthly life was one act of obedience to his Heavenly Father.  “He learned obedience by the things he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8 NLT) Many times he could have used his authority as God’s Son to destroy his enemies. Rather, he chose to love them.  He could have proclaimed himself king a million times over, with grand gestures of power and might, but rather he humbled himself like a servant.

All to restore a relationship long ago broken by mankind’s rebellion.

Now, he would finish the battle.  Now was time to once and for all crush the serpent’s head.  One last blow.

Yet, it wouldn’t be as anyone would imagine.  Great warriors slay their adversaries and walk away.  Yet, this time, the great warrior would die.  He had to.

Jesus came not to temporarily relieve us but to permanently free us, at the cost of his own life.

Tomorrow, “The Battle”

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

You may also be interested in reading:  One of Us

p.s.  If you are interested in the scriptures used to write today’s entry, please go to the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the New Testament of the Bible. John is a wonderful book to start with.  Each book was written either by men who witnessed the events personally, or with Luke, a physician who heard eye-witness accounts.

 

 

The Arrival

There have been times in my life when I just wanted someone to come and restore sanity! Life was hard and I didn’t feel strong enough to continue under the weight.  All of us have felt that way at one time or another.

From the time of God’s intervention in the garden, hundreds of years had passed.  Life was hard. The people of Israel, the nation whom God had chosen to fulfill the promise, and to whom the promise had been passed down, waited.  They often found themselves in a position of slavery, for one reason or another.  Not that God wasn’t with them, but because of their choices.

Throughout those many hundreds of years, God reminded them over and over, at times when they needed it most, he hadn’t forgotten them.  He’d even sent prophets to point them back to him when they’d gone their own way.  These prophets spoke God’s words to the people of Israel, and any other nation who would listen, proclaiming one day, He’d send a great King to rule and reign, restoring peace.  The people of Israel assumed this king would come as most other kings came – with great pomp and ceremony, proclaiming his power and might boldly.

God rarely does anything the way we assume.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
    “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so my ways are higher than your ways
    and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9 (NLT)

Finally…the time…had come…

All was ready…the right people…the right circumstances…

All was in place…

An elderly couple had long given up hope of ever bearing a child.  As Zechariah, a priest in the Temple in Jerusalem, went about his daily duties, an angel appeared and told him his wife Elizabeth would soon conceive and bear a son. They were to name him John.  He would become the one whom God had promised would prepare the people for the coming of the long promised Messiah (a Hebrew word for leader/savior). (Luke 1:5-25 NLT)

Just a short time later, a young woman from the town of Nazareth, named Mary, a virgin, went about her daily tasks as usual, until an angel of God interrupted and gave her the news she would bear the Son of God (the seed from Genesis 3) within the next 9 months. (Luke 1:26-38 NLT)

Not many weeks later, Joseph, Mary’s fiance, learned she was pregnant.  He, being a godly man, became very troubled by her perceived unfaithfulness.  After much thought, he chose to divorce her quietly rather than have her go through public humiliation.  That was the plan until an angel intervened in a dream, letting him know Mary hadn’t been unfaithful, but in fact was carrying the promised Messiah. (Matthew 1:18-24 NLT)

Nine months later, as Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem to register for the census decreed by the Roman Emperor, Augustus, Mary’s body told her the child would come soon.  No one would give them lodging, but Joseph found a place in a nearby stable. There she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.  They named him Jesus (which in Hebrew means Jehovah (one of God’s names) saves, and is generous), as Joseph had been told to do by the angel. (Luke 2:1-7, Matthew 1:20,21 both NLT)

God had long waited the coming of the One who would restore fully his relationship with mankind.  The night had finally arrived, and all heaven sang out the joyous news!

“Don’t be afraid!” he [the angel] said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,
    and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” 

Luke 2:10-14 (NLT)

The same message rings through time to us –

“Don’t be afraid.  The Savior has come!” He may not come to us in the way we expect, but the restorer, the champion of mankind has come.  God didn’t abandon us in our rebellion.  He made a way.  Praise Him!

We will finish out the week with the Battle he waged to win our freedom in the midst of struggle.

With love,

Robin <3

You may also enjoy, “Look For God’s Gifts

Let Me Introduce…My Greatest Encourager

I realize many who will visit are familiar with blogging, but for the sake of those who aren’t, I’d like to continue the virtual tour I began yesterday.  This also affords me the opportunity for any who regularly visit, to see the changes, as they aren’t in a post format.

Thank you to those who stopped by yesterday, and I look forward to today’s continued tour! 🙂  And welcome once again to my home on the blog sphere!

Please follow me to the “Introduction” portion of the menu.  Hover over it and you will find a true introduction of the author of the blog – me, as well as an introduction of my main contributor and encourager.  I am very grateful for the hope, help, life, and peace that my Lord Jesus gives, and as I state in the “Introducing Me” page, I would never choose to do life without him. Because I love him so dearly, and because He has given me the wonderful life I possess, I have taken the opportunity to Introduce Jesus, for any who may visit me and find themselves intrigued by this One.

I won’t take up any more of your time today – but please take a moment to sit back and read a bit about me, and the One whom I consider to be my main encourager!

With love,

Robin <3