Archive for March, 2013


Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. John 20:1

Mary-at-empty-tomb

Mary was astonished to see the stone rolled away. She had come expecting to find the corpse of Jesus, and now she was disappointed. Who had taken him away? What cruel prank was this? She told the disciples, and Peter and John were bold enough to risk capture by going to the tomb. They looked closer, but returned home, although John recorded that what he saw made him believe something else had occurred.

Mary was still bewildered, and stood outside the tomb sobbing and wailing uncontrollably. Where had they taken his body? She saw someone standing there, and peering closely, concluded it was just a laborer, probably the gardener. Had her faculties of sight altered? Was her sight obscured by all her tears?

No, Jesus had changed, for He had been resurrected! The means of knowing Jesus had changed as well! Only through Him speaking to her did Mary know Him, and so we find the truth of divine revelation. We can search for God all we want, but we will never, never find Him if we are seeking to know Him in the flesh. When Mary rushed to hug Jesus, He said, “do not touch me.” He had truly changed, and there was to be a new way of knowing Him, a way which transcends the senses, a way which transforms our lives.

The inner clarity of recognition that came to Mary when she heard Him call her name, she could not explain in human terms. She just knew, and that was enough. And so it is with our knowing Jesus the Christ. You can watch all the movies and read all the stories about Jesus, but that is all He will be to you, a fanciful story or amazing leader. Your life will be the same. You can never truly know Jesus with your physical senses. But when Jesus speaks to your heart, and you willingly respond to Him as Lord, your life will be changed! There will be no mistake about it! The resurrection will be no magical story, for it will be the reality of your life! This is what Paul said when he proclaimed, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection.”

mary weeping outside tombMary wept. Seeking a corpse, she mistook Jesus for a common person. Many of us mistake Jesus as someone common, not the life-changing Son of God that He actually is. We all have things that we cry over, struggle with or feel stressed about. We may reach a deadlock, a dead-end, and feel as if there is no possible way out. Only when we reach the end of our fleshly strength will we be ready to listen to His voice. When you realize that you need God, need to know His resurrection power, be quiet, for you are likely to hear Him calling you. You can search for Him with all your might, but He can never be found in the strength of your flesh. He has changed! He has risen. He is known only in the Spirit now, and your flesh wars with the Spirit.

Christ “after the flesh” was crucified. Knowing Him in that way results in a corpse vainly searching for another corpse. Mary searched in her flesh and knew not the Resurrected Christ. When her tears were drained, and she was at the end of herself, she was ready to hear His voice. Are you still relying on your own strength and abilities? Are you seeking to know Jesus after the flesh? Give it up, lay aside who you think He is, humble yourself before Him, and ask to hear His voice. Only when you give up on the flesh is the Spirit ready to take over. And the Spirit delights in making Jesus Christ known to your heart!


Slide23John chapter 12 follows an ever-popular Jesus into the final days of His walk on earth. The Cross is confronting Him, weighing heavily on his mind. His close disciples and friends seem oblivious to what is before Him, even though He has told them many times before. His emotions must be running high. In John 11 we see him breaking out in tears after John describes Him as being troubled in spirit. Luke 19:41 describes Him weeping over the people of Jerusalem. Jesus admits that He is troubled in John 12. Why does He weep?, why is He troubled?

Could it be the Cross that looms before Him? Could it be the way His friends and disciples seem oblivious to His deity, His power over life and death? I think it was all of this weighing heavily upon His heart, His heart that carried the great reservoir of God’s love for mankind. A heart that wept at their blindness to God’s love. A heart that wept at their blindness to who He really was, and what He was about to do.

God wants us to peer into the heart of Christ by focusing on a minute moment in Christ’s life that is recorded in the latter half of John 12. This is the moment following His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, which followed hours after His resurrection of Lazarus from the dead. This was at the height of His popularity with the masses. They were declaring Him King after the line of David! He could have demanded whatever He wanted, and the crowd and His disciples would have immediately obeyed. Yet in this moment, Jesus chose to hide himself and disappear. Why? What can we learn from Him? What does He want us to grasp for our lives?

People around Jesus (1)In John 12:17-43, we find 4 groups of people circling Jesus Christ, the indicted man-God, the immortal God-man. We see a group of intoxicated people, a group of Incredulous people, a group of interested people, and finally a group of Influential people.

Let us look at these folks, and consider the words and reaction of Jesus Christ, and then explore the ramification for our lives in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Intoxicated

The Crowd was wild about King Jesus!
  • Vs 9 – When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. John 12:9
  • Vs 13 – So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” John 12:13
  • Vs 17 – The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign.

It seemed as all Jerusalem was hailing Jesus as King! He had achieved rock-star status! They were declaring Him a King after the lineage of David! And Jesus refused to discredit their cries. When the Pharisees told Him to rebuke his disciples, he declared “I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” (Luke 19:40)

intoxicated-crowd1-If you can imagine the drunken, drug-fueled crowds at some Rock concerts, I would imagine this crowd would not be too different (minus the drugs and booze).

What attitudes would you have had if you were part of this crowd?

I imagine you would be jubilant because you imagined a better life with Jesus as King.

Gone would be the iron boots of Roman soldiers. Taxes would be lower. Your way of live would not be restricted.

You would think that Jesus would improve your life and so you were excited. After all, He had this amazing power; He could raise the dead back to life, He could turn water into wine and a tiny lunch into a feast for thousands. You wanted to join His parade, because it meant a better life for you! So yeah, you joined the bandwagon and bowed before Him as King! He was the King you wanted and needed! Yeah!

Incredulous

Incredulous-men1Pharisees can’t figure out this Jesus fascination

Vs 19 – So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.” John 12:19

We find another group, smaller, but more important. They are the religious leaders of all Israel, and they are the real power reigning in Jerusalem. They rule in the shadows, openly pretending to be righteous, but secretly revealing their greed and lust for power. They cannot believe what the people are saying. They are incredulous that the populace is following an ignorant, uneducated man from a town like Nazareth. They sense their power and influence being usurped, and they despise this Jesus. They despise him so much they will soon hatch a plot to murder him.

What attitudes would you have if you were an incredulous Pharisee?

I imagine you would be incredibly self-focused. Your world would mean everything to you, your power, wealth and influence. You loved the way people regarded your ‘status’ and all the perks that went with your position. You looked down your nose at this Jesus, because he really was nothing, of no importance. He could not hold a candle to your pedigree, training and wealth.

He probably had gotten into your head though. You remember those confrontations, those things he had said that made you so boiling mad. You tried to shut him out of your life, so much so that now you resented even the sight of Him. The only way to stop him from threatening your nice privileged life was to get rid of him. He was of no consequence, after all, and soon the crowds would move on to some other fascination.

Interested

interested-man-person-looking-through-binocularsGreeks wanted to see Jesus…

Vs 20 – Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” John 12:20-21

We see another group of folks, strangers to the religious Jews. They share some of their beliefs, but they are more worldly, more educated, less likely to rush foolishly after someone like the Jewish crowd was. They were more in control of their lives. After-all, they were more ‘enlightened’. However, they had heard such marvelous stories about the Jesus. They had heard of countless miracles, of teachings that were so ‘outside the box’. They desired to further enlighten their lives by meeting with him, by getting a sense of whether the stories were true. Perhaps he would see how important they were and honor them with some of His wisdom.

What attitudes would you have had if you were one of these Greeks seeking an audience with Jesus?

I imagine you thought pretty highly of yourself. You considered yourself above these mendicant Jews. You were more worldly, more advantaged, but you wondered if Jesus should be a part of your world. After all, you considered God as important, especially when it came to your standing and consideration as an ‘enlightened’ free-thinker.

You thought you should at least see how Jesus could benefit your worldly standing. Plus, your friends would be jealous when you told them you had secured a private audience with Jesus!

Influential

The disciples

influential people1It is no coincidence that the visiting Greeks approached Philip to secure an audience with Jesus. People of importance never did anything themselves, they always used an intermediary. They recognized Philip from the old neighborhood, and perhaps even knew him. They saw that he was in the inner circle of Jesus, so would be influential in getting them that meeting.

The Disciples indeed were the “gatekeepers” of Jesus. They were with Him wherever he went. People around them recognized their influence, and the disciples were starting to realize their position. There had already been arguments about who would have the greatest influence when Jesus began His reign. This week must have been intoxicating as well to the fleshly disciples. To be a part of this madness, this idolization of Jesus would have had their ego’s swelling with pride!

What attitudes would you have had if you were one of these influential disciples?

I imagine you would have felt quite good about your decision to follow Jesus. After all, it had been quite a hardship to give up everything to follow him. Now you could feel the possibilities of fame and standing. You could imagine yourself reigning beside Him, perhaps as a governor or mayor. Your life was about to take a drastic turn and you were getting excited. People would whisper about you, come up to you and ask “are you one of His disciples?” Proudly you would declare your position with Him. They would ask you all sorts of questions about Him. If there had been paparazzi back then, your face would have been in all the magazines.

Yes, your attitude would have been pretty good about your decision to follow Jesus right now. After all, it had greatly benefitted your life.

Indicted

Jesus of Nazareth

Indicted-ManWe find one more person who is central to this passage, Jesus Christ. I prefer to refer to Him as the Indicted one, for He stands in their midst fully aware that He is a condemned man. Oh, He did nothing wrong, but He has willingly agreed to bear the full weight of all the sins of mankind. He has confessed the crimes and now faces the sentence, crucifixion upon the Cross.

Some argue that He was a helpless pawn, but His words in response to Philip and Andrews request for a private audience with the Greeks reveal His full knowledge of what was going on.

Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”

Was Jesus influenced by the adulation? Was His head swelling with the possibilities of His new-found popularity? Was He already picking His Kingdom advisors? NO! Jesus, even with His emotions swirling, was totally focused on His mission-to save mankind from the horrors of the judgment of Hell, and usher them to true life-eternal life with His Father, God.

He began by saying something that His disciples and anyone else listening would never understand. He declared that “the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” I can just see the disciples trying to restrain their excitement. But Jesus meant something just the opposite of what they imagined. Jesus spoke of His death by crucifixion, the most shameful and horrible manner of death at that time. There was no ‘glory’ in being crucified. The disciples were so intoxicated with possibilities that they would never believe Jesus was about to be crucified.

The Indicted Son of Man made a startling declaration, one which all the groups surrounding Him were unable to understand. Jesus declared, “Whoever loves his life loses it and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” Each group featured in this microcosm of those in the Life of Christ was there because they loved their life. The Intoxicated were there because they wanted Jesus to improve their life. The Pharisees were there because they wanted to protect their life. The Greeks were there because they wanted to increase their life, and the Disciples were there thinking they were about to really enjoy life.

Jesus was there because He wanted to give people real life, but real life would only come though His death. His death must precede His glorification. His death must precede His gift of Life for mankind.

This is why Jesus said: “And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”

Why was Jesus Here?

I believe that what even most Christians miss from this exchange is that Jesus did not come to this Earth for our benefit, for His benefit, or even to be crucified. All of these happened, but the truth of His coming is revealed in this one phrase, “for this purpose I have come to this hour; Father, glorify your name.”

Most translations put a period after “I have come to this hour.” The casual reader infers that Jesus came for the purpose of crucifixion, of death. However, the Greek is quite clear. The statement “Father, glorify your name is the cause of His ‘purpose’.

Explained by glorify thy name. For this use, namely, that the Father’s name might be glorified[1].

Jesus came to this world to glorify the Name of His Father! Why? Because He and His Father were one!

  • I and my Father are one. John 10:30
  • And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. John 17:11
  • That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. John 17:21

How could Jesus bring glory to His Father? He emptied himself, and then humbled himself to death, death on the cross:

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:5-9

Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. John 12:23-33

Why Did Jesus Hide?

Knowing His ultimate motivation, why was Jesus troubled so? Why was He so emotional? Why did He hide himself from His disciples and adoring public?

Could He have been troubled because the people did not connect Him with His Father? Could He have been troubled because His disciples failed to understand His relationship with the invisible Father?

Could He have been troubled because they could not see His Father because they were so focused on their own lives?

Could He have hid Himself because He did not want the people to focus on Him, but rather He wanted them to see the Father?

What is the Lesson for us?

see-jesus-crucified-for-youAll those who truly follow Christ will know one day, but now we can only speculate. I believe that there is a ‘take-away’ here, one that is vital to our growth as true followers of Christ.

If we want to really “see Jesus”, we must die to our lives, and give ourselves without reservation to the will and glory of God. If we value anything of our lives above God and His glory, then we will not see Jesus. He will withdraw from our lives, and go into hiding.

God is jealous of our attention and devotion. Too often we say we love Him and follow Him but we are really doing it because of some perceived benefit. We want a God who is always at our side, who is always there for us no matter how much we sin against Him. We want a God who accepts us as we are and doesn’t want to change us or demand too much of us. We follow a God on our terms, not His.

If this is true of our interest, then we are fooling ourselves. We may have all the forms of godliness, but we are in denial about the true power thereof. There can be no godliness apart from the holiness of God in our lives. That is only possible as we die to what we want and live for His glory.

Christ did that and proved it by His obedience. When we do it we prove it by living IN CHRIST! But before we can live in Christ we must die to our life, our wants, and our selfish interests.

Is God Distant to You?

Does God seem distant to you? Do you wonder about the mess you are in? Are you troubled because God doesn’t seem to care?

The truth is that He may have hidden Himself from your life. He is waiting for you to get to the point where you hate this life and are willing to die to yourself, and finally willing to live in Jesus Christ. After all, Jesus said, “I am the Way the Truth and the Life; no man comes to the Father but by me!”

Immortal

Jesus Christ is the Way of Eternity

There was another person there in the crowd. He was the Immortal One. All the folks saw him as Jesus, but God saw Him as Immortal. He would live forever at His side, for He would overcome.

Regardless of your attitude toward Jesus Christ: intoxicated, incredulous, interested or one who thinks you are one of His; He will hide from your life as long as you are in it for yourself. Until you experience the Cross, and die to what you want or desire, He will remain distant, even hidden.

If you should ever take the serious step of actually experiencing the Cross, then you shall experience Jesus Christ! The glory of the Father will be open to you; the power of the Father will be upon you; for the Cross, the ugly curse of the Cross that Jesus gave Himself to for the Glory of His Father, is actually wisdom and power of God!

The Cross – a Great Mystery

cross-silhouetteThis is the great mystery hidden to all those in the crowd that day. This is what Paul meant when he penned:

But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 1 Corinthians 2:7

The wisdom of God is hidden in the Cross. You will never experience His wisdom until you experience the Cross for yourself. The Cross is the key to you experiencing the Glory of God!

What are you seeking from Jesus today? A better life, an influential life, a better status or acceptance? Perhaps you are satisfied with what you have. Regardless of what you are seeking or not seeking, you will lose everything at the judgment. The only way to gain the Life that Jesus holds is to die to your life, your wisdom, your riches and your might.

Consider carefully His Words of Life:

And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” John 12:44-50


[1] Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, (New York: Scribners, 1887), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “John 12:27”.

 

Read this past post: “Do You Really Want to See Jesus?

and this:”Do You See Jesus”


Modern American Christianity and First Century Jesus Christ Christianity can mean two different things.​ Most American Christians consider Paul a fanatic, but they understand his fanaticism in light of the need of developing a new ‘religion.’ Paul would probably be considered too extreme in most American churches. Most Pastor’s have encountered Paul ‘wannabees’ and have watched them flame-on and then fizzle out. Most mainline Pastor’s have seen the need to be ‘spot-on’ with regard to their congregants. Not too extreme in either direction. It seems in America the best pastor’s are the most ‘liked’ pastors. Ask the average church member about their pastor and they will say, “he is such a great guy!”

Paul desired to know Christ and Him crucified on the CrossThe thing which would have made Paul an unlikely American Christian pastor is one statement that he made, and which he lived by. It is a statement that seems to be missing in most American Christian churches. As such, it is missing in normal “American Christianity.” 

Paul remarked to the Corinthian church:

“For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified”. (1 Cor 2:2)

Paul followed a crucified Savior. In those days NO ONE followed anyone who had been crucified. To be crucified brought shame on all the relatives and family. You did not even mention crucifixion in polite society conversations. It was the same as if your father was a convicted pedophile, or a John Wayne Gacy. You would change your name, never mention your relationship to such a heinous character. The statement that Paul made would send shudders down the back of “decent folks.” For Paul to say what he said ment he was drawing a line in all his relationships and ministry functions. That line centered upon the Cross. Paul lived his life, engaged his ministry and related to folks in the shadow of the Cross. 

American Christianity has taken the shame of the Cross and covered it with gold or silver. It is a pretty talisman we wear on our neck or put on our car. The meaning of the Cross has been lost. The Cross is about shame and about humility. It is about the power of God and not the power of the flesh. There was no boasting at the cross, no stylish clothing, no vanity, and certainly no latte’s. ​

Gal-6_14-Cross The difference between 21st century American Christianity and Paul’s Christianity centers upon the power of one thing-the Cross! The reason Paul was so jealous and passionate about the Cross is that he understood it was the Power of God! There could be no power to transform, no power to resurrect, no power to build a Christ-centered church apart from the Power of the Cross!​ So Paul, to a fractured and powerless but socially acceptable church at Corinth exclaimed with all his passion:

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Cor 1:17-18)

A Pretty Cross​The difference between modern American Christianity can be seen by what we hold dear. Paul held a bloody and shameful Cross proudly as he reached out to a sinful and dying world. American churches have changed the Cross into a bright and shiny steeple or a stylish Cross. We hold out a stylish, likable Jesus as we reach out to a sinful and dying world. We want them to come to a trendy comfortable building where they will find excitement and practical advice for their busy lives.

Paul would simply smile and so, that is so Corinthian. You are missing the point of following Christ. If it doesn’t begin at the Cross, it doesn’t begin at all. The Cross is the Power of God unto Salvation.​

This Passion week is all about the Cross. Are you holding onto the Cross? Have you died to your life and your way? Have you exchanged your sinful life for the Righteous life of the Lord Jesus Christ.? That only happens when you understand the shame and ignominy of the Cross, and accept it as your own. Paul lived for Christ, not as a fanatic, but as one who knew his life was not his own, for it was bought with a price. That price was paid at the Cross.

So go ahead and drink your cup of latte. Please, never forget that Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath for you. What are you willing to do for Him? All He asks is that you give him your life by dying at the Cross, and then seeking to know Him as your ‘crucified’ Lord!​


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 


Great tribulation is comingMost people miss the point of what Jesus was telling his disciples about the time of His return. Let’s listen in on their conversation:

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Matthew 24:36-39

Most people fixate on trying to figure if our day is as evil as in Noah’s day. But Jesus wanted His disciples to understand that most people could care less about His coming. That is what happened in Noah’s day. People were going about their lives as if nothing was going to happen. Life was normal, life was good. Noah was the crazy one to be so concerned about what God was up to.

The world, for the most part, ignores God until something gets out of whack. And so Christ will come and it will be a total shock. Just as in Noah’s day. They were not prepared for the judgment of the flood, and neither will most of the world be prepared to meet the ultimate judge, Jesus Christ

Notice verse 36: “But of that day and hour no one knows, no, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” This is the subject sentence of the entire paragraph. Verse 42 repeats the thought: “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.” Jesus rephrases it in verse 44: “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him.”

Luke’s version makes this especially clear:

And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. (Luke 17:26-30)

People ignore God. They do not tremble before Him. Isaiah 66:2 reveals what God looks for:

All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.

However, as Isaiah continues, this is not what God finds on earth. He says:

“…These have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations; I also will choose harsh treatment for them and bring their fears upon them, because when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, they did not listen; but they did what was evil in my eyes and chose that in which I did not delight.” Isaiah 66:3-4

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

People say they believe in God, but when it comes down to reality, they believe in a god of their own making, one who tolerates their sin and excuses their lack of devotion. They prefer a tolerant, dismissive god, one who stays in the background and doesn’t get in the way of their lives. God is a convenience, someone to come to their aid when calamity strikes.

Paul writes that “the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape” (I Thessalonians 5:2-3). Just when men begin to think they have a handle on society’s problems, total chaos and destruction will erupt. They will call to their ‘god,’ but He will do nothing. It will be too late, just as it was in the days of Noah, of Lot, of the fall of Israel and Judah. This is why the Psalmist warns:

Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. Psalm 2:12

Peter reminds us of scoffers coming in the last days who would say, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation” (II Peter 3:4). The apostle goes on to cite the example of the Flood—which came on suddenly and unexpectedly—as an event that broke the natural cycle of life (verses 5-6). Such is the time of Christ’s return.

All of these prophetic warnings include the admonition to watch and be ready for it when it comes. As Paul says:

But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. . . . Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober, . . . putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. (I Thessalonians 5:4, 6, 8)

Christ’s return will not be sudden and unexpected to true followers of Christ. We may not know the day or the hour, but we will be somewhere “in the ballpark.” Jesus says His day “will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth” (Luke 21:35). But, as verse 34 says, if we “take heed to [our]selves,” not being mired down by sin, we will be expecting it.

We are certainly living in times very like those of the days of Noah, so the return of Christ could come anytime soon. Knowing this, our job is to watch and pray and overcome so “that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (verse 36).


Faith - Hebrews 11_6When it comes to our relationship with God, our mind is a battlefield. God wants us to communicate with Him, but often what we think about and dwell on is a roadblock to an intimate and growing relationship with God. We condemn ourselves and go about trying to please God through wrong methods or wrong motivations. We can’t imagine how we could possibly please a holy God. The more we try the more we realize our failures. We find ourselves with Paul in Romans 7, longing for the freedom of Romans 8, but not understanding how to get there. The effects of “stinkin’ thinkin'” is being researched by Dr. Peggy Zoccola, Asst Professor at Ohio University.

The research team recruited 34 healthy young women to participate in the project. Each woman was asked to give a speech about her candidacy for a job to two interviewers in white laboratory coats, who listened with stone-faced expressions, Zoccola said. 



Half of the group was asked to contemplate their performance in the public speaking task, while the other half was asked to think about neutral images and activities, such as sailing ships or grocery store trips. 



The researchers drew blood samples that showed that the levels of C-reactive protein were significantly higher in the subjects who were asked to dwell on the speech, Zoccola reported.

Dr Peggy Zoccola 
For these participants, the levels of the inflammatory marker continued to rise for at least one hour after the speech. During the same time period, the marker returned to starting levels in the subjects who had been asked to focus on other thoughts.



The C-reactive protein is primarily produced by the liver as part of the immune system’s initial inflammatory response. It rises in response to traumas, injuries or infections in the body, Zoccola explained. 



“More and more, chronic inflammation is being associated with various disorders and conditions,” Zoccola said. “The immune system plays an important role in various cardiovascular disorders such as heart disease, as well as cancer, dementia and autoimmune diseases.”

C-reative protein is widely used as a clinical marker to determine if a patient has an infection, but also if he or she may be at risk for disease later in life.



The study concludes that dwelling on negative events can increase levels of inflammation in the body. I also contend (unscientifically of course) that dwelling on your sin and failures and inadequacies causes inflammation of your faith eyes, hindering your ability to walk by faith! Faith is absolutely critical to being a God-Pleaser! Our focus must be on His power, and not our failures. If our focus is wrong, we will develop crippling faith, faith that is weak and ineffective.

What we think, speak and act impacts our faith:

Jesus knew that our lives are impacted by what we think about. He even extended it to include what we say and what we do. The following verses can be backed up by many more:

  • But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” Matthew 15:18-20
  • For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee. Proverbs 23:7
  • “Death and Life are in the power of the tongue” Prov 18:21
  • As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same. Job 4:8
  • Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Galatians 6:7-8

Our Heart & Mind can serve as roadblocks to being what God wants us to be: God-Pleasers.

Walk-Minding-the-Holy-Spirit-goodI was told in Bible College that Martin Luther ripped the book of James from his Bible. Actually, he did not, but he did preface it in his Bible as a “Book of Straw.” He found some of its teaching as being contrary to his understanding of Salvation by grace alone. For example, James wrote in chapter 2:

Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe–and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. James 2:17-24

I have struggled with this concept of faith, grace and works as well. After all, we read from David’s flagship Psalm the following:

Blessed are the undefiled in the way, Who walk in the law of the LORD! Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, Who seek Him with the whole heart! They also do no iniquity; They walk in His ways. You have commanded us To keep Your precepts diligently. Psalm 119:1-4

Implied in my relationship with God is an expectation from Him that I obey Him, and keep His commands. However, my life has been one complicated by selfishness, sinfulness and failures. If anyone deserves Hell, it is me.

If I struggle with this, then I imagine that you may struggle with it as well. I believe as we continue to look at Hebrews 11:6, that the Holy Spirit will affirm some truths for our soul that will reassure us, or perhaps spur us.

Faith vs. Works

You cannot really separate faith from works. We must not see them as two separate things, but rather joint expressions of relationship with God. This is the Hebrews 11:1 definition of Faith. This is the Hebrews 11:6 definition of the one who pleases God.

  • Faith is substantiating and demonstrating.Faith is the substantiating Hebrews 11_1
  • Faith is believing and showing that belief in your diligence and priorities.
  • Faith is listening to God and building an Ark.
  • Faith is the language of God.
  • Without faith you cannot please God, and you cannot communicate with God.

Faith & Focus

If you do not have faith in God, you have faith in something else. Faith and Focus go hand in hand. What would people say you focus on?

Moses proved what the focus of his life was when he fled Egypt. His focus (faith) empowered his fleshly eyes to see the invisible God as if He was visible! “By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.” Hebrews 11:27

Moses saw Him who is invisible Hebrews 11_27

Vs 27 illustrates the power of Faith… The key is furnished by v. 27, as seeing him who is invisible. Faith apprehends as a real fact what is not revealed to the senses. It rests on that fact, acts upon it, and is upheld by it in the face of all that seems to contradict it. Faith is a real seeing[1].

Noah proved by his actions what his focus was on:

  • Noah had faith, and showed it by obeying God and building an Ark.

On the other hand, the people of Noah’s day showed what their focus (faith) was on: themselves. They wanted to keep on having fun as if there was no tomorrow, and ignored the warnings of Noah, and could not see the signs of God’s existence and power! This reveals a truth that many refuse to admit:

We all have Faith in something…

You life is lived in faith. Many live by faith only in what they see, what they can do. Faith in themselves, or in their possessions. I know, True Faith applies only to making UNSEEN things real. But unfortunately, most people are too pragmatic or self-sufficient to have True Faith. They are content with their lives, and really don’t need a power beyond themselves. To self-sufficient people, faith has no application. Only those who realize there is a real Creator God will even begin to sense their need for faith.

Are You ready to Discover the Power of Faith? Are you ready to make a HEBREWS 11:6 Commitment?

Hebrews 11:6 is a powerful verse. It is a verse that once committed to, means your life will forever be intertwined with God. You are staking everything on Him! Faith that will give you a personal and family connection with the Creator of the Universe! When you have it, your life will bear evidence of it!

To develop and understand this Faith, you need to wrap your life around Jesus Christ! Have you come to Jesus as the Son of God, your Minister, your Mediator, your Intercessor, your Savior and Lord? You have not made a decision to center your life upon and around Him! If so, it is pointless to explore the power of Hebrews 11 Faith. Your faith is in yourself, and this will not make sense to you.

For we walk by faith, not by sight: 2 Corinthians 5:7

FAITH SUBSTANTIATES the UNSEEN AS REALITY!

Who are kept (guarded) by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:5

Faith allows you to be fully vested in GodFaith Allows You to Be Fully Vested

Being fully vested in God means He is fully vested in you as well. The key to this relationship is Faith.

  • Faith is the only communication that God accepts.
  • Faith is the only way you are accepted in God.
  • This is the lesson of Hebrews 11:6

Examples of faith that fully ‘vests’ us in God

Romans 4:18-22: Abraham was fully convinced!

Faith-and-Obedience-IntertwinedIn hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead ( since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” Romans 4:18-22

Romans 5:1-5: All those who endure Suffering!

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5

1 Cor 2:5: All those who don’t trust in their own wisdom!

that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:5

HEBREWS 11:6

Faith Translates us to be a God-PleaserAnd without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6

1.  How important is Faith?

  • Without it, you cannot please God, you cannot draw near to God, you cannot receive anything from God

2.  Can you communicate with God without Faith?

  • True Faith is the only Means of Pleasing God
  • Without faith you are ‘adynatos’ – without power.
  • You have no ability whatsoever to do anything to please God.

You say “I believe” but belief alone is not faith. Remember how God defined faith-it makes real things that are invisible. It substantiates the reality and power of God. Anyone can say they believe in God. But does your belief accomplish what faith does, it brings you into His presence. Your faith carries you and all your problems to the very throne of God, where He works His mercy, justice and righteousness in your life. No one comes to God without being effected and affected by His holiness. Does mere “belief in God” work His holiness effect upon your life? No, because belief by itself is hands-off, academic and simply “good-to-know.” That is six-degrees of seperation stuff. Only FAITH brings you to the throne, puts you in the inside and allows the Holiness Effect to transform you!

3.  True Faith in God transforms from part-time to “Fully Vested”

  • If you are fully vested, you are in God’s “crew.” You are his ‘hommies’, friends, gang, posse, people who have God’s back
  • You are not a groupie or a fan, someone there just for the fun.
  • Faith demonstrates the reality of your being in God and depending upon Him NO MATTER WHAT!
  • Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:8
  • You Must believe God IS!

The idea is not merely that God exists as a rewarder, but that He will prove Himself to be a rewarder of that person who diligently seeks Him. As Vincent puts it: “He who approaches God has, through faith, the assurance that his seeking God will result in good to himself.”

This is not an academic belief, but one that grows from being fully vested in Him! This is reflected in your heart, your mind and your actions. Do you believe in an unseen Deity that watches you and who is eternal and powerful. Do you have faith to believe that He is powerful enough to work in your life?

Faith Translates You (in)to the Majesty

Faith is the language that reaches God’s ears. He listens to those who pray and think and act in faith in Him! Faith tranlates our prayers into God’s heavenly language! Faith translates us to a place of power before the throne! Do not offer prayers without faith in God! They are gobbledygook to him!

  • faithHow does your Heart reflect your belief that God is?
  • Negative thoughts, hatred of others, wicked plotting, desire for revenge, bitterness over events.
  • How does your Mind reflect your belief that God is?
  • Do you rely on yourself?
  • Always thinking about yourself
  • Always excusing the way you live being contrary to what God’s Word says?
  • Neglect the meditation on God’s Word?
  • How do your hands reflect your belief that God is?
  • Are they selfish?
  • Do they steal?
  • Do they give to others?
  • Do they react in anger, fear
  • You Must believe God is the Rewarder who is worth seeking with all you have.

The words “diligently seek” are literally “seek Him out,” the prefixed preposition being local in its force in this translation. But those who seek Him out are diligently seeking Him, and here we have the perfective use of the preposition.

Vincent says in this connection: “God’s beneficient will and attitude toward the seeker are not always apparent at the first approach. In such cases there is occasion for faith, in the face of delay, that diligent seeking will find its reward. One is reminded of Jesus’ lessons on importunity in seeking God (Luke 11:5-10, 18:1-8)”[2]

The Only way to have faith and be fully vested in God is through Jesus Christ

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

  • Jesus is the archēgos – leader, captain, founder of our faith.

Christ is the leader or captain of faith, in that he is the perfecter of faith[3].

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

  • Jesus is the “teleiōtēn” “to carry through completely, to finish, to make perfect or complete.”[4]

If you want to please God, you do so in faith, from faith and by faith. Faith empowers you to be fully vested in this invisible Creator God. Faith demonstrates a heart, mind and life that is fully vested in God and all that He is, regardless of how your life plays out, for your know that He is fully capable of rewarding your faith and commitment.

GodPleaserbannerfbssFaith translates [5] YOU to a God-Pleaser!

  • Faith is the way to please God. (Abel)
  • Faith is the substantiating of His Word and Power (He is)
  • Faith is the Demonstrating of the Value of Pleasing Him (seek)

Heart – Head – Hand

  • Heart=God is a rewarder of all those who seek after Him
  • Head=Good report is obtained not by what you do, but your substantiating in your life the truth and power of God by demonstrating through your life your trust in Him
  • Hands=Put on Jesus each and every day by faith, and serve others in the power of His name.
    • You offer your life in faith. You profess your testimony without reservations before your friends and acquaintances.
    • You continue to use your hands to diligently seek after God, knowing that He will reward the work of your hands, as long as they are working in the Faith of Jesus Christ!

Three frogs deciding to do nothing but sitNow, are you going to be like those frogs and sit there on that lily pad, professing your decision to jump? Or you actually going to leap off and into this mighty God, and demonstrate with your life the power of this unseen God.


[1] Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, (New York: Scribners, 1887), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Hebrews Chapter 11”.

[2] Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies – Volume 2: Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1973), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 198.

[3] Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, (New York: Scribners, 1887), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Hebrews 12:2”.

[4] Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies – Volume 2: Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1973), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 214.

[5] transitive verb to move or carry somebody or something from one place to another, usually with a complete change of condition or scene