How do you know you know someone? You get to know them. “Get” meaning, spend time with them, talk with them, and develop a relationship.
Jesus put it this way, “O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:25-26 (NASB)
There are only two things worth doing: To know Christ and to make Him known.
How can I introduce someone I don’t even know? I can’t. By introducing someone, I am implying there is a relationship there, right? I at least know their name. Most likely, I know more than that; I know who that person is, what they are like, and what they are about.
Get to know Jesus.
“Get,” meaning spend time with Him, talk with Him, and develop a relationship.
Get to know Jesus.
“Get,” meaning you are allowed to and you are excited to. It’s as if it’s a reward. We get to know Jesus! It is a reward!
Knowing Jesus wasn’t always the case. Old Testament folks would have been ecstatic to get to know Him. We don’t have to wonder about the mysteries of the future like they did. We don’t have to guess. It’s all laid out for us and it is beautiful.
Instead, we gotta complain. We gotta whine. We gotta give God our 2 cents on the matter. We call a buddy and have them confirm that we’ve got it bad. Then we definitely feel the need to enlighten the All -powerful Creator of the known universe with the way we would’ve done it.
Job did that. He had finally had enough. Job said enough of the boils and scabs, enough of the terrible advice from his “friends,” and enough of taking it. So, he let God know.
And God let him speak his little mind.
Then it was God’s turn. God said, “Brace yourself, I will question you and you shall answer me.”
By the time Job 42 rolls around, Job’s story has changed, hasn’t it? He realized that he spoke of things he didn’t understand. He pontificated on matters he couldn’t possibly understand. Finally he repents.
The LORD blesses the latter part of Job’s life more than the former. Way more! In fact, Job lived for another 140 years for crying out loud and saw his grandchildren’s grandchildren.
There are times when we shake our fists at God and feel like we’ve been dealt a crumby hand. However, there are things we don’t understand. Couldn’t understand. But God does. All He asks is that we love Him, believe in His Son, and leave the rest to Him.
Ever take your car to the mechanic and he fixed it? Did he ask for a tip? Did he want your praise and adoration?
Of course not. He was just doing his job. He was supposed to fix it. He was not going above and beyond.
Teachers and business owners will tell you that the biggest problem they face today is the self-entitled student or worker. The people who feel they are owed something for just showing up!
“Which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come immediately and sit down to eat’?But will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink’?He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’” Luke 17:7-10
Luke is not attacking obedience itself, but the obedient servant who is self entitled. Whether it be praying, reading, preaching, or witnessing – these are all things we are supposed to do. The NASB translates it, “that which we ought.” We ought to be doing them! These acts are not extra. There isn’t any extra credit. If there were extra credit then men could boast, right?
The joke is that you cannot spell “entitlement” without I and Me. The focus should never be on us. It’s about what God has done, not what man is doing. We are unworthy even after doing what’s expected of us. I thank God for his long-suffering patience with me and my self-serving self entitlement!
If you owe someone something, aren’t you more likely to avoid them? You don’t want to run into them and be reminded of the debt you owe. It embarrasses you to know you haven’t repaid them. The debt is always hanging over your head. It becomes a burden. It becomes awkward.
If someone has a free gift for you aren’t you more likely to seek them out? You want to find them and get the present. It warms your heart to know they were thinking of you. Their love follows you wherever you go. It becomes a source of comfort. It becomes precious.
It is the promise of God’s kindness that should lead us to Him, not the fear of His wraith. Do you see the difference? Both servants are obedient, but one serves through fear and one serves through love. Are you obeying God because you don’t want to make Him angry or are you obeying God because His kindness moved you so?
“Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4)
It is God’s kindness that should cause us to turn away from our wicked selves. It is God’s kindness that should cause us to run into His arms. We don’t owe Him anything. Our balance is zero. The debt has been paid without any sense of repayment. We never could, even if we wanted to! When Jesus healed, it was never with the attitude that the healed now owed Him anything. He did so freely!
The Message says “Or did you think that because He’s such a nice God, He’d let you off the hook? Better think this one through from the beginning. God is kind, but he’s not soft.” The promise of His love and kindness is real. Also real is His promise of wraith and judgement. So, don’t be fooled. God will not be taken advantage of. The door one day will close. Which side of that door will you be on?
Ever feel burned out? Ever feel like you are trying to do everything and it’s finally catching up to you? Imagine being Moses!
In Exodus 18, Moses went to visit with his wife’s father, Jethro. Moses told Jethro all about what God was doing for the Israelites. They both glorified God. They visited and they enjoyed each other’s company. The next day, Moses sat to judge the people. As was his custom, he sat from morning to evening.
All day long.
Jethro said, “Whoa, wait a minute! Why are you doing it like this? You are going to go NUTS!” That is paraphrasing of course. What he actually said was, “The thing that you do is not good. Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself.” (17-18)
Jethro then gave Moses some advice. He recommended that Moses delegate his authority instead of taking it all on himself.
This chapter has lots of lessons to teach.
For one, it is good for the spiritual leaders of the church to have someone they can go to and just be friends. Pastors need friendship that is void of judgement just like anyone else. Leaders need that kind of camaraderie.
Second, listen to your elders. They have experience. They may have a different prospective. Two heads are always better than one!
Also, it is good to get along with the in-laws. I have been blessed with Godly in-laws who I respect and love very much. I realize this is not the case for many people. However, even if there is friction, there should always be mutual respect.
Another lesson here is the difficult one on how to take criticism. Some leaders get all in a bunch if anyone mentions ways to improve their ministry. Hey, maybe they are right! If you get defensive (or worse, angry!) anytime anyone offers a criticism on your ministry, it may mean you need to search your heart. When pride shows up, the whole church suffers.
Lastly, don’t try to do it all yourself. Even Moses would’ve burned out if he had to sit there day in and day out for years and years! Let others help you! Delegate your authority. It will bless everyone involved! It helps you, the helpers, and the helped.
Isn’t it awesome when you can learn new things! Who would have thought you would learn something today about how to manage your time and resources from Moses’s father-in-law, Jethro? Just imagine what you will learn tomorrow!
I was fortunate enough to go to Bonnaroo in 2007 and then again in 2008. For those who don’t know, Bonnaroo is a 4-day music festival held in Manchester, TN. Well, let me tell you: Tennessee is hot and Tennessee in June is really HOT! So, I made one important improvement from 2007 to 2008. This one small change made my second venture exponentially better.
I brought a canopy. The canopy provided shade. Shade made all the difference.
Without shade, we were up with the sun: 6:30am. And then you are out in it, man. Until the sun goes down. There is no escape! In fact, one thing I noticed throughout the day were the shadows of the trees. Everyone was looking for shade all day. The only shade was from the trees. So all around, people were sitting in the perfect shape of trees without realizing it. It was as if the shadow of the trees were made of people.
That’s how important shade can be. It protects you from the elements. Without it, you are exposed. You are vulnerable. Eventually, you will perish.
“For You have been a defense for the helpless, a defense for the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat; For the breath of the ruthless is like a rain storm against a wall” (Isaiah 25:4 NASB).
It may be strange to think of God as shade. Don’t we usually think of Him as perfect radiant Light? But God is also shade in the sense that He is cool and refreshing to a parched and dried soul. He offers rest and reprieve from the elements that will eventually overcome us.
We can finally rest in His shelter. We can revitalize. We can survive only with His loving cover. Without God in our lives offering His divine shade, we are in the desert at noon with no water, no cover… and no hope.
May God’s Love be with you
Addendum: My Christian walk has graduated me from Bonnaroo to Creation Festival. And thank God for that! I give God all the glory for the amazing new song He has given me to sing. (Psa. 96:1)
Ever been at the airport and people-watched? That’s the best place to watch people. I think it’s so interesting; just observe people as they come and go. Where are they going? Where did they come from?
Ever notice the people who are prepared? They are calmly seated. They have their ticket out and ready to go. They are not anxious about anything except to just to get going!
Ever notice the people on standby? They are not calmly seated. In fact, they are pacing back and forth. They do not have their ticket out and ready to go because they are not sure if they are going to be lucky enough to get one. They are anxious alright. And actually they have every right to be! They may not have a spot on that plane. Then what?
God is all about us being confident. He wants a people who are not pacing back and forth wondering if they have a ticket or not. He wants us to be anxious… not because we aren’t sure if we’re on the manifest, but because we are so excited we can hardly contain ourselves!
Is it too bold of a thing for me to say to you: You can be sure that you are going to Heaven? Ok, well – do you believe that the Gospel is the Word of God? Of course you do. Then what do you think about 1 John 5:13? “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.”
So that you may KNOW! Do you believe in the name of the Son of God? Has He made something new out of the mess you’ve made of your life? Then what are you worried about? “Oh, I’m not sure… I hope I get to go to Heaven… but,… you know, I’m not sure…” What?! That doesn’t sound like Victory to me. Jesus didn’t die on the cross, glorify His Father, and take on our sins for you and I to be… uncertain.
God doesn’t want us spending all our time and energy fretting over our destination. He wants us spending all our time and energy praising His name, helping the poor, and getting as many other passengers on that plane.
John 10:28 says “no one can snatch them out of My Hand.” No one. Not even you! No one can snatch God’s children out of His hand! Why act like someone snatched you out of God’s hand? It’s not even possible.
John 6:37 “whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”
Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Romans 10:9 “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
I could go on and on. There are so many verses assuring salvation… hmmm, maybe God knew we would need this many. Maybe He knew we would struggle with just flat-out accepting His amazing Love. So, like a good parent, He tells us over and over, down through time: You are saved.
Are you wrestling with God over something? Who isn’t, right? Did you know that someone actually did wrestle with God? And I don’t mean “wrestle” metaphorically either. I’m talking literally. God wrestled Jacob in a straight-up, hand-to-hand wrestling match. The first-ever Smack Down occurred in Genesis 32:24-32.
In fact, God wrestled Jacob all night. They wrestled until daybreak and when God saw that He had not prevailed against Jacob, He touched Jacob’s thigh and dislocated it. Just a touch. That’s all it took. This showed that obviously God could’ve won at any moment. As dawn was breaking, God said, “Let Me go.” No one can see God’s face and live. But Jacob replied, “No. Not until You bless me.” Ha! Imagine that! The gumption of this guy! God then (I envision with a smile on His face) changes Jacob’s name to “Israel” which means, “he who wrestles/strives with God.” Then He blessed him.
Why did God do that? If He wanted to challenge Jacob, He could’ve picked any kind of contest: a race, a riddle, or tic-tac-toe. Why wrestling? Well, any of those other contests are not interactive. They keep contestants separate. Wrestling is more intimate. God picked an activity that involved actual physical contact.
I’m not sure, but I figure Jacob had that limp for the rest of his days. I also imagine that he limped proudly. It became his badge of courage, his price for a blessing, and his evidence of a God that loves him.
We all wrestle with God, maybe not physically like Jacob here, but spiritually? You bet. All the time. It’s the “old man” in us rising up. It’s the rebellious tickle in our ear. Envy. Pride. Gluttony. Pick one. But here’s the thing, God will wrestle you right back. He will step into the ring. He wants to bless you.
Wrestling with God, however, does come with a price. You may carry a limp for the rest of your days. But you won’t view that hurt as loss. You will view that hurt as victory. You will want to tell everyone about your limp and what it means to you. You will want to tell everyone how much God loves you and how much God loves them.
This post owes a lot to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones‘s “Victorious Limp” via Tim Keller‘s “The Theology of the Cross and Walking with a Limp,” I encourage everyone to check out these incredible links!
For our honeymoon my wife and I were blessed with a trip to Paris. While we were there, we visited the Palace of Versailles. Once the center of political power, Versailles is now France’s foremost tourist attraction. Besides it’s sheer grandeur, one thing stuck with me about that palace: the thrones.
It is there that I learned what a throne represents. I mean, of course I knew that a throne represented power. It is obvious that to have people come to you is a demonstration of power. But, it is absolute power to have people come to you as you remain seated.
Ever thought of that before?
The Throne of God is mentioned several times throughout scripture. I won’t bombard you with all of them. Most famously it is described by Ezekiel (chapter 1). I’d like to mention also that the angel Gabriel refers to the Throne of God in Luke 1:32-33 because… he should know, he’s been there. He’s actually seen it!
God is mentioned as “sitting” multiple times as well.
• “The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD is enthroned as King forever.” – Psalms 29:10
• “He that sits in the heavens laughs” (at the futile efforts of man’s rebellion) – Psalms 2:4
• “Who is like the LORD our God, the One who sits enthroned on high?” – Psalms 113:5
Sitting on His Throne, God is The Absolute Power. He is the Power of the Power. There is none above and all below. Yet, He makes Himself low to guide and love His fragile creation.
In your quiet time with the LORD today, reflect on our God’s astounding ability to speak stars into being and also whisper encouragement to His children all in the same all-powerful breath. He does so with perfect love from His magnificent Throne.
Well, I’ve done everything I can do. Nothing left for me to do but pray, I guess.
Ever hear that? Ever say that? To be honest, I have. I’ve thought and/or said that very same thing myself many times.
Psalms 55:22 says “Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.”
My wife said something the other day that really struck a chord with me, “Let Go and Let God!” How simple. How true.
But, how difficult!
Give God the reigns of your life. He is a much better driver anyways. Letting go is hard for us humans, isn’t it? We have to be in control of everything. It’s almost as if we’re admitting defeat if we let someone else take over. If someone is more qualified, then why not? And if anyone is more qualified, it’s the LORD. Why is this such a struggle?! It’s OK to let God in. It’s OK to let Him be the deciding factor.
Allowing God full access to your life doesn’t mean you will be without hardship. In fact, it all but guarantees it. The more the world senses you are a Child of The King, the more it will hate you. The more it will sniff you out. The more it will try to crush you. “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” John 15:18. “You will be hated because of me” Matt. 10:22.
So, be ready.
Think of it this way, Jesus was the first to say Let go and let God! He prayed the hardest prayer: “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Luke 22:42
Submission to the Father is scary but it’s the only thing that leads to ultimate peace and joy. John 16:33 says it all. Look it up. Memorize it. Live it.