Trustworthy to Jesus?

The Lord loves us but he does not entrust himself to us.

But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. John 2:24 (NIV)

We see this in Jesus’ relationship with his disciples. They were with him wherever they went, yet he did not entrust himself even to his closest disciples. Consider James and John, two of the closest. There is the time they want to call down fire on a village for not having received Jesus or the time they ask for a place on His left and right in heaven. Though they had asked,

We want you to do for us whatever we ask, Mark 10:35

Jesus had not entrusted himself to them. He was free to do what was right.

When people are being emotionally abusive we need to keep our emotional distance. This is hard when they are friends or family. When Jesus would not entrust himself he was protecting himself from those he was closest to, and yet could not trust to act honourably.

This principle extends to the Lord’s relationship with us. I too can be abusive in the way I relate to Him. I call myself His friend but then presume on him with demands that do not reflect His love. The Lord will of course be gracious to me, but will not entrust himself to me while he knows this is in me. I am challenged to relate to my Father in love, respecting and trusting Him, so that He can extend deeper friendship to me.

Where is your God?

Why do the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’ Psalm 115:2

This is a question that is being asked of the Church. The question raises key issues. Firstly: What is it about the way we reflect Jesus that keeps this culture from seeing Him in us? Secondly: What is it about the world that it is so blind people cannot see Jesus in us? I believe that the next verses point to the answer for both questions.

Our God is in heaven, He does whatever pleases Him. Psalm 115:3

Our God is in heaven, so He cannot be seen by a culture that despises faith, declaring: Seeing is believing.

‘He does whatever pleases Him’, as against whatever pleases us. We struggle with this because our culture thinks of God as someone with a job description – to help us enjoy life. We make ourselves the centre and ask, Why believe in a God who does not do as I please?

But their idols are silver and gold made by the hands of men. They have … eyes, but they cannot see. Those who make them will be like them and so will all who trust in them. Psalm 115:4-8

We protect our selfish view by creating our own gods to make us happy and so blanking Him or blinding ourselves in pretence that He is the god we want him to be.

We have a culture that blinds itself looking at a delusional Church. No wonder we are asked, ‘Where is your God?’

 

Controversies and faith

The arguments I hold in my mind expose secondary issues that have supplanted my Father as the one to be worshipped.

In Psalm 76 the Father restores perspective.

2 …  his dwelling-place [is] in Zion. 3 There he broke the … weapons of war.

Going to Zion, God’s dwelling, we find different priorities, there He breaks my weapons – my simplistic arguments.

5 The valiant lie plundered … not one of the warriors can lift his hands.

If I allow the Lord to speak His perspective then he exposes these discussions, as pointless. He challenges me with the fact that He is not interested.

7 It is you alone who are to be feared. … 8 From heaven you pronounced judgment, and the land feared and was quiet –

It is God alone who is to be valued. When I fix on something lesser it becomes my idol. I am shocked when the Lord pours scorn on this thing. Yet when I let Him, I experience a wave of peace.

9 when you, God, rose up to judge, to save all the afflicted of the land.

These arguments have collateral damage. Hearts are poisoned when the arguments become the overriding issue of a Christian’s faith.

10 Surely your wrath against mankind brings you praise, and the survivors of your wrath are restrained.

When I allow my Father to divert me from my petty arguments I become a survivor of His wrath and I am restrained. I find myself at peace again in His presence.

 

You can see the original Bible study here

Awaiting God’s intervention

In a crisis I am tempted to force a solution. The Lord shows a different way – Isaiah 56

1‘Maintain justice  and do what is right,

I can’t achieve righteousness through abuse, only love.

for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed.

The proximity of danger exposes hearts, asking – ‘Do I believe God’s justice and righteousness are the only way? Do I believe His salvation is at hand?’

Those willing to resist the temptation to force their own righteousness while seeking God’s salvation receive it. What a difference His righteousness will be from the one we had wanted. Instead of me winning and all else suffering, the Lord’s righteousness brings peace and love.

His salvation often waits till the last moment.

2 Blessed is the one who does this –  the person who holds it fast,

The Lord blesses those who hold to His righteousness. To do so I have to let go of hope for the outcome I had defined as righteousness and look to Jesus as my hope.

who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it, and keeps their hands from doing any evil.’

This hope is seen in two aspects of submission:

Rather than driving towards the goal – destroying others in the rush, they will be content that there will be enough time and resources for the Lord’s will to be done His way.

Rather than forcing what they perceive as righteousness, they will walk in love expecting God’s way to become apparent as they go with Him.

Reward with God

What a privilege to participate in Jesus’ ministry. Paul and Barnabas were directed into ministry through Isaiah 49:6:

“… I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,  that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

This verse is not stand alone. How does Isaiah leads into this promise?

First the Lord polishes His arrow and conceals it.

2 .. he made me into a polished arrow  and concealed me in his quiver.

This arrow has to fly true first time and so it receives special attention. Other arrows enjoy their successes in the hunt, this one is polished. It seems a humiliating waste of time.

The Lord seeing the discouragement, speaks tenderly.

3 He said to me, “You are my servant,  Israel, in whom I will display my splendour.”

The Lord gives hope that He will use this servant to display His splendour, however these seem vain words.

4 But I said, “I have laboured in vain;  I have spent my strength for nothing at all.

Polishing is hard work, requiring labour for little visible result.

This frustration finally bears fruit through a change in attitude-

Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand,  and my reward is with my God.”

The surrender of desire to see the outcome. When content that his reward is with God, there is freedom to be used by the Lord without playing to the audience and wrecking the show.

Now the Lord begins to use His polished arrow!

 

The full Bible study can be found at Biblebase2adaringfaith

 

Jesus’ delight in us.

In our manufacturing age we have ordered life around what is productive and assume Jesus holds the same view. We may acknowledge that Jesus is passionate about us but we easily revert to a utilitarian view considering ourselves workers, valued for what we do.

In Song of Songs 4 the lover (Christ) passionately describes to the beloved (His people) how he sees her beauty.

1 How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes behind your veil are doves …

The first things the lover describes when recounting the beloved’s beauty are her eyes, and how they express peace. This delight in character is in stark contrast to our presumption that Jesus’ favour is gained through our acts of worship or output.

8 Come with me from Lebanon … from the lions’ dens

The lover appeals to her to leave her home in the dangerous wilds of the north to be with him. She is not in a place conducive to depth of relationship, yet needs encouragement and coaxing.

9 You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride.

If we accept we are deeply loved maybe we will be ready to leave our ‘fun’ culture for the intimacies Jesus delights in.

16 Awake north wind … blow on my garden that its fragrance may spread abroad.

The woman, aroused by the expressions of love, desires for her influence to be spread around. She does not loudly proclaim it, but asks the Spirit to blow, spreading the unseen fragrance of Christ.

Go with the King

The call to become a disciple of Jesus is a call to leave. We see this in Psalm 45 where the bride is called to forget that which has been precious to her and even defined her.

10 Listen, daughter, and pay careful attention:
    Forget your people and your father’s house.

As I go with my King I embrace a new future. This requires me to let go of my old life, however good it might have been. This might seem a betrayal, but it is essential. Jesus calls us, yet many are so stretched between a misguided duty of maintaining what has gone before, and desperation to take hold of what Jesus has ahead that neither is achieved.

11 Let the king be enthralled by your beauty;
    honour him, for he is your lord.

King Jesus is enthralled by me, yet will I let him? My poor self-image refuses to allow it. Yet if I allow that He is enthralled by me then I will be free to go with Him. As I receive His love, the love of His rivals will fade from my view.

13 All glorious is the princess within her chamber;
    her gown is interwoven with gold.

Those who allow Jesus to do this work in them become glorious and are clothed with Christ.

16 Your sons will take the place of your fathers;

you will make them princes throughout the land.

The fruit of a life with the King takes the place of our fathers. Our hearts are satisfied by what Jesus does.

For the complete study on Psalm 45 follow this link – Caught up with Christ  and go to the end.

Wait to receive joy

I am so concerned to show myself a responsible servant of Christ that I fail to receive the oil of joy which would give off the aroma of Christ, making His work plain to all.

The fruit of God’s work is intended to produce joy. In the Bible joy is experienced at the conclusion of a fruitful venture; bringing in the harvest or sharing the plunder of victory. Joy is developed through reflecting on the challenges God has overcome.

Psalm 45:7 You love righteousness and hate wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
by anointing you with the oil of joy.

The Lord anoints with joy after we, together, overcome my tendency to wickedness and choose righteousness.

Here I tend to stumble. I am so concerned to get to the next act of service that I do not wait to receive the anointing or enjoy the celebration with the Lord over our victory.

When this service, apparently in the name of Christ, drives me from the place of receiving His joy, it is exposed as being a fraud, more concerned for people’s approval than the approval of my King.

8 All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia;
from palaces adorned with ivory
the music of the strings makes you glad.

Curiously, this oil of joy holds the fragrance of Christ which would spread out to all around. My concern for a testimony compromises the most effective testimony.

Christ in us – Majesty

Our culture tries to smear us with shame for following Christ. Atheism’s angry voice dominates. I want to fit in, yet that means concealing the majesty the Lord has clothed me in, covering it with the clothing of the world. It takes faith and courage to be clothed in righteousness.

Psalm 45 expresses the Lord’s perspective.

V3 ‘ … Clothe yourself with splendour and majesty.’

How can we clothe ourselves in splendour if we have none? We do not understand that when we humble ourselves to show kindness to a child, we are clothed with splendour.

v4 In your majesty ride forth victoriously
in the cause of truth, humility and justice;
let your right hand achieve awesome deeds.

We think of majesty as the domain of the celebrities flaunting and exaggerating greatness. The Lord sees majesty when we humbly acknowledge the truth that outside of Him we are nothing; when instead of currying favour, we surrender our advantage to defend the oppressed. Others see foolishness, the Lord sees awesome deeds.

v8 All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia; …

Lives transformed by Christ give off His aroma but we are not aware. Visitors to our home often mention it’s peace. To us, it is normal. Only those for whom it is not, notice the contrast.

We often despise ourselves, seeing nothing in our lives for the Lord to get excited about because we look through the world’s values. Christ however sees His glory being displayed.

 

For the detailed study see Caught up with Christ

 

Fragrance of Christ

When a person meets with God, the impact is not often in the spectacular, but in the fragrance. It is not often in miracles or recordable events, but in the tenderness of the love, the quietness of peace, the steadfastness in hope. This fragrance impacts those around us. They are qualities that are infectious, and in their turn bear fruit for Jesus Christ.

‘While the King was at His table, my perfume spread its fragrance.’ SofS 1:17

These qualities come to us when we meet with Jesus at His table in the Tabernacle, meditating on Him as we chew on His Word, fellowshipping deeply as we participate in His cup. This is a place of fellowship and inspiration, where we see things from His perspective under the illumination of the Spirit -the Golden Candlesticks and respond by praying, not our wish list, but the intercessions that come from His heart at the altar of burnt incense.

When we meet with God in the inner sanctuary then He works His qualities into our lives and transforms us. This transformation is experienced by others as the aroma of Christ. It is an aroma we are unaware of. Our focus is on Christ, and we are so caught up with Him that we become unaware of ourselves.

This type of testimony has to be experienced. Words don’t quite do it, in the same way that fragrance cannot be described except through rather inadequate comparisons. Love when told about rather than experienced always sounds somewhat corny.