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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus Christ’

John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.”

We were doing some yard work recently, and my wife was complimenting me on the trimming of a small tree/bush near my son’s window. My wife noticed that some leaves poking out were different from the other leaves she saw. While she was looking at the leaves, I was tracing the branches down to the root. While we were discussing if it was the same plant or not, I commented, “Honey, you’re looking at the leaves, and I’m looking at the roots!” Sure enough, it turns out that new leaves were part of one tree, and the other leaves belonged to a second tree growing close alongside. To look at it from far off, you would think it was the same tree, but when you look closely, you see which tree which branch of leaves belongs to.

Jesus was telling His disciples that they cannot bear fruit unless they abide in Him. Just like a branch cannot bear fruit unless it is attached ultimately to the roots, we cannot bear Christian witness or works apart from Jesus Christ. He is our Source. When I was a little boy, my grandmother had some grapevines that strung across an old bed spring-like fencing. Unfortunately, also in this fencing was poison oak. I didn’t want to touch either because I couldn’t tell which was which. Of course, once the grapes started growing, I could easily tell where the true grapevine was.

Jesus also told his disciples that God “prunes” the good branches to produce more fruit; if He has branches not producing fruit, they are taken away. Once you accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, your salvation is guaranteed and you are going to Heaven. But we also need to use our gifts and abilities (that God gave us, by the way) to glorify Him and serve Him, else those gifts get rusty or fall into disuse…and what a waste of God-given talents that would be!

Tis better to be a fruit-producing branch of the True Vine; wouldn’t you agree?

Something to think about.

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Song of Solomon 2:1: “I am the rose of Sharon, And the lily of the valleys.”

Shortly after I graduated college and had my first job, I was travelling home from watching a local high school football game with a friend. It was raining, and I was driving down a dark country road. I hit a tree branch that had fallen in the road; it was large enough that it caused me to skid off the road into a dark ditch. I couldn’t see the bottom of the ditch, so I had no idea if I could climb down; I was close enough to the road that I could climb out the window of my door. It was all but pitch-black and still raining. I had no idea how close I was to my folks’ house (that’s where I was heading), plus being the country, there were bound to be wild animals out. Well, it wasn’t too long after, a truck came down the road, and I managed to flag it down. the driver called out to me from his vehicle and asked was I okay. I told him I was, and asked if he could give me a lift to my folks’ house. He called out my name, recognizing my voice, and said “Is that you?” I aid, “Yes, it’s me! Who are you?” Turns out it was a friend of my family’s (for privacy, we’ll just call him Tommy) When he told me who he was, man, was I ever glad to see him! He told me to hop in, and he’d take me to my folks. The next day we were able to pull the truck out of the ditch with a tractor. At the time, no better friend and hero did I know than Tommy! He was a life saver in my dire predicament.

I always wondered why the “rose of Sharon” was one of the appellations for Jesus Christ. The Song of Solomon is a beautiful love poem between King Solomon and his Shulamite bride. It is also an analogy of the love between Jesus Christ (bridegroom) and the Church (bride). Though it is commonly assumed that this verse is spoken by the bride, many other translations state that it is the bridegroom who makes these statements (I did some research using Thru the Bible Commentary on Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon by Dr. J. Vernon McGee.) In Chapter 2, page 134, of this commentary, Dr. McGee states that “These words describe the Lord Jesus.” He explains that for anyone else to state this, it would be pride, but our Lord came down as a meek and lowly Savior, so it comes across as humility.

As Christians, we not only NEED a Savior, we should DESIRE or WANT a Savior. He should be the hero we need to rescue us in our sinful situation. And He is! The rose of Sharon and the lily of the valley are among the most beautiful flowers in that part of the world. Like my friend Tommy was that night, my Lord Jesus is the most wonderful Person I could see. He is there in times of trouble and of plenty.

To me, the old hymn says it best:
“I have found a friend in Jesus, He’s everything to me,
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.
The Lily of the Valley, In Him alone I see
All I need to cleanse and make me fully whole.”

There is no more beautiful a Friend than Jesus.

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Rev 22:13: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”

In the classic movie Beneath the Planet of the Apes, astronaut Brent had followed the same time-travel trajectory of George Taylor; his flight was sent to find out what had happened to him. After several adventures (encountering Nova, Taylor’s mute love interest, discovering Ape City, meeting the simian scientists Cornelius and Zira), he finally found Taylor, a prisoner like himself of a band of underground, radiation-scarred humans with psychic powers of illusion. After the three of them have killed their jailer, Taylor is attempting to treat Brent’s wound, when Brent tells him of the terrifying discovery he and Nova had witnessed: the humans’ “god”.

Brent: “Taylor…Taylor, they’ve got a bomb…atomic bomb…it’s operational! They intend to use it.” (since the gorilla army was advancing on the humans’ stronghold, they were going to fire it at Ape City)
Taylor: “What type is it?”
Brent: “I don’t know…I don’t know, what type, I’ve never seen it before.”
Taylor: “Didn’t you see a series number?”
Brent: “No numbers, just some letters…on one of the fins…Greek letters (Taylor freezes in realization)…”Alpha…”
Taylor: (resignedly) “and Omega.”
Brent: (surprised that Taylor knows) “What?”
Taylor begins dressing Brent’s wound as he explains about the “doomsday bomb”: “Another lovely souvenir from the 20th century. They weren’t satisfied with a bomb that could knock out a city. They finally built one with a cobalt casing…all in the sweet name of peace.”
Brent mutters in despair, realizing the consequences: “if they shoot it off at some of those apes, they’ll set off a chain reaction in the whole atmosphere…”
Taylor: “…burn the planet to a cinder…how’s that for your ultimate weapon?”

I replayed this dialogue on my copy of the DVD movie. Just like Taylor called it…a doomsday bomb, the beginning and the end of any conflict in which it’s used, an Armageddon. Tragically, in the movie, the bomb did go off, destroying everyone and everything.

Now, there really is going to be an Armageddon, but not with a bomb called the Alpha and the Omega. There will be a different Alpha and Omega as John tells us in his vision, which is the book of Revelation. That Beginning and End is Jesus Christ. John 1:1 and Revelation 1:8 reiterate what Christians already know: Jesus existed at the Beginning; He was, is, and always will be. He is God the Son, the Messiah. He is one of the three persons of God (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit). He will be there at the final battle against Satan, and He will be victorious! He is the End, too. This is part of His Majesty, being the timeless Lord He is. Though He walked the earth as the Lamb of God, He reigns in Heaven, as our Righteous King.

That’s a Beginning and End I will see one day!

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Matthew 11:19: “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children.”
Mark 2:16-17: “And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.””

Garfield the cat was looking down at a caterpillar, who said (thought), “I’m going to be a butterfly”. “And just how are you going to do that?” Garfield asked. “Uh…” the caterpillar says, pauses, and then says, “I know a guy.” When I read that, I smiled, thinking that the caterpillar was referring to the Creator.

Back in my post of Acts 11:25-26, I used the “I know a guy” quote in the analogy of Barnabas and Paul. In society today, it seems like everyone “knows” someone who’s well-connected, has influence or power, or has favors. Garth Brooks turned this phrase on its ear with his old country ballad “Friends in Low Places”. However, when you think about it, it is always nice to know someone who can help you in situations where you cannot help yourself or achieve some goal by yourself.

The scoffers derided Jesus Christ out loud, saying he frequently was seen with “tax collectors and sinners”, the lowest of the low. Even in Mark 2:16-17, they question why He ate with them. How blessed are we sinners that Jesus didn’t separate Himself, but came to us, to save us, to pay our price, to redeem us. Our Messiah wasn’t some upper-crust rich snob who didn’t let himself be seen with those lower in class; instead, He reached out to us, as a Friend.

What a Friend we have in Jesus!

Something to think about.

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Verses 23-24: “For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.'”

Whenever I do not drive myself on Carpenters for Christ mission trips, most of the other times I travel with my father in his truck. Since he is driving, I’ll chart our progress on a map to see how close we are to state lines and such (in most cases to take some snapshots). There have been times he has asked me where we are on the map and how close we are to certain landmarks or towns. He has even asked before how many miles we are to a certain area (good thing I took land navigation in high school!) I thought of this when reading all the detail that Luke put into the account of Paul travelling to Rome aboard the ship and his trials during the storm. Most of the account is filled with this navigational detail, but there were three things that drew my attention while reading this account.

In verse 3, Luke writes that Julius (the centurion in charge of the prisoners) treated Paul kindly. I’m reminded that God “clears the way” when we need His help, and sometimes that help comes in unexpected people that He sends our way.

The second item is in verses 23-24: that God reminded Paul that he was to make it to Rome alive to be brought before Caesar. Worry is one of the devil’s favorite weapons…with that weapon, he can rob us of the energy and focus that we need in ministering for God. Paul was probably emboldened and strengthened to be reminded of this by God’s angel. The weight of concern about their survival was lifted from him with this reminder, allowing him to focus on the task at hand.

The third item is in verse 36; Paul encouraged the men, who hadn’t eaten anything in the last 14 days, to take nourishment for their survival. The angel had told Paul that they would survive, but the ship would be run aground, so they would need strength to make it shore (go without food for 2 weeks, and see how strong you are!) This verse is a reminder that God gave us physical bodies that we need to take care of in order to better serve Him. That means making sure we take the nourishment we need to keep our bodies running as they should.

Sounds like common sense, right? But as I’m often reminded in this old world, common sense ain’t as common as it used to be. It’s better to let God do the driving and we “ride shotgun” with Him!

Something to think about.

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Verses 22-23: “Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come–that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”

Want to get someone’s attention? State that you are saying something or doing something by the authority of a very respected historical figure (now, don’t do this flippantly!) In most cases, it’ll give the audience pause and consideration of you, especially if your audience respects the figure by whose authority you have referenced. Preachers and judges alike often use the phrase “by the power invested in my by…” when referencing their validation of their authority.

Paul here is continuing his defense before Agrippa by telling his own biography of how he used to persecute Christians. He continues with the details of his conversion by Jesus Christ on the Damascus road; he sums up the narrative of his history by telling Agrippa that he was “not disobedient to the heavenly vision”, but went on to proclaim the Good News everywhere. He declared it those locally around them, then hit the road to witness abroad. Again, he justifies what he is doing; he presents that the Jews have tried to kill him over this. And what he does is “saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come”. In effect, you could say Paul is saying that “they want to kill me over the very things Moses and the prophets said…so what have I done wrong?” No good Jew would go against the teaching of Moses and the Old Testament prophets.

So, Paul has set up his foundation for his defense; now he has built up the walls to fortify his argument. Get ready as he puts the roof on next!

More to come.

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Verse 27: “For it seems to me unreasonable to send a prisoner and not to specify the charges against him.”

Some time back, I recall reading an interesting tidbit of an article in Uncle John’s Biggest Ever Bathroom Reader, on page 402 of the “Odd Elvis Quiz” regarding Elvis Presley. It seems that Elvis was once approached about performing at a party at the White House hosted by President Richard Nixon. It is considered quite an honor to perform at the White House. However, when Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis’s manager, heard that Elvis wouldn’t be paid for performing (that is the caveat; performers enjoy the honor and prestige, but no monetary pay), he reportedly growled, “Elvis doesn’t play for free.” Thus the deal fell through, and Elvis was never invited back. Thus Elvis missed his chance of performing for the President of the United States.

Some time back, I mentioned how Paul, in his captivity, would have extraordinary opportunities to share the Gospel with individuals he might not otherwise have had the chance to (God works in mysterious ways). Already he had spoken with 2 governors, and now he had the chance to address King Agrippa, who came to visit Governor Festus. Festus had to send some official charge of Paul’s offense when he sent him to Rome, but was having trouble expressing just what the charge was. Part of the ceremony of hosting King Agrippa was for Festus to have Paul lay his case out before the king as well. Agrippa expressed that he would like to hear the case.

Opportunity knocks through the divine Hand of God on the door. And in this case, Paul wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass without preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ! Today, as you go about your way through life, Christian, pray that God would show you those “open doors” that He wants you to knock upon.

Something to think about.

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