Archive | April, 2014

The Preciousness of Jesus | Fixing Our Eyes on the Cross

26 Apr


clay jar

“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” –Matthew 6:20-21

In the days leading up to Good Friday and Easter Sunday it seems simpler somehow to focus on Jesus and the willing sacrifice He made as he took upon His perfect self our sin bearing our punishment; imputing to us His righteousness. The cross and all of its implications stands in stark relief across the worldly backdrop of cloying chocolate, spring flowers, bunnies, and decorated eggs. The glory and significance of the resurrection shines so brightly the pastel canvas is all but obliterated and our eyes and hearts are drawn to Jesus, the treasure that will never be destroyed or stolen, and the joy that can only be found in Him.

“Jesus spoke of this joy as he faced the torture of Good Friday. He faced denial, faced betrayal, faced beatings, faced splinters and nails and spears — he could not stop talking about joy! Only joy would keep him going. Joy was on his mind, joy was on his tongue, and joy was drawing him, not away from suffering, but into it (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus went to the cross for joy: to buy joy, create joy, and offer joy.” –Troy Reinke, Have You Found What You’re Looking For?

What happens on the Monday following when the candy and discarded broken and bent baskets are heaped into the clearance bin and the backdrop shifts? Our excitement and joy may wane and the treasure become less distinct. The mundane trials of everyday life may obscure the “inexpressible and glorious joy” (1 Peter 1:8). Our weariness and hurts more easily dismissed in the light of anticipation may now win our undivided attention. John Piper believes this is the time we should draw upon the strength of our brothers and sisters sharing ours in return as “…our worst spiritual and emotional collapses often follow in the wake of our happiest, most victorious experiences.” 

Draw in close to your Church family. Draw near to His heart and keep your eyes and heart focused on the finished work of the cross. Drink in the Word and spend time with the Lord in prayer, He desires to spend time with us, is jealous for it. Empty yourself of brokeness and ashes, pour it out at His feet enabling the light of the power of God to shine (2 Corinthians4:7).

The Preciousness of Jesus by Jared C. Wilson

What is the one thing you cannot live without?

I think there are two stark realities shown in the passage of the woman who anointed Jesus’ head — a deadly devaluing and a saving adoration. See if you don’t agree:
And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” –Mark 14:3-9

The logic of those scolding is understandable, clear. What the woman has done is wasteful.

And what Jesus says in reply is provocative. He is not denying the importance of caring for the poor. Indeed, how could he, since he has taught so much on caring for the poor and needy already! But he is suggesting that there is something more important.

There is something more important than helping the poor. What could that be?
It is Jesus himself.

To devalue Jesus as the indignant have done is eternally deadly. To devalue the nard as the woman has done is eternally saving.

Gospel notes on the text and the remainder of the article can be viewed here: The Preciousness of Jesus | The Gospel Coalition

Maundy Thursday | A New Commandment

17 Apr

jesus-washes-feet_opt

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” —John 13:34.

On the Thursday before Jesus was crucified, in an act of humility and love Jesus was on His knees washing the feet of His disciples. The Creator of the Universe, the Author of Life performed the lowly task of washing clean the dirt and muck from callused feet seeing past the filth and grime. This simple act was full of meaning; a foreshadowing of the morrow.

On this day Jesus gave a new commandment shedding new light on “loving your neighbor as yourself,” (Leviticus 19:18).

“What makes the command new is that because of Jesus’ passion there is a new standard, a new example of love.There was never any love like the dying love of Jesus. It is tender and sweet (13:33). It serves (13:2-17). It loves even unto death (13:1). Jesus had nothing to gain from us by loving us. There was nothing in us to draw us to him. But he loved us still, while we were yet sinners.” —Kevin DeYoung, Maundy Thursday.

Jesus desired for us to love our brothers and sisters out of the depths of an overflowing love no matter the cost (John 15:13)…to go low in foot-washing-like service to others, be willing to risk everything, our lives, our privileges…to love because we are “members of His body,” (Ephesians 5:30) and like Christ who was sustained “by the joy set before Him,” (Hebrews 12:2) we too shall be stengthened by the indescribable joy found at the cross when we love out of faithfulness, obedience, and the desire to bring glory to God.

Additional Resources:

The Gospel Coalition | When Jesus Said Farewell

Desiring God | The Greatest Prayer in the World (Maundy Thursday)

Cultivating Relationship Through Conversation | Listen Quietly and Intentionally

5 Apr

 

Peanuts Listening_opt (1)“To answer before listening– that is folly and shame.” (Proverbs 18:13)

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19)

“The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love to God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

Knowing we should listen and truly hear others does not make the concept simple to engage. It this me centered world we inhabit it seems antithetical to remain silent while someone pours forth their story, their needs, their fears. We may presume to know where the conversation is headed and instead of actively listening we connect halfheartedly telegraphing impatient distraction. Often a self centered one-up manship occurs wherein we desire to demonstrate vocally how we completely understand and we rush into their inhalation with what we feel is more impressive and important; shifting the focus, discounting the words, and projecting an attitude of indifference.

When others approach us with a need to converse we are in a unique position to bolster, encourage, and acknowledge by listening intently; truly hearing with our whole self ; loving others as we are loved.

The following article offers six important steps to tune our active listening:

Six Lessons in Good Listening By David Mathis

Listening is one of the easiest things you’ll ever do, and one of the hardest.

In a sense, listening is easy — or hearing is easy. It doesn’t demand the initiative and energy required in speaking. That’s why “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). The point is that hearing is easy, and faith is not an expression of our activity, but our receiving the activity of another. It is “hearing with faith” (Galatians 3:2, 5) that accents the achievements of Christ and thus is the channel of grace that starts and sustains the Christian life.

But despite this ease — or perhaps precisely because of it — we often fight against it. In our sin, we’d rather trust in ourselves than another, amass our own righteousness than receive another’s, speak our thoughts rather than listen to someone else. True, sustained, active listening is a great act of faith, and a great means of grace, both for ourselves and for others in the fellowship.

The remainder of this valuable article can be viewed here: Six Lessons in Good Listening.

Additionally, click here for more tools for listening: How to Become a Good Listener.

 

 

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