Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Close to the Kingdom John 18:33-37; Daniel 7:9-10,13-14

God's comes near -- close enough all 5 senses detect His Kingdom coming into our midst.
--see the kingdom's close at hand; and the King is not always seen on some far away throne. We see him often as Pilate did--weak and wrongly presumed defeated. Pilate knew Jesus was not as he appeared. Pilate's wife's ominus dream warned him in Matthew 27:19. As Pilate met face to face with Jesus there was more still for him to see. Jesus was the King of an unseen kingdom. When Pilate asked Are you the King of the Jews John 18:34 Pilate wanted earthly answers. Jesus wouldn't give such a limited answer. “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?” Pilate found no case against Jesus but he feared the power he could see more than the power he couldnet and he gave in to the demands of those he could see. John 18:33-37.
--feel God's kingdom. Like heat from the fire Daniel prophesied as the Ancient of Days was enthroned in power and glory Daniel 7:9-10. Christians today feel the extending glory of God's Kingdom as they picking up hammers to rebuild homes after floods and hurricanes. Carry a box of food or clothes gathered for neighbors (near and far) and for a moment you can feel the energy and the weight of God's kingdom coming.
--Smell the kingdom of God coming close. There's a hopeful smell right before rain at the end of a dryspell. There's a promising aroma of good meals prepared in churches night after night for hungry folks in cities and town across our nation and around the world. Pilate knew at some level the man with him was a king. There was just something basic and essential about Jesus. He asked directly, You are a king then> And Jesus answered in a way that Pilate never could, You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me. John 18:36 NIV.

--hear the kingdom. Truth comes when the light of Christ shines into every corner of our being. Pilate's final question for Jesus was, What is truth? John 18:37 In Jesus truth comes into the world. In him sin, death, and the devil meet their end and hope is fed again and again. A generation of kids, who have parents who for the most part don't worship, is coming to our churches on Wednesday Nights after school and Sunday mornings too. Many come for a week of Bible School every summer. Their parent don't draw near to church--but God is calling these kids to come and to hear.
--Taste the kingdom in the bread and wine of communion. There's fellowship in this meal with God and with all the saints who've gone before us as we eat and drink the body and blood of Christ are there. The Son of Man who suffered and today reigns in glory comes for us. The one who rightly reigns in Daniel 7:13-14 is there so close for us to take into our bodies.
The kingdom is very near, Pax, John

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Speak of the End, Jesus the Prophet Mark 13:1-8

Jesus rightly spoke as a prophet when he told His friends about the future with certainty in Mark 13:1-8. 
He told his friends with authority that the temple would come down in Mark 13:1-2.  His authority was validated when a key part of his prediction came true; but there remains a part of Jesus' vision that will still be fulfilled in the future.  History teaches us the Jerusalem Temple fell in AD 70; as Rome seiged Jerusalem the people of Israel fled into nearly every corner of the world to survive.  Today a foundation wall of the temple remains authenticating part of Jesus vision; but not everything Jesus predicted has come to pass yet.
But not everything Jesus spoke about in Mark 13 has come to pass.  Jesus' friends asked a key question in Mark 13:3-4; how will we know if it is time?

Jesus didn't directly answer their question.  He gave warning about those who would come claiming to be him Mark 13:5-6.  And He named wars and natural disasters as the beginning birth paigns Mark 13:7-8.  But he didn't say how we could be certain of the day or the hour.
He pushed on teaching of the risks and uncertainty of following the Son of Man in a world that will pass away in Mark 13:9-30.  He was even so bold as to declare that as everything else would disappear but that His Word would remain in Mark 13:31.
Does Jesus answer leave things unsettled?  Yes.  Jesus' predictions makes ears tingle and sends imaginations running.  For centuries Christians have pondered Jesus' words unsure how anyone can really know when the end will come. 
Some point to many things today as signs of the soon coming end.  Others look and just wonder if these are really the right signs or not.  We all know God's Word teaches us that Jesus will come again--but how can we know if this is the hour.  Look ahead to Jesus' words in Mark 13:32-36 about God the Father alone knowing.  Truth is there's a mystery here that we can't break through.  Many have tried to explain and interpret; but the mystery remains. 
Faithfully living with a mystery: In about 5 years of bloging the most read post I've written is about Mark 13:1-8.  Read through the the text; there's a lot to talk and pray about.  Jesus Words to his friends invite speculation--but they also invite believers to hope--to hope for the day when Christ will return; to hope for the day when the troubles of this earth will pass away--to hope for the day when God will be visibly at the very center of all things.
Imagining Doomsday and the Apocalypse can make for a very dramatic movie or story.  But for believers it ought to move us to hope.  We have hope because the kingdom of God has come close to us in the person of Jesus. We have hope in the midst of a decaying fallen world it's good to know of God's Word will not pass away.  We have hope because His Word reveals love and mercy for all who cling to Him in faith.
Pax, John

Friday, November 9, 2012

Faith Alive Ruth 3&4, John 12:38-44

Faith in God comes out clear when the wind and water are rising.  Faith in God comes out clear to see when God is the only one in the universe you've got to hold onto.  When everything is crumbling faith latches onto God and doesn't let go. 
If you've been through some storms holding onto God there's a good chance you found peace that you can't explain in words.  When you have faith in God in the middle of the struggles you can see a way forward knowing that you are connected to the God who made you and redeemed you.

faith makes the difference
In Ruth we see a woman who trusted in God and found a way when it didn't seem like there was a way.  In Mark we heard about a woman who came to put all she had into the temple treasury.  Each of these women stands out to us today as a witness to the power of God and as a model to us of true saving faith in the God of Israel.

Our heroes in faith are people like Betsy and Corrie Ten Book who held firmly to God as they were arrested by the Nazi's.  They had no place to hide.  With no guarantee of earthly comforts they found hope holding tight to the God they couldn't see.  They trusted as they faced evil every day certain God would make a way. 
Corrie wrote boldly of her faltering faith and her sisters witness to God as she grew sick and died in a slave labor camp.  Faith is our connection to God, the trustworthy one, in the universe as everything else falls apart.
Saving faith is confidence in God.  Saving faith steps out not knowing where the journey ends.   Faith holds fast to god in the middle of the most difficult circumstances.  Even in our most difficult days faith holds fast to God.