Are you feeling uncertain, weak, hopeless, frustrated, even lost? Our world is full of uncertainty, but Jesus says the truth will set you free, free from all this uncertainty. The truth Jesus refers to is the truth given in His word. It is the truth that sanctifies us from the uncertainty of this world and gives us the victory over this world, even our faith (1 Jn 5:4-5; Rom 10:17; Jn 17:17, 20).
History has tamed Jesus but the New Testament writings tell a different story. Jesus was filled with emotions: joy, gladness, anger, grief. One exchange with the Pharisees and Scribes displays the anger Jesus felt toward the way they had contaminated the religion of God’s chosen people. At the end of seven (maybe eight) statements of judgment (Woes) Jesus seems to work himself into fever pitch and calls them a common expression of the day:
You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell? Matthew 23:33 NASB
The seven judgements he cast on them:
- They were making salvation difficult
- They corrupt converts
- Made minor distinction distraction (trivial pursuit)
- Neglecting the important
- Were hypocrites & Self-indulgent
- Were doubling down and hypocrites who were lawless
- They murdered true prophets (and would soon murder the supreme prophet…Jesus himself)
- +1 (not in early manuscripts) destroyed widows houses (or their means for living for the sake of their false religion & said long prayers to make themselves seem important
His message against the Pharisaical religion:
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NASB)
Which message do you identify with more?
True worship is not without power to accomplish God’s purpose in our lives. When we honor Christ in worship for all He is and has done for us, we find the encouragement we need to strengthen ourselves and one another. Then we are built up together in Christ so that each one can do its part (Ephesians 4:11, 16; Colossians 2:18, 19).
True worship is worship that is true to God’s purpose for worship. It turns the hearts and lives of the worshippers toward God, and represents a heart that is willing to live life as a reflection of the truths confessed in that worship.
Hypocritical Worship is worship that is done as a substitute for just and righteous living. It is worship done outwardly but has with no honest desire to renew the mind and direct the daily life of the worshiper. Hypocritical worship never intends to be what it pretends to be.
(Isaiah 66:1-3; Hosea 6:6; Matthew 9:13; John 4:23-24)
Less is More
The key for a bull rider is not strength, no one is stronger than a 2000 lb. bull! The key to his victory it is balance. In fact any thing that throws off his balance brings defeat instead of victory. The key for a tightrope-walker is to be rid of everything that hinders his goal (he does not carry unnecessary burdens). His challenge is to focus on HIS goal, not the past.
Forgetting what is behind (Php 3:13) we must focus on Jesus and throw off everything that hinders our journey with Him (Heb 12:1-2).
Faithfulness and Redemption
The church in Smyrna (Rev 2:8-11) face persecution on every side, Jesus tells them that He knows it, well. He also reminds them that they have nothing to fear from what they are about to suffer – even to the point of death (the first death, that of this body).
He tells them to take the opportunity (having ears) to hear (listen) to what He tells them so that they can overcome and receive the crown of life everlasting. The bottom line is be faithful even unto death, that is the victory that overcomes this world. Their faithfulness, like ours, is fortified in the redemption that is theirs in His blood (Rom 3:23-25; Eph 1:7).
Jesus clearly states and lives the example of what His disciples must do – love one another, as He loved them (John 13:34-35; 15:10-12). Jesus would show His disciples the full extent of His love (John 13:1 NIV). He washed their feet. They did not understand, at the time, what He was really doing in washing their feet (13:7), but He promises later they will understand. Jesus explains to them that He has set them an example (13:12-16) of loving service and promises blessing to those that are willing to obey (13:17).
The apostle Paul addresses at least 17 major problems that are working against the church in Corinth, but in the middle of the discussing the problems he shows the “The Most Excellent Way” – love! Loving the church demands that we rely on and live out of our faith in Jesus Christ. Without love we are nothing, we gain nothing, and we do nothing to help those around us (1 Corinthians 13:1-8a)!
2 Peter 1: 1-15
If you have ever felt lost, then you know well the anxiety that comes from that realization. Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, came to seek and save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). We all like sheep had gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way (Isaiah 53:6). We were dead in our transgressions, separated from our God and the life that is in Him (Ephesians 2:1-5). Lost? Yes, we were by the very definition – L-O-S-T ! The dictionary has a thorough definition of the word lost:
lost adjective [past participle of lose] (15th century) not made use of, won, or claimed
2a: no longer possessed b:no longer known
3: ruined or destroyed physically or morally: desperate
4 a: taken away or beyond reach or attainment:denied (regions lost to the faith) b:insensible, hardened (lost to shame)
5 a:unable to find the way b: no longer visible c:lacking assurance or self-confidence: helpless
6: rapt, absorbed (lost in reverie)
7: not appreciated or understood:wasted (their jokes were lost on me)
(Inc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1996).
We came to believe that we were lost in our sins, but we also came to believe in the atoning death of Lord Jesus Christ on the cross (John 3:16; 8:12, 24; 1Jn 2:1) and God’s power to raise Him from the dead. Having believed this, we submitted ourselves to Him in baptism (Colossians 2:12-13), and we were united with Him in baptism to be freed from sin and walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4-7). However, we still may face the feeling of being lost, lost in our emotions, trials, struggles, ignorance, and even just circumstances. Revisit the definitions of the word – lost. Now, think about your life, your heart. Can you see how the devil tempts us feel lost? When we feel helpless, overwhelmed, hardened, denied, desperate, invisible, and unknown to others and God’s purpose. We feel, in a sense, L-O-S-T!
Here is the good news – Jesus Christ, the same one who came to seek and save us initially, He is still the same – yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8)!