Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Yeshua Practiced What He Preached

Whatever Yeshua preached that we should do, He did Himself.  I have a few examples to share, but I'm sure there are more.  I've been thinking about this again and again, and it fascinated me to know that Yeshua did for us everything He told us to do for Him!

Let's start with the picture above.  It's a bit...interesting.  We might actually get a chuckle out of it.  But if you think about it, Christ did exactly what this picture shows.  He traded His eternal Throne of Glory for the life of a homeless man.  Likely His clothing was tattered.  He probably slept where He could.  When you internalize this truth, it really AWES you.  The eternal Son of God Almighty humbled Himself to become a man.  He willingly emptied Himself of His Glory to be born into our world.  He even describes Himself as humble (Matthew 11:29).  Imagine that for a moment.

A Being that can speak anything into existence, Who owns humble.  He doesn't think twice about being generous.  It is His very nature to Love.  This is one of the qualities of God that brings a person to their knees.  An Almighty Being such as He cares *that much* to step into His own creation?  How many times have you heard someone wonder why an Almighty Being would even care about the "ants" on that blue speck in an unremarkable arm of the Milky Way, one of a bajillion galaxies?

But He does.  An eternal God of Love would love everything He's created, AND love it with an infinite Love.  Especially creatures made in His own image.  It wouldn't matter if we were all giants and lived on a planet the size of Jupiter -- we'd still be tiny to Him.  And yet He cares.  SO much.  Because He's humble.  And He's giving.

Point Number One: Yeshua told us not to worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34).  He never did.  You never once saw Christ fretting about food, clothing, or money all throughout the Gospels.  He was peaceful.  He completely trusted His Heavenly Father to provide.  In fact, He frequently told His disciples to have faith when they descended into worry.

Point Number Two: Yeshua told us to give everything we owned to the poor and come follow Him (Luke 18:22).  Like the picture above -- if He expects us to live a life without comfort, He likewise lived a life without comfort to set an example.  It's an extreme example, granted.  But the ultimate point was to put no value in material gain.  If you lose something material, it matters not.  You have treasure in Heaven.  Christ knew this.  Therefore, He was willing to live a life without material possessions.

Point Number Three: In Luke 6:28, He tells us to bless those that curse us and pray for those who abuse us.  In Luke 23:34, Yeshua prays for those who are about to crucify Him - "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."  Does this mean God the Father turned away from what they were about to do?  I don't know.  But I do know that after the crucifixion, when the earthquake hit, the centurion and those soldiers with him cried out in Matthew 27:54 - "When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”  If we are to believe that grace is by faith alone, and if the very Son of God prayed for the Father Himself to forgive them, clearly we see the fruit of the Son's prayer moments after His death.  We pray for those that abuse us and bless those that curse us because we never know how the Father will answer our prayers and bring them to faith.

Point Number Four: Yeshua tells us to turn the other cheek when someone strikes us in Luke 6:29.  Yeshua is the Prince of Peace.  Here, He's telling us to keep the peace.  Do not stir up contentions with petty fights.  We see Yeshua keeping His peace at His kangaroo court of a trial (Matthew 26:57-68).  Even when they beat Him and tugged at His beard and mocked Him, He stayed silent and did not sin.

Point Number Five: Luke 6:31 tells us to "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  This is actually quite profound.  If God want us to give our lives to Him, He must give His life to us.  If He wants us to give up everything to follow Him, He must give up everything to save us.  He doesn't tell us to do anything without first doing it Himself.  I don't know about you, but I find this truth amazing, even though I've read the New Testament a million times.  If He asks for a commitment from us, He commits first.  Always.  And in the same manner.

Point Number Six: Yeshua says in John 15:13 that "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends."  This is probably the most obvious of Christ "practicing what He preached" teachings, as He did, in fact, lay down His life for His friends -- US.  Notice how He says this is the GREATEST of loves.  Notice who is dying -- the Son of God.  Therefore we know that God Loves us with the GREATEST of Loves.  His Own.  Because He IS Love.

Point Number Seven: Matthew 5:44 has a great and humbling truth hidden within it.  This is the famous "Love your enemies" Scripture.  Christ definitely practiced this one.  And Paul even reinforced this idea in his epistles.  We think this is because God is a loving God and we should love everyone -- Kumbaya and all that.  But this is deeper when we scratch at it.  EVERYONE was an enemy of God before Christ came.  And He died for us WHILE WE WERE YET SINNERS (Romans 5:8).  Yeshua told us to love our enemies because He first loved US, those of us who were at enmity with God (James 4:4).

Some people think what Yeshua asks us to do is beyond us.  That we can't possibly do it.  Perhaps they are right.  We are sinners, after all.  But everything Christ taught, He practiced.  I'm sure there are scores of other examples I haven't shared.  Like the Two Great Commandments, for one.  Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.  Yes, Yeshua honored them.  Imagine -- treating us, His neighbors, as Himself.  How does God Love within the Godhead?  Perfectly.  Amazingly.  All-consumingly.  And this is how He loves us.  The Father loves us as He loves Christ.  Christ loves us as He loves the Father.  The deeper you dig, the farther you fall into the height, depth, length, and breadth of the Love of God.  No one and nothing compares to Him. 

What He has done for us cannot be put into mere words.  There aren't enough ages to come to sing His praises.  My heart isn't big enough to contain my awe.  My spirit is overwhelmed at the beauty, the sheer and utter beauty of the King of Kings.

My Bridegroom, My Beloved, My Yeshua.

Lord...  I love You.  Because I know beyond the SHADOW of a doubt that You undeniably Love me.  My only lament is that words are not adequate to describe what I feel for You...  And if I cannot describe my own love for You, when I am but a human, how then can I even BEGIN to fathom Your unfathomable Love for me?

If my love is a drop of rain, 

Your Love is the ocean.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Understanding our Inheritance in Christ

In church, we're taught that the Body of Christ is made up of many members.  Each member has a certain job and we represent Christ here on earth.  He is the Head, and we are the Body.  And this is quite true.  Every member of our Lord's Church has a role to play in the Kingdom of God.  I heard someone say once that you are who you are in the Body of Christ because you are needed.  I recently asked Yeshua what I was in His Body.  I wasn't quite sure.  

He showed me that I'm an edifier.  One of my greatest gifts is to encourage others, as well as having a way with words.  There's no doubt in my mind Yeshua allowed me to grow in the knowledge of how to write stories and weave words together to keep things interesting when He finally called me to do His work.  I believe I was put here to edify other members of the Body, as well as sharing what I've learned through the Holy Spirit.  I suppose I have a ministry of sorts, writing on my Facebook page, this blog, and posting in Christian forums.  A humble little ministry, but our Lord is humble (Matt. 11:29), so I'm in good company.

And while it's true we're all members with different jobs, we also must realize that we are ONE BODY with Christ as the Head.  This doesn't just mean that He is above us with all authority, it means we are ONE with Him.  He is one with us.  He is our Lord, He tells us what to do, and as His Body, we do His will in this world.

But a head can do nothing apart from a body.  It has no feet.  It has no hands.  Apart from the body, the head is useless.  Now, I'm not saying CHRIST is useless, God forbid!  My point is, if it wasn't for Christ's Body (ie., US), the Word of Christ wouldn't have spread much farther than the Promised Land.  In that light, the body is likewise useless without the head.  It cannot move, cannot walk, it has no life.  Both are interconnected, both are one.  Your head is not separate from your body, and likewise, Christ is not separate from His Church.

Where the head is, there the body is also.  Where the body is, there the head is also.  Christ illustrated this when He said in Matthew 18:20 - "For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them."  He is with us when we are gathered in His name.  Ephesians 2:4-6 says - "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus".  We have been raised up with Christ, therefore, we are likewise with Him.

This is a fascinating truth, because in Ephesians, the wording is past tense.  We won't be seated in the future, we are seated RIGHT NOW with Christ in heavenly places.

The picture above might be a little crude, as there's only ONE Throne in Heaven, not two or three.  Even though God is three Persons, He sits on one Throne because He is one God.  Just as Christ sat down at the Father's right hand, we, too, will sit at Christ's right hand.  

Revelation 3:21 - "The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne."

Now, this is NOT to say we become God or gods ourselves.  Rather, Peter explained that we share in the Divine Nature in 2 Peter 1:3-4 - "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire."

What does that mean, to partake of the Divine Nature?

To put it simply, there was only one loophole through God's holiness.  He is so perfect, that only perfection can stand before Him.  This is why we must be redeemed.  God's justice is met when payment for the sin can be made.  This is what Christ did for us, He paid our debt for sin by dying in our place and taking God's wrath upon His Own shoulders.

This also accomplished a spiritual switcheroo.  2 Corinthians 5:21 explains it this way - "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

In order for Christ to take our sins upon Himself, He had to give US His righteousness.  The whole point of salvation is to make us clean, perfect, righteous, and holy.  This cannot be accomplished by our own ability, therefore, we have Christ's own righteousness.  This is what it means to partake of the Divine Nature.  He literally gave us a piece of Himself in order to redeem us.

While we are not "gods", we have been given the authority to rule and reign with Christ.  And this privilege comes with sitting on God's Throne with Him.  We are allowed, because we share in His Nature -- not even the angels can boast of this!  Right now, we are a little lower than angels, but when we sit upon Christ's Throne in our glorified bodies, we will be FAR ABOVE any other power in the universe, according to Ephesians 1:21.

Romans 8:17 tells us we're co-heirs with Christ.


We inherit what Christ inherits.  Well...  What does Christ inherit?  

ALL OF HEAVEN AND CREATION!!  The Father has given ALL power and authority to His Son! 

This is amazing, because it means that not only do we get to go to Heaven, we get to inherit what CHRIST inherits.  We're also allowed to sit ON His Throne to rule and reign with Him, and we've been given His authority.

If you go back through your Bible, you'll see countless promises given to the coming Messiah all throughout the Old Testament.  Here's the kicker in all this -- if we're co-heirs with Christ, if we're spiritually united with Him, if we share in His Divine Nature, if we're One with Him as the Head and Body are one, then WE likewise have ALL the promises given to Messiah!

Heaven will not be some boring, endless church service before the Throne of God singing worship songs to Him into eternity future, but rather, we inherit CHRIST, who has inherited EVERYTHING.  We are granted a place to sit at His right hand, just as He sat at His Father's right hand.

This is why we're called His Bride!  Just as a man is the head of the household, Christ is the Head of His Church.  We'll submit to His authority, but we'll also wear His name and work under His authority, just as a wife with her husband.  Yeshua quite literally gave Himself to us on the cross of Calvary.  

In more ways than one!  \O/