WWJB?

Read: Leviticus 26-27, Mark 2

Some years ago, the big question was what would Jesus do? The acronym WWDJ appeared everywhere. Christians proudly wore the letters wrapped around their wrists and proclaimed that, before taking any action, they would ask themselves what Jesus would have done in the very same situation.

Today, I want to ask a different question. Who would Jesus be? For centuries, artists have tried to depict Christ. In film, no one can seem to agree on how he would have appeared. Was he a model with perfectly coiffed hair? Was he lean with olive skin? Was he comely or was he ugly? There are very few traits, if any, that can be agreed upon.

Here’s what I think:

I don’t think his hair was perfectly styled. Blow driers didn’t exist during his walk on earth. That’s one problem solved. I don’t think he was a model—also didn’t exist. But I do think he was well-muscled. As the (step-) son of a carpenter, he likely would have learned his father’s trade which, at the time, involved a lot of hard physical labour. Jesus would have been in great shape in the prime of his life. Based on where he was born, we can assume that he wasn’t white. Nor was he black, but somewhere in between.

But far more important than his physical features was his composure.

Mark 2-14.jpg

Levi, also called Matthew, was the fifth man in two chapters who immediately left what he was doing when Jesus called to him. When was the last time you dropped everything when someone told you to follow?

Our culture has placed great value on followers. We count them up and search for more. We refine how and what we present to attract more followers for no other reason than we want more than the next person. We strive to attract humanity to us without much care as to how we accomplish it.

And there goes Jesus. “Follow me,” he says. And people followed.

We’re supposed to be like Jesus. We shouldn’t have to go out looking for followers. They should see something in us that appeals to them far more than what they have. When Jesus called to Peter and Andrew, James and John, and Matthew, none of those men were thrilled with their lives. Archaeology suggests that the area was over-fished in Jesus’ time. Those first four that he called had little hope with nets in hand. And Matthew was a tax collector—the worst of the worst of society. But as bad as their lives were, there had to have been something spectacular about Jesus for them to be drawn to him so immediately.

When was the last time any of us were able to draw a crowd like Jesus? He often told people to leave him alone and not talk about him. He was prone to walks of solitude. Yet the multitudes fawned over him. They were drawn to him.

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

John 6:44 (NIV)

Are we allowing God to draw people through us? I think that, in order for Jesus to have been so magnetic, he completely pushed his flesh aside. There was so little of his humanity showing that God was able to shine through. Imagine what we believers could accomplish if we would only set ourselves aside to make room for God. Let us not only ask who would Jesus be, but let us ask who could we become?

What is faith?

As Christians, we talk about faith. A lot. It is our belief system. It is the basis on which we live our lives. It is our calling. It is many things. We know that just a small amount—the measure of a mustard seed—can move a mountain. It can heal the sick and open blind eyes. Faith can raise the dead. But how many of us can accurately define faith?

Let’s go the the old standby in Hebrews:

What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.

Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)

I once heard a pastor say that grace is God’s grip on us and faith is our grip on God. According to Noah Webster, her statement was more than just something to be typed on a meme and posted to social media.

The sense of the verb is to strain, to draw, and thus to bind or make fast. A rope or cable is that which makes fast.

Our faith, combined with God’s grace, brings us or draws us toward God and binds us to Him. Without faith, we have no grip whatsoever. Grace alone is not enough. It is not the binding agent, faith is.

So, you see, it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Hebrews 11:6 (NLT)

FAITH: That firm belief of God’s testimony, and of the truth of the gospel, which influences the will, and leads to an entire reliance on Christ for salvation.

When we are called upon to use our faith, our belief should not be in the desired outcome, but in the One who can bring it to pass. We must remember that faith goes beyond a little prayer and a hope. Faith is what binds us to God. It draws us closer to Him. It brings us to obedience to His Word and puts in line with His will. It is our judgement that what God has stated is the truth. And, if He promised it, He will perform it.

Daily Bible reading: Ezekiel 10-12, Hebrews 11:1-19

Evaporate

I know of only one way that can take pure water from soil—evaporation. You can try to strain it, but without an elaborate filtration system, the effort would be futile.

All of us die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. That is why God tries to bring us back when we have been separated from him. He does not sweep away the lives of those he cares about—and neither should you!

2 Samuel 14:14 (NLT)

If you’re chilling outside with a large glass of water sitting on the ground next to you and someone comes and kicks it over, you’re not going to try to salvage that water from the ground. You’re going to go refill your glass from the tap or a bottle. Once that water has been separated from the glass and become one with the earth, you have no use for it. It’s done for. You may even move your chair to cover the spot so you don’t soil your feet by stepping in it. It’s a mess.

At some point we all were (or maybe still are) a mess. We are that water spilled on the ground—impossible to put back where it came from. Only God can draw us out of the muck. We can try to scoop it all into a container. Maybe the dirt will settle and clear water will sit on top, but a little agitation will make it murky again. We can try to filter it through a strainer, but the fine bits of dirt and dust follow the water through and nothing will make that water clear again.

Or we can let God draw us out. He can gently lift us from the dirt like water evaporating in the warm air. We are pulled to Him in our purest form. All the dirt is left behind and we become clean again.

Let the clouds serve as a reminder of God’s grace and ability to draw you to Him. When He brings you out of the muck, all the dirt is left behind and you’ve been made pure.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Samuel 13-14, Luke 20:1-26

Never fail

Sometimes I like to look up words that I hear a lot. In the church, we often hear that God will neither fail nor forsake us. But what the heck does forsake really mean? It’s almost Shakespearean in nature.

FORSAKE: to quit or leave entirely; to desert; to abandon; to depart from; to renounce; to reject; to leave; to withdraw from.

As Moses’ time as leader over Israel is coming to a close, God is giving him a few parting words for Israel and for Joshua—the man who would take Moses’ place.

Be strong and courageous! Do no be afraid of them! The Lord your God will go ahead of you. He will never fail you nor forsake you.

Deuteronomy 31:6 (NLT)

All through the Bible, God tells His people that He will never leave us. He will never abandon us. He will never depart from us. He will never renounce us. He will never reject us. He will never quit us.

So why do we have churches full of people who feel far from God? God is incapable of breaking His Word. He can’t leave us. Could it be that we are the ones who have pulled away from Him?

Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, you hypocrites.

James 4:8 (NLT)

As soon as we turn toward sin, we turn away from God. In order to feel close to God, all we must do it turn to Him. How difficult we have made such a simple thing! There is no great secret to being close to God. Our relationship with Him works the same as our relationship with others—we have to pursue someone in order to have a relationship with them. If we aren’t pursuing God, how can we ever expect to feel close to Him?

Take courage, though! Be strong! God has already gone ahead of us. He may be just out of our line of sight, but it is never, ever too late to catch up. If we make it a priority to pursue Him, He is faithful. He will never fail us.

Daily Bible reading: Deuteronomy 31-32, Luke 1:1-23

Uttermost

Uttermost isn’t a word most of us use. Ever. I’m quite certain that I have friends who have never heard the word. I think we should bring it back into use. But before we do that, what does it mean, exactly?

UT’TERMOST, adjective. Extreme; being in the furthest, greatest or highest degree.

If you’ve heard the word used, it may have been in the context of something being of the uttermost importance.

The former priests were many in number because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he [Jesus] holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

Hebrews 7:23-25 (ESV)

He is able to save to the uttermost. I’ve heard people claim that they are beyond salvation. I can never understand what they think they’ve done to make themselves so unappealing to Christ and beyond His saving grace. This verse here says that He is able to save to the furthest, greatest or highest degree. Usually when you add -est to the end of a word, there is nothing that goes beyond it. You cannot go beyond the furthest. You cannot be greater than the greatest. So if Jesus is able to save to the -est degree, no one is beyond salvation.

Not only did Jesus sacrifice Himself for us, but He continues – for eternity – to make intercession for us so that we are able to live a holy life. If that’s not to the uttermost, I don’t  know what is.

Daily Bible reading: Lamentations 1-2, Hebrews 7

Lead

The true children of God are those who let God’s Spirit lead them.

Romans 8:14 (NCV)

Webster’s dictionary defines the word “lead” as “to go before and show the way”.

I think I’m a good leader. I like to get ahead of the pack, to pave my own way.

I’m not so much of a follower. I have a difficult time allowing other’s to make the way, to go behind someone and allow them to lead me on a path I may not have chosen to take on my own.

Perhaps another definition might fit this verse better: to draw; to entice; to allure.

Perhaps I define for myself the word “follow” to be a negative. But if I allow God’s Spirit to draw, to entice, to allure me, suddenly this following thing isn’t so much of a chore as it is a choice. Rather than dutifully trudging behind a leader, I am chasing after something with desire, something that has captured not only my heart, but my attention.