Sunday, June 30, 2013

Christ as Servant

~ Jesus Christ The Servant ~

Jesus Christ came to earth as Creator and King of the universe but took upon Himself the role and function of a servant. Consider three aspects of His service.

In The Upper Room (Past)  ~  “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded” (John 13:3-5). 

In The Churches (Present)  ~  “Then I [John] turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen’”(Revelation 1:12-18). 

In His Coming Glory (Future)  ~  Jesus said, “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning;  and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that He will gird Himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them” (Luke 12:35-37).

summary:  Jesus said, “And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:27-28).

How about you? Do you serve others? If so, how?

the key question: “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15). This is the most important question you will ever answer. If you do not answer it, or answer it incorrectly, you have made the biggest mistake anyone can make!

~ Robert Lloyd Russell, ABUNDANT LIFE NOW

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Messiah, 103

~ People Would Shake Their Heads At Messiah ~

“Search the Scriptures—they testify of Me.”
— Jesus Christ (John 5:39)

The Scripture
“I also have become a reproach to them; when they look at Me, they shake their heads” (Psalm 109:25).

The Messiah  
“And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, ‘You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.’ Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, ‘He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, “I am the Son of God.”’ Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing” (Matthew 27:39-44).  

And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, ‘Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!’ Likewise the chief priests also, mocking among themselves with the scribes, said, ‘He saved others; Himself He cannot save. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.’ Even those who were crucified with Him reviled Him” (Mark 15:29-32). 

(1)  Each Saturday ALN posts an example of a Hebrew Scriptures prophecy (or foreshadowing) related to the coming Messiah which was fulfilled in the birth, life, death, or resurrection of Jesus Christ.
(2)  While extensive it will not be a complete list—there are hundreds of prophecies of the coming Messiah which have been fulfilled by one man—Jesus Christ at His First Coming.
(3)  It is important that there are many more prophecies of the Messiah, yet unfulfilled, which Christians believe will be fulfilled at the time of His Second Coming.  A particularly relevant Scripture verse in this regard is: “Do not despise prophesies” (1 Thessalonians 5:20).
(4)  These posts will typically consist only of Scripture—which speaks for itself.  Sometimes italicized or bold font will be used by ALN for emphasis.
(5)  The numbering of these fulfilled prophecies of the Messiah is used to differentiate individual posts. It is not chronological (either by time of the prophecy or by sequence in the life of the Messiah).  The posting sequence will, for the most part, be in the order that the prophecies appear in Scripture.
(6)  Because of the chosen methodology (#5 above) we will find many specific prophecies repeated multiple times throughout the Scriptures.
(7)  These serial posts are in addition to our regular Tuesday ALN postings on random topics.
(8)  Subscription to ABUNDANT LIFE NOW blog is simple—just use the link on the left sidebar.  Once subscribed you will not miss future posts.

~ Robert Lloyd Russell, ABUNDANT LIFE NOW

Thursday, June 27, 2013

It’s Too Costly

~ It Would Cost Me Too Much ~

note:  This is one in a series of Biblical answers to objections some individuals raise when presented with the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ. 

 “I will not bother to personally conduct a serious investigation of Jesus Christ because it might not be worth it.” 

This is like saying, “Don’t confuse me with facts.” Such a response doesn’t stand up to the test of logic or what your Creator says. Consider logic and consider what God says…  

Just about everything in life involves tradeoffs. When you purchase food, gasoline, or other items in a store, you have decided the trade is worth it. Likewise when you fall in love and decide to marry the man or woman of your dreams, you have decided the change in your life is worth it. The reality is that gains are associated with losses. The question is whether or not the tradeoff is worth it. 

Your Life Is All About Tradeoffs  ~  The martyred missionary Jim Elliot wrote in his private journals, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose” (28 October 1949). Jim had saturated his mind with the Word of God—and this sentiment echoed a New Testament passage where Jesus said, What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:36-38).

Paradox: Saving Your Lifestyle Will Be Loss  ~  Just prior to that previous passage Jesus had said, “Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it” (Mark 8:35).

[Jesus said] “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29).So He [Jesus] said to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life’” (Luke 18:29-30). 

Paradox: Humility Leads to Honor  ~  And He [Jesus] sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, ‘If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all’” (Mark 9:35).

Paradox: Life Comes From Death  ~  Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain” (John 12:24).

Paradox: Giving Is Gain  ~  “Jesus said to him, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” (Matthew 19:21).

The Son of God Loves You  ~  “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24).

What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me?” (Psalm 116:12).

Is Trading the Temporary For the Eternal Worth It?  ~  The last verse of the hymn “Amazing Grace” states, “When we’ve been there ten thousand years bright shining as the sun—we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun.”  Think about it! A 100-year life compared to eternity is similar to less than a drop of water in the vast oceans of the world.

The Testimony of the Apostle Paul  ~  Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).

additional thoughts:
“At the root of all the miseries of mankind is a miscalculation of the value of things” (Benjamin Franklin, 1706-1790).
“It matters not what you lose if you save your soul; it matters not what you save if you lose it.”
“Don’t sacrifice the permanent on the altar of the immediate.”
“The greatest use of life is to spend it on something that outlasts it.” 
“Do not let the good things of life rob you of the best things” (Buster Kothman). 
“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least” (Goethe, 1749-1832). 
“Only one life twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last” (C.T. Studd, 1860-1931).
“I'd rather lose in a cause that will ultimately succeed, than succeed in one that will ultimately fail” (Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1865).
the key question:  What about you? How are your tradeoffs? How are your investments?
summary:The basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can't see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of His divine being.
So nobody has a good excuse.
What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn't treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life” (Romans 1:19-22, The Message).

~ Robert Lloyd Russell, ABUNDANT LIFE NOW

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Law vs. Grace, 6of12

~ Slave vs. Adopted Son ~

introduction:  The Apostle Paul wrote the Book of Galatians to the believers of this local church at a time when they were beginning to reject the gospel of grace and were instead moving backward toward obedience of the Mosaic Law as the means of winning favor with God. Paul’s purpose in writing was to point out the dramatic differences between Law and Grace. 

Slave vs. Adopted Son

LAW  ~  Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of
 God through Christ” (Galatians 4:7). 

GRACE  ~  And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’ Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ” (Galatians 4:6-7).   

summary:  The bottom line of understanding Law vs. Grace is a theology of “DO or DONE!” Are you still trying to DO things to earn your salvation, or do you understand that it was DONE for you on the Cross of Calvary by Jesus Christ—you only need to accept/trust His provision on your behalf?

“Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). “Not by works of righteousness which we do, but according to His mercy He saves us” (Titus 3:5a).

notes:  (1) The fourth Tuesday of each month during 2013 ALN will look at one aspect of “Law vs. Grace” as seen in the Book of Galatians.

(2) In addition to this series of 12 posts on Law vs. Grace, you might take a look at two previous ALN posts.  Law vs. Grace (July 6, 2010) and Law vs. Grace, 2 (July 5, 2011), as well as The Core Message of the Bible #2 (February 1, 2011).

~ Robert Lloyd Russell, ABUNDANT LIFE NOW