Jesus

Remembering the Reign

There is a lot of turmoil and confusion in our world today. One does not have to look very far to see battle lines being drawn and emotions running high in the world of politics /culture. From the upcoming presidential election to the issues regarding public bathrooms, there are a lot of a heated discussions and impactful actions occurring. It can be easy to get caught up in such, and it is fairly easy to begin to be either pessimistic and downtrodden or angry and confused....or possibly some combination thereof.

As followers of the Messiah, we are to live in this current world, but not to be of this world. Let us keep ever in our hearts that the kingdom we have joined is not “of this current world” (see John 18:33-38; Matthew 6:10; etc.). Knowing the nature of the reign of God should instill confidence, contentment, and courage in our hearts...if we belong to Him.

“Be subject for the Master's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor (president) as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as slaves of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor (president)” (1 Peter 2:13-17; compare with Romans 13:1-7).

It should to be clear that we are to honor and submit to our governing authorities...whether we personally agree with their decisions (or like them) or not. But if submitting to a civil authority ever conflicts with Divine commands, then we also know how we ought to respond: “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29; see also 4:18-20).

Some more important reminders/observations:

Spiritual liberty is far more important than civil liberty (liberties). I am unaware of any passage of Holy Writ discussing the merits of civil liberties. It is righteousness that exalts a nation (read that somewhere in an old book with lots of wisdom)...not political function, structure, or liberty. As odd as it may seem to some, a lack of civil liberty actually breeds commitment among God's holy ones. History (both inspired and non-inspired) abundantly testifies to the way persecution fans the flames of spiritual and numerical growth within the body of the Messiah. Read Acts 4:1-4; 5:41-6:1, 7.

Individual repentance brings a nation back from ruin, not leaders or voting booths. Hearts changed by the good news leads to changed lives – all of which then leads to a changed people. The good news of the King is the Divine power to save and make people right before God (Romans 1:16-17). We will never truly change any nation by our vote (or any kind of political effort)...the only way to truly change a nation is to live within and to proclaim the rescuing reign of Deity.

If Jesus is to truly be our Master, then He must be the Master of every arena of our lives – including the workplace, the grocery store, and the voting booth. May the Messiah be the Master of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  

End of the day truth: Jesus is King of kings...let us strive to be His loyal subjects! May we never be ashamed of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Messiah, for it is the Divine power for deliverance to everyone who believes.    

For His infinite worth,

Gantt     

The Mind of the Messiah

How is your thinking? What kind of mindset or attitude do you possess? Where is the source of your philosophy of life and for life? Do you need to refocus or even completely reorient your thinking pattern in this life? Let us consider together...

As we approach the heart of Paul's letter to the Philippians, we notice the following about developing and maintaining unity as Christians:

“So if our shared life in the Messiah brings you any comfort; if love still has the power to make you cheerful; if we really do have a partnership in the Spirit; if your hearts are at all moved with affection and sympathy— then make my joy complete! Bring your thinking into line with one another. Here’s how to do it. Hold on to the same love; bring your innermost lives into harmony; fix your minds on the same object. Never act out of selfish ambition or vanity; instead, regard everybody else as your superior. Look after each other’s best interests, not just your own” (Philippians 2:1-4).

After this strong exhortation to unity in King Jesus on the basis of the blessings that are possible in Him, Paul then reminds them to possess the mind or attitude of the Messiah Himself. He provides them the perfect pattern for an attitude toward God and humanity that will lead to holiness before God and unity with one another. Both the holiness and the unity of Christianity is found in and focused upon these foundational truths concerning the Messiah and His redemptive work. If we want to be godly, and if we want peace with others, then we had better look at and to Jesus. A proper relationship with Jesus is based upon whether we are willing to walk in His footsteps (see 1 John 2:1-6). Paul writes,

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in King Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be exploited, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that King Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5-11).

The verses above can be viewed as a type of poem, and one can easily pick out three or possibly four stanzas in these short lines from the apostle Paul. I suggest that the Holy Spirit's entire point in this larger section of Holy Writing is centered in this poem or summary of Jesus' work. If we miss this...well, then we really miss everything. Have we missed it? Do we truly see it today?

Philippians 2:5-11 is the story about Jesus, the Servant of Israel as set forth by the prophet Isaiah (read chapters 40-66). He leaves Heaven to come to lowly Earth - He arrives - not sitting on a throne of political power, but as a humble slave. Many men are brought low by others, but this God-Man chooses to humble Himself. This poem is also the story of humanity, for it is about the new Adam who will restore all things(see Psalm 8; Hebrews 2; 1 Corinthians 15; and Romans 5). Ultimately, it is the story of Deity – Jesus revealed the true and living God to us (John 1:14-18).    

 

For His infinite worth,

Gantt

The Life

How valuable is your life to you? Life is a sacred gift from our Creator (see Genesis 1-2; 9:4-7 and others), and it is not to be considered lightly nor taken from another. Life is such a powerful concept, and such a valuable possession. If we had not been given the precious gift of life, then we would be nothing – no meaning apart from life. Consider how much time, money, and energy we spend to live as long as possible. It is certainly true that “nobody wants to die.” A wasted life may be the most horrible occurrence ever...

The Purpose

After Jesus heals a Centurion's slave, Luke records: “Soon afterward He went to a town called Nain, and His disciples and a great crowd went with Him” (Luke 7:11). Why did Jesus go to Nain? What is special about that location? It would have been a very small town with maybe a couple hundred residents. Did Jesus randomly pick this dot on the map?

John tells us that Jesus “had to pass through Samaria” in order to travel from Judea to Galilee (John 4:4), but most of the Jews would bypass Samaria (due to the animosity between the Jews and Samaritans). Luke later shows Jesus setting His face to go up to Jerusalem...for one last time (Luke 9:51). He was determined to go and to face His cruel suffering at Roman hands. Jesus always had a reason for all that He did...but what was His purpose in travelling to the little village of Nain?

The Procession

    “As He drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her” (Luke 7:12).

    Can you see this funeral procession? Can you feel the pain of a mother who has lost her husband to death and now even her only son (maybe even her only child)? Losing a loved one is horrible, but the utter grief of losing a child is unbearable (see Amos 8:10; Zechariah 12:10). Can there be any greater sorrow than losing your only son?

    The Presentation

    “And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.' Then He came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And He said, 'Young man, I say to you, arise.' And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus presented him to his mother (Luke 7:13-15).

    Who interrupts a funeral procession? Who tells a grieving mother to stop crying? Jesus, the one who is life (John 1:4-5), stops the funeral by giving a young man his life back and a widow her young son back. It seems that He could not stand her misery (see Judges 10:16). Notice the way He takes note of her as a person, and then compassionately resurrects her precious child. This is Yahweh in the flesh displaying His wonderful love and compassion on His own creation (Psalm 103:8-14). The King of the universe presents a son to his mother, but how does He do this? Maybe He says, “Woman, behold, your son” (John 19:26), and “Behold, your mother” (John 19:27). Perhaps He silently takes the man's hand and places it in the hand of his mother. What a picture of the Messiah! Do you see the King of glory? 

    I recall the time when Elijah raised a widow's son from the dead (1 Kings 17:17-24). "And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper chamber into the house and delivered him to his mother. And Elijah said, 'See, your son lives.' And the woman said to Elijah, 'Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth'" (1 Kings 17:23-24). It is interesting to consider the possibility that the place where Elijah raised this young man may have been near the location of First Century Nain...

    But this is not Elijah or Elisha...this is the eternal Word (John 1:1-5, 14-18)! One day He will bring about an even larger presentation of the living from the graves. "Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment" (John 5:28-29).

    Consider this ultimate presentation one day in the future: "Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power" (1 Corinthians 15:24; see also Ephesians 5:25-27). Will you be a part of that presentation of the holy kingdom to the Father? 

    The Proclamation

    "Awe seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, 'A great prophet has arisen among us!' and 'God has visited his people!' And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country" (Luke 7:16-17). 

    The reaction of the people is not surprising. Would you not be struck with awe and amazement at the resurrection of this young man by Jesus of Nazareth? But their proclamation was only partly correct. Jesus was not just a great prophet...He was and is THE prophet Moses spoke of in Deuteronomy 18:15.

    Just as He had promised, Yahweh had returned, but in a much more physical and concrete way than they had ever imagined (John 1:1-5, 14-18). God was literally there in a temple of human flesh! Talk about a visit! 

    "And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, 'Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation'" (Luke 19:41-44). 

    Will we recognize our time of visitation? Will God visit us one day in order to punish us for our disobedience to His holy will? 

    God has visited...and will visit with blessings and beauty. Deity often visits in order to secure a people for His own name (Acts 15:14). Are we willing to recognize our time of visitation?

    For His infinite worth, 

    Gantt

    Are You Engaged? (Philippians 1:27-30)

    Well, are you engaged in your Christianity? Are you actively engaged in living for the King of kings? Is your attention intentionally focused upon glorifying Deity, serving His people, and reaching the lost with His kingdom message?

    Correspondence

    After expressing his gratitude for the ancient Christians in Philippi (Philippians 1:1-11), the apostle Paul describes and explains some current and pressing issues in his life (Philippians 1:12-26). The apostle to the Gentiles then exhorts, “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27a). What does Paul mean by living in a way that is worthy of the good news of the Messiah? Can you honestly say such about your life?

    It seems that the apostle is encouraging us to behave in such a fashion that corresponds to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (see 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Romans 6:1-23). We are to conduct ourselves as loyal subjects in the reign of Deity, to live in daily submission to the King. Now that the Messianic kingdom has arrived, let us all turn from sin and start believing in the good news of Jesus (see Mark 1:14-15). Paul says something very similar in his letter to the Ephesians: “As a prisoner for the Master, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1). It truly is a powerful and challenging thought...living worthy of the good news of the cross and of Christianity. Jesus died for us...are we willing to live for Him and to live like Him? 

    The term Paul uses to refer to our conduct literally refers to living as a model citizen in a city (see Philippians 3:20). Philippi was a Roman colony, and the Philippians would have been quite familiar with the concept of citizenship and having certain obligations to live up to in being a part of a greater whole. We are to dedicate ourselves to living according to the law of life that is found within the Scriptures of the Messiah.

    Cooperation

    After telling the Philippians to live in a manner that corresponds to the good news, Paul then explains the purpose as he says, “so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27b). These next few lines focus in on the work of unity within the people of Jesus. A lifestyle that is appropriate in relation to the good news will automatically lead us to standing together and striving together for God's holy truth...even in pagan society.

    As Christians, we are to be caring for the needs of, sharing our possessions with, and bearing the burdens of our fellow-workers in the reign of Deity. Our mission should be to spread the good news of Jesus throughout the entire world as a family unit. In fact, the Philippians were participating with Paul in the work of the good news of King Jesus (see Philippians 1:5; 4:10-20).

    Courage

    “Not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of the Messiah you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for His sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have” (Philippians 1:28-30).         

    To be continued...

    For His infinite worth, 

    Gantt

    The Master's Supper

    Based upon the example of the early church/apostles, we are to partake of the Lord's Supper upon the first day of every week (see Acts 20:7 for more info). But what exactly are we doing when we join together in eating the unleavened bread and drinking the fruit of the vine?

    I submit that the Master's Supper is a type of memorial service...someone most important and very dear to our hearts has died. It is a time when we gather as the people of the Messiah to remember Him and His death upon our behalf. Paul writes to the Christians of ancient Corinth:

    "For I received from the Master what I also delivered to you, that the Master Jesus on the night when He was betrayed took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, 'This is My body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.' In the same way also He took the cup, after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me'" (1 Corinthians 11:23-25; see also Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; and Luke 22:14-23).

    Paul tells these holy ones that he imparted to their hearts what he had received from the Lord about the night of His betrayal and arrest. Let us keep in mind that the Master willingly suffered and died for everyone. He had the authority to give up His life for us, and He chose to fulfill that very task. He explains,

    "For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.This charge I have received from My Father” (John 10:17-18).

    His retelling of Jesus' words on that night show us the focus of the partaking of the bread and the juice. Communion is to be a time of recollection, for we are to think back to the time of the cross, and to express our earnest appreciation for the King of glory who shed His precious blood for us. Without the blood of Jesus, the New Covenant of forgiveness and faithfulness would not be possible. May we always strive to keep our minds focused on Deity and the sacrifice of the cross as we partake with our fellow brothers and sisters in the Messiah. The Lord's Supper is not some kind of free time during the service to think about our lunch plans or to contemplate our schedule for the week. Do you think God is pleased when we are distracted and discontented during this time of worship to and remembrance of Him?

    But partaking of the Lord's Supper is more than just a memorial service of recollection...in fact, it is quite unlike any other memorial service we have ever or will ever attend. For the One we are honoring and remembering in this service is no longer dead! Even during the institution of the Lord's Supper, Jesus made it clear that this upcoming crucifixion would not be the end for Him (see Matthew 26:29). Just as His suffering and death were not a surprise to Him, the resurrection was always a part of the plan (Matthew 16:21; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

    Consider the way Paul refers to him in 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 as "the Master" and "the Master Jesus." Was He the Master (or Lord) when the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to pen those words? Yes. Is He still the reigning Lord and King today? Absolutely. The Father raised Him up from the grave and exalted Him to His right hand (Acts 2:32-33). Therefore, we can "know for certain that God has made Him both Master and King" (Acts 2:36). As we partake of the communion, let us never lose sight of the fact that Jesus is alive and well in Heaven. The cross of the Messiah ought to motivate us to lovingly and humbly obey the Master of heaven and earth.

    Paul went on to observe, "For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Master's death until He comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26). Our continual observance of communion is one key way we declare our Savior and His redemptive work to the world. The Master's Supper then is also a type of proclamation. How often do we truly perceive what we do each Sunday morning to be a message to each other and even to the world?

    But Paul tells us that this proclamation is to be done until He comes again. Once again we are reminded of the fact that He not only died for us, but He was also resurrected to never die again (Revelation 1:18). He is not only alive, and not only reigning as the King of kings and Master of masters, but our Jesus will return to this world again so we can be with Him forever (1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11; Hebrews 9:27-28). As we gather around the table to commemorate His death, we are proclaiming His death, His resurrection, and His coming to all!

    In light of this recollection and proclamation, I suggest that the Lord's Supper should also be a a time of celebration. We know that God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians), and it makes sense that we should express our gratitude during communion with an aspect of joy in our hearts to Him. The Master's Supper is certainly a time of soberness and sadness (as we dwell on His pain and death), but it can also be an occasion of cheerfulness as we reflect on the point of His death, the power of His resurrection, and the promise of His return.