Monthly Archives: January 2017

Simple but Profound Truths about Jesus

Not too long ago I read John 5:23b which says, “Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father.” These words were spoken by Jesus about Himself and His Father. Being someone who wants to know God and honor Him, I took this seriously and began looking more closely at Jesus, in particular His sacrifice on the cross. I want to honor and value Him in truth rather than in rote or in an unthinking or shallow manner. I am still learning many truths about Jesus, but here are a few.

Jesus, Immanuel, God in the flesh, had a body. Many people think Jesus had a body so that He would be more relatable to us. It is true, that Jesus having a body makes Him more relatable to us. He was able to show us who God is and what He is like in a more visual way. However, the fact that He had a body like us has more to do with salvation truths than anything else.

 Jesus Had a Body for the Explicit Purpose of Dying
“Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me…” Hebrews 4:4-5.

This is a partial quote from Ps. 40:6 and other Old Testament passages. It is used to indicate that a spirit of obeying God is more important to Him than all the ritual sacrifices that people offered unto God. But, there is a deeper meaning in the expression “a body you prepared for me.”

A body was prepared for God in Jesus, because it is that very body that would be the one true sacrifice that atoned for the sins of the world. A physical body was necessary for Jesus to have not just to relate to us, but actually to be able to die for us.

Phil. 2:7-8,  states that Jesus being in very nature God put on the form of a man, took on the appearance and qualities of man in the flesh. He did this, humbling Himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. I find this very compelling that Jesus literally became a “man, a human” so that He could die for our sins.

A Flesh and Blood Body Provided Atoning Blood
Hebrews 9: 11-12 – “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” (NASB)

Jesus took on a flesh and blood body so that His actual blood was poured out for our sins. Isolating this truth and thinking about it makes it more real and meaningful to me.  Think about this -before Jesus came to earth He knew He would give His earthly body to be killed and His blood would bring spiritual life to us who believe in Him. Romans 3:25 emphasizes this truth, “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.”

A Physical Body – Resurrected
Jesus had a physical body so that He could suffer and die on our behalf, but also so that He could be resurrected. This resurrection is crucial to our life.

In Luke 24:39  we read  what Jesus said about Himself to the disciples after His resurrection, “See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”

Acts 1:3 emphasizes the truth of this resurrection. “To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.”

John in the book of Revelations states the most powerful truth about Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus, Himself, tells us who He is and what His resurrection has accomplished, “I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”

Jesus, because He had a body that was resurrected, holds the keys to death for us. He is truly, the Way, the Truth and the Life.

The Resurrection of Jesus’ Body Leads to My Resurrection
The resurrection of the body that God prepared for Jesus is crucial to our spiritual life, to our freedom from sin. Paul notes this in 1 Corinthians 15:17 – “and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.”

As a result of Jesus’ resurrection I can be resurrected from death, because He was the “firstborn” from the dead. (Col.1:18- “He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.”)

The power of Jesus’ physical resurrection brings about both physical resurrection from the dead for me, but also a spiritual resurrection in me through His Spirit in me. As a result of Jesus’ resurrection, I can die to my fleshly self and be resurrected as a new creation in Jesus.

Romans 6:4- 7 describe this resurrection process: “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.

Who does not want this? How many times have you asked yourself, “How can I be different? How can I change? How can I do this better or do this over?”  We have hope in these things through the resurrection of Jesus.

Basic Gospel
Paul describes these truths that I wrote about as being the Gospel, “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…” 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.

As for me, I see nothing simple in these truths. They are rich with meaning and complex with implication for us in our relationship to Jesus. My sense of honoring Jesus is deeper, and more entrenched in truth than ever before.  I encourage you to look deeper into the truths you know about Jesus. Let your faith be encouraged.

“Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.” 1 Timothy 3:16

A Quest to Worship

I am on a quest to learn what it means to “worship” God. I can think back to several “worship” experiences. When I was young, I attended many worship services which consisted of rote and routine practice of words, and actions. It was meaningful to me because of what I believed.

Sometimes I would go to that building when few others were there. I would sit with sunlight streaming through the beautifully painted windows, the scent of candle wax and incense in the air and the sound of bird songs flowing in from outside. It was the quietness of the place that drew me to feeling of communing with God.

Later when I began reading the Bible I found this verse, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth!” (Ps.46:10)

When I read this I thought of those days sitting quietly communing with God. While the building provided an aura of communing with God it was the stillness and quietness that that allowed me to be calm in my soul and commune with God.  I am thinking that was the beginning of being drawn into knowing God.

Cease the Strivings of Self
To worship God, first requires a stilling of the heart. Various translations of Ps. 46:10 use the expression “cease striving” instead of still. To begin worshiping God I need to calm, still my heart and mind and cease striving with all the distractions of the world, and the inner turmoil. Above all, I have to cease striving to be first and foremost in my life. In other words I need to stop worshiping myself. Stop seeking honor, recognition, credit and approval for myself and give that first place and honor to God. (Wow, wouldn’t that make all our relationships go better).

Isn’t that what Ps. 46:10 says, “Be still, cease striving” to be at the top of the recognition consciousness, and know God.  Looking further in that verse, we see that exalting God above all is involved in being still and knowing Him.

God is God
In Ps. 95 there is a call to worship God, “Come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God and we are the people of His pasture…” Ps. 95:6-7.  “Bowing down and kneeling before the Lord our Maker” is exalting God. It is honoring Him because it is an attitude of the heart and a mindset that says, “Yes, God, You are God I am not. You are my Creator. You are to be honored above all.”  It is acknowledging His supremacy. We are the people who belong to Him, under His care, under His reign.

I have been an independent spirited person and at times I don’t like the idea of being “under someone’s reign or rule.” That is that part of me that is god in my own life. Yet I like the thought of being one of the “people of His pasture” and being comforted that the God who created the universe takes care of me.

God is the Ultimate Value
In Ps. 96:8, another call to worship, the psalmist says, “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name…”  Ascribe means to give, to acknowledge, and to declare. We must acknowledge that God is God, and assign to Him that position in our life.

 “Glory” in this sense means weight, heaviness or value. In other words worshiping God is giving to Him the ultimate value in our life.  I can intellectually agree with this, and even have an emotional connection to this, but do I really live my life as though God was the most valuable being, the most valuable relationship in my life?

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice–the kind he will find acceptable.
This is truly the way to worship him.”
Romans 12:1(NLT)

A Part of MLK’s Dream

A Man with a Dream
Martin Luther King had a vision and dream for his people, but not just his people, but for our nation. That dream was for diverse people to live in harmony respecting and valuing each other regardless of race, nationality or class.

In 1970, I graduated from a university in the north with a degree in education. I applied for a teaching job in a small city on the eastern shore of Maryland. This was the beginning of my education in learning the true value of all people no matter the difference of their color, social class or nationality

You see, all the students in the school were “black” Americans. The staff was mixed. The school was overseen by a young “black” American male.

A Dream Deferred
In 1954 the Supreme Court in the Brown vs. the Board of Education case declared all segregated schools to be inherently unequal. But action to desegregate schools was a battle over the next 20 years. So it was that in 1970, I joined a staff in a school where all the students were young black Americans. This population of students lived in various small segregated communities within that city. Many of the parents worked at a large soup factory located in the same area of their neighborhood, or at a large poultry processing plant.

The Trauma of Prejudice
These children were beautiful, full of life and ambition, yet even at the age of 8 and 9, scars from racial prejudice were apparent. In my first few weeks of school there was a young girl, Benita, who cried many mornings outside my classroom because she was afraid to come into a classroom with a white teacher. Where did she learn this fear? Probably, from the experiences of her parents and family within the community.

Another beautiful little girl, Sami, wore a wig to school every day at age 8 because she was embarrassed by her hair. I am afraid to say that one white voice was not enough to erase the standard of beauty held out to her and around in the community and society at large.

Passing on the Dream
The parents were like any other parents, loving, protective and holding unto dreams for their children, even though the reality around them did not support such dreams. I believe that Martin Luther King’s ideas and dreams impacted these parents to dream on behalf of the dignity and value of their children in a not so promising environment.

Sidney’s mother was one of these women who dreamed for her boy. She developed her son’s intellect and character and implanted a vision for him to graduate college.

I remember Sidney as an upstanding 3rd grade student who often came to school in his Boy Scout uniform.  It is my understanding that Sidney is now a pastor in a church in North Carolina perhaps, because his mother held on to her dreams.

How do you build up a whole race of people? By interacting one on one and speaking words of truth of God about who they really are in Jesus – sons and daughters of God, precious and beloved in His sight (John 1:12; 1Peter 2:9).

Jesus – A Man with a Vision
Jesus was a man of vision. He called Peter from being a weak, unsure disciple into being a solid rock in the foundation of the church. (John 1:42; Mt.16:18; Acts 2:14-38)

Jesus took an insecure/fearful man named Thomas, and made him a strong man of faith, to the point that Thomas proclaimed Jesus as Lord, John 20:24-29. Tradition has it that Thomas took the gospel of Jesus to India and was killed there for his faith.

If you read the gospels of Jesus, you will see His love of people and his vision for them. He had vision for lepers, blind men, paralytics, demon possessed, the rich, the poor, adulteresses and priests.

So What about Us?
How do we teach the young Sami’s in this society to see their true beauty? We help by speaking truth into them. The truth that they are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27- “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them”).
The truth that as God created each different flower to show forth a real beauty of its own, so each human is beautiful and radiates this beauty in a way unique to them.

How do we teach the discouraged and traumatized Benita’s not to fear?  We remove fear through love. (“…perfect love drives out fear…” 1 John 4:18).  Am I willing to persevere and show love to someone who has been wounded by the world?

Whom do you have vision for? Whose dreams do you encourage? Into whose heart do you speak the truth of their value to God?

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Jeremiah 29:11



Miracle Lessons

I found hope and power in the story of Jesus at a wedding feast (John 2:1-11). Jesus is at a wedding feast for a friend of the family. In the middle of the feast, the host runs out of wine. Jesus’ mother asks Him to do something about this. We then read that Jesus took plain ordinary water and changed it into the best quality wine. Reading this story sent a surge of hope through me.

The text states that Jesus did this miracle to reveal His glory to the disciples. (John 2:11-“What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which He revealed

His glory; and his disciples believed in him.”)  In other words He was being open and vulnerable and He was revealing to them who He really was, that is, God in the flesh. He was building into their faith.

Miracles Reveal Jesus
So every time I read about a miracle of Jesus, He is revealing Himself to me. Not only is He revealing His divine nature and His power, but He is revealing His heart for me and how He will help me. He reveals His nature and how He interacts in our relationship with Him.

Think about it. At the wedding in Cana those years ago, Jesus did not have to do anything concerning the supply of wine for the wedding guests, yet He did. The inspired word of God tells me He did it to begin revealing His true identity as the Son of God to the disciples. This is a truth. But, I also believe it shows His understanding of us as human beings. The supply of wine was important to the host of the wedding. It was an embarrassment that he ran out of wine to serve his guests.

His Power and Heart Are Involved
So when I read this story, I feel extremely hopeful to know that Jesus has the power to help me change, and He has the tender compassion to want to help me. I have character weaknesses that I think are impossible for me to change. Sometimes I think that is just me. I have been that way for years, but this miracle shows me that my situation is not hopeless. Jesus can change me, and help me change.

Recently, I struggled with losing weight. I tried various diets and exercise routines, but I continued to have difficulty. I began seriously praying about it. God led me to read some research that helped me to understand my problem, and that helped me find the right eating plan for me. I lost weight, and I thank God. But after 3 years, I still find myself struggling with food, craving different foods, and eating when I am not hungry.

From the Inside Out
My problem was not just one on the surface to be solved by diet and exercise. I realized that I was eating because food is comforting to me. I was eating as a way to be fulfilled. At a deep inner level, I was seeking comfort in food instead of in God. I was finding fulfillment in food instead of in God, not totally or all the time, but often. I need a change in the way I think about God and the way I value food.

Jesus changed the nature of the water. The chemical formula for water is H2O. The basic formula for wine is CH3CH2OH.  The truth in this miracle for us is that Jesus can change us from the inside out. He changes our very heart and nature as we walk along with Him.

I believe the whole struggle with my weight was to help me see this deeper faith and heart issue. Jesus helped me to change at the water to wine level.

This story of Jesus helps me embrace change instead of dreading or fearing it. To read about what Jesus did, and what it revealed about Himself at a simple wedding feast years ago gives me faith and hope about the changes I need to make.  It encourages me to read more miracles to see what I can learn about Jesus.

What about you? What do you need to change? What will you bring to Jesus to change?

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.  For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
2 Corinthians 3:18

A Language for Prayer

Language to Pray
Sometimes in my communication with God I wonder what language could I possibly speak that would communicate effectively my thoughts and my heart? Words from an old hymn express this thought well, “What language can I borrow to thank Thee, Dearest Friend?”

Recently on a quest to learn how to praise God, I read through the book of Psalms and looked at the language of praise and of prayer.  I came away with an amazing new understanding of God just by studying the expressions used to describe God in the Psalms. Here are several examples of these expressions, there are many more.
Ps. 111:3 – the God of splendid and majestic works (NASB)
Ps. 104:1 – God who is clothed in majesty
Ps. 29:4– the God of powerful and majestic voice
Ps. 24:10 The Lord Almighty— he is the King of glory.
Ps. 68:8 – God, the One of Sinai

Thinking about these names and descriptions of God found in the psalms gave me a greater awareness of  “Who” I am talking to in prayer. This transformed my reverence for God. How can one not be reverent when thinking of God as presented in Ps. 68:8 “God, the One of Sinai.” When praying to God and thinking of Him as the same God who appeared to Moses and the people on Mt. Sinai in thunder, lighting, smoke, fire and quaking earth, (Ex. 19:16-19), I gained a greater sense of awe. This is the same God who hears my prayers. I can come before the throne of this God through the grace of Jesus.

I found these expressions and descriptions affecting my attitude towards God and my actual words in communicating to God. It made me more aware that I am actually communicating to the God who created the universe.  Speaking to God as the King of Glory; the God who sits enthroned above the earth; my refuge and high tower, or my shield and protector makes my communication with God more real. It helps me to more deeply appreciate prayer not just as a spiritual exercise, but as it really is a “relationship” with “God.”.

Use the inspired Word of God to help you express your heart to God and to develop greater intimacy with God. (More of this topic will be presented in the future on the Digging Deeper page of this site).

Would Jesus Trust You? Questions for the Heart

Searing Insight
At the end of John 2 there are two very cutting statements. Verses 24-25 say this about Jesus: “But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people.  He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.” Jesus knew what was in the heart/mind of each person, and based on that knowledge He would not entrust Himself to any human being.  He made this statement within a highly “religious” context. It immediately follows the account of Jesus cleansing the temple, the ‘house of God,” the place where people went to worship God.

It is true that God knows what is in our heart. There are many references to this in scripture, such as  Psalm. 44:20-22, “If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god, would not God discover this? For He knows the secrets of the heart.” (ESV)

Again, we see this truth about God in the book of Acts1:24 when the apostles are praying for a replacement for Judas, “Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen.” (See other references: Jeremiah 17:10; 1 Kings 8:39; 1 Chronicles 28:9).

Jesus knows what is in the heart of every man and woman. For, it was He who said that the heart is the source of sin,  “ …For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders,” Mt. 15:19.  Jesus knows that sin abides within the heart of mankind, and yes He knows what sins and sin tendencies abide in my heart and yours.

Dare to Look Inside! Dare to Ask!
As I read John 2:24-25, questions leap into my mind, “What does Jesus see in my heart, and would Jesus entrust Himself to me?”

According to our calendar, we are beginning a new year.  During this first month we will look back on the previous year at the many events in the world and the happenings in our own life. It is traditional for people to make resolutions and goals for themselves for the coming year. These may include things we want to do, achieve, overcome, or obtain.

Let’s take a real look today, sort of an internal examination. I encourage us to look not only at the physical, financial, or personal goals we may set, but look deeper into your heart, the realm or center that rules your life.  Dare you look deeply? Do you have a clean heart, a pure heart, a heart devoted only to the will of God?

Do I even know what is inside my heart? When was the last time I looked into my heart? When was the last time I asked God to show me what is in my heart?  What is at the core of my Heart? As a disciple of Christ, I may take for granted that I have a new heart and it is all well and good? Really? Does the spirit of this world or darkness have any hold on my heart? Where am I in the process of being made holy by God? Do I make it easy for Him to “clean out my temple?”

How often do I ask God to reveal my heart, to go down deep and unearth my motives and or my sin? How often do I ask God to shine His light in my heart, or am I content to live in the surface of religious practice and routine of “church” going? What are on the altars of my heart? What idols are in my temple? Could it be that I am the biggest idol in my life?  Who am I really worshiping? Whose will am I really pursuing?  Does my life worship God, or even in my “religious” lifestyle am I really worshiping myself?

These are heavy questions that require time to consider and time to pray about. I am challenging myself with these questions and ask you to prayerfully consider them today and this week as you begin this New Year. Consider then not as legalistic, fearful judgements, but consider them from your personal faith relationship with God through His son Jesus.

Would Jesus, after looking into my heart, entrust Himself to me?

Bless the Name of God

Blessed be the name of God!
As I am reading and learning to pray the psalms, I came across the expression “blessed be the name of God.” That sounded so familiar to me. Slowly, my mind unraveled the mystery. As a young girl I remember kneeling down in a small church building and responded “blessed be the name of God,” over and over again. As the lector called out attributes and actions of God, we responded “blessed be the name of God”. Since most attendees were of Polish, or partial Polish descent, often this call and response was in Polish. My mind still remembers the response “Niech będzie błogosławione imię Boga”. It is only recently that I connected the Polish phrase to the English form of the call and response worship.

As I read through the Psalms (and other passages) I see this expression in various forms: blessed be the name of the Lord; let God’s name be blessed; bless the Lord and so on. Some examples :
– Psalm 113:2 “Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time    forth and forever…”.
– Daniel 2:20 Daniel said, “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, For wisdom and power belong to Him.
– Psalm 103:1,2 “Bless the LORD, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits…”

There are many statements of this expression in the scriptures. (See other references to this expression: Ps. 41:13; 50:2; 72:18,19; 89:52; 106:48; 124:6; 144:1; Gen. 14:20; 1 Kings 1:48; 5:7;8:15,56;10:9;8:56; I Chron. 16:36;29:10-13; Job 1:21. It is an encouraging study to read these passages in context and learn who blessed God, what did they say in blessing God and why).

How does one  “bless” God?
I was a little stumped by the term bless in the expression “bless, the Lord.” I thought, how can I bless God, isn’t that something He does to me? Isn’t that something we say to one another,?” We write it in notes of encouragement, birthday cards, and so on, ” God bless you”, and so on.

In the context of Ps. 113:2, the term “blessed be” comes from the Hebrew term “barak” which means bow or kneel. Brown, Driver and Riggs provides the following meaning, in reference to its use in numerous psalms: “to bless God, to adore on bended knee.” This gives us the picture of  bowing before almighty God, surrendering our pride, our self, honoring, and praising him.

“Blessed be God, blessed be the Lord, blessed be the name of God” are all terms of praise, a praise to God that indicates His position as sovereign, Almighty God worthy of our honor and thanksgiving and crediting Him for all goodness and acts in our favor.

So when I, with purposed intent, take time to bow and worship God, praising His nature, His character and great deeds, I am “blessing the name of God.” So, “blessing” in this sense is a term indicating worshiping God, bowing before Him, honoring Him, and praising Him.

Blessing is Praising
The idea of blessing God, or blessing His name is closely related to praising Him. In the psalms we often see parallel type statements that mean the same thing with a slightly different tint or shade of meaning. In Psalm 145: 1-2  we see this parallel structure:
“I will extol You, my God, O King,
And I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever.”

Another example of this is in Psalm 34:1 which states:
“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” And, again, we read it in Ps. 634:  “So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands (a stance indicating praising God) in Your name.”

In my way of thinking, when I bless God I am praising Him with a heart of good will and gratitude to God.  When I praise God I am praising Him from a heart of deep reverence, honor and adoration, with an understanding of His worthiness and my need for Him.

Blessing the name of God is worshiping Him and praising Him. We are ascribing to God the value and worth that He has. We, the creation, are honoring the Creator. We, the subjects are honoring the King. We, the children, are honoring our eternal Father.

Read through the book of psalms highlight all the verses on blessing the name of God.  When was the last time you thought about God and honored Him as God? Take time today to bow before God and bless His name.