Why Look to Your Past for Your Future?

 

image of seated man with glasses in mirror hanging on tiled wall

“And it came to pass, that as he was come [near] unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging: and hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant. And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me. And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto Him: and when he was come near, He asked him, Saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God” (Luke 18:53-43).

How often do we, the children of God, look to our past when we have a need that we cannot meet?

Jesus was on His way into the city of Jericho when He came within the vicinity of a blind man. He stopped to respond to the commotion that the man was making. This blind man, known as Bartimaeus, had heard that Jesus was within earshot and earnestly called out to Him. Why? Because he had a need that he could not overcome in his own strength. He also knew who Jesus was, and that He could cure his condition. Bartimaeus was not able to make himself see again. If he had reflected solely on the fact that he had been and still was without sight, he might have never called out to the Lord. But he did not dwell on the unresolvable—he put his full attention on Jesus.

The Lord is not looking for what we think is the best thing to do. He is seeking for what we believe He is able to accomplish, above and beyond our finite mindset.

Jesus said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27). When we focus on what has not been taken care of—the negative things of our past—we restrict God. Almost anybody can believe for what is possible; but it is solving our impossibilities that God desires us to believe Him for.

We must reach the place where we believe that the Lord totally and completely is able to handle any difficult situation, infirmity, problem, or extreme condition that we may find ourselves in.

Even if the problem has been with us for most (if not all) of our life, we have to continue looking forward to the Lord in faith if we are going to receive our breakthrough. We need to let go of our old self with its negative mindset, and associate with Him to the point where we can see the impossible as being fully possible. We cannot allow ourselves to look back on our past, continuing to believe that our future is destined to be more of the same. As children of God, let’s do what the formerly blind Bartimaeus did—hold our peace no longer, but cry out persistently to Jesus instead, totally believing in Him for our miracle. Then He will be able to reply, “Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee” (emphasis added).

 

[Image credit: Charis Gegelman/Unsplash]

My Joy and Your Joy

sepia photo of man with arms raised standing on rocky ground facing towards large body of water on cloudy day

“These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be fulfilled” (John 15:11).

The Joy of Christ

“My joy” here means the joy that is Christ’s. This is what He desires for His disciples to possess, by which He can then, as a consequence, guarantee that we will be truly blessed. And what was His joy?—absolute self-surrender of Himself to His Father—the joy of doing what the heavenly Father sent Him here to do. He declared, “I am come to do thy will, O God” (Hebrews 10:9).

His joy was the joy of self-sacrifice in continual obedience to His Father.

Jesus also said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful” (John 14:27). And just as Jesus gave the disciples His peace, He gave them His joy—the joy of self-sacrificing love. He said, “These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be fulfilled” (John 15:11). The love of Christ was not the ordinary kind, but the highest kind—the kind that is the greatest and most free from concern, resulting in the greatest self-sacrifice. And the greater the self-sacrifice is, the greater the joy is. Both were perfect in Christ—because He had the joy of perfect self-sacrifice.

Christ’s Confidence of Success

Jesus also had the joy of steady confidence in coming victory and success. He never entertained the slightest doubt concerning the ultimate success of His mission and the result of His coming into this world. But no one else has ever been tried as severely as He was. He was rejected and crucified by His own. But, in spite of this, His joy remained poised and serene. It did not destroy His happiness, nor His confidence in God the Father. His faith in the justice and successful outcome of His cause was never shaken.

The source of the joy Jesus had, and the joy of all His followers, is the joy of union with Him and the Father, of obedience to Him and His commands, and of love to Him and each other.

It is the joy of self-sacrifice, even to the point of suffering and death. It is also the joy of His perfect confidence of the righteousness of their cause and principles, and of total victory in the end. Consequently, the joy of the disciples and their Master came forth from the same source which flows out into an ocean of joy without end.

Christ the Example of joy

Jesus pointed out the source of happiness to His disciples. Both by His rule and His example, He revealed that the only path of real joy is the path of duty. We need to walk this path as He did. We need to dwell in Him as He dwelt in His Father. We need to obey as He did and love as He loved.

We need to be willing to sacrifice ourselves as He was willing to sacrifice Himself.

Then His joy will be in us, and ours will be fulfilled in Him and in ourselves. This is when His joy will be ours–while still being His own. The joy of our Master is fulfilled in the joy of His disciple. And the disciple’s joy is satisfied in his Master.

The Self-sacrifice for Christ

The sacrifice of self at the request of Christ is the path to the highest, most superb, and most godlike joy and gladness of which our human hearts are capable. If His joy is ours, then we can rest assured that our joy will last. We’ll find that it will be filled up to the highest measure of its capacity. It will be elevated and will move forward, always going on to fuller possession of His joy. Our joy will be able to maintain a deeper calm of pure and continual ecstasy. This will create a settled and heavenly bliss for all to whom the Lord has said, “…enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matthew 25:23).

Jesus was the most perfect, beneficial, and inspiring example to His disciples. In one sense, His joy in relation to believers is an illustration of this, while also being a very efficient aid to achieving the same ourselves.

He helps us so that we can help ourselves—by careful imitation of Him as our example.

Jesus prayed that our joy may continue being fulfilled until it is the same as His joy. The question is, will we permit Him to introduce this joy of His to us? And will we continue on to the point of self-sacrifice to obtain the ultimate joy—like He did?

 

[Image credit:Bjørn Heidenstrøm/Flickr]

He Will Never Do It Again

graphic displaying Jesus and Simon the Cyrene carrying cross up hill with a red 'no' circle overlay on top of picture

Many years ago, I heard a song that said, “If He had to do it all again, He’d do it all again.” The song’s overall message tells how great the love of Jesus is. It is true that He loved us so much that, even though there was nothing in us to deserve it, He came to Earth to take away our sins and give us a new life by dying on the cross for us. This song implied (with no expectation of it actually happening) that Jesus’ love for us is so great that He would willingly come and die on the cross again to redeem us. But, in reality, though this never can or will happen. Jesus became fully man when He came to Earth to die for us.

No man can die more than once, including Him. It is therefore impossible for Jesus to return again to die again to redeem us from the curse of sin and death.

When Jesus was on the cross, He made a statement in His final hours that completed God’s plan for the salvation and victory for everyone in the world, past, present and future, who will believe Him. “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished: and He bowed His head, and gave up [His spirit]” (John 19:30 emphasis added). He fulfilled all of God’s requirements found in the Old Testament. Throughout His time here on Earth, He satisfied every expectation His Father deemed necessary, in order to re-establish the relationship with Him that man lost due to sin.

Before all that God’s Son accomplished on the cross, sin could be covered only temporarily by the sacrifice of an animal in our place. Therefore, people had to continually go before a priest, who would take the item a person brought to be sacrificed and present it before God on his behalf. There was no real means for someone to go freely before God by himself. A priest and a physical sacrifice had to go before him.

Now Jesus’ finished work on the cross enables us to freely come before God through Jesus as our Great High Priest.

He fulfilled the role of the priest, and He also gave His life as the final and ultimate sacrifice. There is no longer a need for us to offer up an animal, as was previously required.

This is the reason that it is impossible for Jesus “to do it all again.” What He did for us on the cross was final. If He had “to do it all again,” it would mean that the first time was incomplete. It also suggests that when He declared “it is finished,” everything was not accomplished after all, and therefore Jesus made a mistake. To carry this train of thought out even further, for Jesus to be in error would mean that His heavenly Father is wrong as well, since Jesus is always fully obedient to what His Father tells Him. This would contradict the nature and existence of God therefore, resulting in total chaos!

When Jesus came in person to this world to provide the way of deliverance from the curse of sin and death, it was once and for all.

The love of God and His Son for man is so immense, perfect, and infinite that there is no need whatsoever for a ‘repeat performance.’ On the contrary, we need to accept His finished work at the cross as our own, based solely on the first and only time He did it. Jesus is coming back to this Earth again. This time, though, it will not be for another attempt at redeeming man, but rather in judgment for those who have rejected His initial offer of salvation and deliverance, when He died on the cross on their behalf to free them from the power of sin. Everything man needed to come to God was completely provided for then. There is no point in standing around waiting to see if Jesus will ‘do it all again.’ We need to yield our heart to Him now, based on what He has already done on our behalf, while we still can!

If you want more information on how to accept this finished work Jesus made possible during His time here on the Earth for yourself and receive external life, please click here.

 

[Graphic credit (without red slash and circle): raphael/Pixabay]

God Delights in Us

photo looking up at five different people as they are looking down and smiling

As a child of God, many of us have a tendency to look at our self in a critical way. As a result, we bring on feelings of discouragement, because we often feel that we don’t match up physically or spiritually with other believers around us. We tend to think of the growth process that the Lord is bringing us through as a necessary evil we have to endure, in order to reach the pleasurable results which He has promised us.

Yet God sees us differently. He does not focus on our past or even our present condition. Instead, His focus is on the end result. Like an artist, He views us in the finished form that He already has in mind. When a sculptor selects a section of stone, he already has a mental picture of what it will look like when his work is completed. The rough sections that initially stick out are not a concern to him, because mentally he has either removed them or shaped them to perfection.

“He brought me forth also into a large place; He delivered me, because He delighted in me” (Psalm 18:19). The writer of this Psalm was in the midst of both his enemies and the king of Israel, who was in close pursuit—all of them out to destroy him. But he knew to call on the Lord and not to continue on in his own strength. In turn, “He delivered me…” Why? “…because He delighted in me.”

And, like the sculptor, God sees the whole piece. He is not concerned or bothered by the means for shaping it; He is looking at the end result, in which He finds delight. On the other hand, we, as the one being sculpted, struggle with the process He is bringing us through. We focus on the painful discomfort of the chiseling, grinding, and overall shaping of our life by our Divine Sculptor. We try to resist His attempts to improve our form spiritually. But all of these efforts of ours only serve to delay the development of the final product.

Remind yourself that God does not look at us with disdain and contempt. He also does not consider one of His children more beautiful than another. Our part in all of this is to cooperate and let Him make us into the being that He envisions. We are not to accept the view others have of us, or of our sinful past, that the devil loves to remind us of. Instead, we are to look upon Jesus.

God receives pleasure when we put Him first in our life. He doesn’t find delight in what we wear (or don’t wear), how intelligent we are, whether we have red, blond, or black hair, what our age is, or how successful we have become in this world. His delight is in us, His children. We may have our ups and downs spiritually and physically—in spite of all of our many anomalies and discrepancies, His delight is still in us!

The Lord does not want us looking back at our past and all of our sinful ways, nor focusing on our current condition. His desire is for us to look forward to His Son and His finished work on the cross. At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry here on the Earth, God said “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). Our lives need to be filled with the One in whom He is well pleased.

The next time we are taunted for the way we look, or accused by the enemy about something in the past, we shouldn’t allow ourselves to walk away feeling down, discouraged, or depressed. When the pressures and struggles around us lead us to despair, let us look up to God. He “is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). He is the very One who led us into these difficult situations, to shape us into that in which He delights. The psalmist did not say that God delighted in the birds of the air or the animals of the field. He also did not tell us that He delighted in our education or our prosperity. He said “…He delighted in me”—and He delights in us as well.

[Image credit: rawpixel.com/Pexels]

Jesus Never Lost His Composure

Photo of two identical men seated on couch in argument with one man's hands in the air

If we analyze the life of Jesus Christ, the one thing which is most evident out of all of His characteristics is that He never lost His composure. No matter what situation or circumstance He encountered, He was always untroubled and composed. Even when the religious leaders threatened His life, He was able to either walk right through their midst or slip away unnoticed.

Jesus was tempted (tested) by the devil in the wilderness, but He never rose up in anger or commanded him to flee. He merely responded to each attempt with a passage in context from God’s word. He knew just what to say at any given moment.

A storm arose while He and His disciples were at sea, yet Jesus never grew anxious or panicked. There was absolutely no fear in Him. In fact, during the peak of the storm, “…He was asleep” (Matthew 8:24). He had such peace in the situation that He had no need to be awake.

Then “…when He was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way” (Matthew 8:28). But He was not fazed by them at all. Instead, He cast the devils out into a nearby herd of swine, maintaining full control of the situation.

Later Jesus healed a man with a withered up hand. The religious leaders became angry because He did it on the Sabbath. They took God’s commandment given over a thousand years earlier—to honor the Sabbath, keep it holy, and do no work on that day—to such an extreme that even healing was not permitted. Yet in their ‘holy’ zeal, they were hypocrites, because they permitted livestock to be rescued out of a pit on the Sabbath without penalty. As a result of Jesus’ actions, “… the Pharisees went out, and held a council against Him, how they might destroy Him” (Matthew 12:14). But this did not bother Him. “…when Jesus knew it, He withdrew Himself from thence: and great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all” (v. 15).

Once Jesus and His disciples were in a desert area ministering to the people. The day grew late and no food was available anywhere nearby. He did not worry, but He could have let Himself become overly concerned and begun to make arrangements for getting food. On the contrary, He took a handful of bread and fish, blessed it, and gave it to His disciples to distribute.

He was fully confident that the thousands present would have enough to be satisfied, with plenty left over.

Even though Jesus always kept His composure, He was not a soft-spoken, passive, non-confrontational person. Once “…Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves” (Matthew 21:12, 13). Yet He still maintained control of Himself and the situation. After all, this was His house and their ungodly actions were desecrating it. Afterward, “…the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple; and He healed them” (Matthew 21:14). He never demonstrated any bitterness or hatred. His anger was a righteous anger and nothing greater.

More than once the religious leaders tried to trap Him. One case involved paying tribute (taxes). They asked Jesus, “Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?” (Matthew 22:17). And once again, Jesus did not lose His composure. “…Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye Me, ye hypocrites? Shew Me the tribute money. And they brought unto Him a penny. And He saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto Him, Caesar’s. Then saith He unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:18-21). He effectually shut them up and exposed their foolishness with little more than raising His voice.

At one point, the religious leaders grew so disgusted and upset with Jesus and the truth He proclaimed that they tried to kill Him on the spot. “…they took up stones to cast at Him: but Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by” (John 8:59). He still did not lose His composure and let Himself get out of control.

Even when Jesus was tried and hung on the cross for crimes not committed, He never angrily defended Himself. He did not try to fight physically for His innocence. While He hung on the cross in extreme pain, He cried out, “…Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do…” (Luke 23:34). He could have called out to His Father to send destruction upon the guilty and to get Him off of the cross.

So how did He manage to do all this without ever yielding to the devil, or just giving up? It was all due to His relationship with His Heavenly Father. He declared, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). Jesus continually sought and communicated with Him, never allowing their fellowship to become strained or broken. Whenever He had the opportunity, Jesus would go before His Father in prayer, sometimes all night long.

Through this unity, Jesus knew just what to say and where to go at any given moment. He never worried or doubted. He had no concern about others taking His life.

“Then they sought to take Him: but no man laid hands on Him, because His hour was not yet come” (John 7:30 emphasis added). Jesus had to fulfill all of His Father’s requirements first. He was subject to His Father’s will and none other. His Father knew what was best for Him, and anyone else who would believe in Him.

Therefore, if Jesus, the very Son of God, had to continually go before His Father in prayer as a human being, how much more so should we, as children of God, do the same? God provided His Son in the flesh for us as our perfect example. He wants us to follow His Son’s example and be in close fellowship with Him. When we grow fearful and doubt Him, we have slipped out of that fellowship. We will always lose control of a situation when our relationship with Him is strained or broken. The only way that we can have a close bond with our Heavenly Father and maintain a level of calmness in any situation is to do like His Son and spend quality time in prayer and communication with Him. We need to continually place His interests for us above our own. Jesus never lost His composure, and neither should we.

 

[Image credit: Marcello eM/Freeimages]