Tag Archives: Names of Jesus

Savior

I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no other savior. Isaiah 43:11

Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that He is indeed the Savior of the world.” John 4:42

I found myself thinking about the upcoming presidential election and current republican race when today’s topic came up.

As Americans, we have experienced historic elections in which many who voted were not happy with the country’s direction. The old guard is voted out as the new is voted in with much joy. We vote in the hope that the government will save us from our problems. We hope that we will get jobs, be able to afford a house, become debt free, or just live a more comfortable life when our candidate wins.

These politicians can in turn become our saviors. And then, when they fail to save us from our “problems”, we ignorantly look to the next politician for rescue. It might work for a year or two, but we are then forced to turn to another.

In reality these men and women are no saviors at all. We are never told in the Bible that we need to be saved from higher taxes, poor paying jobs, small apartments, or even national debt.

What we truly need to be saved from is our perverse hearts that have no desire for the one true Savior:

Jesus

This Savior meets our need for forgiveness of sins and hope for the future; a future that is eternal, and will continue forever. Look to the One who can save you for all time, instead of a short-lived term.

He is the true Savior.

Chief Cornerstone

The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. Psalm 118:22-23

Together, we are His house, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus Himself. Ephesians 2:20

Suffering is a part of every Christian’s experience. But there’s wonderful news for the person who has stepped into tragedy. There is a Rock, and that Rock is Christ. He’s the sure foundation for our lives and for our churches. There’s no tragedy too great – no storm too violent for Him. He’s the secure foundation of our lives. When we’ve built our lives on Jesus, we can rest assured that we will ultimately have victory – whether it be in life or in death.

Both Paul and Peter understood this great truth. They wrote of Christ being the “chief cornerstone” of the church. They likened our position in Christ to that of the cornerstone of the temple. Paul said that we are being built upon Christ as our Cornerstone, and we’re held together by that Cornerstone. The cornerstone was the foundational stone that held up the walls of the great structures of the first century. And they were right. Both Paul and Peter were martyred because of their faith in Christ.

But death couldn’t stop the great move of God in the first century. Yes, Paul was perhaps the greatest missionary to ever live. Peter was God’s man on the day of Pentecost. But they weren’t the foundation stones of the church. Jesus was, is and always will be that chief Cornerstone. Satan can kill the leaders of the church, but He can’t destroy the church, because the church is built on an immovable, unshakable Cornerstone – Jesus. Christ is risen, and nothing is too difficult for the resurrected Christ.

There’s no storm too severe that it will be able to destroy you if you’ve built your life on the Chief Cornerstone. The winds of adversity may blow across your path. The rains of problems may descend upon your life. The stress of life may rise like a mighty raging flood. But when you’ve built your life on the Chief Cornerstone, you’ll stand in the midst of the storm. And just like many followers, that Cornerstone will lift you out of despair into victory.

 

The Word

In the beginning, the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through Him, and nothing was created except through Him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and His life brought light to everyone. The light shines in darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:1-5

John wrote about the majesty and divine nature of our Savior, Jesus Christ, in a profound way.  John said that Christ, in his divine essence, is the Word of the eternal Father.  If the Word existed from the beginning before anything was created, then it must follow that this Word is God.  Whatever held its existence before the creation of the world must be God, because only the Creator can exist separate from creation.  Everything that exists is either Creator or creation – either God or creature.  Through John, the Holy Spirit stated that “in the beginning was the Word” and “without him nothing was made that has been made.”  For this reason, we can never think of the Word as something created.  The Word is eternal.  No one can deny or disprove the conclusion that this Word is God.

These verses contain, as J.C. Ryle said, “A statement of matchless sublimity concerning the divine nature of our Lord Jesus Christ.” For what see in these verses is the John making good on his aim that readers know Jesus Christ is the Son of God. The main point of this text is to show us that Jesus is God. He does this by giving his readers five specific truths concerning Christ:

1. Jesus is eternalIn the beginning was the Word. To be eternal is to exist beyond the bounds of time and reign as Lord over time. Jesus is from everlasting to everlasting.

2. Jesus is personalThe Word was with God. Jesus didn’t merely co-exist with God, but He had an active and intimate relationship with the Father from all eternity.

3. Jesus is GodThe Word was God. Jesus is not merely like God; He is not merely similar to God; nor is He just an adopted Son of God; Jesus is God.

4. Jesus is the CreatorAll things were made through him. All things – big and small, visible and invisible – were created through Christ Jesus and they would soon fall asunder if Christ does not uphold them by His powerful Word.

5. Jesus is the SourceIn him was life. All physical and spiritual life flows from Christ alone.

Jesus Christ is the eternal and personal God, who is the creator and source of life and light. In short, the Word is worthy of worship.

Image of the Invisible God

Christ is the image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation. Colossians 1:15

God is Spirit. God is invisible. And yet, He reveals Himself with increasing clearness.

He glimmers through creation and nature. We shiver with awe at the glimpses God allows us of himself in nature. He is more transparent in man, whom He created after His own Image. And because we are created in God’s image, we can also see something of him in humanity. Finally, with growing clarity through Christ who is the true Image of His Person, God in flesh. We see and know him best where God defines himself in line and form and action, and that is most explicitly accomplished in his Son, who took on human flesh. The invisible God is most visible in Jesus Christ. Through Christ, we see the Creator.

Image, not likeness. What has been sculptured conveys more reality than what has been pictured in lines and tints; it gives the full appearance; in marble or in metal the image imitates the massive form of life. And while the likeness that is drawn with pencil or brush conveys in turn the warmth of life, the glow of soul, the mobile features, which the cold, hard marble refuses to express, yet the image is more impressive, is more overwhelming by its mightier reality and tangibility.

The Scripture therefore does not speak of the likeness, but of the Image of God Who is invisible, and in this expression the whole action of religion centers itself. God gives His Image; man corrupts this Image; man wants himself to make an image of God. This desire himself to make an image of God is grievous sin; and in the end this sin reaches its utmost height, when Satan, as the Beast, as the man of sin, as the Antichrist, himself erects an image, for which he demands worship which alone is due to “the express Image of God’s person”—the Christ.

This revelation of God in His Image must not be taken in a figurative or metaphorical sense. On the contrary, it is supernatural reality. Hence the saying of Jesus to Philip (John 14:9): “He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father.” And hence the hope of glory for every child of God, that one day he too shall see Christ as He is, and that in seeing the glorified Christ, he shall see God Himself face to face. He shall not see Christ, and afterward and alongside of Him see God, but he shall see God in Christ.

Sin has marred the Image of God in the unregenerate beyond the point of recognition. And now God gives in Christ, in one person, His full Image in perfect clearness. And this was possible in our human nature, because from all eternity the Son was the Image of the Father, and, as by the shadow of this Image, our human nature was formed from the dust of the earth.

He, therefore, who rests content with the revelation of God in nature, depressed as it is by the curse; or he who rests content with the revelation of the spiritual being of God in man, as he is dead by sin; cannot attain unto the true knowledge of God, but must fall away into idolatry or false philosophy.

“No man knoweth the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him” (Matthew 11:27).

Therefore Christ remains the center of our Divine worship. Not only by what He spoke, by what He did, by what He suffered, but by His own Person. The glory of the Apostles lies in what they have heard, seen and handled of the Word of life.

Let me say it this way: Christ is glory. We name ourselves after Him – Christians; He brings us salvation. His redemptive work is recorded in Scripture and still goes on. The course of world history is decided by a nations’ being for him or against Him. Peace lays over the land in His name. Good families turn dysfunctional when they neglect him.

Some claim him to be a great prophet, another Buddha, Confucius, or Mohammed; but when they do, they undermine the Christian religion and even the development of the human race. That’s a lie, after all. Any attempt to shade his glory brings night to the soul.

And while it’s forever true that in Christ we will receive eternal life, we should remember that the blessed accommodations of heaven are only furniture. The glories of eternity are not pearly gates or streets of gold. Glory for real believers is in knowing God face-to-face, in having that intimate fellowship. And that glory is, through Christ, already here. In Christ, we sense something of the glory of eternal life – now, here below! Eternity is not something that comes along only at the end of life. Eternity begins in our knowing God here. And we can know Him, most fully, through Jesus Christ.  

How? Through Scripture. Even though He’s long ago ascended, the record doesn’t lie. He was among us. Read his story, and He still comes alive. Our imaginations bring Him into our homes, our conversations, our very lives. Listen to Him speak, marvel at His parables, and it seems He is here with us, addressing, admonishing, encouraging, and comforting us – just as He did with His disciples. The story makes Him real.

But His essence isn’t just in the story, the written record. He’s given us part of Himself, His Spirit, a flame of love and sacred purpose that glows in His people. Christ came two thousand years ago, but He’s not gone. He’s here in us. He knows our names. We understand Him from the Bible, and we recognize Him in our hearts.

Christ, the image of the invisible God, doesn’t merely charm us with that image, doesn’t just show it to us to make us marvel. That’s not it at all. What He’s up to is His own sculpting job. By showing us what He is, He’s taking what we are and shaping it, molding it, giving it form and substance to this end: that the very image of God we seek, the substance of the Father, is itself made more perfect in us. Through the work of the Spirit, he’s making God visible in us.

This happens when we choose to relate with Him…to have that personal relationship with Him…and remain in Him.

On this earth, we can come to no greater knowledge of God than that which is created when Christ, himself the image of the invisible, renews that very image of the same invisible God in us.

Light of the World

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” John 8:12

Have you ever experienced a black out in the middle of the night?

I remember the lights going out multiple times when I was kid. It’s amazing how much light one small candle can give off.

“Let there be light.”  These words were spoken and so it all began.  Time and all that exists came to be only after this one sentence brought about the beginning.  And then, in the course of human history, the true Light came into the world. The one who spoke light into being was the true Light, and in Him all can be enlightened.

Just as we stumble around in the darkness for lack of light, we stumble around in our sin, lost in it, without the Light of the World.  If we walk with Jesus, we will never walk in darkness because He will guide us.  He’ll be the lamp to our feet and the light to our path. Light always overpowers darkness! Always! It takes very little light to compensate for deep darkness.

Also, if we walk with Jesus we’ll ourselves be light to the world (Matthew 5:14). In us, the world will see Him.  They’ll find hope in Him, they’ll see His love.  Our lives will bear witness to the One who sent us, just as His life bore witness to the One who sent Him.

I’ve always been one to see a connection in music. Kari Jobe’s We Are does just that as she sings of us being the light that Jesus calls us to be:

We are the light of the world.
We are the city on a hill
We are the light of the world,
and we gotta, we gotta, we gotta let the light shine.

So let His light shine through you.  Others may see it and turn to Him.

The Good Shepherd

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.” John 10:11

Jesus was a great teacher, and that’s why He used so many comparisons when He taught. In today’s reading He compared Himself to a gate and a shepherd. Unlike many of us, the people Jesus taught knew all about sheep and shepherds, however, they didn’t initially understand the spiritual truths Jesus was trying to convey. So He explained.

Sheep, like other livestock, are usually confined within fences or walls when they’re not grazing in open pasture. Regardless of what confines them, there must be a gate to let them as well as the shepherd in or out.

A few weeks ago, we looked at Jesus referring to Himself as the Gate: Jesus said that He was like the gate to the sheepfold. Those who believe in Him are, of course, the sheep. The only legitimate way to be a part of the sheepfold, or to be a part of God’s true church and kingdom, is to enter through Jesus, believing in Him. Some try to enter without going through Jesus, but that proves they really don’t belong among the sheep. They have an evil motive, usually to harm the sheep and get something for themselves. For example, a thief might climb over a wall to steal a sheep.

Not only is Jesus the gate, He is also the shepherd. When a shepherd wants to lead his sheep out to graze, he comes through the gate and calls his sheep. Even if his sheep are mixed with another flock, only his sheep will follow him out of the gate. Sheep won’t be deceived into following another shepherd because they recognize their shepherd’s voice. They know to whom they belong.

I couldn’t help but think of Psalm 23 when I read this passage:

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
He restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil,
for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

Shepherding is still an important way of life in Israel. It’s common to see a shepherd taking his flock from one place to another. However, unlike the sheep herding I had seen back home in Texas (where a rancher on horseback typically drove the sheep forward), there the shepherd walks ahead of the sheep—leading the way. If something dangerous lies ahead, the shepherd faces it first. The sheep don’t have to worry about where they’re going. They simply follow in safety.
Emerging from this same culture and practice, the psalmist used this imagery of the shepherd to remind
us of what God is like. Psalm 23 (one of the bestknown passages of Scripture) reminds us that our
concerns and well-being are in the Shepherd’s hands. Because the Lord is our Shepherd, we “have all that [we] need” (v.1).
This Good Shepherd leads, renews, and guides us (vv.2-3). Nearly all of the initiative in Psalm 23 is the
Shepherd’s, not ours. Most of the responsibility is on the Shepherd, not us. The Shepherd shows the way, and we follow.

Jesus is like the shepherd who is calling His sheep. Many sheep may hear His voice, but only those who are His, those who believe in Him and love Him, will come out from among the other sheep and follow Him, obeying Him. That is how true Christians are known—they follow Jesus when others don’t. When false prophets and false teachers call out to the masses of sheep, leading many astray, true Christians aren’t deceived because they know their shepherd and they know what He’s said.

Jesus is not comparable to just any shepherd. Only one died for His flock.  Jesus laid down His life for us, the Son of God sacrificing Himself that those who belong to Him would know life.  He laid down His life on His own authority and He took it back up on His own authority.  That’s a voice worth listening to.

The Carpenter

“…He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary…” Mark 6:3

When Jesus started His ministry, it was difficult for people to see Him as anything more than a carpenter. His family, neighbors and friends watched Him grow up making and fixing things. “Jesus the Rabbi” took a little getting used to.

Being a carpenter was simply His earthly occupation which prepared Him for His ministry. He spent those three years fixing the broken.

“Healthy people don’t need a doctor – sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” Mark 2:17 NLT

We are all living the consequences of the sin cycle, whether be that of our own or someone else. It’s the unpleasant affect of The Fall. Life on this side of Eden carries pain and suffering. We all are broken. Whether it be the outcome of a failed relationship, lost opportunities or the death of a loved one, it happens to all of us. If you choose to care about anything in this life, it’s a guarantee that your heart will be broken.

Sometimes, when I’m in the midst of working through my brokenness, I feel that I need to shout it out to God, just so He’ll hear me.

Thing is, He doesn’t work like that. He sees it; the construction zones and demolished areas in my heart, but He doesn’t look for a detour around them. He dives right in there and inspects the damage. He points areas that were eaten away by an infestation of sin. He carefully looks at the places where you tried to fix it yourself. He tears down to build back up, and He goes the extra step to make it better and stronger than it was before. By the time He’s finished, every detail down to the last nail is accounted for and in its proper place. God does thorough work.

The Bible isn’t clear whether Jesus did any carpentry work after His ministry began, but He did spend the remainder of His time on earth and still does through His Spirit fixing the brokenness of humanity. A carpenter is a beautiful picture of breaking, molding, hewing and fixing what is broken…replacing the old and ruined with the new. God is offering you a chance today to let Him in to your disaster zone. Trust His skilled and steady hand. Before long, He’ll unveil His handiwork and in place of the brokenness and the ugly, you will see the beauty He sees when Love (He) looks at you.

A Branch from Jesse’s Tree

Out of the stump of Jesse’s family will grow a shoot – yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root. Isaiah 11:1

Isaiah’s text foretells the genealogy of Jesus as he would come forth from the lineage of David (Jesse was David’s father). Because of His lineage, Jesus is a true King by blood. More importantly, Isaiah writes of the result Jesus’ legacy has on heaven and earth, even that which affects all until His final victory which His followers will get to enjoy.

My grandparents have a book filled with genealogy information. We don’t come from a line of celebrities or royalty. Some of it I find questionable…I mean, is there really a possibility that someone in my distant family tree line is from Ireland? It’s not really documented, but there is still a possibility…according to my grandmother. She states it with firmness and follows it with “…but I’m not really sure.”

But the message Isaiah brings us gives hope to Israel’s future…and the future of all mankind. He came. He lived. He died to give us life. That Branch is worth rooting yourself to.

My Beloved

So we praise God for the glorious grace He has poured out on us who belong to His Beloved. Ephesians 1:6 9 NLT

Beloved.

Dearly loved…according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Recent studies have shown that every child cries for their father’s approval. Children with involved fathers are more confident, better able to deal with frustration, less likely to commit suicide…an so much more.

Did you know that over 63% of teen suicides come from fatherless homes? Or that 90% of runaways/homeless children are from fatherless homes? I could go on.

 

Sherwood Films released Courageous this past year; a film encompassing the importance of a man’s involvement, not only in his children’s lives, but in the life of his wife and those around him; his purpose in being the spiritual leader of his home.  If you haven’t seen the film, I highly recommend it.

Also – for some reading. The Kendrick brothers and Priscilla Shirer wrote two compelling books (one for women and one for men) as a follow-up to the movie which were created to take you deeper, especially if you’re serious in becoming the man or woman God created you to be: The Resolution [for Men/Women]. I’ve read Shirer’s work and God has used her to lead me into making some resolutions in my life. I may be a single female in a big city; someone who used to think she didn’t have all that much impact on the world around her…but, oh, I do. Every day.

Back to the topic at hand: Something happens when a father tells his son that he is proud of him. Or when a father says to his little girl, “You will always be Daddy’s favorite girl.”

And the beautiful thing? We can follow God’s example.

A similar special moment occurred in the Bible when God the Father displayed His approval of His Son (at Jesus’ baptism) – “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) Jesus’ ministry began with the approval of His Father, well before He had performed any miracle.

Some may think that God would naturally say this of His Son, Jesus, but not of us. But the truth is that Jesus came for each and every single one of us. He came as us. He died for you. He did for me. He died as us. He achieved approval from the Father for us and as us.

I wrote yesterday how Jesus came as our representative.

If that’s not enough, God even tells us in Ephesians that we are “accepted in the Beloved”!

Why “Beloved” and not in “Christ”? God is calling us to remember what happened at the Jordan River when our Lord and Savior stepped in to be baptized. God wants us to know that we are His beloved and that He is well pleased with us.

God sees us as His beloved because He made us accepted in His Beloved. He wants us to wake up each day and, having been given mercies anew, knowing that we are unconditionally loved and wholly approved.

The more we know, accept and understand the depth of that love (that it is real) and that we are treasured by God, the more we can expect to have life to the full; we become confident that we will win every fight set before us in this life as we strive to further His kingdom on earth.

That, my friends, is how your Heavenly Father wants you to live. Live today, confident that you are His beloved!

Further reading:
http://www.dadsworld.com/index.html
http://fathersforlife.org/index.html
http://www.fatherhood.org/
http://www.courageousthemovie.com/
http://www.bhpublishinggroup.com/courageous/products.asp?9781433671227
http://www.bhpublishinggroup.com/courageous/products.asp?9781433674013

The Alpha and the Omega

”I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Revelation 22:13

Jesus said He was the first and the last. We often wonder how this can even be possible. Our finite minds cannot comprehend this infinite statement.

Because of God’s transcendence (the fact that He is both here in this realm and not of this world), He can be the beginning and the end. He was there before Creation and He’ll be there the day the world ends.

And He is so much more than that. He’s also everything in between. He is the continuum – that which holds all things together.

Have you ever experienced that? Think of all the trials you’ve been through. God has been there through each and every single one of them. He may not have calmed the storm around you, but He probably did calm you enough to survive it.

Again…have you ever experienced that?

I have. Through my tumultuous childhood – the years filled with illness, feeling left behind, arguments and the fear of my family falling apart. He was there during college. He was there when I relocated to Minneapolis. He’s here today, walking with me as I step forward into the unknown…planting a new church and not knowing what great works God will do, but oh, how excited I am (and terrified) for it because I know He will see me through. He always has.

Again…have you ever experienced that?

In looking back, I’m reminded of a song (I’m very musically driven in case you haven’t figured that out already) by Francesca Battistelli called Time in Between. It speaks of how, even God was there in the beginning and will be there in the end, He’s here now; in our in between.

You were there when Your Father said
“Let there be light.”
You obeyed when He whispered, “Son,
You have to leave tonight
To spend nine months in a mother’s womb;
Three days in a borrowed tomb.

But it’s the time in between
That brings me to my knees
Knowing You came for me
And all that I can’t be
I’m amazed, so amazed
And I thank You for the time in between

Don’t take much for this crazy world
To rob me of my peace
And the enemy of my souls
Says You’re holding out on me
So I stand here lifting empty hands
For You to fill me up again

But it’s the time in between
That I fall down to my knees
Waiting on what You’ll bring
And the things that I can’t see
I know my song’s incomplete
Still I sing in the time in between

So many ways
Your love has saved the day
And I’m grateful for the all

But it’s the time in between
The middle of two thieves
That says everything
It’s the reason I believe
I’m amazed, so amazed
And I thank You for the time in between
Oh Lord, I thank You for the time in between

He is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the First and the Last. He is the Beginning and the End.

He’s everything in between.