Pressing On

with THE WORD

A study of the Scriptures to discover who God is, what He is like, and how to partner with Him now.

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Flashback Favorite - My first assignment

My first assignment
originally posted on April 20, 2016

Wait, I’m going to teach what?

That was my mental reaction to my first teaching assignment from my mentor, Joe.

Our mentor-protégé relationship began when he was teaching a Sunday School class and had asked if anyone was interested in team-teaching with him.  I was eager to teach, but I knew that I had to learn how to better handle the Scriptures if I was going to take on the responsibility of teaching God’s Word to others.  Joe pointed me toward Howard Hendricks’s Living by the Book and, with his guidance, I began to learn how to Observe, Interpret, and then Apply the Bible.

I figured that my first teaching lesson would cover one of the passages I had just learned from…instead, Joe said that my first teaching experience would come from teaching the class how to study the Bible, like I had just learned.  I was instantly nervous and gave Joe a weak “You sure about this?”.  But he assured me that this was the best topic for me to start with.

I profusely prayed over every lesson.  I did my best to communicate the three steps, as well as provide good examples and practice exercises – some lessons went well; others didn’t feel like they went anywhere.  To anyone who was in those first classes of mine, I say thank you for your patience!  That experience was a huge step for me and my growth – both in my relationship with God, as well as in learning how to organize and teach.  It certainly helped to have my mentor’s example, his directions, and his confidence in me.

Reading through the gospels, we find that Jesus did something similar with his protégés:

Matthew 9:35-10:1
Then Jesus went to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness.  When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd.  The He said to His disciples,

“The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few.  Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”

Summoning His 12 disciples, He gave them authority over unclean spirits, to drive them out and to heal every disease and sickness.

When Jesus told them to pray that the Father would send out workers to reach the people of Israel, I’m sure they agreed that would be a good thing to do…but then Jesus turns around and tells them that it is time for them to go out and participate in the harvest, by doing what they had only previously watched Jesus do!  Imagine everything that must have been going through their minds – anticipation, nervousness, excitement, tension?  Trust me, it was all those and then some.

Matthew 10:5-8
Jesus sent out these 12 after giving them instructions: “Don’t take the road leading to other nations, and don’t enter any Samaritan town.  Instead, go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  As you go announce this: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’  Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with skin diseases, drive out demons.  You have received free of charge; give free of charge.”

Notice how Jesus gave them parameters and direction for their first assignment.  They weren’t supposed to go outside of Israel.  They had a very specific message to proclaim.  They were also given authority to do what Jesus did – heal, raise the dead, cleanse, and drive out demons – and they were not to charge the people for these acts, just as Jesus hadn’t charged anyone.

The disciples would eventually be ready for the larger assignment of the Great Commission, where they were instructed to go make disciples of people from all nations.  They were not ready for that yet, though.  The disciples were still going to do what they had seen Jesus do, but their first assignment was on a much smaller scale.

As a mentor, we need to give our protégé assignments that will begin to stretch them now and incrementally prepare them for later.  On the flip side, when our mentor gives us an assignment that seems like a very large leap, we need to trust them. 

Looking back, it was that first assignment that propelled me closer to God and sharpened my teaching ability.  Joe was making sure that I was not going to be just another teacher who can only feed people The Word, but he wanted me to be able to show others how to feed themselves.  Following through on that first assignment, despite how rough it may have been on me and/or the class, has paid many dividends over the years since.

Keep Pressing,
Ken 

Finding true rest

2018.  What a year…

When the last week of the year rolls around, like many people, I become reflective.  My family has had its share of ups and downs, celebrations and heartaches, favorite parts and not-so-favorite parts.  I’m sure you have, too. 

And to cap it all off, we’ve just survived the “Holiday Season”.  The hustle and bustle of church events, school events, family events, and weather events have finally come to close.  Unless you have significant New Year’s Eve plans (we intentionally never do), then this last week of the year is a great time to find something we’ve all been looking for…rest.

We need rest.  Mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually – we need a break from time to time.  We need to stop the normal ebb and flow of our lives so we can recover and collect our strength.  A space to breathe and relax.  A moment to stretch out.  A place to regroup.

We know we need this, but we don’t often give ourselves permission to take this kind of time.  Perhaps it’s because we believe that “true rest” will only be found in a fancy vacation to the beach, the mountains, or any place that isn’t home.  However, when we are at home, we look for rest when we escape into a hobby, our phones, the TV, food, or something else – and to some degree, we’re successful.  But those things are not nearly as satisfying as we would like.

We want…we crave…a deeper rest.  But where to find it?  

The rest we are looking for isn’t found in an event, a location, or a schedule.  Instead, the fulfillment of our need for rest is found in Jesus.  While that might sound like a cop-out, “Sunday school” answer, Jesus actually made the offer:

Matthew 11:28-30
Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

If 2018 didn’t have moments that left you feeling weary and burdened, then I suppose you can just keep moving along.  However, in our honest reflections on this past year, we do find weeks and seasons that left us feeling ragged.

Jesus’ offer isn’t for relaxation from busyness, instead, He offers rest for your soul.  Core-deep, soul-level rest.  That is what a relationship with Jesus does for us.  First, when we trust Him for eternal life, He gives us rest from the burden of sin.  Second, in our continuing relationship with Jesus, we can learn from Him – how life is to be viewed, handled, and recovered from.

If I have a New Year’s Resolution about my relationship with Jesus in 2019, I think it should be that when I feel tired…instead of escaping to my phone, the TV, or something else, that I make the choice to go to Jesus. 

I encourage you to do the same.  Take Him up on His offer.  Jesus says that being a disciple (taking up His yoke) and learning from Him is easy and He won’t overburden us.  As complicated as life can be, discipleship simply means walking with Jesus in the real world and having Him teach us moment by moment how to live life His way.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Hurricane on the doorstep

Hurricane Florence is barreling its way toward the East Coast.  We’re in central North Carolina, so we’re inline for some weather.  No one really knows how bad it’s going to be or where the worst will end up happening, but we’ve been preparing all week as best as we can.

I’d like to share with you some of the things (among the many thoughts) I’ve been thinking these last few days:

·       On a daily basis, we are rather careless with our words, aren’t we?  This was the best dinner ever made.  That was the worst meeting in the history of meetings.  She’s clueless.  He’s stupid.  This Netflix show is the greatest thing ever invented.  However, for the aftermath of Hurricane Florence…the word “devastation” will not be an exaggeration.  That’s a tough word to say.  It’s tougher to witness.  It’s a word we’re afraid to live through.


·       For some people…eternity will begin this weekend.  No matter how many precautions we take, the unpredictableness and utter ferocity of the storm will certainly lead to people losing their earthly lives.  We’ve been preparing for this massive storm…seeking out information and supplies, and then making our best decision based upon what we’ve found.  But are we prepared for the most important event of our lives?  How have we responded to Jesus’ claims of being the way, the truth, and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through Me [John 14:6]?  Our acceptance or rejection of Jesus is the most important preparation decision we can make.

·       I keep coming back to the most famous line in Moses’ psalm:

Psalm 90:12
Teach us to number our days carefully
so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.


·       We may lose possessions when, or even after, Hurricane Florence makes landfall.  However, everything we own is ultimately destined for a garage sale, the garbage dump, or the recycle bin.  Our things won’t last, hurricane or no hurricane.  Even if we lose everything we own…there is a higher, more impactful, purpose for this life.  Sometimes, it takes a tragedy for us to see from that vantage point.  I wish it didn’t.

If you are not in this storm’s path, please petition God on our behalf.  Pray that He will be seen in the way His children handle this event.

If you are in any way affected by this storm – be wise.  Paul wasn’t directly discussing natural disasters, but his direction still applies:

1 Corinthians 10:31, 33
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God…not seeking [your] own benefit, but the benefit of many, so that they may be saved.


How can we ride out, survive, shine, and rebuild from Hurricane Florence for the glory of God?  After all…everything means everything…even the hard circumstances.  So be wise and number your days carefully.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Free to breathe

Remember the moment when your last head cold cleared up and, suddenly, you could breathe again?  It almost caught you by surprise, didn’t it?  And the very next thing you wanted to do was tell everyone “I can finally breathe free!”

After demonstrating Jesus’ superiority over the earthly priesthood and the earthly tabernacle, the author of Hebrews presents his ultimate theological point – that Jesus is superior to the Mosaic Law.  Since Jesus fulfilled the Mosaic Law, His followers are now free to interact directly with God.  To prove his point, you’ll see the author’s reliance on Old Testament scripture…

Hebrews 10:1-10
Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come, and not the reality itself of those things, it can never perfect the worshipers by the same sacrifices they continually offer year after year…For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.  Therefore, as He was coming into the world, He said:
               You did not desire sacrifice and offering,
               but you prepared a body for Me.

               You did not delight in whole burnt offerings and sin offerings.

               Then I said, “See –
               it is written about Me
               in the scroll –
               I have come to do Your will, O God.”
(Psalm 40:6-8)

After He says above, “You did not desire or delight in sacrifices and offerings, whole burnt offerings and sin offerings” (which are offered according to the law), He then says, “See, I have come to do Your will.”  He takes away the first to establish the second.  By this will, we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all time.

The author of Hebrews then provides evidence that Jesus – the Greater Messenger – has not only fulfilled the duties of the high priest, but in doing so, He has also fulfilled the requirements of the entire Law:

Hebrews 10:11-18
Every priest stands day after day ministering and offering the same sacrifices time after time, which can never take away sins.  But this man, after offering one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.  He is now waiting until His enemies are made His footstool.  For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are sanctified.

The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this.  For after He says:
               This is the covenant I will make with them
               after those days,
the Lord says,
               I will put My laws on their hearts
               and write them on their minds,
(Jeremiah 31:33)
and:
               I will never again remember
               their sins and their lawless acts.
(Jeremiah 31:34)

Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.

The burden of following the Mosaic Law is no longer needed since the sin has been permanently removed.  We are free to breathe and partner with God(!) – and from this point on, the author examines what that freedom-based partnership looks like in the life of a believer who seriously takes up God’s offer to pursue maturity.

Keep Pressing,
Ken
 

My first assignment

Wait, I’m going to teach what?

That was my mental reaction to my first teaching assignment from my mentor, Joe.

Our mentor-protégé relationship began when he was teaching a Sunday School class and had asked if anyone was interested in team-teaching with him.  I was eager to teach, but I knew that I had to learn how to better handle the Scriptures if I was going to take on the responsibility of teaching God’s Word to others.  Joe pointed me toward Howard Hendricks’s Living by the Book and, with his guidance, I began to learn how to Observe, Interpret, and then Apply the Bible.

I figured that my first teaching lesson would cover one of the passages I had just learned from…instead, Joe said that my first teaching experience would come from teaching the class how to study the Bible, like I had just learned.  I was instantly nervous and gave Joe a weak “You sure about this?”.  But he assured me that this was the best topic for me to start with.

I profusely prayed over every lesson.  I did my best to communicate the three steps, as well as provide good examples and practice exercises – some lessons went well; others didn’t feel like they went anywhere.  To anyone who was in those first classes of mine, I say thank you for your patience!  That experience was a huge step for me and my growth – both in my relationship with God, as well as in learning how to organize and teach.  It certainly helped to have my mentor’s example, his directions, and his confidence in me.

Reading through the gospels, we find that Jesus did something similar with his protégés:

Matthew 9:35-10:1
Then Jesus went to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness.  When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd.  The He said to His disciples,

“The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few.  Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”

Summoning His 12 disciples, He gave them authority over unclean spirits, to drive them out and to heal every disease and sickness.

When Jesus told them to pray that the Father would send out workers to reach the people of Israel, I’m sure they agreed that would be a good thing to do…but then Jesus turns around and tells them that it is time for them to go out and participate in the harvest, by doing what they had only previously watched Jesus do!  Imagine everything that must have been going through their minds – anticipation, nervousness, excitement, tension?  Trust me, it was all those and then some.

Matthew 10:5-8
Jesus sent out these 12 after giving them instructions: “Don’t take the road leading to other nations, and don’t enter any Samaritan town.  Instead, go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  As you go announce this: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’  Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with skin diseases, drive out demons.  You have received free of charge; give free of charge.”

Notice how Jesus gave them parameters and direction for their first assignment.  They weren’t supposed to go outside of Israel.  They had a very specific message to proclaim.  They were also given authority to do what Jesus did – heal, raise the dead, cleanse, and drive out demons – and they were not to charge the people for these acts, just as Jesus hadn’t charged anyone.

The disciples would eventually be ready for the larger assignment of the Great Commission, where they were instructed to go make disciples of people from all nations.  They were not ready for that yet, though.  The disciples were still going to do what they had seen Jesus do, but their first assignment was on a much smaller scale.

As a mentor, we need to give our protégé assignments that will begin to stretch them now and incrementally prepare them for later.  On the flip side, when our mentor gives us an assignment that seems like a very large leap, we need to trust them. 

Looking back, it was that first assignment that propelled me closer to God and sharpened my teaching ability.  Joe was making sure that I was not going to be just another teacher who can only feed people The Word, but he wanted me to be able to show others how to feed themselves.  Following through on that first assignment, despite how rough it may have been on me and/or the class, has paid many dividends over the years since.

Keep Pressing,
Ken 

Who can be mentored?

We really don’t know a lot about what the disciples were doing before they encountered Jesus.  If any of the disciples had been a part of a prominent family, or politically connected, or a member of the religious ruling class…you would think that the gospel writers would have brought that up.  However, given that Jesus was doing something new on earth, then it stands to reason that He would not have wanted his disciples to have any previous connections to the leading human institutions of the time.

The only community education for a Jewish child was to learn the Torah and impress a Rabbi enough for him to take the child on as his personal disciple.  If a Jewish child didn’t make the cut to continue up the religious school ranks, they were sent home to learn the family trade. 

We do know that when Jesus called Andrew, Peter, James, and John, they all were fishermen.  This job required no formal education, only on-the-job training.  So clearly, they hadn’t been picked by any Rabbi or Pharisee.  Matthew is introduced as a tax collector.  This was a job working for the hated Romans.  Tax collectors were generally known as cheaters, liars, and turncoats against their kinsmen.  They were barely tolerated in Jewish society.  Simon is referred to as “a zealot”, and while not a profession, the title suggests he was part of a fringe political group interested in the overthrow of the Roman government.  Again, not mainstream or popular. The rest of the disciples’ previous occupations are unknown.

But there is a scene that takes place much later that gives another piece of information about this rag-tag group.

After Jesus had returned to Heaven, the disciples were speaking about what they had seen and heard.  Through Peter, God performed a miracle and healed a lame man.  Reading through the account, we find that the man had been that way since birth and was now over 40 years old. 

Of course, the entire city of Jerusalem was going crazy over this miracle.  After Peter and John preached to the crowd, they were arrested by the religious authorities.  When they were brought before the Jewish leadership, Peter again spoke of Jesus:

Acts 4:12
There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.

It’s the next comment that gives us a clue about their background before they had become Jesus’ disciples:

Acts 4:13
When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and knew that they had been with Jesus.

Jesus’ disciples were men of little clout.  They were people that high society did not consider all that important.  They were common-folk, and some were outcasts.  Definitely not Varsity players.  Not even Junior Varsity.  Maybe they might make the B-team.  

However, no one can change a life like Jesus can.  Peter said it himself, that there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.  Just as all are welcome to come to Jesus for salvation – regardless of their background – don’t overlook someone’s need for a mentor because they don’t have a great resume.  The uneducated, the untrained, the unwanted – Jesus didn’t disqualify them, and neither should we.

The disciples’ example should also keep us from thinking that we could be disqualified from either being mentored or doing great things for God because we didn’t get the proverbial “silver spoon” or if we’ve been rejected by others.  Ask God to send you a mentor.  You might be surprised by who they are when they show up, too.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

The goal of mentoring

Jesus is many things to us.  He is the second Adam, our prototype, our example, our Savior, and our God…but would you consider Him to be our mentor?  Or our example of how to mentor others?

When reading through the gospels – the books written to tell others about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection – we find that once the disciples are introduced by the author, hardly a chapter goes by where they are not involved in the story.  The disciples were always with Jesus.

Now whenever we think about Jesus interacting with His disciples, we typically picture a teaching situation, right?  He’s sitting on rock, a little higher up than the group of men huddled down around His feet.  Most certainly Jesus taught them, but there was much more to their relationship than constantly being in class.  They cooked and ate with him, they traveled – by foot – with Him, they slept near Him, they hung out with Him, they laughed and celebrated with Him, and they observed every possible aspect about Jesus’ life. 

What was the ultimate purpose of all this time together?  In the middle of one of His teachings, Jesus mentioned the goal of discipling and mentoring these 12 men:

Matthew 10:24-25
A disciple is not above his teacher, or a slave above his master.  It is enough for a disciple to become like his teacher and a slave like his master.

The goal for a disciple is to eventually be just like his teacher.  We say things like this when we meet a young man or woman and we tell them “I knew who your parents were just by the way you looked and the way you acted.”  In the same way, the highest compliment a disciple could receive was being told that they were a perfect reflection of their teacher.

This also explains one of the oddest scenes in any of the gospels – and it takes place just a couple of chapters after Jesus stated the goal of discipling and mentoring. 

The disciples were in a boat, in the middle of a storm on the Sea of Galilee, and Jesus walks out on top of the waves toward their boat.  Understandably, the disciples were freaked out…because there appears to be someone walking on the water.  But Peter says something that, at first glance, looks completely out of place:

Matthew 14:28-29
“Lord, if it’s You,” Peter answered Him, “command me to come to You on the water.”
“Come!” He said.
And climbing out of the boat, Peter started walking on the water and came toward Jesus.

Seriously?  It’s storming, visibility’s not all that great, and sure he recognizes Jesus’ voice…but Peter asks to go out there with Him?  If he’s wrong and it’s not Jesus, then Peter just booked a one-way trip to the bottom of the lake.  Why would Peter do something this risky?

Peter’s goal in being Jesus’ disciple was to end up doing everything like Jesus, no matter how outrageous.  If Jesus could, then it would mean that eventually Peter could, too…so why not right now?  At first, Peter is able to walk on the water.  Don’t knock him too much for sinking after actually taking a few steps across the water…he was the only one to get out of the boat!

As a mentor, you’re probably not going to be teaching your protégé how to walk on water.  However, you are going to show them a variety of character traits and Biblical applications that, to them, will feel just as impossible. 

The main reason Peter thought he could be like Jesus was because of the teaching he had received and the time Jesus had invested into him.  Likewise, the more you are willing to open your life, the more the person you mentor will become confident in their ability to live like you.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

The mystery of the Messiah

When Paul wrote his letter to the believers in Colossae, he was in prison for preaching the gospel.  He wasn’t living the good life…at best, he was spending his days chained to a Roman guard.  Quite possibly, he was chained to a dungeon wall.  And at the end of his letter, Paul understandably asks for prayer.

If you were Paul, what would you ask them to pray? 

Honestly, if I were in that situation, I’d be asking for people to be praying that I’d get out of there.  By my reasoning, prison would be limiting to the ministry that God gave Paul on the road to Damascus so many years prior.  He could reach so many more people with the Good News of Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection if he were free to move about the world.  Instead, Paul’s on lockdown.  But Paul doesn’t ask for prayer about that.  Take a look at what he asks instead:

Colossians 4:3-4
At the same time, pray also for us that God may open a door to us for the message, to speak the mystery of the Messiah – for which I am in prison – so that I may reveal it as I am required to speak.

Paul’s focus isn’t on where he is at the moment.  His location isn’t his primary concern.  Instead, Paul is watching for God to provide opportunities for the message, to speak the mystery of the Messiah.

Jesus – the Messiah – coming to earth as humanity’s only option for rescue is a mystery to everyone outside of God’s family.  Why would the King of the Universe choose to be born a helpless baby, whose primary goal in life was to die for something that wasn’t His fault?  Why would someone so limitless choose to be so limited?

Those are legitimate questions, and there are many more that people will honestly ask about the mystery of the Messiah.  We need to be watching for opportunities to share the message that gives Eternal Life and hope for the here and now.  Paul knew that he had to lift his eyes above his circumstances…he didn’t need to focus on his current difficulties or limitations, instead he needed to watch for opportunities to reveal the Good News to others around him.

We Christians have a unique opportunity every year at this time to share the mystery of the Messiah.  For the weeks leading up to Christmas and for a short time after, everyone seems to be a little more open to thinking about spiritual questions and how God interacts with their lives.  I pray that you’ll be looking for these opportunities instead of looking at your current limitations.  Be ready and willing to share Jesus with those who so desperately need Him.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

How to stay focused while praying

About a year ago, I started a series exploring the way Jesus prayed.  My theory was that if God’s goal is to make me more Christ-like, then I should probably take a look at how, when, and where Jesus prayed.  Out of the numerous things I learned, two observations of Jesus’ prayer life stuck out:

First, that He frequently went off to quiet places to spend time with the Father in prayer.  Out of a variety of circumstances, Jesus was constantly devoting chunks of alone time to talking with His Father in Heaven.

Second, Jesus’ main concern in His prayers was the Father.  Jesus was primarily focused on the Father’s plan and the Father’s glory.  His aim was to increase the Father’s glory – which means to enhance the Father’s reputation and honor in the world, and this was primarily achieved as Jesus completed the mission that the Father gave Him to accomplish.

As rich as that study was, as I moved on to other parts of Scripture I didn’t always remember these main lessons.  Looking back, my prayer life has both ebbed and flowed…tossed about by circumstance and my mental state of the moment.  One particular item I’ve struggled with is staying focused while praying. 

When I pray, I’m usually sitting in a quiet room with my eyes closed to avoid visual distractions.  My conversation with the Father starts out alright, but about half way through the fourth sentence…my mind jumps to something that needs my attention later on in the day, or I remember what I had forgotten to buy at the store, or I start to process a relationship problem that needs addressed at work or with a friend or in my family. 

It never fails…my mind picks the worst possible moment to leave the deep waters of relationship with the Father, and I starting splashing around in shallow thoughts of the smaller parts of life.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve apologized to God for mentally abandoning our quiet time together.

I don’t think my struggle is all that unique, either.  In various forms, I’ve heard other Christians voice similar difficulties.  I suspect that ancient believers also dealt with this, because towards the end of his letter to the believers in Colossae, Paul wrote

Colossians 4:2-3
Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving.

Since Jesus’ death and resurrection bridged the gap between us and God, we know that as a child of God, we can pray at any time to our Father.  However, I think we tend to take advantage of that freedom and we get comfortable with sporadic communication.  Paul’s instruction here is to make prayer a priority, something we are devoted to.  Just like Jesus purposely setting aside chunks of time, we should as well.  Early morning, late night, commuting to work, or wherever we can consistently get time for just us and the Father; we need to make the time and protect that time from other things that will try to distract us.

This is where I’m so grateful for the second half of Paul’s instruction – stay alert in it with thanksgiving.  When my mind drifts off, I can immediately refocus my attention by thanking God for something, anything.  Giving thanks takes the focus off of me and my agenda because it makes me look toward the person I’m saying “Thank you” to.

As I have been applying Paul’s instruction, I’m realizing how a lack of thanksgiving has kept me unfocused…and being unfocused has prevented me from growing deeper with the Father.  So I need to make sure I’m purposely scheduling chunks of time with the most important Person in my life, and also telling Him about all the parts of my life that I am thankful for.  I’m certain that as I do this, my concern for the Father’s plan and the Father’s glory will increase.  Then I will begin praying like Jesus did, because my relationship with the Father will be a lot like Jesus’ relationship with the Father.

Maturity, growth, and deep relationship will not happen if we give God some sporadic moments of talk during our week.  The richness of a relationship with our Creator will only happen as we devote time to Him.  Will you make that choice?  The first step is simply saying “Thank you”.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Our identity in the gospel

The Bible wasn’t dropped out of the sky as a complete revelation of God to mankind.  Instead, the Scriptures were assembled from the writings of God-inspired authors over hundreds of years.  Through these authors, God revealed more and more of His plan for the world and the salvation of those who trust Jesus for eternal life.  This process is referred to progressive revelation.

Therefore, we must consider each section of Scripture in light of the larger context of the God’s story throughout the Bible.  Most of the letters in the New Testament are addressed to a particular group of believers or an individual believer to discuss specific topics.  Since the letters’ recipients have already placed their faith in Jesus, getting an “in a nutshell” explanation of the gospel doesn’t appear very often, as the author typically spends his time instructing his readers about the effects of the gospel in their lives or encouraging them to live their lives with eternity in mind.

Paul certainly wrote to the Colossians to give them instruction and encouragement.  However, after he reminds them of where their identity comes from, in verses that follow, he gives them a wonderful “in a nutshell” statement of the gospel message:

Colossians 2:9-10
For in Him the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily, and you have been filled by Him, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

Paul then uses two illustrations that his readers would have been very familiar with.  These physical examples had been previously used to confirm a person’s identification with a group of people.  Both illustrations contain the imagery of a permanent change that takes place in a person’s life. 

Colossians 2:11
In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not done with hands, by putting off the body of flesh, in the circumcision of the Messiah.

Circumcision was the physical removal of flesh that the Israelites performed as a symbolic indication of their identification with God and a separation from the surrounding nations and their gods.  However, a physical circumcision was no longer necessary after Christ’s death and resurrection – our identity with Him is a spiritual circumcision.  In Jesus, we have rejected, or put off, the selfish desires of our flesh.

Continuing with his next example, Paul says

Colossians 2:12
Having been buried with Him in baptism, you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

The Greek word for baptism means “to be placed into”.  When we are physically immersed in a water baptism, we are symbolically demonstrating what has already happened to us spiritually.  We were set apart and placed into Christ the moment we put our faith in the working of God, who raised [Jesus] from the dead

The beauty of our salvation is that we don’t have to try and earn it.  The truth is – we can’t earn it.  God knew that, but still desired relationship with us.  As Paul reminds the Colossians, Christ took care of our sin debt while we were still rebels. 

Colossians 2:13-15
And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive with Him and forgave us all our trespasses.  He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross.  He disarmed the rulers and authorities and disgraced them publicly; He triumphed over them by Him.

While we were still sinners, Christ paid humanity’s sins.  Because of their faith in the working of God, who raised [Jesus] from the dead, God forgave all their sin.  Christ’s standing with the Father is credited to each person who places their faith in Jesus. 

We’ve all had times in our lives where we messed up and afterward we had the offense forgiven, but we still had to live with the consequences of our actions.  However, that’s not the case when it comes to our salvation from sin.  Not only has Jesus erased the certificate of debt but He has also erased…its obligations.  In Christ, we are free from sin – and its penalty.

Our salvation wasn’t secured by some back-door, secret deal, either.  Christ was publicly humiliated and crucified – the kind of death and separation from God that we deserved.  Jesus’ sacrifice was on display for entire world to see.  By His loving actions, He disarmed the rulers and authorities set against us, and, as Paul stated in verse 9, Jesus became the head over every ruler and authority

In these verses, we find that we have been set apart (11-12), our sins forgiven (13-14), and we have victory over forces of evil (15) – all because of Jesus.  That’s the gospel “in a nutshell”.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Recognizing counterfeits

We’d all love to live life to the fullest, as God intends for us – complete, mature, and ready for good use under Christ’s leadership.  But often times it is a tough road to become mature and develop Christ-like character.  If only spiritual maturity were as simple as going a straight line from Point A to Point B, right? 

After describing his desire to have all believers reach maturity, Paul speaks about Jesus, and says

Colossians 2:3
In Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden.

And then Paul gives the Colossians a direct application of this foundational truth:

Colossians 2:4-5
I am saying this so that no one will deceive you with persuasive arguments.  For I may be absent in body, but I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the strength of your faith in Christ.

Paul is just one man, and therefore his ministry is limited to one place at a time.  At the time of this writing, he cannot be with the Colossians to personally protect them from the variety of nice-sounding, but very dangerous, false ideas about God that would come their way.  So Paul gives them encouragement for the ways they are currently guarding their faith.  However, he also gives them direction for how to continue to mature, despite the reckless ideas about God they will also encounter.

Colossians 2:6-7
Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

The path to maturity and the path for protection against false teachings is actually the continuation in the direction they started with, to be in Christ.  Their relationship with God started with their faith in Christ, when they received Him as their Savior from sin’s penalty.  Remember, Jesus said to His disciples:

John 14:6
I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Jesus is the way to the Father.
Jesus is the truth of the Father.
Jesus is the life we are given from the Father.

That is why Paul tells the believers in Colossae to walk in Him.  Walk in His ways.  Walk in His truths.  Walk in His life.  This is the way we protect ourselves from false teaching about God.  We know the real God so well that we aren’t swayed away when the counterfeit philosophies come our way.

We don’t have to know all the variations and deceptions out there – we only need to know the truth, and continue to walk in Him.

Keep Pressing,
Ken 

Imagining Jesus

When you think of Jesus, what comes to mind?

Shoulder-length brown hair with a neatly trimmed beard?
Does he have a “I just want to be your buddy” attitude?
Always ready to have people gather around for talk?
Not very authoritative, rather subdued?
Just “ok” with whatever we want to do?

The assumptions we make about Jesus will not only affect how we approach and communicate with Him, but our perception of who Jesus really is will be demonstrated in the way we live.

In the beginning of his letter, Paul reminded the Colossians who Jesus is – in relation to the Father, in relation to creation, and in relation to the church.  These verses contain seven specific truths about Jesus – can you see them?

Colossians 1:15-20
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation;
because by Him everything was created, in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities –
all things have been created through Him and for Him.
He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.

He is also the head of the body, the church;
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
so that He might come to have first place in everything.

For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him,
and through Him to reconcile everything to Himself
by making peace through the blood of His cross –
whether things on earth or things in heaven.

He is the image of the invisible God – No one can see the Father, except through Jesus.  He is our tangible connection to God.

He is the firstborn over all creation – The firstborn had the responsibility to govern, maintain, and prosper the family and family’s property.  Jesus fulfills that role for all creation.

He is the Creator – This is why Jesus can claim the rights of the firstborn over all creation, because He was the one who invented all of it.  He is the architect and builder.  Nothing visible to our eyes, and nothing invisible to our eyes came about unless Jesus set it up. 

He is the head of the church – Jesus established His church as the family for all who would trust in Him for forgiveness of sin and for eternal life.  Jesus loves the church body as a groom loves his bride, and Jesus willing leads His people.

He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead – Jesus was the first to come back from the dead with a glorified body.  He truly is the beginning of the newness we will obtain in Him.

He has the fullness of God dwelling in Him – Jesus is not part man/part God.  Instead He is fully God and fully man, which makes Him the perfect mediator between God and mankind.

He is the reconciler – Jesus’ mission was to reconcile us rebellious sinners and the fallen creation back to Himself.  Through His death on the cross, He brought us the ability to have peace with God.  It’s important to remember that our reconciliation happened both on His own initiative and on our behalf.  We could never have been reconciled without the cross.

Is this how we view Jesus?  Is this how we see our King?

Don’t just laze around in the comfortable Jesus-stereotypes.  Remember who He is…and then be overwhelmed at the truth that he knows us fully and still desires an eternal relationship with each one of us.

Keep Pressing,
Ken 

Describing Jesus

When we trust Jesus for our forgiveness of sins and for eternal life, when we believe in Him for these things, God the Father responds to our faith in a mighty way:

Colossians 1:13-14
He (the Father) has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

We have a new citizenship.  Our transfer is a complete one, and we now fully belong to Christ’s kingdom.  The domain of darkness no longer has custody over us.  By taking our well-deserved punishment, Jesus has provided the redemption we could never have obtained on our own.  God the Father rewards our trust in Jesus with citizenship in the kingdom of the Son He loves.  However, this is just the start of our new life in Christ.

Now that we are a part of His kingdom, it’s certainly fair to ask: What is Jesus like?  Is there more to who He is than just my Savior?  How does He help us understand the Father?  And even if it might feel disrespectful to ask, we may even be wondering…Why is Jesus the one who rules over our new citizenship?

The next section of Paul’s introduction specifically deals with these kinds of questions.  It is overflowing with the truth of who Jesus is and why all the authority ascribed to Him is rightly His.  It is time well spent to read over and meditate on this magnificent passage. 

These verses contain seven main descriptions of Jesus, but there are also many wonderful details for us to ponder.  Read slowly…what grabs your attention?

Colossians 1:15-20
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation;
because by Him everything was created, in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities –
all things have been created through Him and for Him.
He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.

He is also the head of the body, the church;
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
so that He might come to have first place in everything.

For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him,
and through Him to reconcile everything to Himself
by making peace through the blood of His cross –
whether things on earth or things in heaven.

This is a comprehensive description of Jesus, a lot here to digest.  However, this is who our Savior truly is…supreme above everything.

When you read through this list, did anything surprise you?

Now that we are members of His kingdom, if we are going to relate to Jesus, if we are going to know Him better…then we need to see Him properly. 

How closely does this description match how we think of Jesus?  Do we honor Him as much as He deserves?  Or do we see Him as something less?

Keep Pressing,
Ken 

Remembering God's words

Just before Jesus died on the cross, He directly quoted two different psalms.  With everything He had endured in the previous 24 hours, how was He able to keep His mind focused enough to recall something David had written 1000 years previously?

When we think about the various settings around Jesus during His week before the cross, it becomes obvious that He wasn’t spending His time skimming the scrolls or trying to cram in a phrase or two during the Last Supper.  For Jesus to clearly recall God’s Word on the cross, in the midst of such intense trial and pain, He must have spent time previously with the Scriptures available to Him…and not just a little time, either.  To have Scripture at the tip of His tongue, to be able to recall God’s exact words while the whole world is crashing down…would require both preparation and repetition. 

The Jewish education system at the time was founded upon the student’s ability to memorize large portions of the Old Testament, beginning with the first five books of our Bible – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.  If a student did well, he would move on to the prophets and wisdom literature. 

Certainly Jesus did well, not only memorizing Scripture but also understanding it.  This was evidenced when He was 12 and went to the temple:

Luke 2:46-47 After three days, they found Him in the temple complex sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.  And all those who heard Him were astounded at His understanding and His answers.

His ability to converse with the teachers of the Law would have come from the amount of time spent in the Scriptures.  A fair assumption would be that a significant amount of time in the Old Testament Scriptures before His public ministry began at age 30.  Doing so helps explain why Jesus was ready and able to quote Scripture when being tempted by Satan…because as a youth, He spent His time preparing for the days ahead when He would need to recall God’s Word.

The same principle is available to us as well.  The more time we spend in God’s Word, the more ready we are when difficulties arise.  When a crisis hits, how comforting would it be to be able to remind ourselves of what God has previously said?  In fact, this coincides with one of Jesus’s last promises to His disciples:

John 14:26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit – the Father will send Him in My name – will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.

However, it is more difficult for the Holy Spirit to remind us of what Jesus said, if we haven’t been looking in the first place…

Putting the same Scriptures in front of our eyes often and meditating on them helps commit them to memory.  So let’s do the same with the psalm we’ve been looking at.  Having the promises we’ve learned – that when our hearts are without strength, we can trust God to handle our current circumstances.  We can trust God with our present struggles, as well as our future issues, because we remember how God has protected and strengthened us during previous crises.

Let’s take Jesus at His word and follow His example.  Pay attention to these four verses this week.  Read them often, say them out loud.  Do your best to bury these words deep in your mind, so that when the time comes, the Holy Spirit will be able to bring them to the front of your mind and the tip of your tongue.

Psalm 61:1-4

God, hear my cry; pay attention to my prayer.
I call to You from the ends of the earth
when my heart is without strength.

Lead me to a rock that is high above me,
for You have been a refuge for me,
a strong tower in the face of the enemy.

I will live in Your tent forever
and take refuge under the shelter of Your wings.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Staring death in the face

Recognizing that the time had come make the payment for humanity’s sins, Jesus said one last prayer to His Father.

Luke 23:44-46 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three, because the sun’s light failed.  The curtain of the sanctuary was split down the middle.  And Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into Your hands I entrust My spirit.”  Saying this, He breathed His last.

This is Jesus fully trusting the Father all the way to the end.  Staring death in the face, Jesus’ confidence in the Father’s provision and plan never wavered.  It wasn’t enough for Jesus to suffer through beatings.  It wasn’t enough that He was nailed to a cross and hung there for six hours.  As brutal as Christ’s suffering was, our sin-debt would not be paid unless His death occurred. 

But why must it be death?  Why couldn’t the Father accept some other form of payment?

We were made for relationship with God.  We were created such that God was both our purpose and our fuel.  However, our rebellion separated us from the source of life.  Justice would expect that for the choices a person makes, that person should experience the natural consequence of his or her actions.  Since we cut ourselves off from our one source of life in all the universe, the natural consequence for our rejecting our Creator…is death, a complete separation from God.

However, God chose to be merciful and delayed the natural consequences that we deserved.  Although our physical bodies were now corrupted and we would experience physical death, God allowed for a substitute to take our place so that a person’s spiritual death (eternal separation from God) would not occur.  Israel’s sacrificial system was a foreshadowing of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice.

Jesus summed it up like this:

John 3:16 For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

Jesus knew that His death was to be a substitute for ours.  His sacrifice took the natural consequences of what our sinful choices warranted.  But it had to be death…because that’s what we deserved. 

Earlier, Jesus quoted Psalm 22 as He dealt with the conflicting emotions of despair and hope.  Jesus’ last words, His last prayer – Father, into Your hands I entrust My spirit – underscored His complete trust in the Father as He completed the sacrifice, and His words find their source in Psalm 31. 

Psalm 31:1-5 Lord, I seek refuge in You; let me never be disgraced.
Save me by Your righteousness.
Listen closely to me; rescue me quickly.
Be a rock of refuge for me, a mountain fortress to save me.
For You are my rock and my fortress; You lead and guide me because of Your name.
You will free me from the net that is secretly set for me, for You are my refuge.
Into Your hand I entrust my spirit; You redeem me, Lord, God of truth.

All the way to the end, Jesus was trusting the Father.  Because of His death, our opportunity for relationship with the Father has been restored.  Eternal life is available to anyone who believes in Him, which means that you understand who He is, why He died, and you trust Him when He said that He will give you eternal life.

That is why today is a Good Friday.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Completing the Father's work

During His ‘High Priestly Prayer’, Jesus said to the Father:

John 17:4 I have glorified You on the earth by completing the work You gave Me to do.

A few verses later, specifically states what part of that work entailed:

John 17:6-8 I have revealed Your name to the men You gave Me from the world.
They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.
Now they know that all things You have given to Me are from You,
Because the words that You gave Me, I have given them.
They have received them and have known for certain that I came from You.
They have believed that You sent Me.

Part of His mission was to purposely develop disciples to carry on the Father’s work after Jesus’ departure.  He didn’t just pick a few of His favorites from those who were following Him around.  They weren’t just hang-out buddies or there to be “Yes-Men” while Jesus conducted His ministry.

The Father specifically chose the disciples out of all the Israelites who were looking forward to the coming Messiah.  The Father gave these men to Jesus, for Him to invest in and develop.

Over the course of three years, Jesus revealed the truths of God to the disciples.  He taught them truths and He lived out those truths.  And now it was time for them to live out the truths they believed.

John 17:9-10 I pray for them.
I am not praying for the world but for those You have given Me,
because they are Yours.

All My things are Yours, and Yours are Mine,
and I have been glorified in them.

Just as the Father was glorified by Jesus as He completed the work the Father sent Him to do…Jesus will be glorified by the disciples as they complete the work that Jesus is sending them out to do.

Two main applications come from our observations here:

·        Are we glorifying Jesus by completing the work He has given us to do?
·        Are we purposely developing others to carry on God’s work after our own departure?

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Praying for an enemy (part 2)

Words are cheap.

Words are easy to say, but sometimes they are hard to follow through with.

During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has this to say about how those in the Kingdom of God should act toward enemies:

Matthew 5:43-45 You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of our Father in heaven.  For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Last time, we wrestled with this passage and what Jesus is instructing us to do.  Someone who is actively plotting our downfall, someone who takes pleasure in seeing us fail, someone who harasses us without end – that is not the person I am generally interested in showing love to or want to pray for.

As we look at what Jesus taught here about prayer…it almost feels too big. 

All sorts of defensive thoughts and emotions come to mind when I imagine praying for those who persecute me.  However, the core of all those thoughts and emotions is my own self-centeredness.  Even when recognize this truth, I’m still unsure of how to pray for an enemy. 

Thankfully, we have an example.

Within about a 12 hour timeframe, Jesus was betrayed, falsely accused, slapped, spat on, beaten, repeatedly mocked, savagely whipped, crowned with thorns, and had three metal spikes viciously hammered into his wrists and feet.  After all that, and while he was suffocating to death on the cross, Jesus said

Luke 23:34 Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.

In the midst of excruciating pain, less than a few hours before death, after all he had been through – Jesus petitioned God for their forgiveness.  Jesus kept his enemies’ most important need in mind, despite the circumstances.

That’s something I love about Jesus.  He never asks of us anything that he couldn’t do or wouldn’t do himself.

Everything he went through in those 12 hours, we have also experienced, to some degree, at the hand of an enemy.  On the days when I feel betrayed by those closest to me, the days that someone’s words leave welts and wounds on my heart and in my mind, or when I am antagonized to the point that it feels like they have ripped open my flesh – Jesus has been there before.  There are times when we’re getting run over by someone who is purposely out to make our life miserable (or worse).  Let’s be honest, there are people like that in the world.  They go beyond just being self-centered, and they are actively looking for ways to take us down.

It’s in those frazzled, exhausted moments that we need to be praying for our enemies.  Just like Jesus did, we must remember that their greatest need – God’s forgiveness – is greater than our greatest pains.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Much ado about prayer

I remember when I was in grade school, I was told by my Sunday School teacher that I shouldn’t end my prayer the way I was saying it.  She gently told me that what I was saying wasn’t exactly theologically accurate…now while I don’t remember verbatim what my first grade mind came up with, I do remember thinking that I didn’t want to say what everyone else said at the end of a prayer.  I wanted to say something different, my own way of signing off or saying “see you later” to God.  She said that it would just be better for me to say “In Jesus’ name, Amen”.

Truthfully, she may have been correct that what I was saying was inaccurate…but to this day, I’ve often wondered what’s the “right way” for us to pray?  Later in my childhood, I was told by another adult that prayer was simply “talking to God”, but that statement still leaves me feeling unsettled. 

When my boys were young, they specifically asked me “Dad, what’s the right way to pray?  How do I do it?”  Not wanting to burden their young minds with the doubt and questions I had as a child, I reiterated what was told to me…Don’t worry about it, son.  You’re just talking to God, that’s all.  No formulas, no requirements.  Just tell God what’s on your mind…your worries, your hopes, anything that’s going on.  God can handle it.

However, as I’ve grown and matured…both in life and in my relationship with God…I still have the same lingering questions rattling around the back of my mind.  Is there a “right way” to pray?  Is it really “just talking to God”?  Am I doing this right?

It’s a good exercise to face the questions within us.  It’s also good to talk with other Christians about these things.  But when we have questions about our relationship with God, it’s even better to see what God has to say about it.

A survey of the Scriptures shows that prayer is everywhere.  Seems almost every person we encounter, from all walks of life, prays at some point.  From Job to Paul, David to Peter, Moses to Jabez, and Jonah to John it seems that everyone is either praying or talking about praying.  There are scores of example prayers to look at, and we could spend some time looking at the situations each of those prayers came from.  There would be plenty of benefit to looking through other believers’ examples in the Bible; however, I’m going to narrow the focus a little more in the hopes of answering my own lingering questions.

C.S. Lewis said that God’s aim is that “Every Christian is to become a little Christ”, and the Apostle John had this to say when he wrote about the health of our relationship with Christ:

1 John 2:6 the one who says he remains in [relationship with] Him should walk just as He walked

If these accurately describe God’s purpose toward those who have accepted Christ as Savior, then when it comes to prayer…I want to know how Jesus prayed.  Not only “how”, but also “when” and “why”.  If becoming like Christ is the goal, then he should be the first one we look to as our example.  Jesus’ own disciples also recognized this:

Luke 11:1 [Jesus] was praying in a certain place, and when He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John also taught his disciples.”

The disciples wanted to be like their teacher, so they naturally wanted to pray like him too.  We’re going to take a close look at what Jesus taught his disciples, as well as Jesus’ own prayer life – when did he pray and what did he pray?

As of this writing, I don’t know the answers to all of these questions…so we’re going to walk down this path and learn together.  Perhaps our best starting point is to have the same request the first disciples had

Lord, teach us to pray.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Reflections

Reflections.  Imitations. 

We’re all echoes of what has been modeled for us, either good or bad.  Growing up we watch our parents, our friends, politicians, sports stars, celebrities – and then decide for ourselves what values and behaviors are worth emulating, and which ones are not.  Nowadays, we “follow” certain people or groups in social media.  When we need help or advice, we seek out people who have succeeded in business, parenting, finances, or leadership…and then put their recommendations into practice.  We’re imitators, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  In fact, we were built that way:

Genesis 1:26-27 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, overall the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

We are reflections of our Creator.  We are made in his image.  From these verses in Genesis, we find that we represent some of God’s attributes and mimic some of his authority over the rest of creation.

When we find directions in the rest of Scripture to do some things and avoid other activities, they aren’t just rules where God is “bossing us around”.  The guidelines that God spells out in the Bible are there to show us how to best reflect the characteristics of God that he has instilled in us.

Paul wanted Titus to remind the Cretan believers of how the choices they made and the character of their lives would represent God to the morally bankrupt culture which surrounded them.

Titus 3:1-2 Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.

As always, Jesus is our perfect example of how to reflect God to the culture around us.  Looking at his life, we find that Jesus was

subject to rulers and authorities – even the corrupt ones
obedient – he followed through with God the Father’s plan of Salvation, even though it meant his death
ready to do good – he always acted in the best interest of everyone he encountered
slandering no one – he never spoke deceitfully
peaceable and considerate – he always engaged people in the moment, where they were at
true humility toward all men – the King of kings purposely chose to be the servant of all

When we follow Christ’s example, we fulfill our purpose and become what we were created to be.    

Which of these six traits will you reflect today?

Keep Pressing,
Ken