Rise Up, My Love (303): What the Bible Has to Say About Our Beloved Christ

Song of Solomon 8:14 “My beloved…” Finally, let’s meditate on some more names for God, this time from the New Testament, that remind us why God, in the Person of Jesus, is our beloved:

Matthew 16:16 “And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”John 6:35 “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”

John 1:29 “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  John 8:12 “I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

John 8:24 If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

John 10:9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.”  John 11:25 “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”

John 13:13 “Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.

John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”  John 15:5  “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

John 18:37 “Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.”

John 20:28 “And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.”

Acts 16:31 “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

2 Corinthians 3:17 “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

Ephesians 2:20 “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.”

Hebrews 2:10 “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”

Hebrews 5:9 “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.”  Heb 12:2 “Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.”

Revelation 1:17 “Fear not; I am the first and the last.   Revelation 1:18 “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.”

Revelation 2:18 “And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass.”

Revelation 2:23 “I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.”

Revelation 14:14 “And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.”

Revelation 21:6 “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.”

Revelation 22:16 “I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.”

(The photos with verses on them are used by permission of Bob Hardee. Thank you, Bob! [The others are mine.])

 

Rise Up, My Love (288): Abiding in The Vine

Song of Solomon 8:11 “Solomon had a vineyard.” God had a vineyard. What happened then? Did God give up husbandry when his crops failed? God is amazingly long suffering. Hundreds of years after God predicted giving up on Israel, He was still patiently working with them. When Jesus came, He preached to the nation: “Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country” (Matthew 21:33).   Jesus was reminding them again of the passage from Isaiah, and He went on to tell the Jewish leaders that as a nation they had refused to listen to God’s prophets for centuries. (This is also discussed in Jeremiah 12:10, where the Lord laments, “Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard.”) So, what did God do? “Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him”…but “they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them?” (Luke 20: 13,15). “They say unto him, he will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons” (Matt. 21:41).   Let’s review our verse again: “Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon; he let out the vineyard unto keepers; every one for the fruit thereof was to bring a thousand pieces of silver.” Just as any good king would expect and deserve loyalty and fair business exchange, so God expected loyalty from his subjects. However, instead of “a thousand pieces of silver,” God received treachery and rebellion, even to the point of crucifying his Son. But, glory of glory, God had a plan all the time! This same Jesus, who was cast out of the vineyard of wild grapes and killed, was resurrected. Like “a root out of a dry ground” (Isaiah 53:2), Jesus himself became the one true and living vine that produced fruits full of the sweetness of God.   Jesus declared in the beautiful passage in John 15:   “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman…Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine,ye are the branches….If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.”   In this wonderful passage, Jesus invites all men to come to him and by faith be grafted into himself as the true Vine. Through abiding in him, and allowing his Word and his Holy Spirit to abide in us in truth (in other words, by continuing in obedience to true truth and grace rather than in rebellion), we will produce abundant fruit full of the sweetness and fullness of God’s love and joy, and bring great joy and glory to God! This is God’s amazing plan of grace for the world, so that anyone who will can become part of God’s vineyard.   Are you part of his vineyard? Are you abiding in him, allowing his Spirit and his Word to flow into and through you, washing away the impurities and bringing sweet nourishment to your soul so that your life is producing an abundance of the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control? Lord, may we be faithful and loyal subjects who bring you “a thousand pieces of silver” for the wonderful fruits of the Spirit we enjoy by abiding in your vine and being keepers in your vineyard. Lord, may we surrender all we are and have to you, once forever, and again and again moment by moment until we are forever changed by your eternal presence. (All photos taken near Veneto, Italy, during a trip to visit our kids who live there, except for this last one, which is from Tasmania.)

 

Good Friday: Practicing the Resurrection Principle

Are you anxious about some challenge in your life? Good Friday is the perfect time to remember the Resurrection Principle, which a friend shared with me from Reader’s Digest. By the way, do you ever read Reader’s Digest? My parents subscribed when I was a child, but I didn’t even know it was still in existence until I looked it up today on Wikipedia and read that it’s the largest paid circulation magazine in the world. So, maybe you’ve read all about the Resurrection Principle already, but if not, let me pass along what my friend suggested: “Prayerfully wait three days before becoming anxious about any problem, because most of the time, the problem will be resolved.”

At first I thought, “What? Usually only the most insignificant issues are resolved in three days unless it’s good news about a test or something.” As I considered the challenges in my life that tend to make me anxious, I felt like almost all of them are long-term, on-going difficulties which are out of my control and often take years to resolve. However, it occurred to me that Christ rose again after three days, and that’s the most significant resolution of any problem in the world!

So, like leprous Naaman in 2 Kings 5, I decided to try the Resurrection Principle and see what happened. I found that prayerfully waiting three days rarely brought a clear resolution that chased the clouds away and left me with no further need for faith or dependence on the Lord. However, as I practiced praying earnestly for three days before freaking out, I discovered that most problems were resolved in this way: I learned to lay them down at the feet of Jesus and find peace. It is completely worthwhile to follow 1 Peter 5:7, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Does God love us? Yes. Does God have the power to help us? Yes. Will God answer our prayers in a way that makes us more like Christ and brings glory to Himself? Yes. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).If you’re struggling with anxiety this Good Friday, why not start practicing the Resurrection Principle? Develop the habit of praying earnestly for three days before you allow yourself to give in to anxious thoughts. Hopefully, this will keep you from jumping on the anxiety roller coaster at all, and perhaps you, like me, will more often be able to find a sense of serenity and rest even in the midst of life’s battles, knowing that God loves us, hears us, and will answer our prayers! Let’s allow the resurrection power and ministry of Christ to flood our souls with light in the darkness, transforming us from anxious souls into spiritual beings.

The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him” (Lamentations 3:25).

Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord” (Psalm 27:14).

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

(Thanks to Bob Hardee for the two photos with scripture verses imprinted on them!)



What about Bob? Creativity and Kindness

Bob isn’t a psychiatric patient, he’s a psychiatrist, and a great one…or, at least he was. Bob and Beth are about our age, although they’ve recently retired while Alan and I are still in the “shall I? shan’t I?” stage. I’m quite sure Alan will retire in the next few years, but one of the things that holds us back is the question all retired people inevitably ask and have to answer: What will we do after we retire?I got a forward a few days ago about an elderly man who took a position at a retail store but arrived late for work more than once. After a couple of offenses, he was hauled into the boss’s office for a lecture. At the end of his severe reprimand, the boss asked, “What did they do at your previous job when you were late?”

“Well, I guess they just said, ‘Good morning, Admiral! Can I bring you a cup of coffee?'”

I think it’s easy to forget that “old folks” had active lives. Most retirees held down respectable jobs, reared families, and have children and grandchildren. One of the hardest things about retiring is the loss of feeling respected and valued. Both of my brothers continued working/consulting until they were 70. My oldest tried to retire at 65 but missed feeling needed and respected.

If you know retirees, would you please take a little time to find out more about them? They often have mental storehouses filled of memories and wisdom that they’re more than happy to share. If you’re thinking about retiring yourself, please consider reading the inspiring book Billy Graham wrote a few years ago called Nearing Home…about “life, faith, and finishing well.”

And, what about Bob? Well, Bob is an avid photographer and a deeply spiritual Christian, so he’s been adding scripture verses to some of his favorite photos, which he’s been sharing lately with me!  Here are a few for your enjoyment, and you’ll most likely see more of them on later blogs! Thank you, Bob! You’re an inspiration to me!                    Cute, huh? Beth posed for this rather humorous one…(All photos are used by permission of Robert Hardee, who owns the copy rights.)

(I wrote a post with more information about Nearing Home last year:  https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2016/03/23/reflections-on-nearing-home-by-billy-graham/  )