Monday, May 30, 2016

Letters to Annie: Don’t Worry about Others’ Opinions


Dear Annie,

            Love, I just want to share with you this story…

            A variation on one of Aesop’s fables tells of a wise man whose son was ashamed to leave the house because he thought other people would think him ugly. The father told him that he shouldn’t worry so much what other people though, and to follow his own mind and heart. To make the point, the father asked his son to join him on his trips to the market over the next few days.

On the first day, the father rode the donkey, and the child walked alongside. As they travelled they could hear passersby criticizing the father for making a small child walk in the heat of the day.

On the second day, the child rode the donkey, while the father walked alongside him. This time people commented about how disrespectful the child was for making an old man walk while he rode in comfort.

On the third day they entered the market, both walking alongside the donkey. They heard the people saying how stupid they were: “Do they not know that donkeys are for riding?”

The following day, both father and son rode on the donkey, and people expressed their indignation about how cruel they were to burden the animal in such a way.

On the fifth day they carried the donkey on their backs. Everyone in the market laughed and ridiculed them.

The wise man then turned to his son and said: “You see, regardless of what you do, there’ll always be people who will disapprove. Therefore, don’t worry about others’ opinions, and do what you think is just and right.

I think you might need this: Annie, if you are constantly worried about what other people think, you will never get to where you need to go in life. You are going to have to do things that don’t always meet people’s standards. You will come into situations where you have to put your pride, and your reputation on the line to get what God wants you to have in life. If you are constantly worried about what people are thinking, you will never have the will to do what’s right. God’s approval matters the most; while people’s approval will expired soon.

I love you,
Rich

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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Young Men and Women, Consider the Love of Jesus


[The] love of Christ… this love that surpasses knowledge
(Ephesians 3:18-19,
NIV)

Love expresses itself in a seemingly contradictory way. Parental love expresses itself in a wholesome and loving discipline, not in the indulgence of a child’s every whim. But not every child appreciates this expression of love. It is the same with the Lord’s children. In the gospels, three expressions of Christ’s love are recorded for our instruction. In each case it is stated that the Lord loved the person involved.

We learn first that Christ’s love corrects the one whom He loves. Speaking of the young ruler, Mark says, “Jesus looked at him and loved him” (10:21). And what did His love move Him to do? Jesus saw that the young man had many attractive qualities, but he lacked the greatest essential. He discerned the fatal flaw in the life of the ruler and dealt faithfully with him about it. The young man clinging to his great possessions, he sacrificed the greatest Possession. So will our divine Lord put His unerring finger on our fatal flaw, the thing that will rob us of His highest blessings? Shall we ask him to show us what that thing is?

Next we see that Christ’s love allows suffering by His loved ones. “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister [Mary] and Lazarus” (John 11:5). Jesus spent more time in their home than in any other. Was He soft and indulgent with this favoured family? No, He was not. He did not intervene to prevent Lazarus from dying. He did not spare the sisters the heartbreak of seeing him slowly slip away. Rather, He waited two days before responding to their appeal for help. Did He not care? He cared so much that He permitted their suffering.

And what was His purpose? “So that you may believe” (John 11:15). The cultivation of faith was the object of the discipline. After their trail, they had an immeasurably greater Lord, and their suffering has been used to impart comfort and insight to succeeding generations of believers.

Last, Christ’s love cleanses us. “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end… [He] began to wash his disciples’ feet” (John 13:1, 5). At that moment, He was on His way to cleanse their defiled souls with His blood, but He paused to give a matchless demonstration of the humility of love. No task is too menial for love. Jesus washed their feet with water, and then with blood from the basin of the cross.
[Edited, modified and modernized from Consider Him (1976) by J. Oswald Sanders]

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Young Men and Women, Consider the Mind of Jesus


In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus
(Philippians 2:5, NIV)

In this great Christological passage, Paul throws out a starling challenge: Reflect in your own mind the mind of Christ. The mind of Christ was more than His thinking processes; it was His entire inner disposition. It included His thoughts and motives and desires. Because we reflect the mind of Christ so imperfectly, we make a very slight impression on the cynical world around us. J. Stuart Holden writes: “The world does not believe in Him whom it has not seen, because it has cause not to believe in us whom it has seen.”

The mind of Christ is seen operating on two levels in this passage. On the level of deity, Christ did not count equality with God and its attendant majesty something to retained and grasped at all costs. He did not greedily cling to His rights as God’s equal. Instead, He emptied Himself. He resigned all His outward glory, veiled His majesty, and accepted the limitations involved in assuming human form. He could never be less than God, but He renounced the outward display of His majesty and glory. Yielding up the independent exercise of His divine attributes, He became a servant. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (KJV).

The mind of Christ displayed on the level of humanity. “He humbled himself” (v.8). We have every season to humble ourselves, but it was not so with Him. He did not demand, as He might well have done, such a standard of treatment as befitted His dignity. Instead of a palace, He chose a manger. His throne was a carpenter’s bench, and His sceptre a hammer. His university was a village school. So low did He stoop in His self-humiliation that He accepted the lowest step – death on the cross.

This display of His mind was progressive. It began in His thinking, led to self-abasement, and culminated in self-oblation. Sacrificial love led Him to take these downward steps, and we are to follow His example. His mind was the exact reverse of the worldly mind that revels in position and power; that considers wealth and possessions the greatest good; that delights in being served rather than in serving others; that shrinks from suffering and shame. “Have the same mindset.” “Let this mind be in you.”
[Edited, modified and modernized from Consider Him (1976) by J. Oswald Sanders]

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Young Men and Women, Consider the Unchanging Jesus


Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever
(Hebrews 13:8,
NIV)

No one can doubt that we are living in a changing world. Indeed, the rate of change in every realm of life is so rapid that we find it impossible to keep pace with its multifaceted movements. H.F. Lyte’s hymn is more appropriate today than when he wrote it:
Change and decay in all around I see,
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.
In the midst of our changing and unstable world stands the unchanging Christ. In Hebrews 13:7, the writer exhorts Christians to remember their former teachers; but in verse 8, he turns their eyes to Jesus, who is always the same. All that He was in the past, He is in the present and will be in the future.

Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, will care for all our yesterdays. Our past sometimes haunts and even paralyses us, and the devil delights to keep us chained to it. But the changeless Christ is able to cleanse us from all the guilt and defilement of the past. He is able to deliver us even from the tyranny of memory. We must not allow the devil to resurrect what God has forgotten. We should remember, too, that for the believer He is the God of the second chance. “Lord, who is a God like you? You forgive sin. You forgive your people when they do what is wrong. You don’t stay angry forever. Instead, you take delight in showing your faithful love to them” (Micah 7:18).

Jesus Christ, the same today, will take care of all our todays. He who delivers from the tyranny of the past will dissolve the complexity of the present. And how insoluble they often seem – cares of family, health, finance, business, age, etc. But no problem is really new; they are common to all ages. Jesus experienced family problems. He had no money to pay His tax. He wept in sorrow with Mary. He can solve temperamental problems as He did with Peter. As Great Physician, He can help in our physical problems.

Jesus Christ, the same for ever, is well able to care for all our tomorrows. He is able to dispel the uncertainties of the future. We are all apt to succumb to fear. There are fears that assail us at every stage of life. Fear of the future can cripple us in meeting the demands of the present. But in the midst of life’s uncertainties stands One who is utterly dependable and entirely competent. Trust Him fully.
[Edited, modified and modernized from Consider Him (1976) by J. Oswald Sanders]

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Young Men, Consider the Returning Jesus


I will come back” (John 14:3, NIV)

The return of Christ to earth is the denouement toward which the Church has been looking for centuries. “Our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11) and so is the second coming of our Lord. It is not only the object of our anticipation, but of admonition to very practical Christian duties. A careful study will reveal that this event is linked to every great doctrine and ethical duty.

It sounds a call to consecration (means the separation of oneself from things that are unclean, especially anything that would contaminate one’s relationship with a perfect God). “Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed” (Revelation 16:15). We are to be careful in keeping our garments of the soul stainless. Are we as careful in this realm as we are of the garments we wear? When others see our garments, they see us. We are to “clothed with Christ” (Galatians 3:27 or “put on”) so that others will see Him when they see us. In these Laodicea days our Lord counsels us to “buy from me… white clothes to wear…” (Revelation 3:18).

His return carries with it the assurance of reward. “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me” (Revelation 22:12). There is a tendency to regard the reward motive as a commercializing of Christianity, but it played a prominent part in the thinking of the early Church. Paul frequently refers to it, as did his Master. Some Christians piously protest that they will be content with the lowest place in heaven, but this is false humility and could be a cloak of spiritual lethargy. “Run in such a way as to get the prize,” that is, the promised reward (1 Corinthians 9:24). It any case, rewards are not given. They are earned. Heavenly rewards are for earthly renunciations.

The second coming is an encouragement to continuance. “I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown” (Revelation 3:11). In Hebrews 2:1 we are exhorted not to drift away from the truth we have heard. The ascended Lord urges us to hold fast what we already have, lest our reward be taken by someone else. His imminent return provides the motive for this. There may still be years before this blessed hope is realized. Let us fill the days with sacrificial service. Spiritual idleness/laziness means eternal loss.
[Edited, modified and modernized from Consider Him (1976) by J. Oswald Sanders]

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Sunday, May 22, 2016

Young Men, Consider the Ascended Jesus


[Jesus] left them and was taken up into heaven
(Luke 24:51, NIV)

The ascension of our Lord directs attention to the fact that He is not only risen, but enthroned. It is that event in which the risen Christ finally and visibly withdrew from His disciples and passed into the heavens – a fitting climax to His life of perfect obedience on earth. His glorious ascension was the necessary and appropriate complement to His resurrection, and the manner in which it took place was consistent with His miraculous life and achievements.

He did not vanish out of sight as He did at Emmaus (Luke 24:31) leaving a question as to whether there might be yet further appearances. He walked away from them, and then He was carried up into heaven, there to sit at the right hand of God. It took place as they were looking on, in broad daylight (Acts 1:9). There was no possibility of mistake. He was really and finally gone.

He ascended bodily, and carried His glorified human body into heaven. He left the disciples, with His hands outstretched in blessing. As soon as His nail-pierced feet left the earth, He commenced His ministry as their Advocate and Intercessor. They exchanged His physical presence for His spiritual omnipresence.

The ascension was an important part of the Lord’s ministry on our behalf. It imparted the assurance that His death was effective and that all God’s claims against sinful men had been met. It evidenced the fact that the problem created by man’s sin had been finally solved. It enabled His disciples to give a satisfying account of the disappearance of Christ’ body from the tomb.

Further, it was the necessary prelude to the coming of the Holy Spirit as promised by the Lord. As the Scriptures says, “the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified” (John 7:39). Now the way was open for the Pentecostal effusion. By the ascension, the local Christ became the universal Christ whose personal presence was mediated by the Holy Spirit.

To Christ, it was the reward of His obedience unto death. “Therefore God exalted Him…” (Philippians 2:9). The ascension reversed man’s verdict on the Son of God. Had the Saviour not ascended, we would be without a representative in heaven, and without the Comforter to lead and guide us on earth. His presence in heaven makes heaven a blessed reality to us. Amen.
[Edited, modified and modernized from Consider Him (1976) by J. Oswald Sanders]

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Friday, May 20, 2016

Young Men, Consider the Risen Jesus


Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…”
(1 Corinthians 15:3-4,
NIV).

These verses enshrine the essence of the Christian faith. They contain the essential message of Easter, the most important even in the church year. Three great truths are emphasized. On Friday Jesus died on the cross. On Saturday He lay in Joseph’s tomb. On Sunday He rose from the dead. Deny these fundamental facts and you negate Christianity.

Two other very important things about Christ emerge from these verses. First, He was truly man because He died. Death is characteristic of mankind. In this fact lay the necessity for the incarnation. He was also really God because He rose from the dead. Man cannot rise from the dead. Because Jesus was infinite, His death was of infinite value and made expiation for the sins of the whole world.

Exactly in the manner and for the purposes revealed in the Scriptures, He died for our sins. He was buried, not in a common grave, but in a new tomb. He rose again on the third day under the circumstances recorded on Scriptures. It was a bodily resurrection. When the women and Peter and John looked into the tomb, it was empty except for the grave clothes, still lying in the folds that had encased Him. The butterfly had flown, leaving an empty chrysalis (Muslims glory in a full coffin in Mecca. Christians glory in an empty tomb in Jerusalem. We have a living Christ; they have a dead prophet).

But how can the resurrection be explained? Christ’s body must have been removed either by human or by superhuman hands. If by human hands, it must have been by the hands of friends or foes. His foes would not, because that would look as if He really had risen. His friends could not remove the body for the tomb was sealed, and a guard of sixty soldiers watched to ensure that it was not rifled. The only alternative is that “God the Father… raised him from the dead” (Galatians 1:1).

If Christ did not rise from the dead as His disciples claimed, we cannot account for the complete transformation of these men who had been cowering behind closed doors for fear of the Jews. Their radiant joy and fearless witness is testimony of His transformation.
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart.
(A.H. Ackley)


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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Young Men, Consider the Crucified Jesus


They crucified him” (John 19:18, NIV).

Jesus Christ was unique in His death as in His birth. In a perceptive and picturesque statement of a great truth, Martin Niemoller said, “The cradle and the cross of Christ were hewn from the same tree.” The incarnation was solely with a view to the crucifixion.

Our Lord’s death was unique in that it was the only death that fulfilled millennia of prophecy. The sufferings and death of the Messiah were not only foreshadowed in meticulous detail in the Jewish sacrificial system, but they were foretold by the prophets. It has been stated that even in His tragic hours on the cross, thirty-three separate Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled.

He was the only Person to whom death was not inevitable. “I lay down my life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10:17-18). To Him, death was deliberately chosen. He “gave himself for us” wrote Paul to Titus (2:14). He was not dragged to the cross, but drawn by quenchless love.

To Him alone, death was not a result of sin. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23); but as He did no sin, He did not need to collect its wages. This left Him perfectly free to assume the burden and guilt of the world’s sin and to provide deliverance from its bondage.

His was the only death accompanied by miracles. It was appropriate that a life replete with miracles should conclude with a series of miracles. There was the mysterious darkness which was no eclipse, since the moon was then at its farthest from the sun. And it lasted not for a few minutes but for three hours.

There was the miraculous rending of the curtain veil, sixty feet long and thirty feet wide, requiring three hundred men to handle it. “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:51). A mighty earthquake accompanied His death. Rocks were split, and graves opened. “The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life… and appeared to many people” (27:52-53), conclusive evidence of His power over death.

Finally, His was the only death that made possible the forgiveness of sins – an experience to which myriads can testify.
When Thou didst hang upon the tree
The quaking earth acknowledged Thee
When Thou didst there yield up Thy breath
The world grew dark as shades of death
(Author unknown).

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Young Men, Consider the Suffering of Jesus


Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps
(2 Peter 2:21, NIV).

Our Lord Jesus Christ was the Prince of sufferers. Here, as in all else, He was preeminent (surpassing all others). We tend to conceive of His sufferings mainly in the realm of the physical, but so intense were His spiritual sufferings that physical pain could have been almost a relief.

He was a sinless Sufferer. Note the juxtaposition of the two thoughts: Christ “suffered for you… He committed no sin” (1 Peter 2:21-22). His sinlessness only added to the poignancy of His sufferings. Suffering can mean much or little according to the nature of the person. An unmusical person does not perceive a discord, but to the sensitive musician it causes exquisite pain. Neglect is not keenly felt when love is lacking. In the human nature of the Master, passion had not done its ugly work, nor had His powers become atrophied through neglect. It is the holy person who feels sin most keenly.

He was a sensitive Sufferer. Jesus was the essence of refinement and sensitivity. He possessed all the gentler graces as well as all the innocence of manhood. He was by nature a sensitive person. How He must have suffered when denounced as a deceiver and a liar (see John 7:12); a blasphemer (Matthew 9:3); in league with the devil (see John 8:52); a glutton and a drunkard (Luke 7:34). Jesus was really human, and these charges occasioned Him intense suffering. His suffering was real, not a theatrical display; and these verbal accusations pierced more deeply than the crown of thorns.

He was a sacrificed Sufferer. The substitutionary element in Christ’s death is prominent in this paragraph. “Christ suffered of you… ‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:21, 24). He not only pardoned our sins but took them away. How amazing that the blood that stained the soldier’s spear was the sole remedy for the soldier’s sin! Whoever dreamed of the crime procuring the salvation? And His death was not only vicarious but voluntary. He was led, not dragged to the cross.

He was a silent Sufferer. “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threads” (1 Peter 2:23). He harboured no spirit of retaliation. Like an aromatic leaf, the crushing only released the fragrance. Not a word of complaint crossed His lips. Instead He “entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).


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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Young Men, Consider the Hands of Jesus


He lifted up his hands and blessed them
(Luke 24:50,
NIV)

Like our faces, our hands reveal much to the intelligent observer. How expressive they are – an index to our character and habits. With practiced discipline we can mask our facial expression, but how are we to mask our hands? They tell their own story. They can beckon or repulse. They can caress or kill. They can be inexpressibly tender or diabolically cruel.
What has Scripture to say about the hands of our Lord Jesus Christ? First, that they were human hands (Luke 24:39-40). To the frightened disciples in the upper room, the risen Christ suddenly appeared. Their fears were dispelled when He said to them, “Look at my hands.” The livid nail-marks forever assured them that He was the very same Jesus they had known before His crucifixion.
They were stainless hands. “Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place?” asked the Psalmist. “The one who has clean hands and a pure heart” (Psalm 24:3-4). Christ’s hands were never stained by a single sin. They never performed an action contrary to His Father’s will.
They were calloused hands. “How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter?” (Mark 6:2-3, ESV). He came to earth as a working man and demonstrated the dignity of honest labour. Jesus sweated at a carpenter’s bench, placing Himself on the level of the labourer.
Then they were sympathetic hands. “He reached out his hand and touched the man” (Mark 1:41). Unafraid of contagion, Jesus gave the amazed leper the touch of human compassion he had been denied for so long.
They were wounded hands. “What are these wounds between your hands?” was the probing question of Zechariah 13:6. The reply: “The wounds I was given at the house of my friends.” How eloquent of love and mercy were the prints of the nails.
Then, too, they were powerful hands. His “hand marked off the heavens” (Isaiah 40:12). The limitless oceans lie as a drop in His palm. They were uplifted in blessing (read Luke 24:50). Our last glimpse of the Master before His ascension is with His powerful hands spread in blessing.
They are protecting hands. “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28). How utterly safe we are!
[Edited, modified and modernized from Consider Him (1976) by J. Oswald Sanders]

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Young Men, Consider the Head of Jesus


On his head are many crowns
(Revelation 19:12,
NIV)

The head is the control-tower of the body. From it impulses and messages are transmitted to the farthest limb. It is the dominant part of the body. Our Lord’s head is mentioned several times in Scriptures, sometimes in its humiliation, sometimes in its exaltation.

His was a homeless head. “The Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Luke 9:58). In these graphic words Jesus indicated His rejection by His people. There was no bed for Him in the inn. Many was the night His head never touched a pillow. During His ministry, He had no home and was dependent on the hospitality of others.

But it was also an anointed head. In the extravagance of her love, Mary broke the priceless box of fragrant anointing old and poured it over His head (see Mark 14:3). Her act of love was to Him a green oasis in the dreary desert of rejection, a refreshing drought on the desolate road to the cross. Not everyone rejected Him.

His head was callously struck by His tormentors. “[They] twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head… They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again” (Matthew 27:29-30). The staff, mock royal sceptre, was used to bruise and degrade the head of the Son of God. “He was crushed of our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5). And those who struck Him were representative of us all.

His head was crowned in mockery (see Matthew 27:29). Thorns, symbol of curse, adorned the brow of the Lord of glory, every thorn a point of fire.
Is there diadem, as monarch,
That His brow adorns?
Yea, a crown, in very surety,
But of thorns
(Author unknown)
He bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:30). All though the ghastly ordeal of crucifixion, His head had remained erect. The curse broke His heart but did not bow His head. Now His work was finished.

Again we see His head in dazzling majesty. “His head was white like wool, as white as snow” (Revelation 1:14). It is again erect and radiant. Never again will He bow it before His creations. In His hand there is no longer a mocking staff, but the sceptre of universal dominion.

Our final view of His head is crowned with many crowns (Revelation 19:12). He is crowned with glory and honour, the reward of His obedience unto death.
[Edited, modified and modernized from Consider Him (1976) by J. Oswald Sanders]

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Young Men, Consider the Face of Jesus


The light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ
(2 Corinthians 4:6,
NIV).

How expensive the face it! It mirrors the changing emotions of the soul. It is the index to character and personality. It reveals both weaknesses and strengths. It betrays sorrow or joy, hatred or love, cruelty or sympathy.

Our Lord’s face was entirely different from anything any artist has portrayed on canvas. It was absolutely unique because it reflected not only Himself but His Father – the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). But when sinful men saw the glory, they extinguished it.

The face of Jesus Christ revealed the holiness of God. “The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow” (Revelation 1:14). Our faces carry the lines of sin, but in Him is no sin. In His case, the transmission of the racial heritage was interrupted by the virgin birth. He knew sin only by seeing it in others and by suffering for it. His face reflected the purity of His heart.

It revealed the steadfastness of God. “He steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). The Samaritans recognized the marks of resolution on His face, and how greatly He needed it. The road from Bethlehem to Golgotha was rock-strewn and steeply uphill. Many things could deter and deflect Him and weaken His resolve, but He steadfastly held His course.

The sympathy of God was etched on His face. “He approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it” (Luke 19:41). What a concept – a weeping God! The glory of God was expressed in salty tears coursing down the face of the Son of Man! He envisaged the scene, still forty years distinct, when blood would flow like water in Jerusalem’s streets.

It manifested the wrath of God. “He looked around at them in anger and deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts” (Mark 3:5). The face of Christ blazed with holy anger! Does this seem incongruous? Is He not “gentle Jesus, meek and mild”? Scripture reveals that Jesus was capable of burning indignation, but it was the wrath of love. Grieved is a word that is used only of one who loves.

His face expressed the gladness of God. “His face shone like the sun” (Matthew 17:2). It was not sad and hopeless, but radiant. His injunction, “Do not look somber…” (Mathew 6:16), tacitly implied that His own face reflected the joy of God.
[Edited, modified and modernized from Consider Him (1976) by J. Oswald Sanders]

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Young Men, Consider the Infant Jesus


The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God

(Luke 1:35,
NIV).

There is a new baby born every minute. What is unique about this one?” The shepherds and the Magi might have said this about the baby Jesus. But they didn’t. The worshipped Him, while a multitude of the heavenly host praised God for His unspeakable gift.
            This baby was unique in many ways. He was the only baby whose conception was not the beginning of His existence. He claimed, “Before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:58). How could there be an incarnation if there had been no previous existence? To deny the latter makes the former impossible. To go back further, could there be a Trinity if there were no pre-existent Son of God? Jesus was unique among men because His birth did not mark His origin.
            He was the only baby who had no human father. He was conceived by the supernatural operation of the Holy Spirit. “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you,” were the angel’s words to Mary in Luke 1:35. It had taken more than four millennia for God to prepare for this momentous event. Was His birth likely to be according to the ordinary course of nature? A person such as Jesus demanded a birth such as Scripture records.
            No other baby was born without taint of sin. “The holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” He was holy, harmless, undefiled – free from all moral impurity. Fearlessly He challenged His contemporaries: “Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?” (John 8:46). John’s testimony was, “In him is no sin” (1 John 3:5).
            He was the only baby who was more than man. He possessed two natures – Son of Man and Son of God – and yet united, and functioning in a single personality. “He continue to be God and Man, in two distinct natures and one person for ever” (Westminster Catechism). Is this mysterious? Yes! “Beyond all question, the mystery from which the true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16).
            Finally, He was the only baby who was born for the purpose of dying. To all others death was inevitable. To Him it was self-chosen.
            No wonder that two millennia later, the whole world stops to take notice of His birthday, and that so much beloved music is devoted to His unique birth.
[Edited, modified and modernized from Consider Him (1976) by J. Oswald Sanders]

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Young Men, Consider Jesus


“…consider Jesus…” (Hebrews 3:1, ESV)
Consider him who endured…” (Hebrews 12:3, ESV)

Two different Greek words are rendered “consider” in these verses in Hebrews. The first carries the idea of the prolonged, concentrated gaze of the astronomer. The second means to reckon up, to compare, or to weigh. Taken together and in their context, these words are an exhortation to fix our minds consciously on Christ, comparing and weighting His sorrows and sufferings and testing with our own. What was the secret of His serenity? This contemplation of Christ is here presented as a panacea for our spiritual maladies.

It will cure our self-satisfaction. Do we compare ourselves favourably with others? Do we criticize their actions and attitudes? Criticism is always made from a position of superiority. But instead of comparing ourselves with others, we should be comparing ourselves with Him who did no sin. Self-satisfaction withers in the presence of the selfless Christ.

It will deliver us from self-pity. This is a spiritual disease to which we all are too prone. Too many are vocally sorry for themselves and feel that life has given them a raw deal. They feel misunderstood and neglected. “Consider him who endured” (12:3). Was He misunderstood, badly treated, unappreciated, misjudged? He knew what it was to be misjudged by His family. Compare with His, our trials are trivial.

It is the antidote for discouragement. “Consider him… so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:3, NIV). Aristotle used the word wearied to describe an athlete who throws himself down utterly exhausted after winning the race. Discouragement is one of Satan’s most debilitating weapons. If we withstand his other wiles, he will attack us here. “Consider him who endured.” He was despised, rejected, and maligned. His ministry was not conspicuously successful. His own intimates doubted, denied, forsook Him. Yet He endured. Consider Him, and take heart again.

It will prove a stimulant for lethargy (means a lack of energy and enthusiasm). “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood” (Hebrews 12:4, ESV). Have we grown lethargic in the battle against sin in our own lives and in the lives of others? Never for one moment did Christ relax in His warfare with Satan until He dismissed His Spirit on the cross.

It is a remedy for forgetfulness. “[Have] you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children?” (12:5). Have we forgotten the purpose of our Father’s chastening? Let us neither despise nor faint under it, but embrace it in the confidence that afterwards it will produce a rich harvest (see Hebrews 12:11).
[Edited, modified and modernized from Consider Him (1976) by J. Oswald Sanders]


THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Jesus Enda Ulih Ngereja Kereja Ajih enti Nuan Nadai Pengarap (Mark 6:1-6)


Jesus angkat ari endur nya lalu pulai baru ngagai menua Iya empu [Nasaret], lalu sida murid Iya nitihka Iya. Lebuh hari Sabat, Iya belabuh ngajar dalam balai gempuru, lalu mayuh orang alit ati ninga Iya. Ku sida, ‘Dini alai orang tu bulih semua utai tu? Nama penemu-dalam tu ti udah diberi ngagai Iya? Nama kereja ajih ti benung dikereja Iya tu?
(Mark 6:1-2, Bup Kudus Baru).

Tuhan Jesus datai ba menua Iya empu, iya nya Nasaret. Empai lama dulu ari nya, Iya udah nyuman ka siko indu ti sakit begetah dua belas taun. Iya mega udah ngangkat ka anak indu Jairus ari pemati (bacha Mark 5:21-43). Semoa sida tu bisi ngasai ka kuasa Tuhan Jesus – Mesiah serta Anak Allah Taala – laban sida bisi pengarap ngagai Iya. Tang sida orang Nasaret tu enda arap ka Iya. Sida mega enda arap ka Jesus nya nabi orang Israel. Lapa? Laban sida teleba meda Iya ari mit. “Iya tu tukang kayu, anak Maria, menyadi James, Joses, Judas, enggau Simon”* (ayat 3) ko sida. “Sida lalu nulak Iya.”

Menyadi* ti disebut ditu ukai menyadi amat Jesus, tang petungal Iya. Kaban belayan suah dikumbai menyadi taja sida ukai menyadi ari apai enggau indai ti sama. Semua orang diada ari apai indai, tang Jesus diadaka Maria ngenak kuasa Roh Kudus laban Iya “Anak Allah Taala” (Luke 1:35)

Yesus alit ati meda sida ti enda arap ka Iya. Lalu Jesus bejaku ngagai sida, “Nabi endang dibasa orang, kelimpah ari di menua iya empu, enggau ba bala kaban belayan iya empu, enggau dalam rumah iya empu” (Mark 6:4). Jesus sinu. “Iya enda ulih ngereja kereja ajih dia, kelimpah ari ngengkahka jari atas dua tiga iku orang ke sakit, lalu ngeraika sida” (ayat 5). Enti nadai pengarap, Jesus enda ngaga kereja ajih. Ukai Iya enda nemu tauka nadai kuasa, tang Iya nemu semua nya nadai reti bagi sida enti sida enda arap ka Iya. Kereja ajih dipeda sida baka main silap mata tauka kereja antu; ukai kereja Mesiah, Anak Allah Taala ti besai kuasa. Nadai guna ngaga kereja ajih enti sida iya udah netap ka ati enda pechaya ka Iya. Jesus “balat ati ke penadai pengarap sida” (ayat 6).

Ditu kitai meda takah jauh hubungan Jesus enggau sida kaban belayan Iya ba menua Iya empu – jauh amat – laban sida enggai arap ka Iya. Jesus deka ngagai semak sida, tang sida nulak Iya jauh. Jesus rindu deka begulai enggau sida, tang sida nutup ati sida. Jesus ka amat ngaga kereja ajih – maya nya pun Iya deka – tang sida nadai pengarap.

Kati ko nuan? Bisi nuan pengarap ti amat ngagai Tuhan Jesus? Deka nuan nyadi menyadi Iya ti pechaya ka Iya? Jesus bisi bejaku: “Sapa indai Aku? Sapa menyadi Aku?... Tu meh indai Aku enggau menyadi Aku! Barang sapa ngereja peneka Allah Taala, nya meh menyadi lelaki, menyadi indu, enggau indai Aku” (Mark 3:33-34). Nama peneka Allah Taala nya? Peneka Iya awakka nuan enggau aku arap ka Tuhan Jesus Kristus, Anak Allah Taala. Nuan mesti tetap arap taja pan bala kaban belayan nuan dudi ari ila enda. Bisi maya iya nuan mesti ngenjauh ka diri ari sida ti enda arap awakka nuan ulih semak agi ngagai Tuhan Jesus. Tetap arap, lalu nuan deka meda Iya ngereja kereja ajih dalam pengidup nuan.

Sembiang
Tuhan Jesus, Nuan meh Raja enggau Penebus aku. Aku deka selalu arap ka Nuan. Aku deka arap taja pan (bisi maya iya ila) pangan aku tauka kaban belayan aku badu nitih Nuan. Tulong meh aku, awakka aku ulih nulong orang lain ti sama bisi penusah baka aku mega. Aku deka arap ka Nuan, tambah ka pengarap aku tiap ari. Amen.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.

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