Up till now he had been looking at the lion’s great front feet and the huge claws on them. Now in despair, he looked up at his face. What he saw surprised him as much as anytjing in hiw whole life, for the great tawny face was bent near his own, and wonder of wonders, there were great tears shining in the lion’s eyes. They were such big bright tears compared with Digorie’s own that for a moment he felt as if the lion must really be sorrier about his mother than he was himself.
How like Digory are we? We have brokenness and heart ache and worries that we think God doesn’t see or understand. Then in a moment of wonder and fear we look up and see God looking back, smiling, big tears in His eyes. There’s an old Petra song that says, “you care so much more than I do.” We forget that. God cares more about our broken hearts, our loved ones who are slipping away, our forgotten dreams, our lost jobs, then we ever could. We feel we are the ones suffering, yet everytime we break, so does He. Jesus took all our pain on Him, past- present- future. He feels it too, and like the ragman, He comes to us saying, “let me take your old rags and I’ll give you my new. Let me take your pain and loss and I will give you my healing.” He loves us and feels what we feel. We must stop forgetting that. We are never alone in our grief, we have Him and He loves us.
North America, have we missed the time of God’s coming?
Just as Jesus said to Jerusalem “If you had only known what would bring you peace, I can’t help but wonder if we have also become a nation that Jesus weeps over? But we have fallen so far and so hard. We celebrate sin and teach evil to our children, we turn our backs on what is right and say to Jesus that we don’t want Him to he our king we would rather be our own heros and masters. Just as Jesus said in His parable about the Minas (a parable we don’t tend to quote) “those who did nothing with what I gave them will have all taken from them, but those who rejected me as King, bring them before me and slay them at my feet.” (This is a bit of a paraphrase because the verse is long. See Luke 19: 11)
We hear too often the statement that real Christians don’t beat people down with the Bible but that we need to show love only. We are loving people right into he’ll by not teaching the truth. If people feel beaten by true Biblical teaching (not personal opinions) that means they have something in their lives that needs to change; in truth, we should all have sections of the Bible that make us feel like we are being accused, and that make us feel uncomfortable and unworthy, because we all have stuff in our lives that separates us from God, stuff we need to change. We are never going to be worthy of God, but that’s why Jesus had to sacrifice Himself, because we couldn’t make it on our own. That doesn’t mean that we can do whatever we want, we must grow and change as we draw closer to Him- we can’t simply accept the Minas and think that’s enough. When I was a kid we were always told, ‘read your Bible and pray everyday.’ It got to be a catch phrase. But that is how we grow what we have been given. Tithing and volunteer work. Mowing your neighbor’s lawn. Dedicating your life to missions. Little things for some of us and big things for others are ways to grow what we have been given. God gives much to those who are going to give out much, little to those who will give out little, nothing to those who give out nothing and to those who reject Him He will give death. This isn’t a cuddly, happy topic. But sometimes we need the tough stuff to be said because we need to get back on the right track. I don’t want to be a nation, a city or a person who Jesus weeps over. I want to be a good and faithful servant, though I know I’m not many days and that I fail often. The point is. Do you love Him enough to keep trying? Are you working at growing your relationship, your Minas? Or are you letting it sit and become stagnant as our world goes by having missed the coming of God to us?
As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” Luke 19
“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”
“O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!” The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!”
Jeremiah 1:5-8 NLT
Jeremiah is such a perfect example of someone threshing weat in the wine press, except he was in the wine press emotionally. He wasn’t depressed or anything, but he looked around and saw all these great men of God who happened to be older, probably much older, than himself and he did what we all do when we look around instead of looking up- he saw his inadequate state. God says to do something and we look at the other people doing the same thing or similar things, and we realize that compared to them we don’t have the same level of: schooling, training, strength, courage, popularity, Talent, and so on. But then God reminds us: ” you must go where I send you and do as I tell you, and do not be afraid of them for I will protect you.”
It isn’t about what we think we can do or what we feel we are qualified for. It’s about what God knows we can do and what He qualifies us for through His power. No matter our schooling or our skill we are all inadequate for the task before us unless we have God helping us. Oh sure we might succeed on our own, but it will always be more difficult or lead to less of a great conclusion then it would have been if we had just let God use us the way that He planned to. We may all be in the wine press emotionally on some level for something, but God has a plan for all of us, one that is unique and individual to each person. When God calls you out of the wine press follow His voice. And don’t be afraid of them, for God will protect you.
This will end our four part ‘in the wine press’ series. Feel free to go back over the last three weeks to see where it all began in Gideon, to where we are now, near the end of the Bible in one of my favorite books- Jude.
In the wine press spiritually. Jude’s past right to the dating of his book and the argued over intended audience is… speculative. However, as one of my Theology Professors once said: even with legitimate doubt about the dating of Jude, a terminus a quo and terminus ad quem should be possible. What we do know for fact is that Jude was Jesus’ brother. We also know the struggle that Jesus’ brothers had with accepting Him as Messiah. Jude would have been a Jewish man who attended synagogue and learned his Torah and more than likely prayed to God. He was doing the physical acts of being one of God’s chosen people, like everyone else, but like most of the others around him he didn’t yet have a personal relationship with God- which comes through Jesus. [Now I’m going to peel away from Jude himself because, as I said before, we don’t know as much about him as we would like and I don’t wish to go on about things I’m not sure about.]
So many of us our in the wine press spiritually. On the outside we are threshing away after the harvest, doing the work we are supposed to do, yet on the inside we are in the wine press, which is not where we are supposed to be. We look like we are fully committed to Jesus, yet we still don’t have a relationship with Him. Going to Church and reading the Bible are fundamental in your Christian life, yet if you think these acts without having accepted Jesus as you savior will get you into Heaven you haven’t been paying attention to what you have read or heard. We need Him first and foremost. We need these other things that connect us to Him for sure, but they don’t mean anything if Jesus is not at our core and theirs. Bibles and Churches that have been stripped of their intended meaning and purpose to leave us with an all loving, all accepting, all roads lead to Heaven bad taste in our mouths are not going to help your Spiritual growth or your connection to Jesus, (which Jude warns against in his book). After accepting the sovereignty of Jesus, Jude became a student of the man who founded the first church – James. It would have been so hard for Jude and James to let go of the image of Jesus they had in their minds and to instead grasp the wonder of who He truly was. If my relative suddenly claimed to be God’s son I’d be checking his cup to see what he was sipping. But Jesus proved Himself again and again and we know He is God. But until you accept that and accept that you need Him as your savior no amount of Church attendance will save you. Once we get out of the spiritual wine press and start doing things the right way maybe we will have the courage and faith to say “I —- a slave of Jesus Christ,” just like Jude did.
The moon has a dark side that is void of rhe sun’s light. But the sun has no dark side because it is the light. We have darkness in us because we have places that we don’t let Jesus into. These sides rise up and make the world doubt the goodness of Christ because His Christians aren’t perfect. But Jesus is the light and the good inside of us, He has no darkness or badness. We will always mess up no matter how hard we try to be like our Savior because we are flawed humans. But we are only a reflection of Jesus, not Jesus Himself and He does not possess our inclination toward sin. You can’t judge the sun’s warmth by standing in the dark, you have to feel it for yourself. You can’t judge Christ by Christians, we’re only a reflection and mess up, you have to experience Jesus for yourself to see how wonderful He truly is.
Saul had his own moment of leaving the wine press ( figuratively). When the Isrealites fussed to have a king like everyone else had, God chose Saul. Where was Saul when Samuel informed him he was to be king? Looking for donkeys. He didn’t want the job at first. Now I know that Saul is a contrary figure. But he was chosen by God, even if he turned from God in the end, God gave him a position of authority. But he had been found for his time, in a place of lowlyness. Not believing that God had a great time for him.
Saul answered, “But am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why do you say such a thing to me?” 1 Samuel 9:21 NIV
But God was able to change him. To make a great king out of the least likely person.
As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day. 1 Samuel 10:9 NIV
It doesn’t depend on us. If we are well educated or are wealthy or have a great family background, none of that matters for God’s big plan for us. All that matters is that we are willing to say ‘yes God, let’s do this!’
Saul was planned for a time and purpose. He is also a great example of what happens when we turn from God even in the midst of following His plan for our lives. We must remain true to Him and serve Him or else He may use someone else to fulfill His plan. Saul had the chance to be great in God’s power. But He chose to try and be great in his own strength and was cast down.
God can use you no matter how unlikely you seem to yourself. But if you don’t honor Him He will find someone else.
I can smell it coming, life is returning.
Walking through the grove of blue spruce trees in our yard I took a deep breath. The past several months of winter, the air burned and smelled like snow; today my senses were filled with warm scent of pine. It was faint, but it was there. Little by little the trees were coming back to life. I know pine trees don’t go fully dormant during the winter like Birch or Poplar, so they are usually the first you notice a difference in during Spring. Yet that doesn’t change the joy of having the trees start to show sign of winter ending.
Yesterday Jesus was killed and buried. Today He was busy preparing for tomorrow. His body lie in a stone tomb, yet His Spirit was working on the Father’s plan. He wasn’t up and walking about yet today, but there was something stirring, life was returning. Lewis would speak of it as the other world or realm and that is how I will speak of it also. We couldn’t see or hear anything happening here on Earth during the middle day of Holy Week weekend, yet in the other world- the one our souls belong to- there was a great awakening of souls who had lied in death for many years awaiting their savior to come and take the keys from the devil and bring them home. Jesus’s death and resurrection was always planned, God didn’t suddenly go, ‘oh no! The world is really bad I need to send someone to save them!’ He knew all along what would happen and was ready for it. Today was a busy day for Jesus, and though his body lay dead in the tomb, life was preparing to return to it.
Thank you for the Easter presents.
We always do Easter baskets in our family, (which originated in Old Catholicism for those wondering, no it did not begin with a bouncy rabbit no matter how cute he is.) The adults receive fancy chocolates, sometimes books, sometimes crafts, sometimes games- you get the picture. Afterwards we always thank each other for our Easter gifts.
But what about the big gift in the basket? The one that Easter is truly all about, do we thank the giver for this gift?
What does Easter mean to you?
In truth the date doesn’t matter, it doesn’t have to be in April for this day to be important. Too many get caught up in the chronology and forget about the event. If it happened in June or October instead, the day of Jesus’s death would still be the most important day in history. He gave us His purity. His honor. His grace. His blamelessness. He gave us a place in Heaven. So let me refrase the question: what does Jesus’s death mean to you? Do we remember to thank Him? He gave us the greatest gift we have, don’t let Easter go by, more importantly don’t let your life go by without stopping and thanking Jesus for His gift. He didn’t have to do it. He chose to.
‘Today is my day to sorrow’, thought the tiny flower growing beside a rock. ‘Last night a great trouble came over me as a man, or something more than a man, sat by my side and wept. His tears were so great that when they splashed upon me I felt sick and my roots were weakened. I tried to reach out to the man, but I am just a flower and cannot draw attention to myself like a bird can with her song. He cried and screamed and begged and pleaded, but no peace came to this man. I hoped that He would look at me and I could make Him smile. He left and then returned, even sadder when He came back. All I could do was sit with Him. Then I sensed a resolve in His being and He went to stand once more. He stumbled and His hands landed near me. I tried to be radiant to bring Him comfort, finally He saw me, He smiled very gently, then He rose to His feet. “Thank you my radiant flower.” He said, then He left.
I feel that something great and tragic happened that night. Today I feel as though a friend is calling out for mercy. Today I feel sad. But being a flower, I know that tomorrow will bring new joy and hope.’
Don’t miss it
I remember hearing a Christian lady arguing with a scholar. She had asked a simple question but the scholar -not of Christian theology- had seen that she was a Christian and had decided to take her to the mat because of it. He used big words in several different languages and quoted the Bible back to her claiming his vast knowledge was proof that he could say that Jesus wasn’t God. When she tried to explain how he had misrepresented the scriptures he had chosen to quote, and what they truly meant within the context they are in, he had fought back by listing his degrees from some of the big name brand schools and claimed her lack of degree showed how she couldn’t understand scripture even of it were true. ( His expression. I fully know scripture is true). Finally she was so tired of him she simply shook her head and said, “You’ve missed the whole point.”
In this guys vast learning and studying he had claimed himself equal to Christ, he thought his knowledge of God placed him next to God on equal level with Jesus, because Jesus had come simply to prophesy about a new way to God, but wasn’t actually God Himself. He had missed the whole point. (We won’t go into how much of what he said was wrong and which chapters of the Bible prove how wrong this ‘learned man’ was, that would take too long.)
We can’t be Jesus. Jesus wasn’t a prophet or a scholar. If He had been than we would be in trouble because His death wouldn’t have meant a thing. We cannot sit equal to Jesus at God’s side. He was and is and always will be God’s only son. He is God. Jesus made it so we don’t need a priest, or a degree or a scholar to understand Him and be close to Him. The new covenant was an open relationship with God, not as little Christs oursleves, but as servants who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. Before Jesus died, we couldn’t talk to God ourselves, we couldn’t ask for our own sins to be forgiven, and we always had to bring a sacrifice- now we can talk to God about everything, we don’t need a priest to ask for our sins to be forgiven, we can ask for it ourselves, and now we have a communion with the last sacrifice ever needed and through Him we are no longer slaves but friends. Study your Bible and learn as much about God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit as humanly possible, but don’t feel your knowledge of God replaces a relationship with God. Don’t miss the point of the cross.