Why Standing Stones?

Why Standing Stones?

In ancient Israel, people stood stones on their end to commemorate a powerful move of God in their lives. It was a memorial to something God spoke or revealed or did. Often these standing stones became reference points in their lives. Today, we can find reference points in the written Word of God. Any scripture or sermon can speak something powerful into our lives, or reveal something of the nature of God. In this blog I offer, what can become a reference point for Christians, taken from God's ancient word and applied to today's world.

Monday, February 29, 2016

The FULL Revelation of Jesus

I’ve spent a long time wondering why some people so easily change once they get saved and others remain bound in sin and fight against what God would do in their lives.  The idea for me s a pastor is to bring someone to a relationship with Jesus that pushes the desire to be like the world out of their thought processes, but I realize that there’s only so much I can do.  I can preach the word of God; I can be a living example of Christian living, and I can exhort them to do the things that will help them to escape the bondages of sin – Pray, read their Bibles and come to church. It’s them that must embrace God’s will, though.  I can’t change them; they have to want to change.  Some people want God’s blessing in their lives, but they don’t want to allow God to rule in their lives.

So I’ve figured it out.  I’ve thought about it and I understand why some are willing to change and be a party of God’s will and others aren’t.  What makes change possible in our lives is our revelation of Jesus and who He is.  That word revelation means that something is now visible that was once hidden.  Before we’re saved we don’t have a full understanding of who Jesus is.

Sometimes it’s really obvious when you hear non-believers talk about Jesus that they don’t understand His authority, His love, His sacrifice on the cross, or His willingness to do God’s will.  That’s what I want to post about today:  The full revelation of Jesus and its ability to change us. 

Matthew 17:1-2 (NKJV)
17:1 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; 2 and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.

There are four things I want to touch on. 

A Revelation of His Glory

In our text Jesus has taken some of His disciples to this mountain.  While on the mountain Jesus reveals His glory for the first time on this earth.  His glory is a light that shines from within Him.
 Revelation 21:23 (NKJV)
21:23 The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.

This is the first time that we SEE Jesus as fully God and full man.  As His glory is revealed to us, we have a revelation of the fact that Jesus is God.  Revelation 21:23 says, “The Glory of God illuminated it.”  So, the glory is a sign of Jesus being God, but they didn’t see it all the time.  It had to be revealed to them and it has to be revealed to us. 

This takes place just after Jesus takes the disciples to Caesarea and asks whom people say that He is.  Then He asks the disciples whom do you say that I am, and Peter answers, “You are the Christ, the Son of God.”  Look what Jesus says to him:

Matthew 16:17 (NKJV)
16:17 Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

Revelation comes from God, but if you’re not looking for it you won’t see it.

Jesus is God, that’s the first revelation that we need to have.  Because He is God and the creator, “All things that were made were made through Him,” (John 1:3), He has authority over our lives, right?  When you create something you have the authority to determine what becomes of it and how it is used.  The creator is the ultimate authority so we are bound by His commands. 

When we understand that Jesus is God we will begin to live by His commands.  His will becomes our will.  That’s the first step to change:  Knowing who is in command of your life.  If you have a revelation of Jesus’ glory you will turn your will over to Him.
 John 15:14 (NKJV)
15:14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.

So that is the first revelation that you need.

A Revelation of His Love

John 15:12-13 (NKJV)
15:12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.

This is the greatest sign of someone’s love for you; that they’re willing to lay down their life for you.  Parents understand this – Who wouldn’t sacrifice their own life for their children?  Because we love them we’re be willing to do that.  That’s what Jesus did for us.  His life wasn’t taken from Him, He freely gave it.  It was a sacrifice for you and I.  He did it to release us from the bondage of sin, but we have to allow ourselves to be released.  Think about this for a moment:

You’re in prison.  You’ve been there for a long time and it’s finally time for you to be released.  The warden comes to you and says, “Okay, you’re free to go.”  The problem is that you’re comfortable there.  You like jail food.  You have your prison buddies.  You like the lifestyle there.  So you look at the warden and say, “warden, I ain’t a going.  I’m staying right here and you can’t make me leave.”  So, even though the opportunity is there for you to be released, you don’t accept the freedom that’s offered.  The warden has done what he can do – now it’s up to you. 

Jesus, because He loved us gave us the opportunity to be free.  He didn’t have to do that; He chose to – out of love.  So, He came and He allowed Himself to be executed, to free you. 

This is the second step to change recognizing that out of His love, He releases you from the bondage of sin.  If you have a revelation of Jesus’ love then accept His sacrifice and be released from the bondage of sin.

Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV)
12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

This is the second revelation that we need.

A Revelation of the Cross

Luke 22:33-34 (NKJV)
22:33 But he said to Him, "Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death." 34 Then He said, "I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me."

Crucifixion is the most agonizing form of execution ever devised by man.  It causes great suffering.  Basically, your lungs fill up with blood and liquid and you slowly suffocate.  It can take hours:  So long that the Roman’s would break people’s legs so that they couldn’t push up and take a breath.

It starts with being whipped with a cat-of-nine-tails, nine strands of whips linked together in one whip, with metal and bone fragments woven in to rip your flesh.  Nails are driven into your wrists and heels into the mass of nerves for hands and feet and you’re hung up to bleed and suffocate naked in the sun.

The cross is the payment of the price of our sin.  Jesus suffered this and a crown of thorns for you freedom.  This is the price that He paid for you. 

We sometimes don’t understand the real suffering of the cross.  It has to be revealed to us, because we’ve never experienced anything that even approaches that kind of suffering.  Jesus suffered that willingly, as I said His life wasn’t taken from Him, it was freely given, out of love.

I recently saw the video presentation called Bamboo in Winter.  There is a powerful scene there where people are being baptized and the communists come to arrest the pastor.  The people kneel down in front of him and take a beating so that he can escape.  The pastor doesn’t want to go but someone says to him, “They’re suffering all of this for you, do you want that suffering to be for nothing?”

Those people are like Jesus, they’re suffering willingly.  Are we allowing Jesus’ suffering to be for nothing?  It like saying you suffered for me, so that I could be free, but I refuse to accept the gift of freedom.  When we do that we are saying, “You suffered for nothing.”

This is the third step to change recognizing what he suffered to free us:  Knowing that he paid a huge price for us on the cross, and turning from our sin so that He wouldn’t have suffered for nothing. 

Luke 6:1-3 (NKJV)
6:1 Now it happened on the second Sabbath after the first that He went through the grainfields. And His disciples plucked the heads of grain and ate them, rubbing them in their hands. 2 And some of the Pharisees said to them, "Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?" 3 But Jesus answering them said, "Have you not even read this, what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him:

The third revelation we need is a revelation of the cross.

A Revelation of His Submission

Matthew 26:39 (NKJV)
26:39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will."

This is Jesus on the night before His crucifixion.  He knows what He’s about to face.  He knows that there will be great suffering.  He knows that He’ll die, and knowing that He’s thinking, “If I don’t have to do this and they can still be forgiven then change what will happen.”  Isn’t that a prayer we’ve all prayed?  “God deliver me from these circumstances.”  That’s what Jesus is praying, here, “Deliver me from this,” but Jesus does something that we don’t like to do, He says, “Not my will but yours be done.”  He submits to God’s will.

God has a plan for you, too.  Maybe that plan won’t be as enjoyable as you would like.  Maybe there will be some personal suffering.  Maybe you’ll just have to give up something you like to do, like your favorite sin.  Jesus submitted Himself to God’s will to take on the suffering of the cross.

He’s probably not asking you to go to the cross.  Although, He could if He wanted – Lots of people have been martyred for their belief in Him.)  Are you willing to follow His example and put God’s will first?  Are you willing to submit to God’s calling on your life?  That word, submit means to allow Him to rule YOUR life; to be under His authority. 

The fourth step to change is to submit your will to His; to accept His authority for your life.

Luke 7:8 (NKJV)
7:8 For I also am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come,' and he comes; and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."

This centurion is a picture of Jesus.  He submits himself to the authority of his commander.  He also has authority over others, who must be submitted to his authority.  Jesus does the same thing.  He is submitted to the authority of His Father, and obeys.  We should be submitted to His authority and do what He says. 

In closing, if we have a full revelation of Jesus, a revelation of His Glory, a revelation of His love, a revelation of the cross and a revelation of His submission, if we desire to be like Him, which is what a disciple desires, then we must be willing to change; to put aside our sin, suffer with Him and submit to His will.  Are you contending to be like Him?

The problem is that we often become Christians for what Jesus can do for us, to solve our problems or to give us blessing.  We act as if Jesus is there to serve us.  Jesus has served us, and he continues to bless us.  He provides or us.  He delivers us from our circumstances and problems, but if you have had a revelation of whom He is, and what he feels for you, and what he has suffered for you, and how He has submitted Himself to God in order to release you from sin.  If you’ve had that revelation of Jesus – the FULL revelation then you must decide to change.  It’s making a decision to have all that God has for you.  That’s a decision a Christian makes.  If you’re unwilling to make that decision then I would say that you haven’t made a decision to be a Christian.  Some people want to blame their pastor for their own inability to serve God, but their pastor can’t cause them serve God or not to serve God.  They can only be an example of someone who is serving God.  They can’t give you a revelation of Jesus, either.  God has to do that.  You have to have a desire to find that revelation.  

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