My Lord and My God (part 2) – reprinted
Last week, we engaged ourselves in a discussion from the perspective of Jesus being Savior and Lord. We discussed the saving work of Jesus at Calvary, and how this singular act of love redeemed us (believers) and restored our relationship with God. For many as we noted, the work of Jesus as Savior has been sufficient for our personal needs and wants.
For some it looked like this; “I needed to be saved. Thank You, Jesus, I’ll let you know if I need anything else from You. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the rest of my life, until it’s time for me to go to Heaven.” However, God is calling us to more. In our text last week, we referenced the reaction of Thomas once Jesus proved He rose from the grave, as He said He would. It was after this confirmation, the Bible records the immediate words of Thomas, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). Those are the exact words God is expecting from those who have been redeemed by the cross. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me; now for the rest of my life, I will gladly serve You as my Lord; as the ruler of my life. As the example of my life. As the guide of my life. As the one who made living eternally in heaven possible for me. It is one thing to see him as Savior, but an entirely different commitment to serve him as Lord. Until we grasp this reality, our lives never will measure up to the expectations of God; when He tells us to be holy because He is holy. We will never be the place where God intends for the Holy Spirit to live. We will remain captivated by the delights of the world and neglect our charge to be salt and light to a dark and lost world.
It was the proclamation of Thomas that changed everything for him, and the same will happen to us, when we too embrace Jesus as Lord, and dedicate ourselves to follow Him; all the way into the throne room of God, where we will spend eternity.
My Lord and My God (part 1) – reprinted
If someone were to ask you who Jesus is to you, how would you answer? Would your mind immediately conjure up the cruel scene at Calvary, as Jesus hung, bled and died for your sins? Would it remind you of the great grace that entered your life the day you were told the death of Jesus on the cross was for you, and through it, your sins were forgiven? Truly the thought of the redeeming work of the cross is a monumental moment in the life of a believer. It is for this reason many see Jesus as their Savior because His death and resurrection saved them from eternal separation from God. If you only see Jesus as your Savior, then allow me to broaden you review by challenging your perception of Who Jesus is. Let’s begin by visiting the disciples in the upper room. The time is shortly after the event of the cross and Thomas, upon hearing that Jesus has been resurrected from the dead, helps all of mankind by making the statement many of us would want to make; but would be too embarrassed to allow it to leave the confines of our thinking. In John 20:25, he said, “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands, and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” What a brave statement!
Thomas is often criticized for this statement and it was here that the phrase “Doubting Thomas” was born. This is not the end of this moment for Thomas (or us), because a week after he said this, as they were sitting once again in the same room, Jesus appears and challenges Thomas to verify that which he struggles to believe (He even allowed him to use his own methods for verification). After Thomas examined the evidence in Jesus’ hands and side, he made the proclamation that is missing from the lives of most believers. He immediately exclaimed, “My Lord and my God.”
Did you catch it? So what does that mean, “My Lord and my God,” and how does it differ from “Savior”? We will examine the answer to that question next week.
Shared from a friend
A dear friend and brother in Christ, Terry Hunt from Texas shared this with me. I was so moved, that I decided to share it with you.
It is a truism that we cannot heal and become whole until we have embraced our enemy. The hatred, hostility, and venom within us is like an infection in a festering wound. The gaping wound in our lives cannot be closed, and scar tissue will continue to develop until the infectious matter is removed. Most of us have to find our own ways to embrace the enemy. Sometimes it is a handshake, or a heart-to-heart conversation. Frequently, it is a letter quietly written, a hand upon a shoulder, a quiet word of encouragement or consolation. But there must be some overt and intentional reaching out to your enemy for forgiveness and healing to take place. Life is too wonderful to be drained of vitality by the illness of unforgiveness. And too many people have wasted away and succumbed to slow deaths of bitterness. We must embrace the enemy to be free from the pain of the past. Forgiveness is the heart of the gospel, reconciliation its central theme. And pure and unmerited grace is the only hope that any of us have in this world or the next.
One day General James Oglethorpe said to John Wesley, “I never forgive.” Wesley retorted, “Then I hope, sir, that you never sin.”
“The glory of Christianity is to conquer by forgiveness.”
A Deeper Look
As I begin the new year, I have a desire to do an honest assessment of who I am in Christ. I have determined that in order to be truthful, I will be required to look deeper than what many see on the surface. Therefore, I must be willing to look into the dark places in my heart where the ugliness lives. This is hard to do because we always want to believe we are better than we really are. If I were to be judged by man, this would only require a glance, and I would walk away feeling good about myself. But, when I think about a sovereign God who knows the actions and thoughts of the heart of all men (and women), I know he will see things in me that I dare not look at myself. However, the only way to be honest in my relationship with Jesus is to lay it all out on the altar and allow God to cleanse me. I know the phony will not “slip” past the discriminating eye of God, so I have gone on a quest. I have asked God to reveal my true heart to me. To show me all the areas in my heart that disappoint Him. I am fully aware, at the outset, this is not going to be either pretty or fun. But, isn’t that the point? It is to be neither. The goal is to be honest and revealing. Perhaps I am not alone and there are others who also would like to go on such a journey with me. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all went on a heart cleanse? As we endure the winter months in anticipation of the new life that comes in the rejuvenation of spring, so I too look forward to a new heart which will carry me to be more like Jesus.
How Far is My Heart?
In Matthew 15, we find Jesus in one of many stand-offs with the Pharisees. The Pharisees (Law keepers) witnessed Jesus’ disciples eating without washing their hands according to the ceremonial customs of the Jews. After listening to their accusations, Jesus neglecting to answer their indictment, offered one of his own. He asked them why they break the command of God to ”Honor your father and mother.” It was in verse 7 that he called them hypocrites, and said Isaiah was right when he prophesied about them, reciting those famous words taken from Isaiah 29:13: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” What an indicting statement.
It was after pondering this scene that I thought, could I also be guilty of doing the same thing? Are there times when I honor God with my lips, because it is the right thing to say or do; or because of my religious traditions, when in reality my heart at the time is far from God? Could I also be so caught up in my religiosity that my worship is vain in the sight of God? Lord, examine my heart and search me, for I do not want to be guilty of the indictment of Jesus against the Pharisees. Teach me to love you from the depths of my heart and not just from my lips, so that my worship will honor you as my Lord and my Savior. Lord, please fix my heart that I may serve you.