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Glory, Fame and Independence

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“This One who is life itself was revealed to us…” (1 John 1:2*)

Jesus was revealed to me almost twenty years ago in a powerfully dramatic way. I came to the Father through Jesus the Son. I was able to see, maybe for the very first time, just how beautiful, majestic, holy yet loving and compassionate God is through the person and work of Jesus.

From that day forward there has been an ever-growing, ever-deepening “fellowship with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.” (1 Jn 1:3) Fellowship, relationship, need, dependence, belief, trust– add “-ing” to them all. Whatever expresses this with an ongoing, active, living relationship–that is what has been mine in Christ since 1996.

I still battle every day with my desire for glory, fame, and independence.

My flesh still wants glory for itself–right here, right now glory. Never mind eternity and the glory that will be mine in Christ forever. I want to be exalted in the eyes of others, finding my worth there.

I want fame now. Oh, how I want to be famous! Oh, how I desire that! I want those words of praise and acclamation now, while I can hear them. Then, then, I will know that my life means something, amounts to something. (I want in my flesh to derive my identity from my fame and glory as a musician.) I want to exult in my own fame.

But most of all, above all else, I want to be independent.

  • Nobody tells me what to do
  • Nobody places demands on my time
  • Nobody directs how I spend my money
  • Nobody is needed for my strength or existence

 Oh, how I want to be independent!

But fellowship with God the Father through Jesus His Son–authenticated, validated and strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit–destroys all of my fleshly ambitions. They are all supplanted by the blessings of fellowship.

  • I don’t need glory because I exalt God for His glory! For His glorious Name’s sake I do all that I do.
  • I don’t need fame because I exult in God, through Christ. My joy and my identity come through Him. He is all that I am; all that I need.
  • I no longer desire independence because I recognize my need for dependence. And not just dependence on God. No, I also realize that I am depending on the body of Christ, the church, for help, for strength, for the encouragement I need every day.

In this connection to God and to His people I am free and am being freed day by day from my desires for glory, fame and independence.

“What a fellowship, what a joy divine,

Leaning on the everlasting arms…”

*Scripture quote from NLT

Images supplied by Ryan McGuire, http://www.gratisography.com

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Three Proclamations

More thoughts from 1 John 1:1-4*

Today I find three proclamations. Two speak of Christ’s person and character and purpose. One speaks of a desire that should be mine if I grasp the first two.

 Proclamation #1

“We proclaim to you the One who existed from the beginning.” “He was with the Father.” (1 Jn. 1:1-2)

If I proclaim that Jesus existed from the beginning, that He was with the Father, then I am proclaiming that God has existed from the beginning. The two are inextricably intertwined.

  • There is no Jesus without God
  • There is no God without Jesus

 Proclamation #2

“We…proclaim to you that He is the one who is eternal life.” “He is the Word of life. This One who is life itself…” (1 Jn. 1:1-2)

If I proclaim that Jesus is life, that He is eternal life, then it is only possible to have eternal life if I know Jesus. And I can know Him because He has been revealed to me (“This One who is life itself was revealed to us…”). John the Apostle saw Jesus, heard Him, and touched Him. Jesus’ physicality was known by John through personal experience. As mentioned in part 2 of this series, I know Jesus through His word, the Scripture. He has been revealed to me through the testimony of the living Word. If I am to know Jesus, I have to know Him through His word revealed to me.

  • There is no Scripture without Jesus
  • There is no Jesus without Scripture

Proclamation #3

“We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us.” “We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.” (1 Jn. 1:3-4)

I have come into fellowship with the living, eternal God through His revelation of Himself through the eternal, living Son, who has revealed Himself to me through His eternal, living word. Among the implications of this glorious fellowship is that I will have a desire to see others know the joy of fellowship with God the Father through Jesus the Son.

If my joy seems incomplete right now, perhaps it’s because I’m not proclaiming Christ to others? My joy is complete as others come to Christ, and not in the least measure because of my participation in that process through proclaiming Him.

  • There is no joy without proclamation
  • There is no proclamation without joy

I’m writing these things “so that you may fully share our joy.”

Previous posts in this series:

“What We Share In Common with John”

“Reflections on Eternity”

 *Scripture quotations are from the New Living Translation.

Reflections on eternity

File Dec 24, 12 05 38 PM

Continuing reflections today on 1 John 1:1-4*

1 We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. 2 This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.

Jesus is “the one who existed from the beginning.” (v. 1)

Where was He in this existence? “He was with the Father” (v.2).

There was never a time as we understand time and eternity when Jesus did not exist. God the Father has always been, so too, Jesus the Son. Before this world in which we live and move and have our being existed–came into being–there was a God who was there. God eternal–Jesus eternal.

It is more than the mind can grasp but our hearts have been opened to that truth, the eternal truth, because He “was revealed to us.” God revealed Himself to us in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

The implication of that revelation is also staggering. We can have fellowship “with the Father and with His Son…”(v.3) God eternal is knowable and approachable through Jesus. This God, who has always been and will always be — the Great “I Am” — can be known not just intellectually, but experientially, through Jesus.

But one more eternal truth is here. Jesus is “the Word of life” (v. 1). He is “life itself” (v.2); He is “eternal life” (v. 2). So this knowing of God, this experiencing of fellowship with Him brings life. We have an abundant life now in fellowship with God the Father through Jesus the Son. The Word of life brings us life. And for all eternity, through the One who is eternal life, we will have fellowship with Him.

Full fellowship of joy.

Full fellowship of grace.

Hallelujah!

*Scripture quotations are from the New Living Translation.

What we share in common with John

When we read 1 John 1:1-4, we find that there are things that we share in common with John, while there are other aspects of his knowledge of Christ that we don’t share (at least in the same way).

Here’s the passage (New Living Translation)

“1. We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. 2. This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. 3. We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.”

John saw Jesus with his own eyes and touched him with his own hands. We don’t share that with him. There was a season of the incarnation when Jesus could be seen by all around him. What an amazing thing! God in the form of man could be seen! John again in v. 3 attests, “we ourselves have actually seen and heard” Jesus. We can’t say that, not in the sense of being physically present with Him.

But there are more things that we have in common with John than what we don’t.

  1. We proclaim Christ together. John proclaims “the one who existed from the beginning” and so do we.
  2. Jesus was revealed to us. Jesus, “who is life itself”, was revealed to John in flesh and in spirit. We know Christ together in spirit. We know “the Word of life” together.
  3. We have fellowship together in Christ. Since Christ has been revealed to us, we now have fellowship together with Christ and in Christ.
  4. We share so that others may have joy. John wrote his letter “so that (others) may fully share our joy.” We testify in our words, our proclamation, so that others will share the joy of fellowship in Christ.

So, in this season of celebrating the Incarnation of Christ, remember to proclaim Christ who has been revealed to you. Rejoice in your fellowship in Christ, but share this good news of “life itself” with those who don’t know Him, so that they may have joy.

Healing

  

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3). Whatever our heartbreak may be, there is only One who can truly heal us, heal the wounds of life. He who bore the worst of wounds can sympathize with all of our wounds. He ministers to the tender-hearted and gives them strength. 

Are We Headed For A Crash? Reflections On The Current State of Evangelical Worship

The issues Jamie brings up here are worthy of our consideration. Read carefully and prayerfully.

Worthily Magnify

1 Last week I spent a couple of days attending the National Worship Leader Conference , hosted by Worship Leader Magazine , featuring many well-known speakers and worship leaders. The conference was held about 15 minutes down the road from me, so it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I’m glad I went.

I met some new people, heard some thought-provoking teaching, enjoyed some good meals and conversations with worship leader friends, and experienced in-person some of the modern worship trends that are becoming the norm in evangelicalism. It was eye-opening in many ways.

Over the last few days I’ve been processing some of what I saw and heard.

Worship Leader Magazine does a fantastic job of putting on a worship conference that will expose the attendees to a wide variety of resources, techniques, workshops, songs, new artists, approaches, teachings, and perspectives. I thought of Mark Twain’s famous quote…

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Spurgeon on prayer for the new year

Dear ones, as we begin this new year, please be encouraged in your life of prayer by this devotional thought by C.H. Spurgeon. It comes from his classic book of devotions, called “Morning and Evening”.

“Continue in prayer.” 

— Colossians 4:2

It is interesting to remark how large a portion of Sacred Writ is occupied with the subject of prayer, either in furnishing examples, enforcing precepts, or pronouncing promises. We scarcely open the Bible before we read, “Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord;” and just as we are about to close the volume, the “Amen” of an earnest supplication meets our ear. Instances are plentiful. Here we find a wrestling Jacob—there a Daniel who prayed three times a day—and a David who with all his heart called upon his God. On the mountain we see Elias; in the dungeon Paul and Silas. We have multitudes of commands, and myriads of promises.

What does this teach us, but the sacred importance and necessity of prayer? We may be certain that whatever God has made prominent in his Word, he intended to be conspicuous in our lives. If he has said much about prayer, it is because he knows we have much need of it. So deep are our necessities, that until we are in heaven we must not cease to pray. Dost thou want nothing? Then, I fear thou dost not know thy poverty. Hast thou no mercy to ask of God? Then, may the Lord’s mercy show thee thy misery! A prayerless soul is a Christless soul. Prayer is the lisping of the believing infant, the shout of the fighting believer, the requiem of the dying saint falling asleep in Jesus. It is the breath, the watchword, the comfort, the strength, the honour of a Christian. If thou be a child of God, thou wilt seek thy Father’s face, and live in thy Father’s love.

Pray that this year thou mayst be holy, humble, zealous, and patient; have closer communion with Christ, and enter oftener into the banqueting-house of his love. Pray that thou mayst be an example and a blessing unto others, and that thou mayst live more to the glory of thy Master. The motto for this year must be, “Continue in prayer.”

 

Spurgeon on Prayer

I read these this morning in Spurgeon’s “Morning and Evening” devotional. Often are the days that this man of God, whose words and wisdom are saturated with the Word of God, speaks comfort and strength to me.

“While it (prayer) is an application to divine wealth, it is a confession of human emptiness. The most healthy state of a Christian is to be always empty in self and constantly depending upon the Lord for supplies; to be always poor in self and rich in Jesus; weak as water personally, but mighty through God to do great exploits; and hence the use of prayer, because, while it adores God, it lays the creature where it should be, in the very dust.”

“Prayer girds human weakness with divine strength, turns human folly into heavenly wisdom, and gives to troubled mortals the peace of God.”