“All that I have commanded you…”

Matthew 28:19–20 (ESV): Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The process of making disciples is ongoing. We continue to do it until the end of the age. I’m confident that Jesus is with me, with us, in this process because he promised that he would be. “…behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

So we know that he is with us, our “hope of glory” (Col. 1:27), helping us in the process of making disciples. We can have great joy even in the midst of difficulty because of his abiding presence with us. There is no doubt that he is with me through the presence of his spirit, our great power of the Holy Spirit. But I would say also that he is with us in the very things that he has commanded us to do. That is, he is with us in “all that I have commanded you.” He is with us in the Holy Scriptures.

All that Jesus trusted and quoted and promised to fulfill of the Law and the Prophets, as well as what the Holy Spirit inspired in the New Testament writers, all of that is imbued with his very living presence. As we abide in the Scriptures, we abide in him. As we use the Scriptures as the foundation of our “teaching (disciples) to observe”, he is with us.

And his power in teaching is so much greater than our power. His wisdom so much greater than our wisdom.

If you grow weary in your efforts in making disciples, return again to trusting and believing in the power of Christ, working through his testimonies, to do “far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.” (Eph. 3:20)

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.

The Light and Heat

Just a brief post this morning.

This is a hymn by William Cowper (1731-1800), perhaps best known as the author of “There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood” and “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”. As Kenneth Osbeck says in his introduction to the hymn, “This hymn teaches an important truth: The same Spirit of God who authored the Bible is the One who enlightens it for our understanding and guidance…”

The Spirit breathes upon the Word, and brings the truth to sight;

Precepts and promises afford a sanctifying light.

A glory gilds the sacred page, majestic like the sun:

It gives a light to ev’ry age; it gives but borrows none.

The Hand that gave it still supplies the gracious light and heat;

His truths upon the nations rise; they rise but never set.

Let everlasting thanks be Thine for such a bright display

As makes a world of darkness shine with beams of heav’nly day.

My soul rejoices to pursue the steps of Him I love,

Till glory breaks upon my view in brighter worlds above.

Psalm for the day

 From Psalm 36

5 Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. 

6 Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O LORD. 

7 How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. 

8 They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. 

9 For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. 

10 Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart! 

 

Is the Psalmist trying to tell us something of the steadfast love of the Lord? How will you respond to His steadfast love today?

A personal meditation

Monday morning, you sure look fine! It’s a beautiful start to the week. My proclivity towards stress and negativity haven’t woken up yet, though they linger at the door. There was this great quote from Spurgeon on Challies’ blog this morning: “How much of the staple of our conversation consists in complaint!” I am reflecting more and more on how my thinking needs to change in this area. It all relates to my trust and satisfaction in God and His provision. I fight against the tide of my own negative thinking all the time. Like most things, it is easiest just to go with the flow of my negativity, rather than fight against it. It ultimately is not the way I want to live my life, though.

I don’t want to just be a Pollyanna, either. I want a reasoned trust that looks for the best in all the situations I encounter, whether in planning or in the meeting of them along the way. How will I fight the battle today? How will I fight the battle in this moment? I’m not sure that negative thoughts are ones to “take captive”. I think it will be better to put them to death as a deed of the flesh. Certainly it is in the flesh that I do not trust in God’s provision, plan and timing. In the spirit, I realize that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.

So, a negative thought, a gloomy outlook, a pessimistic expectation springs from my flesh. In short, it is sinful for me to entertain and nurture those thoughts. I want to change in my heart and in my thoughts and in my actions! Who can save me from this? Only you, Lord. Only you.

So, let’s take a bit of Psalm 56 and work it around to my application and desire for life change (and I don’t think it’s an inappropriate working of the verse.)
Ps. 56:3-4 “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?”
(Since I battle fear as well, this is a great verse to think upon, to meditate upon, to soak into my thought- and action-life. Let’s look at it from the negativity framework in this instance.)

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This is my prayerful application of those verses into my life. It is the way I pray Scripture to God and pray Scripture into my life and thinking. I suppose in some ways it is the “preparatory” corrective prayer. I will pray this Scripture prayer in daily preparation for the battle against negativity and pessimism. The struggle in the moment of temptation will be aided by this taking up of the sword of the Spirit in advance of the fight.

The fight will come, count on it. It will probably be a long struggle, since the formation of the habit of negativity took years and years. I am confident, though, that it is God’s will for me to trust in Him in all circumstances. I trust that it is according to His good purposes that He wants me to be joyful and confident in Him and His provision and plan. Since these things are in accordance to His will, I know that they will be accomplished in me as I “work out my salvation with fear and trembling”, knowing that “it is God who works in [me], both to will and work for *his* (and my) good pleasure.”

In all things, may He receive the glory. What is done for His glory is ultimately for my good, too.
“My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast!
I will sing and make melody!
Awake, my glory!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!”
Ps. 57:7-11