"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Q & A: The Foundation of Healthy Relationships

Healthy Relationships

This post is a summary of part of an interview I recently gave in a local church.

·        How would you encourage people to have a healthy foundation that would lead to healthy relationships?

Relationship with God is meant to change everything. When we trust in Jesus to be our salvation, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell inside of us. He begins a remodeling process in us that takes the rest of our lives. We have to cooperate with Him in this process. It is possible to be a Christian and remain self-centered and unloving. So talking with God, thinking about God, and learning about God are ways of deepening that relationship.

“7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:7-19New International Version (NIV)

Relationships require some kind of communication. The main way God talks to people is through his Word, so time in the Bible is huge. If we lack a biblical foundation, we are guessing what God wants (if we are thinking about what God wants at all). By becoming familiar with the Bible we are building a frame of reference. Then the Holy Spirit can bring a passage to mind just when we need it. You don’t have to spend hours every day, a few minutes a day adds up over time. You can listen to CDs or download Bible audio versions if you struggle with sitting down to read.

“12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12New International Version (NIV)

Ready to stop playing games? Ready for relationships based on more than selfish needs and competitive motives? Ready for a relationship with God that can have a positive and eternal impact on your other relationships? Make Him your priority and see what happens. You will be amazed!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

King of kings, Lord of lords

The phrase “king of kings” is found in Scripture six times. Once, the title is applied to God the Father (1 Timothy 6:15), and twice to the Lord Jesus (Revelation 17:14; 19:16). The other three (Ezra 7:12; Ezekiel 26:7; Daniel 2:37) refer to either Artaxerxes or Nebuchadnezzar, kings who used the phrase to describe their supposed sovereignty over their respective realms (Persia and Babylon). The phrase “lord of lords” is used in Scripture five times and only referring to God (Deuteronomy 10:17; Psalm 136:3; 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; 19:16). It is significant to note that, used together, the two phrases refer only to Jesus the Christ.

In 1 Timothy 6, Paul is concluding his letter to Timothy, reminding him to fight the good fight and keep his profession of faith.Timothy is to do these things “until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,” whom he describes as “the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion.” The title indicates one who has the power to exercise absolute dominion. In the case of the Lord Jesus, his realm is all of creation. Paul takes pains to emphasize the unique nature of Christ’s rule, calling Him the “only” Sovereign, who is “alone” and “unapproachable.” The rule of Jesus stands alone and above all. Jesus trumps all.

The other two uses of the phrase, those in Revelation, refer to the return and final conquest of Jesus. The implication is that ultimately all other rules will be conquered or abolished, and He alone will reign supreme as King and Lord of all.  The writer of Hebrews says of the Lord Jesus: “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3). The next verse describes Jesus as “much superior” to the angels. Clearly, His rule is absolute.

Paul clarifies this rule is derived from Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. In Philippians 2:5-11, he discusses the lengths to which Jesus went to atone for sinners, and concludes that this is the reason that “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (vv. 9-11).

Finally, the Book of Revelation fully reveals the Kingship of Jesus. In chapter 5, the Lamb (Jesus) is the only one in all creation found worthy to open the scroll containing the judgments of God (vv. 2-5). In chapter 11, voices in heaven proclaim that the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of Christ, and that He will reign forever and ever (v. 15). In chapter 12,  the authority of Christ is what causes Satan to be thrown down to earth (vv. 9-10). In chapter 17:12-14, the Lamb conquers all those gathered against Him, and John stresses that He conquers because He is King of kings and Lord of lords. Finally, in chapter 19, we read of His triumphant coming to strike the nations and tread the winepress of the wrath of God, having the authority to do so as King of kings and Lord of lords (vv. 11-16).

Jesus being King of kings and Lord of lords means that there is no greater authority. His reign over all  is absolute. God raised Him from the dead and placed Him over all things, “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:21-23).

In a world that questions or ignores his existence, we followers are challenged to remember his authority over us. His commands (e.g. love one another) are not mere suggestions. But what he calls us to do, he also empowers us to do. Why wait for a final judgment day to bow to him? Everything in the universe is his, including you and all you call "yours". Offer it to him now because, he only has your best interest at heart. And as Paul writes in Colossians 3:15, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts," because Jesus trumps all.