“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Happy Hanukkah

Well, it is that time again -- Hanukkah. And I just wanted to post some Hanukkah thoughts before I run off to work.

Jesus celebrated this holiday, and as I have posted in the past, it is recorded in John 10:22 - 30 -- At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one."

Many in today's society are asking this same question: "If you are the Christ, tell us plainly" Jesus answers through the Word in the same way that He did then: "I told you and you do not believe".

It seems that the past few years we have seen a rise in interest in the 'real' Jesus, but in point of fact, it is not a new interest. The Pharisees were as Messiah-focused as the modern man is, probably more so. But, like the modern man, the Pharisees could not accept a Messiah who did not validate their lifestyle, but instead called people to sacrifice, obedience and a God-centeredness.

Now many would say that I am speaking of a legalistic lifestyle, but I am actually referring to what Jesus Himself said -- Matthew 10:37 - 39 -- Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Matthew `16:24 - 26 -- Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?

Again, let me reiterate, I am not advocating a mendicant lifestyle in order to 'prove' that you are a follower of Jesus; rather I am saying that when we die to self and Christ lives within us, it will be our desire to live for Him, loving Him more than anyone else. This is not something that man can do in his own efforts and this is what has caused many heartaches throughout history. When the Spirit indwells you, there will be a NEW BIRTH, and that new child of God will behave (albeit imperfectly), in a new way.

Just this past week I picked up a special News and World Report magazine on Christianity; asking all of the timeworn questions -- "What of the other gospels?", "Who was the 'real' Jesus?" etc. And these secular groups want a Messiah that will fit into their idea of who He should be. Just like the Pharisees all those years ago on Solomon's portico, modern man stands before Christ and demands "Tell us plainly", yet when He does, we turn away and pick up stones to stone Him as did the people of His day.

Sadly, in today's world the shrillest voices in this discussion often come from within the 'church' -- so-called Christian leaders standing up and providing their perspective on who Messiah is. Now, these people do not use the Bible, rather they say -- "MY Messiah is one who is all inclusive", or "What Would Jesus Do?", implying that He really was an early Mahatma Gandhi, bringing love and peace to the entire world, never criticizing, only 'affirming'.

Today, when people ask Jesus who He is, they prefer to get their information about Him from Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey, rather than sacred Scripture -- because those folks have formed a Golden Calf that many want to bow down to. Like the Israelites, they may call this calf 'God', but in reality, they are sadly, and for some, eternally, mistaken, and yet, so many within the 'church' are right there, bowing before this idol made in OUR image.

How different is the Jesus of Scripture -- the one who spat out woes to the hypocritical religious leaders of His day, the one who cleansed the temple.

THIS Jesus said that He came to bring a sword -- that the message of the gospel would divide; today, He has been 'remolded' into a safe, cuddly, golden calf who never says a cross word to anyone, and whose love extends to every single creature on this Earth regardless of whether they reject Him or not. And even worse, the church is promoting this calf -- instead they should love and care enough about the lost to teach them who Jesus really was, and what the Gospel REALLY means!

I have referred to Talladega Nights more than once on this blog. That is because of the scene in which Ricky Bobby prays to a baby Jesus. When his wife upbraids him for doing this, he says, in prototypical American fashion, "You pray to the Jesus you want, I like the baby Jesus". Sadly, that is truer than many of us would like to admit.

We demand that a creche be installed in front of our government buildings, but we do not want the REAL Messiah to indwell in our hearts. Today we ask "Who are you Jesus, tell us plainly", but the answer is so offensive that we turn away!

Let us pray that this holiday season would be one when the real Messiah's light burns brghtly in the hearts of His people!

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