Jesus, even in high demand, rested

Imagine a situation with me. If you felt called by God to walk into a cancer ward and to pray for an individual and image that God healed that person. Immediately. The newly healed person felt healed and there was absolutely no sign of the cancer in this person anymore. You and this person would be ecstatic and jumping up and down on the bed. The nurses and doctors would not know what to do. Then as you walked out of the room, you felt God call you to another room to pray for someone else. Then imagine a similar situation occurring, where God heals the person you pray for. If this continued to happen time and time again, at the very least another sick person with cancer would be calling you, more likely the doctors would want to know what you were doing and even more likely the news would be putting you on the spotlight.

This is just one fictional example of what it might be like to experience what Jesus might have experienced. Can you picture it? Jesus must have been in high demand! There must have been word out of his miraculous healings and wonders. I am sure that people were well aware of what he was doing and I imagine that people wanted his time and his healing touch.

Jesus models something else for us that we really need to take into consideration. Jesus took breaks. He rested. He went away to be alone with God, even in his busiest season. Even when people were still hurting and in need. Even when Jesus was demanded and reached a celebrity status of his time….He went away to be with God alone:

Mark 1 : 35 (NIV): Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

Mark 6:46- Jesus, after a busy day of healing people, sent people away so that He could be alone in prayer. If you continue reading the chapter there are still people lined up looking for Jesus (v. 55). Again in Matt. 14: 22-23, Jesus dismissed the crowds, so He could go to the mountainside by Himself to pray. Jesus’ priorities were very clear.  Luke 5:16 says that Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. This was a habit for Jesus. Jesus quietly slipped away again and again, as it is mentioned in Luke 9:10 also.

Jesus rested on the Sabbath and went to the synagogue (Lk. 4:16), the equivalent of going to church on Sunday. The morning before choosing His twelve disciples, Lk. 6 reports that Jesus spent the night in prayer. Throughout His time on earth as a human, Jesus modeled the importance of taking time off to recharge. This involved a lot of prayer. His source truly was God the Father. We too can follow this example and knell before the Lord God, our Father for strength and refreshment as well. 
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Self-care in the Bible

The last several Fridays, I have continued the topic of Self-care. Today, as a Christian life coach, I address self-care from a Biblical angle. Let’s think about what Jesus did in the Bible.

While Jesus did spent a lot of time with his disciples and in teaching. He also had time everyday alone where he spend in prayer (Mk 1:35, 14:23, Lk 5:16, 6:12,13, 9:28,  Mt 14:32, etc). He modeled what it means to have an intimate relationship with Jesus and he modeled the principle in Psalm 46:10 (NIV) which says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Another concept to realize is that our bodies are important:

1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 (ESV) asks “do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. ” We need to take care of our bodies.

Finally, a key principle from a Biblical perspective is in regards to the Sabbath, a day of rest for the Christian. The Christian is called to keep this day of rest, holy (Ex. 16:23, Is. 58:13, etc).
Is this still true for in the New Testament?

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:9-11)
Does it have to be Sunday? Not necessarily. John Piper puts it this way (2013):

“Now I think that the principle in the New Testament (Rom. 14 particularly) is that God ordains that one day in seven be restful. I think that’s a creation ordinance for our good, for our health.”
The key is on the importance of rest, God even had a day of rest after Creation, we too need to rest in order to be our best the rest of the week!

References:

Piper, J. (2013). What does it mean practically to keep the Sabbath Holy?
Retrieved from http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/ask-pastor-john/what-does-it-mean-practically-to-keep-the-sabbath-holy

What does it mean to be a disciple?

When one chooses to be a Christian, one becomes a follower of God. There are things that our leader, God, asks us to do as followers.These conditions of being a follower or disciple of God are not always easy. God wants a real relationship with his followers and when believers meet these conditions spiritual growth occurs. Personal spiritual growth is really important in being a disciple.

According to Barna success in making true disciples is: Seeing “men, women, boys and girls committed to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and growing daily in their knowledge, love, and service to Him.” Barna calls for Christians to single-mindedly focus, day to day on Jesus. The kind of obsession for Jesus that disciples have is all-consuming. They are passionately devoted to Him. They make a lifelong commitment to a lifestyle of following Jesus. But the personal devotion is only the half of it. And my favorite analogy is that of a coin. On one side disciples are committed to personal growth. But on the other side of the coin disciples are committed to sharing and multiplying themselves.

Some of the conditions of being a follower of Jesus are self-denial, renunciation, “leaving it all,” steadfastness, fruitfulness, and love. Jesus taught that God does not like half-heartedness. God desires a real relationship with his followers therefore it is imperative that followers show that they are serious about their faith and put God first. There could be many people who say that they are Christians and many people who want to follow Jesus but they are not truly followers because they are not willing to follow through on these conditions.

The first condition, self-denial, is setting aside one’s own plans, goals, desires in life and following God’s instead. This is one of the hardest things about being a disciple of Jesus. Our life is no longer ours, but Christ’s. This first thing disciples must do according to Barna, fits here. It is “disciples must be assured of salvation by grace alone.” The “getting in” to the discipleship club is that we realize that it is not about us. Nothing we can do will save us. It is only by God’s grace, therefore it is essential that we deny ourselves completely. Being a disciple of Christ means that we will have to choose between the desires of our own flesh and the plans of God.

The second condition, renunciation, means to reject or renounce earthly pleasures. It is a sacrifice. Take the idea of self-denial and step it up to the next level. Not only are you denying your own plans and pleasures but now also rejecting all earthly pleasures and desires as well. Remember God wants all of us in our relationship to Him, not just to be compartmentalized to Sunday mornings only. The second thing disciples must do is “learn and understand principles of Christian living.” If we reject the earthly things we need to replace the void in our lives. Understanding the essentials of Christianity is absolutely necessary to living (a Christian lifestyle) practically and passing it on. Instead of indoctrinating ourselves with the world’s ways we are to learn the ways of being a Christian.

The next condition of “leaving it all” builds on the same ideas of self-denial and renunciation. We are taught by Jesus to follow him. Not to follow our own ways, not to follow the ways of this world, instead we are told to “leave all” behind. This might mean leaving behind other “important” things like family, friends, or a career to do God’s will instead. Luke chapter fourteen tells us to leave behind our family, our possessions and instead take up our crosses to follow Christ! And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple (v. 27).” “In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple (v. 33).” “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters — yes, even his own life — he cannot be my disciple(v. 26).”

The fourth condition is steadfastness. Steadfastness means to be dedicated, devoted, loyal, and fixed on a goal. When it comes to being a disciple we are to be fixed on following Christ. We are to align our thoughts, doctrines, and teachings up with what Christ teaches in the Bible. The third thing disciples must do is “obey Gods commands.” (John 14). Perfection is not required but dedicated devotion and steadfast commitment towards following the laws is required!
We are to be fruitful. Christians will bear fruits of the Spirit. This also progresses from being steadfast. If someone is steadfast in their faith, abides in Christ, and is serious about their relationship with God then they will inevitably become more like Christ. This means they will act and behave differently. They will love. They will have peace, joy, faithfulness, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. The fourth, fifth, and sixth thing disciples must do fit under being fruitful. Disciples must represent God as His ambassadors. Those who are not Christians will know that you are a disciple because of your fruit and lifestyle. Disciples must love and serve others (John 13). Disciples must reproduce themselves in Christ.

In other words, if a disciple is truly a disciple, he is sharing Jesus with others. He is so zealous about Jesus that he wants (and is) telling others about Him! He is reproducing himself. He is reproducing his passion for Christ and setting other’s ablaze in that same passion!

In conclusion, being a disciple means being a zealot for Christ. It means giving everything over. Not only is it surrender but it is a new life. It is a new life in Christ. It is about maintaining a passion for my first love. Being a disciple to me means dedicating my all to Christ. I love Christ. For all that He has done for me, I want to serve Him. I want to learn from Him. I read and study about Him in the Word to become more like Him. When my focus is on Him, my life is transformed. I am serving and loving others. I am growing my own faith, but I am also telling others about him. Being a disciple is a dedication to a day-to-day, moment-by-moment lifestyle.

Barna, George. Growing True Disciples. Waterbrook Press: Colorado Springs, CO, 2001.

Being "Religious" is not enough

Being religious is not what gets us into Heaven.

Being “good” or “spiritual” are never going to be good enough.

In order to be saved you MUST be born again according to John. 3 verse 7. ( Especially in its full context, the entire chapter!)

In fact being religious is not what we are called to be.

The “good” will not outweigh the “bad”…because there will not be a “good and bad” balance beam in Heaven. Even if there was such a balance beam in Heaven the ONLY person who could reach God’s standard would be Jesus. (Rom. 6:23, Romans 3:23) So if we were judged on being good or bad, heaven would be only be occupied by Jesus and God (and the Holy Spirit) but all in one – of you know what I mean.

Fortunately, Heaven is not for just Jesus and God has allowed ANYONE to call on the name of the Lord to be saved! (Rom. 10:9, 10, Rom. 8:8)

So Heaven is not for religious people. Heaven is for those who call on the Lord.

Religious people are the ones who called on Jesus to be Crucified. Religious people where opposed to Jesus, the Pharisees. Religious people have started wars.

We are not seeking to be religious. We are not called to be religious. Being Religious does not save.

But Chrsit does. And we are to seek Christ in a relationship, not a religion.

follow me

In His sermon this week, my pastor spoke about Jesus and the disciples. Jesus chose fisherman to be his disciples, regular fishermen. The fishermen “immediately” left their boats and followed. “immediately” left their father and their fishing business to follow a man whom they had just seen for the first time!

The Greek Word “euyewv” is used for straightway, forthwith, or best fitting for modern English “immediately.” aka- quickly, shortly, without hesitation, at once or soon, as soon as possible.

This hits home with me ,because the very first disciples laid down a pure example of what faith can look like. These men did not know Jesus well when they met him, when all he said was “follow me.” But they left all that they knew and followed.

Ever since the first disciples and even today, that is all it takes to follow Jesus. It is not necessary to know everything about Him in order to believe and to follow Him. I am not saying that people shouldn’t look into Jesus and learn about Him before they make any kind of decision. Please do the research, Jesus speaks for Himself and the more you know about Him the better.

But for the point of this post and just pure reflection, it is an interesting thought. The first disciples simply followed. There wasn’t any skepticism. My point really is that this still happens today. Look at my salvation story, for example: I was very young when I came to know Christ. At eight years of age, I only knew the basics…Jesus died for my sins. Sure I grew up in a Christian home, but I was not trained on epistemology, hermeneutics, and Christology, not as an eight year old. My mom asked me if I would follow Him. I kind of understood that I was a sinner. But I wanted whatever it was that my mom had and was talking about. So I followed Him. That is it! I was saved without knowing very much at all about Jesus.

Today as my faith has matured a lot, I enjoy studying those deeper things I referred to. And if you read the Gospels and then read Acts, you see how Peter and the disciples’ faith mature quite a bit too. They knew very little and then over time and in their relationship with God they began to understand more deeply.

It is really basic observation but truly amazing, Jesus is for everyone!

Abiding in Christ, John 15

What does “abiding in Christ” mean? The Greek word for “abide” is “men’-o.” It means to “stay” or “remain” in one place. One might say that it means to just “hang out” or be with Jesus. In one way it means to spend time with Jesus. You need to take your faith seriously. You need to spend time with Jesus if you are serious in your faith. In another sense it means that there are choices. We can choose to prioritize Jesus in our lives or we can spend time serving other “gods” or other masters in our lives. The choice is ours. We can serve God in obedience or serve other things, in disobedience to God. You cannot have two masters.

The best way to answer this question is by looking at it in context. Jesus is giving the 12 some of the last teaching and training on their way from the last supper to the Garden in Kidron where Jesus would be arrested and betrayed. The points Jesus makes are that, if you choose me as your Lord – If you spend time with me there are advantages! With me in your life you will grow your faith and bear fruit. With me you will “ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” With me in your life, you will have God on your side. You will make him happy. Also Jesus makes points on the other side. Dallas Willard would say “the cost of non-discipleship” (which is greater than the “cost of discipleship.” The costs of not having Jesus in your life as he argues (for himself) are that” without me you can do nothing.” In Christ, you can do all things, without him you can do nothing. It comes down to a dichotomy. You are for God or against him! Another reason follows similarly, remember that God is against you if you are not for him. “

If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” God tends
the branches. Metaphorically we are the branches. Jesus is the vine. He is the
source of strength, water, and goodness –all of life. God is the Gardener and
he tends the branches that do not bear fruit. The branches that are not fully
intact with the vine, God tends. Finally it is also important to realize that God wants us to obey his rules. Remaining in him also presupposes that we continue to obey and keep his commands.