Nick Poindexter

My style's like a chemical spill

Tag: Jesus (page 1 of 9)

Take This Cup

“Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from Me—nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.”
-Luke 22:42 (HCSB)

Knowing that he was about to be arrested, tried and crucified, Jesus retreats with his disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane for prayer. One can’t even begin to fathom how intense and excruciating this moment had to be. Therefore, to no surprise, Jesus’ prayer begins with a plea: Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from Me—nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.

As God in the flesh, Jesus knew what had to be done. But as a human, he felt the weight of the consequences as well.

Ultimately there was no choice. Jesus had to face the cup.

So what exactly is this “cup” that Jesus wants removed? Pain? Suffering? Death? As horrible as those things are, Jesus was facing something much worse.

Going back to the Old Testament, a cup is often used to symbolize God’s wrath and judgment. Those who have sinned against God are told that they must drink from this cup and endure it’s contents. It is essentially a cup filled to the brim with the horror and desolation that comes from being alienated from God the Father.

And Jesus wasn’t facing a single person’s cup… It was the wrath of God due to all humanity for their sinfulness and rebellion. The mere thought of that cup is what made Jesus plead with his Father for it to be taken away. Whips, thorns and nails couldn’t compare.

No wonder his sweat became like blood.

So how do we wrap our minds around a sacrifice so overwhelming? How could we ever acknowledge it with a proper response of thankfulness?

I don’t know. I really don’t. But if I had to answer, I would say this: simply rejoice and rest.

Rejoice in the fact that Jesus not only took your cup, but he actually drank from your cup. The fact that he would even taste our deserved punishment should steer us toward nothing but elation, praise, and celebration. So rejoice!

And rest in the fact that Jesus didn’t just sip your cup, but he emptied your cup. There’s nothing more you can do to atone your relationship with God, because Jesus has done it all. And there’s not an ounce of God’s wrath left for you. When you trust in Jesus’ finished work, you are saved, indeed. So rest.

So I rejoice and rest, knowing that the cup of God’s wrath, specifically directed toward me and designed for me, was willfully drank by Jesus.

Every. Last. Drop.

Drop Your Blanket

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
-Luke 2:8-14 (KJV)

Over the past 45+ years, A Charlie Brown Christmas has been a television staple during the Christmas season. The story revolves around the title character’s frustration with the commercialization of Christmas. At his wit’s end, Charlie Brown finally exclaims, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?!”

To our surprise, Linus, the timid friend known for sucking his thumb and carrying a security blanket, speaks up. In an odd climax to a network television special, the boy then proceeds to calmly and confidently recite the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2 verses 8-14. “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown,” Linus concludes.

But something subtle yet very out-of-the-ordinary happens while he is speaking. Precisely at the moment when Linus quotes the angel saying, “Fear not,” he drops his blanket. If you’re familiar with the Peanuts comic at all, you know what a huge deal that is. Linus always has his blanket, despite the teasing he receives from others about it.

That’s the thing about our personal “security blankets” — we will clutch them and rationalize them no matter what.

Now, those shepherds that Linus tells us about in Luke had to have been pretty freaked out by the appearance of an angel. Who knows what was going through their heads, but I can imagine it wasn’t happy thoughts. At the very least, it’s safe to say this definitely qualifies as an unforeseen situation.

Like the shepherds, when something eventful happens in our lives (good or bad), it is almost instinctive to respond in fear. And what that fear does is tempt us to cling to what is cozy and comfortable; to trust in the things that we can control verses the things out of our control.

In other words, we put our faith in ourselves or others rather than in God.

But therein lies the problem. Your security is not found in your job… Your protection is not found in your spouse… Your freedom is not found in your friends… Your salvation is not found in your bank account.

The truth found in the cartoon is unmistakable: the hope found only in Jesus is better than anything a security blanket can offer. Better yet, his arrival makes those blankets completely useless.

That fact of the matter is you absolutely cannot rest in the peace of “Fear not” while grasping to makeshift security.

So drop your blanket. Wrap yourself in Jesus. He is your security.

And fear not.

Whatever It Takes

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
-Mark 2:1-5 (NIV)

Can you imagine the scene?

This guy named Jesus came through your town performing all kinds of miracles. He returns, and this time you have a front-row seat. You are actually in his presence as he teaches. Out of nowhere, you hear a rumble on the roof. Dust and plaster start to fall. Next thing you know a paralyzed man on a mat is being lowered by four other men through the roof directly in front of Jesus.

Bizarre story, isn’t it. Well, this is the beginning of Mark Chapter 2.

To be clear, this isn’t a case of an event that needs to be viewed through the lens of its time. Ripping a hole in a stranger’s roof wasn’t common in 1st-century Jewish culture; it was just plain weird.

And I can’t help but love the desperation and the sheer chutzpah of the paralytic’s friends. I mean, they believed in Jesus enough to destroy private property, interrupt his preaching, and probably cover him in dirt!

But did you notice Jesus’ reaction? We would think a correction, a gentle rebuke at minimum, would be in order. However, there is no condemnation from Jesus at all. Instead, he is marveled at their faith.

In the same way as the four friends, we too must be willing to do whatever it takes to get others to Jesus. Individually, we must be willing to cast our pride and fears to the side. Collectively, our churches must be creative and innovative enough to lay all the options out on the table… “Here are the ways we can reach people for Jesus.” If it’s sinful or unbiblical, throw it out. Everything else is fair game.

And it is imperative that we do not overlook the obvious point from this story — the paralytic had to be carried on a mat. Sometimes we have to do the carrying to get people to come to Jesus! We must make the sacrifice. We must make the initiation. Because they will not come on their own… They are paralyzed!

Do you find it odd that the first thing Jesus says to the man is, “Son, your sins are forgiven”? The guy is clearly paralyzed. Jesus knew that. I think it’s simply a reminder of his mission… Jesus came to forgive sin and offer salvation to the world, more important than any physical or temporal need we have on Earth.

So what are you waiting for? Someone is counting on you to get them to Jesus. Are you willing to do whatever it takes? Anything that is blocking us, hindering us, or slowing us down needs to be dug up and thrown out! And that includes our insecurities, reputations, comforts and personal preferences.

The risk is worth it. Why? Because Jesus knew that our reconciliation to the Father was of the utmost importance. His obedience even unto death proves that.

Jesus understood “Whatever it takes.”

Stop Speaking About Jesus

So they ordered Peter and John out of the council chamber and conferred among themselves. What should we do with these men?” they asked each other. “We can’t deny that they have performed a miraculous sign, and everybody in Jerusalem knows about it. But to keep them from spreading their propaganda any further, we must warn them not to speak to anyone in Jesus’ name again.” So they called the apostles back in and commanded them never again to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.”
-Acts 4:15-20 (NLT)

Stop speaking about Jesus. I’m serious. Stop it. Never again. No more talking to your next-door neighbor about your love for Christ. No more morning chat with your co-workers about what you learned about him while reading your Bible. No more dinner table discussion with your family about your thankfulness of Jesus’ grace. So that’s it. Got it? Please give the Jesus thing a rest.

Quick self-evaluation… If I were serious, would you have any trouble complying?

During the early church’s history in the book of Acts, we find people like Peter and John being told just that — to not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus ever again. And their response shows how absurd of a request it truly was… It was almost as if they were thinking, “Let me get this straight… You want Christians to not talk about Jesus? Ha! Good luck!” They viewed it as an impossibility! Testifying about what they had witnessed was simply something they had to do, no questions asked.

Did you catch that? Christians being told to shut up about Jesus, and Christians responding that they cannot shut up about Jesus. I hate to say it, I’m not sure many in the church today would have much difficultly acquiescing to that request. As silly as it sounds, Christians not speaking of Christ has pretty much become acceptable behavior. And even worse, many believers justify their quietness under the guise of meekness, humility or peacefulness. And while those are certainly good, virtuous qualities to have, they aren’t a license for disobedience!

Let’s just be honest… You can’t make the modern church speak about Jesus. And you couldn’t make the New Testament church stop speaking about Jesus.

Now, to be clear, I’m not suggesting Christians must stand on street corners and blast passersby with scripture and condemnation. That’s just annoying. There’s a big difference between obnoxiousness and obedience.

But what I am suggesting is that one would think the greatest event to ever occur in your life would at least pop up some of the time in normal, day-to-day conversation. That’s it. I don’t think that’s too much to expect. But unfortunately for many Christians, the topic of Jesus is more or less nonexistant.

If that’s the case, then honestly who are you trying to please? Clearly, not speaking about Christ is what the world wants. And it’s definitely what Satan, the ruler of the world, wants. But what about what God wants? In the words of Peter and John, do you think God wants us to obey people rather than him? Submission to God must always supersede all else.

Really, there’s no choice. So share boldly, courageously, and confidently about Jesus. Tell everyone that will listen about what you have seen and what you have heard.

And please, don’t fall for the lie that silence is okay. To Christians, the mere suggestion of that action should be ludicrous.

No matter what, we cannot stop.

Let Love Rule

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
-Mark 12:28-31 (NIV)

Jewish law in a nutshell: 248 commands of things to do, 365 commands of things not to do, for a total of 613 rules, all of which are covered in the first 5 books of the Old Testament (a.k.a. the Pentateuch/Torah). The “thou shalts” require action to bring you closer to God, and the “thou shalt nots” forbid action that creates a distance from God.

With that in mind, a scribe walks in on Jesus debating scripture with others in Chapter 12 of Mark. A scribe’s purpose is to interpret the meaning of scripture and its commands, so of course his interest is piqued. Whether to settle the question once and for all or to drag Jesus into it, I don’t know. But the Scribe asks Jesus the loaded question: What is the most important commandment? 1 out of 613. Nice odds, huh? As if there were a “right” answer anyhow.

Jesus responds however by quoting the Shema, a traditional Jewish confession of faith (“Hear, O Israel…”). Why? Probably to demonstrate his knowledge of tradition and scripture. In other words, he was setting up his answer by showing he had the authority to answer the question in the first place.

Then, he let his wisdom shine – all 613 rules, all of the 10 Commandments, all that jazz – are boiled down to one principle, one simple word: Love.

Instead of focusing all of one’s heart, soul, mind and strength on rules, Jesus says to focus them on relationships – your relationship with the Father, and your relationship with every, single person He surrounds you with. Simply put, when you love God and love others, every one of God’s rules is fulfilled. Love covers them all.

If you’re like me you probably know how hard it is to love people. Loving God (to me) is not so difficult most of the time, but loving everyone pretty much seems infeasible. But there’s a reason why Jesus says that loving the Lord is the most important, and loving people is second. When your love for Him is poured out from everything you do – your emotions, your intellect, your energy – it gives you the desire and wisdom you need to love others.

Want to know the secret to living a life God would be proud of? Base everything you think, everything you say, and everything you do on one question: Am I loving God and loving others?

To quote the great theologian Lenny Kravitz, you got to let love rule.

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