Archive for July 13, 2012

Do you want to snatch a day from the grip of boredom?  Do overly generous deeds, acts beyond reimbursement. Kindness without compensation.  Here’s another idea…Get over yourself!

Sound too harsh?

Well, Moses did.  Numbers 12:3 says, he was a “very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.” 

Mary did.  When Jesus called her womb His home, she did not boast; she simple confessed: “I am the Lord’s maid, ready to serve.”

Most of all–Jesus did.  Jesus chose the servants’ quarters.  Can’t we?

We’re important but not essential, valuable but not indispensable.  We have a song to sing, but we’re not the featured act.  God is!

He did well before our births; he’ll do fine after our deaths.  He started it all, sustains it all, and will bring it all to a glorious climax!

“I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

I’m not sure who came up with the idea of driving around in circles on a small track in a tiny machine; nevertheless, riding go-karts is a popular pastime in America. Once when I took my son and nephew to a go-kart track, I was whizzing around—trying desperately to catch up with those two lightweight guys—and realized firsthand the futility of going in circles and cutting off everyone who got in my way.

A lot like life, I thought.

Then I found myself reflecting on a similar, more brutal activity: bumper cars. Have you ever noticed that they are driven by two kinds of people? The aggressive ones bump and bang everyone within range. They don’t feel successful unless they have plowed as many people into the sideboards as time will allow. The other person shrinks from the conflict, seeking to avoid the drivers who have that killer look in their eyes.

Unfortunately, a lot of us tend to live in aimless, reckless ways like the go-kart and bumper car drivers of this world. Some of us seem content simply to follow a track going nowhere, hoping to finish first among others who are also frantically circling, going nowhere with their lives.

Then there are those who seem to think there is some spiritual merit to bumping and banging fellow followers of Jesus, while others go through life with passive avoidance, simply trying to stay out of everybody’s way. They don’t go anywhere or do anything significant; success for them is measured by just staying out of trouble.

If you recognized yourself in this list, I’m here to tell you that none of those tactics will lead to the progressive, productive life that Jesus called us to live. The essence of authentic Christianity is the pursuit of a goal. As Paul put it: “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). Together, arm in arm, heart to heart, we are called to go somewhere for God.

As followers of Jesus, we have many wonderful and productive places to go—like rearing godly families, expressing sacrificial love in our relationships in the midst of a “me first” culture, and taking the healing power of Christ to the broken and oppressed.

It’s when we take our eyes off the God-given goal and forget our destination that we settle back into the go-kart mentality, circling around the same track we’ve been on for years, or find ourselves hanging out in the bumper car arena looking for someone to attack or avoid.

It’s time to get out of the amusement park and back on God’s highway. And once on the highway, our goal is to be wreck-less drivers, following the rules of the road and avoiding conflict with other cars. It’s time to get behind the wheel and get serious about going where God wants to take us—a place of usefulness and significant service for Him. Then, like Paul, we can say with confidence, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).


  • What are the pitfalls of the “go-kart mentality”?  Have there been times in your life that seemed like a go-kart ride?
  • In the “bumper car arena,” do you tend to be a passive or an aggressive driver in terms of relating to fellow drivers? How do you feel when others bump or avoid you? Make up your mind to step out of that arena to a more productive pursuit—following Jesus!
  • What is your destination in life? How does it align with what Jesus instructed His followers to do in Matthew 28:18-20?

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord . . . —Isaiah 6:1

Our soul’s personal history with God is often an account of the death of our heroes. Over and over again God has to remove our friends to put Himself in their place, and that is when we falter, fail, and become discouraged. Let me think about this personally— when the person died who represented for me all that God was, did I give up on everything in life? Did I become ill or disheartened? Or did I do as Isaiah did and see the Lord?

My vision of God is dependent upon the condition of my character. My character determines whether or not truth can even be revealed to me. Before I can say, “I saw the Lord,” there must be something in my character that conforms to the likeness of God. Until I am born again and really begin to see the kingdom of God, I only see from the perspective of my own biases. What I need is God’s surgical procedure— His use of external circumstances to bring about internal purification.

Your priorities must be God first, God second, and God third, until your life is continually face to face with God and no one else is taken into account whatsoever. Your prayer will then be, “In all the world there is no one but You, dear God; there is no one but You.”

Keep paying the price. Let God see that you are willing to live up to the vision.


He said, ‘Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?’ declares the Lord. ‘Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel’.” — Jeremiah 18:6

Many of the messages given to Jeremiah came in the form of metaphors. For example, in the beginning of chapter 18, God tells Jeremiah to go to a potter’s home. There, Jeremiah watches how the potter works with the clay at his wheel. As the potter is forming a pot, he notices that the pot is not looking like he wants it to. So he destroys the one he is working with and creates a new pot.

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and with this imagery fresh in his mind, Jeremiah is able to understand what God means when He says, “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.”

The imagery of clay in the hands of a potter is so powerful that it has become part of the liturgy of Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement – along with similar metaphors, such as silver in the hands of a silver smith and glass in the hands of the glass blower. In all of the imagery, we see a substance, malleable and fragile, in the hands of its maker.

On the one hand, it is terrifying to realize how vulnerable we really are. Our Creator can build us up, or destroy us. Anything can change on a dime. But on the other hand, it is comforting to know that if we are at the mercy of someone’s hands, it is none other than the hands of God.

Sometimes the potter does have to destroy his pot. But he only does so in order to make it new again — and better. Through this object lesson, God is telling Jeremiah that although the Jewish people are about to go into a horrible exile, and even though many will be slaughtered and the Temple destroyed, it’s all for the purpose of rebuilding!

Jeremiah needed to know and understand that the destruction he was predicting was not the end of the story. It is the beginning of a new one. With that understanding, Jeremiah would be able to rebuke the people, but also comfort them once his dire predictions came true.

There are times in our lives when we feel nothing less than shattered, like a broken piece of pottery. Where is our Maker? How will we become whole again? We must remember the image of the potter from the book of Jeremiah. Sometimes, the Almighty will bring us down. But never forget, friends, that it is only in order to build us up once more – better, wiser, and definitely stronger.

No matter what shape we are at the moment, we are always in good hands!

Once when little children were brought to Jesus that he might touch them, the disciples found fault with those who brought them. When Jesus saw it, he was displeased and said to his disciples, “Allow the little children to come to me; and do not forbid them, for of such as these is the Kingdom of God. I tell you, whoever will not accept the Kingdom of God like a little child, will never enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms, laid his hands on them, and lovingly blessed them.

One Sabbath day Jesus went to dine at the house of a leading Pharisee. One of the guests said to him, “Fortunate is he who will have a share in the Kingdom of God.”

But Jesus said to him, “A man once gave a great dinner and invited many guests. At dinner-time he sent out his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But all of them began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have bought a field and must go and look at it. I must ask you to excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen and am on my way to try them. I must ask you to excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I have just married and so I cannot come.’

“The servant returned and reported these answers to his master. Then the master of the house was angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out at once into the streets and alleys of the city, and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ When the servant reported, ‘Sir, your order has been carried out, yet there is still room,’ the master said to him, ‘Go out into the highways and the country lanes and compel people to come, so that my house may be filled; for I tell you, that not one of those who were first invited shall taste of my dinner.'”

Once when Jesus was walking along the road, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked, “Good Master, what must I do that I may be sure of eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except one only: God. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery. Do not murder. Do not steal. Do not bear false witness. Do not be dishonest. Honor your father and mother.'” He said to him, “Master, I have kept all these commands from my youth.” Looking upon him, Jesus loved him and said, “One thing you lack; go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come with me.” But when the man heard this, he looked sad, and he went away in sorrow, for he had great wealth. Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the Kingdom of God!” They were surprised at his words, but again he said, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in wealth to enter the Kingdom of God. It is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.” And they were so astonished that they said, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God, for with God everything is possible.”

He beheld the city, and wept over it–Luk. 19:41

Only Two Occasions of Jesus Weeping Are Recorded

There are but two occasions in the Gospels on which we light upon our Savior weeping; only two instances in which we see His tears. It is true that in the Epistle to the Hebrews we have a glimpse into the inner life of Christ, and there we read that He made supplication with tears and strong crying unto God. But into that interior life of prayer when Father and Son had fellowship together, we cannot enter, for it is holy ground. The point to observe is that in His recorded life we only hear of the tears of Jesus twice; once at the grave of a man who was His friend: once when Jerusalem lay spread out before Him. And both, not in the earlier days of youth when the human heart is susceptible and quivering, but in the later season when the cross was near. Goethe confesses in his autobiography that as he grew older he lost the power of tears, and there are many men who, as experience gathers, are conscious of a hardening like that. But our Savior, to the last moment that He lived, was quick and quivering to joy and sorrow, and His recorded tears are near the end. Never was He so conscious of His joy as in the closing season of His ministry; never did He speak so much about it nor so single it out as His most precious legacy. And so with weeping, which in the human heart is so often the other side of joy–it is under the shadow of His last days that it is recorded.

Both Weepings Prompted Not by Suffering,but by Divine Compassion

I am going to speak on the differences between these two Weepings; but first I ask you to observe one feature in which the two are beautifully kin. There are tears in the world, bitter and scalding tears, which are wrung out by personal affliction; tears of anguish, of intense corporeal anguish; tears caused by cruelty or mockery. And the point to be ever observed is that our Lord, though He suffered intensely in all such ways as that, never, so far as we read, was moved to tears. He was laughed to scorn–He of the sensitive heart–yet it is not then we read that Jesus wept. He was spat upon and scourged and crucified; but it is not then we light upon Him weeping. And even in the garden of Gethsemane where great drops were falling to the ground, drops which would have looked like tears to any prying child among the olives, Scripture tells us, as with a note of warning lest we should misinterpret what was happening there, that they were not tears, but drops of sweat and blood. The tears of our Lord were not wrung out by suffering, however intense and cruel it might be. On the only two occasions when we read of them they are the tears of a divine compassion. And whenever one thinks of that, one is impressed again with the wonder of the figure of the Christ, so infinitely pitiful and tenderhearted; so unswervingly and magnificently brave.

The First Tears Were Shed for the Individual, the Second for Many

Now if we take these two occasions on which the weeping of Jesus is recorded, and if, having found their common element, we go on to note the points on which they differ, what is the difference that first would arrest you? Well, I shall tell you what first impresses me. It is that the former tears were shed for one, and the latter tears were shed for many. Jesus wept beside the grave of Lazarus, for one single solitary friend; for a man who had loved Him with a great devotion and given Him always a welcome in his home. There is no such human touch in all the Gospels, nothing that so betrays the heart of Christ, as to be simply told that Jesus wept when He went out to stand before the grave of Lazarus. Here is a heart that has known the power of friendship, that has known the infinite solace of the one; a heart more deeply moved when that one dies than by all the cruelties which men can hurl at Him. And then, having learned of His infinite compassion for those who have had one heart to love and lose, we read that Jesus wept over the city. Picture Jerusalem on that Sunday morning, densely crowded for the Passover. Every house was full and every street was thronged; there were tens of thousands gathered there. And when our Lord, turning the crest of Olivet, saw before Him that crowded city, then like a summer tempest came His tears. Tears for the one; tears for the twice ten thousand: how typical is that of the Redeemer! Never was there a compassion so discriminative, and never a compassion so inclusive. Our separate sorrows–He understands them all, and our hours of solitary anguish by the grave; but not less the problem of the crowd. There are men who are full of sympathy for personal sorrows, but have never heard the crying of the multitude. There are men who hear the crying of the multitude, but have never been broken-hearted at the tomb. Christ has room for all and room for each. He loves the world with a divine compassion. And yet there is no one here who cannot say, “He loved me, and gave Himself for me.”

Tears Shed for Death and for Life

The next difference which impresses me is this–and it is a suggestive and profound distinction–it is that the former tears were shed for death, and the latter tears were shed for life. There was something in the death of Lazarus which made a profound impression upon Christ. He was troubled; He groaned in spirit; He wept. Often He had been face to face with death before, with death in some of its most tragic aspects. He had looked on the still, cold face of Jairus’ daughter, and had seen the anguish of the widow of Nain. Yet it is only now, upon the road at Bethany, that we see the storm and passion of His soul when faced by the awful ravages of death. Nobody ever fathoms all that death means until its hand has knocked upon his door. It is when someone whom we have loved is taken that we understand its meaning and its misery. And Christ, being tempted like as we are, felt the anguish of it in His soul with intensity. Death had come home to Him–attacked Him at close quarters–carried one of the bastions of His being. How utterly cruel was the last great enemy. The Lord groaned in spirit and was troubled: a storm of passion swept across His soul. He wept for all that death had done and all that death was doing in the world. And so these tears of His are sacramental of all the sorrow of the aching heart when the place is empty, and the grave is tenanted, and the familiar voice is silent.

Now with that dark and dreary scene will you for a moment contrast the other scene? It is a city shimmering in beauty under the radiance of a Sunday morning. Children are playing in the marketplace; women are singing as they rock the cradle; men are at business and regiments are marching–there is movement and there is music everywhere. Friends are meeting who have not met for years for Passover was the great season of reunion, and eyes are bright and hearts are beating bravely in the gladness of these old ties reknit. Out on the Bethany road there had been death; here in the teeming city there was life; life in the crowd–life in the marching soldiery–life in the little children romping merrily; life everywhere, in the indistinguishable murmur which rises where there are ten thousand people who have waked in the sunshine of another morning to the traffic and the concourse of the day. It was all that which swept into the gaze of Christ, and it was that which swept into the heart of Christ that Sunday morning when from the brow of Olivet He looked across the valley to Jerusalem. As a lad of twelve He had looked, and looking wondered, with all the thrilling expectancy of boyhood. Now we read that He looked, and looking, wept. They were not tears for death, but tears for life; tears of divine compassion for the living; tears for the might-have-been–the vanity–the awful judgment that was yet to be; tears for the living who have gone astray and who are hungering for peace and have missed it and who have had their opportunity and failed. There is a sorrow for the dead which may be intense and very tragical. It may wither every flower across the meadow and take all the summer sunshine from the sky. But there is a sorrow deeper than sorrow for the dead–it is the sorrow for the living; and it is much to know that Jesus understood it. The bitterest sorrow has no grave to stand at, no sepulchre to adorn with opening flowers; the bitterest sorrow wears no garb of mourning, and receives no beautiful letters by the post. The bitterest sorrow does not spring from death; it springs from that mystery which we call life; and Jesus felt it to His depths. Thou who art mourning for the dead, for thee there is Jesus by the grave of Lazarus. Thou who art mourning for the living, for thee also is that same compassion. He understands it all. He shares it. Like a great tide it flowed upon Him once, when in the morning from the brow of Olivet, He looked upon Jerusalem and wept.

Tears Others Shared in and Tears None Could Understand

I close by pointing out one other difference that stands out very clearly in the Scripture. The former tears were such as others shared in; the latter were tears that no one understood. Read that chapter in the Gospel of John again, and you find that Christ was not alone in weeping. Martha and Mary were there, and they were weeping also, and the Jews who had known Lazarus and loved him. There was a kinship in a common sorrow there, a fellow feeling which united hearts, a sense of common loss and ache and loneliness. Now turn to the other scene, and what a difference! It is a pageantry of enthusiastic gladness. The cry goes ringing along the country road, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” And it is amid these shouting voices of men beside themselves with wild enthusiasm that the Scripture tells us Jesus wept. At the grave of Lazarus many an eye was wet. Here every eye was dancing with excitement. No one was weeping here; nobody thought of weeping; it was the triumph of the Lord–Hosanna! And all alone, amid that welcoming tumult, in a grief which nobody could pierce or penetrate, the tears came welling from our Savior’s eyes. In this our mortal life there are common griefs, touches of nature which make the whole world kin. But how endlessly true is the old saying of Scripture that the heart knoweth its own bitterness. And in those bitternesses which words can never utter and which lie too deep for any human help, what a comfort to know that our Savior understands! In all the common sorrows of humanity He is our Brother, and He weeps with us. He stands beside the grave of Lazarus still, clothed in the beauty of His resurrection. But in that lonely unutterable sorrow, which is the price and the penalty of personality, we may be sure He understands us also.



Rest on Nothing But Christ Crucified.