“. . .the One and Only, who came from the Father full of grace and truth” John 1:14b
Ink wells run dry from all the words written about Jesus. Great scholars and theologians have spent their lives studying, not only the Scriptures, but scores of other ancient writings in the hopes of understanding Him. Still, He is so much more, so much other, than mere words can describe. Thankfully we have the testimonies of those who walked closest to Him, we have His own words, and we have the pronouncement of the God of heaven and earth upon which to study and meditate. That is more than enough for a life-long pursuit. Even then, we’ll barely scratch the surface of who this Jesus really is. I know I can’t do Him justice in a few hundred words, but I write this to whet your appetite to know Him more.
Matthew tells us He is “God with us” – “Immanuel” (Matthew 1:23). This is not a new concept. God was with man in the Garden, in perfect communion until sin entered the picture. He was with the Israelites in a cloud in the desert and in the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle and later, the Temple. But when Jesus came, He was “God-in-the-flesh with us,” walking among His people, touching them with hands they could feel, speaking words their own ears could hear, eating and drinking and laughing and crying as any other man. Yet He was very much God, performing miracles and speaking with divine authority. If we need any more proof of His God-ness, twice Matthew reports a voice from heaven saying, “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased” (3:17; 17:5). That’s a ringing endorsement if there ever was one.
Mark shows Him to be a King with uncommon power to drive out demons who recognized Him as “the Holy One of God” (1:24), to heal, to raise the dead, to give sight to the blind, to multiply a few loaves and fishes, and to calm the raging sea. He also shows Him to be a King who endured uncommon suffering to rescue His people from the sentence of death.
Dr. Luke shines his spotlight on Jesus as the salvation of all people (2:32). He wrote to give an ordered account of Jesus from reliable eye-witness testimonies. Luke offers the most detailed version of the events surrounding Jesus’ birth, and tradition holds that these were Mary’s own memories. How incredible that we have the testimony of Jesus’ Father, and the recollections of His mother to confirm that this Jesus was fully God and fully man.
From his opening testimony – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (1:1) – John most powerfully reveals Jesus as the Son of God, the One and Only, divine in nature and one with His Father. John records Jesus’ “I AM” statements, a direct connection to God’s own self-revelation (Exodus 3:14), and His declaration: “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father” (14:9). John also devotes half of his gospel to Jesus’ final week, His death, burial, resurrection and post-resurrection appearances. (John 12-21).
Paul said that He is “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15), and the writer of Hebrews said “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being’ (Hebrews 1:3). Revelation shows Him to be the victorious conqueror over evil.
Many, many people have written many, many words trying to elaborate on these accounts. Popular culture has tried to stretch the story of Jesus far beyond the Scriptures and a great many unbelievers have spilled much ink attempting to discredit and refute His Name. But there is only one place to find the truth about this Jesus. Everything you need to know about Him is recorded in the Bible. He is present in every book from Genesis to Revelation.
We began this devotional by asking the question, “Who is this Jesus?” But Jesus has a question for you: “Who do you say I am? (Matthew 16:15). Is He “God with me?” Is He your King? Can you declare, “He is my salvation!”? Do you recognize Him as the Son of God? If not, I encourage you to take another look at the Jesus of the Bible. He is all this and more—and if you believe in Him and confess His Name, He will be all this for you. Grab your Bible and get to know the one who loves you enough to die for you. His Name is Jesus.
Lord Jesus, if I could mine the depths of all the Bible I still would barely scratch the surface of who You are. I want to know You as deeply and truly as I can this side of heaven—I rejoice in knowing I will have all of eternity to fill in the gaps. Amen.
Image from https://pablorenauld.deviantart.com/art/Jesus-Christ-55567468.
Know What You Believe; Believe What You Know: The Bible
“We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. . .” (2 Peter 1:16).
Oh, the B I B L E,
Yes, that’s the book for me,
I stand alone on the Word of God,
The B I B L E!
This little children’s chorus has been around since I was a girl. I taught it to my son and to children in the preschool department for years as we shared stories of Creation, David and Goliath, Noah’s Ark, Jonah and the Whale, the fall of Jericho, Baby Jesus, the Cross and the Empty Tomb. I loved learning and later telling those familiar stories and like all the other children, I believed them. But come on you say, you’re an adult – isn’t it time stop believing in “stories?”
I suppose that’s a valid question, and it deserves a solid answer.
The truth is, I would stop believing if I thought they were only stories made up in the minds of men. But I am confident in the authority of the Bible as the Word of God from the mind of God given to human authors through the Spirit of God. That’s exactly what Peter says following up our key verse: “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21). God wrote the words of Scripture through the pens of men like Moses, David, the Prophets, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, and James. David, in the last of his Psalms said, “The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me; His word was on my tongue” (2 Samuel 23:2). It is so important to understand that the Bible is not man’s ideas, thoughts, opinions or views on what God has said – it is man as the scribe recording what God has said through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Many people view the Bible as a directive for how we are to live our lives. Paul said, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). First, notice that Paul confirms the inspiration of Scripture as coming directly from God to man. Secondly, notice that Paul said the Scriptures are useful for life-direction – but that is not the chief purpose of the Holy Writ.
Neil Lightfoot, in his study How We Got the Bible notes, “It was God’s purpose that by means of a written record he would be revealed to all ages and tongues as Creator and Redeemer.” God is all about relationship, about knowing and loving us and us knowing and loving Him. Since the beginning God has been revealing Himself to His beloved creation. He came to Adam and Eve in the Garden until sin broke that pure fellowship. He revealed Himself in various ways to Noah and to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and to Moses. He revealed Himself through words given to His prophets. And finally and perfectly, He revealed Himself through His Son, Jesus. The Bible is a written testament to the reality of God the Creator and Redeemer of all that exists. Over and over in Scripture God reveals His will, “That you may know Me.”
Consider this: If God desires to reveal Himself to humankind, why would he allow men to include fantasy and fallacy in the written account of Himself? Archeological finds such as the Dead Sea Scrolls confirm the accuracy of the Bible as we have it today in comparison to the most ancient manuscripts available. Most modern translations have been painstakingly taken from the ancient Hebrew and Greek and research has proven that any changes from those manuscripts are minimal and do not affect the original message.
That said, I don’t hold to the authority and authenticity of the Bible because of these things. They support my faith in the Bible, but they are not the reason I trust it. I believe in the Bible as the inerrant and infallible Word of God because it has changed my life. It was there that I met Jesus and He turned this sinful woman into the daughter of the Most High God. The Bible is so much more than a good book – as Moses declared, “They are not just idle words for you—they are your life (Deuteronomy 32:47).
Holy Father, thank You for all the ways You have revealed Yourself to human beings. Thank You for inspiring men to records words that we can understand to make Yourself known. Give me a holy passion to drink in the words of the Bible for as long as I live. Amen.
 Neil R. Lightfoot, How We Got the Bible: Third Edition, (Grand Rapids, Baker, 2003), 23.
“I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).
The existence of God is the most hotly contested issue in the world today, followed closely by the creation of the earth. The next topic in our “Know and Believe” series is equally debated – and rejected – from the highest levels of science to the curriculum for grade-school students. How did life – specifically human life – come to be?
The Bible tells us that God created man” (Genesis 1:27). He spoke the universe and all other life into being, but He scooped up a handful of dust from the earth and fashioned a human being, then breathed His own life into him. Yet fewer than half of Americans believe that is true. A 2012 Gallop poll found that only 46% of Americans believe that God created humans in their complete form. 32% believe God guided the evolutionary process to man’s finished state, and 15% dismiss any concept of God’s involvement in human existence at all. They find it easier to believe that an intelligent man morphed into being from a chain of evolutionary transformations than to believe that man was purposefully created by a master Designer.
The truth is, we have no empirical evidence of God as creator. But that’s not to say we can’t reach a reasonable conclusion with the support we do have. Because the most compelling evidence of God’s creative power stares back at you from the mirror every morning. YOU are a living, breathing testament of God’s existence and of His creative genius. In his message to the Athenians, Paul said, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth . . . He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else” (Acts 17:24, 25). Again, the unbelievers reject this word and instead reason that life happened by accident, as parasitic bacteria randomly divided and morphed into molecules and cells and genes and organs and brains and legs and eyes and fingers.
Within every living being, whether plants or animals or humans, live molecules and cells and genes, each with its own properties and purposes. They are working diligently according to their individual design—one small part of the whole. From the connectedness of our organs, skin, bones, muscles, and brain to the delicate intricacy of our DNA, the human body shouts of a Creator. The stunning dance of micro-organisms in your body sings of plan and purpose. And if you need any further proof of God as the Designer of life, study the stages of procreation – of how a baby comes into being. This is no random colliding of cells, this is Design at its finest!
God fashioned all of nature, to the deepest micro-cellular level, with incredible intricacy and detail, with beauty and function that could never happen by “accident.” The deeper we go in studying the biological make up of life, the more we see God. This is not without a purpose; Paul said to the Athenians, God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us (Acts 17: 27). The great theologian F. B. Meyer says, “God . . . provides all we need to find and worship him.” God knows that man will deny Him and work to disprove Him, so the deeper man goes the more evidence he will find of a Designer. Likewise, the farther out in space he goes, the more evidence he will find of the Creator. It must be so frustrating to those who want to doubt God’s existence.
My friend, despite what the world says, you are no random accident of colliding parasites and micro-organisms. God created you and signed His name deep within you, so that you will know without a doubt that you were fashioned by His hands. He created you with intention and purpose—the greatest purpose of all—that you might know Him and love Him, because He knows and loves you. God has made Himself evident in every cell of your body. Know and believe this deep in your soul: you, beloved, are a wonder to behold.
Holy Father – my Creator – anytime I wonder if you exist all I have to do is look in the mirror and I am reminded that only a Master Craftsman could make such an intricate and delicate design. You created me and designed me for a purpose and plan. Thank you for the gift of life. Amen.
 “In U.S., 46% Hold Creationist View of Human Origins” http://www.gallup.com/poll/155003/Hold-Creationist-View-Human-Origins.aspx
 F. B. Meyer; Bruce H. Wikinson, Calvin W. Edwards, Paula Kirk, Eds., “January 2 Devotional” Closer Walk New Testament: New International Version, (Atlanta, Walk Thru the Bible Ministries, Inc., 1990) 8.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
It’s the simplest truth, taught to the littlest children: God created the whole world. It is the opening statement of the Holy Bible and is foundational to our understanding of who God is, and in turn who we are. I would like to encourage you to read the first chapter of Genesis before you read any further in this devotional.
Where did the universe come from? Modern science spins a tale of colliding gasses that somehow formed into a diverse group of planets, stars and galaxies. Yet out of all those celestial places only one has the exact mix of Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Oxygen, Phosphorus, and Sulfur to sustain life. Only one is the precise distance from the sun to keep the inhabitants from freezing or burning to death. Only one produces plant life that can feed both humans and animals. Can we seriously believe that this delicate balance was achieved by accident? Faith tells us that God fashioned the earth purposefully for His living creations.
The Bible says that God created out nothing. There were no prior elements that He scooped up into His hand and rolled into a ball. He spoke into the nothingness and the response was immediate obedience. “Be” . . . light, water, dry ground, plant life, sun, moon and stars, and living creatures. And they were.
The Genesis account also says that these creative events occurred over six “days.” A lot of debate centers on those days. Were they really 24-hour days like we know today? Were they thousands, even millions of our years long? Were there long “gaps” between the days? I’ll not get into the “young-earth/old-earth” debates, because that is not my intent. The Bible is not written as a science manual; it is written for faith. And the first act of faith is believing that God exists; the second is believing that the Word that He has given us is true. The creation verses say that “there was evening and there was morning” – and calls that a “day.” The Hebrew terminology agrees with that understanding.
Does it really matter though? Yes it really does, but not for the sake of scientific argument.
I personally believe that this indicates a 24-hour day, but my conviction is based not so much on the descriptive text but on the One who inspired the text. If I side with the scientific versions – even from a “Christian” perspective – I have said that the very first truths of the Holy Word of God are questionable. That leaves everything else from Genesis 2 to Revelation 22 open to debate and alteration for the sake of human agreement. I have heard “Christians” say that Noah’s Ark, Jonah and the Whale, and many other biblical accounts are just myths. How easy it becomes then to question to truth of the virgin birth of Jesus, His miracles and even His resurrection. Even in the church. Think I’m stretching too far here? Go sit through a lecture at a liberal-leaning seminary. It’s a wonder students are still believers when the graduate.
Mankind has had one of three responses to the biblical account of creation:
Some receive it as truth and accept God as Creator.
Some receive it as a possible truth and add God to their harem of higher powers.
Some outright reject it and deny the power, and often the existence of God.
Charles Darwin, the father of evolutionary science admitted that it is “[extremely difficult] or rather [impossible to] conceive this immense and wonderful universe, including man” without being convicted of the existence of God. Yet he abandoned that “strong conclusion” and devised the evolutionary theory that the world has received as an alternative to the truth. (Taken from a video lecture by Dr. David DeWitt). All that he could see around him convinced him of the existence of God, but his arrogance led him to reject God. His theory has lead millions of human souls away from God and has become entangled in the church’s teaching of creation.
If the Bible is truly the Word of God, then all of it is true and must be received and believed without compromise. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Faith starts right here, at the beginning. Know what you believe and believe what you know – but be certain what you know and believe is the truth.
Father God, Creator and Sustainer of all that is, forgive us for looking to men to explain Your miraculous works. You created by your word and You wrote it down for us to believe – not to pick apart and debate. Create in us hearts that believe You above all else. Amen.
I Believe in God
“Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 (KJV)
What does it mean to “believe in God?” What must you believe about God? Why should you believe in God at all? Man has been wrestling with the concept of belief in God for thousands of years. The most brilliant minds from every side of the issue have argued for and against belief in God. We make it so complex with our human perspectives. But it really is simple: God is who He says He is. Belief in God is the very foundation of faith, in fact, it is the foundation of our lives. In my last post, we discussed the concept of worldview, which is the basis from which we determine all things related to God, the universe, life and man. Your worldview starts with your view of God.
Belief in God is declining in the U.S. In a 1944 Gallup poll 96% of Americans claimed to believe that God exists; in 2016, that figure dropped to 89%. But is “believing” in God enough? Not according to the Bible. One New Testament writer said: “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder” (James 2:19). If the demons of hell profess to the existence of God, then there is more to faith than simply saying “Yes, I believe there is a God.”
Our key verse declares that faith believes that God exists, and there are evidences all around to prove His existence. God has revealed Himself through His creation. Romans 1:19-20 says “What may be known about God is plain to [men], because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities- His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made; so that men are without excuse.” The Psalmist David said “the heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands…Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalm 19:1, 3). The world around us professes to the reality of God.
But the word “exists” holds a deeper meaning in the original Greek than just being; it carries the impression of acceptance, companionship, belonging, involvement. It means relationship. To believe in God is not just intellectual assent, though we cannot miss out on that first vital understanding. Believing in God means investing all I am in a relationship with my Creator. It means that I am His and He is mine. That’s the difference between how the demons believe and how faith believes.
I believe in God. This is not just a rote statement I declare, it is the deepest conviction of my heart.
Do you believe in God?
“Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse,” Romans 1:20
“It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere.”
Can that really be true? Does it matter what you and I believe? And what are we supposed to believe? How do we sort out all the different beliefs that come at us from the world? How do we determine which ones to grab hold of and which ones to let go? Those are a lot of heavy questions, and it’s really hard to understand why all this matters when we are working, raising families, doing chores, going to church, being involved in community activities, being responsible citizens. I don’t know about you, but at the end of a long day I’m too tired to think that hard.
But it does matter. It matters a great deal. Because what you believe translates into who you are and how you live. It determines your thoughts and affects every choice you make. It matters today and tomorrow. What you believe has eternal consequences. So I pose to you two questions: Do you know what you believe? And do you believe what you know? That sounds like double-speak, but I assure you these are the most important questions you’ll ever consider. In the coming weeks at Deeper Roots, we’re going to look into our core beliefs—what is known as our “worldview.”
A worldview is the basis from which we determine all things related to God, the universe, life and man. It is an overarching theme that sets our beliefs in some semblance of order. It answers important questions about the creation of the universe, the origins of all life, morality, individuality, the future of humanity and what follows after this life.
Worldviews often shift from generation to generation and culture to culture. The changes in the world because of advances in education, science, medicine, and a variety of other aspects, while beneficial in so many ways, have also caused modern man to turn away from a worldview that embraces God, creation, salvation and morality. Even the modern church has backed away from many of the foundational beliefs of her ancestors. They don’t ask these important questions and they no longer teach these core issues. This is why the unbelieving world judges the Bible as archaic and Christians as “out of touch” and even “dangerous.” But a worldview that is founded on the timeless truths and principles of the Bible is as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago for two very important reasons.
1) God has not changed. His character, His truth, His promises and His Word stand just true as they did in the days of Adam, Moses, David, Jesus, Paul and on through the ages.
2) Human nature has not changed. We are still creatures steeped in a sin nature and in desperate need of redemption. We are still self-centered and rebellious and foolish and we still demand to be our own authority.
The Christian worldview of Paul’s day remains the true Christian worldview of our day, because the foundation – Jesus Christ – “is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). In a world of shifting ideologies and ever-changing “truth” it is more important than ever to Know What You Believe and Believe What you Know.
I encourage you – no I challenge you to join me in the coming weeks as we ask some very important questions and search for answers that are true and timeless. Share these posts with your family and friends – let’s start a conversation about what really matters in this life.
Mighty God – we want to fill our minds with something more substantial than the latest celebrity gossip and the thoughts of men. We want truth. We want to build our lives on what is solid and eternal. Open our eyes and ears to the deeper things of life. Open our minds to receive and believe Your eternal wisdom and truth
I was never popular in school. I had a weird name, I was tall and gangly, clumsy and awkward. I wore hand-me-downs and homemade clothes and every school picture looked like I didn’t own a hairbrush. I wasn’t very smart and wasn’t part of the “in” crowd. Oh but I wanted to be. I wanted so much to be accepted by the pretty girls who dressed in the latest fashions and carried themselves with an air of confidence I could never master. That carried over into my adult life, always feeling like I was on the outside looking in. When I became a Christian, those feelings didn’t change. I had a past—a pretty ugly one, and all those Bible-toting women at church, seemed so perfect. Had they ever made some of the choices I made? Did they feel ashamed of the things they had done? I drew back because I didn’t feel like I belonged among them. I felt like an outsider.
That’s why I love Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus. He writes, “You are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household” (2:19). Paul says I belong. It’s not because I’m less awkward or because I dress better or finally found a hairbrush. It’s because of Jesus. Jesus made me acceptable to God. He made me part of the family. He died to cover all my sins and to take away my shame. Because of Jesus I am not an outsider; I’m part of the “in” crowd – because I’m in Him. It’s not a popularity contest. In God’s Kingdom everyone is the same – rescued, redeemed, restored and joined together as one holy dwelling place for the Lord (2:21).
My friend, God’s hand is stretched out to you too, to welcome you into the family, to be “in,” and to never be rejected again. It doesn’t matter what you wear or where you live or work or whether your hair is neatly brushed. It doesn’t matter if you never finished school or if you have a string of letters after your name. It doesn’t matter if you made all the right choices in life (like anyone has) or if you made every mistake possible. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, live in a mansion or a tent come from the right family or the wrong side of the tracks. God says to you “Come.” Take Him up on His offer. There’s more than enough room at the family table for you. You can sit next to me.
Holy Father, what a blessing to be part of Your family, to be accepted and welcomed with every other saint of God. I have nothing of value or worth, I’m just a sinner saved by grace. Oh but grace! Thank you for making a place for me a the family table. Amen.
My son just turned 25 years old . He still lives at home and is still kind of struggling to find his way. I love him with all my heart, but I am ready for him to gain some independence. It is every parent’s goal to raise children who become men and women who can manage their own lives with minimal assistance from mom and dad.
But God is not your typical parent. His goal is not to make us independent, but to draw us into deeper dependence on Him. I have read the Bible through many times, and I find no place where God says, “You’re too dependent on me – get out there and make your own way.” But I find many, many times where He chastised His people for thinking they can do their own thing their own way without His help. Why do you think Jesus tells us to pray for “daily bread”? And why do you think He said we must become like little children? A mature Christian isn’t one who has become so strong they only need God for the big stuff. A mature Christian is one who recognizes their desperate need for Him in every big – and little – thing.
Beloved of God, what are you struggling to manage on your own today? Take it to your Father and tell Him that you need His help. He delights in your dependence on and trust in Him. You are sure to bring a smile to His face and a blessings to your life.
“The spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God will” (Romans 8:26-27)
My friend is overwhelmed with a deeply painful issue. Her heart is broken and when she tries to pray her mind is awhirl with thoughts going this way and that. It is like a hundred different voices all speaking at once in her head. She can’t shut them up long enough to get a word in edgewise.
But God is so gracious to my friend – this verse promises that the Holy Spirit is praying for her. The Greek word for “groans” finds it root in the word stenos – which means “to narrow.” The image is of the Holy Spirit sorting through the jumble of thoughts and feelings to pull out the thin, narrow strand of truth from our heart, from which He weaves a tapestry of prayer before the Father. All my friend needs to do is pour it all out and let the Spirit, who knows both her heart and God’s will in her situation, sift out the prayer she can’t express.
Beloved, you don’t have to filter your heart when you come to God in prayer. You don’t have to have your thoughts and feelings organized – you don’t even have to know what you should pray for. That is why Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit. Let Him do the sorting and sifting – He’ll find the thread of your heart’s prayer and carry it to Your Father.