The Humanity of Jesus

 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; (Hebrews 5:8)

Knowing all of our weaknesses and human frailties, God provided a remedy—Jesus Christ.   Romans 8:3 says, “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh [the weakness of the law was not the law itself but the sinful nature of man] God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.” Jesus condemned using the weakness of the flesh as an excuse to sin by wrapping Himself in the same substance we are wrapped in—not just to be compassionate to our human condition, but to show us that His power could make us victorious over our sinful condition. The very purpose of this sacrifice was to free us from the power of sin and not just its penalty. Salvation doesn’t just cancel out the sins we committed; it also gives us power not to go back to those sins again and stay free from them. John 1:12 says, “To as many as received HIM, to them gave he POWER, to become the sons of God” (emphasis mine). Although being tempted is part of life, we, who are His children, always have the power to say “no” the devil and overcome temptations.

Praise God for that strength.

God exhorts us to watch and pray, be diligent, and stay away from things that will feed our temptations. Even though living free from sin does not involve excluding ourselves from everyday contact, 1 Corinthians 5:10 says, “for then must ye needs go out of the world.” Jesus did not pray that we are taken out of the world, but that we would be kept from the evil ( John 17:15).

A holy life is a simple obedience to the Lord with all your heart and all you know to be right.

The Bible shows several examples of Christ’s humanity.

hypostatic-union-before-resurrection

When He was in the Garden of Gethsemane, He was willing to obey God’s plan and go through the expected suffering, but his humanity said in Matthew 26:39, “Lord, if this cup may pass from me….” In other words, He essentially said, “if there is any other way to avoid this agony and death, please find it.”  As a human, He did not want to go through the suffering.  When He learned Lazarus had died, Jesus cried out of hurt and compassion. He got tired, hungry, and thirsty. He suffered rejection, isolation, and injustices. He became angry and frustrated with the disciples at times.  Yet, Hebrews 5:8 states that He learned to obey God by the things He suffered.  We also have to learn to obey God through the trials we suffer.

excerpt from How to Walk on Water  DOWNLOAD THE BOOK

Little Foxes

It’s the small things that hold up progress. In my time as a minister, I’ve seen many people appear to have achieved perfection in Christ, but it turned out to be just their own version of perfection—perfect church attendance, perfect church attire, perfect children (that you know of), perfect involvement in auxiliaries, and perfectly faithful in their chosen post of service. Only later they find, through major mishaps in their spiritual experiences, that they had missed some very important lessons in serving God and growing in Christ.  Scripture clearly defines what God considers perfection.

In Matthew 5:48. various Greek words are used for “perfect” in the New Testament, one English word remains constant in translation, the word complete.  Christ’s sermon spells out for all of us as Christians that our righteousness must go beyond the outward compliance with the laws and regulations God laid down under Moses.  The law of Christ demands an obedient heart as well as a change of heart toward His voice and the Holy Spirit. Here Christ describes the divine love that needs to be in the hearts of all believers. It is easy to be drawn into the routine of Christian living and become self-righteous like the Pharisees in measuring up to the “rules” of Christianity.  Like the Pharisees, we can become concerned only with being strict keepers of the Law and miss the “weightier matters” of “judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone,” as Matthew 23:23 says. The Pharisees were overlooking the small but important parts of serving God and the honest joy of walking in the light.

There is great joy to be found in being honest about our shortcomings. I had this personal “thing” where I didn’t like borrowing other people’s clothes. I know; go figure. I could shop at the thrift store just fine, but the idea of asking to borrow an outfit seemed different to me—couldn’t tell you why. Maybe it was because I never had to wear hand-me-downs. Vestiges of pride were obviously hanging on.

Back when I was going through the financial hardship, God allowed me to be in a situation where I had to attend a fancy birthday dinner because it would have been too rude not to go.  I didn’t have the money to buy anything, not even from a thrift store.  So the Lord told me to simply “borrow a dress” and even told me who I could call. I contemplated, considered, and toyed around with the idea for days. I even told my husband to just go to the dinner without me because it was just too embarrassing for me to put on the “rag” I had in my closet.  But even though I was truly ashamed of what I had to wear, I did not want the solution God put in front of me. Since I could not escape the obligation, however, I realized God wanted me to attend, which meant I had to borrow the dress from the person God told me to borrow it from.

The person I needed to call had the right dress, just like the Lord said; it fit perfectly, and it was just the style I would have chosen myself. She even told me to keep the dress after the party—ain’t God good? Now if I had not listened to the Holy Spirit and refused to come face to face with my pride, I would not have learned this valuable lesson in love, giving, and following the Holy Spirit. Now that might seem like a ridiculous thing, but small things can be troublesome and a hindrance to your spiritual growth.

Growing in Troubled Waters

A word about spiritual growth…

Everything needs growth to survive. My son, Ellis, whose mind has always run at warp speed, just couldn’t seem to grow fast enough for his own tastes at just two years old. After almost everything he ate, he’d ask, “Will this make me strong-ner?” (That’s not a misprint). The “this” could be anything from green beans to candy.  He would most times look up and ask me this question before he’d begin a meal.  That child was obsessed with being stronger. Mostly stronger than his big sister. That was the main goal.  He didn’t realize that eating and sleeping would get the job done.

Eric-Butterworth-Grow-Through-Life-Quotes

Spiritually speaking, we can be anxious like this, too. We can be so obsessed with looking grown up that we just don’t allow ourselves sufficient time to actually mature. We need to value time. We need to allow ourselves to make mistakes and get help. We have such high expectations for ourselves that we try to hide the dents and nicks in our armor.  But to what avail?  If we pretend we are more spiritual than we really are, we put ourselves in a trick bag.  There always comes a time that people will be able to tell we don’t have what we profess.  Time will always expose our problems.

If we let the Lord have his way in our journey, however, we’ll grow in all the areas we need to.

Excerpt from How to Walk on Water     DOWNLOAD THE BOOK

Riding the Waves

Getting through trials is all about riding the waves. It helps to remember the old adage, “Trials do not come to stay, but they come to pass.” They will end at some point, whether we hold on to God or not. Life keeps moving; situations change; seasons pass. If we just go where God is taking us until we arrive at the resolutions to our trials, we can meet these challenges and learn from them. Ecclesiastes 7:8 (KJV) tells us, “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.”

So often we allow our trials to get the best of us. We become victims of circumstance when we should be victorious.  Consequently, our confidence and trust in God becomes adversely affected. We become like a man on the ropes in a boxing match, in a vulnerable position and getting pummeled by his opponent. Every time he wants to get off the ropes, his movements are so restricted that he has trouble handling the punch his opponent is throwing. Isn’t that how we feel sometimes?  The punches of life are coming hard and heavy and we feel we have no place to go.  But as any boxing teacher will tell you, “Get off the ropes and use them to your advantage.”

The spring from the ropes can help you get out of your current situation and change your position. No boxer is out of the match because he gets in trouble; he’s only out of the match when he goes down for the count. It takes patience and steadfastness to stay with challenges until we see the end.

God never allows troubles to stay in our lives so we can suffer spiritual defeat.

Jeremiah 29:11 (KJV) says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

God allows troubles to come to us so we can help others.

2 Corinthians 1:4 (KJV) says that God comforts “…us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God” (emphasis mine).

Most of my experiences come from financial trials and church troubles, but God reminds me that He is a God of comfort for any need. If I have been afflicted, it is by God’s design for the consolation of others.

Excerpt from– How to Walk on Water   DOWNLOAD THE BOOK

This, Too, Shall Pass

Blog_2015_07_Climb_Mountain

The Bible uses the phrase “and it came to pass” repeatedly to signify that something has transpired or an event has occurred. It is usually accompanied by some version of the following familiar story:

During a Sunday class, the question was asked, “In your time of discouragement, what is your favorite scripture?”

A young man said, “’The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,’ Psalm 23:1.” A middle-aged woman said, “‘God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,’ Psalm 46:1.” Another woman said, “‘In this world, you shall have tribulations, but be of good cheer, I have overcome this world,’ John 16:33-35.”

Then Mr. John, who was eighty years old, and had a head of white hair and dark black skin, stood up and said with as much strength as he could muster, “It says, ‘And it came to pass…’ eighty-five times in the Bible.” The class started to laugh a little, thinking that old Mr. John’s lack of memory was getting the best of him.

When the snickering stopped, he said, “At thirty, I lost my job with six hungry mouths and a wife to feed. I didn’t know how I would make it. At forty, my eldest son was killed overseas in the war. It knocked me down. At fifty, my house burned to the ground. Nothing was saved out of the house. At sixty, my wife of forty years got cancer. It slowly ate away at her. We cried together many a night on our knees in prayer. At sixty-five, she died. I still miss her today.

“The agony I went through in each of these situations was unbelievable. I wondered where God was. But each time I looked in the Bible and I saw one of those eighty-five verses that said, ‘And it came to pass,’ I felt God was telling me that my pain and my circumstances were also going to pass and that God would get me through them.”[1]

[1] Stephen Sheane, “The Table of the Shewbread,” http://www.sermoncentral.com/illustrations/illustrations-about-influence.asp?Keyword=Influence [accessed May 25, 2011].

Excerpt from– How to Walk on Water   DOWNLOAD THE BOOK