Relating To The Arrogant

God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong. I Cor. 1:27

How did Jesus relate to arrogant people?

There are people who say, in response to everything you say, “I know.” It’s a poor relational skill as it kills any desire to have a conversation with them. Their need to know it all drives their behavior in every single relationship. This person is usually very vocal in meetings and controlling within a committee. It doesn’t take long for him/her to get under everyone’s skin. The shy person withdraws and avoids them if possible. The extrovert might fall into the temptation to argue and correct them. Neither response is productive nor is it like Jesus.

Jesus did not avoid arrogant people nor did He react to them by sinning in His heart. The Pharisees get a bad wrap for collectively being on Jesus’ bad list. Not true. I can forget that Jesus grew up in synagogues and was constantly in the company of Pharisees and Sadducees. When He was twelve, He stayed in the temple to be in their company. And when He was in active ministry for the last three years of His life, He usually went where they were. Many were close-minded but many also believed. Therefore some of the Pharisees were saying, “This man is not from God because He does not keep the Sabbath.” But others were saying, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And there was a division among them. John 9:16

How did Jesus relate to them?

He exposed their hearts.  The strongest language Jesus ever used was directed against them. He said they were hypocrites not practicing what they preached (Matthew 23:1-5).  In their zeal to keep their rules, they were breaking God’s law.

He recited the scriptures.  He didn’t appear to say, “Well, you think this but I think that.)  He told them they didn’t know God.  So Jesus proclaimed, as he taught in the temple, “He who sent me is true, and him you do not know.  John 7:28

He extended an invitation to his enemies to believe.  “If anyone, any Pharisee, any chief priest, any officer trying to arrest me, any offended person—if anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.”  John 7:37

Do you remember when Jesus looked out over this city and cried, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!”  Matt. 23:37 My heart is challenged this morning because I realize that Jesus loved them. Even the spiteful, hateful, and arrogant. He, the great Sower, sowed the seed and knew that there would be a harvest even among some who were out to kill Him.

The apostle Paul, a most Pharisee of the Pharisees was converted. Nicodemus stood up for Jesus before the council and prepared Jesus’ body for burial. Joseph of Arimathea, part of the Sanhedrin, had the guts to ask Pilate for Jesus’ body. And Gamaliel, Paul’s Rabbi and mentor, stood up to the council for the Apostles.

Jesus loved sinners but condoned only faith. He loved the scriptures and used them to correct error but came to serve even the Pharisees rather than be served. He came to love rather than to be loved.

When someone makes me feel small or stupid, I can run away. Jesus, make me like You. Help me love them, serve them, but willing to say what You would say. Amen

He Taught Me How To Be A Daughter

The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. I John 5:10

How did Jesus relate to His Father?  He taught each of us how to live as a child of God. He was a Son; I am a daughter. If I want to know what God is like and how to live in relationship to Him, I watch Jesus. This is what it looked like.

  • Jesus was completely submissive to His Father. He waited for the timing of His call into ministry. He made no autonomous decisions. The Son is able to do nothing of His own accord; but the Son is able to do only what He sees His Father doing. Jn. 5:19 So, Jesus surprises me in His choices. He chose only one man to heal at the at pool of Bethesda though many wanted it. The rich young ruler went away from Him sad but Jesus didn’t go after him. Jesus made no wasted steps.
  • Jesus was one with His Father. I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. John 17: 20 This concept is repeated over and over again in John 17 – his long last heartfelt desire expressed in prayer. It must be MORE than important. What does it mean to be ONE with Jesus, as He is ONE with His Father?

I remember flying from New England to Atlanta some time ago. It was turbulent, too hard to read and even music didn’t appeal. I finally closed my eyes and said, “Lord, teach me something powerful that I do not know.” I began to pray into that – and God gave me this picture. I saw the Spirit of God move into my being – like He did when I was 7 yrs. old.  Then He let me see myself in Him – like a puzzle piece that He clicked in place inside of His heart. I could see the edges of me, as a puzzle piece, begin to get fuzzy…like the edges were dissolving and soon, I was no longer definable. I had melted into Jesus. This is what is to think, and act, and feel – as one. 

  • Jesus’ destiny of the cross never eroded His trust in His Father.  Did Jesus have memory of His intimacy with the Father? Did He remember the Garden and the fall? Did he feel the urgency of the ages in needing to redeem mankind? Or did God subject his mind/memory to finite time just as we live? I’m inclined to think that way. Whatever Jesus seemed to know about history, about Abraham and about the Torah, He knew from studying. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. Heb. 5:8 He probably did not have all the details surrounding his coming crucifixion. He knew He was born for this purpose, He trusted, He obeyed – and the seeming cruelty of God’s path for Him didn’t cause Jesus to stumble in relationship with His Father. Can you imagine how He felt when He studied Isaiah 53 and other prophetic passages? He thought, “This is talking about me. This will happen to me.”

 I have pined to know the future, at times. I think that it would benefit, that I could prepare for what’s coming. You have not given me that but I am equipped with everything I need. You surround me with Your promises and they are sure. In Jesus’ name, Amen

If Only!

Have you ever said, “If only Jesus would come and tell me what to do!” I have. I reason that if I just knew what it was, I could easily go do it. I said that just last week to my husband.

“What would Jesus do?” has become a Christian idiom. Rubber bracelets were made to wear on our wrist, ever a reminder to consider Him before making decisions. The good news is ~ in so many instances ~ we do know what He did. We see him with the shamed. He restored their honor. We see Him with the disciples. He was a patient teacher. We see Him with family. He made them accountable to God. We see Him with His enemy. He discerned the smokescreen because Satan is a liar. In many of these interactions, a character trait of Jesus was revealed, or a pattern of behavior established. We can ask God for wisdom to interpret it for our particular situations. He promises an answer. He gives liberally.

** Download the entire series entitled,  What Would Jesus Do

How Jesus Dealt With His Enemy

For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. I John 3:8

That is a thought provoking verse ~ that Jesus came to earth to destroy the works of the devil. Wait, didn’t he come to die to redeem mankind? Yes. But God’s over-arching mission was that the works of the devil might be destroyed through Jesus’ incarnation, through His survival as a toddler under Herod’s murderous rampage, through the crucifixion of the innocent Lamb, and through His resurrection unto glory. Throughout His ministry, Jesus didn’t ignore His enemy. He engaged him by often imposing limits on his freedom. (“Do this, not that, go here, not there. Be quiet!”) He engaged him, too, by the relentless deliverance of people from sickness and demon possession.

And, Jesus engaged Satan in the desert ~ ever giving us a template for how to handle temptation. (Luke 4) Jesus looked behind Satan’s smokescreen, identified the real intent, and quoted appropriate scripture.

  • Satan said, “If you are the son of God, turn this stone to bread.” Behind the smokescreen was ~ “Prove you are God and fill your stomach now.” The issue was not hunger but getting Jesus to do something God didn’t tell him to do.
  • Satan said, “I’ll give you all this authority and its glory.” Behind the smokescreen was ~ “Waiting is hard and I’ll give you kingly rule early if you worship me.” Satan’s desire for worship was what originally caused him to defect from his place in heaven.
  • Satan said, “Throw yourself down and see if angels will take care of you.” Behind the smokescreen ~ “Let’s just see if God takes care of you.” This time it was Satan who quoted scripture, “For He shall give his angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.” Psalm 91:11 Jesus was savvy and quoted Deut. 6:16 back at him. “You shall not test the Lord your God.” What did that mean? ‘Testing the Lord your God’ means to doubt God’s care and goodness.

There are numerous ways for me to deal with my enemy as well. When I obey God, trust God, step out in faith, and when I believe His Word over my own instincts, all of these destroy the works of the devil. In intercessory warfare, when I rise up to use my authority in scripture, limits are placed on Satan’s activity once again. And when I ask God for the spiritual eyesight to see behind the smokescreen of each temptation so that I can quote appropriate scripture back at him, his works are destroyed.

Lord, our enemy is not acting like a defeated foe. But he is. He acts like he has all power. But he doesn’t. With Your Word, make my mouth a sharp sword. Amen

When He Points His Finger In My Face

And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. Rev. 12:10

How does Jesus relate to ~ 5.) The Accused

His enemy, Satan, comes to God to accuse me. He’s relentless. What is the progression of events?

  • He tempts me to sin and I buy his idea. I indulge and then he has plenty with which to charge me.
  • He reports my sin to God and demands that the sentence of the law for that crime be carried out.
  • When Satan comes to accuse me, he meets Jesus, my Priest and Mediator.              I picture Jesus dressed like a priest.  Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. Hebrews 4:14
  • How does Jesus respond to the accusations? He cries, “She’s forgiven! She’s justified!”

Satan accuses me in two places; before the throne and to me directly. If I forget that I am forgiven and justified, and forget about that meeting between Satan and Jesus, I’ll be vulnerable in the presence of condemnation. I have to remember that he will mimic the voice of my conscience. He knows that I want to please Jesus and avoid sin. He knows that I take my conscience seriously ~ so how insidious for him to speak to me in a way that sounds like a guilty conscience. Here are some examples from personal experience.

You should read your Bible more. What kind of Christian are you! Come home! I really miss you.
Your prayer life stinks! I hope you’ll talk with me. I’m the perfect listener and I have so much to tell you.
You failed again? God is so disappointed in you. I paid for your sins; past, present, and future. Today is a clean slate. It’s my gift to you. Live forgiven!

What is my strategy for overcoming the accusations of Satan? The blood of the Lamb and the word of my testimony. Rev. 12:10,11  I ask God for a hedge of protection, a blood shield, between me and the accuser.  Then, I speak up and state my status as God’s child.

Oh Jesus, I am forgiven, I’ve been bought with the blood of Christ, I am holy in Your eyes. I say to my enemy, ‘Be gone’! Amen


When God Trumps Family

When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother told Him, “They don’t have any wine.”  “What has this concern of yours to do with Me, woman?” Jesus asked. “My hour has not yet come.”

How did Jesus relate to ~ 4.) His Own Family?

You know what it is to have access to someone else’s ear so that you can plead someone else’s case, right? That is what is happening here. Jesus and His mother were guests at a wedding and the host ran out of wine. Mary knew Jesus could do something and presumed upon His divinity. But Jesus exalts his sonship to His Father above his sonship to his mother. Jesus showed allegiance to God’s will over His mother’s will. He felt it necessary to make the point that no physical relationship on earth controlled him and His family would have no special advantage.

How about James, the half-brother of Jesus?  He grew up in the same household yet failed to recognize his brother’s divine nature.  Family ties and sibling issues obscured his vision.  (Often, what is right under our noses is veiled to us.)  I’m sure that as James grew older, he was haunted by a certain conversation he had with Jesus’ as his brother’s public ministry was about to begin.  “If you want to be known publicly,” James said, “then go to Jerusalem to the Feast of Booths.  Do your works there so that your notoriety grows.”  The undertone of slick marketing was not lost on the Son of God. It wasn’t until after Jesus death and resurrection that James’ spiritual eyes were opened.

Jesus had to work against the assumption of His day that His family of origin had an inside track of influence. Recall the time in Luke 11 that a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to Jesus. ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed! But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

Or another time, in Mark 3, the people called out to him while he was speaking in a house: “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.’ And he answered them, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers!’ Followers, not family, have a saving relationship with Jesus.

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. Luke 14:26 (Hate means preference.) But this is not an easy way to live.

Families struggle with issues of loyalty where faith is concerned. If all are not believers, there’s no friction like kingdom friction. The clash between God’s kingdom and Satan’s kingdom can bring about declared war inside the family unit. The only One who has ultimate rights to my life is the One who created me. My love and loyalty to my family is always trumped by my allegiance to my new Father.

This transference of power and influence takes guts – continually. Give your children the courage to count the cost. Amen