September 20

John 11-12, Psalm 108

A number of years ago, I had shared with an employee at my office. She started reading the Bible and said that earlier in her life she followed Christianity. A conversation arose and she mentioned to me that she was bisexual. She initially asked me what God feels about that. I explained to her that God clearly states His position that the only sexual union that He accepts is that between man and woman in marriage. She responded that, "Her God would never look down on two people who truly love each other being in a relationship". At which point I had to ask her which God she was worshipping, since we can't pick and choose which portions of Scripture or which attributes of God we are going to acknowledge, He doesn't offer that alternative. Despite her reluctance, the conversation went well as we looked at the specific verses together.
Our relationship with God is a fine line between seeing His humanity so that we know that He understands us completely, yet exalting Him realizing that His ways are so far above our ways. In the Gospel accounts we see the full range of emotions in Jesus. In John 11:35, at the burial site of His friend Lazarus, we read, "Jesus wept". On the Cross of Calvary, one of His 7 things He said was, "I am thirsty" (John 19:28). We see His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane where He literally sweated blood in Luke 22:44. So, we have a Savior who we can freely enter into a relationship with, who understands what we are going through, as seen in Hebrews 4:15, "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin." Yet in our relationship He and His Word must be exalted above any other voices. We see Mary of Bethany always gets it right. Every time we see her, she is humbly, submitting and exalting, sitting at His feet, hanging on His every Word. We see it in Luke 10:39, John 11:32, and again when she anointed Him in John 12:3, "Then Mary took a pound of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair...". Notice that Judas did not exalt Jesus as seeing what Mary did as a waste of money (John 12:5). The Pharisees could not understand Him, because they looked down upon Him. We see they looked down on His education, His birth (John 8:41, "...Then they said to Him, "We were not born of fornication; we have one Father-God".), His authority, etc. His disciples, like Mary, though they didn't always comprehend, exalted Him and therefore were continually growing, as we see in John 12:16, "His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him."
Our ability to understand God and be in a relationship with Him begins with our attitude and therefore our receptivity. In Proverbs 1:7, we read, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction." The word fear in this verse is not to be afraid of, but to hold Him in awe, not wanting to disappoint Him. When Jesus discusses the Beatitudes, the first one which is necessary to begin our relationship with Him is in Matthew 5:3, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Being poor in spirit is to empty ourselves of our pride. In our relationship with Him, we should strive to be real. We shouldn't bring Him down to our level, referring to Him as J.C., or calling God the big Guy upstairs. But on the same note we should be able to talk to Him, not in formal King James old English, with a false pious voice, but as we would speak to any other one that we love. Lastly, when we see Him for who He is and willingly submit to Him and His Word, this relationship must supercede all other relationships and concerns. Among the saddest verses to read is in John 12:42-43, "Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God."

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster