Who is Jesus?

For those who have been visiting this blog regularly already know I have been working my way through the devotional book titled "The Essential Jesus: 100 Readings Through the Bible's Greatest Story". This book was written by Whitney T. Kuniholm who is the president of Scripture Union USA. He is also the author of "The Essential Bible Guide". As the title suggests this book is a collection of 100 readings from Old & New Testament scripture, selected to answer a simple question. Who is Jesus?

I highly recommend this book for giving some structure to your devotional time. It is a well organized with short very clear 2 to 3 paragraph reflections on each passage. The 100 passage readings are organized into 4 parts:
Part 1: Who is Jesus?
Part 2: Old Testament
Part 3: New Testament
Part 4: Who is Jesus ... to You?

The readings are also grouped into sets of five. An introduction to each set points out a few themes that will be developed in the individual scriptural passages and the sets end with a few questions about the 5 passages. Here are some of the titles to these sets:
The Need for a Savior
Previews of a Savior
Psalms About a Savior
Prophecies About a Savior
The Birth of Jesus
The Beginning Ministry of Jesus
The Sermons of Jesus
The Parables of Jesus
The Miracles of Jesus
The Prayers of Jesus
The Hard Sayings of Jesus
The Crucifixion of Jesus
The Resurrection of Jesus
The Early Church of Jesus
The Second Coming of Jesus

I will be writing out my thoughts for a post next week on the 30th devotion from the book titled "Mission Statement". The passage reading is Chapter 61 of Isaiah in the Old Testament. It is the last reading from Part 2 of the book and the last one from the Old Testament.

Essential to God's Master Plan

After spending several months on these 30 passages it is striking to me, in a new way, that God gave his people such a glimpse of the future, the Messiah, Jesus, in scripture so long before he would actually live here on this earth. Hundreds of years before. The detail which is reveled in the Old Testament about the coming Messiah is simply stunning. Perhaps this has had less of an impact on me in the past since most of my life I have been familiar with the overall account of Jesus' life. In one sense knowing about Jesus from the New Testament gives you fresh eyes in reading the Old Testament, but it can also allow you to read too easily through the detail about the Messiah without connecting it to the time line of history and absorbing it as you would new information. So much detail was well known about the Messiah hundreds of years before Jesus lived on this earth.

In many ways the future can be fearful. The future is a big unknown in our life. We humans like to know things before they happen, even though, through life experience we realize we can not really know things before they actually happen. We can plan, but we have all had those well thought out plans that go amiss on just one simple small detail about the future that we did not know.

All through history God has given us detailed glimpses of his master plan. Depending on where we are at, our life experiences, our focus, we may not understand the things written about in scripture concerning the future, but God gives us glimpses. Our view of scripture is clouded by our human nature, our sin, and prevents us from reading it clearly and understanding it more clearly, but it is there in black and white, none the less. God has laid out his plans. To me this is the Grace of God. In his loving mercy God has given his people all through history the master plan. His master plan is perfect because God is not limited by time. God can see everything, the past, the present, and the future all at once. God is eternal. His planning is perfect. No detail is unknown to our creator. Everything has been taken into consideration by God. There is comfort in this fact. There is a peace in that for me today.

As I continue to work through these 100 passages in the coming year the one thing that I know, the one thing that is very clear to me, is that Jesus is the essential key to understanding God's master plan. I do not know how all the details come together, especially concerning the future, but I do know that at the center of everything that matters to my Creator, my God, is Jesus. My strong desire today is to know Him more.

I encourage you to join me on this journey in learning more about Jesus. A journey through 100 Bible passages focusing on him. To learn more about the 100 passages including a list of the journal entries or posts I have written so far on each of the passages visit my Essential Jesus page.

| More on the Essential Jesus journey. |

Photo Credit: Trippin' again! by pHil____, on Flickr.

Here are the posts corresponding to each of the 100 passage readings I have completed to date.

Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests." (Luke 2:8-14)
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. (Romans 5:1-2)
Christmas is about finding grace & peace ...

Merry Christmas!

029 | Punished by God

"... yet we considered him punished by God ..." (Isaiah 53:4)
Who considered the Messiah, Jesus, punished by God? Given all we know today about Jesus, no one would say this or even think it. Would they? But we have the benefit of the whole of Scripture. One of the techniques I like to use when I am contemplating a verse from the Bible is to pretend I only know what was known at the time or for the time the verse is speaking. It is actually not as easy as it may sound.

Here in Isaiah this verse is part of what is known as the "Suffering Servant" songs. It was a prophecy or preview of the suffering of the coming Messiah: the Servant of God. Jesus the Messiah. Some have referred to Isaiah 53 as the "Gospel in the Old Testament" because it presents the heart of the Gospel or the "good news" about Jesus the Messiah as clearly as is presented in the New Testament. In fact Isaiah is quoted many times in the New Testament.

Remember the book of Isaiah was written more than 700 years before Jesus lived on this earth. So Isaiah is giving us a preview of what people will think about the Messiah while he was living on this earth. As they watch him suffer they will see it as a punishment from God. It was not an uncommon view of Jesus' day. Most people viewed diseases and tragedies as punishment for a person or their parents' sin. Just read the Book of Job in the Old Testament or read what people thought about a blind beggar (John 9:1) in the New Testament. They would see the horrible suffering of Jesus culminating at the cross as the justice of God. They would have assumed that Jesus must have sinned. The inaccuracy of this thought is immediately given in the very next verse. I find it rather amazing that God gives Isaiah and his people a preview of how they will view the Messiah's suffering and before any of it would even happen God also corrects this mistaken view. This is the grace and mercy of God!
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)
In the very scripture they read while Jesus walked this earth they had the answer to their questions about what Jesus had done to deserve such a painful death. In the scrolls read to them in the Synagogue the corrective words from God were clearly given. Jesus didn't deserve a horrible torturous death, they did, we do. Jesus took their punishment, our punishment, to bring peace and healing.

If he fulfilled not justice, I must: if he underwent not wrath, I must to eternity." (John Owen)

| More on the Essential Jesus journey. |

The Cross | What Jesus Did was uploaded by Ricketts Fish to flickr.com on March 15, 2008.

Bible on Twitter | Jesus on Twitter

Like a swallow, like a crane, so I twitter; I moan like a dove; My eyes look wistfully to the heights; O Lord, I am oppressed, be my security. | Isaiah 38:14. NASB
Do you twitter?

According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary the verb twitter is defined as "to utter successive chirping noise". I don't know about you but I don't think I have ever really used this word before. I knew what it meant just never had an occasion to use it in a sentence. Until now ...

I am twittering!

So for those who have no idea what I am talking about (and that would have been me a few months ago) Twitter is an online social networking service based on simple text. Twitter users can send and read other users' updates or "tweets". The tweets are text only posts of up to 140 characters in length. It is a micro-blogging community that forces people to keep thoughts short. These tweets are displayed on the user's profile page and delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them. Twitter users can receive updates from those they are following via the Twitter website, SMS on a cell phone, RSS, email, or Facebook. It is a fast growing community of people communicating with each other in short thoughts all over the world.

Here is how Twitter describes their service:
"Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?" (from FAQ at Twitter)

Check out the YouTube Video titled Twitter in Plain English to learn more.

Ok, it is time for some "Bible Twitter" or "Scripture Twitter", and "Jesus Twitter". I never would have thought that I would be putting those words together. Anyway, I have two Twitter accounts:


Devotional will be short thoughts about God. My own thoughts or ones I have read or heard recently. Sometimes they will be phrases or a verse right from the Bible. They will be tweets from and about the Word of God that hopefully encourage, challenge, or excite you. They may move you to look up the verse or passage to understand it more, but I pray that these thoughts or tweets will bless you.

Red_letters will simply be the very words of Jesus from the Bible straight to you in the form of a tweet. I will reference the verse so you can look it up if you are so led.

So all you have to do is sign up for Twitter if you have not already and become a follower of one or both of these twitters. Just click on the links in this post and then click on "follow" to become a follower. Please feel free to respond to the tweets with replies to the thought or words of Jesus.

P.S. I am looking for creative ways to spread the word about these Tweeters. Any ideas?

Give Water this Christmas

450 billion dollars are spent on Christmas in America every year.

It is estimated that 10 billion just once would provide everyone in this world access to clean water.

Last year during advent at Valley View Community Church I was introduced to something called the Advent Conspiracy. Since then I have been Rethinking Christmas. Rethinking how I celebrate the birth of Christ. When I look around as objectively as I can at how I, my family, others, and our society celebrate Christmas I am struck at how un-Christlike it has become. I love Christmas. I love celebrating. The birth of Jesus changed the world. God putting on skin, leaving his throne, and coming to live with us changed everything. It has changed everything for me. So how should I celebrate this change? One idea that I have is to change the kind of gifts I give. Encouraged by the "Advent Conspiracy" I plan to spend less and contribute what I didn't spend towards something that can have an impact on those Jesus has called us to help. (Matthew 25:35-46) I plan to give water. Clean water.

Watch this video "The Story of the Thirsty".

Spend less this Christmas and give more. Give access to water. Help me raise $1000 for Living Water International. | GIVE HERE

Water is foundational to lives.

Water. It is at the heart of a daily crisis faced by a billion of the world’s most vulnerable people—a crisis that threatens life and destroys livelihoods on a devastating scale.

Unlike war and terrorism, the global water crisis does not make media headlines, despite the fact that it claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns. Unlike natural disasters, it does not rally concerted international action, despite the fact that more people die each year from drinking dirty water than from the world’s hurricanes, floods, tsunamis, and
earthquakes combined. This is a silent crisis experienced by the poor, and tolerated by those with the resources, technology, and the political power to end it. Yet this is a crisis that is holding back human progress, consigning large segments of humanity to lives of poverty, vulnerability, and insecurity.

Living Water International is addressing this most basic of needs by helping deprived communities acquire safe, clean water. Its goal is to substantially ease the global water crisis while addressing root causes such as injustice, oppression, and abject poverty. As this happens, communities and worldviews are transformed—both among those in desperate physical need, and among those who have been blessed with much.

Living Water International exists to demonstrate the love of God by helping communities acquire desperately needed clean water, and to experience “living water”—the gospel of Jesus Christ—which alone satisfies the deepest thirst. (Living Water International Info. Kit)

Water satisfies the need of our body. Jesus satisfies the need of our soul. (John 4:1-26)
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share." (1 Timothy 6:17-18)

Join me in rethinking Christmas and consider passing this message on via email (Save & Share) or if you have a blog please consider re-blogging this article.

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