Vessels of Truth

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Vessels of Truth

1 Kings 8:54-66

Solomon Blesses the Assembly1

Now when Solomon finished offering all this prayer and this plea to the Lord, he arose from facing the altar of the Lord, where he had knelt with hands outstretched toward heaven; he stood and blessed all the assembly of Israel with a loud voice:

“Blessed be the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel according to all that he promised; not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke through his servant Moses. The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our ancestors; may he not leave us or abandon us, but incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his ordinances, which he commanded our ancestors. Let these words of mine, with which I pleaded before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, and may he maintain the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel, as each day requires; so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other. Therefore devote yourselves completely to the Lord our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day.”

Solomon Offers Sacrifices2

Then the king, and all Israel with him, offered sacrifice before the Lord. Solomon offered as sacrifices of well-being to the Lord twenty-two thousand oxen and one hundred twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the people of Israel dedicated the house of the Lord. The same day the king consecrated the middle of the court that was in front of the house of the Lord; for there he offered the burnt offerings and the grain offerings and the fat pieces of the sacrifices of well-being, because the bronze altar that was before the Lord was too small to receive the burnt offerings and the grain offerings and the fat pieces of the sacrifices of well-being.

So Solomon held the festival at that time, and all Israel with him—a great assembly, people from Lebo-hamath to the Wadi of Egypt—before the Lord our God, seven days. On the eighth day he sent the people away; and they blessed the king, and went to their tents, joyful and in good spirits because of all the goodness that the Lord had shown to his servant David and to his people Israel. “

John 3:31-36

The One Who Comes from Heaven

The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true. He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath.

John gives us a short, and almost obscure reference to the importance of Truth with his written dialogue between Jesus and Pontius Pilate. It is one of the underlying themes that rises above the surface several times in his gospel. With an audience that included Jewish theologians who had been influenced by Greek philosophy for decades, if not centuries… making a decision on whether truth existed and could be known was an important step.

You see, postmodernism was not invented in the twentieth century. the so-called tennets of pluralism are a natural phenomenon any time cultures mix together. For example, I recently watched a documentary on wildlife in Alaska. As it turns out, Sperm Whales are making a bit of a comeback up north, and. I’m fairly certain that their protected status as an endangered species will contribute to their proliferation. Except, they are not proliferating culturally, just numerically. In the last century, as human technology has improved our fishing capabilities in those same waters, the whale’s hunting abilities are being lost. Instead of being territorial and hunting wild fish to eat, these great mammals have learned that it is far easier and more efficient to simply follow the fishing boats and pull the fish from the nets with their jaws. These hunters have traded in their centuries-old hunting skills for a ticket to the seafood buffet.

Now I’m sure that some of these whales have had bad experiences with boat, and there are certainly other whales in the world who are not protected, who swim away at the first sign of humans. These Alaskan whales though have become post-modern pluralists in being willing to change their behaviors (and beliefs) for the sake of just getting along with the different (human) culture around them – and they have even found away to make it more profitable. Does this change better reflect “truth” simply because they are learning from another culture? Not necessarily. If they cross the Pacific and visit some of our Asian nations, they may find not only retaliation for stealing the fisherman’s livelihood, but also some fishermen who are more prepared and less restricted from hunting the whales themselves. The idea the whales are acting on: It’s only wrong if I got caught works up until the moment you get caught except for them, they are not just disciplined, they are killed. As it turns only some truth exists to protect us, not just restrict us.

Solomon knew that he could not live well, let alone rule a nation well without that Truth. What we call “wisdom” is really just knowledge + right application of Truth. Solomon wanted to be a vessel of that Truth, to lead and guide him, and to give him something to share with his people. Jesus is the ultimate vessel of Truth. He is the Word of God made flesh – the clearest expression of who God is. Pilate could not see it when Truth looked him right in the face.

Can you see the Truth?

How does that Truth go with you each day?

How do others around perceive that Truth in you?

Who are you passing that Truth on to?


  1. (2 Chr 6:40–42)
  2. (2 Chr 7:4–11)

Vessels of Mercy

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Vessels of Mercy

Numbers 16:41-50

On the next day, however, the whole congregation of the Israelites rebelled against Moses and against Aaron, saying, “You have killed the people of the Lord.” And when the congregation had assembled against them, Moses and Aaron turned toward the tent of meeting; the cloud had covered it and the glory of the Lord appeared. Then Moses and Aaron came to the front of the tent of meeting, and the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Get away from this congregation, so that I may consume them in a moment.” And they fell on their faces. Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer, put fire on it from the altar and lay incense on it, and carry it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them. For wrath has gone out from the Lord; the plague has begun.” So Aaron took it as Moses had ordered, and ran into the middle of the assembly, where the plague had already begun among the people. He put on the incense, and made atonement for the people. He stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stopped. Those who died by the plague were fourteen thousand seven hundred, besides those who died in the affair of Korah. When the plague was stopped, Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance of the tent of meeting.

1 Peter 4: 7-11

The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

What is the difference between Grace and Mercy? Do they both just mean getting away without paying a debt, or having a debt forgiven? I think grace and mercy have more similarities than differences and, semantically, perhaps mercy is a subset of grace. If grace was fruit in general, than perhaps mercy would be strawberries – the kind of fruit that everyone likes unless they have an allergic reaction to it. Some people just cannot stomach mercy themselves. Of course, it is not unusual for a person to have digestive problems with more than one type of fruit.

The point is this: if you cannot receive mercy yourself, it becomes very hard to give it. Take Moses for example. He was a murderer and a refugee who went from nobility to nomad in a single day. Yet God chose him, had mercy upon him, and brought him to a place of honor above that of Pharoah himself. Having received mercy himself, Moses was willing to stand in the gap for the Hebrew people on mult iple occaisions. Peter also received a similar kind of mercy when, after denying even knowing Jesus, he was welcomed back into the fold and commissioned to tell the world about the grace and mercy he had received from Jesus.

Jesus told a parable specifically about the importance of being filled with and then sharing mercy,

Matthew 18:23-35

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

and perhaps even more importantly, we are taught to pray, “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us”. Ironically, it seems that while we cannot give that which we have not received, we are filled with mercy ourselves only by giving it away. Mercy cannot be held. It can only flow through vessels.

How have you received mercy?

How have you shared that mercy?

Vessels of Grace

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Vessels of Grace

Leviticus 9:22-24

Aaron lifted his hands toward the people and blessed them; and he came down after sacrificing the sin offering, the burnt offering, and the offering of well-being. Moses and Aaron entered the tent of meeting, and then came out and blessed the people; and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. Fire came out from the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar; and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.

1 Peter 4:1-6

Good Stewards of God’s Grace

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same intention (for whoever has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin), so as to live for the rest of your earthly life no longer by human desires but by the will of God. You have already spent enough time in doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry. They are surprised that you no longer join them in the same excesses of dissipation, and so they blaspheme. But they will have to give an accounting to him who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was proclaimed even to the dead, so that, though they had been judged in the flesh as everyone is judged, they might live in the spirit as God does.

Grace is not free. There is always a price paid. Deitrich Bonhoeffer may have helped win the term “cheap grace”, but the concept, and the question that drives it are far older than this 20th Century revolutionary of the faith. That question is: How do the forgiven act? In more theological circles the question has been narrowed down to: Do Christians sin? John writes about this. Paul writes about this. Peter writes about this as well.

In all accounts, there is an expectation that our acts of sin and rebellion against God will cease. If they did every time, there would be no need for the question. Since they do not, we all typically start splitting hairs, semantics, doctrines, and churches right at this point. We split passionately because we do not know how God will judge us for sure, but we think and feel our own salvation depends on us being “right’‘. Thus, we as churches fall for the same adage we often tell newlyweds: You can either be right or be married.

That sin-focused view of faith ultimately leads down a road of Self-condemnation and/or Self-justification leaving no one happy or in relationship at the end of the day. Can Christians sin? Yes. We all know it and most of us prove it daily. The issue is not sin or our apparent vulnerability to it. the issue is that we are asking the wrong question.

What if we asked a different question? What can a Christian do? No, I don’t mean what list of sins can we get away with doing without losing our place in Heaven? I mean, on a much more basic level, what is the benefit to following Jesus? Is it just the promise of paradise when I die, or does He make any difference in my life now? When I am tempted to do things I know I’ll regret, can He help me, or am I pretty much lost? When I’m hurt, broke, sick, and tired, will He bring me any help, comfort, peace, or provision? Scripture answers this question many times as well. Here are two of my favorites:

John 4:13-14

“Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.””

Philippians 4:10-14

“I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned for me, but had no opportunity to show it. Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. In any case, it was kind of you to share my distress.”

It is not that our sin does not matter. Everything matters. It is that grace matters too and anytime we find ourselves stuck trying to choose only one or the other, we have lost track of the only hope we have. Either we are vessels of God’s grace, or we are not.

Do you carry the grace of God in you?

If so, what difference is it making in your life today?

Outsiders

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Outsiders

Acts 7:6-11

The Ascension of Jesus1

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

1 Peter 4:12-14

Suffering as a Christian

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you.”

It makes a huge difference whether your Savior is standing right with you or not. We have some difficulty imagining just how the disciples felt when Jesus met them on that mountain one last time, gave them the Great Commission, and then disappeared into the heavens above them. Having been through the emotional rollercoaster of Holy Week, I suspect some were quite frustrated that, having not long receiver Jesus back from death, here they were losing him again. It wasn’t that they didn’t believe in the mission, it was that it made more sense when Jesus was there. Or at least they felt braver taking it on knowing Jesus had their backs.

Something else changed this moment as well …something absolutely fundamental to the faith. This moment changed the way we could determine who was inside and who was outside the faith.2 The subject was important enough to make it into Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount not just once, but twice3! You see, following Jesus teaching on insiders and outsiders was as simple as following His example when He was with them. How did you know who was considered part of the “in” crowd? It was whoever was physically close to Jesus. The disciples, the poor, the hurting always had front-row seats, while the Pharisees usually sat in the back and grumbled. Sure, their were moments during His arrest and crucifixion where the bad guys got closer, and perhaps that strange incident with the unnamed woman at the well in Samaria, but overall, Jesus tended to keep His friends closest to Him. Now that He was gone, how could they, and we, tell who was really part of the kingdom?

It is more than identifying who is different and who does not agree with us. It means discerning who does or does not follow Jesus. We look to real action, not just empty promises. We look for grace. We look for transformed lives. Where there are differences between us and Jesus, we seek understanding (although not always acceptance) and we look for ways to connect in Christ’s love and learn from one another. It is what Jesus did. He constantly brought the outsiders in. We ourselves were once outsiders, and sometimes we revert back to our outsider ways, but now we are His people.So what do we do with Outsiders? We learn to love them.

Who are the Outsiders in your life?

What are some heathy ways you can show Christ’s love to them today?


  1. (Mk 16:19–20; Lk 24:50–53)
  2. and for the connection between the insiders and outsiders, see: https://myabishai.blog/2017/01/page/2/
  3. Loving your enemies and refraining from judging others.

Expectations

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Expectations

2 Kings 2:13-15

Elisha Succeeds Elijah

He picked up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. He took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, saying, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” When he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over.

When the company of prophets who were at Jericho saw him at a distance, they declared, “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” They came to meet him and bowed to the ground before him.”

John 8:21-30

Jesus Foretells His Death

Again he said to them, “I am going away, and you will search for me, but you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.” Then the Jews said, “Is he going to kill himself? Is that what he means by saying, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” He said to them, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he.” They said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Why do I speak to you at all? I have much to say about you and much to condemn; but the one who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” They did not understand that he was speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own, but I speak these things as the Father instructed me. And the one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him.” As he was saying these things, many believed in him.

Who are you and where is the One I am looking for?

God surprises us all. We often stumble across God in our individual search for help as we grow to recognize we are sadly ill-equipped to navigate the harsh landscape of life alone. We face disappointment from the people we surround ourselves with,not because they are all bad or incapable people, but simply because our needs extend beyond their abilities. We have a God-shaped hole in ourselves that nothing else can fill, as the popular saying goes. I take my image of need from one of my favorite Psalms, “Deep cries out to deep”a prayer-poem that compares the depths of our need with the depth of hope we can only find in God.

Yet even with thousands of years worth of evidence pointing to God’s unique provision in our lives we are still constantly surprised by when, where, and how God comes through for us. Why? Because we have mistaken expectations in our relationship with God. It is almost funny because the major purpose of a covenantthe term scripture uses as the type of relationship we have with God, is to spell out and clarify those expectations. Just look at these examples of expectations from traditional wedding vows:

“I, , take thee, , to be my wedded husband/wife,

to have and to hold,

from this day forward,

for better, for worse,

for richer, for poorer,

in sickness and in health,

to love and to cherish,

till death do us part,

according to God’s holy ordinance;

and thereto I pledge thee my faith [or] pledge myself to you.”

What are your expectations of God in your relationship with Him?

If you wrote your own vows what would they say?

What are God’s expectations of you?

When we have mistaken expectations of God, we, like the Jewish people before us, miss seeing Him, even when He is standing right in front of us. Most of the time this mistake is not due to a lack of knowledge, it is a lack of motivation. If I only want a God who gives me license to sin, I will never see God, because He will never be that for me. He will forgive,redeem, and transform me, but He will never change who He is to suit my desires – especially if my desires are ultimately harmful to myself and others. The way of sin leads to death and destruction and God will not help us down that road. Yet when we get lost on that road ourselves we can always look up and see Jesus lifted up, pointing the way back to life for us if only we will trust and follow Him.

Covenant Endings

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Covenant Endings

2 Kings 2:1-12

Elijah Ascends to Heaven

2 Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. The company of prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?” And he said, “Yes, I know; keep silent.”

Elijah said to him, “Elisha, stay here; for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. The company of prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?” And he answered, “Yes, I know; be silent.”

Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.

When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” He responded, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.

Ephesians 2:1-7

From Death to Life

You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

Men are sometimes (often rightfully) accused of having one-track minds. It is not that we only think about one thing. It is that we focus on one object at a time. There is something very intuitive about the work/play dichotomy in a man’s life, although the erosion of a cultural sabbath has played havok on this instinct. Today, we are taught to always be on the hunt for the next best thing. Our work never ends, and we are taught that the thrill of work is life.

Women, on the other hand, have always played multiple roles and move freely among them all. Just look to Proverbs 31 to compare the many roles a wife of noble character has in comparison with her husband. Women do not stop working, they just change their clothes into different uniforms. They too, perhaps even more than men have suffered from a lack of Sabbath rest, often to the point that many do not know how to rest without alcohol, pills, or simply having a breakdown.

Here is the lowdown On why Sabbath is important to our covenant relationship with God: Without endings, there can be no new beginnings.

We cannot serve two different masters. We are not Batman or Superman – mild- mannered businesspeople by day and crime fighters by night. Those two never sleep and would be fired or dead of exhaustion after three days in the real world. We cannot chase our careers and money for six days and expect to catch up with God on Sunday. The problem is not that God sees through our split motivations (which He does!). the problem is that we do not see our own split motivations. We become lovers having affairs and children under joint custody of many “parents’‘, none of which we can truly claim as our own. Both of these roads lead to emptiness and isolation and it all comes back to that same point: Without endings, there can be no new beginnings.

Elisha needed to grow up into the man God created him to be, but he was not able to do that while he continued to rely upon Elijah as his mediator between God and himself. Elijah had to go so Elisha could grow. Paul explained to the Ephesians that they (and we) cannot hold onto our old life and take hold of eternal life with both hands. One or the other will get away from us Or we will be torn apart and lose it all. God gives us all the same choice He gave Israel, through Joshua: Choose this day whom you will serve.

What do you need to let go of today?

What former way of life doy you need to put to death?

How can you live for Christ more fully today?

Witnesses

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Witnesses

Acts 1:1-11

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

The Ascension of Jesus:1

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” “

Ephesians 1:15-23

Paul’s Prayer

I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Can I get a witness?

I know of only one story we have in the gospels where Jesus taught that it was better to sit and receive than to serve. [^1]. Almost everywhere else, His disciples were on the move. In fact, He sent them out specifically to do all the things He was doing Himself, even before His death. Ministry with Jesus involved a lot of hard work!

Jesus had an incredible way of allowing His disciples to serve in important ways that matched their gifting, without burning them out. You would think, after 3 years on the road, they would have been ready for a break. Instead, that day they all marched into Jerusalem was One of their most exciting days of all! In our society, where it is a major feat to keep employees who only work 40 hours a week, this feat seems miraculous. How did Jesus be the perfect boss to every single person that came to work for Him?

Wall, first of all, Jesus was not a boss, He was a king. More specifically, He was a shepherding king as opposed to a ruler in the worldly sense. He loved His people. They were not just workers to be used. But He did not confuse His love of people for His sense of mission. Instead, Jesus insisted on His mission because He knew inviting them into that mission was the best way to love them.

You see, that mission was more than just paying a debt for us. It was a restoration, or perhaps a redemption of covenant between us and God. The “Kingdom” Jesus was establishing was not about geographical boundaries, it was about relational ones. Jesus was putting the band back together because the world was missing the music we all make with God. Jesus knew what that could sound like, but He also knew fear would hold us back so long as He kept standing between us and God. His job as mediator of this covenant was to bring us together, not to stand between us. He knew, for the mission to succeed, He would have to leave.

Paul know that feeling too. Ephesus was one of the few places that really accepted and appreciated him. But he had heard that same music that Jesus heard and knew for the church to grow, he would have to move on. Like the conductor of an orchestra, Jesus and Paul knew they had the important role of leading the music without making a sound.

I believe it all comes down to this: We are witnesses before, and after, everything else we may do for God. Before we know how to preach and teach, serve and give, we show and tell others about our covenant relationship with God by our words and deeds.

How are you sharing a witness of God’s love today?

How are you helping others see the beauty of who they could be with God?


  1. I suspet this teaching may have been included in Luke in order to create a better sense of balance between serving and spending time with Jesus in ministry, not to exclude one or the other.