Walking Right Through Rejection

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Jesus Rejected

It appears that our Lord Jesus handle rejection calmly and clearly. At least, this is what I see in our main text. But before this rejection, He graciously read the key text found in the scroll of Isaiah (61:1-2) regarding His life. He confidently presented its fulfillment. Then in response to the whispers of  “Isn’t this Joseph’s son,” He clearly says, (to paraphrase), “Just because I grew up here, doesn’t make this a special place nor you a special people.” Not sure why He felt the need to say this, but from observing the texts He used to present this thought, it is clear what He is saying….

…and it is clear from His neighbors’ response that this is exactly what they were thinking. Ouch! So instead of humbling themselves and pleading for mercy and grace, they decide to take matters into their own hands, and, well, execute the “Self-proclaimed Messiah,” you know, the One Who just did all those wonderful miraculous signs—go figure.

As they “drove” Him a couple of miles—according to some scholars, they obviously jostled and shoved Him along the way; and He let them—right up until the precipice. Then, and only then, did He calmly reject their rejection and “walked right through the crowd and went on His way” (v. 30). Why did He wait so long? Good question.

As you and I ponder this question, let me offer one possible answer: Is it to demonstrate that He was tempted in all ways like we are? Even if the precipice were merely 200 yards away, to be jostled and shoved for that distance would be rather painful and trying, wouldn’t you agree? And would you, like me, be tempted to hurl insults and shove back all along the way: “Hey, I was just telling you the truth and you’re doing this to me!? What gives!?”

It appears that our Lord was modeling for us how to handle rejection, even from neighbors and friends, and even the vicious kind that goes well beyond venomous words of ridicule.

You’ve been there. I’ve been there. From elementary school through High School—and even into college. I was in the middle of the ring of older boys as they shoved me around mocking and ridiculing me. I was the kid that the others conspired to ditch. I was the one they ignored once I became a Jesus Freak in college—abandoned and rejected. And I wish I could tell you I handled all these as calmly as our Shepherd did. But I didn’t.

As I have ponder this text, I am realizing as well that He actually has  been transforming me so that I no longer “see” rejection, in general, and in particular, I do not get as riled as I used to. I wish I could testify that I calmly “walked right through the crowd and went on [my] way,” but alas I do not, but I’m much, much closer to His likeness in this. The wounds are healing and the fear is evaporating. Love—His Love, which is beyond the rejection, is seeping into the crevices of my wounded heart and mending my wounded soul.

Have you experienced the sort of vicious rejections as our Master has?  Has He been transforming you to be more like Him as well? Care to share?

Main Text— Luke 4:27–30 (NIV84)— 27 And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29 They got up, drove [Jesus] out of the town, and took Him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw Him down the cliff. 30 But He walked right through the crowd and went on His way.

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.Psalm 27:10 (NIV84)

Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.—Matthew 10:17–23 (NIV84)

 At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.— 2 Timothy 4:16–18 (NIV84)

Lord Jesus Christ, calm my heart as I focus on You in the face of rejection and ridicule. Be my confident assurance that I need not defend myself. In You I have nothing to lose and nothing to prove. In Your Name, Amen. 

Pastor Mike

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“Prayer that Rocks this Place”

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My Thoughts:

I have been to a few rock concerts where the place was littler shaking. The base concussioned my chest as my body vibrated to the beat. Many times the lead singer would scream, “Let’s rock this place!” And they did…

Can the Holy Spirit do the same thing? Well, apparently we discover in today’s main text (noted below) He did. And He did this without any amplification, so to speak….

But what ‘caused’ this shaking? I’m sure you’d agree that it wasn’t the prayer of the believers—directly anyway, but somehow they had a part in this. V. 31 says pretty clearly, “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken….” Now, I’m not saying we conjure up some magical prayer so as to recreate this ‘shaking,’ but I am suggesting we take a closer look at their prayer….

First of all, I see that they appealed to the Sovereign Lord to notice the threats made against them (v. 29). Then they requested enabling ability to “speak [His] Word with great boldness.” Lastly, they requested that the Lord perform even more miracles in Jesus’ Name (v. 30)!!! What surprises me as I review this again and again is: They made no counter threats! They did not request the Lord to send fire from heaven to devour their enemies. They did not request Him to tear down these evil high places…. Instead, they prayed for more good to be done: More healings and miraculous signs! Apparently, this is the kind of prayer that shakes this place, eh?

Are you as surprised as I am that prayer like this was a vehicle for the Holy Spirit to “shake this place?” Your thoughts?

Main Text: — Acts 4:13 29 “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable Your servants to speak Your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out Your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the Name of Your holy servant Jesus.” 31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.  [NIV84]

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

 And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village.  — Luke 21:12-15 (NKJV)

For it is a fine thing if, when moved by your conscience to please God, you suffer patiently when wronged. What good does it do if, when you sin, you patiently receive punishment for it? But if you suffer for doing good and receive it patiently, you have God’s approval. This is, in fact, what you were called to do, because: The Messiah also suffered for you and left an example for you to follow in His steps.  “He never sinned, and He never told a lie.” When He was insulted, He did not retaliate. When He suffered, He did not threaten. It was His habit to commit the matter to the One who judges fairly. — 1 Peter 2:19-23 (ISV)

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” — Matthew 5:43-46 (NIV84)

Heavenly Father, I ask you to fill me with Your Holy Spirit, so I may pray for those who mistreat me, threaten me, or even harm me. May my life reflect the very nature of Your Messiah, Jesus, in His Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

“The Healing Confession”

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Text: — James 5:16 — Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.  [NIV84]

The Big Idea: I have found that in the moment of confession followed with “I forgive you,” or “you are forgiven,” there is deep soul healing.

My Thoughts: 

I have found healing in the confessing to others my sin. And as a pastor/counselor I have found that in the moment of confession followed with “I forgive you,” or “you are forgiven,” there is deep soul healing. Have you found this to be so, too?

There are several traditions of confession in the Church. Some offer this opportunity daily, some weekly and some monthly. In some traditions, there is an element of obligation, and though for some, this functions as a motivator, perhaps the promise of healing is better motivator.

For me, it is the promise of healing. The relief and release this healing of forgiveness brings motivates me in confession. I have a vivid memory of hearing those words, “You are forgiven, my son.” I remember the feelings of freedom, the relief and release that came after listening to the intercessor, and then as left the building, my steps were airy—buoyant—as a peace and a joy flooded my soul, a rare experience, indeed. In the tradition of confession I am in now, I endeavor to bring this more formal, conscious element to the forefront. As I mentioned above, I have found that many (dare I say, “all”?)—including myself—need to hear, “You are forgiven….”

Lifestyle worshipers, do you offer this opportunity to your brothers and sisters in Christ? This opportunity for relief and release from the bondage of their sins through forgiveness? Indeed, do you connect the “powerful and effective” prayer of v. 16 above to “confess your sins to each other” in this healing process? I do.

Many, however, are more than cautious to be so vulnerable in this type of confession—“to each other.” (Gossip, for one, is a major cancer here. Being reminded of our past sins in a disagreement or argument is another.) I know that being so vulnerable has its own set of factors and wounds and awkwardness. So I have learned from the Word two guiding principles when it comes to confession: (1) As public the sin so public the confession; and (2)  As private the sin so private the confession. In the former, those who witnessed the sin need to witness the confession; in the later, if the sin never makes it out of our heads, then there the confession is said; the Lord literally knows, anyway.

Perhaps these two guiding principles will dispel some fears and awkwardness, but alas confessing our sins  doesn’t appear to be completely free of such. Or do you think the promise of healing and freedom overcomes such?

Your thoughts?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

— Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV84)

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

—Luke 19:8-10 (NIV84)

Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds.

—Acts 19: 18 (NIV84)

Heavenly Father, by the shed blood of Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and through His power, I confess I have been fearful of confessing those sins that need to be confessed to my brothers and sisters. I have sinned against You and denied myself the healing and freedom that comes from this confession. I ask You, Lord Jesus Christ, to bear the consequences of my actions. Remove the pain and shame I have caused Your Name. Be that part of my life that has been disobedient and in bondage to fear. I release myself into Your hands. In Your Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Trained By the Pain”

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Date: 9-14-14

(Below are some thoughts I had on James 1:12:  Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.  [NIV84])

One reason we can persevere under the trials (and these are more than slivers; they are crosses), is because of the Joy we have knowing there is a purpose in them. The purposes of a particular trial may have many facets, but one facet is becoming more like Jesus. Because of the Joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross and scorned its shame and is now seated at the right Hand of the Majesty on High. He is no longer wearing a crown of thorns, but He is now wearing the crown of the King of kings! And when we, too, are trained by the pain, we receive a crown, the crown of life.

Lifestyle worshipers, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23 NIV84).“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18 NASB 95). “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” (2 Cor. 4:8-10 NIV 84). “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:16-18 NIV 84).

Be encouraged to be trained by the pain. Remember: “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.” — Luke 6:40 (NIV84)

A Humble Prayer

Heavenly Father, as You teach me to see through the current trial, let the Joy of Your Spirit flood my soul. Guard my heart and my mind with the Peace that passes all understanding: The Lord Jesus Christ, my Prince of Peace. I bless You, in Your Son’s Name Amen.

An Informal Introduction

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Since becoming a believer during the Jesus People Movement, I have had a strong passion to be more like Jesus. My heart still yearns and burns to live a life that is pleasing to Him. For years I struggled in my own strength to produce this Life, but always ended in self-berating defeat. Then I met a wonderful mentor who led me to the understanding that the Lord Jesus Christ is my Life: He is the power to live the Life (e.g. Col. 3:4; & Gal. 2:20-21). Since this time, I have been on a journey to apply this truth to all aspects of my life and to encourage others along their journey with Jesus to do the same.

Thus, the birth of this blog. Since we all see through a mirror dimly and now know only in part, my desire is to get a conversation going about living the Life of Jesus through our human fragility. This conversation may vacillate between the spiritual & unseen and the physical & the very seen. Through this conversation, my desire is to discover balance. This balance is between this spiritual, rather mystical life, and a focus on behavior, which often leads to some measure of legalism, or what I call Behavioral Christianity.

This latter extreme is an attempt to live the Life of Jesus in the power of the flesh, or through  human effort. The other extreme seems to discount that the Lord Jesus valued the humanness of His creation, man & woman. He demonstrated this value:  (1) by being BOTH God AND Man, taking on human likeness; (2) by resurrecting in bodily form, confirming so by eating some fish and letting His disciples touch Him; and (3) by touching; Jesus touched many, not only when He healed them, but when He blessed them, too (e.g. Matt. 8:3, 15 & Mk. 10:16).

Through many conversations over the years I have learned the wisdom of Phil. 3:15-16: “All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.” At the risk of sound self-adulating and considering myself mature, I do believe that it is through the process of these exchanges we will come to a better understanding of what the Lord is making clear to us. But in the meantime, let us maximize what we have in common understanding: Jesus is the Risen Lord!