Sunday, April 21, 2013

How Deeply Do We Desire Jesus?


Lk.14: 33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
34 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned?
35 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Islam is growing. Perhaps these are some of the reasons why:

They quote and memorize their holy book.

They openly practice prayer.

They reject materialism.

There are a growing number who are willing to give their lives.

Now they are surely deceived and misguided, however I wonder how the things I listed would work in spreading the truth of Jesus?

But how deeply do we desire Jesus?

How many believers years ago were born again by faith in Jesus, but now have been reduced to a head knowledge of Christ? And their faith is now based almost exclusively upon tenants of the faith and a redundant ecclesiastical practice rather than a tactile faith which is not only grounded in Biblical truth, but is alive and real and experiential in their hearts and lives. We so often love to hear the testimonies of how Christ changed our lives when we were born again and came to know Him in those beginning days, but how has Christ changed you today? How has the Spirit which resides within you transformed another part of you this past week?

I do not mean how your electric bill was met even though God can receive praise for all of it. But how were you wonderfully changed through enlightenment, repentance, and a new walk which openly bore the fruits of that metamorphosis and was observable to others without them being made aware of it? Please do not think that in the early days when you were set free from those major sins and when you began to understand the Scriptures that you had navigated the greater part of your spiritual journey. In many ways you had just begun. To allow the Spirit to conform you into the image of Jesus Christ is not only a profound challenge and the continuing marks of a mature disciple, it is a soaring and wonderful privilege.

But how deeply do we desire Jesus?

When Jesus exclaimed “It is finished” on the cross He was pronouncing that His mission of redemption was now complete and the door to eternal life was flung wide open for whosoever would believe. But in the Greek those three words are actually one word, “ tetelestai”. It is used in several ways by the Greeks, but in one case it is used in reference to an artist or a painter. This painter begins by drawing his sketch and then starts to fill it out. He adds some color here and some shadow there and after many weeks the painting begins to come to life. But he is not satisfied.

He thinks about his painting while he lays in bed, and sometimes he springs up in the middle of the night and goes to his painting to add something that had just entered into his mind. His painting consumes his mind and it is a labor of love. It does not treat it as a commercialized commodity but as a priceless part of himself. He goes from contentment to discontentment and many times in between. So after a long process that is between him and his painting, he is adding a little color one day, he steps back, and suddenly something wonderful rushed through his being. He throws his brush to the floor and with a mix of exuberance and incredulousness he exclaims, “Tetelestai!”

You see? His painting is complete after many, many arduous days and nights and ups and downs. But it was those finer points which were the most challenging and which seemed to require the most time and effort. The painting progressed rapidly at the beginning, but it was those shadings and those color mixtures and those things that only he could see that were the most formidable. And so it is with us dear believers. Our lives seemed to change much more rapidly at the beginning of our born again experience, and sometimes we are deceived into thinking that most of our work is done. But it is the finer points of being transformed into Christ which are the most laborious and require many wonderful and exacting hours of prayer and repentance. You see, when we are asked about the purchase of our redemption we can proclaim “Tetesestai!” because Jesus had paid it all! But until we meet Him face to face we are not finished. Paul himself said he had not arrived and even though he was nearing his own death he still was pressing toward the mark.

But how deeply do we desire Jesus?

So professing believers can castigate Muslims and attack the religion, but in the end what eternal good does that accomplish? Are we as believers pressing toward the mark of the high calling in Christ Jesus? Are we praying fervently? Are we fasting? Do we weep with compassion over the lost multitudes? Are will filled with the love of God? Are we hiding the Word of God in our hearts? Are we daily seeking His face? Or have we settled into a comfortable place of redundancy and complacency and from that vantage point hurl our critique and criticism at those who need us to be Jesus to them?

So what are we to make, or more importantly, do about these things? Is it not obvious to any objective onlooker that the faith of Jesus has grown cold and stagnant and very predicable? And excitement and gimmicks and even more palatable heresies have replaced the sacrifice and self denial which opens the door to a conspicuous revelation of love, grace, humility, and a communication of the gospel through word and deed. You see, much of the church has set up a religious picnic by the side of the road and instead of using it as a temporary time of refreshing they have made it home. And while we scream about all the changes and dangers and sins spreading across the world, we ourselves are standing still keeping His gospel to ourselves and foraging for some moral and political sustenance. But as intense as the spiritual war is that is raging, and as voluminous are all the issues confronting the church in these last days, the problem can be summed up in this one question:

But how deeply do we desire Jesus?

I fear that Muslims are more known for Allah than many believers are known for Jesus. I fear Muslims are known for Sharia law while Christians are known for the Constitution. I fear Muslims are known for being pro-terror while Christians are known for being pro-war. I fear that Muslims are known for how their women dress conservatively while Christian women dress inappropriately. I fear that Muslims are known for praying five times daily while Christians are known for not praying. And I fear that Muslims are known for hatred while Christians are also known for hatred.

But how deeply do we desire Jesus?

But during the coming days of more and more violence, if we are looking for earthly reasons and motives we can find them in Islam, white supremacy, hatred for the government, and long list of other surface elements which can satisfy our natural curiosity and engender all kinds of emotions and attitudes. But if we as believers wish to see the truth behind these things then we can look no further than the wicked human heart. All the rest is window dressing.

Why are we so easily drawn into temporal battles and earthly visions and become blind to the larger and truest picture? I can understand how those imprisoned by the darkness of this present evil world can be obsessed with what goes on in this world and never see, much less understand,  the spiritual war that continues to explode in the unseen world. We treat the unseen as some kind of intangible fairy tale while what we can see is what consumes us. This should not be, and the New Testament is replete with admonitions to be in this world but not of it.

And yet believers choose earthly sides and champion earthly kingdoms and even give their hearts to that which is perishing. And in so doing they become pawns of the evil one and detriments to the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ. This world and all that is in it is an enemy of the Thrice Holy God, and the Godhead has set a day and is even now making preparations to visit this world with unimaginable vengeance. And when Jesus Christ returns in flames of divine wrath He will not just be seeking Muslims or gays or North Koreans or any other group. He comes with fire toward ALL who know not God through faith in the Lord Jesus. That is the reality which should motivate our lives.

But how deeply do we desire Jesus?

These earthly battles which pit these sinners against those sinners, or that false religion against another false religion, or that country against another country, those battles are for those who know nothing but this world. But for those of us who have been transformed and translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light we cannot afford to get caught up in all the temporal hysteria. Yes we mourn with those who mourn, and yes we comfort those who need comfort, but we must never enlist in that which is eternally worthless. And when things get worse and worse, we as the hands and feet and mouths of Jesus must BE Jesus in every way we can to ALL the warring sides. You see, we are not Americans who happen to be Christians. We are believing followers of the Lord Jesus Christ and our lives belong to Him and Him alone.

The lines that should separate believers from unbelievers are become more and more clear. The demands upon followers of Jesus continue to increase, not decrease. And one of the marks of a true believer is that we show the love of Jesus to friend and foe alike. In fact, we have no earthly sides which makes us free to love everyone and show His redemptive love to sinners of every stripe and every nation. Let the world choose sides and head off to war. Let the world return evil for evil and even let them exact the human justice they deem necessary. But for us we have no continuing city here for we look for a city which has foundations whose builder and maker is the Lord. We are pilgrims who are passing through with His light and His message.
But how deeply do we desire Jesus?

Be prepared to be sorely tested. Not just because we may be called to endure persecution, but because our love and mercy will also be tested. Millions will continue to join hands with unbelievers because they deem earthly alliances and allegiances more powerful than complete surrender to Christ. Yes some people are friendly and warm, and yes some unbelievers do good works and help people, and yes all of us, unbeliever and believer alike, can help in times of great tragedy, but those who name His name can never be unequally yoked with those who know not our Master. We can and must help, but we do not help because of any allegiance on this earth. We do it completely in Jesus’ name.

One of the greatest challenges in this informationally drenched culture is to have the mind of Christ on everything and not drift into having a good mind but still an earthly mind. The church has long ago left the eternal and now operates within the realm of the temporal which leads to all kinds of spiritual mischief. And when that mindset is practiced over a long period of time something dramatic happens. We actually trade the mind of Christ for the prism of morality, humanism, nationalism, and many things that seem good but are eternally vacuous. But even those who strive to see things through the eyes of Christ will be tested in the coming days. We will hear all kinds of earthly sirens calling us to take up arms against the sea of sin without the gospel.

But how deeply do we desire Jesus?

Sin is exactly why the Lord of Glory came. Things will get worse in the natural. Our Savior told us that. But do not despair, for in these perilous times there is still the everlasting gospel and there are still sinners in desperate need of hearing of Jesus and His offer of redemption. And if we as believers are called to give our lives for Him, well then so be it. He gave His life for us. Look with fleeting eyes upon the things and events of this temporal world. And as soon as you have had a short glimpse of it all, quickly turn your eyes once again to Jesus, and look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

How unworthy was I and yet I was not only saved by His grace, I was made a son of the Living God and His younger brother. Try and figure the depth of salvation. We servants, we are slaves, we are children, we are saints, we are beloved, we are the least, we are exalted, we are joint heirs, we are worshipers, we are voices crying out in the wilderness “Prepare ye the way of the Lord!!” And even though God has done marvelous things in our lives and has made all things new, and his translated us from darkness into light, we still cannot take our eyes off of Jesus! Worthy is the Lamb!!

Oh my Lord and my Redeemer, 

You gave your life for me and You kept those wounds, Lord? Oh I cannot even imagine seeing You and seeing those wounds that You gladly suffered for me. What can a say; what can I sing; You not only suffered and bled and died, but You kept those wounds imprinted upon Your being forever? What kind of love can this be? I have known you for almost 40 years and yet I am still moved to broken tears of worship before You. Everything about You and everything You have done is new every morning.

I know, Lord, this is a public forum but I do not care. Should I be embarrassed when You died openly for me? I cannot help myself nor should I. If I could not bless Your name and share your truth I would never be a part of this thing they call a blog or FaceBook because I am only interested in one Face and one Book, Yours. Please use an unprofitable servant like me to lift up the Risen Christ.

But how deeply do I desire Jesus?


Anonymous said...

Hello Pastor Rick, thanks for this great reminder of where our hearts and affections should be. I'm not so sure though, that the example of islam is entirely appropriate in this case - I mean, Christian pastors / leaders / governments / parents don't usually use violent force or brutal acts to keep their flock in total submission. Having said that, your reminder is very timely - it is so easy for us to take our focus off God.

Rick Frueh said...

You are correct, most Chritian leaders do not use physical force. But my comparison was about commitment. Thank you for your input!

Reine Gnade said...

It's true that the numbers enslaved to the false religion Islam is growing. This is because rebellion against the God of the holy Bible is increasing. It is also true that Muslims quote and memorize their book, but that action will never make it holy! It will always remain a book that encourages self exultation and the worship of a god who rejects Almighty God's inspired word.

Muslims practice prayer but pray to a false god! They may claim to reject materialism, but in my opinion the mindset of a non-Christian is materialistic.

Jesus is the truth. As He writes His words on the tablets of our heart we will grow to treasure truth more keenly. What does God desire His creation to forsake? In my opinion it is the erroneous belief that God's creation own their body, soul and spirit. With His gracious, loving help sinners can acknowledge that He owns their body, soul and spirit. Truly LORD Jesus is the Shepherd of a Christian's soul!

Rick Frueh said...

This post was not about the false and treacherous religion called Islam. This was meant to shame us by showing why a false religion can grow while western Christianity as little more than a cultural curiosity.
How can people be so devoted to a demon while others can be so tepid toward Jesus the God of all Creation?

Least Brother said...

Hello Brother,
Blessings and greetings in His name! I have often shared with others that we need to be desperate for Jesus. When I meditate on the Sermon on the Mount these words continue to ring in my ears “poor in spirit, mourning, hunger and thirst”. And this desperation for Him must consume us each day. It is so easy to get distracted or forget. We constantly need to remind ourselves and our brethren of this importance. As each day passes, I have begun to understand much clearer, that if I had the depth of relationship with JESUS that He had with God the Father (and this is what He gave his life for) I would do everything in my power to obtain that and not allow it to grow weak. I don’t mean to sound cruel or boastful, but my great concern is that the Jesus that is predominately preached is a “gnosis”, not a supernatural revelation by His Spirit (truly born again). BTW, I completely understand your comparison with Islam. I have said time and again that the only difference between a devout Muslim verses a devout Christian in reality is, I will plead with you to repent and turn to Jesus for eternal life, whereas the Muslim if you refuse to convert will kill you. Sad but true, as you said, they are much more serious and devoted to their beliefs than the majority who profess Christ. It all boils down to how much do I REALLY, love follow and obey??

Anonymous said...

What is very tragic is that Satan has many devoted followers! All the false religions of the world are his mouthpieces.

What we must remember is that Satan's devoted followers are not our role models! There will never be anything meritorious about worshipping a false god.

A faithful teacher will always teach that the Koran is an unholy book whose source is Satan, the father of lies.

In my opinion only children of God have a pure passion for truth that consistently glorifies God. An unbeliever can't produce the fruit of being consistently passionate for truth. An unbeliever can't, for example, love wholeheartedly and trust the perfect finished atoning and reconciling work of Christ on the crosss. Only those who have been born again from above are blessed to do that.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I believe that the zeal of those captive to Islam and other cults, is a testimony against the compromised sleeping church. It is a God-allowed cruel irony that can help us to wake up.

The Lord has given everything in order for His Church to have weapons that are mighty to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down false imaginings and lofty thoughts that exalt against the knowledge of God. We the Church must get in humble standing and fulfill our commission in the way that He proscribes and with the means He has given. I am preaching to myself here, because I struggle terribly to pray and intercede and even to care about His desires and commands. It is like there is a glass wall inside myself where I can see and understand, but yet my heart is rather untouched and cold. I also seem unable to find others in person who have a like mind or heart. Am I just overly critical and proud? Yes.
Oh, Brother Rick, pastor and prophet, pray for us your readers. To hear but not do, is greater condemnation that to be altogether ignorant. It seems like I take one step forward, then fall back again. I have become very carnal and lazy.
I'm so grateful for these blogs and for all of you who fellowship here.

Shannon said...

Since our salvation is all based on the convicting power of the Holy Spirit of God, I wonder why many seem to put pressure on themselves and others, as if it is somehow the responsibility of the Church, to lead/draw others to salvation.
Jesus said in Matthew 16:18 that He will build His Church.
Also in Psalm 127:1 "....Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it;..."
The "many" Matthew 7:14 speaks of love the darkness. They want to go their own way. In Romans 1 Paul repeatedly states that "God gave them over...". They are suffering judgment, even today.
John 3:19 "This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.

Romans 4:21 "And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform."
We are witnessing the false church grow. This is based on those worrying and working towards salvation for themselves and others. Where is the "rest" that He offers in salvation in Him alone?

His will is being done.


Reine Gnade said...

Jesus said in Matthew 16:18 that He will build His Church.

That's right Shannon and that is exactly what He is doing. So gracious is He that empowers those who love Him to co labor with Him. That's a privilege and honour that brings with it responsability.

Also in Psalm 127:1 "....Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it;..."
That's right again Shannon. Jesus is our cornerstone. He is the author and finisher of our faith.

The "many" Matthew 7:14 speaks of love the darkness. They want to go their own way.

That's right again, Shannon. The "many" not only want to go their own way but also do go their own way!

What needs to be mentioned here is that this going one's own way need not be unto death. I was such a person that God graciously allowed to repent and turn from loving the darkness and going my own way.

In Romans 1 Paul repeatedly states that "God gave them over...". They are suffering judgment, even today.

A better way to put it Shannon in my opinion is that they are being punished by God. Their thinkng has become corrupted but should they repent God will certainly cleanse their mind! They can still become Christians.

Christ's perfect finished work on the cross gives hope as Rick rightly says to the vilest of sinners to all who God blesses to wholeheartedly trust in Lord Jesus, his atoning work and believe in his resurrection from the dead.

John 3:19 "This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.

Jesus is the Light who came into the world. That's true. It's true that men are sinners and love the darkness, the evil lies of Satan, rather than our beloved Lord.

We are witnessing the false church grow. That is true.

Where is the "rest" that He offers in salvation in Him alone?

That rest is in Triune God and in no one else. Let's always remember that God's will and the Lord Jesus' will are in harmony with each other!

Henrique Wooding said...

Thank you my dear brother Rick, this post has sooooooooooo blessed my heart, I typed in "How can I desire Jesus deeply" in the hope that God would speak to me through something and I thankfully came across your post, God has spoken to me indeed and I thank God for your life, that you haven't compromised. Brother keep pressing, keep being a blessing and I pray the Lord continues to use your for His glory, strengthen you and empower you. Hopefully one day we will meet, if not on this earth than in glory with Him our amazing Lord but un till then my brother keep being strong in The Lord