Monthly Archives: March 2013

Playing Pilate

I’m playing the part of Pilate for our church’s Easter drama. As I’ve been rehearsing my lines and getting into character, it dawned on me that I’m sentencing Jesus to death. My first thought was, “I don’t know that I want to play this part.” Of all the characters in the drama, I’m the one who has the power to save Him and keep Him from being crucified. Even though I find no fault in Him, I still release Him to the mob to be killed.

As I struggled with playing that character, it hit me that it wasn’t Pilate who sentenced Jesus to death. It was me. Me. Chris Hendrix. It was my sin that condemned Him. It was my faults that nailed Him to the cross. These are things that I’ve known my whole life, but as I began to play the part of Pilate, I realized I’ve not really accepted blame. I’ve been shifting it to those who actually crucified Him.

There were all kinds of accusations being brought against Jesus in the different courts that night. The religious courts made up charges against Him, but they didn’t stick because the people they paid off couldn’t get their stories straight. They continued to harass Him and finally found a “guilty” verdict for Him speaking the truth. They just didn’t want to hear it.

In Pilate’s court, the religious leaders shouted accusations. In fact, the Message says, “The accusations rained down hot and heavy.” During all of the accusations, Jesus didn’t say a word. He fulfilled the prophesy in Isaiah 53:7 that says, “He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet He never said a word.” Pilate was impressed that He was silent among all the false accusations and tried to pass the buck to Herod in Galilee. He didn’t want to be the one to condemn Him.

When Jesus came before Herod, all Herod wanted was to see Jesus perform a sign or a miracle. When Jesus remained silent, Herod became offended. He dressed Him up like a king and joined in with the others and began to mock Him. They insulted Him to try to get Him to speak. Finally, He got bored and sent Him to Pilate. He couldn’t find a reason to condemn Jesus either.

We all fit into one of these courts with our lives. We can be like the religious leaders and say that He wasn’t the Son of God. We can accuse Him of lying and deny that He was who He said He was. We can be like Herod and mock Him and those who believe in Him. We say, “Show me a sign and I’ll believe.” Or we can find ourselves like Pilate. We are impressed with Him and find no guilt in Him, but refuse to act on it. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what court you’re in, it was each of us who condemned Him to death. He went willingly to the cross for those of us who lie about Him, those of us who mock Him and those of us who don’t bow to the pressure of sin.

Each of us in our own way condemned Him to death. Even though I thought that as Pilate I had the power to save Him, I really didn’t. His ultimate plan was to die on the cross. If He hadn’t been crucified, we would still be in our sins and without hope. He kept that in mind as they hurled their accusations at Him. He loved them enough to stay silent in the face of their lies. He loved them enough to not perform a miracle for Herod. He loved you enough that He willingly died so He could pay the price for your sin. The real power was in His hands and He used it for us. He took our “guilty” verdict on Himself to make us “innocent”.

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Comet Watching

I have tried to see the Pan-STARRS comet a few times this week. I’ve had clear skies, a decent view of the horizon and have been outside at the right times. I just haven’t seen it yet. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t there. Clearly it is. I’ve seen pictures of it on the Internet and friends have reported that they’ve seen it. So why haven’t I seen it? It turns out there are a number of factors that could be keeping me from seeing it: light pollution, my location and my vision.

I think seeing God sometimes is a lot like looking for this comet. We can know something is true without being able to see it. Often in our lives things are going on that cloud our vision. We aren’t looking through the right lenses. Just like a pair of binoculars will improve my vision and ability to see the comet, God’s Word improves our spiritual vision and helps us to see His hand at work. Psalm 119:105 in The Message says, “By your words I can see where I’m going; they cast a light on my path.”

Just like my location determine what if I can see the comet, my location in my walk with God determines how well I can see Him. When I’m on His path for my life, I’ve found it’s easier to see Him and to follow His voice. It’s when I stray off the path that I can’t see where I’m going. At times, I forget which way the path is and lose my way. God is faithful to put me back on the path when I admit I’m off of it and need His help again. All of a sudden, things become clear again.

Light pollution is the other thing that seems to keep that comet out of my sight. To see it best, I need to get away from the things that are preventing me from seeing it. There are people in our lives, places we go and problems that arise that we allow to block our view of God. The light that they are putting out changes our focus and keeps us from seeing Him. Jesus made it a habit to get away from the things that polluted His vision of God. He went away to desolate places to regain His focus so He could see. Even in the darkest moments of Gethsemane, He moved away from His disciples to pray.

God wants you and I to focus on Him and to see His hand in our lives. He wants to show Himself to us. In Ezekiel 38:23, God says, “I’ll show you how great I am, how holy I am. I’ll make myself known all over the world.” Just like that comet is there and can be seen by some, God is there and wants to be seen by you. Make sure you improve your vision of Him by reading His word, change your location by walking down His paths and get rid of the pollution in your life that limits your view of Him. Get alone with Him today and spend some time with Him. I bet you’ll see Him. In Jeremiah 29:13 God says, “When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. He’s when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.”

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The Mystery of Fine China

One of the great mysteries that guys wonder about is why do we get fine China when we never use it. It sits in a cabinet for years never being used. It looks good. It’s expensive. It’s on display for all to see. When are we ever going to use it? On special occasions is what we’re told. Those rarely come about, so those plates just sit there. They’re waiting to be used. They’re perfectly capable of being used, but they’re on display. They rarely reach their potential.

What we end up using are our daily plates. They cost a lot less, but get used often. They’re pulled out of a cabinet that you can’t see through, they’re used for every meal, washed and hidden again. These plates earn their keep and are always reaching their potential. Constantly being used for every day use. That’s the way I want to be used by God.

Some people are like fine China. They look good, they’re on display for all the world to see, but they are rarely used by God. I think it’s mainly because they think they’re fragile and stay in a place locked up and away from where they can reach their potential. Being used by God is messy business. You get dirty. You need to be washed often. A lot of us don’t like that so we stay away from situations where we can be used all the time.

I’m not like that. I don’t mind being hidden and out of sight as long as God can use me daily. I realize that it means I’ll need to be washed by the Word often. It also means that Im in that place of full potential where God sees fit to use me for His every day purposes. It may not be glamorous and it may not get much attention from outside of those that are being helped, but I’m being used for what I was made for.

I guess it boils down to what we’re content with. Are we content by being on display and never used for our purpose or are we content when we’re being used by God? If it’s the latter, are we placing ourselves where He can best use us? Are we willing to get dirty doing His work? Do we mind that it’s not glamorous or a special occasion? If not, then chances are we will be used by Him. It just won’t garner a lot of praise from others. You’re doing what you were created to do. Serve.

Each one of us has a purpose. We have a destiny to fulfill. There are things in this world that God needs accomplished and only you can do it. Your experiences and the things you’ve gone through were allowed and designed by God to prepare you for your purpose. Instead of looking at those times in your life as hindrances to your purpose, embrace them as preparation for your purpose. Be who God made you to be and put yourself on the table to be used by God for your every day potential.

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God’s Distracting Hand

I love my son with everything in me. He’s funny, he’s got a great personality and is always wanting to learn. He loves to show me what he knows and often points things out as we pass them by. At two years old, his world is ever changing and his knowledge is ever increasing. Often when I try to talk to him, he gets distracted and points to something else and starts talking about it. Other times, I try to get his attention, but he’s too involved in what he’s doing to pay attention. I have to put my hand between his eyes and whatever he’s doing so he will look up to see me.

He and I are a lot alike. We’re both easily distracted, visually stimulated and get so engrossed in what we’re doing that the outside world fades away to the point that we can’t hear or see anything outside of what we’re doing. When God tries to speak to me, my mind runs away and I start thinking of the possibilities. I change the subject on Him and point to other things that aren’t a part of the conversation. Other times, I’m so involved in what I’m doing that I fail to hear Him.

He has to put His hand in my way, block my vision and do what it takes to get my attention. When that happens, like my son, I get upset. My stubbornness kicks in and I move around His hand so I can continue doing what I was doing. I even try to move His hand out of the way at times because I’m not thinking about His will, I’m only thinking of my own. I think about what I want to accomplish, not what He wants me to accomplish. His hand in my life often frustrates me.

It really shouldn’t bother me though. As my Heavenly Father, He knows what is best for me. He tries to teach me new things, redirect my attention to what matters and show me what’s important to Him. His will for my life is what is most important and I often ask for His hand to guide me. The funny thing is that I often don’t recognize His hand in my life for what it is. Instead of seeing it as Him pointing to something better, I see it as a nuisance or a problem.

When things are happening in our lives that knock us off our daily routine, I believe that it’s probably God trying to get our attention. He’s putting His hand in front of our face to get our attention off the daily routine and to focus on what He wants. Sure, we have to-do lists and things that must get done. He understands that, but when He needs our attention or tries to speak to us, it’s important to look up and to listen. I’m not there yet. I have a ways to go, but I’m starting to recognize His hand in my life. I’m making a point now to not try and get around His hand, but to stop and give Him my full attention when He intervenes.

What’s going on in your life right now that could be God trying to get your attention? Are you fighting against it or are you stopping what you’re doing so you can pay attention to Him?

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Prince of Wholeness

Last week we looked at the names of God. One of the names we covered was Jehovah Shalom. Yesterday at church, we began to dig deeper into the word “Shalom”. Typically it means “peace”. It is often used as a greeting in Israel. One of the other meanings for the word is “completeness” or “whole”. I found that very interesting. So I went back to Isaiah 9:6 where it says Jesus will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace. I switched to the Message version of the Bible and there it called Him the Prince of Wholeness.

My mind raced, “How had I missed that?” I’m not sure how I’ve read that a hundred times and have heard the word shalom over and over and never saw that He is the Prince of Wholeness. We all need peace in our lives so much that we focus on that part of “shalom”, but rarely go deeper into its meaning. We don’t look beyond the surface, but we need to. We need to dig deeper to find so etching like this because we all need it.

I’ve had my life shattered and broken. You probably have too. When I look back at that period in my life, I see myself laying on a foundation in the pouring rain. There is debris of what was my life laying all around. There is nothing that is salvageable. That is there is nothing I can salvage. But here, in this scripture, I see a God who can take the broken pieces of my life and make me whole again. I see a Prince who is not content with leaving me broken and unprotected. He wants me to be whole.

He wants you to be whole too. When you’re broken like this, you think that all is lost. You feel that no one cares. The world is dark around you. You can’t see the future because you can’t imagine a future you’d want to be in. There is no light of hope to guide you. You take each breath as it comes. Each second of the clock ticks in slow motion and survival is your only instinct. You aren’t worried about tomorrow because you’re focused on surviving today. Yes, even in that moment of your life, He is the Prince of Wholeness.

God is able to take you from that place in your life to a place of Wholeness. Completeness. Rebuilt. Stronger. Better. He is the God of creation and He can create a new beginning for you. It’s not something that happens over night. A masterpiece is not painted in a day. A mansion is not built over night. Your life is more complex and worth more to Him than anything else. You may struggle with feelings of unworthiness or worthlessness, but you are worthy and you are priceless. You are worth rebuilding to Him. You are worth being made whole. Don’t give up. Invite the Prince of Wholeness to come in today and to complete the work which He began in you.

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Abba Father

I want to wrap up this week of the names of God with one that I feel is most important: Abba Father. I spent the entire week in the Old Testament, so I thought I’d bring you one from the New. It’s a name we may use in prayer, but really never give much thought to. Abba is really like saying “Dad”. If you have a relationship with your earthly father, chances are that you call him “Dad” and not father. Dad implies a certain relationship. One that is close. One that is personal.

That’s what God wants to have with you. A close, personal relationship. He wants you to call him “Dad”. When you were born into this world, you were a spiritual orphan. We are all born without a spiritual father. Our sin nature separates us at birth. God saw that we were separated and couldn’t just leave us in an orphaned state. He chose to adopt us as His own.

As you may know, adoption isn’t cheap. Ours cost Him His blood son’s life. He gave up His only son so that you and I could be adopted into His family. Think about that for a minute. He had a son, yet He saw us fatherless and chose to pay the highest price possible because He thinks you are worth that much. Yes, you. The adoption process was long and hard. He had to wait until just the right time before He did it.

Romans 8:15 says, “You have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when He adopted you as His own children. Now we call Him, ‘Abba, Father’.” God didn’t want us to be His slaves who had to do what we were told because He was our master. Instead He wanted us as His own children who would serve Him out of love. There’s a huge difference between those two relationships.

You may not have had a dad growing up or you may have had one that wasn’t really there or involved. Psalm 68:5 says that God is a father to the fatherless. He wants to be more than your father. He wants to be your dad. He wants to be who you never had. He wants to fill that relational void in your life. He’s not content to just have you believe in Him, He wants to talk with you, walk with you and to provide the kind of wisdom and insight that you would get from an earthly father.

I don’t fully understand what it is to adopt or to be adopted. I have many friends who have adopted or are in the process of adopting. I can tell you that my friends who have adopted love their adopted children as their own because they are their own children. They don’t see them as adopted. They see them as blood. That’s how God sees you, not as adopted, but as His own, because He bought you with His blood. You have a dad both physical and spiritual in your Abba Father.

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Jehovah Nissi

Most of us are familiar with the story in Exodus 17 where the Israelites went out to fight the Amalekites. Moses went up on a hill to watch the battle. When he raised his arms, Israel prevailed. When his arms grew weak from being raised and they fell, Israel began to lose. Aaron and Hur went up the hill, had Moses sit on a rock and propped his hands up. The Bible says that Israel mowed down the Amalekites that day. Moses then built an altar and called it Jehovah Nissi, The Lord my banner.

Banners aren’t something we use much anymore. But all through history they have been used. If you think about the national anthem for the United States. It was written during a battle. If you listen to the words of it, when night fell, our flag was raised up which meant we were winning the battle. The writer was a prisoner in a ship and he was trying to see if it was still flying. The dawn’s early light was not bright enough to see it. He relied on the rockets red glare to light it up and give proof that it was still there.

The flag, or banner, represented hope in the battle. It let you know in all the confusion of war with the bombs bursting, the lights flashing and smoke rising that we were being victorious. Hope in a battle is huge. People need it to keep fighting when they can’t see the end result. When the banner went down in a battle, people lost hope and the will to fight. What Moses did was create a banner that represented victory and that The Lord was helping them. It gave hope.

You may be fighting a battle right now. It could be personal, spiritual, financial, relational or any type. In it your vision is limited. Your focus has become short sighted. You may even feel like a prisoner in that battle like Francis Scott Key was who wrote the U.S. national anthem. Even as a prisoner of war, he saw our banner and had hope. So much hope that he penned a moving song that is known world wide.

If you’re lacking hope today, raise your hands and praise God. Surrender the battle to Him. He is your victory. He is your strength. Don’t get caught up in the smoke and confusion of the battle. Look for the banner that represents your victory today. It’s still there, you just need to see it. The dawn will break soon and the light of the Son will shine again. Don’t give up. The Lord is your banner of victory. He is Jehovah Nissi.

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Jehovah Shalom

In a world dominated by chaos, peace is a hard thing to find. Fear is easily bred when you think of all that is going on today. Cities and countries are going bankrupt. Debts are rising. Unemployment is going up. There is very little in this world anymore that is stabile. When the future is uncertain, it’s easy to lose hope. I choose to not let the events of this world control my inner peace. What seems out if control in this world is still under God’s control.

In the book of Judges, chapter 6, Israel was in the same condition. Chaos reigned in the land. There was no hope. While Gideon was threshing wheat in secret, an angel appeared and said, “Mighty hero, The Lord is with you.” Gideon’s response was like many of ours would be. He asked, “If The Lord is with me, then why have all these bad things happened?” They talked some more and then Gideon asked for a sign that the angel was from God. After seeing the sign, Gideon was terrified, but God said, “Don’t be afraid.” He built an altar to God and called it Jehovah Shalom (The Lord is Peace).

Don’t be afraid. That’s God’s word to us today. Don’t let fear grip your heart, your mind and your life. We are not meant to live in fear. God has not given us a spirit of fear. It’s not in Him. He is the Prince of Peace and that’s what He wants to give you today. Peace. He doesn’t want you so consumed by the chaos and instability in your life that you lose your focus. When you have peace, you can focus on what matters and make the best decisions.

Jesus said in John 14, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me… I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid (verses 1, 27).” His peace is not like the false peace that we find in the world. I call it “false” because the peace the world gives is temporary. His peace is eternal. It passes all understanding. It is sufficient for you.

I don’t know what all you are facing right now. I’ve had my fair share of trouble, stress and chaos in my life. I’ve also been guilty of allowing those things to take over my mind and to get me off track. I’ve learned to trust God and to allow His peace to reign in my life. I don’t live in a utopia. I still have chaos, stress and trouble all around me. I choose to trust in Jehovah Shalom now to bring peace to my life. I don’t allow them to control my mind. What may have caught me off guard and unprepared, did not catch Him off guard. He knows my future and can guide me best. He knows yours too and offers peace. Will you trust Jehovah Shalom today?

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Jehovah Rapha

It was in the desert that God first made the promise to be our healer. The Israelites had left Egypt, crossed the Red Sea and had traveled three days. No matter where they looked, they couldn’t find water. The people started complaining to Moses about it. Then suddenly, there it was. A body if water was before them in the town of Marah. They went to drink it, but it was bitter. After praying, God directed Moses to a piece of wood. When he threw it in the water, the water became sweet. At that moment, God spoke and said, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of The Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, obeying His commands and keeping all His decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am The Lord who heals you (Jehovah Rapha).”

How fitting that they were in the desert when He made that promise. When we are in need of healing, we often feel like we’re in a desert. We’re alone. There seems to be no life. No hope. No where to get what we need. The outlook is often dim. That’s usually where we need to be when God shows up. It’s when we’ve reached the end of our ability, that we learn to trust His ability.

I’m not here to tell you that every time I’ve prayed for healing for someone that they’ve received it. In fact, I’ve lost loved ones whom I prayed and believed God to heal. Does that change who God is or His ability to heal? Absolutely not. I can choose to let something like that poison the water of my soul and make me bitter like the waters of Marah or I can choose to let God put the wood of the cross in my soul and bring healing to me to remove the bitterness.

One day Jesus was teaching people in someone’s home. A group of guys wanted to get Jesus to heal their friend. When they got to the house where He was, they couldn’t get in because there were so many people. They hatched a plan to carry their friend to the roof, cut a hole in it and then lower him down in front of Jesus for healing. But Jesus didn’t heal him right away. Instead, He said, “Young man, your sins are forgiven.” Jesus was concerned with the healing of his soul more than his physical healing. Sooner or later a physical healing ends and you will die. A spiritual healing lasts for eternity.

Some people were upset because Jesus offered salvation. Jesus asked them, “Is it easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven’, or ‘Stand up and walk’?” He then healed him physically. There’s something good here I want you to get. Through the cross, Jesus is able to bring both physical and spiritual healing. It was by His stripes given at the cross that we are healed physically and by His death that we are healed spiritually. His offer to you is to allow Him to apply that wood to your life how He sees fit. He will be your Jehovah Rapha.

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Jehovah Jireh

This week I’m going to do a little something different. I’m going to focus on a few names given to God in the Bible and what they mean to us. Some of them you may have heard of and others you may not have. The first one that I want to look at is the one that is probably the most popular: Jehovah Jireh. Every time I hear that name, my mind starts to play that old song we used to sing in church.

The lyrics say, “Jehovah Jireh. My provider. His grace is sufficient for thee. My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in Glory. He will give His angels charge over thee. Jehovah Jireh careth for thee.” The song may be old, but the truth in it is everlasting. God will supply all your needs when we act in obedience to His voice.

The place in the Bible where this name for God comes from is Genesis 22:14. Abraham had been asked by God to sacrifice his son through whom the promise was to come through. I’m sure Abraham wondered about that. I know I would have. My thoughts would have been, “God, didn’t you promise that my descendants would outnumber the stars? Yet, now you are asking me to sacrifice the only way that is possible.”

If Abraham ever thought like that, you wouldn’t know it. He knew that if God could help he and his wife conceive miraculously in their old age, God could do above and beyond anything he could imagine. God had been true to His word so far, so why not trust Him this time? If you’re like me, your memory with God is short term. I forget all the things He has done for me and start to doubt.

Isaac was a little curious too. He asked his dad, “I see we have the wood and the fire, but where is the lamb for the sacrifice?” Abraham, in faith, answered, “God will provide.” They kept walking all the way to the mountain that God showed him. He then set out the wood, tied Isaac up and placed him on the altar. As he lifted his knife to kill the son of promise, the angel of The Lord called out and stopped him. He then provided a ram for the sacrifice.

I think it’s interesting to note that Abraham kept walking to the mountain trusting God. Many times we sit and wait for God to provide before we are willing to step out in faith. Abraham traveled several days and had to build the altar before God provided what Abraham was trusting Him for. Our faith and trust in God’s ability to provide shouldn’t be passive. It should be proactive. We should continue to do what He called us to do and not sit still until He answers.

God is looking for obedience from us. He wants to provide for our needs, but we have to be in the place of His provision. The ram was caught by his horns at the top of the mountain, not at the base camp. Go where God has told you to go, do what God has told you to do and speak what God has told you to speak. It is in that place of action, that place of sheer faith and trust in God that He will provide for you. Jehovah Jireh, God will provide.

*Author’s note: I’m well aware of the ongoing discussion of Jehovah versus Yahweh. These posts are not intended to be a discussion ground for that debate, but rather to focus on who God is and what He promised to do.

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