Anointing 5

John 14:6

As the pastor of the church I have a ring of keys to open all the doors to get into the building. There were times, however, that I would arrive at church and realize that I forgot my keys and there was no way to get in. Now I keep one door key with my car keys so that if I forget the rest I can at least get inside.

It is nice to have options for entering the church. I can enter through just about any door depending on which keys I have with me. But our relationship with Jesus doesn’t give us as many choices.

As Jesus was talking to his disciples and preparing them for what he was about to do he explained the importance of a relationship with him. What did he say about it? How do we get to God, the Father?

The statement leaves very little wiggle room or options in our faith. There are still many people who feel certain that they will go to heaven and enjoy the blessings of eternal life because – in their mind – they have never done anything wrong. They haven’t stolen anything. They haven’t told any harmful lies. They even try to be nice to other people.

But Jesus makes it plain. Jesus is the way. He is the person with whom we must have a relationship in order to more fully understand who God is.

Good deeds are never enough. Kind words are never enough. Sympathy, caring, giving are never enough; and certainly good intentions don’t do it.

To be a real Christian we must have a deep and genuine relationship with Jesus. He is the way to be holy and to know God. Learning from him and trying to show love the way he did is the way to be a righteous person. We must accept that Jesus is our Savior and we must acknowledge that he is the Son of God.

In our Lenten journey we are to examine our faith life and honestly determine what our relationship with Jesus really is. If we only think of him as a wise teacher and compassionate counselor then we are falling short in our faith. To achieve that fulfilling and successful life of faith and love we must see that Jesus is our Lord, and we must value what all of that means to us.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Have you affirmed that Jesus is the son of God? Have you accepted him as your Savior? Will you do it now?

Anointing 4

1 John 1:6-7

In the first few weeks at our current assignment I was in the church building late one evening and thought I could navigate my way through the Sanctuary to my office without turning on any lights. After taking a few steps into the Sanctuary I hit my knee on the piano that I could not see. It hurt so bad I fell to the floor for a minute or two in pain.

We sometimes live our lives the way I tried to walk through the church. We think we do not need any light from God; we don’t need His guidance or fellowship or love. But we can find out quickly that we are lost without it.

John gives us a wonderful comment on how to live a life of faith. According to verse 6, what is really going on if we only think we are good Christians? What happens when we are in the light of God?

I have been noticing more and more people who come to me with their problems and worries. But, as I talk with them and understand their situation better, I find that they are not the type of Christian we need to be.

They may attend church once or twice a year. They may own a Bible, but it is likely they never read it. And they may say they believe in God and trust in Jesus, but their lives do not exhibit this.

As John points out, if we claim we are with God but we really aren’t, we are lying to ourselves and others. To truly live as Christians means that we walk in the light of God. Walking in the light of God means relying on the wisdom and teachings of Jesus and truly valuing what Christ means to us. It means honestly and sincerely believing in Jesus as our Savior and as the Son of God.

Only then will the blood that Jesus shed on the cross provide us with salvation. Only when we truly try to live a life of holiness, imitating Christ in our attitudes and actions, are we in a real relationship with Jesus and not a superficial, empty one.

As we approach Easter we must examine our relationship with God. Is it true? Is it genuine? Are we really trying to walk in the light of love from God, or are we stumbling in the darkness of sin, fooling ourselves and lying to ourselves about our faith?

DAILY CHALLENGE: What must you do to be walking in the light of God?

Anointing 3

Luke 11:23

I once saw an inspirational saying that said (approximately) “If you cannot follow, then lead. If you cannot lead, then follow. If you cannot lead or follow, then get out of the way.” Simply put, if you aren’t part of the solution then you are part of the problem and we would rather you not do that.

Jesus sums up the idea in a simple statement to a crowd who has expressed doubts in his motivation and actions. They claimed that Jesus was doing the work of the devil in his miraculous works. What did Jesus say?

Again, simply put, if you aren’t a helper then you are part of the problem. Those who are not in favor of Jesus – those who do not support his goodness – are against him. There is no middle ground. There is no safe sideline where we can wait and decide later whose side we are on.

This comment addresses our faith and our relationship with God. We are either believers in Christ or we aren’t. And even if we say with our lips that we believe in Christ, if we do not actively value Jesus and his salvation, if we do not actively live out our beliefs and our faith, then we are not the Christians we claim to be.

If we are not real Christians, expressing the love of God and showing compassion to those in need, then we are not Christians at all. John Wesley applied the term “almost Christians” to those who do not have a deep faith, but I cannot believe in the “almost.” We either are or we are not.

This does not eliminate those who are struggling with their faith or those who are new to the faith and want to see their faith grow. In fact, those who desire to have stronger faith and a deeper knowledge and closeness to Jesus are indeed Christians and (I believe) will achieve that strength and depth that they seek.

But so many people are practicing Christians only because they want to play it safe. They pray and wear a cross around their necks just to be on the safe side, just in case there really is a God.

We cannot have that approach. We must choose – consciously, deliberately, and with our whole being – to believe in Jesus and accept him as our Lord and Savior.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Have you decided in your heart that Jesus is your Lord? What can you do to show that you are “with” Jesus?

Anointing 2

1 Peter 1:8-9

As a parent one of the most joyful times of my life was learning that my wife was expecting a child. Although the birth was several months away and we had no idea whether the child would be a boy or a girl we were excited about all the possibilities that the new addition in our lives would bring. We had hopes and expectations of what the child would be like and hope for the unseen future ahead.

Peter also describes a sense of joyful expectation in his first letter to believers. What does he say about the believer’s relationship with Jesus? How does he describe the believer’s joy? Why do we experience that joy?

Peter was one of those fortunate few people who had actually seen Jesus while he lived. Peter had the wonderful experience of hearing his voice, seeing his face, and knowing what type of incredible person he was.

We do not have that benefit to our faith. In fact, that is part of what our faith is based on – belief in things that we have not seen. We have not seen Jesus face to face and must rely entirely on the stories and teachings that others have recorded. We have not heard his mortal voice and must trust in the way Jesus speaks to our hearts and guides our spirits.

There are many skeptics in the world today. There are many people – educated and uneducated – who doubt that Jesus was the person that Christians claim he was. Many do not believe that Jesus was the Son of God, but at best was a wise teacher and compassionate leader.

The stories of miracles and healings are just fables and myth to these individuals. Some of the stories are make-believe to these people, or events that could be explained away with science and logic or an understanding of the ignorance of those who witnessed what went on.

If we will be true Christians, faithful children of God, then we must value Jesus – who he was and who he still is to us now. To truly appreciate the meaning of our faith, our Lenten journey, and the wondrous miracle of Easter we must believe in the Christ and value what his life, teaching and sacrifice means.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you show that you value Jesus and believe in who he was and still is?

Anointing 1

Mark 14:8

I never found out who it was, but someone at our previous church always made certain that there was a glass of ice water in the pulpit for whoever was preaching that Sunday. Somehow, in the midst of all the hubbub of preparing for the service, that person slipped in with the water and slipped back out. There was also an older couple who came to church in the middle of the week and made certain all the pencils in the pews were sharpened, all the old bulletins were taken out and thrown away, and all the hymnals were put neatly in the racks.

These individuals did not do major works for the kingdom of God. What they did were small things, but very important for those who received the benefits. We are all called to do what we can for God.

During Holy Week Jesus went to the home of a man named Simon, and while he was there a woman came in and with a jar of expensive perfume. Much to the upset of some of those watching she poured it on Jesus, anointing him with the costly substance. What does Jesus say of this?

The act of anointing – pouring oil, perfume, wine or water on a person – sets that person apart as someone special and blessed. The woman who came to the house where Jesus was eating anointed him with expensive perfume. The act was meant to honor Jesus. It set him apart as someone blessed and special.

Her action could be considered to be inconsequential. It didn’t change much. But, as Jesus pointed out, she did what she could for him.

It is not important what the act was. It is not important how expensive the perfume was. What is important is that this woman valued Jesus, recognizing him as the Son of God and as someone incredibly important.

Sometimes we can get caught up in what we do for our religion or for our church, and we lose sight of why we are doing this. We can get into the habit of doing something but not realizing we need to value Jesus, recognizing him as the very Son of God, our Savior, our Lord. We can attend times of worship and forget that we need to remember Jesus is the center of our faith, the cornerstone and foundation of our faith and the reason we do what we do.

We must keep Christ as the focus and central point of our faith.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What can you do to keep Jesus at the center of your faith life?