Pastor Scott's Blog

(for more blog entries, go to:  http://jcctracy.blogspot.com )

04/23/18 - John 13

April 23, 2018 – John 13

Jesus: I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. John 13:15

Belief is about imitation.  It’s not a belief until we act on it.

It’s hard to imagine the weight that Jesus felt on the last night He walked with the disciples.  It was Passover, already an emotional symbolic reminder of the death to come.  He was in a room with the man who had already betrayed Him.  And to top it off, all of Jesus’ friends would soon abandon Him, leaving Him alone to face the cross.  Agony is not strong enough of a word to describe it.  Excruciating is more accurate – the same word used to describe the physical pain Jesus would face on the cross.

But in the midst of all that emotional & spiritual pain, Jesus took a bowl of water and a towel, and bent down to the floor to wash His disciples’ feet.  Jesus chose to be everyone else’s servant, not only setting an example, but doing it at the most painful moment in His life on earth.  Being an example takes strength… being an example in the midst of your greatest pain takes much more than strength.  It takes imitation.  Jesus was imitating His Father’s love for people, by showing love to his disciples.

Believing in something is much more than just knowing the facts.  It is more than feeling like something is right.  Belief is imitating in our actions what we trust in our hearts.  Jesus believed that sacrificial love changed lives and eternities.  He believed it enough to come to earth and give up His throne in heaven.   He believed it enough to risk temptation and live among us as a man.  Jesus believed it enough to surrender Himself to a betrayer, and take a flogging, and be nailed to a cross.  And that night in the upper room, Jesus believed it enough to humble Himself from the Son of God to the lowest servant in the room, washing His disciples’ feet.  The Father had believed in sacrificial love enough to create men and love them every moment of every day.  Jesus simply imitated His Father.

The true test of belief is not how much we agree, but how much we imitate Jesus.  Obedience is not about religious activities to make God happy, it is about loving imitation because we trust in what Jesus did.  Following His Example is imitation, and imitation is a demonstration of belief.

Christianity is simple, but not easy.  Follow Christ like He followed the Father.   Don’t just believe about Jesus, believe Him to the point of imitating His character.  Not only is that the greatest demonstration of love, but it will save you!
04/20/18 - John 12

April 20, 2018 – John 12

They would not acknowledge their faith... for they loved human praise more than praise from God. John 12:42-43

Standing for your beliefs isn’t as important as standing for Truth ... Form values out of truth, not popularity.

Local news has changed significantly over the years, becoming more attracted to inspiration and interest than information.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as human interest stories are often a pleasant break from discouraging and downright depressing news.   These days, you will see stories of animal rescues, unexpected people making extraordinary effort, and people standing up for their beliefs.  Maybe that is why parents, teachers and many others are supportive of anything a person does that is ‘standing up for themselves’.  It’s an important character quality to be bold and courageous in standing for what you believe, and these days, a popular story – even if the belief is misguided.

God encourages people to stand for their beliefs, but only when the beliefs match His.  Standing for beliefs that don’t match what God teaches makes us in opposition to God.  He is more interested in you standing for Truth than just standing for beliefs.

That’s where many people will be surprised, even shocked, when we stand before God in heaven someday.  We will be surprised that God doesn’t agree with our beliefs.  We may even be shocked that our beliefs are in direct opposition to God, and damaged our faith --- or worse, the faith of those we love.  My sense is that EVERYONE will discover this … because God said we would:  “My thoughts are not your thoughts.  My ways are not your ways.” 

Jesus was wary of entrusting himself to men, because their beliefs were different than His.  Jesus believed in God’s Word, men preferred to be selective in believing God’s Word.  Jesus taught BOTH Judgment & Mercy.  Men taught mercy for themselves and judgment for others.  Jesus loved lost people enough to die for them.  Men loved themselves too much to die for anyone lost.  Jesus taught against the traditions (truths) of men.  Men taught traditions over God’s Truth. 

At the root of beliefs is either Truth or Popularity.  Believing in something against God’s Word is not about Truth, it’s about convenience, preference, comfort, popular opinion, etc.  Be CAREFUL!  Truth always trumps opinion in the long run – and there are consequences for rejecting truth. 

Don’t form your values based on opinions or beliefs that are not backed up with the Authority of Truth.  Seek the Truth of God before standing on a belief.  You’ll find yourself standing a much more solid foundation.
04/19/18 - John 11

April 19, 2018 – John 11

Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?" John 11:40

Trusting in Jesus and remaining faithful to Him always leads to seeing His hand at work...you may be one belief away from seeing a miracle.

Miracles come in many different shapes and sizes.  But often they don’t come in the timeframe we want.  And usually, miracles don’t happen the way we want.  That’s what makes them miracles.

If there was a family that Jesus was closest to, it was Lazarus and his daughters.  So the news that Lazarus was dieing had to be traumatic to Jesus when He heard about it.  Yet, Jesus delayed, and then showed up 3 days later after Lazarus’ death.  Mary & Martha both came to Jesus, grieving in their own way, but it was Martha who was coherent enough to gain a faith lesson and witness one of Jesus’ greatest miracles – raising her father from the dead.  Martha knew Jesus WOULD raise Lazarus on judgment day, but didn’t believe Jesus COULD raise Lazarus on that day.   The time for a miracle had already passed.  Jesus could have healed Lazarus when he was sick, not after Lazarus was already dead.  But she chose to trust Jesus, and permitting the stone to be removed from the grave, Martha witnessed a miracle beyond her imagination.  Only one belief stood in the way of a miracle.

Miracles are usually one belief away – but not a belief in the METHOD of a miracle.  Miracles are waiting on belief in THE ONE who decides what the miracle will be.  Jesus did not save Lazarus from dieing.  He didn’t race to their side as soon as they informed him.  He didn’t raise Lazarus through some process or dramatic service.  Jesus decided what to do, and when to do it.  And all Jesus wanted from Martha is for her to believe in HIM.

Before Lazarus could be resurrected, Jesus needed the stone away.  A stone may also need removed for us to see a miracle as well.  The stone may be physical, but also may be a sin issue, a circumstance, a timeframe, or another impediment.  Your job will be to remove the stone.  Jesus’ job is to perform the miracle.  Don’t forget that! 

 When we give up control, and stop dictating what the miracle should be, Jesus can do what He does best.  Need a miracle today?  Put faith in the Miracle-worker, instead of the method.  Trust Jesus’ timing, instead of trying to dictate your own.  Leave the miracle up to Him, and then be watching --- because He is likely already working on the miracle you need.
04/18/18 - John 10

April 18, 20178– John 10

Jesus: My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27

Jesus knows that obedience only comes out of a personal relationship with Him as our master & friend.

One of the simplest games to teach a child is Follow the Leader.  It is a great learning tool for kids, and one that can help them learn other behaviors in a fun way.  It is also a game that teaches us how to behave in every walk of life for the rest of our days.  People must learn how to play Follow the Leader in school, work, family, sports, and every other area of life.  (So learn how to play at a young age!)

There are many things you can do in playing the game, but one key element MUST be there for it to work:  Trust.  If the follower doesn’t trust the leader, there’s not much following going on.  The only way to get a follower to mimic an untrusted leader is by force, manipulation or delegation.  Trust is PARAMOUNT to following.

That’s also why Trust is the most important asset in our personal relationships.  Breaking someone’s trust is the fastest way to kill a relationship, and the hardest thing to recover from.  Grow trust, and a marriage or friendship can go far.  Break it, and you find yourself doing looping around the clover leaf along the freeways of life.

Jesus came to earth with a gigantic problem.  All of the human race was destined for hell, and the only person who knew the roadmap to heaven was Jesus Himself.  But people didn’t know Jesus.  So Jesus taught them how to play Follow the Leader.  He would grow trust by performing a miracle, then teach them some practical lessons.  Then Jesus would heal people, and teach some more.  He would feed people and teach, walk on water and teach, cast out demons and teach some more.  All along the way Jesus was building up trust in His Word and letting people learn His voice, so that when the time came to follow, they would be ready to play the game.  And after the cross, when people thought they had lost all ability to trust, Jesus came back from the dead, permanently establishing His trustworthiness, so that all who will play Follow the Leader can join in the game.  Now the gigantic problem was solved.  His trust was proven, we know His voice, it’s simply up to us whether we want to follow.

Many people tell me they don’t know the voice of Jesus.  But that’s not because Jesus is silent, it’s just that we are not tuning into His Word, listening in prayer, seeking His truth.  Do you want to hear the Guide speak to you?  Then get a mentor that can help you learn how to Listen to His Voice speaking to you through Scriptures.  We NEED to learn how to listen for Him, because Jesus is the only one who has the GPS that can guide us to Eternal Life.

Follow the Leaderis a simple game to learn, but not a childish game.  It is one we need to master if we want to navigate this life well, and certainly one we need to travel the path to Eternity.  Maybe it’s time to go back to that simple game again and play it with Jesus.  Wanna play?
04/17/18 - John 9

April 17, 2018 – John 9

"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”  John 9:3

Circumstances are a consequence of our decisions, effect of others decisions, or God's opportunity for making His own decision.

Fairness is somehow an expectation of life, even though we know that life never ends up being fair.  For instance, why is it fair that many of us were born in the richness of the United States, while others are born in much poorer nations?  Why is it fair that some people have great physiques and others struggle with their body size?  Why is it fair that a child can be abused but evil people can be protected? 

Jesus was asked by the disciples one day what was the fairness behind a crippled person’s predicament.  If people were born with a defect, it was assumed that their parents sinned or they sinned (somehow in the womb), or they were going to sin, and God was punishing them with a consequence.   The fact is that most of the time we associate consequences with somebody’s wrongdoing.  Otherwise --- it wouldn’t be fair! 

Jesus never associated circumstances with fairness.  He associated them with possibilities.  Every circumstance, good or bad, has the potential to be used by God for a greater purpose.  If you have been given a blessing or shown favor, you have the chance to use that blessing to support God’s Kingdom.  If you have been given a challenge or faced a trial, it is an opportunity to lean on God or be trained by God.  Jesus answered the disciple’s questions by changing the paradigm.   Yes – sometimes our own sin causes consequences.  Sometimes the sin of others affects our circumstances.  But circumstances are not about punishment or fairness, they are about purpose.  God uses EVERY circumstance to create an opportunity for His Glory to shine.

Now that may not be helpful initially to the crippled boy and his family, but it can give them courage to face tomorrow.  It may not help the grieving couple who lost a pregnancy, but can give them hope to try again.  It may not delight those who have lost a job, faced a divorce, struggled with a rebellious child, or been abused by someone at the time, but it can be a reminder that God is not done with us yet.  God excels in working His power THROUGH our circumstances, not just helping us avoid circumstances. 

Consider that young man for a moment.  His years of struggle were used by Jesus to show the world that the Savior had arrived.  They not only witnessed a miracle, they experienced one, and they met the Savior Himself.  All of those years of difficulty were solved in one shining moment of God’s Glory.

Our trials will end the same way – it may happen in this life, or at the end of life on earth, but all those circumstances will be used to bring God Glory.  In the mean time, ask God to use our circumstances to bring Himself Glory.  You may just find yourself the subject of a miracle.