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On the Journey...
Monthly Insight From Pastor Phil Yoder
July 1, 2020
Focusing on Jesus
When I was young, I had trouble believing many of the things that I now hold with very great conviction. Faith did not come easy for me. My journey to faith was not an easy or a comfortable road. But I now can see the importance of the difficult uphill journey of faith. That is how convictions are formed.
A chick that doesn’t peck away and struggle to get out of the shell will be weak and generally will not survive. There is something about the struggle that is important to the strength of faith. We should not look down on Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, Peter and the other disciples who struggled and had trouble learning faith while learning to live by that faith. Certainly, Jesus did not. Those moments were crucial to their faith development. We should pity poor Judas who gave up on Jesus much too soon, and everyone else who has followed his lead in giving up on Jesus.
There was a time when I wondered if the Bible was true and if Jesus was anything other than a very smart man. It was when I was memorizing the Gospel of John for Bible Quizzing that Jesus appeared to me, not physically, but I knew his presence was in the room. That was a turning point in my faith, although the change that followed was gradual and not very dramatic, but it has been steady, and still continues. Maturing in faith is like growing, it takes time to mature. I became convinced about Jesus, not through an argument or through rational thought, it was through revelation. I had prayed that if Jesus was real, He should make himself known to me, and I would follow Him. HE did, and I did. But I had put myself in a position where I was open to Jesus and was seeking Him. I was not running away from Him.
In our sermon series this Spring, we have been focusing on John’s Gospel, and from our study in John, I have been convicted in a new and much deeper way of just how special and how great Jesus really is. Jesus came from heaven and has for now, returned to heaven. The Book of Revelation pictures Jesus as standing in the center of the Throne in heaven, implying the Jesus is reigning and will guide the world to the outcome He has chosen. He is the creator and the savior of the world. And in His greatness, He will rule over all creation. Jesus has been given all authority and power and glory. He is full of Grace (lavishing mercy on sinners and taking away their sins) and Truth (there is never a question if what Jesus says is true). He is the only begotten Son of God, which means that He is a biological descendent of God and has the DNA of God. He is our protector and defender who continually intercedes (prays) for us in heaven, our shepherd who is constantly looking out for us and preparing good things for us. He forgives our sins and gives us new beginnings. He is preparing a place for us in His Father’s House for when we leave this world. He leads a Kingdom that will never be overthrown, which originates and ends in heaven, where He protects it from all corruption. He defeated Satan, overcame death, and He has brought us into the New Creation where He gives to us Eternal Life, something He alone can give, because He is actually sharing His own life with us. And He promises resurrection from the dead with a new resurrected body and an inheritance waiting in heaven to accompany us in our new life, a life that will go on throughout the eons. Jesus does this for all those who belong to Him. What Jesus does for those who love Him and belong to Him is more than we can possibly comprehend or describe. And I have a deep feeling that this is only the tip of the iceberg of what Jesus, our Redeemer, is really doing for us.
How can anybody possibly ignore Jesus or not want Him in their lives? Perhaps if we focused the gaze of our souls on Jesus, the fears of this world that cripple us would lose much of their grip on our hearts, the problems of this world would no longer overwhelm us, and the worries and anxieties of life would dissipate and go away.