Did Jesus Shed His Godhead When He Came to Earth? Devotional for February 11, 2022

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Today’s Bible reading from the Five Day Bible Reading Plan: Exodus 28-31; Philippians 2

Christ was in the form of God. Now, those of you who may know the Scriptures may have raised your eyebrows. Given this passage, it won’t be the first time. As Jesus traveled through Samaria, he engaged a woman in conversation. During the conversation, he said to her:

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24).

So if God is spirit, how can Christ have been in the form of God. The term ‘form’ comes from the Greek word morphe, which can deal with physical form or shape, but also deals with the essential nature of something. When Christ came, He came as the visible display of God in all his essence. He did not need to work toward being God. He did not need to grasp or use his status as being God for his own selfish interests. Isn’t that amazing? We, being mere humans, concoct whatever status we hold or wish and use it as leverage to get our way. Yet Christ, who didn’t need to concoct or grasp at anything, did not leverage this for his own advantage.

Rather than wishing to be ‘full of himself’—something we see inside and outside of the Christian camp—Christ emptied himself. As one preacher put it, he removed the robes of glory and took on the robes of flesh.

Now, if you needed another reason to raise those eyebrows, you have the question of this: “What does it mean that he emptied himself?” Of what? Now, what some will say is that Jesus emptied himself of some of His deity. Yet nothing here mentions any of His divine attributes, much less any of them being lost. Remember, what’s the theme here? His humility. Matthew Harmon rightly says that what Jesus emptied Himself of was prestige (in being with His Father in full glory) and position (He left heaven to come here).

I wouldn’t be a very good preacher or pastor if I didn’t bring up something that Jesus said that makes it seem as if He gave up some of His deity. In Mark 13:32, Jesus said, “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Eyebrow raiser #3: if Jesus did not give up His Godhood, how could there be something that He could not know. Matt Slick rightly says,

“Jesus cooperated with the limitations of humanity and voluntarily did not exercise His attribute of omniscience. He still was divine but was moving and living completely as a man.”

Matt Slick, “Kenosis.”

It’s one of those mysteries, but the implications of this understanding is that Christ was not fully God, and we would then be in our sins if he weren’t. Thankfully, Christ never lost His deity. He maintained His full humanity. Praise God that this is how it must be for us to be free.

Sunday Sermon: Jesus Came Calling–Fishers of People and Keepers of the Aquarium (Mark 1:16-20)

Kermit Long many years ago is credited for coining the phrase, “We’re no longer fishers of men, but keepers of the aquarium, and we spend most of our time swiping fish from each other’s bowl.” This has served as a long-time warning to us as believers for us to make sure we are telling others outside of our “bowl.” The result, as you might guess, is a swinging of the pendulums. Some hear this and say, “We need to be out winning souls for Christ. People need to be saved from their sin and the eternal consequences that await.” Others say, “Well, what good is it ‘saving’ them if we do not disciple them and show them what it means to live now for Christ?”

I have not had any fish in my adult life, but we did have an aquarium when I was in elementary school. So, as I’m prone to do, I consulted the oracle, that is, “Google” about “How to Take Care of Freshwater Aquatic Life: Tips for New Fish Parents.” Goodness! You have to (1) pick the right size aquarium, (2) condition the water correctly with the right temperature, pH levels, right condition of the water, (3) maintenance to siphon out water and debris, (4) proper aquarium acclimation, and (5) watch your aquatic life for changes. I read through that and thought, “Wow! Aquariums are important. Those environments help the fish be nourished, grow, and thrive.”

And so this happens with the environments of worship gatherings, Sunday School, prayer meetings, and other administrative meetings–working to help those the “fish” grow and thrive. That, my friends, is called discipleship. We are to be fishers of people and keepers of the aquarium. Do you? Let’s see what Jesus calls us to.

Sometimes You Just Need to Shake the Dust Off Your Feet and Move On

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I had a gentleman call the church asking to “talk about the Bible.” He asked a question that let me know he was from the Watchtower Society–the Jehovah’s Witnesses (no, I won’t link to them). He asked me a question that’s common coming from this cult: “How can you say that Jesus is eternal if He died?” When I tried to develop my thoughts to answer this question, he kept interrupting. When it was clear there was no conversation to be had, only an argument, I told him that we were not going to agree and that I would end the conversation. His response? “Why are you running away?”

Friends, there will be conversations where someone will call or engage you that does not want to really hear your side but simply wants to win. Don’t allow your pride to keep you engaging in that regard. Matthew 7:6 says, ““Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” Some will not receive the gospel message. So, you plant the seed and move on.

Now, this gentleman got elevated. That’s how I knew it was time to move on. This is not about wins and losses. It’s about planting gospel seeds, praying the soil is ready.

Oh, how would I have answered him? Well, it seems that from their own Scriptures the deity of Christ is on display. You can read about it here.

Be Thankful the Cross Wasn’t the End: Devotional for January 24, 2022

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Today Bible reading from the Five Day Bible Reading Plan: Genesis 41-42, Mark 16

In the majority of our Bible translations, Mark 16 contains a rather startling insertion between vv. 8 and 9.

SOME OF THE EARLIEST MANUSCRIPTS DO NOT INCLUDE 16:9-20.

… which means that some of the earliest manuscripts do include this last section. I commend to you this article to delve more into this and to help you keep your confidence that this last section is canonical and belongs in the Gospel of Mark.

What I pray you will consider is this: what if the message of Christianity really ended where Mark 16:8 ends:

“And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”

That, my friends, is not “good news.” This would be like every other hero who died–followers going to the graveside. The problem with Jesus’ death is that they claimed He was the Messiah and would reign as their King over all other kings and Lord over all other lords. To believe such in Roman times was the death penalty.

Yet, the story does not end with them being “afraid.” In fact, Jesus’ death galvanized the apostles and followers to such a degree that none of them feared death, and nearly all of them (save John) were martyred.

Be thankful for the cross–but be thankful that the cross was not the end. The tomb is empty. Christ is alive. Now, let’s go forth in boldness in His name!

Temptation: How Jesus Resisted and So Can You (ARBC Worship from January 16, 2022)

Would you turn with me to Matthew 4:1-11? As we mentioned earlier, we observe a day that I wish we would never need to observe: Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. And, again, we are grateful to the ministry of Alternatives Pregnancy Center for sharing about their ministry with us, as they have every January. This is a day that we not only observe the sanctity of human life at the start of life, we do so for end of life matters, for those from other countries, genders, races–all who are imagebearers of God.

As Jesus began His ministry, Mark 1:12-13 simply says, “12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.” Brief, clear, to the point. Yet, let’s take a look at Matthew 4:1-11 that fills in the events that happened with Jesus’ temptation.

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What Does It Mean to Do Something in Jesus’ Name? Devotional for January 13, 2022

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Today’s reading from the Five Day Bible Reading Plan: Genesis 24-25, Psalm 4, Mark 9

What does it mean to do something in Jesus’ name?  Is Jesus’ name like a magic hocus-pocus chant?  The sons of Sceva in Acts 19 found out that this is not the case.  They saw Paul casting out demons and healing in the name of Jesus, but these enchanters saw it as a way to make some money and garner influence for themselves.  They used the name of Jesus, but the demon spoke back, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?”  And the result was that demons attacked everyone to such a degree that they ran out naked.

To walk in Christ’s name means that you walk in His character, in His godly nature, and in trust of His Word and His work.  We have a high view of His Word, understanding its authority and its accuracy, and its sufficiency.  We have a high view of the majesty and glory and sovereignty of Almighty God.  We also have an understanding of the high view of the Gospel — of what sin truly is, what being a sinner truly is, and that trust in Jesus alone for salvation apart from your own work or merit is it!    This is the framework!  These are the non-negotiables!

In Mark 9:38, the Apostle John speaks up!  It should be known that this is the only time that he speaks on his own.  Here, he has a bit of a confession session — for he has not received one who was working in Christ’s name.  He confesses of a time when he saw someone casting out demons — someone not a part of the Twelve — and because of that, they tried to stop him. 

Now, don’t separate verse 38 from verse 37.  Many of our translations have a subheader right before v. 38, and that plays tricks on our minds because it subtly indicates that this is a different strain of thought.  Not so.  Jesus just said, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”

Jesus tells him, “Don’t stop him!!!  If He’s truly working in my name (which was apparent by his successfully exorcising a demon), then he won’t turn against me anytime soon — he is a true servant of God!” 

We often believe that in order for someone to be our brother or sister or for us to fellowship with them, they have to believe exactly as we do in every single point.  Is this what Jesus had in mind?  Are we being more stringent than even our Lord was being? 

There’s a poem by an anonymous that really sums up this mindset:

            Believe as I believe, no more no less,
                        That I am right, and no one else confess.
            Feel as I feel, think as I think,
                        Eat what I eat, and drink but what I drink,
            Look as I look, do always as I do,
                        Then and only then, I’ll fellowship with you.

This type of exclusivism runs rampant in our world and in our flesh!  We have to be discerning as to what God has set up as the appropriate and perfect standard and what our standard is! 

(From a sermon from 2005.)

Settle Matters Quickly: Christ’s Sermon for Kingdom People Series (Matthew 5:21-26)

Outward murder begins with inward anger from a lack of upward worship.

As Jesus builds on the previous paragraph, He shows them how their righteousness should exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees. The scribes and Pharisees knew God’s law better than anyone and gave the impression that they obeyed the law better than anyone. Yet, Jesus did to them what He does to all of us–expose our true motives. Were they obeying to make much of themselves or to make much of God and His Son Jesus? Time would bear out in their treatment of Jesus that they leveraged God’s law and their position to make much of themselves.

Good Morning Devo for 9.10.2021: The Folly of Approaching God in “Your Truth”

September 10 (JPG)

Good morning! How astonishing it is that the transcendent God of heaven is near to all who call on him in truth. What a reason for praise and thanksgiving! As we pursue Him in His Word and in prayer, we recognize more and more of His righteous ways (Psalm 145:17) and thus our prayers are tailored to His revealed ways.

When Jesus approached the Samaritan woman, He told her the nature of worship:

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.

Jesus in John 4:23-24

Too many in our culture invoke God’s name based upon, as Oprah Winfrey coined, “their truth.” “Well, I believe God is like….” Beware! You are not only violating the Third Commandment, you are replacing God’s truth with yours. And as Paul noted in Romans:

But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”

The Apostle Paul in Romans 9:20

Approach God in the truth of His Word and you will find Him near!

Matthew Perry, Ph.D., is Lead Pastor of Arapahoe Road Baptist Church in Centennial, CO.

Good Morning Devo for 9.6.2021: “A Sustenance That Truly Sustains”

September 06 (JPG)

Good morning! The Gospel of John presents seven “I AM” statements describing Jesus’ nature and work. Here, Jesus connects the bread that came down from heaven to sustain God’s people as they sojourned in the wilderness (manna), but that only sustained them for the day. The manna was a shadow of the reality to come.

In the previous paragraph, Jesus had this encounter with the Jewish leaders:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

John 6:25-29

When the leaders noted that Moses provided a sign in the wilderness (manna), they asked for a sign from Jesus, who then told them about a bread that comes down from heaven that will give life to the world. A promising prospect to the Jewish leaders!

The Son of Man would give them this bread–He Himself was that bread. Christ gave of Himself to provide the spiritual sustenance needed both here and in the hereafter. Christ is our everlasting manna!

No material item can bring any sort of sustaining satisfaction. Jesus is enough to bring that sustaining sustenance! Look to the cross and the empty tomb for that promise!