Isaiah 52:13-53:12 The King: Prophesied to Suffer

Isaiah 52:13-53:12       The King: Prophesied to Suffer             WC McCarter

In this poem which has been called a Servant Song, we read about the divine movement of redemption that sees God leave His place of glory, descend to earth to suffer in the place of the world, and return again to His heavenly place. Jews have most often claimed that the Suffering Servant in this song, and the three the precede it, is an “ideal Israel.” Yet, Christians have always interpreted this passage as Messianic, that is, the Suffering Servant is Christ and the song shows that the king was prophesied to suffer. This prophesy is the clearest Old Testament passage concerning what Christ would do on the cross. It is so clear to Christians that many have called it the “Fifth Gospel.” When the deacon, Philip, met the Ethiopian eunuch on the desert road between Jerusalem and Gaza, the man was reading from Isaiah 53. Look with me there at Acts 8:26-35.

Like Philip, I would like to preach Jesus to you this morning from Isaiah 53.

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The Report (13-15)
The last paragraph of Isa 52 serves as an introduction into Isa 53 which is called the Fourth Servant Song. The prophet introduces us to this figure in chapters 42:1-4; 49:1-6; and 50:4-9. This last Song is the climax of all the songs and is the clearest proclamation of the Gospel in the OT.

Isaiah becomes this proclamation with the word, “Behold!” which is one of his favorites to grab the hearer’s attention. He says that the Servant shall deal prudently or act wisely, which in wisdom literature is to say that He will be successful. A threefold exaltation is used for the Servant to show emphatically that He will be exalted far above all others. As astonishing as the height of His exaltation will be, the lowliness of His humility will be just as great. He is said to be so disfigured that onlookers would not only say on the individual level, “Who is He?” but they would also say on the corporate level, “Is this human?” He would not even look like the rest of the sons of men, or “humanity.” Despite this news, the Servant will still be exalted. He will still do something great, something that will influence the whole world. He will surprisingly sprinkle many nations. Kings will not know what to say and will keep their mouths shut out of honor and respect for Him.

Who Has Believed the Report? (1)
I believe that prophet poses the question of verse one and then answers his own question with another question. This is very artistic and poetic. Who could ever believe this report that Yahweh’s Servant could be successful and highly exalted when hearing and seeing His great suffering? Who can believe this? Who but the ones to whom the arm of the Lord has been revealed? Let me say the same thing in more straightforward language. Who in the world could believe that a suffering and severely marred man could accomplish anything? Only those who have turned to the revelation of God with an open mind and received what He has said about the suffering of the Servant. Only those who are willing to accept what God has said and what God is doing. Let me tell you plainly, only those who look at the cross with God’s perspective will ever see anything good and beautiful.

The world looks at Jesus on the cross and they see one thing while believers look at Him crucified and see another thing. Let me show you this from Isa 53, and let’s interpret the cross with this Scripture.

What the World Sees (14b, 2-3, 4b, 7a, 8b)
Why can the world not see that Jesus is the “Arm of the Lord”? They see something completely different because they are not looking through the lens of the revelation of God. They see a man whose appearance was completely disfigured from the beatings, torture, and crucifixion. But, even before that, the world could only see a mere human boy. He did not appear to be God (He grew up before Him), He had natural growth (tender plant), He was not expected (out of dry ground), and He was not physically special (no beauty, majesty, or desirability). He was simply despised and rejected, not only in His earthly life, but especially on the cross. The world only sees a man of sorrows who is acquainted with grief. The world hid from Him. They wanted nothing to do with Him. They despised Him and did not esteem Him at all. They thought that He died because of His own sins or because He could not keep His mouth shut.

What the Believer Sees (13-14a, 4a, 5-6, 8c-12)
When we look at Jesus Christ on the cross, we see the God-man bearing our sins and carrying our sorrows. We see Him wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, and chastised for our peace. His stripes are for our healing (spiritually speaking), and the iniquity of us all was laid on Him. This is what we see. He was stricken for our transgressions. Here we see that His death was not merely a physical one. We have the theology, doctrine, and vocabulary here for what we believe happened on the cross. And, probably, the key to our understanding that His death was more than a physical one comes in verse ten. His soul was made an offering for sin. You see, He was in great physical pain because His death was human, physical, and literal, but He was in even greater agony than that. Jesus Christ took the sins of the world upon His sinless soul. His sinless soul absorbed the sin of the human race from history past and history future. His was a once-for-all death as an offering for sin. This is God’s one-and-only solution for the sin problem.

Penal Substitution: Christ paid the penalty for our sins as our substitute.

What the Reformers saw:
“That we may know his death to be connected with his condemnation. . . . He died so that the penalty owed by us might be discharged, and he might exempt us from it. But since we all, because we are sinners, were offensive to the judgment of God, in order to stand in our stead, he desired to be arraigned before and earthly judge, and to be condemned by his mouth, so that we might be acquitted before the heavenly tribunal of God.” He was “condemned in the presence of an earthly judge, that we should be absolved before the judgment seat of our God.” –John Calvin

"Since Jesus Christ became a substitute for us all, and took upon Himself our sins, that he might bear Gods terrible wrath against sin and expiate our guilt, he necessarily felt the sin of the whole world, together with the entire wrath of God, and afterwards the agony of death on account of this sin." –Martin Luther

Conclusion and Christian Application
So, you see, the Bible/Christianity/Gospel is unique in its doctrine of atonement. No other religion, whether big or small, on the face of this earth offers a true, once-for-all remedy for the sin problem. The Gospel says, Jesus has taken our place as our substitute to bear our penalty for sin. This doctrine is taught throughout the Bible. It was foreshadowed and prophesied in the OT, seen clearly in the suffering and crucifixion of Christ, and it was proclaimed throughout the world beginning with the Apostles.

We think of Abraham who said in Gen 22:8, God will provide Himself the lamb. The Passover lamb in Exod 12 was also a foreshadowing of God passing over our sins because of Christ. The scapegoat in Lev who took away the sin of the worshiper was also another foreshadowing. Of course, this message is declared no more clearly in the OT than in Isa 53.

And what was it the Apostles and early Christians proclaimed? 2 Cor 5:21 says that God made Jesus, who knew no sin, to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Gal 3:13 says that Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us on the tree. 1 Pet 2 says that Christ suffered for us, bearing our sins in His own body on the tree.

You have to look at the cross with the perspective of God. You have to see beauty and success through the suffering and death of Christ. You have to see that His death was a sacrifice for your sin and my sin and our sin. You have to see that this was the divine plan from the beginning of time. He is the lamb who takes away the sin of the world. You have to see it, hear it, believe it, trust it, and treasure it. This is the Gospel, the Good News.

Having Faith: You Do It Every Day

Having Faith: You Do It Every Day

Guest Article Written by Briana Rumley

Faith is at the center of every religion. For whatever you believe you must have faith that what you are believing is true. The interesting thing about faith, particularly amongst the unbelievers I have met, is they don’t realize they have faith every day!

I have often heard, from those who don’t believe, that God is a coping mechanism for mankind; He was made up because, as humans, we don’t want to believe that there is nothing bigger than ourselves. To that, I say, hooey. Then they like to counter with, “How can you believe in something you’ve never seen, heard, or felt?”  Well, to that I say, “How do you?” Every one of us has faith in something every day!

Think about it for a second, what do you have faith in every day? I expect most of us have faith we will wake up in the morning, although we are not promised a tomorrow. I suppose most of us have faith that when we do wake up we will be breathing and there will still be a healthy supply of oxygen to breathe. Oxygen, by the way, is invisible, you can neither see, hear, nor taste it, but you have faith it is there, because without it you could not breathe. After that I usually have faith that there is still food in the pantry and the sun will continue to shine. When you get into your car to go to work, you usually do not consider that you may have an accident while driving, you have faith that you will get to work safely because you usually do get to work safely. So, if your argument as to how others have faith is that you must be able to see, hear, or touch something for it to be real, your logic is seriously flawed.

So many things in the world are illusionary, but we still believe in them. We believe in oxygen as I said before. We believe in the sturdiness of bridges although there is no real way to know that a bridge will not collapse once you are upon it. We believe that the food we put in the fridge yesterday will still be there when we get hungry. Things do not just disappear with no explanation! It is also so with God. He is always with you! He doesn’t just disappear because we are not paying attention! He doesn’t say, “Oh, Briana is busy typing so I’ll just go check on Brooke, she’ll never notice I’m gone.” No, God doesn’t do that at all. He watches each of us very carefully. He knows we need to breathe and eat. That is why he keeps oxygen in the world, and he doesn’t steal the food from your fridge.

The Bible gives us some perspective into faith. We can find it in Hebrews 11:1. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Isn’t that wonderful? I couldn’t have said it better myself! Faith is made of hope, hope feeds faith. We hope that we will wake up in the morning. We hope we will arrive safely to our destinations when we travel. We hope that there is still food in the fridge. Hope becomes faith when you have experienced things the same way so often that you no longer consider that they might change. Perhaps, if you were afraid of monsters in your closet when you were little, you would go to sleep hoping they wouldn’t eat you. After enough nights of not being gobbled up by closet monsters, you began to have faith that there were no monsters in your closet, or at least faith they weren’t going to eat you. Hebrews 11:6 goes a little further, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hope must be practiced. Faith does not usually come with no practice, as it is very easy to say, “I’ll believe it when I see it” because we live in an uncertain world. When you open yourself up to God and allow him a presence in your life you will experience something special. And when you have those experiences, however small, you will continue to have faith that God is always by your side.

I’ll even give a personal example. When I was in high school, I dropped a ring my grandmother had given me at the front of the classroom. I didn’t notice it was gone until I got to my seat. I spotted it on the ground near where my teacher was standing and decided I would pick it up after class. After the lesson, the bell rang and I left for my next class. I left without picking up my ring. I didn’t realize until I got home that I had forgotten it. I was a nervous wreck. I’ve never prayed so fervently, so passionately as I prayed that that ring would still be on the floor of that classroom. I prayed all night. I cried all night. I was the first one at the door, even before my teacher, at the start of class the next day. I crawled around on the floor for about two minutes and I found my ring. It was a miracle to me. By all rights, it should have been gone. Somebody could have seen it and taken it for their own. The janitors could have swept it up and thrown it away. For whatever reason, God was with me and it was within his will that I should not lose that ring. I’m glad I didn’t lose it forever, it is the most cherished memento I have from my grandmother who I miss very much. I wear that ring sometimes, and I make very sure that I never drop it!

Now that might all seem very silly to you. To 16 year old me, it was truly an act of God. I had faith, that God would hear my prayer. I had no guarantee that he would grant my request, but I knew he heard me. And when I found that ring the next day, I knew he had heard my request and that it was within his plan for me to find my ring. I still thank God for giving that ring back to me.

I think you do see your faith at work mostly in the little things. Some people are content to think they just experience good luck or a huge coincidence. But when you have faith in God, you expect that he is watching out for you. When you have faith, you will notice the good and appreciate it more. Sometimes things will not go exactly your way, perhaps there was something you needed to learn from that experience. Life is not easy, the Bible does not promise anybody an easy, trial-free life. But, when it coincides with his plan, you must believe that God works for you to do the most good for you. Hope yields faith. Hope that God will be with you, and when you see Him working for you, you will have faith.

Guaranteed Gospel Progress: Why You Can Evangelize with Confidence

Guaranteed Gospel Progress: Why You Can Evangelize with Confidence

The Bible teaches that the wrath of God will be poured out one day, everyone will stand before the judgment seat of Christ, and not all will be saved. In fact, the Scripture makes clear that we are all sinners and Hell is our destination if something drastic does not happen. The Gospel of Jesus Christ declares that something drastic has happened. God left His glorious throne in heaven to put on flesh and blood here on earth in order to absorb the penalty for human sin in His own body as our substitute. He was raised from the dead and before returning to His rightful place in glory, He commanded all of His followers to go make disciples of all the nations. We do so by proclaiming the Good News that the sin-problem has been remedied by the King and Creator of the universe. The way one accepts this payment for their sin debt is to repent of their sin, put their full trust in Christ, and be united with Him in baptism. Repentance involves turning from sin and to God. We must leave our sinful lifestyles behind. Trust is putting one’s faith in Jesus Christ, that is, trusting that what He has done is enough to save you from yourself, this wicked age, the wrath to come, and more. Baptism unites one with Christ, not because there is anything special about water or a pool, but because Christ has promised to meet us there in the water to do a new work within us. He wants us to emblematically be united with Him in the likeness of His death and resurrection, being buried in the water and raised out again to a new life just as He literally and spiritually does the work within us. Thus, one must hear, believe, and receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

As stated at the beginning of this article, not all will be saved because not all will accept the free gift that is offered in Christ, and it is the only way to be saved. A man or woman cannot fix, remedy, or save him/herself. Self-help books and gurus will not ultimately get you where you need to go. Religious performance of any kind will not secure for you a positive place in eternity. Good deeds will never amount to enough to justify one as righteous. The only way to be justified on the last day is to take the righteousness of Christ as your own by accepting His death as the payment for your sins. This is done by faith.

Sadly, the New Testament teaches that the majority of folks past, present, and future will not accept God’s free gift of salvation. People love darkness rather than light (John 3:19). They would rather continue is their sin, trying to climb their way out of the insuperable pits that they have dug themselves into. The truth is the majority of the human race will perish because they have chosen to not acknowledge God nor be thankful for the many benefits He has offered. Yet, there is a remnant. There are a select few who will turn to God in repentance, faith, worship, and service. There are some who will choose life and thank God for His many showers of blessings. The Lord has taught that the gate is wide and the road is narrow that leads to destruction and the majority of people will follow and enter that way, but He also says that there are a few who will enter the narrow gate that leads to life.

Well, we are all about progress on this website, aren’t we? Have you ever wondered about the future of evangelism?  What kind of progress are we going to make for the Gospel in the years ahead? Really, it sounds like what we have discussed above offers us little to no hope for future disciple making. Will we see converts? Will folks continue to accept Christ? The outcome seems bleak, doesn’t it? The following list and discussion offers seven guarantees for continued Gospel progress even in the 21st Century. The Christian can take these scriptural references and go forth to evangelize their neighborhoods, cities, and nations with confidence.

#1 Jesus stated unequivocally that the harvest truly is plentiful (Matthew 9:37-38). What He meant by this is that there are plenty enough folks ready to accept the Gospel if only believers will go take the message to them. In keeping with the analogy, there is enough work to be done in the harvest fields that the workers will certainly stay busy. So, our first assurance for Gospel progress comes from the lips of our Lord when He said that there are enough folks ready to believe if only there is someone to share the Gospel with them.

#2 Christ promised that there would be other sheep brought into His fold (John 10:16). Just like the statement before, here is another promise that there are others who will need to be brought in to the faith. Both of these analogies are beautiful pictures of people coming to salvation. In agricultural societies there is no better time of the year that the harvest, especially when the harvest is plentiful. And even in our industrial society, we can appreciate the image of Christ as shepherd and us as His sheep. A good shepherd cares, heals, feeds, protects, guides, and all the like for his sheep. The Lord says that there are other sheep who are currently not of His fold, but that they must be brought in and they will hear His voice.

#3 When we evangelize, we go in Christ’s authority (Matthew 28:18) and His presence is with us (Matthew 18:20). We can be bold in sharing our faith because we are ambassadors of the living God. We are heralds of the Lord of lords. We have been commissioned by the One who has died, been raised again, and reigns on high. All authority has been given to Him in heaven and on earth, and we go forward to promote His Kingship in that authority. Not only do we go in His authority, but also in His presence. He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. There is nowhere we can go where He will not be with us. What a comfort this promise brings! As Jesus taught in the Upper Room, which is recorded in the Gospel of John, He said that He would send another Helper who will abide with us forever, that is, the Holy Spirit. He also said that although He was leaving, He would be seen again by His disciples. He promised that both the Father and Himself would come and make a home within the believer. We can be assured that Christ is present with us by the person of the Holy Spirit during every day, even and especially when we make His glory known by sharing the Gospel.

#4 The Lord would not command us to do something that cannot be accomplished (Matthew 28:19). He gives us everything we need to complete the task that He has called us to do. The One who has all authority in heaven and on earth is able to give us the resources and opportunities to carry out His mission in the world. The King of kings is able to make His kingdom spread as far as He desires. We can proceed confidently in evangelism knowing that He will supply our every need.

#5 The Holy Spirit comes alongside us. He testifies and we testify of Christ (John 15:26-27). As mentioned before, the Holy Spirit of promise has come into our hearts in order to do a marvelous work within us. In John 14-16, Jesus calls the Spirit a “Paraclete” which is a transliteration of the Greek word meaning, “One who comes alongside to help” and do all sorts of things. He has come alongside us (and is, in fact, in us) to support us in everything we do. Not only does the Spirit want to support us, but He is actively guiding us and taking the lead when we deny ourselves and follow Him. One of the things that the Spirit executes and wills to do it alongside us as we do it as well is the task of bearing witness to the things of Christ, maybe we can even say, evangelism. Knowing that when we testify to Christ the Spirit will testify as well is a huge boost of confidence in evangelism.

#6 The Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:7-11). This is a promise of something that happens outside of us. This is something that the Lord is doing before and during our evangelism. Is it not encouraging to know that the Holy Spirit has already cultivated the field before we even consider planting the seed? In keeping with this analogy of cultivating, planting, and growing for evangelism, we may reference (1 Corinthians 3:7) which says that God gives the increase. We should not think too highly of ourselves. God is the One who draws people unto Himself for salvation (John 6:44). He is the One who adds to the church (Acts 2:47). He does a work of prevenient grace and also brings the increase. We simply “plant the seed.” All glory is reserved for God alone.

#7 The Gospel is power (Romans 1:16-17; 1 Corinthians 1:17-18) and so is the presence of the Holy Spirit as we testify to the truth of Christ (Acts 1:8; 4:33). We have dynamite in our hands when we approach someone with the living word of God. This dynamite destroys those things in us which bring about sin and death and incites those things that bring about faith and life. This is what people need in their lives. They need power. We are weak and vulnerable to the things of this world and the wiles of the devil, but the Gospel enables us to live. We can go forth confidently knowing that our message is powerful and so is the One who goes with us, the Holy Spirit. It is not the evangelist or the disciple-maker who will change hearts and save souls, it is the Gospel itself and the Spirit Himself who will do the work.

As a way to conclude this article, let me give you a bonus encouragement in your evangelism and support of world-wide evangelism. In the Great Commission the Lord commanded us to go and make disciples of all the nations (Matthew 28:19). When the Apostle John received a vision of heaven, he saw/heard those in heaven singing a new song with the lyrics, “You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:9-10; 7:9-10). Here is the connection that is to be made, the encouragement to continue evangelizing with confidence, and the guarantee of continued Gospel progress: what Christ commissioned before leaving earth is ultimately seen as fulfilled in heaven. There will be a great multitude of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues who will accept Christ as both Lord and Savior, and one day we will all be gathered before the throne of God and before the Lamb to shout together, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

What biblical guarantees for successful evangelism would you add to this list?

John 17 The High Priestly Prayer

John 17      The High Priestly Prayer                                    WC McCarter

We will spend the next few minutes getting into the mind of Christ. We will listen in as He prays for Himself, the Apostles, and all future believers including us! This chapter is the longest of Jesus’ recorded prayers and is filled with valuable insights as it is spoken only hours before the cross. If any prayer can be called, “The Lord’s Prayer,” it is this one!

READ Scripture- This is the Word of God

Prayer for Himself (1-5)
The Apostle informs us that Jesus continues to speak, but not in discourse. We are told that Jesus’ eyes left the viewing of His disciples and lifted up to heaven. This was the typical way a Jew would pray. The dialogue with the disciples had ended, and Jesus’ conversation with the Father began.

When Jesus requests to be glorified, He means that He is ready for the Father to make the divine plan of redemption complete. He is ready to suffer and die on the cross for the redemption of man and the defeat of the evil one. The Father would be intimately involved in that glorification (and we will see this next week as we begin to look at the cross). Jesus has been given the authority to enact the divine plan of salvation over all flesh. The goal of the glorification of the Son of God is the gift of eternal life for man.

There is only one true God and you must know Him to have eternal life. You must also know the One whom God has sent, Jesus Christ. Christ has come to reveal the Father. In fact, you cannot know the Father if you do not know Christ. How is knowing the Father and Son eternal life? It will take an eternity to search the depths of God.

Jesus was so sure that He would follow through with the suffering that He says that He has completed the work. The preexistence of the Son is acknowledged here. He was the Word in the beginning, was with God, and in fact was God. Jesus prays for Himself in the sense that He wills to be back in the place of glory that He had left. Yet, this is not a selfish prayer by any means. It is the Father’s plan that Jesus be exalted back to His place in glory, and it would mean victory for all who know and believe in the Son of God. If Christ did not return to His exalted place, we would be shamed. Jesus Christ sought glory in the cross. You may think, why not military victory? Why not economic victory? Know this: the foolishness of God is greater than the wisdom of man.

Prayer for Apostles (6-19)
Jesus is having a conversation with the Father, and in this next passage He is referring to the disciples that He would soon be leaving. The largest part of the Lord’s prayer is devoted to His disciples. The prayer continues Jesus’ theme in the Upper Room Discourse of preparing those men for His departure. He had taught them all that He could, and now He prays for them. On the last night of Jesus’ life on earth, He spends much of His time in prayer. He prays here in John 17, and we also know that He prayed in Gethsemane.

Jesus states in verse nine that His concern in this part of His prayer was restricted to only the eleven men who were with Him. We know that God loves the world, but He loves His people in a special way.

Jesus acknowledges again that He is leaving. He asks that the Father continue to protect those who had put their faith in the One who was sent. You know, our culture has promoted independence and privacy, of which I hold near and dear. Americans have built a great country by working hard, supporting themselves and their own families, and by minding their own business. To some degree these are Christian principles as well. But, I must add that Christians are to be loyal to one another. We are to be uniquely united with one another and devoted to one another in love. Despite their gloomy future, Jesus intended that the disciples be united and He intended to fulfill their joy. Even in the worst of situations, your joy can be full.

The reason that the disciples could be said to be “not of the world” is somehow linked to them receiving the Word of God. I think this point is crucial. What is it that makes you outstanding from this world? You have received, believed, and kept the Word of God, which has at its center the Gospel. Jesus was not praying that the Father would take His disciples out of the world. He was praying that the Father would keep them from the evil one. When we come to the faith, when we accept Christ, we are not plucked out of this world and taken to heaven. We are left here, obviously with a task to do. We know that the task at hand is to make disciples of all the nations.

All along the way, even as we are making disciples, we are being sanctified, that is, being made holy. Sanctification is the progress of the believer’s life in Christ. It is growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is done by the Holy Spirit who takes truth, the very word of God written on the pages of Holy Scripture, and applies it to our hearts.

Prayer for Future Believers (20-26)
Christ has prayed about His coming sufferings and exaltation, the Apostles, and now He prays for all future believers. Christ prayed for those who would later believe because of the Apostle’s word.  You and I have believed their message about Christ. So, He was praying for us! As we listen in on the last few verses of the Lord’s prayer, we hear Him praying for us.

We have come to saving faith in Jesus Christ because of the work of the Apostles. The Lord used them to write the pages of Holy Scripture. The Gospel message that we have believed is found in the New Testament which they wrote. So, we have continued in the Apostle’s doctrine even until today. The doctrinal authority of this church is not the preaching and teaching pastor, but the Apostles themselves. I believe what they believed, preach/teach what they proclaimed, and follow their practices in the New Testament, and so do you.

Jesus’ chief concern for you and me in this prayer is unity. This was His same prayer for the first followers. What is it that unites us? At this point He has said nothing about love. We will get to that. All He has mentioned thus far is the message of the Apostles. What is their message? It is the Gospel that unites us. We are all called to believe, obey, and proclaim the Gospel of Christ. The glory of Christ is found in the Gospel which has been passed down to us. Do we all understand what the Gospel is worth? The message of Christ crucified is the greatest treasure in all the world, and we are partakers in it!

But there is even more that unites us. Christ Himself has said that He would be in us. He will bring us together. That is how we are made perfect in one. The unity that the Lord wants to create among believers allows the world to see that the Father has sent the Son and that He loves us. I wonder if that message is getting across to the world. I wonder if that message is getting across to our community. Do they know that Jesus Christ has come to save them because of our unity? Do they know that the Father loves us because we are united? I can only hope so, and work to that end. Jesus prays in verse 23 that we would be perfectly united that is, completely united in purpose and love.

The Lord could not talk about unity and not include love. Love is the last note of His lengthy prayer for His followers. On several occasions in the New Testament, love is called upon last like the covering that binds all things together. The Scripture says that love covers a multitude of sins, and that is exactly what we need for unity. We need our sins covered, and they are by the blood of Christ and our love for one another.

Christ says that He has declared the Father’s name and that He would continue to declare it. I interpret His continuing work of revealing the Father to be through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. In this way, believers are indwelt with the person and love of the Father and of Jesus Christ.

Conclusion and Christian Application

(1) If we are to apply the accomplishments of Christ in our own lives, church, and community, then we must seek to find glory where He found glory. He sought glory in sufferings and ultimately in His death on the cross. If you are going to point someone to glory, if you want eternal life for them, you must point them to the suffering of Christ.

(2) You have been called out of this world to pursue the things of Christ Jesus. We must pursue holiness, pursue truth, and make disciples. Do not follow the things of this word, but follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.

(3) It is important to notice that Christ wants us to be united, and He has shown us what it is that should unite us. In unity we will find wonderful Christian friendship, a thriving church, and a community that will know that Christ has come to demonstrate the love of God.

(4) We often think that the Bible was written directly to us as individuals, but we forget that the books and letters of Scripture were written to certain groups of people at certain times in history with certain circumstances. It is our task to learn about those things, and then apply the lessons to our own lives. We must bridge the gap between Bible times and the contemporary era, yet there is no more direct comment made to future believers in all of Scripture than John 17:20-26. The Lord Jesus Christ was praying for us!



Guest Article Written by Will Jacobs

When one reads through the book of Acts, it is quickly discovered that the early church was a unique group of individuals, a group like no other. So moved by the event of the resurrection, these early believers could not withhold the things that their eyes had seen. As Peter proclaimed to the Jewish council, “We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus had changed the early church forever, and they would not stop until the whole world knew of the Gospel (i.e. “the good news of Jesus”).

One particular area of interest concerning the early church is there courageous and fearless proclamation of the Gospel of Christ. A running theme in the book of Acts that seems to sprinkle throughout the narrative involves the extreme boldness of the early Christians. The word “boldness” (from the Greek parrÄ“sia) appears several times in the book of Acts. One lexicon captures the essence of these early Christians by defining parrÄ“sia as, “The absence of fear in speaking boldly” (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament by Joseph Henry Thayer). The Christians as described in Acts feared no man. Even in the midst of death itself they stood their ground, boldly proclaiming the message of the Gospel. Their confidence in the resurrection was so real, so alive, and so profoundly true, that they feared nothing!

We see this boldness exemplified in Acts 4 when Peter and John are facing the Jewish council. The Jews, annoyed at their message of the resurrection, threatened them to no longer speak of Jesus. However, Peter and John, with great boldness, looked them in the eye and spoke evermore passionately the resurrection of Jesus. So filled with the Spirit, the educated Sadducees were astonished of how Peter and John, uneducated men, could speak with such authority!

We see it again when the seized Stephen stands confidently in front of the high priest and the hostile crowd. Eloquently Stephen articulates the continuity of the Old Testament Scriptures with the person of Jesus. Stephen’s message creates such uproar that the hearers begin to grind their teeth at him, unable to accept the convicting message. Nevertheless, Stephen remains bold; so bold and so in tune with the Father, in fact, that he is able to look into their hate-filled eyes and say, “Lord do not hold this sin against them!”

We see it in beloved Paul, possibly the boldest of them all. We read time and time again of how Paul would preach and in return be physically mutilated. So much so, that on one occasion in Lystra, Paul was stoned so severely that the people left him for dead (Acts 14:19). But, he kept on preaching, he would not stop boldly proclaiming the story; it was that important.

And then, there is you and me. Decades separated from the time of those faithful early Christians. Their work is now simply words on a page and at times it is difficult to recapture the fire that resided within those bold believers. So, we replace confidence with complacency, courageousness with cowardliness, and boldness with fear. We shriek at even the thought of inviting a stranger to church, let alone telling them about Jesus. And our concept of evangelism has shifted from proclaiming the good news of the resurrection to simply being a “silent witness.” Thus, we pass them by, hundreds of people, who need to hear the most profound and life-changing message on the planet.

But Why? Why does the boldness described of those early Christians seem to be less evident in today’s Christians? Doesn’t the same Spirit who empowered the early church empower us today? Surely Joel’s prophecy concerning the indwelling of the Spirit for all believers is still true now as it was on Pentecost Day. If so, why the lack of zeal and courage to spread the Gospel to the entire world? Maybe it’s because we have been distracted by an ever growing culture of materialism and consumerism. Desire to reach the lost has been substituted with desire to reach our personal goals. Or maybe the pressure of subjectivism, relevance, and tolerance that invades our culture, prevents us from proclaiming a message that is counter-cultural; a message claiming to be the only true worldview. Whatever the case, there is no doubt that the boldness for the Gospel as seen in the book of Acts looks much different than contemporary American Christian evangelism. Perhaps it is time to set aside our many reservations and simply proclaim the message of Jesus with boldness!

What do you think about the church’s effort to evangelize? Do you think we have become too complacent in our effort to reach the lost? How is the early church, as described in Acts, different from today’s church?

The Bridge Less Traveled - Part III

People Agree, They Hope there is Life After Death

In this post, we will continue the series titled, The Bridge Less Traveled with a third article. The notion that we will discuss is one that many people feel, that is, there must be something beyond this life. For many there is a deep hope that there is life after death. For others, there is a deep fear that there is a time of reckoning to come after death. The Bible offers a reason for people’s feelings on this subject. In fact, Ecclesiastes 3:11 (which comes just after the famous passage which says, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heave”) asserts, “[God] has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts. . . .” Men and women, Christians or not, have a strong urge to understand things that are beyond themselves. God has planted this mindfulness of eternity into the human heart. People want to know that their lives matter. They want to know how their lives and activities extend beyond their own lifetimes. There is a longing within our hearts. This life is brief. This life is only, “. . . a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” as James says in 4:14. Are we only here today and gone tomorrow? Should we eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die and that is the end? There is nothing more? The proposal of this third article is that the seemingly universal notion of a post-existence is a bridge for conversation between the church and the world.

If men and women wonder or, at the very least, have a sense deep inside that there may be a post-existence, then there must be many answers offered. Because this is a seemingly universal notion, almost all religions offer some kind of doctrine about an afterlife. For example, Buddhism and Hinduism, among others, speak of reincarnation, that this life directly effects the next in the sense that one may continue to progress in spiritual awareness as one begins a new, physical life after each death. The goal, then, is to eventually become released from this physical sequence because one has come to the superior state of spirituality. When the doctrine gets to this point, it starts to become fuzzy? Is there a heavenly existence that one is born into? Does the person cease to exist at the point of nirvana? This author does not know. On the other hand, Mormons teach that good Mormon men in this life become gods in the next age. As gods, they have their own planets to then fill by procreating with the wife/wives that they married for eternity in this life. Thus, mortal men become immortal gods. There are many religions that may be surveyed on this issue, but may the consideration of one last religion suffice for now. Islam teaches that there is a heaven which has many different levels of happiness and enjoyment. Likewise, their doctrine of punishment has differing layers of hell as well. In their paradise, Muslim men will be given many virgins for pleasure. On the other hand, women will be given one man and will be satisfied.

Now, do you notice any similarities between all of these religious proposals for the afterlife? There are many differences, but a few things stand out to me from these perspectives. First, all of the major religions of the earth (as well as most all religions) offer some doctrine of an afterlife. Second, in many religions, “paradise” focuses on the rewarding and pleasuring of worthy men. Third, all of these prospects are based on human, religious performance. How is a Muslim man welcomed into paradise? His good must outweigh his bad on the day of reckoning (or he must give his life as a martyr by killing infidels). How is a Mormon man rewarded with paradise (and the status of an immortal god)? He must perform well as a Mormon. How does a Hindu progress from one existence to the next in the cycle of rebirth through reincarnation and ultimately “released” from that cycle to nirvana? He/she must function well and master karma. These are all works-righteousness means of salvation. Even Roman Catholicism teaches that one must do all of the right things in order to enter heaven. The arrival in “paradise” of each of these religions is dependent on how well one can perform in the system of the given religion. One must perform, achieve, work, realize, and do. Now, how well are you doing with all of that? Does your good outweigh your bad? Do you know? Is there any way of knowing? You feel like you are a good person, but are you sure it is enough? How can you know? Is there any assurance of salvation/paradise/heaven?

And what does the Bible teach? Do Christians have an answer that is altogether different from what these other religions have to say? Like many other major doctrines, the Bible’s answer does stand exclusively on the subject of the end-times and the things to come after this present life and age. Let us briefly consider what the Bible says about these things. Maybe the most famous verse in all the Bible is John 3:16. It says, as if you did not already know, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” We can learn many things from this one, well-known verse. Maybe that is why it is so popular. Let us ask and answer of this verse some of the questions we have asked of other religions.

First, is there an afterlife? Yes, the Bible teaches that there is a promise of “everlasting life.”

Second, is there a day of reckoning, a judgment day? Yes, we may not be able to see it explicitly in this verse, but a judgment day is obviously implied that some will “perish.”

Third, how can one enter into this everlasting life? One must “believe” in the “only begotten Son” whom God “gave” in order to enter into everlasting life.

Fourth, is there assurance of salvation for the Christian? Yes, there is great assurance of salvation and safety given to the believer because “God so loved the world” and because salvation is not dependent on religious performance, but on the plan of God. God does not thump His own plan and promises; that would make no logical sense.

Fifth, is this salvation only or primarily for the reward of worthy men, that is, males? No, salvation is not primarily for men, but for “whoever believes” be they men or women.

*Therefore, you see, the Bible proclaims something altogether different about the afterlife and how this present age is connected to it. This can be seen from only one New Testament verse, but consider more of the Bible story with some summarizations and a few Scripture references for each (this is not exhaustive, but may be helpful):

1. God created both male and female in His image and likeness (Genesis 1-2);

2. Adam, Eve, and all human beings have sinned against God and fallen miserably short of the glory of God (Genesis 3; Romans 3);

3. God has put the longing for eternity into our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11);

4. There will be a Judgment Day because God is perfect, righteous, holy, and just and is required by those personal attributes to hold His creation accountable for their sin (1 John 1:5; James 1:13; Hebrews 9:27; Matthew 12:36; Revelation 20:11-15; Romans 14:10; 1 Corinthians 4:5);

5. There is a heaven (Revelation 21; John 14:1-6; Matthew 25; 1 Corinthians 2:9; 2 Peter 3:13; Hebrews 13:14) and a hell (Matthew 10:28; 13:50; 25; Revelation 20:15; 2 Thessalonians 1:9);

6. Men and women can be saved from the wrath to come and enter into God’s presence which is heaven/paradise/salvation/pleasures forevermore by trusting that what Christ has done on the cross is enough to save them. One cannot trust his/her own righteousness for salvation, but only in the righteousness of Christ (John 3; Romans 3:21-26; 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:20-21; Ephesians 2:4-9; John 14:6; Acts 2).

What would you add to this article? Do you think it is true that many people have the longing for eternity? Do you think that probably all people have these sorts of questions? Post some comments on the Facebook page!

John 16:16-33 The Joy No One Can Take

John 16:16-33    The Joy No One Can Take                        WC McCarter

READ Scripture- This is the Word of God

You Will/Will Not See Me (16-19)
The disciples are puzzled by the statement that Jesus makes in verse sixteen. Although, we must admit that it is somewhat strange for Jesus to say, “A little while, and you will not see Me, and again a little while, and you will see Me.” It was difficult enough to figure out what Jesus meant in 14:19 when He said, “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me.”

In fact, the disciples have not even spoken since the last question was posed by Judas (not Iscariot) in 14:22. There he asked, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world.” This definitely has the disciples talking again and maybe that is exactly what Jesus was provoking. Because they were so confused, the disciples “murmured among themselves” (Yarborough, 165). Of course, this isn’t the first time that they murmured or reasoned among themselves; they had done it on several occasions.

Jesus knew that they really wanted to question Him. He could most likely see the puzzled looks on their faces and hear the mumbling around the room. The problem was that they asked one another instead of the Lord, but Jesus is merciful and sets up a response by repeating His statement again in verse nineteen. Of course, what Jesus has said is probably just as confusing to us as it was to the apostles. The answer which comes next is important.

Your Heart Will Rejoice (20-24)
In verse twenty Jesus now begins His response to their question. We know that it would be just a little while and Jesus would be crucified and buried. The disciples would no longer see Him. After another little while He would be raised from the dead and the disciples would be able to see Him once again. During that period of not seeing Jesus the disciples would most certainly weep and lament. The world, though, would count the death of Jesus as terrific and would rejoice over the fact of getting rid of what they considered to be a menace to society. In the last phrase of verse twenty we hear the Gospel message. Christ can turn sorrow to joy and that is exactly what happened for the disciples on resurrection Sunday. Jesus would return to them, and their sorrow would be turned to joy. This is what we will be celebrating in about a month as our Easter celebration arrives.

Next, Jesus uses an illustration of a mother giving birth to describe what He has just said. I think that most, if not all of the mothers in the room know this verse to be true. I have heard many mothers say, even those who had several complications, that as soon as their child was delivered the pain goes away. I have been told that the process is not even remembered when they are able to hold their baby for the first time. A mother’s heart rejoices to see her child and no one or no thing can take that joy from her. (We should add that some women may disagree and say that they remember the pain. Fair enough, but Jesus’ point is that the joyous prospect of a baby being born makes the pain worthwhile).

The same would be true of the disciples. They would be sorrowful at the death of their Friend and Master, but when they saw Him again the pain would be worthwhile. Their hearts would rejoice and no one would be able to take their joy from them when Jesus was raised from the dead; that is excitement and that is good news. No one can steal the joy that you have from meeting the risen Savior! You are a Christian; you have been born again; you are a child of God; the joy that comes from that cannot be taken away from you by anyone! Jesus has come to give us joy. He wants our joy to be full in Him. Do you know the line in the hymn, “Rejoice! Rejoice! O, Christian, lift up your voice and sing, eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ, the King”? What is the title of that hymn? He Lives!

The day would soon come when the disciples would no longer need to ask Jesus about the things that they were having difficulty understanding. Jesus had said so many things about His crucifixion and resurrection for which the disciples simply had no reference. At the time, they could not understand why the Messiah would die. Yet, after the resurrection they would know. In fact, it was when the Apostle John looked into the empty tomb that he says he believed. Their questions would be answered, so in that day they would ask Him nothing. They would simply believe. An extension of that faith would be an authentic and healthy prayer life. They would be so immersed in Christ that they could truly ask in His name, i.e. in full accord with His person. The idea of asking in Jesus’ name was detailed in chapter fifteen, but now it is put in proper order according to salvation history. It would be after the glorification of Christ that the disciples would be able to ask the Father for things in Jesus’ name and receive those things which would cause their joy to be full.

Figurative Language (25-27)
All the things that Jesus has said throughout the discourse have been said in figurative language, that is, mysterious and obscure language. Both the riddle in verse sixteen and the parable in verse twenty-one fall into this category. There would be a time when Jesus would tell the disciples “plainly” about the Father, that is, openly and clearly. The time that He foretells will be after the crucifixion/resurrection and will be marked by the coming of the Holy Spirit. I think that it is mainly the Spirit of Christ who would speak plainly to the disciples about the Father, but Jesus most certainly spoke to the disciples after the resurrection and before the ascension. I find it interesting that Jesus says that He would tell them about the Father. We may have figured Him to say that He would tell more about His incarnation, or about His death, or about His resurrection. Yet, He says, “I will tell you plainly about the Father.” Jesus always directs our attention to the Father, but in doing so we realize that Jesus is the ultimate self-revelation of the Father. If you have seen Jesus, you have seen the Father. If you understand the person of Jesus then you understand the person of the Father.

We have talked about praying in Jesus’ name. He has spoken of it at several points during the discourse. We are now told that in the power of Christ’s name they would bring their requests directly to the Father. They may not understand it yet, but the righteousness that Jesus’ would secure for them would be their means of personally and individually entering into the presence of God the Father. How would they receive the power associated with Jesus’ name? Verse twenty-seven tells us that the Father already loved those disciples because they had loved Jesus and had believed that He came forth from God.

I Have Overcome (28-33)
Verse twenty-eight is one of those plain statements that Jesus says He will soon share. In two sentences He describes “the great movement of salvation” (Morris, 630). First, Jesus came forth from the Father. He was in a heavenly abode in a state of unconstrained glory. He was then commissioned by the Father with a task. Second, Jesus came into the world. This speaks of the incarnation. This is what John said in chapter one with the expression, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Jesus humbled Himself to become a man and even went as far as death, even death on a cross. Yet, He was raised from the dead three days later. Third, after completing the task that He was commissioned to do Jesus left the world and went back to the Father. The ministry of Christ came full circle. He was sent out as the unique, self-sacrificing ambassador of God the Father and He returned to Him after accomplishing the mission.

The disciples think they understand, and, with a hint of sarcasm, Jesus responds, “Do you now believe?” The slight understanding that they seemingly had that night would not be lasting. They would be scattered in fear and sorrow. Jesus would be without His “friends” as He went to the cross. They make a bold confession of their faith and almost immediately fail when challenged by a testing situation. How typical this is of us humans! We are boldly confident, sure in our faith, and when the first test comes we are weak and vulnerable. What we realize in the Gospel message though is that when we are weak Christ is strong. We are not saved based on our righteousness, but on His. When we fail, we can turn right back to God. We can confess our sins and He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Although Jesus would be without these men, He assures them that He will not be alone because the Father is with Him.

These things have been said that the disciples may have peace. Jesus has given several reasons for saying what He has said. He has said that He wants them to believe, He wants them to have joy, and He wants them to abide in His love. Now He returns to peace. Peace that surpasses understanding is what the disciples needed in just a few short moments as the night and next day became chaotic. The entire discourse has been a means of preparing the disciples, giving them peace though they would face tribulation.

Until Christ returns, Christians hold citizenship in both the world and the kingdom of God. Jesus says that in Him we may have peace and in the world we will have tribulation. With or without Christ, this world is full of tribulation. The questions is, are you in Christ? Do you have His peace? The Lord knew full well that the disciples would abandon Him and scatter and yet He still promises them peace. He looked forward to their time of restoration. How sovereign, forgiving, and provisional our God is in Jesus Christ!

Jesus does not say, “Be of good cheer, you can overcome the world if you try hard enough;” neither does He say, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world, and you can too.” What Jesus says is, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” The “I” is emphatic. Jesus has overcome the world. How does this fact help us? Well, we are “in Christ.” We have been empowered by His Holy Spirit, entrusted with His words, given His righteousness and the benefits of His sacrifice and resurrection, and are able to pray to the Father in His name. We are so associated with Him that His victory is ours.

Conclusion and Christian Application

(1) So, my first conclusion is to say that Jesus is not a Buddha who has lived an outstanding human life and can offer us no help in our lives. Jesus Christ is the Son of God who put on flesh and blood so that He could achieve for us righteousness and salvation. Benefits are showered all over us because of His life, death, and resurrection. Yet, you cannot stand to the side without any commitment and expect these blessings. You need to commit to Him, be united with Him, and fully trust Him in order to fully experience His person and benefits. You cannot overcome the world on your own, but Christ already has.

(2) You have a joy that no one can take from you. Despite the world’s hatred, persecution, and sufferings, you are a child of God who has been promised eternal life without all of these pains. Allow Christ to fill up your joy, and be satisfied in Him.

(3) Since we are united with Christ and have been given His righteousness, joy, peace, love, and more, we can go forward in this world with great cheer, courage, and confidence. This is part of preparing for whatever persecutions, sufferings, or challenges that may come. We must proceed boldly in the power of the name of the One who has already overcome the world. There is no fear or timidity in that perspective, is there? Let us go forth to make disciples knowing that we will have tribulation, but Christ has already overcome the world.

Talent and Respecting Individuality

Talent and Respecting Individuality

Guest Article Written by Briana Rumley

Everybody has a talent. Talent being that one, or two or three if you are lucky, thing that you are great at doing. You may be talented at any number of activities. Some people work in jobs where they can practice their talents: hairdressers, doctors, singers, or even guidance counselors, social workers, and police officers. Others work at different jobs and turn to their true talents as hobbies. It has taken me a while to realize that I have a talent for interpreting text, and for conveying ideas through writing. I’m not the best writer, there are many better than me. I am also good at other things; I bake fairly well. It has been, however, a great journey of discovery for me to learn my talents and be able to use them for good things.

The Bible tells us that we are all given particular talents, and that none is less important than another. I find this best laid out in 1 Corinthians 12. The entire chapter gives examples of a few ways in which we must recognize not only our own talents, but the talents of others and how they are to be used harmoniously to glorify God. Verses 18 and 21 give some perspective on how we should feel about our individuality and the individuality of each other. Verse 18 says, “But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased,” and verse 21 continues the thought with, “And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you;’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’” Each of us may consider ourselves a “member,” that is, a part of the body; the body being the church, or even the world! Each part of the body possess a unique function. We use our brains to think, our eyes to see, our feet to walk, ears to listen, and so many other smaller parts do even more amazing things. Our bodies were created so that all the parts may work together harmoniously to allow maximum functionality. Our hearts would be of no use to us if they were on the soles of our feet, as they would be easily injured and we would not be able to live for long. That is why God in wisdom put our hearts inside our bodies, so they would be protected. This same concept applies to us individually as we work daily for Christ. Some of us were made better writers, some of us speak different languages, some study germs and create medicines, some work in dangerous jobs to ensure our safety from things that may harm us. God has created each of us to work individually for his glory and to allow the maximum functionality of his Church and our world.

Once one understands they have a talent, they must decide how to use it. Although God has designed each of us to work for a greater purpose, we do not always realize what that purpose is. Some of us have talents that help others, some talents are used to create happiness, some talents are used to comfort those in sadness, some talents are used to lead, and some are used to challenge. All of these things are important. Few would dispute that farmers are important, they provide us with food, which we could not live without. We don’t all live within walking distance of fresh oranges. So we must also recognize the importance of truck drivers who bring us these oranges, assembly line workers who constructed the trucks, and then the oil rig workers who harvest the oil to run these trucks. To consider this kind of analogy emphasizes the importance of each job, or talent. These jobs help our world function, so we must also work with our own jobs and talents to spread news of God’s love to the world.

So I suggest to all, if you are good with children, volunteer to work with your church’s youth. If you can cook, volunteer to host suppers throughout the year to provide fellowship within your congregation. Even the smallest talents like knitting, photography, writing, and speaking are needed to spread God’s message to the world. Everything we do should be for God’s glory, and we must be cautious to never underestimate our own importance, or the devalue another’s. We are all made with purpose, and we are all to love one another. If you are struggling to find your talent, spend some time in meditation and self-discovery. If you know somebody struggling, offer some ideas for activities they may want to try. They may discover a talent they never knew they had! Then, when you have discovered a talent, look for opportunities to use them. You never know where they will make a difference.

Since I’ve found I have a small talent for writing I’ve undertaken a few projects. I write for my family to help with filling out documents. I edit college essays for my friends. Sometimes I edit copy for scripts for my friend who has a talent for filmmaking. I even hope to write a novel. I don’t make money doing this, I do this because I enjoy it and it helps people I love. I think for me, that is how I write for God. He has given me a talent to use, and to refuse to help knowing I can do something is a waste of my talent, and therefore defiant to God. If I were a lung and decided not to show up for work one day then that would need to be corrected! You would not tolerate a lazy lung, as God will not tolerate me being a lazy writer. Of course there are other things he has created me to do, but when I feel called to write, or somebody has asked for my assistance, I must help. I enjoy my talent, and it is good for me to share it with others.

So, respect your friends who write, sew, train cats, mediate conflict, and mow lawns. You may not understand how it benefits to the bigger picture, but God does. He created talents, and He created each of us to do one, or two or three, really well.