Marked For Protection
On a Recent 60 Minutes Special entitled "The Race to Save the Tortoise", reporters searched for the world's most endangered tortoise, the Ploughshare.
After a gruelingly long hike on the deserted beach of Madagascar, they finally came upon one peacefully basking in the scorching sun. Asian countries love gold, and this is a gold tortoise with a high price on it's head. It is poached and sold for upwards of $60,000.00 on the black market.
In a desperate effort to save the rare beauty's life, one man gently lifted it from it's comfortable position and began feverishly carving into it's beautiful shell, scarring it forever. The poachers would now pass over it because it was completely devalued.
The story reminded me of the very first murder ever committed. Fueled with jealousy, Cain coaxed his brother Abel into a field where he brutally murdered him. According to the Biblical record, God punished Cain by casting him from His presence, sentencing him to wander as a vagabond in wilderness of Nod. Terrified of being attacked and murdered himself, he cried out to God in fear. God then explained to Cain that He had placed a mark on him so that no one who found him would kill him (Genesis 4:15).
Later, God would allow sinful men to viciously torture and execute His own Son. Jesus Christ would bare the marks in His hands and feet in order to protect those who would believe on Him from eternal punishment.
"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed." Isaiah 53:5.
How can we possibly go through life rejecting this Truth clearly revealed within the pages of Scripture? Can we grasp the marring of His perfection? If so, the only response required is a humble acceptance of God's amazing grace; His sacrifice on our behalf.
“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life." John 5:24
For the record, the dentist’s office is my least favorite place to be. I admit right here and now to being the biggest coward on the planet. It’s bad enough for a regular check-up but when I hear “hmmm, looks like decay…”mumbled over me, my butt starts inching down the chair. Yet tooth decay, if not treated, will only get worse.
Forgive the play on words, but there is a huge epidemic of truth decay in our society that if not corrected, will only worsen. This disease dates back to the beginning of creation when the Serpent said to Eve “did God really say…? And from that point forward, we question truth and substitute it with what we want to believe. That choice leads to the worst kind of decay – the kind that leads to foolishness. The Bible compares truth with light and lies with darkness. One of the most obvious examples of this has to do with creation. It’s much easier to believe there is no Creator because, after all, that would make us accountable to Him. Yet God has shown Himself to us in everything He has made. Every living thing bears His fingerprints.
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-His eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.” (Romans 1:20-22).
Jesus said “yet because I tell you the truth, you do not believe Me!” (John 8:45) and called Himself the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6). Notice He did not say “a” truth, as one of ‘many” truths. There is only one – the One and only Truth. In the words of John the Apostle, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth”. (John 1:14).
Here is wisdom: if we diligently seek to know truth, we will find it. “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13).
Where there is decay, there is stench. God says that those who believe Him are a “pleasing aroma” to Him. As we emerge ourselves in His truth, may we openly proclaim it and work to overcome the lies that permeate our fallen world.
One of the challenges I enjoy in my work is designing logos. I am honored when a client trusts me to create something that reflects what their business is about in a simple, recognizable icon that will be used for branding their product and draw customers in.
The word "logos" comes from the greek word Λόγος meaning "word", "discourse" or "reason". This is the same word used by the Apostle John to describe Jesus Christ; "In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. The word became flesh and dwelt among us." (John 1:1).
Over and over, Scripture depicts Jesus as the "image of the invisible God". A perfect replica, a precise copy, the exact representation of His being and in Him all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form (Colossians 1:15; 2:9). Phillip once asked, "when will we see the Father?", to which Jesus replied, "when you have seen Me, you have seen the Father".
The Jews were understandably confused. When Jesus spoke of a time before He born and was with Abraham, they said "you are not yet fifty years old, and you have seen Abraham?" Jesus responded, "truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was, I Am." Immediately they picked up stones to stone Him (John 8:58). Why would they respond so radically? Because they understood what Jesus was saying. They knew that He was claiming to be God and was using the same identification for Himself that God used when Moses asked "who should I say sent me?" God said, "My name is I Am. Tell them I Am has sent you". (Exodus 2:14). This was a blasphemous claim (were it not true). Notice that Jesus didn't say "before Abraham was, I was." Rather, He said "before Abraham was, I Am". That claim to be God is what prompted their plot to kill Him.
Jesus Christ, the logos of the Father, was fully God while fully man. Therefore, as a man He was thirsty but as God, He commanded the sea to be calm. As a man He was hungry, but as God, He multiplied five loaves and two fish to feed five thousand people. As a man He slept but as God, He raised the dead to life and Himself came up out of the grave.
God is light. Light is invisible. It is made up of waves that can only be seen through a vehicle, such as a prism. Jesus is that vehicle. That is why He said, "I am the Light of world. Whoever believes in Me will not stay in darkness." (John 12:46). Indeed, the world has seen a great Light.
The Christmas event we celebrate is no small matter. It deserved the angelic fanfare; their proclamation of good news: Jesus, eternal God, stepped into time as "Emmanuel", (literally meaning "God with us") to dwell among us and then die to take away our sins.
In our receiving of gifts, remember that there is no greater gift we can receive than that of God's Son. "For unto us, a child is born. Unto us, a Son is given."
As a baby, He had to be born. As the Son, He is "given". Receive Him today as Lord and Savior of your life.
At a recent Women’s Vision Foundation forum, one of the speakers was Brené Brown, author of The Gifts of Imperfection. She talked about how much courage it takes to become vulnerable; to connect with others, allowing them to show patience, understanding and compassion or a lack thereof.
A scene came into my mind when she challenged us to “step into the arena”. In the movie, Gladiator, Maximus Decimus Meridius and his cohorts (who were recruited criminals, slaves, fugitives, and prisoners of war) stand behind an iron gate, about to enter the gladiator games where they will either defeat their opponents or die a violent death to the sheer delight of the blood thirsty crowd. In this scene, the man standing in front of Maximus is so frightened that he urinates down his leg. Duly noted, Maximus quietly takes one step backward. Here we see the contrast between a trained, fearless military commander who sees victory waiting and an individual shaking in terror, seeing his life flash before his eyes. Once the battle began, Maximus took charge and emphasized the importance of working together as a team.
Stepping into the daily arena implies that we have no idea what to expect on any given day or moment. Those we encounter can change identity from friend to foe without warning. This is not to say we should go into each day on the defensive but rather, we should keep our eyes open and be prepared for battle.
The Apostle Paul wrote about the spiritual battle (see previous blog titled “Paper Armor”). Each piece of armor worn by Roman soldiers is symbolic of truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation and the Spirit. Steven, the first recorded Christian martyr, was undoubtedly armed with all of the above. He may have appeared to have been defeated as the opposition hurled stones at him but that was not the case. As with Jesus Christ hanging on a cross after being beaten to the brink of death, the victory was won in a realm unseen by men.
In workplace, there is competition for higher positioning. There is back stabbing and brutal gossip. But the real battle is fought when we daily ask God to show us who we can show kindness to and to open doors to those who are seeking to know Him; the Way, the Truth, and the Life. That’s when we experience the enemy’s darts and that’s when we must be armed!
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.
-- 1 Peter 5:8-9
Marked For Protection
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