Beth Moore - This Jesus - Part 4
One of the things that I see over and over and over again in the letters from Paul is that he is asking God for boldness. And he is asking the listeners of his letters, pray that I might be bold. Pray for me, that I may declare it boldly, and he says in Colossians chapter 4, "That I may make it clear which is how I ought to speak". When was the last time we just asked God to make us fearless for the cause of the Gospel? And to fill us with joy that is contagious? I have to ask myself all the time, if I am sharing Jesus with people, do I have something that they want? Or are they looking at my life and going, you know, based on what I'm seeing, I think you can have him? Do our children, I mean, we can't always be just like sweet and in a great mood all the time with our kids. There's discipline. Sometimes it's like, "because I said so"!
You know, it's just like, but generally speaking, do they see enough joy, of Christ in us? And enough of the supernatural impact that he has on our lives, that they're even drawn to have the same savior that I'm so hoping they will embrace. Listen, joy is your birthright. Nobody gets to take your joy from you. It's yours. It's yours, and you might boldly say from time to time, you know what? I really love you, and you can have most of what I own, but you are not taking my joy from me. Oh no you're not. Or you can just think it in your mind. You can just walk away, get in your car, and think uh-uh, oh no. Oh no, you a joy thief, and you ain't having me. No. No, because it is part of what marks you with powerful witness for the Gospel. We've got good news we're sharing in a bad mood.
Somebody explain that to me. Honestly, we've got to get in a better mood about the good news. Because they're going like, it doesn't sound all that good to me. You look like you're in a terribly bad mood about it. This Jesus. So that we're not confused when it gets us into trouble. So that we're not confused when it gets us in the midst of a conflict we did not go looking for, but that we understood that he said, gotta tell you something: the world is gonna hate you like it hates me, but don't you be afraid. I will be with you. This Jesus can get you into trouble.
Number 6 is this: This Jesus is intimately made known in suffering. This Jesus is intimately made known in suffering. There's something about suffering that focuses the lens on who Jesus is. You and I are talking about knowing the real Jesus, knowing this same Jesus of the Gospels. And there are so many ways, so when we pore over the scriptures, have them reason to us through teaching and shepherding and pastoring and studying them for ourself, seeing them explained and proved and just living our lives getting to know him through the scriptures. But then there's this clarity that comes when that which you've read in scripture is manifested, and this closeness and intimacy you can feel with Christ when you're going through a really, really rough time. I and my husband always have two dogs, minimum. Minimum.
Sometimes we have had two dogs and a cat, two dogs and two cats, but at times we've had three dogs and one cat, but we've always had a minimum of two dogs. And we had for nine years our most recent pair before our present pair, was our bird dog named Angelina who we called Geli the G-E-L-I that's right in the middle of that word, and my border collie that I named Queen Esther and I called Star. And several years ago, we lived out in the country, out in the woods, out in the sticks in every stretch of the imagination. There is no more common thing that we ever do than look for snakes where we set our foot. Everything we do. We live out where the possums are. We live out where the skunks are. You name it, we live with it.
And there was a day and I had, the girls were over quite a lot of company, and I noticed that Geli, our bird dog, our German shorthaired pointer, was favoring her right eye, but I couldn't get her to let me look at it and she didn't seem to be shaking, whining, or anything like that, so I thought I'll put some drops in it later. And so, the company left and I had a chance, a little later on I got some drops, some little antibiotic drops to put in her eye, and when I opened her eye, I was stricken nearly, I gasped. I nearly dropped to the floor because this kind of sight just, it just makes me weak-kneed. It was like a white marble. The eye as it had looked was completely gone. It was this grayish-bluish-whitish marble. And I nearly lost it. I put her in the car and drove her as fast as I could to the vet's office. I left her in the car, went in, and I was shaking so hard, Keith was not home. Your husband is never home at a time like this. Never home at a time like this.
I am shaking like this. I'm so upset, I can't even tell them, I'm crying so hard, I have to show them my driver's license like this, and I said my dog's really hurt. And so, I brought her in, and she had, you could see on the little marblish eye where you could see three little claw marks, and it was a raccoon. She had gotten in a tangle with a raccoon. I don't mind telling you that we found the raccoon later and our dogs won, but when a dog holds down a raccoon, their defense mechanism is they go straight for the eye, and it had gone straight for her eye and I mean, it had worked. It had worked. And he just, I mean he looked at it and he immediately said it's gone. And I just was beside myself. I was beside myself. And he said, what we'll try to do is we're gonna try to save the eye. Says I'll do surgery on it, we'll sew it together, but I'll try to save it.
Well, he couldn't. Put in a little prosthetic. I guess a little blue marble. But it was traumatic. It was absolutely traumatic, the whole thing. Even the process of recovery was absolutely traumatic. And so, our bird dog was down to one eye. Well, my border collie has an I.Q. that is higher than anyone I know, and I know a lot of people. The dog is so brilliant, she is crazy. When I first got her, we go everywhere with our dogs and when I first got her, I tried to let her go with me in the front seat, but she stared at me so much that I had to put her in the back seat. It's like, you know, I can't drive with you going, I just, I can't even concentrate. You're gonna have to go in the backseat. So, she just jumps up and puts her front feet on the seat and then stares at me like this, but at least I can take that better than right to the seat next to me.
So, here's what she did. It's the most fascinating thing. We had to keep Geli down for about a week before, or ten days before she could start going outside again and going for a walk, but when she did, our border collie Star became her right eye. I want you to listen to me very carefully. She would run right next to her skin on her right side, never on her left. On her right side, and she would maneuver her around every tree, around every single obstacle there was. She ran with that dog for several weeks, and she was so fussy with her, 'cause it was like like stay with me, I'm trying to save your neck here. Because if Geli would try to get away from her, she'd just go right beside her and skin to skin.
Well, one day about a month later, Geli just ran off without her. And Star tried to keep up with her. Her legs are short, Geli's legs are long. Some of you know what that's like. You have this long-legged friend and here you are just, you know what I'm talking about? And so, Star just came over to me and she just plopped down beside me and her head and I just hugged her. And I said you know what, you did your job. And now she's ready to run. And you know, I don't know who's been your right eye in the faith and helped you run around all the obstacles. Tried to keep you safe and tried to help you know what you're doing. But for a lot of you, it's time to run. Let me tell what'll happen too, it'll hurt the person's feeling who's been your right eye. Like they're like, why don't you need me anymore?
Well, of course you need 'em. But I mean, why do we have to be needed by the body? You know what I'm saying? Can we just like want people instead of like, I really need you. Yeah, well, we do need each other. I shouldn't really go off on this, but I do think we have a codependency problem. Do you? I just wanna be needed. Well, can you just be wanted? Is wanted good? Because I want you. I want you. But let me tell you something. You've got somewhere to go with Jesus. And you need to be somebody else's right eye Till they can see. Run with them. Run with them. But it's time for you to know him. Hey, how many of us, it's a beautiful thing, have known Jesus alongside somebody else, but intimacy doesn't happen with three. It happens with two, you and Jesus. And this is what Paul says in Philippians 3. He talks about, he said listen, I've had everything you can be confident in.
I'm looking around verse 4: "Every confidence in the flesh. I was circumcised on the eighth day. I was of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, I was a Hebrew born of Hebrews; regarding the law, I was a Pharisee; regarding zeal, persecuting the church; regarding righteousness that is in the law, I was blameless. But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them dung, so that I may gain Christ and be found in him".
Do we wanna know why Paul was the way he was? He could not get enough of the knowledge of Christ. Here is the thing: the more you know him, the more you want to know him. And listen, ask him. Back it up here, because sometimes we'll sit back and we'll feel so guilty because we'll think to ourselves, you know the thing of it is I just don't, I'm not, I see people that are into it and I wanna be into it, but I'm not into it I mean, I'm trying to read the scriptures. It doesn't just thrill me like it's thrilling them. Pray for it to.
Every single time you pray in the will of God, we are told this in 1 John chapter 5, when we pray in the will of God, we will always have what we ask. Listen, I promise you there is nothing he wants more than for you to love him with your whole soul, mind, heart, and strength, and for you to love getting to know him through the scriptures. And we say to him, give me the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of you. Enlighten the eyes of my heart so that I may know the hope to which you have called me. And what is your glorious inheritance in the saints, Lord give it to me. We need him to give us what it takes for us to know him. It starts back with him. Give me a heart to love you. Give me a mind to know you. Come to his word and go, thrill me with this. Exhilarate me. Interest me.
Consume me with it where I'll love this. And you just watch what it'll do when you start praying and start thanking him already. I thank you, 'cause I know you're gonna do it. Today. You can start praying it today and go ahead and go, you're gonna give me a heart to love you because there's nothing you want me to do more, and I'm asking you in Jesus's name, give me a heart to love you. It takes Jesus to serve Jesus. It takes Jesus to love Jesus. It all starts with Jesus. It takes Jesus to be saved by Jesus. Everything I do starts with Jesus, ends with Jesus. Starts with Jesus, ends with Jesus. 'Cause that's just how it goes. He's the beginning and end of all things. It's all Jesus. I want to know Christ. I wanna know the power of his resurrection. It talks about resurrection power in Ephesians chapter 1. What does that mean?
Listen, for those who believe, for those who believe, it's a present active participle, for those who keep believing that God will put to work in your life and mine the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. Now let me tell you something, if you need more power than that, you are out of luck. But if you need anything within the extent of the power that could raise the dead, you're in really good shape. Want you to turn with me one more place. 2 Corinthians chapter 12. You're probably very familiar with the passages. If you're not, let me tell you a little bit about it. Paul has been invited by Jesus to have all manner of revelation of him. You know, it's a strange thing because God also said of Paul, I will show him how much he's gonna have to suffer for my sake.
But in the midst of all that suffering, Paul also had revelation after revelation. He had ecstatic experiences, one of which is described right here when it says I don't know, I was caught up. He calls it a man, but he's talking about himself. A man was caught up into the third heaven and saw inexpressible things. Things I can't even tell you. I can't even put 'em into words. But he said that the Lord had allowed him to have a thorn in the flesh to keep him from being conceited. And that over and over and over he had asked God, he had asked Christ, he had asked him to deliver him from that thorn in the flesh, but God had not done it.
Now, what in the world is a thorn in the flesh? It never does say, and that's a beautiful thing because that means that we can just relate it to anything. It's anything that makes life just feel harder than it has to be. Have you ever thought to yourself, I had to just take a moment to show you how sorry I can feel for myself at times. But every now and then I'm like, you know, honestly, this just makes life harder than it has to be. And why, Lord, is there always something this hard? Why has it always been my whole life this hard. Can I see anybody else's hand? We just go, what in the world? What in the world? And there are so many things he delivers us from.
I want you to know something, God never takes the prayers of his children lightly. By the time we are pleading multiple times to be delivered from a thorn in the flesh, something that just makes life harder than it has to be and it's not being delivered, at least not for now, there's something he wants to do. And here's what I'm saying to you: Go for it. Like if there's any tradeoff here, go for what you're trading off. And here's what he says. I want you to go with me in verse 8. 2 Corinthians 12 verse 8: "Concerning this", this was tormenting thorn in the flesh, "I pleaded with the Lord three times that it would leave me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, and my power is perfected in weakness.'" And so, Paul says, "Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may reside in me".
I told you that he's talking straight to Christ. I don't know if this kind of stuff matters to you, but you know, we so pray often and are told to pray to the Father in the name of the Son, but I just love in this intimacy that Paul is talking straight to Jesus. And he knows Jesus personally. He has encountered him on multiple occasions. He's talking straight to him. How do I know that? Because Jesus is saying, "My grace is sufficient for you, my power is perfected". And he said, "Okay, then I'm gonna boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may reside in me. So, I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and in difficulties, for the sake of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong".
Look at verse 9 where it says reside in me, so that Christ's power may reside in me. And it's such a cool word: episkenoo, episkenoo. It is a word that means to pitch a tent or to dwell. It means to abide upon, to rest upon, to live in. I wanna read you an excerpt out of Dr. Paul Barnett's commentary on 2 Corinthians 12. Listen carefully to this 'cause this is so cool. That Christ's power may rest on him. Remarkably, this is the vocabulary of the tabernacle of the old covenant as applied to God pitching his tent with people in Exodus 40:34. In what has been described as a bold metaphor, Paul teaches that Christ in his power pitches his tent with his saints in their weaknesses.
Ecstasy has all the appearances of divine power, but the reality is otherwise. In other words, we would think that our greatest ecstasies with Christ would always be when we were the strongest in our own selves, that that's how we would really know the ecstasies. He says, you know, that's not the way it works. The way it works is some of the most ecstatic moments we ever have with Jesus, some of the most intense times we'll ever have with him, when our hearts are most enraptured by him, will be when we're in the opposite state. In our weakness he seems to just pitch his tent with us. Yes, he's abiding in us, but do you remember when we read that word out of Acts chapter 2 and it said that the tongues of fire came and rested on them?
It is a different word in the Greek, a wonderful word, but it means to sit upon, to land upon, and of course it would be also internal in them. But this was the manifestation on them. But this word right here is so intimate because it's like I'll pitch my tent with you. I wonder, I'm not positive, but I wonder if one perfect example of it is in 2 Timothy 4. You don't need to turn, I'm just gonna read it to you. In verses 16 and 17, Paul says this: at my first defense, no one appeared in my support. Instead, they all deserted me. May they not be held accountable for it. But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message would be fully proclaimed for all the gentiles to hear, and so I was delivered from the lion's mouth. The Lord will deliver me from every evil deed and will bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory forever and ever, amen. Do you hear what he's saying? Nobody was with me, but the Lord stood by me.
Now I don't know, was there any kind of manifestation. Paul got some really wild experiences, or was he just like as invisible as he is to us, but he just knew his presence was there? I don't know. But I'm gonna tell you this: there's nothing like the presence of Christ when we feel like everybody has deserted us. Or maybe everybody's just busy, distracted. We're all alone. You will never get to know this Jesus, this Jesus any more intimately than when this Jesus is all you've got. It is only this same Jesus that makes me different. Anybody understand what I'm saying? That Jesus is already conformed to our image. Why would we change? We're like one another, we and that Jesus are like this. But this Jesus, oh, I got a long way to go. A long way to go. And it's only that same Jesus who never changes that completely changes me.
That same Jesus who never himself transforms that completely transforms me. That same Jesus in Revelation 1 was such an overwhelming revelation of Jesus that John fell like a dead man before him, and he laid his hands on John and said don't be afraid. After John had seen him like, I mean in this like wild revelation, this wild vision. But somehow when Jesus touched him, "don't be afraid". John could remember every single time he had heard that same voice say those words. When Jesus warned his disciples they'd be persecuted for his sake, he followed it by saying "don't be afraid".
When they were terrified by the storm and even more terrified when they thought they saw a ghost walking toward them on the water. "Don't be afraid. It is I". When Peter and James and John were on the Mount of Transfiguration and the cloudy pillar settles upon them and God speaks out of the cloud, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Shut up and listen to him". Something like that. And they dropped to the ground face down. And Jesus just can't help himself. Even though they deserve to be on that ground face down, touches them. "Don't be afraid".