Jesus Stayed Behind

“Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast; and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His parents were unaware of it” (Luke 2:41-43)

Had you asked Mary and Joseph that first day as they departed from Jerusalem for home if Jesus was walking with them, they most certainly would have answered yes. Of course He was with them, why wouldn’t He be? But Jesus had stayed behind, and they were not aware of it.

What a terrible thing it is to have left Jesus behind. Worse still, to be unaware of it. To suppose that the Lord Jesus walks beside us when He does not is a tragedy, but are there not many who do just that? Some have never truly come to faith in the Lord and have never known what it was like to really walk with Him in the first place. Others walked with Him at one time but sin  has crowded in, their love has grown cold, and their steps have taken them in a different direction. And this is worth noticing: Jesus never leaves us behind, it is us who wander away.

Every one who supposes that the Lord walks beside them does well to make sure that He in fact does. And what to do should we discover that we have left Him behind? We will find Him in that very place where we left Him. Did we abandon Him when we began to neglect our prayer life? Then it is in a renewed prayer life that we will find Him. Have we stopped seeking Him through the study of His Word? Then when we dust off our Bibles and look again to the Holy Spirit to reveal the Son to us we will find Him again. Or perhaps it is some sin that we are reluctant to release. If we bring that sin to God, will He not strengthen us to be free from that sin and to walk with Him once again? Jesus can be found “about His Father’s business” (Luke 2:49 KJV), can we?

[Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.]

The Gift Of Conviction

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)

I once read an interview with a celebrity who identifies themselves as a Christian. Because some have accused this person of holding only a shallow, superficial religious belief, the interviewer began to ask probing questions about how deep their Christianity goes. Finally, they were asked if they had ever asked God for forgiveness for their sins. The answer given was no, and they added that they really didn’t feel that they needed to.

Now whether or not this person is truly a Christian is not for any of us to determine, it is between them and God. But we can safely say that it is concerning for someone to claim that they are trusting in Christ and also state that they really do not need to go to God for the forgiveness of their sins. And if this person’s answer was sincere, then we have the testimony of the Bible that the Truth is not in them.

Most religions lay out a path for their adherents to walk that brings them ever-closer to some sort of greater and greater enlightenment or perfection. And while we as Christians may be “sanctified”, that is, live a life that grows into more Christ-likeness the further along we go, we acknowledge that sin is never completely vanquished in us until we enter into Heaven. In other words, the need to confess our sins to God and ask for His forgiveness will be necessary until the day we leave this world.

For most people, apparently including the celebrity I mentioned above, the problem is not that they feel they have reached perfection, but that they have no real sense of their own sinfulness in the first place. It is human nature to excuse, justify, and mitigate our own guiltiness rather than honestly recognize our own shortcomings. We can always point to someone else who is a lot “worse” than we are.

One of the things that the Holy Spirit will do in our hearts, if we will hear Him, is to convict us of the sin we commit. This is not so that God can condemn us, but so that we may confess our sin to God and be forgiven. Conviction of sin is a great gift that makes it possible to remove the one obstacle that can stand between a person and the Lord. May we be thankful when God shows us the sin in our life that we may bring it to Him for forgiveness.

[Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.]

What My God Says, That Will I Speak

Then the messenger who went to summon Micaiah spoke to him saying, “Behold, the words of the prophets are uniformly favorable to the king. So please let your word be like one of them and speak favorably.” But Micaiah said, “As the Lord lives, what my God says, that I will speak.” (2 Chronicles 18:12-13)

After 400 false prophets of the god Baal had unanimously proclaimed that a great victory would be secured in the campaign of Israel and Judah against Ramoth-Gilead, Micaiah, a true prophet of the Lord, was summoned to deliver his prophecy concerning the plan. Not wishing for King Ahab’s already sour disposition toward the one true prophet in his kingdom to worsen, the messenger sent to retrieve him urges the man of God to step in line and join in with the 400 sycophants singing the victorious rally cry within the king’s throne room. But Micaiah, like every true prophet of God, can speak neither good nor bad except as the Lord leads him. “What my God says, that will I speak“, he answers.

Anyone who speaks on behalf of God, if they truly do so, will never be a popular person, at least as the world considers such. The Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword and it cuts deeply into all who hear it (Hebrews 4:12). It is a living, healing salve to those who love God but to the natural man it is hated and despised. Micaiah knew that by telling King Ahab the truth, that the king himself would in fact die in the battle that he was now planning, he would further incur the ruler’s wrath and that his own treatment would suffer because of it. But in the words of Martin Luther, he knew that “to go against conscience is neither right nor safe” and that enduring a king’s anger is nothing compared with the loss felt in disappointing the King of Heaven.

We may not be actual “prophets of God” standing in the courts of kings, uttering  dire warnings against insolent monarchs who defy our Lord, but we are entrusted as children of God with the Word of God and must be careful stewards with that which we have been given. We are not at liberty to bend, alter, or water-down what God’s Word says, even if it goes directly against what the world believes to be right or wrong.  Today, Bible-believing Christians are called upon more and more to abandon “outdated” and “intolerant” morals in the name of acceptance and compromise, to fit in with the popular worldviews which reject the truths that God has clearly spoken. May we always remember that it is neither safe nor right to do so.

[Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.]