All at the Right Time

During Bible Study a few weeks ago, a simple but honest question was asked: Why didn’t Jesus’ family recognize Him as the Messiah? I’m sure it’s something many have wondered. For those who believe, Jesus’ ministry clearly established Him as the Son of God, the promised Messiah. How could anyone not believe, especially his own family? In fact, his family didn’t only disbelieve, they were offended by him and called him crazy, eventually chasing him out of his hometown (Matt 13:53-58, Mark 3:21).

This isn’t an easy question to answer without making a lot of assumptions. And if we’re honest, we ask this question for more personal reasons. Behind the curiosity about this first century family, we are wondering about our own hearts and families. Why didn’t I believe in Jesus the first time I heard about him? Why doesn’t my family member, who has certainly heard the Gospel, believe?

A Time for Jesus

I’m sure there are many theories out there regarding the family’s unbelief, but I want to look at an often-overlooked aspect of Jesus’ ministry – the timing. And I’m going to preface this with a disclaimer; I don’t know why Jesus came when He did. I don’t know why He was born so many thousands of years ago, I don’t know why God didn’t bring Jesus on scene immediate after Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. But I do know there was a specific time designated for Jesus to begin His ministry and a time for Him to die on the cross. Before He started teaching, preaching and healing, Jesus had to be baptized by John the Baptist (Mark 1:14-15), tempted in the desert by Satan, and John the Baptist had to be arrested. God, in His sovereign plan, set a time for Jesus to come as the Redeemer (Galatians 4:4-5, 1 Timothy 5:5-6, Titus 1:2-3). As his teaching ministry progressed, he began nearing a different appointed time in his life- the time of his crucifixion. The course of His ministry took Him places other than Judea until the appropriate time, as the Jewish leaders there wanted Him dead (John 7:1-9). The apostle Paul makes it most clear, “for while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6, NASB). We start to see in these verses that God’s plan is not random; it is intentional. There was a right time for Jesus.

But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
Galatians 4:4-5, NASB

Moment of Salvation

Perhaps we also need to consider that there is a right time for us to believe. If we believe God is sovereign in His plan for mankind, not just “seeing” how things play out, but actually authoring the story, we must accept that, just like Jesus fulfilling the role of sacrificial lamb, our own salvation was not a random act. In fact, He “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). This doesn’t mean He looked ahead and saw that we would choose Him and then so chose us as I often hear it explained. No, this is an acknowledgement of God’s total sovereignty over every aspect of His creation, including their salvation. We were selectively, intentionally given life, pulled out of the deadness of our sins by a merciful God (Ephesians 2:4-5). Our eyes are opened, we are able to understand the message of Jesus, according to God’s sovereignty. Some of us are granted this grace, and others are still hidden behind the veil, blind to the Truth (John 6:65, 2 Corinthians 4:4-6).

So this is where I believe we can understand a little more clearly the situation of belief and unbelief in Jesus’ family. If we are believers, we can all point to what we call a “moment of salvation” – the specific time where we realized we believed and were changed. For me, that came at the age of 14. For others, maybe it was earlier in life or much later. At least two of Jesus’ brothers (James and Jude) came to saving faith after the resurrection (Acts 1:14). For the Apostle Paul, it came after he’d lived many years persecuting Christians, yet he says that God set him apart in his mother’s womb (Galatians 1:13-16). God certainly could have made us all believe while we were tiny children, but I believe these examples show us that He has a reason for His timing, even if we don’t understand. Paul’s history as an oppressor of the early Christians gave Him a deep humility in the face of his own sin, which he passionately preached to other believers. James and Jude were able to speak with great conviction about living out our faith and of the dangers of being led astray by false teachers. What did your life before Christ do to prepare you for your life as a believer? As for Jesus’ family, maybe the question isn’t “why didn’t they recognize Jesus as the Messiah,” but “how did they glorify God once they did?”

Hopefully, these things can give you some rest in regard to your own lost friends and family. We don’t know the right time of their salvation; keep praying for them and sharing the good news of Jesus!

Love,Katie

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A word from Jonah…

 “You threw me into the depths, into the heart of the seas, and the current overcame me. All Your breakers and Your billows swept over me.” Jonah 2:3, CSB

My son received a new Bible for Christmas last year, and we have been reading it non-stop. One of his favorite stories is Jonah and the Whale, which he requests daily with unrestrained glee. As I’ve read this story so many times in the last months, I’ve been thinking of why a story like Jonah’s is included in the Bible. What does this story hold for me?

Jonah’s story is simple: God told Jonah to go preach His message of repentance in Nineveh. Instead of obeying, Jonah fled and tried to hide from the Lord. While on his getaway boat, God caused a great storm to come upon them, and the sailors threw Jonah into the sea to appease the God from whom Jonah hid. Jonah sank in the deep, and the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow him. Jonah stayed in the dark, smelly, cavernous belly of that fish for three days. While he was in the belly of the whale, Jonah cried to the Lord, acknowledging His hand in Jonah’s circumstances. He didn’t complain about how uncomfortable he was or ask for God to change his surroundings.

“But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise,
and I will fulfill all my vows.
For my salvation comes from the Lord alone.” Jonah 2:9, NLT

Jonah recognizes God as sovereign over his life, offers him prayers of thanksgiving and remembers that salvation comes from the Lord. It’s only after Jonah reaches this point of clarity about who God is that God commands the fish to spit Jonah out. Once back on dry land, God gives Jonah the same command a second time: Go and give my message of repentance to the people of Nineveh. This time, Jonah obeys.

I wonder how many times the circumstances in my life have been because of my disobedience. It’s easy to immediately complain when things don’t go my way or to ask God why he’s putting me through the struggle, but it’s rare that I take the time to consider how my own sin has consequences. Jonah shows us that when we disobey and try to hide from God we shouldn’t be surprised if He makes us sit in the belly of a whale for a few days, until we get our hearts right. It’ll stink and be uncomfortable, but sometimes that’s what it takes to remind us of the power and sovereignty and worthiness of the God we serve. When our hearts are set aright, God brings us back up to try again, to obey.  Maybe my first prayer should be one of supplication, that the Lord would help me obey Him in all things, so that my times in the belly of the whale may be few and far between.

Love, Katie

Storms

Storms.  We’ve all got ‘em.  Right now you can’t turn on anything without hearing about a hurricane threatening to wreak havoc in its path.  But even when we’re not in hurricane season we experience storms.

Being married to Flint from G.I. Joe, I didn’t exactly get to choose where we live since Uncle Sam makes those decisions.  So as this crazy hurricane comes barreling to my state, I become exasperated, “Why are we here?!  This isn’t my home!  I shouldn’t have to deal with this!”

What I’m forgetting is that I am supposed to be here.  I recall the actual storm that I survived (slightly less wind and rain) when Flint told me it was time to move.  I said “Nope, not doing it” for totally embarrassing reasons.  Cue the wind.  And the rain.   And then it poured.  For a long time.  That was a storm I pray I never have to endure again because it was a storm of my own choosing.  What was I thinking?!  Did I really think that God endorsed my behavior and disrespect to my husband?!  My storm raged as long as my disobedience did.

29 And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and *said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!” – Matthew 14:29-33

Matthew tells us the story when Jesus’ disciples were on a boat in a storm while Jesus walked on the water to them.  Excitedly, Peter asks to join Jesus and walks out on the water.  But – here’s our moment where it gets relevant –  when Peter is out with Jesus, his faith wanes and he begins to sink into the crashing waves.  We all know the rest.  “You of little faith, why do you doubt?” Jesus says as he saves Peter and they board the boat.

We know God sent Christ to be the sacrifice for our sins.  We accept His un-repayable gift. We tell God we love Him and we want to follow Him.  But then when it’s time to step out onto the water, to obey, we’re too scared He’s not going to be there with us. Where’s that faith we’re called to have?

The answer lies in us.  The other part of my storm was that I wasn’t exactly communicating with God the way I should have while I had my relocation temper tantrum.  I wasn’t reading His Word.  I wasn’t talking to Him.  How can I expect to hear Him and have faith that He’s there if I ignore Him?

I’d have a fit if Flint never told me he loved me.  How would I know?  The same goes for my relationship with my Heavenly Father.  I need to speak to Him.  He’s always ready to show me He’s there.  He always has been.

Love, Bri