Tag Archives: Knowing Jesus


In the classic movie, The Sting, the characters played by Paul Newman and Robert Redford ran an illegal betting operation that conned gamblers into thinking they were watching a live broadcast of a horse race, when in fact the trickster duo had it delayed – just enough so they knew the outcome of the race while the gamblers speculated.

What if you could know how things turn out? Tomorrow’s stock market closing, an impending crime that could be prevented, the outcome of a surgery before it began, or if you could be certain during the turbulent teenage years that things would indeed turn out okay.

Knowing some things brings patience, assurance and peace in the midst of anxiety, hope in the darkness of despair.  Knowing the lessons from the past, we save ourselves from making the same mistakes. Sometimes knowing things changes the future. In It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey turned his whole life around after seeing the future consequences of his planned choices.  What if you knew at the moment, that a simple act of compassion or a generous gift would make such a profound difference in someone’s life? Or the calamity of a poor choice that had a farther reaching grip than you imagined? But to a large degree we simply don’t know the specifics of what the future holds for us.

I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds my future.

You and I might have all kinds of theories about what happens after death, but God is the one who knows. And he assures us that we can know too:

And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 1 John 5:11-13

Knowing Jesus makes all the difference, not just knowing him for your salvation but knowing him for your victory over the troubles and challenges you face today.

Whether it be political elections, or threat of war or famine, financial disaster or climate change, we know how it all really ends. We’ve read the last chapter of Revelation, the headlines of the last newspaper ever written. They say “God wins!” We know because we know God and we know he knows.

Ponder the words of Graham Kendrick’s song, taken from Philippians 3 and consider how knowing Jesus impacts even the routine aspects of your day today. Reflect on what it means to weigh all you hold dear against the weight/importance of knowing Jesus in your moment to moment life.

“All I once held dear, built my life upon
All this world reveres, and wars to own
All I once thought gain I have counted loss
Spent and worthless now, compared to this

Knowing you, Jesus
Knowing you, there is no greater thing
You’re my all, you’re the best
You’re my joy, my righteousness
And I love you, Lord

Now my heart’s desire is to know you more
To be found in you and known as yours
To possess by faith what I could not earn
All-surpassing gift of righteousness

Oh, to know the power of your risen life
And to know You in Your sufferings
To become like you in your death, my Lord
So with you to live and never die.”


A spiritual high or a deeper life?


Jesus took Peter, John and James with him to pray on a mountain. As he was praying, his face changed and his clothes became as white as lightning. The disciples saw two men, Moses and Elijah, appear in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. Peter and his companions, when they became fully awake, saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves and did not tell anyone at that time what they had seen. Luke 9:26-37 (abridged)


Wow. Maybe this is where we get the expression, “a mountain top experience.” For the disciples it was both amazing and stunning. They didn’t know what to make of this or how to share it with others. But they didn’t remain on the mountain. They didn’t live their lives as if that spiritual high was enough. They kept following Jesus.


Have you ever wondered, when Jesus first met them, why they felt compelled to drop everything and follow him? Maybe it was the miracle he performed in finding more than a boatload of fish. Maybe it was the authoritative way in which he spoke. Or maybe it was the compassion in his eyes. Maybe they had lived such hard lives they found themselves thirsting and longing for something more. “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.” Psalm 42:1


Whatever it it was, they weren’t content with a little of God in their lives; they wanted and needed much more. Their consuming desire to know Jesus compelled them to a deeper life. Paul felt the same way. Having persecuted Christians and standing watch at their deaths, he experienced a compelling call to follow Jesus and advance his gospel. But his was no mountain top spiritual high. He was struck blind and later he himself was persecuted, stoned, and beaten. Yet he too was compelled by a deep desire to know Jesus:

“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:10-11


He said, “I face death every day, like sheep being led to a slaughter.” Yet he concluded it was worth it because nothing can separate us from God’s love. Knowing Jesus, drawing ever closer to him, was the source of his contentment. (Philippians 4:11-12)


What about you? Are you compelled to follow Jesus in a deeper way? Are you ready to experience more joy, and even suffering that draws you closer? Are you ready for more fulfillment than you’ve ever experienced before? It can start today:

Lord forgive me for going my own way, for wasting so much of my life. I surrender to you my other ambitions and passions so I can know you more.  I’m not content with knowing about you. I want to know you and to be known by you. Let me see my life and others through your eyes. Make me aware of you throughout the day. Thank you for inviting me to draw closer Show me how to take the first step.


One goal to pursue

What’s on your to-do list today? This week? What do you aim to accomplish yet this year? What about before you leave this world? Goals make us examine our hopes and dreams and help us prioritize how we want to invest our time, energy, and financial resources. Of course, all goals are ‘as unto the Lord,’ for we ultimately don’t have as much control as we think we might over our plans and future. As we recently evaluated some of our goals, some rose to a higher position of importance than others.

Paul came to the conclusion that not only his past, but all his future goals fell underneath just one surpassing goal, to know Jesus. In fact everything else fell so short of this one goal that he considered them “garbage” in comparison.

His goal is to be found “in him,” that is, immersed in Christ. When we are immersed in something we are connected in such a way that it becomes our identity, our purpose. Paul recognizes that any good comes not from himself but through faith it comes from Jesus. Oh that we would come to such knowledge, instead of thinking that we bring some inherent goodness on our own power, but rather know that all goodness comes from our trust in God.

Every goal has its reward and its price. Paul writes, “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” If we were to examine all the New Testament, we would find such references to suffering in every book. Instead of running away from suffering, Paul makes a goal of pursuing suffering when it leads him to knowing Jesus and making him known.

How about you? Not all suffering is of the Lord. Some suffering is more of inconvenience. I broke my ankle because I was in too much of a hurry on the ice. I wouldn’t call that suffering for the Lord. But there is that suffering that bears witness to Jesus, that advances his gospel, that leads us into deeper relationship with him. We shouldn’t be so quick to pray away that sort of suffering!

Knowing Jesus is a process, isn’t it? It takes more than a lifetime. Can you see all your other goals in their relationship to this one most important one?

“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 3:13b-14

One minute to leave

We’ve seen it played out on TV and read it in stories and news. Perhaps you have experienced a tragedy first hand where you had just one minute to leave your house for another place of safety. Whether it be a gas leak, an explosion, a fire, or other catastrophe, we are warned: “Get out immediately. Don’t go back for the cat or dog or any prized possessions. Your life is the most important thing to save. ”

But if you could grab one thing by the side of your bed or by the door on the way out, what would it be? Your wallet and cell phone? The family photo album? And what if it weren’t an impending catastrophe but a sudden move that required you downsize to everything but a few suitcases? What would you keep?

We surround ourselves with so many things that pay tribute to the past. I know. I’ve been sorting through things lately, prioritizing ones of more value than others and some I am finally ready to let go of. The past has a certain hold on us.

Paul addresses not just the tangible things we hold on to from the past but also our very identity…what we are known for. He concludes:
“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.”

Think about that…whatever awards you have achieved, whatever papers you have written, things you have created, accomplishments you’ve attained, or possessions you have accumulated…all these considered as loss for the sole sake of knowing Jesus.

Would you make the trade? Those who know Christ will someday do exactly that, for we take nothing with us when we leave this life for the next. I wonder though, do we sometimes cling too dearly to the things of the past while we live now? What value do they add compared to knowing Jesus and making him known? And to what extent do they actually impede this ultimate goal?

I think of the young pastor from the city who went to visit an old mentor who lived in the country. Entering the cottage, the young man saw only a single room with not much furniture at all. “You don’t have many belongings,” commented the young man. Eying the single suitcase in the young man’s hand, the old man replied, “Neither do you.” The young man said, “But I’m just staying for a short visit.” “So am I,” replied the old man, “so am I.”

This is not a call to get rid of everything you have, though God just may issue such a call. The question for each of us is what do we hold onto and what holds onto us that keeps us from knowing Jesus more fully? You never know when you have just one minute to leave.

Standing Firm In The Storm

There is strength in standing on the promises of God because it is a firm and unmovable foundation, unlike the shifting sands of our turbulent emotions and desperate self efforts. God’s promises are always true and history (His Story) is filled with examples of the extraordinary measures He takes to rescue His people, and to bring His light to overcome the darkness in our lives.

Mighty armies are decimated by smaller numbers because He makes it so, “against all odds.” A sea parts to reveal a dry path to escape. Unlikely and quite ordinary people become amazing leaders and victors when He calls them. He brings peace in the middle of a storm and boundless hope in the face of certain adversity. The sick are healed, the blind see, the hurt are restored, the lost are found, and freedom is brought to those in slavery. New life is given to the dead.

Yes, we sometimes stumble when we take our eyes off the goal and focus instead on the distractions of our circumstance. Yes, sometimes everything seems hopeless. If I were to look only at the numbers of and statistics of this cancer, I could be (and have at times been) easily distracted. But such anxiety does not lead to peace. (Does yours?) And even nights of such uncertainty and quiet desperation find hope in the new morning light.

The key is knowing and believing Jesus and asking Him to live in you. Only when we surrender do we find victory. Only in our own weakness do we find His strength. Only in dying to self do we find a new life filled with a dependable promise.

Only when His character is reflected in us do we find who we were meant to be.

“What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.”
Philippians 3:8