“How Do You Know Me?”: Nathanael and real knowledge

“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. (John 1:48a)

NathanaelThe most astonished and revealing question of the first chapter of John’s gospel comes here from Nathanael’s lips. His encounter with Jesus reveals Christ’s knowledge of each person: their background, their identity, their desires, their habits and practices.

Philip finds Nathanael near Bethsaida and tells him about his encounter with Jesus, exclaiming, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:45). Nathanael scoffs at this, derisively mocking Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth. Philip sustains his wonder, inviting Nathanael to “Come and see” (1:46b).

When Nathanael follows Philip to where Jesus is found, something powerful happens. Jesus names Nathanael and describes him with such great depth and accuracy that Nathanael is shocked and overwhelmed. He responds with such a dramatic shift from his earlier comments that we know a deep chord has been struck within his life: “Then Nathanael declared, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel'” (1:49). Jesus promises that the shock Nathanael has experienced in this initial encounter will be surpassed by what he will see in the future.

Nathanael is shocked by Jesus’ knowledge of him into a shocking knowledge of who Jesus is. These two perspectives go together. It is not that our self-knowledge arises merely through pursuit of ourselves – knowing our personality, proclivities, temperament, past, or desires. It is that Jesus the Christ brings us true knowledge of ourselves while concurrently leading us into that which we need more urgently than self-knowledge: knowledge of God in Christ.

May we be like Nathanael today as we allow Jesus to meet with us, speak to us, and reveal both who He is and who we are more clearly.

Hosea, part 1 [God in the Ruins]

This past weekend at Eastbrook, we continued our series, “God in the Ruins: The Message of the Minor Prophets.” My wife, Kelly, and I co-preached a message on the first three chapters of the prophet Hosea.

Hosea is an interesting book of the Bible, and one of the longest of these shorter prophetic books. Hosea spoke during the time of the divided kingdom, primarily addressing the northern kingdom of Israel from about 750-724 BC.

You can watch our message from this past weekend and follow along with the message outline below. You can also engage with the entire series here or download the Eastbrook mobile app for even more opportunities to connect.

I’m also including below a chart that I pulled together related to the kings of Israel that overlap with the ministry of Hosea.

King Dates bc References
Jeroboam II 786-746 2 Kings 14:23-29
Zechariah 746-745 2 Kings 15:8-12
Shallum 745 2 Kings 15:13-16
Menahem 752-738 2 Kings 15:17-22
Pekahiah 738-737 2 Kings 15:23-26
Pekah
(may have co-ruled Gilead since 752)
737-732 2 Kings 15:27-31
Hoshea 732-724 2 Kings 17:1-6
Fall of Samaria 722 2 Kings 17:7-23

Read More »

Stepping Forward into 2020 with Focus

Emmaus RoadThis week, I am sharing some spiritual practices for reflecting on the previous year and stepping forward into the new year.

Stepping Forward with Focus

Just as we look back at the previous year gone by with thanksgiving, lament, and repentance, it is important to step forward into the coming year in a personally engaged and meaningful way.

First, let me encourage us to step forward into the new year with focus. Psalm 63 is a beloved psalm reflecting both our need for God and the power of right focus upon God.

You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1)

The psalmist is apparently in a difficult time, an important moment, but it is clear that the psalmist is stepping forward into that moment with focus on God.

Some will say that the most important thing we can do is to put “first things first.” As we step into this year, there is nothing more important – nothing that should more truly be a first thing – than God Himself. Our focus must be on Him.

Jesus also emphasized this when He said:

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

Entering into the new year, we must consider how to keep our focus on God. We need to consider what it looks like to prioritize relationship with God in the midst of all the relationships in our lives. We want to establish some specific ways to do that this year that more than a resolution, but is a prioritization of the Living God in our live.

A good question to ask ourselves is: what is one thing I will do to prioritize life with God this year?

A Thrill of Hope for a Weary World

Christmas Day Ads_E-News.png

The Christmas Eve services at Eastbrook were themed around a line from “O Holy Night”: “a thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices.” My message in the services explored that theme, turning attention to how Jesus helps us see what God is really like and how the incarnation gives us true hope. In particular, I drew upon Hebrews 1:1-3:

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.

I attempted to draw into sharper focus three ways that Jesus shows us something about God:

  • That God exists
  • That God cares for us and the world more than we understand
  • That God is here – God “shows up”

You can watch the message below.

 

Sprouting Glory: A Christmas reflection

hybiscus in ash.jpg

Dusty, the longing rises from the ground,
a small leafy sprout breaking from the stump.
Where the green is, eyes look in wonder,
as hope grows from sprout to sapling.
The earth, scorched with anger and loss,
ignores at first, but cannot fail to notice,
amidst the ashen landscape, as first leaves
and buds begin to raise their forms to light.
While all around seems decayed with death,
here – only here – life begins again.
Like a phoenix, hope surges in flames,
as Holy Spirit quivers amongst every leaf and branch.
Now, now is the moment, the time of arrival,
and all the angels cry out, “Glory!”

A Prayer for Christmas Day

Christ candle.jpg

Almighty God,
who hast given us thy only-begotten Son
to take our nature upon him,
and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin;
Grant that we being regenerate,
and made thy children by adoption and grace,
may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit;
through the same our Lord Jesus Christ,
who liveth and reigneth with thee
and the same Spirit ever,
one God, world without end. Amen.

Source: The Book of Common Prayer (1928)

Christmas Eve 2019 Eastbrook

 

We live in a weary, broken world—but not without hope! This Christmas Eve we invite you into the celebration of hope that is found for everyone in Jesus. “And His Name will be the hope of all the world.” (Matthew 12:21)

Join us for worship services on Christmas Eve at Eastbrook Church for a celebration of Jesus, the Light of the world! We will have four identical services at 1:00, 2:30, 4:00, and 5:30 PM.

Find directions to Eastbrook here.