Dancing to His tune!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 7:31-35
“But wisdom is proved right by all her children.” (Luke 7:35)
Jesus is responding to the fickle criticisms of the religious leaders.
John has a demon because he fasts, Jesus is a glutton because He doesn’t.
Like children, first they’re dancing and then they’re singing the blues.
Wisdom is not fickle like this, it is true no matter what we think or feel.
‘Wisdom is proved right’ is Jesus’ way of saying ‘you’ll see who’s right’.
Jesus’ message of radical love (Luke 6:27-36) will be proven right one day.
Think about it: does Jesus’ way or our way make this a better world?
The church’s failure to live the Jesus way does not prove it wrong.
It proves that humans are too fickle to follow it through.
“Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” (G.K.Chesterton)
Jesus Way, as hard as it is, is true and will one day be shown to be true.
Jesus beat Satan and sin by refusing to dance to his tune.
Will we join Jesus in His victory of living His way, dancing to His tune?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, Your Way is what we need, what the world needs, to restore love, joy and peace for all. Keep on inspiring and enabling us by Your Spirit to prove the wisdom of Your Way.

What’s nesting in your hair?

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember…” (Psalm 77:11)
Asaph was struggling through something terrible.
He was desperate for help, yet his mind was plagued by doubts.
Satan loves to torment us in tough times, adding his lies to the mix.
The mind becomes a battleground, one that can be overwhelming.
But Asaph makes a decision (v.10), he chooses to remember.
He forces his mind to meditate how God has helped in the past.
What do you dwell on when you are going through a difficult time?
When Satan inserts his poisonous thoughts, do you help by adding your own?
Or do you resist the devil (like Jesus) by chasing away the lies with truth?
‘You can’t stop the birds of sorrow from landing on your head…
But you can stop them from building a nest in your hair.’
I know how negative thoughts come whether I want them or not.
But I can choose whether I will let them take root in my hair.
“I will consider and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” (Psalm 77:12)
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, my mind is a battleground. Help me not to stand idly by while Satan lobs his doubt and despair bombs at me. Help me to set my mind on You, and to let thoughts of You build a nest in my hair!

Wisdom is calling!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Proverbs 8-9
“To you, O people, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind.” (Proverbs 8:4)
Wisdom is accessible and available to all people.
It is written into the very fabric of nature… God built it that way.
If we take time to reflect on things, wisdom will reveal itself.
But if we act on impulse or desire, we will soon find ourselves lost.
God created all things by speaking them into being (Genesis 1:1-3).
That same voice still speaks to all people, pointing them to Himself.
This voice of wisdom eventually became human, also known as Jesus.
He also urged people to rethink their lives and choose the good.
He also promised, “those who seek me find me” (Proverbs 8:17).
Is it time for me to rethink my life, my priorities, my habits?
Is wisdom challenging me to reconsider some of my foolish ways?
My life itself is showing me that some of my ways are not good for me.
The voice of God is calling me because He loves me, and wants me to live!
“For those who find me find life and receive favor from the Lord.” (Proverbs 8:35)
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I am hearing Your Voice right now, urging me to rethink some parts of my life. Help me to listen to and respond to wisdom’s call.

Playing with fire!?!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Proverbs 5-7
“Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?” (Proverbs 6:27)
This warning about an adulterous woman applies to ALL sexual temptation.
It was not just in that time that Satan used sex to ruin people.
Lust and sexual sin are like fire in our lap, or walking on coals.
We will get burned, and others will get burned as well.
We live in a sex-saturated society, and we are seeing people getting burned.
Thankfully more of its victims are being heard, and perpetrators exposed.
But the way sexuality is flaunted today is only feeding the beast in us.
Satan is enjoying our sexual ‘freedom’, enslaving many with it.
Christians are not immune, Satan is finding many victims here too.
There are constant news stories of christians charged with sexual crimes.
As a Jesus follower, I need to heed this warning for myself.
How is Satan baiting me, and where am I playing with fire?
How serious do I take these threats, and what am I doing to protect myself?
Jesus can help us in this, but we need to reach out to Him for His help!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, Satan is good at what he does, and I am attacked every day. Help me to stay close to You, and to hold on tighter when temptation comes my way.

Greatness in the kingdom!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 7:24-30
“The one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than (John).” (Luke 7:28)
John was the greatest Old Testament messenger for the coming Messiah.
Greater than Abraham, Moses, Elijah, or even David?
But Jesus makes this shocking statement about the least in the kingdom.
How can you or I be greater than these heroes of the faith?
The key is how we understand the kingdom of God.
The kingdom of God is this world under God-like human rulers.
Jesus is Adam restored, ruling over creation (Genesis 1:26-28).
With Jesus we are restored as God’s image-bearers.
To rule WITH, LIKE and FOR God as His representatives!
We are not greater in value than anyone else.
But in terms of purpose, our calling exceeds the OT heroes of faith.
In the power of the Spirit, we are building the kingdom like Jesus did.
With love, mercy, self-denial, compassion – the Jesus Way, the Adam way!
What a huge privilege AND responsibility it is to know and follow Jesus!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, we see love and mercy as weak, and yet it is the greatest ministry of all. Help me to see how world-changing Your Way is!

Am I resisting mercy?

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 7:18-23
“Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” (Luke 7:23)
In this passage we see what Jesus is about.
His ministry is essentially a mercy ministry, helping the helpless.
So why would anyone take offence at this, who can be against mercy?
But that is the thing, some people are.
Think about people who look down on the homeless, or addicted.
‘Let them work hard, like I do, nobody deserves handouts.’
But this response reveals more about the people thinking this.
They show that they do not know their own need for mercy and help.
The people who stumbled at Jesus were too full of themselves still.
Blessed are those who know they need mercy and help.
The humble will not stumble at Jesus, they will reach out to Him.
They will also eagerly seek to join Jesus in helping others.
Following Jesus means participating in Jesus’ mercy ministry.
If we stumble at this, we show we do not understand the mercy of God.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, help me to see that following You is not just about accepting Your mercy, it is about extending Your mercy, to show we have really received it.

Open heart for miracles!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 7:11-17
“When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her…” (Luke 7:13)
What happen when you see someone suffering, grieving or struggling?
Does your heart go out to them?
Mine does, but many a time I have wished I could do what Jesus did.
I have often felt helpless when with people who struggle.
I can’t heal them, or fix their problem, or raise the dead.
At least not yet… and believe me, I’ve tried.
I just do what I can – pray, encourage or help in practical ways.
On the one hand, this seems so weak.
On the other hand, God uses this sincere heart effort to do His work.
When our heart goes out and we do what we can, we are like Jesus.
God used Jesus’ heart and willingness to heal and to help others.
God may choose to heal someone through us, but that is His decision.
My job is to open my heart, to make myself available, to do what I can.
Who knows, people may praise God because of what He does through you!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, recently I prayed for a miracle healing. I am weak, but You are strong.
May this be an occasion for healing that leads to praise for You!

Greater faith outside the church?

“I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” (Luke 7:9)
The church is a place where we expect many people have great faith.
And yet, as an ‘insider’, I know this is not always true.
I’m not sure why, but I find my share of sceptics and doubters in church too.
I’ve also learned that there is great faith outside the church.
Great faith, like the centurion, not based on doctrine but on trust.
This centurion did not know Who Jesus was, or what he represented.
He was an ‘outsider’, he was a pagan – granted, a good one!
In my ‘Crossroads’ years, I met many people like this.
Their understanding of Jesus was limited, but their simple trust was not.
Its OK to struggle, but we need to be honest about that struggle.
And don’t look down on ‘outsiders’, we can learn from them too.
Jesus is God’s only way of salvation, but the churched are not the only saved.
Jesus has sheep that are not from our flock, He loves them too.
We may one day be shocked that they had greater faith than we did!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, thank You for showing me that Your family is bigger than my group. And thank You for reminding me to look to others for examples of great faith!

God’s love on fire!

“Surely your wrath against mankind brings you praise.” (Psalm 76:10)
What is meant by the wrath of God?
Some synonyms for ‘wrath’ include fury, rage, extreme anger.
How can wrath bring Him praise?
We need to be clear: God is love, God is not wrath.
Some kind of love is the source of all wrath.
Usually in us, that love is self-love, when someone hurts us.
But God’s love is selfless love, love for us and others.
His love is kindled when He sees His people or His creation abused.
In this Psalm, God is not just having a selfish temper tantrum.
He is rising up “to save all the afflicted in the land!” (Psalm 76:9)
God’s righteous anger is presently restrained by mercy and love.
But He remains passionately committed to the underdog.
The day will come when God brings down the cruel, violent, abusers.
On that day, the “afflicted” will finally rejoice with praise!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, help us not just to receive Your gracious love for ourselves. May we be passionate to share this love with the poor and struggling around us, that they too may praise God for His justice and mercy!