My heart, His home!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 19:45-48
“My house will be a house of prayer’…” (Luke 19:46)
God did not live in the temple as a house.
But it did symbolically remind the people that He was with them.
Prayer is more than formally talking to God, it is our whole relationship.
It includes any heart interaction between God and us, with or without words.
This is God’s desire for the temple symbolically, and for life in general.
That we might live WITH Him and interact with Him everywhere.
Jesus replaces the temple to show us that God is with us (Matthew 12:6).
Through Jesus, our lives can become spaces for interaction with God.
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed,
Do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
Giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)

Jesus’ concern today as well is that we do not make our hearts a den of robbers.
That we not make ourselves ‘at home’ with greed, lust, anger, etc.
He looks at us and insists, “My house will be a house of prayer’…” (Luke 19:46)
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I am Your temple, You live in and with me. Am I making your ‘house’ a place of loving interaction with You, or a space for harboring and feeding sinful, selfish desires?

Our only source of peace!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 19:41-44
“If you had only known on this day what would bring you peace…” (Luke 19:42)
For Jews, peace was not just the absence of war or violence.
Shalom meant peace with God, with humanity, with creation, and with ourselves.
Having lost our connection to God, everything else has unraveled.
God knows what we need to find peace, but do we?
We are driven to find inner peace, yet we struggle to find it.
The things or experiences we turn to let us down, and life only gets worse.
We may fool ourselves for a time, even a long time, but eventually we lose it.
Yesterday our peace was robbed by tragedy in Toronto.
Our peace is robbed, this hits close to home, we are rattled.
There can be no peace until we find peace with God.
Our world is on a collision course with further tragedy and misery.
We need to admit our desperate need, to trust Jesus and to follow Him.
Only Jesus can bring our world ‘shalom’, full peace that lasts!
Yet Jesus weeps, because so many still don’t know what will bring us peace.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, without You and God, we cannot have real peace. Help us to know what will bring us peace, and help us to show others what will bring them peace too!

Not the king we wanted?

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 19:28-40
“If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:40)
In Genesis 3:15 God promised a human serpent-crusher and curse-ender.
He would resist Satan, stay true to God, end the curse and restore creation.
The Jews were eager for this coming anointed one (messiah).
Here the disciples are singing because this king has finally come, in their mind.
The religious leaders objected, because Jesus did not fit their idea of king.
Humbly riding on a donkey was NOT what would defeat the Romans.
But Jesus comes with the character of God – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc.
He does not defeat Satan with power, but with goodness, with God-likeness.
He reverses the curse BECAUSE He refuses to play the devil’s game.
So why would the stones themselves cry out, if no one else did?
Because finally a God-like Son of Adam has taken His rightful place in creation.
The creation groans under sin, but cries out with hope and joy under Jesus.
Our world desperately needs THIS kind of messiah, one that is good.
So why do so many refuse to welcome Jesus?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, we need You, we will not find peace or hope or joy without You. Then why do so many still refuse to welcome You? They don’t know what they’re missing!

Where does my allegiance lie?

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 19:11-27
“The people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.” (Luke 19:11)
Travelling preachers will often use the same stories again in differing contexts.
This parable sounds the same as the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30).
But on this occasion He was talking to those who expected God’s kingdom soon.
His point is that it will take a while, so we should be productive while we wait.
“Those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them…” (Luke 19:27)
The ending of this parable shows what is at stake in how we live while we wait.
How we live is a sign of our allegiance, how we are responding to the soon-to-be king.
Jesus is this soon-to-be king, and how we live shows where our allegiance lies.
Some wonder why Jesus does not return sooner, but He is waiting for a reason.
One reason is so that the salvation message can go to all nations.
But here Jesus suggests that this is also a time to prove ourselves.
He has equipped us as servants and soldiers in His kingdom, will we join Him?
Now is the time to show whether we truly want Him as king over us.
Am I investing my blessings for my king, am I truly loyal to Him and His cause?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, this is the time for me to show my position – am I for You or against You? All that I am and all that I have is FROM You. Will I devote all that I am and all that I have FOR You?

Worshiping God, not worship!

“Declare his glory among the nations…” (Psalm 96:3)
The glory of God is the shining brilliance of Who He is and what He does.
The GREATNESS and the GOODNESS of God is the content of our worship.
We experience God’s greatness and goodness in our lives!
We express our wonder or joy or hope or love with words of praise!
Have we replaced the experience of God with the experience of worship?
Are we moved (or not) by the music, emotion or experience of singing together?
Do we come to church with hearts full of worship, or to be inspired to worship.
I believe that personal experience and response is the basis of true worship.
We experience God through the week, and we overflow with praise when we meet.
Singing together is one way to express our response to God’s glory.
But so is speaking together, declaring to each other how we’ve experienced God.
I suspect many Sunday singers would struggle to praise God in their own words.
If we didn’t sing at church, how much declaring of God’s glory would there be?
Are you busting with praise like this psalmist, eager to declare God’s glory?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, forgive us for worshiping worship, and not worshiping You! May we experience Your greatness and goodness in wonderful, personal ways and may we overflow with authentic, personal praise!

Skilled at doing good!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Jeremiah 4-6
“They are skilled in doing evil; they know not how to do good.” (Jeremiah 4:22)
God created us to live good lives, to do good works (Ephesians 2:10).
So why is it that we often struggle to know and do what is good.
It seems that doing evil comes naturally, but not doing good.
In fact, we’ve perfected the art and skill of doing what WE want.
To do something with intention and perseverance helps us develop skill.
The first time I biked, I was not skilled; it took time and practice.
Now I ride my bike without thinking about it, I even ride with no hands!
Learning the skill of doing good is the same, it takes time and practice.
We’ve had a lifetime to perfect the skill of living selfishly.
As Jesus followers we are drawn to the goodness of Jesus and living like Him.
We are assured by the Spirit that this is what we were made and saved for.
We have everything we need from Him to live godly lives (2 Peter 1:3-9).
It’s up to us to “make every effort” (2 Peter 1:5) to develop this skill.
If I’m eager to do good (Titus 2:14), with His help I can become skilled at it!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, with You I can improve my skills at doing good. Help me not to be lazy in doing good. Inspire my heart to devote the time and practice needed to become skilled at it!

Blaming God?

THE STORY OF JESUS: Jeremiah 1-3
“Why do you bring charges against me? You have all rebelled against me!” (Jeremiah 2:29)
I suspect God often asks this question… ‘why are you blaming Me?’
Our world is a mess not because God has turned on us.
Human greed, lust, violence and folly are the recurring themes of history.
And even if our sins are moderate compared to others, we are a part of it.
A good analogy is the problem of world pollution and the environmental crisis.
Humans are collectively responsible for the garbage, waste and carelessness.
I am not one of the worlds big polluters, but I am a contributor.
My part may be small comparatively, but I still have a part in it.
I need to see that my sin is a part of the problem, and that its not God’s fault.
God wants to bless us, God wants to help us, but He wants us to want it too.
Jesus comes to show us what the good life looks like, and to help us find it.
But before we can step into it, we need to admit our sin, and our need for help.
We need to stop blaming God, and start seeing how much God wants to help.
The cycle of history will continue to repeat itself unless we repent!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, as long as we blame You, we miss out on how You want to help us. Teach me the true meaning of sin, that I may better appreciate the true wonder of grace!

Jesus is the life-changer!!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 19:1-10
“Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” (Luke 19:5)
Zacchaeus thought he was checking Jesus out; now Jesus takes charge.
In a sense, Jesus steps in to his life uninvited – “I must stay at your house!”
Little did Zacchaeus know that morning how Jesus would turn his life upside down.
I have heard stories about this, testimonies of people like Zacchaeus.
One story was of a fierce LGBTQ advocate doing research on the religious right.
She interviewed a pastor, which turned into an ongoing relationship.
Somehow, she had a dramatic conversion, and is now an advocate for Jesus!
Little did she know that morning how Jesus would turn her life upside down.
Jesus is the main ‘ingredient’ in our evangelism; just talk about Jesus.
When Jesus enters the picture, He can take things in surprising ways.
I once read a book on evangelism that said, ‘just introduce them to Jesus!’
Jesus is real, and He has the knowledge and skill to change peoples lives.
I have no complicated method or technique for evangelism; I just talk about Jesus.
Jesus will find a way to enter that persons heart, and turn their life right-side up!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, help me to have more confidence in You, and not feel it is up to me to change people.

I want to see Jesus!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 18:35-43
“When all the people saw it, they also praised God.” (Luke 18:43)
This blind man wasn’t the only one whose eyes were opened.
The same group that tried to silence the blind man now see this healing.
They did not understand – could not see – that this was what Jesus was about.
Even after all this time with Jesus, they were still blind to who Jesus was.
The blind man on the other hand could see Jesus better than they did.
I often wonder whether many christians today are blind to who Jesus is.
We spend our time thinking and talking about Jesus, but we do not share His values.
We see Jesus as our Jesus, and make it hard for others to reach Him.
I talk about Jesus all the time, not because I think I see Him better.
For me it is because I sense that I don’t see Him, that I don’t get Him.
By immersing myself in Jesus, and not giving up, I feel like this blind man.
“Lord, I want to see You!”, is what I am eagerly pursuing.
And though its not immediate, I do feel that I am slowly seeing Him better.
May all our eyes be opened more to Jesus, and may we praise God as a result!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I want to see You! Open my eyes to Who You are, that I may love and praise You more!

Still do not know…

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 18:31-34
“They did not know what he was talking about.” (Luke 18:34)
The Jews understood that a messiah was coming.
They did not comprehend that their messiah would die.
They expected victory, not defeat; a crown, not a cross.
Even after several years with Jesus, the disciples still did not understand.
I am comforted by their ignorance (from Latin, to not know), but also humbled.
Do I think that I understand any better why Jesus had to die?
I am reading a book that is showing me new depths of meaning to Jesus’ dying.
This is not the place to explain it, but it reminds me to stay humble.
I’m certain we still do not know what He is talking about.
Jesus does not reject His disciples for their ignorance, He keeps teaching them.
As long as they are willing to listen and learn, eventually they will learn more.
The same applies for us: we should not retreat to our present ideas and stay closed.
I will continue to read this book prayerfully, open to learning more.
A disciple (student) never knows it all, and must keep on learning to the very end.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, thank You for stretching my mind and inviting me to look further into the mysteries that I will never be able to fully figure out.