This is us, not God!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Isaiah 13-16
“Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes;
Their houses will be looted and their wives violated.” (Isaiah 13:16)

Its words like these that lead many to reject the bible.
How can God say this, how can this be the same God Jesus spoke of?
But this is not what God does, this is what sin does.
The Babylonians will reap what they sowed, for this is what they did.
They slaughtered babies, looted houses and violated women.
Those who live by the sword will also die by the sword.
God does not cause any of this; He allows our sin to run its course.
Those who choose the way of wickedness will have to see it to its end.
We reap what we sow… unless we turn to God for mercy and help.
Jesus steps in and endures our consequences for us, to provide a way out.
Jesus and the cross is what God does, His way of defeating our evil.
By grace God allows sinners to see where sin leads, to help us stop.
But we must choose the Jesus way, if we want to reap what He sows!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, this violence recorded here is not God but us. This is what happens if we foolishly choose the way of sin. Thank You for showing us the better way, and opening that way for us to break free from all this violence and evil.

Disturbing the peace!?

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 12:49-53
“Bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.”(Luke 12:51)
Jesus came to bring peace, and yet many have suffered and died.
The division Jesus speaks of isn’t His goal, but an unfortunate side result.
Because Jesus is standing up to sin and Satan, they fight back.
To stand up for Jesus causes others to stand up against us.
To join with Jesus in loving and serving sinners agitates others.
Especially, as Jesus notes, those that are close to us, our families.
I knew a Jewish Christian who was disowned by his family.
His father told him he was dead to them, and they never spoke again.
This is not Jesus’ fault, but it is an undesired consequence.
Jesus takes this risk BECAUSE in order to bring real peace to the world.
By beating Satan and sin, peace will be the eventual result.
We stand up to evil, not because its nice or easy, but because its right.
It will lead to hardship, maybe even death, but it is still worth it.
Jesus followers refuse to let Satan win, even if it disturbs our ‘peace’.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, short term hardship in opposing evil is better than letting evil win. Help me not to settle for my own peace, while the rest of the world suffers for lack of it.

Stewards of grace!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 12:42-48
“From the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48)
All of us are stewards of God’s creation grace and will be held accountable.
God will judge us for what we did, and punish us for how we failed.
Jesus suggests that while all will be punished, not to the same degree.
The “one who does not know” (v.48) will be punished less than those who do.
So where does that leave me, where does this leave the church?
Jesus’ greatest frustration was with the religious leaders of His day.
They should have known better what grace was, and what their calling was.
They had turned their chosen purpose into a chosen privilege.
And they made it hard for anyone else to know God’s grace.
As Jesus followers, we ought to know the meaning and extent of grace.
We ought to be world leaders in grace, mercy, peace and love.
Sadly this is not how the church is known and experienced by the world.
Grace should not make us lazy, but even more gracious to others.
If we do not overflow with grace, we show that we really do not know grace!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, You expect more of us who know You and Your grace. I need to know Your grace even more than I do, so I can steward Your grace to others!

When the Master is pleased!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 12:35-41
“He will dress himself to serve… and will come and wait on them.” (Luke 12:37)
Can you imagine this scene: Jesus serving you for your faithful service?
Jesus wearing an apron, and holding a serving tray, with whatever I ask for?
Jesus wants us to know how much God values our service to Him.
Especially when the wait is long, and the work is hard.
Jesus has left us with a mission, to bring His grace into the world.
To share His blessing, to bring His peace, to demonstrate His mercy.
This is what He is expecting of us, while He is absent.
His love for humanity and creation is so strong, He wants us to share it.
And He will be extremely happy to find us sharing His passion.
Jesus says these things to inspire His disciples to live and love like Him.
Do I share His passion for the least and the lost?
Am I working hard for Him, like a faithful servant entrusted with a task?
My goal is not to be waited on by Jesus, but to see His pleasure.
To see His smile and hear Him say: ‘thank you for loving those I loved!’
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, may I share Your passion for the least and the lost, and bless others with the same generous love as You. May my service of others bring joy both to their hearts and to Yours.

What’s in your wallet?

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 12:32-34
“Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out.” (Luke 12:33)
‘What’s in your wallet’ was voted the best business tagline in 2011.
Capitol One, an American financial institution, want to fill your wallet with money.
Actually, their money, with interest, in order to fill their own wallets.
Jesus also wants to know what’s in your wallet, but He wants to empty it.
He wants you to invest it, but not in yourself… in others.
Jesus wants us to invest in something that will last forever.
To invest in blessing and helping others, in doing good.
God has blessed this world with more than enough for everyone.
He has blessed us so that we could bless others, and be blessed even more.
“Sell your possessions and give to the poor.” (Luke 12:33)
I have yet to meet a christian who takes THIS part of the bible literally.
As Jesus followers, we need to wrestle harder with this message of Jesus.
Jesus loves people more than possessions or pleasure, and we should be the same.
Do I really want to be like Jesus, or do I only believe for ‘what’s in it for me?”
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, these words challenge me, and rightly so. May Your Spirit keep pressing me to re-evaluate my priorities, and make them more like Yours!

Reflecting His glory!

“Glorious things are said of you, city of God.” (Psalm 87:3)
Jerusalem was the center of Israel, where God lived in the temple.
‘God is with us’ became their identity, and He was.
The city itself gained a reputation, though not always ‘glorious’.
When the people turned away God, the city slipped in glory.
The same can be said of me as a ‘temple’ where God lives.
As I live in harmony with God and His will, there’s something glorious.
But not when other fruit than the fruit of the Spirit marks my life.
The same can be said for the church, tha gathering of God’s people.
Sad to say, glorious things are not often spoken about the church.
God wants His family to shine with goodness in a dark, messed up world.
Our lives are like mirrors, we have to face the sun in order to reflect it.
When we turn away from God and Jesus, the glory fades.
God has given us every through Jesus and the Spirit to shine with goodness.
God lives in and with us, but do we live in and with God, and does it show?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, Your Spirit is constantly stirring in me to produce good fruit, and to shine with goodness in this dark world. Help me to live the kind of life that leads people to say glorious things of You.

How God restores His garden paradise!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Isaiah 10-12
“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; a Branch will bear fruit.” (Isaiah 11:1)
Our world is a mess: violence, war, oppression, abuse, injustice, misery.
In this mess God plants a tree – Israel – in the hope of reclaiming His garden.
But that tree is as messed up spiritually, morally, socially, as everyone else.
Despite serious pruning, God eventually has to chop that tree down too.
But God’s plan is not a failure, for out of the stump we see a shoot.
That shoot from the line of David (Jesse’s stump) is different.
It bears good fruit, and produces life, goodness, blessing, hope.
Of all humans ever, Jesus alone lives as a good tree, with good fruit.
I believe that Jesus is the key to restoring God’s kingdom paradise.
When violence and immorality will end, and everyone will live in peace.
As Jesus followers, we are invited to become branches in this tree.
By ourselves we cannot restore God’s garden paradise.
But if we remain in Him, like branches, we can bear good fruit (John 15:1-8).
We help Jesus restore God’s paradise by dong good with/like/for Him!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, You are working to make my life fruitful like Yours. Help me to plant seeds of goodness, and not mess up Your garden with more weeds.

A light that pierces the darkness!

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.” (Isaiah 9:2)
Isaiah is speaking to people of his day, words of challenge and hope.
The land of Judah is under attack, and the people are desperate.
God assures this humbled nation that He will bring new life.
This new life will be a miracle, like a virgin birthing a son!
This new life will finally rule in God’s Name, in God’s way!
The powers of darkness and death will not prevail.
God’s promised messiah (Genesis 3:15) will crush the serpent.
Whenever we find ourselves in darkness, we can cling to this hope too.
Somehow, some day, God will appear in a miraculous way to put things right.
Jesus followers see His birth, life, death and resurrection as a great light.
When we see Jesus, His whole life a miracle, we feel hope deep inside.
“Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
The darkness is not gone yet, but its days are numbered.
Like the sun on the horizon, a new day is dawning – and we rejoice!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, You bring the light of joy into our darkness, and give us hope to hang on when it seems like the darkness will never end. May someone else experience the joy of meeting You today!