To smarten me up!

THE STORY OF JESUS: 2 Chronicles 11-13
“You have abandoned me; therefore, I now abandon you.” (2 Chronicles 12:5)
If we walk away from God, we will miss out on life with God (He will still love us).
As with the prodigal son, the Father lets us take the inheritance and run.
He does this to teach us what life is like without Him (2 Chronicles 12:8).
God is not being mean, He is giving us what we prefer.
He loves us too much to force us to do what we do not want to do.
We are free agents, not forced puppets, and this freedom is risky.
Our world is the mess that it is because God has given us the freedom to choose.
When we reach for God, and seek to honour and serve Him, He will help us.
But when we let go of God, He lets us experience life that way, to smarten us up.
How much do I seek to keep the Lord a part of my everyday life?
If I don’t seek Him when I don’t need Him, am I surprised He’s distant when I do?
Thankfully, we see with Rehoboam that there’s always a chance to repent.
The Lord loves me and wants fellowship with me, but He will not force it on me.
He will abandon me to my preferred isolation, but only to bring me to my senses.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I confess that I go into my day without seeking You, and sometimes live my life as if You were not there. Help me to learn my lesson from the less-than satisfying results.

Serving the Servant King!

THE STORY OF JESUS: 2 Chronicles 8-10
“So the king did not listen to the people.” (2 Chronicles 10:15)
What happens when the leadership loses touch with the people?
There is a subtle deceptiveness that affects leaders, it can skew their perspective.
For governments, church leaders, employers and managers, position can go to your head.
Responsibility gives way to privilege, and the people are forgotten.
We were made to love God and each other, not to use and abuse each other.
But Satan succeeded in twisting our hearts and minds toward self-interest.
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them.” (Matthew 20:25)
This is not God’s way, nor the way of Adam (before sin) – nor the way of Jesus.
“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.” (Matthew 20:28)
As a Jesus follower, I need to learn from the wisdom of Jesus.
I also need to learn from the folly of sinful humanity.
Rehoboam takes from the people, and loses them.
Jesus gives Himself for the people, and gains them.
As a Jesus following leader, am I using or serving the people under my care?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I confess I have seen congregants more as tools to be used (even if for good causes) than people to be loved and served. Help me to follow Your example.

Created for good works!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Mark 11:12-19
“May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” (Mark 11:14)
Jesus is not being ornery just because He is hungry.
Mark ties this story with what happens in the temple to show what Jesus is doing.
A barren fig tree was a powerful symbol for the Jews, a sign of God’s judgment.
“I will ruin her vines and her fig trees…” (Hosea 2:11-13).
Jesus’ uses the fig tree to teach that God holds us accountable for our barren lives.
God created us for love and good works, but so many humans produce bad fruit.
Good fruit is always in season for us, and yet we produce hate, greed, lust, cruelty.
We twist and pervert our world, even our religious activities, for selfish purposes.
Like the religious leaders turning the temple into a ‘den of robbers’.
God is patient for a time, but one day He will hold people accountable.
What strikes me here is that it is the religious people God is most angry with.
What does this say about Christians and churches today?
As Jesus followers, we are not just receivers of salvation, but of the Spirit.
And the fruit of that Spirit in us is love, joy, peace, etc. (Galatians 5:22-23)
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, You desire love and good works from us. That is why You have put me here in this time and place. Help me to see this as my full-time calling.

On the road again!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Mark 11:1-11
“Many people spread their cloaks on the road… ” (Mark 11:8)
This was an act of devotion, an offering of ‘self’ in service to the king.
What have you spread “on the road” for Jesus?
This is more than faith, more than saying ‘I believe!’
Many say ‘I believe in Jesus’, but they put little “on the road” for Jesus.
Jesus is the Saviour of the world, and also of me.
Do I really feel and appreciate this, am I thankful or joy-filled?
When is the last time I naturally proclaimed, ‘praise you Jesus!’
Not sang it in a song at church, but personally expressed it from the heart.
How has my love for Jesus shown itself in what I put “on the road” for Jesus?
To offer my car, bake a cake, or make time for someone, for Jesus!
Like that donkey, I carry Jesus into the world so that others may see Him!
Like that cloak, I make a path for Jesus to reach others in love!
As a Jesus follower, I am eager to put something “on the road” for Him.
This is our spiritual act of worship (Romans 12:1-2).
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, the worship You desire is not songs and words, but an offering of myself in devotion to You. Your Spirit is inviting me to put my faith, my life, on the road again!

A blind man who sees Jesus!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Mark 10:46-52
“‘Go,’ said Jesus, ‘your faith has healed you.’” (Mark 10:52)
Notice how this blind man sees something in Jesus that ignites his hope.
‘Son of David’ was another way of saying God’s promised messiah.
While doubting minds debated and disputed, his desperate heart had no doubt.
When no one else would have mercy on him, God’s promised saviour would.
It was this confidence, despite opposition, that marked him in Jesus’ eyes.
Persevering prayer, clinging to hope against all odds, trusting God…
These are the things that characterize the faith God notices.
Faith is not believing in a creed, it is clinging to God.
There are many people who claim to believe the creeds, yet cannot see.
And there are many who know little about doctrine or creeds, yet they see!
“Some Pharisees asked, ‘Are we blind too?’ Jesus said, ‘If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.’” (John 9:40-41)
It raises the question, how many who ‘believe’ in Jesus do not actually ‘see’ Him?
Is your faith in Jesus more a doctrinal belief or a deep looking to Jesus for hope?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, more than a faith that understands, give me a faith that sees like this blind man, a faith that heals the heart, soul, body, mind!

The life we were made and saved for!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Mark 10:41-45
“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.” (Mark 10:45)
The ‘Son of Man’ is the promised seed of Eve, sent to crush Satan (Genesis 3:15).
Satan tempted Adam and Eve to serve themselves, their own desires and wants.
Humanity as a whole has become enslaved to self-serving, looking out for #1.
But Jesus breaks this cycle; He defeats Satan by refusing to be selfish.
As Jesus followers, serving others is not just what we do out of gratitude.
It is the essence of the “life to the full” that Jesus saved us for.
Serving God and others is how we were designed to live in Eden.
We cannot be truly happy or fulfilled until we start living like this.
Jesus saved us BY living this way, Jesus saved us FOR living this way!
Serving God and others is how we engage in spiritual warfare.
Satan’s only weapon remains deception, using the same lies he used on Adam and Eve.
He whispers, ‘think about yourself, try that you’ll like it, it will make you happy!’
Jesus urges us not to listen to Satan’s lies, or imitate those who do.
Instead join with Jesus in defeating Satan by loving and serving God and others!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, my selfish nature runs deep. May Your Spirit run deeper, and draw me into the life that is truly LIFE – loving and serving God and others!

Walking in the light!

“I may walk before God in the light of life.” (Psalm 56:13)
We were made to live without pain or loss, without fear or death.
We were made to be loved, not to be attacked or slandered or betrayed.
David finds himself under attack, but he hangs on to God for dear life.
This can be my experience, and my hope, too.
Obviously all of us experience some kind of darkness in our life.
Physical, mental, social and spiritual health issues plague us all.
This is NOT the way things are supposed to be!
We were made to live and walk with God in the light of life.
And as long as we remain disconnected from God, we cannot enjoy that life.
God sees us in our misery, and steps in to help us.
In Jesus we see the light of God’s love and life, and He offers it to us.
As a Jesus follower, I still experience hardship, pain, betrayal and death.
But because of Jesus, none of these things can separate me from God’s love!
By grace I walk with Jesus in the light of life… no one can take that from me!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, life can be dark and dreary in this world. But You bring light and hope and life. Thank You for brightening my day!

Pray to Jesus!

THE STORY OF JESUS: 2 Chronicles 5-7
“May you hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place.” (2 Chronicles 6:20)
Solomon knows that God cannot be bound by a man-made temple.
But he still asks God to tie Himself to the temple.
When people look to the temple for help, may God hear and respond.
For Solomon, the people need a physical, visible symbol to relate to.
Originally, God intended to be physical and visible among us, with us.
Recall how God comes to walk in the garden with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:7).
God willingly reduces Himself to experience life with us.
But sinful rebellion has ruined our direct fellowship with God.
Now we can’t see God, relate to God, or even properly understand God.
God in grace still reduces Himself to rebuild our broken fellowship.
This temple is one such reduction; God ties Himself to this temple.
But the temple is a building, not a person; God wants a personal relationship.
God becomes human again, this time to rescue of from our sin-cursed misery.
Now as Jesus followers, we pray to Jesus, not the temple… and God hears!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, You are the personal heart and face of God, stooping to my weakness to set me back on my feet. I look to You, I pray to You, and I know that You hear me!

God’s glorious temple!

THE STORY OF JESUS: 2 Chronicles 1-4
“Who is able to build a temple for him… heaven cannot contain him?” (2 Chronicles 2:6)
What do you imagine it would look like stand in God’s presence?
If God were to live in a house, what might it look like?
Solomon attempted to design a ‘house’ that would reflect God’s glory.
But all the precious stone and metal in the world would not suffice.
“God alone is immortal and lives in unapproachable light!” (1 Timothy 6:16)
Nothing we imagine or design could ever capture the unapproachable glory of God.
What is more, God is not interested in having us build temples to His glory.
God’s heart is not for glorious buildings, but for glorious people.
The temple God delights in – designed to reflect His glory – is you and me!
Look into the eyes of people you meet today – you see a reflection of God.
God doesn’t care how nice my church building is, He is looking at how nice I am.
Jesus came to show us the kind of temple God desires, and to help us be that again.
As a Jesus-follower, I am able to build a temple for God… with how I live in Him.
May the fruit of God’s Spirit in me make me a shining example of what God is like.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, You are the fullness of God in bodily form. And by Your grace, with Your help, I can be too. Prepare me to be a sanctuary, shining with the glorious character of God!


THE STORY OF JESUS: Mark 10:35-40
“To sit at my right or left is not for me to grant.” (Mark 10:40)
Do you think of Jesus primarily as God or human?
As Christians we believe God became human in Jesus.
But sometimes we forget He emptied Himself of His God nature (Philippians 2:6-8).
Jesus let go of being all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere present.
He became Adam (human), with all our human limitations – dependent on God.
Everything He did, He did as a human: with us, like us, for us.
Jesus does not use His authority like sinful humans do; He humbles Himself.
He does not take privileges for Himself, nor give them to His friends.
He submits to God, He reflects God’s loving, humble character (“like God”).
“These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.” (Mark 10:40)
Originally, God prepared for all humans to rule like Jesus, in highest authority.
Now it is greed and selfishness that prompt us to position ourselves over others.
This is not God’s way, nor Jesus’ way… their way is to humbly serve others.
As a Jesus follower, am I seeking a ‘position’, or seeking submission?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, make me a servant… like You, like Adam (before sin), like God. Forgive me for trying to fill myself. Help me to empty myself like You did!