Lord of history and my story!

“Remember the wonders he has done!” (Psalm 105:5)
In this song the psalmist praises God for His role in their history.
We ought to see our own story in light of the world’s story, and God’s!
This calls for some historical perspective, which many of us lack.
As I recall the things I’ve learned in history, its a wonder we’re still here.
Humans have been given great responsibility in the world.
But how cruel, corrupt, violent and destructive we have been, and still are.
History is filled with many bleak, dark moments – disease, disaster, destruction.
And yet again and again, God intervenes, turns the tables, raises up a new hope.
Consider the history of the Jews – its a wonder they still survive.
Consider the history of the church – its a wonder it still exists.
God will not forget His creation dream, nor will He abandon His creation family.
Through all the stories of history, the Jesus story underlies them all.
God stepping in, enduring sin and misery with us, breaking its hold through love.
Do you see God’s love in your story, how He is intervening in Your life?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, Your love shines through history, and Your love shines through my story. Remind me of specific ways You’ve loved and helped me, that I may praise You even more!

Words of encouragement!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Jeremiah 50-52
“When you get to Babylon, see that you read all these words aloud.” (Jeremiah 51:61)
Jeremiah gives them words to read while they are in exile.
They will read these words of judgment against Babylon, while it is still strong.
They will remind themselves that God is still God, even if they’re under Babylon.
They will know that Babylon’s days are numbered.
We read scripture in the same way, as exiles in a world of sin.
We read about Jesus’ life, and death, and resurrection, and ascension.
And we are encouraged, even if the power of sin still seems so strong.
Even though Satan still seems to be controlling things, we focus on Jesus.
I read the scriptures to help me keep my focus, to remind me about God.
By reading these words out loud, they were also encouraging each other.
When we meet together and review scripture aloud, we are blessing others.
We are reminded that suffering, sin and Satan are not the last word.
The last word is “no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4)
Are you reading the bible to be encouraged, and to encourage others?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, thank You that every time I read the bible with You, I find something that speaks to my soul, that reminds me of what is really true.

A witness to the nations!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Jeremiah 47-49
“And what shepherd can stand against me?” (Jeremiah 49:19)
Jeremiah is a prophet within Israel, yet he has something to say to everyone.
The nations mentioned here were at that time sinful, violent oppressors.
Even though God warned His people about sin, He wasn’t forgetting the others.
All people, nations and leaders are visible to God, and He judges their hearts too.
Who are today’s ‘shepherds’: Merkel, Duterte, Trudeau, Trump, Kim Jong-un, Putin?
Each one of them will also stand before God one day, to give an account.
The nations then, and the nations today, need to seriously consider their ways.
We cannot defy God or justice or goodness or morality, and expect to get away with it.
We will all stand before God one day, and no one will be able to stand against Him!
Paul urges us to pray for the rulers of our world (1 Timothy 2:1-3).
They have important positions, and their decisions affect the lives of millions.
As Jesus followers, our job is not to criticize the government.
Our job is to show them the Jesus Way, and urge them to join us in it.
Our lives of justice, goodness and morality will speak prophetically to the nations.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, how can I criticize leaders when I cannot get my own life in order. Help me to demonstrate Your will, not just demand it from others!

Your own Emmaus moments!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 24:28-35
“Were not our hearts burning within us while he opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32)
This is what I hope for, and look for, when I read the bible.
As I read, I pay attention to the thoughts that warm or stir my heart or mind.
If a line jumps out at me, I zoom in on that line and dwell on it.
In those moments, I believe that the Spirit of Jesus is speaking to me.
This also happens as I go through my day, in conversations or experiences.
Something in the news will catch my attention, will connect with me.
Or a scene in a movie will provoke tears, or anger… the Spirit is stirring.
I don’t always know why that verse, or experience, affects me the way it does.
But my assumption is that the Spirit of Jesus is trying to get my attention.
This requires active listening, paying attention and digging in.
I turn that thought or phrase around in my mind, and talk with then Lord about it.
I look behind that thought or phrase, I ruminate on on it from all angles.
In time something makes sense – sometimes very clear, something very subtle.
But like these disciples, in these times I feel like I’ve been with Jesus!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, thank You for the gift of the Emmaus moments, when my eyes are opened and I realize its You.

Jesus in the story!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 24:13-27
“He explained what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27)
When I read the Old Testament (first 2/3 of the bible), I do not usually see Jesus.
There are hints of Jesus scattered throughout, but buried in the midst of other stuff.
Some people avoid the OT because they find that ‘stuff’ too hard or complicated.
Others dive into it, and love to explore its depths and details.
As students of Jesus, I think we need to read the OT like Jesus did.
Our main focus should be to look for signs of Jesus, that point to Jesus.
At one time I read through the Bible a chapter a day, for three years.
I challenged myself to find a sign of Jesus in every chapter.
It was not easy, and took a lot of praying, asking Jesus to explain it to me.
But it was rewarding, and has shaped how I now read the bible – and my own story.
Like these disciples, Jesus is with us, sometimes visible but often invisible.
It takes an open, seeking heart to discern Jesus in the OT, and in your daily life.
Jesus is in the story of the bible, and He is in the story of your life!
Spend time with Him, and allow Him to explain His story, and your story, to you.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, open my heart, my mind and my eyes to see You – whether I am reading the bible, or as I read the circumstances and challenges of my life.

Eternal life begins now!

“Why do you look for the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:1-12)
Death has been such a fixture in life we assume that it is natural.
When death appears, we assume that hope is gone – because life is gone.
We were made for life, yet we live as if we were made to die.
Life is more than biological life, it is fullness of life in every way.
Love, joy, peace, these are qualities of LIFE to the full.
This is what we are all looking for, but we’re looking in the wrong places.
The disciples were looking for a dead Jesus, afterall death is final.
Jesus shows us it is not, and that LIFE unleashed from death is possible.
Jesus has broken the death barrier, and opened up the possibility of full LIFE.
So many people are trying to ‘live’ as much as they can before they die.
How would we live if death was not final, if this life were only the beginning?
Jesus makes possible a whole new way to live, a life that lives beyond death.
This kind of life begins now, in how we relate to God, others, and even death.
Is fear of death keeping you from fully living – with love, joy and peace?
THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 24:1-12
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, Satan uses death to scare us and get us off balance. Help us to see beyond death to the wonder of eternal life with You. Help us to start living this way now already!

Actively, eagerly waiting!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 23:50-56
“He himself was waiting for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 23:51)
What does it mean to ‘wait for the kingdom of God’.
If I wait for the bus, I sit at the bus stop and anticipate that it is coming.
If I wait for the light to turn green, I am in the lane, ready to proceed.
Waiting is not being passive; you need to be in a certain place and mind frame.
Joseph was hopeful and eager for the arrival of God’s better world.
He was living a good, upright life, he did not consent to Jesus’ wrongful treatment.
And he was disappointed when the bus did not come, the light did not change.
Even then, he still risked much to take Jesus’ body… his hope could not let go.
If God’s kingdom is a world where people love and serve and share and care…
Does my life show that this is what I desire, what I am seeking?
Jesus defeated Satan, sin and death, and has guaranteed God’s kingdom victory.
God’s better world of love, joy, peace is ours to discover by His Spirit.
Am I in that lane, am I at that stop, is my position and lifestyle aimed toward it?
Do people say of me, that this is the life I am committed to, and hoping for?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, if I am hopeful for a world of honesty, am I being honest? If I am eager for a world of compassion, am I being compassionate? Help me to actively wait for Your kingdom, because it is coming!

All creation sings!

“Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty.” (Psalm 104:1)
This song is an ode to the greatness and goodness of God.
The psalmist is reflecting on the greatness of what he sees and knows.
He looks into the sky, and sees the heavens, the sun, moon and clouds.
He considers the mountain heights and the watery depths, and everything in them.
The whole system of creation is a marvel, and he knew very little about it.
How much we have learned about the micro- and telescopic vastness of creation.
Add to this the miracle and wonder of life, and especially human life.
This spectacular display (which we often take for granted) is with inspires him.
He imagines God behind all this, through all this, ‘clothed’ in all this.
Everything we see testifies to God’s eternal power and divine nature (Romans 1:20).
“I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.” (Psalm 104:33)
If we really saw the mystery and majesty of the universe, we would sing too.
And yet how little do we see it, how little do we appreciate it.
Pause today to see the greatness and goodness of God, and join in the song of praise!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, forgive me for not seeing the mystery and majesty in front of my face. Help me rise above my blindness to feel and join the song of creation, which praises God!

Ways that I refuse to listen?

THE STORY OF JESUS: Jeremiah 44-46
“We will not listen to the message you have spoken in the name of the Lord!” (Jeremiah 44:16)
We live in very different times than the days of Jeremiah.
Their world sounds very foreign, and frightening to us.
We don’t relate to worshiping idols or offering incense to the ‘Queen of Heaven’.
And God doesn’t speak to us as clearly as He did back then… or does He?
Is there a way where we refuse to listen to God’s message to us today?
I believe that Jesus is the final and greatest message of God to humanity.
What Jesus said and did is the greatest revelation of truth we have received.
In Jesus we see and hear amazing grace and radical love.
Through Jesus He reveals it FOR us, but He also seeks it FROM us.
We are called to love to forgive, to be generous, to deny ourselves, etc.
And yet we find ways around this, excuses for saying this does not apply to us.
We love that Jesus died for us, but do not join Jesus in loving others this way.
Jesus has spoken clearly, the Jesus Way is plain for all to hear and know.
Are we as christians similarly saying, ‘we will not listen to Your message!’
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, help me to see that You have spoken clearly to me too, and that I am just as guilty of saying “I will not listen’ in some ways too. Forgive me – and help me – where I am being a hypocrite.

Even when its hard or scary?

THE STORY OF JESUS: Jeremiah 41-43
“Whether it is favorable or unfavorable, we will obey the Lord our God.” (Jeremiah 42:6)
The Jews were afraid to stay in Israel because of the Babylonians.
Running away to Egypt looked wiser, safer, further from the Babylonians.
But they wanted God’s guidance, so thy asked Jeremiah to seek God’s will.
Here they claim they will do whatever God says, whether they like it or not.
But as the story shows, they weren’t ready to go against their own feelings and fears.
Instead of heeding God’s guidance, they go their own way… and it doesn’t end well.
We think we know better, we think we are wiser than God.
God’s will for us as revealed by Jesus is love, grace, mercy, humility, compassion, etc.
But when specific situations arise, we find excuses for not going this way.
Its hard, its scary, its counter-intuitive, and we do what feels better.
We claim to want to follow God’s will, but not when its hard or scary.
How serious am I about doing God’s will, even if it is ‘unfavorable’?”
Whether it is favorable or unfavorable, God’s way is always the best.
Do I really trust Him and His way enough to obey Him, even when its hard?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I have often sung ‘trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus’. But my words mean nothing if I am not prepared to follow through. Help me not to just say it, help me to do it!