Meeting Jesus where???

“A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘prepare the way for the Lord.'” (Mark 1:3)
Mark starts his biography of Jesus when His ministry begins, as an adult.
John the Baptist is the unusual fanfare that announces the coming Messiah.
To prepare for God’s coming, people need to repent.
This act of repentance was extreme: being baptized by a madman in the wilderness.
There is an important message in this.
For us to benefit from God’s help, we need to come to the end of ourselves.
We need to admit our desperate need, and humbly open ourselves to God.
When we do this, then God will unleash His Spirit on us.
And an inward, powerful transformation will result (not just a symbolic washing).
God does not want religious rituals or traditions, He wants sincere heart change.
God will meet us in the wilderness (symbol of brokenness and transformation).
If I really want to know Jesus, then I need to be willing to go there.
I sense the Lord challenging us to meet Him in humility, honesty and desperation.
That will mark the beginning of the good news in our lives too.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, this IS good news. When I admit my desperate need for help, You will personally meet me there (through Jesus) and help me with real, life-changing power.

Sharing the grace that graced me!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Matthew 28:16-20
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples.” (Matthew 28:19)
Jesus came for a specific purpose: to establish the victory over Satan, sin, death and hell.
He initiates the victory, but we must implement it.
Our task is to show and share the victory… to be disciples that make disciples.
This is the heart of being a Christian.
It is not just believing something, but doing something with what we believe.
Our confidence is that Jesus is Lord, our comfort is that He is with us.
Between these our calling is to let the whole world see and know, and enter into this new life.
The good news is what Jesus has done FOR us, but also what He will do THROUGH us.
Do I trust that Jesus is Lord, that He is with me, that He will make disciples through me?
This is not about making church members, not promoting or advancing my church or mission…
It is continuing what He began: graciously drawing sinners to find their hope in Jesus.
“So that in every way we will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.” (Titus 2:10)
Sinners were drawn to Jesus, and many (not all) were willing to give up their lives for Him.
I am a sinner drawn to Jesus; my job is to attract others to Jesus with the same grace that drew me!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, You have graced the world by taking it back for God, and us. You have drawn me to You by Your grace. May Your grace reflect in me, that others may be drawn to follow You as well.

The faith of unbelief

THE STORY OF JESUS: Matthew 28:11-15
“And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.” (Matthew 28:15)
The religious leaders do NOT want to believe that Jesus is alive.
They are as devoted to their faith that Jesus is not the Messiah.
Just as His disciples were devoted to their confidence that He is!
Some people accuse Christians of blindly following faith, not reason.
But faith lies at the root of all thinking, for the atheist and the theist.
When we believe something, we see all the facts through the lens of that belief.
Those who do not want to believe in the resurrected Jesus will not see any evidence for it.
Not because it’s not there but because they don’t want to.
No, I am not saying that there is clear evidence for Jesus’ resurrection.
But I am saying that it takes as much faith (in different things) to deny it as to affirm it.
Yes, one reason I believe it is because I want to believe it.
And one reason you do not believe it is because you do not want to.
People believe what they want to believe!
I admit my faith in believing in Jesus… do you admit your faith in denying Him?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord Jesus, thank You for giving me evidence that You are alive. Please show Yourself (as You did to Paul) to those who do not want to believe!

I will die and rise again!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Matthew 28:5-10
“He is not here; he has risen.” (Matthew 28:6)
I’ve been with people when they died; I know the grief and sorrow of death.
But imagine what it must have felt like to hear an angel say, ‘He is not here, He has risen!’
These women must have been shaking with fear and joy, doubt and hope.
Is it any wonder that they worshipped Him when they saw Him!!!!
When someone dies, they leave us.
Some say they just end, they become dust, they are no more.
But I believe, as the angel says, ‘they are not hear, they are risen!’
To quote the Apostles’ Creed, ‘I believe in the resurrection of the dead.’
Or to quote Martha, “I know (the dead) will rise again… at the last day.” (John 11:24)
Because of Jesus, death has been beaten, and eternal life is restored.
But what will we rise to, and how will we respond to the LIFE that is offered.
One day, people will say of me, “He is not here; he has risen.”
“The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, one day I will die and rise with You. How my heart yearns within me!

I can stand on mountains!

“He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” (Psalm 40:2)
The psalmist had experienced God’s resurrection power before.
Now he looks to God to do it again: “Come quickly, Lord, to help me!” ((Psalm 40:13)
Our confidence in God is not just when things are going well or easy.
Through faith in God, we hang on even when life is hard or awful.
Belief in God is a worldview, a way of looking at life and reality.
Depending on the God you believe in, your worldview can be positive or negative.
I believe in the God that Jesus represents: the God of humble love and radical grace.
The God of forgiveness, patience, humility, self-sacrificing death and resurrection hope.
The psalmist believed in this God too, even though he did not know Jesus.
He believed in a God of mercy, a God that is concerned for the meek and lowly.
He believed in a God that will eventually step in to help, to save.
And God did… by sending Jesus to defeat Satan, sin, death and hell!
Through Jesus God has given us a firm place to stand.
From this place, we can stand firm through all the storms of life.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains. You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas. I am strong, when I am on your shoulders. You raise me up, to more than I can be!

And He became our commander!

THE STORY OF JESUS: 1 Samuel 20-23
“All who were in distress, in debt or discontented gathered around him.”(1 Samuel 22:2)
It is interesting how, like Jesus, David is followed by the outcasts of society.
Those who are weary and heavy burdened come to him to find rest.
Life is not easy, they are constantly threatened; and yet they come together as a team.
“And he became their commander.” (1 Samuel 22:2)
Jesus is known as the Son of David, the Lord’s anointed one (Matthew 9:27).
He also gathers those in distress, debt or discontented by life in this world.
And He has become our commander, we His disciples.
Like David and his followers, Jesus followers are also on the run and under attack.
Like David, the Lord watches over us and will not give us into Satan’s hands. (1 Samuel 23:13)
I want to be like Jonathan was to David, a deeply devoted friend and supporter.
We are a motley crew of devoted followers, coming from all parts of the world.
Discontented with the world, in debt and distress through sin, we stand with Jesus.
We come to Him, weary and heavy-burdened, and He has given us rest!
“And he became our commander.” (1 Samuel 22:2)
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, we are a mixed bag of followers, devoted to the One that is devoted to us. We follow You because we love You, and trust You to lead us well!

Strengthened by His Spirit!

THE STORY OF JESUS: 1 Samuel 16-19
“Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul… (1 Samuel 16:14)
There are many references to God’s Spirit in this reading.
The Spirit of the Lord comes powerfully on David (16:13), but departs from Saul (16:14).
The Spirit of God comes on Saul and his men, and they prophesied (19:20,23).
But we also see God sending an evil spirit on Saul (1 Samuel 16:14, also 16:15,23; 18:10; 19:9).
God is not the source of this evil spirit, but He does allow the spirit to work in Saul.
Compare this to how the Spirit of God sends Jesus to be tempted by Satan (Matthew 4:1).
God had been with Saul, but Saul had refused to submit to God, to surrender to His Spirit.
God withdraws His support, and Saul finds himself weak before dark ‘Goliath’ spirits.
The Spirit of the Lord is in us, and we have access to His support and strength.
If we resist the Lord, we also miss out on His support, and become weak and vulnerable.
If we go our own way, rely on our own strength, ‘Goliath’ spirits will soon overcome us.
If I open myself to the Lord, His Spirit will strengthen mine to beat spiritual ‘Goliaths’.
Will I be like David, or will I be like Saul, strong or weak in the Lord?
“Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” (Ephesians 6:10)
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I am reminded how weak and vulnerable I am without Your Spirit. Remind me how You will work powerfully in me IF I walk with You and follow Your lead!

Is anyone else excited?

THE STORY OF JESUS: Matthew 28:1-4
“The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.” (Matthew 28:4)
Frightening angels and powerful earthquakes… what is going on?
The whole creation – spiritual and physical reality – is convulsing in wonder.
At this moment, everything changes; Jesus overcomes the curse and restores God’s world.
The angels, and the creation, are shaking with excitement.
Even the soldiers are caught up in the excitement, though for them it is fear.
They do not know what is happening, but they are caught up in it anyway.
As are we, and all people… we are a part of this remarkable story.
This is not only the dawn of a new day, but a new reality.
Death has been beaten, LIFE has been restored, and we can share in it!
Life, hope, joy, blessing, peace, justice, health, wholeness – new creation!
Why are we so unaffected, so lifeless, so gloomy and despondent.
In this moment creation is groaning with anticipation.
In this moment the angels are glowing with excitement.
Is anyone else excited?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, everything changes here. The curse of sin is broken, and Life is restored. May Your resurrection make me excited too!

Who are the deceived?

THE STORY OF JESUS: Matthew 27:62-66
“His disciples may steal the body and say he has been raised from the dead.” (Matthew 27:64)
How do you fake someone coming back to life, especially when their death was public.
And even if they did make it all up, would it be a lie they’d be willing to die for?
I think of Chuck Colson’s testimony (worked with Nixon during Watergate, served time in jail).
He knew from experience how quickly fellow ‘liars’ buckle under pressure to save themselves.
All of the disciples faced persecution, violence and death for their claims.
Pressure may lead someone to recant on the truth, but to be willing to die for a lie?????
The disciples met the risen Jesus, and it changed their lives!!!!
‘You ask me how I know he lives… He lives within my heart!’
I have also met and experienced the risen Jesus, and He has changed my life.
People may laugh, and accuse me of perpetuating an illusion, or an hoax.
But maybe, as in “The Matrix”, they are living in the illusion, the hoax.
Believing the resurrection is like taking the ‘red pill’, it will open your eyes.
It will not make life easier, and many will turn against you for it.
But the hope of Jesus alive is better than the hopelessness of Jesus dead.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, continue to make Your living presence real to me, especially in times when the illusion of despair tries to suck the life out of my hope.

Risking reputation for Jesus!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Matthew 27:57-61
“Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb.” (Matthew 27:59)
Joseph, a rich and respected man (Mark 15:43), took a huge risk to do what he does.
Essentially he surrenders his reputation and future memory to honour Jesus.
His life memorial (tomb) will forever be associated with Jesus – a religious and political loser.
Most people see Jesus as a loser, a failed messiah, no longer relevant.
Sometimes Jesus followers today may also feel the scorn of identifying with a ‘dead’ messiah.
Why waste our time and our lives on Jesus; Jesus is not real, and the church is a failure.
Like Joseph, we may be viewed as fools who still believe in fairy tales.
Essentially we surrender our reputations and future memory to honour Jesus.
When I think of Who Jesus is, and what He represents, I don’t mind.
Why should we be ashamed to identify with radical grace and love, humility and kindness?
Think of the crazy things people devote their lives to today… and they’re not ashamed!?!?
“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” (Philippians 1:20)
Today again I choose to honour the ‘failed messiah’ and by continuing His work in my body!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, people may mock me for identifying with Your life and love, but I would rather be a fool for You than for all the empty things that everyone else seems to be sacrificing their lives for!