Surely He does mean me!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Mark 14:17-26
“One by one they said to him, ‘Surely you don’t mean me?'” (Mark 14:19)
Most people know that Judas is the betrayer.
But as we read further, we see how Peter denies Jesus.
We also find the Peter, James and John sleeping while Jesus prays.
And after the arrest, all of the disciples with Jesus flee.
Today I hear the Lord gently challenging me as His follower.
Do I look down on Judas, as if I were a little better than him?
Do I compare myself to others who do not follow Jesus?
Each of the disciples was convinced they would stay true to Jesus.
Just like I do… hmmm, that says something.
Jesus graciously eats with all of His disciples, even though each will fail.
He graciously eats with me too, despite my prideful claims and sinful falls.
Today the Lord is challenging me to be honest about my weakness.
Surely He means me, and I know He is right!
He welcomes me to His grace table, and wants me to welcome others too!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I am no better or worse than Judas, Peter and the others. If by grace I am welcome at the table, how can I exclude anyone else?

No place to hide!

“I long to dwell in your tent forever!” (Psalm 61:4)
What would it be like to always feel God’s presence?
It depends in large part on what we’re doing/.
For example, being close to a police officer can be good or bad.
Good if you’re facing trouble and need help.
Not good if you’re making trouble, and don’t want to get caught.
Do we want to be close to God when we’re gossiping or lying?
Do we want to feel God with us when we’re giving in to temptation?
David is in trouble, and desperately wishes that he was always with God.
If we were with God always, maybe we could resist sin better.
We were made to live in and enjoy God’s presence always.
It is our sin that leads us to try to hide, like Adam and Eve.
Jesus is God with us, coming to us in our sin to help us.
He offers to be with us always, through the Spirit, until His return.
Do I long to be in His presence forever, or do I prefer to hide?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, the reality is, there is no place to hide. Thank You for looking for me, coming to me, and staying with me, whether I feel it or like it… or not.

The Lord will raise help for His work!

“The king of Assyria… assisted them in the work on the house of God.” (Ezra 6:22).
As Jesus followers, we are called to continue Jesus’ temple-work.
Not building a physical temple, but building a people through love and mercy.
Empowered by the Spirit, we extend God’s love, joy, peace into all the world.
Like Jesus, we see hearts won over by His love, and the kingdom grows.
As in this story, we will face times of opposition and setbacks.
But we should also have times where the Lord’s favour raises support.
Even support from those who do not share our faith in Jesus.
I have personally seen this in my last church work.
We received support, even volunteers, for sharing the love of Jesus.
We enjoyed a remarkable partnership with the public school staff and board.
We even received recognition for our volunteer work – for loving our neighbours.
Satan will surely stir up opposition, but Jesus will also raise support.
And as Jesus followers, let’s keep our focus on how Jesus is at work.
He will build His house of prayer, He will establish His kingdom!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, help us keep our hearts focused on You and Your task, even when we face resistance. Thank You for supporting us, even through those who don’t share our faith!

Sorrow, joy and hope!

“No one could distinguish the sound of joy from the sound of weeping.” (Ezra 3:13)
After 50+ years of living as exiles in Babylon, the Jews are free to return home.
Those who do return begin the rebuilding project, with tears of joy and sadness.
Joy because of the rebuilding, but sadness for the memory of the former temple.
The temple was going to be again, but not like it used to be.
I’m trying to relate to these emotions of joy and sadness mixed together.
As Jesus followers, we are joining Jesus in rebuilding God’s creation kingdom.
We are restoring people, healing the broken and freeing those in bondage.
We are discouraging the discouraged, and walking with the lonely.
In this work, we experience both joy and sorrow, success and sadness.
Little breakthroughs are wonderful, but still so far from our original glory.
Feeding someone who is hungry can bring a smile to our face.
But seeing their ongoing condition of poverty or mental illness brings tears.
We are rebuilding God’s temple with tears of joy and sadness.
But also with hope, for one day all will be restored to its creation glory!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, You wept when You raised Lazarus, even though You raised Him back to life. May we share Your tears of sadness for what is wrong, and Your determination to make it right!

Is my home open for Jesus?

THE STORY OF JESUS: Mark 14:12-16
“Say to the owner, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room.” (Mark 14:14)
There is much we don’t know from this story.
How did Jesus know about the servant coming for water for his master’s house?
Who was this homeowner, who knew Jesus as ‘the Teacher’, and a roomed prepared?
Was this prearranged by Jesus, or did God reveal this to Jesus through prayer?
Whoever this man is, he is ready for Jesus, he welcomes Jesus into his home.
This indicates an openness to Jesus, a positive response to His ministry.
Somehow he knew about ‘the Teacher’, and he was eager to receive Jesus.
I find myself wondering, am I prepared devote my home for Jesus use?
Jesus used this man’s room to display His grace to the disciples, and the world.
Jesus wants to us in the same way, to share His grace with the world.
My home, my vehicle, my cottage, my lawn-mover – all can be used by Jesus.
Any time today, Jesus can ask me through someone else to help somehow.
What we we saw opportunities to serve or help as Jesus encounters?
I sense Him asking, ‘what will you offer me to share my grace with others?’
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, as we settle into our new home, I offer it to You as a house of blessing for all people. May all who come through our doors meet You, and be blessed by Your grace!

Do they see Jesus in me?

THE STORY OF JESUS: Mark 14:1-11
“Wherever the gospel is preached, what she has done will also be told.” (Mark 14:9)
The religious leaders are scheming to kill Jesus.
Jesus is eating at the home of a leper.
A woman pours expensive perfume over Jesus’ feet.
The disciples harshly criticize her for her wasteful behavior.
Two of these groups represent the good news message of the kingdom.
But the two other groups represent the dominion of darkness.
Jesus eating with a leper, this is God’s kingdom in action!
A woman expressing sacrificial love for Jesus, this is how God’s children should be!
These are examples of how the church should be: demonstrations of the gospel.
But sadly, too often we find the church scheming for position, and attacking others.
How often have you heard harsh criticism in the church… too often?
We have been saved by grace, to be gracious to others – His grace through us!
We offer ourselves as living sacrifices, in response to God’s great mercy!
May my life be an expression of the gospel, worthy of being told with the message of Jesus!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I want my way of being to make You look good. May my life story also reflect the gospel, and show people the good news of Who You are!

Sleeping on the job?

THE STORY OF JESUS: Mark 13:32-37
“If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping.” (Mark 13:36)
We are Jesus’ servants, saved and graced to continue His work of salvation.
Here Jesus reminds His followers that He will come back to see how we did.
People usually sleep when the boss is away, and try to be busy when He is watching.
But when Jesus returns, it will be too late to look busy.
In that unexpected moment, our work records will be revealed.
But are we not saved by grace, why then are we judged by our works?
We will not be judged for what we did in our own strength.
But we will be judged for what we did with the grace He gives us.
By His Spirit He is daily prompting us to share His grace, to bless others.
Every day we choose to resist or cooperate with His grace at work in us.
To resist His grace is to reject salvation, and to return to our sinful lives.
Jesus urges us to “work out our salvation”, not “work for it” (Philippians 2:12).
Today the Lord is challenging me to be busy about His work, ready for His return!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, You are my employer, and I have been given everything I need to succeed. You’ve graced me to grace others, may I do so eagerly and faithfully.

Still looking up (despite the mess we’re in)!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Mark 13:28-31
“This generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” (Mark 13:30)
My sense is that Jesus is referring to the events of AD 70, when Rome destroys Jerusalem.
Those were terrible times, and since then the world hasn’t gotten any better.
Every generation since that time has endured times of sin’s fury unleashed.
Like ‘whack-a-mole’, evil and violence keep popping up somewhere in the world.
Its been a LONG time since Jesus said this, so when will He be coming?
I am not one to predict the end, it will come when it comes.
The signs of the times are not worse today, they are just different.
It can be depressing to focus on what is going wrong in the world.
But looking away from it doesn’t make it go away, we need something to look to!
“You will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.” (Mark 13:26)
Through all the brokenness and misery of this sin-messed world, I look for Jesus.
The fig tree sprouting can also be seen positively – signs of Jesus at work.
Every day I see little signs of Jesus – love, mercy, grace – and it keeps me looking up!
Jesus is at work, if you pay attention… but you have to be looking up to see Him!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, threats of nuclear war, white supremacy riots, fentanyl overdoses, environmental instability, political chaos, crumbling moral foundations, extremism, mental illess… Your kingdom better be coming, THIS world sucks!

His banner unfurled!

“You have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow.” (Psalm 60:4)
What good is a banner against a bow and arrow?
A banner is useless… unless that banner represents something else.
“Let his banner over me be love!” (Song of Songs 2:4)
The love of God gives us an assurance that arrows can not give.
David’s hope is not his armies… “for human help is worthless.” (Psalm 60:11)
Arrows can only give temporary victory, but God gives eternal victory.
He gives us strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow!
I do not want to minimize the seriousness of today’s burdens.
I get the fear and struggle that we experience in the now.
But if we focus on these, we only make them bigger, and worse.
For all our worry and struggle, have we succeeded in removing trouble?
The Lord has not promised to end all our storms right away.
But he has assured us that we will survive them, because He loves us!
Focus on His banner of love, not on the arrows of fear – love will triumph!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, life can be hard, painful and scary. Help me to find strength and hope by focusing on Your love, rather than Satan’s arrows of despair.

Am I listening?

THE STORY OF JESUS: 2 Chronicles 33-36
“The Lord sent word through his messengers again and again.” (2 Chronicles 36:15)
Can any of the kings here have said, ‘I didn’t know!’?
Was God’s judgment against them and the land unexpected?
Its not that God didn’t send warnings.
And its not that they didn’t see the evidence in the lives of the previous kings.
The Lord is not silent, we can hear His wisdom and warnings every day.
The bible is one obvious way, but also through others, and also through experience.
But as in Josiah’s day, our bibles remain out of sight, unopened, ignored.
There are many who warn us (prophets), but they are also ignored, even mocked.
“They despised his words and scoffed at his prophets.” (2 Chronicles 36:16)
The real question for me is, ‘am I listening to the Lord’s messengers?’
Where and when is the Lord trying to get MY attention, but I not listening?
As I read these words today, is the Lord trying to guide or warn me?
I believe that the Lord speaks through scripture, as well as through others.
But am I listening?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I may be critical of these kings for ignoring Your Voice… but am I doing any better? Help me to respond to Your Voice, and to act on what I hear!