Just like us, just like Him!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 22:7-12
“He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished.” (Luke 22:12)
Did Jesus possess superhuman knowledge, to know about this room?
Or was Jesus using His God-power of omniscience – knowing everything?
We need to remember that Jesus, while on earth, was limited as a human.
Yes, I know that He was truly God, but He did not operate that way.
Though “in very nature God” He “made Himself nothing!” (Philippians 2:6-7).
Literally, He “emptied Himself” of His God nature and power while human.
He did not perform miracles because He was God, but God worked through Him.
Either God told Him about this room, or He knew the man from before.
I am not trying to minimize Jesus, but to maximize His humanity.
It was as Adam, a God-like (sinless) human, that Jesus defeated Satan.
He did not possess superhuman or divine powers to win; He did it like us, for us.
How Jesus lived and worked, we can live and work too – with God’s help.
He will reveal things to us, or do things through us, that seem impossible.
It is as a human suffering with, like and for us that Jesus is our Saviour!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, You beat Satan as a human, using only Your God-supported human strength. Help me to see that I can do the same. I can do all things through You, with Your guidance and help!


“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.” (Psalm 100:1)
Whenever we focus on God, joy and praise and thanksgiving should burst out.
Going to temple (for Jews) was a time to magnify the sound of praise.
They reflected on Who He is (He is God that made and rules us, we belong to Him!)
They reflected on How He is (He is good and loving and faithful).
They were energized and encouraged by loud and expressive singing.
Gathering with other Jesus-followers can be the same.
As we recall Who Jesus is, what He is like, and what He did, we shout!
Sometimes it can be hard to sing loud in church, let alone to shout.
I am conscious of those around me not shouting, not singing loud.
And they’re problem conscious of me too, and we all hold back.
What would it take for our focus to shift back to God and Jesus.
To not be held back by what the other person may think.
I can’t wait for others to start, I need to start with myself.
To focus on the Lord and to sing and shout for Him, an audience of One!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, may our response to You not be held back by what others might think. May our singing, shouting or even standing in silence be authentic and deep and energizing!

The difference lies in the heart!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Jeremiah 24-25
“One basket had very good figs… the other basket had very bad figs…” (Jeremiah 24:2)
The bible often contrasts the righteous and the wicked, but is it that simple?
If we are all sinners, can anyone be righteous?
Another analogy is the humble and the proud, and this is what it comes down to.
Though we are all sinners, some are proud of it, others are ashamed.
Some desire mercy and help, while others are content to be as they are.
God knows our hearts; He sees beyond our sins to our inner inclination.
Those with open hearts will respond to Jesus; those with closed hearts will not.
Jesus represents goodness, love, mercy, justice, kindness, generosity, etc.
Jesus dies for these qualities, but is restored because of them too.
Humble hearts will be drawn to this side of Jesus, proud hearts will not.
I believe one day every person will stand before Jesus.
Their response to Jesus will determine whether they are good figs or bad figs.
It is not for me to decide who or good or bad; only God knows the heart.
But we can look within ourselves to see which way we’re leaning – humble or proud?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I am aware of how self-centered my heart remains. I am not happy about it. I may be a very bad fig, but I want to be a good one. I trust You for Your forgiveness, I look to You for Your help.

Is God calling me?

(Something to read if you’ve been nominated to serve)
What does it mean to be called to ministry. When I was in high school, I felt called into the ministry. What that meant for me – and for most people I know – was that I was called to be an ‘ordained minister’ in the church. To be a ‘pastor’, to be ‘clergy’, to be a ‘minister of the word and sacraments’. I put all those words in quotes because I am uncomfortable with all of them now. I believe we have distorted the original meaning of these words. As a result many disciples are confused about their own calling as disciples. Are they called to ministry too, and how does their ministry relate to mine?

Clarifying terms
Let me begin by defining some terms. To be ‘ordained’ is to be appointed and anointed by God for a specific task in His kingdom mission. Although the church has restricted that term to a special class of workers (clergy), I see all disciples as equally ordained by God for their tasks, just different tasks. The tasks may differ, but the ordination by the Spirit is the same. Continue reading ‘Is God calling me?’ »

To know God like Jesus did!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Jeremiah 21-23
“He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well.” (Jeremiah 22:16)
In this section Jeremiah repeats God’s desire for justice and mercy for the people.
“Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.” (Jeremiah 22:3)
If the kings, and prophets, and people, did this, all would go well for them.
God’s judgment in through Jeremiah is because of their corrupt, immoral, cruel ways.
God is not being petty or tyrannical, vindictive or mean.
God’s love for all people has finally led to this outcome: He will stop them.
It is not ‘the observance of Law’ that God desires, but ‘the outcome of Love’.
“Is that not what it means to know me?” (Jeremiah 22:16)
Jesus is the ‘righteous branch’ (23:5-6) that knows and shows this Love.
Jesus stands up to the Law-keepers, to show them how they missed the point.
Jesus defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well.
This is what it means to know God like Jesus did (1 John 2:3-6)!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, You have made it absolutely clear what it looks like to know God, and to show God to others. May my heart reflect Your love and concern for the poor and needy, and for the cause of justice!

Looking for a way in…

“Then Satan entered Judas…” (Luke 22:1-6)
Judas was not an innocent victim that Satan took over and destroyed.
Judas was wavering in his response to Jesus, was questioning his commitment.
As Jesus’ treasurer (John 12:6), he was more tempted by the money.
Jesus was not the messiah he hoped for, not his ticket to success!
Satan works with what we give him.
He takes advantage of the cracks and openings we give him.
When we entertain impure, unhealthy, unholy thoughts or feelings, he pounces.
He puts people in our path, he whispers his lies, he provokes our feelings.
Perhaps Judas had been fighting these negative thoughts and feelings.
But now finally he opened the window to them fully, and Satan enters him.
Inviting Jesus into our life is not a one-time decision, it is continuous.
We need to surrender every thought and feeling to Jesus (2 Corinthians 10:5).
As we interact with Jesus through the day, we keep Satan at bay.
Satan cannot enter us when Someone else is already living within!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I’m aware of those moments when I let my guard down, when Satan sneaks in and messes with me. Thank You for living in me, and reminding me to resist him before he goes too far.

What’s weighing me down?

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 21:34-38
“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down.” (Luke 21:34)
There seems to be a relationship between the things that Jesus warns about.
He mentions carousing/drunkenness, and then anxieties.
These are representative for many kinds of things that can weigh us down.
In my experience, the one feeds into the other, and vice versa.
Our sin-messed world and separation from God make us very anxious.
Satan loves to stir up our anxieties, often about non-existent concerns.
One way to manage those anxious feelings is through pleasure.
Carousing and drunkenness, immersing oneself in pain-numbing experiences.
But these addictive experiences only produce more trouble, more anxiety.
Excessive anxiety and self-indulgence are a fitting description of our world today.
Even Jesus followers find themselves weighed down by these things.
“Be always on the watch and pray” (21:36); am I practicing this kind of diligence?
Would continuous prayer help me with my own anxieties and indulgences?
Do I see these as a “trap” (v.34), and am I taking steps to fight them?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, help me not to feed my anxieties and indulgences; help me to fight them! Impress it on my heart that I am under attack, and the enemy’s sole purpose is to weigh me down, the ruin me!

The signs of (kingdom) summer!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 21:29-33
“When you see these things, you know that the kingdom of God is near.” (Luke 21:31)
I always enjoy seeing the leaves budding on the trees.
A sure sign that spring has come, and summer is on the way.
(In Canada, spring and summer is what I look forward too).
Jesus describes this anticipation, announced by the budding fig tree.
When we see trouble in the world, when we see nations in anguish and perplexity…
We know that God has restored Adam (Jesus) to the throne!
We know that God is restoring justice and mercy and peace and love!
We know that God is unraveling the power of Satan, sin, death and hell!
God is at work in the world through Jesus and His followers to set things right!
The creation itself knows it, and groans in anticipation (Romans 8:19-22).
The darkness fights with fury, because it knows its time is short (Revelation 12:12).
And we persevere, eager for the kingdom summer that follows kingdom spring!
So as we see the turmoil and groaning of life in this messed up world…
“Stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:28)
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, Satan wants us to see global turmoil and give up in despair. You are telling us these are the signs of Your kingdom coming, to look up in hope! I choose to listen to you rather than Satan!

Keep looking up!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 21:20-28
“Stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:28)
Do these verses describe the end times, or the destruction of Jerusalem?
The answer is both, they speak to all times of crisis before Jesus’ return.
Every time terror and misery reign, “stand up and lift up your heads!”
In times when thing are most bleak, our redemption is drawing near.
Whether the crisis ends, or we die, or Jesus returns, we are rescued!
Believers through the centuries have met Jesus through their suffering and death.
We will too, whether Jesus ends our trial, returns or takes us home to Himself.
It takes great faith to stand up and lift up one’s head in the midst of suffering.
Yet this is what believers through the centuries have done.
I think of martyrs like Stephen seeing Jesus exalted while they died.
“I see the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:56)
This makes me think how I grumble and doubt when I face my first world problems.
Jesus is urging me, whether my struggles are big or small, to keep looking up.
To know that no matter what happens, my Helper is drawing near!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, believers have stayed hopeful when facing torture and death. Help me to stay hopeful when I face my first world problems!

One God for all!

“The Lord reigns, let the nations tremble… let the earth shake.” (Psalm 99:1)
This psalm celebrates the greatness of God, as Israel knows Him.
A mighty God, a just God, a God of equity (v.4).
A God that hears, a God that knows, a God that cares.
This in contrast to the gods of the other nations.
This great God is not just a local, tribal god, great among its own people.
The God of Israel is really the God of creation, the God of all people.
There is only one God, though there are many different ideas about God.
Some of those ideas (religions) propose many gods, but there is still only one God.
Though not everyone believes in a supreme being, most people do.
God does not belong to Christianity, or Islam, or Judaism.
God is not restricted to to a few people, or a few places.
This great God entered time through Jesus, because He loved the world.
This universal God expresses universal love through Jesus’ universal sacrifice.
So that “all the nations” can “praise Your great and awesome name”! (vv.2-3)
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, You have shown us God’s love for all people, all places. You now reign on our behalf, with all authority in heaven and on earth. Great and awesome is Your Name!