Easy for me to say!?

“Those who are at ease have contempt for misfortune.”
Zophar put Job in his place; he suffered because he sinned… period.
Sad to say, I was once like Zophar, a voice of heartless ‘truth’.
But as Job states, I was “at ease”, preaching from my ivory tower.
Too many of us show contempt for others with our religious views.
“To God belong understanding” (v.13), not to us and our doctrines.
Thankfully, the Lord has toppled much of my religious smugness (not all).
I am much more aware that what I say is often “easy for me to say”.
Gone are the days for me when everything was simply black and white.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe in absolute truth.
I just know that none of us knows this truth absolutely.
He has taught me to struggle, listen and learn with those who struggle.
He has shown me that they have insight and wisdom as well.
Together as friends we struggle and learn about God’s truth.
And thankfully, He struggles with us, and walks with us to the other side!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, forgive me for pontificating about peoples’ struggles. Expose my remaining religious smugness, and help me to be the friend You are to me!

What motivates me?

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 2:41-52
“Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49)
Somehow as a boy, Jesus had a clear sense of God’s calling for His life.
His motivating drive was to serve His Father.
This is what guided His decisions and actions all through life.
What do I wake up every morning, determined to be and to do?
Some people know this very clearly, but many are vague on this.
A vague purpose is as dangerous as a wrong purpose.
I sense Jesus challenging me to revisit my sense of life purpose.
Am I determined to follow and serve Jesus, to join Him in His mission?
Is this my guiding motive as I go through each day?
What if someone asked me for a one sentence summary of my life purpose?
Recently the Lord has helped me clarify my sense of purpose…
To grow as a follower of Jesus, and to help others do the same!
It starts with me, “growing in wisdom” (v.52) before I try to share it.
How about you, what is your guiding motive or life mission?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, renew my motivation for God, the kingdom, and You, to see that there is nothing better to live for.

Piercing goodness!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 2:33-40
“And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” (Luke 2:35)
Jesus birth was not all sweetness and joy for Joseph and Mary.
The goodness of Jesus would be difficult to live with.
His goodness stands out in contrast to our own sin.
Hearts will be challenged; open hearts will humbled.
But closed hearts will become angry, and violent.
No doubt Jesus’ goodness provoked Mary’s heart too.
As Jesus followers, our hearts have been pierced as well.
Being with Jesus has a way of exposing sin in us.
We love what we see in Him, and we hate what we see in us.
As hard as this piercing conviction is, we should not resist it.
For there is healing and hope in His piercing goodness.
Only He can cut away the sin that ruins us, and set us free!
This is the “redemption of Jerusalem” (v.38) , to be rescued from sin.
If I want to be free, I need to open myself to His piercing goodness.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, where am I feeling convicted today? Help me to be receive Your piercing conviction, to allow You to expose and root out the selfish love of my own heart.

Can you see Him?

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 2:25-32
“For my eyes have seen your salvation…” (Luke 2:30)
Unlike Simeon, I cannot see my salvation with my physical eyes.
But I have been “moved by the Spirit” to see it by faith.
How do I explain it: I sense it, I feel it, I know it deep inside.
Whenever I see Jesus in my mind, I am also moved to praise God.
When I see Jesus in His humble love and gracious kindness.
When I see Jesus patiently loving and serving His disciples.
When I see Jesus being tortured and crucified for no reason.
When I see Jesus alive, smiling and accepting me as His friend.
Consolation fills me, and I am encouraged, energized, hopeful!
Jesus is presented “in the sight of all nations”.
Everyone can see what I see, and experience what I experience.
It does take the eyes of faith, being moved by the Spirit.
For me, thinking about Jesus is life transforming.
Like Simeon, I am moved to joy and praise, as I hold Jesus in my heart.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, when I think about You, I am moved by Your Spirit. May this joy, hope and peace energize me for today. May others see Jesus today too!

No more cleansing rituals!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 2:21-24
“The purification rites required by the Law of Moses.” (Luke 2:22)
So how do we feel forgiven, how do we become certain of God’s love?
When you feel dirty, do you perform certain cleansing acts?
In those times, do you feel God’s love, or do you feel condemnation?
The rituals in Moses Law did not DO anything they just reminded.
The purification rites then (or baptism today) did not purify anyone.
They pointed to the impossibility of getting clean, and our need for help.
Jesus was purified and baptized as a Jew, but He did not need them.
Jesus was without sin; He remained clean when when Satan tempted Him.
God looked at Him (after baptism) and affirmed His favour and love.
“Born under the law, to redeem those under the law.” (Galatians 4:5)
Through Jesus, God sees us as forgiven, free and restored to life!
Jesus, not baptism or cleansing rituals, assure us of God’s love.
Our challenge is to believe it, to embrace it, and to enjoy it as truth.
Today I am encouraged to celebrate my new identity, without the need for rituals.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, help me to enjoy Your forgiveness, freedom and full life which are mine to receive and enjoy without duty or obligation.

Renew my passion!

“For zeal for your house consumes me.” (Psalm 69:9)
David’s heart was on fire for God, even if it meant suffering.
His zeal was for building, maintaining and protecting God’s temple.
The temple represented God living with, at home with, His people.
In its time, it served as a reminder of God’s desire for all creation.
Through Jesus, God steps into the world to be with us.
Jesus reveals God’s zeal for us, His house.
John quotes this psalm to describe Jesus’ actions in the temple (John 2:17).
But it was not just for the building, it was for the people!
“My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” (Mark 11:17)
Do I share this passion for God and for His family?
Am I devoting myself to building, maintaining and protecting God’s family?
My zeal is not for the church as a building, for the church as a people.
And not just those ‘in church’, but the WHOLE family, “for all nations”?
Jesus has this passion for me; do I share this passion for Him, with Him?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, renew my passion for all people, that they may know Your passion for them.

Our merciful mediator!

“If only there were someone to mediate between us, to bring us together.” (Job 9:33)
Bildad sees God’s ways as simple: we sin, God punishes us… period.
Job wants to argue this, but struggles because how do we argue with God.
In this verse he is asking for a mediator with God… not with Bildad.
In the middle of this struggle with God, he cries out for a mediator.
He doesn’t know he’s speaking about Jesus, but he is!
Jesus is this mediator, this one who will bring us together.
Jesus steps in between holy, mighty, sovereign God… and us.
And wonder of wonders, He mediates with mercy, not only justice.
Bildad only sees justice, Job only sees despair; but Jesus reveals compassion.
Life is hard, filled with injustice, uncertainty, confusion, suffering.
But God is not a monster or tyrant ruling our lives with cruel justice.
God sent Jesus as mediator to show us the full extent of His love.
When I struggle with God questions (‘why God?’), I look at Jesus.
Jesus shows me what God is ultimately like, and how much He loves me!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, thank You for stepping in to my life, to show me that I need not fear God, but can hope in and trust the God that loves THAT much!

What do our arguments prove?

“How painful are honest words! But what do your arguments prove?” (Job 6:25)
This scenario reminds me of how many approach evangelism or pastoral care.
When someone is grieving or struggling in sin, do we preach truth at them?
We claim that the truth sets people free, but is truth what they need?
Can we convince the mind of what the heart is not able to receive?
Can a person change their thinking, unless God changes their hearts?
And does God change our hearts with truth, or with love, grace and mercy?
Jesus could have just preached ‘truth’ to the sinners He dealt with.
Instead, He graced them, called them, welcomed them (like Zacchaeus).
And this is what softened their hearts, and opened their minds.
Too often we claim that we’re ‘speaking the truth in love’…
When we’re really ‘loving to speak the truth!’, not loving the person.
Undeserved love, not unreserved truth, is what helps people change.
This is not about approving sin or denying truth, but realizing…
That grace and mercy open the heart for truth and repentance.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, thank You for reminding me that it is not my words that change people, but Your Spirit through grace and mercy. May I learn from Eliphaz how NOT to speak the truth.

I treasure the thought…

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 2:15-20
“Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)
I am a pondering, I am often thinking about God, Jesus, faith, etc.
For me these things are too profound to simply pass over or accept.
I’m not so much questioning them, as I am mulling over their meaning.
And like Mary, I am treasuring them, finding delight in them.
If God is in control, what does this mean for me?
If Satan is beaten, and I am free in Christ, what does this mean for me?
If God’s Spirit lives in me, how am I experiencing this reality?
If nothing can separate me from God’s love, how is this shaping my life?
So many thoughts, so many things to ponder and treasure.
This is what I am doing as I journal, pondering and treasuring.
I don’t always find something profound, but over time my faith grows deeper.
We will never plumb the depths of the ocean of treasures we find in Jesus.
But don’t let that stop you from jumping in and letting them surround you.
Ponder and treasure the things you believe, and you will only grow richer!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, in You are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3), may I continue to find new treasures as I ponder Who You are!

How can I share the good news?

“And the glory of the Lord shone around them.” (Luke 2:9)
This is what I want to do, to bring great joy to all people.
But can I share Jesus with the same effect of the angels?
They had the added advantage the ‘glory of the Lord’.
I believe that this glory is the presence and power of God.
It is God’s presence and power that makes our witness effective.
“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words
But with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power.” (1 Corinthians 2:4)

When I struggle to share Jesus, I need to remember this.
I have the same backing as the angels did, God will use me too.
Sharing Jesus today is hard, people are done with God, religion and Jesus.
I’m not going to be able to convince anyone to believe in Jesus.
But my job is not to convince people, but to share Him by showing Him.
Like the angels, point to Jesus in His humble love and mercy.
And trust that God’s glory will shine all around you as you do!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, help me to see that the art of sharing You is simply trusting You as I point people to Your humble love. May Your glory shine through me as I do!