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!

My heart as His manger!

“She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger.” (Luke 2:7)
She placed her baby in an animal feed trough, in a barn.
Where the animals drooled and slobbered and smelled.
What an unlikely place for God’s chosen messiah.
And yet where else could God find us, but among the animals.
We have fallen from our created glory, we have become like animals.
Actually, this is insulting to animals, for animals are true to their nature.
Animals have no choice, but we do, and yet we go there.
This is amazing, God meets us where we are, to help us.
This lowly birth has been romanticized by our ‘christmas’ celebrations.
Our nativity scenes inspire nostaligia, not shame and humility.
This is where God had to come to find us, among the animals.
As a Jesus follower, I have been graciously humbled to know my sin.
But I have also been graciously blessed to know His love for me.
Today is a day to remember how low He had to go to bring me back!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I know the greed and pride and sinful desire that live in the manger of my own heart. Thank You for graciously moving in anyway.

Messenger of light!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 1:76-80
“To shine on those living in darkness…” (Luke 1:79)
I like these words, they describe how I see my own calling.
To bring hope to those in despair, life to those who are dying.
Everyday I see people living without hope, without peace.
And not just the poor and destitute, even wealthy successful people.
Life without God is life without hope, without peace, without direction.
It really is “meaningless, a chasing of the wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:14)
Zechariah describes John as a prophet, one who points people towards God.
As followers of Jesus, we are also called to point people to God.
And to Jesus, God’s “salvation through the forgiveness of sins” (v.77).
People need to know this, they need someone to point them.
My job is not to condemn or criticize, but to point to Jesus.
By my words and actions, people in the dark need to see light.
Is this what people experience when they meet me, or hear me speak?
Does my presence with others inspire hope, peace, love, joy?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I want to be a messenger for You… for hope, peace, love and joy. May people not feel darker after being with me, and hearing me speak!

Singing in the victory parade!

“He leads out the prisoners with singing!” (Psalm 68:6)
David describes God’s help as a victorious rescue operation.
God rides out with His armies, and comes back with His enemies in tow.
Those enslaved by the enemy are set free, and sing in the victory parade.
Israel represents the underdog, the oppressed and orphaned and needy.
God is on the side of the underdog, and will make things right.
This message continues to be true, and a joyful hope for those who struggle.
Satan is doing his best to mess us up, but he cannot beat God.
Jesus has beaten him, and has ascended to the throne above.
Paul uses this psalm to describes Jesus’ victory (Ephesians 4:7-10).
Having reclaimed creation, Jesus now graces us with His Spirit.
And with the Spirit, we are gifted to live and lead with Him.
The world may see us as weak and inferior, but we know better!
We join with David in delaring, ‘we are more than conquerors in Christ!’
I sense Jesus encouraging me to stay hopeful and joyful in the struggle.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, remind me of this truth – of Your victory over the Enemy and Your Spirit in me – when Satan is messing things up around me.