Working the Lord!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 10:38-42
“Mary has chosen what is better, it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42)
Martha isn’t punished for what she chose, but her choice is punishing her.
Her problem was not her hard work, but who she was doing it for.
Her focus is on herself, her work and her hardship, and it is upsetting her.
The lesson here is not to drop what we are doing and pray.
It is to DO what we do as a prayer, for the Lord, with our focus on Him.
“Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
If we choose to do something sinful, we cannot do it for the glory of God.
But if we choose something good, it can be made an act of devotion to Him.
Using our hands or gifts to bless others, working hard to help someone.
Cleaning, repairing, working, eating, all these can be done for Him.
The Lord is asking you today, ‘Will you choose what is better?’
‘Will you offer whatever you do to Me, and do it with love and joy?’
Maybe you are feeling worried and upset about many things.
Is this an indication that your focus is not where it should be?
Do what you do with Him, like Him and for Him, and you will be blessed!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, my focus shifts back and forth from me to You and back to me. I can relate to Martha, but I want to relate to Mary. Remind me through the day to keep my focus on You!

Go and do likewise!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 10:29-37
“Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.'” (Luke 10:37)
Once again Jesus sets up radical love as the fulfillment of God’s law.
Radical, self-denying, God and neighbour-loving, sacrificial love.
This story reminds us as Jesus followers what we are here for.
We do not earn God’s mercy by being merciful.
We show mercy BECAUSE God has shown mercy to us, undeserved.
We have been rescued from selfish living, set free to love like Jesus.
Set free to be the Adam and Eve we were made to be, like God.
God’s love is radical love, as seen in Jesus – this is our calling.
As a disciple of Jesus I admit my failure here, but also my desire.
My desire is to love like this, to “go and do likewise”.
The strength of that desire, as prompted by the Spirit, will shape what I do.
Jesus has called me to love like this, He will help me to love like this.
The only question is, will I do my part to start loving like this?
Action begins with a step; what step will I take today?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, words without action are empty. Help me not to love with words or speech but with actions and in truth!

We all do it!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 10:25-28
“He wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “’Who is my neighbor?’” (Luke 10:29)
We want to justify ourselves too, we want to feel better about ourselves.
God’s will for us is radical love for God and people, a God-like love.
We look for limits, excuses, qualifications, to lessen that demand.
This has always been the problem with our focus on the Law.
We can always find a way to justify our preferences.
Christians claim that the bible is God’s Word, and they obey it.
Except when it comes to turning our cheeks, or giving our wealth to the poor.
Then we find hermeneutical justification to not really do what it says.
Jesus is right, if we loved God and people fully, we would live.
But we don’t, and we can’t; we all fall short of God’s full will.
Which is why we need grace, not the law, to help us in our weakness.
Beware of this spirit of self-justification… we all do it.
We use the law to justify ourselves, and to condemn others.
May Jesus save us from this self delusion, and show us our need for grace!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, forgive me for using the law to justify myself, and to condemn others. Help me to see that only grace justifies. Help me to be as gracious to others as You have been to me!

Mercy, not judgment!

“May they be ashamed and dismayed; may they perish in disgrace.” (Psalm 83:17)
This psalm becomes a problem for us as followers of Jesus.
Asaph wants God to punish their enemies, to make them suffer and die.
On the one hand, I understand and appreciate the cry of the oppressed.
But still, the way of Jesus is to bless and not curse our enemies.
The need for justice is real, but the problem is it applies to us too.
If justice is the only response, then none of us would survive.
“Cover their faces with shame, so that they will seek your name.” (Psalm 83:16)
This is what we all need, to face our shame so that we can seek God’s help.
Like the alcoholic, our only hope is to honestly admit our problem.
Jesus came to expose our shame with God’s amazing grace and mercy.
Jesus sends us to continue His work, to bless our enemies to repentance.
Sadly, too often the church has joined Satan in his work of condemnation.
We ought to be ashamed for how we judge and criticize, so unlike Jesus!
May our church not be a place of judgment, but a place of radical mercy.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, help me to face my own shame for being judgmental and critical. And help me to learn what it means to bless – not curse – sinners!

God the center!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Ecclesiastes 7-8
“Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.” (Ecclesiastes 7:18)
The author of this book attempted to find happiness in things.
He gave himself over to alcohol, sex, and money, and was disappointed.
He tried to become a fanatic for righteousness and for wisdom.
But no matter what he pursued, he could not find what his soul longed for.
Some people might say that we should also avoid extremes with God.
But this is not what the author is saying: he bases this on the fear of God.
When God is our extreme focus and devotion, we won’t seek lesser ‘gods’.
God is not an ‘extreme’, God is the heart and foundation of everything.
God is the center, the extremes are everything else.
When we seek things other than God, they take over, and ruin our lives.
Jesus is using today’s passage to help us evaluate our lives.
What are we pursuing, what ‘extreme’ are we trying to find happiness in?
A life centered in God can enjoy everything else appropriately.
A life centered on anything else will not find joy, but only disappointment.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, help me to understand what it means to center my life in God. Help me to see Your life as the way to do this, and help me to follow Your way!

Life without God!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Ecclesiastes 5-6
“What advantage have the wise over fools?” (Ecclesiastes 6:8)
Life is hard: you’re born, you struggle, you suffer, you die!
Both rich and poor, wise and foolish, follow this sane path.
What a depressing way to think, and it certainly makes enjoying life hard.
If this is in the bible, is this the way we’re supposed to think?
God inspires this man to be honest about life, really honest.
It’s not sugarcoated, or cloaked in hyper-spiritual language.
The reason is because God knows most of us are deceived.
This is like shock therapy, to radically shake and wake us up.
To tell us loud and clear how empty life is without God!
We were not made to struggle, to suffer or to die.
Our world is a chaotic nightmare because we’ve let go of God.
Things are not getting better and better, despite all our accomplishments.
God – not wisdom or folly – is our greatest hope.
Which is why the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7).
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I choose to follow You not it keeps me from suffering or dying, but because You reconnect me to God. God is my only hope!

Refusing Satan’s lies!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 10:17-24
“Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” (Luke 10:17)
As disciples of Jesus, do we realize our authority over Satan’s lies?
I believe that demons (and Satan) are body-less voices of fear and deception.
Their only power is the lie, but they use it to great success!
James urges us to resist Satan, and he will flee from us (James 4:7).
This is not some extreme superpower, it is just refuting the lie with truth.
When those negative voices whisper lies, declare the truth!
Jesus is Lord, Satan has fallen, sin is beaten, death is overcome.
This may or may not change our immediate situation, but it will change us!
Satan’s greatest success is when he gets into our heads with his lies.
He distracts, discourages and ultimately pushes us to despair and defeat.
I can’t keep his lies from flying over my head…
But I can keep them from building a nest in my hair!
Even “little children” (v.21) like us can experience Satan’s fall!
Remind today’s challenges of Jesus’ victory… Satan will lose his grip on you!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, negative thoughts enter my mind all the time. Help me to resist them all the time, and to feel the joy of Satan’s defeat!

Who is He speaking through today?

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 10:8-16
“Whoever listens to you listens to me…” (Luke 10:16)
I believe that Jesus is speaking to us all the time.
One of the ways that He speaks is through other people.
Not just ministers or priests, spiritual or holy people.
Jesus sends out messengers all the time, trying to get our attention.
Sometimes to encourage us, sometimes to challenge us.
“Whoever listens” will hear Jesus, but we do need to listen.
Too often we hear without hearing, we tune out His Voice in the words.
Yesterday the Lord spoke to me through a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
This is a specific word that speaks to a situation I am facing.
He is reminding me that too much caution and I won’t get anywhere.
He is motivating me to take some steps, and trust Him to go with me.
Will I listen to or reject His encouraging, challenging, motivating words?
The kingdom of God is near… will I take that step and join Him?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, You are sending messengers to me all the time. Help me not to miss what You have to say, and one day regret my folly.

Extending the peace of Jesus

“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’” (Luke 10:5)
What is the first thing we say or do when we witness to others?
We are first and foremost agents of love, joy and peace.
Without even know who we are speaking to, we bring them peace.
We don’t set ourselves against them, we stand with them in peace.
Consider how Jesus approached sinners… He stood with them in peace.
He was not denying sin; in fact He knew how bad sin really was.
He knew without God’s help they could attain peace themselves.
Grace extends the hand of peace before we know if they deserve it.
They don’t, and neither do we!
There is many, many people out there still desperate for this kind of peace.
Jesus is still sending us out into a world of evil to bring His peace.
But notice, He sends us out to “where He was about to go!” (v.1)
Our job is to not change or criticize people… just open the door for Jesus.
Bless someone with love, joy or peace today, then wait for Jesus to show up!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, help me to trust that when I bring Your peace, You follow up with Your power to impact the heart. Help me to see – and bless – the person You want to work in today!

I can’t, but we can!!!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 9:57-62
“The Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58)
Jesus does not turn anyone away that wants to follow Him.
But He does not water down what it means to follow Him.
Joining with Jesus is more than accepting forgiveness and heaven.
We are saved from selfish living, our focus is now on God and others.
I am the first to admit that I am a weak follower of Jesus.
My spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak.
I have a place to lay my head, and I prefer it that way.
The only thing that keeps me following is that I desire His life.
I want to be like Him, to love people more than pleasures or possessions.
Don’t be put off by how Jesus seems to discourage followers.
He is reminding us what the goal is, not what the requirement is.
We need not be righteous to follow Him, just to hunger for it (Matthew 5:6).
Jesus invites the weak and weary to partner with Him, to be led by Him.
Together we will overcome the flesh, and grow in the Spirit as His followers.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, following You is harder than I can handle myself. My flesh is weak, but my spirit is willing. I need Your Spirit to help me frow as Your follower! I want to grow!