Coming to my senses!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 15:11-24
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘I will go back to my father…'” (Luke 15:17-18)
Jesus often used the word ‘repent’ when He spoke to people.
The original word ‘repent’ means to reconsider and change your direction.
Like someone in a destructive relationship finally deciding to leave.
In this parable this young man comes to his senses… rethinks, repents!
He wakes up, it dawns on him that his life does not make sense the way it is.
His mind considers his situation, and he sees how foolish he is.
Does this kind of ‘repenting’ relate to me – do I need to come to my senses?
Life without the Father slowly unravels, and leads into more misery.
We strike out on our own, we go our own way – hows that working for us?
The high levels of medication and drugs seem to suggest not so good.
So many of us are living and eating like pigs; we need to rethink, repent!
We were not made for pig life, and our God wants so much more for us.
He is eager for us to come to our senses, and eager to welcome us home.
Is there something in your life that is ruining you, that you need to rethink?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, several small things and one bigger thing come to mind. I sense they’re unhealthy, holding me back, bringing me down. Help me come to my senses, so I can experience Your loving help too.

He’s pursuing us!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 15:8-10
“Doesn’t she… search carefully until she finds it?” (Luke 15:8)
There are billions of people in the world, and many don’t know Him.
Is God just waiting for people to come to Him?
Do you have a loved one that is not seeking God?
Does God refuse to do anything for them until they make the first move?
The whole story of the bible is of a God that is seeking us!
“The Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’” (Genesis 3:9)
Ultimately God steps into our sin-messed world to find and save us.
He knows we are sinners, He knows the mess we’ve made of our lives.
He has not stopped pursuing us, and will not while life still lasts.
How God seeks is different for each person, but it is always enough.
Through their relationships, experiences, thoughts, crises, God is there.
He continues to whisper that question in love, ‘where are you?’
For our part, we can start looking, paying attention to our daily experiences.
Was that call, that near miss, that random thought, etc. God calling me?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, You still seek me. You are still working in my life to strengthen my closeness to You. Help me to trust that You are doing the same for others, including this I know who are drifting from You!

Making the Lord my refuge!

“He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:2)
This is a wisdom psalm, it describes in ideal terms God’s way of life.
This is how the world was designed, but sadly sin has messed that up.
Sin has made harm and disaster normal, far from the ideal God intended.
But it is still true; only God can save us from harm and disaster.
Through Jesus God has trampled Satan, our serpent-lion enemy (v.13).
With Jesus, I can go through my day trusting in God’s ultimate protection.
When I start my day with the Lord, I am positioning myself in Him.
As I go through my day, He remains my refuge, my helper, my guide.
When my day is done, I know He will be there, welcoming me into His rest.
This does not mean bad things do not happen, or that I will not suffer.
Like Jesus, life in this world is difficult – but He has overcome the world!
Resting in the Lord is ongoing discipline, one that needs constant renewal.
Satan likes to take our eyes away from Jesus, and onto our circumstances.
Do you make it a point to center yourself in the Lord everyday?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I choose to live my life in You – with You, like You, for You. Help me to keep this focus, especially when harm or disaster come my way.

Blessed to be a blessing!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Isaiah 36-39
“There will be peace and security in my lifetime.” (Isaiah 39:8)
Hezekiah starts off humble and dependent on God for life.
He prays for Jerusalem’s protection, and for his health to be restored.
But when Babylon’s envoys come, he is boastful and proud.
When God warns of coming judgment, he is content that he won’t see it.
God gave Hezekiah new life, but he became selfish in that new life.
How are we as Jesus followers responding to the new life God has given us?
Are we content to know that we are saved, and living for ourselves?
Are we wrapped up in our blessings, and forgetting the God that blessed us?
Are we sharing His blessings with others, or using them for our own pleasure?
As Jesus followers, we cannot simply rest content that we are saved.
God has saved us for a purpose, that He might use us to help others.
Hezekiah shows us what happens when christians become worldly.
We forget why God saved us, and forfeit the very blessings we cling to.
We are here for a purpose, blessed for a purpose… how will I respond?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, You have blessed me with so much. Help me not to be like Hezekiah, only interested in my own comfort and salvation. Make me a blessing with the blessings You have given me.

Choosing the way to get there!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Isaiah 34-35
“The Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way.” (Isaiah 35:8)
Isaiah is prophecying a day of wrath and judgment (Isaiah 34:2,8).
He will allow the nations to experience the consequence of their wickedness.
But He will also provide a way out through that wilderness.
It will be for those that choose to live holy (God-like) lives.
God is not petty or tyranical or malevolent; God is good, and full of goodness.
As a result, selfishness and evil cannot remain in God’s presence.
God is patient, but the time is coming when He will end the reign of evil.
Each living person must choose which Way they will choose.
Not just what end result (heaven or hell), but what lifestyle.
God’s Way of Holiness is before us to, in the person of Jesus Christ.
We see in Him God’s way of life, God’s will for life, God’s very own life.
Jesus has saved me to live this life, and given His Spirit to help me.
To say we want that life means we want to walk in that life, to live that way.
Am I showing by how I live today that I want that life?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, help me not just to talk the talk, but to walk the walk. I cannot do it perfectly, but if I want to, You will help me grow in it!

Eating with sinners?

“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:2)
Jesus is getting in trouble for being gracious to sinners.
Notice what Jesus does not do, He does not join in with them in their sin.
Jesus treats them as real people who need God’s grace to return home.
Yes they are sinners, but like lost sheep they need someone to help them.
If they refused, Jesus would not force them to eat with Him.
Grace does not force itself; those who reject the Jesus way can leave.
In 1 Corinthians 5:11-13, Paul warns against eating with sinners.
But he is not referring to non-Jesus followers, but to Jesus followers.
People who claim they want to obey Jesus, yet blatanly reject His way.
How do we judge those inside the church, and yet keep grace foremost?
There are no simple answers, but no matter what grace needs to be first.
Judging sin among Jesus followers needs to be grounded in generous grace.
Only in a gracious relationship can we address unhealthy, unholy behaviours.
If we are not welcoming sinners, we cannot help them return to God.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, unless we have a loving, gracious relationship with sinners, we have no right to speak into their lives. Help us welcome and eat with sinners so that together we can grow together more like You.

The cost of following Jesus!?

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 14:25-35
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate… cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)
How can Jesus want us to hate anyone, most of all our family?
But then He adds “even our own life”, which gives us a clue what He means.
Jesus is using hyperbole – an extreme statement – to make a point.
Following Jesus is risky, costly, life and priority changing!
To join Jesus in loving like God in a graceless world will be tough.
For some, even their own family will turn on them, and they may face death.
In some parts of the world, this is the price for following Jesus.
“Those who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” (Luke 14:33)
These words are challenging to me; what kind of Jesus follower am I?
Will I risk my comfort, my personal desires, my reputation, etc. for Jesus?
Will I risk ridicule or misunderstanding from my family to do what Jesus says?
Honestly, I feel that I have subscribed to ‘christianity lite’.
All the pleasures and benefits without the calories (or costs).
Does this explain why so many western churches are shrinking, dying?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I have sensed for a long time that my version of following You is very different than Your version. I need help to change this. May Your Spirit stretch and guide me closer to Your intent for my life!

Invited to join in the festivities!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 14:15-24
“Not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.” (Luke 14:24)
In this parable, those who were first in the invite list make excuses.
They are not interested enough in the banquet, their own lives matter more.
And so the invite goes out to the needy, and they eagerly come to it.
I am focusing on what happens to those who were invited first.
God’s covenant people (OT Israel, and the NT Church), are called first.
But they are too busy, too distracted, too wrapped up in themselves.
They make excuses for why living for the banquet does not work for them.
In the context, Jesus is talking about ‘believers’ who do not join with Him.
God is on a mission, preparing a banquet for all people (Luke 13:29).
How many of us Christians make excuses for not working for this banquet?
We are the ones called to seek out the needy, to bring them in.
Jesus is challenging our life priorities: our focus on ourselves, not others.
God’s mission is Jesus’ mission is our mission, but are we joining in?
Living for God and others, or living for ourselves – which will it be for me?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, You are passionate about gathering people – expecially those who struggle – for God’s eternal feast. Help me to see my excuses, to stop making them, and to join with You in filling God’s house.

Do what Jesus says… too radical???

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 14:7-14
“Invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.” (Luke 14:13?-?14)
As Jesus followers, we march by the beat of a different drum.
The people we focus on are the weak, the outcasts, those who struggle.
We see them as God sees them, as His much loved children who need a hand.
And yet, lets be honest, are these the people we normally invite?
What if we took these words literally as a church?
What if we planned our weekly gatherings for people like this?
And if we made it a point to seek them out, invite them, and pick them up?
If the message, and the fellowship, was all about blessing and serving them?
Have them over for lunch, or drive them somewhere, or help with groceries?
This would be radical… it sounds like something Jesus would do!!!
We want our church to be blessed, we want our church to grow.
What if the way Jesus wants to bless us is by doing exactly what He says here?
I’m actually thinking of this verse as a strategy for our church.
Help me out here, what do YOU think, would this be too radical?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, this strategy for our church is so simple, so obvious… obeying what You said, in order to be blessed. If this is from you, then may it resonate in other peoples’ hearts as well.

At home with God in the world!

“Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.” (Psalm 90:1)
For Moses, life was anything but stable and secure:
— born of an enslaved people, adopted by the Pharoah’s daughter
— raised in Egyptian wealth, on the run for saving a Hebrew brother
— hiding in the desert for 40 years, called to confront the Pharoah
— leading Israel from bondage, a 40 year journey through the wilderness
No place to call home, not secure dwelling place… except God.
I wish I could say that life will go well for all people.
Even Jesus followers discover that there is trouble in this world.
Our only hope is that Jesus has overcome the world, and will establish us.
Following Jesus gives us a new perspective, and a source of strength.
We can pray like Moses, and find His presence and power sustaining us.
More than that, He will work through us to bless and help others.
He is rebuilding our home with/for us… we WILL dwell with Him forever!
Be encouraged: keep working on God’s dream home in this nightmare world!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I live in this world, but I am not at home in this world as it is. May I work with You and believers through the ages to restore Your kingdom by helping those who struggle… until You fully rebuild our home!