Guard my heart!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Proverbs 3-4
“Guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23)
For the Jews, the heart was a person’s spiritual command center.
Our heart directs our mind, our will and our emotions.
When something has our heart, everything about us moves towards it.
What happens if our hearts are gripped by something bad or unhealthy?
Like sex, money, pleasure, gambling or shopping?
Like work, or success, or food, or physical fitness.
Everything we do will flow from that passion, it will consume us.
Wisdom is to think very carefully about what we love, and think, and do.
The careless heart will be seized by lesser loves, and enslaved by them.
Through these Proverbs, Jesus is warning us to be on guard.
He urges us to become passionate about love and faithfulness (3:3).
He calls us to trust in Him, and set our hearts on His way (3:5-6).
Is there something that has my heart that is hindering or hurting me?
Am I making wise choices, or am I allowing unhealthy loves ruin my life?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I’ve seen what happens when I give my heart to lesser things. If I am to be a slave to anything, I’d rather be a slave to You. Take my heart!

The voice of wisdom all around!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Proverbs 1-2
“Out in the open wisdom calls aloud…” (Proverbs 1:20)
The Creator has designed the universe with wisdom built right in.
There is a ‘common sense’ evident in life that anyone can see.
If people actually thought through their ways, they would see it.
But we tend not to think through our ways, we act on impulse or desire.
Wisdom tells us that all evil deeds eventually get exposed.
Wisdom tells us that violence, anger and unforgiveness do not help.
Wisdom tells us that selfishness, greed and lust lead to misery.
Wisdom tells us that cheating, lying, stealing come back to haunt us.
Wisdom calls aloud, yet so often we ignore or refuse it.
Wisdom is the Voice of Jesus – the Word of God – embedded in creation.
I believe everyone hears His Voice, urging us to change our ways!
Through Solomon’s sayings, Jesus is challenging us to think about our lives.
He is showing us the folly of human ways, and urging us to follow Him!
He is inviting us into His way of living, loving and leading in God’s world.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, these opening words are challenging me to rethink my values, my priorities, my practices… am I being wise in how I’m living?

To do what He says!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 6:46-49
“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46)
Many christians have become too familiar with title ‘Lord’.
It means ‘master’, and ought to involve obedience.
A servant does not do their own will, they do their master’s will.
Yet Jesus does not give a master/servant analogy to explain his point.
He expects us to be obey because it is wise, not because of punishment.
Disobeying Jesus is like building your house on sand – its stupid.
Obeying Jesus is like building your house on rock – it just makes sense.
We cannot survive nor succeed if we live any way but Jesus’ way.
The way of Jesus our master is radical love, forgiving grace, generous mercy.
The Jesus way is to deny oneself for others, the way of the cross.
We do this not just because Jesus commands it, but because it makes sense.
It is the way God designed life, the creation way of living and loving.
Imagine if all those who claimed Jesus as Lord actually did what He said?
I guarantee it, our world would be a very different world right now!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, living Your way is as basic as breathing oxygen; its how we were made to survive. Help me to know the folly of living any other way but Your way!

Toxic fumes!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 6:43-45
“For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Luke 6:45)
If only there was a ‘mouth-o-meter’ that could test my words.
Not just the exact words, but their meaning and intent.
How many of my words would be self-serving?
Am I trying to be funny, or to be liked, or to sound smart?
How often would there be an edge to what I was saying?
Is my listening exercised in healthy proportion to my speaking?
(Some say two ears to one mouth means listening twice as much.)
Jesus says our words reflect what is inside of us.
He came to change us from the inside out, to address the source.
Greed, pride, fear, anger, selfishness, these are deep down roots.
They are the source of the fruit of my mouth, and my life.
The Spirit of Jesus is working to root these out, and heal them.
I need to be open and receptive to His conviction and correction.
What is a toxic fume in my life I sense the Spirit wanting to address?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I have followed You for many years, but there are still selfish roots within me, which show through my words and actions. I still need Your help!

No time to judge others!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 6:37-42
“First take the plank out of your eye…” (Luke 6:42)
Imagine if we really did what Jesus says here.
No criticizing others until we’ve worked out our own issues.
Will we ever reach a point where we can judge or criticize others?
Only God sees all of us from the standpoint of perfection.
Only God is able to judge us with perfect fairness and truth.
Of all people, Christians ought to know better than be judgmental.
Supposedly we have come to know our sin and misery.
We came to realize we were desperate and lost without God’s mercy.
We confess that all our ways are stained with selfishness and sin.
Sadly, Christians have a reputation of being judgmental.
We spew opinions and criticisms of others just like everyone else.
Of course they are ‘sinners’, but so are we – they need mercy too!
As Jesus followers, our first task is to allow Jesus to work on us.
We have enough ‘baggage’to keep us busy for a long, long time!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, help me not to be so opinionated or critical of others. Help me to see my own need for mercy, and to freely share that mercy with others!

To love like my Father loves!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 6:32-36
“You will be children of the Most High.” (Luke 6:35)
Adam and Eve were created in God’s image.
This means they were created to relate WITH God as His children.
They were made to be LIKE Him, reflecting His character.
And they were made to represent Him, to live FOR Him in the world.
Here Jesus urges His disciples to live LIKE their Father.
And God is love: merciful, generous, compassionate, forgiving love!
As Jesus followers, we are so thankful for God’s radical love.
We know that it is His radical love that has saved us, graced us!
And that grace in us is changing us, leading us to reflect this love.
The world is full of people that love selfishly.
We’ve been saved from selfish love, and released for radical love.
This is NOT easy, there are plenty of difficult people to love.
I make no claims to loving like this, but I do want to, with His help.
This is what I was made for, what I was saved for: to love like my Father!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, thank You for restoring me as God’s child despite my selfishness. Please help me to show the same grace to others when they are selfish.

Holding things together for me!

“It is I who hold its pillars firm.” (Psalm 75:3)
God created us as free agents in His beautiful creation.
But with that came the risk that we would choose evil… and we did.
By our folly, we have turned God’s kingdom into a dominion of darkness.
God is not responsible for the mess of this world… we are.
And yet, by grace, God has not let go of His creation.
His loving hands keep this world from spiraling out of control.
From our point of view, the world does seem out of control.
But it isn’t; if evil had free reign, we would no longer exist.
God restrains evil, God directs our freedom toward His good goals.
Our freedom is surrounded by God’s sovereignty – thank goodness.
He directs our lives to help us seek and find Him (Acts 17:27).
He does not want us to perish, but in the end will give us what we seek.
Jesus shows us what it looks like to submit to God’s sovereign grace.
Will you submit yourself to the One who holds your pillars firm?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, if God removed His hand from my life for a moment, I would cease to be. My life is in His hands, and there is no better place to be!

God prefers honest wrestling!

“You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” (Job 42:7)
For some reason, God is pleased with how Job spoke about Him.
Which is odd, because the last few chapters God has rebuked him.
It seems that God can take our wrestling with faith and doubt.
In fact, He prefers honest struggle over pious platitudes.
Job wrestled with God, like Jacob wrestled with God’s angel.
He refused to let go until he received God’s blessing (Genesis 32:26-28).
Through biblical history, God has honoured this wrestling faith.
Think of the Psalms, which are very honest and real with God.
Job’s friends represent religion, Job represents real relationship.
Too often Christians sound more like Job’s friends, than Job.
We wrestle with tough questions, and yet we offer packaged answers.
I admit it, I am a questioner and doubter of textbook answers.
And I am OK when people hold answers that are different from mine.
One day we’ll all say, “I spoke of things I did not understand.” (42:3)
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, it seems that honest struggling that refuses to let go is the kind of ‘truth’ You want from us. May this be the way I speak about You!

Enjoy the mystery!

“Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2)
We know so much more than when these words were first written.
And yet, considering the vastness of the universe, we still know so little.
God’s question sounds to me like, ‘just who do you think you are?’
I feel the same way about how we talk today – about God and reality.
Many theologians talk about God as if they know everything about God.
Many scientists talk about reality as if they know everything.
We have many theories and ideas, even good ones, but they’re still limited.
We need to reach the point where we speak humbly about what we think.
Because in the end, we are all guilty of obscuring the truth.
I have a lot of respect for both science and theology.
But I have a greater respect for God, and for reality.
We cannot measure the universe, and we definitely cannot measure God.
We can notice things, and observe patterns, and propose theories…
But beware of concluding that we fully know… words without knowledge!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I bow before the mystery of God, and You, and creation. Thank You that I may enjoy all of this, even if I don’t understand it all!

Put yourself in their shoes…

THE STORY OF JESUS: Luke 6:27-31
“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31)
Jesus taps into our natural desire to be treated well.
We want people to be fair to us, and to help us if we need it.
We do not want them to look down on us, or to shame us.
But are we so quick to treat others this way?
Sin has a way of distorting our actions in our own favour.
We want to be treated fairly, but somehow forget to do this to others.
Jesus is urging us to put ourselves in their shoes.
If that were me, how would I want them to treat me.
Be careful, even how we do this can be selfishly twisted.
‘I wouldn’t be proud like that, I wouldn’t spend like that…’
But respect looks for the whole story and doesn’t assume we know better.
If we experienced ALL that they had, would we have acted differently?
Jesus is challenging me to love people deeply, not judge them.
Love them with the same depth and intensity that we want to be loved!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I sense You challenging my shallow love. Deepen how I think, how I respond, how I act toward others, that I may more and more reflect Your love!