Three days later!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Mark 10:32-34
“Three days later he will rise.” (Mark 10:34)
By describing Himself as the “Son of Man”, He is claiming to be the Messiah.
But why then does He speak of suffering and death and resurrection?
This was not the path the disciples expected for the Messiah.
As Jesus followers, it is important we understand the path of Jesus.
In order to beat Satan, Jesus needed to face Satan.
Satan used every trick in the book, even torture and death, to beat Jesus.
But for the first time in human history, someone refuses to give in to Satan.
Jesus is the first Adam to break free from Satan’s grip, and the curse is lifted.
The curse of death (Genesis 2:17) does not apply to Jesus, because He does not sin.
As Jesus followers, we know that it is Jesus Who defeats the devil for us.
But to follow Him, we must join with Him on the path towards Jerusalem.
Refusing Satan will also mean suffering for us, but he cannot defeat us.
We belong to Jesus, and Jesus is taking us with Him into LIFE.
We will struggle in this sin-cursed world, but “three days later” we will rise!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, You have beaten Satan, sin, death and hell for me. Help me to look beyond the present suffering to the promised resurrection three days later!

Standing with Jesus!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Mark 10:24-31
“Homes, brothers, sisters… along with persecutions.” (Mark 10:30)
Why do we have to receive persecution, can’t God protect us from that?
Hardship is often one reason why many people stop following Jesus.
Yet hardship is the necessary result of the good news in this screwed up world.
God put His creation into the hands of humans, and we have messed it up.
To fix it, God becomes human WITH, LIKE and FOR us, to straighten things out.
Jesus stood up to Satan and evil, and was crushed in the process.
But because He stayed true to God’s likeness, He overcame – Adam is back in charge!
When we stand with Jesus, we are standing against Satan and evil.
We are going against the current of sin, and therefore life gets hard.
But going God’s way is the only way to experience restoration of life.
Homes, brothers, sisters, etc., this is God’s creation kingdom restored!
But we won’t get there unless we face the challenge of saying no to Satan and evil.
As a Jesus follower, I cannot avoid the conflict of resisting Satan and evil.
But I can know the victory is assured… “in the age to come eternal life.” (Mark 10:30)
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, giving up Satan and sin is no real loss. Though its hard for a moment, the reward will be “a hundred times” greater. Help me to keep my eyes on the prize!

Do we really want the kingdom life?

THE STORY OF JESUS: Mark 10:17-23
“How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:23)
The door to God’s kingdom is open wide, but not everyone wants the life it represents.
God cannot change the kingdom to accommodate our unhealthy desires and values.
This man did not want to let go of his greed and lack of compassion.
He wanted the hope of salvation, but not the life of salvation.
God’s kingdom is the only truly happy, fulfilling, joyful and peaceable way to live.
It would not be God’s kingdom if greed, selfishness, pride, etc. were in it.
True repentance is recognizing that my heart as it is does not fit into God’s kingdom.
To repent is to hate our sinful nature, and to genuinely seek God for mercy and help.
Jesus makes it clear that the door is wide open, for those who truly want it.
C.S. Lewis tells a parable about some people from hell who get a chance to go to heaven.
When they get there, they hate what they see (pure love, joy, peace, etc.) and leave.
If we truly want the God Life (life in the kingdom), we will pursue it now.
The doors to the kingdom are open wide; it is our own hearts that make it hard to enter in!
God and Jesus watch with sadness when we turn away because we prefer our own way.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, we show our true heart by what we pursue here and now. Help me to pursue heavenly treasure, a treasure that will last.

Journal Entry #55

“But as for me, I trust in you.” (Psalm 55:23)
This is more like a Journal entry than a song.
David is enduring the bitterness of betrayal, and he is venting with God.
His pen and prayer become his outlet for his inner turmoil.
I have had Journal entries that have had similar raw, emotional venting.
I have never been betrayed like this, but I do share with David his hope in the Lord.
This is what motivates my journaling, I am trusting Him as I express my heart.
Too often we let worry churn in our hearts and minds, but we don’t release them.
They hold power over us when we bottle them in, they overwhelm our hope and joy.
As a Jesus follower, I have the opportunity to take everything to the Lord!
I am feeling compelled to renew my daily journaling (I let it slip the last few weeks).
Express everything that is in my heart – the good, the bad, the ugly.
Give it over to God and trust Him to help me… He will lead me through this.
Oh, what peace we often forfeit, Oh, what needless pain we bear.
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I cannot control my circumstances, but I can keep them from controlling me. Help me to express my joys and struggles to You, so that You can help me rise up over all that happens in my life!

Eager to build for God!

THE STORY OF JESUS: 1 Chronicles 28-29
“We have given you only what comes from your hand.” (1 Chronicles 29:14)
What do I have that I have not received?
My mind, my mouth, my hands, my home, my car, my income, my education, my time?
Every about me is a gift from You, a trust to be used well.
My life is Your gift to me; what I do with it is my gift to You!
All people, from the least to the greatest, have been gifted by God for a purpose.
David had his purpose, Solomon had his, the leaders also had theirs.
Every day we have an opportunity to build something for God, for good.
“All this I have given willingly and with honest intent.” (1 Chronicles 29:17)
Can I echo these words for my own life?
As a Jesus follower, you can see yourself as extremely graced and gifted.
No matter how rich or poor, strong or weak, known or unknown, we have a calling.
God does not judge us for what we do NOT have, but what we do with what we DO have.
Today is God’s gift to us, to build something beautiful for Him.
“Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.” (Romans 12:1)
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, may what I do today help build Your kingdom of love, joy and peace!

Skipping the lists of names?

THE STORY OF JESUS: 1 Chronicles 23-27
“Here is the list of the men who performed this service…” (1 Chronicles 25:1)
If you are like me, you tend to skip the lists of names in the bible.
Why would lists of names be inspired by God, how are they helpful or inspiring?
And yet a list becomes important if you think your name might be on there.
I’ve scoured articles or lists intensely when I thought my name might be there.
“Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20)
My name is not on this specific list, but it is written on God’s list.
I am among those who have been assigned a task in the service of the Lord.
I base this on the fact that I desire to be numbered among those in God’s service.
This desire is from God, and God welcomes all who desire to serve with Him.
It is not easy, and time will cure those who are halfhearted in the task.
Do you want to be counted among those who are dedicated to serving the Lord?
As a Jesus follower, I want to serve the Lord… not just be on the list.
According to this list in Chronicles, every person had a unique task.
How or where are you eagerly using your gifts to serve the Lord?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I desire to encourage and equip people for living WITH, LIKE and FOR You. Thank You for assigning me a place in your service, and for assuring me my labour is not in vain!

A safe place for kids!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Mark 10:13-16
“The kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Mark 10:14)
Children have often been disregarded or discarded, used or abused in history.
God’s heart breaks for such as these, and Jesus reveals God’s love for them.
Creation under God-like Adam (the kingdom of God) was a safe place for children.
A place to play and discover, sing and dance, laugh and learn, grow and share.
But in our selfishness, our world has become a dominion of darkness, not safe for kids.
This is NOT the way things are supposed to be, and Jesus comes to change this.
He blesses children… and the poor, sick and oppressed, the sinful and the desperate.
Yet many of us have outgrown ‘childish’ faith in God, Jesus, the kingdom of God.
We have ‘matured’, we know better; we prefer our screwed up dominion of darkness!?
It is too humbling to admit our guilt, our weakness, our need for help and mercy.
Yet that is where we all need to be, if we really want to be happy (blessed).
To be like a child – weak and dependent – looking up to God for His blessing.
As a follower of Jesus, I need to be humble and dependent, like a child with Jesus.
As a follower of Jesus, I need to be gracious and gentle, like Jesus with a child.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I also have a dream of little black boys and black girls joining hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. May Your kingdom come, and may I be there to enjoy it!

Divorce always causes pain!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Mark 10:1-12
“It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law.” (Mark 10:5)
There are times when keep a marriage vow can be difficult or impossible.
If your partner does not keep their vow, or if they leave you for someone else.
But there are also times when we are the problem, when our hearts are hard.
Divorce (broken vows) was never God’s design in the beginning (v.6-9).
It was included by Moses because we are stubborn, blind, selfish.
But this does not make it good, or acceptable, or beneficial.
When ‘one flesh’ is ripped in two, there is always blood (pain, sadness, suffering).
God is merciful, He meets us in our messes, and tries to help us out of them.
But Jesus reminds us of the seriousness of the sin that leads to vow-breaking.
Sin remains serious (which is why Jesus had to die for it), but God remains merciful.
If you have made vows before God in marriage, take them seriously.
Look for God’s help to honour them, not to break them.
Divorce may be unavoidable, you may be willing but your partner not.
But at least you can fight it while you can, and trust God’s mercy if it falls apart.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, help those who are struggling in their marriage, and those who have experienced divorce. Bring healing and hope to the victims of divorce, and healing conviction to those who have been the cause of divorce.

Taking my sin seriously!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Mark 9:42-50
“And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out.” (Mark 9:47)
Jesus’ words seem extreme – pluck it out, cut it off – but that is the point.
Sin, like cancer, requires severe treatment – amputation, chemo or radiation.
Jesus describes the hellish consequences of untreated sin… it burns.
Jesus is mixing metaphors – fire and salt – to show us how to deal with sin.
Salt was used to preserve from meat from going bad.
And fire could be used to remove the impurities, to refine with fire.
He urges us to ‘fight fire with fire’, and to prevent bad taste with salt.
Yes, fire burns us, but nothing like the ultimate consequences of sin.
Yes, salt changes us, but a change for the better, not for the worse.
Practically speaking, Jesus is saying we need to fight the power of sin.
We need to actively resist its negative, destructive impact… for everyone’s sake.
Use the fire of discipline and the salt of goodness to change for the better.
Promote peace, healing, love with your lives, not their hellish opposites.
Take sin seriously before it seriously takes you and ruins you, and others.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I know that this is true, yet some sinful attitudes or behaviours seem harmless, insignificant… like a tiny cancer spot? Help me to take my sin seriously!

Bridges, not barriers!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Mark 9:38-41
“Whoever is not against us is for us.” (Mark 9:40)
As we follow Jesus, we have more allies than we realize.
A person does not have to be “one of us” to be an ally.
There are many ‘denominations’ of Christians, yet we are one in Christ.
And even non-Christians can be allies and supporters in our kingdom work.
As we work in Jesus’ Name, anyone who helps us is considered a friend.
Jesus tells us to look for a ‘worthy person’ wherever we go (Matthew 10:11-13).
They are a gift from God, whether or not they believe in God or Jesus.
We need to build more bridges than barriers.
Jesus did not avoid us, though we were sinners, He became one with us.
As His followers, we are to go with Him, be like Him, love others for Him.
As I look at our church, we are blessed with many worthy persons of peace.
We are accepted – and to even helped – by atheists, agnostics and muslims.
They know we serve in Jesus’ Name, and they still give us ‘water’ to help us.
They may not be “one of us”, but they are one of His… they just don’t realize it yet!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, thank You for the many worthy people that support us in our serving in Your Name. May they come to appreciate You as they see Your love through us.