Living in the gift of Sabbath

THE STORY OF JESUS: Mark 2:23-28
“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27)
God’s rest on the seventh day (Genesis 2:2-3) was for humans, not for Himself.
His work was complete (Hebrews 4:4), now humanity could live and work in that rest.
In creation Sabbath was not one day in seven, but everyday peace of life with God.
This rest is our goal, it is our destiny, what we were made for (Hebrews 4:9-11).
The Sabbath of the Moses Law was a symbol pointing to this promised rest.
But the religious leaders took this blessing and made it into a burden.
‘Don’t do this, don’t that, follow these microscopic rules or be condemned.’
They sucked the life out of God’s gift, and made God’s rest something to be hated.
Jesus releases us from Sabbath Law, and restores us to Sabbath Rest.
Come to Jesus, and He will give you rest in your soul, for every day (Matthew 11:28).
Are you living under the law of Sabbath, or in the gift of Sabbath?
Do you allow yourself to enjoy life – work and rest – as an everyday experience?
With Jesus, everything we do can flow from God’s peace and rest from our hearts.
As Jesus followers, we can show the world how life was meant to be lived.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, may others experience Your rest in me. May they be attracted to You when they see the sabbath rhythm of my life in You.

Jesus calling!

“Trust me, and don’t be afraid.
Many things feel out of control.
Your routines are not running smoothly.
You tend to feel more secure when your life is predictable.
Let me lead you to the rock that is higher than you and your circumstances.
Take refuge in the shelter of My wings, where you are absolutely secure.
When you are shaken out of your comfortable routines,
Grip My hand tightly and look for growth opportunities.
Instead of bemoaning the loss of comfort, accept the challenge of something new.
I lead you on from glory to glory, making you fit for My kingdom.
Say yes to the ways I am working in your life.
Trust me, and don’t be afraid.”
Jesus Calling, Sarah Young, Apr 15 Reading

These are the words the Lord gave to Valerie and I on Saturday (Apr 15).
We were in turmoil about answering a call from the Lord.
He prompted her to read this, and it spoke to both of us — clearly!
Called to accept the challenge of something new!
Calling accepted!

Religion or Jesus?

THE STORY OF JESUS: Mark 2:18-22
“No one pours new wine into old wineskins.” (Mark 2:22)
The wine is the object of desire… not the wineskin, which is just a container.
Religious practices are containers that lead us to Jesus, our object of desire.
God gave the Law of Moses as a container to one day deliver the wine – Jesus.
Jesus represents LIFE with God, in fellowship with Him (like marriage).
The symbols and traditions around a wedding are not the point, they are pointers.
Jesus has saved us from the penalty and power of sin; we are free from religion.
We are not accepted by God by our obedience to rules, or our practice of rituals.
God loves us whether or not we fast, go to church, give offerings or kneel to pray.
Everything we do is a love response to Jesus, an act of gratitude.
“Do not let anyone judge you by (religious rituals). These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.” (Colossians 2:16-17)
Knowing Jesus, loving Jesus, He is our Saviour, He is the object of our desire.
We need Jesus, not religion… so stop judging people by how they practice religion.
As a Jesus follower, am I in relationship with Jesus or just doing religion?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, You want me to love You, not just be religious. Help me not to judge people by what they do our do not do. Help me to show them what a love relationship looks like.

“Resurrection” by Rob Bell

Resurrection hope!

Spirit-inspired mourning!

“Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” (Psalm 43:3)
This psalm continues Psalm 42 (some Hebrew manuscripts combine them).
The psalmist still battles depression, wondering why God has rejected him!
It’s important for us to see how God includes and inspires doubt in the bible.
If anyone challenges you for expressing doubt or despair, point them to the psalms.
I think this kind of honest prayer is important for our spiritual journey.
I’ve spoken with some who resist church because it only seems to allow joy or hope.
When someone expresses doubt or despair, they quickly urge them to trust, to hope.
I am guilty of this; in my worry for them, I try to FIX their struggle for them..
Over time I’ve learned God’s Spirit works through honest desperation to bring hope.
This doesn’t mean ignoring those who struggle, but FEEL their struggle with them.
As we allow them time to vent, they start to speak words of hope themselves.
The Spirit Himself speaks to their spirit, drawing them to put their hope in God (v.5).
Do you “mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15), or do you insist on joy?
Trust the Spirit to speak in their tears; soon you will “rejoice with those who rejoice”.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, thank You for allowing me to be honest in my struggle, but also for leading me through struggle to hope and joy. Help me to offer the same freedom to others, so that You can lift their spirits too!

Do you believe this?

Jesus is the resurrection and the life.
The one who believes in Jesus will live, even though they die.
Whoever lives by believing in Jesus will never die.
Do you believe this?

(John 11:25-26)

Going where Jesus goes!?

THE STORY OF JESUS: 2 Samuel 14-17
“Wherever you go, if it means life or death, there will your servant be.” (2 Samuel 15:21)
Our reading raises the issue of choosing sides, and what happens with that choice.
By choosing to follow David, these people were sacrificing everything.
Following David meant going into the wilderness.
It meant being aliens in their homeland, and the target of curses and death threats.
As a Jesus-follower, we have signed on to follow wherever our Lord may be.
And where does the Lord lead us, but in paths of humility and weakness.
His path involves love, compassion, forgiveness, serving others including enemies.
His path puts comfort and safety aside to focus on loving God and others.
We say we want to be wherever Jesus is — do we really?
Jesus does not hide in the church bubble, He lives in the midst of human misery.
Jesus does not run away from suffering and sacrifice, He enters it for love’s sake.
Following Jesus is not easy, but it is right and good… and the only way to LIFE.
I wonder whether it would help to make these words a part of our profession of faith.
“Wherever You go, if it means life or death, there will your servant be.” (2 Samuel 15:21)
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, is this what I have committed to, is this what I meant when I chose to follow You? If not, it should be. And if so, how am I doing? Am I really following You into the places You are?

A reason to weep!

“Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.” (Galatians 3:1)
I remember watching Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” (2004) in the theatre. As Jesus’ suffering and death was clearly portrayed before me, I wept like a baby. It was not just that I was sickened by the violence and gore… I was. I was sickened by the sin that could cause such pain, that could do such a thing.

And it brought to mind how much violence and gore continue to happen in the world today. How have we collectively become such monsters, that we could commit such atrocities. And even if I am not guilty of such horrific crimes, what about the ways I do hurt others. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, I have hurt people with my words and actions. Or by my silence and inaction.

The suffering and crucifixion of Jesus show us how ugly and terrible the sin we inflict on God and creation is. If I weep at a movie, how much more does God weep as He daily endures all the violence and gore that occurs. Only love can explain why He does not give up on us, why He willingly endures our terrible acts.

Since that first time, I’ve tried to watch the Passion again, but I cannot stomach it. Yet we must face it, we must realize how bad sin really is, if we want to see how amazing grace is. For the cross not only reveals the horror of sin, it also reveals the wonder of grace. In Christ God embraces us in our violence and gore, shame and misery; He joins us in our curse. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.” (Galatians 3:13) That He should love me – and you – this much, is also something we must face… and embrace.

“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) If sin makes us weep (and so it should), how much more should His amazing mercy and love have us weeping like a baby.

Today is a good day to weep.

God is devastated!

THE STORY OF JESUS: 2 Samuel 10-13
“Tamar lived in her brother Absalom’s house, a devastated woman.” (2 Samuel 13:20)
Sin is not just about the bad things we do, but the devastation we cause.
Every selfish action has a devastating impact on others, whether we realize it or not.
We need to FEEL both the horror of Ammon’s sin and of Tamar’s desolation.
We need to be sickened by the devastation still happening all over the world.
Every sin causes devastation and a ripple effect of consequences.
Multiply this for every person ever, and we see why the world is such a mess.
Do we really appreciate how serious sin is, and how horrible its effects are?
Do I feel how others are hurt by things I did or didn’t do?
Forgiveness is not all we need, we need rescue from sin’s bondage and misery.
We need to feel the awful truth of sin, and how desperate we are in it.
God knows every Tamar, His heart is devastated for them, with them, like them.
This is what the cross shows: how bad sin is, and how far God goes to help us.
On this Good Friday, see in Jesus’ suffering the devastation of all humanity.
God hates the devastation of sin, and He is devastated to set us free!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, we cannot appreciate Your sacrifice until we realize the horrible devastation of sin. Force me to watch the crucifixion, that I may see what sin does… but also what love does!