Great AND Good!

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.” (Psalm 147:3-4)

A God that is both great (determines the stars) and good (heals the brokenhearted).
Gods are usually either great (strong, mighty) OR good (kind, forgiving, gentle).
But the true God is both GREAT and GOOD, and that is good news.
An all-powerful God that is not all-loving does not inspire love, for what will He do?
And an all-loving God that is not all-powerful does not inspire hope, for what can he do?
The true God, the God behind the Universe, is perfect, everything we need Him to be.
The whole creation is in good hands, everything will work out right in the end!
As a Jesus follower, I see God through Jesus, and He is both great and good.
He is both able to help, and willing to help!
A king willing to live with the poor, touch and heal the sick and forgive the guilty.
Yes, He is to be feared, but not a cowering fear… a deep loving, hopeful fear!
“The Lord delights in those who fear him,
Who put their hope in his unfailing love.” (Psalm 147:11)

What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I can’t say it better than Frederick Faber: “O how I fear Thee, living God, With deep and tender fear; and worship Thee with trembling hope, and penitential tears! Yet, I may love Thee, too, O Lord, almighty as Thou art; for Thou hast stooped to ask of me the love of my poor heart!”

The joy of walking in the truth!

THE STORY OF JESUS: 2 John 1, 3 John 1
“It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth.” (2 John 1:4)
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (3 John 1:4)

For John, it is not enough that Jesus followers believe the truth.
His greatest joy is that they walk in it, that they live it, that they over it.
Jesus came to change our lives, how we live and who we live for.
If our lives are not changed – doing what is good – we have not seen God (3 John 1:11).
We are not loved or saved by God because we do good.
We do good because we are loved and saved by God… for goodness.
He has given us His Spirit to help us grow stronger in goodness.
No one will be perfect, and everyone will struggle.
But we will be moving, walking towards the truth, walking in the truth.
Our hearts desire will be to be more loving, generous, patient, forgiving, etc.
Jesus has great joy when He sees His followers walking in His way.
Do you experience increasing joy as you aim to live His way?
Do you experience increasing joy as you see your loved ones doing the same?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, to see myself, and others, learning what it means to love, and doing it more and more. May this give me great joy too!

A desire to grow in love!

“We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
As I read through this letter, the theme of love comes through clearly.
Not syrupy emotional love, but an active radical love that sees past our sin.
A love that humbly denies self to restore sinners, to forgive and bless.
God is love, and everything He does (including judgment) flows from that love.
In love God has restored us to new (or eternal) life, and that life ought to show.
It is not just life beyond the grave, but new life now, a new way of living.
Enabled by His Spirit, His love ought to be evident in and through us.
We love BECAUSE He has lavished His love on us; His overflows through us.
How do we know we are connected to God and Jesus – we want to love others.
It is this desire, and not the perfect implementation, that marks us.
We know we fail, we know we still hate, we know we fall short of God’s perfect love.
But we also know that God loves us anyway, and helps us to grow in love.
We hate our lack of love, and we want to be different, we want to change.
Do you deeply wish you could be more loving, and are you trying to make it so?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I do not love or serve enough. My old self still holds me back. But I hate it, and I sense Your Spirit in me prompting me to change. Help me to cooperate and grow in this kind of love.

Followers of the Jesus way!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Acts 24:1-16
“I admit that I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way.” (Acts 24:14)
Paul is saying that he is Jewish, and yet with a difference.
A follower of the Way – or Jesus follower since Jesus is the Way.
This emphasis on the Jesus Way is important.
Many people believe in God… in the Moses way, or Mohammed way, or Buddha way.
As Jesus followers, we believe in God in the Jesus Way, like Jesus.
His view of God, and His way of life, are what determine our faith and life.
The Jesus Way is modeled by Jesus through radical humility, grace and love.
If we read Matthew 5-7, or Romans 12, or 1 Corinthians 13, you can see it.
We believe that Jesus shows us the way to overcome evil… with radical grace.
As Jesus followers, we trust that Jesus has overcome Satan, sin and death.
We are saved and called to join Jesus in overcoming Satan, sin and death.
To show people Who God is, and what God is like, and what true life is about.
It is not enough just to claim to follow the Way, I need to strive to live it.
Am I actively following the Jesus Way, and I committed to loving and living like Jesus?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, You saved me from Satan, sin and death and set me free by Your Spirit to love like You. Help me be more than a believer in the Way, help me to be a follower of the Way!

What the world sees?

THE STORY OF JESUS: Acts 23:23-35
“The accusation had to do with questions about their law…” (Acts 23:29)
How does the world react when they see believers fighting among themselves.
I’ve been through seasons when churches were fighting and dividing.
Questions about “their law” (their views) led to some nasty words and actions.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples…” (John 13:35)
By what… what is the distinguishing mark of Jesus’s followers?
That we fight one another, that we argue and disagree and divide?
“That you love one another” (John 13:35), this is what sets us apart.
The same ought to be true for how we relate to people of other faiths.
We do not need to agree on everything, but we need to disagree with love.
I remember how one dividing church had to go to court to fight for assets.
How did this affect the judge and lawyers’ view of Jesus and His message?
Jesus came to save us from the world’s way of dealing with disagreement.
The Spirit of Jesus in us is urging us to handle differences differently, better.
The greatest virtue isn’t being right but being loving – may others see that in us!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, may our debates about “our law” never keep us from fulfilling Your law of love. May the world see Your better way through us.

In God’s Name?

THE STORY OF JESUS: Acts 23:12-22
“We have taken a solemn oath not to eat anything until we have killed Paul.” (Acts 23:14)
In the name of the Lord, these men vow to murder Paul.
And the religious leaders join in by being accomplices to the ambush.
How is it that religious people can turn violence into spiritual devotion?
In the name of the Lord, people declare God’s hatred for sinners.
In the name of the Lord, people refuse to serve sinners in their businesses.
In the name of the Lord, people blow themselves up to kill sinners.
Compare this with Jesus, Who represents God’s response to sinners.
He is willing to die to save them, not to kill them.
He refuses to fight against the sinners who resist Him; rather He forgives them.
He gets on His hands and knees and washes the feet of sinners, including Judas.
These men who take the vow show they do not know the heart and mind of God.
The question is, do our actions as Jesus followers compare to Jesus’ actions?
As Jesus followers, Jesus is attached to whatever we say and do.
May our words and actions reflect the heart and mind of God, as seen in Jesus.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, may I reflect You and Your love, and not the self-interest of the world. Forgive us as religious people for doing things in Your Name that give You a bad reputation.

My faith on trial!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Acts 23:6-11
“I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead.” (Acts 23:6)
Is Paul being shrewd, dividing his opponents with the resurrection topic?
It certainly did have that result, but it also reflected Paul’s faith.
Paul knew how important Jesus’s resurrection was (1 Corinthians 15:12-19).
As a Jesus follower, everything for me hinges on Jesus’s death and resurrection too.
His crucifixion shows me the path of humble grace and self-denial – the Jesus Way.
His resurrection shows me how God vindicates those who choose this path.
As we serve (die to self), we are assured of ultimate victory (eternal life).
The world may resist our loving service, but it cannot stop or defeat us.
Even if we are forced to testify in Rome (23:11), we will still overcome!
Even if we die on that path, death cannot hold or stop us.
We believe, we love, we serve… because Jesus died and rose again.
Our trial in this life is because we have – and live – this hope!
Have you committed to living WITH, LIKE and FOR the resurrected Jesus?
You can be assured your faith and labour are not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, my faith in Your death and resurrection – and living WITH, LIKE and FOR You on this path – is on trial every day. Help me to be strong, knowing my faith and labour are not in vain!

Being someone who disciples others

“Being someone who disciples others does not mean that you are perfect, and because of that you show them how to live. It means making yourself available to be observed at all times by your students, showing them what your relationship with Jesus looks like. It means showing them what it looks like to apologize and admit when you are wrong; it means showing them what humility looks like and being willing to become lesser in the eyes of others; it means modelling what healthy conflict and confrontation should look like; it means modelling what my dependency on Jesus looks like and how I aim to make my relationship with him a priority every day.”

(Janelle Sennema, currently serving as team leader with YWAM in the country of Georgia)

I vote for Jesus!

“Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save.” (Psalm 146:3)
Which political system is best for establishing world peace and blessing?
Communism, Socialism, Capitalism, Democracy… Conservatives, Liberals, New Democrats?
Religion doesn’t do much better – Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Atheism?
Every religious leader and politician believes their plan is the best one.
And yet year after year, term after term, decade after decade, we are disappointed.
I do not put much confidence in princes, nor in priests or pastors.
The only person that has my confidence is Jesus – His way appeals to me.
I believe His kingdom policy – love God, love your neighbour – is the best platform.
It puts the burden of responsibility on us, to do what we can to better our world.
If everyone focused on our own integrity and kindness, things would improve.
If the humility and compassion of Jesus was our standard, God’s kingdom would come.
Thankfully, our leaders do not reign forever, but Jesus does!
I vote for Jesus… He is the best leader of all!
But voting is not enough, I need to follow and imitate Him!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, our world is a mess, and we are responsible for it. Thank You for coming to show us the better way, and for guaranteeing that Your kingdom will be established, and will last forever!

Fixing our minds on Jesus!

“Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard.” (2 Peter 3:17)
Peter is warning Jesus followers about false disciples and dangerous times.
I find myself wondering whether we are facing the same dangers.
Are there people secretly introducing destructive heresies among us?
Are we supposed to be suspicious of people who think differently than us?
How do we be on our guard, without living with fear and suspicion?
“I have written you to stimulate you to wholesome thinking.” (2 Peter 3:1)
The best way to defend against unwholesome thinking is with wholesome thinking.
Focus on Jesus, on the character of Jesus, on the goodness of God.
Make every effort to add to our faith goodness, etc. (2 Peter 1:5ff)
The best way to recognize counterfeit money is to be very familiar with real money.
The better we know Jesus, and grow in the grace of Jesus, the better armed we are.
I fear that many Jesus followers live unaware of Satan’s schemes, and their danger.
We should not focus on these, but aware that they are there, we focus on Jesus.
As a Jesus follower, may I keep in step with Jesus, to avoid Satan’s dead ends.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, may I not live in fear, but may I not live in ignorance either. Help me to know You better, that I may recognize the things that are not from You!