God wants us to live!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Ezekiel 16-18
“I take no pleasure in the death of anyone… Repent and live!” (Ezekiel 18:32)
Ezekiel tells two parables – about a woman’s rise and fall, and about a cedar branch.
Through these stories, he is inspired to explain to Israel their troubles.
Like the woman, God gave them everything to succeed in life.
Like the cedar shoot, God planted them in a place where they could survive.
It was their foolish, selfish, immoral choices that God them into trouble.
Their sin was killing them, not God’s punishment.
God ‘gives them over’ (Romans 1:24-32) to their sinful desires, and suffering.
It is our own choice – “The one who sins is the one who will die.” (Ezekiel 18:20).
God does not want us to suffer, God does not want us to die!
God does not want “anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
But will we come to our senses (Luke 15:17), will we change our ways?
Where is God frustrated with me because of my unwise, selfish or immoral ways?
In the end, we get what we choose… so why not choose well, why not choose life?
God wants you to live, and to enjoy LIFE to the full… do you?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, thank You for challenging me to rethink my ways. Help me to be specific in naming the foolish things I am doing, and to change my direction with Your help!

Speaking with before speaking for Jesus!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Ezekiel 13-15
“Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!” (Ezekiel 13:3)
Ezekiel warns prophets, the spokespeople for God (preachers, evangelists).
Those in the religious community who supposedly say what God is saying.
In this case, they follow their own spirit, for they have seen nothing (from God).
In the church today the power and influence of its preachers is huge.
On the radio, TV and internet, and in churches, there are MANY ‘prophets’.
This is especially relevant to me, as I am one of these ‘prophets’.
James warns us that “we who teach will be judged more strictly.” (James 3:1)
When I speak, is my message from my own spirit and mind?
How can I know for sure, and can I presume to be more faithful than others?
When we speak about God to others, are we just spewing out our own opinions?
We all must speak with humility when we speak about God and Jesus.
Too many of us do not spend enough time WITH the Lord to know what He thinks.
Unless we spend time WITH the Lord, we will not be able to speak LIKE or FOR the Lord.
This calls for deep humility and deep sincerity in our relationship with Jesus.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I am challenged by today’s words. Though all Jesus followers speak for You, I recognize that I have a role in the church which makes my words more influential. May I yield my spirit to You, and may my tongue speak in living echoes of Your voice!

Spirit to spirit, heart to heart!

THE STORY OF JESUS: John 4:16-26
“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)
In Jesus, God becomes human to bring us back to what really matters.
Without God, our hearts are empty and we fill them with empty substitutes.
Like multiple marriages or relationships, or religious rituals and traditions.
Jesus shows this woman how empty her life is, and makes her thirsty for God.
Is your relationship with the invisible God deep, real and personal?
Do you sense God as real, and with you, and in you, and speaking to you?
Is your worship just ‘going to church’ or ‘singing songs’?
Or do you actually sense God with you, and do you express your heart to Him?
Singing worship songs is as empty as going to this or that mountain (v.21).
God is spirit, and God knows our spirit, and all the mess and misery within.
God wants to relate to us spirit to spirit, heart to heart.
We can’t produce this relationship, but we can open ourselves to it.
Think about God, take time to pause and feel God’s presence or to see His blessing.
Thirst for God with sincerity and authenticity, and He will satisfy your spirit!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I genuinely do want to sense You and God with me all the time. May my spirit sense Your Spirit, as I open my heart to Your heart!

Thirsty for living water?

“Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.” (John 4:14)
Jesus is speaking in riddles, is He trying to confuse her?
We automatically spiritualize what He says, but why would this lady do this?
Of course she thinks about natural water, that is what He is asking for.
If she had sass, she might have said, ‘if you’ve got living water, you don’t need my help.’
I am guessing that Jesus spoke to her about living water for a reason.
He sensed her life struggle, and the thirst of her soul.
As with many women around the world, going to the well for water was a burden.
In time she realizes that Jesus Himself is that living water.
Jesus speaks elsewhere of His Spirit producing streams of water within (John 7:38).
Like this woman, we are often looking for immediate, material satisfaction.
We want food now, healing now, a job now, money now, etc.
Jesus offers something else – something that goes deeper, and lasts longer.
Am I experiencing the living Spirit bubbling with life inside of me?
If I had this experience, would my craving for material things be less?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, my experience of Your Spirit within is not like a stream of living water. Is it possible that I am more focused on the physical, that I am missing the spiritual?

May Jesus become greater!

THE STORY OF JESUS: John 3:22-36
“The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands.” (John 3:35)
The good news is that Jesus has reclaimed creation for God and us!
God raised up Adam and Eve and placed everything in their hands (Genesis 1:26-28).
God loved them, and their were His much-loved children.
Adam and Eve were God’s first son and daughter of God (Luke 3:38).
But sadly they turned from God and submitted to the dark side.
Humanity, which still rules the world, now rules it in darkness.
God’s kingdom of light became the dominion of darkness (Colossians 1:13).
God finally raises up a new Son, and reassigns all authority to Him.
Like Adam and Eve, Jesus is tempted, but unlike them He does not fail.
Not even suffering and death can beat Jesus; Jesus is exalted over all.
We cannot beat Satan, but if we join Jesus (baptism), we stand with Him.
“He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30)
Less of us and our weakness; more of Jesus and His strength.
The Father loves the Son, and so do I… may He become greater still!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, You have restored me to my identity and purpose as a son of Adam, son of God! May You become greater in my life, so that I may be more and more like You!

Moving towards the light!

THE STORY OF JESUS: John 3:16-21
“Whoever lives by the truth comes into the light.” (John 3:21)
I can understand why people hate the church, or religion in general.
But what I wish is that they could just focus on Jesus.
In Jesus we see goodness, love beyond belief, hope, compassion.
Jesus is ‘light’, a metaphor for wonderful, beautiful goodness.
I am convinced that this goodness will be the basis of final judgment.
Those who deep down loved and pursued goodness, will bow before Jesus.
They will see the ‘light’ of Jesus, and move towards the light.
But those who deep down loved themselves more, will hate the light.
The light will expose their selfish, greedy, cruel hearts, and they will turn away.
I am also convinced that we will be surprised to receives or resists the light.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 7:21)
There will be church-goers and leaders who will resist the light in Jesus.
And there will be non-church-goers who will eagerly receive the light.
Do I truly love and pursue the light of Jesus’ goodness, justice, compassion?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, Your goodness is what draws me to You. It is what I desire for myself, but also for others. Help me not just to say ‘Lord, Lord’, but to actually love and pursue what You love and pursue!

Quiet Space Prayer

“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16)

QUIET SPACE (based loosely on Psalm 23)

Lord, You are my Friend and my Helper.
You are all that I need.
You calm me down when I am stressed.
You whisper peace to my troubled mind.
You refresh my soul.
You guide me in the right direction,
to bring me closer to You.
Even when I am in the darkness
of difficulty or despair,
I do not need to be afraid, for You are still with me.
Your Spirit and Your Word strengthen me.
You have prepared this QUIET SPACE for me…
(pause, close your eyes, breathe deep)
…in the middle of all my struggles.
Your Spirit refreshes me from head to toe.
My heart is overflowing.
I am certain that Your goodness and love
will always be there for me, to the very end.
And one day I will enjoy
Your loving presence forever!

Be Still and Know…

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10)

As a Jesus follower, life can be challenging as we strive to live WITH, LIKE and FOR Jesus in the world. We face struggles from the world itself, but also struggles within our own sinful nature. And Satan loves to stir up trouble for us – to discourage or distract or disturb us, and ultimately to defeat us as Jesus followers. How do we stay strong and focused on the Lord when we face the many challenges and trials and crises of life?

Psalm 46 reflects these challenges, but also encourages us in how we should respond to them. In the words of v.10, we are urged to “be still, and know that I am God”. I would suggest that the practice of ‘being still’ is a helpful and empowering way of staying strong when the world is falling apart all around us. Continue reading ‘Be Still and Know…’ »

Battle prayer!

“Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless.” (Psalm 108:12-13)
The enemies we face today are very different from what David faced.
But we face battles and enemies that are just as real, just as serious.
Behind our troubles and conflicts there is the greatest enemy of all.
Whether we know it or not, we battle “spiritual forces of evil.” (Ephesians 6:12)
I experience this battle often – in my life, and in those around me.
All around me people under emotional, spiritual, relational attack, physical attack.
So many lives are struggling, falling apart; so many are despairing and giving up.
And I face my own demons of selfishness, discouragement and defeat.
Like David, I need to trust in God for aid against the enemy.
“With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.” (Psalm 108:12-13)
I have learned that “human help is worthless” without God’s support.
I am rediscovering the necessity and urgency of battle prayer.
The problems in our world are too big for me, but not for God!
Are you aware of the battle around you, and are you relying on God’s help?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, people I love are under attack – despairing, giving up, thinking they’re better off dead. And I am fighting the demon of discouragement. Help us to refuse Satan’s lies, and keep fighting with Your help!

My life a sanctuary!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Ezekiel 10-12
“I have been a sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone.” (Ezekiel 11:16)
In the midst of these stern words, we find this encouraging reminder.
Those who trust in the Lord find Him to be a sanctuary, even in exile.
As Jesus followers, we are also scattered throughout the nations.
We build our buildings when and where we can, but they are not our sanctuary.
God is our sanctuary, and we are God’s sanctuary.
We have God with us wherever we go, for God’s Spirit is in/with us.
Granted, we are not at home in this world as it is… but we do have a home.
Our home is in God, and God makes His home in us.
As Jesus followers, we are able to relate with the Lord at all times.
When life in this world gets hard, when temptations get strong.
Yet too many christians seem to live as if the Lord were not with them.
Either they do not talk with Him, or they do things as if He wasn’t there.
God’s sanctuary promise is real, He is with and in us!
But are we offering our own hearts to Him, as His sanctuary?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, You have given Yourself to me, but do I give myself to You? May I not close my eyes tom Your glory in, and may Your glory not depart from me because I do not embrace it!