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!

When sin goes too far!

“The land is full of bloodshed and the city is full of injustice.” (Ezekiel 9:9)
We need to realize that the detestable ways of the people were really bad.
We read these judgments in the context of our times, but those times were worse.
There were no human rights, and what courts there were served the king, not the law.
Foreigners, slaves, women, children, the elderly, the disabled – all were victims.
God is not just ticked off because He is hyper-sensitive… things were really bad.
And it was being practiced and sanctioned by rulers and religious leaders.
What was happening then would have made your stomach sick.
These judgments were not just an emotional outburst of an angry God.
They came after years and years of appeals and warnings.
As a Jesus follower, I do not take pleasure in these judgment words.
But I do get them; like Jesus I ought to hate such corruption and cruelty.
Like God, I ought to do what I can to help, to warn, to change it.
But in the end, if grace is refused, what else can God do?
Grace and mercy is available for all, but woe to those who refuse it.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I am in no place to judge, my own heart has its own defects. Help me to hate sin, especially in me. And help me to stand with and for the oppressed, the victims of bloodshed and violence.

The Spirit in my sails!

“The wind blows wherever it pleases… So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:3)
What does it mean to be ‘born again’ (or literally, ‘born from above’)?
Jesus goes on to say “unless they are born of water and the Spirit.” (John 3:5)
The water refers to the outward symbolic act of baptism.
But it is not the water, but the inward spiritual act of baptism that matters.
When we submit to baptism, we open ourselves to spiritual renewal and transformation.
The Spirit is like the wind, and I am like a sale, allowing the wind to catch me.
Both the wind and the sail are necessary.
The sail itself is empty, unless the Spirit connects with our spirit.
Some people go through the outward act, but inwardly they are resist the Spirit.
Unless we surrender to the Spirit (and not just to baptism), nothing will happen.
I’ve been baptized, but am I surrendering to the work of the Spirit in me.
Am I open to hearing, and following, the prompting of Jesus’ Spirit in me?
This is the new life that matters, and I need to let the Spirit work.
The Spirit is living in me, but am I living in the Spirit?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, the indication of new life in me is when I am eagerly seeking it. If I am not surrendering to the Spirit in me, then my spirit is not being reborn.

Sharing Jesus’ passion for people!

THE STORY OF JESUS: John 2:13-25
“Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” (John 2:16)
Why does Jesus get so worked up in the temple?
The temple was where God connected with His people in the Jewish faith.
These money-chargers were charging admission, and cheating the people who came.
The building was for the people, the leaders turned made it for the profit.
God’s passion has always been for the people, especially the oppressed.
In Jesus, God steps in to help all people, to rescue them from sin.
His passion reveals God’s passion; His death reveals God’s deep love.
Jesus continues to work against injustice, greed, cruelty, poverty.
But He does this through His followers – you and me.
When we see injustice, do we side with those being treated unfairly?
When we see hunger or poverty or sickness, do we help Jesus (Matthew 25:37-40)?
He has forgiven us, set us free, given us the Spirit’s power, and shown us what to do.
Will we ignore the suffering of others, will we be passive when injustice occurs?
Or will share Jesus’ passion – will you step in with Jesus, like Jesus, for Jesus?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, You stepped in to reconnect us to God. May Your Spirit fan into flame a zeal for You, for Your creation, for Your family, for justice and mercy, love and peace! Help me to share Your passion!

Why I believe in Jesus!

“He revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.” (John 2:11)
Jesus said things and did things that helped people to believe in Him.
Though others heard and saw the same things, and did not believe in Him.
It seems that some are more open to seeing hearing and seeing than others.
We sometimes wish Jesus would say and do MORE wonderful things, to help us believe.
And yet are we hearing and seeing the things He is already doing?
I believe primarily because Jesus message and His sacrifice speak to me.
What He said, and how He lived and died, reveal His glory to me.
For me, the miracles and the resurrection – which I believe – are not proof.
(Because we cannot prove them today, we can only respond to others who saw them).
In other words, I believe the miracles BECAUSE I believe the message and life of Jesus.
His message of grace, and His life of grace, convict and convince my heart.
The impact of His message and grace have changed me, have given me hope!
The miracles are bonus, and the resurrection is a welcome relief!
Why do you believe in Jesus, what has convinced you?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I cannot test Your miracles, but I can test Your message, and it is highly defensible – both from the bible and from real life. Your glory shines in how You spoke, and how You live! I believe in You!

Surrounded and supported!

THE STORY OF JESUS: John 1:43-51
“You will see the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.” (John 1:51)
In Genesis 28, as Jacob flees his brother, he spends the night in the middle of nowhere.
While he sleeps with a rock for a pillow, God appears to him in a dream.
He sees a ladder going up to God, with the angels ascending and descending it.
God tells him how he is His chosen agent of blessing for the world.
God encourages Him that He will be with him to the very end.
Jacob concludes, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” (Genesis 28:16-17)
In v.51, Jesus connects Himself with Jacob, the father of Israel, God’s chosen people.
Nathaniel questions this Messiah from Nazareth, the middle of nowhere.
Jesus says that He is greater than Jacob, chosen by God from the middle of nowhere.
Jesus is God’s agent of grace, surrounded and supported by God.
And when we stand with Jesus, we too are called, surrounded and supported by God.
No matter where you are, You can experience God with you through Jesus.
Are you aware of the presence of the Lord in your life?
Or are you just sleeping on a rock in the middle of nowhere?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, You come to us wherever we are, to bring us to where You are. Help us to be aware that wherever I am, You are in this place, and calling me to be Your child, Your agent of grace!