May 17 — Proverbs 8:1-11

SCRIPTURE: Proverbs 8:1-11
“Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand; beside the gates leading into the city, at the entrances, she cries aloud…”
OBSERVATION:
Wisdom is more than knowledge, it is common sense for living. A wise person is not just a knowledgeable person, but a person who understands and applies truth to life. These words suggest that wisdom is available to everyone, to anyone with listening ears. On life’s paths and at the city gates, wisdom is constantly calling us, urging us to pay attention. Like Aesop’s fables, the stories and stuff of life need to be interpreted. We need to discern life-lessons from what we see, hear and experience. Just reading the newspaper will give us information, but by reflecting or meditating on that information, we can glean important life-lessons. We are not doomed to repeat the mistakes of others, we can learn from their mistakes. Wisdom is the voice of God imprinted on created matter, written into the very order of creation. Its loud enough for everyone to hear, if they pay attention.
APPLICATION:
The voice of God is speaking to me too, am I listening? It is not enough just to read the Bible each day and say that I did it, I need to pay careful attention to what the Lord is saying to me in what I read, as well as in what I experience. Wherever I am, whatever I do, the Lord is calling to me. It is worth my while to pay attention, to take notes, to memorize and repeat what I learn. I should choose instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her. I believe that Jesus is the voice of God in the flesh, calling to me on life’s paths and at the city gates, calling me to choose and follow Him. He wants to help me, to make me wise and successful in God’s eyes. Being a follower of Jesus is just paying attention to wisdom (truth), its the common sense thing to do.
PRAYER:
Lord, I can think of a few areas in my life where I ought to stop and think, and apply wisdom. Help me not to motor along ignorant and foolish, until I crash. Help me to listen and learn and live like You. Amen.

May 16 — Luke 9:57-62

SCRIPTURE: Luke 9:57-62
“Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.”
OBSERVATION:
Jesus was more concerned about fulfilling His mission than about finding a comfortable place to stay. Not even family obligations could get in the way of fulfilling His mission. Those who allow ‘things’ to distract them are not really ready for service in the Kingdom of God. Continue reading ‘May 16 — Luke 9:57-62’ »

May 15 — Luke 9:46-56

SCRIPTURE: Luke 9:46-56
“Then he said to them, ‘Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me also welcomes my Father who sent me. Whoever is the least among you is the greatest.'”

OBSERVATION:
Ouch, three scenes where the disciples reveal their true character: who was the greatest, rejecting those who do not ‘belong’, and sending fire from heaven against those who reject Jesus. Here we see how much Jesus had to endure, all the while zeroing in on the ultimate crisis of the cross in Jerusalem. Jesus sets up a young child as an example of the ‘little people’ that Jesus came for. We need to be like little children (the least), and we need to graciously welcome the little children, if we want to receive Jesus. Following Jesus is not about position, prestige, power or popularity, it is about being humble, gracious, generous, compassionate, loving, merciful, etc.

APPLICATION:
I sense the Lord challenging me to join Him in His determination to humbly offer myself for the sake of others, and to stop vying for comfort, position, or public acclaim. I sense the Lord urging me to look around at the ‘little people’ in my life, and to see myself below them as their servants, not above them as their superiors. I am struck by the fact that the disciples did not get it, and wonder whether its also the case that I (we) do not get Jesus, that I am (we are) missing the point.

PRAYER:
Lord, there are times when I am looking for honour, when I excluding others, and when I am being critical of those who reject You (and me). Lord, humble me like a little child, and help me to care for them as little children. Amen.

May 14 — Luke 9:37-45

SCRIPTURE: Luke 9:37-45
“Awe gripped the people as they saw this majestic display of God’s power.” (Luke 9:43)
OBSERVATION:
Two things strike me in this story. The first is the gripping awe that came over those who saw this dramatic event. I have become desensitized to Jesus casting out demons. But if I picture this as my son screaming, in convulsions, foaming at the mouth, hitting and injuring himself, then I get the sense of miracle when the boy is healed. The other thing is the disappointment and frustration that Jesus experiences with His disciples, and the people in general. The people – and even His disciples – just didn’t get Who He was or why He came (v.45). His words seem harsh, ‘You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you and put up with you?’ Was this impatience in the perfect Son of God, or legitimate frustration? We need to keep in mind that Jesus has been teaching for a while, and has already performed many amazing miracles, but they still didn’t know what He meant.
APPLICATION:
As I read this, I sense that I myself have lost my sense of Who Jesus is and why He came. I am not gripped by awe when I think of Him, of what He did. Does Jesus have this same frustration with me because His significance is hidden from me? I have a tamed messiah, one Who distantly meets my need for forgiveness and eternal life, but Whose significance and majesty are lost on me now. I need to pray with my imagination, and think about what it must have been like, of His glory being revealed in amazing, majestic and small ways. I need to fall on my knees again and exclaim, ‘how great You are!’
PRAYER:
Lord, forgive me for not paying attention to Your greatness, for not understanding and appreciating Who You are and what You have done for me. Open my eyes Lord, help me worship You! Amen.

May 13 — Luke 9:28-36

SCRIPTURE: Luke 9:28-36
“Then a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to him.’ When the voice finished, Jesus was there alone. They didn’t tell anyone at that time what they had seen.” (Luke 9:35-36)
OBSERVATION:
It is not clear why Jesus only takes Peter, James and John. But this is a terrifying experience. They get a glimpse of Jesus divine glory, His earthly robe is pulled back for a brief moment, and they are speechless and terrified. In the midst of this scene, God speaks. To all people, all religions, all philosophies, God declares that He stands behind Jesus. If we want to find our way through this life, we need to listen to Jesus. He may not appear to be much, and His message may seem foolish, but its God’s way, the only way. The way of self-denial for the sake of others (as seen in Jesus emptying Himself of His glory to save us) is the way of God, of life, of hope, of the world as God made it to be (i.e. the kingdom of God).
APPLICATION:
If the way of Jesus is God’s way, then I need to accept it, and I need to tell others about it. God is saying to me too, ‘listen to Him’. If I do not follow what Jesus says and does, I am going against the flow of the universe, against life and God and even against myself as I was designed to be. The sinful life is the backwards life, not the Jesus life. One day we will see the glory of God’s way, but for now it is veiled to our sinful, selfish eyes. We’re asleep while all this is going on. I need to let this message sink in, because I feel like I am asleep to this. Do I really believe that the way of Jesus is the most glorious, the most important way… the only way? If I did, it would change my life more! More self-denial, more sacrifice for others, less thinking about my reputation and my comfort. It would be more obvious and radical if I (we) actually listened to and imitated the way of Jesus.
PRAYER:
Lord, please lead me beyond thinking about radically following You to start doing it. Thank You for this glimpse of Your glory, and the glory of Your way. Convince me please that this is also the best way for me… I’m still holding back. Amen.

May 12 — Luke 9:18-27

SCRIPTURE: Luke 9:18-27
“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)
OBSERVATION:
Jesus makes it clear here that following Him is not easy. It may sound glamorous to be the messiah (with cozy administrative posts for his followers), but that is not the case. Jesus will suffer and die, but He will come back to life again. And His followers must also choose between the “good life” now or later. If the problem of sin is a selfish heart, then the solution – and the cross – is to turn away from selfish living. But that is hard. Our sinful nature does what it can to take care of itself, looking out for #1. But the way of Jesus, the way of the kingdom, is the way of selfless love and service of God and others. Ironically, this is how we ultimately save and serve ourselves best. Its one of the many kingdom paradoxes.
APPLICATION:
It does not take long for me to see the selfish ways that are still in me. For me to follow Jesus means that I am choosing to surrender myself, my goals and desires and person comfort for His sake. Its not about me. This is one of the things that I sense is missing from christianity as its come to be understood, and as I live it myself. A crossless christianity, at least the part about us carrying it. We’re glad Jesus did, because its nice to be forgiven and guaranteed heaven. But ths is NOT what following Jesus involves. This is what I got to learn if I want to be a Jesus follower.
PRAYER:
Lord, You were very clear about what it meant to follow You. We are the ones who make it fuzzy. Please help me go beyond reading these words, help me to start today in living them. Amen.

May 10 — Luke 9:1-9

SCRIPTURE: Luke 9:1-9
OBSERVATION:
Jesus multiplies His ministry, and His message starts to spread. He gives authority and power to His followers to carry on His work, and they preach and demonstrate the good news of the Kingdom. Note that it is the good news of the Kingdom, and not just the good news of salvation. The Kingdom of God is the world as it ought to be, the world that God is rebuilding through Jesus’ death and resurrection, the world that we will one day inherit… paradise restored. For now our job is to tell people about this new world, and to show them how it works by living according to the world order. This is where living like Jesus (the King), according to the principles of the Kingdom (grace, mercy, love, humility, compassion, generosity, kindness, meekness, patience, etc.), fits in. It is the “way” of life that we to communicate and demonstrate. It seems weak, but it is actually powerful, a message that eventually turns Rome on its head. Herod cannot figure it out, the whole thing sounds strange to Him. Yet it is the only way, the only truth, the only life.
APPLICATION:
Do I want to be a messenger for this humble King? Am I prepared to face ridicule and rejection? Do I really believe in His message, and do I really believe that the way of His Kingdom is the best way, the only way? We have reduced the message to love, forgiveness and the hope of heaven, whereas Jesus comes to rebuild God’s world, and we are called to join Him. Its not just telling people about Jesus, it being like Jesus, and demonstrating the way of Jesus. It may seem weak to others, and we may face rejection and ridicule. But because we believe in His message, we are motivated to share it with and show it to others. He will empower and authorize us as His messengers if we surrender to Him, to being His missionaries.
PRAYER:
Lord, the message of the Kingdom – the world as it ought to be – motivates me! A world where You are #1, and where we live in love, humility, compassion, generosity, patience. I’m not there yet, but grant me Your Spirit-power to start living like this more and more, no matter what. Amen.

May 9 — Luke 8:40-56

SCRIPTURE: Luke 8:40-56

OBSERVATION:
I am struck by the eager welcome that Jesus receives, and how desperate people are for His help. The crowds welcome Jesus with open arms, the woman desperately clings to Jesus for healing, the crowds are eagerly pressing up against Him, and the Jairus begs Him for His help. This is a picture to me of how desperate we are for help, looking for healing, hope or meaning… somewhere. But where do we turn? If Jesus were here now, many people would flock to Him, I imagine, though many others would be offended at Him, especially when He repeated His outrageous claims. Its interesting that Jesus does not want Jairus and his family to tell people about what He did. This is an amazing miracle! But I suspect that Jesus knew us too well, that we would turn Him into a celebrity and a miracle-worker, but not allow Him to be the Saviour of the world. Nobody wants a meek, humble, crucified (ie defeated) messiah.

APPLICATION:
These people had more than faith, they had a desperate hope. Its not until I become desperate for His help that I will reach out to Jesus as I need to. A casual or academic interest does not translate into faith. We need help, we desperately need to get back to God, and we desperately need Jesus to get us to God. Is there enough desperation in me, to make my faith vital? Do I sense how serious my need for help, strength, guidance is? Like the alcoholic, I can only really get help when I finally admit my problems. Yet when life goes so well, when I am coasting through life and doing OK, I forget about my day-by-day need for His help, strength and guidance. And when things unravel, where do I turn? Jesus wants me more than just when things go wrong, He wants me to want Him and need Him always. He does not want to be my celebrity or my miracle-worker, He wants to be my Saviour and Lord… and Friend!

PRAYER:
Lord, give me a desperate heart that hungers and thirst for You. Show me my sin, my need, my desperate condition without You, and lead me into a living, daily relationship with You as my Saviour and Lord. Amen.

May 8 — Luke 8:26-39

SCRIPTURE: Luke 8:26-39

OBSERVATION:
In this story I see how sin (and Satan) take over a life and destroy it… and how Jesus takes over a life and rebuilds it. The demons are smart in going into the pigs; even though they lose the one, they succeed in deceiving the many townspeople. Instead of being impressed with Jesus’ power, they are frightened by the scene made by the pigs, and they beg Jesus to leave. The very one who could help them too… and they send Him away. And the demons laughed. Jesus wept. But He did not leave the people without hope, He leaves His new servant with them to remind them of all the wonderful things that God has done for him. Part of His overall plan, send those whom He helps to testify to others about Him.

APPLICATION:
Two lessons come to mind for me. If I want to find peace at the feet of Jesus, and be useful for His purpose, I need to be set free from the lingering chains and stains of sin in my life. The strongholds in my life are holding me back, and the Lord is calling me to deal with them. Also, one of Satan’s best tactics is to scare us away from Jesus. He does what he can to get us to take our eyes off of Jesus and God, and onto ourselves and our struggles or obstacles. Like Peter being distracted by the wind and the waves, we start to sink too when we are more impressed by our problems than by our God. Another thought, if people asked me about all the wonderful things that God has done for me, what would I say?

PRAYER:
Lord, thank You for this passage, it is very timely for me. Thank You for letting me hear Your voice speaking to my heart. Please help me with the lingering chains of sin, and release me in Your Spirit to tell others of Your goodness to me. Amen.

May 7 — Luke 8:22-25

SCRIPTURE: Luke 8:22-25

OBSERVATION:
Jesus challenges them, ‘where is your faith?’, but I find myself sympathizing with the disciples. Their fear that they would perish reveals that they do not really know who Jesus is (afterall, could God’s plans for the messiah be thwarted by a chance thunderstorm?). Also, their surprise at His calming the storm (which I can relate to) shows that they do not see Jesus as authorized by God with spiritual power, that the wind and the waves obey Him. This is just one example of times when the disciples were no doubt afraid… would they survive? But this reveals their uncertainty about God’s authority over time and circumstances. God will not allow anything to happen that does not fit with His plan. In one sense, we too ought to be able to “sleep” through the storms of life, since we know that whatever happens is all a part of God’s best (though not easy) plan. Would we want anything less than the best plan?

APPLICATION:
Easier said than done. In my head I can agree that whatever happens, as directed by the perfect, and perfectly good and wise, God, is the best way for me, and for those around me. But what if that includes suffering, grief, sickness, tragedy, loss, abuse, emotional pain, false accusation, job loss, etc. Am I supposed to rest in those times? Is Jesus looking down from the throne and saying, “where is your faith?” Although I will not have this kind of faith, it is something that I can see moving towards. Oftentimes we overeact to our circumstances, and end up making matters worse. A quiet faith, a quiet response is best in all circumstances, because it protects us from rash and foolish reactions. I need to daily spend time trying to rest quietly through each experience, giving over the results to God.

PRAYER:
Lord, I will say it again, easier said than done. I want to rest in You more, even through the storms, trusting that You have authority over the wind and the waves of life. Help my faith to grow! Amen.