A vision of life I can believe in!

THE STORY OF JESUS: John 20:24-31
“That you may believe… that you may have life in his name!” (John 20:31)
John had many stories he could have shared about Jesus.
Matthew, Mark and Luke agree on many stories, even when some details differ.
But John selects different stories, one’s that he thinks will help people believe.
To believe that Jesus is the messiah, God’s promised rescuer for humanity.
God had promised this rescuer from the beginning (Genesis 3:15).
But after so many centuries and disappointments, many had given up hope.
It is understandable how Thomas could be skeptical, after Jesus’ crucifixion.
But even ‘doubting Thomas’ believed when He saw Jesus.
I am drawn to Jesus, like no other figure in history.
He inspires me, He gives me a vision of life that appeals to me!
If He is not the messiah, then there is no more hope for life at all.
If the Jesus Life is not real, then no other life matters.
I not only believe in Jesus, I WANT TO BELIEVE in Him, because His life is good.
Read the Jesus stories; they will give you hope and life like no one else can.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I love the vision of life You represent. I want this life for myself, and you are offering it to me.

Sent on a mission!

THE STORY OF JESUS: John 20:19-23
“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (John 20:21)
What a huge privilege AND responsibility.
To be sent into the world just like Jesus was in the world.
Not to live for themselves, but for God and for others.
To bring God’s message of forgiveness and freedom to the world.
God’s mission initiated through Jesus now depends on His followers.
If we hold back on sharing the message, others will miss out.
They will not experience the wonder of forgiveness.
We are now the hands and feet of God and Jesus in the world.
And we have God’s peace, and the Spirit of Jesus, to help us.
People are still living in the dark, desperate and hopeless.
Many have never heard the good news of Jesus and God.
God is sending you, and me, with His Spirit, to share His peace and love.
As Jesus was sent on a mission, I am now on a mission – and you are too!
Am I pursuing my mission, or am I holding back on God, on Jesus, on others?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, help me to see the people around me that need hope, peace and forgiveness. Not just to see them, help me to go to them, and do my best with Your help to convey Your goodness!

A master we can love!

“As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master…” (Psalm 123:2)
In one sense, we are like slaves to God… and yet not.
Slaves to humans are usually treated with contempt.
But in this psalm, God is not the one who abuses humans.
Humans, not God, are the cause of cruelty, contempt, ridicule.
God has assigned care of the world to humans, and it has not gone well.
In this world we constantly face misery, violence and death.
But where do we look for hope, for help, for mercy?
“Our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he shows us his mercy.” (v.2)
God becomes human to make things right, to rescue humanity.
Through Jesus, and through His servants, God is turning the tables on evil.
He offers grace, mercy, peace, and His ‘slaves’ do the same.
Today the oppressed and burdened are looking for mercy.
When they look to God and Jesus, they see us as His followers.
Are we showing them the mercy of Jesus, or the contempt of humans?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, You have been merciful to me; help me to be merciful to others, so that they too can experience the sweetness of our Master’s love.

Living with peace of mind!

“The mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6)
What does it mean to have my mind “governed by the Spirit”?
My sense is that I am now living in willing surrender to Jesus as Lord.
In fellowship WITH Jesus by the Spirit, my mind wants to live LIKE and FOR Him.
It is not a burden, because I know in advance that Jesus is FOR me.
Though I struggle and fail, I cannot be stopped.
In Christ the victory is won, I am just stepping into that victory.
Nothing can separate me from God’s love, including sin and Satan’s attacks.
This underlying confidence in grace gives me “life and peace”.
I press on, even when I falter or fail; I get back up with Jesus and keep moving.
In addition, the things I think about are “life and peace”.
I am motivated by the kinds of things that lead to “life and peace”.
The Spirit produces within me things like “love, joy, peace, etc.”
There is no condemnation anymore, I am “more than” a conqueror in Christ!
The ride may be tough, but the destination is guaranteed!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I have set my heart on living WITH, LIKE and FOR You. This is not easy, for my flesh is weak. But Your Spirit is strong, and I belong to You. Nothing can keep me from Your love!

Willing slaves to Jesus!

“You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” (Romans 6:18)
As Paul explains how Jesus sets us free, he wants to stress the result in our lives.
Who am I, how has Jesus helped me, what difference does it make in my life?
Paul answers all of these questions to ignite a passion for new life, new living.
Too often christians focus on FORGIVENESS, but we forget about FREEDOM.
With the Spirit of Jesus, we are now able to change the way we live.
Our hearts are devoted to living WITH Jesus, LIKE Jesus, FOR Jesus!
This is what the righteous life is, what Adam was made to be.
You can tell a devoted Jesus follower by their desire to live like Jesus.
This devotion is like a slave’s devotion to their master – inspired by love, not fear!
Jesus’ Law (love God, love others) is the pattern and passion of every Jesus follower.
Jesus not only shows us how to do this, He helps us with His Spirit.
We have been set free from Satan’s lies and sin’s restraints – free to change.
Satan and sin still resist us, but they can’t stop us; we now belong to Jesus.
Do I see myself as a willing slave to Jesus… is this evident in my life?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, more than anything else, I want to know You, and to live my life WITH You, LIKE You, FOR You. Even as I fully belong to You, help me to fully live for You!

Jesus my brother – like me, like Him!

THE STORY OF JESUS: John 20:10-18
“I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” (John 20:17)
I believe that Jesus is the Word of God made human (John 1:1).
While on earth, He was fully human: His Father was our Father, His God was our God.
We tend to jump to quickly to saying ‘Jesus is God!’.
I’m not questioning His divine origin, but want to stress His humanity.
He emptied Himself of His divine identity (Philippians 2:5-8) to become fully human.
This is how He is our Saviour; He is Adam succeeding where all other Adams failed.
By overcoming sin, death and Satan, Jesus is established as God’s Son (Romans 1:4).
And we are restored as God’s sons and daughters through faith in Him.
Satan no longer owns us; we belong body and soul, in life and in death, to God.
The grip of death is broken, the power of sin is released, Satan is defeated!
Jesus is Lord of creation (Genesis 1:26-28), and we reign with Him (Ephesians 2:6).
These words of Jesus show us how Jesus stands with us under God.
Do you think of yourself as equal to Jesus in His humanity?
Do you see Jesus as a model of who you are to be, who you can be?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, thank You for becoming like me, so that I can become like You… like I was meant to be!

Still a lot to learn!

“They still did not understand…” (John 20:9)
There are still many things that I do not understand.
I do not understand how Jesus’ death covers my sins.
I do not understand how Jesus could be fully divine, yet fully human.
I do not understand how the Father, Word and Spirit are three yet one.
There are many things in scripture that are difficult to explain.
This is OK, and so is the fact that we do not understand them.
The disciples had spent 3 years with Jesus, and still did not understand.
Here we see Peter and John, two big names in the early years of the church.
And yet they are still treated as disciples, and used by Jesus.
A disciple is a student, and a student is someone that still needs to learn.
Can someone be a disciple today and not believe in the resurrection, or the cross?
I say YES, as did Jesus, Who gathered many disciples who did not understand.
Let any and all who want to become students be welcomed and graced.
Let them begin the learning journey, and let Jesus use them to change the world!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I still have a lot to learn. Thank You for accepting me despite what I don’t yet know or understand or believe. I want to keep learning with You!

Secret disciples serving Jesus!

THE STORY OF JESUS: John 19:38-42
“A disciple of Jesus, secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders.” (John 19:38)
Joseph Arimathea is a secret disciple because he fears Jewish leaders.
Nicodemus is a Jewish leader, so he talks to Jesus at night (John 3:2).
I spoke with a disciple from Iran who told me about secret disciples in Iran.
In their hearts they accept Jesus as Messiah, but still act like Muslims.
Some may challenge this – do they really trust Jesus if they’re in hiding?
Is this not hiding your light under a bushel?
Joseph and Nicodemus remind us that even secret disciples have their place.
God uses them, and their devotion to Jesus eventually rises to the surface.
It is not my place to judge secret disciples.
It takes greater faith than mine to change from Islam to Christ!
And in time, like Joseph and Nicodemus, their faith will start to show.
Don’t judge them, pray for them and entrust them to the Lord.
They can serve as mustard seed witnesses, and the Lord will use them too.
Even if they do so secretly, for fear of the leaders.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I pray for Your followers in Muslim countries, where they live each day under the threat of exposure and torture and death.

It is finished!

THE STORY OF JESUS: John 19:28-37
“‘It is finished.’ He bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19:30)
For His whole life, Jesus was under attack.
Satan did everything he could to get this ‘Adam’ (human) to fail.
But unlike all other Adams and Eves, this one beats Satan.
He stays true to God, and so the main battle is finished.
Since He does not sin, death cannot hold Him.
God breathes life into His dust-only body, and He is alive again!
Through His victory, ‘Adam’ is declared the son of God (Luke 3:37, Romans 1:4).
All authority is restored to this ‘Adam’ (Matthew 28:18-20, Genesis 1:26-28).
God’s kingdom is restored, and we are welcome as sons and daughters of God.
Now with Jesus’ help we’re called to live like Him, to resist the Enemy.
We struggle, but we cannot lose, because the real battle is finished.
At the end of our lives we will say ‘it is finished’ and pass from death to life.
We will be resurrected, and enter into God’s ‘very good’ new creation.
“The kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” (Matthew 25:34)
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, thank You for finishing Your task, that I may be restored to mine. Help me with Your Spirit to fulfill and finish my task, and enter into the kingdom planned from the very beginning!

The Jerusalem God loves!

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” (Psalm 122:6)
When this Psalm was written, the old covenant temple was in Jerusalem.
Today, the new covenant temple (believers) are everywhere.
“For God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.” (1 Corinthians 3:17)
As Jesus followers, our Jerusalem is wherever Jesus followers are.
Pray for believers wherever they are, for peace and prosperity.
Not just for their own comfort and benefit, but to bless the world.
God’s plan from the start was to bless the world through His people.
“My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” (Mark 11:17)
I do not pray just for Jerusalem in Israel… which I do!
But I also pray for Jesus followers all over the world, to shine with grace.
That they may draw people to Jesus, and not drive them away!
Prospering in love, joy, grace, mercy and peace, blessing others.
Protected and preserved through persecution, like Jesus was!
Blessed to be a blessing, an ‘open house’ for God and all people!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, please protect and prosper Your people, especially where they face hardship. May they may shine in the darkness and help others find You!