Sometimes we have to let go

“Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent of it.” (Acts 18:6)
As a Jesus follower, I am eager to show people who Jesus is.
Not for my own sake, but for theirs, that they may know LIFE in Him.
Being devoted to sharing Jesus can be hard, when people do not receive it.
Paul’s passion was to help his fellow Jews find the promised messiah (Romans 9:3).
But here in Corinth he faces their stubborn refusal and rejection.
In typical Jewish fashion, he shakes off their dust (Matthew 10:14).
This dramatic action honours their freedom to refuse.
It is not an act of judgment (only God can judge), but an act of release.
As a Jesus follower, we do not force or pressure anyone to believe us.
As hard as it is for someone we love, we need to leave them to God.
Only He can reach beyond the walls of their hearts to change them.
Life without God and Jesus is unsustainable; it unravels without them.
God uses our folly and misery to show us this need, and to draw us back.
Like the prodigal son, letting go is the best way to help them back.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, letting go of someone you love is the hardest thing to do. Help me to trust that You keep working, even when I have reached my limits.

Always tugging at my heart!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Acts 17:24-34
“God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him,
though he is not far from any one of us.” (Acts 17:27)

God works behind the scenes, directing circumstances to get our attention.
He does not force us to respond, but neither does He leave us on our own.
It is interesting to me that Paul quotes two pagan philosophers (v.28).
It reminds me of the Magi, how God used their pagan religion to draw them to Jesus.
God is the Creator, and He uses creation to point and draw people to Himself.
Creation is a work of art, that leads people to see the Artist (Romans 1:20)
This gives me hope for people who have not met Jesus yet; God is still working on them.
God does not want anyone to perish, He works all the time to help people find Him.
He is not far from ANYONE, including those who deny that He exists.
He is also using my own life experiences to draw me closer to Him.
Conversations with others, life lessons, opportunities or tragedies…
Every experience has God’s fingerprints on it, to help us sense our need for Him.
Can you sense how God is directing your life, to show you your need for Him?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, thank You that You do not give up on anyone. And thank You for always reminding me to come back when I start to head out on my own. I need You Lord, I want You!

Sincere, honest prayer!

“But my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign Lord.” (Psalm 141:8)
David is in a deadly conflict with ‘the wicked’.
A neighbouring nation attacking, or a rebellious leader in the land.
He contrasts himself with ‘the wicked’, showing God his commitment to doing good.
He prays, is careful how he speaks, and avoids doing bad things.
He is open to rebuke, willing to change and really hates wickedness.
Does God want us to list our credentials when we pray?
God inspires this prayer not because He needs to know what David is like.
He inspires David to honestly express his heart, to be real.
David was a flawed but sincere servant of God; he is not bargaining with God.
God wants us to be honest, to be sincere… “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).
Do we sincerely love justice, mercy, kindness, generosity, forgiveness… God knows it.
Do we genuinely hate sin, dishonesty, greed, selfishness, pride… God knows it.
Don’t pretend to be something that you are not, God will see through it.
Pray as you are – the good, the bad, the ugly – God already knows the truth.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, You know my heart. Help me grow in my commitment to You, and protect me from whatever would hinder me from doing good.

No one like Jesus!

“Tempted in every way, just as we are — yet he did not sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
Many churches and religions still appoint ‘priests’.
A priest is a middle man (or mediators) between God and people.
The problem with human priests is they let us down, they sin, they are limited.
But Jesus is the perfect priest: He suffers and is tempted, but does not fail us.
He stands for God and truth, but is not aloof – He empathizes with our weakness.
He doesn’t just stand above us and tell us to jump, He comes to us to help us.
He doesn’t just hold out ‘sabbath rest’ before us, He gives it to us.
He doesn’t just judge us for our sin, He purifies our hearts as the Living Word.
He doesn’t just chide us for our immaturity, He patiently nurtures us to grow.
Christians and Church leaders can be a tough bunch to work with, and work for.
But Jesus is the best Priest, the best Pastor, the best Friend.
He comes to where we are, and helps us get to where we need to be.
Forget me as a pastor (shepherd), I will let you down…
Let me introduce you to Jesus, the bestest, highest priest of all!!!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, You are patient, forgiving, helpful, wise. You do not excuse my sin and weakness, but You do not condemn me either. You understand, You know, and You are always there to guide me. Thank You!

Focus on Jesus!

“At present we do not see everything subject to them. But we do see Jesus…” (Hebrews 2:8)
God put us in charge of His creation… it doesn’t look too good does it?
Sin, misery and violence have free reign, everything is cursed with death.
We see and experience so much evil… AND, we see Jesus.
Jesus became “fully human in every way” (Hebrews 2:17) to restore humanity.
“Jesus… now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” (Hebrews 2:8-9)
He dies a sinner’s death, but because He doesn’t sin, death can’t hold Him.
He beats Satan and reclaims Adam’s crown (Genesis 1:26-28, Matthew 28:18-20).
This is not just boring theology, it is important: Jesus is in charge, not Satan.
It doesn’t look like it – our world is still a twisted, corrupt, cruel mess.
But I don’t focus on that, I fix my eyes on Jesus, and cling to hope.
I join with Jesus in refusing despair and Satan’s lies; good will triumph!
There are lots of reasons to quit or run away, but one good reason not to!
Jesus has won, and goodness will win too; I choose to wait and trust in Him!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, evil is all around, but You are in me! Greater are You in me, than all the evil in the world!

The God we’re looking for

THE STORY OF JESUS: Acts 17:16-23
“So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship…” (Acts 17:23)
I believe most people worship God, yet do not know that they do.
We were designed to love, honour and serve that which is ultimate, good, worthy.
But having lost our fellowship with God, we latch on to the ‘next best thing’.
Our versions of God can be spiritual, like twisted ideas of’god’.
They can be physical, like alcohol, sex, money, possessions.
They can be social, like fame, popularity, good looks, pleasure, success, conquest.
Whatever we put first in our lives, that is our ‘god’, though we are ignorant of it.
Sadly, any god but God will enslave us, and ruin us in the end.
We were made for God, and our hearts find no rest until they rest in Him.
“This is what I am going to proclaim to you.” (Acts 17:23)
Our job is to help people realize the God they are really looking for.
Jesus comes to show us the goodness of God, and the life we can have in Him.
This is the God we’re looking for, the life we were made for!
If God is not first in your life, what is… and is it worth living for?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, Your picture of God is both grand and good. How can we settle for anything less. Rescue us from our ignorance, that we may know the God we were made for.

More noble character

THE STORY OF JESUS: Acts 17:10-15
“They examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” (Acts 17:11)
The noble Berean Jews were open and eager, not hostile to the message of Jesus.
They didn’t swallow it whole, but dug deep into the scriptures to confirm it.
This is how the Bereans “more noble”, they were not close-minded to Paul.
As followers of Jesus, we can learn from the nobility of the Bereans.
To not be close-minded, but neither to simply accept everything new as true.
We take every thought captive to Christ, we evaluate every teaching through Jesus.
There are many many competing truth claims, and we need to be discerning.
We process what we hear with Jesus, and compare it to what He said and did.
It still will not be easy, there will still be many differences of opinion.
Sadly many christians have responded to new ideas like the Thessalonians.
Close-minded, angry, harsh, with slander and malicious words and actions.
I’m not saying we cannot disagree, or express what we believe to be true.
But we speak the truth in love and are gracious to those we disagree with.
We are open to what Jesus can teach us, even in our differences.
This is how I understand what it means to be “of more noble character.”
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, there are many different ideas claiming to be from You. The debates of our day can get nasty. Help me to remain noble, even as I listen for Your truth in all the truth claims around me.

A different kind of politics!

“They are saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.” (Acts 17:7)
Guilty as charged… this IS what Paul and Silas were saying.
This is also what we say, if we believe in Who Jesus is.
It sounds less troubling in our day, because we no longer recognize kings.
We do not live in a monarchy (rule of one king over the people).
But we live in a democracy (rule of the people).
Do we as Jesus followers see how following Jesus challenges this too?
I am not advocating ‘churchocracy’ (rule of the church).
I am not suggesting a religious political party.
Paul and Silas did not proclaim the overthrow of Rome or government.
Their message, the good news of Jesus, involves the overthrow of the heart.
Change from within that comes from surrendering to Jesus as ‘king’.
Our hope is not in Conservatives Republicans, Liberals, Democrats or Socialists?
Our hope is in Jesus, and in His transforming work in and through us.
May we stand up for Jesus as king, and may the world be blessed because of it.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, forgive Your people for thinking politicians or the people can lead Your world. May Your kingdom come, and may Your will be done in my life, as it is in heaven!

Praise in my prison?

THE STORY OF JESUS: Acts 16:25-40
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God.” (Acts 16:25)
This is mind-blowing, singing when they are in shackles and chains.
They do not run away when the earthquake opens the doors.
The jailer and his family are converted because of this radical faith.
There’s a lot going on in this story, but what grabs me is their singing in chains.
When I am facing failure or letdown or criticism or sickness, do I sing?
Do I only sing AFTER God has helped me?
I’m afraid my singing is more like moaning than praising.
To have such a confidence in God that not even prison can dampen their praise.
This reminds me of his letter to the Philippians, also written in prison.
Joy is mentioned more often in that letter than any other.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)
To find joy in chains, I need to change my focus and my way of thinking.
But what exactly does that mean, and how can I do it?
Maybe it can start by my singing in my dark places.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, remind me of the words to sing when I am in the dark. May others see You through me, as I praise You through my chains.

Pursue justice with Jesus!

“I know the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.” (Psalm 140:12)
This is a victim’s prayer, their pain and fear overflowing in desperation.
Their prayer is for justice, for God to take up their cause.
When I hear of ongoing suffering and misery in the world, I get agitated.
If there is no God, then there is little hope for justice for victims.
If God is unjust or uncaring, then there is little hope for anyone.
I know… I know deep down inside, I know that I know that I know…
That the Lord secures justice for all, and upholds the cause of the needy.
I wish He would do it sooner rather than later.
His plan is not to change things right away, but it will change one day!
When Jesus finishes His work, and ushers in the new age.
Until that day we join in the prayer for justice.
And we join in the work of justice because…
I know that Jesus calls His followers to seek justice for the poor.
I know that Jesus calls His followers to uphold the cause of the needy!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, open my eyes to see the poor and needy. Open my eyes to see You standing with them. Open my eyes to see how I am part of the problem. Open my eyes to see how I can help.