The bad prince or the good king?

THE STORY OF JESUS: John 12:27-36
“Now the prince of this world will be driven out.” (John 12:31)
Adam and Eve were originally given authority (Genesis 1:26-28).
But we made Satan ‘prince’ of the world when we gave in to his lies!
As a result, we are slaves to sin and Satan, and cursed with misery and death.
When Jesus arrives, He goes through the same tempting all humans do.
But He refuses to sin, to submit to Satan’s lies; He stays true to God.
Finally a Son of Adam/Son of God (Luke 3:38) that can rightfully claim the throne.
By overcoming death (Genesis 2:17), He overcomes the prince who enslaves us.
God’s kingdom is re-established, and God’s name is glorified through a Son of Adam.
Anyone who chooses the king over the prince, becomes a part of God’s kingdom.
As restored children of Adam we are called to live “like God” in the the world.
Jesus shows us what kingdom living (living in the light) looks like.
Following Jesus may be difficult (many people still choose the prince).
This is our hope – God WILL glorify His Name through us, whatever happens.
Who am I serving with my life – the glorified King or the disgraced prince?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, remind me who I am, and why I am here. May my life story – no matter how hard – glorify Your Name, for this is why I am here.

Am I with Jesus?

THE STORY OF JESUS: John 12:20-26
“Where I am, my servant also will be.” (John 12:26)
Usually we interpret Jesus to mean that we will go to ‘heaven’ with Him.
But Jesus is talking about following Him, being a servant and dying.
This is where Jesus is, this is what Jesus does.
Are we with Jesus in His mission, working with Him to bless others?
Through His death, Jesus saves many (John 12:24).
As His followers, we become seed, planted (sacrificed) to share Jesus with others.
Jesus promised to be with His missionaries to the very end (Matthew 28:18-20).
Many Christians like it that Jesus is with them, but are they with Jesus?
Jesus is out there among the people, sharing His life with people in need.
Too many Christians like to be saved, but show no concern for others who need Him.
Jesus uses hyperbole (strong language) – to hate their life – to expose selfish living.
Instead of being so wrapped up in your own lives, invest your life for others, for God.
A life lived sharing Jesus’ love is the life of a Jesus-follower.
He is with us, are we with Him (on the front lines)?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, there are still many people who want to see You, who need to know You. Help me to be a blessing, not a barrier. Help me to love others, not just myself. I want to be where You are!

A different kind of king!

THE STORY OF JESUS: John 12:12-19
“Blessed is the king of Israel!” (John 12:13)
We do not live in a time when kings are appreciated, or wanted.
We prefer democracy, after centuries of failed monarchies and tyrannies.
But not even democracy is immune to the corruption of human nature.
Why do billions (over time) of non-Israelites still welcome this ‘king of Israel’?
Because He is different: a humble servant king, a king that is human, and yet not.
“Your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” (John 12:15)
Many kings send their subjects to die; this king dies for his subjects.
In Jesus we see God’s agenda of grace, mercy, love, hope, peace.
A God that cares, a leader that serves, isn’t this what we’re really looking for?
Imagine a world where terrorists did not kill people for their God.
Imagine a world where government did not sacrifice people for their own agenda.
Our world has been in trouble ever since we attempted to take the reins from God.
Now we need help, we need divine help, we need a Saviour!
“‘Hosanna!’ ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (John 12:13)
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, it’s scary how messed up this world is. You have shown us that humility not power, mercy not money, grace not greed, are God’s answers to our problems. Thank You for being the King we need.

The pursuit of emptiness!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Psalm 119:25-48
“Turn my eyes away from worthless things, preserve my life.” (Psalm 119:37)
Many people spend their lives climbing ladders.
But at life’s end, they discover they climbed the wrong ladders.
We waste so much energy on ‘worthless things’ and ‘vain pursuits’.
What really matters… is what I am living for really worth it?
Through the bible, God gives us the tools to examine our lives.
What are the ‘greatest things’ to the world – wealth, success, power, pleasure, etc.?
What are the ‘greatest things’ to God – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc.!
I suspect the emptiness many people feel is because they cling to ‘worthless things’.
It’s not that these things are not good… they’re not God (i.e. ultimate, first priority).
When God is first, we are free to enjoy all these other things in a healthy way.
But when God is forgotten, some of these things try to fill the God-hole inside.
Look at life from God’s perspective: is the life I’m pursuing worth preserving?
Do the ‘treasures’ I am seeking really matter for the long run?
Will the ladder I am climbing get me where I want to go?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, everything has worth in You, but without You it’s all worthless. Thank You for reminding me about what really matters, and what is worth reaching for in the long run.

A disaster of our own making!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Amos 3:1-5:17
“When disaster comes to a city, has not the Lord caused it?” (Amos 3:8).
One week ago a tsunami hit the Indonesian city of Palu, killing over 1400 people.
Based on what Amos says here, did the Lord cause this?
We need to read these words in their context, for their purpose.
Amos is responding to the corruption and depravity among God’s people.
His point throughout is that God is the source of life, not death.
When we abandon God, we abandon life, we step into the maelstrom.
We have unleashed moral, social, economic, environmental disaster in our world.
God has allowed us the freedom to turn from Him, and face the consequences.
God doesn’t stop our self-inflicted suffering, but He uses it to get our attention.
Only in this way can it be said that the Lord ’causes’ disaster.
But through it all, He is pleading with us to come to our senses.
Jesus also warns us, “Unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Luke 13:3).
Like a parent calling their young child, ‘get off the road, you will be killed!’
Our world needs to heed this warning, for we to are facing disaster!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, there is no doubt, our world is in crisis. Some of us hide from it, and live in our little bubbles of denial. Open our eyes to see the disaster around us, and open our hearts to take You seriously!

Angry at a depraved world!

“They sell the innocent for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals.” (Amos 2:6)
Can people become so depraved that they see no value in others.
Amos is announcing God’s anger for how people are abusing others.
Some may say the OT God is angry, but is it any wonder?
We would be angry too… we should be angry too!
Everyday in the news it seems someone is killed by gun in Toronto.
And with frightening frequency, someone is charged with child porn.
Young girls are groomed and then driven into the sex trade.
Preborn children are dismissed as living blobs, not human, and terminated.
Bullies in the playground look for the weak ones to trample.
In politics we see ‘survival of the fittest’ no matter the cost.
We all should be angry – and deeply sad – at our depraved world!
Jesus stands out in this dark world as a burst of goodness and hope.
Because God’s anger flows from God’s love, He sends Jesus to set things right.
Our world is no better than Amos’ world; and our angry God loves us too!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, no wonder You turned over the tables in the temple. Thank You for not destroying us in anger. Thank You for rescuing us in love by absorbing our depravity Yourself, to break it’s power.

Loving Jesus and the poor!

THE STORY OF JESUS: John 12:1-11
“You will always have the poor among you…” (John 12:8)
Some use these words as an excuse not to address the problem of poverty.
But the real issue is that they are looking for excuses not to love.
It was the same for Judas; it was not concern for the poor that motivated him.
Mary was motivated by love, love for Who Jesus was and what He represented.
She was not just honouring His person, she was honouring His purpose.
Judas’ love for himself and for money led him to betray Jesus.
In our sin-messed world we will always have poverty and suffering.
This is why Jesus came, and why Jesus left us behind, to continue His work.
Sadly, through history the church has more often shown the self-love of Judas.
Claiming to collect money for good purposes, we spend much of it on ourselves.
Those who love Jesus will also truly love the poor, the needy, the suffering.
When we do not love the poor, we show our lack of love for Jesus. (Matthew 25:45)
If we say we love Jesus, then let’s show it by loving His brothers and sisters.
Yes, the poor are still among us… what are we doing about it as Jesus-followers?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, You have made it clear that words are not enough. Expose the signs of Judas love in us, and expand the Mary love in and through us.

Avoiding the spotlight!

THE STORY OF JESUS: John 11:54-57
“Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the people of Judea.” (John 11:54)
Jesus is not just avoiding trouble, He is avoiding premature trouble.
He is a dangerous person in a dangerous time, He could touch off a ‘revolution’.
He is not this kind of messiah, but this is what the people want (see John 6:15).
This makes me think of the danger of seeking publicity or media attention.
Sometimes Christians or churches think that any press is good press.
For example, a pastor being asked to pray for a political leader’s inauguration.
It may give publicity and press, but it also changes the message we represent.
Hosting a community event?… call the paper, let the world see and know?…
Our job is not to seek attention, to impress the masses, or to play politics.
Our job is to serve the Lord and people around us, whether others see or not.
The ego is a dangerous thing, and we can forget whose praise we are working for.
Applause is intoxicating, and we may subtly shift our motivation for serving.
There is wisdom in staying humble, laying low, avoiding the spotlight.
Instead let our deeds be our witness… not your photo ops.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, help me to keep my focus on my true calling, and to let our faithful service stand as it’s own witness.

Little did he know!

THE STORY OF JESUS: John 11:45-53
“Better that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” (John 11:50)
As an occupied nation, Israel was at risk whenever someone claimed to be king.
The religious leaders worried that word of rebellion would bring Rome’s anger.
The temple and the nation were at great risk because of Jesus.
Often the Jews rallied to a messianic leader, hoping he would be the one.
But not THIS one, His teachings did not match their religious beliefs.
Jesus spoke against the religious leaders, and stood up for the weak and sinful.
Better to kill Jesus and eliminate the threat than to put temple and nation at risk.
John picks up on the irony of Caiaphas’s words.
Yes, better for Jesus to die – not just for Israel, but for all God’s children.
We are cursed because we sin, but Jesus did not die for sinning – but for loving.
God honours His humble, obedient love by vindicating Him, and removing the curse.
Jesus breaks the cycle of sin and death, and releases us all from their oppression.
Little did Caiaphas know how right he was, it is better for us that Jesus died!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, as awful as death is, Your death was good and necessary. Thank You for setting us free from the curse of death, and for assuring us that death is now the gateway to life.

Believing is seeing!

THE STORY OF JESUS: John 11:38-44
“If you believe, you will see the glory of God?” (John 11:40)
I believe God CAN raise a dead person to life.
But I normally do not believe that God WILL raise a dead person.
For some reason, God doesn’t go about raising dead people on a regular basis.
God does do it for Lazarus, for the benefit of the people standing there.
That they might believe that God sent Jesus as the messiah.
Why doesn’t He do this as much today, for the benefit of people today?
Is it because we don’t believe that God WILL do it?
Although it would be great if He did, it is not necessary for me.
Even if God didn’t raise Lazarus, I would still know He CAN do it.
Because I believe in a God that is able to do more than we ask or imagine.
My belief does not depend on signs to prove that He can do it.
If there is a God – and I do believe there is – this sign is nothing.
So even though I have not seen a dead person come back to life…
I believe I will see the glory of this God I believe in, one day!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, thank You for showing me a God I can believe in, a God I can love. I’m hanging on for the day when my faith shall be sight!