The God that multiplies!

“Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them…” (John 6:11)
So many people, so many needs, so few resources.
I can certainly relate to this.
In ministry we are always facing too few resources and too many needs.
Yet we serve the One Who has come to deal with these concerns.
I can’t explain how the loaves and fish were multiplied.
But there is an explanation… God!
We need to shift our focus from our smallness to God’s greatness.
We never have enough on our own, but God is more than enough for us!
Notice that Jesus doesn’t complain about inadequate resources.
He thanks God for what He received, trusting that it will do!
We can do the same, God will use what we have, no matter how small.
Our problem is not lack of God, our problem is lack of confidence in God.
As you see all the needs and challenges, thank God for what you’ve got.
No matter how small it seems, with God it will be enough.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, we do not stand alone. If God is for us, who can be against us. Help us to serve with faith, knowing that God will multiply the resources for us when and how He sees best.

Finding Courage in the Lord!

SCRIPTURE: “Know that the Lord has set apart his faithful servant for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him.” (Psalm 4:8)

How did Martin Luther King Jr. handle discouragement?
MLK is admired for his strong passion for the Lord’s vision of racial equality and justice for all. But he must have faced a lot of discouragement. He was attacked by many, and even felt the pressure of his own supporters.

I know that if I were him, I would have really struggled with discouragement. How about you? Continue reading ‘Finding Courage in the Lord!’ »

Challenge for the week

“The works of the Lord are pondered by all who delight in them.” (Psalm 111:2)
When is the last time you thought about God’s hand in your life?
If you were asked to share about God’s greatness, what would you say?
People may love to sing ‘How Great Is Our God’…
But we seem less eager to actually tell others what makes God great.
This psalm calls us to ponder how God is working in us, or around us.
It is the people who delight in this work that do the pondering.
Do I delight in the things that God is doing in and around me?
If we think about it enough, reasons to praise God start to multiply.
I would like to suggest this as a challenge for this week.
Take time this week to ponder and write out specific ways God is at work.
How did He encourage you, warn you, help you, bless you, protect you?
You will discover “how pleasant and fitting it is to praise him!” (Psalm 147:1)
And you will have an easier time telling others about how great God is.
“I will extol the Lord with all your heart in the assembly.” (Psalm 111:1)
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, open my eyes that I may see the wonderful things You are doing in my life, and around the world. And open my mouth that I my tell others!

Shaped by Satan’s lies

THE STORY OF JESUS: Ezekiel 28-30
“You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you.” (Ezekiel 28:14)
Ezekiel describes the king of Tyre as an incarnation of Satan.
(The same as the king of Babylon in Isaiah 14:12-15).
Over time, we tend to become like that which we love and serve.
Most people I know do not love Satan, but many do love his ways.
Looking out for #1, using others for personal advantage.
Twisting the truth to serve our needs, using words to hurt others.
Satan does not show up with pitchfork and horns; he’s smarter than that.
He whispers distracting and discouraging thoughts into our minds.
He lures us subtly, gently towards the dark side before we realize it.
Satan has led many – including christians – to misery and defeat.
Only Jesus was able to beat him, only Jesus can help us beat him.
The more we focus on Jesus, the more we become like Him.
Very few people choose Satan, yet many give in to him.
Many people choose Jesus, but do they give in to Him?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I want to become more like You. I want people to sense Your grace, Your kindness, Your love, through me. Help me to give in to You, and not Satan.

Hope for the worst of sinners!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Ezekiel 25-27
“You have come to a horrible end and will be no more.” (Ezekiel 27:36)
The nations surrounding Judea took advantage of them in their fall.
They followed after Nebuchadnezzar and pillaged what was left.
Like vultures surrounding a dying person, they pounced.
But God lets them know their days are numbered too – especially Tyre.
Tyre became a symbol to the Jews of the utmost depravity and cruelty.
Yet as bad as they were, Jesus says they had something on the Jews.
“If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon they would have repented long ago.” (Matthew 11:21)
Jesus helps a woman from Tyre (Matthew 15:21), and admires her faith!
Humility and repentance brings hope even to the worst of sinners.
Ezekiel says the Tyrians will be no more, but Jesus graces a Tyrian woman.
No matter how far we’ve fallen, how lost we are… we can go to God.
If the Tyrians can still be forgiven and restored, so can I… so can you.
Sin will bring us to a horrible end, but Jesus can turn our lives around!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I am no better or worse than others. Thank You for reminding me that even the worst of sinners can find forgiveness and freedom with You!

The glory of being loved by God!

THE STORY OF JESUS: John 5:41-47
“I do not accept glory from human beings…” (John 5:41)
What does it mean to give glory to someone?
It is to praise, honour, celebrate, or boast about them.
Everyone lives for an audience; we want to feel loved and valued.
We seek love and value, because that is what we lost when we left God.
Without God, we starve for love and value, and do almost anything to get it.
A heart void of God’s love is desperate for love and affirmation.
Jesus challenges these religious leaders – they are void of God’s love.
Therefore, they accept anything that feeds the void.
Anyone that serves them by affirming and glorifying them.
If they truly served Moses, they would be serving and loving God.
And they would see in Jesus that He too was not serving Himself, but God.
Jesus basically says: ‘I don’t need your praise, I got God’s love!’
Am I serving God, out of the fullness of His love?
Or am I serving myself, out of the the emptiness within my soul?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, remind me that I do not need to impress anyone to get their approval, because You already love and value me, and Your love excels all others.

Students of Jesus – not the bible!

THE STORY OF JESUS: John 5:31-40
“These are the very Scriptures that testify about me!
Yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:40)

For many years I was a student of the bible.
I studied it, read it in its original language, read commentaries on it.
I knew it front to back, and I could explain (I thought) how it all fit together.
Sunday after Sunday I preached the bible, and urged people to read it.
But it slowly dawned on me that I did not have a relationship with Jesus.
My focus was on the bible, just like the religious leaders Jesus spoke to.
I was called to be a student (disciple) of Jesus, not the bible.
Since that time my focus, my trust, my hope has shifted toward Jesus.
I still use the bible all the time, but only in dialogue with Jesus.
‘What does this teach me about You, how does this fit with what You said?’
My hope does not lie in interpreting the bible correctly – it is in Jesus.
The bible is my altar, my meeting place, where I can relate to Jesus.
I trust the Spirit of Jesus to teach me, to help me, to show me the way!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, thank You for reclaiming my heart for You, for rescuing me from bibliolatry. And thank You for meeting me when I open the pages of scripture. Its You I want to know!

Jesus makes the dream come true!

THE STORY OF JESUS: John 5:24-30
“He has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.” (John 5:27)
Jesus spoke these words as a human, the offspring of a woman.
These words don’t make sense if they refer to His divine nature.
As God He does not need to be granted life (v.26) or given authority to judge (v.27).
It is precisely “because He is the Son of Man” (v.27) that He is given these things.
As humans, we were given these things too, when God first created us.
God created us “very good” (Genesis 1:31) and to do “what is good” (v.29)
But instead we did “what is evil” and are now under the judgment of condemnation.
As long as we are loyal to self, sin and Satan, we are doomed.
But if we listen to Jesus and believe God, we have “crossed over from death to life”. (v.24)
We need Jesus and the Jesus life; He is the key to life and joy and peace.
Jesus came as Adam to retake the throne for God and us, and He did it!
He is our assurance that violence, inequality, rape, sickness, death will end.
He is our guarantee that a better world is coming, and we will be fully alive!
With Martin Luther King, we have a dream… and Jesus makes that dream possible.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, everyone wants a better world, but no one knows how to get it. You do! Help us to stand with You, to love like You, and to live for You, in the hope and joy of eternal life!

Living with God, like God, for God!

THE STORY OF JESUS: John 5:16-23
“Whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (John 5:19)
Jesus had a very special relationship with God.
Although we are not divine like Him (John 1:1ff), we are human like Him.
In this passage, Jesus is describing His fully human life.
He lives in perfect fellowship with, and obedience to, God.
All of the claims in this passage could have been expressed by Adam too.
We were created to relate with God, to reflect God, and to represent God.
We were authorized to do great things with God, like God, for God.
But sin changed all that, and God’s “very good” kingdom was ruined.
Thankfully God sent Jesus as a new Adam to beat Satan and reclaim Adam’s throne.
With Jesus, we learn to live like Jesus, for Jesus, as God’s children.
As Jesus followers, we do not claim to be God, but we do seek to be like God.
In our relationship with God – like Jesus – He shows us how to live.
We do nothing by ourselves, we only do what we see God doing!
And because He loves us, He will do ‘greater things’ through us too! (John 14:12)
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, my authority is not my own, but entrusted from You to me, that I might reflect You in the world. Thank You for restoring me as God’s child. Help me to love and live like You, like God!

The enemy crushed!

“The LORD says to my lord, ‘Sit at my right hand…” (Psalm 110:1)
Who is David, the king, speaking about… who is his lord?
Jesus also asks this: “If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” (Matthew 22:45)
One Jewish response is that David wrote this psalm for the Levites to sing.
“The LORD [God] said to my lord [King David], ‘Sit at my right hand…'”
However David meant it, he knows that his throne depends on God.
He knows God’s promise that his throne will ALWAYS be filled (2 Samuel 7:13-14).
The line of David had many high and low points, but Jesus was the highest.
I’m not sure who Jews claim to be on David’s throne, but we affirm Jesus as Lord.
This is not a claim to Jesus being divine, but to being the promised messiah!
Jesus is the woman’s seed that comes to crush the serpent’s seed. (Genesis 3:15).
Jesus rules not by sword or violence, but by goodness and mercy – like God.
Jesus is what we were supposed to be, and therefore reigns (Genesis 1:26-28).
I am thankful that God has invited Jesus – my Lord – to the throne.
Goodness and mercy have triumphed, and Satan and sin will be crushed (110:5-6).
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I eagerly want to see Satan and sin crushed. You are the One to do it, and share with David this joyful hope that God’s throne will triumph in the end!