According to Matthew 5:13, Jesus is telling His followers that they are to be the ‘salt of the earth’. Then in verse 14, they are called to be the ‘light of the world’. So according to Christ Himself, His followers are to be “Salt” and “Light”. In this journey with Christ, I ask myself if my “salt” has a savor that would draw people to the Saviour? Does my “light” shine bright? Or does it dim at the first trial or hurdle that comes in my line of sight? Am I truly being a “light” and “salt”? Or am I just playing games and being “light salt”?
The Cross- “Lord God, why was I chosen? I mean what did I do to deserve this torture? I had no choice! I wish that I were not the one they used. You did nothing to deserve me. Those people did not know who you are. I wish I were not the method of murder used to destroy you. I wish there was something I could have done to stop it from happening. Even Simon of Cyrene knew you did not deserve to perish on me as he dragged me towards Calvary. Even when they mercilessly hammered those nails in Your hands and put that crown of thorns on Your head, while being in extreme pain and agony, I felt anguish for you. I feel horrified that I am forever regarded as that “Old Rugged Cross”, despised by the world and the emblem of suffering and shame. Lord why me? Why was I chosen?”
The Christ- “You were chosen for a purpose. Wood is an important symbol I want my people to understand. When I first destroyed the world by flood, their only salvation was through the ark, which was made of wood. In Exodus 37:1, the Ark of the Covenant was made of wood. In the entire Old Testament, no sacrificial offering dedicated to me would be complete without the use of wood. In Exodus 26:15, my tabernacles would not be complete without wood. All of My Holy scriptures are written on paper, which comes from wood. Through Moses, I performed ten miracles and parted the Red Sea using the wooden staff I gave him so my people would be free. You see, all of these uses of wood were used for freedom, salvation, and sacrifice. Now you ask me why you were chosen. The cross is now viewed as a cherished symbol of atonement, forgiveness, grace and love. If I had no respect for wood, why of all professions would I come to earth as a carpenter?”
What is amazing about carpenters is that they take ordinary pieces of wood, make it, and construct it into any form they want. Jesus is the Master Carpenter and He can form us into something that we could never even possibly imagine. If we allow Him to be a carpenter in our lives, we can be used for any purpose that He chooses. Sometimes wood has to burn to give warmth. Sometimes trees have to be cut down to make beautiful temples. God sometimes uses the lowest moments of our lives to bless and enrich others. It wasn’t until Jesus was at the lowest moment of His life, that He fulfilled the plan of redemption and allowed mankind to be saved so can bless and enrich others with a Christ-filled life to light up the world. Since Adam and Eve sinned by eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, according to 1 Peter 2:24, Jesus had to use a tree of another form (the cross) to redeem and save us from sin. Since Adam had to die from eating from that tree, Jesus had to die on a tree to set us free. Let us always remember that Jesus dying on the cross barely scratches the surface of what He’s willing to do to save each and every one of us. So let us all live what He said in Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; and Luke 9:23 and decide what YOU “wood” do for Jesus?
And He said. “I will not destroy it for the sake of ten” Genesis 18: 32
Abraham was conversing with God following the departure of the three Holy Men who came to give the good news to Sarah that she would have a child. The three Men were on their way to Sodom to destroy it. Abraham knew that his nephew Lot lived in Sodom and he tried to bargain with God against its destruction. At first God said if there were 50 righteous, He would not destroy Sodom. Abraham continued this questioning, asking if there were 45, then 40, then 30, then 20, and finally 10 righteous, would He still destroy Sodom? God said if He found 10 righteous people in Sodom, He would not destroy the entire city. Unfortunately for the city of Sodom, God only found 4 righteous people to save. If there had been only 6 more, Sodom would not have been destroyed.
I don’t know how many people lived in Sodom, but I am sure there was way more than 50, maybe 2000 or 3000… or maybe a whole lot more. But it is amazing that God was willing to spare the entire city for the sake of 10 people. It seems that God was not so much concerned about the presence of ‘evil’ within Sodom, but the absence of ‘good’.
God is aware that we all have evil tendencies, but He is more concerned with our desire to do good. God does not seek to destroy us by looking for errors, He seeks ways to save us by looking for the good in us… no matter how small that is. He really wants to find it, so that He can redeem us. Just as a tree seedling strives each day to reach the light, in so doing, it becomes a strong magnificent tree with mighty roots. God is asking us to battle each day to improve ourselves, to be faithful, prayerful and obedient as best as we can so we can be grounded in Him and grow in ‘goodness’ with Him. Although there will always be a ‘presence of evil’ there will by no means be an ‘absence of good’ and on this basis God is willing to save us, just as He was willing to save Sodom for the sake of 10 righteous people.
Thank you for looking within our hearts and trying to find the good in us, even though we know that our righteousness is as filthy rags. We know that even in a city of Sodom, You were willing to save them, if you could only find 10 people. It shows us Lord that You are not seeking perfection, but potential. Help us each to achieve the potential that you desire for us. I pray that You will place in our hearts a desire to be obedient to You and to be faithful to the best of our ability with the help of the Holy Spirit so we may grow grounded in you. On that wonderful day when Jesus returns, I pray that you will find us faithful and that our ‘goodness’ will be present, abundant and fitting in Your sight.
In Jesus’ Name
For those of you that have been following me over the past three to four weeks, I was attempting to take a 21 day journey through the Gospel of John. Research says that it takes 21 days to make a habit, and I was trying to instill a good daily devotional habit within myself through some accountability with this blog.
To be honest, I have had an absolute blast!! I have learned so much. I have read John numerous times and I have never found the insight that I have gained through this journey. I feel truly blessed by this opportunity to meditate on God’s Word and to serve.
While it took me longer than 21 days, and some days I did not post, it wasn’t because I didn’t read. Some days it was difficult to translate the thought into a devotion and on other days I would be praying that God would bless me with a new nugget of truth. I wanted to focus on the not so obvious elements of the Gospel. We are so easily drawn to the popular Bible stores somewhat to the exclusion of other truths which lay hidden within those pages, and it was my hope to uncover some of these.
I encourage you to also take a journey of 21 days through your favorite book of the Bible. I was hoping to get into the habit of prayerfully studying each day before the New Year came. Just as Delzino said in his blog “The Beginning is in the Middle”(https://spiritualsandwich.com/2013/12/31/the-beginning-is-in-the-middle/), we do not need to wait until the New Year or any other time to start a new relationship with God, we can do that right now. So what are you waiting for? Crack open your Bible now and go for it!
THE BEGINNING IS IN THE MIDDLE
The last day of the year has finally arrived. This is the time of year when people reflect on the biggest news stories of the year and how they have affected society and culture as a whole. There are numerous newsworthy stories of 2013 that will be talked about for ages, however, what happened in 2013 that affected your own life personally? What were the highs and lows, difficulties and defining moments that have shaped you into the person you are now, for better or worse? These are the types of questions we need to ask ourselves. As we are getting closer to the return of Christ, are you even closer to Christ than you were on December 31, 2012? Although this is a question that I struggle to answer, I know that each and every day that Christ allows me to wake up, I have the opportunity to draw closer to Him. Each and every day He allows me to wake up, I have the opportunity to serve Him, praise Him, worship Him, and obey Him. I should not have to wait until January 1st to come around to resolve to be a better person, a better spouse, a better parent, or a better servant of God. January 1st is not guaranteed to anyone. January 1st is not promised to anyone. God wants me to resolve to be a better me RIGHT NOW! Why delay to follow His Way? Why wait before I embark on a journey from mediocrity to being great? I need to live each day as if it’s the last day. I need to live each day as if it’s December 31st.
This year is unique because the beginning of the New Year falls on Wednesday, the middle of the week. I am sure most people would prefer the New Year to start on a Sunday so the New Year could be the start of a new week. However, I take comfort in knowing that even in the middle of my struggle, it is the beginning of a new walk with Christ. Even in the middle of my pain, I know that the beginning of healing is on its way. Even in the middle of my sorrow, I know that the beginning of comfort is on its way. Even in the middle of my storm, I know the beginning of the sun’s rays will shine brightly in my life. So as the sun sets on 2013 and the sun rises in 2014, let us pray to God more, let us serve our fellow man more, let us study our Word more so we can fly high and soar in the 2-0-1-4. God wants us to soar higher than the highest heights we could possibly fathom, yet be humble and “grounded” so we can allow Him to use us in every way possible. So as we embark on Flight 2014, let’s not “carry-on” any “baggage” from 2013 that would keep us from soaring to new heights. Be blessed and Happy New Year one and all.
“After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” John 19:28
Jesus was thirsty. But was He actually physically thirsty or was He again misunderstood. While I understand that Jesus was dying and quite understandably He would likely want some water, I’m not totally convinced that this was His request.
This is the man who went into the intense desert heat and fasted from food and water for forty days and forty nights. When Satan tempted Him to turn the stone into bread, He refused. This is the man who said to the Samaritan Woman “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4: 13 – 14). By God’s power, Jesus is The Living Water. So why would Jesus thirst?
I think Jesus was spiritually thirsty. Throughout His life on the earth, outside of His relationship with God, Jesus was alone. He was spiritually misunderstood. The only One who understood Him completely was His Father to whom Jesus was divinely connected to. They had a symbiotic relationship through which Jesus was connected to the Fountain Living Water springing up into Everlasting Life. Jesus knew that in order to save the human race, He had to be separated from His Father through death. As death approached, Jesus felt His connection to the Father, the Fountain of Life, The Living Water begin to fade. He knew His time was coming and He thirsted to be connected to the Source of Living Water.
I have had days or periods in my life, when I have not been as connected to God as I should have been. I miss God. I miss the connection. I miss the time spent in His presence and there is a nagging reminder that I need to get back into my devotions to renew that friendship, that parent/child bond that I have with Him.
Jesus was dependent on God and They worked together in all things. God was His Father and Best Friend. While I would love to say that my relationship with God is the similar, I cannot. So if I have a longing to renew my relationship with God, I cannot even begin to imagine how Jesus felt on the cross being separated from His Father, from His Source of Life, The Living Water. The thirst He felt, must be unlike any other.
God is the only One who truly understands me, after all He created me. I need to develop a dependent relationship on God, such that I am thirsty to be in His presence and that it is only His water that can quench my thirst.
Your sacrifice demonstrates Your love for us and for this we are truly grateful. We are spiritually thirsty Lord, more than we know and yet we sometimes fail to actively seek The Living Water that springs into Everlasting Life. I pray that You will teach us to seek You and to have an earnest desire to spend time with You while we can. Christ was thirsty for You and I pray that we can be too.
In Jesus’ Name
“Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name.” John 17: 11-12
In John 17, this appears to be the last recorded prayer that Jesus has with His Father and contains all of Jesus’ desires. Jesus recognizes that the hour has come when He must be handed over to die. It’s almost as if this prayer could have appeared in a legal will. In fact, this prayer was Jesus’ last will and testament, with God being appointed the Executor.
Jesus prays for His disciples. God had given to Jesus the disciples to teach. Now Jesus was leaving behind the biggest investment He had made on earth, in His disciples. He had given to them everything He had and knew. He had spiritually equipped them with all of His wealth of knowledge of His Father, how to heal and love others as per God’s request. As per the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), Jesus had received his share of talents (disciples) and He had invested in them wisely, and He was returning them back to God with added interest (spiritual discernment) and asking God to look after it for Him.
Jesus’ now asks God to provide the disciples with joy, protection and sanctification as they go into the world to share the gift of eternal life that He also left to us in His will. Jesus also petitions God, asking that the disciples and believers may be one as He is with God and they may love each other as God has loved Him.
Jesus’ last will and testament is truly beautiful. It is a selfless expression of concern and love. Jesus wants protection for the disciples because He knows that His death will fulfill God’s purpose and Satan will be defeated. He knows that because of this defeat, Satan will seek to stop the disciples spreading the Gospel message and hinder people from accepting Jesus and salvation through Him.
Recognizing this as Jesus’ last will creates in me a desire to honor His requests, especially since He has requested the ultimate protection and love from God while I am doing this. I want to commit to unity between believers, to love others as He has loved me and to use my talents to share the Gospel message so that others may be saved.
Dear Father in Heaven
Thanking You for Your steadfast love and protection. Thanking You for taking care of us since the time Jesus left the world.
I pray that you will continue to sanctify us by Your truth and set us apart from the world so that we are different. May that difference be one that draws people to You, because they sense a love that they have never experienced before radiating through our testimony of You. For if we truly know You Lord, then we should be able to declare your love to others in the way that You have loved us.
Jesus, we look forward to Your return, so that we can finally meet You and thank You for leaving us this wonderful gift of eternal life in Your last will and testament. But for now, we will rejoice in serving You and fulfilling Your will.
In Jesus’ Name
“As the Father love Me, I also have loved you, abide in My love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” John 15: 9 – 10
As I continue to read through John, I notice that whenever Jesus speaks, He makes references to His Father – it’s a major theme of an inter-relational connection. Whatever Jesus is doing, His Father is doing also. Whatever is God’s will, is also Jesus’ will. Equally, whatever Jesus experiences, for example ‘hate’ then God also is ‘hated’. It’s almost as if Jesus is looking into the mirror and seeing God looking back and all of their desires, thoughts and actions are the same – it is a perfect reflection.
If we abide in Christ, then we will be mirroring this relationship also, between Christ and ourselves, with our thoughts, desires and actions mirroring His. In so doing, we also have an inter-relational connection with God.
Looking into the mirror of our lives and who we really are is not an easy process. When we look at Jesus, we become more acutely aware of our sin and the brokenness that is within us, because in all honesty we really do not reflect His true nature. There are some days when I do not want to come before Jesus because I am painfully aware of how far removed I am from that reflection of His character. I am broken, and if it wasn’t for Jesus, my mirror would be broken too, and there would be no way of communing with God. But Jesus continues to look at me, and as long as I continue to look at Him, He teaches me what I need to do to become more like Him.
The beauty of this relationship is when God looks at me, He knows who I really am. But because I have accepted Jesus and I am trying to abide in Him, the blood of Jesus covers me. Though I am broken, because of Jesus, my mirror reflects His sacrificial love, His Grace and Mercy. Jesus is our Mediator and He stands between myself and God. God sees Jesus first – a perfect reflection of His love.
I am thankful that You are Perfect in All Your Ways. I am thankful that you sent Jesus to show us how to abide in You, as He does. I am also thankful again for the sacrifice Jesus made to cover me with His blood. Without this blood, I would be broken and my relationship with You would be broken too.
Thank You that Jesus is our Mediator, who stands before us now, and at judgment, talking to You on our behalf and I pray that we can continue to learn Your ways through the mirror of His reflection.
In Jesus’ Name
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13 : 34, 35
When Jesus talks to us about something, it’s because He want us to grow and to learn new ways. When Jesus referred to this commandment to love, was this really a new commandment? I don’t think it was. I think the newness Jesus was referring to was the new type of love He desired for us to learn and practice. He said ‘love one another as I have loved you’. The way that Jesus loved was extra-ordinary.
We are not talking about Hollywood, ‘fall in love’, but Agape love.
Jesus wants us to have a relationship with God first before we can truly relate to others. When we have experienced the way in which God loves us, it is only then that we can truly understand how to love and respect ourselves and our bodies. It is only when we have this relationship with God that we truly understand how to love another person. We can treat them with dignity and respect, regardless of the way they treat us. That does not mean that we become door mats, accepting any abusive behavior, for enabling someone is not love. But we should lovingly correct and encourage them to seek Godly insight just as Christ did.
Now… here is the remarkable part!!! It is through the expression of this love that other people will know that we are His disciples, but only if we have love for one another.
God’s love is unconditional meaning that His love for us is not performance-based. God does not expect me to jump over ten hurdles perfectly to earn His love and if I fail, He withholds it. Neither should we expect others to complete tasks in order to earn our love.
God does require respect and so should we. That same respect that we require, we should offer to others. This means that our conduct, the way we talk, the tone we use, the things we say and do are tempered by the Holy Spirit. This includes being able to give and receive loving and gentle correction. Because of His love for us, God does admonish us from time to time when we need it and it’s only right that, without wrongful judgment, we help keep each other on the right path too.
This love that Jesus shared is not the worldly love that we know all too well. It is different and because of this love, people were drawn to Christ. Wouldn’t it be awesome if people were drawn to God because of the love we expressed to each other?
Thank You for Your expression of True Love. Thank You that we have been commanded to love each other as You have loved us.
Cast Your Holy Spirit amongst our families, friends, relationships, churches, spreading Your love and peace. Help us to talk respectfully to each other, treating others with dignity and love, regardless of the way they treat us. Help us to be committed to setting the example that Christ gave to us. Admittedly, we do not always get this right but in our humble efforts, help us to glorify You and to draw others closer to You.
Thank You for hearing and answering our prayers.
In Jesus’ Name
“Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. And He said, “Where have you laid him?”
They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”
Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!” (John 11:33 – 36)
When Jesus received the message that Lazarus was sick, Jesus did not respond immediately, He waited two days knowing that Lazarus would die. In order to reveal God to us, Jesus had to wait for Lazarus to die, so that He could honor God’s power of raising the dead to life. Jesus knew that Lazarus was going to live.
It was when Jesus saw Mary and the Jews weeping that Jesus “groaned in spirit and was troubled” and it was then that “Jesus wept”. Although the Jews suggest that Jesus was crying because he loved Lazarus so, I think the Jews interpretation of what Jesus did and said has been consistently distorted and so I feel inclined to disagree with this view.
Just as a mother or father cries over the pain they see their child in perhaps after an accident or surgery, I think Jesus was feeling that same pain for us. Jesus was showing empathy with the mourners, feeling their sorrow. He was expressing how deeply He felt about the high price of sin. But He knew we would have to go through the pain because it was the consequence of our choices. Just as a parent would want to take away the pain or more so, take their child’s place, I think Jesus was reminded how much He wanted to take the sting of death away from us and take our place and ultimately that is what He did on the cross.
It’s hard to accept death as being a part of life. Death is unnatural, that’s why it hurts so much, and ultimately, that’s why Jesus cried.
I am comforted knowing that when I am in pain, my Savior understands my pain and He cries with me too, for He also has experienced it. It would be easy for Jesus to take all the pain away, but if I have never experienced pain, how can I ever truly appreciate the absence of pain? While I hear some of you saying, “sure, I don’t need pain to appreciate having no pain”. Well, maybe that’s why Adam and Eve became too comfortable. They had never experienced pain and so were unaware of how it felt and how serious the consequences were. Once they felt it, they realized that partaking of the fruit to ‘become like God’ really wasn’t worth it.
Sometimes, we have to lose what we have and experience the pain, in order to truly appreciate it. Mary showed her appreciation for the absence of pain and regaining her lost brother. After all it was Mary, who following the resurrection anointed Jesus with the fragrant oil from her alabaster box.
I pray that through my pain, like Mary I can draw closer to Christ knowing that He understands and He is willing to take that pain away from me. Because of the sacrifice that Jesus made I know He has put in place a plan to remove that pain eternally.
Thank You for blessing and taking us through another week. We are also thankful for the break from work and the opportunity to spend some quality time with our families and with You.
We know that You did not intend for death to become a part of our lives, but we understand that because of sin, it is a consequence. I pray that we will not become complacent about sin and its’ consequences because we know Jesus paid the price. Jesus loved us enough to sacrifice His Heavenly throne for us, let’s not take that for granted. None of us want to feel this agony, but I pray that somehow through it we can appreciate the sacrifice that You made for us. I pray it will help us to think twice about the choices we make, to sin… or not to sin.
I pray that through this pain, we can grow closer to You and more like You. Thank You for showing us You care for us deeply and that You weep with us when we mourn.
In Jesus’ Name
Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”
I have always wondered about the purpose of the conversation Jesus had with the Samaritan woman. I notice that following Jesus’ request to call the Samaritan’s woman’s husband, she responds by saying that she has no husband. Jesus agrees and says that she has spoken the truth. He then goes on to say that she has had five husbands and the one she is with is not hers.
But how can she have married five husbands, yet according to Jesus, have no husband? Surely, according to traditional views, Jesus would say that she has at least one husband, with the first marriage (where there is no death) being the only spiritually acceptable one? Furthermore, how could she have gotten to her fifth husband without being stoned for adultery because she remarried four times?
Or did all of her husbands die? It seems unlikely, even so, what Jesus said would then be correct, she has no husband for they are all dead. But why mention her dead husbands? All He could have said is, that the man she is with now is not her husband. Why would it be relevant to raise her past? After all, Jesus says everything for a reason.
Another explanation is that she ‘had’ – meaning had sexual intercourse with five men who are another woman’s husband. However, the term generally used in the Bible for sexual intercourse is ‘to lay’ or ‘to know’.
Lastly, could she have had five husbands and was legally and spiritually divorced from them, hence she really had no husband. As a consequence of her five failed relationships, she decided to live with the last man so that she would not have to go through the humiliation of another divorce? If so, was Jesus accepting the validity of a legal and spiritual divorce by stating she has no husband?
While I believe and fully support the ideal for a marriage partnership to be life-long, we know that Moses allowed divorce due to the hardness of man’s heart. However, according to some studies, the word divorce has been wrongly translated. The original Hebrew word used for ‘divorce’ actually refers to an old practice of men who ‘put away’ their wives (separated or left them with no legal divorce). For her survival and that of her children, the ‘put away’ wife would remarry rather than prostitute herself. But because she was not legally divorced, she committed adultery and this is why God hates ‘divorce’ that is the practice of ‘putting away’. Moses requested that a legal document be produced to protect women who were often oppressed, impoverished and unjustly stoned, (Deuteronomy 24:1-3). A legal document allowed the woman the freedom to remarry without condemnation of adultery. It has been suggested that the word ‘divorce’ in the Bible should be read using the words ‘to put away’. (For a general read on Divorce and Remarriage – http://www.bethelministries.com/divorce.htm). Let us not forget that God legally divorced Himself from Israel, also issuing them a certificate of divorce (Jeremiah 3:8).
What was the purpose of this conversation Jesus had with the Samaritan woman such that He raised her past and present? I think that Jesus gently brought her into the awareness of her failed relationships and her current actions living with another man, but I think it was the reason behind her failed relationships that Jesus was asking her to explore. Before He mentioned her husbands, Jesus told her that He has living water, and if she drinks His water, she will never thirst again. I believe Jesus was saying to the Samaritan woman – whatever you are seeking in these men, can be found in Me. He was stipulating that He (Jesus) is the love that she has been searching for and once she accepts God’s love, she will never search for this love in another man or earthly relationship again. I know this is a lesson I need to hear and accept.
Thank You for another day enjoying this miracle called life. I thank You for the institution of marriage which ideally should be a life-long commitment. I thank You for the opportunity to look at divorce from a different perspective. Help us in this day and age to learn to treat people who are divorced with more compassion and care, rather than with judgment and failing. I know that You understand because You Lord were also divorced from Israel and You bear no shame. I thank You for the example of love and empathy that You showed to the Samaritan woman while explaining to her that we need to find love in You first. Without the knowledge of Your love it will be difficult for any of us to truly know what love looks like and this may eventually lead to failed relationships.
Help us all to be grounded in Your wonderful gift of true unconditional love.
In Jesus’ Name
Note: Your comments are welcome, but please note that this a controversial and sensitive topic. I ask that all words are written respectfully and with love.
Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men. John 2: 23 – 24
Jesus was able to read the hearts of people and He made a choice not to place any importance on the ‘faith’ or ‘belief’ that people had in Him because of the miracles He did. It seems that Jesus thought their faith was superficial, I can only assume because it was faith by sight and people were more impressed with the miracle and not the Son of God. Before the miracles – I wonder how those people viewed and treated Jesus?
Ecclesiastes 1:9 says that “there is nothing new under the sun”. I wonder to what extent our faith in Christ has changed. Do we treat Jesus poorly until He provides us with a miracle and then our attitudes change? How much do we need charismatic preachers and entertaining Christian music artists to feel that God exists and is available to us? How much importance do we place on charming preachers and melodious voices to enjoy church and feel connected to God?
While there is nothing wrong with enjoying a spirit-filled worship and praise session, if we take those things away, what do we have left? Will we still be able to connect with Jesus and be steadfast in our faith? Or do we need to see or hear something as evidence or a reminder of His existence and power? I’m not saying that we should not use music, or sermons or feel blessed by His gifts of healing. I just want to be careful that my faith is in Jesus and not in His miracles. As Job 1:21 says – The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” When God takes something away, what will I think of Him. Will I still respect Him? I certainly hope I will.
Thank You for being a Mighty Awesome God. Thank You for this opportunity to read and study and to seek new understanding. Lord, when You look into my heart, I want You to see someone who is desiring a new relationship with You, not based upon what I see or the miracles You perform in my life. Even if You do no other miracle for me than allow me to breathe each day, help my faith to be deep and grounded in You.
In Jesus’ Name
Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?” John 1:38
John the Baptist had two of his disciples with him. As Jesus walked by, John the Baptist declared Jesus as “the Lamb of God!” . It was at this time that the two disciples left John the Baptist and proceeded to follow Jesus. Jesus then turned to them and asked “What do you seek?”.
This is a valid question for many of us today. What are we truly seeking from God? What are our motives for following Him? Jesus knew that people would come to Him for many different reasons. Some people would seek healing, forgiveness, peace, eternal life, riches, perhaps even superiority amongst many other things.
Nevertheless, the disciples tell us exactly what they were seeking.
They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?” John 1:38
The disciples were simply seeking to be with Jesus and spend time with Him.
I need to evaluate my motives for seeking Jesus. What am I truly seeking? Am I seeking selfish gain? Has following Jesus become another routine activity because it’s what our family does and has done for years?
I need to spend time with Jesus simply because He is Jesus. I need to get to know who He is. Personally, I think one of the highest forms of compliment you can bestow on anyone is an active desire to spend time with them without seeking any additional profit other than the blessings you receive from their character, wisdom and spiritual understanding. Following that would be a desire to model their behavior in thoughts and actions. To me it means that you simply love them for WHO they are, not for what they can do for you.
Thank you for being an Almighty God. Thank you for sending Jesus so that we can know You. My prayer is that you will help each and every one of us to desire to spend time with You simply on the basis of who You are and not for what You can do for us. The blessing of eternal life is not about living for ever in paradise, but living for ever with You. Please help us to prioritize our lives so that we can put You first in all the things we do.
In Jesus’ Name
Apparently it takes approximately three weeks to create a new habit regardless of whether it’s a positive or negative one. We are nearing that wonderful time each year when we make promises for the New Year about how we are going to do things differently. Well, I don’t know about you, but I need to re-create some new habits and I want to get in training now. With busy schedules, it’s easy to put aside God’s Word, so whatever I do needs to be achievable. So I’m making an accountability plan through this blog to spend time in God’s Word…daily.
On this basis, I’m inviting you to join me as I read one chapter of the Gospel of John each day, starting tomorrow. This plan is not about the quantity of reading, but the quality of spiritual understanding and application to our lives. John happens to be my favorite Gospel and is an ideal place to learn more about the life of Christ. Furthermore, it has 21 chapters, that’s exactly 3 weeks of training to create a new habit!
I will seek to update the blog daily with my thoughts by using the acronym S.O.A.P. which some of you may have used before:-
- S – Scripture;
- O – Observation about the scripture;
- A – Application to my life;
- P – Prayer of consecration.
Trust me, there are areas of my life that need S.O.A.P. and my prayer is that by the Grace of God, those areas will be washed clean in the Blood of the Lamb, for God has promised us all “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” – Isaiah 1:18.
Share this blog with your friends or perhaps you could study together. However you choose to do it, I welcome your thoughts and comments as we embark upon this journey together.
This race is not for the swift nor the strong, but for he that endures to the end.
I am trying my hardest to stay in this race, but my legs are cramped spiritually by sin.
I am trying to concentrate; I am trying to stay focused; but the enemy’s weapons attack me like a swarm of locusts. First, he tries to get me to doubt, when I have every reason to keep the faith, and God gives me every reason to scream and shout praises to His name. Therefore, I tell the enemy to fall back, because I am not falling for his game. I live by the bread of life and I rely on it for nourishment, but that sneaky foe tries to get me to eat a bowl of discouragement. It tastes sweet at first, but turns bitter going down. I notice the smile and joy on my face evaporates into a frown. I really need my Jesus; there has never been any doubt how much I’ve missed Him. I need to purge all of this despair and discouragement right out of my system. I remember He said be of good courage and be of good cheer,
God has not given me the spirit of fear. I am holding on to His promises, and trying to live right.
I keep running this race because the finish line is in sight. However, distractions and diversions veer me off course; I try with all my might to fight off this evil force. I realize that I cannot run this race on my own, so I send my prayers up in hopes that it reaches God’s throne. Jesus came down to carry me at the moment Satan thought he had me defeated, but when he saw Jesus lift me up and cross the finish line as a winner, he was the one that retreated. I asked Jesus how I won the race even though I have constantly sinned. He said I already forgave you; I was more concerned that you endured to the end…..I was more concerned that you endured to the end……..
Reflect on the lyrics to this song……
“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour”. Matthew 25: 1-13
I’m lost; I’m searching to find me, I don’t know where I went,
I disappeared amongst the kids, job, partner and the rent.
I’m lost; I’m searching to find me, I wander through the mist,
Of work and chores, school and trips and a never-ending list.
I’m lost; I’m searching to find me, most days I just appease,
Despite the work to make it right they were rarely pleased.
I’m lost; I’m searching to find me, to make a happy house,
I want so much to make it well for my family, friends and spouse.
I’m lost; I’m searching to find me, my goals I have made known
I really want to chase God’s dream, the seed that He has sown.
I’m lost; I’m searching to find me, I gave away my oil,
I’m all burnt out with nothing left from chasing endless toils.
I’m lost; I’m searching to find me, a voice that goes unheard
But if I don’t exist why do I feel their every word?
I’m lost; I’m searching to find me, but I exist unseen,
It’s clear that I’m invisible, Dear God, where have I been?
I’m lost; I’m searching to find me, but I gave me away
And though my well was void and dry, they thought I was okay.
I’m lost; I’m searching to find me, I’m in a lonely place,
I’m all worn out, too tired to care, I’m resting in His Grace
I’m lost; I’m searching to find me, I’m drinking at His well.
It’s then my eyes are opened and I see just where I fell.
I’m lost and I have found myself resting in His arms,
Leaning on His lasting love, protected from all harm
I’m lost and I have found myself, replenished and revived,
Remembering the sacrifice, why He was crucified.
I’M FOUND!!! I know just who I am, He taught me I’m His child,
There’s nothing else I need to know, His love has me beguiled.
I’M FOUND!!! I know just who I am I won’t be lost again
As long as He lights up my path and tightly holds the rein.
I’m found and I have realized the things I didn’t see,
I’m found and I have realized the need to care for me.
I’m found and He has promised me I’ll never be alone,
I’m found and He has set me on a path to take me home.
I’m found and I will not let go, in Him I will reside
My Lord, My Savior Jesus Christ!!! Forever by my side!
This poem reflects a perspective of how family life, though desired and prized, can also be stressful and draining. It’s easy to get caught up in giving constantly to the demands of our, families, marriages, friends, jobs and church life while neglecting yourself. As long as you are always self-sacrificing and always putting others first, neglecting your own needs – people – no matter who they are – will take and take and eventually you will become exhausted. At those times when you ask for or need help – you may find some, but you may also find none.
You must not lose yourself, give away your character and eternal salvation because the demands of life or people – even the ones that you love – becomes so overwhelming that you fail to take time for yourself – and then when Christ returns – you are unprepared – you have no oil. Remember – Jesus took time away from the crowds to rest and renew His relationship with His Father – without this self-care, Jesus may have been of little help to anyone else.
Set clear boundaries with people who perpetually burn your oil without replenishing it. Learn to say “No!” just as the wise virgins did. Take some time to know yourself and who God created you to be and pursue that course no matter what! Make time to relax and renew your mind through an activity you enjoy, whether exercising or socializing with friends. Last and most importantly, take consistent time to develop and cement your relationship with and your character in Christ through prayer and reading the Bible. Do yourself a favor while you still have time, save some oil for yourself – you cannot afford to be lost – your salvation depends on it!
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”-Mark 10:45
The “Servior” might look like a typo, Jesus makes it clear in this verse what His entire mission on earth would be, and that is to be our Loving Server and our Lord and Savior. One of the many ways that Jesus served the people was through the miracles he performed.
Jesus performed miracles – around three dozen, depending on how you count them-but the Gospels actually downplay them. Though He never denied someone who asked for physical healing, He always turned down requests for a demonstration to amaze the crowds and impress important people such as King Herod & Pontius Pilate even when His life depended on it. Jesus recognized early on that the excitement generated by miracles did not readily convert into life-changing faith. Rarely did people find it easy to believe in miracles; they seemed as peculiar in the first century as they would seem if performed today. Just imagine your own reaction of seeing a televangelist on one of the Christian networks that “heals” members of his audience. Then, as now, miracles aroused suspicion, contempt, and only occasionally faith.
Now even though we cannot perform miracles as He did and still does, we can still learn lessons from Him in how we serve others in our community.
Lesson #1. When you do community service, or any volunteer activity to benefit others, you must expect suspicion and skepticism.
We live in such a cynical world, that even random acts of kindness to strangers will have them thinking there is a catch. Also when we go out to serve the community, like Jesus, we cannot do it just so we can get attention, give ourselves a pat on the back, or just make our church look good. Read Matthew 6:2. Imagine if you will, the mentality of the arrogant modern day apostle, “Look at me; I just gave away a free water bottle and two bags of Cheetos and Skittles! I’m such an awesome volunteer”. Service should be who we are and not just what we do. Christian writer E.G. White says in the book “Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing” that “Those who desire words of praise and flattery and feed on them as sweet morsel, are Christians in name only.”
Jesus’ first miracle in John chapter 2 (turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana) was perhaps the strangest of all. He never repeated anything quite like it, and the miracle seemed to take Jesus by surprise as much as anyone else.
As emergencies go, this one falls well down the list. It caused embarrassment, to be sure, but should a Messiah who had come to heal the sick and liberate the captives concern Himself with a social mishap? “Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied when His mother mentioned the problem. “My time has not yet come.”
Can you imagine what crossed Jesus’ mind? If He acted now that would mean His time HAD come and from that moment on, life would change. If word of His powers leaked, He would soon hear pleas from needy people from Galilee to Jerusalem. Crowds would flock: the blind, the lame, the deaf-mutes, and the demon-possessed, not to mention any street beggar who wanted a free glass of wine. So finally He reached a decision, for the first but surely not the last time in His public life, He changed HIS plans to accommodate someone else.
Lesson #2-When we serve others in any capacity, like Jesus, it would require us to change plans to accommodate someone else.
Serving others is not about us. It requires sacrifice of our time, money, our energy, and some of our material possessions. Also serving others requires us to step outside of our comfort zone. Like Jesus, we have to meet people where they are. We actually have to step out of the ivory towers of the church building and go into some of the most undesirable neighborhoods to serve those in need. We can’t expect those in the community to come in here, if they feel we are too good to go meet them out there.
The people back then blamed the victims of blindness, deafness, and paralysis on their sinful conditions. So the sicker you were, the more sinful you were. But Jesus overturned common notions about how God views sick and disabled people. He denied that the men’s blindness came from sin, just as he dismissed the common opinion that tragedies happen to those that deserve them. Job refuted that theory right? Job was the most upright man in the land and still got hit with more tragedy than anyone else. Praise be to God that Jesus, the only perfect Man who ever lived, served the most imperfect of people.
Lesson #3-When we serve others, like Jesus, we must not look down on them or stand in judgment of their circumstances as if we’re superior and they’re inferior to us. We must dismiss the ideology that bad circumstances mean they’re bad people. But if you read the Holier Than Thou version of Romans 3:23, it says “Most have sinned..some have fallen short”, no ALL have sinned and not only have ALL sinned but no matter how high and mighty you think you are, or how big a deal you think you are, you STILL come short of the glory of God. We are all just nobodies telling somebody that anybody can be saved by the Man who died for everybody. So let’s serve with humble hearts of compassion like Christ.
Let us talk about the only miracle in all four Gospels, the feeding of the 5,000. The daunted disciples were vexed and perplexed on how to feed the multitude, but the Savior was the solution. When we focus on the problems, we lose sight of the promises. When we focus on great obstacles, we miss out on golden opportunities. So I can imagine Jesus telling the disciples “I healed the sick, made the blind see, made the lame walk, raised the dead, and calmed a storm with My voice alone … so do you honestly think hunger is something I can’t handle?”
Lesson #4-When we serve others, we need to remember that little becomes much when we place it in the Masters hands. Just like the 2 fish and 5 loaves fed everyone AND created an overflow and spillover, God will take whatever gifts and talents you have to serve others and will multiply it so that it would exceed even YOUR expectations so that it will spillover and overflow to have a huge impact on so many that would greatly benefit from it.
The author Philip Yancey once said, “Jesus never met a disease He could not cure, a birth defect He could not reverse, a demon He could not exorcise. But He did meet skeptics He could not convince and sinners He could not convert. Forgiveness of sins requires an act of will on the receiver’s part, and some who heard Jesus’ strongest words about grace and forgiveness turned away unrepentant.” In the context of service, we can help so many people when we give of our time and energy, and they can still end up being ungrateful and unappreciative, but serve anyhow. And why should we serve others? What’s the point of it all anyway? Let’s look no further than Matthew 25:37-40. It wasn’t the wicked, the unbelievers, or even the Gentiles that asked those questions, it was the righteous that asked these questions. It was His followers, the believers, the Christians. He wants us to serve others we SEE just like we serve Him that we DON’T see. Matthew 20:28- the Son of Man did not come to be served, but TO SERVE, and give His life a ransom for so many.” Besides dying on the cross for our sins, out of His own mouth, serving was His only other purpose on earth. We are saved to serve. God saved us so we can serve others…God saved us, so we can serve others. So let us serve with compassionate hearts and sincerity. Francis of Assisi once said, “It is not fitting, when one is in God’s service, to have a gloomy face or a chilling look”. I believe that God not only loves a cheerful giver, but a cheerful servant.
“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” -Muhammad Ali
We all need to ask ourselves, are we current with our “rent” payments with our LandLord? Or are we delinquent?
Suggested listening music to reflect on.
Keith Pringle-Saved to Serve
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock…” Revelation 3:20
A recent article described the importance of maintaining healthy boundaries with family, friends and co-workers. It stated the benefits for our emotional, mental, physical and spiritual health to create boundaries that allow healthy, positive, and encouraging people into our lives, while limiting or denying the access that negative, critical people have.
It is wonderful news that God’s amazing unconditional love of sinners means that He does not create boundaries to keep any of us out. Despite our sinful nature, God created a way through His Son, Jesus Christ to enable us to have fellowship with Him such that nothing can separate us from His Love. The Parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15 : 1-7) tells us about how God looks for us. God is gracious and does not turn his back on us, but He actively seeks out the fallen.
It is even more incredible that Almighty God wishes to respect our human boundaries, such that He knocks at our doors and waits for us to answer! God wants us to remove our barriers, open the door and invite Him in. No boundaries, no limits!
Even if we place boundaries on others or they do the same to us, we can take comfort in the fact that God’s love is always available to us. He is a healthy wholesome God who is willing and able to heal/comfort those who are emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically unwell – especially when we let Him into our lives. God invites us all to limitless fellowship with Him through prayer and meditation on the Bible. God’s promise in Revelation 3:20 (NKJV) is:-
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”
God’s door is always open to us and yet He patiently stands and waits at our doors. Is He knocking at your door? Will you let Him in?