27 November 2014

Jesus Likes Seeing People Praising God

Luke 17:11-19

Lord, thank you for my life. Thank you for knitting me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for my health. Thank you that I don't know what it's like to have to go hungry. Thank you that I didn't grow up worrying about where I was going to sleep. Thank you for parents, grandparents, aunts and churches who taught me what it was like to be loved and safe. Thank you for a happy, innocent childhood. Thank you for parents who took seriously your gift and teachings on marriage. Thank you for parents who listened to you and raised me in your ways. Thank you for raising me in a nation that has allowed me to worship you without fear. Thank you for parents who valued all people, no matter their abilities, no matter their age, no matter their bank account, no matter where they live and taught me to do the same. Thank you for the gifts and abilities you have given to me. Thank you for the ability to serve in your kingdom and disciplining me to bless others the way you have blessed me. Thank you for your church. Thank you for teaching me the value of brothers and sisters who come alongside to help and spur on toward love and good deeds. Thank you for giving me a true partner in the ministry who takes seriously your gift and teachings on marriage. Thank you for four children who are growing up kind and loving with a true desire to love people the way you have loved them. Thank you for continued laughter. Thank you for the ability to sit with a grieving friend in silence. Thank you for each and every person you have placed in my sight that teach me another facet of the diamond of this world. Thank you for your communication with us given in your Word. Thank you for telling me exactly what you expect and the attitude I am to live with. Thank you for your Spirit that does what I am unable to do on my own - change for the better from the inside out. Thank you for your Son. Thank you that thousands of years later, he still answers the plea, "Jesus, master, have pity on us."

If you love people, you will be taken advantage. If you love people, you will be taken for granted. If you love people, not everyone you love will say "Thank You".

Do you know how I know this is true? Because often I forget how incredibly blessed I am and how much mercy He has shown to me.

At the start of the day, at the end of the day, don't forget to say thank you. Thank your family. Thank your friends. But,most of all, thank your Father in heaven.

Happy Thanksgiving!

25 November 2014

Jesus Is Rejected

John 11:45-57

No one can serve two masters. It's either Him or it's someone or something else. Whoever is not for Him is against Him.

In an age of clever man and compromised values, these statements make us uncomfortable. There is always a third option. We pick the benefits of column A and the benefits of column B without devoting ourselves to either with the purpose of getting exactly what we want out of life. After all, it is our life; it's our temple; it's our nation.

Then, the Alpha and Omega comes. The One who was and is and is to come takes on flesh and dwells among us. For the poor, for the rejected, for the unclean, this is good news. For the rich, for the chosen, for the powerful, this is not good news. For those who are happy with what they have, the message to all men of "Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand" is not a welcome message.

"If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation." 

Do you know how the others can tell when religious leaders lose the plot or expose ourselves for who we really are? When we describe what God has given as ours. When we reject God's clear revelation because it will take away what we love. And when what we love is not God or acknowledged as from God, then we are chasing after the wind.

18 November 2014

Jesus Is The Resurrection and The Life

The Raising of Lazarus - Tissot
John 11:17-44

They believed. They rightly believed. They rightly believed and they asked. They didn't hesitate. They didn't worry. They rightly believed and they asked. They believed. They asked. And their brother died anyway.

One of the things I enjoy about the Bible is that it is about real people in real places at real times. We throw around labels so easily. I suppose we label people because we long to simplify and save time. And, too often the labels are negative.

A number of preachers, including myself, have focused on Martha as the one who would have rather kept up appearances instead of spending real time with Jesus. But it is unfair to categorize someone based on a single instance. All of us have our good moments and our not so good moments.

10 November 2014

Jesus Acts Toward Our Need to Believe

Jesus Told About Lazarus - Unknown

John 11:1-16

"God's intention for us is to grow us to the point where he can empower us to do what we want." Dallas Willard

In other words, there is nothing more important than our relationship to our Lord God. The stronger our relationship with our Father in Heaven, the stronger our character develops. When we allow ourselves to be grown to the point where what we want is what He wants, then we are vessels that can be used for incredible good instead of wasted evil.

Mary and Martha's brother, Lazarus, was sick. They did the right thing and asked Jesus for help.  When Jesus heard Lazarus was sick, he did what he did for the centurion's servant and healed Lazarus in an instant.  Uh, no.  When Jesus heard Lazarus was sick, he left straightaway and healed Lazarus. Uh, no. When Jesus heard Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was for two more days.

04 November 2014

Jesus Wants Us To Walk Humbly With Our God

Image - afr.com
Luke 17:1-10

C'mon, it was just fruit. Was the fall really the result of simply eating forbidden fruit?

No. The fall came when we humans decided that our Father should not be listened to. The fall came when we humans decided that the Living God should no longer be our God.

What is the fall of mankind?  As a result of our broken relationship with our Creator, we have broken relationships with our fellow man, self and nature. When this becomes clear, we then understand why the greatest commandments are not focused on objects or specific actions, but on relationships. First of all, our relationship with the Lord our God and then with our fellow man as we have a proper relationship with self.

If the fall is the fundamental breakdown of all living relationships, then salvation is not merely about eternal destinations but the reconciliation of all living relationships beginning with THE foundational relationship between our Father in Heaven and each one of us. In other words, being saved or born again restores our understanding of our place in His universe.

And so, Jesus instructs his first converts that in their joy of salvation, living in the age of grace, not to forget what they are being saved from.