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Monday, February 29, 2016

Am I Holding Onto Chains

In review of Matthew 1:21-23 it says, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means “God with us”).”

Bottom Line:
Jesus came to save us from our sins. In Jesus we have “God with us”.

What this means to me:
God sent his son into the world to provide himself, “God with us” and to save me from the debt and penalty of my sins.

Today I consider how God is “Savior” for my life. In the first chapter of Matthew, God tells me that He is my Savior. Through Jesus I’m saved and have freedom from the bondage of sin.

There are days when I feel like my sin is too big for God. Other days when I feel like my weakness makes me unworthy of salvation. Romans 3:23 tells me everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. Everyone. Given this, I’m not the only one who struggles with feeling unworthy. I can probably be assured that I’m not alone in my imperfection.

Before Jesus, I was in essence locked up in chains. However the very minute I asked him to be my Savior, those chains were unlocked. I still have a role to play! I need to unwrap the chains and let go of them.

In Romans 6:14 it says, “Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God's grace. God sent His Son, Jesus, to be with you and to save you from your sins.” (NLT).

So the chains are now unlocked. I have been set free! So I need to make sure that I unwrap them, let them go, and leave them behind.

So today I should consider what chains I may still be holding on to that are weighing me down or holding me back?

This morning I pray, “Lord, thank You for saving me and freeing me from the chains of sin. Today I surrender my chains, my addictions, controlling attitude, pride, insecurity, overeating, overspending, lust, laziness, and compulsiveness; all to You. I ask for wisdom to recognize the areas in my life where chains are choking me but I cannot see them. I want to walk in the freedom that You paid for me to have!

In appreciation for lifting my chains I will quote and hold onto Psalm 145:2, I will praise you every day, yes, I will praise you forever. (NLT)

Friday, February 26, 2016

Looking To The Needs Of Others

In review of Philippians 2:4 it says, “Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”

Bottom Line:
Look beyond your own interests and into the interests of others

What this means to me:
I should not just think about my own affairs, but be interested in others and in what they are doing.

One key starting point for happiness is to shift the focus away from myself. If all I think about is myself I only obsess with my wants and desires.  What I'm learning is that to be really happy, I need to care about the needs of those around me.

Paul gives Timothy as an example of this in Philippians 2:20-21: “There is no one like Timothy for having a real interest in you; everyone else seems to be worrying about his own plans and not those of Jesus Christ” (LB).

I would say that most people worrying about their own plans and really aren’t looking out for the interests of others. It’s safe to say most won’t get up in the morning and give their first thought to how someone else is doing. Most are concerned with their own problems and how it affects their lives.

To change this natural tendency requires a change in focus, from self to others. It won’t come naturally, it is something that needs to be learned.

It’s easy to miss the needs of those around if we aren’t paying attention or taking an interest in them. It requires a change in focus in serving God through serving others.

Today’s verse reminds me, “Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand” (Philippians 2:4 MSG).

The message this morning dovetails into another concept God has been speaking to me about in which I need to look and see where he is at work and join him.  Taking the focus off myself and putting it on others will help me see where he is already at work.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Learning to Give My Life Away

In review of Philippians 1:21 it says, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

Bottom Line:
Living means living for Christ, and dying is even better, you’ll be with him.

What this means to me:
Living gives me a chance to serve Christ and point others towards him, dying means being with Christ, which in the end is even better.

In Philippians 1:20-26 I’m shown an example of how Paul lived his life for Christ. At this point Paul was close to the end of his life. Paul heart was for his life to be benefit to others. For living means living for Christ and the purpose Christ gave us. Dying meant that Paul would then be with Christ, which in the long run is even better for him and us.  However in continuing to live, Paul was able to continue to give his life for the benefit of training and building into others.

What I’m learning is that happiness in my life comes from when I can serve and make a difference to others. In essence I’m giving my life away. I can honestly say that I have had more joy in serving than anything I’ve ever done for self-gratification. This desire for serving comes from a position of self-sacrifice.

In addition Paul was onto something.  He knew that to be happy, he had to stay focused on his purpose and not his problems. He summed up his purpose in Philippians 1:21: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (NIV).

So today, I’m prompted to think, what word would I use to fill in the blank, “For me to live is ______.”  Nothing deserves the place of the One who created me and gave me life: Jesus Christ.

It seems that how I’d fill in the blank will determine how happy I am in my life.  Living for money, success, pleasure or power will not bring overall happiness for my life. While there’s nothing wrong with those things; they just don’t deserve first place. I’m learning that God has a far greater purpose for my life. There is only one real answer that leads to happiness: to live is Christ. Therefore, I should give my life away in service to Christ and to making a difference in the lives of others.

Today I pray this: “Dear Jesus, you know that I often let circumstances determine my happiness. You know that I often allow the killjoys of pain and problems and pressures and picky people to rob my happiness. Help me to look at every problem in my life from your viewpoint. I want to handle problems in a way that is a witness to nonbelievers and an encouragement to believers. Help me to remember that what others say and do does not control my happiness unless I allow it. And as for the things that happen that I don’t understand or can’t figure out, I want to trust you to work it all out for good. Help me to stay focused on your purpose for my life and not my problems.  I want to use the rest of my life to serve you by serving others. Use me, Lord, so I have a purpose for living and for dying. From this day on, for me to live is Christ. In your name I pray. Amen.”

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Learning To See God’s Bigger Picture

In review of Philippians 1:12 it says, “I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News”

Bottom Line:
Paul tells us that everything that has happened to him, while it was meant to diminish him, had actually helped serve and advance getting out the Good News.

What this means to me:
God will use the opposition that comes against me and the circumstances I face as I communicate and share the Good News to further advance His Message.

There is a bigger perspective to look at life with.  God’s has a bigger picture in mind and if I don’t see things from his point of view, I’ll only end up getting discouraged, frustrated, and unhappy.

There is more happiness in my circumstances if I can learn to see things from God’s point of view.  

So no matter what’s going on in my life; the good, the bad, and the ugly, God is working out a plan. Paul knew this and today’s verse in Philippians 1:12 reminds me, “I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News” (NLT).

It seems that ever since Paul became a Christian on the road to Damascus, he had dreamed one great dream: He wanted to preach in Rome, the center of the universe at the time. His dream was to preach the Gospel in the most important city in the world.

But God had another idea. Instead of sending Paul to Rome to preach crusades, God made him a royal prisoner of Caesar, who was at that time Nero. Nero was about as wicked and as bad as you can get.

As a royal prisoner, Paul was chained to a royal guard 24 hours a day for two years, and the guard was changed every four hours. Over two years in prison, he witnessed to 4,380 guards. So who was the real prisoner here? Who had the captive audience?

I’m sure this wasn’t Paul’s plan, but it was God’s all along. There were two results of it that we know for sure.

First, Philippians 4 says that within two years, some of Nero’s own family had become believers because of Paul’s witness in the royal court in Rome.

Secondly, it’s kind of hard to get a guy like Paul to stop moving. In prison, he was forced to be still and, as a result, wrote most of the New Testament. I wonder which had a bigger impact: his preaching in the Colosseum or the books he ended writing, such as Romans, First and Second Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. These seven books have revealed Jesus to millions of people over the years?

In this verse I get to see that Paul knew that God had a bigger plan, and in it he could be happy because he saw what God was doing through his problem.

This is a great reminder for me.  Any time I feel I have a problem that’s starting to get me down, I need to do what Paul did; learn to see it from God’s point of view. I can ask, “What is God doing here? What’s the bigger picture? What’s the bigger perspective?” If I can think like this then I’ll be able to face the problem in faith.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Giving Life Away

In review of Mark 8:35 it says, “If you insist on saving your life, you will lose it. Only those who throw away their lives for my sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live.”

Bottom Line:
If you insist on saving your life, it will be lost. If you live your life for Jesus and his Message, then you’ll save it.

What this means to me:
If I insist and try to hang on to my life, I’ll end up losing it. For only those who give up their lives for Jesus and the sake of his Good News, will ever know what it means to really live and save it.

Our world promotes the notion that happiness comes from status, salary, sex or success.  What I’ve learned is that In reality, this is not true. God has wired in that happiness comes from service. God designed me to be happiest when I’m giving my life away.  He does this so that I can become more like him. It’s all about love!

Today’s verse reminds me that, “If you insist on saving your life, you will lose it. Only those who throw away their lives for my sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live” (Mark 8:35 LB).

In order to have a happy heart, I need to practice service and generosity every day.

Matthew 20:28 reminds me, “Even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (NLT).

Jesus came to serve and give. Those are the two things that will bring more happiness in my life than anything else, and they define what it means to follow Him. If I’m not serving, I’m not giving, and I’m not really following Jesus.

God also wired the universe in such a way that the more I give myself away, the more God gives to me and the more blessed and happier I become.

In Philippians 2:17-18, Paul says, “Your faith makes you offer your lives as a sacrifice in serving God. If I have to offer my own blood with your sacrifice, I will be happy and full of joy with all of you. You also should be happy and full of joy with me” (NCV).

My faith makes me offer my life as a sacrifice and serve God by serving others. Sacrifice and serving are two of the keys to lifelong happiness, along with generously giving my life away for the sake of the Good News.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Learning Not To Sweat the Small Stuff

In review of Philippians 2:14-15 it says, “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that no one can criticize you.”

Bottom Line:
Don’t grumble or complain, instead be a person who is blameless and pure, a “child of God” without fault that shines in a warped and crooked world.

What this means to me:
I am to do everything without grumbling, arguing or complaining. so that I may become blameless and pure, “child of God without fault in this warped and crooked generation.” If I can do this, then I’ll will shine among them like stars would in the sky.

This morning I’m reminded to “not sweat the small stuff.” There are times when I have to admit that I get caught up fretting and even fighting over the small stuff.  It’s a hard habit to break, as I can be negative by nature.  This is nothing new, even the first man and woman (Adam and Eve) experienced this (going around excusing and accusing.) It’s easy for me to excuse my mistakes but then accuse others for theirs. If I’m not careful, I can even tend to blame others for a problem in my life.

The passage in Philippians reminds me, “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that no one can criticize you” (Philippians 2:14-15, NLT).

Complaints can fall into one of four types:

First are the whiners. You can get up in the morning and say, “Good morning, Lord!” but a whiner will choose instead to say, “Good Lord, it’s morning!”

Second are the martyrs. Their favorite expression is, “Nobody appreciates me!” They’re pros at throwing pity parties. They pout and complain when they don’t get their way.

Third are the cynics. Their attitude is, “Why bother? It isn’t going to make any difference.” They poison everything.

Fourth are the perfectionists. Nothing is ever good enough for these complainers. Their favorite phrase is, “Is that the best you can do?”

I need to keep in mind what is in Matthew 12:36: “Everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken” (NIV).  Wow, how many times have I complained, whined, or argued about something when I shouldn’t have been sweating the small stuff?

So instead of sweating the small stuff, I should learn to “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

In reality a complaint can make something that is difficult seem even worse because it takes it out the realm of reality and exaggerates it.

Today, I will consider if and what I have been consistently complaining about in my life. Would this be considered “the small stuff?”

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Never Stop Growing; Press On Toward The Goal

In review of Philippians 3:12-13 it says, “I don’t mean to say I’m perfect. I haven’t learned all I should even yet, but I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ saved me for and wants me to be. No, dear brothers, I’m still not all I should be,  but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,”

Bottom Line:
No, I’m not saying I have it all together or have achieved it. Rather, I keep pressing on toward the day when I will finally be all Christ has in mind for me. I focus on this one thing; I forget what was in the past and look forward to what lies ahead of me.

What this means to me:
I’m not saying I’ve got it all together or have arrived at my goal. But I press on and keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ saved me for and wanted me to be. No, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: forgetting what’s in the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.

Following Jesus was a decision on my part and what I’m learning is that it’s a process that will go on for the rest of my life. I won’t be able to follow without walking. So I need to have movement!

Philippians 3:12-13 says, “I don’t mean to say I’m perfect. I haven’t learned all I should even yet, but I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ saved me for and wants me to be. No, dear brothers, I’m still not all I should be,  but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,” (LB)

What’s amazing is that when Paul wrote that verse, he was an older man in prison in Rome and toward the end of life. He was an incredibly mature person. Yet he said he hadn’t arrived. If anybody had the right to say, “I’ve arrived spiritually,” it would be the guy who wrote most of the New Testament. But Paul says, no, I haven’t arrived. I’m still growing. I’m still learning. I’m still becoming more like Christ.

This morning I consider a trap that could keep me from following Paul’s example and continuing to grow in Christ? This thing is “Pride.”

Pride will keep me from growing, because when I pretend that I’ve got it all together, I won’t make an effort to become more spiritually mature. In reality, no one has it all together! Humility on my part will lead to happiness, it allows me to be more teachable.

A happy person will never stop growing, discovering, stretching, and learning. I was made to grow.

Happiness and humility go together because humble people are teachable. They are always asking, “How can I be a better husband? How can I be a better friend? How can I be a better boss? How can I be a better follower of Jesus?”

A great piece of advice comes from the 2 Corinthians 13:5 from the Message version, “Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it” (MSG).

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Getting to Know God Better

In review of Philippians 3:10 it says, “For my determined purpose is that I may ... progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly.”

Bottom Line:
A driving force should be to get to know God better each day.

What this means to me:
A driving force in my life should be to know him more deeply and intimately each day. Spend time perceiving, recognizing and understanding the wonder of His Person more strongly and clearly.

What I’m learning is that happiness is found in getting to know God a little better each day.  I was made to live in relationship with him.

This is something that Paul discovered and wrote about. In Philippians 3:10 he says, “For my determined purpose is that I may ... progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly” (AMP).

There is a big difference in knowing about someone and knowing someone. I know more about some celebrities than I want to, but I don’t really know them. I know my wife and I know my daughter and son-in-law because I spend time with them. I have a relationship with them.

Paul became “deeply and intimately acquainted” with God because he had a relationship with him and took the time to get to know him.

One thing is for sure, I won’t get to know God by accident. Rather it’s through a “determined purpose.” It’s something I alone have to do something about. I must invest time in it.

Unfortunately, we all get too busy, and busyness if left unchecked, destroys relationships. It destroys your relationship with your family, your friends and it destroys your relationship with God.

In order for me to know Jesus, I’ve got to spend time with him. In order to spend time with him, I’ve got to make time for him. Fortunately I have gotten into the habit of getting focused time on weekday mornings with God.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Learning to Know What Counts and What Doesn’t

In review of Philippians 3:8a it say, “Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”

Bottom Line:
Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus our Lord.

What this means to me:
Everything else in this life is worthless when compared with the priceless value of knowing, Christ Jesus my Lord.

It makes sense for me to remind myself daily what counts and what doesn’t. If I don’t I can be easily distracted by what is inconsequential and petty.

This is important, because even the smallest irritation can cause me to lose my joy. Somebody cuts me off in the middle of the road when you’re trying to make a turn, the clothes I put on don’t fit anymore. It’s often the little things that can affect me the most, and yet in reality they don’t really matter.

Paul said in Philippians 3:7a, “I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done” (NLT).

Before I became a disciple of Christ, there were a lot of things I considered important.  Today’s I’m reminded of what Paul said, “all those things don’t matter anymore compared to the joy of knowing Jesus.”

The trap that’s going to keep me from developing this habit is today's culture. Every day there are thousands of advertising messages that say, “You aren’t worth anything until you’ve got our product.” Even television news makes every item sound like it’s the most important thing of the day. It’s not! Nothing is as worthless as yesterday’s newspaper. Just because it’s urgent and immediate does not necessarily translate it to being important.

I should ask myself about everything: How much will this matter in 100 years? How much of what I’m worrying about right now is going to matter tomorrow? It’s probably not going to matter tomorrow, much less for eternity. You need to live in light of eternity.

Our culture is on a trivial pursuit. People are living for things that don’t really matter. So to be counter culture, you’ve got to focus not on what’s current but what’s eternal. When you live in light of eternity, you realize that the small things you’re worrying about aren’t going to matter in eternity, and instead of stressing out, I can be a happier person.

Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8a). Each day, I should keep in mind and remember what matters most.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

What Is the meaning of life?

In review of Mark 4:1-20 it says,

4 Once again Jesus began teaching by the lakeshore. A very large crowd soon gathered around him, so he got into a boat. Then he sat in the boat while all the people remained on the shore. 2 He taught them by telling many stories in the form of parables, such as this one:

3 “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed. 4 As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it. 5 Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. 6 But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn’t have deep roots, it died. 7 Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain. 8 Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” 9 Then he said, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

10 Later, when Jesus was alone with the twelve disciples and with the others who were gathered around, they asked him what the parables meant.

11 He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secret of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables for everything I say to outsiders, 12 so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled:

‘When they see what I do,
   they will learn nothing.
When they hear what I say,
   they will not understand.
Otherwise, they will turn to me
   and be forgiven.’”

13 Then Jesus said to them, “If you can’t understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the other parables? 14 The farmer plants seed by taking God’s word to others. 15 The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away. 16 The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. 17 But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. 18 The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word, 19 but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced. 20 And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

What I’m learning is that Jesus told parables for two reasons: (1) to help me understand the heart of God; and (2) to help me understand how things work in the kingdom of God.

In this parable, he is describing the true meaning of our life: to cultivate a heart that is receptive to hearing and accepting the redemptive message of Jesus’ death and resurrection, then to live a life that produces a huge harvest that can “feed” a multitude.

In this parable he uses the story of a farmer who scatters seed to one who shares the word.  Where the seed/word falls has a big impact on the harvest.

Some never takes (footpath)
Some starts to grow but quickly dies (rocky soil), it doesn't have deep roots
Some among thorns gets chocked out by the thorns/distractions of this life
Still some hits firtle ground and grows and reproduces.

After being asked by his disciples about the meaning, Jesus tells them, "If you can't understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the others parables." He then goes on to explain the coorelation between planting seed and taking God's word to others. Jesus used parable for everything he said to outsiders. Those who God permit's will understand the secret of the Kingdom of God.

This parable reminds me of two things; one is my own struggle with thorns/distractions that can keep me from producing good fruit and secondly that as I share who God is and what Jesus did to others, that it will have different impacts depending on where peoples hearts are.  As a discple maker, I need to help new Christians from have a rocky type soil, one without deep roots and to keep the thorns/distractions of life from keeping us from producing good fruit.

This morning I thank you God for allowing me to be one of the ones whom you have allowed to understand Jesus' parable.

My life is intended to be a source of life-giving “nutrition” for everyone around me, and the only way I can produce that kind of fruit is to provide “good soil” for the “seeds” God wants to plant in me. The meaning of our life, according to Jesus, is to do whatever it takes to continually offer him “fertile soil”, to give myself to understanding him and his kingdom, to continuously deepen my soul by pursuing the truth about ourselves and about God, and to set aside my worries and my material ambitions so that I trust God above all.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Will everything be okay?

In review of Matthew 14:22-33 it says:

22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. 23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.

24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”

27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”

28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”

29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

In this passage Jesus sends his disciples out ahead of him to the other side of the lake, while Jesus went away to pray. The disciples found themselves in great peril as they crossed the lake, the wind and waves were extremely rough. In the middle of the night Jesus came toward them walking on the water. When they saw him, they were spooked, but he spoke to them, "don't be afraid, take courage, I am here!" Peter calls out to him and says if it's really Jesus, allow him to come toward him on the water.  Jesus tells him to come. Peter left the boat and walked toward Jesus, but then he saw/noticed the strong wind and waves, he was terrified and began to sink.. he called out to Jesus to save him. Jesus reached out and saved him, and said, "You have so little faith, why did you doubt me?"  After Jesus/Peter got back into the boat, the wind stopped. The disciples worshiped him. When they reached the other side of the lake, news of his arrival quickly spread.  Soon people came bringing their sick to be healed. They begged to at least touch his garments.  All who touched him were healed.

What’s a recipe for terror? Make the setting a stormy sea in the predawn night, then mix in a ghost striding across the water toward your boat, that would scare even seasoned fishermen who’ve “seen it all.” And it did. When I’m terrified by something, I’m fully convinced that everything will not be okay. And here Jesus not only enters into his disciples’ fear, he causes it. Interestingly enough, His answer to their terror is subtly profound, and important for me to grasp, as he does not explain himself; he simply reveals himself. “It’s all right, I am here! Don’t be afraid.” My assurance that everything in life will be okay has nothing to do with optimistic explanations about outcomes; it has everything to do with the presence of Jesus in the midst of my fear. And more than quelling my fears, he will invite me to walk into them, always with him right by my side.

This morning I thank you God for your faithfulness and care. You are with me at all times, good and bad. When I'm struggling you will provide assistance, however if I look away from you and let the greatness of the opposing difficulty overcome my thoughts I will begin to fall.  But even when I do, I thank you for stretching out and saving me.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Love should not demand a miraculous sign

In review of John 4:43-54 it says:

43 At the end of the two days, Jesus went on to Galilee. 44 He himself had said that a prophet is not honored in his own hometown. 45 Yet the Galileans welcomed him, for they had been in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration and had seen everything he did there.

46 As he traveled through Galilee, he came to Cana, where he had turned the water into wine. There was a government official in nearby Capernaum whose son was very sick. 47 When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged Jesus to come to Capernaum to heal his son, who was about to die.

48 Jesus asked, “Will you never believe in me unless you see miraculous signs and wonders?”

49 The official pleaded, “Lord, please come now before my little boy dies.”

50 Then Jesus told him, “Go back home. Your son will live!” And the man believed what Jesus said and started home.

51 While the man was on his way, some of his servants met him with the news that his son was alive and well. 52 He asked them when the boy had begun to get better, and they replied, “Yesterday afternoon at one o’clock his fever suddenly disappeared!” 53 Then the father realized that that was the very time Jesus had told him, “Your son will live.” And he and his entire household believed in Jesus. 54 This was the second miraculous sign Jesus did in Galilee after coming from Judea.

Today’s passage shows the popularity of Jesus. People had seen the wonderful things he had done and they welcomed him. In his travels he came across a government official whose son was very sick.

Jesus encounters this government official whose son is sick. The man asks Jesus to heal his son, and Jesus responds by asking, “Will you never believe in me unless you see miraculous signs and wonders?” Elsewhere in the Gospels, we hear of how the Pharisees and teachers of the law ask Jesus to show them a miraculous sign, they want him to remove all doubt from the question. But Jesus refers to them as “evil” and “faithless” because of it (Matthew 12:38-45).

What I’m learning is that Jesus came to re-establish a trusting, faithful relationship with God’s beloved children. But those who fold their arms and stamp their feet, demanding miraculous signs as a foundation for their trust, have missed something that is true of every relationship.

In a relationship if your love is based on performance and not a commitment to your beloved’s heart, then it is no love at all. It’s wrong to treat our relationship with God like a business transaction; if you do this, then I’ll do this, because God is interested in restoring intimacy of the deepest kind with us. Demanding that God perform for us to win our love is wrong; trusting him because we’ve “tasted and seen” his heart is right.

Today I consider if I have any of this un-trusting attitude in my life. As I reflect on this question, my first reaction may not be one who is demanding to see a miraculous sign, but I still have not trusted him with every aspect of my life to him. I believe I still have areas of my life that I am not letting him fully control and lead.  I will think more on these areas and consider why.