Friday, March 23, 2018

don't stop when the world hates you

In today's reading from Luke 5:29-6:11 in the One Year Bible, we read about the Pharisees getting "wild with rage" at Jesus. And what did He do to provoke this rage? He healed a man.

How often we followers of Jesus forget the important advice in the verse above: Don't be surprised when the world hates you. The world will hate you. And the more good you do, the more it will hate you. The darkness doesn't like the light. When you shine the light into your world, the darkness is going to fight back - and it will hate you for shining your light.

Now, at this point, it would be easy to blame "persecution" for anything that others do that we don't like. But we need to be careful. People don't always pick on us just because we're Christians - sometimes they pick on us because we're being obnoxious. We need to remember to be full of kindness, gentleness, and love - these are fruits of the Holy Spirit. Let's not give the world additional reasons to hate us - following Jesus is reason enough.

But keep doing good when the world attacks you. Keep shining your light when the world calls you names. Keep loving your neighbor, and bringing healing into the lives of those you know, even when the world tries to distract you with their cruelty.

Don't stop. The world needs your love. The darkness that fights you is starving for the light you bring. Keep shining.

God, please help us to keep loving when the world hates us.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

don't put God in a box

Today we read about one of Jesus's miracles in the One Year Bible. The selection is from Luke 5:12-28. This is the well known story of the paralyzed man who tried to get to Jesus to be healed, but the crowds were too big. So his friends lowered him down through the roof. When Jesus saw THE FAITH OF HIS FRIENDS, He turned to the man and said, "Your sins are forgiven."

Now, stop and think about this. We can speculate and read our own beliefs into the story, saying to ourselves "Jesus knew the man's intentions and his mind, so He forgave his sins in response to the man's faith and request." But that's not what the story says. It says that Jesus saw his FRIENDS' faith, and forgave his sins.

That's not how we generally think that forgiveness works, is it? We think that God forgives our sins when we ourselves come to Him and repent of them and ask for forgiveness. But in this story, we are encouraged to pray for our friends. Because if this man's friends had faith, resulting in God forgiving his sins... then maybe we can pray for our friends, too. And who knows? Maybe God will forgive their sins because of OUR faith.

Let's not put God in our theology box, and think that He can only do what we believe in our theological system. Remember, with God, all things are possible.

God, thanks for reminding us that You don't belong in a box.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

the source, not the blessing

Peter shows wisdom in today's reading from the One Year Bible. Our selection is from Luke 4:31-5:11.

He has been out all night trying to catch some fish. And with no luck. Then Jesus tells him something that doesn't even make sense from a fisherman's point of view. But in obedience, he does it anyway. And brings in so many fish that the nets tear.

But here is where Peter shows his wisdom. Instead of being greedy with the fish, he realizes where they came from. He turns to Jesus and says that he's a sinful man and that Jesus should leave him. But Jesus tells him he'll fish for men. And the cool thing is to realize that Jesus will continue to give Peter the ability to catch more than he expected.

At this point in the story, Peter leaves everything behind (including, you might notice, the huge catch of fish) and follows Jesus, the source of the blessing. It's important for us to follow his example. When God gives us blessings in our lives, we should always realize that the source of those blessings is far more important than the blessings themselves.

God, please help us focus on You.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

hard to learn from those we know

Today in the One Year Bible, we read from Luke 4:1-30. In this story, Jesus reveals that He is the Messiah. And the people He tells get mad because they think they know Him - but they reveal that they don't know Him at all.

But their reaction is a very human one. We don't like to learn from those close to us, do we? Because we know their weaknesses. We know their bad habits and we remember the times when they were wrong. It takes humility to listen to your neighbor, or the guy at work you don't like, or your family member who always argues with you. When God uses them to teach us something, we have to leave our pride outside, and in humility listen to what is true - even if we don't like the source.

If the people in Nazareth had done this, their lives would have been totally different. Jesus would have performed many miracles in their lives. Let's try to respond better when He works in OUR lives through those that we think we know.

God, thanks for speaking into our lives... even when it's through unlikely sources.

Monday, March 19, 2018

we can trust Him... always

Today we read in Psalm 62:1-12. That's the selection from the One Year Bible.

It tells us that we should wait patiently for God, because our victory comes from Him. He alone is our rock and salvation - our refuge which will not be shaken.

And this lesson is what He's been teaching me in the last few days. I kept realizing that if I could go back in time and tell myself, "Don't worry. It's going to work out," that I would be alot less stressed and alot happier. If only I knew.

I told my friend that I felt like He was teaching me something through this. And I realized that He was teaching me exactly what our verse today says: we can trust Him. He is our refuge. We should wait patiently for Him. He will not let us down. Even when it seems shaky - He's always there for us.


God, thank You for always being there for us. Help us trust You more.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

when God plays hide and seek

Today's reading in the One Year Bible is from Luke 3:1-22. In it, we read about John the Baptist telling us about Jesus, and then about Jesus's baptism. We read about a voice from heaven telling us that Jesus is God's son. Pretty clear, right?

But not too long after, we'll read about John asking Jesus "Are you the messiah, or should we look for another?" And Jesus's own disciples doubted who He was, and abandoned Him when He was crucified. Even those closest to Him had trouble understanding Him.

In the book of proverbs, we read that it is the glory of God to conceal a matter, and the glory of kings to search it out. God likes to surprise us. He enjoys giving us little "Easter eggs", like in a video game, throughout our lives.

In fact, though the picture above is funny, it's also true. Jesus DOES hide behind the curtains...waiting for us to open them and see the beautiful morning. He hides in our breakfast, strengthening us for what we'll face during the day. Most of all, He hides in the faces of every person we meet throughout the day. If we seek Him, even though we're not kings, we'll find Him.

God, thanks for hiding throughout our us find You.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

when we lose Jesus

Today in our reading from the One Year Bible, we read about the time that Mary and Joseph lost Jesus. The selection is from Luke 2:26-52.

It's a great story. So very human, and yet so full of meaning. Mary and Joseph (have you ever thought about the fact that they didn't have a last name? Crazy, huh?) faithfully go to Jerusalem, like they did every year, for the Passover. When  it's to go home, they assume He's with their relatives in their big caravan. But He's not.They frantically search for Him for THREE days...can you imagine what they were thinking? God gave them this perfect son, and they LOST Him!! They finally find Him in the temple, doing "His Father's business".

We do that same thing. We go to worship, and then when it's over, we go home assuming Jesus is going with us. After some time, we sense that He's not here, like we thought. We miss His presence. We start to wonder what we've done wrong...we've been given these gifts, and we've lost our way. So we go looking for Him. And where do we find Him? In His Father's house (the church), and doing His Father's business...ministry. That's where Mary and Joseph found Him, and that's where we'll find Him.

If you find yourself missing His presence in your life, those are the places to look: in His Father's house...and doing His Father's business.

God, thank you for helping us find You.