Saturday, March 8, 2014
IT'S A FAIR QUANDRY to pose the question, so what is God really like? For understanding his nature ought to give us a better handle on how best to relate him. And hopefully, all things God are happy and light hearted. For surely God would never be unruly and unkind. Not quite. Instead, in the person of Jesus, we find out what God is like and at times, it ain't sweet. Take his encounter in the Temple. Terribly unhappy with all the commerce he found there, he flipped over tables and uttered this statement: "Then he taught the people and said, 'The Scriptures say, ‘My house should be called a place of worship for all nations.’ But you have made it a place where robbers hide!'" (Mark 11:17). Rarely do you find the Messiah exlaiming anything to where an exclamation point appears in the account. It does here. So it seems the take away from this story is to understand the sharp anger of Jesus and God at things untoward, especially in the religous. Wow, were we to hear his voice better, I suspect we would hear untold anger at what goes on in a lot of churches. Not far from the temple encounter. Hence it seems a proper response to this would be to walk carefully with deep respect whenever we choose to wax religous. Great Jesus, we do ask that you would give us hearts devoted to pleasing you in the area of religion. In your name, amen. God bless you!
THE NOTION OF belief holds enormous promise./ For apart from that a life has emptiness./ It's the idea that just maybe trusting Heaven/ Can lead to greater turns that don't threaten./ With faith all becomes hopeful and possibilities./ And once this finding appears, life works so completely.
Friday, March 7, 2014
IT SEEMS A LOT OF LIFE is about cornering some form of control or power over our lives. If you think of it, mental illness is really the experience of losing control over one's life. An uncomfortable sense that you no longer have any control over your behavior. So what about the flip side to that? How would you like to gain a much stronger ability to control your life and achieve much of what your heart desires? Sounds unlikely. But maybe not, for Jesus offers us the most solid path to gaining control over our world that we never could accomplish on our own. We see this exhibited in the following passage: "Jesus asked, 'What do you want me to do for you?' The blind man answered, 'Master,[j] I want to see!' 52 Jesus told him, 'You may go. Your eyes are healed because of your faith.'" (Mark 10:51-52). What we see here is this guy gaining his eyesight due to his faith. In other words, his faith became super powerful and rescued him from a life of shortcoming and frustration. And so for us to begin gaining greater control over our lives and seeing results that satisfy our wishes, we must be sure to exercise faith regularly, just as this dude did. Since faith is the fire. That thrills Jesus and inspires him to grant us the noble wishes of our hearts. Powerful Lord Jesus, we do pray that you would swoop in to us and increase our faith. In your name, amen.
TO FIND SLAVERY, that's the goal./ A life of sacrifice, something bigger/ Than just the little stuff everywhere./ What can you live to the Christ/ When he absolutely beckons toward death?/ We can submit and find sacrifice./ Yeah, that's it. Stuff of legend/ That truly makes our lives ring/ Beautifully. Simply accept and cherish/ Endlessly a slave's walk to please a dear Messiah.
Thursday, March 6, 2014
EVER BEEN STUCK in a tedious job or maybe working so hard at home? No doubt it ain't fun. But the sort of slavery that Jesus proscribes ought to be happy given the reward that awaits. We find him talking about this here: "And if you want to be first, you must be everyone’s slave. 45 The Son of Man did not come to be a slave master, but a slave who will give his life to rescue[h] many people." (Mark 10:44-45). This came in response to James and John wanting to sit in a place of glory in Heaven. Honestly, not a bad request given they thought they could get it. But the Christ slams them back pretty hard by suggesting an exactly opposite position, given that he chose to live this very life. Talk about a cutting response. And so it seems, should we really want to carry on this sort of life, we do best to always keep before us a reminder somehow of the reward. For that kind of existence has to be wearing. Yet once we get to that joyful spot of feeling good no matter the tasks we face, then maybe we have arrived at the proper position of a slave. Dear Jesus, we ask that you would enable us to be slaves happily. In your name, amen. I pray the Spirit will bless you and keep you close.
THAT THE FIRST should be last strikes a/ Worrisome surprise for those used to/ Their comforts of a postion reigning over/ Everyone with wealth and prestige./ But that worldly position falls short/ Once they face judgement valuing/ Stuff like character and humility. And so their glory fallen, the agony/ Of seeing the last exulted must strike/ Home ultimately forever.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
One of the things I so admire about Jesus is his way of flipping life on its head in a surprising yet just fashion. We find this in a passage where he makes the point that in Heaven, things shall not at all look like our world. Troubling? For some. But for all of those seeking his face this style will surely be a joy with a strong sense of right. Something really not often found in our world. When the wealthy can be unkind and do little for the poor. But in Heaven, says the Christ, all that will play differently. Read this: "But many who are now first will be last, and many who are now last will be first." (Mark 10:31). That is the essence of what he speaks, how the Lord turns the world fully upside down and, supposedly, the outcome for many of our world's first, won't be a happy one for eternity since they didn't care for the poor. Though they desperately needed it. And, to their chagrin for eternity, the poor will rule in Heaven in utter and total euhoric joy. Our Jesus, please make us a people who care for those who are last in this world. In your name, amen.
THAT SO MANY people could enter our lives/ Remains the mystery of belief and life/ At that place of confluence found in/ A life of hope when we can discover/ The meaning of union with so many./ It really ain't too difficult once we can/ Let go and allow that truth of blessing/ To truly be there entirely due to our Saviour.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
IF YOU HAVE EVER known anyone who has passed from a way worldly life and then made the drastic change to become Christian, then you know the trauma that person suffers. They lose friends and a previously easy outlook to become one who is now contrained often by legalism that loooks incredibly stupid to their previous fellows. Quite painful. But Jesus suggests, in spite of human troubles that seem to come to the newly Christian, that there is indeed a reward in life that also should be there for those old timers who may come from generations of the faithful. We find his description here: "You can be sure that anyone who gives up home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or land for me and for the good news 30 will be rewarded. In this world they will be given a hundred times as many houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and pieces of land, though they will also be mistreated." (Mark 10:29-30). This explanation sure seems to most apply to that soul that leaves a life of sin for the believing one. But the reward should be there for all. And it most seems to come in the form of relationships and their wealth that ought to be bestowed on their brethren. This seemed to sure happen in the first century church. And today, in my experience, to a far smaller degree due to our lack of faith today, it seems to happen to some degree. Though again, just by the nature of the newness, in a much stronger degree to the newly converted. But the point here seems to be that we all should manage to enjoy a broader life due to our faith. One hopefully offering help. Dear Jesus, please do help us to be people who stretch ourselves to help your people, making their lives easier. In your name, amen. I pray that Jesus will bless you and keep you close.
THINKING HE COULD somehow get in,/ He applied himself to looking within/ And asking the Master about a way/ That could open the door seeming far away./ The Messiah liked him and sought a path,/ Giving maybe a means to bring mirth/ And freedom if he would only sell his riches/ To allow assurance of Heaven's niches./
Monday, March 3, 2014
AS WE ENJOY our lives it sure is appealing to wonder if we ever might land in some serious money. And some folks do. But have you noticed, at the end of the day, such wealth doesn't seem to make them any happier? Curious indeed. But maybe this makes sense when we get the perspective of Jesus when he counsels a similar rich dude: "Jesus looked closely at the man. He liked him and said, “'There’s one thing you still need to do. Go sell everything you own. Give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come with me.'” (Mark 10:21). Quite an interesting passage given that it says the Christ actually liked this, likely arrogant, rich boy. And in response to his appeal to the Master about what he might do to earn a place in heaven, the Messiah gives him this deeply troubling counsel. Now we have to give credit to this fella to come openly with such a heartfelt request. Too bad he refused to comply. But the bigger picture for us here is that in God's mind, the correct dealing with wealth is to give it all to the poor. Ouch! Yet is Heaven not worth that? Of course, seems to be. So should we ever be so fortunate to land in some serious money, we see this path. And maybe the same teaching should be applied for all, since nearly every American is way rich in the world's eyes. Dear Jesus, we pray that you would make us generous and able to give to the poor. In your name, amen. God bless you!
The melding of two into one,/ This forever shall remain a thing that can/ Come true provided that the two allow/ His entrance within their unity flow./ It merely requires sweet conversation./ Questions. That's the ticket to mention/ One to another ideas that raise/ Further discussion toward a loving haze./
Saturday, March 1, 2014
ONCE AGAIN THE Pharisees accost Jesus hoping to maybe trip him up on the subject of divorce. Seemed like their interest is to somehow hear him support the divorce option as a fitting way to end marriages, since that is their selfish wish. But typical of the Christ, he seems to favor the longer road, one that tends to protect relationships. Indeed, he speaks of marriage this way: "'He becomes like one person with his wife. Then they are no longer two people, but one. 9 And no one should separate a couple that God has joined together.'” (Mark 9:8-9). Here we find the Messiah describing marriage in quite an ideal fashion, suggesting that the union should be so complete and fitting that the couple become as one person. Hard to imagine when you look at a lot of marriages, where it seems the couple can barely stand to be together. But the reality, given that the Master knows best and understands the range of possible love available to a married pair, that a marriage ought to be the soundest relationship on the planet. How is this accomplished? By talking well. That means by each of the couple often asking open-ended questions of the other so their communion can be well beyond what they might encounter from others. A great marriage, first of all, is about this willingness to ask and ask and ask and then listen. That way you so get to know your spouse. And that person, finally, gets to be heard better by the other spouse then they could experience anywhere else. Our Messiah, we do pray that should we ever be married, you would make us into people who are devoted to understanding our spouses so well. In your name, amen.
THE HOPE REMAINS to never allow sin/ A place in clean lives stretching for purity./ For that is the fierce wish of the Christ,/ To finally see innocence maybe take hold/ And along with it a form of honesty/ That can in fact win this day completely./ Yep, the wish can be doable, providing/ They buck up and allow a bit of pain without sin./
Thursday, February 27, 2014
ONE WOULD THINK that Jesus would emphathize with our failings and willingness to sin, since he made us and understands our weaknesses. Not so. Instead, if we honestly read the words of the Christ we find a radical warning about avoiding all sin at all cost. Get this: "44 So if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off! You would be better off to go into life crippled than to have two hands and be thrown into the fires of hell that never go out.[b] 45-46 If your foot causes you to sin, chop it off." (Mark 9:44-46). In other words, what the Messiah is advocating here is such a radical response to sin that he advocates dismembering ourselves to avoid sin! Talk about sheer mania you find in his abhorence of sin. Don't think he takes any of it lightly. Though we might. So if we are to be honest about holding up a true, living relationship with the Lord, not the common fake stuff you find in churches, then we must be deeply strident about avoiding all sins--especially those we know most capture us. What the Master is saying in this passage is for us to get super serious about constantly fighting the pull of sin and the chase of Satan. For we know that all day long the Devil longs to draw us into sin. Then he wins. And we lose. Heavenly Jesus, we ask that you would give us hearts that strongly hate sin so we can avoid it. In your name, amen. Peace of Christ to you.
To see them, you wouldn't know/ That peace flows from their beings./ Something so helpful to everyone/ Who happens to get near./ But even few adults finally/ Grasp the enormity of their sweet/ Presence and get to savor this joy./ It's what Jesus tried to get at,/ To always embrace the beauty of children./
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
ONE OF THE GREATEST tragedies of life is to hear complaints about children, as though they are trouble. I say this, having raised four beautiful daughters and revelled in their sweetness as little ones, that any time with precious kiddos is a treasure. But I confess, I didn't come up with this fully on my own. Jesus did. So he says, "Then Jesus had a child stand near him. He put his arm around the child and said, 37 'When you welcome even a child because of me, you welcome me. And when you welcome me, you welcome the one who sent me.'" (Mark 9:36-37). Here we get a full on invitation to embrace children just as though we are welcoming the Lord himself. For if he seems to love kids, we should do the same. It's not like they should ever be a bother. Why? If you spend time with children you find the level of innocence we desperately need in order to achieve a gody life. And, with kids, you notice a level of peace beyond any you can find in other places. Have any trouble sleeping? Spend time with little ones and you will find sleep coming so much better, for peace roars from children beyond anything anywhere else. Since insomnia is the totally the result of a peace shortage. So here, once again, we have the Christ to thank for huge insight into what is best in life. Dear Jesus, we do pray that you would always prompt us to love any time with kids. In your name, amen. May the Spirit bless you and keep you close.
To get the jist, that remains a challenge./ What are they after? Seems to manage/ This idea of servanthood. A life/ Devoted that way of beyond rife. Something bigger, yes, a way of denial./ Becoming a weak, hapless one--almost menial./ Hence it seems devotion to a cause/ That rings bigger. Servanthood, to give with pause./
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
When you think of slavery in America, one tends to think of terrible injustice. People being beaten and tortured. The reality is far different. Most slave owners treated their slaves well and just gave them the duty of working hard and attending to their master's wishes. Maybe this is why the New Testament doesn't come out against slavery; in most cases, it's really not that bad a life. Too bad Lincoln didn't get that and leave the Confederacy alone, since they published their interest in stopping slavery. I say all this to illustrate the point that Jesus wants all his people to be slaves. Yes, subservient to others and in a way straining at the toil of always doing the bidding of others. For that is what the Christ did in the world. We find it written about this way, "'If you want the place of honor, you must become a slave and serve others!'” (Mark 9:35). In other words, it seems that what the Lord wants for us to truly devote ourselves to serving others, putting their needs well above our own. Tough stuff. But rarely can one find anything in the Christian life that is comfortable. Yet the reward promise seems to be the reason to do this. Our Jesus, we pray that you would alter our hearts so we can become slaves and focus on serving others. In your name, amen.
Monday, February 24, 2014
I SHALL NEVER UNDERSTAND the lame attention given to prayers in churches. I mean, think of it, if prayer is real and the way to gain the attention and help from the Trinity, why on earth is prayer usually billed as just one more tedium on the church schedule of the day? Hardly anything important. And have you listened to the typical wimpy prayers fired up during the service? As though God ain't really interesed; we do this because we must. Well, Jesus, at the conclusion of this wonderful account where he heals the kid, sheds all that crap about prayer right down the drain. It says, "Jesus answered, 'Only prayer can force out that kind of demon.'" (Mark 9:29). In other words, while faith is the might that brings the healing, you have to actually, physically utter the words for help if you are gonna see any happy results. So this idea from the Christ should so lead us personally to be people of frequent prayer throughout the day. Why not fire off prayers for every little concern given that the Messiah suggests that prayer is the window that actually gets the good stuff going? But it's hard. I know that! Yet as one who prays all day long, I tell you just get in the habit and it becomes way easy once you start to see miracles flying around you. Holy Jesus, we pray that you would please make us people of prayer. In your name, amen. God bless you.
An Attempted sweeping touch,/ A wished for contribution from above/ That seems rare to find a place/ In hearts rarely ready to accept/ Faith that would so transform lives./ But if only they would welcome/ Such life quietly beckoning them away/ To a place of tenderness, a shining/ Spot of lasting loving with gentleness./ Yes, faith remains that sweet path/ Providing Heavenly strength and a formative/ Swell toward brilliant beauty in healing./
Sunday, February 23, 2014
THIS PASSAGE IN Mark 9 has to be my favorite one in the Bible. Why? Because we get to see in the most sharp terms the power of faith. I like it so much that I wrote a book about this passage available at amazon.com Kindle Books. In this passage, his apostles having failed at healing a boy, Jesus enters the scene and becomes incredibly frustrated at his boys missing the whole point. "Jesus said, 'You people don’t have any faith! How much longer must I be with you? Why do I have to put up with you? Bring the boy to me.'" (Mark 9:19). To the Lord, faith is actually a fairly easy comodity to experience, hence his deep aggravation at this failure to do something as simple as to ask God to heal this kid by the power of faith. Most fortunately, the boy's dad enters the scene and does the very thing that the Christ expects, saying, "Right away the boy’s father shouted, I do have faith! Please help me to have even more.'" (Mark 9:24). And that is all it took. The Messiah obviously found his approach the vastly correct way and went on to instantly heal his child. So why is this so hard for most folks to accomplish? I know it is for the teeny weeny scale of miracles happening about us. Why they miss it? I guess totally due to the "I don't want to" prevailing. Faith is invisible and mysterious and I'd rather not participate, thank you. But please allow me, somehow, to persuade you to jump on this happy wagon and start asking daily for more faith, if only to heal and help those you love. Dear Jesus, please grant us a deep hunger for a greater faith. In your precious name, amen!
Appearing out of nowhere, His thoughts break/ The silence in the form of lovely words/ That shatter human security, people's safety./ Never caring for places of weak serenity, He seems to savor displacing human frailty/ To severe all ties to comforts found/ And instead broadcast the greater message/ Of the majesty of His dear Son./
Saturday, February 22, 2014
IN THE WHOLE of the ministry of Jesus, we so rarely find God interacting with people, nor doing anything to distract people from focusing their attention on His Son. But in this passage we find God showing up big time: "The shadow of a cloud passed over and covered them. From the cloud a voice said, 'This is my Son, and I love him. Listen to what he says!'" (Mark 9:7). The grandeur of God's appearance seems to frighten the apostles; no wonder, has to cause you some worries when the Creator of the Universe, the key figure in the Jewish religion, shows up and starts talking. But a cloud certainly seems more benign than a thunderbolt or a flood. So you have to give God credit for his restraint. Seems that his ambition here is to connect with the apostles in the best possible way. And that ought to give us hope, that he is even now trying his hardest to get our attention and capture our thinking about his ability to improve our stead. The point is: God so wants to come near to us and it behooves us to allow him. Dear Jesus, we pray that you would enable us to welcome God to our world. In your dear name, amen.
Sensing some confusion, He placed that twist/ On all, regardless of all they'd missed./ The calling, to find a life with more/ Than just petty chasing after that store/ Of apparent success seeming to offer meaning./ Instead, He insisted on envisioning a life/ That held much greater treasure and sacrifice./
Friday, February 21, 2014
GIVEN ALL THE PRAISE and admiration for the rich among us, as though they have the ultimate handle on life, these words of Jesus tend to seem a bit out of sorts. I mean really, who could possibly desire anything beyond riches or recreation or relationships? That's the stuff that makes life enjoyable and rewarding. Yet once again we find the Christ extolling a different path, something you would never hear the media extol. Kinda crazy. The Messiah puts it this way: "What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself? 37 What could you give to get back your soul?" (Mark 8:36-37). In other words, so what if you have tons of cash and material wealth or, in another way, tons of play time and sex galore with sweet lookin' honeys. Apparently, in the Lord's mind, this stuff falls way short. I love his final statement here: what could we possibly give to regain our souls? So Jesus implores us to adopt his ethic of forgetting about all the sweet worldly stuff; rather, concentrate on building our treasure in Heaven. Dear Jesus, we pray that you would give us hearts longing for your priorities rather than the appeal of the world. In your name, amen.
Experiencing death always felt right./ Now, to somehow make that message bright./ Surely not easy, when all they sought is safe./ Yet there has to be a way, to make death a cape./ Something to bring life, allow pain a route in./ Making hardship a path twoard contemplation/ Of better things, a spot found that's life./ So this He brought, and happily delivered true sight./
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
POSSIBLY THE GREATEST enigma of the Christian life is finding oneself face to face with the notion that we are to die to our favorite things in order to live the life that Jesus deems best. Isn't that what he means when he says this: "If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow me. 35 If you want to save your life,[e] you will destroy it." (Mark 8:34-35). Funny, isn't it? Can the Christ really intend for us NOT to want to save our lives? Isn't that wise and prudent? Not in his gamebag. No, what the Messiah really wants is for us to develop that life outlook that says: pain is good! My suffering for the sake of the gospel is best! Yes, that is truly what the Lord wants us to finally grasp, that his way painful, terribly uncomfortable life, indeed one ending in tragic deat, is good. Not easy, huh? I would say not. But certainly possible, since the apostles went on to live those sort of lives. And in my experience, when I'm really living this sort of life, curious miracles begin happening around me and the Trinity delights me in ways bigger than I could have ever afforded. So there are truly bigger rewards to the sacrificial life than what we might give up. Dear Jesus, we ask that you would enable us to die to ourselves and please you. In your name, amen. Peace of Christ to you.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
I ALWAYS MARVEL at the way so many in the gospels end up begging Jesus to heal people. I wonder why? How many adults have you seen begging for anything? I can say, it certainly does not come up in prayers that I have heard. I wonder why? I'm afraid I know it! God is missing from the action. Imagine that, with God so close all the time and Jesus likewise occupied with attending to the needs of people, how is it that people around us are not struck by his closeness and so approaching him begging? Because they ain't feeling his presence. As one who has experienced God's touch and closeness, mainly in small groups filled with heartfelt worship and prayer, I know what it tangibly feels like for God to enter the room. And, interestingly, that is when the prayer begging begins. Granted, haven't seen this in thousands of church services across the country. But I sure have seen it happen. So this day I fully understand the approach of people like these: "As Jesus and his disciples were going into Bethsaida, some people brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch the man." (Mark 8:22). Once again, we find folks beggin' Jesus to heal their friend. Why? Simply because, being near to him, they have tangibly experienced a closeness with God. Dear Jesus, we pray that you would open the eyes of our hearts so we can feel your closeness and approach you correctly. In your name, amen.
Planning the delight with more than enough,/ He tested his apostles, seeking further than their trough./ Not finding anything there, He turned his mind/ Toward Heaven and a depth of provisionly kind./ Not content with a little, He wrought massive food./ Churning it out at a level that surprise it stood./ And sure enough: it did./ Hence the wonders of the sublime arrived instead./
Sunday, February 16, 2014
To understand the dramatic happening of Jesus creating all this food from thin air, one must realize the immense value of food for Jews. Largely due to the scarcity of it. Indeed, they realize a sufficient amount of food always remained a big challenge for anyone, given that most food is grown but difficult to water sufficiciently due to the drought. So it became quite a balancing act to consistently gather the requisite food and hunger often hit when common food shortages appeared. Thus, this massive creation of abundant food by Jesus holds way more impact than were he to do it in our day. Talk about a delight! And you know the apostles danced as they got to pass it out. See this: "After Jesus told the crowd to sit down, he took the seven loaves and blessed them. He then broke the loaves and handed them to his disciples, who passed them out to the crowd. 7 They also had a few little fish, and after Jesus had blessed these, he told the disciples to pass them around." (Mark 8:6-7). So these hungry folks got to enjoy a feast that likely rivaled anything they had experienced in a very long time. And that is the wonder of the Messiah's provision for them. Dear Jesus, we pray that you would always remind us of your ability to provide for our needs. In your name, amen. May the Spirit bless you and keep you close.
Constantly caring, unbriddled love/ Longs to sweep us from above./ To reach our chaffing hearts/ And always tenderly apply His smarts./ This compassion shall ultimately break through,/ No matter how distant, we get found too./ Hence a time comes to savor/ A sweet healing touch from our Saviour./
Saturday, February 15, 2014
ONE OF THE THINGS that surely must be difficult to accept, is the idea that the creator of the world somehow feels for people in need. Surely he has bigger things to do. But no, within the gospels we often find the Creator Jesus expressing the extent of his sense of pain for others. We see it here: “'I feel sorry for these people. They have been with me for three days, and they don’t have anything to eat. 3 Some of them live a long way from here. If I send them away hungry, they might faint on their way home.'” (Mark 8:2-3). Granted, in this instance he is beside these folks and so can feel their need. But I suspect, in Heaven he senses all the needs, hopes and trials of everyone all the time in a much deeper way. And that should bring us some serious peace. Certainly needed. So whenever we face trials of any type, the best and appropriate response is to know that the Messiah surely "feels sorry" for us and wants to deliver relief. Of course, in my experience, I have also found he treasures our suffering and so might be slow to respond. But also, time and again I have found that pressing him in prayer brings the needed succor. Dear Jesus, we do pray that you would help us feel the range of your compassion for us. In your name, amen. May God open Heaven like a curtain and come down to you with storm clouds under his feet. And tenderly care for you.
Nearing so incessantly./ Ever crossing to humanity./ Resolute. You simply don’t give up./ Waiting and watching, you won’t stop./ So what can be done in response?/ Simply falling in heart, allowing once/ To feel His gentleness, to keenly see/ The wonder of a brush with eternity./
Friday, February 14, 2014
I remain so amazed in churches at how arrogant they feel. No wonder so many just give up on church; indeed, I have a friend who simply began meeting in his house with a small group rather than endure the immense selfishness in a church. Why is this? I guess, for starters, we are naturally self-centered and could honestly care less about others or, especially, the needs of many. But a very curious thing seems to happen when God comes close. Of course, I know, he is so far from most churches that do not actually spend much time thinking of him, instead preferring to ponder their own glory. But the remarkable thing that happens when God is nearby we see in Mark 7:32: "Some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk. They begged Jesus just to touch him." Suddenly, these folks became totally humble and meek, actually begging the Christ to heal their pal. And this, I assure, is entirely a function of nearness to God. Get close, believe me, and your heart becomes way humble. Too bad churches don't care about including God in their services. Yeah, they fire up some wimpy prayers and sound off some shallow songs. But they also so well manage to keep God apart. Dear Jesus, we pray that you would enable us to long for your nearness always. In your name, amen.
Thursday, February 13, 2014
ONE WOULD THINK, that with the centrality of Jesus in the Bible, his core place in churches would be certain. Not so. Instead, the Master remains a rare person within religion, someone who actually holds little interest for the faithful. Rather, their affection for ethics and their own high place among others seems the prevailing knod. But, fortunately, for those who dare to venture into gospels like “Mark,” we find folks with their head on straight and devoted to angling their way to capturing the healing power of the Christ. We find this here: “A woman whose daughter had an evil spirit in her heard where Jesus was. And right away she came and knelt down at his feet. 26 The woman was Greek and had been born in the part of Syria known as Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to force the demon out of her daughter.” (Mark 7:25-26). What we can gather from this story is the precious willingness of this sweet woman to beg the Messiah to heal her daughter. Though at first putting her off, she persisted and Jesus relented, instantly relieving her daughter of her plight. So at least we find another person who gets it: our Lord is the center of religion. Dear Jesus, we pray that you would enable us to keep you the center of our religious experience, so we can experience your touch and healing power. In your name, amen.
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
As people careen through life without much concern for the outpouring of their hearts, they would do better to hear the words of Jesus regarding this. In his mind, the heart can be both a blessor and a vast curse. Consider this: "What comes from your heart is what makes you unclean. 21 Out of your heart come evil thoughts, vulgar deeds, stealing, murder, 22 unfaithfulness in marriage, greed, meanness, deceit, indecency, envy, insults, pride, and foolishness. 23 All of these come from your heart, and they are what make you unfit to worship God." (Mark 7:20-23). He makes the point in the context of concern regarding what people eat; as though that could be a problem. Instead, he goes on to drive home the key point that the heart holds huge wickedness, no matter how much people belittle that. I find, especially, his emphasis on faithfulness in marriage such a viable point. How can so many happily skip along and flirt with those they are not married to? Believe me, for many the interest in others beyond their spouse certainly dives into the dark realm of sin, though maybe no sex happens. The sex is really just the pitiful stoppping point to a marriage so easily broken by so many. Thus, we ought to always consider our hearts potentially destructive, and take pains to keep them pure. Dear Jesus, we pray that you would help us to always, always keep our hearts pure. In your name, amen! Peace of Christ to you.
Monday, February 10, 2014
We catch the Lord dealing with the complaint of the Pharisees regarding the fact that his apostles didn't wash their hands in the proper way before they ate. Now this concern of theirs could very well be accepted on a cultural basis, but what we find from the Messiah in response tends to strike more at a deeper problem. Most immediately in the hearts of the Pharisees. Thus the Christ says, "All of you praise me with your words, but you never really think about me. 7 It is useless for you to worship me, when you teach rules made up by humans." (Mark 7:6-7). Now we could easily think, yeah, classic Pharisee legalism at work. So glad we are not like that! Really? I tend to think the very same affliction today resides in probably most churches. I sure can understand how some fine Christian people I love have given up on the church. I don't because I know you can always find a handful of people who are not locked into the legalistic bind that grips so many churches. For example, in the sweet church where I became a Christian and led a friend to become a believer, the pastor told my friend he couldn't wear shorts to church functions. Bad move. My friend just said, "Forget this!" And he quit the faith. But in most churches there are so many similar rules in how people should behave. When Jesus never intended there to be hardly any rules at all. Want to be at the center of the Master's desires? THINK OF HIM. That's it, but something so rare in churches all caught up in studies way far from Jesus. To me, the fact that you can rarely find a study of Jesus in church, is a huge indictment on the machine. Instead, you just get a stupid focus on ethics and proper behavior. Give that up! Think of Jesus, instead. You see his wish for that in the verses above. Dear Jesus, we pray that you would keep our hearts centered on you and not on rules. In your name, amen.
Sunday, February 9, 2014
One of the vast quandries that seems to make an efffective faith live hard, is the notion that Jesus, nor God and Spirit, are like us. The depth of their humility so exceeds that we might ever experience, that it seems our trouble lay in wrapping our arms around the challenge of somehow connecting at their level. One that is always immensely meek. You would never, think, of course, that the creator of the universe should be that simple-minded. But that sure seems to be the case: particularly when you see how readily the Christ responds to those who plead for his help. Consider this verse, "In every village or farm or marketplace where Jesus went, the people brought their sick to him. They begged him to let them just touch his clothes, and everyone who did was healed." (Mark 6:56) What strikes me here, as in so many other places, is how well some folks get the mandate that begging the Messiah is the right course. And sure enough, once that effort gets in place, they rapidly get the healing they so desperately long for. Thus, our equal obligation becomes to talk to Jesus and the Trinity in vastly humble terms, understanding that is how they best think and relate. Dear Jesus, we do pray that you would give us way meek hearts so we can relate to you on your terms. In your name, amen.
Thursday, February 6, 2014
One of the nice things we can appreciate within the stories found in the life of Jesus is the extent of fear and loathing that people experience toward him. And hence his inability to help them in any useful way. We see this hear: "The people were very unhappy because of what he was doing. 4 But Jesus said, Prophets are honored by everyone, except the people of their hometown and their relatives and their own family. 5 Jesus could not work any miracles there, except to heal a few sick people by placing his hands on them. 6 He was surprised that the people did not have any faith. (Mark 6:3-6). What we find here is the way some folks managed to take offense at the word that Jesus healed and fed people. Imagine that. Yet somehow many people find themselves able to despise the one who could bring them life, happiness and peace. Obviously, this speaks to the existence of the Devil. For how could anyone possibly find reason to dislike somebody like the Christ who is all about bringing healing and wellness to the masses? It happens, too much. Indeed, when many people become all occupied with the fanciful mysteries that Satan offers, they earnestly place their hearts there and are able to roundly refuse any place to the Messiah. Too bad. But maybe our take on all this needs to be to always realize that a wimpy force shall continue to hound us and seek to cloud our vision so we might count the actions and record of Jesus as unappealing. Dear Jesus, we pray that you would increase our faith so we can always welcome you visits. In your name, amen.
Saturday, January 18, 2014
One of the dire facts of the human condition is the tendancy toward thinking only in terms that we know, to feel comfortable in a universe that suits our safety net. But the grave challenge to this outlook appears in the way that Jesus rarely cooperates. We see it here: "When the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water, they thought he was a ghost, and they started screaming. 50 All of them saw him and were terrified. But at that same time he said, 'Don’t worry! I am Jesus. Don’t be afraid.' 51 He then got into the boat with them, and the wind died down. The disciples were completely confused. 52 Their minds were closed, and they could not understand the true meaning of the loaves of bread." (Mark 6:49-51). I must admit the response of the apostles here seems a tad far fetched. Given that they had now spent a fair amount of time oberving the Lord performing miracles. But we do see in their response to his walking on the water how difficult they found accepting that he could do such a thing. Indeed, it says their minds were "closed." Hard to believe given their daily propensity to miraculous power. But that speaks best to the reality that people tend to fear things new and press their heart toward the familiar, as they did here. Thus, for us, we must be willing to ever operate in the sphere of an open mind should we wish to allow the Christ to work miracles near us. Dear Jesus, we pray that you would open our minds that we can fully see your work in our lives. In your name, amen.
Thursday, January 16, 2014
So often folks think God thinks like us, possessed with his own priorities and interests and really not too terribly concerned with the workings in the lives of people. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We see how God thinks in the person of Jesus, when hoards of people chase him at a time he is trying to get alone to enjoy a bit of peace with his apostles. His true persona comes out here: "When Jesus got out of the boat, he saw the large crowd that was like sheep without a shepherd. He felt sorry for the people and started teaching them many things." The surprise arrives in this passage to see the response when tons of folks chase the Master down in order to squeeze stuff out of him. The remarkable response of the Christ here is that he feels "sorry" for these desperate masses. Strange, ain't it? But that should become the sense we always have of Jesus when we too are faced with trials and hardship. True, like God, he seems to enjoy seeing us suffer. But I suspect, based on this passage, he also feels deeply a sense of pain at our struggles. Dear Jesus, we pray that you would help us to always remember your sweet compassion for us. In your name, amen.
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
So we find Jairus travelling with Jesus to his home to maybe get some rescue for his daughter. You have to give the boy credit for advancing on the Master with such humility. But surely he felt somewhat discouraged given that the word is his kid had died. Nevertheless, he takes the Messiah to his abode. I mean, what else can he do? His options are exhausted. With the child expired that sort of leaves few remaining options to bring any hope. But the key element, beyond Jairus imploring the Christ to help him early, is this statement by the Lord: "While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from Jairus' home and said, 'Your daughter has died! Why bother the teacher anymore?' 36 Jesus heard[e] what they said, and he said to Jairus, 'Don’t worry. Just have faith!' (Mark 5:35-36). What brings this story to its happy ending is Jairus' willingness to simply have faith! Should be way more complicated given that who on earth has the power to bring any soul back from death? Jesus does. So, apparently, Jairus does the faith thing and that provides the ammo for the Saviour to raise his daughter to life. Dear Jesus, we pray that you would kindly increase our faith. In your name, amen!
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
One of the most difficult things to get regarding knowing the heart of Jesus and his ability to rescue, is to understand the depth of his humility. Of course, studying the gospels and seeing him in action should enable people to grasp the unusual way, given that the books attest to his overwhelming godhead and, hence, creative powers, that he could so easily command people to always obey his bidding. But he does not. Rather, we find him often trying to persuade humanity to fathom the range of his abilities to help. Yet the human condition so often gets in the way, that pesky tendency to be self absorbed and often arrogant, thinking that Jesus is like us. He is not. And that is key if ever folks are to in any way persuade him to come to the rescue. Fortunately, we have worthy biblical characters who played Jesus right. As in this passage: "His name was Jairus, and when he saw Jesus, he went over to him. He knelt at Jesus' feet 23 and started begging him for help. He said, 'My daughter is about to die! Please come and touch her, so she will get well and live.' 24 Jesus went with Jairus. Many people followed along and kept crowding around." (Mark 5:22-24). The thing that Jairus got and that we must understand, is that Jesus is God and, as a result, way more humble than we. The huge tragedy of the human condition is our propensity to be self focused and think Jesus is like us. He ain't! Rather, in his vast humility, he needs his followers to think like him. And Jairus does that by BEGGING Jesus to rescue his child. Nice touch. And the happy ending, of course, is that the Master does raise his daughter from the dead. So the questions stands: are we gonna be beggars like Jairus and truly get some amazing things done? Dear Jesus, we pray that you would give us humble hearts that can always beg you for help. In your name, amen.
Saturday, January 11, 2014
One of the qualities of Jesus is to ever do the unexpected, that which we may have never considered. I suppose he does this to reveal his power that surpasses ours. We find such an interaction here: 'Master,' Simon answered, 'we have worked hard all night long and have not caught a thing. But if you tell me to, I will let the nets down.' 6 They did it and caught so many fish that their nets began ripping apart. 7 Then they signaled for their partners in the other boat to come and help them. The men came, and together they filled the two boats so full that they both began to sink." (Mark 5:5-7). Don't you know that Peter and crew were shocked at their catch, never thinking that the Messiah might operate this way. And so, I suspect, began their faith journey that opened them to all possiblities, knowing their estimation of the possible rang way too short. But, in character, the Master seems to do the unexpected, the deligtful, all in order to gain the attention of mere humans. Hence our view must remain ever open to the unexpected, the strikes in our world that we may never have fathomed. Dear Jesus, we pray that you would open the eyes of our hearts to see what you are doing in our space. In your name, amen. Peace of Christ to you.
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
The faith journey often becomes tiresome, for the fact that achieving a powerful faith outcome relies on reaching the unseen; a view that remains beyond our ability to fully grasp. Yet we have the good fortune to see those, in scripture, who dashed forward in grabbing the healing power of Jesus by faith. One that comes to mind is especially effective: "The woman had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him in the crowd and barely touched his clothes. 28 She had said to herself, 'If I can just touch his clothes, I will get well.' 29 As soon as she touched them, her bleeding stopped, and she knew she was well." (Mark 5:27-29). Sure helps this lady got to see the Master in the flesh and know of his heeling power. But the dynamic of her faith is a bit startling as she knew that if she merely touched his clothes she would be healed, an assumptive faith. And that, my friends, I believe, is the level of faith required to do great stuff. Dear Jesus, we do pray that you would give us always an assumptive faith as this lady had that you healed. In your name, amen. May the Spirit bless you and keep you close.
Monday, January 6, 2014
It never ceases to amaze me how few people really have an interest in the Christ, like they might enjoy his company and power in their lives. Now why is that? Has to be the dominent role the Devil plays in the world, so easily gaining the hearts of most folks to work his evil ways. But this is really nothing new: "Everyone who had seen what had happened told about the man and the pigs. 17 Then the people started begging Jesus to leave their part of the country. (Mark 4:16). Here we have a people with no ready excuse, given that the Messiah had elected to visit their area in order to work miralces. Indeed, casting the evil spirit out of this bloke and pushing it into some pigs that quickly killed themselves, ranks as about a powerful a miracle as one could possibly imagine. But that worried response of the massess is to warn Jesus off, thinking him a threat, about like most people do. Go figure. But we have the good fortune to get it and respond to the Master way better, wanting his place in our lives. Dear Jesus, we pray that you would help us to always long for your presence nearby. In your name, amen.
Friday, January 3, 2014
You would think that after Jesus had been with them some months, his apostles would understand the extent of his power. But no. Somehow they manage to place him within their own weak ability and become frightened when they manage to see his strength exterted, as in this account: "Jesus was in the back of the boat with his head on a pillow, and he was asleep. His disciples woke him and said, 'Teacher, don’t you care that we’re about to drown?' 39 Jesus got up and ordered the wind and the waves to be quiet. The wind stopped, and everything was calm. 40 Jesus asked his disciples, 'Why were you afraid? Don’t you have any faith?' 41 Now they were more afraid than ever and said to each other, 'Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!'" (Mark 4:38-41). Now they did have the good sense to call for his rescue as they felt their boat about to go under. Hence they had some sense of his ability to help. But his majestic calming of the winds ends up scaring them. The Christ addresses the crux of their problem: too little faith. So it goes without saying, when he tries to engage us in some meaningful work with even a tad of his supernatural magic, his hope is that we might have enough faith to accomplish his task. Dear Jesus, we pray that you would increase our faith so they you could use us. In your name, amen.
Thursday, January 2, 2014
Once again we find Jesus entertaining the idea of bearing fruit by leading others to the knowledge of him. He especially explains himself here as his apostles did not seem to get his story about a farmer sowing seeds. To make his point, he concludes the tale this way: "The seeds that fell on good ground are the people who hear and welcome the message. They produce thirty or sixty or even a hundred times as much as was planted." (Mark 4:20). The beauty of this destination is the vast multiplication that occurs when other abundant souls get the message. Hence, the gospel spreads quickly and many get saved. A multiplication ministry. This is how, in our day, the hope of the Christ can actually get around the world rather quickly, when it sure is not now. With Africa and China so ready to hear the message of the Messiah, what a shame so few are willing to share it. Too few farmers. Dear Jesus, we pray that you would make us sharers of your good news to others. In your name, amen.
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Ever feel yourself drawn to the Lord, a sense that you need to talk to him and enjoy his company? Seems you are not alone. Indeed, in his day vast crowds went through the experience: "All of these crowds came because they had heard what Jesus was doing. 9 He even had to tell his disciples to get a boat ready to keep him from being crushed by the crowds." (Mark 3:8-9). Apparently, there is something about the Christ that works as strong drawing power to the typical person. Maybe the healings, or the teachings. Whatever it is the curious side to this phenomena is the remarkable way folks can't just stay away. In fact, in this account, we find the draw so strong that the masses are ready to crush the Master, had he not procured a boat to find some space. So if you at times feel pulled to call upon Jesus, don't feel yourself at all wayward; his nature dictates that we do. He clearly wants, and we obviously need, that interaction that brings healing and peace. Lord Jesus, we pray that you would marvel us with your magnetic personality. In your name. amen!
Monday, December 30, 2013
We find in "Mark" an account that sheds interesting light on the nature of the Christ. What strikes me is the notion that he "feels sorry" for stubborn people. Now if that ain't like a loving parent, to feel for foolshishness of the kids. We read it here: "Jesus was angry as he looked around at the people. Yet he felt sorry for them because they were so stubborn. Then he told the man, 'Stretch out your hand.' He did, and his bad hand was healed." (Mark 3:5). One would think his anger would lead him to somehow punish the people there. But his mercy and patienct surmounts his anger to the extent that he goes ahead and heals this guy. And that should give us pause to understand this nature of Jesus, who tends to feel for us in spite of our blindness at a moment. He really does not seem to hold us accountable as the world does; good thing, I think we would all tend to fall short. Dear Jesus, we pray that you would grant us soft and not subborn hearts. In your name, amen.
Saturday, December 28, 2013
Some people expressed their concern to Jesus that his disciples do not fast as the other Jewish leaders. It seemed their piety had caught the attention of people in the sense that they viewed them as superior for their holiness. Wrong Thought. The Christ puts it all in perpective: "The friends of a bridegroom don’t go without eating while he is still with them. 20 But the time will come when he will be taken from them. Then they will go without eating." The Messiah's idea is one of celebration, being that the apostles are free to enjoy their time with him, a sort of joy that should be followed rather than fast. But he puts it so well when he says the time is coming they will fast. Indeed, if you spend any time in "Acts," you find them fasting often, sort of living the max righteous life the Lord desires. Hence it becomes incumbant upon us to do the same. Lord Jesus, please make us a fasting people like your apostles. In your name, amen.
Friday, December 27, 2013
It seems a ton of humanity miss the need for forgiveness. I guess that comes with the territory when they find them selves so utterly self absorbed. Who gives a crap about maturity and change when they manage to make a buck. Indeed, we find this fashion of pondering within the hearts of our heros the Pharisees. Read this: "Some of the teachers of the Law of Moses were Pharisees, and they saw that Jesus was eating with sinners and tax collectors. So they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 Jesus heard them and answered, 'Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. I didn’t come to invite good people to be my followers. I came to invite sinners.'" (Mark 2:16-17). The chief problem stirring within the supremely pure hearts of these Jews is their incredible, truly amazing self righteousness. They are horrified that the Christ could find himself with sinners. Horrors! Yet the Messiah sends them a zinger by stating he actually really longs to fellowship with the sinful. Heavens! Surely, he must have lost himself along the way to think them worthy of his attention. But no, Jesus truly relishes time with the sinful, knowing that they, above all, need him, the Saviour. Holy Jesus, we do pray that you might grant us humble hearts to see our sin and seek your sweet forgiveness.
Thursday, December 26, 2013
One of the things I continue to be amazed at is how many people are blase about faith. I got to church and typically get a lot of ho hum drool from the pastor and the congregation. I wonder, how can this be? I feel the strange boy out when I seem to have this passion pushing me ever toward a stronger connection to Jesus, something that ever propels me toward a brighter spark from his being. So I do find solace when I get to read this sort of thing: "Jesus was still teaching 3 when four people came up, carrying a crippled man on a mat. 4 But because of the crowd, they could not get him to Jesus. So they made a hole in the roof[b] above him and let the man down in front of everyone. 5 When Jesus saw how much faith they had, he said to the crippled man, 'My friend, your sins are forgiven.'" (Mark 2:2-5). What we find here is some guys who get it. They understand the miraculous power of the Lord and are willing to do the ridiculous to rescue their friend. They get it! What a joy to find someone who actually gets excited about their religion. What do you think would have happened had they the typical boring view that religion is merely a bitty category of life? Nuthin. But here we find, regardless of ridicule, some dudes willing to so stick their necks out in the category of insanity. Delightful. Lord Jesus, we pray that you would give us the zeal of these guys seeking to experience your touch. In your name, amen! Peace of Christ to you.
Monday, December 23, 2013
If we are to be honest, I suspect it would be safe to say that the human race is terribly arrogant. I say this because so few are deeply devoted to God. Sure, lots of folk have a paltry attendance at a church, but when the task becomes devoting one's heart to the Father I suspect the adherents are few. And the frequent heartache in splitting marriages and other ruined relationships certainly supports my theory that people are by nature self absorbed. So to find this fellow in Mark approach Jesus in quite another style is unusual: "A man with leprosy[g] came to Jesus and knelt down.[h] He begged, 'You have the power to make me well, if only you wanted to.' 41 Jesus felt sorry for[i] the man. So he put his hand on him and said, “I want to! Now you are well.” 42 At once the man’s leprosy disappeared, and he was well." (Mark 1:40-42). I mean, this dude seemed to understand the majesty and power of the Christ, thus he took the honorable position of simply begging him to intervene in his illness. And my understanding of leprosy is it can be awfully grating, terribly uncomfortable and embarrassing. So this fella's insistent begging sure made a lot of sense. Hence the take away for us is to always approach the Master with the same type of broken begging, understanding that is what gets the results we seek. Dear Jesus, we ask that you would grant us humble hearts that enable us to seek you like this leper. In your name, amen. May God bless you and keep you close.
Friday, December 20, 2013
In my religious life, one thing I have unfortunately noticed, a vast shortfall of prayer. Now given that prayer is the gateway to all the good stuff Heaven offers, you would think that praying would be top of everyone's list. But I can hear it in the shallow wimpy prayers that get fired up during church services, in the shortfall of attendants in prayer groups and in the contentment within lives with chronic illnesses or broken families. My reasoning for prayer does not come from yours truly I promise. Instead, check this out: "Very early the next morning, Jesus got up and went to a place where he could be alone and pray. 36 Simon and the others started looking for him. 37 And when they found him, they said, 'Everyone is looking for you!'" (Mark 1:35-37). Now, the Christ certainly had his plate full and, given that he is the creator of the world, reason to do other things than pray. Yet we find him here off on his own, not even with the knowledge of his boys, diligently praying. Hmm. Makes you think that maybe prayer is indeed the most needed activity within our lives. All I can say, is after praying weekly with my four daughters through their lives, I am now incredibly blessed with four missionary hearts that love to serve others, including their dad. Somehow, my strategy to love to pray with them and inspire them to do the same, has paid off immeasurably. I just can't relate to the countless people who lose their once faithful kids to the world because they did not pray. So I suggest we always keep after praying before we consider anything else worthy of our attention. Dear Jesus, please remind us often to be a people who pray. In your name, amen. May God open heaven like a curtain and allow his glory to descend upon you. (Psalms).
Thursday, December 19, 2013
There is a common misconception that the Messiah thinks like us and so resists attending too terribly much to our needs. Nothing could be further from the truth. What people must do, somehow, is get their hardened minds around the incredibly compassionate heart of the Christ. For the evidence is found throughout scripture: "That evening after sunset,[f] all who were sick or had demons in them were brought to Jesus. 33 In fact, the whole town gathered around the door of the house. 34 Jesus healed all kinds of terrible diseases and forced out a lot of demons. But the demons knew who he was, and he did not let them speak." (Mark 1:32-34). Did the Master have a right at this point to demure and pass on the hoards hounding him for healing? Of course he did, but the more amazing side to Jesus is his apparent longing, though he might be tired from other similar work including just healing Peter's mom, to sweep in and heal and heal and heal. And that we must understand and relish, remains his longing this day. Though today the scope of his attention certainly reigns way beyond the limit of it in Palestine back then. Often, when a little pain afflicts me, I ask him to heal and he always does. But better than that, I have asked him to heal others with serious diseases and seen them healed as well. So we are fools to tolerate anything less. If we are sick in any way, especially with a chronic illness like diabetes, we must, must often and diligently ask the Lord to heal for he WANTS TO! Dear Jesus, please urge us to ask you for your healing. In your name, amen. May the Spirit bless you and keep you close.
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
We find the Lord early in his ministry coming face to face with his enemy. But the happy thing about the ecounter is the evil spirit's inablity to counter him; it just up and clears out of the poor guy it owns. Read this: 24 "'Jesus from Nazareth, what do you want with us? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are! You are God’s Holy One.' 25 Jesus told the evil spirit, 'Be quiet and come out of the man!' 26 The spirit shook him. Then it gave a loud shout and left. 27 Everyone was completely surprised and kept saying to each other, 'What is this? It must be some new kind of powerful teaching! Even the evil spirits obey him.'” (Mark 1:24-26). The thing that most jumps out at you with this passage is the penultimate power that the Messiah exacts on this evil spirit; indeed, the dude is scared of Jesus from the get go. And given that Satan and his demons seem to play a huge role in our world, the take away from this should be fairly obvious. Don't simply allow the bad boys to torment you when the Christ stands ready to intervene. We find him often exacting this sort of healing power on the possessed, suggesting that his nature is to continue this sort of work, within us. Holy Jesus, we pray that you would regularly drive the devil and his workers away from us. In your name, amen!
Sunday, December 15, 2013
One thing about the Messiah that is most remarkable, is his insistence on evangelism, in a flavor that probably escapes us. I say this because the default position of most Christians is to perceive outreach as the domain of agression and in your face persuasion. When the Master seems to take a different turn. We see his emphasis here: "Jesus said to them, 'Come with me! I will teach you how to bring in people instead of fish.' 18 Right then the two brothers dropped their nets and went with him." (Mark 1:17-18). What we see here is the Christ insisting that the two brothers drop everything in order to pursue a higher calling; at this point chasing fish does not cut it. Rather, what Jesus proscribes is the idea of leading people to him, shuttling them toward something far better than their current state. In practice, after many years trying to evangelize, I have finally learned the proper path. Having joined a church that fiercely taught accountability for its members to ask everyone and their dog to a Bible study. But then, once these poor souls became believers, they often quit feeling cheated by a system more focused on numbers than their needs. So I got a clue and quit this monster and that church soon went down in flames. But then I enjoyed sweet fellowship with a pastor who taught me the essence of evangelism is totally about Jesus. Hmm, I thought, given that the Christ is the foremost evanglist maybe this idea has promise. And praying a great deal, I began to practice this nonconfrontational style, asking God to guide me to those needing him. And a very odd thing happened, soon a number of non-Christian people began asking me to teach them about Jesus. Strange. But that is what we learn from Jesus, that in order to lead others to him the task is so much more about involving him and God as the key force rather than our persuasion. And here we see it as these boys succumb to the Jesus style of evangelism. Holy Father, we ask that you would instill in us a Jesus focus and the ability to rely on you to share the message with others. In Jesus name, amen.
Saturday, December 14, 2013
We find Jesus being pushed by the Spirit into the desert to be tested by Satan. Not a happy experience. But the beauty of this endeavor is the fact that the Master indeed got intense temptation treatment, way beyond I suspect what we might ever face. We find it described this way: 12 "Right away God’s Spirit made Jesus go into the desert. 13 He stayed there for forty days while Satan tested him. Jesus was with the wild animals, but angels took care of him." (Mark 1:12-13). When we get tempted, since we surely shall probably way too often thanks to Satan, we can take heart that Jesus feels for us fully at the moment of Satan's appeal, having been there far more intensely and not fallen. You see, for one to be tempted and not fall surely means he has felt the burden of temptation far more than we. And this should grant us peace and a means to better survive Satan's ploys intact, sparing our hearts and those who love us. Above all, we gotta sense the pain that Jesus feels when we succumb to evil schemes, knowing he has been the key survivor to an intensity of Satan beckoning that we shall never know. Understand that the Messiah hurts deeply should we relent in the face of temptation and we always have his power ready at our call to weather Satan's attacks. Dear Jesus, we pray that you would make us strong to resist temptation as you have. Peace of Christ to you.
Friday, December 13, 2013
We find John the Baptist gaining his close encounter with Jesus by baptizing him. The astouding sight of this is found in the scripture: "About that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. 10 As soon as Jesus came out of the water, he saw the sky open and the Holy Spirit coming down to him like a dove. 11 A voice from heaven said, 'You are my own dear Son, and I am pleased with you.'" (Mark 1:9-11). Talk about severe approbation! John must have been swept away by this instance and I am sure he went on to tell many people. How can you not when you see the Spirit arriving this way? The amazing thing is, given that I am sure lots of folks saw this, that God appearing this way did not steer people to regard Jesus as indeed God's son. But tragically, I guess in typical human form, they manage to think everything but the right way regarding the Messiah. Even with God stating so plainly that the Master is indeed his son. Another thing that strikes me about this passage, is how Jesus got baptized by being dunked in water by John. The custom of the early church. Yet today denominations sprinkle people. What a robbery! The whole idea of baptism is rebirth, arising to a new life, and you can't gain that from a mere sprinkle. Holy Father, we thank you that you showed the world Jesus in this way. In his name, amen!
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
At the beginning of the book of "Mark" we find John the Baptist overcome with anticipation for the Lord's arrival. Should have been as his very life remained for this purpose. But for us, to grasp the enormity of his vision and engagement in meeting Jesus ought to also inspire our souls. We see it here: “I am sending my messenger to get the way ready for you. 3 In the desert someone is shouting, ‘Get the road ready for the Lord! Make a straight path for him.’” (Mark 1:1-3). To see him shouting is to see the depth of his passion for this newcomer, this stranger who has managed to appear on the earth. Believe me, when a guy has lived his life eating locusts in the wilderness and probably fasting a great deal in anticipation of the Messiah, to see him now on fire with the promise of the Christ's arrival serves to unleash immeasurable weight regarding the importance of this Master. But this idea that John has, to get all things ready and to make a straight path provides way more meaning when we must remember John is a dude wandering the wild places, not given to calm reasonable thought. But here, in the face of Jesus, he turns incredibly submissive and docile to achieve his purpose in life. To in all things prep the way for the Messiah! Dear Jesus, we pray that you too might impress on your heart the gravity John felt at your coming. In your name, amen!
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
We find in "Ehpesians" in the ethics section at the end, a presention of more regarding the Spirit's place in our lives. This after a call to clean up ones speech and quit stealing. Then the key point we find: "Don’t make God’s Spirit sad. The Spirit makes you sure that someday you will be free from your sins." (Ephesians 4:30). The overall point I believe God is fervently trying to make here is that when we sin, we don't just harm ourselves or others who care for us. Instead, in a much graver sense, we make the Spirit feel bad. He hurts with our sin. That should, when we think of it at the time of temptation, be reason to refrain from sinning just to spare the Spirit anguish. Though we might tred gleefully along with our sin, we manage to punish Heaven in the worst way. And a further role presented here is the notion that the Spirit will one day relieve us of sin, being something he must constantly and arduously work at in our lives today, with the long term goal of getting us to Heaven. Holy Jesus, we do pray that you would remind us of the pain we cause the Spirit when we sin. In your name, amen.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
We find in "Ephesians" something of an explanation regarding the dynamic of knowing God, that this meeting seems to be best arranged by the touch of God's Spirit. I think people often see understanding the Lord as a passive thing between them and their Bible. Such views could in fact not be futher from the message of scripture put this way: "I ask the glorious Father and God of our Lord Jesus Christ to give you his Spirit. The Spirit will make you wise and let you understand what it means to know God. 18 My prayer is that light will flood your hearts and that you will understand the hope that was given to you when God chose you." (Ephesians 1:17-18). So if anyone really wants to know God and his capability to improve our lives, they had better invite the Spirit to be about magically creating the knowing. Indeed, I also suspect that once the Spirit arrives on the scene of our hearts, then light will flood in and our whole existence becomes a lot more lovely. For the harsh existential pondering of the Biblical law, like that might somehow grant us insight into the nature of God, is really just spinning ones wheels. Yet don't most Bible classes seem to take this course? Rarely have I ever heard anything about a Spirit somehow making any difference. In fact, I suspect in a lot of existential churches, the Spirit ain't anywhere to be found. Holy Father, we pray that you would bless us with your Spirit so we can know you better. In Jesus name, amen.
Sunday, December 1, 2013
We continue to find in King David a soul who has captured the essence of God and seeks to right his way in his understanding. He sure seems to grasp the notion that God knows every heart and mind, since he states this in the seventh "Psalm." It is this understanding that seems to drive him toward righteousness and the place of acceptance by virtue of his devotion to the Lord. We find a flavor of such admiration of the Father flowing from these words: I will praise you, Lord! You always do right. I will sing about you, the Lord Most High. (Psalm 7:17). What we find remarkable within the faith of David is this constant adoration he seems to apply to God, as though God can really get it. I suspect David is right here by virtue of the countless miracles he saw wrought in his presence. That seems to guide him to absolute belief and abandonment in his walk with God. Hence we see it in this verse when he praises God with total passion. Not one to casually do church, David seems a heart on fire to exult God since in his mind that is the nature of life itself. And that is why one of his wives, Michael, could admonish him for worshipping God before the people with foolish resolve. No matter to David since in his Psalm book God warrants that level of devotion. Holy Father, we pray that you would constantly remind us to worship you with the same passion that David did. In Jesus name, amen. Peace of Christ to you.
Saturday, November 30, 2013
One of the major things we can learn from King David in the Psalms is the nature of his walk with God. I say this for God proclaimed him a man after his own heart. I can't think of a better endorsement than that. Let's take a closer look at the nature of his relationship with God: Don’t punish me, Lord, or even correct me when you are angry! 2 Have pity on me and heal my feeble body. My bones tremble with fear, 3 and I am in deep distress. How long will it be? (Psalm 6:1-3). What we find in David is somebody who captures the informal prayer and pleading style that seems to capture God's heart. So many are way too formal when they wax religous. David, on the other hand, gets downright gritty in his appeal toward God to show him mercy. Now if any soul possessed, at the time, the righeous manner that did not require God's mercy, David did. Yet he literally begs God to have mercy upon himself in a style that surely captured the heart of God and certainly ought to compel us to do the same. He surely had every reason to recoil at God when so many facets of his life seemed to come apart. Instead, he comes at God as a desperate soul in the most humble way. That works! Holy Father, please create desperate hearts for you within us like David. In Jesus name, amen.
Friday, November 29, 2013
We find in the writings of King David an ideal prayer heart, someone who got it regarding God's ability to be persuaded. If anyone with his full calender and obligations had reasons to be distracted, it was David. But he puts it this way: Listen, Lord, as I pray! Pay attention when I groan.[a] 2 You are my King and my God. Answer my cry for help because I pray to you. 3 Each morning you listen to my prayer, as I bring my requests[b] to you and wait for your reply. (Psalm 5:1-3). The important doctrine we might discover here I believes resides in this desperate sort of entreaty that David makes to his God, not someone captivated by religous formality; rather, he seems a guy envisioning God as somebody who actually cares about his trials. And his insistence that he "waits" for God's reply stirs a futher ambition that he simply plans for God to answer his requests. And this idea of his "groaning" prompts one to realize he takes his prayers deeply, something that apparently riles this King's heart and propels him toward planning his life in increments derived from God's heart. And that is what allows him to find victory in his kingdom endeavors and guide him toward a kingship that seemed to be admired by all. Holy Father, we pray that you would remind us to expect you to answer our prayers. In Jesus name, amen.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
We find in Psalm 1 an exploration of the merits of loving the Bible, like that can somehow propel us toward success in our lives. It says this: Instead, the Law of the Lord makes them happy, and they think about it day and night. 3 They are like trees growing beside a stream, trees that produce fruit in season and always have leaves. Those people succeed in everything they do. (Psalm 1:2-3). In contrast to those who live pointless lives, we find here the essence of the godly existence found in thinking often about God's word. Like that somehow holds the treasure toward in fact living a fruitful life. Indeed, this verse says those people succeed in everything they do. So do you want to find success in your work or your marriage, be sure to study and often think about the Bible. I am lucky in this department as one of my priorities with my little kids included every week spending time with them to help them memorize scriptures and then we would pray together. Wow, have I ever seen this idea that keeping the Bible central to life leads one to success as all four of my daughters have grown up to live paramount lives full of success. I suspect that came entirely from my insistence that they memorize lots of scripture from the moment they began talking. And of course yours truly gained a great deal by keeping my kids buried in the Bible. Holy Father, we pray that you would keep our hearts focused on your law, that we can think about it often. In Jesus name, amen.
Friday, November 22, 2013
One thing "Hebrews" does time and again is to implore us to see Jesus as the path toward living the full life devoted to the Father, the walk that is true and effective. The omnipresent truth we find revealed in this book is what we can find if we give the Bible an honest appraisal, that the Christ is somehow the center to our faith and the Shepherd with a seeming earnest longing to draw near to us and enable us to feel great about a life of faith. We read this: "May Jesus help you do what pleases God. To Jesus Christ be glory forever and ever! Amen." (Hebrews 13:21). Here it is spelled out in the sense that the Messiah is indeed the working of achieving a blessed faith that truly delights God. What a shame for Muslims and Jews to so passionately worship God but lose the force of the Lord's touch. So, when we contemplate getting our lives in order, or maybe sharing our faith, we must, must see Jesus as the path toward any semblance of success. See him as a sort of channel requisite for any joy or accomplishment in all things spiritual. Holy Jesus, please help us to always depend on you to be our guide for success in our lives. In your name, ament.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Amid our lives of frequent change, I find it comforting to read this verse: "Jesus Christ never changes! He is the same yesterday, today, and forever." (Hebrews 13:8). It seems the pace of change about us continues to increase exponentially just in the last decade. I suppose this is largely due to technology and the rapid expansion of communication via the internet. But I also find that many people change. Where they once might have expressed love for you and acted all sweet and friendly, they often seem to up and disappear. And this is the wonder of Jesus expressed in this verse: he shall never, ever change. Really, when I think of people I can only think of a few who have seemed to remain stable long term and receptive to a relationship with yours truly. Most seem to find a way to lose their moral compass and they often get turned on by this or that driving them toward a new life. But the beauty of the Christ is the way, no matter what, we can know absolutely without doubt we will find the very same Jesus in Heaven that we find in the gospels. The Lord does not seem able to alter himself in any way. A happy thought. Lord Jesus, we pray that you would often bring this verse to our mind that you are always the same. In your name, amen.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
We find in "Hebrews" the notion that money can be evil. I would agree with that, given the countless souls who have craved it to their own doom. But looking at the verses I must take exception: "Don’t fall in love with money. Be satisfied with what you have. The Lord has promised that he will not leave us or desert us. 6 That should make you feel like saying, “The Lord helps me! Why should I be afraid of what people can do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6). I take exception to this teaching to be satisfied with what you have. Sure, in the sense of always staying content, not letting money or the longing for anything drive you to places of foolishness. But what I certainly don't agree with here, nor do I think the Lord does either since I think his intent is to steer us toward peace, is the idea to merely be content with what you have. No way! I for one think ambition does enormous good, propelling us toward accumulating more money and prestige in the working world. Granted, by slamming us with more regulations and Obamacare, Obama has made progressing in ones career more difficult. His time is short. But it remains true that you get what you firmly hope for. So why not plan to serve people better and increase your income? Nothing dastardly there. And along the way keep in mind the above verse that no matter what your ugly boss throws at you, he really can not do you any signicant harm; God remains there to help you and comfort you. I know God wants for us all the good things in life and, though he certainly whips correction our way, in my case often, his end game is to find us fullfilled and settled in this life. Holy Father, we pray that you would make us a content people. In Jesus name, amen. May the Spirit bless you with his prayers and keep you close.
Saturday, November 16, 2013
We now come to a place in Hebrews that begins an ethical exploration, ever hoping that Christians might actually apply their faith. It reads like this: "Remember the Lord’s people who are in jail and be concerned for them. Don’t forget those who are suffering, but imagine that you are there with them. Have respect for marriage. Always be faithful to your partner, because God will punish anyone who is immoral or unfaithful in marriage." (Hebrews 13:3-4). This idea of remembering the Lord's people in jail strikes me certainly as the forgiveness of God at work, when the reason they are in jail is likely due to their committing some evil act. But jail truly affords us among the best chance to bring relief to believers since the setting is so demoralizing. But ever more important, is the opportunity to share our faith with non-believing prisoners. As they too are feeling dejected and often become open to the gospel of Christ. Indeed, I found that Prison Ministry is about the best evangelical effort in our nation. But going on here, you get the sense that God holds marriage as truly precious, unlike about 50% of Christians who have affairs. Looks like here they will get their punishment for their wicked infidelity. I know a guy who suffered terribly when his wife of thirty years had a most in his face despical affair. She had many affairs and he could always forgive them. But this one with a guy in their bible study proved too much for him. So he divorced his beautiful wife much to his despair. I really feel for this fellow as I know this process damaged him deeply. That is the tragedy of affairs, when the suffering partner had so hoped to enjoy a lifetime marraige but, tragically, most affairs end in divorce. Dear God, please remind us to reach out to prisoners and to be faithful in our marriage. In Jesus name, amen.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
One of the challenging things about living the Christian life, is dealing with the unseen Kingdom of our God. We gather from scripture that his power is vast and that he did indeed create the earth. But the difficulty ever arises in the daunting fact that his presence remains unseen. Granted, as our faith grows, we get to see the work of his hand appearing around us and to me, that provides a reassurance that he is indeed nearby. But in "Hebrews" we get an overwhelming statement regarding the nature of God: "We should be grateful that we were given a kingdom that cannot be shaken. And in this kingdom we please God by worshiping him and by showing him great honor and respect. 29 Our God is like a destructive fire!" (Hebrews 12:28-29). This picture of fire that arises here should surely strike some fear in our hearts. For there really is little measure of God being the kind, patient soul that patiently waits for our moral improvement. Instead, we get this devastating burning picture that should lead us to obey the preceding verses, to grant God our highest regard and adoration. Nice to know that pleasing him is fairly simple; we just need to dutifully worship him with a great deal of respect. Then, surely, we will get to escape the singing fire that seems in these verses mightily destructive! Holy Father, please often remind us to worship you with honor and respect. In Jesus name, amen.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
It is customary to want to avoid all pain, all trouble in order that life be fairly easy. But in this book we get a valuable glimpse at the habit God seems to hold of causing us trouble, of "correcting" us. I do think we must begin thinking like God anytime trials find their way to us. And get to that place where we can actually savor hardship, knowing that an awful lot of it may originate with God. It takes us understanding that God sees everything terribly long term, making difficulties building blocks toward character and faith. We find it put this way: "Be patient when you are being corrected! This is how God treats his children. Don’t all parents correct their children? 8 God corrects all of his children, and if he doesn’t correct you, then you don’t really belong to him. 9 Our earthly fathers correct us, and we still respect them. Isn’t it even better to be given true life by letting our spiritual Father correct us?" (Hebrews 12:7-9). The conclusion here is that correction actually means life in God's terms; we should understand that to him correcting us plays possibly just as important a role as blessing us somehow. Indeed, it says here that correction actually sort of becomes our identity as his children, the ones he cares to work upon. Thus, no matter whether we can determine that hardship comes from God or not, it makes sense to begin welcoming every trial as God's pathway toward maturity. Holy Father, please help us to welcome your correction. In Jesus name, amen.
Monday, November 11, 2013
"Hebews" makes a most excellent point by following the heroes of faith with an exclamation like this: "Such a large crowd of witnesses is all around us! So we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially the sin that just won’t let go. And we must be determined to run the race that is ahead of us. 2 We must keep our eyes on Jesus, who leads us and makes our faith complete. He endured the shame of being nailed to a cross, because he knew that later on he would be glad he did. Now he is seated at the right side[a] of God’s throne! 3 So keep your mind on Jesus, who put up with many insults from sinners. Then you won’t get discouraged and give up." It stands to reason that all these folks in Heaven enjoy omnicience; that is, the ability to see what we are doing and cheer us on. That is why I shall always ask for their more effective prayers to guide me and strengthen me and why I will continue to remember the essence of their faith, something that obviously stirs God's heart. But the sound conclusion to this faith exploration is found here, in calling to ever keep our mind on Jesus, always seeing him as the center of faith. Never succumbing to the common human predicament of centering church life on ethics in the letters. Edicts will always rob us of peace and ultimate joy if we fall into the wayward practice of constantly pondering and discussing them. Rather, were we to hear God's entreaty today, it would surely be far stronger toward always and ever thinking of the Christ. The fact is that ethics, while surely found in many places, do nothing toward repairing us from the struggles of life and inspiring us toward great things. Take a stand for always pushing the Messiah forward in every discussion possible; don't stand for endless preaching and cavorting around mere ethics. It ain't helpful! Why did God give us four gospels? Not to bore us but to somehow keep us centered in them. Dear Jesus, we pray that you might keep us centered on you, always. In your name, amen.
Sunday, November 10, 2013
When it comes to knowing God, the task should really be quite easy. For, in human terms, the business of contemplating the aura of the Father should be a cinch. Because, largely, the knowing us remains his requisite priority. So to fathom the realm of merging with deity demands an understanding of just how deeply he longs to know our little souls. And within "Hebrews," he lays out the vast measure, his terms, that knowing stirs his spirit: "All of them will know me, no matter who they are. I will treat them with kindness, even though they are wicked. I will forget their sins. When the Lord talks about a new agreement, he means that the first one is out of date. And anything that is old and useless will soon disappear." (Hebrews 8:11-13). This relational way of connecting that seems to be at the heart of God has, in the new convenant, stretched to include everybody in fairly informal terms. I suspect God like contractions. The idea in his mind always of "let's" carry on in this or that way; taking the Lord in informal terms. Too bad when people wax religous they seem to froth over with sterility, pronouncing formal exclamation, as though that warrants a higher nobility. Ain't so with the our Father. Rather, I find often in scripture, when pondering Jesus, a person of mainly hunger for communion that is in fact lighthearted. Humor came from God. And I feel we owe it to his gracious welcome to return the levity. So in this verse when God gets on about everyone knowing him, that in itself should propel us to that place of a common feeling, sensing his overwhelming love and compassion that longs to radiate through our souls. He wants everyone all the time to walk about his lingering embrace. Where, due to our human limitedness, we might not be able to linger in hugs beyond those with our beloved, we must get it in these "Hebrews" verses that to God, he never wants to sense a break in the hug; he wants to feel it constantly. Holy Father, please do guide us into your arms often, so we can enjoy your sweet fellowship. In Jesus name, amen. May God bless you and keep you close.
Saturday, November 9, 2013
The magic of the new covenant as portrayed in "Hebrews" can be found in the miracle of God putting his teachings on our hearts, the idea that we really don't even need to study the scriptures to know God. And the wonder of this technique from our Father seems to be a newer approach he has deemed appropriate to our age. Read this: "The time will come when I, the Lord,will write my laws on their minds and hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Not one of them will have to teach another to know me, their Lord." (Hebrews 8:10-11). It is this dynamic that we really have no excuse to ever claim we know not the Father, for he has insured by surgical implantment within our being that we might know him. Hence nobody at the time of judgement can ever claim they did not get the story; it is on their souls forever. Kids seem to exhibit this more intuitively than adults as they coast through life I think always certain of a God. The problem arrives with sin, taking away the precious natural insights into Heavenly ways. Thus adults, maybe the majority, seem to have managed to distance themselves from their creator; not an easy thing to do. Yet I know at judgement none of them will have any leg to stand on when God crashes down upon them for living stupid lives. So it seem, for us, the calling is to ever savor the best instruction already on our hearts, imprinted there by our beloved God. Holy Father, we do pray that you would enable us to understand your teachings on our hearts. In Jesus name, amen.
Thursday, November 7, 2013
"Hebrews" could certainly be characterized as a dictum of faith, for that is surely the most common topic in its midst. Why? I would suggest because faith is what turns on the Trinity, what ignites their constant hope that we might start thinking in terms of the unseen, the happening place from where all life flows. Consider these verses: :"Faith makes us sure of what we hope for and gives us proof of what we cannot see. 2 It was their faith that made our ancestors pleasing to God. Because of our faith, we know that the world was made at God’s command. We also know that what can be seen was made out of what cannot be seen. 4 Because Abel had faith, he offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. God was pleased with him and his gift, and even though Abel is now dead, his faith still speaks for him. 5 Enoch had faith and did not die. He pleased God, and God took him up to heaven. That’s why his body was never found." To read these inspired words should direly craft our hearts into vessels of faith, becoming that repository of belief that seemingly so charges the heart of God. Hence that is why we find them again and again appearing in the context of better living, granting us insight toward the preferred path for stirling contemplation. I probably, most of all, enjoy the account here of Enoch. Talk about a lucky guy, he was so admired by God that he just swept him into Heaven and he never had to face death, even gathered his body unto Heaven. About as good as it gets. So that is why I shall every day in detail ask for an increasing faith, since I know that faith in the end is what please the Father. Dear God, we do pray that you would increase our faith. In Jesus name, amen. Peace of Christ to you.
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
These days, with the stock market ascending to an all time high, countless people are rushing to plow their savings into it, hoping they might score a massive gain. Wrong move. Historically, whenever the market surges to these heights, it is bound to fall, to guide the hapless into then selling for a good loss. I believe we are poised this day to suffer such a fall, yet it remains a great time to be a seller. But God's hope offers us something far more reliable and durable, something trancendent to the vagaries of life. So parking our aspirations upon his version of happy success can be the sort of hopefullness that rewards us mightily, no matter the changes and disappointments stirring the world about us. Consider: "We have run to God for safety. Now his promises should greatly encourage us to take hold of the hope that is right in front of us. 19 This hope is like a firm and steady anchor for our souls. In fact, hope reaches behind the curtain[c] and into the most holy place. 20 Jesus has gone there ahead of us, and he is our high priest forever, just like Melchizedek." (Hebrews 6:18-20). God's language here is for his hope for us to reside around our hearts like an anchor, firm and ever present, a pulling that keeps us from straying toward the impeachments of this life. The marvel of this hope is that it reaches well into the holy place, that spot from where all of life flows, something that no matter how much wealth a nation accumulates, they cannot mimic. It is the fabric of lasting peace, of Heaven's contentment that can actually be experienced, depending on our willingness, here on earth. Thus God makes the plea in this passage, ever hoping we might get a clue and allow him entrance into our striving for moments of lasting joy. Holy Father, we do pray that you would ever remind us of your hope constanatly. In Jesus name, amen.
Monday, November 4, 2013
When one considers the intensity of the prayers of the Christ, it can certainly guide such to follow the example, to infuse within their prayers the dire veracity of the beseechment of the Chrst. We get a glance at this sort of prayer and worship here: "God had the power to save Jesus from death. And while Jesus was on earth, he begged God with loud crying and tears to save him. He truly worshiped God, and God listened to his prayers. 8 Jesus is God’s own Son, but still he had to suffer before he could learn what it really means to obey God. 9 Suffering made Jesus perfect, and now he can save forever all who obey him. 10 This is because God chose him to be a high priest like Melchizedek." (Hebrews 5:7-9). The idea found here is the notion that the Master really begged God to intercede, knowing something about the nature of God, while being the utmost personality, he also held the postion of One duly able to be persuaded. And so, pondering this fierce tirade of prayer that Jesus unleashed and seeing that he gained success, being that "God listened to his prayers," we might be well served to engage in a similar, verily like-minded striving to inflict on God such a dire longing that does seem to garner his attention and answer. As well, given that I know that God and, the Trinity for that matter, do seem to enjoy all suffering, we ought to cherish any trials that visit us, to know such hardship is actualy a form of ammo for our prayers, for suffering does seem to please God and grant him a fullfillment that, though it makes no sense to us in the moment, does achieve promoise within our prayers and drive to live a godly life. So, to take these here verses to heart, the mission seems to be to always pray strongly, with emotion, and to welcome suffering as the bread of life to God, and in a sense, what ought to be the firmament of God's blessing upon our lives. Holy Father, we do ask that you would help us to pray intensely as Jesus did and to welcome suffering. In Jesus name, amen.
Saturday, November 2, 2013
We find a discussion in "Hebrews" four about the range of the understanding of the Christ, that he can sympathize with our struggle against sin, for he has suffered with a greater range of temptation than we. It is this idea that, in these verses, ought to be reason for us to persist in faith and chase our reward, since we have an intercessor that has experienced a far greater temptation that we ever shall: "We have a great high priest, who has gone into heaven, and he is Jesus the Son of God. That is why we must hold on to what we have said about him. 15 Jesus understands every weakness of ours, because he was tempted in every way that we are. But he did not sin! 16 So whenever we are in need, we should come bravely before the throne of our merciful God. There we will be treated with undeserved kindness, and we will find help." (Hebrews 4:14-16). The beauty of this station that the Messiah enjoys is one of deep compassion toward our trials at the hands of the devil, given that he has felt his stupid pullings so often. Hence, our natural response this day must absolutely be one of going "bravely before the throne" of the Trinity and entreatying their solace, their comfort when sin lashes at our souls. Given that sin shall always trouble us, we must always pursue their refuge to surmount it and rise to walk victoriously toward the fruitful standing that they promise us. Their "help" should forever be our rescue as we do seem stuck with the constant onslaught of sin; we must not face it alone. Dear Father, we do pray that you would help us to often come to your throne for help in this life. In Jesus, amen.