Jesus' Love

He's Still King

John’s two disciples found Jesus and said to him, “John the Baptist sent us to ask, ‘Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?’” Luke 7:20 (NLT)

John was in prison. Can you imagine it? The prisons then were damp, dark cells in the bowels of some structure. While there, his disciples came to visit and told him of all the things Jesus was doing. Jesus was healing tons of people. He was casting out demons; he was raising people from the dead. Miraculous things.

John sent them to Jesus to ask him if he was really the Messiah. Wait. What?

John’s whole ministry was about declaring that Jesus was the Messiah. He said it over and over again. Early in his journey he saw Jesus coming and declared “Behold, the Lamb of God!” When he baptized him he saw the Holy Spirit descend on him. John knew Jesus was the Messiah.

So what happened? John knew his end was near. He knew he was going to be put to death. And I bet he was afraid. I wonder if as he sat in his cell and contemplated what was coming if he began to wonder why Jesus wasn’t helping him out of this. Do you think he reasoned that if Jesus was the Messiah, why didn’t he free him?. After all, John had served him faithfully all these years. Maybe the thought crossed his mind that Jesus was not the Messiah. After all, if he was, he could do something.

Ever happen to you? Have you ever been in the thick of it (whatever it is) and you have prayed and prayed and prayed. And no relief. No answer. It is so tempting to believe that if God were God he would fix the problem. Maybe he’s not. Satan loves to put that lie in our heads.

Jesus did answer John. He told John to look at everything that was happening; not just at his cell. Look broader. God is moving. Refocus and you will see it.

Jesus did not save John. There was a purpose and plan for John’s life. Jesus did not interfere with that. Even though John was beheaded, Jesus was still the Messiah. And he is still the Messiah today. No matter what your life looks like right now, Jesus is still King. He still died for you. He loves you. Even if you don’t get the answers to the prayers you are praying.

Family Focused

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. Ephesians 1:5 (NLT)

I am adopted. I was adopted very early on in my life and I’ve known about it since I was young enough to understand. Recently, I’ve found out more about my birth father and more siblings have been added into my family! I went from having 9 to having about 20 (maybe a little more.)

This whole experience made me think about Jesus and his lineage. It was super messy. In Matthew 1 there are some questionable characters mentioned. Maybe this is an example of why the Bible says he experienced the same things we do.

It also says we were adopted us into his family. God did this - before we even knew what was going on and it gave him great pleasure.

Jesus knew this because when he was asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!” (Matthew 12:48-50)

Imagine that! How many brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers do we have now? TONS! And think about all the potential family members you have. Anyone who could choose Jesus as their Savior is a potential family member.

Maybe today, we should treat everyone with the love Jesus showed us when he adopted us. Maybe, we should look around and see all the family members we have and lean in and embrace each other. Jesus did. So should we.

Keep Running

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-8 (NLT)

The story was told in Runners World magazine (8/91) of a woman named Beth Anne DeCiantis. You may have heard it but I am going to retell it here because it is so inspiring.

Beth was running to qualify for the Olympics in the marathon event. In order to qualify, a runner had to run the 26.2 miles in two hours and forty-five minutes. She started off well and ran without a problem until she hit mile 23. She had two minutes left to qualify as she headed into the last push. Her foot came down unevenly and she stumbled and fell. She knelt there dazed. She was down for 20 precious seconds. The bystanders yelled encouragement. She got up and began to walk. She had less than a minute left. She made it to five yards, ten seconds remaining and she fell again. The crowd yelled for her to get up! As the final seconds ticked away, it did not seem like she was going to make it. She started to crawl. Just as time was running out, she stretched and reached across the finish line on her hands and knees. She finished.

What inspires you? What causes you to keep running the race? Is it Jesus?

In 2 Corinthians 5:14 Paul says that the love of Christ’s love compels us. Not our love for him but his love for us. Paul’s life seems to always be a grueling race. He endured so much. Yes he was driven by one thing, Jesus love for him and sharing that with others.

Is that what motivates you today? Is that what inspires you? What drives you to keep going when the going gets tough? Jesus loves you. I hope that is what keeps you going.

For The Love Of.....

Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this? Esther 4:14 (NLT)

Our sermon series and Bible Study theme at church right now is “Fleshing Out Love.” Have you ever read the Bible with this in mind? Recently, I put on this lens and read Esther. What an eye-opening experience. And boy does the lesson apply to our world.

As you read the first chapter, you can see what King Xerxes is in love with. He is in love with his wealth, his things, his pleasure, his power, his self-importance. Pretty much he is in love with himself. All of his actions demonstrate this. Because of this, Esther ends up in the palace in his harem.

Chapter 2 and 3 moves through the story and Esther is chosen as Queen. All throughout, her cousin Mordecai comes to the palace to hear word of her. He adopted her when his Uncle and Aunt died. He loves Esther and his family. He also loves integrity. When he overheard a plot to kill the King, he didn’t harbor bitterness because of what the King did to Esther, he revealed the plot and saved the King’s life.

Chapter 4 introduces Haman. He is also in love with himself and his power, his money and his position. Oh, and he’s in love with his belief that anyone that doesn’t believe like he does is useless and needs to be done away with. He acts on this and goes to the King asking permission, offering to pay for it and unfortunately, the King says yes. They issue a decree saying all Jews will be slaughtered on a specific day.

In Chapter 5 Mordecai goes into mourning and sits outside the palace gates in sackcloth and ashes. Esther hears and a conversation ensues. Mordecai demonstrating love for his people and his family asks her to help. Here, Esther demonstrates love for her own life and says that she can’t. She will die. Mordecai says “You are going to die anyway. This is why you are here!” Esther agrees and she goes before the king loving her people and her calling more than her life.

As you read through this story, I bet you thought of people that may have fit in every single role. Right? Can I challenge you with a thought? We probably all fit in every role at some time in our week. None of us is above the self-love that is demonstrated that caused harm to others. We do it every time we judge. What we need to get to is the sacrificial love exhibited by Mordecai and Esther. The love that puts others first always. The love that sacrifices what we think for what is best for human beings.

This is the love that was lived out by Jesus. I know I have a long way to go but this is what I want my life to look like. How about you?

A Servant's Role Model

Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God.  So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist,  and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. John 13:3-5 (NLT)

I’ve been listening to a book recently and one of the chapters was on Serving. This topic also came up recently in a Bible Study. We were talking about coming to church with an attitude of giving instead of receiving. Some people said they came to church to serve and didn’t expect to receive and that was OK because they received from God in other ways. Some thought coming to serve and receive wasn’t a bad thing….and it is not.

Maybe it boils down to our hearts? Are we serving to check the box? You know, because it is the thing we have to do to be Christians? Are we serving because we see others as an object to check that box? Are we serving because we can see in the hierarchy of things we are low man on the totem pole and we need to be the one serving?

So what should serving look like? As I pondered this, I thought about Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. In John 13 it says he knew that God had given all authority to him. He was at the top of the “universe chain” and he knew it. And as he realized that, what did he do? He got up from the table, took a towel and basin of water and proceeded to be a servant. He kneeled on the floor, took off the sandals of every single disciple (including Judas) and washed the dirt and grime from their feet. He tenderly dried each foot. I can imagine praying over their feet as he did it.

Jesus didn’t just do the job of a servant because there is no servant who would perform this job with so much love. It was much more than that. That’s who he was. He didn’t serve because it was a job he had to do, he served because at his core he was a servant. We have to imitate that.

When we stop serving because it’s the right thing to do and serve because it’s who we are, then our lives and our world will change. Then, we will be serving like Jesus did.

Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Philippians 2:6 (NLT)

What's Your Label?

In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. Matthew 5:16 (NLT)

The other day I was sitting in traffic; something I try to avoid but in a city it’s expected at times. I noticed on the back of the car in front of me a sticker that said “Proud to be a __________.” There was a denomination listed. Fill in the blank with your denomination if you want.

Then, I started looking at the backs of other cars. Some had those little stickers that show you how many people are in the family, including pets. Some had stickers that showed what political affiliation with which the occupants align. One had a sticker for a Christian radio station in our area, WGTS. I see this one a lot. And sometimes you see it on cars whose drivers are not acting “Christian” when they drive.

Made me think about how we label ourselves and then in turn, label each other. While it seems like this is especially prevalent now, it’s been happening since the beginning of time. It was happening in Christ’s day as well. To the Jews, if you were a Samaritan you were less than. To the Gentiles, if you were a Jew you didn’t measure up. Then, there were the financial classes and slaves and owners of slaves. And, if you were a man or a woman, that determined a lot about your abilities.

What does Jesus say about all this labeling? All he cared (and still cares) about is that you love God. He said that if you were truly in love with God, it would show in your behavior. It would show in your obedience to him and it would show in how you treat each other.

Maybe we should have stickers that say “God Lover” or “Mad about Jesus” so we could put them on our cars? Oh wait, that won’t work. Just because you have something stuck on your car doesn’t mean it’s stuck in your heart.

Look! What's In That Tree?

A minute in Gods' word will change your life.  Read through the Bible text and ask yourself the questions at the bottom of the post.

1 Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way.

When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.”

Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled.

Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!”

Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” Luke 19:1-10 (NLT)

Did the fact that Zacchaeus was a sinner stop Jesus from getting to know him?
Why do you think Jesus stopped to talk to Zacchaeus when there were throngs of people all around him?
Do you think Jesus knew Zacchaeus was going to be looking for him?
Why do you think Jesus went to Zacchaeus home and spent time with him instead of just giving him a talk right there on the street?
What happened when Zacchaeus spent time with Jesus?
What happens when you do?

A Minute In It - The Eyes Have It

A minute in Gods' word will change your life.  Read through the Bible text and ask yourself the questions at the bottom of the post.

54 So they arrested him and led him to the high priest’s home. And Peter followed at a distance. 55 The guards lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it, and Peter joined them there. 56 A servant girl noticed him in the firelight and began staring at him. Finally she said, “This man was one of Jesus’ followers!”

57 But Peter denied it. “Woman,” he said, “I don’t even know him!”

58 After a while someone else looked at him and said, “You must be one of them!”

“No, man, I’m not!” Peter retorted.

59 About an hour later someone else insisted, “This must be one of them, because he is a Galilean, too.”

60 But Peter said, “Man, I don’t know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.

61 At that moment the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Suddenly, the Lord’s words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.”62 And Peter left the courtyard, weeping bitterly. Luke 22:54-62 (NLT)

When Jesus looked at Peter, what did his eyes say?
Did it say “How could you!”?
Did his expression express his disappointment or his love?
How does Jesus look at you when you do something that disappoints him?

Your answer to the last question says a lot about how you perceive God. If your perceptions are not of love and forgiveness, then you need to get to know him better.