Jesus knows what I am thinking in my heart. I may not have said it but he knows.
Jesus has a question for me. It is one I must confront.
Jesus wants to know “Why am I thinking these things?”
So why am I? Continue reading
Jesus knows what I am thinking in my heart. I may not have said it but he knows.
Jesus has a question for me. It is one I must confront.
Jesus wants to know “Why am I thinking these things?”
So why am I? Continue reading
A woman anoints Jesus with a very expensive perfume, worth a years salary. She does it as an act of love. Jesus knows what it means. She has pre-anointed him for his soon to be burial. No one else really gets it.
In fact, some of them get offended and indignant. The money should have been given to the poor, they say.
Were they really that concerned about the poor? Am I that concerned about the poor? Or is just for a show? Jesus knows.
While he makes a statement about the poor always being with us, it sounds more like an indictment. Why haven’t they done something already? The poor are all around us. We can help. We can help today.
The more important point is that they missed the opportunity to honor Jesus. The woman who anointed him knows who Jesus is and honors him.
Will I honor Jesus? The question rings out. Am I more interested in being religious (helping the poor) or doing something significant for Jesus? Have I asked Jesus what to do today?
Jesus was at Bethany, a guest of Simon the Leper. While he was eating dinner, a woman came up carrying a bottle of very expensive perfume. Opening the bottle, she poured it on his head. Some of the guests became furious among themselves. “That’s criminal! A sheer waste! This perfume could have been sold for well over a year’s wages and handed out to the poor.” They swelled up in anger, nearly bursting with indignation over her.
But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why are you giving her a hard time? She has just done something wonderfully significant for me. You will have the poor with you every day for the rest of your lives. Whenever you feel like it, you can do something for them. Not so with me. She did what she could when she could—she pre-anointed my body for burial. And you can be sure that wherever in the whole world the Message is preached, what she just did is going to be talked about admiringly.”
Source: Mark 14:3-9
I grew up in a “rule keeping” church. It was pretty clear that if I didn’t do certain things I could find favor with GOD. So I tried. And tried. But …
I can’t do anything to “win” God’s love. It is free. It is a gift. I didn’t earn it.
Jesus, our Master, paid the price to win it for me. It is that straightforward. That is what “grace” means. It is a gift. I can’t do anything to get access to it. Continue reading
Pilate had heard the “accusations” from the Jewish leaders. He was trying to figure out what to do with Jesus. Jesus isn’t helping him one bit. Jesus knows what needs to happen here and what will happen. Jesus is going to the cross.
Jesus knows that it is not about what Jesus believes. Jesus knows that he is the Messiah and Son of God. What does Pilate know and believe. More importantly, what do I know and believe about Jesus?
So … what do I say?
Jesus was placed before Pilate, the governor, who questioned him: “Are you the ‘King of the Jews’?”
Jesus said, “If you say so.”
Source: Matthew 27:11
Why do I give others a hard time? Why do I get furious with them? What have they done to deserve it? Who am I putting a show on for? Do I think Jesus is going to be impressed with this?
The disciples are furious. Jesus knows what is going on behind the anger. The disciples just don’t get it. I don’t get it either. Sometimes what Jesus does just befuddles me. I jump to conclusions about others. I don’t see that they are honoring Jesus.
Jesus gets it. Jesus sees the why of what I am doing. That is all that matters.
Jesus knows that he is being anointed for burial. Jesus knows what is coming soon. He has told the disciples about it many times. This isn’t a mystery to anyone.
I need to see what Jesus is seeing. That is the challenge. That is God’s goal for me. That is the important thing for today. What is Jesus seeing?
When Jesus was at Bethany, a guest of Simon the Leper, a woman came up to him as he was eating dinner and anointed him with a bottle of very expensive perfume. When the disciples saw what was happening, they were furious. “That’s criminal! This could have been sold for a lot and the money handed out to the poor.”
When Jesus realized what was going on, he intervened. “Why are you giving this woman a hard time? She has just done something wonderfully significant for me. You will have the poor with you every day for the rest of your lives, but not me. When she poured this perfume on my body, what she really did was anoint me for burial. You can be sure that wherever in the whole world the Message is preached, what she has just done is going to be remembered and admired.”
That is when one of the Twelve, the one named Judas Iscariot, went to the cabal of high priests and said, “What will you give me if I hand him over to you?” They settled on thirty silver pieces. He began looking for just the right moment to hand him over.
Source: Matthew 26:6-16
Jesus knows how to get to the heart of the matter.
It is a simple question.
Jesus wants to know who I think he is.
Will I answer like Peter? Is that what I believe?
Jesus wants to know if I know that he is “the Messiah” (the anointed one who is King).
One time when Jesus was off praying by himself, his disciples nearby, he asked them, “What are the crowds saying about me, about who I am?”
They said, “John the Baptizer. Others say Elijah. Still others say that one of the prophets from long ago has come back.”
He then asked, “And you—what are you saying about me? Who am I?”
Peter answered, “the Messiah of God.” Jesus then warned them to keep it quiet. They were to tell no one what Peter had said.
Source: Luke 9:18-21
Jesus knows what is important. In his death, and then resurrection, he showed us.
Two others, both criminals, were taken along with him for execution.
When they got to the place called Skull Hill, they crucified him, along with the criminals, one on his right, the other on his left.
Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they’re doing.”
Source: Luke 23:32-35
Jesus takes off after the religious leaders and scholars. He does it all the time. I think he wants me to take what he says seriously. I really do!
“Don’t let people do that to you, put you (i.e. the religious leaders) on a pedestal like that. You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates. Don’t set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of ‘Father’; you have only one Father, and he’s in heaven. And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and them—Messiah.”
Source: Matthew 23:8-10
Jesus is done with his mission. Jesus has presided over the last supper. At this time, what does Jesus have to say to his Father in prayer? Jesus knows it is now time. Imagine that. Every detail completed. Nothing left to do at all.
Here are a few of the points of the long prayer. Read it all here.
“Jesus said these things. Then, raising his eyes in prayer, he said:
Father, it’s time.
Display the bright splendor of your Son
So the Son in turn may show your bright splendor.
You put him in charge of everything human
So he might give real and eternal life to all in his charge.
And this is the real and eternal life:
That they know you,
The one and only true God,
And Jesus the Messiah, whom you sent.
I glorified you on earth
By completing down to the last detail
What you assigned me to do.
And now, Father, glorify me with your very own splendor,
The very splendor I had in your presence
Before there was a world.” ~Jesus
Source: John 17:1-5
“We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus the Messiah. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy!” ~Apostle John
Source: 1 John 1:3-4
That is His name. But what does His name mean?
“Know this: GOD (Yahweh), your God (Elohiym), is God (Elohiym) indeed, a God you can depend upon. He keeps his covenant of loyal love with those who love him and observe his commandments for a thousand generations. But he also pays back those who hate him, pays them the wages of death; he isn’t slow to pay them off—those who hate him, he pays right on time.” ~Moses
I like to think I can do it all myself and that I don’t need any help.
I need to change my mind (repent) because that has me missing God’s goal for my life (sin).
I can’t succeed without the help of Jesus, the Messiah. That is reality and I need to get on board with that. It is all about Jesus and nothing about me. Continue reading
Jesus is clear. I need to tell everyone I know how Jesus, my Master and the Messiah, has had mercy on me. Jesus is in a good mood. He doesn’t hold me to account for missing God’s goal in my life (sin). Jesus, in his mercy, casts out the evil dwelling in me.
I was in a bad state. Some days I still am. Jesus cleans me up and sets me on the right way.
I must tell my story.
That is the challenge I have received from Jesus.
As Jesus was getting into the boat, the demon-delivered man begged to go along, but he wouldn’t let him. Jesus said, “Go home to your own people. Tell them your story—what the Master did, how he had mercy on you.” The man went back and began to preach in the Ten Towns area about what Jesus had done for him. He was the talk of the town.
Source: Mark 5:16-20
What can I do to get right with God? Nothing. Nada. Zip. Not a single solitary thing.
I have the law of God. I know the result. I miss the goal God has for me non stop, every day. His goal for me doesn’t change. Yet, I keep missing it.
Jesus comes with Good News. He died for me, took the punishment on for breaking God’s law and for missing His goal for me. He delivers me from the burden of punishment. There is nothing I can do to earn it. Trying harder won’t cut it. It is gift.
God is God. There is nothing I can do to get right with him.
“There is only one way by which I can get right with God, and that is through the death of Jesus the Messiah. I must get rid of the underlying idea that I can ever be right with God because of my obedience. Who of us could ever obey God to absolute perfection!” ~~Oswald Chambers
Jesus is making it in His country of supernatural courage (faith). What is amazing is that He is using us to create a place for Him to dwell.
We all have a place there and He wants to live in it. He has given us great gifts to benefit His people.
So … In God’s country:
That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with the Messiah Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home. Ephesians 2:19 -22
Jesus said He only did what He saw the Father doing.
Mostly just finding ways to love me. The more I keep company with Jesus, the more I will learn a life of love.
What I see Jesus do, I will do likewise. I will not be selfish or cautious in my love. I must be extravagant in my love. That is His way.
So, what do I need to do to learn to love more? Spend more time with Jesus.
Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is extravagantly love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how the Messiah loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. Ephesians 5
Perfect love brings me peace. The is no fear in His world. He is in charge and I can rest.
What a gift from our Father. His goal for me will be achieved. My enemy can’t touch me when I trust in Him.
So … I go to bed confident. God is God. God has put Jesus in charge of everything. I can be fearless.
I wake up rested and strong. I wake up fearless in Jesus, my Messiah.
I stretch myself out. I sleep. Then I’m up again—rested, tall and steady, fearless before the enemy mobs coming at me from all sides.” ~~King David (Psalm 3:5-6)
Jesus was into full disclosure and transparency. What He saw His Father doing is what He did. No cover ups. No secrets.
In fact, Jesus came to reveal the mysteries of the Kingdom (Government) of God. His Message is all about revealing secrets. He calls on me to do the same.
God’s goal for me is to make known what God is up to. Let everyone in on the secret. I am to be a light for Jesus. Jesus is life!
We’re not keeping secrets; we’re telling them. “ –Jesus (Luke 8)
We belong to Jesus. We ought to reflect that in what we say and do.
I ask you, “Has the Messiah been chopped up in little pieces so we can each have a relic all our own? Has Paul crucified for you? Was a single one of you baptized in Paul’s name?” I was not involved with any of your baptisms—except for Crispus and Gaius—and on getting this report, I’m sure glad I wasn’t. At least no one can go around saying he was baptized in my name. (Come to think of it, I also baptized Stephanas’s family, but as far as I can recall, that’s it.) (1 Corinthians 1:13-16 The Message)
This one is VERY simple. Loving others deeply and the way Jesus the Messiah does is the test of right living.
Right living in God and right living with all who are a part of my life. It is all about the relationships. Acting right equals right-living with God.
If we are not God’s child then we are the Devil’s child. This is a start reality. There is a clear difference between the two. The test is quite simple. Which am I?
Loving God and loving my neighbor is the test.
So, my dear children, don’t let anyone divert you from the truth. It’s the person who acts right who is right, just as we see it lived out in our righteous Messiah. …. Here’s how you tell the difference between God’s children and the Devil’s children: The one who won’t practice righteous ways isn’t from God, nor is the one who won’t love brother or sister. A simple test.1 John 3:7-10
Many people do things in the name of Jesus. They may not be a part of “our group” or our Church.
I need to be careful. Someone who performs the work of God in the name of Jesus is not an enemy. God’s country is not divided against itself.
God is God. God will judge. Good work in the name of Jesus is not my concern.
I have an enemy. His work is clear.
They started arguing over which of them would be most famous. When Jesus realized how much this mattered to them, he brought a child to his side. “Whoever accepts this child as if the child were me, accepts me,” he said. “And whoever accepts me, accepts the One who sent me. You become great by accepting, not asserting. Your spirit, not your size, makes the difference.”
John spoke up, “Master, we saw a man using your name to expel demons and we stopped him because he wasn’t of our group.”
Jesus said, “Don’t stop him. If he’s not an enemy, he’s an ally.
Source: Luke 9:46 – 50
Our leaders don’t always get it. They plot, the connive, they think they are in control. They defy God and think they are free from Jesus.
God has shut them up. Jesus came and established His rule and authority. God’s world and government has triumphed the present world order.
Nothing is impossible for Jesus, the Messiah. Jesus is in control. Jesus has been inaugurated already. Jesus has already won the victory.
Why the big noise, nations? Why the mean plots, peoples?
Earth-leaders push for position,
Demagogues and delegates meet for summit talks,
The God-deniers, the Messiah-defiers:
“Let’s get free of God!
Cast loose from Messiah!”
Heaven-throned God breaks out laughing.
At first he’s amused at their presumption;
Then he gets good and angry.
Furiously, he shuts them up:
“Don’t you know there’s a King in Zion? A coronation banquet
Is spread for him on the holy summit.”
Jesus came to rescue us from death. He actually embrace death for us. He took it on Himself. He made it His own.
Because Jesus defeated death, He destroyed our enemy Satan’s hold on death. He freed us all who have been scared to death of death.
Jesus went to all of this trouble for us humans. He had to enter into every detail of human life for us. He experienced it all. Birth, life, death and resurrection. No detail missed at all.
Jesus lived by not missing God’s plan so that we can be freed from missing the mark and live a life with God. He went through all the pain and test for us.
Jesus is qualified to help when help is needed.
I want to go after God. He is the rich one, not me. He can pile it on.
Jesus, the Messiah, doesn’t hold back. Like Jesus, I want to be extravagantly generous. What I have is really nothing compared to Him. He is the one. What a great new plan He is executing.
I need to be intentional about investing my heart and life in what truly matters.
I need to obsess about God’s desires and not my desires for money.
I need to go after God.
I need to pursue treasures that last.
Here is the plan:
Now that is a good plan.
Tell those rich in this world’s wealth to quit being so full of themselves and so obsessed with money, which is here today and gone tomorrow. Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage—to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. If they do that, they’ll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life. 1 Timothy 6:17-19 MSG
And, in church after church today, they still don’t. Way too many sermons on tithing and not enough on how God wants all of our money, not just a tenth.
So, if sacrifices are a solution, I could go merrily on my way and not hunger for something more.
But I don’t. There is more and it is His new plan. I want it. I hunger for it. It is my only desire.
All these rules only make me more aware of how inadequate I am. And that is the point of the message of condemnation. Keeping rules can’t get rid of my missing the goal of trusting Jesus.
Just can’t do it. No way. Jesus said that God didn’t want us to try to keep the old rules. He has a new plan. It isn’t tithing. It isn’t praying in church. It isn’t going to Sunday School. That is the old plan way.
It is a heart set on doing everything God’s way. His government isn’t a democracy. The new plan is based on “Your will be done.”“In my life right now as it is in heaven.”
When Jesus said “I am here to do it Your way.”, He set aside the old plan in order to set in motion a new goal. So His sacrifice has made me fit for the new government He has ushered in.
Who is Jesus? The very Son of God who, as man, died for us and is now resurrected. But in His resurrection, God has put Him in charge of everything. Nothing is exempt at all. Not a single thing.
So, how long will he be in charge? Imagine billions and billions of years. Imagine it never ending.
That is hard to get my mind around some days because this is a world where things come to an end. In Jesus, who is in charge of everything forever, I live and have the same life.
This is His gift to me.
God is God. He is in charge. He has given all authority to His Son Jesus, our Master. He is the Messiah.
All this energy issues from the Messiah: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the center of all this, the Messiah rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is the Messiah’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence. ~~Ephesians 1:20
Everyone is welcome in God’s world. We don’t naturally understand it or how it works but it is true. It is a great mystery. No matter if you have gone to church your whole life or never set foot in the door. We all stand on the same ground.
We all have the same offer of good news to enter God’s world. We all get the same help from a God for whom nothing is impossible.
All of the promises that Jesus made are ours. No favoritism to the religious. Those sitting at the bar are just as welcome. There is nothing we have “to do”.
Now that is some good news from a God that is in a good mood.
As you read over what I have written to you, you’ll be able to see for yourselves into the mystery of the Messiah. None of our ancestors understood this. Only in our time has it been made clear by God’s Spirit through his holy apostles and prophets of this new order. The mystery is that people who have never heard of God and those who have heard of him all their lives (what I’ve been calling outsiders and insiders) stand on the same ground before God. They get the same offer, same help, same promises in the Messiah Jesus. The Message is accessible and welcoming to everyone, across the board. Ephesians 3:4-6
Whose way do I want to follow? Mine? God’s?
It is a fundamental question. It needs to be asked and it needs to be answered. It is foundational to God’s world and His government.
I need a bold confidence. I want a firm grip on it. I don’t want to turn a deaf ear. I really, really don’t.
Where will that get me? Not where Jesus the Messiah wants me to go.
I want His rest. I want to reach the end point. I want to sit down and rest. I want to cease from my own “doing” and enter His “doing”.
May I keep a firm grip on His bold confidence!!
Now, if we can only keep a firm grip on this bold confidence, we’re the house! That’s why the Holy Spirit says, Today, please listen; don’t turn a deaf ear as in “the bitter uprising,” that time of wilderness testing! Even though they watched me at work for forty years, your ancestors refused to let me do it my way; over and over they tried my patience. And I was provoked, oh, so provoked! I said, “They’ll never keep their minds on God; they refuse to walk down my road.” Exasperated, I vowed, “They’ll never get where they’re going, never be able to sit down and rest.” Hebrews 3:6-11
I need the mercy of Jesus. I have completely missed God’s goal for my life. God is in a good mood, however. I am ready for mercy!
I should keep my arms open. They are outstretched . I am eager for His mercy.
I am ready beyond anything I have felt before for our Master’s mercy. I am staying at the center of of God’s love.
I am building myself up in in holy faith. I am praying in the Spirit. This life in Him never ends. It goes on and on and on. It is the real life.
But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus the Messiah to eternal life. Jude 1:20-21
In God’s world (Kingdom) it is all about God. It is all about what He wants and what He does. Jesus is clear. It is all about what our Father in heaven wants. May his will be done, we pray.
Need an agenda for today? Listen and act on what God wants. That will lead to a whole lot of rejoicing.
It’s not what you do for God but what God does for you—that’s the agenda for rejoicing.” ~~Jesus (Luke 10:18-20 The Message)
Integrity rules in God’s world. Jesus knows this. He demands we live with integrity.
There are some things God can’t stand. Deceiving people we know is huge on the list. Thinking we are deceiving God is even worse.
What is integrity? When we align with what God wants and believe it in our hearts, think about it in our minds, talk about it and then do it!!
That is alignment in God’s world. The world where Jesus is the Messiah and rules everything. I must align with Jesus.
God can’t stand deceivers, but oh how he relishes integrity.” ~King Solomon (Proverbs 11:20)
Jesus knows me. He knows everything about me. I have no secrets from Jesus.
Jesus knows what I am about to do. Many times, I don’t know what I am about to do. Jesus does and he wants me to trust him.
Jesus knows I am self-centered. He knows I will look after my own interest and not seek to know what Jesus wants me to do.
Jesus knows himself. Jesus knows he is the son of God and that God has his best interests at heart. Jesus is God-confident.
Jesus challenges me to trust him. That is the main thing about the main thing. I must find a way to trust Jesus.
Jesus promises me, if I trust him, that I will be unshakable and at peace. Peace can be mine. If I don’t have it, it is probably due to a lack of trust in Jesus.
Jesus promises me that I am going to experience difficulty. It is going to come my way. It is right around the corner.
Jesus assures me he has conquered the world. I should take heart and trust Jesus.
Jesus answered them, “Do you finally believe? In fact, you’re about to make a run for it—saving your own skins and abandoning me. But I’m not abandoned. The Father is with me. I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.
Today is a new year and so we celebrate.
Today, in Jesus, we get a fresh start and are created new in him.
Now, that is some good news.
Because of Jesus, welcome to a new Michael.
Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons!
Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for the Messiah himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.
Someone has to be put in charge of capturing what God is saying. He is revealing so much to us. It needs care because His words stand out (are Holy).
“Religion” and religious people create some interesting challenges. “Religious” people can abandon the mission they have been given. If we have put our faith in them and not in Jesus, who can we trust?
Well, God always keeps His word. That is that and that is all there is to that.
Jesus can’t be rejected because He is always faithful. If the Messiah has said it, we can count on it.
First, there’s the matter of being put in charge of writing down and caring for God’s revelation, these Holy words of His. So, what if, in the course of doing that, some religious people have abandoned their post? God didn’t abandon them. Do you think their faithlessness cancels out his faithfulness? Not on your life! Depend on it: God keeps his word even when the whole world is lying through its teeth. His word says the same: Your words stand fast and true; Rejection doesn’t faze you. Romans 3:2-6
Joseph had a lot to deal with. What to name the Son of God wasn’t one of them. God’s angel made that clear to him. His name is Jesus (Yehshuah), “God Saves”.
His bigger problem was what to do about his fiance who was pregnant but claimed the Holy Spirit got her pregnant. He trusted Mary but only up to a point. He was going to call the whole thing off. The angel solved that for him as well.
It is clear to Joseph that this child will be like no other. First, her pregnancy is from a man. Second, it is God, through His Spirit, that has caused the pregnancy. Third, the child will be a boy. Finally, His name will show God’s purpose, to deliver and rescue mankind.
So … the Son of God is named Jesus (Yehshuah). And, most importantly, Jesus rescues and delivers us from sin, that is, missing God’s goal for our lives.
While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God’s angel spoke in the dream: “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus (Yehshuah)—’God saves’—because he will save his people from (sin) missing God’s goal for their lives.” Matthew 1:20-23
The birth of Jesus has special meaning. We must see it from the eyes of Jesus, our Messiah. We should think of why Jesus gave up the glory of heaven and humbled himself to come to earth as a man. He became a slave for us. Jesus humbled himself.
Forget about the baby and see the man on the cross, dying for us. Jesus didn’t come to give us Christmas trees filled with gifts. Jesus came to give us a cross and an empty tomb.
Above all else, Jesus humbled himself to be obedient to God, his father. His obedience led to his exaltation.
It wasn’t about the manager. It was all about the cross, the empty tomb and his mighty resurrection.
All honor and glory to Jesus, our Messiah.
Think of yourselves the way the Messiah Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.
Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus the Messiah, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.
I am looking.
I am looking for my savior.
God appears on the scene with his mighty angels.
Our savior and Messiah has arrived. Now that is some good news.
There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”
So this is how it happened. Luke starts warming us up with some basic facts. In a few more paragraphs we will begin to learn about how the Son of God was born and began to live among us.
Jesus came with a mission. It begins with some basic facts. It ends with Jesus ascending into heaven, a triumphant Messiah.
Luke draws me in. I want to know more.
About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.
There were the multitudes.
There were the 72.
There were the 12.
Peter, James and John made up the 3.
Then there was the one whom Jesus loved. He reclined next to Jesus at the last supper. He heard what He whispered.
May I recline next to Jesus.
May I hear what He whispers.
One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. John 13:23
It doesn’t matter why they asked Jesus to do something for Simon’s mother-in-law. They wanted Jesus to do something for her. They weren’t specific and that was ok. Just please do something.
Jesus did the ultimate thing, probably more than they thought he would. He was very direct. He told the fever to leave. It did. Nothing is impossible with God.
And so, she got dinner for them.
Jesus, God’s son and the Messiah, is going to do something for you and for me. We may not know what it is. Our job is to have faith that he will.
He left the meeting place and went to Simon’s house. Simon’s mother-in-law was running a high fever and they asked him to do something for her. He stood over her, told the fever to leave—and it left. Before they knew it, she was up getting dinner for them. Luke 4:38-39
Thankfulness doesn’t just appear on the scene all on its own. Some days it is easier than others to be thankful.
Thankfulness requires work. It must be cultivated.
Our goal, from our Master Jesus, is to thank God every step of the way. Everything is done in the name Jesus and every thought has thanks at its root.
Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of the Messiah—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.
Jesus cares about us in a way we probably can’t understand. His love is the “gold standard” for how to love.
It is the Messiah’s nature to be good. He can’t be anything else. He has always been that way and always will be. His love just won’t stop.
May I give thanks to Him. He is good.
Give thanks to God—he is good
and his love never quits.
Say, “Save us, Savior God,
round us up and get us out of these godless places,
So we can give thanks to your holy Name,
and bask in your life of praise.”
Blessed be God, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
Then everybody said, “Yes! Amen!” and “Praise God!”
1 Chronicles 16:34
Here is some great advise from the Apostle Paul. The best he can wish for us is that we stay on track and that we are steady in God. Persistence and discipline are amazing when it comes to knowing God.
How often do we start something to not finish it? My life is littered with great intentions and false starts. What happened to that diet? Why did I quit exercising?
One of the greatest tragedies in the old plan were men of God who started well but finished poorly.
So … the best for us is that we stay on track and don’t waiver. Steady is the way of God’s new plan for us through his son Jesus, the Messiah.
My dear, dear friends! I love you so much. I do want the very best for you. You make me feel such joy, fill me with such pride. Don’t waver. Stay on track, steady in God. Philippians 4:1
God didn’t choose the brightest and the best. God chooses those who will follow Him. That is it. The brightest and best sometimes think they can do it without God.
There is no pretension with God. He isn’t impressed by what we know or what we have. He knows it all. He has it all. There is nothing we have achieved that He wants.
There is absolutely no blowing our own trumpet with God. Everything comes from God.
May I blow God’s trumpet. He ROCKS, not me. God is God.
May I take advantage of His right thinking.
Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus the Messiah. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31
Jesus is our Messiah and he poured out his blood for us. Jesus sacrificed his perfect and mature life for me. Jesus literally poured out his blood for me.
Jesus did it so that I can be free. Before Jesus, I was bound to missing God’s goal for my life and on a course headed to punishment. It was all my doing.
Now I am free for that life I had before. And I am not just a little free but extravagantly and abundantly free.
Jesus thought of everything. Jesus has provided me everything. Jesus has let me in on God’s plan that God has invested so much in providing to me. God has so much pleasure in making it happen for us.
God has a long-range plan for how he is going to bring everything together. God’s plan starts with his son Jesus, the Messiah. God is the big picture and knows how it will all come together. God is in a very good mood.
God has abandoned the old plan. He has completely left it behind. He did it in Jesus our Master. The old plan kept us short of the goal God has in mind for us.
So, what is the essence of the new plan, His agreement with me?
It is that I will know Him. My friends won’t have to teach me how to do it. I have a relationship with Him through Jesus.
We will all know Him. He doesn’t remember what I was like before. I am absolutely forgiven the debt that couldn’t be paid before anyway.
It is in my heart to do so. It is in my mind all the time. That is it!!
This is the new plan…. ,’ declares the LORD. ‘I will put my way in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their friends, or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,’ declares the LORD. ‘For I will forgive their wandering heart and will remember their missing the mark no more.’ Jeremiah 31:31-34
Jesus has a goal for me. Jesus wants me to do something today. I can only do it with God’s help. I can’t do it on my own.
I live a pretty mundane life. I get up. I get ready. I go to work. I work. I come home. I go to bed. I get up and do it again. Pretty ordinary. Nothing remarkable.
Jesus challenges me to take that life and place it before God as an offering to him. That is all I have. All I can offer is that ordinary life. God of course can do anything. God can take that and make it into something super-natural.
Rather than my adjusting to the culture around me, I can adjust to God’s world. I can change my mind about what God wants to do today. I can be changed from the inside out.
I need to recognize what God wants. I need to fix my attention on God. I need to respond to it.
God brings out the best in me through Jesus. God wants me to be mature. That is the end game.
There are some things to be careful about. I must take responsibility for building myself up. In fact, I can listen to my-self, others, and the enemy in ways that takes me out of God’s love.
Praying in the Holy Spirit connects me with God’s love. If I am not feeling His love, I am not hearing Him.
I need to be ready for mercy.
Or am I looking for judgement?
The real life is about mercy. God is in a good mood and he is loving. All the time. No doubt about it.
That is the real life.
But you, dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy supernatural courage by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying right at the center of God’s love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus the Messiah. This is the unending life, the real life! Jude 1:20-21
I am interested in how much of my time is “mere busywork”. Now stuff has to get done; there is laundry, cleaning, dishes and meals.
I don’t think that is what the Apostle Paul means. There are times where I have “the chance” to do what “the Master wants” as opposed to the dark world where the enemy entices me to do what I want.
What choice do I make? Each day is made of these moments.
May I drink huge droughts of the Spirit of God. May I understand what the Master wants.
Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of the Messiah.
Wake up from your sleep, Climb out of your coffins; the Messiah will show you the light! So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!
Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants.
Don’t drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him. Sing hymns instead of drinking songs! Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus the Messiah.
The message is actually pretty simple. The message is Jesus, the anointed Messiah, King of God’s world.
It is only about Jesus. I can’t add to that and I can’t take away from that.
That focus will lead to maturity.
This mystery has been kept in the dark for a long time, but now it’s out in the open. God wanted everyone, not just Jews, to know this rich and glorious secret inside and out, regardless of their background, regardless of their religious standing. The mystery in a nutshell is just this: the Messiah is in you, so therefore you can look forward to sharing in God’s glory. It’s that simple. That is the substance of our Message. We preach the Messiah, warning people not to add to the Message. We teach in a spirit of profound common sense so that we can bring each person to maturity. To be mature is to be basic. the Messiah! No more, no less. That’s what I’m working so hard at day after day, year after year, doing my best with the energy God so generously gives me.~Apostle Paul
There are a lot of things that don’t really matter at the end of the day. Who won the baseball game is interesting but not essential.
There are three things I know. Those haven’t changed and are more important now more than ever.
It is only through Jesus the Messiah that we have true equality. It isn’t achieved by any other means. It is not a political issue at its core.
Jesus, through his life, death and resurrection, guarantees we are all on equal footing. As children of God, we will receive our inheritance.
Imagine that. We are all equal heirs.
In the Messiah’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus the Messiah. Also, since you are the Messiah’s family, then you are Abraham’s famous “descendant,” heirs according to the covenant promises.
God’s love for us is astounding. That is all there is to it.
He sent his son Jesus to redeem us and redeem us he did. I didn’t deserve it but he loves me none the less. Nothing can stop his love. His love is 24/7 and forever. It will never stop.
Jesus sits next to God in the place of power and authority sticking up for me. And he is sticking up for you as well.
God’s love for us is over the top.
So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and the Messiah’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:
They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.
None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.
We start out as slaves. Our path to maturity starts with servitude and obedience. I saw this in my relationship with my father. I had to learn obedience first. When I matured, we became the closest of friends. He treated me that way and I responded. That was so cool.
The same is true with our heavenly Father. We are his friends. He tells us His most innermost feelings and secrets. God wants us to have a heart after Him and wants us to live in intimacy with Him. He wants this far and away above obedience.
God wants us to mature. He wants us to move beyond servitude. He wants us to be His friend. He wants us to co-reign with the Messiah Jesus.
I know the end of the story. I know that Jesus is the anointed one of God and is in charge. Victory is his and will be mine as well.
Life vs. Death?
It doesn’t matter. It is not even the question.
It is life vs. more life!
So how am I to respond? I’ve decided that I really don’t care about their motives, whether mixed, bad, or indifferent. Every time one of them opens his mouth, the Messiah is proclaimed, so I just cheer them on!
And I’m going to keep that celebration going because I know how it’s going to turn out. Through your faithful prayers and the generous response of the Spirit of Jesus the Messiah, everything he wants to do in and through me will be done. I can hardly wait to continue on my course. I don’t expect to be embarrassed in the least. On the contrary, everything happening to me in this jail only serves to make the Messiah more accurately known, regardless of whether I live or die. They didn’t shut me up; they gave me a pulpit! Alive, I’m the Messiah’s messenger; dead, I’m his bounty. Life versus even more life! I can’t lose.
How often do I dwell in the past? Remember the time …. Ah, the good old days!!
God is doing a new thing. He has a new plan. It is springing up like a fountain just turned on.
Where nothing existed in us, God is creating a new being in Jesus the Messiah. Where no love existed, God’s generosity creates life. Where no understanding was available, God’s wisdom pours forth.
May I forget the past. May I dwell in the way of Jesus today.
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise. Isaiah 43:18-21 TNIV Bible
Jesus knows that following Him may not be a “bed of roses”.
Jesus tells us about it in advance.
We may get persecuted. We may even be martyred. It happens every day. Will you “sign up” to follow Jesus if you know that tomorrow someone may kill you for believing Him?
Of course, living in America makes if feel like being a martyr isn’t an issue; that it can’t happen to us. Because of that we are lulled into thinking it doesn’t happen to anyone any longer.
It’s not just about being a martyr though. 100 million Christians around the globe are currently suffering. They are real, and they are our brothers and sisters in the Messiah.
As followers of the Messiah, we are called to take a stand for our persecuted brothers and sisters. Hebrews 13:3 says, “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” Learn more at Open Doors on how you can help persecuted Christians.
Now here is the rub. Jesus also knows the benefit of being persecuted. Persecution drives (the deeply committed) deeper into His Father’s world.
You’re blessed (more than happy) when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.
~Jesus (Matthew 5:10 The Message)
I really enjoy my “news reader” on the internet. I keep up with 100′s of stuff (feeds) a day. I am on Facebook, Twitter, Yammer, LinkedIn, email, etc.
I am hyper-connected. Others follow the news on TV or radio all the time. We all have our versions of how we keep up.
We can be up to date in real time. “Breaking news”!!
We can know so much. If we think that makes us wise, we are in for a rude awakening. Such thinking is actually foolish. God’s ways are different.
How much time do we spend connected to Him and what He is thinking?
Really, compared to our connections to this world, how much time do we spend connected to His world?
Don’t fool yourself. Don’t think that you can be wise merely by being up-to-date with the times. Be God’s fool—that’s the path to true wisdom. What the world calls smart, God calls stupid. It’s written in Scripture, He exposes the chicanery of the chic. The Master sees through the smoke screens of the know-it-alls.
Source: 1 Corinthians 3:18-20
What is worth reporting on, in Paul’s opinion? It is all about the love we show to others. That is it. There is nothing else.
It isn’t the new church building. It is not how moving the Worship Team sang the new song. It isn’t new car we just bought. It isn’t the college our oldest just go into.
There are only two ways to get God’s attention. Love Him and love everyone we know and meet.
That is how our faith in Jesus is demonstrated. It is only about love. That is all that counts.
We keep getting reports on your steady faith in the Messiah Jesus, and the love you continuously extend to all Christians.
~Apostle Paul (Colossians 1:4 The Message)
We don’t like to think about it but there are a number of messages delivered by men of God that aren’t good news. There are many that are at odds with the gift of grace that the Messiah Jesus has bestowed on us.
It happens easily.
It only shows our fickleness when we believe them.
We need to know what the message of good news is. We need to stick with it. We must reject anything else.
May we stand firm today.
I can’t believe your fickleness—how easily you have turned traitor to him who called you by the grace of the Messiah by embracing a variant message!”
~~Apostle Paul (Galatians 1:6 The Message)
God has given us the Holy Spirit. That is a sign of His authority in our life.
Jesus has left us with power, His power. That is an amazing thing. What a great God we have.
And, that is not all.
The Holy Spirit in our life is only the beginning. God has so many wonderful things in store for us. And we will receive them all. Not a one will be withheld from us.
The Holy Spirit in our life is the sign of all the glory to come.
This signet (the Holy Spirit) from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.
It isn’t about who was raised in the church and has a religious background. Paul is clear on that.
If the training leads to following our Master Jesus, the Messiah, that is great. It is not about the training. It is about doing what God wants. Every day!!
The mistake the religious make is to believe it is simply about showing up. God has a goal in mind for us. It is not about just showing up. It is about obedience. God wants us to love.
It is not about going to church. It is about having a passion for Jesus and doing what He wants us to.
It is about obedience.
It is about having a heart for God.
It is about living a free life basking in how good God is.
So what difference does it make who’s religious and who isn’t, who has been trained in God’s ways and who hasn’t? As it turns out, it makes a lot of difference—but not the difference so many have assumed.!” ~~Apostle Paul (Romans 3:1)
The Jews of Jesus day were practicing a very soul-killing spirituality, a lifeless religion of duty and obligation. Desire was out of the question. No wonder they feared Jesus.
Jesus, the Messiah, came along and started appealing to desire. Jesus, the Messiah, arouses passion in us. Jesus stirs our soul for longing.
To the weary, Jesus speaks of rest. To the lost, he speaks of finding your way.
Again and again and again, Jesus takes people back to their desires. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matt. 7:7).
These are outrageous words, provocative words. Ask, seek, knock—these words invite and arouse desire.
What is it that you want? They fall on deaf ears if there is nothing you want, nothing you’re looking for, nothing you’re hungry enough to bang on a door over.
God has a goal for me. In His new plan, I can rest from my work and do the work that Jesus has in mind.
I need to be careful though. I have received the same promises as those who have gone before me. The promise is not new. I have a choice to make. Jesus challenges me to choose well.
Jesus challenges me to worship in a clear way. Sometimes I am just guessing. That is not the way of God’s chosen people.
God is light. He is so clear there is nothing but truth in Him. No guessing; just clarity.
Our worship needs to be the same way.
You worship guessing in the dark; we Jews worship in the clear light of day.
~Jesus (John 4:22 The Message)
I have a job to do. I must continue and continue to thank God for those I have relationships with. I must not quit.
Being thankful forces me to see and love my friends and family in a different way. Thankfulness is at the heart of relationships.
And taking it further, have I told everyone why I am thankful for them? Do they know why?
We can’t quit thanking God our Father and Jesus our Messiah for you!” ~Apostle Paul (Colossians 1:3 The Message)
There is peace and then there is a peace that is complete, nothing lacking at all. It envelopes us, wrapping us in His gifts.
I gain entrance to that peace with a mind that is focused on Him.
My trust in His direction keeps me safe and secure. No alarm system works like His love. Safe, secure, complete peace. That is the way of Jesus, the Messiah.
May I stay focused on Jesus.
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3
Do I see that I have finished the most difficult part? In the salvation that Jesus offers me, I’m not quite there yet but I am home free.
The hard part is behind me. I have the Holy Spirit now and I am on my way to maturity in God.
What brings this about? We have heard the truth. That is the starting point.
And, having heard it, we believe the good news. We no longer listen to our enemy. We know that Jesus, the Messiah, has saved us from missing God’s goal for us.
We are home free.
It’s in the Messiah that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of good news of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit.
~Apostle Paul (Ephesians 1:13 The Message)
Will I be proud when I stand before Jesus?
That is a stunning question. Think about it. Will I?
Do I live in His love or ashamed?
Do I live in condemnation, because of my enemy?
The answer is a resounding NO! Jesus has freed me from my life of missing God’s goal. I am living a new life.
May I live in His love. May I know how proud He is of me. May I know it in my soul.
We want you to be as proud of us as we are of you when we stand together before our Master Jesus.
Here some old plan thoughts that carry over into the new plan that Jesus has revealed to us.
Mostly things we should avoid doing but one affirmative act that is one of the two great laws that Jesus said to do.
In way of Jesus, the Messiah, loving our neighbor is the BIG thing. If we do, we won’t pervert justice, show favoritism, gossip or seek revenge.
God is love.
Don’t pervert justice.
Don’t show favoritism to either the poor or the great.
Judge on the basis of what is right.
Don’t spread gossip and rumors.
Don’t just stand by when your neighbor’s life is in danger.
I am God.
Don’t secretly hate your neighbor. If you have something against him, get it out into the open; otherwise you are an accomplice in his guilt.
Don’t seek revenge or carry a grudge against any of your people.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
I am God.
–Leviticus 19:15-18 The Message Bible
Jesus knows how to ask the right question. He also knows the answer.
So, Jesus wants to know …. am I listening to Jesus? Am I really listening?
There is all kind of listening. Jesus challenges me to really hear. And, having heard in my heart and soul, to change my mind (repent).
God has a goal for me. I can’t know it unless I listen and act.
May I be able to say, with all my heart, that I am listening to Jesus. May it be so.
Are you listening to this? Really listening?
~~Jesus (Luke 8:8)
I like to think I can focus and sometimes I get close. I try hard. I want to be courageous. “I think I can.”
It doesn’t work. I know it doesn’t.
At the end of the day, it is God who keeps me focused on Him. No doubt about it. In an uncompromising way every day. Jesus challenges me to trust him and not myself. Jesus is my Master.
Jesus knows who He is. Jesus knows that God sent him to redeem the world. Jesus knows he will pay the price.
Jesus relies on His Father in everything He does. God Himself gave witness. It is God’s work, that He accomplishes that is Jesus’ additional witness. God, the work God gave Him and the Holy Spirit all bear witness to who Jesus is.
Our enemy seeks to kill, steal and destroy. Our enemy is very serious. Jesus is very clear on this.
Our God is God. God is great. Nothing is impossible with Him. God is a warrior. God sent Jesus into our world to defeat our enemy.
Let the King of Glory come in!!
Jesus demands that I get my life in order before I can see God in a real way. He knows it is not about what I look like or what I own.
It is all about changing my mind (repent) about who is in charge and loving God in every way I can. We must love each other. That is what matters.
May my mind and heart be right with God.
You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.”
~~Jesus (Matthew 5:8 The Message)
We have good news. God has made a promise to us and has entered into an agreement with us through the amazing work of Jesus. Our hearts are good. This is stunning because daily, minute by minute, our enemy lies to us causing us to believe it is not true.
I must get this in my core. I have been given a new heart through the gift Jesus has given me. It is true. Do I believe it? Do I act like I believe it?
God has called us to do amazing things but they can’t be done if we live in guilt and shame. God will not seem good. He will seem aloof.
God speaks to us in our heart. He can do this because he has given us a new heart, free and clean from guilt.
Do we believe God? Do we know our hearts are good? What would our life look like if we lived that reality every minute of every day?
Well, tell them this, ‘This is your Message from God, the Master. True, I sent you to the far country and scattered you through other lands. All the same, I’ve provided you a temporary sanctuary in the countries where you’ve gone. I will gather you back from those countries and lands where you’ve been scattered and give you back the land of Israel. You’ll come back and clean house, throw out all the rotten images and obscene idols. I’ll give you a new heart. I’ll put a new spirit in you. I’ll cut out your stone heart and replace it with a red-blooded, firm-muscled heart. Then you’ll obey my statutes and be careful to obey my commands. You’ll be my people! I’ll be your God! (Ezekiel 11:15-17)
Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. (Luke 6:44-45)
The seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. (Luke 8:15)
Is Jesus, the Messiah, dominating more today than the day before? Is Jesus dominating every interest in my life? Is it happening?
So here is a check list:
As a follower of Jesus the Messiah, I have to be careful. There are ministers who are charlatans and frauds. Their message runs counter to the good news I have about who Jesus was and is. It may be subtle or it may be clear. These frauds don’t believe who Jesus is.
Jesus is the Messiah, anointed by his Father, our God. Jesus came to us in the flesh and blood. Jesus was fully human in all regards, except one. Jesus always met God’s goal, never once missing it (i.e, Jesus never sinned). As the perfect and mature human, Jesus sacrificed himself for us. Jesus died and was buried. Jesus rose from the grave, triumphant over death. Jesus ascended into heaven and now rules everything, sitting at God’s right hand. That is the truth and that is the message.
I must call out any minister who doesn’t give us that message. That good news is at the core of what we believe. I must be clear about that.
There are a lot of smooth-talking charlatans loose in the world who refuse to believe that Jesus the Messiah was truly human, a flesh-and-blood human being. Give them their true title: Deceiver! Anti-Messiah!
I have a choice to make today. It may not be an easy one. It may involve some pain for me. It will also involve some joy. Probably great joy, happiness and peace.
God has given me a marvelous life. It is stunning in every way. There is nothing compared to living the message of the good news of our Messiah and Master Jesus.
Jesus challenges me to not squander this life. It is my choice.
Through the power of God’s Holy Spirit, I won’t turn my back on Jesus.
Companions as we are in this work with you, we beg you, please don’t squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us.
Jesus is my Master and the Messiah (anointed one of God). It is a gift from Jesus that I am redeemed from living a life condemned to missing God’s goal for my life. I don’t have a license to continue on with that kind of life.
Not everyone who claims to follow Jesus and the way of life he has given us is “a Christian”. Some are in fact scoundrels. I need to be able to discern the message to see if it is the good news from the Messiah.
I share with the the members of the faith a common life. We must all guard that gift. I must cherish it. No one else can do for me what Jesus has done. Now that is some good news for sure.
Dear friends, I’ve dropped everything to write you about this life of salvation that we have in common. I have to write insisting—begging!—that you fight with everything you have in you for this faith entrusted to us as a gift to guard and cherish. What has happened is that some people have infiltrated our ranks (our Scriptures warned us this would happen), who beneath their pious skin are shameless scoundrels. Their design is to replace the sheer grace of our God with sheer license—which means doing away with Jesus the Messiah, our one and only Master.
God is God. I am so appreciative of that fact. God doesn’t think the way I think. God doesn’t act the way I act.
God’s way is so much better than my way. My way really stinks compared to God’s.
God is faithful. When God promises me something, it will happen. God’s word must be obeyed. God’s word will complete the assignment. God is God. It must happen.
Jesus is my Master. Jesus has a plan for me and for us. I must tap into it even though it probably involves things I wouldn’t think of. Good for Jesus. For that I am most thankful.
“I don’t think the way you think.
The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
and the way I think is beyond the way you think.
Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.”
I must work hard for Jesus. I must not quit. I must labor for the Messiah. I must persist and then persist again.
It must all be about love for him though. Every act must be out of love. It starts with love and ends with love. If it isn’t about love, I fall into error and lose my way.
Persistence is great but it has to be motivated by love.
Write this to Ephesus, to the Angel of the church. The One with Seven Stars in his right-fist grip, striding through the golden seven-lights’ circle, speaks:
“I see what you’ve done, your hard, hard work, your refusal to quit. I know you can’t stomach evil, that you weed out apostolic pretenders. I know your persistence, your courage in my cause, that you never wear out.
“But you walked away from your first love—why? What’s going on with you, anyway? Do you have any idea how far you’ve fallen? A Lucifer fall!
“Turn back! Recover your dear early love. No time to waste, for I’m well on my way to removing your light from the golden circle.
“You do have this to your credit: You hate the Nicolaitan business. I hate it, too.
“Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches. I’m about to call each conqueror to dinner. I’m spreading a banquet of Tree-of-Life fruit, a supper plucked from God’s orchard.”
Jesus, the Messiah, demands that I care. He insists on it if I want to live in His world. Being full of care is His way. God, our Father, cares. That is the way of God’s world. The challenge is for me to care. I must not be indifferent.
We all want to be cared for. The path is to care for others. That makes us more than happy.
May I care deeply the way my heavenly Father cares. May I show His love today.
“You’re more than happy (blessed) when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.” ~~Jesus (Matthew 5:7 The Message)
Jesus knows about judgment. His Father has given Him the authority to judge us. God has also demonstrated the power of resurrection in Jesus.
Jesus demands that I know when I live the right way that I will walk right smack into a resurrection life. The right way is live a life with Jesus in charge.
God’s goal for me is to live the right way. Jesus shows me the right way. It is the way of love.
Jesus died and is now resurrected. Jesus shows the way of victory over death. Jesus has given me life. I have it now. Jesus says “The time is now.”
I have Jesus’ full authority. It is a resurrection life now. It isn’t a promise for the future.
But you haven’t seen the half of it yet, for in the same way that the Father raises the dead and creates life, so does the Son. The Son gives life to anyone he chooses. Neither he nor the Father shuts anyone out. The Father handed all authority to judge over to the Son so that the Son will be honored equally with the Father. Anyone who dishonors the Son, dishonors the Father, for it was the Father’s decision to put the Son in the place of honor.
It’s urgent that you listen carefully to this: Anyone here who believes what I am saying right now and aligns himself with the Father, who has in fact put me in charge, has at this very moment the real, lasting life and is no longer condemned to be an outsider. This person has taken a giant step from the world of the dead to the world of the living.
It’s urgent that you get this right: The time has arrived—I mean right now!—when dead men and women will hear the voice of the Son of God and, hearing, will come alive. Just as the Father has life in himself, he has conferred on the Son life in himself. And he has given him the authority, simply because he is the Son of Man, to decide and carry out matters of Judgment.
Don’t act so surprised at all this. The time is coming when everyone dead and buried will hear his voice. Those who have lived the right way will walk out into a resurrection Life; those who have lived the wrong way, into a resurrection Judgment.
I have died with the Messiah Jesus. I am free from living a “rule-dominated” life. That way of life is dead as well. I am living a “resurrection life”. My faith brings me into right relationship with God. Jesus made all of this happen. I had nothing to do with it.
I have the old way of death or I have the new way of life. I choose the new way of life.
I was living a “rule-dominated” life. I was not free. I was bound to the habit of missing God’s goal for me. That way of life had me all tied up.
Jesus has called me to freedom. Freedom to love God and love others. That type of liberty is stunning.
So, my friends, this is something like what has taken place with you. When the Messiah died he took that entire rule-dominated way of life down with him and left it in the tomb, leaving you free to “marry” a resurrection life and bear “offspring” of faith for God. For as long as we lived that old way of life, doing whatever we felt we could get away with, missing God’s goal (sin) was calling most of the shots as the old law code hemmed us in. And this made us all the more rebellious. In the end, all we had to show for it was miscarriages and stillbirths. But now that we’re no longer shackled to that domineering mate of missing God’s goal (sin) , and out from under all those oppressive regulations and fine print, we’re free to live a new life in the freedom of God.
I must be serious about the resurrection life with Jesus. It isn’t only about what I think but is very much about what I do. I must act like I am living a completely new life in Jesus.
Jesus is in control. Jesus is my Master. I must go after what Jesus wants not what I want. The new life is completely about Jesus. Jesus is the main thing about the main thing. It doesn’t matter what I want.
Jesus challenges me to look up and look to him. I shouldn’t just plod along. I must focus on Jesus and the “big picture”. I must see things the way Jesus sees them. That is how I should focus.
So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with the Messiah, act like it. Pursue the things over which the Messiah presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around the Messiah—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.
I have been blessed. God has done an amazing thing. It is all the work of Jesus, the Messiah.
Jesus has given me eyes so that I can see what God is doing. I am not blind. I can look around and grasp the work of God.
Jesus has given me ears to hear what God is saying. I can listen and understand that God has a word for me and others.
God is in a good mood and wants me to see and hear.
But you have God-blessed eyes—eyes that see! And God-blessed ears—ears that hear! A lot of people, prophets and humble believers among them, would have given anything to see what you are seeing, to hear what you are hearing, but never had the chance.
~Jesus – Source: Matthew 13:16-17 (The Message Bible)
I can’t do anything, in and of myself, to please God. That is difficult to get in my core some days. In a culture of “self-help”, I like to believe I can do it. I just need to be more “self-confident”. I need to think positive.
There is only one way to God. The way to God is through my faith in what Jesus, the Messiah, has done. It is all about God. It has nothing to do with how good I am or how much I try.
God has given me the Holy Spirit to work things out in my life that I could never do myself. God’s goal for me is to believe he will do it. It is all about faith. God is God. God is the one who accomplishes his great work in our life.
Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you? Don’t these things happen among you just as they happened with Abraham? He believed God, and that act of belief was turned into a life that was right with God.
I need to keep my eyes on the goal that Jesus the Messiah has for me. I want all that God has for me not just part of it. When I want something else, Jesus clears my eyes and blurred vision out.
Then, I am on the right track.
Then, I have taken the right road.
I must stay on it and not deviate at all.
Now I know that I don’t have it all together. I haven’t made it. With His help, I am on my way though. Together we are well on our way. He has reached out for me. He has reached out for you. Together we are experts.
I am off and running. I can reach the goal. It is a wonderful prize.
May I have supernatural courage that is mine by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I must not be embarrassed. Jesus is my Master. I must speak up for Jesus. I must speak up for his faithful servants as well. Daily Jesus is mocked. Do I stand up for him? Many times I don’t.
I will suffer for standing up for the Messiah Jesus. As faithful followers, we all will suffer. That isn’t a pleasant thought.
I have been given a great gift from God and the power to be faithful from the Holy Spirit, sent by Jesus. My work is holy. God has a goal for me. I can be faithful.
Jesus has done an amazing thing for me. Death has been defeated by his sacrifice. Life is mine. It is all a gift. Nothing I have done to deserve it. Nothing I could do to earn it. A complete gift. It is all about what Jesus has done. It has nothing to do with what I have done.
So don’t be embarrassed to speak up for our Master or for me, his prisoner. Take your share of suffering for the Message along with the rest of us. We can only keep on going, after all, by the power of God, who first saved us and then called us to this holy work. We had nothing to do with it. It was all his idea, a gift prepared for us in Jesus long before we knew anything about it. But we know it now. Since the appearance of our Savior, nothing could be plainer: death defeated, life vindicated in a steady blaze of light, all through the work of Jesus.
~Apostle Paul – Source: 2 Timothy 1:8-10 (The Message Bible)
Jesus demands that I take His way seriously. There is nothing frivolous about it at all.
My job, my mission, is to show others His way. Jesus is King of God’s country. Jesus is in control. Jesus is my Master. Jesus has been anointed by God to serve in this role and is the Messiah. I must lead others to this understanding.
Later on Jesus would say, as He rose to Heaven, to make disciples of all nations. That is how we find honor in His world (Kingdom). Am I making disciples? Not as much as I should. I need to take that seriously.
May I take Jesus seriously. May I do so today, right now.
Take it seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honor in the kingdom.” ~~Jesus
We are born. And then, some of us are born again. I have a new life in Jesus. I can be strong enough to live it with the power of the Holy Spirit. And by the grace of God, live it I will.
May I recognize it is all about Jesus.
May I seize a hold of the strength of the Messiah and the power of his Holy Spirit.
May I know that Jesus is all I need.
You were given this new life in God. With Jesus, you are strong enough to live it.
Jesus has made the perfect sacrifice for us. Jesus has taken care of the “missing God’s goal” (sin) problem completely.
I can be confident I am presentable to God, because of what Jesus has done. I am not confident in myself. I know how frequently I miss the mark.
God has promised us so many things. I need to keep a grip on them and keep moving ahead. I can’t stop. I mustn’t rest.
God always does what he says he will. I can count on him. I can’t count on myself.
My job is to encourage others. God’s goal for me is to love. I must seek ways to help.
Let’s do it. Let’s roll!
So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.