No doubt this spiritual journey is met with many physical challenges. When things are particularly tough I recall the divine nature of the Lord; the healing and comforting presence of my God. There is no one, not mother, father, sister or brother who can do what my God can do. At all times I consider God’s cost. Let us pray the strength for what we began in Christ we will also finish in Christ. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it (Luke 14:25-35)?
“Who do the crowds say that I am?” Luke 9:18-27 Ever wonder what other people are thinking about you? It’s not unusual. We do it all the time, for example when we have applied for a job or when we are meeting someone new or perhaps when we are trying to create change. Most times we don’t think about it until we’ve said or done something that causes adverse effects in our relationships. Jesus thought about it just long enough to ask the question and get the response he needed to hear from his disciples. We are Christ’s disciples and to forget who we are in Christ weakens the spirit of Christ within us. Other people will think we are many things but our lives are not defined by what other people say about who we are, but by our steadfast willingness to follow the way of the cross. Fortified by the promises of God’s word, when all else passes away, the strength to continue our journey despite the hardships in the situations we experience is how we know who we are; spiritually enduring for the sake of the gospel.
“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?” Luke 9:18-27
…all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them. Luke 6:12-26 I remember the summer I visited my paternal grandmother who by this time had been diagnosed with diabetes. While I was there I watched as she gave herself a shot of insulin in her thigh everyday. This shot of insulin enabled her to be with family, friends and experience all of the unexpected moments of life. In other words, physically, insulin was her lifeline. I remember thinking; “I hope I never have to do that to myself,” while at the same time I was so proud of her courage. While a bowl of cereal would have been fine for me and my two sons, she insisted on getting up at the crack of dawn to make sure breakfast was ready. Had she chosen to disregard her medical need she would not have had the energy to do that. Last night I dreamed that I had to give myself insulin shots. When I inquired as to where I should place the needle I was shown that I had to insert the needle directly into my heart. The dumb look on my face apparently woke me up as I lay quietly wondering what God needed me to understand. Then alarm went off. Like insulin, the word of God is the needle of encouragement that must be injected in to our spirit. Everyday we must encourage ourselves with the promises that God’s word provides. It enables us to be with our family, friends and experience all of the unexpected moments of life with praise and thanksgiving. God’s word is our lifeline.
To the saints and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ everywhere…May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:1-14
Today I am filled with thankfulness for each of you. What we do really does matter. Let us continue to encourage one another in faith.
Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest… Hebrews 4:11-16 We ask ourselves how much longer must we wait for the Lord when it is God who asks the same of us. Through Christ every door is made to be opened. This doesn’t mean that we have to walk through them all. We do however have to discern our gifts to understand which ones will draw us forward in Christ and not in some other direction. The good news is that even if we find our selves astray God’s grace and mercy awaits the repentant heart. Unfortunately, we won’t always walk through the right doors. Fortunately, our life in Christ is as much about what we believe as it is about what we do. This is the confidence we have in the Gospel; if we believe in the truth about the Gospel of Christ, then we must make every effort to walk in that truth. To walk in that truth, like Christ, is to walk in God’s rest.
Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me. Revelation 3:20
The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:18
So now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you? Only to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD your God and his decrees that I am commanding you today, for your own well-being. Deuteronomy 10:12-22
But when God, who had set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with any human being…Galatians 1:1-17 What happened to Paul was a spiritual transformation. We know this because of the letters he wrote. When we see people we have not seen over a period of time, we wonder about their spirit, their way of thinking and responding to different situations. Inevitably their actions help us understand the person they’ve become. We are often surprised about how people change but God is never surprised. Like Paul, God is pleased to reveal himself to us through Christ because he already knows the person we are. When we make the decision to follow God’s law and live into the New Commandment, someone else’s good housekeeping seal concerning our past, present or future isn’t necessary. Our actions in faith are already approved.
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus (Acts 4:8-13). In this passage, the writer of this book raises a question for me. Of those who heard and were amazed by these uneducated and ordinary men, Peter and John, and then recognized them as companions of Jesus; did they raise Peter and John up or did they bring Jesus down? The answer I believe depends on our answer to another question; “Who do you say Jesus is?” (Matthew 16:13-19), and subsequently who we believe our selves to be and how we believe God sees us.
Both the male and female geese defend the nest before egg laying, and after the eggs have been laid, the male alone defends the nest while the female incubates the eggs. However, if it’s winter, they are not likely to be laying eggs. Instinctively, goose and gander share the responsibility of bringing the next generation of geese in to the world. As Disciples of Christ we too have a shared responsibility of bringing up the next generation of believers. Each of us is given a gift and when we all use our gifts for the benefit of building up the Body of Christ everyone is blessed.
After this he went out and saw a tax-collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up, left everything, and followed him. Luke 5:27-39
What made Levi leave his livelihood? Physically, Levi wasn’t a broken man. In fact he was rather well off, having the resources to throw Jesus a great banquet in his home. Perhaps we should all have such resources, except that our resources have nothing to do with who or why God calls us to follow him. So, how is it that Christ can affect the lives of both fisherman and tax collectors? Perhaps the answer, is in that with which we choose to struggle and alternatively, that which we choose to yield or give in to. Clearly, God sees what we can not see when seeking out his own. Christ himself says that he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out; “I know my own and my own know me” (John 10:1-16). In the physical life we choose to live, there are highs as well as periods of struggle when the pressure of expectation to produce and provide overwhelms us. But Christ doesn’t necessarily call us out of the physical life. Instead Christ calls us into the Spiritual life, a consciousness that leads us toward a greater presence with God. As the Holy Spirit is eternal, the Good News is that God is always calling us. What remains is whether we choose to follow or choose to ignore it and go our own way.
Acts 16:6-7 …having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. When they had come opposite Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them…
Don’t be discouraged when the direction in which you are trying to go is either interrupted or changed. Everyone is not going to be ready for what you have to offer. The spirit of Christ will reveal the direction in which you need to follow. The challenge is having the patience to listen so that we can hear what the spirit is saying. The Apostle Paul tried several times to preach in the province of Asia but the Holy Spirit wouldn’t let him. While he rested it was revealed to Paul that the people of Macedonia were crying out for him and his disciples to come to them. Paul changed his course and it was this journey that led him to a group of women at the river eager to listen and become disciples of the risen Lord. In the same way that God opened the mind of Paul and the heart of Lydia and the other women at the river, he will open our heart and mind to hear him so that we will always know the way to go. We may not always know God’s vision but God always knows ours.