Luke 12:49-59 – Division

Read Luke 12:49-59

When you think of Jesus, I’m sure many different pictures come to mind. The healer, the teacher, the Savior, the friend, to name just a few. Today’s reading may give you a different sense, but he’s calling it as it is. He is the divider.

This is probably not a passage we see too often, so we don’t quite believe that “our” Jesus could be actually saying these things. His words are not as uplifting as we are used to. But his message is very helpful.

Didn’t he come to bring peace? We call him the Prince of Peace after all. But it goes deeper than this. When we dig in to the Word, we will see that because of the very nature of Jesus – being fully God and fully human, he is going to ruffle some feathers. He is dividing families. He is angering teachers of the law stuck in their tradition. Some will want to follow him and others will not. Those that follow and trust Jesus will find peace. Those that rebel will find judgment. Continue reading “Luke 12:49-59 – Division”

Luke 1:67-80 – What a Prophecy!

Read Luke 1:67-80

What powerful words God gave to Zechariah. It’s almost like an answer to the question in our previous passage. You will recall the people were amazed at the events and wondered what John would “turn out to be”.

After Zechariah, the priest and father, spoke, the people gathered knew exactly who John was and what his destiny was to be. They also knew that their Lord and Savior would soon be on the scene.

This is the second of four “songs” in the book of Luke. Like Mary, Zechariah speaks of God’s marvelous deeds. Both make reference to the covenant promise with Abraham.

Did you have a favorite line from this one? I liked vv. 74 and 75, We have been rescued from our enemies so we can serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live.”  In those days, there was a fear of God that we don’t see much today. The people had not yet met Jesus, God in the flesh, and gotten to know the true heart of God. Yet even knowing how much God loves us, so much  that he sent his one and only Son, we sometimes discount the immensity of that very act. We downplay God’s power, his might, and sovereign rule over our lives. The fear is gone.

The mere fact that he has rescued us over and over again from our enemies has also gone unnoticed. God works behind the scenes to keep us safe. When we stumble or find ourselves under enemy attack, many times it is because we have stepped outside of God’s will for us.

Being a follower doesn’t mean life will be easy. It means we have a protector and friend walking beside us. It means we are doing our best to stay connected and be righteous despite the obstacles.

Zechariah’s prophecy is beautiful in it’s form. It exalts God, lifts up his own child’s destiny as intended by God, recognizes God’s perfect plan, and assures people of God’s peace.

Take a moment to rest in God’s peace today. Let your heart reflect on God’s goodness around you.

Let’s pray. Lord God, I thank you for your promise to protect me and redeem me. Thank you for accepting me despite my failures and flaws. Use me and my story to reach others for you. Give me a bold spirit to stand unafraid before my enemies. Clear my vision so that I can see what you intend for me. As John’s destiny was set even before his birth, I know you have a plan for me, too. Help me to stay on the path you have for me. Bless all that I say and do this day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

James 3:13-18 – Where Does Your Wisdom Come From?

Read James 3:13-18

You may have heard the Book of James referred to as the New Testament Proverbs. Certainly it is not just a set of ideas and thoughts but rather a congruent teaching designed mainly for the teachers of the day, but certainly applicable to all. It speaks to us today even louder than ever.

Today we talk about wisdom. Two kinds of wisdom.  Wisdom that is of the world, that is demonic and evil, and the other, good kind, that is from God. So many people are concerned today with social justice and political correctness. At what cost? There seems to be such a sway away from what the Bible teaches. Bible scholars are aghast at the trends we see taking over society and how words of the Bible are twisted to fit people’s evil desires.

James was seeing the same thing and wanted to get things straightened out. He was starting with the teachers, I suppose hoping he could get an army of educators on the right page. He wanted to end selfish ambition and return people to God.

God’s word brings peace to those who listen. God’s wisdom is full of grace and gentleness, both great attributes for people in dealing with others. The “other” wisdom will bring division and jealousy because it is not considerate and giving, only self serving and full of disorder.

So what do we do about it today? How can we change the direction people think and follow?

Have you heard of the starfish story? It’s where they find so many starfish washed up on the beach waiting to die because they are separated from their lifesource–the water. One by one, a young person begins taking the starfish back to the water. When asked what they were doing, how could they possibly begin to save them all. The reply came, “I made a difference for this one.”

That’s what James was trying to do and what we should be trying to do as well. For those lost in their evil thoughts and motives, we need to bring light and truth. With gentleness and grace we need to be the example of true wisdom and let everything that comes from our mouth be helpful and full of God’s love.

Verse 13 says, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”

Let’s pray. Father God, I am saddened by this world’s lack of focus on you and your truth. Godly wisdom is what I seek. I want to be so full of you and your wisdom that people can’t help but see and notice my gentleness, my grace, my peace and my sincerity. I want to be a full reflection of you. Let my words and deeds be the example needed to set your people free from the bondage of evil desires. Work in their hearts to feel the uncomfortable separation from you. Make their yearning for a relationship stronger than ever so that they will be open to looking for you in places they haven’t looked before. May the sermon of my life speak louder than my words ever could. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Mark 5:21-43 – Are You Sleeping?

Read Mark 5:21-43

Walking with the disciples through Jesus’ life, watching the events unfold, is such a blessing. The Bible brings it all to life as we read these accounts so many years later. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve watched a number of Jesus movies over the years, or watched a video Bible series, but the stories seem more real to me than ever.

I like to be around people, but I don’t think you could say I’m a crowd person anymore. Jesus is encountering one crowd after another it seems, and we do know that he cherishes his time with his Father in prayer.

Today’s reading focuses on two very different people with two very different needs. What they have in common is faith. The woman’s faith was so strong, she believed that if only she could touch Jesus’ robe she would be healed. Imagine her drive and her focus. In this crowd, she had to find her way through the sea of people just to be near Jesus.

In her desperation she received healing. As Jesus put it, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.” How do you think she was feeling as the sickness left her body? I can almost sense the peace myself as I imagine.

And then we have Jairus. He comes in search of Jesus as a distraught father wanting to see his daughter healed. As a parent, I know how hard it is when our children are sick. We feel helpless, powerless to make it better. Watching our children suffer is so hard, especially when they are very young and unable to tell us how they are feeling.

What anguish Jairus must have felt when his messengers arrived to say his daughter had died. Jesus didn’t let one second go by but intervened giving Jairus hope once again. The story comes to a climax when Jairus’ daughter comes to life. Jesus had said she was only asleep.

How many of us need to wake up? Are we asleep, missing out on the benefits of being a follower of Jesus? Do we need Jesus to intervene in us, to cleanse our hearts and minds to be open to his glorious future for us? Take a moment to close your eyes and picture Jesus coming to you in this moment, taking your hand, bringing you into an embrace.

Let’s pray. Lord thank you for your presence in my life. Thank you for the peace you give. When I am feeling lost and alone, you perk me up. I pray that I would have the faith of the woman in the story knowing without a doubt that every need I have will be handled by you. Forgive me when I try to do everything on my own power. I know I am so much more effective when your power is leading me. Guide my steps this day and be present in all conversations. May I shine with your glorious light. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 131 – Calm Yourself

Read Psalm 131

Short and sweet. I found a profound message here, and I hope you did, too.

Simplify. Calm your soul.

Those are both great messages for me today, how about you?

Do you struggle with trying to do too much? Maybe you’re juggling a full time job, lots of side projects, and oh yes, we’re supposed to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night? How do we fit it all in?

I’ve heard the lament from many friends and family members. We have so many options and alternatives available to us now. The internet has opened up a whole new avenue of ways to occupy our time.

Time. Quality time. It’s one of the five love languages made popular by Gary Chapman. If you’ve never taken the assessment, you can do so here. It can be eye opening in some ways. Be sure to have your friends, children and especially your significant other take the assessment, too. You may be loving them all wrong! Sorry for the bunny trail here. Back to our psalm.

How we spend our time is up to us. If we listen to  our psalmist, we will simplify. We’ll make the best use of our time. Keeping God in the forefront should ALWAYS be a priority. When we do, all other things seem to fall into place. If you’re struggling, take a step back and look, where is God in your time equation?

How do you calm your heart? Do you exercise, take a long walk or run, call up an old friend and talk, write in your journal? How about read your Bible? Setting aside a time each day to spend with God, shutting out the world, is probably the best way to calm your heart. You will need to be intentional. Make the time. This is one relationship you shouldn’t ignore.

There is more freedom in being in a relationship with God than you might imagine. It starts with you. He is there waiting for you. Enjoy him. Be refreshed by him. This is your special time, don’t short yourself.

Let’s pray. Thank you God for bringing me to this place. I long to have these quiet moments with you each day. Help me to shut out the noise of the world and my own busyness.  I want to focus on you, and you alone. Open my ears to hear your voice. Open my eyes to see what you want for me today. Bless all encounters I have with others. May your radiance in me be unmistakable. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


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