Astonished #likeJesus

My faith is challenged when I read of Jesus’ healing ministry in Galilee…  the Centurion’s servant, the widow’s only son, the Gadarene demoniac, Jairus’s daughter, the bleeding woman, two blind men. (Matthew 8-9, Mark 4-5, Luke 7-8, Jonn 4)  My faith isn’t challenged by Jesus’ power to heal, but rather by those who dared to ask.

Yes, I’m struck by Jesus’ power to heal, his willingness to heal, and him inviting us to have faith.  In most of these stories, the person Jesus healed was not yet a follower of His.  We’re told that the Centurion and everyone in his family became believers.  We can only assume that the others that were healed also became followers of Christ.  Wouldn’t you?

Intellectually, I believe God can heal.  I know it is possible.  Maybe it’s my Baptist upbringing.  Maybe it’s my North American perspective (sad for us).  But the reality is, I don’t have faith like the Centurion.  I don’t have faith like the bleeding woman.  I don’t have faith like the two blind men.  I believe it’s possible, but I’m not willing to really believe that God will heal. We say, “If it’s God’s will,” but then never believe that God will.

What does Jesus think of the Centurion’s faith?

When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.”  Matthew 8:10

Jesus was astonished at the Centurion’s faith.  What does He think of my faith?  What does He think of yours?

Father, I want the faith of the Centurion, of the bleeding woman, of the blind man.  Faith like a child coming and asking their Daddy, who they know can and hope (not wishful thinking but confident expectation) will do what they ask.  I want you to be astonished by my faith.

Do you believe God can answer your prayers?  Better yet, do you pray believing that God will answer your prayers?

Leaping #likeJesus

The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 contains many familiar themes to Jesus’ teaching in Luke 6, where he is with his disciples and the crowd on a level place.  Are Matthew and Luke describing the same sermon?  If so, is the “level place” a plateau on the “mount” where Jesus delivers the message Matthew records?

Each account contains a version of the Beatitudes, which offers this faith-bolstering promise:

“Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.”  Luke 6:22-23

Jesus spoke these words, knowing that it was exactly what would happen to him.  Am I willing to risk acceptance, reputation, comfort, even ego for the cause of Christ?

Jesus says, “Great is your reward in heaven.”  I wonder what that “great reward” looks like?  Whatever it is, it will be great enough to cause us to leap with excitement and joy.  Being in the presence of our Father, experiencing unhindered fellowship with the Almighty, is the greatest reward imaginable.  But  still, other rewards await us in heaven that will bring great joy.  It’s fun to let our minds run with that thought.

The reality for all of us who choose to follow Christ is this.  The closer we get to Jesus, the more of a target we become…  a target of this world and the Enemy who rules it.

What makes following Jesus- even when life is difficult or we’re under attack- worth it?  What makes following Jesus worth it for you?

Living Courageously #like Jesus

In my reading of the Gospels today, Jesus cleanses the leper, heals the paralytic, calls Matthew (a hated tax collector), eats with other “sinners” at Matthew’s house , and heals the man with the shriveled hand on the Sabbath (Matthew 8-9,12; Mark 2-3; Luke 5-6).

Jesus was willing to do things that would cost him. He ministered to people in ways that were not only unexpected, but also unaccepted. It wasn’t just what Jesus did (healing the hurting…  what could be wrong with that?), but who he did it for (sinners, cultural outcasts), when he did it (on the Sabbath, a day when work of any kind was forbidden), where he did it (in the synagogue or in full view of those opposed to him), and even how he did it (telling the paralytic “your sins are forgiven”).

Jesus courageously- in obedience to the Father and in the power of the Spirit- did what was right, regardless of the cost. This was a model for his disciples, whom we see doing the same thing in the book of Acts.

Like them, I want to courageously follow Jesus, regardless of the cost.

How will Jesus ask me to courageously follow Him today?

How will Jesus ask you to courageously follow Him today?

Ask #likeJesus

If you could ask God for anything and you knew He would say “Yes” what would you ask Him for?  How bold would you be?

I’m on an adventure with Jesus in 2016.  I’m reading through the Gospels each month, using a different Harmony of the Gospels to get a fuller picture of the Jesus story.  This month, I’m in Robert Mounce’s Harmony:  Jesus, In His Own Words.

The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) is rich with wisdom from Jesus on how to live our lives in a way that pleases God.  Here Jesus spends the better part of a chapter teaching his disciples about the simplicity, necessity and power of prayer.  “Don’t pray like the hypocrites…  go to your room and pray in secret…  don’t babble on with empty phrases like the Gentiles.  Pray like this:  Our Father in heaven…  Do not be anxious about tomorrow…  Ask, and it will be given to you….”  Jesus gives his disciples, and us, a blueprint for prayer that gets the Father’s attention.  Pray earnestly.  Pray personally.  Pray confidently.  Pray specifically.

Jesus wants to remind us of the true nature of His Father.  The way Jesus prayed revealed what He thought about His Father.  The way we pray reflects the way we look at our Father.

Ask. Seek. Knock. If a son asks for bread, will his father give him a stone? If he asks for a fish, will his father give him a snake?  Our Father is better than that. In prayer, do I approach God with the intimacy, affection and confidence of a loving Father…  or do I approach him as GOD, Creator, Almighty, Holy. He IS all of that, but He invites me to approach Him as Father, Daddy, Papi, Papa.

What does the way that I pray (how frequently/directly/confidently) reveal about what I think of God?

What does the way that you pray reveal about what you think of God?

Helping Others #likeJesus

“After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.”  Mark 1:7, John 1:27

John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus, and he pointed the way to Jesus.

John lived a life that prepared the way. Before John met Jesus on the shores of the Jordan River, he faithfully lived out the call God had placed on his life.  He challenged people to repent.  He boldly proclaimed the kingdom of God.  He lived in humble dependence and obedience.  May my life prepare the way for others to meet Jesus.

Once God revealed to John that Jesus was the Messiah, he could do nothing but lift up Jesus for all to see.  “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!”  John knew his place.  “He must increase, I must decrease.”  May I step out of the way so others see Jesus, not me.  May my life and my words point others to Jesus at all times and in all ways.

Everyone’s life points to something.  What, or better yet who, is your life pointing to?

Rejected #likeJesus

From the very beginning, Jesus’ journey was promised (prophesied) to be turbulent.  Some people, like gentle waves lapping the shores of Galilee, would welcome him.  Others, like waves battered back by jagged rocks, would reject him.

I’m on an adventure with Jesus in 2016.  I’m reading through the Gospels each month, using a different Harmony of the Gospels to get a fuller picture of the Jesus story.  This month, I’m in Robert Mounce’s Harmony:  Jesus, In His Own Words.

Listen to Simeon’s prophetic words from Luke 2 about the newborn Christ: I have seen with my own eyes the one who brings salvation. You have prepared him with all the nations in view. He is a light that will bring salvation to the Gentiles and glory to your people Israel. Hear me now, many in Israel will either fall or rise because of your son. He will be a sign from God that many will reject.

Even the name of Jesus divides people. Some worship. Others revile, reject, diminish or discount him. The stone the builders rejected became their capstone.

We can be winsome in sharing the good news, but it’s still not good news to everyone. Regardless of how lovingly and winsomely we share, some will take offense. The simple message of the gospel has been an offense to those who would reject Christ since the time of his birth.

For Mary, Simeon said this rejection would bring sorrow, like a sharp sword piercing her heart.  Oh, what depth of sorrow she would feel, the very breaking of her heart.  Is it depth of sorrow because of others, or on behalf of others?

Is that the depth of sorrow I feel as others reject my Savior?  Is that the depth of sorrow you feel when others reject your Savior?

Living #likeJesus

Why I’m passionate about living #likeJesus.

I’m on an adventure with Jesus in 2016.  I’m reading through the Gospels each month, using a different Harmony of the Gospels to get a fuller picture of the Jesus story.  This month, I’m in Robert Mounce’s Harmony:  Jesus, In His Own Words.

Personalizing John 1, here’s what the Father spoke to my heart today.

Jesus brought everything into existence… for me!

He is the source of life…  for me!

He is the light that shines into the darkness…  for me!

He came to the world, his creation…  to me, so I could receive him, believing on his name!

He gave the privilege of becoming a child of God…  to me!

He gave new birth…  to me!

He became human, clothed in flesh, and lived among us, to set an example…  for me!

He revealed his glory…  for me!

He has provided one gracious gift after another through the infinite supply of His glory and goodness…  for me!

Jesus came for me!

“We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19


Why are you passionate about living #likeJesus?