Hopeful #likeJesus

A lot was said.  It was Passover.  Jesus would be betrayed that night.  He would be arrested.  Within 24 hours, He would be crucified and laid in a borrowed tomb.  Jesus’ words that night are some of the most tender, meaningful thoughts of His we will read.

Jesus washes his disciples’ feet, telling them He has set for them an example, that they should also serve one another.

Jesus shares the Last Supper with His disciples, telling them that the broken bread represents His body given for them, and that the cup represents the new covenant in His blood.

Jesus predicts Peter’s denial, telling Peter that Satan has asked to sift him like wheat, but his faith will not fail and he will strengthen his brothers.

Jesus tells the disciples, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled…  I’m going to prepare a place for you…  I’ll come back and take you to be with Me.”  But He also makes clear, “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Jesus promises the Holy Spirit, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to help you and be with you forever- the Spirit of truth…  you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you… The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.  Peace I leave with you.  My peace I give to you.”

I’m sure that Saturday, before the hope of the resurrection, the disciples felt orphaned.  I’m sure after the Ascension, they again felt orphaned.  Oh, but they weren’t left as orphans, and neither are we.!

The Resurrection happened.  We have hope!

The Spirit came.  We have new life!

The Spirit helps us, is with us forever, lives in us, teaches and reminds us of everything Jesus taught, gives us peace.

Father, thank You that the hope of the resurrected Christ is alive in me today through your Spirit!

 

To learn more about Walking As Jesus Walked and Discipling As Jesus Discipled, visit:  SONLIFE.COM

Prepared #likeJesus

Even though Jesus had tried to prepare them, the crucifixion still caught his disciples off guard.  Their Messiah, their King, their friend…  was gone!  Without knowing what Sunday would hold, I just imagine how silent and empty that Saturday felt.

Even though we live with the anticipation of Sunday, sometimes I think we get caught up in that “silent Saturday” mentality.

In Matthew 24, we see Jesus teaching His disciples about His return.  Reading Matthew 24, my initial response is to want to dive into the deeper meaning.  What do all the events Jesus’ describes point to?  When will all this take place?   Who will be taken and who will be left?  It’s easy to become overwhelmed, caught up in the eschatological implications of Jesus’ words…  which is precisely why it’s so important to keep reading.

Matthew 25 contains three parables that bring great balance to our end times/return of Christ anxiousness.

In light of Christ’s return, we are to Be Focused.

“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

Our focus should not be on the when.  It should be upon the what, the mission.  Jesus says that the gospel will be preached throughout the earth, and then the end will come.  Don’t be distracted.  It reveals your priorities.

In light of Christ’s return, we are to Be Fearless.

“Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say.  Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.”  Mark 13:11

Jesus promised that he would be with us to the very end of the age.  In His presence, fear flees.  Don’t become fearful.  It reveals your awareness of God’s presence.

In light of Christ’s return, we are to Be Vigilant.

Jesus tells the parable of the ten virgins awaiting the return of the bridegroom, half of whom were unprepared when He arrived.  The point.  “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”  Don’t become complacent.  It reveals your view of God.

In light of Christ’s return, we are to Be Faithful.

Jesus tells the parable of the talents. The servants who were faithful with what was entrusted to them were given even more.  Jesus point.  “For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance.”  Don’t neglect the “little” stuff.  It reveals your character.

In light of Christ’s return, we are to Be Engaged.

Jesus tells the parable of the sheep and goats.  The king separates them, welcoming the sheep into his eternal kingdom to receive their inheritance.  Jesus point.  “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.”  Don’t overlook the people around you.  They reveal your heart.

Be Focused, Fearless, Vigilant, Faithful, Engaged.  Our King will return!

 

To learn more about Walking As Jesus Walked and Discipling As Jesus Discipled, visit:  SONLIFE.COM

Bearing Fruit #likeJesus

Expectations.  We all have them.  Even the Father.  What are His expectations for those of us who believe?

Reading the Parable of the Tenants (Matthew 21, Mark 12, Luke 20) on a day we remember Christ’s sacrifice on the cross makes Jesus’ words to the Jewish leaders here even more vivid.  In just a few days I’ll be in Israel and I can’t help but think of the ramifications of Jesus’ words for the people the Messiah was sent for.

In Jesus’ parable, the landowner (the Father) sends several servants to collect the fruit of his vineyards from his tenants.  Each servant (the Prophets) is rejected, some being beaten and others killed.  Then the landowner sends his own son.  The tenants then killed the son as well.

The phrasing in Jesus’ parable is interesting…  “I will send my son, whom I love…”  This is exactly what the Father said at Jesus’ baptism.  “This is my Son, whom I love…”

The Messiah, promised to the Jews, was rejected by His own.  Jesus concludes His parable with the words, “He will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”  Then he explains, “Therefore I tell you that the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.”

The Gospel was for the Jews first, and then for the Gentiles (Romans 1:16-17).  It’s humbling to read Jesus’ words and realize that we Gentile believers are the “other tenants.”  It’s also humbling to realize that the Kingdom is given to us with a condition.  It’s given that we would “produce fruit.”

Fruit is a big deal to the Father.  “Bear much fruit.  By this you will show that you’re My disciples.”  By the standards of the Father’s desire, fruitfulness, how does my life measure up?  How does our ministry measure up?

If we are not faithful tenants, the harvest will be entrusted to others.  Father, find me faithful!

 

To learn more about Walking As Jesus Walked and Discipling As Jesus Discipled, visit:  SONLIFE.COM

Waking the Dead #likeJesus

What do you do with someone who’s been raised from the dead?  If you’re the chief priests, you make plans to deal with him.  That’s what happened with Lazarus.

“Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.  A large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.  So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him.”  John 12:1, 9-11

Lazarus had a story to tell.  “I was dead, and now I’m alive!”  I love the phrase “on account of him.”  Many were putting their faith in Jesus because of Lazarus.  But he was dead.  He had a story to tell.  What could I possibly have that would draw people to Jesus “on account of me?”

I too was dead, and now I’m alive.

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive in Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions- it is by grace you have been saved.”  Ephesians 2:4-5

Do I live so “fully alive” that it’s obvious to all the “walking dead” people around me that I’ve been “raised from the dead” too?  Does the resurrected life so powerfully shine through me that “on account of me” many put their faith in Christ?

The other thing that happens when someone has been raised from the dead is the other “walking dead” people try and put them in the grave again.  Their resurrected life becomes a threat to the comfort of the dead way they are content to “live.”

What can God do “on account of” the resurrected life I live?

 

To learn more about Walking As Jesus Walked and Discipling As Jesus Discipled, visit:  SONLIFE.COM

Confident #likeJesus

How often am I guilty playing the comparison game?  How often do I, in pride, look down on others?  How often do I, in envy, look down on myself?

“To some who were confident in their righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable:  Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector…”

The Pharisee was guilty of pride, of looking down on others.  His confidence was in “his” righteousness, as if righteousness could be attained through his own effort and moral superiority.

We live in a world that prizes that kind of confidence.  “Believe in yourself.”  “You can do it.”  “You’re amazing.”

Misplaced confidence leads to arrogance.  We compete and compare.  We think we’re better than…  that we’re more talented, or smarter, or better looking, or more deserving, or more committed, or more spiritual, or just plain right.

The Apostle Paul “put no confidence in the flesh.”  (Philippians 3). He was confident, but it wasn’t because of who he was or what he had done.  Instead, he was confident because of who God was, what God had planned, and what God was capable of.

What’s the antidote for misplaced confidence?  The opposite of pride is humility.  The truest, simplest fix for misplaced confidence is “to fix our eyes on Jesus.”   When we take our eyes off of ourselves and fix them on Jesus, he brings a healthy perspective about who we really are “in him.”

In this way we can walk in profound confidence without tripping over our own pride.

 

To learn more about Walking As Jesus Walked and Discipling As Jesus Discipled, visit:  SONLIFE.COM

Crazy Faith #likeJesus

Have I ever been accused of saying something crazy?  Absurd?  Ridiculous?

“If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”  Luke 17:6

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a mulberry tree, but Wikipedia tells me they grow to be 35-50 feet tall.  That’s not a small bush!

The image seems pure science fiction, or children’s cartoon even, but certainly nothing close to reality.  A 35-50 foot tree, lifting out of the ground, hovering through the air, flying from land out across the sea, and then being planted…  in the sea itself!  Can you imagine seeing that?  Of course you can’t.  You can’t imagine that any more than you could imagine a mountain lifting off the ground, hovering in the air, flying to another location, and then setting itself down there.

Crazy?  Absurd?  Ridiculous?  Yes!

And that’s what Jesus says faith can accomplish.  The impossible.  The unthinkable.  The unheard of.

Through faith, the impossible becomes possible.  Through faith, God moves mountains.  Through faith, God does the unthinkable.

Like the disciples, my prayer today is, “Lord, increase my faith.”  I want to be accused of having a “crazy faith,” of believing God against all odds, of trusting God for things my mind couldn’t even imagine on its own.

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Amen.”

 

To learn more about Walking As Jesus Walked and Discipling As Jesus Discipled, visit:  SONLIFE.COM

Seeing #likeJesus

How is it possible that I’ve read through each of the gospels over 100 times and still find a story I don’t remember reading before?  Not just a word, a phrase, or even a verse, but an entire story.

While there is nothing particularly remarkable about this story, I’m just amazed that it strikes me as new.  Maybe it’s because it’s “unremarkable” that I don’t remember it?  No excuse.

Even more amazing is that I’ve probably watched the Jesus Film a dozen times, which is taken from the actual words of Luke’s Gospel, and I don’t remember ever seeing this story either.

Luke 13:10-17 records Jesus healing a crippled woman on the Sabbath.  She was crippled by a spirit for 18 years, bent over crooked, unable to straighten up.

When Jesus saw her, He called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.”   Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

The reaction of the synagogue ruler is familiar to me.  He’s indignant that Jesus has healed on the sabbath.

Jesus’ response is familiar to me.  If you have a donkey or an ox, don’t you untie it and lead it to water on the sabbath?

But the crippled woman?  For all these years, I’ve completely overlooked her story.  How many other things have I overlooked?   That thought motivates me to keep reading, keep digging, keep learning.  I don’t doubt that 30 years from now I’ll still be seeing things I’ve never noticed before.

But it also makes me wonder, how many other stories have I overlooked, not in the Bible, but in the lives of people all around me.  I overlooked this old, crippled woman, but Jesus didn’t!  How many people do I overlook every day?  In my busyness, in my doing of God’s work, in my relentless push to move forward, how often do I just not see what is right in front of me?

Spirit of God, give me eyes to see, ears to hear, a heart to feel, feet to move and hands to act!  I want to be #likeJesus!

 

To learn more about Walking As Jesus Walked and Discipling As Jesus Discipled, visit:  SONLIFE.COM