Monday, October 31, 2011

Frustrating Jesus





Scripture

Sighing deeply in His spirit, He said, “Why does this generation seek for a sign? Truly I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.”
(Mark 8:12 NASB)

Observation

Jesus physically stood in the very midst of the people of Israel. Day after day He walked among them. Miracles were performed in almost every town and city that He visited. The lame were walking, the deaf could hear, the blind could see, and even the dead were raised to life. Jesus was preaching the Good News about the Kingdom of God to everyone who would listen, and yet, there were those who came to Him and asked Him for a "sign." We can probably relate to Jesus' response. Jesus signed deeply! Can you just imagine the frustration that Jesus felt. He probably wanted to cry out, "Hello!!!! Who do you think I am and what do you think I've been doing?"

Application

And I'm guessing that there are many times today that Jesus is doing the very same thing from heaven above. Day after day He is working in this world and transforming peoples' lives and yet, we ask Him -- "Can you show us something?" And Jesus sighs deeply in His spirit and wonders what in the world it will take for us to realize that He is living and active in our world every single day, but just as the religious leaders of His day couldn't see the signs, if we are not paying attention, we will miss them as well.
It's time to open our eyes to the work of God in our world. Let's not frustrate Jesus, instead, let us be one of those who asks Him whether we can join into the work of His kingdom here on earth. Let us be a part of His company, and may our actions be a "sign" to the world around us that Jesus is here now!

Prayer

Lord, lead me to someone today that needs to see a sign that You are real! Amen.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Are you helping to write the story?



 

Scripture

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
(Mark 1:1 NASB)

Observation

The Gospel of Mark begins with this one little sentence. The Gospel, Jesus Christ, the Good News...here it is! It starts right here. Then the book of Mark lays out the story of Jesus and His life. However, this little book in the New Testament is just the first part of the story of the Gospel. It may finish by telling of the life of Jesus here on earth, but the story of the Gospel is not finished. This is an unfinished story at this time for the story is in the process of being written or told. The question for us, is whether we are willing to step into the story and help it be written.

Application

We, as followers of Christ must understand the mantle which He has placed on us. As His children we are to be transformed into the very image of Jesus Christ. In that transformation we must realize that we are to be Christ to this world. In being Christ to the world, we continue His story. It is not finished, it is not completed. There is still much which should be written. Beware if we, as Christians, think that we are simply awaiting His return without writing more chapters of the Gospel. We are not called to be "safe" and await His coming, we are called to be active workers in His Kingdom. What are you doing today to write the next chapter?

Prayer

Lord, today, may I listen to You and Your leading as I journey through life, writing new chapters together with You. Amen.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Stormy Peace





Scripture

Having said this, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of all, and he broke it and began to eat.
(Acts 27:35 NASB)
All of them were encouraged and they themselves also took food.
(Acts 27:36 NASB)
All of us in the ship were two hundred and seventy-six persons.
(Acts 27:37 NASB)

Observation

Paul was merely a prisoner on the ship when they found themselves in a terrible storm. For fourteen days the storm raged on and they all thought that they would die. These were rough men of the sea and they were most certainly not followers of Jesus Christ. In the midst of it all, Paul seems to keep his cool. Not only does he keep his cool, but he uses every single circumstance to minister and share Jesus with the world around him. This scene becomes reminiscent of the last supper when Jesus is with his disciples. Now Paul, the lowly prisoner on the ship, tells the men what lies ahead and he encourages them to stop in the midst of the storm and eat. Paul then prays and gives thanks to God in the presence of 276 people, and they join him in eating the bread. Had the storm not come, could Paul have had the opportunity to minister to all 276?

Application

In the midst of the terrible storm Paul seemed to have a real peace about him. This is probably because he knew that he was living in God's hands, and Paul saw every situation as an opportunity to continue to spread the Good News about Jesus Christ. How else could Paul have had a captive audience of 276 people from Alexandria? This was a boatload of people from Egypt! Paul had never been there and would never go there and somehow on his way to prison in Rome, God gives him the opportunity to spread the Gospel to a group of people to whom he's never ministered before. However, one can only imagine how far reaching that ministry ultimately became as those people, as sailors, traveled the world, and then eventually took the good news home with them. Alexandria eventually becomes one of the major cities of Christianity in the early church. Did it have something to do with with sailors on a boat with a prisoner?

Prayer

Lord, may we experience stormy peace in our lives as we trust in You in all of our circumstances. Amen.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I wanna be a pest!





Scripture

“For we have found this man a real pest and a fellow who stirs up dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.
(Acts 24:5 NASB)

Observation

Paul spent all the later years of his ministry in prison, and all because he'd been a "pest." The quote above is from the Lawyer that the High Priest brought before the authorities to explain all the "bad" things that Paul had done. This declaration left the Roman officials scratching their heads because they couldn't figure out what was wrong with what Paul had done. Paul was a "pest," he had stirred up "dissension" and he was "ringleader."

Application

In reality, Paul was faithful and obedient. He was unwilling to compromise in his faith in Jesus Christ. He knew that he was called to share the Good News with the whole world and absolutely nothing was going to get in his way. However, it should be noted that Paul did live within the legal bounds of the countries where he took that Good News. He knew how to contextualize and respect the bounds of those nations, even, at times, using the pagan cultures as a way to bring people to faith. Ultimately the problem was that people responded to his message. The dissension occurred because Jews were turning to Christ, and other were not. This did cause a divide among the Jews, but not because of Paul, but rather, because of them.
I must confess that there are ways today that I see some Christians being "pests" but its not in the same way as Paul. The other day I saw a billboard declaring that Saturday is the true Sabbath (okay, it is) -- but that the antichrist has forced us to worship on Sundays (don't remember that being in the Bible) -- and gave a web-site where we could be turned to the truth of when to worship. This does nothing to draw people to Christ. Paul was drawing many to Christ and that was ultimately the problem and that was why he was a "pest." May we learn from Paul and may we, too, be inspired to be "pests."
As a follower of Christ it is my desire that I be a "pest," -- wholeheartedly passionate about sharing the Good News everywhere I go, and may people be disturbed by how following Christ changes the culture.

Prayer

Lord, make me a "pest" for You! Amen.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Making Assumptions





Scripture

For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple.
(Acts 21:29 NASB)
Then all the city was provoked, and the people rushed together, and taking hold of Paul they dragged him out of the temple, and immediately the doors were shut.
(Acts 21:30 NASB)

Observation

The Jews in Jerusalem were determined that they were going to catch Paul doing something wrong. They were so determined that they wanted to believe any bit of gossip which they heard. Not only did they want to believe the gossip, but they were even ready to create that gossip by making assumptions about Paul's behavior. They didn't know Paul personally, they didn't want to get to know Paul personally, but rather, they wanted to assume that he really was the no good man that they thought that he was. So, although Paul's Greek friend, Trophimus had not gone to the Temple, they were just sure that Paul had brought him and defiled the temple. This assumption and gossip led again to a mob mentality. No one would listen to the truth, they had made up their minds what kind of a man Paul was.

Application

How often may we, as Christians, be guilt of character assassination simply by virtue of assumption? In Paul's case it wasn't just character assassination but they wanted a real assassination! However, I know that there are times that we look at someone doing something, or having said or written something, and we make assumptions about who they are and what their "real" motivation is in life. If we go to the extreme of these "religious" folks, a persons life can be destroyed. I think that so often it is easy to forget the destructive power of words.
If we are to be true followers of Jesus Christ, let us not follow the crowd and never make assumptions about people. Take the time to truly get to know people and to listen to their heart and to their passion. We will usually discover that all of our assumptions were so very wrong. Jesus took time to hang out with the "sinners." The "religious" folks had assumptions about Jesus because of this, but in the end, the "sinners" were set free and God was glorified.

Prayer

Lord, please help me to have the patience to get to know people and their passion. Amen.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mob Rule



Scripture

So then, some were shouting one thing and some another, for the assembly was in confusion and the majority did not know for what reason they had come together.
(Acts 19:32 NASB)

Observation

The crowds in Ephesus had been stirred up. They were angry at Paul (at least some of them) because the message he was preaching was affecting their business. However, by the time they all made it to auditorium many had no clue why they were there. They were screaming and yelling and joining into the mob but really had no idea what was going on. They were simply following the crowd that day and joining into the excitement.

Application

We are living in interesting days where we have seen, on occasion, that the mob is ruling. As followers of Christ we must step back and ask some critical questions. Do we really know what is going on? Do we know why people are upset? Maybe there are those involved with personal motivations which we would not support and yet, because we ask no questions, we might simply join the mob. I believe that Jesus would caution us to be careful of mob response in anything because usually those responses don't understand the implications of all involved. Let us be on our knees. Let us pray. Let us seek to know the issues facing us and may God use His children as instruments of His peace.

Prayer

Lord, may I be Your instrument today in your Kingdom! Amen.