Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Exodus 2, Luke 5, Job 19 and I Corinthians 6

Luke 5:4-11 - I love this version of the Peter's call into discipleship. Jesus sees them cleaning up after a night of failed fishing and he tells them to go back out and toss their nets again. A little background: Peter is a professional fisherman...he has been fishing his entire life...he knows what he is doing. Jesus is a carpenter turned rabbi, who doesn't know much about fishing (I am giving Peter's perspective at this and I know that he created fish and water and everything involved in this story!). There is no reason that Peter should be listening to this Jesus-guy when it comes to fishing...yet in spite of his doubts, he does what the rabbi says and they have the biggest catch of their lives. Immediately afterwards, Peter is ashamed of his doubts and feels unworthy to even be in the presence of Jesus. Yet, Jesus responds by calling Peter to follow him. Why did Jesus choose Peter even though he doubted his advice? Because even though he had doubts he was still able to act...he was still able to follow Jesus in spite of not understanding. How about you? There are gonna be times where you don't understand what God is doing in your life...there are gonna be times when you don't understand why things are happening to you...when you don't understand why you feel like you are being called to do something different. The question is, are you willing to follow Jesus even in the midst of doubt? Are you willing to act...the whatever, when he calls?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Exodus 1, Luke 4, Job 18 and I Corinthians 5

Luke 4:13 - I have read the story of Jesus temptation in the desert many times before...I love how he destroys every attempt from Satan to get him to turn from God with scripture. It is a great reminder that all of us should have God's Word written on our hearts...keep verses we can go to when we are dealing with temptation. Yet this time as I read the passage, something different jumped out at me. In Luke 4:13 it says that after the Devil had tried every form of temptation on Jesus, he left (With the plan to attack Jesus when the circumstances were more in his when Jesus is on the cross). For 40 days Jesus was in the desert...for 40 days Satan threw everything he had at Jesus...every temptation...every trick...all of it. We know that Jesus was tempted with food, with power and popularity, but what we don't think about very often is all the other stuff he was tempted with. The reading today reminded me of Hebrews 5:15, which tells us that we have a High Priest (Jesus) who was tempted in every way that we are. He knows what you are going through...he knows what you are facing. Did Satan flash images of nude women before Jesus and tell him that he could have sex with any woman he wanted if he bowed? Did he promise endless amounts of money? Did offer mood altering drugs and drink? Did he offer an incredible marriage with tons of cute kids that might distract Jesus from his mission? The text says that he tempted Jesus in every way...and that is exactly what I needed to know. I think we all can sit back and say, "Oh, I would refuse bread and power too...those seem to be mild temptations...but Jesus just doesn't understand this struggle of is so is so's different." No it isn't. He was tempted in every way that you and I are...and he faced down every one of those temptations. He was able to deny those temptations because of his great love for us. Yes, he was God in the flesh...yes, God is perfect...but Jesus was still in the flesh...he was still born of a woman...born in the sinful tradition of humankind...born with the possibility of turning against his nature. Yet, he stood strong...he denied those temptations because there was so much at stake...the salvation of the world...probably the very foundations of the world, if God turned against His own nature. Can we be inspired to do the same? We are able to connect with the Holy Spirit of God...we can ask the Spirit of God (The same Spirit that allowed Jesus to reject temptation) to give us the strength to turn away from sin...we can choose to love as Jesus loved - to show that we love God and our families and our friends so much that we do not want to bring the chaos that sin brings into their lives! Follow in the footsteps of Jesus and fight the good fight! 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Genesis 50, Luke 3, I Corinthians 4, Job 16 and 17

"For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh." - I Corinthians 4:11

Think about what that verse is quite powerful. Paul has made it clear in his writings that we are crucified with believers we become one with his death on the cross. We are being given over to death for Jesus' sake...death to selfishness...death to pride...death to idolatry...death to rebellion against God. The work of the cross made it so that these sins...this flesh nature...that dwells within us like a cancer can be destroyed. The cross destroyed the power of our sinfulness...the cross destroyed the power of when we die to self, we do not have to fear because we experience true life! Not only that, but look at what I Corinthians 4:11 says again...the life of Jesus bursts forth from our flesh! How cool is that? The corruption and sin within us is destroyed, and the life of Jesus emanates from our person.

When God came down to earth as Jesus Christ and crammed Himself into the flesh of a man...He contained Himself for a short time...He was a man...He was a Jewish carpenter/rabbi living in the 1st century Romans empire. How could one man convert could one man disciple could one man interact with every person that ever lived? He couldn't...not as a man...but that was all part of God's plan. Through the death of Jesus on the cross - the perfect sacrifice that was made for every human sin past or future - we gained the ability to become became possible that ever believer is the manifestation of Jesus. So in me - Jesus is manifested as a 34-year old youth minister in Spring, TX. Shining out of my wife's life, he is a much ER nurse in The Woodlands and mother of four. Does that make sense? God is doing His ministry through us? Every man, woman and child...takes all of their unique experiences...their unique situations in life and they bring them to the table for Jesus sake when they become Christians. We've got work to do! There has only been one of you all the history of the universe and are the only you. And if you choose to place your faith in can reflect Jesus into this world in a way that no one else ever has! God's plan is incredible...God's plan has a role for the world what Jesus looks like bursting forth from your life!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Genesis 49, Luke 2, Job 15, and I Corinthians 3

"For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?" - I Corinthians 3:3

Read that verse and look inside yourself for a while...look at the interactions you have with people - people you live with, people you work with, people you associate with...are jealousy and strife driving forces behind your interactions with the people around you. I am going to be honest here...they are for me. As much as I try to hide it on the outside, my mind is constantly working through a series of progressions...Where do I stand with them? Have I gotten the upper hand? Am I better? Look better? Speak better? Funnier? More athletic? Do they owe me? Do I owe them? Am I getting what I deserve out of this relationship? These toxic and selfish thoughts often worm their way into my mind, impacting the way I interact with the people around me. I may have flesh on my bones and I may be a human being, but I am certain that when Paul says, "Are you not flesh and behaving only in a human way" he is not giving us excuses to live such self-serving lives. He is saying that those of us who allow jealousy and strife to drive us are living "less than" lives...we are living lives that are less than they could be...we are living damaged and twisted lives compared to the freedom that we could have if we chose to live in the Spirit and behave in a godly way. That is what I want to do...that is who I want to be! I don't want to rank everyone around me on an importance scale to figure out where I fit in an insane effort to bolster my own self-worth. I want to know who I am according to God and I want to be comfortable in my own skin with my own giftedness...I want to be holy as God is holy...I want to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. God please help me do this!

He has given us the help we need..."Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?" - I Corinthians 3:16...I do know me to trust in that knowledge and live boldly through your Spirit.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Genesis 48, Luke 1:39-80. Job 14 and I Corinthians 2

In Genesis chapter 48, Jacob does something interesting while giving blessings to Joseph's son Ephraim and Manasseh (The fact that he is blessing them as sons is also different, because he is basically giving Joseph a double blessings - Joseph gets a son's blessing and Joseph's sons get blessed as brothers of Joseph)...he gives the more important blessing to Ephraim, the younger son. Even Joseph doesn't like that Jacob does that (Even though he grew up knowing the story about how his dad stole the birthright from his older brother) breaks tradition...the firstborn is always supposed to get the greater blessing. I find it interesting that Jacob does this, because God is showing us once again that He likes to work through the unexpected...He likes to bring honor to the lesser...He likes to show His strength through our weaknesses. This is great news for you and I, because there are times when we are some pretty weak people aren't we? I can't tell you how often I feel like I am not cut out for the work that God is calling mew to do...father, husband, minister, disciple...I am not good enough to do these things well without God's help. Luckily, He likes to work through the weak...and He provides the strength I need to compensate for my weaknesses. Trust that God knows what He is doing through you. You are never gonna be are never gonna be are never gonna be smart enough or brave enough or rich enough or whatever is holding you back from living powerfully for God enough. But God is all of those things and so much more...God will do His good works in your life if you offer yourself up to Him.

Paul echoes these thoughts in I Corinthians 2, when he talks about the wisdom of God versus the wisdom of man. God is revealing the truth of Himself and the truth of what matters to us...these deep, hidden truths...through His Spirit. Yet His truth...His wisdom...they seem like foolishness to the human mind. Our flesh nature wars against the wisdom of God. Our flesh nature says, "Serve yourself. Live for pleasure. Look out only for you. Run from discomfort. Ignore your faults." The sinful human side of our selves wants to sit down in our weakness and revel in it...but God offers us His Spirit so that we might be transformed. Paul tells us that the Spirit of God knows God...searches the mind and heart of a part of God...and we have access to that Spirit. We can connect to that Spirit and let it transform us...let it fill us...let it teach us how to overcome our weaknesses and live as God intended us to live all along. God has not left us hanging...God has not abandoned us to wallow in our weaknesses...He is willing to enter into our mess...enter into our weakness and provide strength. Reach out to Him.