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The Basis of Every Good Relationship

Ecc.3:9-12 speaks of how two are better than one and how a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.  The author is talking about relationships and ties in (pardon the pun) the idea of a braided three-strand cord.  Science proves that if two strands can each carry ten pounds before breaking, they will carry more than twenty pounds together.  In other words the math works in their favor.  Two oxen working together in unison will far outpull their combined individual capacity.  Relationships are crucial to the Kingdom and the only way to have great relationships with others is to have a very tightly fitted relationship with the Lord Jesus.  You may know doctrinally that God loves you but ask the question “How are things, really, between you and me Lord?” and let him love you more before you try it on anyone else.



Anticipation

With the Christmas season, comes much anticipation.  People expect to be with family, travel out, give and receive gifts, having meals together and a host of other things.  The Jewish nation had long anticipated the arrival of a Messiah because they had received over 300 prophetic messages pointing to his first coming.  Micah 5:8 speaks of the ‘watchtower of the flock’ and had been interpreted by one rabbi as “the place where king Messiah will reveal Himself at the end of days.”  Interestingly, under the tower Migdal Eder which was located between Bethlehem and Jerusalem was the special birthing place of paschal lambs to be sacrificed under the old covenant.  When these lambs were birthed, they would be swaddled in cloths and placed in a manger to constrain them until “they settled down” so that they would not bruise or harm themselves to be “without defect” as the law required.  Amazingly, Jesus was birthed, swaddled and placed in that manger as the Lamb of God without defect.  When the shepherds received the news of Jesus being born, they would have known exactly where to find him as this location was well known them.  The same God that attends to such fine details does nothing less for you and me!  Anticipate God’s love to be expressed towards you today.



The Seeing Go Blind -The Blind See

John chapter 9 is a about a man who was blind from birth healed to see on a Sabbath day.  The pharisees question him but never connect the dots that Jesus is indeed the Messiah.  Part of the messianic expectation was that deaf ears would hear and blind eyes would see (Is. 29:18, 35:5, 42:6-7) yet that escaped the Jewish leadership.  On the other hand, take a look at the progression of faith of the healed man ousted from the temple.   He starts in vs. 11 by stating his name ‘Jesus’, upon further questioning, declares him a  prophet, piecing more together he says in vs. 33 ‘one from God’, then Jesus reveals himself as ‘Son of God’, and finally he responds in vs 38 ‘I believe and worships’.  Lord, we give you our stubborn hearts.  Help us to see You today!



Standing Up In A Fallen World

John 8:1-59 reveals the growing animosity towards Jesus.  It starts with Jewish leaders wanting to trap Jesus and ready to stone an unnamed women who had been caught in adultery.  It ends with Jesus’s ‘I AM’ declaration and Jewish leaders picking up rocks to stone him.  This chapter gives us insight on what we should stand for in this present day.  Read the texts and see if you agree. We need to stand up against sin. (vs. 12-30)  We need to stand up and walk the talk. (vs. 31-32)  We need to stand up against false securities. (vs. 33-41).  We need to stand up for the truth. (vs. 42-47)    We need to stand up for Jesus. (vs. 48-59)



Follow Jesus’ Thankfulness

Jesus lived a life of thankfulness and, as followers, so should we.  There are four recorded events in which he gave thanks to the Father.  They are found in Mt. 16:11, 23, 15:36 where he fed the five thousand and the four thousand in Jn. 11:41 before raising Lazarus from the dead, in Lk 10:21 for revealing truths to “babes’ and in Lk. 22:17-19 at the last supper.  The first was for provision, the second for answered prayer and miracles, the third for revelation and wisdom, and the fourth was for his death that would provide salvation, healing and deliverance.  How about spending some time today recounting and thanking God specifically in those four areas He has touched your life in this year.  


Missing The Point

John chapter 6 includes the feeding of the 5000, Jesus walking on the water and the ‘Eat My Flesh’ message.  After the disciples were saved from the storm, Mk. 6:51 says “They were completely amazed for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.”  The disciples missed the real point of the miraculous feeding.  Jesus told the crowds following Him that they were only after ‘daily earthly bread’ yet they were rejecting the eternal bread that would make them live forever.  Notice the many times ‘believing’ is mentioned in this chapter yet the majority refused and no longer followed him.  These disciples missed the point just like the twelve disciples had earlier.  When Jesus asked “You don’t want to leave me too , do you?” Peter responded “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.  We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”  If you are in a hard, confusing and daunting place are you able to declare the same?  


The Greatest Weapon God Has Given Us

During the Civil War weapons improved but tactics remained the same.  This resulted in high casualties.  One weapon was the Spencer repeating rifle which radically improved the ability to fight.  So too, God has given us a weapon superior in every way: The Holy Spirit.
 
The Holy Spirit is mentioned extensively in the Old Testament: it was by the Holy Spirit that the prophets were able to perform their miracles.  Looking at the New Testament, Jesus came as a man.  Being a man, how was Jesus able to do  all that He did?
 
The answer is that same Holy Spirit.  Scripture tells us that He was filled with the Holy Spirit and that as a result He was able to accomplish miracles, healings, deliverances.  
 
Reflecting on that, it’s obvious that we as believers must also use the Holy Spirit if we are to see God move in mighty ways. 


What We Are Called to Do as a Church

As Christians we are in a war. We can relate our battles to those of the Civil War. The focus of that war was to put down the rebellion, unite the states, and put an end to slavery.  So too, our battle is for the same things: put down the rebellion begun by Satan, work in unity, and set the captive free.
 
During the Civil War, Lincoln struggled to keep his generals focused on the real mission: destroy the army of Robert E. Lee.  Instead, they would get fixated on things like capturing Richmond.  We, too, often get sidetracked by good things.  However, if our focus on doing those good things is not to reach the unsaved, then we should not be doing  it.  We must keep our efforts focused on the only task that matters: reaching the lost for Christ.
 
Reaching them works best when we use existing relationships upon which to build.  Write down the names of three people you have a relationship with and whom you want to see come to Christ.  Agree to pray daily for them. Let’s see what God can do!


Angry Jesus!

John includes the cleansing of the temple by Jesus early in his ministry unlike the synoptic gospels.  Believers often use Jesus’ anger to justify the level of anger and behavior they exhibit over an issue.  God cares about what upsets us but he may not be remotely angry over the issue we face.  This story is not about what upsets us but what upsets God.  We sing songs about God breaking our hearts with what breaks his but do we really mean it and are we close enough to him to know of his concerns.  Due to his zeal for his Father’s house, Jesus exhibited how God felt about the raw deal the average Jew and Gentile was getting through the sale of animals and the unfair money exchange at the profit of those who knew better.  Genuinely ask the Lord to make your heart sensitive to his heart and be ready to move on his behalf and to bring a bit of heaven down to earth for the sake of others.


Christian or Disciple?

 

It seems like a fairly simple question.  But is it?  Christian can mean just about anything: I attend church. I give to worthy causes. I try to live by the Golden Rule.  I don’t break any laws.  I live a “good” life.  
 
Disciple is a harder road to follow.  It means learner. It means follower.  It actually puts demands on us.  To be a disciple calls us to “take up your cross and follow Me.”  It means to constantly ask about everyday decisions we face, “What would Jesus do?”  It means to be a “light on a hill” and “salt of the earth”.  It calls us to make a difference in the lives around us.  It demands that we put Christ first in everything: our own lives, our family, our work.
 
In the world’s viewpoint today, Christian usually means judgmental, unforgiving, harsh, homophobic, intolerant, and the latest iteration of racist.
 
Which has the most impact on society: being a Christian….or being a disciple?
 
Which are you?