Imagine the scene: Jesus gives his disciples instructions for what will come next. He gets them all excited. Then he tells them to wait. And then he goes into heaven.
Do you like to wait? There are times I have trouble waiting for my drink at McDonald’s to be poured, and I’m the one pouring it! Waiting is important and is something that is good for us to practice.
Why should we wait? First of all, waiting and being patient prepares our heart and mind to be able to handle and appreciate what is coming. If we act too quickly, we might not allow the opportunity to sink in. We just might miss out on the benefit that will occur. Secondly, waiting just might show us a better way than we thought about before. We just might be able to see more clearly the objective in a new light and a new path is formed simply because we waited.
As a disciple and follower of Jesus Christ it would be a good idea to practice the spiritual discipline of waiting through silence, solitude, maybe even work. Psalm 46:10 says to “be still and know that I am God.” What we need to be clear on is that sometimes this involves being still and in silence, while other times it involves continuing to do the work we have begun. That clears it up, right?
How can we know if we should be still or if we should continue working? I think it all depends on your situation. Notice Jesus told the disciples to remain in Jerusalem and wait. He did not say to remain in Jerusalem and do nothing. This is key. Even when we are waiting on God, it is more of actively waiting rather than passive waiting.
Prayer is active waiting because we are actively communicating with our God in heaven. Not just telling Him what we want or want Him to do; but hearing anything He desires to tell us. If we were to simply sit and do nothing, we could miss out on hearing from God.
Now, we can wait for God by continuing to do the work we were doing before. In John chapter 5, Jesus says that his Father is always working and He is too. Most of the time when we want to know what God wants us to do, we just have to get out there and work; finding where God is working and then join Him in that work.
This week, I encourage you to ask God to show you where He is working. Ask Him to soften your heart to those around you. You just might be interrupted in your day and step into work with God and change another person’s life forever…maybe the life you see changed is your own.
Christmastime is such a joyous time of year for so many people. This is the time we celebrate families with gift giving, parties, travel, and much more. We can see the good things in life, when we get together.
Unfortunately, many people do not have this same experience of this time of year. So many have felt loss and this time of year reminds them of this. There are also people who feel they are being punished in life by God.
The first two and a half chapters of the book of Zephaniah speak of pronouncing and impending judgement. His prophecies seem very similar to the prophet Jeremiah, the weeping prophet. But then, the tone completely shifts at the end with a message of hope and joy.
When I read this short book in the Bible, I am reminded that we should not focus on the difficulties and disasters in our life.
“Rejoice and exult with all your heart…”
“The Lord has removed your judgement…”
“The Lord, the king of Israel, is in your midst;..”
Then God promises to “deliver,” “gather,” “change their shame into praise,” “bring all of you back,” “gather you,” “restore.”
God was speaking these to the Israelites; but this also speaks to us today. How? Jesus Christ.
We rejoice because God is in our midst through Jesus Christ. He has removed our sin and shame because of the cross and His resurrection. Jesus, our good shepherd, is gathering us in and leading us. We are filled with the Spirit of the Living God.
Christ coming in the world, changes everything. Will we allow Him in to change us once again?
O come, O come, Emmanuel.
Advent is a season we prepare our hearts and lives for the coming of the Christ child and anticipate His return. As we look into the process of preparing our lives, we can see how crooked and off the path we have gotten at times. It seems to be human nature to look after only ourselves. We all have been in the wilderness spiritually/emotionally and have tried to get where we are going by the longest way possible.
John the Baptist does something that I think we all can do. He comes out of the wilderness/desert and lives the life that God, the Creator of the universe, created him to do.
John has been living in the desert for close to 30 years when God’s word came to him to begin proclaiming the words of Isaiah: “prepare the way of the Lord.”
His mission was to tell the people that God was coming to straighten out the crooked paths. In essence, he was inviting people to live their lives out of the wilderness/desert. We have to ask, “what is your desert?” Do you feel dry spiritually, emotionally, relationally, financially? I believe God is calling each of us to live lives of hope and joy because He provides what we need.
Jesus tells us not to worry; but to trust that God is providing enough for us. After all, if He provides for the lilies of the field, how much more will he provide for us?
Crooked paths. We all have made choices that have hindered our walk with God and people. Our crooked paths may be this way because of the road blocks we have set there or allowed to fall on our path. Prejudice. Our own self desires above others. Pride. Anxiety. And many more.
God doesn’t come into the world to fix the world; but to invade the world. He comes in like a bulldozer clearing out the path so we can follow Him. Jesus Christ is like God’s bulldozer. We trust Him to guide us, to be our light, our bread, our water, our hope. Nothing is the same after a bulldozer passes through. Nothing is the same after we follow Christ.
Instead of a path of destruction, we now have a path to God that is getting cleared.
Are you ready for Christmas and the work that God is doing in our world through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit?
O come, O come, Emmanuel.
Christmas is a wonderful time of year for many and a tragic, depressing or sad time of year for many. This time of year for others is…frustrating.
Advent is a time of preparation for the birth of the Christ child into the world, and into our hearts once again. How we live demonstrates our devotion for Christ. This does not mean that we earn our way into God’s favor or we have to work to get grace. What this does mean is that our lives should reflect the outpouring of God’s grace upon our lives. Our lives should be different from those who do not believe (either never believed, or have fallen from belief).
Our scripture for this week is Jesus speaking of the end of time and about the Son of Man’s (His) return in glory. You can read the scripture for this week here.
What stand out to you today? One thing I would like to bring into the conversation is, how we react to this passage, about the end of time, shows how we’ll act toward God and others here and now. We do not know when the end will come and when Christ will return. Jesus says to “be on guard so your hearts will not be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life…” We are to live as people of faith with hope in all God has done, is doing and will do in the future.
We do not have to be worried or be part of anything that will take our minds and hearts off of Christ. We trust that Christ is with us and will continue to be with us during difficult times. So, what we watch on media, what we read, what we write should all be different from those who do not have faith.
Our love of and for God and people should set us apart. It is through our actions and our lives that may people will see and experience Emmanuel (God with us). God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit is working in and through us to show the world He is here and is working for restoration and reconciliation.
O come, O come, Emmanuel.
Jesus and his disciples are walking from Jericho. Sometime today, tomorrow and the next day, I invite you to take a walk. Place yourself within this passage. It may be helpful to have a time limit, if you’re not used to doing an exercise like this.
I used to not enjoy reading when I was younger. So in my early twenties, I picked up some audio books and listened to them. This was something I enjoyed and found when I heard the story, I was able to remember it better and place myself within the story to picture it. One day I decided to pick up some books and read them. I began to picture the story line and the books began to come alive to me. This is one of the reasons I love to read the Bible: many stories in there that can actually tell our story.
So, this is an exercise to try and make the scripture come even more alive, in our imagination. I have found it is too easy to sit and read and not let the Word take root in us; but if we move like the people in the Bible, we’ll be able to experience more.
Read. Read the passage a couple times before heading out for a walk. (passage is below). If you have an audio version you can take with you on the walk, awesome.
Pray. Pray before heading out asking God to reveal himself to you in a new or different way.
Walk. This is one of my favorite parts. Walk and reflect on the passage. As you find yourself walking, picture the story happening right where you are. Imagine Jesus, the disciples, a crowd, a shouting person asking for help. Do you keep walking? Do you stop and just watch? Do you call someone else? Is it time to make fun of or chastise the person? Do we pray and ask God to send someone else so they can help?
Imagining the story like this helps me to be able to see God working in our day to day life. This also helps to remind me to look for opportunities to be present and see God, his people and his mission wherever I am.
Journal. I recommend journaling what you experienced, what God showed you on your walk. This way, it is easy to remember and we have a record we can go back and read later.
Pray. Pray again. This is a simple prayer of thanks. Thanking God for the opportunity to see the world as he sees it. Also, asking God to help us see the world and his people this way in all aspects of life.
Prayer walks are enjoyable to me. I hope God reveals himself to you as you try this exercise.
Next week, we begin a new series on “Giving Thanks.” We’ll have one devotional each week for the month of November, but there will be 7 things to pray for (one for each day of the week). I’m excited about this upcoming series and seeing what will happen when we take intentional time to thank and praise God, even the trials we experience.
Mark 10:46-52 (CEB)
Healing of blind Bartimaeus
Jesus and his followers came into Jericho. As Jesus was leaving Jericho, together with his disciples and a sizable crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, Timaeus’ son, was sitting beside the road. When he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was there, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, show me mercy!” Many scolded him, telling him to be quiet, but he shouted even louder, “Son of David, show me mercy!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him forward.” They called the blind man, “Be encouraged! Get up! He’s calling you.” Throwing his coat to the side, he jumped up and came to Jesus. Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said, “Teacher, I want to see.” Jesus said, “Go, your faith has healed you.” At once he was able to see, and he began to follow Jesus on the way.
We have been on this journey through Mark chapter 10 this month. Now, we are in the final verses of this chapter. To recap, we have encountered Jesus Christ in several different ways. Hopefully we have all grown closer in our faith in Christ.
This week, we’re going to do something different in our devotional time. We will be praying the scripture (the same scripture) daily and see what God speaks to our hearts. Praying the scriptures is something that helps us see and hear from God in fresh ways.
Today, and tomorrow, we’ll do something called lectio divina. To practice this, find a quiet place without any distractions. If this is your first time to do this exercise, it may be helpful to set a time limit (maybe 15-20 minutes). It may also be helpful to have a journal so you can write down your experience and anything you sense God speaking to your spirit.
The scripture (Mark 10:46-52) is below these four steps to this exercise.
Step 1) READ the passage
Simply read the passage. Don’t try to figure out what it’s saying, yet. Think about the passage for a minute or so, then read it again slowly.
Step 2) MEDITATE on the passage
What do you see in the passage? How do you picture yourself? Do you see yourself as the crowd? on the sidelines watching? as someone like Jesus trying to help? as the blind man crying for help and being ignored? Read the passage again, this time place yourself, intentionally, in the story and see what emotions come up.
Step 3) PRAY.
This is a time to seek God. Take time to ask Him what He is speaking to you. Ask Him to help you understand.
Step 4) CONTEMPLATE on the prayer and passage.
Thank God for this time together. What do you think God may be calling you to do? What are your emotions regarding this? How do you plan to accomplish what God may be leading you to?
Challenge yourself through this exercise. See how God is speaking to you through the scriptures. Read. Meditate. Pray. Respond. Do this for two days, and then we’ll try another exercise with this same scripture.
Mark 10:46-52 (CEB)
Healing of blind Bartimaeus
46 Jesus and his followers came into Jericho. As Jesus was leaving Jericho, together with his disciples and a sizable crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, Timaeus’ son, was sitting beside the road. 47 When he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was there, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, show me mercy!” 48 Many scolded him, telling him to be quiet, but he shouted even louder, “Son of David, show me mercy!” 49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him forward.” They called the blind man, “Be encouraged! Get up! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his coat to the side, he jumped up and came to Jesus. 51 Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said, “Teacher, I want to see.” 52 Jesus said, “Go, your faith has healed you.” At once he was able to see, and he began to follow Jesus on the way.
Mark 10:44-45 Whoever wants to be first among you will be the slave of all, for the Son of Man didn’t come to be served but rather to serve and to give his life to liberate many people.
True greatness does not lie in the position one has in life. True greatness lies in the attitude and character of the person. Jesus is a great reminder how we should live our lives and sets the example. His priority was to move people into a relationship with God the Father. This was not done by force or even all talk. He lived what he preached.
There were times He got on to people (like the Pharisees and Sadducees) when they were using their position and power for their own good instead of the good of the Kingdom of God. Everywhere Jesus went He would heal and serve.
Imagine the incredible God we serve, coming down in human flesh and serving Hie creations. We may not always want to serve other people; but God does. It is awesome to see His work throughout the world.
Who can you serve this week?
Next week, we’ll conclude Mark 10 with the healing of the blind man. The sermon is “Gaining Sight.”
Mark 10:41-43 Now when the other ten disciples heard about this, they became angry with James and John. Jesus called them over and said, “You know that the ones who are considered the rulers by the Gentiles show off their authority over them and their high-ranking officials order them around. But that’s not the way it will be with you. Whoever wants to be great among you will be your servant.
There have been may times that something I have said has made another person, or even a group of people, angry or upset. I have gotten upset over words from another person (hearing a voice or via written message). We can easily allow what people say to upset us and let our emotions determine how we act.
This is how I imagine the disciples mindset at this point in time. I cannot blame them for feeling the way do at this point. It is easy to understand what might be going through their minds at this point. If they would have taken time to talk with James and John, would they have gotten angry? Would they be able to understand the brothers’ background and meet them where they were? Did the other ten disciples want to have the same position of greatness and were angry because they did not ask first?
I wonder if James and John understood why the other disciples were angry.
Jesus teaches his disciples about true greatness. He tells them that earthly position and authority are fragile. We should not strive to gain earthly recognition, but to strive for the glory of God.
To live for the glory of God means we live our life for something bigger than we are. When we do this, we become more humble. Becoming more humble means we begin to be a servant rather than a master. It seems backwards. Becoming a servant to become great. I think this makes good sense when we think about it. We cannot just jump to becoming an owner, we have to work for it. We have to be able to do the lowliest tasks in order to become ready for the bigger tasks.
“Whoever wants to be great among you will be your servant.”