Filled With Expectation

As I read the verses for today, I think of the Johnny Carson show where Ed McMahon announced, “Heeeeere’s Johnny!!!” The expectation of the audience was raised when those words were spoken with excitement. I remember watching the Johnny Carson Show and loving hearing him announced.

I think a similar response happened with the crowd around John the Baptist when he was telling the crowd about the Messiah who is coming.

Click here to read Luke 3:15-18.

John has just finished telling the crowd what a changed heart and changed life (repentance) looks like and many were wondering if he was the Messiah promised or not.

It can be easy to read these verses in a monotone, unenthusiastic tone; but I do not believe this was John’s tone at all. I believe he would have been excited about telling the people of the coming Messiah. He would have been convicting, yet excited about telling the crowd of repentance and baptizing. This excitement must have transferred to the crowd.

The crowd gets rev’d up when something amazing is happening or about to happen. John is telling the people about the coming Messiah (Jesus Christ) and some of how He will live out His life. John proclaimed Christ to all who came and would listen!

How excited are we when we read the story of Jesus’ birth? How does our tone, our inflection, or volume change when we speak about Jesus Christ to others?

The Savior of the world is here. This is exciting news of great joy for all people! Our challenge is to have our attitudes of excitement become contagious so others will see there is something great and amazing about the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

O come, O come, Emmanuel.

Our Lives Look Different

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.

Posture of Humility

Mark 10:23-26 “Looking around, Jesus said to his disciples, “It will be very hard for the wealthy to enter God’s kingdom!” His words startled the disciples, so Jesus told them again, “Children, it’s difficult to enter God’s kingdom! It’s easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter God’s kingdom.” They were shocked even more and said to each other, “Then who can be saved?”

After the encounter Jesus had with the rich man, the disciples have questions. I think we all would have questions too. I would also guess that we would be just as shocked when Jesus says it’s difficult for the wealthy to enter God’s Kingdom. What does it take?

Jesus told the rich man his possessions we basically his god and was holding on to them too tightly. Now we see Him saying it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into heaven.

This is an interesting remark. The camel and needle was also an ancient saying that many people at that time probably would have known. But, what is Jesus saying? I have a hard enough time trying to thread sewing thread through the eye of a sewing needle. This is our terminology today. There is also a gate that is referred to as the “eye of a needle” that a camel certainly would not have been able to pass through. This was a gate that a person would have to bow in order to enter.

Jesus is saying that someone going through that gate standing tall (prideful, arrogance, etc) would not be able to enter because they wouldn’t humble themselves to bow down to enter the gate.

This is, I believe, what Jesus is talking about here; making sure we are humble enough to acknowledge the One God in humility and place no other Gods before Him.

Our challenge is to see how we can be humble each day and enter into God’s Kingdom, God’s grace, God’s Light today and each day following. Doing this does not make us weak, or even less people. Instead we get to live in the Light of Christ and reflect His light to others to move them into the Kingdom. Humility is a great thing!

What does Jesus say next? That’s tomorrow 🙂

Lacking One Thing

Mark 10:17-22 CEB “As Jesus continued down the road, a man ran up, knelt before him, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to obtain eternal life?” Jesus replied, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except the one God. You know the commandments: Don’t commit murder. Don’t commit adultery. Don’t steal. Don’t give false testimony. Don’t cheat. Honor your father and mother.” “Teacher,” he responded, “I’ve kept all of these things since I was a boy.” Jesus looked at him carefully and loved him. He said, “You are lacking one thing. Go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor. Then you will have treasure in heaven. And come, follow me.” But the man was dismayed at this statement and went away saddened, because he had many possessions.”

This is a story I am sure we are very familiar with. Most of us, my guess is, have heard this in relation to sacrificing ourselves and our possessions to follow Christ. But, what if there is another layer we should look at? What is there is a deep truth here about the human condition and about us? Let’s look at what’s going on here.

A rich young man comes along to Jesus, kneels down, and asked what is necessary for eternal life. We have to pause here and see what “eternal life” is. We hear it mainly as a place and state of being we will be after we pass on from this life into life eternal – being in the eternal presence of God. This is partly true; but there is also the aspect of eternal life here and now which is the quality of life we can have and live in knowing the presence and Kingdom of God all around us.

After this, he goes on to say that he has kept all of the commandments from when he was a little boy. Jesus then tells the man, “you lack one thing.” If we’re paying attention to the commandments listed, we can see they only refer to the last 6, the ones that deal with human interactions with each other. He has completely left out one thing – God!

When Jesus doesn’t mention the first four commandments, we shouldn’t assume those didn’t matter. Instead, Jesus asks the man to do something that relates to his heart. Jesus asks the man to give up his possessions and then follow Christ. The man goes away sad because he had many possessions.

Have you felt this way? Are you in a position to understand the feelings of the man? Jesus doesn’t tell everyone to sell their possessions, but he does ask the man about his heart, about who his “god” really is.

We all can hold on to possessions or worldly honors. Possessions in and of themselves are not necessarily bad; but we can miss out on the Kingdom of God by holding on to something too tight. What do you think you’re holding on to that needs to be released so you can experience the Kingdom of God here and now?

Pride?

Arrogance?

Money?

Particular views?

Status?

Through this interaction, Jesus still loved the man. Jesus loves you and is with you too!

I invite you right now to pray and ask God what you’re holding on to and see what He says. We may want to walk away sad. It can be painful; but life in the Kingdom is incredible.

Click here for Sunday’s sermon “Where’s Your Heart” (Mark 10:17-31)