Are You Able?

Mark 10:38-40 Jesus replied, “You don’t know what you’re asking! Can you drink the cup I drink or receive the baptism I receive?” “We can,” they answered. Jesus said, “You will drink the cup I drink and receive the baptism I receive, but to sit at my right or left hand isn’t mine to give. It belongs to those for whom it has been prepared.”

Ever have a moment when you feel you present your best case to someone and they just shut you down? I have. We can try to think through all the angles and the other person shows another angle we missed.

Jesus does this for James and John. It is very possible they asked Jesus to agree and grant their request before they ask they question because they figured Jesus may not respond favorably. They were right.

I love Jesus’ response here. “Can you…” Well, of course the disciples were going to say YES to whatever Jesus mentioned because they were trying to show they had what it takes to have the positions they were asking for. Jesus is trying to show them they really don’t know what they’re asking for; but they will one day.

Jesus talks about drinking the cup (living the destined purpose) and receiving the baptism (final cleaning of sin). Do you think if the disciples were not understanding the prediction of Jesus’ death that they really understood what Jesus was asking them? To me, this seems like a typical guy response. “Of course I can do that. If you can, I can.”

Jesus looks right through their response here and simply says they will drink the cup and receive the baptism. He was trying to tell them something about their future. James was the first disciple martyred and John was exiled to the island of Patmos. They lived as Jesus predicted they would live.

Jesus lived His earthly life always pointing people to God, God’s Kingdom, heaven; something bigger than His human life. It is difficult to explain the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit); but Jesus reminds the disciples and us that what we think we want in heaven while here on earth, there is something greater than we can imagine ahead.

Are you able to handle what Jesus gives? Are you able to handle the life Jesus calls you to?

With Christ, you can!

Sabbath Rest

In Matthew 11:28, Jesus calls for those who are weary and burdened to come to him and he will give rest.

Rest. Our culture says that on our days off we should fill them  with play and non-work activities. At the end of the weekend, it is no wonder we do not feel rested. We really need to take time off from our time off!

Jesus is proposing a different kind of rest. In the rest he gives, we do not just try to stay busy and fill the time with activities we do not have time for during the week. When we rest, we focus on him and allow his Spirit to fill us. We take the time to be quiet before him. We look at the world differenly: not as projects or tasks to accomplish,  but as the incredible creation it is. We’ll be kinder toward other people who otherwise may annoy or frustrate us. We’ll instead see them as God’s masterpiecs who need to be reminded who and whose they are.

It is in this kind of rest, when we focus the attention off of ourselves that we can hear the “still small voice” of God who is calling out to us and desiring to be our guide.

May we rest and experience the true fullness of life that God through Jesus Christ givesto each person who is still and listens for the voice of Truth.

Our Real Gift

I’m not perfect.

There, I said it. This may come as a shock to some, but not for most. I do not pretend to be perfect. When I think about my past, I can see and remember things I’ve done and said that can cause regrets.

I bet there are many people, in fact I know there are many people, who can say the same things. The question we would have to ask is, “do I allow these past actions define me?” It is easy to dwell on the past mistakes (let’s be honest….these past SINS) and to think that is who we really are. “I am a liar…I am cheater…I am a (fill in your answer).”

Here’s the deal though, we can allow these past decisions to define us, or we can realize our true identity. We may not see ourselves as perfect or “new creations,” but God does.

His love has been handed to us and placed before us in the form of Jesus Christ. Because of his life, death and resurrection, we can have and experience a new life and new identity in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Romans 5:8-11 says Christ died for us while we were still sinners so we have a reconciled relationship with God.

So many people (including me at times) don’t know, forget or don’t realize this incredible gift God has given you and has given me. Each day you and I are invited to accept, open and receive the gift of life God gives through Jesus Christ.

You’ve messed up and don’t feel you can be accepted by God? You are accepted AND loved! Live your new life in grace and holiness and live life with the knowledge of God working and living inside you.

Don’t live in the past, live in the presence of God by receiving the gift of Jesus Christ.

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New Life

Ever had a day that you feel like you did everything wrong and nothing went right? Of course you have! Everyone has at some point in our lives. This is true before we encounter Jesus Christ and come to know him and it even happens after we come to know him as Savior.

Something to remember, if you’re a believer remember this and if you’re not a believer in Jesus Christ, listen up, you are a new creation in Christ. (see 2 Corinthians 5:17)

You may feel like you make mistakes and keep sinning in your life. We ALL make mistakes, but we should also remember that our sin has been bought and paid for by the same Creator who made us! If you have never personally met Jesus Christ in your heart, let me introduce him. Jesus was a man who live about 2,000 years ago. We can find much about his adult life in the Bible and about his life in other reliable historical sources. He was a man who did not sin and was tempted in every way possible that we are tempted today. Don’t believe me? Right after Jesus was baptized, he went into the wilderness (really a desert) and fasted from food for 40 days. Jesus knows what it is like to be deprived of physical nourishment. The Tempter came and said, “if you’re hungry turn these stones into bread to satisfy your hunger.” Jesus responded, “Man does not live by bread alone but by every Word from the mouth of God.” Jesus was tempted to make things happen himself rather than trust in God. We are tempted to rely on our own strength more so than trusting in God for provisions.

Then Jesus was placed on top of this tall mountain and the Tempter tempted him to jump saying, “He has commanded the angels concerning you and they will take you in their hands and you won’t hit your foot against a stone.” Jesus said, “It is written, ‘Do not test the Lord, your God.” Jesus was tempted with his very life, if he jumped his misery would have been over, but he would have missed out on the fulfilling life God had planned for him.

The Tempter placed Jesus on top of the world and said, “All these kingdoms could be yours if you just bow down and worship me.” Jesus said, “worship only the Lord your God.” Jesus had every opportunity to take the life of luxury and not have to live the life he did, but Jesus still chose to go to the cross for you and for me. The luxuries in this world stay here and do not go with us, and they only provide short term satisfaction. Jesus knew true joy and true life is living the life God intended.

Sinning means veering off the path. When we sin, we get further away from God. Our sin, my sin, needs to be paid for to bring us into the right relationship with God. Jesus died on the cross so that we have the opportunity, you have the opportunity to realize you have value and can be made right with God. Because of this, you have the chance to seek God with your whole heart and experience life as God intended. Life is not always easy, but being made right with God allows us, allows you to know forgiveness which gives peace and joy beyond understanding.

You have the choice to accept this love God has for you. Whether or not you believe in God, God believes in you and desires you to get to know him and spend time with him in the Word (Bible), with his people (church worship and community), and personal prayer time (speaking with God daily).

No matter what you have done wrong, or feel you have done wrong, God is always there waiting on you. Forgiveness and new life is yours! Jesus rose from the dead for YOU to have new life.

God created the heavens and the earth; but YOU are his most valuable creation!

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