Category Archives: Luke

Knowing the Gift of God

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Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”  John 4:10

If you knew the gift of God. . . 

Isn’t this true for all of us, in various ways?  If only we knew the gift of God, and what he is offering us.

Something that stuck with me from last Sunday’s sermon was the statement that we often miss the miracles that God is doing.  So this morning, I made a list of miracles I have seen recently.

One is that I was able to give a coaching workshop last night.  I happened to run into a business owner last week, and she asked me if I could come and address her employees.  To me, this wasn’t just chance.  It was an answer to prayer!

This morning, I got a text from a friend, responding to my query on how she is doing.  She said she is doing well!  As a young woman from China, I watched her wrestle to have faith for years.  That she finally got baptized, and has been able to win spiritual battles and remain faithful, is a miracle.

Another friend told me how she had a challenging week with her child, and came across someone at just the right moment who offered to take him for the weekend and give her time to recharge.  That was a miracle, too!

Jesus said that he had living water to offer.  This term, “living water,” is found all over the Bible.  It’s the fresh water Isaac’s servants found when they dug a well.  (Gen. 26:19) It’s the water that was prophesied about in Isaiah 12:3, “With joy you will draw water from the springs of salvation.”  It’s the water that’s referred to in Revelation, “For the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd. He will lead them to springs of living water.”  (Rev. 7:17)

Jesus was giving the gift of eternal life.   And many of us have received this gift.  But do we know the extraordinary gift of God, or have we become dull and jaded?  Do we see that God worked miracles to bring us to salvation?

I know that this is true for me.  God put me in a place where I could play my flute in a church when I was 16, and be drawn to him for the first time.  God put a young man in my life, and at the right time this young man would turn to him, and lead me to him.  After I married this man, God put us in a church that set an amazing spiritual foundation for our life.

I need to be trembling in holy fear that God would work such miracles for me, one life among billions.  I am the woman at the well. I was certainly a “Samaritan,”  miserable and living so much in the world.  I didn’t deserve for God to take notice of me.

If you knew the gift of God.  Let us be mindful, each moment, that we are saved because of miracles.  May we not take it for granted, but treat it with wonder.  May we be more reverent. More in awe.

And then, may this knowledge allow us to realize that the gift continues to give.  As we see what he has done, we come to believe that God will do so much more.

And so we ask, and he will give.

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,  Heb 12:28

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Filed under Abundance/Greatness of God, Luke, Red Letter

Our Deepest Purpose: To Be Transformed

 transformed

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what my purpose is.  Why did God create me?  So I started studying it out.  I wanted to discover that my purpose is to achieve some kind of great accomplishment.  And maybe that is true.

But maybe my deepest purpose isn’t to accomplish a great work.

Maybe it’s for a great work to be accomplished in me.

As I said in my last blog, the reason we were CREATED was to be holy and righteous.  (Eph 4:24)

Through Christ we are enabled to fulfill this destiny:  “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love, he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ.”  Eph 1:4-5

But the creation isn’t finished.  Yes, there in no condemnation for those in Christ, yes, Jesus gives us his righteousness, but God’s also at work in us, molding and chiseling us into what His dream is for us to be.

  • for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
  • Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  Eph 3:20
  • God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.  Heb. 12:10
  • He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.  John 15:2

Romans 8:29 says, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.”  The Greek word here for “conformed” is “symmorphos” which means to change to become like something.   God is transforming us to become like his son.

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.  II Cor 3:18

The process of my transformation is epic.  With God as the craftsman, it is a meticulous beautiful process.

I see it as chaotic and painful.  Things go wrong.  I have health challenges.  I have mood challenges.

BUT– “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”  II Cor 4:17

Every day, I am being transformed.  WITH GOD, I am working out, fulfilling, my purpose.  I am being pruned.  I am being refined. I am being shaped into something multifaceted and wonderful.

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A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart.  Luke 6:45

Jesus was concerned, first and foremost, with the inside.  He told the Pharisees to first clean the inside of the cup, and then the outside of the cup would be clean.  The most important thing in life is to work on your heart.

So if there are any worthy accomplishments I hope to achieve, they can only come from a heart that God has transformed.  This must be my focus — to trust and submit, and embrace my greatest purpose.

Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’?  Is 45:9

God wanted his people throughout the world to know the glorious riches of this mystery-which is Christ living in you, giving you the hope of glory  Col 1:27

 

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Filed under Favorite, Having the Right Heart, Holiness, Luke, Things I Am Learning

Don’t Pray for Blessings!

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To start off, I got the idea for this blog from another blog.  I read it and then went on my way.  Yet as time went on, I kept thinking of it, and it made such an impact that I wanted to communicate its main ideas.  I tried to find the blog to give it credit, but couldn’t.

Here is what the blog said:  Don’t pray for blessings.

We Christians have a habit of defining life in terms of our “blessings.”  We say our material possessions are blessings.  “God blessed me with such a nice house, car, etc.”  We say the good things that happen to us are blessings.  We name our friends and family as blessings.

And, don’t get me wrong, all of these things ARE blessings.  “Every good and perfect gift is from above.”  (James 1:17)

But labeling things as a blessing can lead to a mentality where our happiness is MEASURED by what we have, and what goes right.

If things work out, we are happy.  After all, we are blessed!  But then what do we think when things go wrong?

If we are studying the Bible with people and they decide to make Jesus Lord, we’re happy.  When we see the church assembly full of fired up people we’re happy.  But what about when people get weak, or leave?  It can be so discouraging.

Of course, if we care about people, we are going to feel emotional when they struggle.  “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.”  (I Cor 12:26)

But we we need to have a joy that transcends our “blessings.”  We need to have a deep and abiding joy that comes solely from Christ.

Instead of filling our prayer time with so many petitions, we need to pray to have MORE OF CHRIST.     Pray for God’s will to be done, and let this will be our food, as Jesus did in John 4:34.  Pray to know God’s love better, as Paul prayed in Phil 1:9 and Eph 3:17-19.

I mean, just look at the Ephesians 3 prayer: “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

We get COMPLETELY FILLED with God when we understand the love of Christ.  And I think that is what leads to the next statement in Ephesians 3, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”

I think God does immeasurably more, not with life circumstances, as much as with our INNER TRANSFORMATION.  God does immeasurably more by helping us understand his love, and filling us completely.  We overflow with, as Peter put it, an inexpressible and glorious joy:

  • “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”  I Peter 1:9

God works incredibly in our hearts, giving us inner security where we were insecure, giving us confident where we were fearful.  Our weaknesses are turned into strengths. We are freed from the fruitless pursuit of trying to meet our own needs, and finally trust that He who loves us will take care of us.  A vibrant joy in our souls can keep growing and growing.

In my house, I try to always keep a bowl of fresh fruit on the table.  It symbolizes abundance to me.  As I look around, I see that I surround myself with the comfort and affirmation that I am blessed.  I see the cat curled up on the couch.  My grandmother’s quilt on the rack in the bedroom.  Pictures from vacations in the guest room.  Shells from the beach on my dresser.  Pictures of the kids on the occasional table.  Decorative pieces from loved ones on walls and shelves.

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But this mentality is only good if everything is in order.  It requires me constantly having to straighten up and clean.  Somehow my symbols of abundance aren’t as powerful when they’re surrounded by mess!

It’s just one more reminder that I cannot let my blessings dictate the level of my joy.

Okay, I know the title of this blog went a bit overboard.  There are many good “blessings” we should pray for.  There are circumstances that need to change.  People who have needs.

And we do need to be thankful.  Gratitude is POWERFUL!  I am keeping a list of things I am thankful for, and I am up to about 400 things on that list so far. It is so helpful to focus my mind on the positive instead of the negative.

But I want something more.  I want something deeper.  I am not entirely sure how to get it, but this has been my prayer —  that God will show me how to have an all sufficient joy that is based on Him, that my happiness will not be based on physical blessings, but on spiritual ones.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”  Eph 1:3

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Filed under Joy, Luke, More of Christ, Uncategorized

Hearing the Miraculous Song!

The Island City of Tyre

The Island City of Tyre

“In the pride of your heart  you say, ‘I am a god;’

Because you think you are wise, as wise as a god…You will be but a mortal, not a god, in the hands of those who slay you.”  (Ez 28:1, 6, 9)

Of course I wouldn’t say, “I am a God.”  But as I look at the struggles in my heart right now, I see that I am anxious.  I think it is up to me to fix everything.  I try to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders.  It’s a pride problem.

I struggle with giving to “the least of these.”  I want to qualify my sacrifice for others — who I give to, when it’s convenient to give.  Another pride problem.

Lately I am having problems with a chemical imbalance of some sort at times.  Paul said, “to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh.”  (II Cor 12:7) Maybe God allows me to have this  challenges in the flesh as a pride solution!  I surely do need to remember to be humble!

Pride can be a very scary thing.  The verse I started the blog with is from Ezekiel 28.  It is about Tyre.  Here is what Jesus said about Tyre, after he had sent the 72 out to proclaim the good news and they were rejected by the Jewish cities:

Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.”  Luke 10:13

In Ezekiel 28, Tyre was the most prideful of prideful dogs!  The way she was described, it is hard to imagine that another city could be more prideful.  Yet even she was not as prideful as the Jewish cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida.  If she had seen the miracles they saw, she would have repented.  They could not see the miracles, or the significance of them.   They did not repent!  Their hearts were so hard.

We need to see the miracles that are happening all around us — the miracle of answered prayer.  the miracle of being in God’s grace, the miracle of changed hearts, the miracle of insight, and many others.

Instead, I want more, more, more!  I look at what I still want to change, at the prayers that still need to be answered.  I miss the “surpassing great revelations” God is giving me.  Is this hardening my heart?  Do I take the miracles for granted?

Is there a relationship between acknowledging the miraculous work of God and repentance?  Does having the heart of a child, that I am in wonder at each act of God, help me to serve him better?  For sure!  As Jesus goes on to say in the parallel version of this verse in Matt. 11:25, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.”

And Jesus precedes his indictment in Matthew of the Jewish towns with this illustration:

To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:  ‘We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’”  Matt 11:15-17

What song is God playing for me?  Let me have ears to hear.  Let me not be deafened by my frustrations, by my anxieties.  Let me dance with praise as I see God working throughout the day, and may this help me to be more of the person I need to be.

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Filed under Ezekiel, Luke, Surrender, Topical

Falling in Love with Jesus

Wedding

Sometimes, I need to get back to the basics.  I listened yesterday to a message by Francis Chan about the importance of loving Jesus.  He read from Philippians, “ I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”  This message was convicting to me because I feel that I can get caught up in all kinds of wonderful religious ideas, but what is the focus of this?  It can be me, and all of my “wonderful” ideas.  I want so much just to be in love with Jesus, for him to fill my heart —  that life would be about nothing more than him.

I have been working my way back through Luke from time to time.  Here are some of the passages that struck me from Luke 9.

“When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases,  and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.”  Luke 9:2-3

To fall in love with Jesus is to fall in love with his message: the kingdom of God.  Jesus’ passion, his reason for being, was establishing the kingdom of God, a new order in which God would reign supreme.  Jesus loved doing God’s will. “My food is to the will of him who sent me…”  (John 4:34)  For him, there was never a question of doing anything else.  He loved allowing God to be the absolute monarch of the universe, and live every aspect his life in reverent submission.  And with every fiber of his being, Jesus wanted others to come to honor God in the same way.

To fall in love with Jesus is to gain his heart of compassion.  Not only did Jesus send out the disciples to preach, but he sent them out to heal.  Yes, his message was that we must all put God first in our hearts and obey him.  But It was never just about obedience.  Obedience and compassion always went hand in hand.  What a God, who is not only to be held as high and holy, but would have our hearts be moved about the plight of each individual!

“Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here. He replied, “You give them something to eat.”  (Luke 9:12-13)

To fall in love with Jesus is to let his hope fill our hearts.  Jesus wasn’t intimidated by difficult situations.  He faced them with the calm assurance that there was a solution.  The storms didn’t bother him.  The raging crowds didn’t phase him, nor did people who tried to seize him before his time.  He didn’t feel depleted, and unwilling to deal with the needs of others.  He opened his heart and wanted to meet their needs.  He believed there was a way.

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”  Peter answered, “God’s Messiah.” Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone.  (Luke 9:20-21)

To fall in love with Jesus is to be so moved and attracted to this man who did not want glory for himself.  I struggle with wanting praise for myself.  For Jesus, it was never about him and the attention he could get from who he was or what he could do.  It wasn’t about being impressive because of accomplishments, or intellect.  “Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; . . . For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”  I love that Jesus could cut through all of the pride and artifice of people, all of the things that we aspire to, all of the things we admire in others, and see the greatness in a child, in the simple beautiful core of what each human is.

As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. (Luke 9:29)

A man in the crowd called out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child….I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not.”   “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied. . . But Jesus rebuked the impure spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father.  (Luke 9:38-42)

To fall in love with Jesus is to be awed by his divinity and power.  Evil is not stronger than he is, and he is ready to vanquish it in our lives!

As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.  (Luke 9:51)

To fall in love with Jesus is to be thankful that he was so determined to complete the work that would bring me close to him.  Nothing would deter him.  He did not procrastinate, or compromise what he needed to do.  He knew what was truly important, and that is what dictated his course of action.

I watched a couple of episodes of “My Fair Wedding” yesterday.  A wedding can generate an enormous amount of hoopla.  And it makes sense to people to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to create this elaborate, beautiful celebration, because it is an expression of something so immeasurably wonderful — love.

And if we can have weddings as a time to commemorate love; weddings filled with flowers and beautiful decorations and feasting and dancing; then we can have heart bursting devotional times with the God who is love, and Christ, the bridegroom who came to earth to seek his bride.  May I remember to keep it simple and just love Jesus.

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Filed under Love, Luke, Topical -- Love

How to Be Recharged

“If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.”

The temptation:  To think that we need something or we’re not going to make it.

The devil wanted Jesus to think he needed bread.  He tried to get him to focus on his needs.  Jesus responded that the only thing he needed was God.

In the same way, I have things I think I need, or I’m not going to make it.  Sometimes I think I need people to be a certain way.  Sometimes I think need church to be a certain way.  Sometimes I think I need a situation to resolve itself in a certain way.  Sometimes I think I need to feel a certain way, be in a good state of health, have a certain level of energy.

But all I need is God.

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'”

The temptation:  To think that things have to work out, that we must be successful.

The world is a picture of achievement.  People have power.  Great buildings are erected.  There are great products, great inventions.  I want God’s Kingdom to be like the world: great in accomplishment.  But God wants our attitude to be,  “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines…yet I will rejoice in the Lord.”  (Hab 3:17-18)  He wants us to say, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.”  (Job 1:21)  Yes, God will eventually do many things that are more than we ask or imagine, but this shouldn’t be what we seek, but instead we should just seek to worship Him always.

The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written:‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’

Temptation:  To think, “Is God really going to take care of me, ‘guard me carefully?’  This is a hard situation.  Will the Lord really give me the strength I need to get through it in the way I should?”

Like the lyrics from “Precious Lord,” we say, “I am tired.  I am weak.  I am worn”  But we still expect that we should be able to move mountains.  We demand so much from ourselves and our faith.

But Jesus didn’t entertain this kind of thinking.  He just believed that he was always in the right place at the right time, doing the work God wanted him to do.  Of course there there would be strength to carry through what God set for Him to do.

Worshiping God, serving Him only, having His mindset, is the way Jesus recharged.  This is the way I need to recharge as well.  Focusing on my expectations, on the “shoulds,” depletes me.  Jesus said later in his ministry, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”  As long as I live Christianity according to my agenda, it will be a mockery and I will be tired and discouraged.  But when I lose every expectation and just fill myself up with the wonders of who God is, and the holy magic that is worship of Him, I will be refueled.

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Prayer that Will Empower Us

When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.”  (Luke 9:1-2)

Jesus starts in Luke 9 by sending out the Twelve.  Previously, he had been the one going to town to town, healing and spreading the good news.  Now he is enlisting help.  This is our goal, that we will not only minister to others, but that we will send out others to minister.

Something else that struck me in Luke 9 is that three times in this chapter we see Jesus withdrawing from the public.  My thought is that Jesus is getting ready to change the direction of his ministry, and he is preparing himself mentally to do that.

Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida  (v. 10)

Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him… (v. 18)

About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray (v. 28)

Prayer is what helps Jesus to not just focus on preaching and healing, but on his mission to give his life.  Here is what Jesus said after he prayed:

“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”  (v. 22  He said this after he had been praying in private.)

“Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.”  (v. 44  He said this after he came down off the mountain.)

My prayer must be the same way.  I can go down my list of all the things I want God to do, and all the ways I want Him to help me.  But prayer needs to help me to die to self, to see that my mission is a serious and costly thing.  As it did for Jesus, my prayer can empower me to go forth in a new direction.  Look at what Jesus did next in Luke 9:

“As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” (v. 51)

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Grace that Keeps Fertilizing

Fertilizer

“No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too.” 

Then Jesus told this story: “A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed. Finally, he said to his gardener, ‘I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It’s just taking up space in the garden.’  “The gardener answered, ‘Sir, give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer.  If we get figs next year, fine. If not, then you can cut it down.’”  Luke 13:5-8

God gives us so many chances.  He does so many things to set us up to win.

We know we need to do better.  We know we need to repent of certain actions and attitudes.  Like the fig tree with no fruit, we disappoint God.

But Jesus is merciful.  In the parable he gives the fig tree more time to bear fruit. We don’t deserve more time, but we get it.  In the parable, he fertilizes the fig tree.  In our lives, Jesus puts people in our lives who can help us do what we are supposed to do.   He puts us in situations that will enrich us, inspire us, motivate us, and teach us.  He gives us special attention, even though we are failures.

Israel failed God.  He had designated them as His chosen people, but they broke their covenant and went after other gods, time and time again.

Yet God didn’t give up on his people.  He preserved a remnant, and established a new covenant with them.  He set it up in the future so that we can all flourish.

“‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will take a shoot from the very top of a cedar and plant it; I will break off a tender sprig from its topmost shoots and plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it; it will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar. Birds of every kind will nest in it; they will find shelter in the shade of its branches. All the trees of the forest will know that I the Lord bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall. I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish.“ ‘I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.’”  Ezekiel 17:22-24

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What the Day Brings

They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man.  Luke 8:26-28

What is the day going to bring us?  When Jesus went sailing to the other side of the lake, he was probably thought he was going there to spread the gospel in other towns.  Instead, the first thing that happened when he got out of the boat was that a naked crazy man came up to him.

Jesus could see in an instant that this man has an unclean spirit in him, and that was his first concern, to get the unclean spirit out.  It wasn’t even a question of healing someone who is physically disabled.  It was perhaps even worse,  a vile spirit cohabiting with someone’s soul, hijacking him and causing him to hurt himself over and over again.

When I see people who are messed up, hurting, is that my first impulse, to pray for them, that the torments of Satan could be exorcized from their lives?  I think I would have been caught up in how uncomfortable the demon possessed man made me feel.  It’s easy to interact with nice civilized people who seem to have it all together.  But those who have a screw loose, those who have been damaged by the world and are dysfunctional — I can find reasons not to interact with them.

And do I remember that Jesus has power over evil?  It may control people, but Jesus can say the word, and it is gone!  The situations that seem so hopeless to me are not hopeless to him.  Now it is true that the hearts of people can be hard.  This is not something that God usually changes in an instant.  But He can vanquish the powers of Satan in a situation at any time.

What was the demon possessed man experiencing?  He didn’t want to live among the tombs, cutting himself, but he couldn’t help himself.  He was completely trapped.  Yet one morning, he found himself walking along the shore of the lake, and he saw a boat far away, coming his way.  Who was it?  The boat held a man who would be the solution to all of his problems.  God sent him a way out.

The power I have through Christ is unimaginable.  Through Him I can free people who are trapped.  I am Christ’s ambassador.  I am the person in the boat, the person sent by God that they need.

All of my life is a love story.  Everything that has happened to me has been God working his love in my life.  And the demon possessed man had a love story too.  This passage in Luke is the only part we know, but it is a tale that has impacted men through the ages, that a man would be trapped and hopeless, in pain, and God would care enough to send Jesus across the lake at just the right time.

What will today bring me?  I have my agenda, and God has his.  Will I see the people who meet me as those who God has put in my path for a reason, or will I see them as interruptions?  Will my first thought be to rid them of what is plaguing them?  Or will I just see the things about them that make me uncomfortable?  Will I realize the power I have to help them get rid of the evil that has a hold on them?

God is writing his love story with mankind every day.  Will I advance the story, help write more pages that include more people?  Will people look back and say, “THAT was the day my life began to change.”

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The Love of Old

We think of God in the Old Testament as being righteous, but how much do we think of him being loving?  I want to list some of the verses that speak of how he loved with a powerful faithful love.

Deut 7:8 — “But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”

God saved Israel because he loved them, and his love meant that he worked for them in epic ways — redeeming thousands of them out of Egypt, bringing them through water and wilderness, having mercy on them.  God’s love was not just a feeling, it was a commitment to do awesome things for them, to make them into a people more numerous than the stars.

Ps 44 — With your hand you drove out the nations and planted our ancestors;… It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them.

Isa 63:  In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.

These verses portray God as a passionate hero.  His arms fight for Israel.  His face shines on them, he smiles on them, he bestows blessings on them.  He resonates with them when they are upset, as if he himself were experiencing their heartbreak.  He knows they are weak, so he carries them in his arms.  He helps them every day to succeed, and supplies what they lack.

Once again, this love is so much more than a feeling.  It is more than a benevolence that a deity graciously bestows from afar.  It is getting dirty, getting in the trenches with the ones he loves.  It is actively being involved with the day to day aspects of their lives.  It is showering them with blessings when they are too small minded to conceive of such goodness.

Jer 31:3 — “The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you to myself with lovingkindness.  I will build you up again, and you, Virgin Israel, will be rebuilt.'”

Through the ages God loved with a faithful, undying love.  He was good to those he loved, and drew them into his embrace.  I had to read more from this passage:

I will lead them beside streams of water, on a level path where they will not stumble, For the Lord will deliver Jacob and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they.  They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the Lord—  … They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more.  Then young women will dance and be glad,  young men and old as well.  I will turn their mourning into gladness;  I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.

What was Israel’s reaction to this love?  They sinned and strayed, time and time again.

What is our reaction to this love?  We take it for granted.  We don’t see it.  We view the world through the lens of our own experience and efforts, instead of the spiritual.

“To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other:

‘We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance;

we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.’”  (Luke 7)

Jesus knew people’s hearts were hard.  They didn’t see or acknowledge the love of God, and how he was active in their lives.  God had sent them John the Baptist and Jesus, but they didn’t realize the all encompassing importance of this.  They didn’t see this as the culmination of God’s love, the ultimate expression of his heart for them.

“Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”  (Luke 7)

This woman saw the love of God, and she was profoundly grateful for it.  And what did she do with her gratitude?  She spent her time at Jesus’ feet.

That is what all of us should do.  The face of God is shining on us.  He has flexed his mighty arm to save us.  He has orchestrated our lives so we might seek and find him.  He is listening and responding to our prayers.  In response, we need to spend our time at the feet of Jesus, pouring ourselves out for him.

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